Botania was huge so it was only natural for the Three Western Isles’ marauders to be of a corresponding size. Locke considered himself lucky to have encountered two familiar faces across the years. He’d always remembered level-two Erdritter Garcia vividly since she was the main reason Angelina could bound Angie as a familiar.
“I came out as soon as I sensed a familiar presence. I’m so surprised it’s you!” said Garcia as she leaned back on her seat, attention taken by the scorpiondrake outside. Locke would’ve never imagined that a mighty Erdritter like her would remember him back then as he was still a lowly Knecht. It would’ve been more plausible if he’d only landed an impression now since he was a quasi-Ritter.
Garcia couldn’t mask her curiosity. How did Locke achieve so much within a decade? Sure, there were plenty of young quasi-Ritters around his age affiliated with the Hall of Knights but most of them had hailed from larger kingdoms, which gave them access to abundant resources.
Locke attempted to provide her with an earnest answer, rambling on about his experience over the decade. Garcia was a level-two lifeform that could easily subdue Adamyrs; he’d lived long enough to know better than to upset a powerful figure like her.
Garcia had to leave after a brief moment. Level-two Erdritters were kept busy since they were needed to tend to battles and the subsequent capture of Botanians. She languidly waved down a level-one Ritter to attend to Locke before excusing herself.
Locke was a quasi-Ritter, as in, not quite one yet, so most Ritters wouldn’t interact with him as peers. However, Garcia’s casual interaction had enabled Locke to learn more. He felt incredibly indebted to her; it was no doubt a huge favour but Garcia hadn’t placed much thought behind it. She wasn’t even remotely thinking of having him return the goodwill in the future.
Moments later, Locke was engaged in a conversation with a level-one Ritter on the avenue as the scorpiondrake waited in silence. The level-one Ritter was oozing elegance and power in every way possible. He carried himself like nobility, his sophisticated speech putting Locke at ease. Locke preferred interactions like these since he’d grown accustomed to the casters.
“Those were what I’ve done to overcome my bottlenecks to become a level-one Ritter.” The noble knight offered a smile. He was upfront about the pointers and was not at all aloof despite being superior.
“Thank you so much for sharing with me.” Locke was incredibly grateful.
The Ritter, Rynas, understood Locke’s struggle well. He cut to the chase upon sensing Locke’s deliberate lead and told him all he needed to know. There must be something different about this young man, thought Rynas. This was, after all, a young quasi-Ritter that Erdritter Garcia had come to meet personally.
Garcia hailed from an Aomarian margrave family of considerable influence and Rynas’ family were followers of her clan. Rynas figured that it wouldn’t hurt to do her a favour. There were bits of information that were vital to a Ritter’s advancement, after all. While some knights had considered it to be confidential, it wasn't too big of a deal for knights from bigger clans like him. His journey thus far had been fully guided by tutors and examples of his predecessors. His privilege had enabled his journey to be smooth-sailing so Rynas couldn’t picture how difficult it was for a peasant knight to thrive.
“Here’s a list I compiled on items that can be bought from markets.” Rynas brought out a scroll from his spatial ring. It was a comprehensive list about resources discovered by the Sanctum and Hall of Knights on Botania.
“Please receive my utmost gratitude, Herr.” Locke gingerly received the scroll. His current contingent was divided into four and the fast-paced progress was depleting resources at an accelerated rate. It would mean a lot if they could maintain a good business and collaboration relationship with Garcia’s contingent.
He bid the level-one Ritter farewell, finally setting off to stroll around the city. Locke was delighted, tension melting away from his shoulders. He’d learnt what he needed and completed Parlina’s mission.
The crushing power of a level-two Erdritter was obvious from the contingent’s impressive progress. To Locke’s surprise, one-third of the city had been converted into a marketplace. The stalls were run entirely by knights; it was a temporary market that sold practical goods. While its variety wasn’t as impressive as what he’d found in the Princeton Hall of Knights branch, it was undeniable that the merchandise would come in handy during battle.
“Come take a look! High-rank Botanian essence to replenish your impetus fast!”
“My black metal shield can last against mucus from low-rank Botanians!”
“Accelerating boots that can speed you up by one-sixth of your maximum speed! Only two high-rank energy crystals now!”
“We’re looking to collect energy crystals at a high price! Payment to be done with Botanian essence and precious materials!"
The marketplace was bustling with life. The knights' marketing calls were uniquely loud, which was something that wouldn’t be associated with casters. He looked around the stalls, managing to pinpoint a few useful items. It was a little unfortunate that he was running low on energy crystals, though.
Energy crystals were consumables and remained the best choice for quick replenishments of mana and impetus among knights and casters alike. Botanian essence could deliver the same effect to a certain extent but its outcome wasn’t as direct as the energy crystals.
Locke’s wealth was reflected in the large heap of equipment he’d gotten from casters and his large amount of Botanian essence. He had a few pieces of gear that weren’t as utilised, hence he took the liberty to exchange them for some items that could be more useful for himself and Angelina in the marketplace.
His purchase was mostly materials meant for alchemy. Knights weren’t qualified to be alchemists and these valuable materials could only be utilised best in the hands of the casters.
Locke’s lavishness had drawn the eyes of many. Even so, they had their own reservations since a respectable Ritter had just been spotted talking to Locke at eye level. They merely assumed that he was a quasi-Ritter with solid backers without prying further.