After passing through Frye Outpost, Locke finally saw green in his vision once more.
The next country was the Kingdom of Monstock. As soon as Locke stepped into the borders of this country, he felt a familiar feeling. After some thought, he realised that this country reminded him of Shalor. The most similar thing between Monstock and Shalor was that they both had a simple culture.
In Locke's opinion, being simple meant being a pushover, though in Shalor's case, they were able to maintain their sovereignty with their powerful magic. He then wondered what Monstock relied on to gain a foothold over the neighbouring kingdoms.
It'd been two weeks since they arrived in this new country. During this time of year, Monstock was comparatively warmer than Faustian.
There were many rivers in Monstock. They had an extensive irrigation system as almost every village was surrounded by at least one stream. It seemed like winter arrived later in this country as it was still drizzling instead of snowing.
The group that had just come out from the desert felt very comfortable in this new environment. They had experienced the heat and drought, so the coolness and humidity in this country were much-needed relief.
"Both of these kingdoms are so close to each other, but why is there such a huge difference in their environment?" Locke was lying next to Angelina in the carriage while eating a pitaya, a local speciality.
"It's because the Andes Mountains stop the monsoon coming from the northwest of Monstock," replied Angelina while reading her book of spells.
Locke recalled his journey through the undulating hills when they were leaving the desert. The hills were lower in altitude but the group spent a whole week travelling through them. It was also the longest mountain road that Locke had ever travelled. It turned out that they were called the Andes Mountains.
"Any changes to the scorpiondrake egg?" asked Locke curiously as he looked at the green and grey egg behind Angelina.
It had been a month since he last asked about the egg. According to Angelina, the egg would be hatching around now, but he couldn't see any sign of it happening. He could only see the eggshell sparkling more frequently.
"It should be hatching soon," said Angelina with a frown as she put her book down.
It was probably because its mother wasn't around, so the hatching progress of the egg was slower than she expected despite having Adamrys' scales around it. But she wasn't worried about it. Generally, the longer the major monster's incubation period was, the greater its potential would be.
The biological child of a peak-rank scorpiondrake would at least become a high-ranked major monster. All of Adamrys' children were base-ranked major monsters, and if their combat power were added up together, they would be able to give a Ritter a run for his money.
Angelina's mentor, Crimea, also owned a high-ranked major monster as his pet. It was given by his mentor when he completed his apprenticeship. Crimea's mentor was Angelina's grandmaster. He'd already passed away, but she might have the chance to meet her grandmaster's apprentice sister in Aomar.
She had brought a recommendation letter her mentor had written for her. That grandmaster 'aunt', for the lack of a better term, whom she'd never met before, should be taking good care of her in Aomar.
Apart from their simple way of life, the casters also seemed to be rather interested in the country. Some had already gone out several times. Locke didn't have the authority to order the casters around. Although it seemed like they had to obey Nolan, Nolan didn't seem to be interested in controlling his colleagues. He was even the one who brought them out instead.
"What are they up to?" Locke approached Cage and asked him the question when he had the chance. Nolan had left the camp with two other casters again.
Cage glanced at Nolan and asked Locke, "Do you know what are the characteristics of this country?"
"They have a lot of rivers?" replied Locke after thinking for a long time.
Cage shook his head and explained, "This country is one of the few countries that are rich in magic metals." He then left Locke, still in a daze in a daze, and went back to the convoy.
It was Locke's first time hearing the term 'magic metal'. When he asked Angelina about it afterwards, he learnt that magic metals were essential materials used in casters' experiments. A lot of magic items such as his magic cane that shot fireballs and the half-moon ring that resisted attacks were made from magic metals.
Nolan and the others didn't stray too far away. They usually set off in the morning and returned by noon, so it didn't affect the convoy's progress.
Feeling that he knew too little, Locke studied with Angelina in the carriage. She was a competent teacher, and she'd brought a lot of books and notes about spells along with her, so she could answer all of his questions well.
Locke had also learned from her that the casters could extract a kind of metallic element, which is also a type of magic metal, from the scarabs' carapace. Angelina guessed that the casters in their group went out frequently to trade their collection and magic materials with the local casters. Casters rarely used money in their transactions and often bartered instead. They might also pay with magic crystals, but those were much rarer.
Locke and the others had killed nearly a hundred scarabs, but only the green scarab which seemed like their king yielded a yellow crystal core. That was the key differentiator between low-ranked major monsters and minor monsters. Without it, most creatures couldn't evolve.
Incidentally, it had been almost half a year since Locke's advancement to a low-rank Knecht. Although he had been practising every day, it'd only strengthened his foundation and made his impetus run more smoothly. There wasn't any sign of any impending breakthrough.
But he wasn't worried about it for the time being. He'd already exchanged his large sum of military merit for various potions before he left Felor to help him with his cultivation, the strengthening potion being one of them. Plus, he still had the will-condensing potion with him, so it shouldn't be a problem for him to advance to mid-rank.
Locke's plan was to first learn the courses that were mandatory for knights before making the breakthrough. Angelina had already found a place for him to study. It was the Knight Perseverance Academy, a branch of the Imperial Academy.
This was also the reason why Angelina said that he was going to accompany her on her studies. He'd already realised that he hated going to school when he studied in Felor previously. He really didn't know if he could do it. There was even a period of time where he would nod off whenever he saw his teacher Mobson.
However, Locke felt that he should endure the hardships if he wanted to go up in the world. He took the time to revise the Aomarian language when he was studying in the carriage. He'd already almost forgotten everything that Mobson had taught him two months ago, so he needed to go over them again.
Though he could also look for Glace to help him revise, he had to overcome Angelina's jealousy first. Angelina would always ask him to sleep with her at night after Romm left, but he couldn't do anything to her in bed. It was really suffocating for him.
After travelling through Monstock, they were quite close to the Aomar Empire, their destination. They would be arriving in Aomar after passing through two or three duchies.
The group left Monstock at the end of November and arrived in the Duchy of Valoran. In mid-December, they left Lake Berga in Valoran and arrived in the Duchy of Lyon. After staying in Myca, the capital of Lyon, for three days, the mission arrived at the border between Lyon and Aomar.
During this journey, Locke got a taste of the warmth in Monstock, the beautiful Lake Berga in Valoran, the prosperous city of Myca in Lyon, and the grand welcome from the duke himself.
"We'll be arriving at our destination soon."