The departure of the Sanctum’s fleet marked the beginning of the Three Western Isles’ invasion of Botania.
The spatial fortress in the astral realm was a gigantic war machine built by the casters and knights. It normally functioned as an observation outpost for the continents but it was now a great tool that’d lead them forward in the planar war. The Three Western Isles had erected two spatial fortresses; one was currently in the astral realm while the other was aiding with the battle on Centauria. Theoretically speaking, the fortress should be able to accommodate two million members but it was already running out of space with just half a million knights and one million slaves.
In the spatial fortress’ command room stood a middle-aged man with a crown of fiery-red hair. He peered at the group of asteroids and a distant galaxy by the window, head filled with thoughts. A young Ritter, who was also red-headed, stood behind him and was engrossed in a discussion with the other Ritters. The map of Botania was spread across the table. There were lines that divided its land into fifty portions of various sizes, which corresponded to the respective battlezones.
“Casters from the Sanctum will arrive at the fortress in half an hour!” A level-two Erdritter abruptly barged into the command room.
An elderly Ritter lifted his gaze to look at the older red-haired Ritter by the window. Noticing no response, he replied, “Understood. Prepare to receive their fleet!” There were only four people in the Three Western Isles that the level-three Himmelritter truly respected, and the middle-aged Ritter with red hair was one of them. He was Odis, the level-four Himmelritter, who initiated the movement to conquer Botania.
“Uncle Borlon, when shall we depart?” the young red-haired Ritter asked. He was the only son of Odis and the future successor to the Hall of Knights on the Missia continent. He may be young but he was already a Himmelritter that was on par with Borlon.
“According to the agreed timeline, I suggest we run the thrusters after twelve hours,” answered the elderly Ritter after some thought. Borlon had the most experience with planar wars among them, which was why he was elected by the Himmelritters to become the younger red-haired knight’s advisor.
The capacity of the spatial fortress was reaching its limits. Once it received the Sanctum’s fleet, its thrusters were ignited and the fortress began moving towards a certain direction with blue flames that cut through the pitch-dark universe.
“Approaching spatial nodes!” Ten casters, who made up the locomotive department, bustled around the fortress. “Trigger the energy shield!” Their leader barked in return.
They pressed on several crystal keys that bore different symbols and an orange shield akin to a translucent eggshell took form on the fortress’ peripherals. As soon as the shield was intact, the leader instructed again, “Trigger the spatial node!”
The barrel at the front of the fortress began to charge. Once the light forming at its mouth was at its brightest, a beam shot out to manifest a huge dark spatial gate in the empty space ahead.
“Locking in spatial coordinates!”
The fortress lunged forward into the spatial gates.
Botania was located far away from Zauberia. The minor plane’s coordinates were captured by casters of the Three Western Isles by a pure stroke of luck. A complete minor plane wasn’t any less prized than that of a low-rank plane. Plus, Botania produced Botanian essence, which greatly increased its value.
Loaded with millions of lifeforms, the spatial fortress pounced forward like a fierce jackal towards the unknown dangers of Botania.
Botania was a world covered with lush, dense foliage. Countless Botanians of diverse shapes and plant-like appearances lived under its greenery. Despite their botanical exterior, the native inhabitants were peculiar beings that possessed flesh and blood. A tree that was almost as big as an island stood in the heart of the plane.
Violent tremors were felt all over Botania on this particular day. Its inhabitants couldn’t ignore the shocking sensation as it had been 5300 years since the World Tree last trembled. A level-three astral beast had invaded their plane and caused immeasurable losses. With the power of the World Tree and many of Botania’s strongest lifeforms, the astral beast was severely injured and chased back into space. However, this horrible memory followed those with long lives till this very day.
The earthquake terrified the regular botanian faeries greatly. The World Tree, otherwise known as the mother tree, was a divine existence to them. Surely, the disturbances meant that catastrophic trouble was on its way.
“My Lord, is something about to happen?” a towering sunflower asked the mother tree. The World Tree was a living entity, but this was not commonly known among the regular botanians; most of them had merely viewed it as spiritual support and a symbol of their identity.
The World Tree didn’t answer. Instead, a realistic elderly face began to take form at the bottom of its thick trunk. It sighed heavily and said, “Weakness is a sin.”
The giant sunflower, who had lived for thousands of years, couldn’t help but be reminded of the dreadful astral beast attack aeons ago. “Could it be...”