The floating vessel wasn’t allowed to fly across the skies of Aomar as planned. Under the strict supervision of Lien, Angelina brought the vessel through the desolated and barren lands of the outer territories, extending the two-day journey to Princeton into a week’s trip.
The two transcendent-rank Akanasds and their six base-rank offsprings were then placed under the surveillance of the empire’s troupe at the fringes of Salt Lime Forest. The empire’s troupe consisted of five thousand soldiers; a number that was a third lesser than the third garrison corps at the border. Even so, they were completely capable of subduing a group of powerful scorpiondrakes. It was apparent that the empire’s troops were way superior to the border corps.
The unexpected detour had consumed more time than envisioned. Angelina and Locke would have to make a beeline for the Sanctum as soon as they’d returned the other women to Princeton. They were only given a two-month leave and there were six days till roll call. They’d only reach in the nick of time even if they pushed the floating vessel to its limits.
Locke, Suzzane and Glace had a wild farewell on the eve of his departure. Admittedly, he hadn’t thought much about Suzzane’s wish to have a child. He had no qualms about being a father, though. Locke was fully aware that he was growing older and his parents were eager to have grandchildren as soon as possible. For all that was worth, Suzzane was so sore that she couldn’t leave bed for the next two days.
Before Locke and Angelina set off for the Sanctum, they stopped at the base camp in Salt Lime Forest. Locke went forward to greet a brown-armoured Ritter with utmost politeness. From his timid bow and general cautiousness around the Ritter, it became apparent that the Ritter was of incredible influence. Locke had never even shown such humbleness even when conversing to a level-one Magister.
“If this is on the Sanctum’s order, you may leave now,” said the Ritter calmly. The Ritter was extremely built, he was at least one size larger than Locke.
As soon as Locke received the Ritter’s reply, he quickly bowed and left the base. He had no intentions to prolong his stay to attempt any networking. Angelina quickly brought the floating vessel to the skies once Locke returned.
The two Akanasd sovereigns, Lord Adamyrs and Shiva, stretched their wings and took flight. The base-rank crystal Akanasds in the ship’s hull had their faces buried into the nook of their shoulders as though they were terrified.
The floating vessel then resumed its journey to the east. Lien and the built Ritter watched the vessel and two massive Akanasds disappear into the horizon. Lien couldn’t help but blurted out, “Your Majesty, that knight is obviously lying.”
The larger Ritter turned to face him. “Are you questioning my rationale?”
“Of course, not!” Lien quickly lowered his head. He had no right to question the Ritter’s decision.
“Where do you think they’re bringing these scorpiondrakes to then?” The built Ritter posed a rhetorical question. Despite Lien’s bluntness, the Ritter wasn’t angered at all.
“Well, it’s definitely…” The rest was left unsaid.
“There’s no need for us to be too harsh since they’re heading to that place.” The Ritter smiled as he brushed his shoulder plates nonchalantly. The slight glint of sharpness and wisdom in his eyes made the burly Ritter appear more like a studious Magister. “Plus, the empire has burned through too many high-rank Knechts for their campaign.”
Details and progress of the Botanian war were well-guarded secrets and regular level-one Ritters across the Three Western Isles couldn’t come across any information. Only those that were as powerful as the burly Ritter could learn about the conquest through secret channels.
Overall, the war was progressing well despite the considerable damage. The death of tens of thousands of high-rank Knechts was an alarming loss to the Three Western Isles and other territories alike. The alarming loss was still increasing as the war progressed and the addition of a few base-rank and two transcendent-rank major monsters was not going to change anything. However, who was the Ritter to stop them? It was still better than doing nothing. While the burly Ritter wasn’t expecting the Akanads to make any difference, he still hoped that their presence could at least relieve the loss of lower Lehrlings and Knechts to an extent.
Lien could somewhat understand his reasoning. After all, the Ritter was known in the Aomarian Empire for his intimidating exterior that masked a contrastingly compassionate heart. The empire was filled with many powerful aristocrats but he was the only one that could truly command everyone’s respect. Legends of Prince ‘Proud Arms' were even told at the further reaches of the empire.
After a few hours of steering through multiple provinces of the empire at high speed, Angelina finally slowed the floating vessel down.
“What’s wrong? Did Prince Proud Arms stress you out badly?” teased Angelina as she snuck a glance at Locke.
Locke’s wandering mind was brought back to reality by Angelina’s voice. Noticing that she was walking over, he quickly reached out to envelop her in a hug.
They were the only two humans on board the vessel. The remaining six base-rank scorpiondrakes were either napping on the deck or hiding in the darker basement. Locke grew handsy in the absence of watchful gazes.
“Oh, quit it!” She swatted the warm palm on her waist, rolling her eyes at Locke in the process. There were still two base-rank scorpiondrakes on the deck! They may be monsters but their intelligence was no different from that of a regular human. The scorpiondrakes were capable of understanding human languages and Angelina wasn’t used to being so affectionate with Locke in public still.
Locke smiled despite Angelina’s protest. He had to admit that Prince Proud Arms did stress him out earlier. The Ritter’s presence was entirely unexpected.
Level-one Ritter Lien had reached out to his superiors while questioning Locke and Angelina. He’d requested the presence of a few more level-one colleagues for support. They’d received explicit orders from the Sanctum to bring multiple scorpiondrakes across Missia to the east? Pigs could fly if Lien bought their blatant lies; Angelina and Locke were barely level-one lifeforms too.
Yet, in a surprising turn of events, none of Lien’s colleagues had shown up. Only His Highness Proud Arms, an imperial Aomarian prince, had graced them with his presence instead.