The sound of gushing water tickled their ears. There was a gigantic boulder that stuck out from the cliff, which birthed violent splashes as water rushed into the pool below. The convoy was left outside the valley. One of the young knights anxiously looked to his commander, “Herr, are you sure the princess will be alright alone?”
“I trust that Her Highness has everything under control.” The goatee that grew out of the commander’s chin told much about his age. He was one of the high-rank Knehcts mobilised for the princess’ excursion.
The other elites peered towards the valley with worry. Many gigantic major monsters were lurking between the bushes, offering a slight glimpse of their presence whenever they passed a clearing. Most of these monsters were of base-rank capability and knights could sense an overpowering yet faint presence hidden deep in the forest. It certainly didn’t help that the surrounding shrubs had only served to amplify their sizes. At this point, their involvement wouldn’t make a difference. Without the presence of the two level-one Ritters, this entire section of the forest was absolutely out of their control.
The young knight was plagued with anxiety but not for the same reason; he was genuinely worried about their princess’ wellbeing. He’d only been on duty for a few days but Angelina's amicable personality had completely won him over. Oblivious to their concerns, Angelina stood by the waterfall in complete tranquility. Locke had followed her into the valley. The scorpiondrakes didn’t mind him since they’d met him once in the past. Plus, they’d noticed intimacy in the interaction between Angelina and Locke.
The two of them held hands as they watched Angie play with its scorpiondrake siblings in the distance. Though the scorpiondrakes were reintroduced briefly, the familiar scent and uncanny familiarity attributed to the blood they shared had allowed them to receive each other well. Angie, on the other hand, was beaming with excitement to see so many of its kind.
The familiar had been in a buzz since entering the valley. Angie was so caught up in everything that it hadn’t had time to entertain its masters, Locke and Angelina. The other darker scorpiondrakes, who were level-one crystal Akanasds, shared Angie’s joy. Scorpiondrakes may be cold-blooded beings but the rarity of their own kind had made them extremely appreciative of every member.
Angie looked petite among the crowd of larger base-rank scorpiondrakes since it was just a mid-rank major monster with a five-metre length. Its siblings began licking its face with their barbed purple tongue; a generous display of affection.
“Why isn’t it coming?” Angelina muttered under her breath.
Soon after, a ground-rumbling hiss pierced the air. A sapphire scorpiondrake with a wingspan of more than tens of metres descended from the skies. It was here! The transcendent-rank Akansd had arrived. Locke could recognise its appearance. It was the same one he’d encountered years ago. This was by no mistake, Angie’s mother.
“Where’s the bigger one?” Locke peered around, trying to locate the more powerful and larger scorpiondrake sovereign. Angie’s father was the true hegemon of Morphey Forest in every sense.
Before the dust from the earlier landing could dissipate, a huge and majestic presence descended from the skies. Its scales were deep purple and its wingspan was even longer than its mate.
A single glance was enough to tell Locke that the sovereign had grown stronger. Perhaps it was because his senses had become more sensitive as a high-rank Knecht. Locke’s heart trembled at the true capacity of a base-rank major monster.
The scorpiondrake family was clearly enjoying their reunion so Angelina and Locke stayed out of it. They held hands and waited for the monsters’ enthusiasm to tide out. It had been years since the mighty scorpiondrake sovereigns had seen their child. Angie had left the forest as an egg and it had survived its infancy to grow into a healthy scorpiondrake. Its mother was reluctant to stop grooming its carapace with its purple tongue; the larger Akanasd seemed determined to cover every corner of Angie’s body in its fishy spit.
Angie didn’t shy away from this familial warmth. It lifted its head and closed its eyes, welcoming the motherly affection. The other scorpiondrake sovereign studied its child from the side. It wasn’t as openly affectionate as its mate. It turned its head towards Locke and Angelina.
“Pleased to meet you, Lord Adamrys!” Angelina lifted the hems of her caster robes slightly and curtsied.
Years had passed but Angelina remembered its name. If she hadn’t memorised it deliberately, her memory must be amazing then.
"Greetings." A thundering voice resonated across the valley as the sovereign returned Angelina’s salutations. Angelina was worth the reply since she was the Faustian princess and also the master of its child.
Back then, the unborn Angie had entered the most skewed familiar contract with Angelina under the duress of the two Erdritters. If she wished, Angelina could’ve easily given Angie hell. Yet, the princess had never done that. Angelina felt relieved seeing that the Akanasd sovereign had received her well. It appeared that her decision to revisit Morphey Forest was right.
The scorpiondrake’s valley was rowdy in the night. They were nocturnal monsters, after all. A few similar sized major monsters were thrown onto the lake’s bank by a few scorpiondrakes. They screeched and roared desperately as their maroon blood trickled into the water. The entire lake smelled like death. It was now time for the scorpiondrakes to feed.
Angie had followed its siblings on the hunt tonight. It clumsily poked at a high-rank striped cloud tiger in confusion. The palace had never fed Angie with high-rank monsters since they were incapable of hunting them down. However, things were clearly different here. The entire scorpiondrake family had brought Angie a large feast to welcome its arrival.
Ignoring the tiger’s pained roars, Angie chomped on its stomach, where it was packing with nutrients and energy, with pinched concentration. Slowly, the tiger’s struggles grew weaker and it finally succumbed to its fate.