Heimarian Odyssey - Chapter 407




“Idiots! What’s taking you so long to move everything from the second basement? I swear I’ll kill you if any of it gets soaked!” The bamboo-hat-wearing Magister screeched. The Magister’s fury was a new sight to Locke so he couldn’t help his curiosity. What could the cargo be to be that important?

“We’ve already moved everything here, Grandmeister. Please rest assured that there is no water damage,” the mariner quickly replied. The older man who’d been fearless against the nagas was now cowering before the Magister.

The caster huffed. “Move the merchandise into the cabins. I don’t care if you sleep on the deck!”

The sailors had lived in the forty cabins across the vessel. The mariner ran a rough calculation; it appeared that at least half of the remaining sailors would have to camp under the starry night. The night breeze was unforgiving even for the physically fit, the sailors were bound to fall ill with prolonged exposure. However, there was nothing else the mariner could do. It appeared that their best choice was to take turns resting for the night.

Locke watched the sailors bustle around, using the opportunity to approach them for a closer look, which the sailors collectively allowed since he was regarded as the Magister’s associate. The new proximity had him catching a whiff of something familiar--Botanian essence!

His eyes went wide. Locke counted the row of stacked boxes on the deck. From the looks of it, there were at least two hundred Botanians inside. They were oddly quiet, though. Locke could sense their steady breathing, hence the Botanians were probably drugged. In that case, there may be more in the unflooded basements! Judging from the vessel’s overall capacity, Locke had a feeling that they were ferrying near six hundred Botanians to the east coast.

The sudden image of the fervent nagas intruded his thoughts. Locke inhaled sharply. Were the nagas after the Botanians?

As promised, Locke visited the Magister’s cabin on the second day, which was located at the highest point of the vessel. It was a short distance away from the lookout point and had been the former residence of the late captain.

Locke gently rapped his knuckles against the door. He’d learnt from his time spent with casters that there were certain norms to adhere to: for one, casters usually spent their mornings and nights meditating or researching, so it was best to visit them during the afternoon. It was recommended to wash up before visiting them. Casters often appeared dishevelled after long hours spent working but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate a clean appearances; a clean and neat look could help leave behind a better impression.

Most importantly, never visit casters with gifts unless said caster was a close friend. Their virtue of equivalent exchange was more often trouble than not. They would grow seriously suspicious when presented with an expensive gift. Similarly, one should grow wary of ulterior motives if an unfamiliar caster had so happily accepted your gift. There was no concept of charity among them nor did the idea of unconditional love exist. Zauberia was a dark place and one shall not be fooled by the caster and knight’s gloriousness; the darkness they masked was simply unfathomable.

The bamboo-hat-wearing Magister answered the door, taking a good hard look at his surroundings before finally letting Locke in. Locke kept his eyes ahead, not daring to dart around in the Magister’s territory. Even so, he noticed from the corner of his eyes that the Magister had more of an inclination towards potion-making. There were bottles, vials, bubbling green potions, viscous and clumpy red fluids that look suspiciously akin to blood and many other substances of various colours scattered across the cabin messily. There was even a full set of potion brewing equipment in the middle of the cabin.

Locke could recognise it; it was available in the Sanctum’s trading hall for three hundred high-rank nucleus cores. Locke wished to purchase one for Glace but alas his coffers said otherwise. It was true that he was wealthy but a direct payment of three hundred high-rank nucleus cores was a huge blow to his savings.

His gaze went unnoticed by the Magister as the older man strode to the table. He turned around to present a bottle of white powder. “This is the white tramp powder I promised you.” He tossed it over.

Locke asked cautiously, “Actually, Grandmeister, what exactly does the white tramp powder do?”

The bamboo hat Magister smiled languidly. “I think I’d prefer you refer to me as Grandmeister Pierson. I’ve been close friends with Grandmeisterin Carla for decades now, there’s no need to be so reserved around me.

“Of course, Grandmeister Pierson.” Locke echoed, daring to lift his head slightly to look at the Magister. The other man had removed his signature hat, revealing a face with an impressive beard. There was a patch over one of his eyes, which Locke couldn’t help but notice. Was he blind in that eye or was it covered for some mysterious reason? Whatever it may be, Locke was sure it had to do with his choice of headdress.

“The white tramp powder is my creation. I’ve been refining its formula over the last few years,” Pierson explained with unmistakable triumph. “I concocted it with deep-sea pearls and a mixture of the finest magic materials.”

