LTBE - Chapter 451.1: Veteran Sis-con (1)
The crackling campfire and clanging armor of patrolling soldiers could be heard clearly amidst the silent night. Roel lay inside his sleeping bag, staring restlessly at the beam of moonlight falling into his tent. In the end, he gave up and slowly made his way toward the table.
Sitting on the table was a war report he had flipped through many times now, but still, he couldn’t stop himself from frowning when he looked at it. The contents left him feeling too uneasy.
“To actually allow Alicia on the battlefield… What in the world is my father thinking?” Roel murmured under his breath in frustration.
It was one of the rare times he complained about Carter. In truth, his reaction was already much calmer than how he was actually feeling, evident from his decision to hasten their marching pace for the past day.
It all happened when an emergency report arrived in the evening, while his army was in the midst of building a temporary camp. It contained information about the movements of the Sezes’ troops, their countermeasure against the Sezes’ aggression, and the military dispatch order for Roel.
Roel wasn’t surprised about the enemy’s movement at all. The important mission Carter had entrusted him with gave him a rare spurt of fighting will in this infighting among humankind, for he knew that the fight with the Sezes was where the crux of the battle lay.
If they failed to hold back the Sezes’ troops, the Theocracy’s allied army would swiftly fall into a bad position. On the other hand, if they succeeded, there was a good chance that they could end the internal war in a single swoop while avoiding the interference of the Austine Empire.
In comparison, the siege on Edgar City was, paradoxically, of lesser importance.
That was exactly what Roel wanted—the opportunity to stand at the center of the battlefield and pop the Austine Empire’s swelling ambition. However, when he saw a familiar name in the team that was dispatched to stall the Sezes’ troops, his mind suddenly went blank.
Roel had known that it was only a matter of time before her name appeared in the war reports, but she should have been in the intelligence department instead of the battlefield, let alone the center of the battlefield.
“This is nonsense! Did rust get into Carter’s brain? You must be kidding me!”
Roel’s rare outburst upon reading the report scared the soldiers into halting whatever they were doing. Cynthia and the others were swiftly notified of his rage, but they chose to keep their distance as they could tell that it was likely a familial issue.
Perhaps due to the values from his past life, the notion of allowing an underaged child to fight on the battlefield instinctively repulsed Roel, though he understood that the Sia Continent had very different norms regarding that matter.
But not Alicia, at the very least!
Roel took many deep breaths in an attempt to calm himself down.
Deep down, he knew that Carter had been forced into a corner and had no other alternatives, or else he wouldn’t have allowed Alicia on the battlefield. Still, this was a worrying development to him, especially given the exclusive knowledge he possessed.
In Eyes of the Chronicler, all of the female capture targets had their own crisis to overcome in their respective individual routes, similar to what he and Nora had just experienced. He felt like impending danger was looming above them like an ominous cloud, leaving him uneasy. That was also the reason why he was so sensitive when it came to the safety of Alicia and the others.
Sending Alicia to the battlefield at this juncture felt almost like someone had sliced his heart and grilled it on a barbecue pit. It was to the extent that he ordered the army to pack up and set off immediately.
They marched ceaselessly for over a day, only stopping from time to time for short breaks. It was only after midnight on the following day that Roel finally gave the order to set up camp and rest up.
So far, they had already traveled for half a month. With powerful enemies ahead of them, the soldiers needed to rest up well in order to be in tip-top condition. The battle against the Sezes was of utmost importance to both the Ascarts and the Theocracy, such that failure was not an option.
Even so, Roel found himself unable to fall asleep out of deep worry.
It was actually possible for them to continue rushing ahead and make it to the battlefield by tomorrow night, but the soldiers would be exhausted and in a poor condition for battle. Taking a day’s rest looked to be the wiser option, but the thought that Alicia had to face an entire day’s worth of danger by herself was unbearable to him.
