LTBE - Chapter 477.1: Raising A Wastrel (1)
In the devastated town, Roel embraced Lilian tightly as he pondered upon their future.
While he wanted to resolve the threat of the Fallens by himself, he knew that he had no grounds to exclude Lilian from this matter, especially after her rebuttal. Her claim as the future mother of his child was simply too much for him to fight against.
This wasn’t a bad thing since Lilian was indubitably a reliable ally.
The current plan was for them to take the initiative to strike the Fallens, but it wouldn’t do for them to fumble around like headless flies. They would have to devise a proper strategy to deal with the Fallens.
“The Savior’s worshipers are already very close to success, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for us,” Roel muttered contemplatively.
He knew that the Fallens needed to tribute awakeners of the Kingmaker Bloodline in order to unravel the seal placed on the Savior, but that was no easy feat at all.
Even after the Ardes’ fall from grace, they were still far from being powerless. Even in their weakened state, they still had powerhouses such as Astrid and Wendy Arde. A comeback wouldn’t have been possible, but they chose to hide in the shadows so as to minimize the chances of the Savior’s awakening.
Furthermore, the Savior’s worshipers had clearly gotten complacent after defeating the Ardes. Instead of focusing their attention on unraveling the Savior’s seal, they turned their eyes toward the Ackermanns instead. Their extreme action alerted the Ackermanns as to how dangerous they were, prompting furious retaliation.
The Ardes eventually survived the tumultuous period of time nearing the end of the Second Epoch, although the extenuating circumstances had forced them to split into several houses. Their main lineage, the Ascarts, came under the protection of the Xeclydes and swiftly bulked up. They even rebuilt the Twilight Sages Assembly at one point in time.
On the other hand, the Fallens had failed to awaken the Savior, and there was a constant witch hunt for them during the mass migration westward too. Their number swiftly plummeted as a result. The tables were turned on them.
The Fallens had been working on this plan for a long thousand years, and success was finally within their reach. But the closer they were to success, the more likely they were to get impatient and err.
“The invasion of the deviants is the prelude to the Savior’s awakening. To the Fallens, there will be no better opportunity than this. They had been able to maintain their upper hand thus far by scheming in the shadows, but their impatience is slowly pushing them toward the forefront. This is a result of that,” Roel said as he glanced at the carcass of the fallen treant.
If the primary cause of the downfall of the Ardes a thousand years ago was their arrogance, the ones who were filled with arrogance now would be the Fallens. They believed that the current Ascarts didn’t come close to matching the Ardes at their peak of power, which was technically not wrong.
There was just one slight miscalculation.
The Ascarts were weaker now, but the same could be said about the Fallens.
At the very least, those of the Kingmaker Clan were capable of standing against the Fallens. Other than the initial disadvantage Roel suffered due to his ignorance about the enemy’s demonic artifact, it was practically a one-sided battle against the Treant High Priest afterward.
To be fair, the battle would have been much harder if Lilian hadn’t stalled the flame spirits for him, but Roel thought that he would have still emerged victorious in an all-out battle.
While Roel attempted to measure how their fighting prowess compared with the Fallens, Lilian thought about the memories he had about their ancestors and started feeling a little uneasy.
Based on Roel’s description of the three fragments of memories he had seen from Veronica, the Ardes didn’t live in seclusion despite the obscurity around them. This was apparent from Veronica’s birthday banquet, where the guests weren’t just limited to the Ardes. It was likely that they had assumed an alternate identity on the surface.
In any case, this would mean that they had been living within the sphere of influence of the Ackermann Imperial Family.
Lilian initially didn’t think too much about the Savior’s worshipers assaulting the vulnerable members of the Ardes, but taking this piece of information into consideration, it quickly became apparent to her that something was very wrong here.
How could the Ardes have not known that the remaining members of their clan were vulnerable to enemy attacks once they dispatched all of their elites? If they did, why would they have made such a decision? They did value the lives of their clan members, as shown by how Veronica was excluded from the mission due to her pregnancy.
The missing piece to this puzzle, Lilian believed, was the protection of the Ancient Austine Empire.
The Ardes had thrown themselves into the pits of danger in order to protect humankind; it was only right for the Ancient Austine Empire to guarantee the safety of their brethren. Yet, Roel saw no reinforcements when the Savior’s worshipers attacked the vulnerable members of the Ardes.
This didn’t make sense at all.
Ominous guesses surfaced in Lilian’s mind, especially when she recalled the grudge Astrid held against the Ackermanns.
The Ackermanns might have a part to play in the incident. The Ardes might be growing too powerful for their comfort, so they wanted to deal a blow to the Ardes so as to curb them.
It was hard to tell how the political situation was back then, but if Lilian had to fathom a guess, there was likely to be a subtle relationship between the Ackermanns and the Ardes.
