“The east coast, huh?” Locke repeated under his breath.
“It’s true that they view us with hostility.” The black organza that clung to Ashar’s body offered a slight glimpse of her ghastly skin. She continued firmly, “But going to Magion is your best shot at becoming a Ritter as soon as possible.”
Locke could begin his expedition in three directions: The first option was to go eastwards for Magion. The second was to head to the western coastline. The third, on the other hand, was to explore the other two landmasses of the Three Western Isles. Ashar would never harm him so it’d been easy to settle for the east coast after some thought.
“There’s a cargo vessel headed for the east coast two days later. You can hitch a ride with a token of mine.” She threw something at him. It was a dark murky pearl that radiated with a tinge of her shadow mana.
He took his leave after that. Ashar still had plenty to work on since her breakthrough was creeping closer. She didn’t need to run experiments for academic knowledge anymore. Success was bound to come as long as she focused on meditation and mana cultivation. Locke ventured over to the Sanctum’s official trading hall to purchase living necessities for Grace and the others while on the look for spatial pouches.
“You’re seeking a spatial gear to contain your mount?” The caster caressed his dark moustache, looking as though burdened by Locke’s request.
Locke could see that the caster wasn’t willing to cooperate but he wasn’t about to intimidate the man with his wealth. An idea clicked. He deliberately rummaged through his pocket, flashing a peek of Ashar’s dark murky crystal to the caster.
There was a swift 180-degree change in the caster’s attitude. “Oh, you’re just in luck! The great alchemist Howl had just entrusted a space flute here not long ago. It’s something that you knights could use too.” The caster’s smile grew pearly and wide.
That was how Locke spent twenty high-rank major cores on a space flute. If it weren’t for the caster’s intense reassurance, he would’ve suspected that it was a scam. It seems as though Ashar’s standing in the Sanctum had elevated to a new height with her impending breakthrough as a level-two Magister, which all the more solidified Locke’s will to stay on her good side.
The expenditure had pained Locke slightly but the damage wasn’t too bad at all. He’d exchanged a great sum of gold coins for twenty high-rank and mid-rank major cores before leaving Princeton so he still had some to spare. An emerald flute now dangled in front of his taut chest. Locke could sense the subtle spatial energy that spiralled around it. Since this was the Sanctum, there was no doubt that this gear was of great quality. It wouldn’t be surprising if he could auction the flute off for fifty high-rank major cores in Aomar.
Fermoss and Angie continued to bask in the sunlight, stretched out languidly across the floating vessel’s deck as they conversed in scorpiondrakian. Major monsters could only speak human languages once they advanced as level-one lifeforms. Since the scorpiondrake siblings were just base and high-rank monsters respectively, they could understand commands well.
Anyhow, most knights preferred powerful familiars over intelligent ones. However, the likelihood of encountering one was rare, unless they had coffers as thick as Locke's. No regular knight could afford to spend dozens of precious high-rank major cores on a spatial gear, to begin with. The price of a major monster itself was miles more expensive than spatial gear. It was still a huge pity that Ritters above level-one were always out of choices for mounts at their height.
Adamyrs, the transcendent-rank Akanasd sovereign, was a magnificent creature. While it may be willing to offer its assistance, it was near impossible to enslave it with a contract. The powerful had pride, after all.
Locke blew the flute lightly and Fermoss’ eyes went wide as balls of green light surrounded it. He’d commissioned an expensive contract to bind the scorpiondrake earlier. As a base-rank monster with comparable intelligence, it’d rejected Locke’s earlier contract vehemently due to its tilted terms. The contract would’ve forced Fermoss to lay its life in Locke’s hand completely!
Locke hadn’t taken the declination to heart, instead opting to draft one with better terms to please Fermoss. The contract was still a tad tilted but he was good at driving Fermoss into a corner. A quasi-Ritter wasn’t any weaker than a base-rank scorpiondrake so Fermoss had willingly submitted to his will.
It was two days later when a massive cargo vessel anchored at a small unnamed island outside the Sanctum.
“Honestly, I was expecting a floating vessel.” Locke stared at the large ship that bobbed on the ocean surface, turning to toss a questioning look at Ashar who’d come to see him off.
“Be my guest and go ride one if you want to get struck by the eastern casters,” she replied harshly.
Zauberia was peaceful but that didn’t mean that there weren’t internal conflicts among different powerhouses and their people; this was an inevitable norm of human society. While the Three Western Isles weren't villainised by all caster organisations on the east coast, it was irrefutable that a good one-third of them genuinely despised them. To them, the Three Western Isles were synonymous with marauders and barbarians.
The cargo vessel was bigger than the typical floating vessels. Locke had also noticed that it’d submerged above its line mark, indicating that it was heavily loaded.
“Ashar? Are you visiting the east coast too?” There was a caster with a bamboo hat hovering above the ship.
“No. I’m just here to send off my pupils.” She gestured at Locke, Kristin and Laffey.
“A knight? Mm? And a kid who’s honing both mana and impetus simultaneously?” The hooded caster studied the three in confusion. They weren’t armoured but their subtle energy profile had given the caster a glimpse into their background.
“They’re competent but lacking in experience. I’m afraid I’d need to trouble you with watching over them,” Ashar said to the caster.
“You have my word. I’ll look after your pupils.” The caster nodded. His humble demeanour had suggested that he’d known who was dealing with. Ashar’s eccentric temperament was general knowledge at the Sanctum, after all. The shadowmancer had rarely initiated favours and debt between casters had cost more than just money. Angelina was able to become Carla’s mentee all because the photomancer had owed Parlina a favour.