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LTBE - Chapter 458.1: Stoking Possessiveness (1)

Country of Scholars, Leinster.

Roel Ascart sat by the window and watched the busy crowd outside while sipping on his tea, enjoying this moment of peace.

War and peace were like integral parts of human civilization, elements that no human could escape from in their lifetime. That being said, thanks to the outstanding performance of the Ascart House, the Saint Mesit Theocracy was able to avert a potential war and catch a breather.

Still, a rock that was thrown into the peaceful surface of a lake would inevitably stir ripples. The world wouldn’t just revert to how it was previously after how close it had come to a major war.

The ripples of changes reached as far as the Country of Scholars, a land that was supposedly distanced from political strifes and international conflicts. In fact, the changes here might just be the most tangible due to the diverse backgrounds of the people gathered here.

There had always been segregation of students based on nationalities in Leinster, but it was now more apparent than ever. Stiffened expressions would appear whenever students from the Austine Empire and the Saint Mesit Theocracy encountered each other. Even those who were close to each other would make do with a perfunctory greeting before parting ways.

Most foreign students in Leinster were offspring of nobility, so it was impossible for them to overlook the political implications when making friends. Old students were still able to uphold civility since they had already known each other for years, but the awkwardness was palpable amongst the freshmen.

“I guess this is inevitable,” Roel shook his head and sighed softly.

His thoughts couldn’t help but drift back to the chaos that transpired two months ago.

After his fight with Layton Seze by the border, the Sezes hadn’t made any other hostile movements. Without external interference, the allied army managed to take down Edgar City, thus achieving a complete victory in the internal war.

Roel took a look around the Connoisseur Guild’s headquarters before leaving ahead of the others.

Edgar City was in a mess after all the fighting that had occurred, so the allied army had to stay behind and maintain order. Carter and the other commanders weren’t that cruel as to demand the severely wounded Ascarts’ personal army and heretic army to do such miscellaneous jobs, so they were allowed to return first with Roel, who wasn’t in a good condition too.

Alicia was required to stay behind to continue her work as a member of the intelligence bureau to coordinate with the inquisitors, who had come together with Roel, to capture the escaped evil cultists.

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Roel accepted the arrangements since it was about time for the new semester to start.

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Honestly speaking, he was feeling utterly exhausted after having been through the turmoil at the eastern border and the Theocracy’s internal war. He thought that it was ridiculous how his holiday turned out to be even more exhausting than attending the academy.

Under the tight escort of the Ascarts’ personal army and the heretic army, Roel safely returned to the Ascart Fiefdom. He then spent his days recuperating from his injuries and thinking about how Ro had a pretty good eye for people.

Layton was indeed an honest man. Not only did he take good care of the Ascarts’ family heirloom over the centuries, but he had also fully heeded Ro’s words and went all-out in the battle, not pulling any punches at all. Thanks to that, Roel found himself bedridden once more despite having just recovered from the injuries sustained at the eastern border.

On the bright side, the Theocracy had awarded Roel and Alicia with a Heroic Guardian Medal each for their contribution in holding off the Sezes despite the odds being against them. As neither of them was in the Holy Capital, the Xeclydes dispatched an envoy to deliver the medal to their house, a decision that was met with Roel’s full support.

Putting aside the question of whether it was appropriate to have the bedridden Roel travel all the way to the Holy Capital to collect a medal, it wasn’t appropriate to hold a grand award ceremony at this sensitive time.

It was a huge relief that the internal war had been resolved, but the Theocracy was not out of trouble yet. For one, the deviants at the eastern border would become more active with the arrival of spring. In view of that, the Xeclydes had already started dispatching reinforcement army over, but it would take some time to build up a decent defense line.

As the saying goes, there is no safe egg in an overturned nest.

When humankind was facing an imminent ordeal, no country would be able to rest in peace. Roel, who was one of the core figures of the younger generation and had close ties with several others who were in the same position, was naturally affected by that as well.

He could tangibly feel it just by looking back at the recent journey he had made to Leinster.

Unlike before, it was a dreary and lonesome journey by himself. He had neither Nora nor Charlotte to chat with him along the way and pass time. It had been forever since he had been left alone that it felt exceptionally empty.

