There weren't any trees in the desert, with there being only a few boulders lying around. The convoy could only use their carriages to block the dust and sand that were blown up by the wind. The soldiers also donned their armour, for the sand could scrape their skin off if they didn't have any protection. They weren't able to light a bonfire due to the lack of firewood and the freezing cold temperature, so they just lit up a few torches around the carriages for illumination.
For meals, the soldiers ate the snacks that they'd brought along with them, while the nobles were better off than the soldiers as they had jerky and fruits. After dinner, the soldiers took turns to be on the lookout. The experienced soldiers buried themselves in the sand, only exposing half of their bodies, using the remnant heat in the sand to keep themselves warm from the plummeting temperature of the night.
Locke obviously didn't have to lie on the sand. Angelina had the most authority after Romm left, and Locke was ranked third in authority, so he didn't have to be secretive about his actions. Angelina had already asked him in the morning to come over to her carriage.
He laid comfortably on the soft furs of a precious animal in the princess' carriage instead. Angelina was currently having dinner. Her meal consisted of the cherries that she'd brought from Faustian and the blueberries that she'd picked when she passed by Melmos Forest. Her snow-white skin was tanned by the scorching sun and she claimed that eating fruits would be good for her skin.
Locke wasn't sure if fruits really had that effect, but he would always bring some fruits back to Lia, Glace and the others. Of course, he would tell Angelina that the fruits were for himself. It didn't matter whether Angelina believed it or not; Locke believed it anyway.
"How long more till this suffering journey ends?" Angelina held a cherry with her delicate fingers and popped it into her mouth. She then licked her lips with her tongue. Locke's attention was all on her lips. When Angelina saw his dorky expression, she laughed and slapped him softly. Locke only then came back to his senses.
"We've only travelled a third of our journey so far. Probably half a month more," said Locke.
"Another half a month?" Angelina sighed.
She already couldn't stand it after being in the desert for just a week. Locke felt that it was tougher being in the Bering Mountains compared to being in the desert. Kristin hadn't even complained about it yet; he felt that Angelina was stronger back then.
As the sky got darker, the yellow sand and dust in the sky were soon replaced by darkness. Locke could hear the sand hitting the windows of the carriage.
"I'll head out for a while!" Locke got up and donned his armour. As the deputy jarl, he had the responsibility to patrol the campsite at night despite how strong the wind was.
"Alright, go ahead." Angelina put the cherry down, took her book of spells out and began reading again.
Locke got out of the carriage and ordered a few soldiers who were stationed nearby to follow him.
"Where's Bond?" asked Locke to the soldiers. Bond was his adjutant and he would normally let Bond pass his orders on to the soldiers.
"Bond is discussing with the commander of the capital guards about tonight's guard duty outside the carriages," said an officer.
"Okay." Locke nodded and led them to Bond.
Bond was talking to a fully-armoured man outside the carriages. "Azlan, the wind doesn't seem right tonight."
"Yes. It does indeed look unusual," said the man solemnly. He was Azlan, the commander of the capital guards and a high-rank Knecht.
"You must make sure that the soldiers are vigilant and energised so that no mistakes would be made tonight," said Bond.
"No problem!" replied Azlan as he nodded.
Bond was just a knight by title. He was much inferior to Azlan in terms of his rank and strength. He was lucky enough to command Azlan as he was Locke's adjutant.
Cage, the jarl of the diplomatic mission, only minded his business and Locke, the deputy jarl, was too lazy to do things himself, so the orders were mostly issued by Bond.
Bond was reluctant when he first knew that he was an adjutant of a young man who wasn't even in his twenties yet. But he didn't mind it now as this experience and qualification would be beneficial for his whole life.
"How's it going?" Locke's voice was heard from a distance.
Although it was only less than a hundred metres away from Angelina's carriage to the convoy, Locke had a hard time walking there as the sand was blown directly into his face. Luckily, his helmet prevented most of the sand from hitting his face, but some of it still managed to enter his mouth.
Bond replied, "Azlan has already gotten everything under control."
"Your hard work is appreciated!" Locke stepped forward and shook Azlan's hand. He knew that Azlan was a legitimate high-rank Knecht and he seemed more powerful than Wyr.
Since the capital guards had already gotten their defences sorted out, Locke was left quite free. The shadow guards had their own jarl and they won't listen to anyone's orders except for Angelina's.
At night, Locke hugged Angelina to sleep. Due to Angelina's status, both of them couldn't make it to last base. They could only cuddle tightly like lovers. Suddenly, Locke's ears twitched from a sound.
"What's that sound?" He heard rustling noises outside the carriage.
Soon, the noises became clearer. It sounded like an arthropod crawling on the ground.
Angelina was also awakened by the noises as she opened her eyes.
"I'll go out and take a look!" Locke patted her body and motioned her not to move.
Most of the soldiers were already awake when he got out of the carriage. "Send someone over!" Commands and orders were heard everywhere.
"What's the matter?" asked Locke as he stopped a soldier who was passing by.
The soldier recognised Locke immediately and said, "I'm not sure. I've heard that there are a bunch of minor monsters outside the camp."
After dismissing the soldier, Locke fell deep in thought. So far, the minor monsters he'd encountered before were salt crabs by the lake at Bering Mountains and the moonlight wolf.
He could deal with two low-ranked major monsters at the same time with his current strength and gear. So, he felt that it wouldn't be a problem for him to deal with about five minor monsters. Locke fastened the gaps between his armour, held his longsword and walked out.
The capital guards were already in battle formation with their spears ready outside the convoy. The shadow guards formed the second and third lines of defense around Angelina's carriage.
Cage and the others were discussing while standing in the centre of the capital guards. Just as when Locke was about to head there, countless droplets of yellow liquid suddenly sprinkled from the sky.
Locke lifted his shield for protection. Surprisingly, the shield that was made out of a mixture of valuable materials had a faint dent after it made contact with the yellow liquid.
When the liquid fell on the capital guards who were fully armoured, it corroded a third of their armour like acid corroded steel. Fortunately, the amount of acid wasn't much and it didn't cause any substantial damage to the soldiers.
Some unlucky ones howled painfully when the acid splashed onto their exposed skin, causing them to bleed.
"Be careful! Don't let the acid splash onto your skin!" shouted the jarls at their men.
The capital guards who were at the frontlines used their strong armour to block the first wave of acid, protecting the shadow guards behind them who only donned leather armour.
Another wave of yellow acid fell from the sky.
"Shields up! Shields up!" yelled the attentive jarls who had good eyesight.
The capital guards were alerted by the command and they all raised their shields at the same time, forming a solid barrier, blocking most of the subsequent acid attacks.
"What are these?" Locke covered his head with his shield as he ran towards Cage and the others.
"Acid from a sand scarab!" answered a caster that was next to Cage.