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Chapter 1178: Being a Grown-up
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn

Two days after the issuance of the order before the actual implementation of the migration policy, Lightning and Maggie returned to Neverwiner.

Roland was a little shocked at the changes in the two little girls as they came into the office.

Maggie had not changed much except she was a little fuller than half a year ago, making her now terribly resemble a goose instead of a pigeon.

He was, as a matter of fact, surprised at Lightning.

Her hair was a lot longer, which cascaded down to her shoulders, a little unkempt as a result of a long-haul flight. Her face was dirty. Several ugly pouches sprouted from her patched flight suit near her legs, chest and shoulders, which Roland highly suspected they were the work of her own. Although Lightning was disheveled and windswept, she looked more like a true explorer now.

The biggest change, however, lay in her eyes and the expression she was wearing.

Roland suddenly realized she was no longer that little girl he used to know.

"Your Majesty, did you request to see me?"

Lightning said as she swept a bow.

For a second, Roland did not know what to say. Finally, he told her about Ursrook's letter and Edith's deduction from it. "If the demons do plan to do what the letter suggests, the consequence will be disastrous. Therefore, I want you guys to fly to the Kingdom of Everwinter and explore the untraversed mountain range in the north. Demons can't survive without the Red Mist. If they wanted to enter the mountainous area, they should have left some traces there."

"That's unbelievable..." Lightning remarked, her brows contracted. "It's very fortunate that Maggie found his letter, but Your Majesty, what if the demons operate underground? You must understand that what I could do is limited. It's really hard for me to spot deliberately hidden objects from above."

"That'll be the worst scenario," said Roland. "The God's Punishment Witches will bring a magic core and take off at the Shallow Beach to join you. If you can't find the demons, they'll resort to the magic core to conduct a final search." Judging from the result of the "Torch" project, Roland noticed that the demons were not as good at excavation as human beings who possessed the devouring worms. However, as the demons had, at one time, occupied half of the Land of Dawn, they were definitely more proficient in magic. As such, it was unlikely that the demons would have no knowledge of the relic of the underground civilization when even the Union had made some discoveries of the carriers during their exploration of the ruin. On the contrary, there was a big chance that there were other carriers around the ridge of the continent.

"I see. I'll do my best," Lighting replied with a nod.

"But it'll take you at least a month to get to the north of the Kingdom of Everwinter from the south of Graycastle, so you may not be able to receive support in a timely fashion. Also, the residents there, as I fear, may still remain hostile against witches. It may not even be safe in a city, so you have to be careful."

"Explorers are particularly good at surviving in the wild, Your Majesty," Lightning returned quickly. "I could live in the wilderness for a year, not to mention just one month."

"Coo, coo!" Maggie rejoined as she flapped her wings in approval.

"Sorry," Roland sighed. "You just came back, and you have to take another expedition again..."

"Your Majesty, don't feel sorry for us..." Lightning said while averting her eyes, her voice lower. "Compared to those who sacrificed themselves for the victory, compared to Ashes... this is nothing." She soon recollected herself and continued, "Since this is a new expedition, then as usual, could you..."

For a moment, Roland did not grasp what Lightning meant. Then he came to the realization just in time. "Of course, yes," he said as he stood up and walked around the desk.

Lightning raised her hand but retracted her arms abruptly as she caught sight of her blotchy sleeves. "Oh, no, that's OK... I forgot to get changed. I smell bad. That's fine — "

Her words, however, were drowned in Roland's crushing hug.

"You did a great job. I'll ask the tailor to make you more flight suits so that you could wear them by turns."

Lightning instantly fell silent. At long last, she stifled her sniff and replied a "yes".

"And me, coo," Maggie rejoined as she craned her neck.

"You did a good job too," Roland said as he stroked her smooth feathers.

Nightingale also walked up to them and gave both a hug. "Please stay safe."

"We will."

After Lightning and Maggie withdrew, Nightingale remarked, "Lightning would have never said 'what I could do is limited' before."

Roland nodded vigorously. The old Lightning he knew would have definitely promised everything before even hearing the full account.

Leaf had told Roland that after Ashes had died together with Ursrook, Lightning had cried her eyes out and sunk into a state of despondency for several days. However, now he could not see the faintest trace of distress in her. Roland could tell that Lightning had still not got over with Ashes' death, but she no longer wallowed in sorrow. Instead, she became more determined to fight against demons after this unfortunate loss.

"She's grown up," Roland commented.


Roland wished the migration campaign to start as early as possible; nevertheless, it took months to travel from Graycastle to the Kingdom of Wolfheart and the Kingdom of Everwinter. Due to the extra long commute, it was impossible for the Administrative Office and the First Army to increase the population of Neverwiner in a short period of time.

Insufficient manpower, therefore, hindered the further expansion of industrial projects he had conceived a long time ago. As the threat of the demons was still hung above his head like a naked sword suspended by a single hair, Roland was stressed out.

Fortunately, the success of the replication of the Magic Ceremony Cube offered him some consolation. He stayed at Anna's laboratory at the North Slope all day to see whether he could develop a new energy source with the cube replicates. After Lightning, Maggie and the God's Punishment Witches departed from Neverwinter on the "Roland" with the magic core, Roland invested more time in his research.

The magic steam engine would definitely benefit every industrial project in a more profound manner than any other inventions.

Celine also volunteered to help with the research. As the laboratory was located in a relatively remote area and was also heavily guarded, nobody was likely to bump in by accident. Roland was very impressed with Celine's assembling ability. Her dexterous auxiliary tentacles could install flywheels and pistons effortlessly, which really made Anna's life a lot easier.

Thus, the scene where a man, a woman and a tentacled monster worked together on a machine became the norm at the North Slope.

It wasn't long before a peculiar prototype materialized in the laboratory.

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