Locke noticed that Grandmeisterin Parlina wasn’t one for conversations. She simply huffed in acknowledgement and promptly ignored the grey cloaked elder.
The elder laughed, not at all bothered by the response. He flew over to their spot and began to engage Parlina in a one-sided conversation. The grandmeisterin ignored the elder again to face the younger three. “Go pick a room on the second floor.” Then, her unamused gaze fell onto Angelina and Locke. “One room each,” she added.
“Ahem... Got it,” Locke’s reply was frantic. The grandmeisterin had made it clear that she didn’t want them in the same room.
Following that, Parlina turned to leave with the elder following closely behind. He chided, “Why is an old lady like you butting into the youngsters’ business?” It wasn’t hard for the elder to notice that Locke and Angelina were an item. However, before he could even say anything else, a threatening water arrow was aimed at him. The elder quickly shut his trap. It was obvious that the Magister had offended Parlina and Locke was trying his hardest to stifle his laughter.
“Say, is that old man interested in your grandmeisterin?” Locke nudged Angelina and mouthed voicelessly. He had no guts to gossip in the presence of a Magister; their mental abilities were so strong that whispers couldn’t escape their ears.
Incredibly displeased by his outrageous statement, Angelina hit his chest. She turned around, refusing to entertain the ridiculous bastard further. How bold of him to joke about the grandmeisterin!
Locke had no intention to disrespect Parlina at all. Through their few encounters, he could tell that this old lady wasn’t all that difficult to get along with despite her uptight temperament.
“Come with me. We need to pick a room!” Angelina pulled Daenie, who was in a daze, up the stairs and onto the second level deck. What Locke mouthed early didn’t go unnoticed and Daenie was greatly taken aback by his bold act.
Other than the three of them, there were a few other Lehrlings from the Imperial Academy on the floating ship. It seemed as though everyone was headed for the Sanctum. This made Locke stand out like a sore thumb; he was the only knight in a crowd of casters. Under their curious glances, Locke circled the floating ship.
This wasn’t his first experience on a ship. The Aomar Empire was vast and Locke would opt to travel by water for each mission when possible. He’d avoid travelling by land as the speed and convenience offered by the waterway had allowed Locke to forgo traditional horse-riding. However, this was his first time seeing a ship that could float in the sky so it was hard to not be curious.
The casters onboard were mostly mid-rank Lehrlings with only a few high-rank Lehrlings. Perhaps most of the high-rank Lehrlings were off to find a room like Angelina and Daenie. Interestingly, there were four levels to the floating ship and one basement. Different ranks were separated by levels; Parlina and the Magister elder would be staying on the highest level.
Locke hadn’t seen anyone moving around the third level so far. On the other hand, the second level which Angelina and Daenie entered housed high-rank Lehrlings. Mid-rank Lehrlings were assigned the first level and what the basement held remained a mystery. The number of rooms had increased down the levels. If Locke wasn’t mistaken, there were three rooms on the fourth level, which indicated that there were three Magisters onboard.
Locke and his bunch were assigned to the second level. There were more than twenty rooms here but there was no way it had so many high-rank Lehrlings onboard.
“Grandmeisterin Parlina is so nice to us!” said Locke as soon as he caught up to Angelina and Daenie on the second level. The two female casters had already decided on their rooms. Obviously, Parlina was giving them special treatment by placing them with the high-rank Lehrlings. Angelina’s room was sandwiched by Locke and Daenie on either side.
The floating ship showed no movement till the skies darkened. Many Lehrlings had boarded the ship since evening and soon they were running out of space on the initially spacious deck. Apart from casters, many other lifeforms were brought on board in the dark by a middle-aged caster with a brown beard. Seeing that he was able to levitate creatures easily, he was most likely the final Magister.
“Bourdon, where’s Leonz and the others?” The grey-robed elder shouted at the middle-aged Magister over a distance. He was standing in front of his room on the fourth level.
“At this point, they’d have to wait for the next floating ship.” The darkness had veiled the middle-aged Magister’s face. The only thing visible was his swaying beard under the hem of his hood.
“Let us move then!” The grey-robed elder waved his arm and manifested a strong wind. A loud creak came from the ship’s mast and with a noticeable thrust, the hull began to move. Beams of flame and air were produced from either side of the bottom and the floating ship began to move forward whilst the Lehrlings onboard gasped in awe.
Much to their surprise, no strong wind could be felt as they were protected by a translucent barrier that looked like an eggshell. It shielded the ship from outside. However, at the moment, Locke’s attention was divided between the sudden lurch of the ship and the odd lifeforms brought on board by the middle-aged Magister.
“Cave dwellers?!” Locke was so surprised that he was at a loss for words. He was only capable of pointing a shaky finger at the short grey-skinned creatures that were moving in a neat line. Those were indeed the cave dwellers that Irene and he found in the mines; those were the creatures that the high-rank Knechts were contracted to capture by the academy’s mission hall. Why were they on the floating ship?
Though the cave dwellers had made up the majority of odd creatures brought on board, there were other peculiar creatures as well. Locke could spot three-clawed lizards, flame-tail monkeys and a gigantic crocodile-like creature that had fangs as big as a human fist.
These creatures had something in common; Locke could tell from their bright eyes that they possessed considerable intelligence. While the appearance of these creatures was shocking to some mid-rank Lehrlings, most of them weren’t fazed at all. Since a huge part of them were cave dwellers, the combined might of these monsters was nothing impressive. They were only about as strong as low-rank to mid-rank Knechts. The strongest one was probably the huge crocodile monster that could walk with its hindlegs. Its huge tail swayed without care and green flames were escaping its nostrils with every breath.
“A base-rank major monster!” exclaimed Locke as he studied the six-metre long creature solemnly.