33 Patrolling Mission 3
"That was a good fight", Rey exclaimed while cleaning the blood from his sword with the hide of the lizardmen.
It wasn't just a habit of cleanliness and hygiene to avoid catching diseases. Although knights were humans with high constitution, they would still be bedridden if they suddenly caught a fever. Cleaning the blood on one's weapons was actually necessary to avoid the corrosion of the blade. By oxidizing the metal, the blade would become dull too.
Drake followed their example, and nodded.
As the men were dissecting the lizardmen for their brain, Drake took out a small knife. It was an ordinary knife, yet in the hands of Drake, it became a very threatening weapon. Drake used it to cut the Elder lizardman's body. He scanned its anatomy and the biochip made a pleasant discovery:
[Beep! Elder Lizardman Warrior Core! By eating it raw, host's constitution will increase slightly. Another use of the core would be to create lizardmen puppets]
Drake had no interest in lizardmen puppets. He wasn't a puppeteering acolyte who relied on crafts to fight for him. Drake was a body refinement acolyte, and it seemed that the lizardman's core was pretty beneficial to his body.
[Beep! Nutritious ingredient has been ingested…]
[Beep! Expected benefits: Satiation, Recovery rate increased by 8% for the next sixty hours, +0.005 Constitution.]
Drake was flabbergasted. He had never expected the core of a humanoid monster to be this beneficial to his body. However, his excitement quickly cooled down upon realizing that only the Elder Lizardman Warrior possessed a 'core'.
Magical beasts all possessed cores. Considering that the Elder Lizardman Warrior possessed a core, it would have turned into a magical beast and evolved into a rank 1 Magical Beast in a matter of years. However, because the lifespan of lizardmen is so low, it is actually pretty rare to see real powerhouses within their tribes.
It truly was blessing to have joined the Sentinels.
The deeper they went into the Blue Forest, the more uneasy Drake felt. With his biochip's analysis, he could actually catch details and tracks of over a dozen magical beasts. Most of them were harmless, like Horned rabbits and Spectral Stags, but some of them were terrifying rank 1 magical beast which preyed on humans, such as Red-furred wolves.
Fortunately, the tracks were a few days' old, meaning that Drake's group was unlikely to be attacked.
Apart from these uneasiness, Drake's pouch was slowly being filled with useful herbs and plants he found. Since the Blue Forest was an extremely dangerous place, very few dared to venture in it. The density of mana being higher, it not only favoured the birth of Magical Beasts, it also favoured the evolution of plants and herbs.
[Blue Forest Wild berries – 3 pounds.
Value: 200 gold coins.
Uses: Alchemy (441 mentions in database), Cooking (1223 mentions).
Particularity: A sweet, energizing food that can be either cooked or eaten raw.]
[Rare Itchweed – 1 pound
Value – 0.5 magic crystal
Uses: Alchemy (1200 mentions in database)
Particularity: Cause an itching sensation upon contact with the skin. Also increase recovery rate at the cost of an itching torment.]
[Fire weed – 4 pounds
Value – 2 magic crystals
Uses: Medicinal Bath
Particularity: Increase the effects of meditation for fire-elemental acolytes]
Apart from these three most valuable herbs found, Drake had gathered over twenty varieties of herbs and plants which had much less value yet some hidden benefits, either being used as spices, or useful for medicinal baths which would increase the benefits of knight training similarly to the Goldrich Herb which Drake bought in bulk.
Seeing Drake picking up herbs and eating wild fruits, the sentinels laughed at him at first, thinking that he was some kind of city bumpkin who had never seen wildlife in his life. However, after Rey asked him why he did that, Drake started to quote the things he had picked up, and the sentinels' mind turned blank.
They were going in and out of the Blue Forest for years, and there were so many treasures lying right before their eyes! Unfortunately, they didn't have the knowledge to recognize these treasures. Realizing that they might have come across a treasure in the past and failed to harvest it out of ignorance, the group felt frustrated.
"We still need to march for a few hours before reaching the safe Sentinel hideout. Hopefully, there won't be another unit since it is pretty small", Rey said to boost his men's moral.
"What is a Sentinel Hideout? Did you actually build a camp in the wild?", Drake asked out of curiosity.
