Team Dawnlight had comprised of a shield wielder, two swordsmen, a scout, an archer and a low-rank Lehrling. It wasn’t uncommon for adventure groups to come up with either unique, auspicious or intimidating names. Locke had to admit that the six low to mid-rank members conjured up a great name; ‘Dawnlight’ had a nice ring to it.
Today was Locke’s first time meeting the other members of Team Dawnlight since the ones that’d come to liaise at the guild were only one of their swordsmen and the female Lehrling. Despite hovering around the ranks of low to mid, the adventurers were seasoned and experienced. Their shield, a bulky man, was at least a few years older than Locke. The members quickly came forth to greet their most respected employer; his payment would allow them a two-month break once completed. Locke had been cold and distant. His looks were nothing to marvel at so the members quickly shifted their attention to the two beauties behind him.
“Hey, gorgeous!” An unreserved swordsman wolf-whistled in an attempt to grab Kristin’s attention. It did catch her attention, albeit in a bad way. She aimed a ball of flame at the man, to which he frantically dodged, almost twisting his ankle in the process. Kristin wasn’t feared in Felor for nothing and Team Dawnlight started taking the three of them seriously.
“Jose, you ought to be careful. The ladies are mid-rank Knechts.” The only mid-rank Knecht in their group, the burly middle-aged man, hissed at the frightened swordsman.
“My goodness, she’s a practitioner of both magic and impetus?” The ensemble paled. They weren’t familiar with the term Mystic Knights but they’d heard about simultaneous cultivation.
“Herr Locke, shall we leave?” The female caster came forth to ask. Since she was a caster, she’d realised that Kristin’s fireball spell was half-hearted and only meant to intimidate.
“Yes, let’s move.” Locke nodded. The nobility brooch on his chest was as real as he was a baron of the Marharden Kingdom. Team Dawnlight had gone the extra mile to prepare a carriage for Locke. Their past escort missions had taught them plenty about the pompous behaviour of nobles.
Locke wasn’t one to refuse the offered comfort. He swiftly climbed into it, set on being a proper young lord for once. Upon noticing that, Kristin followed Locke into the carriage. It was only designed with room for one so it was a tight fit for two. The archer had been the acting coachman all along but he’d stepped aside to let Laffey have the reins.
“Tsk, the rich are so up in their asses,” Someone from their group grumbled. Jealousy was inevitable in this situation, after all.
“Quit yapping around and move already!” The female caster with the chestnut hair urged her group into action before anything else could be said. Locke was free to do as he pleased and they were promised a generous payment. It was now time for them to do their part.
The group aided the carriage into the Depan Forest outside of Morrington Harbour. The route for the current journey had been mapped by the female caster last night. They would cross the relatively peaceful Depan Forest, bypassing the Nierchant Canyon, then take a turn to Conch Lake to take a boat through the Haer River for Brurashire. The approach wasn’t direct but it was comparatively safer.
Team Dawnlight had been around for several years. Death on the line of duty wasn’t new and the addition of new blood was constant over the years. Time had dampened their roaring passion and all they wanted now was to accomplish each job in one piece. It was common for adventurers to seek out other careers once they’d accumulated enough wealth. A life of adventures seemed impossible and ridiculous.
“This group of adventurers seem to be quite good at their job. I think we’ll get to Brurashire without hiccups,” Kristin’s bubbly voice rang in the cramped space.
Locke nodded. That was true. While there was only one mid-rank Knecht among the six-membered group, it wasn’t difficult to notice their great synergy and firm discipline. Team Dawnlight’s overall competence was higher than the average human, their portfolio had boasted successful huntings of mid-rank major monsters and the harm of a high-rank major monster, which was why Locke had chosen them at the guild.
“There’s plenty you can learn from Team Dawnlight. I hope you’ll watch and learn, the same goes for Laffey,” Locke lectured her like second nature.
“I know.” The younger woman stuck her tongue out. She had recently discovered that her Brother Locke was just like Aunt Glace; they nagged a lot.
Depan Forest was perceived as a patch of woods that housed mid-rank major monsters at most, which wasn’t an issue for Team Dawnlight since they were sufficiently competent. They piled a bonfire in the middle of their makeshift base by evening. The scout laid a few alarm contraptions around the perimeter before climbing up an old tree for the night. He was always the most worked member in the dark.
The only mid-rank Knecht of the group guarded the fire as he gathered stacks of wood brought back by the two swordsmen. He was the strongest among the bunch so he needed to stay in the centre.
The swordsman who had a brief exchange with Locke came to invite him for dinner. Locke drew the curtains, finally noticing that the skies had darkened. He’d lost grasp of time since he’d been cultivating for an entire afternoon. The fragrant smell of boiling stew perfumed the air. They’d hung a stone pot over the fire, which was looked after by the female caster. She’d cooked up a wonderful combination of wild mushrooms, potatoes, major monster meat and wild vegetables that she’d foraged in the woods. Locke was surprised that she was quite the skilled cook, almost as skilful as Laffey even. Locke would rather have warm food than the jerkies in his spatial ring. He received the tableware offered by Laffey and joked, “I’ll make sure to pay for the food.”
Team Dawnlight chuckled and the distance between them narrowed ever so slightly. As they enjoyed dinner, Kristin and the chestnut-haired caster conversed cheerfully, seemingly caught up in their own world. They were female casters so they shared plenty in common. Their melodious laughter could be heard constantly in the air. Locke, on the other hand, focused on his meal intently. The unreserved swordsman was obviously trying to get chummy with him, to which he returned lukewarm reactions.
A decade of adventure would often leave behind damages and ailments that would last a lifetime. As such, they would choose to pledge to an aristocratic clan to make the latter half of their lives easier. The swordsman's attempt was admirable but he was disappointed by Locke’s lack of response. Locke hadn’t thought of accepting a low-rank Knecht under him for now, after all.