“I’m going to the east coast for an expedition,” Locke confessed. He had nothing to hide.
Charlie merely nodded. Adventurers weren’t a rare sight in thriving places like the east coast in recent years. The young sailor had encountered many Ritters at Morrington Harbour, whose presence had always prompted their soldiers to high alert.
“How long till we arrive Morrington Harbour?” Frankly speaking, Locke was already sick of the unchanging scenery that featured nothing but the blue ocean.
Charlie answered with a simple gaze into the horizon, where the sun was setting. “I reckon we’ll reach in twenty-eight days without any more hiccups.” The waves and wind encountered on their way from the Three Western Isles to the east coast had been rather turbulent. It was sheer luck that Locke’s group had boarded the ship just as the chaotic monsoon season was transitioning into peace.
Their time spent on the vessel wasn’t as boring as feared. Locke had been decently surprised by the variety of marine monsters and peculiar plants they’d fished up occasionally. Fermoss had benefited the most from watching the diversity of marine lifeforms since scorpiondrakes were rare amphibians among the multitude of Zauberian major monsters. Its swimming speed had improved plenty just by two days in the waters; it was already able to catch up to normal marine monsters its size. Unfortunately, Fermoss’ was inevitably limited by its lower stamina. Scopriondrakes weren’t proper aquatic species so they couldn’t thread in water for long.
If only you could advance as a transcendent-rank major monster soon, Locke mused in his head. Adamyrs had wings; the Akanasd sovereign was capable of dominating water, sky and land. It would be incredibly convenient to have a monster mount like that.
“Brother Locke, can you have Fermoss capture two water snakes for me tonight?” asked Kristin. They had retired for the night in their small cramped cabin, hovering over a pot of Laffey’s wonderful cooking.
“Sure.” Locke nodded. It wasn’t an issue since scorpiondrakes were nocturnal monsters and Locke had always let Fermoss roam around in the dark. The ship was a fraction slower at night so he wasn’t worried about losing it in the dark with their mental bond. Apart from that, the sailors and Locke alike would sleep better tonight knowing that there was a base-rank major monster hanging around the peripherals of the vessel too.
Kristin had left to compile her spellcasting notes after dinner upon Locke’s request. It was true that people were inclined to present their best selves in front of their person of affection. She’d spent every morning cultivating her impetus with Locke and ran experiments in the night proactively. Kristin had been extremely diligent, surpassing Locke in that aspect even.
They were given three cabins on the ship, one of which they’d left unoccupied for Kristin’s research. The younger woman stayed with Laffey while Locke had a room to himself.
With Kristin off to work, Locke watched Laffey clean away their dishes from his spot on the bed. He felt incredibly restless at that moment. There was heat in his mind. Locke never experienced difficulty in trying to calm down but as long as there was a beauty in front of him, he was a complete slave to lust.
He stood up briskly, circling his arms around Laffey’s middle unannounced. She jolted in surprise, immediately dropping her movements. There was no struggle nor were there any indications of acceptance so they froze in that position.
His mother had made it very clear that Laffey and Kristin were here as his partners. Glace had probably briefed them earlier since the younger women had some semblance of mental preparation. Even so, reality had often deviated from planned.
The unexpected reception sobered up his muddled mind. Laffey’s stiffness was an obvious message that his advances were refused. Locke was thirty years old and he’d bedded four women in his life; there was no denying that he was one hell of a debauched man but he’d never stoop as low as to force himself onto someone.
He swiftly released Laffey from his hold, crippling embarrassment seizing him at that moment. Locke couldn’t believe that he’d failed to keep his desires under control despite being a quasi-Ritter. He laughed stiffly and reached for the door.
Laffey watched him leave in an uncharacteristic flurry. As an excellent servant who’d serviced Glace for years, she was sharp enough to decipher his intentions. Her cheeks flushed red. “What a weird man.”
Her mind inevitably fleeted to their fight in the darkened city of Farlans ten years ago. She looked down at the simple gilded bangle around her wrist. Its surface was scratched from years of wear and was barely worth a few silver coins. Even so, Laffey had worn it religiously for twenty years since this was the only thing her mother had left in her wake. Locke had stopped and helped search for her missing bangle back then, eventually being the one to return it to her.
Her heart wavered. She tried to brush away the unsightly thoughts and began to scrub at the used dishes.
Countless lifeforms had found a home in the mysterious ocean, dozens of which were blessed with exceptional intelligence. It was a shame that Locke only had the luck of encountering nagas. The cruise had come to an end before they knew it.
There were many cargo vessels docked at the third pier of Morrington Harbour. Likewise, many ships prepared to leave. Their sails fluttered in the wind; there appeared to be at least hundreds of ships floating around the immediate perimeters. Kristin couldn’t help the gasp that escaped her.
The younger woman may be the direct descendent of a margrave clan but both Shalor and Faustian were located in the inner reaches of Missia. The water vessels that she’d seen had never come as close to the size of the cargo vessels anchored here. She was reasonably shocked.
While Kristin marvelled at the thriving shipping industry of the east coast, Locke was shocked that the cargo vessels here were armed with dangerous weapons like the mana cannon. Mana cannons were considered state of the art back home. Was the east coast so wealthy that they could afford to equip their ships with such artillery?! Cannons were nowhere to be spotted on most of the ships but they could just be hidden away from plain sight. Considering the worsening relationship between the Three Western Isles and the east coast, it was best to avoid provocation while being equipped with necessary protection at the same time.
Kristin and Locke had different focuses. She was taken by the hustle and bustle of the east coast while he was interested in weighing the difference in warfare competence between the east coast and their homeland. Laffey, on the other hand, admired the local culture. Locke was surprised that the servant was an appreciator of art and culture since he knew that she had a worse case of illiteracy than him.