Kester, the great-grandson of Margrave De Sandro, could only bury his dreams of growing close to Angelina. While he may be a famous prodigy in Felor, his multiple attempts at wooing the princess were miserably futile. It made him feel incredibly transparent for the first time in his life.
The young aristocrat wasn’t lacking resolution and patience, per se. He was determined to continue his effort but Margrave De Sandro had dropped by earlier to talk. Their conversation was kept out of earshot but everyone knew that the all-winning romancer Kester had finally lost his touch this time.
Locke could be considered someone who'd served Margrave De Sandro since he was part of the Falcon corps years ago. This unassuming peasant soldier had blossomed to become a quasi-Ritter, which easily made him the strongest one among the entire Falcon corps apart from the margrave. Kester was very talented but he was only a mid-rank Knecht; he wasn’t prominent enough to cross paths with Locke. In fact, Locke wasn’t even aware that Kester existed.
With three days left before they needed to leave for the Sanctum, Locke left for the palace once he was done with lunch. He and Angelina wanted to visit Morphey Forest once more to receive the Akanasd’s decision.
Glace and Kristin left the dining table soon after he left. They had begun to cultivate their abilities under the influence of Locke’s recent breakthrough. Lia was the only one that remained at the table to accompany her parents.
Truth be told, Lia didn’t fancy the idea of advancements. Her potential was great but she’d stagnated as a beginner Lehrling despite years of dabbling into magic. She still found conjuring simple fireballs physically taxing at this point. However, Lia’s understanding of magic theory was better than the other women, which gave her a calm and relaxed approach towards life. Since Old Locke and Tia knew nothing about magic in the first place, their daughter’s decision to dabble into spellcasting wasn’t too surprising.
Locke was severely illiterate since he’d only learnt to recognise words after the age of eighteen. While he was an excellent scholarly product of the Princeton Imperial Academy, he could barely write half the Faustian characters. His ability to speak fluent Aomarian didn’t necessarily mean that he could write it well. In that case, If Locke’s literacy level could get him a score of forty percent, his parents’ literacy level would be less than ten percent.
Rather than spells, the old couple was more invested in the embroidery skills Lia learnt in Princeton. Tia had brought Lia to the garden frequently for embroidering sessions. Since the old couple no longer ploughed the fields nor served any superior, life had been comfortable but admittedly boring. The only entertainment Old Locke and Tia had In the absence of their children was strolling around Felor City.
They were kept out of the Faustian aristocratic circle since all the nobles looked down on them. The political scene in Felor was already complicated as it was; the streets were positively littered with viscounts and barons. At this point, knight clans were placed at the bottom of the kingdom’s power hierarchy.
“Lia, do you remember Ilor? What do you think of the young lad?” Tia nudged her daughter slightly as she embroidered.
Lia was silent, opting to focus on her piece instead. Ilor was far from young. He was thirty years old, which placed him in the middle age bracket of the Faustian population. The man was from a knight clan that’d declined over the years; most of Old Locke and Tia’s associates were members of fallen Felorian knight clans.
Locke and Lia had spent years in Aomar without a single spark of romance. Old Locke and Tia couldn’t help but doubt their judgement years ago; perhaps the children had given up on any incestuous thoughts.
The old couple was nearing their fifties and the fear of numbered days loomed upon them. They were desperate for grandchildren, which fuelled their eagerness to introduce eligible bachelors for Lia. Comparatively, they had nothing to worry about Locke in this department. Their son had a hoard of infatuated women after him. Though so, they were still growing impatient. Why hadn’t Glace or Suzzane announced that they were expecting?
Locke wouldn’t be a young man for long. He’d turn twenty-seven after the new year, an age that would mark the beginning of his middle ages.
Tia stepped up her efforts by brewing daily herbal soups for Glace and Suzzane. She’d learnt from a healer that this medicinal concoction was meant to boost fertility. Simple Suzzane harboured no objection against Tia’s eagerness so she’d gulp down anything the older woman served.
Glace, on the other hand, was impassive. She did want children but she wasn’t ready for any yet. Casters were capable of slowing down their body’s aging process by channeling their mana and mental powers, which allowed Glace to keep her appearance at its prime. She looked to be in her twenties despite already hitting her thirties. Yet, there were limits to a low-rank Lerhling’s ability and Glace was sick of it. She yearned to advance further.
