Locke, who had been lying down for a short while, was awakened several times due to the cold. After tossing and turning irritatedly, he gave up sleeping and got up. He walked towards the campfire and continued to tend to it. The flames crackled and fizzled. The night sky was quiet and starry. Locke didn't know any of those stars; he only knew the galaxies that crossed the sky. Locke had heard of the names from Yoshk, but he didn't remember them either. Just like this, he spent his time uneventfully.
While Locke was considering whether to make supper, Angelina had not been asleep either. The comfort of the straw mat was of course not as good as the soft bed in her palace. She was out cold before so she felt nothing when she fell asleep. Now that she was awake, the paltry straw mat was truly uncomfortable to sleep on. She noticed Locke, who was not sleeping next to her. She took a look at the weave on her, and understood it at once.
Although Angelina did not reject Locke being close to her, she would not take the initiative to let Locke sleep with her. She couldn't bring herself to say those words. Even if the two of them had done something more intimate, she told herself that there was no other way and it was a last resort. Angelina gave herself all those excuses.
With grey hair, this man was a commoner. His rudeness and directness indicated that this guy had a straightforward character. He did a good job in cooking and he could sew things, so he was a careful person. Just like a noble woman who was choosing her husband, Angelina silently evaluated Locke's performance. Though, she was more prestigious than most noble women.
Locke touched the two remaining fruits in his arms, which he planned to save for their breakfast tomorrow. They hardly had breakfast in the battalion. Food would only be distributed before the expedition or a battle. The first reason being, the baron rewarded the soldiers who were about to fight, and the other was that one might not be able to eat all day during the war.
This was a princess, and she should have breakfast, Locke thought. He had purposely left two fruits today, for both of them to eat one each one the next morning. Thinking of the feeling of feeding, Locke couldn't wait to feed her again the next morning.
The cold wind blew on, and the branches rustled, gently breaking the silence of the night. Looking at the yellow fruit in his hand, Locke considered whether to solve his own breakfast first. It didn't do any good to sit there in the breeze, so he decided that he should find something to do.
Taking a wooden stick and stringing the fruit on it, Locke made supper. The fragrance of the fruit, the warmth of the campfire and the bodily fragrance of the beauty not far behind made Locke feel very comfortable.
Angelina tried turning her body with much difficulty, finally managing to turn a little bit. She did not suffer any injuries, whether from the Blood Red attack or the fall from the cliff afterwards. Blood Red had deliberately tried not to harm Angelina. Afterwards, Locke became her human cushion. Angelina mainly exhausted her physical and mental power. She could not muster much strength. These days, Angelina, who was strong and independent, also felt deeply alone. She urgently needed a shoulder to lean on. Once, her brother and father had stood in front of her to shelter her from the wind and rain. But now there was only one guy beside her, Locke.
Secretly observing Locke who was grilling food by the campfire, for some reason, Angelina felt a peace of mind. Perhaps it was a sense of security, she thought. Angelina gradually fell asleep.
Locke finished his supper in two bites and became idle again. Looking back at Angelina, she was already asleep. Locke, who had a good vision at night, even saw the tired curl at the corner of Angelina's mouth. By the bonfire, Locke boringly threw the stones towards the center of the lake, causing ripples to form.
Counting the stars, watching the moon, and throwing stones, Locke passed his time like a bored lone wolf. He once had his elder sister and parents with him, and a few days ago, he was just chatting with his brothers and comrades. But now, it seemed like he was the only one left in the world. Locke felt irritable. The night became quieter and colder, but Locke became more irritable, "Urgh what the heck, stop thinking! Go to sleep!" Locke kicked his feet and got up, returning to the cave.
Angelina was still peacefully asleep. The quilt was just over her, leaving no spot for Locke. The corners of Locke's mouth twitched and he flipped directly onto the straw mat, with gentle movements. As for whether Angelina had been awakened, only the heavens knew.
Locke, who had laid down, didn't shy away. Leaning close to Angelina, he pulled the quilt over and covered half of himself. The quilt was small, and it was only just enough to cover the both of them. Locke planned to weave some more when he had time. Lying down, Locke naturally supported Angelina's waist with his right hand, and Angelina squirmed slightly.
It was a silent night.
In the morning, Locke woke up very early. Maybe it was a habit formed in the battalion. Now that he was awake, Locke didn't laze around anymore, gently withdrawing the arm that was pressed between her armpit last night, he got out of bed to practice.
