Morphey Forest was lush and verdant in June. It was a pity that Locke didn't manage to see many monsters, major or minor, as he travelled with Angelina's convoy.
A yellow-haired man rode in front of the convoy astride a warhorse. Locke sensed that he was an ordinary man from afar, but he might've underestimated him.
"Uncle Xif, come over here and take a rest," said Angelina from her luxurious carriage.
The yellow-haired man turned around, put his hand on his chest and replied, "Princess, there isn't a need for your subordinate to rest."
"I've already said this before, stop calling yourself a subordinate, Uncle Xif!" said Angelina as she walked out of the carriage sulkily.
"Okay, okay," Xif smiled.
Locke had heard from Angelina that Ritter Xif was assigned by the king to be her personal bodyguard. So far, Locke had only seen two Ritters. They were De Sandro and the master from Lion corps, who both flew towards the sky and left the army when the siege of Audis just started.
Locke had never seen Xif before; he really wanted to know how many Ritters were there in this kingdom. Angelina would definitely know the answer to that, but Locke didn't ask her about it.
The other knight who descended from the clouds was also definitely at least as powerful as a Ritter. Locke was too far away from him at that time, so he couldn't feel the force of that knight.
After Angelina and Xif talked about their journey, she went back to the carriage to rest, whereas Xif returned to the front of the convoy. A while later, Locke was summoned by the princess again.
"We're arriving in the afternoon," said Angelina as she fed Locke a grape.
At this moment, Locke was lying comfortably on her lap, just like the times when they were in the cave at the Bering Mountains. While the unit of shadow guards travelled across Morphey Forest on foot, two knights were chatting a thousand metres above the ground.
One of them donned a red cloak that fluttered in the wind. The other wore dark-green armour. It accentuated her long reddish-brown hair which cascaded out over her back and shoulders from under her black crystal helmet. They were Romm and Garcia.
"We're arriving shortly," Romm said, his face grimming.
"I can already feel their aura. They're probably ready to meet us." Garcia smiled. She wasn't concerned about dealing with the high-ranked major monsters.
"Be careful of that lord's sting," said Romm sternly. It seemed like he'd suffered from it before.
"Nice cloak." Garcia gave an irrelevant reply.
"Yeah. It's a reward from a Himmelritter after the last war ended," replied Romm.
"Lucky." Garcia raised her eyebrows.
Romm had indeed met with the crystal scorpiondrake's family in Morphey Forest once. He'd just advanced to an Erdritter back then, so he secretly went to find it to test his strength.
The result of the one-on-one fight was favourable. Although he just became a stage-two lifeform, he could still suppress the high-ranked major monster. But in the end, Romm had no choice but to let the crystal scorpiondrake go after its family came to aid.
Another female scorpiondrake, whose strength was comparable to the male's, suddenly appeared. She was also a high-ranked major monster and she had a group of beginner-ranked major monsters behind her. They were probably the scorpiondrakes' children.
Romm had no choice but to back down for the time being. He could fight so many major monsters by himself, but it would be risky and too costly for him. Not to mention, the war between the two countries was about to start at that moment, so he couldn't afford to get injured.
Romm squared his shoulders and was prepared to face his enemy, but Garcia just remained calm. She had killed numerous level-one major monsters and even some level-two ones. Taking on a small scorpiondrake family would not be a problem for her.
The outer and middle parts of Morphey Forest were full of lush trees and dangerous mountainous terrain, but it became more spacious as one walked further in. Large areas of plains and bare mountains could be seen.
A river that was approximately ten metres wide was seen on one side of the grassland. Beautiful rainbows emerged on the horizon as the river gushed by, giving off a dreamy and heavenly feeling.
Locke wasn't attracted by this beautiful scenery at all; he was rather perturbed instead. There were footprints that were five square metres wide scattered everywhere on the grassland. Other than that, there were traces of huge tails being dragged on the ground, as if they were scribbles on the grassland.
They walked along the sides of the river until they'd reached the upstream stretch of it, and Locke finally saw Morphey Forest's master.
Water fell from a cliff that was a hundred metres high. There were jagged and rugged rocks on both sides of the cliff on which the water splashed.
The head of a huge purple scorpiondrake emerged from below the waterfall. It had two huge spikes on its head and strangely, a pair of huge wings. It was approximately ten metres high and its tail was a stinger in the shape of a scimitar. One could tell from its pitch-black stinger that this scorpiondrake wasn't a creature to be messed with.
