Chapter 35: Journeying
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A faint perfume coming from scented sachets suffused the interior of a spacious, moving carriage. By his side, a lightly snoozing small girl felt a little warm against him.

It was such an environment that Roel opened his eyes groggily to look at the same, old ceiling he had seen for the last three days now.

They were traveling in a horse carriage at the moment. It had been two months since the onset of winter.

Roel, who rarely left the Ascart Fiefdom, was on his way to an annual social gathering of nobles that started just last year—Her Highness Nora’s birthday celebration.

As the only successor to the Xeclyde House, Nora Xeclyde was extremely doted on by her grandfather, the incumbent Holy Eminence, John Xeclyde. For this reason, the social debut she had on her previous birthday was made extremely grand.

The word ‘debut’ sounded just like an idol making their first media appearance, and it was a surprisingly apt description of the ritual. In this world, a noble’s social debut referred to the first time he or she appeared in public, or put more simply, the first banquet that was attended.

Children of nobility would undergo etiquette classes until their parents felt that they looked respectable enough to appear before the circle of their peerage. The parents would then find a suitable occasion to hold a banquet and invite guests over to introduce their child to them.

The occasions most commonly used for social debuts were birthdays, since it doubled as a celebration at the same time. The Ascart House had also held a banquet for Roel’s social debut earlier at the start of the year, and it was quite a grand event too.

Contrary to popular belief, nobles rarely held celebrations without deeper agendas, since celebrations were rather costly to host. Nora Xeclyde had already made her social debut the previous year, so there was bound to be a different agenda for her birthday banquet this time around and for the following years too.

Using the words of the Xeclydes, it was an occasion to unite everyone together and deepen relationships so that they could work together to lead the Theocracy toward a brighter future. In more conventional terms, it was to build connections and make friends.

Even with the Xeclydes authority as the royal family, there were still many issues where they would need the support of the nobles, especially those from the Five Eminent Noble Houses. The Five Eminent Noble Houses carried a lot of clout due to their long-standing history, so even the royal family had to try to maintain friendly relations with them.

As for the minor nobles… their role there was to pay respects to the royal family and know what the top brass of the country looked like, so as to avoid crossing them in the future.

Roel was absent for this important banquet last year due to illness, so unless he were to be incapacitated, there was no way he would be able to escape from it. Not to mention, he was supposed to be a ‘close friend’ of Nora Xeclyde too.

Close friend, my ass!

Roel retorted coldly in his heart as he straightened his body upright and gazed out of the carriage’s window. As the temperature continued to plummet, fewer people were getting out of their homes to move outside, especially in the suburbs.

The road that they were traveling on had piled up high with quite a bit of snow, but fortunately, the Ascart’s carriage was a top-quality magic tool. Putting aside its top tier ability to absorb shock, it was also able to travel at speeds comparable to riding on a normal steed, and it could steer through difficult terrain too. Nevertheless, even with the unobstructed traffic, it still took three days to travel from Ascart City to Holy Capital Loren.

The group had rested in towns the previous nights, so their traveling speed was slowed considerably. The Ascart House had originally prepared two carriages for this journey, one for Roel and one for Alicia, but out of sheer boredom, Alicia eventually climbed into Roel’s carriage to seek refuge.

“Big brother Roel, I’m lonely.”

“Come and join me in here then.”

Seeing how adorable the pouty-faced Alicia was, Roel immediately succumbed to her request. So, they continued their journey with a single carriage from that point on. Time seemed to pass faster when there was a companion. The two of them spent their time chatting and playing chess, and they would lie together with one another when they got tired. Despite that, three days cooped up inside a carriage still proved to be too stifling for Roel to bear.

“Young master, we’re going to arrive at our destination very soon. Please hold on for a little longer,” said Anna, as she comforted the young man who was rolling his eyes at the scenery outside.

Over the past two days, due to Alicia’s arrival, Anna had been providing Roel with a great deal of Affection Points. Being able to admire this young couple at proximity had thrilled her, such that her knowing adult smile had been appearing with far greater frequency than before. Even three days of carriage ride couldn’t dampen her spirits.

“Holy Capital Loren should be filled with nobles by now, right? Where are we going to stay?”

“The Ascart House has its own property in the Holy Capital. It was bought by your predecessors, and there are servants stationed there to maintain it.”

“I see.”

Roel was able to put his heart at ease after hearing Anna’s words. The two of them continued to chat for another hour before the coachman informed them that the three-days journey had finally come to an end.

Holy Capital Loren, as the base of operations and the face of the Xeclydes, was both grand and imposing. Its city walls towered at a height of 10 meters and were built by piling massive white boulders upon one another. Its immaculate white exterior made it look like a divine stronghold of mankind, and this image was further reinforced by the presence of fully armored soldiers patrolling the area.

But well, looks were just looks.

Despite how heavily fortified Holy Capital Loren was, it had never been sieged before, not even once. This was the holy land of the Genesis Goddess Church, and it held a special place in the hearts of Goddess Sia’s worshippers. It was a testament to just how far the beliefs of the church had permeated the whole of humanity; no one had ever dared to raise their arms toward this place.

And how strong could soldiers who had never faced war possibly be? Roel felt that there were so many precedents in the history of his previous world that the answer was rather clear-cut.

As the carriage rumbled forward, the towering city walls gradually grew closer and closer. The extravagant exterior of the Ascart House’s carriage swiftly caught the attention of the crowd lining up before the city gates.

“What a beautiful carriage! Where did this noble come from?”

“Must be from a distinguished noble house.”

The crowd discussed amongst themselves.

On the other hand, the soldiers guarding the city gates knew just what to look out for.

“Look at that insignia!”

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“Eye of a Candlelight, it’s the Ascart House!”

“The Ascarts? Hurry up and open the side gates!”

The guards on duty quickly informed their commander of the arrival of the Ascart House, and the commander immediately ordered for the opening of the side gates. At the same time, the crowd before the city gate also opened up a path and stood deferentially to the sides as they watched the carriage race by.

Roel was able to catch a firsthand glimpse of the influence the Ascart House had in the Theocracy just by looking at the civilians outside from the windows of the carriage. These civilians held great respect toward the Ascart House, and it was even more so for the commander of the city gates. After amicably exchanging a few words with the coachman, the commander swiftly granted them passageway.

“Hmm, it looks like our house is doing quite well in the military?”

“The Ascart House has great influence in the military. It has been twenty years since the old master joined.”

Anna’s response to Roel’s question made both him and the just awoken Alicia realize just how heavy their family name was.

They would have to make sure to carry themselves well, so as to not embarrass the name of the Ascarts.

Roel shot a glance at Alicia, and the two of them nodded their heads in unison.

The carriage slowed down significantly after entering the city. The crowds along the streets grew denser the deeper they headed into the city, and discussions broke out when passers-by noticed the insignia of the Ascart House on the carriage. There were even a few who were explaining to their companions what the insignia represented.

Soon, the carriage left the bustling market area behind to arrive at the more peaceful residential area for nobles which boasted an exuberance of beautiful scenery. Traveling past several magnificent mansions, they soon stopped before a classical villa.

The Ascart House’s Labyrinth Villa.

Translator Notes

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