In the month’s long journey, he spent his time staring at the bleak, unchanging scenery outside as he experienced a full dose of loneliness. At times, he would grumble about his ailing body, and Cynthia would knock on his carriage and show him some concern. It left him thinking: Ah. Is that how it feels like for an old man living alone to be visited by a social worker? 

The reason behind Roel’s miserable plight was an international symposium—the International Crisis Management Symposium.

As its name suggested, it was a symposium held to discuss plans to tackle with the various crises faced by humankind. The threat of the deviants had always been a major topic on the symposium, and it was supposed to be held after the abrupt disappearance of Tark Stronghold. However, the outbreak of internal war in the Theocracy, as well as the additional interference by the Austine Empire, led to it being postponed by several months.

Now that the situation had finally stabilized, it was only a given for them to hold the symposium as soon as possible.

In accordance with traditions, the successors of major countries such as Nora, Charlotte, and Wilhelmina had to participate in the symposium as well. As a result, Roel was left all alone.

To be fair, the symposium was organized under the church’s rally, so Roel, as the successor of an eminent noble house and a meritorious subject of the Theocracy, could have attended the symposium if he wanted to. It was just that he was uninterested in it.

He could imagine how the symposium would turn out just by reading its agenda—building a united army to swiftly respond to threats and increasing the flow of supplies to the eastern border. It was unlikely that anyone would flip the table and walk off, but there would surely be squabbling, hours of it at the very least, especially between the Austine Empire and the Saint Mesit Theocracy Theocracy.

Roel wasn’t interested in such infighting. He had too much on his plate to bother with that.

After leisurely sipping down a cup of tea, he rose to his feet and began making his way toward Saint Freya Academy.

It hadn’t been a good year for humankind. Problems had been cropping up one after another, and there was plenty of tension and conflicts amongst the upper echelon.

However, these troubles didn’t affect the student enrollment rate of the ivory tower known as Saint Freya Academy. If anything, its enrollment rate was higher than ever due to its outstanding performance in the Challenger Cup last year.

Same as last year, the Enforcement Division was in charge of maintaining order amongst the students. The lack of high-profile individuals like Nora and Charlotte, as well as the absence of the chaos caused by Paul and Roel last year, made the atmosphere much lighter.

A commotion did break out though due to the presence of a single individual.

It was a woman dressed in a white skirt, looking as beautiful as the fairies depicted in the legends. Her fair skin tone and silver hair evoked the thought of snow, which sharply contrasted with her intense ruby eyes. These two striking colors came together to create an intoxicating sight, compelling the crowd to stare at her with agape mouths.

She was none other than Alicia Ascart.

When she stepped onto the grass field as a freshman of the Saint Freya Academy, all eyes in the vicinity were naturally drawn to her, incapable of resisting her charms. The number of eyes on her only seemed to further grow as time went by.

It’s almost like a weapon of mass destruction, Roel breathed out a helpless sigh.

The current happening didn’t come as a surprise to him since Alicia’s entrance did cause quite a bit of trouble in Eyes of the Chronicler too.

As the one with the most striking visuals amongst all the capture targets, Alicia’s ability to charm others was even greater than that of Nora and the others. On top of that, the fact that she wasn’t a princess made her appear much more approachable, so it was almost inevitable that she would draw vermins to her.

Most students of Saint Freya Academy were well-versed in etiquette, being nobles in their respective countries, but there were bound to be some profligate scions or reckless testosterone-charged adolescents amongst them.

Knowing that, Roel decided to send out a stern warning to the student populace on the very first day of the new semester so as to prevent such people from approaching Alicia.

However, things didn’t go as smoothly as he had anticipated. He found that he was already reaching the limits of his patience before the troublemakers could make an appearance. Somehow, he felt a surge of anger rushing into his heart when he saw Alicia being stared at by so many people in public, and the feeling only intensified as time passed.

For reasons unbeknownst to him, he didn’t want others to look at Alicia.

Why is that so? Is that a sign of possessiveness?

Perplexed by his anxiety, Roel reflected on himself in an attempt to uncover the reason behind those feelings.

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ℭ𝔥𝔢𝔠𝔨 𝔬𝔲𝔱 𝔪𝔶 𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔫𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔩𝔰:
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Written by Bells on Cat Ears (猫耳铃铛). Translated by StarveCleric. Edited by Welmar.