Based on a professional potioneer’s perspective, the efficacy of Tia’s fertility medicinal soups were low. It was probably better to capture a misty pit rattlesnake and feed its gallbladder straight to Locke and his women. Misty pit rattlesnakes may be regular beasts but their gallbladders made for strong aphrodisiacs that could increase the chances of pregnancy by threefolds.
Maybe it was better for Locke to not catch the conversation between his mother and sister. Currently, he was standing on the deck of the floating vessel that hovered above the palace. There was no time left to waste on travelling so Locke and Angelina had chosen to fly into Morphey Forest.
Morphey Forest became Faustian territory following the fall of Shalor. Its resources had enriched the kingdom’s treasury with major monster crystal cores over the years, many of which were regularly provisioned to Angelina by the king and prince. The number of crystal cores received by the princess was beyond anyone’s imagination.
Locke inhaled sharply. There were ten crystal cores embedded inside the vessel’s control panel. They were low-rank crystals and their energy would be depleted within an hour. Surely, this must’ve meant that Angelina’s crystal core reserves inside her spatial equipment were ridiculously astronomical.
Unlike energy crystals, major monster crystal cores could be recycled. The crystals were capable of recharging themselves with the available elemental powers in their proximity. It would return as a charged crystal core a few days after energy depletion.
Energy crystals, on the other hand, couldn’t replenish themselves; the main reason why they were the largest consumed resource by the Sanctum and Hall of Knights during the planar war thus far.
Morphey Forest appeared in the distance in less than half a day of flying. The vessel flew above the foliage, frightening flocks of avians and beasts with its overwhelming presence. Floating vessels were commonly equipped with mana cannons but not for theirs. The floating vessel they were currently on was of a smaller scale, hence it was only capable of ferrying passengers. But of course, the installation of mana cannons was permitted as long as the vessels were returned to the Sanctum as is.
The vessel came to a halt outside the scorpiondrake valley. Locke and Angelina could sense movements below for the scorpiondrakes had rushed over to check on the foreign object hovering above their nest. Locke and Angelina’s hearts begin to thunder as soon as they spot Adamyrs in the distance.
The massive purple Akanasd was a shadow-type drake. Scorpiondrakes lived as amphibians before reaching level one and would grow wings once they’d advance as transcendent-rank monsters. The Akanasd sovereigns were capable of soaring in the skies and also living in land and water. The speed of their flight was also an added advantage.
Likewise, level-one Ritters were capable of flight though only for a moment. They couldn’t reach higher altitudes and their flight speed was remarkably slower than winged major monsters. It was only when they’d passed the boundaries of level-two Erdritter that they could gain some proper flight advantage.
“Adamyrs, what will it be?” Locke’s voice resonated across the valley. He hadn’t gotten used to his new powers so the incorporation of impetus into his speech was completely unintentional. Yet, it seemed just right for the situation. It would be months before Locke could familiarise himself with his newfound quasi-Ritter capabilities.
Adamyrs, the Akanasd sovereign, stared at the floating vessel in the sky intently. The Sanctum’s silver-white emblem on the side of the floating vessel shone in the sunlight. Locke and Angelina stood on the deck with beaming confidence.
There was only silence under the setting sun. All the major monsters around the valley paused to watch the exchange; their respect towards Lord Adamyrs evident as day. At the cue of the increasingly dark sky, the most powerful being in Morphey Forest lowered its head.
The agreement that transpired would remain unknown to the others but they’d soon welcome merciless bloodshed in Morphey Forest.
Lord Adamyrs and its family had gone berserk over the next few days. Unlike its usual calmness, Adamyrs herded mid and high-rank major monsters and slaughtered them all mindlessly. Nothing could escape the scorpiondrakes’ senses, save for the few that escaped to the far fringes of the forest.
The ingestion of crystal cores and the flesh of other major monsters was the most direct way a major monster could replenish its own power. Beasts cared nought for elemental compatibility since ingesting crystal cores, either way, was going to fuel it with precious energy.
Frankly, Angelina had fooled the scorpiondrakes into joining the planar war and the massacre was a direct consequence of their desire to survive.