Locke wanted to avoid socialising with the nobles as much as he could, but Angelina wouldn't let him do so. Both of them were like a pair of dancing butterflies, walking around arm in arm.
"Hello, Zyra. This is Locke."
"Millie, where's your boyfriend? Why didn't you bring him along?"
"Bert, this is my fiancé. Didn't you say that you want to meet him?"
Angelina brought Locke to meet her classmates, most of whom were young women like her.
This group of casters were just beginner-rank Lehrlings. In Locke's eyes, other than Joaquin who had the strength of a low-rank Lehrling, the rest of them weren't worth mentioning at all.
Although they weren't all that powerful, Locke knew that Angelina valued them for their potential and family background. As royalty, she was better than him at networking even though she was only sixteen.
The party didn't just entail a chatting session in the garden. The host, Joaquin, hired a live band for the party as well. Most of the guests were nobles and dancing was their speciality. Plus, they'd just ate some fruits and desserts, so they would want to exercise a little.
"Fair lady, may I have the pleasure of dancing with you?" A handsome man walked up to Locke and Angelina, and he reached his right hand out to her.
Many nobles had already invited their dancing partners to dance with them by the long tables. The live band was pretty decent too. Even Locke, who'd never listened to music before, felt livelier after hearing it. But before he could immerse himself and enjoy the music, someone approached him and showed interest in Angelina.
Upon seeing this situation, Angelina was the first to respond, "I'm sorry, I'm not feeling well today."
She knew that Locke didn't know how to dance and she wouldn't leave him alone in this situation. Plus, she'd only danced with her brother before in her life. She'd also turned her politely refused when princes from other kingdoms invited her to dance. She didn't even know what the name of this handsome Aomarian noble was.
It seemed like it was the man's first time being rejected by others. He suddenly felt awkward and was a little at a loss. Joaquin, who'd been paying attention to them all this while, rushed over immediately. "Tris, I'll dance with you!" She then reached her left hand out and placed it in Tris' palm.
The noble named Tris was a relative of a margrave in Princeton. Although he wasn't an important person, he was still a noble after all, and Joaquin wouldn't let him make a fool of himself in the party she hosted.
Tris adapted quickly as well. He snorted at Angelina, cursed under his breath, and then grabbed Joaquin's waist with his hand. Joaquin furrowed her brow and dragged him to the dance floor.
Locke was quiet all this while. He glared at Tris and kept his face in mind. If even he had never lost his temper at Angelina before, he wouldn't tolerate someone pulling a face at her and insulting her in front of him. Although Locke didn't want to cause trouble, he wouldn't mind doing so if someone had threatened his loved ones.
The song would be ending soon. Joaquin tolerated the offensive little shuffles and bumps that Tris did to her during the dance and parted politely as soon as the song ended. She left so quickly that it'd caught him off guard.
Tris had noticed a long time ago that Joaquin and Angelina were the only beautiful ones in this party. When Joaquin was willing to dance with him just now and didn't mind his little movements, he thought that she was a woman who was very easy to get. But it turned out that it was all just for show. It didn't matter if he didn't get to dance with Angelina as Joaquin was his initial target.
His uncle was a margrave but his father was just a count. He wasn't the only child in his family either thanks to his lustful father bearing him more than a dozen younger siblings. So in order to stand out among his brothers, he desperately needed to find a fiancée that was well-matched in terms of social and economic status to gain a foothold in his family.
Joaquin was his priority target. Otherwise, he wouldn't attend a party that was hosted by a girl. He could mess around with the descendants of nobles, but it would be troublesome to break up with them. It was easier to date daughters from ordinary families.
In order to inherit his father's count title and curry favour with his margrave uncle, he'd already planned to temporarily become a good man after getting Joaquin. Yes, temporarily. He wouldn't be willing to give the whole forest up for a tree. However, it seemed like even that would be quite difficult to do.
Although Joaquin was always impulsive and enthusiastic, there were no bad rumours about her. Tris felt that he had to take it seriously now. He'd flirted with a lot of girls before, so he should be able to handle her.
