Since they now had Angie as their 'pest repellant', they were able to arrive at the campsite before dark. They were now under the overhead cliff that was marked on the map. The solid cliff could block out the night breeze, so it was a good choice to stay the night.
The female casters pitched their tents at the innermost part of the cliff, whereas Locke and the other knights had to sleep in their sleeping bags outside and be on the lookout for danger at night. While the others were busy lighting up a fire, cooking, pitching tents and setting up traps, Angie was stuffing a half-metre-long red centipede that it’d just found into its mouth. The centipede was still struggling for its life. Arthropods had strong vitality, but that only served to extend their suffering. The casters who’d been petting Angie’s head and playing with it just now rubbed their hands at the sight, probably vowing to never touch it again.
While it was busy hunting for its food, Locke and the others were done with their tasks. A piece of the scorched-salt wolf’s meat was being grilled above the bonfire. Grease oozed from the meat, filling the air with a savoury aroma. They were still at the outer part of the forest, so they didn’t need to worry about the bonfire attracting unexpected visitors. The meat was from the two wolves that Locke had slaughtered this morning. He sliced off the most succulent part of their body and stored it in his spatial ring so that he could have them for dinner tonight. Wolf meat was not delicious, but the scorch-salt wolf, probably because of the volumes of salt in its blood, had a natural marinated flavour.
Only Joaquin, Angelina and Billie had used their spatial gear before this, so everyone else apart from Angelina was shocked when he took his spatial ring out. Bob, who’d previously given him a few horses, couldn’t figure out why he still needed them when he was already that wealthy. Though, nobody noticed it was a woman’s ring thanks to Locke covering it while he used it and the dark sky.
After an uneventful rest, the group continued their journey the next day. After chasing away two rot apes that were harassing them, Locke held onto his longsword for support and leaned against a giant tree to catch his breath. After casting Light Concentration on him, Mina went to treat Chris’ wounds.
There was an open wound on Bob’s lower abdomen, and Daenie was using Moisturise to treat it. On the other hand, Angelina, Joaquin and Billie were regaining their mental powers that had been depleted.
It’d been a week since they first entered the forest. As they got closer to their destination, they were faced with more dangerous encounters. The two apes that had attacked them just now were mid-level major monsters and they were able to break down Bob and Chris’ defences easily with their agility. If it wasn’t for Locke who’d managed to shake off the ape that attacked him and went to help them in time, the casters would be injured as well. Unlike Locke and the other knights, they didn’t have strong recovery abilities.
“How far more to go?” Joaquin asked all of a sudden as she closed her eyes while regaining her mental power.
Locke took out the map that was tied to his arm and said, “We still have a day and a half left.”
“We’ll continue our journey after resting for a little while more,” said Joaquin. The campsites that they’d marked on the map were safe, but they had to reach there before sundown to avoid being attacked by the major monsters again.
Apart from cloud spells, Mina also knew some auxiliary spells that could help the others to recover strength and mental power more quickly. Everyone seemed to play an irreplaceable and important role in the group. Locke was responsible for leading the way as was one of the elites among the mid-rank Knechts, and he would engage the major monsters they encountered if he felt that it wouldn't pose a huge risk to the whole party.
The two apes that attacked them just now managed to escape. Locke was pretty sure that he could chop their heads off if Billie had cast Vine Wrap on them in time. The crystal core of a major monster was very valuable in Princeton and Locke didn’t mind making extra money after completing his missions.
They were now on a black mire, which was less than three miles away from the location where the magic-condensing fruits grew. This was also their resting place for the night. Normally, threats lurked near the water, so they had to stay on the trees. The fifteen-metre-tall trees could definitely withstand their weights. Everyone chose their own tree to sleep in, and Locke was on the lookout again tonight.
“Locke, can you please give me a hand?” Billie asked. She gave Locke an embarrassed look when he walked up to her and asked her what was the matter. It turned out that the brave and outspoken Billie was afraid of heights, and she needed his help to climb the tree.
She blushed while he looked away and wrapped one arm around her waist. He then jumped and grabbed onto a branch with his other hand. Just like that, they were on the ten-metre-tall tree. The trunk was very thick, so it was wide enough for a person to sleep there.
“Remember to tie your sleeping bag with a rope before you go to sleep!” reminded Locke. She was afraid of heights, and it would be the worst kind of misfortune if she were to fall off the tree during her sleep.
“Alright,” replied Billie softly. Her cheeks were still flushed after being carried by Locke. After putting her sleeping bag in place, he jumped off the trunk. Chris, who was not far away, looked at him jealously. Everyone in the group knew that Chris had feelings for her, but unfortunately, she didn’t feel the same way towards him.
Suddenly, a thought flashed through Locke’s mind. Was Joaquin afraid of heights too? Their relationship had always been tense and they would argue whenever they spoke to each other. Joaquin didn’t really like his dominant and controlling personality, and he didn’t like how self-centred she was, so they rarely talked to each other apart from anything relating directly to the mission.