Following a round of exchange among the level-three Magisters, the black-robed elder adjourned the summit. This time, the absence of the infuriatingly noisy raven and the faceless Magister, Charles, was notable.
“Our dear friends will be back soon after a few decades!” One of the level-three Magisters sighed as he exited the hall.
“Yeah. The few level-three Magisters were drafted a year ago, even the masked man was deployed too!” replied another Magister who walked beside him.
“He probably joined to save Michelle. I heard she was injured by a member of the Centaurian royal family.”
“Oh, he’s definitely going to bring Michelle back in one piece.” From the way they spoke, the two Magisters seemed to be very concerned about Michelle, who was probably rather popular in the Sanctum. But they clearly had reservations towards the man wearing the faceless mask that went to her rescue. The man in question was Charles, the faceless Magister, a well-known figure among the higher circle of the Sanctum.
Meanwhile, inside the Hall of Knights erected on the peak of the northeastern snow plains of Aomar, a red-haired man in cavalry armour asked, “How are preparations coming along?”.
In the middle of the huge hall was a gigantic map of close to five metres in length and width. It was so massive that it felt as if it had devoured the wall. It was a very unique map that depicted elevations, flatlands and large water bodies; all of which were presented as ovals of varying sizes.
The red-haired man’s finger stopped at an area of the sea as he slipped into deep thought. The man beside him, who seemed to be a Knecht, quickly reported, “We’ve sent out notices to all branches across the continent. High-rank Knecht members and beyond will be transferred within half a year.”
“Well done!” The red-haired man tapped his fingers against an area labelled the Welzing Sea.
“What about the negotiations on slave army with the west coast casters?” the red-haired man asked as he marked the area beside the Welzing Sea.
“We’ve managed to negotiate for a total of five hundred thousand soldiers, ranging from mid-rank Knecht equivalents to those as strong as level-one lifeforms. There are only a few dozen level-two lifeforms and only two level-three lifeforms,” answered the officer dutifully.
“Why are there so few?" The red-haired man put down his pen and turned around to stare at the attendant quizzically.
“I heard that the Sanctum lowered that number."
“Fair enough, five hundred thousand is about sufficient. Coupled with some resources from our end, we’d have enough to conquer a minor plane,” mused the red-haired man after some thought. “How much will it cost?”
A slave army of five hundred thousand soldiers had to be provided by several west coast magic organizations. Considering the circumstances, the red-haired man was prepared to pay a huge price.
“They requested forty tonnes of energy crystals off the bat.”
“Just give it to them!” replied the red-haired man without an ounce of hesitation. “As long as we conquer Botania, we can always replenish our coffers.” He pointed outside and ordered, “Tell them that I must see five hundred thousand slave soldiers gathered outside Zauberia's spatial fortress within three months!”
“Yes, Sir!” The officer quickly exited the hall with an armful of documents.
Once the hall returned to its initial tranquillity, the red-haired man turned his attention back to the map of Botania. He was fixated on planar invasion. The man was the strongest figure on Missia and the Three Western Isles even, being a widely-respected level-three Himmelritter and the only son to the knight and level-four lifeform, Meister Odis. The invasion of Botania was a movement birthed by him and his father, which had taken him lots of effort to realize.
The invasion of Botania wouldn’t receive support from any other level-four lifeforms, for the sole powerhouse involved was Meister Odis. In a sense, the world was fair; the strong played by their games while the weak survived through their own means. To maintain equilibrium, the minor plane had a barrier that offered it some protection.
Botania was a relatively young world, only birthing intelligent lifeforms as of late. There hadn’t been any towering powerhouses as of yet. Due to its newness, the minor plane was still in a state of chaos and disorder. Hence, a solid natural barrier manifested throughout the plane to protect its environment and natives. Once the barrier was breached and a sufficiently sized portal was opened, the legion could enter Botania. Only level-four entities could achieve such a feat, and usually not alone.
Three of the four level-four entities of the Three Western Isles needed to deal with Centauria. Hence, Meister Odis was entrusted with breaching Botania’s barrier, which would keep him occupied and unable to join the invading legion. Even so, the red-haired Ritter wasn’t too worried about it. The lack of level-four lifeforms on the minor plane meant that only level-three lifeforms existed. They were no issue for the knights and casters. With a flood of slave soldiers, level-three lifeforms would be a piece of cake to subdue.
