Farm tools were strewn across the silent wooden house, an obvious sign that its previous owner had either left in a hurry or was met with misfortune. Locke made himself at home in the abandoned property, settling himself atop a stump in its depths, both palms tight around the dull yellow Botanian essence which he'd obtained from killing two pear Botanians with his Speedy Dragon potion.
The Botanians fought differently from what Locke was used to. While they may look like literal walking fresh produce, they were skilled at close combat. Their green mucus made them all the more deadly.
Even so, their strength and battle forms were incredibly pathetic when up against knights. Locke wasn’t too bothered by them but their mucus was a force to be reckoned with. His tough armour and sharpened longsword would be his strongest defence against the Botanians.
A knight’s armour was their second life and their weapons treasured were reliable companions in war. Locke had commissioned improvements on his set of froststeel armour and trusty longsword before departing for Botania. He was a firm believer in improving his equipment to boost his capabilities. The additional materials and fortified magic engravings had certainly set him apart from his peers.
The twenty magic scrolls in his spatial ring remained untouched so far; they were a last resort should Locke ever find himself worn out by battle. If he could no longer fight like a knight, he could at least switch to become a temporary high-rank Lehrling capable of casting spells in quick ascensions, a far cry above what most people considered a last resort.
Those that felt empathetic towards the enemy were bound to be gutted by performing a massacre. Locke could be quite compassionate at times yet he felt nothing for the Botanians. It didn’t help that they looked like food; food was meant to be eaten and no one would spare it a second thought. Not to mention, Locke was a seasoned soldier. His rich experience in war since his teenage years had long hardened his heart. Only those that he truly cared about could melt his heart.
He shifted into a comfortable position, exhaled languidly and tossed the Botanian essence into the back of his throat. Despite weighing not more than a few grams, the essence was surprisingly filling. A profound warmth soon enveloped his body with a peculiar hint of coolness.
This wasn’t Locke’s first time consuming Botanian essence since they had been in Botania for a considerable duration. However, this particular sensation was profoundly different, which he assumed to be connected to the essence’s quality. The essence of advanced Botanians was probably of better purity. But of course, it was perhaps influenced by its species; Locke had been ingesting Botanian essences from different Botanian species so far.
Amidst the stillness of the house in the heart of Nimbus City, Locke began his advancement. He intensified his impetus circulation, letting a thick yellow aura form around his frame. Impurities began to be expelled through the surface of his skin. Tonight was bound to be a long night; he too had the green nucleus core from Parlina to absorb too.
By this hour, the moon was plastered high up in the sky. Angelina and Daenie stared at the array of stars that spread across the dark sky from a yard. Overall, Botania didn’t look too different from Zauberia. The minor plane was habitable by humans, hence its higher value compared to the other planes.
Meanwhile, Angelina and Daenie searched for home among the brilliant stars. The knowledgeable casters had long concluded that every star in the galaxy was a planar world. The majestic astral bodies in the boundless universe had brought them a limitless thirst for knowledge. Yet, its vastness had humbled the casters at the same time. At this point in Zauberian history, a few planes of similar competence had already been pinpointed. While these planes weren’t enemies and were a great distance away, there was competition among them.
“Damn it. Where is Locke? He’s gone off to train without telling us anything again,” pouted Angelina.
The Faustian princess had initially expected her days at the Sanctum to be spent in utter loneliness. Locke’s extended stay was something that took her by surprise. Most of her original plans were greatly disrupted but the time spent together was the happiest Angelina had ever been in twenty years of life. She had nothing to worry about, no royal rules to follow and no need to fight for Locke’s attention. Angelina had all the time in the world to concentrate on her academics too.
Everything felt too good to be true. She could study to her heart’s content and spend quality time with her lover. Locke’s sturdy chest had always promised her a sanctuary. With that, Angelina wasn’t even startled by the unexpected deployment.
“Don’t worry. I’m sure he’ll be back soon,” comforted Daenie softly. The girl was relatively simple but she could sense the hint of longing in Angelina’s grumbles.
Speaking of which, Daenie was twenty-one this year, which made her six months younger than Angelina. With no prior dating experiences, Daenie had always been envious of Locke and Angelina. The sweet couple’s interaction had her looking forward to the wonders of relationships but she couldn’t help but feel a little troubled.
She was a gentle person that didn’t require much to be pleased. Her partner need not be handsome or ridiculously talented but he had to be a caring person; Daenie yearned to experience the same attention Locke treated Angelina with.
Despite that, Daenie couldn’t help but sigh at the thought of her future. Unlike Angelina, she didn’t have much autonomy when it came to relationships. The interest of her household stood above everything else. Her parents loved her deeply but compromises in her marriage prospects were necessary on her part.
She’d face great changes to her familial status once she graduates from the Sanctum. Her outstanding academic accomplishment would bestow her father’s lineage a major decision-making role at the price of a political marriage. Perhaps she’d be wedded to the son of a marquess or a distant relative of a duke, both of which would be incredibly beneficial to a count’s family.