“I need a floating ship to Missia.” Locke leaned forward while Angelina stood beside him quietly, dressed in her pale gold caster robes.
“But…” The mid-rank Lehrling’s freckled face had great reluctance plastered all over.
“A small one will do. I’m sure a small floating vessel shouldn’t be too much of a problem, no?” Locke crossed his arms. His presence had grown more intense than ever for his hands were dyed with the blood of countless Botanians. Locke wasn’t doing anything particular and the Lehrling was already suffocating. His piercing stare sent shivers down the Lehrling's spine.
“I… I’d need permission from the Magisters, though,” answered the Lehrling through gritted teeth.
High-rank Lehrlings were allowed unlimited access to the small floating boats since those were specifically allocated for use in missions. While Locke was of high-rank calibre, he was still a knight. It would’ve been easier for him to enjoy the Sanctum’s facility if he was a caster instead. Angelina, on the other hand, was just a mid-rank Lehrling. She didn’t hold enough authority to ask for a vessel just yet.
“Come on, do us a favour would ya’?” Locke went closer and opened his right palm, letting the Lehrling catch a glimpse of a glimmering periwinkle energy crystal.
The freckled Lehrling was in a dilemma. While he attempted to formulate an appropriate refusal, he caught Locke’s arm moving towards the sheath of his longsword. The Lehrling quickly relented, “Yeah, sure. There is a floating boat returning to the Sanctum right now. How about you come with me to get your steering crystal first?”
Pleased, Locke pressed the periwinkle crystal into the Lehrling’s palm with a grin. There was a slight moment of pondering before Locke reached into his spatial ring for another similar crystal and offered it to the Lehrling again.
“Thank… Thank you.” The Lehrling stuttered, thoroughly affected by Locke’s overwhelming presence.
Locke brushed past him as Angelina stifled a giggle behind her palm. The mid-rank Lehrling had rarely interacted with the opposite sex. He rubbed his nose bashfully at the sight of Angelina’s amusement. The couple left for the floating boats as soon as they received their steering crystal.
“Are you sure you can drive this?” asked Locke.
Truth to be told, the floating boat may be small but it operates on the mana reserves of a high-rank Lehrling. Mid-rank Lehrlings driving a floating boat were essentially unheard of.
“Relax, I’m about to advance soon too. I’ve got enough mental power to move this.” Angelina rolled her eyes. The Faustian princess wasn’t too pleased to hear the doubt in his voice.
“Okay, okay. I’m leaving this to you.” Locke waved her off.
Angelina was indeed about to advance soon. Following the advancement of her scorpiondrake, the energy contributed by Angie had fortified Angelina’s capabilities. Plus, she had received plenty of endorsement and support from many Magisters. Grandmeisterin Parlina and Carla had adored her and were very protective too. While Parlina was Daenie’s official mentor, the young hydromancer hadn’t received the same amount of attention. It was likely that Angelina would become a high-rank Lehrling in the next one or two months.
Locke had an inkling that Parlina and Carla had deliberately sent her back to ensure her successful breakthrough. After all, Botania wasn’t as rich as Zauberia in terms of natural mana and advancements were made extremely difficult due to the plane’s suppression. While plenty of casters had improved significantly over the conquest, Locke hadn’t witnessed any successful advancement attempts so far.
A better environment was crucial for a smooth breakthrough. Angelina would be safer in Botania once she becomes a high-rank Lehrling too. No growth would come if one continues to bask in their comfort zone. Plus, it would be impossible to demand the Magisters’ undivided protection for eternity. Fortifying one’s capabilities was the best way for survival; Locke was a firm believer in not leaving his fate in the hands of others.
True to her words, Angelina had figured out how to pilot the floating vessel after a little fiddling with the steering crystal. They departed the island at one in the afternoon shakily. The wobbly cruise was a telltale sign of the rookie pilot. Thankfully, Angelina was extremely competent. It didn’t take long before the ship’s motion began to stabilise as it continued its journey to the southwest.
Locke watched the Sanctum forest once they were in the skies. The sky corridor above the forest remained the most eye-catching of all. However, he noticed that there were fewer major monsters above mid-rank calibre. He could only see a few mid-rank major monsters that roamed the lush forest.
It was obvious where the missing major monsters had ended up at. Now that the Zauberian forces were in desperate need of more slaves, the major monsters in the Sanctum forests were whisked away for war. After all, most of the missing monsters were those of base rank to level two calibre. Even so, it didn’t necessarily mean that these monsters were easier to control than the slaves with soul imprints.
Locke and Angelina continued their journey to the Aomarian Empire. As the floating boat approached Aomar, Locke’s peaceful heart began to thunder in anticipation. Princeton in July was as hot and dry as they remembered. Due to its geographical location in the south, there weren’t underground rivers or glaciers around the empire. The demand and price of ice were at an all-time high in the summer.
For the regular peasants of Aomar, the summer heat had brought them an increase in living expenses. Apart from the few that had private wells, most were pushed to buy ice. As expected, the expenditure for more ice was barely a dent in the pockets of those living on Sachiel Street. The wealthy cohort could easily afford a whole summer's worth of ice for a regular peasant family just for a day’s worth of use.
In the yard of their mansion, Glace carefully layered a few iced lemon slices onto her face and got up. She was now ready for her beauty sleep. Now that she was in her thirties, Glace had grown concerned about her appearance. She preferred traditional beauty remedies though her main motivation behind learning magic was to maintain her appearance.
A tall figure appeared just as she was about to remove the lemon slices. Glace’s heart sank, urgency prompting her to manifest a wind arrow in the centre of her palm. However, before it could do anything, a familiar voice rang.
“Hey, Glace. It’s been a while. You look more gorgeous than ever.”