"Grandpa Sebastian!"

Silas's alarmed cry pierced the air as his eyes widened in fear at the sight of the icy stakes materializing on either side of Sebastian's chest, dangerously close to his heart. Realizing that Naya was the culprit behind Sebastian's dire predicament, Silas cast a hateful glare in her direction.

"Don't do anything stupid!"

Sebastian said to Silas, his voice commanding and domineering. Sebastian, despite the excruciating pain coursing through his body, maintained a surprisingly calm demeanor. With a firm grip on Silas's hand, he prevented the young man from launching an impulsive attack on their opponents.

Utilizing his unique Ability, Sebastian deployed the effects of the Second Heart potion. This allowed him to use one of his lungs as a makeshift second heart. This strategic move mitigated the impact of Naya's lethal follow-up attack, granting him a temporary respite from the brink of death.

Gazing at his adversaries with predatory intensity, Sebastian's voice took on a grim and threatening tone as he addressed the unfolding situation.

"Now that the cat's out of the bag, there's no point in holding back or playing it safe," he declared. "It appears that Edinburgh is determined to annihilate my clan simply because we were up to no good."

His gaze fixed on Birmond, Sebastian's tone turned defeated as he continued, "Birmond, I now realize that orchestrating a mutiny was a grave mistake. Mind you, the betrayal hasn't even occurred yet. We could have still averted this clash between us if you had approached me intending to negotiate."

Birmond maintained a serious expression as Sebastian expressed his regrets, choosing not to respond directly. Instead, he silently communicated with Jiana, Levine, and Naya, coordinating their next moves and counter-maneuvers against Sebastian.

Aware of their calculated movements, Sebastian understood the Master-ranked opponents' fear of his retaliation, even in his dying moments. They showed no concern for the lives of those loyal to him, regarding them as expendable collateral.

Feeling the chilling touch of the icy stakes in his hand, Sebastian refrained from attempting to remove or melt them by any means. Instead, he allowed the stakes to remain in place, channeling his focus on controlling Naya's mana. He attempted to subdue the intrusion into his body and nullify its effects using another potion activated through his Ability.

Drawing in a long breath, fully aware that multiple attacks were imminent from various directions within seconds, Sebastian spoke once more, his voice filled with resignation.

"There were bridges between us that should never have been burned. But it seems Edinburgh is in a hurry to tie up loose ends, conveniently forgetting all my past contributions," he stated bitterly. His gaze shifted to Levine, and a faint smile played upon his lips. There was a personal connection between them, creating a hesitancy to engage in direct combat.

Recalling their encounter in the city of New Beginnings, Sebastian reminisced about the threats he had once issued to Eren. He acknowledged Eren's actions over words, a trait he admired. It seemed that Eren, motivated by more than mere market competition, sought to obliterate House Slughorn entirely.

Sebastian also knew Eren's close friendship with Crown Prince Rodrick Renar. Swiftly deducing that Eren had influenced Rodrick's current stance, Sebastian concluded that Edinburgh had willingly become the executioner, driven by the brat's machinations. He couldn't help but feel surprised that the kingdom hadn't offered his House a chance at redemption, as if waiting for his betrayal to unfold.

Meeting Levine and Jiana's eyes, Sebastian sighed, resigning himself to the harsh reality that had unfolded before him.

"It seems I underestimated that Idril brat," he admitted, his voice laced with a mix of disbelief and defeat. "I could have never imagined that he would wield such influence over the kingdom's affairs in such a short time. I am also astonished that Edinburgh willingly became his puppet, as if they anticipated my potential betrayal and were merely waiting for me to carry it out."

Pausing briefly, Sebastian's tone grew heavier as he concluded, "But I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures. I understand. I, too, resorted to the same. Yet our crime is not mutiny itself, is it? No, not truly. Our crime lies in our desire to survive."

Sebastian's lips curled into a contemptuous sneer as he locked eyes with his adversaries. Without hesitation, he raised his hands, his movements fluid and calculated, ready to unleash a series of decisive actions.

In a split second, he channeled his immense power, erecting a formidable Master-ranked barrier. The ethereal, semi-transparent shield enveloped him and his allies, preventing his opponents from closing in. It materialized with impeccable timing, just as Levine and Jiana were about to launch their fierce attacks.

Drawing upon his profound mastery of ether-element mana and harnessing the boundless potential of his Ability, Myriad Potioneering, Sebastian wove intricate patterns in the air. Like mirages materializing into reality, four distinct and ethereal vials materialized around him, each representing a countermeasure against Jiana, Levine, Birmond, and Naya. With a touch, the ephemeral vessels solidified, transforming from figments of imagination into tangible concoctions. Time-element potion effects hastened the process, compressing what seemed like hours into a mere second.

Taking swift action, Sebastian produced four exquisitely crafted alchemy dolls, their hearts hollow and yearning for the life-giving elixirs he had just fashioned. With precision, he delicately inserted the vials into the doll's hearts. As the vials settled within, a surge of vitality coursed through the dolls, animating them as if they were vessels imbued with life itself.

Levine, Jiana, Birmond, and Naya weren't idling around. They unleashed their own spells at Sebastian which landed on the barrier almost at the same time. Within another fleeting second, the barrier shattered into countless shards, dissolving into the ether. Its purpose fulfilled, Sebastian no longer relied on its protection. His meticulous preparations had achieved the desired outcome, setting the stage for the imminent confrontation.

As Sebastian's vials fused with the hearts of the genderless, featureless alchemy dolls, a surge of Master-ranked mana coursed through their slender frames. They awakened, their purpose now clear, as if the elixirs within had ignited a dormant power within their beings.

With synchronicity that bordered on abnormal, the four alchemy dolls sprang into action simultaneously. Their movements were fluid, almost ethereal, as they closed the distance between them and their respective adversaries—Levina, Jiana, Birmond, and Naya. Despite their lack of visible weaponry or imposing spells, an unspoken sense of impending danger hung in the air, permeating the battlefield.

Levina, Jiana, Birmond, and Naya instinctively knew they were facing a precarious situation. It was as if a silent, invisible time bomb hurtled toward them with every step the dolls took. Each stride of the enigmatic figures amplified the tension, creating an atmosphere of imminent calamity.