Even at the dinner, Kenzir was still mourning over Woode’s death. From the looks of the prince’s reddened eyes and the tears streaming down Angelina’s face, it was clear that they had a close personal relationship with Woode.
Seeing this, many of the nobles tried to console the prince and the princess, vowing to destroy Shalor to avenge Woode.
His death had turned Faustian upside down. Many of the nobles were grieving for their country’s loss deep in their hearts.
Despite having defeated Shalor, the death of one of their top margraves proved that this battle was not an easy one. They had lost a great deal in this fight.
Locke merely continued to feast away. Although he was stunned by the news of Woode’s demise and surprised by how rapidly Falcon had advanced, neither of these events were of much concern to him.
Locke was merely a small fry, and he had always thought of himself in this way. It was not his place to interfere with the kingdom’s affairs. All he could do was listen and respond with amazement and surprise.
However, watching Angelina sob away was making his heart melt. He longed to comfort her, but he couldn’t bring himself to it.
Locke had not had any contact with Angelina ever since the prince’s arrival. In fact, he probably hadn’t even been within 500 metres of her since then.
Although he was the one who had rescued the country’s precious princes, the prince's guards had no clue who he was.
After the prince toasted with the nobles and said his eulogy for the late Woode, the dinner officially began.
All the nobles present gathered together in twos and threes, either holding a goblet, or a dinner plate, and had polite conversations with each other.
Hardly anybody idled around. Those present were all from the princes' faction, and everyone sat down and talked very harmoniously, slowly letting slip many a secret.
The veil of mystery that shrouded the nobles was slowly being lifted in front of Locke’s eyes.
While digging into his steak, Locke was listening with relish as his ears picked up a nearby viscount’s description of his manor near the royal capital.
Owning a manor was perhaps the only ultimate goal that Locke was aiming for after his years of service in the army.
A manor near the capital was a bit too far fetched, but he did have some hope of owning one in the Cardoj Domain.
Yoshk once told him that those on the rank of platoon jarls or equivalent rank would be rewarded with a manor after the war.
The years of war had allowed Locke to experience the charm of power. When he was only a serf or a third-rate soldier, his life and death could be decided by the snap of one's finger.
When he was a squad jarl, he could influence the lives of others and protect himself better.
Now that he was a platoon jarl, he could change the fate of the lives of ordinary soldiers with just one order.
What Locke was considering now was what position he would hold in the baron’s territory in the future. Would he become a civil servant, like a tax officer or a sheriff under the baron? Or would he become a military officer, like a garrison jarl?
It was a little too early to be thinking this far ahead. Currently, 4th Platoon had two acting jarls: Caen and Hans. Moreover, their platoon had just over 20 people left. With so little manpower, it would look badly for Locke to try to demand the spot.
Ever since he was hunted down by high-rank Knecht elites, spent time in the Bering Mountains, and fought with the moonlight wolf, Locke started to feel a certain pressure in his body and muscles. It was as if there was endless power fueling him.
The impetus vortex in Locke's abdomen had grown a lot after consuming the moonlight wolf's meat. He had not expected too much extra benefit from eating a major monster's meat. Although it did not reach the limit, the impetus vortex did become larger. He was one step closer to reaching the threshold of a low-rank Knecht.
The pot-bellied viscount next to him was still telling his colleagues how exquisite and luxurious his manor was.
This particularly chubby viscount seemed to be the bigshot among the nobles around him. They were quick to shower him with compliments and words of envy, which the viscount readily accepted.
Locke was enjoying the eavesdropping. This event was opening his eyes and enriching him about the noble lifestyle. For one, there was a delectable dessert that was just newly introduced to the royal capital -- it was pudding from the Aomar Empire.
Although this knowledge was frankly rather useless, Locke still felt a sense of superiority knowing something that Yoshk, Karl and the others didn’t.
Locke was not a person who liked to compare with others, but he still cared about whether he was better than his peers.
Locke also learnt that not all the nobles practiced impetus. Some of them were incredibly powerful, like the two margraves in the middle of the hall. However, he was not able to sense the full extent of their powers. The two commanders of Falcon did leave a far stronger impression on Locke than the high-rank Knecht earlier. They had to be at least high-rank Knechts, Locke thought.