The force of his punches was growing fiercer, and his injuries was almost healed up completely. This made Locke quite surprised. According to past experience, these injuries would take about a week to recover.
Maybe it was because of the regeneration of impetus, Locke thought. It was the first time he had suffered such a serious injury since he had started practicing impetus. Although both Wyr and Yoshk had introduced him to the self-repairing ability of the impetus, it was the first time that Locke saw such an outstanding effect.
He walked over to the rock wall where freshwater flowed. Locke drank some mountain spring water and washed his body, cleaning the sweat away and feeling refreshed. Then, after returning to the cave, Locke left the last fruit from yesterday beside Angelina who was still asleep. He then quietly retreated. He still had to look for today's food.
Unlike Angelina who relied on her keen perception and strong mental power, Locke had perfect control of his body after the years of experience and finally learning impetus. Locke could notice the smallest movements around him in an instance. Locke noticed all along that Angelina had been awakened by him last night, but he pretended not to know. Locke recalled last night, remembering that as he was about to fall asleep, the girl suddenly turned around and hugged his left arm in her deep sleep, and felt like laughing. For the first time, Locke's attitude towards Angelina changed from a princess to an ordinary little sister. With Angelina's innocent appearance, it was not difficult for Locke to guess that she was still a young girl.
Based on how tightly she held onto his arm last night, her physical strength should be mostly recovered and she could eat independently. Locke placed the fruit next to her, not wanting to take advantage of her any longer. He already had his fill last night.
Holding the dagger with a scarlet linen grip, Locke walked slowly through the woods. That sharp stone he used to bash in the crustaceans expired last night. The carapace of that strange creature was really tough, it could even shatter sharp stones. Fortunately, Locke didn't use his dagger to break its shell. Otherwise, he would feel extremely distressed.
Following the tracks he left yesterday, Locke walked to the fruit-filled area. There were few fruits in this season. Locke had been walking around this whole time and only found more than 10 of them. Most of them were strange and weird. These things were probably the same as yesterday, only enough for two meals. Locke planned to look further ahead. The crustaceans on the bank were much fewer in comparison to yesterday afternoon. Although he didn't count in detail, there should be at most seven or eight. Was it enough to eat for two days? Or three days? Locke didn't want to wait till he was starving to death to only find a new source of food.
The more he went into the depths of the jungle, the fewer withered trees he saw. Instead, the more verdant, century-old trees were everywhere. This direction should lead towards the Morphey Forest, Locke guessed. There was a lot and mixed information in the battalion. Locke roughly knew that the Morphey Forest was not only one of the junctions between Faustian and Shalor, but also the largest forest in the two kingdoms. Monsters ran rampant in this place. Without the strength of a mid-rank Knecht, one should not even think about entering Morphey Forest. Otherwise, one would become mere fertiliser.
With the sun during the day and the stars at night, Locke could roughly tell the direction, but it was only an estimate. Everywhere in the forest was the same, and even an experienced hunter who walked around couldn't guarantee to not get lost. After walking in the woods for a long time, Locke didn't know where he currently was. This should be the junction of Morphey Forest and Bering Mountains, Locke guessed.
The trees behind him were mostly withered and there was not much fruit in the woods, so Locke was considering whether to go deeper. Of the ten or so fruits in his arms, some of them were different from the ones that could be eaten yesterday. Locke was not sure if he could eat them. Even though all this was enough to bring back, what should he do about the day after tomorrow? After gritting his teeth, Locke went deeper forward.
The dagger held tightly in his hand was his greatest support.
After around two hundred metres, Locke halted. He couldn't continue forward anymore. There had been no living creatures in the woods in which he came from, but now, he had already felt the breath of several wild beasts. There was even one at about 50 metres in front of him. Even the breathing of this beast was different from the others, and it gave him a very special feeling. Locke, who had eaten a lot of wild animals, had never met a beast that gave him such a feeling.
Creeping up, Locke crawled forward slowly. He wanted to see what it was. This place was neither near nor far from the lake where Locke and Angeline were temporarily staying so he had to be fully prepared in advance, just in case this beast decided to pay them a visit one day. He didn't have any defence against it yet. Although his impetus had recovered a lot, Locke still couldn't be careless.
A brown mountain wolf with a blind eye lowered its head and sniffed around in confusion. It felt the aura of a strange creature nearby, but it was very weak. After observing for a long time, the mountain wolf gave up its search and started to plan for its lunch.