Four months went by in a flash. Life had been repetitive and boring to a point where the passing of time was unnoticeable. Fortunately for Locke, the spatial fortress was finally approaching Zauberia.
The time they spent aboard the spatial fortress had been peaceful. They hadn’t run into any sort of attacks from the lurkers in the boundless astral realm. Perhaps the fortress’ sheer size and the presence of three level-three lifeforms had been sufficiently intimidating to ward off any potential danger.
After all, no astral monster could grow to become as large as a spatial fortress. It didn’t help that their general capabilities were below level three. Their animalistic intelligence wasn’t enough to help them fight against numerous enemies of similar calibre.
The huge spatial fortress lunged towards the sapphire Zauberian plane in the distance, gliding over to the northwest corner of the plane. Despite their proximity to home, they couldn’t lower their guard yet; the Three Western Isles had their enemies on Zauberia too. Now that all their level-four lifeforms were caught up in planar wars, the Three Western Isles were left to fend for themselves. It was best if they could avoid breaching into other territories.
The fortress’ flight course felt almost deliberate, almost as if its journey had long been planned. Amid sluggish movements, the spatial fortress finally arrived at its destination two days later. Locke looked out of the glass windows of the fortress and watched the three long-shaped continents that were conjoined. He was finally home.
Angelina and he were both plastered to the glass panes, minds blown away by the marvellous view of Zauberia from the astral realm. They were in awe; they had been kept in a confined space when they departed for Botania so they hadn’t seen anything like this. The extent to what they could see was immense, for the walkways around the thrusters were lined with windows with magic reinforced glass. They watched on in stunned silence.
“Wow, I can’t believe we’re home,” sighed Angelina. She had been away from Zauberia for more than a year. To her surprise, this was the first time she had ever felt the pressing urge to go home.
“Yeah. Life in the fortress is so damned boring. I never want to do this again!” Locke complained offhandedly, earning a giggle from Angelina. The Faustian princess refused to buy his words; they both knew how many knights and casters would’ve killed for a chance to escape the battlefield.
Several chilling sensations pierced through their bodies as soon as the fortress halted at the edge of Zauberia’s atmosphere. Everyone in the spatial fortress jolted at the overwhelming sensation. Even the three level-three lifeforms in the main control room were equally surprised. The gazes felt almost as if a feral beast was eyeing them down. Fortunately, the sensation had dissipated as fast as it had appeared. Locke and Angelina massaged their seized chests and peered down onto the heart of Zauberia. Most of the scrutiny had originated from a particular continent.
The three Himmelritters in the control room smiled bitterly.
“It really is difficult without Master Odis here. I’m startled by how much attention we managed to garner for the fortress’ return,” the blond Ritter, Kaffee, said wryly.
“Hmph!” Mossenki, the Frostmourner, was clearly offended by the prying eyes.
“Thank goodness we have Meister Banam’s interference layer to keep our cargo out of their sight.” Aunor, the final Himmelritter, was gorgeous and mature.
Level-four Archmagister Banam was famous for his Light of Silence and he was unrivalled in the arena of energy barriers and force field disruption. The interference layer he placed on the spatial fortress could ward off any form of mental swipes when activated. The feature was extremely trusty too; it would never budge unless it was pried into by a level-six lifeform.
There were only five level-six lifeforms in Zauberia, who were all keen on remaining anonymous. It was unlikely that they’d be interested in the spatial fortress. The planar imprint manifested by the spatial fortress quickly calmed the curious gazes.
“Everyone, take note that we’ll arrive at the Three Western Isles in two days!” Kaffee’s voice resonated throughout the spatial fortress. Hearing that, the casters and knights felt glee bubbling in their hearts.
Thousands of floating ships left the spatial fortress for the Three Western Isles two days later. Since the range of the interference field was short, the floating ships travelled at a faster speed to keep their contents confidential. Even so, they still had to keep their trip at an unassuming speed to avoid suspicion.
Locke and Angelina rode the last few vessels headed towards the land. Since they were maintenance technicians escorting the spatial fortress’ journey, they’d have a few months worth of time to themselves. The time they had depended on the Sanctum and Hall of Knight’s efficiency with procuring slaves. Their return might be two or four months later; no one knew exactly how long their stay would be. Regardless, it was more than enough time to quell their homesickness. Locke and Angelina were already more than happy to be back in their homeland.
The floating ships landed within Sanctum territory. Space on the island was limited and fitting in thousands of floating ships was a bit of a stretch. Yet, it couldn’t be helped since this was the only place under the eternal coverage of Archmagister Banam’s Light of Silence. The Light of Silence had preserved the Three Western Isles’ peace. It had kept the absence of stronger lifeforms on the continents a secret from the east coast casters.
Casters stationed at the Sanctum’s base were worked to the bone upon their arrival. They’d brought ten million captured Botanians onto Zauberian soil and all of them couldn’t be unloaded in one go.
Meanwhile, all laboratories in the Sanctum began their remote unmanned operations for Botanian essence extraction. Countless Botanians were dragged into the laboratories in batches, converted into bottles of Botanian essences within a matter of mere minutes.