The ceremony was still going on in the hall. The royal orchestra played a celebratory song with a hint of solemnness. All of the nobles stepped forward to be appointed and the scrolls which denoted their appointment were distributed to them in an orderly manner.
"Baron Cardoj!" The king's attendant called out Cardoj's name. It was finally his turn. He took a deep breath, walked out from the queue of nobles and stood in the centre.
"The troops led by Cardoj have repeatedly made outstanding contributions in several battles such as the Battle of Gordon Heights, the Battle of Felmo Grand Canyon, the recapture of Shalor and the Siege of Audis. Thus, he will be conferred with the title of a viscount!" Although the attendant's voice wasn't loud, Cardoj had heard each and every one of his words clearly.
He held back the excitement and calmly received the silk manuscript from the attendant. This light piece of silk carried the weight of Cardoj's several years of hard work.
More than half of the nobles there hadn't received their promotions yet. The Faustian king, who was sitting at the highest position of the hall, didn't show any hint of fatigue at all. All of the Faustian nobles' appointments were signed by the king as was his right and responsibility.
Locke and a group of soon-to-be knights stood quietly under the hot sun outside the hall. It was already noon.
Droplets of sweat trickled down his neck. The sun in July was scorching hot. Locke circulated his impetus quietly; he didn't want to be soaked with sweat when he entered the hall later.
Even so, his back was full of sweat. Luckily, Glace had chosen a good outfit for him and no one could tell that his black suit was wet if they didn't look at it closely.
But the others weren't so lucky. Although they had changed their military uniforms into their ceremonial dresses, most of them were soaked with sweat. It wasn't that they were bad in circulating impetus, there was just no way to evaporate all the sweat into thin air.
When the sun started sloping to the west, someone in the hall finally called them to enter. About thirty officers were led by the attendants as they entered the hall in an orderly manner.
Perhaps it was because they were all from the army, their footsteps were surprisingly uniform and their arms swayed vigorously as they walked into the hall, giving off an imposing visual effect.
The king nodded slightly. He was more fond of these newly-entitled nobles compared to most of the old nobles in the hall as they were more enthusiastic and energetic. In order for Faustian to rise, the efforts of these nobles were imperative.
At this moment, Kenzir sat up straight. He'd nominated and entitled most of these knights. The addition of these new knights would greatly increase his influence.
When Locke entered the hall, he could sense that all eyes were on him. This included Cardoj at the corner of the hall, Marmen at the front, Kenzir at the top of the steps, and even their king.
Their gazes stayed on him for a while and then disappeared quickly. Locke let out a sigh of relief. He sweated more during these few seconds than when he was standing outside.
These powerful people had been in high positions for a long time. No matter what their strength was, their gazes gave off an overwhelming pressure. Locke had experienced this feeling many times before when he was with Cardoj. If the feeling he'd felt before this was like a trickle, then it felt like a waterfall now. Luckily, Locke didn't let the nerves get to him.
After being awarded his letter of appointment, Locke looked at it with a blank expression. He then followed the crowd towards a banquet hall in the palace. There was still a grand ball and a banquet left to attend tonight.
Many nobles gathered together and chatted along the way. Being able to socialise well was one of the skills that was crucial for them. Only Locke and the group of newly-entitled nobles were a bit stiff. They wanted to blend in with the other nobles too, but they didn't know where to start.
"Congratulations, Locke!" Cardoj walked towards Locke and patted on his shoulder.
"Thank you, Viscount Cardoj!" Now that Locke had met an acquaintance, he felt more relaxed.
Cardoj was no longer a baron; he was now a viscount. In addition to his new title, he also owned two new towns that located at the southwest of Shalor. Among the nobles who'd been rewarded today, Cardoj definitely received the largest reward among them. His mood instantly improved after he heard Locke address him as a viscount.
"Where's Wyr?" asked Locke curiously.
Cardoj pointed to the distance where Wyr was chatting and laughing with a group of nobles; it seemed like he wasn't that bad at socialising. Of course, starting from today onwards, Wyr was no longer a noble knight but rather a baronet.
Locke wasn't interested in the dinner party. He'd already been to a lot of banquets and though he no longer felt out of his element anymore, it was still not his thing.
This was a common problem of all newly-entitled nobles. Since they could only be promoted through military merit in Faustian, all noble families started off as military families. These newbies needed several years, decades, or even generations to learn about the confrontation among nobles and the subtle plots that occurred behind closed doors.
Locke had nothing else to do as he swirled his wine glass. He leaned on a railing in front of a window and looked at the well-dressed nobles below him.
This was a nice place. It was on the second floor, so it was less crowded, not to mention being able to see every corner of the hall easily. Coupled with the view of the moon and the stars outside, Locke felt like a poet although he couldn't recite any poems.
The king only showed up some time after the banquet began. Perhaps it was due to his old age that he rarely participated in this kind of social event. He raised his glass, drank a sip of wine, and then left the banquet with the help of his servants.
The nobles respectfully watched him leave the hall.
After the king left, Kenzir and Kate, who'd arrived with the king, became the centre of attention.
Kenzir was not only young, he was also the heir to the throne. Groups of nobles continuously went up to Kenzir and toasted him, none of which he'd refused toast.
This kind of red wine that was exclusively for nobles was sweet and only had a light aftertaste. Even Locke could finish a whole barrel without a problem, let alone Kenzir, who was stronger than him.
Since the banquet was more formal, the nobles didn't bring their family members along. There were only a few female Faustian nobles present.
The charming Kate was undoubtedly basking in the limelight. She was the sister of a margrave in the Ligia Union, and she looked young and pretty. Coupled with the maturity and the charisma fitting of a king's wife, she attracted the attention of many nobles.
It was a pity that Angelina wasn't there. Locke lowered his head in disappointment.
The king had more than a dozen children, but Kenzir and Angelina were his favourites. Kenzir could attend this banquet as he was the leader of Lion corps, but Angelina's nominal position of being the person in charge of the caster unit wasn't enough to qualify her for attendance.
Locke drank some wine to drown his sorrows. His mood changed from excitement for the entitlement to emptiness from having to leave his family soon.
He would be leaving Faustian in half a month to embark on a journey to Aomar. He actually preferred to settle down, but wasn't regretting his decision. He was just a little hesitant now that he was actually leaving.
"I hope everything will work out." Locke sighed softly and then finished all the wine in one gulp.
He adjusted his mood and walked into the hall with a smile. He needed to greet the nobles he knew and build friendships.
He needed to toast all his acquaintances, including Kenzir, Marmen, Cardoj, Wyr, as well as the newly-entitled knights whom he'd just met. He also realised that Melson and his uncle, George, were there at the banquet too.
People needed to change, including Locke. While he didn't like to socialise, he knew he needed to do it. He needed to do all this if he wanted to survive.