The spatial fortress would leave Botania twenty days later, but not for good. It was only going to make a pit stop at Zauberia for more slaves. Angelina and Locke would have to follow it back to the minor plane once it was loaded with more resources. Even so, there was plenty to rave about.
The loading of slaves was time-consuming; the spatial fortress would have to stay above Zauberia for a month or so. To their joy, there was enough time for both Locke and Angelina to do whatever they wished.
Locke couldn’t wait to go home because he’d missed his family and lovers a lot. Besides reuniting with Glace, Suzzane and the girls in Princeton, he’d like to visit his parents back in Faustian. It had been six whole years since he’d left Shalor.
Angelina too shared the thought. She had missed her father and brother a lot. Speaking of which, this was the first time she’d left her family for long and despite her well-known independent personality, she was homesick.
Before their departure, Locke and Angelina would have to get accustomed to their tasks fast. Morr, the level-two Erdritter, was made aware that this was their first time assuming technician roles, which was why he’d assigned them to Zone B138. Tasks here were relatively simple and easier to handle. All they needed to know were simple maintenance protocols and they were allowed to handover the more complicated issues to the relevant authorities, who would subsequently recruit professional help.
Their technical training was to be held on a normal floating ship in Battlezone 7. Since the entire operation was kept confidential, the ship chosen for lessons was unassuming and almost unnoticeable among the other vessels. The journey was kept secret from the captured Botanians and even the casters and knights to avoid possible problems; no one could guarantee that the warfare first-timers wouldn’t try any funny business to return to the Three Western Isles in the face of high tension and danger.
The reason for the trip back to Zauberia was to reduce their losses by importing more slaves. At this point, eighty thousand of the five hundred thousand knights brought to Botania had died in battle. The high fatality rate was exceptionally alarming to the rookies.
The spellbane knights were considerably lucky since they’d only lost a comrade up till this date. High-rank Knechts were dropping like flies in the other battle zones; Locke had no idea of how lucky he was to be following the Sanctum’s contingent instead. The casters were better off than knights, but not by far. The number of casters involved in the current war had always been lesser than the knights anyway.
The death of the Lehrlings was a huge blow to the Sanctum. A dozen of them had succumbed to battle in the contingent led by Parlina and four other Magisters. Most of them had been mid-rank Lehrlings that were beacons to the Sanctum’s future glory. To put this into perspective, there were only at most ten mid-rank Lehrlings in the whole of the Faustian Kingdom.
Since Locke and Angelina’s involvement was top secret, they began spending less time outdoors. The spellbane knights were the only ones dropping by their cabin occasionally. Laney had always envied the luxurious cabin.
“Wow! You even have magic equipment for showering?!” She continued, “No way! Angelina, do you mind if I take a shower here tonight?”
Locke and Angelina could only relent with a helpless chuckle at her enthusiasm.
Time passed like a whirlwind and soon more than ten days had passed. Their departure date was approaching fast and the couple grew excited.
The spellbane knights were busy for the week since they’d been called for duty. It appeared that they were tasked with investigating the appearances of a few base-rank Botanians around Battlezone 7’s perimeters.
While the investigation wasn’t difficult, its risk factor was high. They’d need all the luck they could possibly garner. It wouldn’t be an issue if they were faced with one or two Botanians that were slightly stronger than average; the spellbane knights could simply send a signal and wait for support. However, if they encountered Botanians beyond level-one, they’d be in grave danger. These Botanians were most often adamant about bringing a few of its enemies along to the afterlife. Their comrade, Nier, was killed by a base-rank Botanian under those circumstances.
By the time the spellbane knights would return to Battlezone 7 once again, Locke and Angelina would’ve long boarded the spatial fortress for home. The couple’s excuse was that they needed to return to Battlezone 17 to resume their roles in the subsequent battles. Since Battlezone 17 and Battlezone 7 were extremely far apart, Locke wasn’t too worried that they’d see through the lie.
Prior to the spellbane knights’ departure, Locke gave Laney three green magic stones. The stones were protective magic equipment that could manifest one-time shields capable of neutralising all mid-rank spell attacks. It wasn’t the most expensive item but its functionality was highly praised and the best thing of them all: it was strong enough to block off regular Botanian slime. The barrier could last for about ten seconds when attacked by the slime of less than a hundred Botanians. Ten seconds was most often enough time to decide the victor. The other two stones were for Wright and Moss.
Laney accepted Locke’s gifts with a bright smile. They may be high-rank Knechts but the Botanian slime was still highly lethal; it was corrosive enough to erode steel and major monster scales. Their armours were essentially rendered useless against the green mucus. Undeniably, Locke was great at picking gifts. The green magic stones might not be the most precious things but they would definitely come in handy to the spellbane knights.
But of course, he couldn’t be so generous as to gift every single spellbane knight with one magic stone each. Locke wasn’t that wealthy and these green magic stones were brought over from casters at a high price.
“Let’s hope that all is well with them when we return,” said Locke to Angelina softly.