Three days later, Locke and Angelina looked emotionally at the small cave where the two had lived for more than 20 days. They were about to leave today.
Before leaving, Angelina scanned at the vegetation in the surroundings with scorching eyes. She was the person who had the deepest impression of everything around here.
"Let's go," Locke said, heading where they planned to go.
The two of them no longer looked like savages. Locke shaved his beard with a dagger, and most of his body had also recovered. He had the protection of the moonlight wolf's light core. Locke rolled a few rounds in the snow with his body naked, so the peculiar musk on his body disappeared as well. Angelina cast a Cleanse on him, and he turned from savage to hunter.
Why a hunter, some may ask? Because Locke was dressed in various animal furs, which were made from the prey captured by Angelina. She had knitted it poorly previously, so after he redid her work, he was able to have something resembling a cape.
Angelina, on the other hand, didn't belie her noble roots. Locke made her a full set of clothes from the smooth and white moonlight wolf fur. The fur of the wolf's head was made into a hat, the tail into a scarf, and the fur of the body became a coat with a long skirt. Last but not least, the fur on its limbs were made into a pair of shoes and gloves.
Angelina was completely wrapped in the fur of the moonlight wolf now. Let alone feeling cold, she was feeling warm after taking just two steps.
"Why didn't you make yourself a suit?" Angelina complained. With such a large hide, Locke could've made clothes for both of them. Yet, he himself was only wearing a cape made up from various small animals. She was once again moved by what he did. But at the same time, she complained that he wasn't caring about himself enough, as his body had just recovered.
"You look good in it and it would be a waste on me. I'm fine with this," Locke said happily, pointing to the patchwork on his body.
Angelina had worn better clothes than this. Although the moonlight wolf was a rare light element monster, it was only a low-rank one. In her closet in the palace was a padded jacket made from the hide of a high-rank bear monster. In terms of value, that ranked way higher than this wolf fur. But she still preferred the clothes Locke knitted for her.
Without trying to be too thankful, Angelina stepped forward and held Locke's hand, and the two left together.
The snow had stopped for three days, but the snow in the Bering Mountains showed no sign of melting. The two walked in the mountains, and with each step they took, they left knee-deep footprints in the snow.
Locke walked very carefully, because the snow was too deep and he couldn't see what was underneath. If there were any holes or obstacles, the two would get into trouble, and haste would only make waste. By noon, they only managed to cross half the mountain since they started in the morning.
Before dark, Locke found a leeward rock where he could rest. He leaned against it and rested. Without a cave to stay meant they couldn't make a fire. The two didn't eat hot food. Instead, they ate the wolf meat heated by Angelina using the Illuminate. Seeing the meat cook up in a jiffy, Locke exclaimed, "Magic sure is useful!"
Angelina pursed her lips and chuckled. She liked being praised by Locke. She had been outstanding ever since she was a child, and whoever that saw her would praise her for her talent. Yet despite becoming more mature recently, and not bothering much about this kind of flattery, she was still very happy to receive his compliments.
"If you want to learn, when you go back, I'll ask the teacher to test you to see if you have any aptitude," Angelina said.
"We'll see." Locke shook his head. Although he was very envious, he knew his own worth. He didn't know many words and wasn't proficient in arithmetic, so his mind was not very flexible. Angelina once said that those with magical aptitude were geniuses, herself for example.
Though, Suzanne might qualify, Locke thought. She had learned to write and count by herself. Coupled with the shrewdness she had developed as a shop owner, she should be able to be considered a genius. But he didn't have the guts to recommend her. Both of them were his women, but one was an inferior Shalorian commoner, the other was Faustian's noble princess. If they were to meet, Suzanne would definitely be at a loss.
Locke cared a lot about his women. Suzanne had been willing to follow him before he made a splash, and even advised him along the way. So, he wouldn't let her down. Thinking of her, he didn't know how she was doing now. His comrades were still alive so she shouldn't be suffering too much. However, they couldn't always be taking care of her, so he had to return quickly.
A week and a half later, Locke and Angelina were walking in the snow with much difficulty. At this time, the jungle and mountains were no longer visible. A vast plain appeared in front of them. They have finally left Bering Mountains!
Back at camp, Caen was kicking stones in the camp out of boredom. The thumb-sized stone was kicked left and right by his dextrous feet, never reaching the ground. After a while, Hans came in with food. "Eat!" He handed the food to him.
Caen stopped his meaningless spiel and kicked the pebble away.
It has been a month and a half since Locke's 'death'. Caen and Hans had been relatively depressed. Their 'elder brother' had sacrificed himself for their lives. In any case, as brothers who lived and fought together, they couldn't let it go.
