Chapter 540.1: Related to Him (1)
11-14 minutes 03.12.2022
As far as Roel could remember, sharing a bed with Alicia often caused plenty of headaches for him.
He had to think of all kinds of ways to stop her little antics.
Them waking up with their arms around each other was on the milder end of the spectrum; there were even times when their clothes were scattered around the place!
Yet, things were different this time around.
The following day after the hypnotism, Roel woke up and found that Alicia wasn’t in his arms.
Instead, she was lying next to him, her little chest inflating and deflating with every breath.
For a moment there, Roel wondered if the sun had risen from the west, though his surprise quickly faded when he thought about what Alicia had done yesterday.
In truth, he had somewhat sensed that Alicia wasn’t planning to do anything to him yesterday while he was in a vulnerable state.
She simply cast a hypnotism spell on him and took care of him until he fell asleep.
The gentle care she had showered on him was a divergence from her usual mischievous self, and it stirred a peculiar feeling in Roel’s heart.
It looks like Alicia has really grown up.
Looking at the sleeping silver-haired woman, Roel felt both moved and grateful.
Having finally caught a good sleep after two grueling nights of insomnia, Roel felt invigorated.
Compared to last night, his attention span, discerning eye, and analytical ability had recovered to their usual levels.
Despite feeling bursting with energy, he quietly slipped out of bed and left the room.
“Young master, you’re awake.”
Don’t go in yet.
Alicia is still sleeping.”
“I understand, young master.”
After a short conversation with Anna by the doorway, Roel didn’t choose to head straight to the dining room to have his breakfast.
Instead, he quickly washed up before taking a stroll around the manor’s garden.
He gazed in the distant sky as if he was waiting for something.
Last night, before he went to bed, he had purchased a Spiritsense Hatchling from the System, which appeared to have originated from Sia’s divine temple.
It wasn’t a hassle at all for him to control it.
He had sent it on night patrol, and it was about time for it to return.
Roel closed his eyes and quietly circulated his mana while waiting for the Spiritsense Hatchling to return.
It was only when the sun had fully risen to the sky that a little figure could be spotted swooping across the sky.
But instead of gently landing as a bird would, it crashed into the lawn.
Roel rushed over to check on it.
He found many wounds on its grayish-silver body.
Roel frowned in incomprehension.
While the Spiritsense Hatchling didn’t possess any defense mechanism, hunting it down in an open environment was easier said than done.
It traveled at incredible speeds and could remain in the air for a very long time without tiring.
Most importantly of all, it carried a hint of Sia’s aura.
Roel had spent some time replenishing the Spiritsense Hatchling’s mana while inspecting it last night.
His tribute as a ‘clergyman’ here had imbued the hatchling with a whiff of divine worship—or in clearer terms, Sia’s mana pulsation.
Goddess Sia was the supreme existence of the world; the name of the continent should have been an obvious clue.
Her mana pulsation was the strongest deterrence to the beasts of the natural world, including demonic beasts.
From this perspective, it shouldn’t have been possible for the Spiritsense Hatchling to come under attack.
Yet, the returning hatchling’s feathers were in a mess, and there were deep lacerations on its body.
Had any of these lacerations been any deeper, it might have just been reduced to shreds.
Roel narrowed his eyes at this perplexing situation.
Beings that committed blasphemy toward Goddess Sia were likely to be malevolent in nature, which made him take this matter even more seriously.
But when he checked the results of the Spiritsense Hatchling’s scouting, he tilted his head in confusion instead.
Just to be clear, the Spiritsense Hatchling was not equipped with a visual recording function, so he wasn’t able to uncover the culprit that had harmed it.
Nevertheless, he could still formulate some deductions on the situation.
One: the culprit seems to be an aerial beast.
Two: it is likely to be an indiscriminate attack rather than a targeted one.
The Spiritsense Hatchling wouldn’t have been able to return alive if someone was really out to take it down.
“Could it be a summoned beast of the evil cult Or else…” Roel murmured under his breath.
The key ability of the Spiritsense Hatchling was to sense fluctuations in mana pulsations, especially with regard to divine aura.
That was also what Roel was looking at when he browsed through the Spiritsense Hatchling’s memory records.
He didn’t find anything suspicious that called for caution.
Be it in Ascart City or the nearby mountains and rivers, the concentrations of mana were normal.
If he really had to nitpick, the mana concentration in the sky was slightly higher than usual, but mana tended to clump in the sky during the snowing season.
That made it hard to determine whether this spike was simply a natural phenomenon or the result of external intervention.
“Now that I think about it, the sky does look darker than usual.”
Roel looked at the slightly dim sky in the far distance and frowned.
An ominous feeling had started welling in his heart.
Aerial battles were one of Roel’s greatest weaknesses.