Cynthia and the others had tried counseling him out of his anxiety, and Roel himself was aware that he was overreacting too. The current situation didn’t look as bad as it was with Nora, and Alicia was a powerful transcendent in her own rights.
A-am I really a sis-con? No no no, that can’t be possible.
Due to that, Roel wondered if he was getting too obsessed over Alicia’s affairs. He gave the matter some thought and eventually felt that the difference stemmed from a difference in trust.
He trusted Nora’s strength and believed that she wouldn’t be knocked down easily, which was why he was able to remain composed to some extent despite knowing that Nora was in danger. On the other hand, Alicia had been protected by him from a young age and had hardly faced any perilous situations, so he found it hard to leave her to the lurch.
In Roel’s view, it was similar to how a wild beast would stand a much better chance of surviving in the wilderness than a domestic pet. He thought that Nora’s ability to cope with danger was far better than that of Alicia.
To be honest, if not for his transcendent body, he suspected that he might have suffered a heart attack upon reading Carter’s letter.
It was yet another sleepless night.
Roel lay in his sleeping bag as he watched the starry night sky give way to the rising morning sun. The heretic army and the inquisitors swiftly packed up before resuming their journey.
Meanwhile, a change was occurring on the chaotic battlefield not too far away.
It had been a distressing night for Roel, but the same could be said for the Sezes’ troops stationed in the Elric Fiefdom. The only difference was that Roel was worried about his kin whereas they were worried about their own survival.
It was at an ungodly hour that a terrifying nightmare suddenly descended upon the peaceful plain. Thousands of demonic beasts rushed out from the jungle toward the Sezes’ base camp. In the distant jungle, a colossal monster raised its head above the trees and gazed down coldly upon them. It let out a ferocious roar that only further stoked the demonic beasts’ aggression.
There were barely any soldiers in the Sezes’ base camp who didn’t recognize the colossal figure shrouded in darkness, but that was also the reason why they found the situation utterly unbelievable.
It was the monster that the knights of the Austine Empire had hunted several centuries ago, the Emperor of Calamity.
It had been able to escape death by fleeing to the jungle located near the borders of the Austine Empire, but it had suffered grievous wounds in the process of doing so. Unlike ordinary demonic beasts, it harbored deep hatred toward all humans, such that anyone who dared to enter the jungle would be mercilessly ripped apart by it.
That was why the Sezes were convinced that the Ascart soldiers would be forced to flee from the jungle in a fluster, but things didn’t go as they had expected.
Not only were the Ascart soldiers completely fine, but the terrifying demonic beasts whom they were convinced would have decimated the Ascarts’ had ended up joining their side instead.
It was not like those from the Austine Empire had never thought of taming the Emperor of Calamity. In fact, renowned transcendent houses with related bloodlines had attempted the feat, only to fail miserably and even lose their lives in the process.
It was inconceivable to them how the Ascarts were able to accomplish what even the most brilliant of beast tamers were unable to pull off within such a short period of time.
Duke Brookley found it incredulous as well. He immediately knew that things had gotten troublesome.
The battle in the night had officially commenced.
War horns echoed loudly amidst the boundless darkness. Sleeping warriors hurriedly rose to their feet and prepared themselves. Illumination spells shot to the sky one after another, granting vision of the demonic beasts charging at them.
The Emperor of Calamity was the ruler of the jungle, commanding a diverse range of demonic beasts including One-horned Gigant Wolves, Three-headed Serpents, Griffins, and Talon Bats. Each of them had its own unique characteristics, making it hard to deal with all of them at once.
Meanwhile, the Sezes had already started taking countermeasures on the battlefield.
The soldiers pulled their bowstrings and unleashed a barrage of arrows upon the approaching demonic beasts. The magicians collaborated with one another to construct a massive offensive spell.
Deafening war cries echoed in the battlefield, occasionally accompanied by bone-chilling cries. Blood and flame were swiftly consuming the plains.