LTBE - Chapter 466.1: Trembling Words (1)
Beside the crackling campfire, Roel’s eyes slowly widened upon hearing the words spoken by Stuart. The roasted fish he was holding in his hand fell to the ground. Selina and Juliana also abruptly fell silent before hurriedly rising to their feet.
“What did you say?”
“Fog? I don’t see anything at all. Stuart, how far away is it?”
Knowing that the term ‘fog’ was a sensitive word, the two women immediately put up their guard.
Fog was one of the many weather phenomena of the Sia Continent, a common manifestation of nature. Yet, from half a year ago, this seemingly ordinary phenomenon slowly became a thing of nightmares when a monster rose from its slumber.
Shrouding Fog was a cataclysmic monster that even the top scholars of the Sia Continent knew close to nothing about, but those born in the sequestered houses of Knight Kingdom Pendor grew up hearing about its horrors. The fear they felt toward it became even more palpable after the disappearance of Tark Stronghold.
Stuart studied the map on the ground to confirm the location of the fog and the direction it was moving toward. Selina warily eyed the surroundings with her tail raised tautly. Juliana quickly gathered all of their supplies in case they needed to make an emergency escape.
In contrast, Roel remained still.
The Crown’s Stones aren’t reacting.
Staring at the wisp of frost aura he had conjured at the tip of his finger, Roel frowned. He knew from his previous encounter with Shrouding Fog that the monsters of the Six Calamities had a resonance that allowed them to sense one another even from a distance away.
However, he wasn’t sensing anything at all.
Putting aside the resonance, the unstable mana pulsation and suffocating pressure that came with the Shrouding Fog’s presence were absent too. The only thing he could feel was an ominous premonition, but rather to say that it was caused by the Six Calamities, it arose from his instincts as a high transcendent.
“Roel, what do we do? Should we retreat?”
“Hey, help me pack up here! We have too many things to carry!”
The anxious Selina and Juliana spoke up one after another, but after a moment of contemplation, Roel shook his head.
“Calm down first. I don’t think that this is Shrouding Fog… Stuart, can you confirm the location of the fog again?”
“It’s quite a distance away from us, clustering around Braytown’s center. It’s unlikely that we’d be affected by it.”
“Can’t you say that earlier…”
The atmosphere around the campfire visibly lightened up as everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Juliana and Selina grumbled in annoyance. Nonetheless, none of them dispelled their vigilance just because they weren’t in the direct line of danger at the moment.
Roel spent a moment in thought before turning to Stuart.
“Do you see anything reminiscent of a face in the fog?”
“… No, I don’t see anything of that sort.”
By this point, Stuart had already taken off his blindfold altogether. He stared intently at the center of Braytown with his glowing eyes for a moment before answering the question. Roel proceeded to ask several other questions, and Stuart’s eye color and pupil shape changed accordingly as he switched among his abilities to answer those questions.
After a series of questions, Roel finally came to a conclusion.
“From the current looks of it, the fog doesn’t seem to have any relation with the Six Calamities. It doesn’t have a face, and there isn’t a spike in the concentration of mana density. I’m also not sensing anything at all. It might just be a natural weather phenomenon.”
Upon hearing Roel’s conclusion, the trio from Knight Kingdom Pendor heaved a sigh of relief. Having grown up hearing about the horrors of the Six Calamities, they would very much prefer to avoid a confrontation with those monsters wherever possible.
After learning that it was just an empty scare, Selina and Juliana immediately turned on Stuart and punished him by having him sentry for the night. Meanwhile, Roel stared at the map and fell into deep thought.
While he had deemed the fog ahead of them to not be Shrouding Fog, he still found the situation rather unsettling. For one, he could imagine how overjoyed the main team would be upon realizing that the fog posed no danger. This could lull them into a false sense of security, tempting them recklessly advance into the center investigation area to uncover the truth.
After all, it was impossible for the scholars not to feel frustrated when they hadn’t made any progress over the past month.
Looking at it from this perspective, it was possible that the fog was bait for them.
It reminded Roel of the unease he felt earlier, and he narrowed his golden eyes sharply.
Meanwhile, in the distant shadows, a blurred human silhouette started to manifest amidst the fog shortly after Stuart placed his blindfold back on. The old eyes of the blurred silhouette gazed in Roel’s direction, seemingly trying to figure out the nature of the earlier surveillance.
A long time later, the human silhouette shook his head and turned his eyes upon the many powerful transcendents gathered right outside the fog. Slowly, the silhouette began to fade amidst the fog once more.