Due to its small area, the energy activity of the minor plane was weak. It had been difficult to pinpoint its exact coordinates through constellations and it was pure luck that the Sanctum managed to locate it. The plane’s unique Botanian essence was what motivated the red-haired Ritter’s to seize it.
“Hmph! Just you wait, casters of the east coast. You might be able to steal some nectar from under my nose but you’d have to return it very soon!” The red-haired Ritter chuckled darkly.
The demand for Botanian essence was higher among casters, elementalists in particular, compared to knights. Botanian essence's primary uses involved life span extension and elemental enhancement. It was widely sought after by casters and knights of Zauberia for it still worked wonders even for level-four lifeforms. Casters, who had weaker physique compared to knights, would use Botanian essence to strengthen their physique, increasing their life span and even enhance their mastery of the elements. As long as the conquest of Botania was successful, a decade's worth of Botanian essence would offset the cost of mobilizing a slave army of five hundred thousand soldiers.
The caster and knights of the Three Western Isles had always been at odds with the caster organizations of Zauberia adjacent to the east coast. Hence, they could only employ slave soldiers from magic organizations on the west coast. While the overall performance of west coast casters had paled in comparison to their Magion counterparts, there was still the Sanctum. With that, their combined powers were way superior to that of the east coast.
“May it all go well.” The past planar wars had been led by all four of the level-four entities. But this time, his father had appointed him to take charge and regarded it as a part of his training.
At the same time, recruitment drives had begun in all Hall of Knights branches across Missia. In the Faustian palace in Felor, the king summoned a certain someone. Time seemed to treat the old king rather badly over the years.
“So you’re saying that all high-rank Knechts in the kingdom have received orders?” asked the king with downcast eyes. His thoughts were difficult to decipher.
“Indeed, Your Majesty!” answered a man in dark civilian clothing, kneeling before the throne.
Tapping his finger against the royal sceptre, the Faustian king sighed. “Very well, you’re dismissed.” With a wave, he sent the informant away.
“What an eventful autumn.” Apart from faithful servants and guards, the other person present in his vicinity was Romm.
“I wasn’t expecting another planar war this late into my life,” the king said self-deprecatingly.
“Your Majesty, your health is of utmost importance!” Romm spoke incredibly respectfully towards the king without the air of an Erdritter at all. The king was just a ‘normal person’. The Erdritter had chosen to serve the Faustian royal family for life, having taken an oath to the Faustian royal family centuries ago and received endless nurture from them.
“Cough. I know my body well.” The king was growing old and that showed through his voice. “I’m leaving Kenzir in your care, alright?”
“Rest assured, Your Majesty. That is my sworn duty,” answered Romm.
“Are you going to join the planar war?” Due to the recent annexation of Shalor, rebellions sparked throughout the territory. Several major legions had been employed to suppress the chaos. Romm’s presence in the kingdom brought stability, so it was best if the Erdritter could remain here.
“Yes. Apart from it being orders from the hall, Botania promises a very valuable and rare kind of resource.” A flash of disappointment appeared in the king’s eyes at Romm’s reply. He was really hoping that the Erdritter could stay. Yet, the king wasn’t about to force Romm to submit to his will. The level-two Erdritter was given a lot of autonomy in Faustian; he’d heed royal orders on the condition that it didn’t jeopardize his own matters.
“What about De Sandro and the others?” asked the king. Margrave De Sandro and his men were the only level-one Ritters in Faustian. In their absence, the kingdom was bound to be in shambles.
“Only Sammoli and Farmar will join me. Xif and De Sandro will remain,” answered Romm.
There were only five level-one Ritters in Faustian, four of whom were from four major margrave families while the remaining one was a knight sponsored by the royal family. Sammoli and Farmar belonged to Margrave Woode’s family and Margrave Marmen’s family respectively. Xif, on the other hand, belonged to Margrave Shia’s family and De Sandro was the head of his own family.
“Sammoli and Farmar have just broken through recently, so it’s about time they got some field experience,” said Romm, to which the king nodded in response.