“How are you feeling?” The peach Botanian hovered over Locke, who was currently leaning against the wall.
Grandma Nono had left to tend to the other patients, leaving Allie behind to look after him. Though Locke knew that the ochre crystal was a trusty translator, he figured it’d be best if he said less. He’d limit himself to only speaking out of necessity.
However, it seemed as though his quiet front had piqued the peach’s curiosity. Allie was very interested to learn more about the injured pear Botanian.
“Could you tell me more about the outside world? I’ve never left Mist City.” Allie tried to strike a conversation, ignoring Locke’s blatant coldness.
The peach Botanian was eight years old. Judging by the fact that Botanians could live up to centuries, Allie would technically be a child. However, that wasn’t the case; having a longer lifespan didn’t necessarily mean later maturation. It was typical for Botanians to marry and settle down once they were twelve or thirteen years old.
Locke soon ran out of space to rest as more casualties flooded into Grandma Nono’s place.
“Here, I’ll bring you somewhere else so you can rest.” Allie was certain she hadn’t seen this pear Botanian ever in Mist City. He might have fled here just like many other Botanians.
“Okay.” To Allie’s surprise, Locke finally muttered his first word today.
She returned him a reassuring smile.
The peach Botanian was barely 150 centimetres tall, which made for a ridiculous look as she dragged the taller pear Botanian along the streets of Mist City. Her arms were smooth and covered in peach fuzz, which wasn’t unpleasant to look at since it made her look soft and gentle.
But of course, Locke hadn’t forgotten the dangers of his situation. The white stubborn fog in the air and the weak regular Botanians scattered around were pestering him to complete the mission fast.
Eventually, he found himself in front of a small wooden cottage.
Allie gestured. “Here you go. This used to be our cottage but you’re more than welcome to stay here.”
The cottage was small, only being less than thirty square metres. There was nothing else in the house apart from a simple wooden bed and a rustic table. Locke cautiously fit himself into the doorframe. He’d hit the ceiling if he lifted his head. Allie tried to suppress her laughter at his struggle. The cottage wasn’t small for regular Botanians, it was just that Locke was too tall. A height of 170 centimetres was very eye-catching in Mist City.
“I’ll head back now. Feel free to call me if you need anything.” Allie waved farewell. Her house was just nearby and it was time for lunch.
Locke refused her offer of bringing him a portion and sent her off at the door. The peach’s genuine kindness had Locke touched.
Finally, the quietness in the cottage would allow him a productive headspace to consider his next step. Mere exploration around Mist City wouldn’t give him access to useful intel as this mission had called for a deep probe into the city’s defences and strategies. The most pressing concern of Mist City was its perpetual veil of thick fog. The gaseous matter released by the crystal-like plants were visual obstacles to their contingent. The slaves’ sight was obstructed and the casters’ spells would be weakened by one-third, which was why Locke’s mission was of utmost importance.
Locke had pocketed a few samples of the crystal-like plants earlier. Since he had plenty of experience assisting Ashar in the laboratory, he was more than capable of doing simple specimen preservation. Plus, he was very in tune with his motor control. Ashar had even once praised him for being more skilful than her past assistants.
In a sense, the current mission was a test. After all, Locke was involved in one of many contingents under the Sanctum’s belt. It made no sense that a knight could hold authority over nearly a thousand slaves. Many Lehrlings were jealous and angry at his current influence, hence Locke was indeed in desperate need of significant merit to gain dominance.
Though the mission was dangerous, it wasn’t exactly deadly. With a large number of spell scrolls in his spatial ring and a pile of potions that could temporarily boost his capabilities, Locke was more than capable of barging out of Mist City before the level-one Botanians could respond.
“Let’s start with investigating the city’s defences.” Locke sighed.
The strongest presence he noticed so far was the wave of mental power at the city gate. The elite Botanian guards too stood out but they were only as strong as mid-rank Knechts. He had yet to find any other stronger elite guards so far. He took a deep breath and circulated his impetus. Locke needed to be in his peak form constantly.
A single tube of healing potion was his lunch today. The potion was a staple item among knights especially when out for missions or expeditions. There were still dozens of them in his spatial ring, which was more than sufficient to last him through half a month.
To his delight, the potion was beef flavoured. Locke smacked his lips, longing for the taste of meat; it had been close to a month since he last had it. He contemplated cooking some slave beasts once this mission was done. Locke’s meat grilling skills were spectacular.
Allie dropped by to check on him in the afternoon, which made it apparent that the city did their patrols in the morning. Or else, it made no sense how the peach could have so much time off.
Locke made a mental note to himself. Launching an attack on the city in the morning was completely plausible. They’d be attacking during a time of manpower shortage and they’d stir chaos in the patrolling teams as well.
Further conversations with Allie revealed that there were other patrol teams too. There were at least a few thousand Botanians involved in the rescue effort for their kind.
The minor plane was too incompetent for its own good. The Sanctum and Hall of Knights had yet to unleash their full might and they were already making decent progress. The gullible Botanians had even remained clueless that an imposter was among them. Said imposter was even wearing the skin of their kind fearlessly to search for their weakness.
Allie’s lunch was perhaps the dirt from the nearby glacier. Locke could pick up a subtle scent of mint with every word uttered.