There was a smaller light-blue scorpiondrake next to it that also sported wings on its back, but the spikes on its head were slightly smaller and its stinger had a lighter colour. Next to the two giant major monsters were six smaller turquoise scorpiondrakes. It was as if they were cast from the same mould.
The splashing waterfall and the towering cliffs blocked the majority of the sunlight, casting a duller and more dreadful atmosphere. This was the scorpiondrake family who ruled Morphey Forest. The purple one was the crystal scorpiondrake, the light-blue one was its partner and the rest was their children.
"We welcome the arrival of the two Erdritters!" said a muffled voice in everyone's minds. Locke widened his eyes and looked at the purple scorpiondrake that was underneath the waterfall in disbelief.
The purple scorpiondrake didn't open its mouth, but Locke was certain that it was the one who'd just said that.
Angelina walked up to Locke and whispered, "He's communicating through mental power."
Romm and Garcia, who were above the convoy this whole time, suddenly appeared. Locke was startled as he recognised the knight in the red cloak. He was the knight who descended from the sky outside Audis.
"Hello, Adamrys!" said Romm. Although his voice wasn't loud, everyone around him could hear him clearly.
Garcia hummed in response, her eyes were fixated on the purple scales on the scorpiondrake.
"What brings both of you here today?" asked Adamrys hesitantly.
"To make peace with Morphey Forest!" said Romm with a smile as he touched the longsword at his waist with his hand, as though the scorpiondrakes in front of him were his enemies and he was prepared for any eventualities. The crystal scorpiondrake lifted its giant stinger as well. The atmosphere became tense in an instance.
"What kind of peace?" the purple scorpiondrake quickly adjusted itself to the situation and asked.
"We want double the amount of the magic crystals that Shalor gets every year!" said Romm loudly.
"That's impossible!" It was as if the crystal scorpiondrake had heard an inconceivable joke as he shook his head and refused without even thinking about it. The movement of his giant head caused a strong gust of wind.
"It's not for Faustian, it's for the Aomar Empire." Romm looked at Garcia, who remained silent until now.
Adamrys also turned and looked at Garcia. He felt that she was a larger threat than Romm. He had lived for nearly a thousand years, and this was the first time he'd ever smelled death.
"It'll destroy the ecological balance in this forest if the slaughtering of major monsters is doubled. My family still needs to live and reproduce here." The crystal scorpiondrake's voice became weaker, but he still refused to give in.
"Then, what if your family dies today?" Garcia, who had been silent all this while, finally said her first words since arriving. But her words made the turquoise scorpiondrakes scream and flap their wings frantically as if they were about to rush towards her and tear her apart.
At this moment, the crystal scorpiondrake quickly stopped its children. Its partner, the blue scorpiondrake, also flew out and protected their young.
Adamrys obviously knew that it couldn't defeat Garcia in a battle. He gave it some careful thought. Just as he was about to agree to their request, Garcia snorted.
"I'm just joking!" she said.
"I'm also a citizen of Zauberia, and every sentient being is a treasure. How can I slaughter all of you so casually?" conrtinued she with a smile, though her words sent a shiver down the scorpiondrakes' spines.
"However," Garcia changed the tone of her voice and said, "I want two hundred scales from your body!"
Adamrys was taken aback. He widened his pupils that were the size of two cows, looked at the purple scales on his body, and then looked back at Garcia. He was really unsure about this.
"In return, the export of crystal cores can just be increased by five percent," she added.
The scales on Adamrys were huge and each of them was the size of three or four square metres. Most of the scales on his body were dark blue; only the scales above its neck were mostly purple.
There were only about three hundred purple scales on Adamrys' body. And now, Garcia had asked for more than half of them. Almost all of its skin was going to be peeled off. Between his own scales and the lives of his family members, Adamrys chose the latter without any hesitation. "Okay!"
Garcia grinned from ear to ear. Romm wondered what was on her mind. After all, she was Aomar's representative, so she had the final say.
After the two Erdritters and the crystal scorpiondrake were done discussing their matters, only then it noticed the other group of people there.
"You're Princess Angelina from Faustian, right?" The purple scorpiondrake turned and looked at the convoy and shadow guards beneath the waterfall. Angelina was standing by the carriage as she looked at the huge monster in front of her.
"Yes, Mister Adamrys. Nice to meet you!" Angelina wasn't like the other girls who were typically afraid of scorpions and bugs. She was more intrigued than terrified by the huge scorpiondrake.