Locke exhaled and stood up. He now felt like he had unlimited energy in his body. The effect of the strengthening potion was too overwhelming and it still made him shudder.
Locke had used the method that Wyr had told him to, but he would choose not to take the potion so rashly if he could do it all over again. He felt like he was going to die from the soreness and numbness that he felt in his entire body just now.
Thank goodness everything was over. After experiencing that weird feeling, he had a sense that his strength had been improved. Locke took off his shirt that was soaked in sweat. A sudden gust blew past and Locke didn't feel cold at all even though it was now winter.
Locke flexed the muscles in his arms and felt very satisfied with his current state. Not only did his physical strength improve, the impetus vortex in his stomach was no longer the size of a thumb. It now had the size of a walnut.
As Falconim circulated throughout his body, and Locke could feel that his impetus was at least five or six times stronger than before, and his strength was greatly improved. He reckoned that he could now win a fight against two of his older selves.
This was just the improvement after being promoted. When he stabilised his newfound gains, he could still improve a little more.
Although he'd made a breakthrough, there were many muscle tears and side effects of extreme skeletal changes in his body after his breakthrough. A faint white light shone from his left chest and the damaged tissue under Locke's skin was repairing themselves slowly. It was the moonlight wolf's magic core coming into play.
Angelina brought along moonlight wolf's fur with her when she left with her brother and gave the core to Locke. He might be at the battlefield fighting at any time, so he really needed such a treasure for healing.
As expected from the core, Locke's wounds fully recovered in a short while, though it was thanks to the large amount of mana stored in it as it hadn't been used for a long time.
Locke held his jacket in his hand and only wore a singlet and shirt as he left the training ground. He thought that he'd only been there for a short while, but the sky was already dark when he left.
Several platoon jarls gathered together and were chatting during the meal in the baron's tent. When Locke walked in, everyone was surprised. They were all soldiers who'd been on the battlefield for several years and they could tell from Locke's frightful presence that he'd undergone a drastic change.
"Locke? You made a breakthrough?" asked Yoshk incredulously.
Locke nodded and everyone around him gasped.
Karl gave Yoshk a wry smile and said, "Our years of hard work have all gone to waste. The younger generation has caught up." Karl's words seemed to express joy for Locke's promotion rather than bitterness. He'd lost his arm but was now much more optimistic.
The other platoon jarls stared at Locke with envy. The deputy jarls of 3rd and 4th Platoon, Hans and the others, hadn't been attuned to impetus. Only the deputy jarl of 1st Platoon had been practising impetus, and he could best understand how mind-blowing Locke's breakthrough was.
Hans and the others started fawning over Locke. Caen was even more dramatic. He went up to him and started to ride his coattails. They were both close friends but they were also the platoon jarls of the same battalion, so he had to still give some face. Of course, Locke was going to ridicule and revile both of them in private.
Everyone became quiet when Cardoj and Wyr entered the camp. They were both surprised when they saw Locke's improvement, but they were relieved in an instant.
The improvement in Locke's strength was set in stone when he had such a valuable potion in his hands.
The baron didn't talk much during dinner, he wanted the soldiers to train well. But when everything was over, he dropped a bombshell.
"The recruits of 3rd and 4th Platoon will be arriving soon," said the baron as he ate the last piece of bread.
The platoon jarls were all looking at each other at this moment. "They're all mercenaries who'd been recruited in Bideslane and soldiers who'd been enlisted by the territory," answered Mond as he saw the doubts on everyone's faces.
"The 3rd and 4th Platoon will be merged into one. Jaine and Hans, both of you will be the deputy jarl and jarl respectively," said the baron after taking a sip of wine.
"Vacancies of 3rd Platoon will be filled by the recruits who'd been enlisted from the domain," added Mond timely.
Everyone understood by now that the baron wanted the combat effectiveness of his unit to be at its peak. Needless to say, the 4th Platoon would be composed entirely of mercenaries.
Locke had seen a lot of professional mercenaries on the battlefield in the past few years. They were a merciless group of men who were paid to handle things and their methods of approach were as effective as those who had been soldiers for many years.
Locke still hadn't seen Master Solon when the banquet ended. This made him wonder whether Solon had been sent back to his territory by his father.
Locke patted Caen's shoulder and left the tent together with Hans and Caen. Caen wouldn't be able to come to this tent for dinner from tonight onwards.
"I'm fine, it's just a platoon jarl position anyway!" Caen was trying to be broad-minded as he'd always been and grinned to reassure both of them.
But they'd been brothers for many years, Locke and Hans could tell from Caen's shrug that he actually minded a little.
Who wasn't competitive and self-motivated? Locke had always been their big brother and it was normal for a platoon jarl to acquire impetus. Hans, on the other hand, had always been on par with him and had now been promoted, but Caen was demoted.
