A carriage weaved through the winding mountain paths of Morphey Forest with a single piece of scorpiondrake scale inside; a deterrent against all the major monsters beyond mid rank that lurked around.
The mid-rank Knecht coachman was ferrying a mid-rank Lehrling in the carriage. Together, low-rank monsters and beasts wouldn’t amount to much threat to them. The vehicle came to a halt at the entrance of the scorpiondrake’s valley.
Under the cautious gazes of the majestic Akanasds, the mid-rank Lehrling ducked his head low and ventured into the valley. He swallowed his drumming fear to place a memory crystal in front of the scorpiondrakes.
Angelina’s familiar presence was imprinted in the memory crystal so the messengers were unscathed. One of the Akanasds kept an eye on them until they were out of immediate sight while the other brought the crystal back to their nest.
The Akanasd sovereign shattered the memory crystal when evening came and Angelina’s message began playing in his mind. High-rank Lehrlings were the only ones equipped with the refined techniques of creating memory crystals. The current crystal in the scorpiondrake’s grip was a feat; Angelina had only learnt the skill after her recent advancement. Angelina’s message sent the Akanasd into deep thought. It was deadly silent.
“What’s wrong?” The sapphire Akanasd brought its head closer to its mate.
Adamyrs didn’t answer. It lifted its head to stare at the bright moon.
Meanwhile, in the palace courtyard at Felor, Locke took a sip of wine “Are you sure you can convince the Akansds?"
“I’m certain I have a good shot at it,” Angelina answered cheekily whilst popping a cherry in her mouth, seated atop a swing. The princess had gone for a yellow casual dress for maximum comfort today.
“Wow, really?” Locke was bewildered. His invitation was met with Adamyrs’ prompt rejection, where did she even get her confidence from? How was she so sure that the Akanasd would even consider the thought?
“Those scorpiondrakes had grown bored of Morphey Forest long ago. I’m offering them an opportunity to cultivate their powers too.” Angelina grinned. Indeed, the scorpiondrakes were more likely to grow in power in a planar war compared to their peaceful life in Morphey Forest. Angelina giggled at Locke’s confusion and explained, “I’m using Grandmeistein Parlina and Grandmeisterin Carla’s names to request their participation.”
“Huh? How did you convince your mentors in the first place?” Locke was even more perplexed now. He was reluctant to believe that Angelina, who was still a high-rank Lehrling, could move the Magisters who’d lived for centuries.
“Well, I used artefacts marked with my mentors’ mental imprints and presence.” Angelina’s eyes were narrowed like a cunning fox.
Locke gaped at Angelina. He was dumbfounded. While Parlina and Carla did leave Angelina with many personal possessions before they’d left for Zauberia, all of them were purely meant to be used to aid her advancement. The Magisters would’ve never imagined that Angelina would misuse them to create an illusion of authority.
“What exactly did you use?” Locke pressed on urgently. He was beginning to feel like they were playing with fire.
“The remnants of Grandmeisterin Carla’s Seal of Light and a hint of Grandmeisterin Parlina’s presence,” said Angelina.
The Seal of Light was Carla’s trademark and self-invented spell, which could also best be described as a precious piece of equipment made of pure light mana that created tiny concentrated dots of light. Most of Angelina’s success was owed to the Seal of Light apart from Angie's advancement giving her an extra boost. It was great to be placed under the care of a powerful mentor.
Faced with the presence of two level-one Magisters, the Akanasd sovereign was indeed troubled. Casters weren’t as lenient as knights. They were a bunch of maniacs obsessed with studying the truth of the universe. All this while, Adamyrs was determined to stay away from trouble. The Akansds ruled a small corner of the kingdom and it’d rather not ruffle the Sanctum’s feathers. While the Hall of Knight may be slightly inferior to the Sanctum, Adamyrs was still forced to walk on thin ice around them. It feared that any issue stirred would’ve caused its family to be slain by the knights.
Angelina’s boldness had Locke at a loss for words. Even so, he trusted that she had her own considerations for acting so drastically. It was safe to say that she wasn’t one to take such measures without careful mulling.
Unlike the simple-minded Locke, Angelina had been the more observant one throughout the war. She’d noticed that the Sanctum and Hall of Knights were facing a few issues through observation alone. Though she wasn’t aware that most of their combat force was occupied in Centauria, she’d concluded from the Sanctum’s desperation of returning to Zauberia that there was a severe lack of ‘manpower’, which could well be either knights, casters or slaves.
The fact that this was the first time lifeforms below level one was involved in the planar war was very telling of the situation. If Angelina could get the whole scorpiondrake family on the same page, she could be exempted from punishments due to misuse of power. Heck, she might even be handsomely rewarded by the Sanctum since these were two transcendent-rank major monsters and six base-rank monsters they were talking about.
While the addition was insignificant to the overall problem, it would make a difference in the context of their contingent alone. The eight scorpiondrakes made up a formidable force; Locke was confident that Angelina and he would be safe from any life-threatening missions throughout the war with them there.
However, the negotiation wasn’t something that could be settled with a single memory crystal. Angelina and Locke would have to pay them a visit in due time. Before that, the both of them still had an important duty to fulfil: to accompany their families while they were still in Faustian. With less than five days till their departure, Locke and Angelina yearned to spend more time around their families.
Angelina entered the king’s study quietly as she steadied a concentrated cup of tea to elevate his spirits. She circled around and began massaging the king’s stiff shoulders. This wasn’t her first display of filial duty; she’d been doing so ever since coming back apart from time spent teasing her little nephew.
Angelina rarely got the chance to interact with her father since he’d been constantly plagued with important affairs. The lack of motherly affection while growing up didn’t help either, which inevitably distanced the two of them. Their relationship all this while had never been the best. Yet, the princess had learnt to look past her stubbornness to be more accepting of her father.
Casters were extremely sensitive to elemental energy and were trained to have great perception; Angelina could sense that his days were numbered. She continued to rub circles into his tired muscles as a stray tear escaped its confines wordlessly.
“I hope you’ll marry that kid when you return next time. I’d like to walk you down the aisle when I’m still alive.” The king’s laugh deepened the wrinkles on his face, it was packed with bursting adoration and hope.
The old king had finally surrendered his blessing at the eve of her departure.