Wyr arrived in time that day. Just when the Shalorians in red armour were preparing to slaughter their remnants, the cavalry appeared like gods from the sky and charged straight for the enemy. The formation of the Shalorians fell apart, the outcome already set from their numerical advantage.
On his battle steed, Wyr even chopped off an arm of a leader of the blood-red armoured men. The elite Shalorians immediately crumbled, having come and gone quickly. All that was left were severed limbs and dead bodies.
In that battle, they had lost five of their eight infantry platoon jarls. Only Mond and Yoshk survived because they were with the baron's unit. Carl lost one of his arms. Just from the look of the loss of the senior officers alone, it was clear how severe the damage their battalion suffered this time.
At that time, the three infantry platoons had more than 300 people. In the end, only a little more than 100 people survived. Half of them even suffered severe or minor injuries. Now, the entire battalion had less than half of the previous number. The tragic situation of this battle was close to the bloody battle in Gordon Heights a year ago.
Such serious casualties should have sparked an uproar in their battalion and even in the entirety of Falcon. However, there were very few people who knew the true extent of the losses.
For some reason, Cardoj and the military department suppressed this incident. Until half a month ago, the Shalorian king announced that Princess Angelina was shot dead by Shalor's elite unit, Blood Red. It was only then that the Faustians found out that the female caster who had been hunted down was their princess.
Immediately, a strong desire for revenge rose in Kenzir. The three corps desperately launched attacks. Most of the battles ended in victory, of course, though some tragic losses occurred as well.
But this had nothing to do with their battalion. Cardoj, who had lost more than half of his troops, was sent by the military department directly to the rear to recuperate. Although they didn't manage to save the princess, they had still managed to greatly cripple Shalor's elite unit, losing half their men in the process. Kenzir and the military department were sympathetic towards the baron.
Neither reward nor punishment was given. Now, their battalion fell inexplicably from a powerful army of hundreds to the ranks of a second-rate army. Cardoj had been drinking away his sadness recently. His efforts to raise the Cardoj household to new heights went down the drain in the end.
Munching on the tasteless white bread in his hands, Caen wasn't happy at all. Most were already dead, so what was the point of saving so much food? Cardoj generously added a piece of white bread to every meal of each soldier who was still alive. Either it was due to the soft white bread, or the morale that belonged to the powerful army which had been through hundreds of battles that the unit that had been reduced by more than half had yet to collapse.
When the transport team returned home last month, they brought the bad news to more than 200 families. Caen didn't account for Locke's death in battle. The bones of Locke and Angelina had not been found yet, and the baron also acquiesced to his decision. Caen and Hans were now the acting platoon jarls of 4th Platoon, managing less than 20 men.
Caen sent his own salary back to Locke's family. Caen had no relatives and no reason to spend that money. Whenever the pay was given out, he was the least enthusiastic among the others in Locke's squad as he didn't know where he should spend his money. Apart from a good sip of wine, he had no particular need for it.
Suzanne had had a very difficult month. Without Locke's protection, even though his subordinates were still caring for her, she no longer had her initial freedom. This month, she had been helping Henry out with business in the transport team. As for the captives from Giza, they were working with Suzanne's team.
Shalorian refugees were everywhere and penniless, and they were useless in the eyes of those in power. But Suzanne saw a business opportunity in exploiting their unused labour.
In the past month, Cardoj didn't go to battle because of his huge losses. Without battle, he lost the chance to get the last piece of pie. So, he turned to the transportation business at the rear. Many troops needed food, steel, weapons, horses, and so on, and Cardoj wasn't about to shy away from that chance. This was a man of courage and strategy. He had demonstrated his talents to the nobles who ridiculed and took pity on him.
Naturally, the business got better and better, but eventually there was a shortage of manpower. Although Henry of the transport team was making huge profit, he still hadn't tapped his full potential. Suzanne stood out at the right time, and the free labour provided by her alone amounted to nearly a hundred people.
These hundred were Shalorian refugees. She had used her own life as a guarantee for them, in addition to the support from the two acting platoon jarls, Caen and Hans. Henry, who had a good relationship with Locke, accepted her help. He was just trying it out initially, but he didn't expect the Shalorians to be that obedient.
Any merchant would be fond of workers who never ask for much, aside for their daily meals. In recent years, Shalor and Faustian had been fighting more and more fiercely. Even in their occupied area, the Faustians wouldn't even dream of trusting the subjugated Shalorians, to say nothing of refugees at the frontlines.
"How did you do it?" Henry asked curiously.
Suzanne shook her head and kept quiet. She had become a little taciturn in this month after Locke's 'death'.