Chapter 447: Forgotten Legend
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The moment Lilian subconsciously declared that the Austine Empire’s plan would end in failure, a startled look showed on Audrey’s face. A second later, Lilian belatedly realized that she had misspoken and stopped her hand movement.

“Your Highness, I have no intention of refuting you, but the circumstances surrounding the Theocracy aren’t looking optimistic,” said Audrey after much hesitation.

Grasping onto the documents in her hands tightly, she took a moment to carefully construe her words before carrying on.

“Unrest has been spreading across the Theocracy following the tragedy at Tark Stronghold. Currently, the Ascarts are the only one of the Five Eminent Noble Houses that fully supports the royal family. The other three aren’t as keen on it. The Belfast Marquess and the Lucerne Duke sent the minimum number of troops when reinforcement was requested. The Weiss Marquess offered more support in comparison, but the troops he sent number no more than ten thousand.

“I can’t deny that the allied army has performed excellently thus far, but most of it can be credited to the Ascart Marquess’ wise leadership. Should the situation take a turn for the worse, the allied army could swiftly fall apart given the conflicting interests of the various parties. Furthermore… their opponent is none other than the Seze Dukedom,” said Audrey worriedly.

She would have never imagined that a day would come where she would be worried about the troops of a foreign country. Beside her, there was a slight stir in Lilian’s expression after hearing her trusted aide’s words.

It would be foolish to think of the Seze Dukedom like any other high noble, but Lilian persisted in her stance after some consideration.

“I acknowledge that the Sezes are powerful and unpredictable. I reckon that Duke Brookley has been promised huge benefits for executing the plan. Nevertheless, there’s still a difference in the Ackermanns’ and Sezes’ attitudes toward this war.

“Replacing the Saint Mesit Theocracy as the new leaders of the Sia Continent and turning the Austine Empire into the only empire of humankind; it does sound like a lofty goal that all of us will work hard for. But in actuality?” Lilian calmly posed her question with coldness in her eyes.

Audrey fell to silence. She understood what Lilian was driving at as she was a noble too.

Bringing back the Austine Empire’s past days of glory might benefit everyone, but there was a clear distinction in the benefits each person received. Commoners would only have more resources at their disposal and be slightly more wealthy. It was slightly better for nobles since they would be able to expand their territory, and their standing would naturally rise.

However, the greatest beneficiary of it all was the emperor.

The Ackermann Imperial Family was the overseer of humankind back in the era of the Ancient Austine Empire. The authority they wielded then was close to that of the gods. Returning to that era of glory meant that the Ackermanns’ imperial authority would grow rapidly, leaving the dukes of the Austine Empire in the dust.

The power balance that had been maintained between the nobles and the imperial family would crumble.

Emperor Lukas had likely promised huge benefits to the Sezes for them to mobilize their army, but the real question here was whether the Sezes were going to fully commit themselves to the battle or not. It would be great if the battle turned out to be easy, but if the Sezes foresaw heavy losses, they were unlikely to sacrifice themselves for the Ackermanns.

Audrey’s complexion visibly improved upon having made sense of the situation. She believed that everything would go well as long as this golden opportunity for First Prince Lucius didn’t work out. She was too caught up in her thoughts that she didn’t notice that Lilian didn’t state her conclusion after posing her rhetorical question.

That was because she thought of a key variable in the Sezes’ possession.

Her judgment was that the Sezes wouldn’t go all-out if they had to pay a heavy price for victory, but at the same time, she was aware that the Sezes had a certain someone who would almost certainly guarantee their victory.

The Seze House was a unique existence in the Austine Empire not just because of their influence but the existence of a certain someone. There was still hope if that certain someone chose not to make a move, but if he did…

Lilian couldn’t help but frown as she thought about this slim possibility. She stood up and walked over to the window once more. As she gazed at the desolate winter scenery outside, an ominous feeling started swelling up in her heart.

“It can’t possibly happen, right…”

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A black-haired man surfaced in her mind, and she prayed for his safety in her heart.

While Lilian was tracing a name on her document with wandering thoughts, Roel was sitting before a candlelight stand, staring at the pile of reports before him as he pondered about recent events.

It had been nearly a week since he had departed from the Holy Capital.

Ever since the Sezes trespassed onto their territory, the Theocracy’s intelligence network had been thoroughly investigating them. The investigation reports swiftly stacked up, allowing Roel to gain a decent understanding of his enemy.

In summary, the Sezes were not easy to deal with.

