Things were going great for Locke. Thanks to his injuries, he was excused from the battle of Mist City and to his ultimate delight, Carla had asked Angelina to nurse him to health. Locke’s treatment had involved getting doused in Carla’s healing beam multiple times. Apart from two particular spots that required longer to heal, he was close to full recovery. The healing potency of photomancy was indeed the most prevalent among all other branches of magic.
Since photomancy was heavily reliant on stimulating one’s innate potential for regeneration, Locke’s best supplement was none other than Botanian essence. This was no issue since Parlina had rewarded Locke two grams of dark blue Botanian essence upon his return.
Once the faint glow between his fingers dimmed, Locke peered in the direction of Mist City. The Botanian city was set ablaze, told by the rising smoke at a distance away. Governed by two level-one city lords, it appeared that Mist City had put up a great fight against the Sanctum’s invasion.
Mist City sure wasn’t as simple as we thought, Locke thought. The fact that the southwestern forbidden zone was constantly under watch was telling. Apart from that, he had been attacked not once but twice by a quasi-Ritter Botanian whenever he set foot inside. It became obvious the city was hiding something vital there. Locke had always felt iffy about the forbidden zone. It felt as if a terrifying presence was lurking in the unknown.
As more smoke rose to the sky, Locke watched a series of explosions happen around the base of the city walls. As expected, pyromancy was their best weapon against a wooden city. A third of the city’s perpetual fog budged with the dense smoke and strong wind. From a distance away, Locke could make out blacks and whites along with hints of fiery flames. A chaotic wave of elemental magic swept through the battlefield as casters unleashed their devastating potential.
What Locke couldn’t see, however, was the gathering of a few level-one and two lifeforms above the city centre. Apart from Parlina who stayed outside the city walls to command the slaves and casters, the other four level-one Magisters circled a pair of pristine crystal fruit Botanians. The taller crystal fruit shielded his wife, whose arm had been snapped by the casters. He stood in front of the Magisters, not at all terrified about being outnumbered.
Meanwhile, a massive fight broke out on the other side of the battlefield. Space itself seemed to vibrate in the presence of the Magister of Ice and Fire. With an ice bolt in his left grip and flames manifesting around his right fist, his odd eyes were locked onto the female crystal fruit.
“What a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting to find an awakened Botanian of such calibre here.” There was excitement in the midst of his shock. “Consider yourself worthy of learning my name. I am the Magister of Ice and Fire, Persia!”
The clashing elements triggered an instant explosion. Persia began to morph amidst the violent blast as waves of aftershock rippled away from him. The air was heavy with doom. Despite the clashing fusion of ice and fire, the larger crystal fruit Botanian remained unfazed.
Lord Arbibo had been the level-two Botanian presence reported by the Sanctum. The preceding crystal fruit had been hibernating under Mist City for thousands of years. Much like the other Botanian leaders of the past, Arbibo had chosen to enter hibernation at the final juncture of his life to lengthen his lifespan naturally.
Normally, the level-three Botanians and leaders would choose to hibernate beneath the Holy City where they would be within reach of the World Tree’s roots. The soil there was packed with nutrients, allowing them to form a symbiotic relationship with the roots as they slumbered. Through that, they’d be able to preserve their abilities well and extend the period of their slumber.
However, the crystal fruit tribe had very particular criteria about their crystal trees so Lord Arbibo made the conscious choice of hibernating beneath his homeland. The four hundred year slumber hadn’t corroded Arbibo’s capabilities heavily. The crystal fruit was almost as powerful as his peak years.
“So you’re the invaders, huh?” Arbibo took in the pitiful sight of his homeland with calm eyes. With the wisdom of a level-two lifeform, it didn’t take much for him to piece information together. He had clearly understood Mist City’s situation within a few minutes after regaining consciousness.
Persia ignored Arbibo’s question, widening the coverage of his ocean of clashing elements. The feeling of impending doom grew stronger. It had gotten so profound that Arbibo could taste calamity at the tip of his tongue.
“Hmph!” Without further ado, Arbibo unfurled his translucent whip and lunged for Persia.
The clash that followed was surprising. No one had expected Arbibo to hold up a tight match against Persia.
However, Arbibo wasn’t the same mighty leader that brought the crystal fruits of Mist City and its surrounding territories to glory aeons ago. He was weaker than he was a few centuries ago. Level-two Magister Persia, on the other hand, wasn’t able to unleash his full potential due to the plane’s suppression.
The chain explosion triggered by the clash of ice and fire was vehement. Yet, Persia couldn’t do anything else since Arbibo was set on dodging each and every attack. A fight between equals was always made difficult if one party decided to focus their efforts on escaping or ducking attacks.
Mist City sure wasn’t an easy target. Lives were claimed every second atop its crystalline city walls; the city was almost like a crystal meat grinder. Horrible piles of corpses were scattered throughout the city. As the red evening sun reflected off pools of multi-coloured blood, their battle cries continued.