As there could still be a group of scarabs nearby, the convoy left the next morning as soon as the carriages were repaired. While riding on the horse, Locke examined a piece of the scarab's shell.
"Why do the casters need these?" The scarab's carapace was just extremely hard and solid, but not special otherwise. He tapped on it with his finger and it made a dull sound. The carapace was lighter yet stronger than steel. He felt that it would be a good material for armour.
A small part of his armour had been splashed by acid during the battle last night. This fine-quality armour was indeed worth the large sum of merit it cost as only a thin layer of it had been corroded. If he put some oil on it and maintained it properly, it would become as good as new again.
They were currently headed for the north. According to the map, they would arrive at a large oasis two days later, where they could resupply and get enough water. That was also where they would encounter people from the Kingdom of Ridson for the first time.
"That is the outpost that Ridson built in the desert." Bond had done his research and looked into everything thoroughly. "There'll probably be a platoon of Ridson's garrison and a small village of three hundred people there."
As a diplomatic mission, Locke didn't have to worry about Ridson making things difficult for them. They would have a smooth sailing journey with the documents that were approved by the king himself and the pass granted by the Aomar Empire. In fact, they had to worry more about the attacks from the bandits and other creatures rather than the kingdom's army on their journey to Aomar.
The bandits in other kingdoms didn't linger at the fronter like the ones in Faustian. It was difficult for the large-scale bandits to rise due to the powerful army and the valiant folk customs in Faustian.
But it was different in other kingdoms. The bandits in Ridson even dared to pick a fight with their kingdom's army. Locke wondered how the royals in Ridson could tolerate having a few thousand bandits in their kingdom.
The mission picked up their speed as they were probably all terrified by the scarabs' attack. They arrived at the oasis named Mochamo in the afternoon two days later. Mochamo meant 'land of a new life' in desert language.
Locke wasn't sure whether Mochamo really meant having a new life; the only thing he knew was that he could finally get to shower. The entire mission probably shared the same thought as well.
With the two documents from the Faustian king and the Aomar Empire, Yerison, who was stationed in Mochamo, greeted them with a warm welcome and rolled out the red carpet for them.
This platoon jarl, who was a mid-rank Knecht, should've already received the news from his superiors a long time ago as the food and accommodation were all adequately prepared for them. After paying two hundred silver thalers to Yerison, the group could stay there and rest for two days.
After taking a cold shower in the sheepskin tent, Locke took the time to observe the daily lives of the Ridson civilians. Most of the men in Ridson had dark faces, thin limbs and a longsword that hung around their waists. Otherwise, they looked rather nondescript.
On the other hand, most of the women there had a fair complexion with their maroon hair wrapped in white gauze and a bunch of bells tied onto their wrists. According to them, the bells are for urging sheep on.
The villagers in Mochamo mainly made a living from transporting supplies and receiving guests. Locke found out through the locals that there was a cavalry division stationed in the west of Ridson between the borders of Ridson and the Kingdom of Kurt.
Mochamo was one of the main outposts that transported supplies to the cavalry division. According to the locals, the diplomatic convoy was the third group of visitors that their small town had hosted in the past three years. It was no surprise, as though Mochamo spanned a large area, it was sparsely populated.
In the evening, Yerison gathered all the villagers and held a grand welcome party for the group. Locke was fascinated by the culture there. The enthusiastic villagers danced around the bonfire body gracefully, letting the bells on their wrist jingle in the cool night breeze. Locke was eating a roasted lamb, it was the first time he'd felt warmth ever since he left Faustian.
The convoy stayed at Mochamo for two days. This was the first time they felt welcome in almost a month ever since they embarked on their journey. Locke would remember the locals' hospitality towards them for a long time.
After replenishing enough of water and dry snacks, the group set off again. This time, a few camels were added into the convoy. Locke was quite amazed by them as this was his first time seeing camels. While there were deserts in Faustian and he'd heard of camels before, he'd never actually seen one. He rubbed the camel's hump and it snorted back at him grouchily. Locke had probably accidentally hurt it with his strength. Before the camel could raise its leg to teach him a lesson, Locke glared at it and it immediately bent its legs and sat on the ground.
"It's afraid of you!" said Angelina with a smile.
"Does this mean that I've literally made it go weak in the knees?" Locke laughed.
After helping Angelina to sit in the middle of the two humps carefully, Locke got on as well. The camel hummed and stood upright.
"Although this camel is timid, it is quite strong," said Locke. Locke and Angelina weren't light by any means, but it was still able to walk quickly. Since it was used to walking in the sand, it could travel faster than a horse.
He'd purchased these camels from the villagers in Mochamo. The price of each camel was seventy silver thalers, it was slightly cheaper than a warhorse.
The currencies used in the two kingdoms were different. Thalers were not used in Ridson, so he'd exchanged some local currency with Yerison. He didn't get the short end of the stick because the value of Faustian thalers among the neighbouring kingdoms had risen drastically since they defeated Shalor.
These camels could do a lot of the horses' work in the convoy. They could put up with less food and water, and also had great stamina, which helped the convoy advance quickly through the desert. They also encountered several small oases after leaving Mochamo.
Soon, the heat was no longer as intense and the air was more moisturised. Perhaps it was because they were about to exit from the desert.
Locke looked into the distance and asked, "Where's our next stop?"
"Frye Outpost, which is located at the northwest border of Ridson." Bond answered.
They could no longer see the endless desert in the distance; it was now replaced by an endless chain of hills. Locke could see much long-missed greenery on those hills.
The group finally left Ridson Desert in mid-October. They were at Frye Outpost, and all the soldiers put away the dry snacks that they'd eaten for nearly a month the night before bidding farewell to the desert. All they wanted was just a mouthful of hot and fresh food.
After exchanging greetings with several Ridson officers in the military outpost and turning down the Ridson civilians' offers to have dinner with them, Locke returned to the convoy.
"Why didn't we see any bandits in the desert?" asked Laffey during dinner. Suzanne, who was sitting next to Locke, was also curious about it.
They had also heard about the rampant bandits in Ridson, especially the ones in the desert. Yet, they were in the desert for almost a month, but their convoy hadn't been attacked by anything else other than the scarabs.
Locke wasn't sure about it either, given how ignorant he was about such matters. Glace, who was next to him, explained, "Those bandits only pick on the ordinary people. We have the Faustian king backing us and we're a diplomatic mission that is heading towards Aomar. They wouldn't dare to offend us."
Ridson couldn't deal with the bandits because the cost of it was too high. The desert in the western part of their kingdom was uninhabited, so it would be too costly to dispatch an army to suppress the bandits there as the supply line would stretch too long. It might even spur the bandits to turn their attention towards the kingdom.
Glace continued, "These bandits actually ensure the safety of their western border to some extent. If other countries tried to invade Ridson, they would first have to face the bandits there."
Perhaps there were some Ridson elites among the bandits, not that it had anything to do with outsiders like them.