LTBE - Chapter 484.1: The One Missing (1)
Along the road leading to the Rosa Merchant Confederacy, Roel settled under a tree and gazed at the starry night sky above. Not too far away, his guards were busy setting up their camp.
It had been three days since he left Saint Freya Academy to chase after Charlotte.
Taking a rest was the last thing on his mind when his heart was gripped by anxiety. Their group had advanced tirelessly without taking any breaks, but to their surprise, they still hadn’t managed to catch up with the Diamond Rivière.
Based on Roel’s estimates, they should have been able to catch up with Charlotte by this morning despite the latter’s two days lead over them. They were bound to be significantly faster considering that they were traveling on horseback whereas Charlotte’s convoy consisted of carriages. Yet, the Diamond Rivière was nowhere to be seen even though the day was already coming to an end.
Roel knew of the Diamond Rivière’s functions, having personally spent many days in there. The mobile mansion constructed out of spatial magic was constructed with comfort being its primary focus, so its traveling speed was slower than ordinary carriages.
Unless there had been an abrupt major technology breakthrough in the last few years, there could only be one reason why the Diamond Rivière was still out of sight.
Is Charlotte in a rush just like us? Roel thought with a frown.
If he was still unsure whether his worries were unfounded or not, this subtle detail was most definitely a call for concern.
Nora had to rush back to the Theocracy in order to fulfill the agreements made during the International Crisis Management Symposium. The Rosa Merchant Confederacy would have their fair share of responsibilities too, but there shouldn’t have been any urgent business that demanded such haste from Charlotte.
It was more like Charlotte was fleeing from something.
Is there an enemy pursuing her?
No, that’s unlikely. We’re traveling on the main path in the Country of Scholars. No one would be foolish enough to make a move here. Even the fallen treant, Orked, lured us to a remote border town in the Austine Empire before making its move.
If it’s not an enemy, what could have put Charlotte in such a rush? Could it be that… she’s avoiding me?
The more Roel considered it, the more plausible the possibility looked. Doubts started filling his mind.
Why is she avoiding me? Is there a problem in our relationship I’m unaware of? If so, we should have sat downand talked things through instead. Is she hiding something from me?
The ominous premonition Roel had expanded his anxieties, and he clenched his fists tightly. He subconsciously glanced at the heretic army, who was busy setting up their camp, but he quickly shook his head and instead took deep breaths to compose himself.
No, they are in no condition to continue traveling. We have already gone three days without rest. I should take this time to carefully think things through instead.
Assuming that something has happened to Charlotte, what could it be? It’s unlikely that she’s in physical danger considering how she has Grace and her guards with her. It’s likelier for it to be an internal matter instead.
The deepening economic and military ties between the Ascart Fiefdom and the Rosa Merchant Confederacy over the last few years have greatly elevated Charlotte’s position in the country. Not to mention, she has the backing of both Grandpa Ugin and Uncle Bruce. It’s hard to imagine anyone shaking her position in the…
Wait a moment! Bruce!
Roel’s eyes widened as he recalled the impetus behind his meeting with Charlotte—the oil lamp he had sold to the Sorofyas. That was a request made by Bruce Sorofya himself to alleviate the mysterious affliction that was slowly consuming his body.
The oil lamp did curb the affliction, but it was only a temporary measure. It eventually ran out of oil, though it was a huge relief that the purification effects of the oil lamp lingered on, albeit with lowered effectiveness.
Unfortunately, Roel couldn’t purchase another Soulcalming Lamp as most goods sold by the System were one-time-off, and he hadn’t been able to find anything similar to it either.
Uncle Bruce has been able to hold on with the help of the oil lamp, but his condition is still steadily worsening over time. Could Charlotte’s anomaly have something to do with that?
Roel breathed a sigh of relief. He was feeling much more composed now knowing that Charlotte might not be the one in danger. Bruce’s death would also have huge repercussions on the Ascart Fiefdom, but at this moment, his personal feelings outweighed his sense of responsibility.
Shaking his head at his own selfishness, he turned back to the sky and allowed the stars to carry his thoughts away.
“Young miss, you can’t continue on like that!”
Inside the Diamond Rivière, Grace cried out in anguish.
Things were still looking optimistic yesterday when Charlotte’s condition improved a little, but an attack she suffered earlier in the morning set her back and she had been languishing ever since.
These attacks had no warnings to them and they couldn’t be stopped either. The only thing that could suppress them was the Golden Soul, but its effectiveness was limited too. It was almost as if a specter was haunting Charlotte and she couldn’t shake it off.
Watching how Charlotte’s condition turned for the worst within mere minutes agitated Grace.
“Young miss, please forgive me. I’ll be informing Lord Roel of this matter regardless of your objections.”
“Grace! I told you that…” Charlotte uttered feebly.
“Young miss, I am your personal guard as much as your maid. It’s my job to ensure your safety. I don’t think I am able to protect you on my own anymore, so it’s only right for me to seek help. Please don’t be stubborn about this anymore,” Grace sharply interjected into Charlotte’s words, expressing her stance with determination.
Charlotte was stunned by Grace’s conviction. She tried to persuade the latter with a gentle voice.
“Grace, you’re exaggerating things. My condition isn’t as bad as it seems. It’s just that the affliction hits harder at night, making me look worse the following morning. That was the case for my father. You should be aware of that too.”
Unfortunately, Charlotte’s persuasion was useless before Grace.
“I have indeed heard about how Lord Bruce’s complexion worsens in the morning. But young miss, I’m not oblivious to how the frequency and intensity of your attacks have increased over the past year.”
Charlotte couldn’t argue against that.
Just as Grace said, her affliction started out as a slight feeling of discomfort that lasted for seconds, occurring once every fifteen days. It was so mild that it could have been mistaken as a sign of exhaustion. But before long she knew it, the attacks lengthened into minutes, and their intervals shortened to once every few days.
It hadn’t grown so severe as to endanger Charlotte’s life yet, but as seen in Bruce’s case, it was only a matter of time before it developed into a fatal disease.
Grace doubled down on her stance and insisted on contacting Roel, but the obstinate Charlotte refused to budge on that. In the midst of their confrontation, someone suddenly knocked on the carriage doors.
“Young miss, we discovered a group of mounted soldiers behind us. Their leader is the proxy fief lord of the Ascart Fiefdom, Lord Roel. What should…”
Charlotte immediately sat upward upon hearing her guard’s words, her emerald eyes narrowing sharply. Meanwhile, Roel was swiftly closing the distance between them.
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