Unlike Princeton, Felorian nights were too dark and quiet. The avenues of the royal capital were dead silent; only a few businesses remained open and the streets were devoid of life. The eerie tranquility of night had managed to offer chills amidst the burning Faustian summer.
Though it had been six years since they left the kingdom, Locke and Lia still remembered their way home. The mansion bestowed by Angelina was located in a quiet place further away from civilisation. When their group finally arrived in its proximity, they were surrounded by nothing but pitch-black darkness.
Locke could continue with his decent night vision but the other women couldn’t. Hence, they brought out fluorite stones to light the remaining journey. The front garden looked exactly like how they’d remembered it. Locke stood in front of the door, knuckles hovering before the door. He wasn’t quite sure how to announce their arrival. Lia suffered the same dilemma. Tears were gathering in her eyes and yet, she couldn’t bring herself to knock on the wooden door. Locke braced himself and reached forward but was quickly stopped by Lia.
“I think it’s better if we meet them tomorrow. It’s late and they’re probably soundly asleep,” said Lia with reddened eyes.
“Alright.” He nodded.
Though they’d decided against knocking on the door, they still needed a place to sleep for the night. Kristin stepped forward and put an end to their trouble.
She mumbled a spell and soon a translucent palm was conjured. Kristin pointed towards the door and muttered, “Go.” The palm went past the wooden structure and unlocked it from the other side discreetly.
“Wow, not bad at all.” Locke ruffled Kristin’s head. Since Locke had never seen Angelina cast anything similar, it became obvious that this spell was invented by Kristin.
Serene silence welcomed them once the wooden door creaked open. All they could hear was the snores of those living inside.
“Come on in,” Locke said to the women.
If memory served him correctly, there were plenty of unoccupied rooms on this side of the courtyard. In terms of space, the courtyard had accounted for one-third of the size of his mansion on Sachiel Street. Everyone was assigned to a room each and Locke walked into his old room. The room was surprisingly spotless; it appeared that someone had been cleaning it frequently.
Apart from the two most familiar presences, Locke had sensed many other presences in the courtyard since stepping into the compound. Those were probably servants since he did leave behind a huge sum of money to his parents before leaving. There was enough for them to spend the rest of their lives in absolute comfort.
He laid on his bed, taking in the strange but familiar scent. Locke tossed and turned, unable to slip away to dreamland. That wasn’t an issue, though. High-rank Knechts would be fine even without two or three days’ worth of slumber. Their physiques were similar to major monsters and they could utilise their physical potential to its fullest.
When morning came, Locke and the others surprised everyone with their presence in the mansion’s hall.
“Locke…? Is that you?” Old Locke and Tia reached out their wrinkly arms towards the tall figure standing in front of unfamiliar faces.
So many things had transpired in the six years they were separated. Old Locke and Tia could barely recognise their son; he looked so different now. Locke’s wordless embrace was all the confirmation they needed. Lia quickly followed and joined the hug.
“Oh, Locke, my son…”
“Lia! You’ve grown thin!”
Old Locke and Tia were overwhelmed with emotions; they weren’t expecting to see their children at all. The couple took some time to come to terms that everything happening now wasn’t an illusion. While this was far from the grand royal reunion, it was still extremely heartwarming.
At lunch, Locke and Lia sat beside their parents on the main seat while Glace, Suzzane, Kristin and Laffey took their seats as welcomed guests. The maids flooded in to serve them exquisite dishes.
To celebrate the return of their children, Old Locke and Tia abandoned their usual thriftiness to serve the best to everyone. They’d allocated more money to the kitchen staff to buy whatever was necessary to craft the best dishes. The busiest harvest season in the kingdom had just passed recently and the city streets were filled with vendors, which made purchasing anything an easy chore.
The old couple had their palms clasped around their children’s hands, bombarding them with a stream of questions. Despite that, the parents made an effort to include the others in their conversations. The glances the women were sending Locke was very telling. It didn’t take much for his parents to understand the bigger picture. They regarded the women enthusiastically over the dining table.
Glace was great at charming people. She’d been greeting his parents proactively and even brought out some gifts for them. She’d brought health supplements from Princeton that were a few times more expensive than the cosmetic product she’d shown off to the aristocratic ladies. The health supplement was more of a magical potion than a regular medicinal product. As a potion brewer, Glace was well aware of what old people needed.
Watching his parents accept Glace’s gift with great surprise and excitement, Locke thought, Attagirl!
Following Glace, Suzzane and Kristin quickly presented their gifts too. Suzzane had gifted them two pillows that were enchanted with runes to improve sleep quality. No one knew where she had gotten those from, even Locke was in awe of the gift. Kristin, on the other hand, gifted them a grey pipe and a lovely necklace. She’d heard from Locke that his father loved to smoke. It appeared that the girl had matured greatly in the mental aspect. Even Laffey had a gift to offer.
The women quickly took the spotlight away from Locke and turned the touching atmosphere of the family’s unexpected reunion into a lively one. Old Locke and Tia received their gifts with wide grins. They quickly instructed the servants to bring them each a return gift from the master’s chamber. It was obvious that the couple had taken these women as future daughters in law. They were eager to have grandchildren soon so they’d long prepared plenty of gifts for Locke’s future wife. Thankfully, they’d prepared enough for all of them.
Despite their joy, there was disappointment too. Old Locke and Tia glanced over to Lia questioningly but she couldn’t comprehend her parents’ odd gazes. It was only after a servant placed a return gift in front of her that she quickly shoved her head under the table, face burning with shame.