Not many from the ones present were as powerful as the two margraves. For most of them, Locke could still get a grasp on their strength, with most of the nobles being between entry-level and mid-rank Knechts.
Locke heard Angelina mention that the potions available in Faustian were capable of raising an ordinary person to a mid-rank Knecht. With the innate potential of these nobles, that should be easy to achieve.
Initially, when Angelina was rescued by Locke, she had promised to help him directly become a mid-rank Knecht. However, after everything unfolded, especially when she seriously considered their future together, she changed her mind, saying that using potions was not a good way to build up strength.
A shortcut may cut down the time it took to reach that rank, but it also cut off all paths of progression afterwards. Not only would he be unable to advance further, he would also have a shortened lifespan.
However, there were a few potions that had minor side effects that Locke could consider taking. This was very important for his advancement. Angelina promised to give him a batch of these.
The nobles all cherished their lives, so it was no wonder there were only so many low-rank or entry-level Knechts here despite them being able to easily attain the mid-rank Knecht level.
Of course, not all the nobles here practiced impetus. Locke noted that the pot-bellied viscount did not even have the slightest bit of power, being no different than an ordinary person. The man had so much fat wrapping around him that Locke was rather doubtful if he would be able to beat an ordinary commoner in a fight.
Fortunately, neither the viscount nor the others next to him had practised impetus, so Locke could eavesdrop to his heart’s content.
Aside from impetus, several nobles gave Locke a similar feeling Angelina gave him. He deduced that they practised magic too.
Seeing that everyone in the group was stronger than him, Locke couldn't help but sigh. Status was everything among this circle of people. In the army camp right outside, most of the soldiers were commoners. It was incredibly rare for someone to reach those heights in their impetus training. After all, only platoon jarls and deputy jarls could be awarded with the chance to learn it. Roughly one out of fifty commoners only got that chance.
Yet among the nobles, they could become a mid-rank Knecht as long as they wished it so.
As Locke continued to be engrossed in his thoughts, Cardoj came by and gave him a nod. His attention perked, since Cardoj was the only one he knew.
Alas, he did not stay for long. As the lowest ranked noble in attendance, Cardoj was bending over backwards trying to mingle. He certainly was the busiest person of the night.
Going back to his eavesdropping, he heard the pot-bellied viscount talk about how he and the widow of a baronet in the royal capital met and fell in love at first sight and were about to get intimate. All of a sudden, the fat viscount stopped the tale, leaving it at a cliffhanger. Everyone was on the edge of their seats. Even Locke couldn’t help cursing just as this saucy story was interrupted.
Looking up, he only found that Angelina had walked past.
The viscount squeezed an embarrassing smile on his fat and oily face to greet Angelina, who was walking daintily, keeping her skirt off the floor. "Greetings, Your Royal Highness!" Many others joined in.
Locke stood up with everyone. It was different from how casual they were when they were alone. Now, he was a commoner, and Angelina was the princess of Faustian. If he dared to start something, the nobles would turn this into a very interesting show.
Angelina did not pay attention to the viscount and the group of nobles around him. She walked straight to Locke and stood still in front of him.
With a pretentious and haughty tone that she had never shown to Locke, she said, "Herr Knight, come with me, my brother wants to meet you and thank you for saving me.”
After that, she winked at Locke playfully while others were not paying attention. The maid who happened to turn around and see this scene almost let the wine jug slip from her hand in shock.
Locke hurriedly said yes. Quickly remembering the etiquette for commoners talking to nobles, that he’d learned at the last minute, he bowed to Angelina and followed her.
After they left, the nobles fell into hushed whispers, gossiping about Locke's identity in their little groups.
The fat viscount wiped the sweat off his forehead with a big gesture of relief. In reality, his experiences were not as grand as the tales he attempted to sell. He, together with the group of nobles next to him, was just barely qualified to participate in banquets of this level. Angelina had always been someone the fat viscount could never understand. If he’d managed to make her dislike him, then he would be in very big trouble indeed.
The fat man looked back on what he had been saying… He hadn’t said anything offensive, right?