The clouds passed them by quickly. Hovering above the ocean surface, the floating ship was moving at a speed that was unfathomable to the marine creatures below. It had been three days since they left Zeckerton Harbour and the ship’s deck wasn’t as empty as before; it was now a gathering place for casters. As hardworking as they were, casters were still human so they needed to unwind and relax.
There wasn’t much space offered by the deck and cabin hence the Lehrlings couldn’t perform experiments as pleased. Unlike Angelina, many didn’t have the luxury of bringing along a heap of luggage on their journey to the Sanctum. As the boring days stretched on, the Lehrlings began socializing among themselves, resulting in the formation of a few cliques.
“Daenie, would you like to join the Azure Arrow?” Out of nowhere, a young freckled blond had interrupted a conversation between Daenie and Angelina.
“Uh… I…” Daenie, who was happily chatting away with Angelina, was suddenly too nervous to reply. Socializing was never her strong suit.
“As a low-rank Lehrling, you’d need team support to make a name at the Sanctum, no?” It seemed as though the young blond lad was certain she’d agree. Before Daenie could say anything else, he gripped her forearm and began pulling her towards their little group. “Come with me. I’ll introduce you to the others.” He must have been an idiot to not detect Daenie’s obvious reluctance.
“Hey! Let go of her!” Angelina and Locke shouted in unison after just leaving the cabin in time. Angelina was extremely pissed, the blond lad had rudely disrupted their conversation and was dragging Daenie away! On the other hand, Daenie’s distraught expression had Locke thinking that she was getting bullied. He quickly tossed his filthy top on deck and rushed upstairs.
Since he was topless, Locke’s bicep was noticeably thicker than the blond’s thigh. He lunged at the Lehrling like a ferocious beast. The blond quickly sensed his hostility and swiftly responded. Those accepted by the Sanctum were no simpletons, after all. Soon enough, the Lehrling manifested a sharp rock spur of an arm’s length. That was the mid-rank Rock Puncture spell, a sign that he was a mid-rank Lehrling.
However, Locke was one step ahead. The Knecht had rushed over to his side and as the veins in his arm thundered, he gripped the Lehrling's extended palm in the middle of his cast.
“Ah!” he screamed in pain as a loud crack was heard; the Lehrling’s palm was probably badly fractured. While that was a minor injury, the earth element surrounding the Lehrling scatted, a sign of a forcefully disrupted cast, which would result in heavy magic recoil and to the caster, resulting in damage to mental power. In utter agony, the blond Lehrling released his grip on Daenie’s arm. He gripped his broken palm and rolled on the ground in pain.
“How pathetic.” Locke shrugged. They were now surrounded by many casters who heard the commotion. They looked at the blond pitifully but their gazes on Locke seemed hostile.
Locke was the only knight in a ship full of casters. He had tried his best to lay low in the last few days by keeping a low profile. However, now that this had happened, Locke stood out like a sore thumb.
“Marcus!” What appeared to be the blond’s group quickly rushed over to check on him. Two of them gave Locke the stink eye but that was all they dared to do. Everyone had seen Locke’s incredible speed. To engage a high-rank Knecht in close combat was something that even the strongest high-rank Lehrlings needed to consider with caution; their shield casting speed would need to be fast enough.
As the crowd continued to stare at him, Locke nonchalantly turned around to face Daenie, not at all caring about his exposed back. “Daenie, are you alright?” The last few days on the ship had allowed him a good look around; apart from the few Lehrlings that could be potential threats, most were harmless. They were studious Lehrlings that had their noses deep in books or holed up in laboratories constantly. In such a cramped space, their combat abilities were no match for a person who had been through actual bloodshed and near-death experiences. But of course, casters were much advantageous at long-distance battles; the mid-rank spell earlier could seriously injure Locke if he wasn’t armoured up.
Even so, Locke wasn’t all that worried about getting attacked by the Lehrlings. His Falconim wasn’t just good for its pretty projected lights; the energy and agility boost provided by its circulation could strengthen his resistance against spells. With that, he could most definitely get close enough to decapitate his enemies.
“Are you alright?” Angelina squeezed past the crowd worriedly. She had seen everything unfold before her; from the second Locke rushed over till the blond Lehrling’s element scattered around.
“I’m okay.” Daenie shook her head, soft blue locks veiling her red and tender forearm. The blond Lehrling had handled her roughly.
“Hmph!” That didn’t go unnoticed by Locke. “Bring Daenie back to the room. I’ll handle them.” Through the corner of her eyes, he glared at the other Lehrlings around the blond.
“Got it.” Angelina knew what Locke was capable of. She heeded his instructions without hesitation and helped Daenie back to her room.
“Come on! Let’s settle the score!” Locke stretched his limbs, his joints cracking audibly. The Knecht was ready to fight.
“Damn, Marcus and his bunch are in deep trouble.”
“Yeah. I know they’re lacking a hydromancer but they shouldn’t have gone for those three.”
“I don’t think they’re aware that the three live on the second level.”
“I remember hearing something about the blond being a student of one of the Magisters on the ship but the Knecht was also brought on board by another particular Magister.”
“They’re toasted, no doubt.”
The whispers around them grew fervent and the identities of everyone involved in the conflict were made known. The other casters' initial hostility dissolved to utmost pity towards the blond Lehrling’s clique. Soon enough, the only ones left behind at the scene were a brawny Locke and a few Lehrlings that cowered in fear.