Locke gulped down the last spoonful of herbs fed by Angelina and closed his eyes, shuffling deeper against the mattress; he’d decided that he’d enjoy this well-deserved tranquillity thoroughly. He hadn’t been able to drop his guard down and sleep well throughout his five-day infiltration in Mist City, hence he was overjoyed to go on a break on familiar grounds.
Parlina had exempted him from joining the invasion of Mist City. Even so, Locke would be returning to the battlefield towards the end to reap some loose spoils. Added with the rewards promised by the Magisters, it was safe to say that Locke was in good spirits.
“I think that’s enough. I don’t think I can take it anymore. My stomach is already so bloated.” Locke made a comedic expression at Angelina.
“Nope. You’re not running away from this. There will be another round of medicine tonight.” Angelina waved her fists at Locke.
“I know. I won’t run away.” He pulled her into his arms.
Angelina quickly snuggled into the comfort, delighted to feel his warmth.
While the two continued their sappy display of affection, the five Magisters were gathered in a tent at the very centre of the camp. There was tension in the air.
“These are samples Locke brought from Mist City. Take a look at it.” Parlina placed a translucent white crystal that was no bigger than a fist on the table. The Magisters passed it around.
“This is-?!” Porscher bristled. Judging by his intense reaction, the Magister had probably realised something from its internal structure and composition. The others wore expressions of equal grimness.
“I’ll handle that bastard!” Ashar was the first to speak up.
“No! I suggest we request assistance from the higher-ups.” Parlina had formulated the decision through a night’s worth of thinking.
“I agree. Seeking support from the Sanctum is our best bet,” supported Reiner.
“I second that too.” Since Reiner was on Parlina’s side, there was no reason to disagree. Porscher too wished to reduce their risks.
Apart from Carla, the other Magisters had preferred to seek assistance from the Sanctum. Ashar could only cross her arms in silence and relent to the majority. The pile of information Locke had collected from Mist City too became the topic of their morning meeting. Indeed, Mist City’s defences were stronger than they thought. Not only was their overall lineup stronger than Nimbus City but its city lords would most probably make formidable opponents. The possible existence of a level-two Botanian and the presence of two level-one city lords demanded absolute caution on their part.
Parlina left the camp two days later and returned with a certain person who’d raised the slaves’ anxiety and earned the Lehrlings’ excitement.
“The Sanctum and Hall of Knights had suspicions about the constant appearances of new level-three Botanians. Sure, it felt unnatural but I wasn’t expecting them to use such complex technology on level-two Botanians.” The presence of this caster was overwhelming and his heterochromia was all the more eye-catching. His left eye was blue right eye was red. Parlina trailed behind him closely. The subtle distance between their forms made it obvious that the caster was a person of power.
“It’s the Grandmeister of Ice and Fire!”
“Oh my goodness, an actual level-two Magister!”
“I can’t believe I lived to see him in the flesh!”
The mid-rank Lehrlings marvelled at the sight of him.
“We’re counting on you this time,” said Parlina solemnly.
“Fret not! Assisting your contingent is the least I could do since my mentor is occupied with going after the level-three Botanian with Grandmeisterin Jella,” the Magister said with a smile.
“I have nothing but admiration towards your path to mastering the clashing elements of ice and fire,” Parlina praised. She was a skilled hydromancer, so she understood the extreme challenges that came with using clashing elements in conjunction. The level-two Magister’s mentor had been an incredibly gifted level-three Magister at the Sanctum. Their master was a figure that everyone looked up to.
“Oh, you flatter me.” The Magister chuckled. It was all thanks to his amazing mentor that he was able to uphold a certain pride. “Though I’m not my mentor, I believe I can handle an awakened level-two Botanian without issue.”
“Of course,” replied Parlina politely. “I’ve been dying to witness the devastating destruction of ice and fire.”
Though the heterochromic Magister was a level-two lifeform, he didn’t put on airs, having been nothing but friendly to Parlina. While his rich knowledge reserves had enriched her, Parlina had offered him much information from her years of practising hydromancy.
“I heard that Charles’ sister disciple is here as well,” said the heterochromic Magister.
“That’s right. Carla will join us in the battle.”
“Do you think you could introduce her sometime soon?” uttered the Magister after considering his choice of words.
Parlina found it difficult to reject the Magister since he had been so generous during their earlier exchange. She could only agree and hint, “Carla isn’t too fond of interacting with the opposite sex, though.”
“Oh, I see.” The Magister shot her an understanding look.
Truth to be told, Locke hadn’t heard about Carla being close to any male Magisters throughout the six months Angelina had spent with her mentor. The photomancer’s trademark gentleness belied her oftentimes abnormal behaviour. Obsessive-compulsive disorder was a common trait among female photomancers. Carla’s obsessive tendencies were so severe that she insisted on bathing twice a day even if it was incredibly inconvenient to do so during a planar war. While most Lehrlings suffered from the plane’s suppression, Carla persisted and even continued her odd fixation.
Parlina was well aware of the reason behind Carla’s reluctance to offer tutelage: She didn’t like strangers getting too close to her. Male Lehrlings were completely out of the question too; they could consider themselves lucky that Carla hadn’t charred them upon sight.
Angelina, however, was fortunate enough to receive Carla’s approval; she was the only mentee the high-profile photomancer had ever accepted. The Faustian princess had yet to understand how big of a shot Carla was. Perhaps she’d finally realise it when Carla’s brother disciple, the Faceless Masked Magister Charles, returned to the Sanctum.