Shortly after the monster hunter hound escaped, voices began to ring from every corner.
“Invaders! Seize them!”
“Wait! There’s someone over there.”
“Go check them out.”
Locke had long prepared for this. He pulled the hood closer around his head and murmured a spell Parlina taught him. There was a flash of light and soon Locke was gone. What stood in place of him was a dazed pear Botanian.
The pear Botanian was 1.7 metres tall. He touched every inch of his body with visible confusion and stretched his limbs. The glamour worked better than Locke anticipated. His disguise was incredibly convincing; no one would be able to notice him unless they were stronger than level-one lifeforms.
Upon approaching footsteps, Locke quickly laid down on the ground and pretended to be feeble. Since infiltrations were always riddled with risks, he had formulated a strategy.
The footsteps halted right beside his ears. Knights were very sensitive to their surroundings; Locke could sense the presence of four Botanians around him and all of them were as strong as mid-rank Knechts.
“Damn it, the invader got away.”
“Nevermind, Azer is going after it now,” replied another voice.
“We should focus on helping this brother out. He seems to be injured.”
“Allie, we’ll leave this to you.”
The few Botanians set to work. Locke was lifted past the gates of Mist City. Everything was progressing smoothly all thanks to their naivety. Locke could only sigh, Botanians were truly too naive for their own good.
The mist gradually thinned as they ventured deeper into the city. Soon, his vision cleared up. The city was completely made out of pristine white crystals, much like the ones in the forest outside. Upon closer inspection, they seemed to be some kind of plant. This meant that the city's infrastructure was completely plant based.
All of a sudden, Locke tensed up at an odd sensation upon his entrance. Someone’s mental ability was searching through his body, causing his hair to stand with anxiety. Fortunately, the presence was gone after a slight pause.
As a general rule of thumb, lifeforms above level-one would eventually be able to use mental abilities naturally. The Magisters had opted out of the mission as their strong mental abilities had made it difficult to mask their presence. Slaves, on the other hand, weren’t suitable candidates either as their intelligence was limited. This left Locke as their best choice.
“Allie, who’s this?” A voice asked. Locke felt the Botanians around him halt in their tracks.
“We found him in the forest outside the walls. He was attacked and injured by the invaders.” The ochre crystal warmed as it translated her words for Locke once again.
The ochre crystal was indeed a marvellous creation crafted by Magisters. Not only was Locke able to understand them, he also learnt that ‘Allie’ was female. How on earth did the Magisters create something like this?
“Oh? Then you better hurry over to Grandma Nono’s place. Casualties sure are on the rise lately,” replied the other Botanian.
Locke opened his eyes ever so slightly, noticing a green watermelon Botanian standing across him. The closest Botanian to him was a peach Botanian of a lovely pink shade.
“Yeah.” Allie, the peach Botanian, nodded.
Eventually, Locke was brought to an area filled with thriving florals in the southwest of Mist City. This place looked almost like paradise.
Most Botanian cities had suffered the fate of getting trampled by the Three Western Isles. This was Locke’s first time in untouched Botanian territory and to his surprise, he fancied it. There were many other injured Botanians here as well. Some had missing limbs. Others had holes in their bodies that looked suspiciously similar to bite marks, which probably came from getting attacked by vicious slaves.
“Next.” A feminine voice burdened by age rang in the distance. The two Botanians that held onto Locke brought him over gingerly with Allie trailing close.
The elderly banana Botanian was wrinkly. She was bent over, working meticulously on layering herbal pastes over a Botanian’s bleeding abdomen. “Try not to move around too much.” The old banana reminded her patient.
When it was finally Locke’s turn, the banana Botanian was visibly surprised when her gaze landed on him. “Oh, you’re pretty tall.”
Locke’s Botanian disguise stood at about 1.7 metres tall, which was a height shorter than his true appearance. Even so, his height was already considered impressive among the regular Botanians.
Grandma Nono began to work on Locke’s wounds. “Allie, how’s everything outside?”
The other two Botanians that helped transport Locke excused themselves earlier.
“Everything seems fine but we’ve been finding more casualties now,” answered the peach.
“Hmph! Those invaders will be destroyed by our mighty World Tree very soon!” It appeared that Grandma Nono was a fanatic follower of the World Tree.
Locke eavesdropped on their conversation as he continued to feign unconsciousness.
Eventually, the banana Botanian passed Allie two bags of herbs. “Bring him over for another check-up two days later.” Then, she called for the next patient.
While Locke had no idea what illusionary wound the magic robe had created, it must’ve been convincing since the banana Botanian hardly noticed anything weird. In fact, the ‘wound’ had stopped ‘bleeding’ with Grandma Nono’s herb patches.
Magic sure was miraculous. Locke couldn’t help but be in awe at the way his bright yellow pear blood stopped gushing with medical intervention.