It was obvious just by looking at the attributes of his contracted ancient gods.
Grandar lacked the ability to fly, whereas Peytra was the Primordial Earth Goddess.
This novel is available on bit.ly/3Tfs4P4.
The only exception was Witch Queen Artasia, who was capable of levitation and well-versed in all sorts of long-range spells.
She made up the bulk of his firepower in aerial battles.
It was just that she was out of commission for the time being, and there were a few more days to go before her return.
Roel tried to analyze the situation, but once again, he was impeded by his severe lack of crucial intelligence.
In the end, he gave up and headed to the study room, where Rodney, Cynthia, and the others were already waiting for him.
“Lord Roel, for the time being, we have accomplished the mission you entrusted to us,” Cynthia reported with a respectful bow.
Roel would have expected no less from them.
Tasking three Origin Level 3 experts to thoroughly comb their home turf for suspicious personnel within two days was basically overkill.
Unfortunately, they weren’t able to uncover anything significant.
To be fair, they had managed to capture a huge bunch of criminals, fugitives, and even hidden members of minor evil cults, showing how competent they were, but there was nothing that addressed his current concerns.
Roel was a little disappointed after hearing Cynthia’s report, but then again, he hadn’t expected much out of this in the first place.
Ascart City was firmly under the control of the Ascarts.
If Roel were the enemy, he wouldn’t have made any reckless move that could have alarmed him either.
“…You did well.
Keep up the good work.
Make sure to maintain the highest level of vigilance.
Check every single person entering the city.
Don’t let anything suspicious slip past your notice.” Roel complimented the two heretical sects for their hard work over the last two days before telling them to rest up.
After the others left the study room, he took a moment to reflect on the current situation.
Overall, the intelligence he had on hand was still lacking.
The Spiritsense Hatchling’s injuries suggested that there might be a malevolent being in the vicinity, but there weren’t any clues as to who and where they were.
No enemies had been found inside the city either.
It had already been three days since he received Artasia’s warning, but he didn’t even know who he was up against.
What was absolutely necessary in the initial construction phase of a city
There were varying answers to this question depending on the era.
There was a time in the distant past when all that was required were wooden branches, fertile land, and Sia’s blessing, but it had since evolved into ‘the approval of the ruling family, capital, and the ability to self-defend’ in the present era.
The ability to self-defend was closely linked to the presence of a military force.
A military force was essential for security reasons so that the populace could go about their daily tasks without fearing for their lives.
As a matter of fact, the first few cities to pop up in the early days of the Third Epoch were founded by military forces, serving as fortresses against demonic beasts.
The other aspect of it was the fortress barrier.
Fortress barriers were defensive magic tools developed in the early years of the Third Epoch, and they had helped humankind survive its darkest period.
Ascart City, with nearly a millennium behind it, naturally had fortress barriers too.
“Lord Brother, this is the most valuable item of our Ascart City”
At least for individual assets, there’s nothing more valuable than a fortress magic tool.”
Roel and Alicia stood atop the city wall, gazing down on the experts who were carefully calibrating massive fortress magic tools under the watch of countless soldiers.
Anna and the other aides of the Ascart House, who were standing behind the duo, looked a little nervous too.
Even Roel had never seen Ascart City’s fortress barrier before, let alone the others.
This barrier served as a last resort, only to be deployed when the city was on the verge of collapse.
Throughout the last thousand years, it had only been deployed a couple of times.
On the one hand, the Ascart Fiefdom rarely faced any aggression from surrounding states.
Its superior military might did play a deterrence factor, but more than that, no one wanted to risk the Genesis Goddess Church stoking its countless worshipers to act against them.
In fact, the vassal fiefs of the Saint Mesit Theocracy had been so peaceful over the years that most of their fortress barriers had grown obsolete.
The Ascart Fiefdom was the only one who continued to maintain and enhance its fortress barrier, which was likely due to its military-centric take on governance.
There were rumors that its barrier was second only to the Holy Capital’s Angel Wings, capable of withstanding massive army spells that were intended to take out tens of thousands of troops.
Of course, deploying something of such potency was bound to be expensive.
Just activating the fortress barrier itself already cost a hundred thousand gold coins, and huge amounts of resources would be subsequently depleted every second.
Even when left to be, the fortress barrier consumed a small fortune every year just for maintenance.
Were it not for the Ascart Fiefdom’s swift economic development in recent years, the Ascart House could have really bankrupted itself by just deploying the fortress barrier once.
That could have very well been the reason previous patriarchs of the Ascart House, in the few wars they had fought, chose to personally march onto the battlefield to confront the enemy.
At least there was still a sliver of hope if they risked their lives on the battlefield.
But if they deployed the fortress barrier, they would, without doubt, fall into destitution.