When Angelina saw Joaquin walking over, she stepped forward and hugged her as she whispered in her ear, "Thank you."
"No worries. I can't let your spirits be dampened in my party," said Joaquin with a smile. She was one of the few people who knew that Angelina was the princess of Faustian. One was the honourable princess of a powerful kingdom, and the other was a relative of a margrave. Joaquin was able to distinguish who was more important. Besides, Angelina was her best friend.
Although Tris' father was a count like her father as well, he was just a good-for-nothing man and he didn't have as much authority and power as her father. This was also the reason why she wasn't interested in Tris.
"Hey, Locke. Come and thank Joaquin too." Angelina beckoned to Locke who was still standing over there.
Locke was staring at Tris. After dancing with Joaquin, he went on to dance with another noblewoman and drank several glasses of juice after.
Locke felt that it was almost time. Sure enough, he walked out of the garden under an attendant's guidance after the second song ended. He was probably heading to the toilet. Locke was about to sneak out and follow him.
"Where are you going?" Angelina grabbed Locke as he was about to go out.
"Uh, the toilet," said Locke casually.
"Do you know where it is? Do you want me to ask an attendant to show you the way?" Joaquin was always at odds with him, and her every word seemed like a gunpowder keg waiting to be set off. He couldn't understand why she was always against him, but since she'd just helped both of them, he didn't want to argue with her. "It's fine, thank you."
"Huh!" Joaquin folded her arms as she watched Locke walk out of the garden. "Angelina, why did you fall for an unpromising man like him?"
Joaquin hated Locke because Angelina was one of her few true friends. Although they'd only known each other for a month, Joaquin could tell from Angelina's shrewdness that she could become best friends with her. On the other hand, she felt that Locke was too ordinary. He was just decent looking and his strength was only at the level of her guards. He wasn't worthy of Angelina.
"What do you mean? Locke is great." Angelina pouted. She didn't like it when her best friend bad-mouthed Locke.
"I don't see it." Joaquin folded her arms tightly.
After thinking about it, Angelina dragged Joaquin to a corner and told her about how Locke had rescued her. Of course, she didn't tell the whole story in detail and she just briefly mentioned the part where they encountered the moonlight wolf and lived together in the snow cave for a month.
While Angelina was telling her story to Joaquin, Locke was following Tris, who had just finished wiping his hands with a handkerchief in the bathroom. Before he could put it down, a shadow attacked him from behind, and then he blacked out.
Locke looked at Tris who was covered up by his clothes. He didn't hold back and kicked him directly. Tris shrieked and rolled towards the wall, leaving trails of blood on the floor. He'd been fighting with the scorpiondrake in the past few days, so the level of strength he used was meant for a monster. As a result, his kick had probably broken two of Tris' ribs.
Since he'd kicked him too hard for the first time, he used less strength in the subsequent attacks. He picked Tris up and punched his stomach. After two punches, Tris held his stomach in pain as he crouched down.
Saliva mixed with blood in his mouth and he couldn't spit it out no matter how hard he tried. It seemed like his mouth had been stitched shut. The count's mansion was well soundproofed. Despite the violent display, none of the attendants outside had noticed it.
When Tris was so beaten up that he could no longer get up, Locke finally stopped hitting him. The grey coat that Angelina had just bought for him was stained with blood. He took off the coat that was covering Tris' head, revealing his swollen face.
Locke knew his own strength well. Luckily, Tris was a knight who'd cultivated impetus. Otherwise, he would've ended up dead. Locke stretched his shoulders and was getting ready to leave. He believed that Tris couldn't recognise him in this state.
However, just to be on the safe side, Locke kicked Tris' head harshly before leaving and yelled, "This is what you get for trying to snatch my woman!"
Tris' head tilted and he fainted.
Locke had learned quite a lot from Angelina and Glace. He wanted to make it seem like Tris was beaten up for stealing someone's woman. Of course, the woman he was referring to could only be Joaquin.
It would be none of Locke's business when Tris regained his consciousness and suspected which potential rival suitor had done this to him.