“Monki Mountains? Where is it located?” Locke held a one-metre-wide parchment map in the carriage as he looked for its location, but he couldn’t find it.
“It should be in a province called Lipps in the northwest,” said Angelina after thinking for a while.
He immediately looked for Lipps on the map and he finally found it in the northwestern part of Aomar. Its area was as big as his thumb.
“What about Monki Mountains then?” Locked widened his eyes and searched for it in Lipps, but he couldn’t find it either.
“This map shows the entire empire, so it is already good enough that we’re able to find the big cities in the province on the map. We have to get to Lipps and buy their local map in order for us to find Monki Mountains,” said Angelina while laughing at him. She couldn’t believe that he’d asked such a silly question.
It had been three days since they’d left Princeton. They were currently on their way to carry out the mission. The carriages had been provided by a low-rank Knecht in the group. The horses were probably specially bred as they were fast and stable, greatly reducing the bumpiness of the journey. Since it was a mission from the academy, they weren’t allowed to get any help from their family members, so they could only get around the rules by these carriages.
Their mission was only to exterminate one or two spirits on the level of low-rank Lehrlings, so Angelina had ordered the shadow and capital guards to stay in Princeton to watch the house instead of following her. It was the same for the other members of the group as they were all the apple of their parents’ eyes.
The academy would dispatch personnel to inspect the mission sites. On one hand, it was to protect the students from unnecessary casualties; on the other hand, it was to keep an eye on whether they’d gotten help from their family members. If they’d been caught doing so, they would be expelled. Even the son or the daughter of a margrave’s family wasn’t an exception. The power of the academy was beyond anything one could ever imagine.
It was currently the 7th and hottest month in Aomar. Locke was amazed by the cities that he had stopped at along the way to cool off from the heat. Aomar was really vast, and it took them more than half a month to arrive at Lipps from Princeton at full speed, passing by eleven provinces along the way. Locke planned to bring some specialities back for his women on the way back home.
“Hey, Bob, can you give me one of your horses when we return to Princeton?” asked Locke as he got out of the carriage and put his arm around the shoulders of a young man with tanned skin.
His full name was Bob Charles, but Locke directly addressed him by his given name as a gesture of friendship. Bob was one of the low-rank Knechts in the group.
“Sure, no problem! I’ll give you two horses when we get back,” said Bob generously. He was as generous as one would expect of a baron's son. Although his father’s noble rank wasn’t high, he was an officer of Princeton’s army. Giving out two fine horses was nothing to Bob.
Locke didn’t mind the horse’s appearance. It was a quarter horse breed, where it was a hybrid of an Aomar’s thoroughbred horse and a northern icefield horse. Though, it didn’t look as majestic as a thoroughbred horse nor as pretty as an icefield horse, being a weird hybrid mix instead. Not many people would want to ride them, which was why they were mostly used for pulling carriages. However, this breed's speed and endurance had caught his fancy, so he planned to train his equestrian skills with them.
Monki Mountains was located in the southeast of Lipps. When they arrived, the soldiers from the city of Kanter were already waiting for them there.
“Frau, Viscount Meron has invited all of you to head to Kanter for a break,” said a knight who claimed to be the jarl of the city guards to Joaquin.
“Viscount Meron?” After thinking for a while, Joaquin replied, “Sure, we still have some time to spare anyway. Sorry for troubling you all.”
The unit of city guards then escorted their convoy to Kanter, which wasn’t far away from Monki Mountains.
“What does Meron want?” asked Locke puzzledly.
“He probably wants to curry favour with us.” Angelina had experienced a lot of situations like this before. Although Locke couldn’t feel it, she could tell that the nobles in these places were trying to network with students from the academy. In the eyes of these shrewd nobles, the future achievements of these knights and casters and their family background made them good investments.
The academy had given them two months to complete the mission. After excluding a month’s time that was spent on the journey, they only had less than a month left to exterminate the spirits in Monki Mountains.
When they’d chosen their mission, Joaquin’s uncle had made it clear that there were only two spirits there at most. Based on the overall strength of their group, it could be done within a day if they were lucky.
There were two factors to why spirits were more challenging to deal with compared to other creatures. Firstly, they were difficult to be captured because of their ethereal nature, which also made them immune to physical damage. However, it wasn't a big deal to the group of five casters and three knights.
Locke, who’d already experienced the varied local culture of Aomar along the way, was still shocked by how eccentric Kanter was. The entire city was actually made out of grey stone, including the city walls, the roads, and the citizen’s houses.
Even the shallow-minded Locke knew that these ores would normally only be used in building castles or fortresses as they were really dense and difficult to transport. Furthermore, these grey stones were extremely expensive. He couldn’t imagine where the citizens got so much money from.
The city guard jarl noticed Locke’s surprise and explained, “Kanter is located right next to Junger Desert, so to us, the grey stones are cheaper than wood.”
Locke twitched his lips slightly as an indication that he’d understood.
After escorting Locke and the others to the duke’s mansion, the city guard jarl left with his soldiers.
“Welcome to Kanter!” A guffaw was heard from the mansion, and a fat man with a bloated belly walked out with the help of his maid.
They were treated to a dinner banquet hosted by Meron. He’d invited all the nobles in the city and there were a dozen of barons and baronets altogether.
“I’ve heard that you all are here for the spirits in Monki Mountains.” Meron raised his wine glass as he smiled at Joaquin and the others.
“I can provide you all with some ‘trivial’ help,” said Meron. From his words, it seemed that his assistance was within the scope of the academy’s rules.
“Oh, really? Thank you, Meron.” Joaquin raised her eyebrows and drank a toast to him.
“It’s not a big deal.” Meron laughed.
He’d indeed sent someone to stop them along the way just because he wanted to fawn over them. Kanter was poor as it didn't have any mines nor was it suitable for plantations and pastures, and they had no other resources. The only thing they had was the abundance of grey stones, but they were not the only ones in the empire, so Kanter didn't even have the chance to export them for sale. Meron had done all of this to see if he could start a trade agreement using Joaquin and the others. The viscounts, baronets and knights in Kanter didn’t really live well.
Joaquin had probably realised his intentions, but she didn’t expose him. After drinking her glass of wine, she rejected the other nobles’ requests for a toast and went back to the rooms in the mansion that were allocated by Meron with her group members to rest.
Their mission wasn’t completed, so she wouldn’t make any promises yet. Everything could wait until they’d completed their mission.