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LTBE - Chapter 467.1: Golden Eyes of the Endless Abyss (1)

Amidst the foggy night, Roel’s eyes remained on the old man before him as his body stiffened up. Selina and the others sat confused for a moment before realization finally struck them, and they stared at the old man with widened eyes.

“Y-you are… Paul?”

“No, how is that possible?”

Stuart subconsciously retreated two steps out of astonishment. Selina froze up on the spot. Juliana even exclaimed out of incredulity, which was understandable since she was the most familiar with Paul amongst the transfer students due to her frequent visits to the Azure Manor.

However, the one who was the most shaken up was none other than Roel.

Unable to come to terms with the situation, Roel scrutinized the old man from head to toe and eventually found a trace of Paul’s shadow in the old man. But before Roel could ask a question, he suddenly passed out once more.

“Paul? Paul!!” Roel exclaimed anxiously.

The old man appeared to have exerted all of his strength uttering those words, not waking up no matter how many times Roel called for him. The group of four exchanged glances with one another and eventually decided to conduct their own verification.

The current Paul looked nothing like his normal self. His hair had turned completely white, and his face was covered in thick facial hair. His clothes looked like rags dug out from the ground. By the standards of an ordinary human, he looked to be over a hundred years old.

“Roel, is he really… Paul?” Selina asked apprehensively.

“…”

Roel didn’t answer her question right away.

It was rash to assume that the old man was Paul just because they bore a bit of resemblance to each other. The old man had almost no mana, and he had no possession that could verify his identity. It would have been nigh impossible to verify his identity if not for Juliana.

Juliana looked incredibly reluctant, but knowing that there was no other alternative, she nicked the old man’s hand, dabbed her fingernail in his blood, and finally put it in her mouth. Her face instantaneously scrunched up, and she quickly turned to the side and began coughing violently.

“That diabolical taste! It can’t be anyone but him!” Juliana cried out with an awful look.

She was certain about it because she had once tasted Paul’s blood while fighting him in the Challenger Cup, but her confirmation only brought about a period of silence.

Paul’s current state was indubitably the result of an enemy attack, but such an attack was unheard of in the current era.

Temporal spells were extremely rare on the Sia Continent, to the point that they were thought of as nonexistent for a long time. Furthermore, most temporal spells were deemed to be forbidden spells for a simple reason: The price one had to pay to cast them was simply too great.

Users of temporal spells would usually have to pay a price equivalent to the effect they had produced, and things could easily prove fatal if there was a deviation in the casting of the spell. Not only so, but there were also strict requirements on their invocation and scale.

It had only been half an hour since Roel was alerted to the presence of a Fallen, and it was clearly impossible to reduce Paul to such a state within this short span of time. Even Roel’s Time Devourer didn’t have the ability to siphon time from a person that quickly.

“This is impossible. How could this even happen? Stuart, check his condition!”

“Understood!”

Stuart snapped out of his daze at Roel’s command. He took off his blindfold and started assessing Paul from head to toe. He was using an ability different from his long-range detection skills from earlier, judging by how his eyes were glowing faintly green. He made sure to double confirm Paul’s condition before turning toward Roel with a distressed look.

“His internal organs have become dysfunctional and his mana flow has stalled to a halt. His internal condition matches that of an ailing old man. It isn’t just a superficial transformation; he has indeed turned into a dying old man.”

“…”

“You must be kidding me…”

Stuart’s update left Roel and the others horrified.

In particular, Selina and Juliana’s faces paled at the sight of an acquaintance languishing in such an appalling manner. For youngsters who were at the peak of their youth, having their time robbed from them and undergoing rapid aging was the most frightening way to die.

None of them wanted to venture any further into the enigmatic and sinister fog, but Roel didn’t issue the order to retreat. In the first place, their key responsibility as the auxiliary team was to reinforce the main team should things go awry, but more than that, Roel didn’t think that it was possible for them to retreat anymore.

“We won’t be able to make it out in time even if we retreat now. It took only half an hour for Paul to be reduced to this state. If we can’t escape from the fog within half an hour’s time, it’s almost certain that the enemy will catch up to us. There’s only one way for us to survive and save Paul, and that’s to proceed ahead and defeat the enemy,” Roel spoke after careful consideration.

Selina and the others slowly regained their composure upon hearing those words. Being in such a despairing situation stoked their tenacity to beat the enemies and survive this ordeal. After an exchange of gazes, they quickly began discussing a plan.

Since they had recognized Paul, they couldn’t possibly leave him to the lurch. Not to mention, Paul was their only source of information regarding what had happened.

“If the rate of aging is equal for everyone, it’s likely that everyone other than the young Paul and Lilian is already…” murmured Selina.

“That’s hard to say. Some of them might have a higher level of immunity to this enigmatic spell. Paul was also the weakest one in the main team,” refuted Roel.

“It looks like Paul was trying to break out of this encirclement to gather reinforcement…” Stuart analyzed.

With Stuart carrying the unconscious Paul on his back, the group resumed their journey. Under Roel’s lead, it didn’t take long before the outlines of the abandoned Marlin Town appeared amidst the thick fog. However, the group’s complexion only grew more livid.

There was no sound.

From the moment they met Paul till now, they hadn’t heard even the slightest sound of combat.

A party that was ambushed in the fog would have retaliated with everything they had, especially one that was filled with high transcendents. Their battle would have surely caused a huge commotion, whether they intended for it to or not.

In other words, the current absence of sound meant that the battle had already concluded.

Knowing that, it couldn’t be helped that Selina and the others were on the edge. Even Roel was unable to fully keep his composure. Even so, he didn’t lose hope as he knew that Lilian was somewhere inside the fog.

He had great confidence in Lilian’s fighting prowess. It was impossible for her to be defeated that quickly even if she was faced with an Origin Level 1 transcendent. That much could be seen from her previous encounter with Magician King Priestley Maxwell.

It’s not too late yet. There’s still hope.

Clutching onto his faith, Roel and the others finally arrived at the entrance of Marlin Town. As one would have expected from an abandoned town, the houses were dilapidated and the streets were covered in overgrown weed. The thick fog only made the place more unsettling, as if some sort of eldritch horror would suddenly lunge at them.

Even with the sharpened eyes of a high transcendent, Roel could only see within a ten meters radius. The deathly silence wasn’t providing him with any extra information either. They couldn’t quickly search the town under such circumstances, so Roel could only turn to his scout for information.

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“Stuart, are you able to locate them?”

“…”

There was no response even after several seconds passed, so Roel turned around to take a look. What came into his sight were two women vigilantly scanning the surroundings… and no Stuart.

“!”

Roel’s pupils widened in horror. Noticing his reaction, Selina and Juliana also quickly turned their heads over, only to be shocked by the disappearance of their team member.

“Selina! Where’s Stuart? What happened?” Roel questioned Selina, who was in charge of protecting their backline.

“I-I don’t know! He was just right behind me!” Selina shook her head in a fluster.

“Did he fall behind?” Juliana asked with a pale face.

Roel gritted his teeth. He immediately channeled his mana and manifested a colossal crimson skeleton giant around him. Grandar’s powerful presence eased Selina and Juliana’s anxiety a bit. The group immediately turned around and headed back in the direction they came from.

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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.