The strategy for the invasion of Botania was finalised a year ago. It was the product of collaboration between the best strategists the Hall of Knights had to offer and the bright astralists from the Sanctum. There would be thirty battlezones during the war, spanning across a full two-thirds of Botania. The lower the number assigned, the more dangerous the battlezone would be.
Astralists had mutually agreed that Battlezone 1 would be the most difficult to seize since it denoted the heartlands of Botania, right where the World Tree took root. The Holy City was sacred land and the incredibly competent sunflower Botanian guarded it.
The Sanctum and the Hall of Knights had deemed the sunflower to be way powerful than Arnold, the banana Botanian. With that said, the most violent weapon capable of catastrophe should’ve been reserved for difficult Botanians like the sunflower. However, the Three Western Isles changed their minds for the astralists’ calculations had estimated intense risks associated with the Holy City. No one knew if the risk was from the World Tree or some other forces that lurked around the Holy City undetectable. But frankly, that wasn’t of concern; victory had always belonged to casters and knights of the Three Western Isles. Botania was just a minor plane, after all.
The lush valley of Fertilia was wiped out from existence. The only hint of its previous presence was the massive pit, where three Himmelritters and dozens of level-two Erdritters were at. Sporadic bright spots, which were a result of erosion, could be seen everywhere. The air was still dense with active elemental mana, resulting in radical magic activity at the bottom of the pit. This could be a prime spot for mana absorption, at least for the next three years. Casters would be able to recover twice as fast with the abundant mana present here.
Unfortunately, casters wouldn’t be too keen on visiting this place. A slight mistake and a tad too much mana could easily set the whole place ablaze. The mana at the bottom of the pit wasn’t as tame as the ones they used for training.
The three Himmelritter split up and led the Erdritters towards three different directions. They began their search. So far, four level-three Botanians had emerged and two had perished in this valley. Without Odis’ involvement in the current phase, the level-three Botanians would be the biggest obstacles to their progress. The confirmed defeat of two level-three Botanians would certainly accelerate the invasion’s progress greatly.
“There’s something here!” reported a Himmelritter who wore a suit of yellow bronze armour.
The nearby Erdritters quickly gathered. Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be a tuft of black fur that had been burnt beyond recognition by the high heat and violent mana.
An Erdritter tugged on it but failed to remove it from the dirt. He circulated his impetus, allowing his arm to swell one size bigger. It was only then that the tuft of fur was released from the confines of the ground. Unfortunately, no one could recognize whose fur this could belong to. There was not a trace of information left in it.
“Could this belong to the tyrant giant bear?” The Erdritter was riddled with uncertainty. The tyrant giant bear was the only slave with fur present in this area. It should be the only lifeform tough enough to have remains after getting hit by the beam.
The Himmelritter nodded solemnly. The tyrant giant bear was housed by the Hall of Knights before the planar war. Since level-three lifeforms were hard to come by, the Himmelritter had frequently used the bear for training. Each exchange was tight and the bear’s outstanding defences had always left the extremely powerful Himmelritter flabbergasted. It was a surprise that the tyrant giant bear hadn’t managed to survive the beam of destruction. The aftermath of the Magisters’ concentrated mana and spatial fortress cannon wasn’t new to the Himmelritter. However, it had never failed to send chills down his spine.
Was this the true power of Magisters? If so, casters had monopolised most leadership roles in Zauberia with good reason. Ritters above level one were still inferior to Magisters in many aspects. There were only three level-four Ritters on the Three Western Isles and they were all underlings to Meister Banam, who founded the Sanctum. This alone said much.
“Just toss it away. There’s no point in keeping it.” The Himmelritter walked away.
The tyrant giant bear’s remains were no longer of value since it was destroyed by strong and chaotic elemental activity. The Erdritter that held onto its remnants happened to be someone well-versed with major monster materials, so it had been easy for him to toss it away without attachment.
Another Himmelritter had noticed something on the other end too.
