In the seventh month, a group of four knights rode horseback on the roads of Monst province in the northwest.
“Bond, you didn’t mention that we’re going to Glint Plains.” Locke said, riding at the front.
“Well, you just can't find blood essence in the empire.” Bond ignored his complaints.
“Yeah, let’s just think of it as a vacation,” said Rafael.
“We can take this opportunity to enjoy the scenery in Glint Plains,” said Gauss.
Initially, only Bond and Locke were going to get blood essence, but they bumped into Rafael and Gauss on their way there. The two wealthy noble descendants didn’t join them for the blood essence at all; they just wanted to relieve their boredom, the same reason they’d participated in the training missions in the past. The four of them became good friends during their mission in Osdale, so Rafael and Gauss wanted to tag along to Glint Plains.
Glint Plains was located outside of Aomar’s northwestern border. It was initially a barren land, but a group of nomads happened to settle there a few decades ago. They started to rear livestock and farm there, and it soon turned into a prairie. Apart from the two or three nomadic kingdoms there, most of the areas there were dominated by savage tribes. Their destination was a domain controlled by a group of barbarians on good terms with Bond’s family.
“Are you sure we can get the blood essence from them?” asked Rafael. He was the most well off among them, so blood essence wasn’t essential to him, but it would be nice if he could get it for some extra cash.
“Yeah. My father saved Chief Shabille’s life, so he'll definitely do me that as a favour,” Bond replied. Rafael nodded. There were indeed some powerful tribes that reared monsters that produced blood essence.
“Do we need an escort?” asked Gauss. His family was from a province in the northwest of Aomar, so he could easily get two to three hundred guards to tag along.
“It’s fine. It’ll be troublesome if they think that we’re up to no good,” said Locke. Although he wasn’t sure what Bond’s family’s relationship with the tribe was like, it would definitely alarm them if they brought hundreds of soldiers along with them. Plus, the four of them were powerful mid-rank Knechts, so they weren't in any real danger.
After travelling across a desert in the northwest and passing by a military outpost at the border, a green prairie appeared in front of them.
“Wow! It’s more stunning than the plains in the empire!” Rafael exclaimed. He’d travelled to many places before, but it was his first time here. This was also the main reason why he’d joined their journey.
“Let’s go. There’s still a two-week journey to Shabille’s tribe from here.” Bond held a map as he led the way.
Two days later, dozens of yurt tents were seen by the river valley. Locke had seen similar tens in the past two weeks, but as soon as he approached this tribe, he was stunned by a giant beast by the river.
“What’s that?” Locke pointed at the huge, strange creature that had a horn on its head. The eight-metre-tall yurt was only as tall as its neck; the giant creature was probably ten metres tall. The size of its body was second only to the scorpiondrakes that he’d seen in Morphey Forest.
“It’s a teru! I bet you’ve never seen one before.” Bond grinned as he patted Locke’s shoulder. He was very pleased with his reaction; he reacted the exact same way when he saw the terus for the first time. Rafael and Gauss were shocked as well. They’d only read about this high-level major monster in the academy’s library and it was their first time seeing one in person.
In the afternoon, the four knights received a warm welcome from the tribal folk. It seemed like Bond had been there several times before given how they recognised and welcomed him with a special ceremony. When the 2.5-metre-tall tribal chief appeared, Locke was once again stunned by what he saw. The chief’s arms were almost as thick as his thighs. He was the bulkiest man he’d ever seen in his life with a rough personality to boot.
“Our tribe will be hosting a bonfire feast tonight to welcome your arrival!” Shabille said to Bond with a smile on his face. Locke noticed that these nomads had a strong accent. Thankfully, Shabille had a loud voice, so he could understand what he’d said. He also noticed how well Bond was treated. Before the bonfire party started, Locke found an opportunity to ask Bond about it.
“Oh, Shabille’s tribe had gone through three major battles last year, and they need new supplies urgently to appease their tribe members and to deter the other tribes from attacking, so I’m going to make a deal with him on behalf of my family. Did you bring the gold moores like I asked you to?”
Locke only then remembered that he’d asked him to bring enough money with him. “I’ve brought some.”
Actually, he didn’t have much money with him, but there were a lot of valuable items in his spatial ring, such as the fur and blood of major monsters, some potions and some magic items that he’d bought from Billie’s family. He believed that these items would be of interest to the tribal folk.
“Don’t worry then, I’ll definitely get you as much blood essence as you want. The most important thing right now is to enjoy the feast tonight!” Bond had been here several times before and always enjoyed the feasts.
Sure enough, it didn’t disappoint Locke either. Bond left Locke alone as soon as the sky got dark. Locke noticed that he was mingling with two tall female barbarians. Actually, it was quite discriminatory to call them barbarians as they were just slightly taller and had a more yellowish complexion compared to the ordinary citizens in Aomar. He even thought that the female nomads were healthier and prettier than most of the women in the empire. This was probably the reason why Bond like the feasts so much.
Rafael and Gauss were no better than Bond. The nomads were very friendly towards them as they were bonds' guests; four female nomads even took the initiative to approach them. Of course, both of them weren't the type to turn down women's advances. The impatient Rafael had already started to make his moves on one of them.
“Hello!” someone greeted with broken Aomarian. Locke turned and saw a tall woman in front of him.
“Hello!” Locke replied. He wasn’t fluent in the nomads’ dialects yet, so he didn’t want to embarrass himself. She knew a bit of the Aomarian, and after chatting with her for a while, he found out that she was sent by her tribe to befriend him. But unlike Rafael and the others, he wasn’t interested in flirting with her.
“Can you tell me more about that big creature?” He pointed at the giant beast.
“Oh, that’s a teru, the guardian of our Almeda tribe,” she said in a serious tone. It seemed like the teru was really important to them.
“Does it make blood essence?” asked Locke bluntly as he pointed at it. The nomads knew what Locke and the others were there for, so he didn’t beat around the bush and asked her about it directly.
The woman gritted her teeth and replied, “Yeah.”
Only powerful lifeforms could produce blood essence. After surveying around for the whole afternoon, he found out that only Shabille and the teru were capable of producing it. He’d never heard of humans producing it, so they had to be getting it from the teru. Though, he was curious why she’d called it their guardian as they were more like livestock; their lifespan would shorten with each extraction of blood essence. Usually, the blood essence was extracted from the heart of a powerful creature after killing it. It was really rare to extract it from livestock.
“Our teru will be arriving at the other shore soon.” She sighed and stopped talking. After spending half a month in the plains, he knew that the nomads referred to the shore like they would their afterlife. It seemed like the teru would be leaving them soon. In daytime, although he was quite far away, he didn’t notice that it had any signs of weakness. If this was how it looked at the brink of death, he couldn’t imagine how powerful it was when it was at its peak.
The teru that was lying by the riverbank seemed like it sensed his shock. It suddenly stretched its neck and howled loudly in the dark, causing the river to ripple. The nomads who were having fun around the bonfire immediately stopped what they were doing and prostrated themselves on the ground solemnly. Locke noticed that they were all teary-eyed as they worshipfully looked at the huge beast before lowered their heads again and curling up into a ball.
The feast resumed after a while. Locke touched the spatial ring in his hand as he made his decision.