On one hand, the Ardes were the guardians protecting the Ancient Austine Empire from major threats, but at the same time, their great power was also a threat to the Ackermanns’ rule. The Ackermanns had only been willing to tolerate the Ardes due to the latter’s explicit refusal to involve themselves in politics, evident by their choice to go into obscurity.
However, after the Ardes founded the Twilight Sages Assembly, their influence swiftly expanded far beyond just the scope of their own clan members. Factoring in the overwhelming intrinsic strength of the Ardes, it was inevitable that the Ackermanns would fear them.
The Ackermanns were probably thinking of standing by the sidelines while the Ardes and the Fallens tore at each other, but they didn’t expect the elite forces of the Ardes and the Twilight Sages Assembly to suffer tremendous damage in their mission to save humankind too. This miscalculation caused the scales to tilt overwhelmingly in favor of the Fallens, eventually resulting in the collapse of the Ancient Austine Empire.
Thinking up to this point, Lilian clenched her fists tightly and cursed her ancestors’ foolishness. Roel noticed a frown on her forehead and asked worriedly.
“What’s wrong, senior?”
“It’s nothing… I’m just feeling a little uncomfortable thinking about the Ackermanns.”
After spending a moment in thought, Lilian suddenly turned to look at Roel with unease brimming in her eyes. It occurred to her that if she was able to deduce this far, Roel, who had personally witnessed Veronica’s memories, should have reached the same realization as well.
She couldn’t help but feel apprehensive about what Roel thought about this matter.
While she possessed the Kingmaker Bloodline, there was no doubt that she was an Ackermann and an imperial princess of the Austine Empire. How would Roel see her now that he found out that her ancestors’ ill-will had resulted in the downfall of his ancestors?
Lilian stared at Roel for a prolonged period of time before finally initiating the conversation with much difficulty.
“Roel, you should have realized it by now. The Ackermanns might have a hand in that incident.”
There was a moment of silence before Roel answered.
“… I’m aware of it.”
He was painfully aware of the lack of reinforcements for the Ardes during the battle against the Savior’s worshipers. From the surrounding buildings, he deduced that the Ardes were residing in the capital of the Ancient Austine Empire. No matter how influential the Savior’s worshipers were, there was simply no way they could have launched an attack in the heart of the Ancient Austine Empire without alarming the Ackermanns.
Taking a step back, even if there was a gap in the Ackermanns’ intelligence, the intense battle that had transpired should have alerted them to the happenings right away. If they truly intended to reinforce the Ardes, they would have surely been able to make it in time.
The thought of that evoked a sigh from Roel.
Just as Astrid had said, the Ackermanns had pandered to the Savior’s worshipers in order to maintain their grasp on power. However, he didn’t think that this had anything to do with Lilian.
“Senior, you can’t be thinking that I would blame you for this matter?” asked Roel.
Lilian lowered her head. There was a heavy look on her face.
“… A little. I am an Ackermann, after all.”
“What about it? To me, you are simply you. Haven’t you asked me this question back then?”
“I did, but this is a different situation.”
Lilian recalled the expressions Roel had shown after witnessing the memories in Veronica’s heart, and her eyelashes drooped a little.
“Listening to someone narrating the incident and witnessing the events in person are two different matters. You have always wanted to know what had happened to your ancestors, and now you have found both your enemy and their accomplice. Are you sure that you don’t want to do anything at all?”
Roel was at a loss for words.
He had indeed been trying to investigate the downfall of the Ardes, and the truth did anger him. He viewed the Fallens as his sworn enemy, but it was a different matter when it came to the Ackermanns.
“Astrid said that in the final years of the Second Epoch, an ancestor of the Ascart House, Caroline Ascart, had cooperated with the Ackermanns to save humankind. I don’t know whether the Ackermanns were doing it out of guilt or self-preservation, but I’d think that the grudges between the two houses have already been settled back in that era.
“The Ackermanns’ unfounded skepticism of the Ardes is one of the key internal reasons that led to that tragedy a thousand years ago. If I turn my back on my lover over her family name, I wouldn’t be any different from them.”
“Senior, let’s not waste our energy on such meaningless skepticism. How could you, an inheritor of our Ascart Bloodline, possibly be considered an outsider? Besides… aren’t you the future mother of our children?”
At Roel’s mischievous tease, Lilian raised her head to look at him. A while later, a blissful smile broke out on her face.
“… You’re right. It’s unbecoming of me to worry over every small thing.”
“Unbecoming? I do agree that senior is different from before, but I like this side of you too.”
“… You’re getting better at words.”
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“You don’t like it?” asked Roel.
Shaking her head in response, Lilian stepped forward and kissed Roel on his lips. With her lover reflected in her amethyst eyes, she murmured affectioantely in response.
“I like it.”