“The ground… Something’s wrong!” The Himmelritter in a suit of pristine white armour bent over to pick up a piece of hardened crystalline soil matter. There was a hint of yellow inside it. Unable to reach anything conclusive, he took off his mask to reveal a handsome face.
The Himmelritter’s lips began to stretch across his handsome face and his skin gradually yellowed. A few fangs extended past the edges of his lips and soon he had the head of a yellow-skinned giant. The Erdritters in his vicinity weren’t fazed at all. They were all used to it.
The combination of a huge hideous bald yellow skull atop a suit of pristine white armour made for an eerie sight. The Himmelritter tossed the soil into his mouth and began to chew. Himmelritters were the only ones that were unaffected by the rampaging elemental mana in the soil.
“Mm. Something tastes weird.” The yellow giant turned his face sideways, noticing the approaching Himmelritter in green bronze armour.
“That should be the level-three giant potato. I can sense its presence in the air,” said the bronze-armoured Himmelritter with a smile.
“Probably. Everything here should be its corpse and dirt,” replied the yellow giant. Since the Himmelritter still had a human body below the neck, the huge skull was beginning to feel uncomfortable. He quickly gave his neck a light twist and returned to human form.
His pristine white armour and impetus wings worked well with his handsome face. If the Himmelritter appeared in central Princeton in this state, he was bound to attract a great crowd. The noblewomen of Princeton fancied young, handsome lads like him. He would be the most attractive man as long as he kept his disgusting giant form a secret.
After a thorough probing and investigation by the Erdritters, they realised that the matter present in the area’s hundred-metre radius was indeed different. Those were concluded to be the remnants of level-three potato Botanian, Gleamyellow.
“Where’s the other one?” The two Himmelritters were perplexed. They refused to believe that a minor plane lifeform had survived the beam of destruction. “Make sure you search the area properly!”
However, the search didn't turn out any good results. It finally occurred to the level-three Himmelritters that there were only three level-three lifeform remnants here. The banana Botanian had obviously gotten away alive.
“We found the silver winged dragon’s teeth.” The black-armoured Himmelritter relaxed his gloved grip to reveal glistening dragon fangs. This was the only thing the dragon left behind and the toughest part of its body.
The teeth were still in good shape and generally unscathed from the chaos. It had even seemed to have undergone some transformation thanks to the beam of destruction.
Alchemists would fancy this. The dragon teeth could fetch good money if it was sold to the established alchemists at the Sanctum. The black-armoured Himmelritter quickly pocketed them before the other Himmelritters could share the thought.
“We’ve found the banana’s blood and organ chunks around. But due to the wild elemental activity, we can’t deduce when it left.” The white-armoured Himmelritter could only sigh.
None of them had seen this coming. The banana Botanian had survived the beam of destruction! It was a resilient level-three lifeform, whose presence was incredibly rare on minor planes. They were prodigies celebrated by their people, a rare existence that would only appear once every epoch. If those lifeforms weren’t annihilated, there was a high possibility that they’d advance as a level-four lifeform or a peak level-three lifeform at least. They might even become demigods!
“We’ve sent an Erdritter skilled in tracing to investigate its trail. It appears that the banana is quite the expert, it hid its trail halfway through,” explained the bronze-armoured Himmelritter with a huff.
Encounters with equals were rare. Now that the banana Botanian was injured, the Himmelritter could enjoy an unhinged battle with the help of the two other Himmelritters. The exchange would help boost his advancement too.
“We should report our findings. Agus can handle the demigod later!” reminded the white-armoured Himmelritter. They were sent here to assess and investigate the situation; their jobs were done.
The white-armoured Himmelritter was level-headed. It’d be bad news if they followed the banana’s trail and landed themselves in unforeseen trouble. They were on an alien plane where they didn’t have the advantage of familiarity.
“Very well,” answered the bronze-armoured Himmelritter.
Agus was a familiar name to members of the Hall of Knights. The banana Botanian may be a demigod but Agus was a real demigod; he was a peak level-three Himmelritter!