Most high nobles in the Austine Empire had long histories dating back to the Second Epoch, and such was the case for the Seze Ducal House. One distinguished historical figure from the Seze House in the Second Epoch was the famous general, Rouville Seze.

When the ancestor of a family had an illustrious record in the military, his descendants would usually inherit his legacy and make a living in the military too. The Sezes were one of the noble houses in control of military power during the mass migration, and they were also one of the founding noble houses of the current Austine Empire.

Unlike the other noble houses, the Sezes had chosen to stay away from political strife ever since the founding of the current Austine Empire, though they remained dedicated to developing their military forces. They boasted the strongest military prowess of all noble houses in the Austine Empire.

It was for that reason that Emperor Lukas chose to entrust this job to them.

Roel couldn’t help but notice that Sezes’ trajectory was very similar to that of the Ascarts, and that piqued his wariness.

The Sezes aren’t just a bunch of spoilt nobles. They are a true military house that can put up a tough fight.

Both Roel and the frontline command center eventually arrived at this conclusion.

If that was all, Roel would have been vigilant about the Sezes but not overly worried. What truly concerned him was a legend spreading within the populace of the Seze Dukedom.

Similar to how the tide ebbs and flows, the Sezes had its fair share of ups and downs even though it was a powerful military house. Around three centuries ago, the Sezes suffered a major blow and found themselves suppressed by all the other noble houses.

It was a huge crisis, but a young man named Layton Seze stood forth. He was known to be an incredibly talented prodigy who had left legends in many parts of the world, but he was constantly traveling from country to country so it was hard to grab hold of his whereabouts.

He returned to the Seze Ducal House in its moment of despair and slowly resuscitated it. At the same time, he continued to grow stronger, eventually reaching the highest pinnacle a transcendent could reach, Origin Level 1, and becoming the strongest transcendent of the Austine Empire.

However, much to everyone’s surprise, after Layton reached Origin Level 1 and managed the Seze House as its patriarch for over a century, he chose not to become one of the leaders of humankind like Antonio. On the contrary, he stepped down from his role as the Seze House’s patriarch and slowly disappeared from everyone’s view.

His abrupt retirement brought about plenty of speculation.

Some suggested that he was giving a chance to his descendants. After all, if his descendants were to remain sheltered under his halo, they might not be able to hold their own when Layton eventually passed away.

Another popular theory was that Layton had grown tired of the political strife amongst the upper echelons of humankind. Things were tense between the Austine Empire and the Saint Mesit Theocracy during that period of time, looking as if a war was imminent.

All in all, the important thing was that this Origin Level 1 transcendent had gone into seclusion. Many people thought that it was a huge waste, but it was not as if anyone dared to openly criticize him for his decision, so life went on as usual.

The Sezes became an untouchable existence ever since—who would dare to mess with them when they had one of the strongest human transcendents behind them? Time went by, and new outstanding talents emerged in their lineage.

In Roel’s previous life, it was often jokingly said that a netizen’s memory only lasted for seven seconds. That was due to the massive influx of information from the onset of the Digital Age. News tended to be more lasting in the information-scarce Sia Continent, but Layton’s influence had slowly diminished ever since he went into seclusion.

Over the course of two centuries, the populace gradually forgot about Layton Seze’s existence. Invitation letters were no longer addressed to this legendary figure. Nobles stopped mentioning him in their greetings. Village children began chanting the name of another hero.

Layton Seze had become nothing more than a figure mentioned in history books. No one was concerned about him even though the Sezes had never held a funeral for him.

No one could have imagined then that the legend would reawaken from his slumber.

Eighty years ago, when humankind was utterly cornered by the deviants in the Fourth Holy War, Layton Seze returned.

He had already turned into a white-haired elder by then, but he carried the fate of humankind with a staunch back. He raised his fists and vanquished the fear of the soldiers who had long forgotten about him, crushing the swelling ambitions of the deviants.

Under his leadership, the forces of humankind climbed out from the pits of despair and drove out the deviants. With this victory, Layton was lauded as a hero once again.

Even Roel felt an adrenaline rush when he read up to this point.

It was in this war that Layton was dubbed the ‘Military God’. His prestige soared to the peak, be it amongst the allied armies of humankind or the Austine Empire. However, to everyone’s surprise, Layton chose to return to seclusion and slowly fade from the people’s sight after overcoming the danger.

No one dared to pose any opposition to Layton’s decision, but this time around, the people didn’t forget about him. Instead, they erected statues of him and worshiped him as the Military God. It was for that reason that Roel had so much information on him.

Unfortunately, none of this was good news for Roel, as the Sezes were now his enemies.

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