Angie’s pulse started to rise as soon as it gobbled up the high-rank major monster’s flesh and crystal core; its breakthrough was just lurking right around the corner. This phenomenon had surfaced multiple times in this month but Angelina and Locke paid it no mind. Despite its numerous close calls, the scorpiondrake had never once actually broken through.
The scorpiondrake tribe enjoyed a sleepless night. The unexpected return of a family member was an event worth celebrating amid the eerie Morphey Forest.
Locke and Angelina attempted to sneak some shuteye against a moss-covered boulder by the lake. Unfortunately for them, the scorpiondrakes shook the ground with every movement. It was so strong that the convoy outside the valley was affected, let alone the two in their proximity.
Angie wasn’t in a place to leave now for it’d just reunited with its family. Plus, Angelina was banking on the scorpiondrakes’ involvement to tide her familiar over its advancement. Unfortunately, three days into her stay in the valley, a royal decree had arrived from the capital. Prince Kenzir had finally returned from Audis, which prompted the king to summon her back. The relentless string of flame messages had finally pushed Angelina to leave.
Locke was fine with that. After all, Prince Kenzir had been the closest person to Angelina before she’d met him. They were blood siblings that’d grown up together in the chaotic palace. Angelina left, leaving Locke behind. He still needed to keep an eye on Angie.
The scorpiondrake had been under their care for almost seven years now. Both Locke and Angelina didn’t wish to lose the familiar to its family. Apart from Angie’s potential to become more powerful, they’d grown attached to the scorpiondrake over the years.
Locke hung on to that idea and continued his stay in the valley. He had to admit living here wasn’t all that shabby, though. He’d gone on hunts for beasts or low-rank major monsters for his meals and he quenched his thirst with fresh mountain spring water. Whilst most of the convoy had left for Felor with Angelina, a third had remained to act as Locke’s support.
On one particular morning, Locke came to realise that the lake water was icy cool even in the scorching July. He shivered a little, mind a tad awake than before. He climbed towards higher grounds for his daily training.
In the beginning, he was concerned that the scorpiondrake’s large movements would disrupt his training. While impetus training wasn’t as prone to disruptive backfire as meditation, it was still best if done in a tranquil environment. Serenity was always appreciated as it could help accelerate the concentration of impetus. Yet, Locke soon realised that his worries were misplaced. The scorpiondrakes, being nocturnal creatures, barely moved in daylight. These huge creatures had gone into hiding either under the icy waters of the lake or in the shade. Locke immediately felt guilt gnawing at him for having berated the scorpiondrake plenty since its infancy because it tended to doze off in the day.
The Akanasd were drawn to the valley for its dense concentration of elemental essence, which also made it a great place for training. Locke felt like he was inching closer to becoming a quasi-Ritter; he was determined to keep pushing it through. He continued to train until noon.
At some point, Locke’s eyelids fluttered open atop a boulder. It was almost time. He peered at the sky. As if on cue, a massive purple Akanasd leapt and spread its pitch-black wings across the sky. It began heading towards the southeast.
Adamrys, the Akanasd sovereign, had a habit of patrolling its territory once every two days. Morphey Forest was vast and it occupied an area equivalent to half of the Faustian Kingdom. Even with the flight speed of the transcendent-rank major monster, it would still take a long time to circle such expansive territory once. The Akanasd sovereign would probably return to its nest only by evening.
Following the departure of Adamrys, some movement could be spotted across the valley. A few scorpiondrakes who seemed to have rested well came out of their hiding spots. There wasn’t only so much one monster could do in the valley; apart from eating all day long, the other available pastime was play fights or kneading mud on the lake’s shore. It was a mystery how they managed to keep their scales clean for long.
Just as Locke moved from his spot, a huge mass came dashing towards him. With its jaw clamped around the torn limb of some unknown species, Angie rushed over like an excited dog. It looked ridiculous. The monochrome pattern and peek of purple flesh was a clear indication that this belonged to a shadow monster.
This must be part of Angie’s dinner last night. Locke figured it was deserving of praise since it was offering a thigh to its master. He jumped onto its carapace and patted its head appreciatively. He allowed Angie to have everything to itself, though. The flesh of shadow monsters was notorious for being corrosive. It was inedible to common humans since it would burn through intestinal walls.
Though being a high-rank Knecht had given Locke the ability to stomach corrosive meat, he was reluctant to eat it still. The entire thigh was filled with holes made when Angie mangled the monster, not to mention its saliva! Even if Locke had the courage of a lion, there was no way he could clamp his lips around it.
Angie didn’t seem to be dispirited despite having its generosity rejected by its master. It happily dragged the thigh to another corner and dug in. Shadow monster flesh was beneficial to the scorpiondrake’s advancement. Locke and Angelina had fed Angie a considerable amount of it throughout its lifetime. Even so, Angie rarely came across high-rank shadow monsters in the past. It was utterly pleased that every meal in the valley had been generous helpings of that.
The slight hint of energy left within the thigh had told Locke that the cloud striped tiger was a high-rank major monster before its untimely death.
Unlike its children, the sapphire female Akanasd scorpiondrake was extremely determined to make up for all those years spent apart. It wouldn't hesitate to entertain Angie with games and go on a timely hunt in the forest every single day.
High-rank shadow monsters were probably the best food for the scorpiondrakes in Morphey Forest for they were either extremely agile or had overwhelming corrosive properties. The mother scorpiondrake had disappeared for an entire day, only to return in the evening with its mate. Today, it had once again brought a quality meal to its child.
Angie grew slack once the limb of yet another high-rank shadow monster was down its gut. It swayed its gigantic body and went into a cave beneath the fountain for a comfortable nap. Without a doubt, Angie had grown larger compared to how it was a few days prior. Despite that, Locke had a feeling that it was mostly just fat deposits from its feasts that didn't quite translate to improvement of its capabilities.