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LTBE - Chapter 463.2: Dangerous Bait (2)

“Mister Roel Ascart, what are your thoughts about that incident?”

“I have carefully looked through it and I don’t think that it’s related to the disappearance of Tark Stronghold.”

“May I know the reason behind that?”

“Based on our observations at Tark Stronghold, Shrouding Fog likely possesses the power to devour space. If so, there should not have been any traces of Braytown left behind. However, that clearly isn’t the case based on what’s stated on the document…”

In the meeting room, Roel carefully studied the report that had just arrived from the frontlines while sharing his analysis. He had a calm expression on his face, but an ominous premonition was building up in his heart.

Just earlier this morning, an urgent communication was delivered to the ‘Tark Stronghold Search and Rescue Seminar’. Another case of mass disappearance had occurred not too far away from the frontlines.

The scholars of the seminar responded to the news zealously, gladdened to have finally caught hold of the enemy’s tail. Even Roel also thought that Shrouding Fog had finally appeared.

However, he soon realized that it was a different case after looking through the details.

The mass disappearance had occurred in Braytown, a small town located near the eastern border of the Austine Empire. It had a small population due to its remote location, but with the recent outbreak of war with the deviants, it was occupied by the military and served as an en route resting point to the eastern border.

Many of the soldiers dispatched by other countries to the eastern border in the wake of Tark Stronghold’s disappearance had passed by the town.

Just a few days ago, a batch of Austine soldiers marched toward Braytown, but they weren’t able to locate it. Figuring that they might have gotten lost, the commanding officer hired a local guide to lead them. Yet, when they finally arrived at their destination, all they could see were the base structure of disappeared buildings lying all over the ground.

Braytown had vanished along with its local populace and the soldiers stationed there.

It was yet another inexplicable large-scale disappearance of a military force, leading others to inevitably be reminded of Tark Stronghold’s tragedy. For that reason, the commanding officer immediately sent a report to the Country of Scholars and requested for help.

However, upon careful evaluation, Roel didn’t think that it was the doing of the Six Calamities.

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While the town was located in a mountainous region, there were no reported sightings of a terrifying fog monster or unrest amongst the forest animals. On top of that, there were hints of the town left on the ground.

This was different from what Shrouding Fog did during its previous appearance.

Shrouding Fog was a monster that sought to destroy civilizations. Similar to how Tark Stronghold vanished in its entirety, it wouldn’t leave anything manmade in its wake.

The conditions didn’t appear right too. Roel hadn’t sensed the presence of the Mother Goddess over the last few days, and there hadn’t been any significant celestial events in the region.

Most important of all, it didn’t make much sense for Shrouding Fog to go for a small town with no strategic value.

“There are no more than a thousand people in Braytown, even taking into account both the local populace and the stationed soldiers. It comes nowhere close to Tark Stronghold in terms of manpower and fighting prowess. The Six Calamities are known to be destroyers of civilization. There’s no reason for them to target for a minor border town.”

“…”

Roel firmly rejected the possibility of the two incidents being related to each other, but the other scholars weren’t too bothered by that. They began voicing their objections too.

“I admit that there are differences in the details of the two incidents, but there’s no denying that they are of similar nature.”

“You’re building your argument on the basis that the disappearance of Tark Stronghold was caused by those mythical monsters, but that’s not something we have established yet. I don’t think we should use those standards to determine whether those two incidents are independent of each other.”

“We don’t have any other clues to work with at the moment, and this is an official request from the united army…”

The other scholars disregarded Roel’s objection and accepted the mission to investigate Braytown’s disappearance. Roel’s face darkened upon hearing that. Having been through his fair share of schemes, his instincts were telling him that there was more than meets the eye here.

It had been several months since the founding of the ‘Tark Stronghold Search and Rescue Seminar’, but they still hadn’t decided on a specific rescue plan yet. This must have been incredibly frustrating for the scholars, considering they were the aces in their respective fields. The arrival of the united army’s mission at this juncture must have felt like a miracle to them, inducing them to act on it.

But this reeked of a bait to Roel.

Leinster’s scholars had been in a comfortable position for far too long that their sense for danger had dulled. They were so anxious to produce results that they didn’t hesitate to accept the united army’s mission, but this spelled trouble for Roel.

The only ones capable of carrying out this mission were Rose of Dawn’s members and Roel’s good friends, but how could he send them on an undertaking that screamed of a trap?

It was impossible for Roel to unilaterally overthrow a decision made by the seminar. Left with no other choice, he paid Lilian a visit in hopes of using the Rose Council’s authority to prohibit personnel recruitment within Saint Freya Academy for that mission.

In a private guest room of Nymph Palace, Lilian patiently listened to his thoughts before gently turning him down.

“I know that you have the welfare of our students at heart, but what you’re intending to do has severe repercussions. Others might accuse you of hindering the investigation.”

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“… You’re right. It looks like I’ll have no choice but to personally head there,” Roel replied with a frustrated sigh.

In Roel’s view, there were only two options for a mission as risky as this—he could either ignore it altogether or give his all to resolve it. For the safety of those he cared for, he decided to go with the latter.

As slim as the possibility was, if this matter was truly related to the Six Calamities, Roel’s presence would be a necessity. He was the only one who had the power to curb Shrouding Fog, even if just to a limited extent.

Right after he voiced his intention aloud, he was immediately met with Lilian’s objection. She adamantly refused to allow him to put himself through such danger, so she proposed an alternative measure instead.

“I’ll go instead. It’ll be an opportunity for me to try my hand after my recent breakthrough to Origin Level 2.”

“What are you saying, senior? I can’t implicate you into something as dangerous as this…”

Roel also shut down Lilian’s alternative measure right away.

Similar to how Lilian cared for him, he also treasured this ‘older sister’ of his. She was the only one left in the world who shared the same bloodline as him. He couldn’t possibly expose her to something that was likely to be a trap.

Lilian didn’t respond to his objection. Instead, she started staring at him intently with a faint smile on her lips, as if she was trying to imprint him into her brain. Her unusual behavior swiftly caught Roel’s attention, and he looked at her with an uneasy frown.

For some reason, he had a feeling that the ravishing black-haired woman was about to disappear from his life.

“Senior, you…” he muttered hesitantly

“… Roel, there’s something I need to tell you,” Lilian suddenly spoke up.

Roel immediately straightened his back, knowing that she was likely going to say something important. Lilian took a moment to construe her words before carrying on.

“The Austine Empire might have found out about our relationship.”

“You’re saying that…”

“I slipped up in front of Lukas. It has nothing to do with you. He’s only suspicious for now, and I don’t think he knows the details yet. However, he ordered me to head to the frontlines at the eastern border,” Lilian said with a bitter voice.

She tried to force on a smile, but it looked strained despite her best efforts. Her amethyst eyes reflected her yearning and sorrow. It was hard to imagine what kind of emotional turmoil she must be suffering from for someone as dignified and self-composed as her to let her emotions slip through.

“It’ll be hard for us to meet again,” she concluded.

StarveCleric's Notes:

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ℭ𝔥𝔢𝔠𝔨 𝔬𝔲𝔱 𝔪𝔶 𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔫𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔩𝔰:
100,000/Hour Professional Stand-in
Library of Heaven's Path
Martial God Asura from Chapter 4320
Written by Bells on Cat Ears (猫耳铃铛). Translated by StarveCleric. Edited by Welmar.