Half a year later before his first semester ended, Locke took out all the potions that could help with his advancement. There were one will-condensing potion, one moflis potion and two strengthening potions on the desk in front of him.
He’d kept the will-condensing potion since the time he served in the Falcon. This auxiliary potion was mainly used to help casters break through their mental power. He’d only gotten one of the potions after his identity was verified by the army. The moflis potion was given by his equestrian instructor when he finished third in his class.
It seemed that the Ritter knew exactly what Locke currently needed. Locke had learned a lot in the library and he knew that this kind of potion is specially used to aid low-rank Knechts in breaking through their bottlenecks.
As for the strengthening potions, he got a few as part of the reward for joining the diplomatic mission. Usually, only the Faustian elite had access to these. However, he could only use three of them at most as more would be useless. After his two previous uses, he still had one chance left. The effect of using the last potion wouldn't be significant compared to when he first used it to advance to a low-rank Knecht. He’d prepared two bottles of them because it worked the best if he drank some as well as applied some topically onto his body.
Apart from that, Angelina also got him a couple auxiliary potions. It wasn't his style to rely too much on women, but he didn't have a choice owing to how important it was for him to succeed in his breakthrough. Chauvinistic pride was worthless when it came to progressing in his training.
“I’ll just treat her better in the future.” Locke curled his lips as he felt rather touched when he thought back at how Angelina stuffed a pile of potions into his arms before he entered the training room, which was built underground beneath the courtyard with a combination of manual labour and magic.
After taking a deep breath, Locke sat cross-legged on the ground. He first took the will-condensing potion. This potion could help him advance to a mid-rank Knecht by increasing his mental power. It also had the strongest effect among the three potions. It was only characteristic of an ex-soldier like him to choose the strongest one first.
He lifted his head up and swallowed the potion in one go. Before the pungent taste could reach his lungs, he thought, Will I be able to train magic because of this? But before his mind wandered, he suddenly felt pins and needles in his head.
His eyes were red and his temples pulsed. He immediately took out two blue potions and one orange potion from the pile next to him which could help to alleviate the pain and speed up the absorption of the will-condensing potion.
Angelina stood nervously outside the training room as she waited for him to come out. She initially didn’t agree to let Locke make the breakthrough attempt so soon. He was only twenty, after all, and was far stronger than he needed to be for his age. There wasn’t a need for him to advance in such a hurry. After all, many knights older than him were still low-rank or even beginner-rank Knechts.
Glace and the others were also waiting outside on the other side. While Angelina was the nominal owner of the mansion, Glace and the others hadn’t talked with her much. She was the person that Locke cared the most about, and her status as a princess had also widened the gap between them.
Lia, who usually never stood out, was now the most anxious one among all of them. She hadn’t talked much to Locke ever since leaving Faustian as he had to devote his time and energy to the other women and his studies, leaving little time for anything but a routine greeting and occasional small talk.
It was rather negligent of him; at least Glace and the others still had each other so they wouldn’t be bored, but not Lia when she arrived in Aomar. Fortunately, she was able to make new friends and devote her attention to school to kill her boredom. Even so, she hadn’t forgotten why she’d decided to follow Locke abroad in the first place. Not to mention, she wanted to give herself a chance to improve herself in her own right rather than complying with her parents’ wishes.
“I hope that he’ll come out safely.” Lia clasped her hands together and prayed sincerely.
Under normal circumstances, the failure of a knight’s advancement wouldn’t lead to serious consequences, at most leading to a slight decrease in strength and lifespan. It would also be more challenging for them to advance in the future, and the severity of these consequences increased with age. Fortunately, Locke was only twenty, so he still had many chances to advance in the future even if he failed this time. Even so, he was determined not to.
His entire body was flush red as his muscles tensed tighter. Countless droplets of sweat dripped onto the ground before evaporating into steam and condensing around his head, a sign of extreme blood circulation throughout his body.
Most of the potion bottles were already empty, and some of them were even broken, showing how suffering it was for him to use them. Those auxiliary potions that could help alleviate his pain didn’t have much effect on him, regrettably.
Pieces of damaged tissue as a result of muscle tears could be seen on his abdominal muscles, a sign that his body was being pushed to the limit. Since his impetus vortex wasn’t large enough, the extra impetus rushed into every part of his body.
The damage to the body would be permanent. If Locke failed to break through this time, they would become a major obstacle for the next breakthrough, and this was also the reason why the lifespan of knights would be shortened after a failure.
He then grabbed the last bottle with ash-grey liquid within, the moflis potion. He first rubbed some of it on his joints and on the area where his meridians were damaged. He then poured the rest of it into his mouth and kept it under his tongue.
This potion could repair their damaged joints and tissue, helping knights last through the breakthrough attempt. Locke was very grateful that his instructor had given him something this valuable.
After the first preparatory phase was done, he closed his eyes and circulated Falconim in his body. Falconim was a wind-type impetus, which boosted the user’s agility, but that effect was only obvious in mid-rank Knechts or higher.
Locke remained drenched in sweat in the training room as he tried to overcome that barrier tirelessly. Perhaps it would take one or two hours, or even the whole night for him to break through the bottleneck, but he was determined to do it at all costs.
Two weeks later...
“Hey, Locke! Do you want to join me for the upcoming mission during the holidays?” Henry suddenly brought it up while they were walking.
“No thanks, I’ve already joined a party.” Locke, who seemed to have grown a little taller, straightened his back and walked towards the cafeteria.
“Oh, okay.” Henry nodded his head in disappointment. “It seems like I’m going to let Lisa down.” Lisa was a fellow second-year student in Perseverance who got rather close with Henry during these days.
“As a man, you have to believe in your own strength.” Locke gave a helpless facial expression.
“Come on, I’m not as powerful as you. You’re now one of the few mid-rank Knechts in our grade!” Henry looked enviously at Locke, who was now half a head taller than him.
Locke measured his height after he’d advanced to a mid-rank Knecht and found out that he’d grown a few centimetres taller. His height was now 1.79 metres and that was considered tall among the students in Perseverance.
The mission that Henry mentioned was an assignment all of the students in the academy had to complete during the holidays. This academy was funded by Aomar’s imperials, so they had to serve the empire in return, making the students the largest labour force the empire could utilize.
Since Locke was currently one of the few mid-rank Knechts in the second grade, he had the privilege to carry out the mission with the students from the caster faculties. It was obvious who his teammates were.