Two foragers were seen making their way to the shore right at that moment.
“Hey you, I’d like two moonstones.” Locke tossed a gold coin out of the carriage window. The large entourage had long attracted the curiosity of the nearby residents and foragers, to which they’d assumed that it belonged to some travelling aristocrat. The coin dropped onto the floor with a loud clink, glinting brightly as it caught the sunlight. The scavengers looked at each other cluelessly but made no move to claim it.
“What’s wrong? Not enough for you?” Locke was bewildered. He’d learnt from Ashar’s experiments that moonstones were low-rank magic materials that were merely capable of light and temperature manipulation. It shouldn’t be worth more than fifty silver coins and cheaper prices were expected since they were at the harvest spot.
“That’s not it, Your Highness. These moonstones need to be presented to Baron Daler. I regret to inform you that it’s not for sale.” One of them pointed at the line of militia along the shore. They seemed like the baron’s private army from the looks of it.
“I’ve never heard of a Baron Daler!” Margrave Kent’s attendant pushed at the forager, plucking the moonstone out of his grip in the process. The man held it to Locke with a toady gaze. Since this attendant was specifically assigned by Margrave Kent to escort the Faustian royal couple, it surely meant that he was exceptionally sharp-witted. The name Daler might’ve probably rang a bell but the baron’s status didn’t matter much in the face of the prince consort of Faustian. Heck, not even Baron Daler’s presence could change anything.
The militia was rooted to their spot despite the commotion. It was no surprise they were heavily intimidated by the envoy’s scale, which included a hundred heavy cavalry members. Ligian aristocrats were no simpletons but it appeared that Baron Daler wasn’t sufficiently powerful to form a heavy cavalry unit.
Locke stopped the toady attendant with a glare. Moonstones were essentially useless to Locke and its only interesting point was its name. He was well aware that living as a peasant was already difficult enough and since the moonstones weren’t for sale, he’d rather let them go. If he really needed the moonstones, he’d just visit Baron Daler’s residence to ask for some later.
“That’s enough. Let’s move along,” Locke instructed the coachman and retreated away from the window.
Their next destination was the most prosperous city of the Ligia Union, Troredar City. They were best known for their unrivalled heavy-armoured soldiers. Locke had even learnt that the city lord was a level-one Ritter.
“Your Highness, I can collect moonstones from the nearby nobles if you wish.” The attendant threw the stone back at the forager and chased after the moving carriage.
“Do as you see fit.” Locke pulled down the blinds. The fawning attendant’s overbearing services were starting to get on his nerves.
The foragers and residents watched the envoy leave with curious eyes. The gold coin continued to lie on the ice sheet, edges reflecting the bright rays beautifully.
A welcoming parade was already waiting for the Faustian envoy at the gates of Troredar City. They were received by the city lord, who was a huge man with an impressive beard. He certainly didn’t look like regular margraves.
It was hard to not notice the axe on his belt; the city lord was an axe-wielding level-one Ritter! Locke admired his physique. The lord was at least two times larger than Locke and almost as huge as a wild bear!
Troredar was a margrave first and a Ritter second. He graced the royal couple with the utmost formality and respect since they’d hailed from the stronger Kingdom of Faustian. There was an undeniable sophistication despite his callous outlook; Margrave Troredar wasn’t as brutish as he appeared.
Locke had learnt through the Faustian intelligence network that the Ligia Union had three level-one Ritters. One of them was a subordinate of Margrave Kent, the second was Margrave Troredar and the third was Margrave Warren of Ireshack City. However, it was said that Margrave Warren was currently on his deathbed, stricken with illness and therefore had rejected all visits, which was why they were mainly here for Margrave Kent and Margrave Troredar.
A series of goodwill agreements, especially in trade and finances, was spread across the table. Locke watched Angelina talk Troredar through the listed terms from a corner. He’d taken a back seat since Angelina was much more competent than him when it came to negotiations.
Following that, Locke and Angelina were shown to the famous heavy-armoured soldiers of Troredar, courtesy of the margrave’s generous hospitality. The soldiers were outstanding without a doubt. Their advanced division consisted of those above low-rank Knechts and there was no way to demolish an army of this calibre without openings. Yet, the size of the army was small with only five hundred enlisted soldiers! The thickness of their armour sheet was admirable, suggesting that Margrave Troredar’s investment was huge.
Refined iron was as valuable as silver coins during the warring era of Faustian. With that assumption, their armour was incredibly expensive since ten tons of steel could only yield one ton of refined iron.
After leaving Troredar City, the Faustian envoy headed further south and then west, before moving northwards towards the Kingdom of Jose. The southern dominions of the Ligia Union lacked prominent nobles, so most of the aristocrats there had belonged to smaller clans. These clans occupied the most fertile plains in the alliance, which allowed their territories to produce large quantities of food annually. They were the bread baskets of the Ligia Union, whose trade with the Kingdom of Faustian had been improving in recent years.
Everyone in the convoy began shedding their thick layers. The south was warmer and the temperature difference was especially stark in the Ligia Union. Their guide explained that the Ghenpeid Plains were blessed with conducive climate and geographical conditions for consistent harvests to the point that the farmers practised three harvest and sowing cycles. There was even a huge tropical forest a further distance away beyond the Ligian borders. However, it was reportedly uninhabitable for it was positively crawling with ferocious beasts, mysterious monsters and uncivilised tribal folk. It was a desolated place without proper civilisation.
The boundless sea was right after the tropical forest, which aligned perfectly with the Three Western Isles’ map that Locke had seen at the Sanctum. The Aomarian Empire was in central Missia while both the Kingdom of Faustian and the Ligia Union were located down south.
The envoy then set off to the west for the tallest mountain of the union, the Cerssyber Mountain Range. Their travelling was kept at a relaxed pace. Apart from spending his days cultivating his impetus, all he did was explore new places with Angelina. The indulgence and rest proved to be extremely beneficial, allowing his stagnating bottleneck situation to loosen up ever so slightly.
Locke pondered. The highest state of being a Himmelritter was described as unity between heaven and body, and he couldn’t help but wonder if he’d ever achieve that height.