It felt too surreal to see hints of defeat in the once-lush World Tree. Its formerly rich, green leaves and grooves that ran along its woody body appeared lifeless. Beneath its crown of giant yellowing leaves were its citizens. They wore the same vanquished expression. Their hearts were deteriorating like their mother tree and the atmosphere was grim.
The old face on the World Tree’s bark let out a sigh. “How’s Aburi doing now?”
The sunflower high priest seemed equally worried. It replied in a lowered voice, “I don’t know how the invaders were able to track Aburi down as soon as he left the city. Worse, the alien is almost as strong as me.”
It had been months since the start of the war. The Botanians may be slow but there was sufficient time to notice something off about these invaders. Eventually, they’d managed to pick up on some of the invaders’ tactics. The Botanians were now aware of two overwhelmingly powerful alien presences that were as strong as Goldy and the World Tree.
Unfortunately, the information wasn’t of much use. The similarity in the casters and knights’ appearances were obvious implications that they were of the same kind. There was no way that the Botanians could blend into their crowd for espionage.
“Even Aburi is in this state… What will happen to the others?” The World Tree trembled slightly, a few wilted leaves fluttering down from its branch.
“Elder Finlan had just left for Fertilia. There aren’t many invaders there but our defence remains weak. The elder is under a lot of pressure now.”
In Botania, level-three lifeforms were referred to as elders. They were Botanians forgotten by time and yet, they’d come to offer themselves for Botania in the face of calamity.
“Atlanta and Norse had both left for the eastern and western defence lines respectively. The situation over there isn’t too optimistic either.”
Goldy was the current leader of Botania’s resistance force. Two-thirds of the minor plane’s defences were constructed by the sunflower high priest.
The tree’s eyelids grew heavy and it fell silent. “If they fail to keep the aliens out, have them return to the treeman front.”
The sunflower high priest’s eyes widened in disbelief. “No! We will fight till the very end!”
The treeman front was their last line of defence. Since it was made of the World Tree’s branches, its coverage was limited. If the frontliners were to retreat behind the treeman front, the whole of Wilderia, save for the few thousand kilometres radius beyond Holy City, would be forced to fend for themselves.
Noticing its blunder, Goldy quickly excused itself and left. It needed to focus. Countless Botanians were out in the frontlines facing bloodshed; the sunflower needed to keep a close eye on their progression.
The World Tree waited patiently until Goldy was out of sight. It closed its tired eyes, finally letting its wilting leaves to rain in loud rustles. Abscission was abnormal for the evergreen World Tree, it was evidently deteriorating.
Every world has its own protector. In Botania’s case, its strongest protector was level-three potato Botanian, Gleamyellow. Unfortunately, it had perished in an ambush during the start of the war. The minor plane was only left with level-one and two Botanians to defend itself. It wasn’t sufficient, though; the surviving protectors’ powers were limited and didn’t promise a bright future for Botania.
As dread shimmered in the background, the ancient World Tree sensed a weak projection of the plane’s will. It was meek and vague but the tree was absolutely sure that Botania’s consciousness was trying to reach it.
Since the minor plane’s consciousness wasn’t fully developed, it behaved like a fetus; it was only capable of performing involuntary actions and lacked judgement.
Centauria was different in this aspect. When faced with a pressing threat, the centaurian royal family could summon the plane’s consciousness for a while with their blood and tears.
No one knew if Botania was even aware of the state of its inhabitants. The minor plane’s will was empty. It had merely reached out for the most powerful being on its territory in response to impending doom.
As the only demigod of Botania, the World Tree was the plane’s final straw that had a grip around the Botanians’ destiny. The plane had been injecting power into the tree over the last two months and its advancement was jaw-dropping. The tree was more potent than ever but it couldn’t feel a single ounce of happiness. Its limit had long been set by its physique and history.
If it was a normal demigod Botanian, it would’ve become a level-four lifeform right away with the help of the plane. Yet, the World Tree couldn’t do so due to its massive size and branches that spanned tens of thousands of miles. Its sheer mass demanded unfathomable power to achieve successful ascension. This was something not even the minor plane could help with.
Even so, its capabilities had been fortified without a doubt. Its yellowing leaves were partly caused by its status as the plane’s protector. As Botania continued to be trampled over, the plane’s consciousness declined as well. This had heavily impacted the World Tree’s vitality. Its decaying state was a sign that Botania was heading towards the direction of absolute doom.
The casters and knights weren’t looking to conquer the plane. They wanted to capture all Botanians for the essence within them. If all of its inhabitants were taken away and turned into cattle on Zauberia, would Botania still be Botania?
The treeman front was the World Tree’s final resort and the product of the powers it had received from the plane. Thousands of treemen were erected around the perimeters of the Holy City, ready to defend the city from the invaders’ odd-looking towers.
The alien towers may be capable of unleashing violent energy attacks but the treemen were the toughest meat shield of the Botanian resistance force. They’d help cushion off the attacks almost completely.
However, the number of treemen was limited since it was confined to the vicinity of the World Tree. They couldn’t protect everyone. If they retreated, the unarmed regular Botanains of three continents would be left to their own devices. All Botanians apart from those living near the Holy City would make easy prey for the alien invaders.
The World Tree weighed its mind for appropriate measures while Goldy dashed around the city to relay orders. There were less than five level-three Botanians left in the Holy City and every corner of their plane was in need of help. Their deployment and utilisation were completely reliant on Goldy’s command.
The sunflower Godly looked more stumped than it was six months ago. Its battle with Agus, the man of bronze, had utterly scarred its mind. Its heart was constantly burdened by the looming doom that hovered over the fate of its kind. At the thought of its incompetence, Goldy’s heart couldn’t help but drop. There were four more aliens of Agus’ calibre! The sunflower felt absolutely crushed. Perhaps it was better for it to not sense the presence of level-four Odis, who had been watching the war unfold from the astral realm. Its morale would’ve been at an all-time low.
While anxiety gripped the Botanian authorities, the Sanctum and Hall of Knights marched on systematically. A blue glare zoomed between the rolling hills in Battlezone 17, stubbornly chased after by a green and red silhouette.
“This fella is really good at running away.” The red silhouette barely faltered. He sped up, filling the sky with a rain of snowflakes and a roaring blaze.
“Pund! Don’t forget about the green burning crystal you owe me!” The green silhouette behind him screeched to a halt. Grandmeisterin Jella revealed her gorgeous face, body clad in a luxurious robe of green.
“Don’t worry, there’s no way I’d forget about that!”
The red mass continued to chase after the blue light as Jella murmured spells under her breath. Without the aid of any spellcasting materials, intangible strings of words began escaping her lips. She coughed up a mouthful of blood, unleashing a green bolt of light that zapped towards the blue light.
“Ah!” It screamed. The blueberry Botanian filled with dots all over its body began to plummet through layers of clouds. Brown barbs began to surface from its black spots, tips glowing green. The blueberry was bleeding and there were inky fluids in its blood; it was evidently poisonous.
“Haha! Thanks, Jella!” The red mass quickly pounced towards the blueberry, splitting the skies into flames and ice in the process. Its magnificent presence was absolutely oozing with power.
“Hmph! This time it’ll cost you two times more green burning crystals!” Jella palmed her heaving chest at a distance behind, not caring if Pund had caught it or not.
At the blueberry’s horror, the red mass that had been chasing after it across half the continent finally revealed himself. There was unmistakable greed in its clashing irises of flames and ice.