They were all brothers and Caen wouldn't be jealous of Hans, but it was inevitable that he felt a little disappointed.
Caen had always been a scout and his personal strength was not bad, but group combat abilities were more important on the battlefield. Caen was one of the best among the rest when it came to one-on-one battles. But Hans had a big waist and a sturdy body, and he could block at least a group of enemies by himself. So it made more sense that the baron favoured Hans more.
After comforting Caen, Locke walked towards the logistics office. He hadn't seen Suzanne for three days and missed her dearly. Although he felt sad for Caen's situation, he'd made a breakthrough today, so he was still in a good mood overall. He planned to bring Suzanne back to his tent secretly today.
Locke hadn't 'devoured her' for just a few days, and he already couldn't himself back.
When he arrived at the logistics supply department, he saw rows of horse-drawn carriages and people busy carrying goods. The baron's caravan had probably returned.
"Hey! Locke!" A fat, middle-aged man beckoned to Locke from a distance.
Locke looked up, smiled and replied as he approached, "Hey, Henry! Long time no see!"
Henry stopped what he was doing and came over to shake his hand. Henry said with a smile, "I've heard that you're back safe and sound, but I didn't expect for us to meet up so soon!" Henry seemed to be excited to be meeting Locke again.
Locke just replied, "Thanks for taking care of Suzanne and the others for such a long time."
"It's no big deal, it's no big deal!" Henry shook his head and said with a smile, "Suzanne and the others have helped me a lot!"
To be honest, Locke owed Henry a huge favour. Hans and Caen wouldn't be able to take care of all of them if Henry hadn't taken care of Suzanne, Glace and the others when he was in the Bering Mountains.
Locke and Henry chatted about some recent happenings during this period. Although Henry didn't have impetus, he could guess that Locke had made a breakthrough from the terrifying aura he gave out. He was well informed, and even knew that Locke was now the deputy jarl of the cavalry platoon.
The baron's transport team had always been guarded by the baron's soldiers and cavalrymen. The team that Henry led wasn't under the baron, so he had limited protection. He felt that he'd picked up a great deal if he had a good relationship with the deputy jarl of the cavalry platoon.
On the other hand, Locke wanted Henry to get him another shield. That shield had saved his life in the Bering Mountains when he used it to bash in the moonlight wolf's head till it had a concussion. The quality of the shield alone was a lot better than most other equipment.
"A shield? No problem! I, as an older brother, will get you a better one this time!" promised Henry as he patted on his chest. Henry and Locke were now considered brothers because he'd rescued Locke's woman in the past. Henry was a dozen years older than Locke and had claimed the senior position, naturally.
"Bruce! Bruce! Come here!" yelled Henry towards the caravan.
"Yeah! I'm coming! I'm coming!" A young man with brown hair about Locke's age walked towards them.
"What's the matter, Uncle?" asked the young man after he took a curious glance at Locke.
"This is Locke, the deputy jarl of the cavalry platoon. You better be smart around him in the future!" introduced Henry. He then continued, "When you return to Bideslane two days later, go and look for Shande and ask him for a shield. Remember to tell him it has to be better than the previous one!"
"Got it, Uncle!"
Henry then smiled and introduced Locke to his nephew. This young man had handled most of Henry's caravans when they were on their way back to Cardoj's territory.
Henry added, "This kid had also been to Quarryton two months ago and passed the word that you've been promoted to a platoon jarl."
Locke's eyes lit up. He looked at Bruce and asked, "Did you see my family?"
Bruce was very curious about Locke. They were almost the same age, but he was a whole generation behind Locke. Since his uncle had called Locke his brother, then wasn't Locke his uncle too?
"Yes, yes!" replied Bruce quickly. He had spent a long time mixing around with the caravan with his uncle, so he had a shrewdness his peers didn't. He'd fawn over Locke if he needed to and did so without breaking a sweat.
"How are they?" Locke had always been in the dark about his family's situation and was very concerned about how his parents and sister were doing.
"Your parents are in good health! They were very delighted when they heard that you've been promoted to a platoon jarl! The mayor even allocated a house in town for your family, and they've been given a lot of subsidies." Bruce seemed to know exactly what Locke was concerned about.
His family were now living in a better place, and they didn't need to be overworked. Plus, they had part of Locke's salary and the town's subsidies on many things. Locke didn't have to worry about his family anymore.
"What about my sister?" Locke had kept the question to himself for a long time, and he finally couldn't help but ask. He always had a strange yearning for his sister.
"Your sister is also doing well. She also asked me to tell you to be safe on the battlefield," replied Bruce.
Locke thought of the time when his sister wore a linen hairband on her head and washed her clothes while taking care of him as he played in the river. He then felt an inexplicable sense of serenity in his mind.