It takes hard work to maintain a pretty face in your thirties; Glace and Suzzane could testify to that since they were the oldest among Locke’s harem. Beauty wasn’t eternal and both women had always fussed about the faint wrinkles that’d begun to show at the corner of their eyes. It certainly didn’t help that the Zauberian life expectancy was only fifty years.
Glace swayed the vials, curiosity piqued. She was a qualified potioneer and this interesting concoction calls for a thorough analysis. Suzzane, on the other hand, gingerly placed the potion into her spatial ring that rested atop the headboard. Her years of running businesses across Princeton had taught her of the ridiculous value of treasures with life-lengthening and anti-ageing properties.
They fooled around a little more and soon enough, Locke had regained enough strength to be handsy. Glace chided him while Suzzane remained pliant. She was head over heels for Locke and she didn’t mind anything he wished to do. Glace was the more vocal one of the two women. She stopped his wandering hands, gently informing him with reddened cheeks that there was someone else he needed to tend to.
“Huh? Who?” The first that crossed Locke’s mind was Kristin. He shuddered. That couldn’t be real, there was no way Glace would offer her darling niece.
Glace answered with a slight tilt towards the wall. Lia’s room was right next to theirs.
“Uh…” Locke couldn’t quite comprehend her intentions.
“It’s been years and you think that I wouldn’t notice the sparks between you two?” The woman jabbed his pecs harshly, which unfortunately was too tough for her poor fingers. Locke had barely flinched while Glace tried to stomach her pain with gritted teeth. Locke bashfully lowered his head. He did indeed owe plenty to Lia.
“You should head over soon. How long do you plan to have Lia wait?” Glace pushed at him. Suzzane, who’s been wrapped in a cocoon of blankets, had chosen to toss him an encouraging gaze right at that moment.
His sister was already in her early thirties; Lia had spent her best years in life waiting for him and it was about time to give her some closure. Locke had always harboured unwavering affection for his sister since they were kids. He couldn’t help but sigh, how had time slipped by just like that?
“Hey, aren't you cold? Are you not going to put on some clothes?” Glace and Suzzane’s melodious laughter rang from behind.
Cold? Ha, how funny. Locke could roll around in the snow butt naked and come out of it unscathed.
Lia was having a hard time falling asleep, tossing and turning anxiously. She had a strong feeling that something was about to happen. Is it because I’m about to see papa and mama soon? Or so Lia thought.
Her door was jostled loudly and brutally unlocked right at that moment. A mass lunged for her bed, causing her to yelp. Lia manifested a ball of flames in her palm urgently. The way she’d been able to concentrate fire elements in a split second spoke volumes of her affinity for pyromancy; it was a sign of her low-rank Lehrling abilities. Just as Lia aimed the attack, the momentary illumination provided by the flames allowed her to make sense of the intruder. The fiery ball dissipated away, returning the space to darkness.
Their senses were heightened in the dark, breathing and heartbeat audible to one another, growing heavy in the tensed silence. His palm glided across the smooth span of Lia’s cheek, brushing away the faint tear that’d collected in her eyes. That was all it took for him to press her down into the mattress a beat later.
The sun was brilliant when morning arrived, marking the rare occasion of Locke missing his morning training routine on the deck. Lia and he had visited the floating vessel’s kitchen upon waking up, where she promptly passed him a bowl of stew Suzzane made earlier. Locke couldn’t believe that everything had gone so well.
“Wow, you both were loud last night!” Glace blurted out, eliciting an intense flush on Locke’s face. Lia was thankfully out of earshot and thus saved from mortification.
Like Glace and Suzzane, Locke too had given her a vial of potion. The pink potion was concocted by Magister Ashar at Locke’s specific request. It was concentrated with the strong life essence of level-one Botanians and harmonised by a myriad of precious magic ingredients. It was a masterpiece that was effective even for regular people. Sadly, there wasn’t much of it to go around. Locke only had six vials in total so he’d decided on its allocation carefully: Lia, Glace, Suzzane and his parents would receive one vial each. The remaining vial would be offered to King Faustian as Angelina’s bridewealth.
It was a life-lengthening potion formulated by a proper level-one Magister using plenty of precious materials and it wasn’t a stretch to call it a valuable treasure. Locke was intent on marrying Angelina and the potion was only a part of the bridewealth. His spatial ring was filled with many other treasures and he was determined to offer something worthy of her royal status.
Lia had brought over a towel when he was done with his afternoon training. It was then that he noticed Angelina behaving a little under the weather. He quickly explained to his sister and off he went to locate the Faustian princess. Indeed, she had on a gloomy expression as she expertly steered the floating vessel.
“What’s wrong?” He hugged her from behind.
“You tell me, Locke,” replied Angelina with an indignant huff.
Locke felt guilty. He’d spent most of his time around Glace and Suzzane since they returned to the Three Western Isles and he’d even taken his relationship with Lia to greater heights last night. He was involved with another woman on top of the others; there was no way Angelina had thought nothing of it. She was a princess and she’d loved him deeply enough to overlook his debaucherous tendencies.
There was a sharp pain at his shoulder, where Angelina had craned her neck to bite him. Worried that his tough muscles would hurt her teeth, Locke immediately relaxed the patch of skin and flesh at the expense of reddish bite marks.
“I understand that you miss them a lot but I too would like your attention,” Angelina mumbled, plastering her cheek to his bicep.
He held her tightly. “I’m sorry.”
“We should tell father about our marriage once we’re back in Faustian,” she continued.
“Of course.” And that was his solemn promise.