“So you’re on post-mission break?” Locke asked as he gnawed on a piece of rib.
“Yes.” Wright filled his and Locke’s mug with more malt beer.
Apart from aristocratic knights, most knights couldn’t be bothered with proper table manners. Speaking with a mouthful of food wasn’t frowned upon and it gave off some sense of closeness even.
The knights around their table were of peasant upbringing. Though the weakest of them were high-rank Knechts that could be regarded as aristocrats in smaller territories, the spellbane knights had been thoroughly spoiled by the freedom that came with their occupation. The thought of retiring hadn’t crossed their minds yet. Besides, the eldest among them was still in his prime years. A life of pensions felt too far away. Even so, most peasant knights rarely got to enjoy a longer life; they’d either die in battle or succumb to illness when old. They rarely have the luxury to enjoy the entirety of their retirement.
Wright took a sip of his beer then asked, “What about you, Brother Locke? What are you doing here in Battlezone 7?” Unlike Laney, his perception was sharp. Based on Locke’s earlier responses, Wright could tell that he had gotten stronger than the spellbane knights.
The same went for Angelina. Based on Wright’s experience with killing ‘dark’ knights, the combination of Angelina’s robe and staff was powerful enough for her to take on a high-rank Knecht. Not to mention, the caster was wearing multiple enchanted necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets as well. She was a walking collection of powerful magic gear.
Locke and the Faustian king had done all they could to provide her with the best weapons possible for self-defence. Some of her magic equipment was purchased by Locke with his savings, some were exchanged from other Lehrlings while a smaller portion were gifts from the Magisters.
“We just conquered a Botanian city a few days ago so we’re both here to oversee the transport of Botanians,” said Locke lightheartedly.
“A Botanian city?! That’s crazy impressive!” Wright was caught by surprise but the shock was quick to dissolve into a hearty smile. He understood that the invasions were gruelling since he’d been involved in two conquests so far. The price to pay for victory was often hefty.
The fall of each Botanian city had come with the sacrifices of more than hundreds of knights and even more slaves. The mandated deployment of the Hall of Knights was nothing in comparison to the ruthlessness of these battles even.
On average, one in ten of them would be dead after every battle. This was a loss that was shocking to the high-rank Knechts. After all, their current calibre was more than enough to let them dominate any continent of the Three Western Isles without an ounce of fear.
High-rank Knechts were the strongest right after Ritters and Magisters. Unfortunately, things were different here on Botania. Legendary Ritters that they’d only hear about in the past were everywhere on the minor plane. Spotting a level-two Erdritter anywhere once every two days or so was incredibly easy too. Since Wright and the spellbane knights were mainly stationed around Battlezone 7, they’d been lucky enough to see a few level-three Himmelritters in flesh.
“Oh, that reminds me. Which battlezone were you assigned to, Locke?” Moss, who had been silent all this while, finally spoke.
“Battlezone 17?” Moss and Wright locked gazes. They hadn’t heard much about this battlezone.
“Is it under the Sanctum’s belt?” Wright’s eyes fleeted over to Angelina, who was talking up a storm with his sister on the other end of the table.
“Yeah.” Locke raised a brow. He had no intention to hide it.
“Huh…?” Wright was at a loss for words. This was the first time they’d ever encountered a knight who was so closely aligned to the Sanctum.
Meanwhile, Angelina and Laney were engrossed in an engaging conversation about the scorpiondrake. Despite Angelina’s defensiveness earlier, their giggles and cackles hadn’t stopped since they started talking.
Before this, the Faustian princess was thinking of releasing Angie from the confines of its pouch for some fresh air since they were stopping for a meal now. The familiar hadn’t been out since boarding the floating ship due to a lack of space on board, which meant that Angie had been starved for two days. Fortunately, two days of fasting was nothing for it since its body was considerably massive.
Laney was immediately hooked as soon as the scorpiondrake was released from the spatial pouch. She stopped talking with Locke midway and began staring at the familiar with wide eyes. Angie’s massive size of five metres, sharp fangs, pitch-black scales that shone with a green gleam and inky purple hook made for a terrifying presence that could easily intimidate anyone. Laney, on the other hand, seemed to think otherwise.
“That’s so cool!”
Perhaps her being a knight had warped her sense of beauty. Unlike her female peers, Laney liked the scorpiondrake’s gruesome appearance. Admittedly, Angelina was caught off guard by Laney’s sudden outburst of praises for the scorpiondrake. This was the first time she’d met a woman that liked Angie.
Everyone seemed to be afraid of the scorpiondrake so Angelina rarely let it out in Princeton. It was usually allowed to roam the yard at most but she’d never brought it outside; her friends would be scared soulless.
Even Joaquin and Billie were immensely afraid of the scorpiondrake when they first encountered it. While Daenie later grew comfortable with lying on its hardback, she was close to tears when she’d first met Angie.
It seemed as though the scorpiondrake’s hideous appearance meant nothing to the knights. The sheltered Lehrlings, however, weren’t accustomed to such eldritch beauty. This had been the reason why Angelina and Laney could click so well and they’d only met a few minutes prior. They shared the same appreciation for the scorpiondrake. When Angelina had first found the nest of scorpiondrakes back then, her first impression had been: How cute!
After a while, Angelina was relieved to find that Laney didn’t harbour any feelings for Locke. Royal affairs were complex and since Angelina was the Faustian princess, she’d learned the subtle art of prying information through the careful selection of words. Laney, the spellbane knight, was just very unreserved and incredibly passionate as a person. It seemed as though Laney hadn’t even realised that Angelina was probing her. She continued to stare at the scorpiondrake that was dozing off with a curiosity that never dimmed.