“I’m not drunk!” Locke grumbled as he tried to push Angelina away. His taller frame against Angelina’s petite frame made for a funny sight and he was indeed far from intoxicated. The malt beer was only mild at best. It wasn’t anywhere strong enough to drive the spellbane knights drunk. They were more intoxicated by the atmosphere than booze itself.
“Hey, behave! Stop moving around.” Though Locke had been the one chastising Angelina over the past few days, it was Angelina’s turn to give him a mouthful today.
Hearing that, Locke stopped wriggling around and fell pliant against her shoulder. They continued to walk in comfortable silence. They were assigned accommodation at the southeast of Battlezone 7, which was a few larger warehouses apart from the spellbane knights’ lodging. There was a deliberate separation of territories between the Sanctum and Hall of Knights here. Luckily for them, the tavern wasn’t far from theirs. They’d reach the cabin before the stars fill the darkness above.
The caster responsible for their lodging arrangements had a keen eye. Upon Locke and Angelina’s arrival, he figured that the two were married from their intimacy and promptly assigned them a shared cabin. In all honesty, it was great news! While they hadn’t brought their relationship to home base and usually slept apart, Angelina and Locke were absolutely fine with living together.
Compared to the Hall of Knights, the Sanctum was more particular about its casters’ accommodation. Each of their cabins came with two rooms, a living room along a simple alchemy bench.
Thud! Locke headed straight for the bed and started to snooze as soon as he entered the cabin, earning a light giggle from Angelina as she changed into her nightgown. Despite his fierce urge to sleep the night away, there was no way he could go to bed while still armoured. He’d be in great discomfort and he was worried about hurting Angelina while asleep.
Once everything was settled, they went to sleep in each other’s arms. Angelina paid no mind to the strong stench of alcohol clinging onto Locke and held him tighter. She tightened her embrace, almost as if he was her everything. They slept in till late morning.
Once Locke was done with his usual training, he cleaned himself with the cleansing magic equipment provided in the cabin. Though simple cleansing spells could deliver the same cleansing effect as actual showers, Locke had greatly preferred the latter.
Angelina dared not laze around in bed any longer. She hastily tidied herself up at the basin and hopped into a light golden robe. They had something important to attend today. The couple soon found themselves at a heavily guarded building near the heart of Battlezone 7. An elaborate and lengthy identification process was required before they were allowed into its premises. From the fact that high-rank Knechts were stationed as door guards here, it was apparent that this building was of high importance.
There were dozens of floors in the building and they’d been requested to present themselves in a room on the second level. Locke and Angelina watched the bustling casters and knights that were at every corner of the building. Though everyone’s capabilities weren’t the strongest at first glance, they seemed to be extremely diligent and competent. Their arms were full with scrolls of reports and crystal balls; these knights and casters certainly weren’t of regular roles. It had only taken the time of a single sip of tea when a middle-aged Ritter in a suit of brown armour appeared, accompanied by two shorter casters on his side. Locke and Angelina felt their hearts clench at their appearance. Their overwhelming presences were a clear sign that they were beyond level-one.
“Are you two the maintenance technicians sent by Carla?” asked the middle-aged Ritter with a small smile.
“Yes, we’re here on my mentor’s instructions,” came Angelina’s honest answer.
The middle-aged Ritter was a level-two Erdritter and the pair of casters, on the other hand, were level-one Magisters.
“Are you Locke?” The Ritter turned to stare at Locke with wide eyes, seemingly trying to identify the youngster properly.
“Yes.” Locke felt a little nervous. He was still a member of the Hall of Knights and the level-two Erdritter was most definitely of a certain status in the organisation. It was best if he could utilise this meeting to gain his favour.
“Mhm.” Unfortunately for Locke, the exchange was short lived. The Erdritter merely made a grunt of acknowledgement once he’d received affirmation from Locke. It appeared that he had only intended to confirm Locke’s name.
Despite the trio’s intimidating aura, they only asked the simplest questions. Locke quickly realised that their probes weren’t intended to gauge his and Angelina’s capabilities; they were trying to find out how loyal they were to their respective organisations. After their identities were rectified again with a personal inspection of their mental imprints, the questioning came to an end. The two Magisters took their leave while the Erdritter stayed.
“Hello, my name’s Morr. I’m actually friends with Carla!” It was only until the Magisters were out of earshot that he’d introduced himself with a grin.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Herr Morr!” Angelina quickly greeted. Unlike Romm who pledged his absolute loyalty to the Faustian Royal Family, Morr was an influential figure in the Hall of Knights.
“Your mentor saved me when I was gravely injured many years ago. I owe her a favour so putting your names on the list was the least I can do for her.” Morr wasn’t afraid to come clean about how Angelina and Locke landed themselves in Battlezone 7.
“As for Locke,” Morr paused, “Ashar had requested for my friend’s favour to get you here.” The Erdritter didn’t delve into who the said friend was. Even so, Locke could tell that they were most probably someone of certain influence as well.
Morr left after briefing the youngsters about their job, leaving behind a crystal stone that had further details engraved on its surface. The Erdritter’s presence was needed elsewhere; there was still plenty to do at the commanding tower. Locke and Angelina watched as Morr left before turning their attention onto the crystal stone.
“Huh? We’re going to return to Zauberia with the spatial fortress?”
“And all we need to do is maintain the B138 zone in the fortress throughout the journey?”
They looked at each other in utter disbelief.
They would’ve never imagined that they’d be going home so soon. It had merely been six months since the planar war started so Locke was surprised that they were allowed to leave this hellhole already. They could finally go home to their loved ones!