LTBE - Chapter 476.2: For the Child (2)
This was the most valuable piece of information Roel obtained while enduring the torture of looking through the fallen treant’s fragmented and depraved memories. It had only been a short exchange, but it revealed the enemy’s goal.
All this while, Roel thought that ‘the Collector’ was a random alias chosen by the leader of the Connoisseur Guild, but there seemed to be more to it. The conversation revealed that the Collector was collecting the Ardes’ corpses with the goal of removing some kind of seal.
Roel didn’t know what the seal was, but he could fathom a guess based on the fallen treant’s reaction.
The fallen treant named Orked had offered Veronica’s heart to the Collector upon hearing the latter’s words, and that was not something to be made light of. The heart was important to Orked too; it was relying on the heart to maintain its human form and suppress its insanity. In fact, it had been meticulously protecting the heart during its battle with Roel.
What could have possibly prompted Orked to enthusiastically offer something as important as that to the Collector?
The answer immediately became apparent to Roel once he considered the fallen treant’s history as the High Priest of Nightless City Portas—the awakening of the Savior.
This explained why both the Ardes and the Ascarts had been relentlessly targeted by the Savior’s worshipers over the years. While it was not stated in the historical records, the other races had likely placed a seal on the depraved Savior after He fell into a slumber, with the ancestors of the Kingmaker Bloodline playing a crucial role in the sealing process.
The presence of the seal and the suppression from the other races had prevented the Fallens from awakening the Savior thus far, but the scales started tilting in the Savior’s favor when He briefly awakened for a moment in the later years of the Second Epoch. The Savior’s worshipers swiftly bulked up in the following years, bringing about a glimmer of hope, but they soon realized that no one was able to enter the Dream Barrier other than the Ardes’ bloodline awakeners.
That was the reason why the Savior’s worshipers furiously attacked the Ardes and stole their awakeners’ corpses. They were hoping to unravel the Savior’s seal through a ritual. Based on what the Collector had said, they were already on the verge of success.
“I suspect that the Fallens are just one piece short of completing their key. This means that the Collector will not stop his aggression on us, and neither of us can afford to be defeated,” Roel said with a grave expression.
Lilian fell into deep thoughts.
Their fates were no longer theirs alone now that they knew what the Fallens were after. Should they make a wrong move, they could very well become the final key required to unravel the Savior’s seal, unleashing a catastrophe of unparalleled proportions upon the world.
The sheer stakes involved here heaped a mountain load of stress on the two of them. Even the usually composed Lilian showed a rare frown.
Be it their ancestral grudge, the devastating calamity that would result from the awakening of the Savior, or their own survival, coexistence with the Fallens was impossible. It was either us or them. Peace would never return to their lives until they crushed the Fallens.
Having made sense of their current plights, Lilian turned her attention to Roel, who had not spoken a word for a while now. She suddenly recalled his earlier words, and it further deepened her frown.
Roel had mentioned earlier that neither of them could afford to be defeated—which was not wrong—but those words carried the subtle connotation of ‘we can’t afford to take any risks and have to go on the defensive’.
But could this problem be solved just by going on the defensive?
Without a doubt, the Fallens would continue making attempts on their lives until they finally succeeded, and that was not something anyone could endure. Even if they tried to remain on their guard, it was inevitable that weaknesses would start showing with time.
Lilian didn’t think that it was possible for the sharp-witted Roel to have not thought about that, which meant that he was misleading her into taking defensive maneuvers. As for the reason why he would do that…
“You mentioned that neither of us can afford to be defeated. That should be possible for me given the defensive prowess of my Ten Fortresses… but I don’t think I can bring myself to hide in a safe spot while the man I love risks his life on the battlefield.”
“Senior, what are you saying?”
“Shouldn’t you know better than anyone else what I’m saying?” Lilian replied calmly.
She stared at Roel with sharp eyes, certain of what he was up to. Under her intense gaze, Roel’s eyes couldn’t help but waver a little.
“Let me guess. You’re hoping that I’d come under the protection of the united army in the eastern border while you secretly deal with the Fallens by yourself. You’re only telling me all these because you’re worried that I’d be vulnerable not knowing the potential threats around me, or else you would have gone after the Collector without saying a word to me,” Lilian said with a harrumph.
Having his thoughts spoken aloud, Roel awkwardly averted his eyes. Lilian heaved a sigh of relief upon seeing his reaction, then her face swiftly gloomed with disappointment.
“I thought that you would rely more on me after this incident, but your first instinct is still to shove me aside whenever a major problem crops up. Am I that unreliable in your eyes? Or do you see me as a burden to you?”
“That’s not it!”
Roel adamantly refuted her words right away upon seeing her dejection. He exhaled softly before he began explaining himself.
“I just think that the Fallens are simply too dangerous. Even the Ardes weren’t able to defeat them at the peak of their power. If anything were to happen to you, I won’t be able to live with myself.
“Besides, it seems much more appropriate for me, a direct descendant of the Ardes, to deal with the Fallens. While you possess the Kingmaker Bloodline as well, you aren’t a member of the Ascart House. It’d be wrong to involve you in this,” Roel said earnestly.
Slowly, those words cleared up Lilian’s dejection. She took a step forward and embraced Roel.
“I’m glad that you’re concerned about me, but just as what you have said, the Fallens are a dangerous group of people. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive myself if you meet with a mishap. My life will become nothing but an endless cycle of self-reproach and sorrow. What would be the point of living then? Besides, while I am not a member of the Ascart House, this matter is very much my business as well,” Lilian said solemnly.
Perplexed, Roel voiced out his doubt. Lilian’s face began to redden.
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“I might not be a member of the Ascart House, but my child will be,” she murmured with a lowered head.
Roel’s body stiffened the moment he heard those words, and his golden eyes narrowed in shock. Lilian suppressed her embarrassment and forced herself to continue on.
“Even if it’s not possible to have one in the next few years, it’s only a matter of time before we have a b-baby. As a mother, there’s no way I would allow anyone to hurt my child.”
Lilian’s voice slowly became forceful and adamant as she spoke. It was such a stark contrast from her usual composed and poised attitude that it took Roel by surprise. As a matter of fact, Lilian was also startled by her own attitude too.
She didn’t feel much inside even when faced with an enemy baring their murderous intent toward her. All she would do was to nonchalantly wipe that person off the face of the world.
Yet, maybe because she was sensitive after hearing about Veronica’s plight, the thought of someone seeking to kill her future child and rip out their heart evoked her rage and killing intent. Her amethyst eyes narrowed into sharp slits.
Taking in Lilian’s response, Roel had to admit that her words made sense. It was unfair of him to exclude her from something she was very well involved in, even if his decision was spurred by his desire to protect her.
Still, a child, huh?
Roel was moved by the future described by Lilian, but he soon shook his head upon recalling their current circumstances.
It’s a beautiful dream, but it’ll probably be a long time later before it comes to fruition.
Roel sighed in lamentation over this distant dream as he wrapped his arms around the woman before him. Little did he know that everything was already set in stone.