It was then that Locke caught the blemished pearl beside the small mountain of white on the table. The pearl was a third smaller than yesterday.

“The materials this time around are excellent. I’m impressed that the pearl has the power to cast hallucinations! I must say, this powder is well worth the four-armed naga head you gave away!” Pierson sounded more like he was praising himself.

Locke went with whatever Pierson said, seizing the opportunity to sweet talk the Magister further. “Haha!” Pierson let out a gleeful laugh, mood significantly better after Locke’s flattery. He began going to lengths about the white tramp powder’s function.

“It can boost the user’s power by 70% for fifteen minutes?!” Locke gasped. He couldn’t believe he’d gotten ahold of a great treasure.

Pierson looked pleased with his outward response. The Magister merrily explained how to consume it before sending Locke off.

Locke left the cabin cautiously, his palm warming the cool surface of the glass vial. Everything felt too surreal. The strongest potion Locke had ever used was Speedy Dragon during the planar war. The substance had been formulated with a level-one lifeform’s blood, which made it potent enough to raise the then high-rank Knecht Locke’s abilities by 60%. In that case, the white tramp powder was on another level if it was as potent as claimed, despite its rougher texture. Unfortunately, that would also mean that its side effects were just as potent.

“A two-day fatigue penalty, huh?” Locke mumbled to himself. While the potion couldn’t make him a level-one lifeform right away, the 70% elevation in power was enough to make him a pseudo-level-one lifeform. With the enormous gap between Ritters and Knechts considered, the white tramp powder might just be his trump card for the long journey ahead.

Frankly speaking, Locke had already accumulated a collection of last resorts over time. Alas, he wouldn’t require it as long as he played safe and did not get on the nerves of any lifeform above level one. Being a quasi-Ritter alone had already gained him enough status.

The water vessel continued its journey without hiccups. Surprisingly, the loss of seven sailors hadn’t affected their progress. As much as Locke found the haphazard patchwork across the deck ugly, he had to admit that they worked fine.

Locke had been striking conversations with the sailors lately. He’d learnt that they were east coast locals that lived at Morrington Harbour. Since they’d spent their prime out at sea, there were only a rare few that managed to settle down and start a family before their thirties. Many treasures were hidden in the vast sea but that had come with major risks. The fact that they could quickly get over the loss of their comrades during the earlier naga ambush was very telling. Deaths were ordinary occurrences and they were all prepared to die at sea.

......

From what the sailors had iterated, Morrington Harbour was one of three bustling harbours under the Marharden Kingdom. The kingdom was at least twenty times larger than Faustian, which made it about a third of the Aomarian Empire. Locke was even more bewildered to know that a huge territory like that had only occupied one-seventh of the east coast.

The political climate of the east coast was way more complex than that of Missia. The larger factions here were basically untouchable, which many smaller factions had clung to for support. There were more key players in the scene, unlike the Three Western Isles which only had the Sanctum and Hall of Knights.

“My biggest wish is to earn enough money in the next three years, buy an aristocratic title and an estate, then marry three wives,” said a younger sailor. These sailors had actually accumulated considerable wealth from their years on the sea so it wasn’t impossible for them to purchase titles and estates. Apart from that, they were working secretly for the Sanctum and casters were known to be generous employers.

“How much does a title cost?” Locke was infinitely curious.

“Well, you can be a count with one million gold sorres,” answered the young sailor.

Locke nodded. He could personally vouch for the benefits that came with possessing a noble status. Even so, the price of a count title was insanely expensive. He, on the other hand, found the prices for lower ranks below that of barons much more acceptable since it had only cost two to three hundred thousand gold sorres.

Gold sorres were the mainstream currency of the east coast, popularised by the Kingdom of Sorney. The kingdom was the wealthiest out of the dozens of territories along the east coast, owing to its advancements in shipping logistics that allowed its businessmen to expand their influence along the coast. Their presence had even spread as far as the areas around Magion.

Locke counted his gold moores, raking his mind over how much local currency he could convert to. It shouldn’t be an issue since gold was universally accepted, even on foreign planes. Perhaps this was why lifeforms with considerable intelligence had an attachment to shiny objects.

“Brother Locke, what are you actually planning to do on the east coast?” Now that they’d gotten chummy, the younger sailor, Charlie, had found enough courage to pry. Locke looked younger than thirty years old but Charlie had regarded him as an elder for the fact that he was a quasi-Ritter and an associate of Magister Pierson. Not to mention, his gigantic scorpiondrake had sparked much admiration among the sailors. He was a man that they looked up to.







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