Thorn City’s treasury was located within the vicinity of its city lords’ manor. Nonchalantly, Locke pocketed a few precious mineral stones into his spatial ring. Many around him were doing the same thing, all of them clad in the casters’ signature long robes.
There was plenty for everyone since the Magisters weren’t the least bit interested in any of the regular mineral stones scattered around. They’d already looted the valuables away; everything that remained in the treasury was meant to be a reward for the Lehrlings.
Despite that, the competition was fierce. The depths of the treasury, where Locke was at, was filled with high-rank Lehrlings while the mid-rank Lehrlings were forced to scavenge around the outer radius.
Casters were indeed hard workers; only one-third of them had chosen to rest like Angelina and Daenie. The majority was determined to stay up through the night so they wouldn’t miss out on anything useful.
The process may be physically taxing but the outcome was favourable. After all, Botania was a place filled with unfathomable riches. There were many rare minerals on Botania, some of them were even new minerals that the Three Western Isles had never seen. Regardless of what they picked up, it was guaranteed to be precious.
Locke insisted on picking the best ones possible. A single one could easily fetch the price of a mid-rank crystal core at least back in Aomar. While the capacity of his spatial ring wasn’t the largest, he had multiples of it to compensate for more storage. He’d been trading with the casters for more spatial rings ever since arriving at Botania. The combined storage of his rings had brought him much wealth after each battle.
Driven by Jella’s orders, Parlina insisted that their contingent take full control over Thorn City within two days. This was asking too much, though. They’d taken two and a half days to properly round up only 12300 regular Botanians near the west city gates and the floating ship was scheduled to touch down very soon.
Simply put, they were running short on time. There was definitely a good amount of free Botanians running around the city still. The time constraint had only allowed the slaves and casters to do a rough search across Thorn City; they hadn’t been able to search through all possible hiding spots just yet.
Scrying spells wouldn’t work on underground or well-hidden spots. A large surge of mental power was needed to sniff out these hideouts and unfortunately for the contingent, the casters were too fatigued.
It was only when the horizons darkened that Locke returned to report to Parlina.
“Make sure to rest up when you get home, alright?” said Parlina with a smirk.
Locke was confused. Wasn’t it meant to be a simple trip to Battlezone 7? Was he sent there to rest? Parlina didn’t elaborate further. In reality, it was Carla who made Locke and Angelina’s return to Zauberia possible. The photomancer cared deeply for her only pupil. It wasn’t difficult to arrange for Angelina’s extraction at the current point of the planar war. The war had given her sufficient training and it was time for her to be sent home. This was the same case for the mentor, though. Since Carla was a level-one Magister, her participation was still very much needed in the conquest.
Angelina and Locke were far from becoming level-one lifeforms for they were a Lehrling and Knecht respectively. Their absence wasn’t detrimental to the progress of the war. If Carla wanted to do the same for herself, the bureaucracy and processing required to arrange for her return would be incredibly taxing. But of course, Carla’s current influence was merely sufficient to help Angelina out. Ashar had lent a hand in this.
No one could understand why the odd shadowmancer had decided to do so. Did the Magister favour Locke that much? Reiner and Porscher had their assumptions; they’d seen Locke meeting Ashar frequently in private. However, the answer they’d pried from Parlina had been that Locke was her laboratory assistant.
It made no sense if that was her motivation. How did a Knecht that was far from becoming a level-one lifeform become an assistant to a prolific level-one Magister in the first place? This was utter bull crap. Since when did knights that thought with their muscles made for excellent helpers in magic experiments? How were they sure he wasn’t her experiment subject instead? Their doubts, however, went uncleared.
The floating ship lowered itself, hovering just above the casters and trembling Botanians in Battlezone 17 and dwarfing them with its majestic scale. This vessel was way larger than the one Locke and Angelina had taken to the Sanctum. It definitely looked like it could fit ten thousand Botanians easily. The ship’s sheer size had spooked the Botanians out intensely; they’d never seen anything like this in their lives! The ship came to a halt amidst their horror. The hinges of the doors along its peripheral whined loudly as it opened.
The slaves began to scream at the Botanians. Most that were tasked with ushering the Botanians were humanoid monsters. They were a species of slaves that even Locke and the Magisters had to be cautious around. No one would want to see their spoils turn into nothing in a night’s work. But that was just a joke. With only hundreds of slaves left in the contingent, they’d require at least six months to finish up all of the captured Botanians here.
As the Botanians worry about their fates, Locke was united with Ron the Lehrling. It had been two months since they last met and Ron had completely forgotten who Locke was. He took a moment to jog through his memories, finally signalling his recognition with a loud smack to his crown. Ron was a social butterfly; he was a person that would easily befriend many anywhere he went. It was only natural for him to forget new faces easily.
“Hey, there are 12300 Botanians this time. Can the ship even fly with the load?” Locke rubbed his chin as he watched them usher the Botanians into the floating ship. He and Angelina were going to take this ship to Battlezone 7; he didn’t wish to die in an airship accident. The typical altitude of floating ships was at least ten thousand metres and above. Even a quasi-Ritter wouldn’t be spared from becoming a pile of mashed nothings if they were to plummet from that height.
“Oh, don’t worry! This ship has carried far more than ten thousand!” Ron beamed in a poor attempt to reassure Locke.