The fall of Mist City came after the death of level-two Lord Arbibo and the execution of its two level-one city lords. All that awaited the Sanctum’s contingent beyond the city walls was nothing but riches.
There was no longer a white crystal veil around the city. In the absence of Lord Arbibo, the crystal fruit trees stopped creating fog altogether, allowing a significant improvement to their field of visibility.
“Hey, Locke. How’s it going for you?” A green-robed caster asked with a smile.
The gruelling battle had ended days ago. The bloodshed had taken place outside the city, so it made sense to scout for valuables among the corpses there.
“So far so good, I guess.” Locke sneakily hid a mid-rank major monster crystal core in his spatial ring; he had just harvested it from a nearby corpse. Though most of the casualties were Botanians, many slaves had perished as well. Close to half of their cannon fodder was lost to this invasion.
The green-robed caster seemed to be unaware of Locke’s sneaky little deed. “Have you seen any humanoid gulus around? I’m looking for two.”
The green-robed caster was one of the only few high-rank Lehrlings that were acquainted with Locke. He was a biomancer with a harmless appearance. Despite that, Locke had witnessed the Lehrling crushing up Botanian bodies with a massive vineyard he summoned.
“There aren’t many gulus around, though. Two is a stretch but one should be possible. I’ll tell you when I see one,” answered Locke as he shook droplets of blood off his dagger.
Gulus were the green-skinned humanoid monsters that could understand Zauberian. They had been new additions to the slave army. They were smart and quick-witted, which made them the new favourite among Lehrlings. Every Lehrling wished to have one as a subordinate.
“Sure. It’s better than none.” The green-robed Lehrling laughed. He too was aware that gulus were hard to come by.
“I’ll tell you if I find one.” Locke nodded. He had never asked for a deposit for deals like this, opting to stick to the simple principle of payment on delivery. His business model was very fitting to the caster’s ideal of equal exchange, which was why many of them eventually became regular customers.
He became a famous businessman among the contingent when he was made manager of the slaves. This was greatly amusing to him; perhaps Suzzane’s influence had been heavier than anticipated.
Suzzane was a major in economics and management. He had given her a large sum of two thousand gold moores before leaving Princeton. Locke wondered how she had put the lump sum into work.
Without realising it, it had been more than a year since he left Princeton. They had only reached one-third worth of progress for the planar war; Locke had no idea when he could return home. He thought of his parents. It had been years since he last visited them in Faustian. Locke decided a visit home was due once the war was over.
The invasion of Mist City had been a success but the contingent wasn’t rushed to their next target. Parlina had ordered all casters and slaves alike to rest and recuperate. A significant number of Lehrlings had been lost in this battle; the death toll of thirty Lehrlings meant a loss of one-seventh to the contingent. This couldn’t be helped because war was merciless; the strong would survive while the weak would be replaced.
There would be no replenishments of the Lehrlings since Grandmeisterin Jella had given every contingent in Battlezone 17 an equal number of Lehrlings since the beginning. To a certain extent, the number of surviving Lehrlings would decide the portion of their leader’s rewards at the end of the war.
“I’d like to request another batch of slaves from the headquarters,” Parlina said to her crystal ball.
“Right away, Grandmeisterin Parlina!” The caster on the other end quickly answered. They had been tasked with upholding communications with Battlezone 7.
Apart from the slave army, a caster’s strongest weapon was none other than their magic tower. The possession of a tower would boost their battle potential to the point where they could battle against three equals.
Battlezone 7 was made their stronghold in Botania as the planar war progressed. Magic towers were erected around its border, creating a steadfast defence line that rendered many of the Botanians’ retaliation futile. The magic towers were mostly populated by level-two Magisters while level-three Magisters were the minority.
Battlezone 7 was constantly bustling with activity. Arrivals and departures of floating ships were continuous as more slaves were brought into Botania while Botanians were transported away.
“Warehouse 4 is full!”
“Ship K17 is requesting for take-off. Destination, Battlezone 11.”
“Warehouse 5 is unlocked!”
“Battlezone 17 is requesting slave replenishments. Coordinates are GB14, FM17!”
“We’re picking up suspected level-three Botanian activity from Battlezone 9!”
“Herr Borr from Battlezone 22 is requesting the assistance of a level-three Magister!”
Countless knights and casters scuttled around the headquarters as they relayed reports and instructions to the commander’s room. While the personnel busied themselves in the commander’s room, three authority figures were oddly relaxed.
“When are you going to order the fortress’ return to Zauberia?” Himmelritter Borlon questioned the black-robed elder seated in the middle.
The elder took a sip of his pure Botanian essence tea and relaxed into the back of his chair. “Six months from now.”
“That won’t do! The slaves will be severely depleted by then! We need to replenish our resources here as soon as possible,” Borlon quickly argued. There was barely an ounce of reservation left for Magister Mist.
The black-robed elder was the highest acting leader of the Sanctum’s contingent. He was Mist, the peak level-three Magister that had been bestowed the Staff of Tranquility by Master Banam. Mist’s prolonged silence prompted Cassius to pick up the conversation. “I agree with Herr Borlon. Don’t you think six months is a little too long? Why don’t we make it four months later?”
Cassius was a knight and Borlon’s disciple. It was only natural for him to support his Uncle Borlon in this situation.
There was silence until Mist relented, “Okay.”