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LTBE - Chapter 476.1: For the Child (1)

Despite the Ardes’ affluence and prominence as the Shadow Eagle of the Ancient Austine Empire, they were obscured from the annals of history. Not only were there almost no records on them, but most people who lived in the same era weren’t aware of their existence either.

Finding even the slightest trace of the Ardes in the historical records from the Second Epoch was incredibly difficult. If anyone in the world had detailed records about the Ardes, it could only be the Ackermanns. However, that was clearly not within Roel’s means to obtain.

Due to that, Roel had always faced difficulties trying to learn more about his ancestors and the enemies they had faced. It was thus a surprise when he unexpectedly acquired some information about the past through the Ardes’ heart.

Veronica’s three fragments of memory had overwhelmed him emotionally, but once he calmed down, he quickly pieced the information together and made an inference on the events.

The happenings in the second fragment of memory suggested that simultaneous threats had befallen humankind, forcing the Ardes to split into multiple groups to tackle them.

Veronica was excluded from the mission groups due to her pregnancy, but an enemy exploited the Ardes’ moment of weakness to assault their vulnerable members. In the end, she died protecting her clan members.

To be clear, the vulnerable members of the Ardes hadn’t been left to fend for their own. The defensive measures that had been put in place would have made it impossible for most forces to take them down.

Roel lacked in-depth knowledge about the Second Epoch, but he did know of a group of people who wielded the power to deal with the Ardes even when it was at the peak of its power: the Savior’s worshipers.

What Veronica went through was likely the first assault launched by the Savior’s worshipers, and it marked the beginning of the Ardes’ spiral into decline.

With the tremendous power and influence wielded by the Ardes, they could easily rake up wealth, land, and military prowess if they wished to. However, there was one problem that they simply couldn’t resolve—their low reproduction rate.

As a matter of fact, the assault by the Savior’s worshipers hadn’t affected the Ardes’ top-tier fighting prowess by much, but the huge casualties suffered by the vulnerable members led to a rapid decline in the Ardes’ population.

Adding fuel to the fire were the major threats that had befallen humankind and the intrinsic danger that came with the Kingmaker Bloodline, making their downfall inevitable.

That was the limit of what Roel could reasonably infer from Veronica’s memory.

He thought that spelled the end of his trip through history, but to his surprise, Veronica’s heart contained bits and pieces of the fallen treant’s memories as well.

It was usually impossible for a magic tool to record its user’s memories, but Veronica’s heart was unusual in the sense that it had to be kept alive in order to retain its key powers, which was why the fallen treant had embedded it into its body.

Treants were known for their overflowing life force, and this ironically held true for fallen treants as well. That allowed Veronica’s heart to remain well-preserved over the last thousand years, and she naturally inherited bits of the fallen treant’s memories from their connection.

There were differences in how their memories were presented though.

The fallen treant’s memories were chaotic and incoherent, and it showed many things that made Roel shudder out of appallment.

A second ago, he was still standing before a huge congregation of people reverently bowing before him under a bright, cloudless sky, but in the next, he was suddenly standing in the middle of a dusky plain littered with mutilated corpses. The scene changed once again the next second, and he found himself in a mountainous forest, swiftly devouring the earth’s nutrients to grow.

There was no logic or chronological sequence to the memories, but there were occasional glimpses of horrors that gnawed away at his sanity. Even so, he forced himself to watch on. Slowly, he was able to make sense of the situation by piecing bits together.

Thousands of years ago, there was an orchard of treants residing on a mountain range located in the far east. A region shrouded in fog, it was hardly an ideal environment for treants to thrive in. These treants were weak and underdeveloped, but true to their treant instincts, none was willing to leave the land they were born in.

Unwilling to put up with impoverishment, a terribly weak treant decided to venture on a long journey in search of a new land. After decades of hard work, it finally managed to escape from the fog-covered mountain range.

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For the first time in the treant’s life, it basked under the warm brilliance of the sun. Its mana pulsated with never before intensity, and it began to swiftly grow. That was the day its devout reverence for the sun started.

Many years later, after the treant grew tall and strong, it entered the secular world and became a clergyman of the Sun God. It slowly rose through the ranks and eventually became the High Priest of the Nightless City.

Up to this point, the memories depicted the story of a child ignoring his parents' opposition to pursue his own dreams, overcoming all of the difficulties that stood in his way and eventually rising to greatness. That would have made an inspiring tale, but the story suddenly took a sharp turn here.

The Savior fell into depravity.

The divine relic that sat at the highest point of the Nightless City, Portas Eye, suddenly turned into a demonic artifact that dragged others down into a mire of madness. The first ones to be affected were the Treant High Priest and the clergymen responsible for guarding it.

Under the twisted light of Portas Eye, the Nightless City was swiftly gripped by chaos and madness. Corpses piled up along the streets as the clergymen brutally slaughtered others in a fight for the demonic artifact. Screams and blazing flames were everywhere.

Following the treant’s descent into madness, its memories suddenly became muddled up.

In the bits and pieces Roel saw, the chaos in the Nightless City appeared to have alarmed the other races. They quickly rushed to the scene, and without any hesitation, they surrounded the deranged Fallens and eliminated them. However, the Treant High Priest managed to escape into the mountain forest together with Portas Eye.

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Those from the other races initiated a large-scale search and thoroughly combed the nearby forests, determined to destroy the demonic artifact made out of the Savior’s eye, but they couldn’t find the trail of the Treant High Priest.

Just like that, the Treant High Priest went into seclusion together with Portas Eye. Many years passed before the Savior’s worshipers found its dwelling through divine guidance.

By then, the Treant High Priest had already completely lost its mind from prolonged contact with Portas Eye. In order to restore some degree of sanity in it, the Savior’s worshipers transferred a portion of its depravity and insanity into a heart. They then taught the Treant High Priest how fallen treants morphed into humans using a human heart as a catalyst.

That was how the Treant High Priest became one of the leaders of the Fallens.

It participated in the first assault on the Ardes, and that was where it acquired Veronica’s heart. There were many more clashes with the Ardes after that. Several times the powerful Ardes had inflicted severe injuries upon it, but it was able to survive through it all.

Madness had jumbled up the treant’s memories, making them difficult to interpret. Despite so, Roel forced himself to watch on because he knew that there was likely to be crucial information in there.

His persistence paid off.

In a room shrouded in shadows sat a man with blurred facial features. This sight stirred a ripple in Roel’s heart, for he recognized the man to be none other than the Collector.

The Collector placed his hand on a luminescent jar in front of him. The jar was filled with dark-colored medicinal fluid with a fleshy lump reminiscent of a human’s heart floating in it.

“Is it finally going to be completed? All we need is that last portion, and the Ardes’ damned seal wouldn’t be able to stop me anymore…” the Collector muttered.

The fallen treant pointed to its own body and spoke words Roel couldn’t understand. The Collector shook his head in response.

“Calm down, Orked. I don’t need your heart; it’s something else that I’m lacking. But it matters not. There’ll be a chance as long as that their bloodline lives on.”

The fallen treant fell silent.

The scene began to distort at that point, replaced with another gruesome image.

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.