"Actually, there is a military camp in the middle of the Blue Forest. It is protected and inhabited by acolytes, so that they would be able to provide support to any Sentinel or fellow acolytes in distress quickly, which decreased the casualties. However, what I am talking about is merely a safe spot, a cave we found and marked on our maps. Ever since a group of sentinels was wiped out after being ambushed by a group of antmen, the Sentinels have been seeking hideouts and recorded them on maps. They are available in the tactician library in the Sentinel Casern. You can take a look at them since you are a Sentinel Captain"
Drake nodded. He didn't expect the Sentinels to build a library in their casern though. Obviously, Helios and its acolytes had some influence in it. Once you have tasted the benefits of holding knowledge, it is hard not to pursue the path of truth. It didn't matter if you were an acolyte, a knight or a scholar. Knowledge is power, for whoever use it wisely.
After reaching the hideout, the men were telling each other stories, some about women they met back in Helios and neighbouring villages, others of monsters they supposedly fought in their life. Meanwhile, Rey was looking for any suspicious movement, or signs that would indicate they were being attacked.
Drake tried to sleep this night, but had little success. The omnipresent noises and dangers made it very difficult to rest. It was the total opposite of the safe and calm environment provided by Helios.
However, the travel had been exhausting and they fought, so Drake eventually slept a few hours.
When the sun arose, everyone woke up.
After a quick meal, the group rode their horses. Although it wasn't very fast due to the presence of trees, riding a horse was still less exhausting than walking in the forest. Furthermore, these horses were better than any horse Drake ever rode. It was a species that an acolyte managed to breed after ironically failing an experiment. The experiment aimed at creating a magical beast mount, but ended up with a strong species of horse instead.
He opened a stable though to recover from his debts and over the decades, a new species was born and tamed. The sentinels purchased it afterwards. Because sentinels became the owner of the stable, these horses were given the name of Sentinel Horses. It wasn't very original, yet another proof of the Sentinels' influence in Helios.
These horses could carry over four hundred pounds on their back, and could be ridden for days without resting. However, their greatest characteristics was their health and vitality. Normal wild predators such as average wolves would have trouble killing a Sentinel horse.
Hence, Drake's group moved pretty fast. Unfortunately, the first patrol was unsuccessful. They found nothing but dead bodies and no traces of a flaming bear whatsoever. They did run into a magical beast: a blood eagle. After escaping in a stroke of luck, the group decided to call it day after reporting the nest's location to the stationed acolytes.
Ironically, only Drake was happy from the day, after gathering over a dozen unknown herbs, which the database had no mentions of. If anything, the prospects of studying newly evolved herbs was exciting. He also found another batch of fire weed, to the point that it felt odd.
'With so many fire weeds in the area…It's not possible for…', Drake gasped upon realizing something.
"Rey. We are not looking in the right direction."
Everyone titled their head in confusion. Rey had served as a sentinel captain for decades.
Drake explained: "These herbs are called fire weeds, and they are incredibly useful to acolytes with fire affinity. I don't know much about fire bears, but it's common sense for any magical beast to eat any resources that would increase their spirit. And fire weeds can do that. However, just today, I managed to gather over 2 more pounds of these weeds. It means that the bear hasn't come here in the past days, or perhaps weeks. We won't find any tracks if we keep looking in areas he didn't go."
"What do you suggest then?", Rey asked.
His method of searching was not really well-thought. He only searched for tracks following a path they had walked numerous times and knew the dangers of. If the patrol was successful, then they would return empty-handed. It would only mean that either the bear was dead, killed by another predator, or it headed to other places. Anyway, with the contribution of reporting the Blood Eagle's nest, they would still earn a pretty hefty amount of contribution points, though it was a pity to miss out on the rewards for finding the Flaming bear.
"We can head deeper in the forest. It is unlikely for the bear to head towards the outskirts of the forest if he can seek better zones with high mana density", Drake said.
The sentinels frowned. They knew that they would be more likely to find the bear by heading deeper in the forest, but it also meant danger. After a quick vote, the sentinels decided to follow Drake's suggestion. Although nobody noticed, Drake had thoroughly become a sentinel in their heart.