The following morning, a fog had started settling in the vicinity of Roel’s camp, but the team wasn’t too concerned since they had verified that it was a natural phenomenon. Stuart, who had sentried for the night, reported that he hadn’t detected any anomaly in the fog over the course of the night.
“So it’s just a coincidence?”
Selina and Juliana were relieved to hear that. Stuart’s expression also appeared much more relaxed as he put on his blindfold once more. The tense atmosphere looming over the group slowly lightened up, though Roel still continued to remain vigilant.
It’s possible for a fog to coincidentally settle in while we are investigating the area, but for it to appear simultaneously with the uneasy feeling I have been getting… I still think that there’s more to it.
Roel chose not to burden the other three with his baseless concern, but he reminded them not to put their guard down. Following that, they proceeded with their daily communication with the main team.
It was standard protocol for the main team and the auxiliary team to communicate every morning and evening to check on each other’s situation. Roel and the others did feel a little apprehensive due to the fog, but fortunately, their communication went through as per normal. Paul picked up the projection call, and both sides reported that everything was normal.
Lilian and the others were still oblivious to Roel’s presence—Roel had made sure to instruct Paul not to reveal his participation in the auxiliary team to anyone else, and he had been lying low over the past month too—so Lilian wasn’t particularly worried about the auxiliary team.
On the other hand, Roel was glad to know that Lilian and the others were safe and sound.
After the usual check-in, Paul reported the main team’s intention to continue with the investigation in spite of the fog, which was exactly as Roel had expected.
The main team was confident in their own capabilities and they had every right to be, given that they were composed of solely high transcendents. Admittedly, these staff members and scholars were lacking in combat experience, such that they were unlikely to be able to put up a fight against Roel, but they were still a force to be reckoned with on the Sia Continent.
Given the main team’s pride and the absence of visible threats after the onset of the fog, it was no surprise they would decide to continue the investigation. If anything, the appearance of the fog further stoked their enthusiasm since they were here to look for clues, and the fog suggested a re-enactment of Tark Stronghold’s disappearance.
In return, Roel reported that they would continue their investigation some distance behind the main team. After confirming each other’s plans, the two teams proceeded with their respective work.
A few days passed just like that.
The fog continued to persist, but there hadn’t been any anomalies with it. It tended to appear in the middle of the night and dissipate at sunrise, so it wasn’t much of a hindrance to the investigation.
Selina and the others were initially still a little apprehensive about the fog, but they soon grew accustomed to the situation. Before long, Selina began prancing around like a wild beast again, and Juliana resumed her night hunts. The boisterous arguments around the campfire over the dinner menu returned.
Surrounded by these lively problem children, Roel found his taut nerves relaxing too. The truth was that the ominous premonition he felt never reappeared ever since that night, as if it had all been his imagination. The worries he felt back then were gradually being drowned out by his energetic company.
“Selina, can you stop visiting our leader’s tent? I’m going to have to report this to Lord Alicia at this rate.”
“Haaa?! It’s none of your business where I go. Besides, Roel is just calming down my bloodline for me.”
“If not for Lord Alicia’s mission, I can’t be bothered with you. Just to check, you… you aren’t in love with our leader, right?”
“What nonsense are you spouting?!”
Night had fallen once again. A quarrel broke out between Selina and Juliana due to the latter’s abrupt question. Stuart was busy using his powerful eyes to survey the surroundings. It was a perfectly ordinary night for the auxiliary team.
The quarrel only ended when Roel announced dinner.
The four of them gathered around the campfire and dug into their food amidst casual chatter. This had been their only source of joy in this dull and monotonous journey.
A fog began settling into the night forest while they were eating and chatting, but none of them paid it any heed since it was a daily occurrence. After they were done, the group patrolled around the campsite before returning to their respective tents to rest up, except for Juliana who was on duty tonight.
It looked like a day no different from any other, but as Roel lay down in his tent and slowly drifted off to the land of dreams, an overwhelming ominous premonition suddenly exploded in his heart, causing him to abruptly lurch upright.
As if he had awoken from a nightmare, his eyes were wide open and he was gasping for air. He could still vividly remember how heavy his body had been in the dream as if someone had pumped it full of lead. It was a terrifying but oddly familiar sensation.
Find the original at *hosted* novel.
Before he could figure out where it was from, the Witch Queen’s voice suddenly sounded beside him.
“I was just about to wake you up. You have sharp instincts.”
“Artasia? Could that be…”
Roel’s face swiftly turned livid upon seeing the white-haired witch who had abruptly manifested in his tent. Seeing the serious look on his face, Artasia reined in her smile and nodded affirmatively.
“Indeed, it’s a Fallen.”