Slaves were crawling all around Bluewood City in under four days, easily falling from the attack of the Sanctum's contingent. Its two Botanian city lords were struck with misfortune; one had perished in battle while the other was captured alive. Level-one lifeforms could be universally regarded as masters of their kind; whether they be enslaved or used for other purposes, they were still of incredible value.
The capture of the city lord was mostly owed to Ashar. Her unpredictable curses and eerie shadow cage had effectively subdued all level-one lifeforms encountered. The captured Botanian lord was now made a part of her precious collection after she paid some energy crystals.
Based on Ashar’s past experiments back in the Sanctum, Locke had a strong feeling that the Botanian would end up on her experiment bench. It wasn’t impossible since she’d dissected a level-one lifeform once. Anyway, her research interests were none of his business. Locke had no right to pry nor did he have any opinions on it either. He chased the thought out of his mind and focused on gathering spoils.
His quasi-Ritter capabilities and the scorpiondrake beneath him had allowed him to bulldoze through anything in the city in the absence of the city lords. Locke and Fermoss made an unbeatable combination when it came to slaying regular Botanians. Locke could totally understand his fellow knights’ yearnings for a strong mount; a buddy that shared great synergy was important on the battlefield.
Fermoss hadn’t managed to form a strong synergy with Locke. He could only rely on body language and simple instructions to order it around. It didn’t help that the scorpiondrake was lazier than Angie when it was younger. If it hadn’t stood at a size three times bigger than Locke, he would’ve given it a stern lesson a long time ago.
“We’re heading to the north of the city!” Locke kicked at Fermoss’ side.
Fermoss shook its dark hook, visibly reluctant to do as told. It’d just gobbled up a few Botanian generals and its tummy was stretched to its limits. It wanted to enjoy a cosy nap. Fortunately, it finally gave in after the initial urging.
It had been two months since they entered Battlezone 33 and their contingent’s progress was unbelievably smooth. They were halfway through their given area, which was significantly faster than their time in Battlezone 17. Since the climate and geography of Battlezone 33 was notably harsh, the area wasn’t densely populated, to begin with. With that, it appeared that the number of level-one lifeforms in each city was lesser than anticipated.
“Have we decided on the next city?” asked Porscher as he toyed with a nucleus core. The allocation of spoils was often proportional to one’s strength. Among the contingent, Porscher had attained three level-one Botanian nucleus cores, not to mention other precious resources and treasures.
“Not yet. What do you think of Terrain Rock City?” Parlina swiped through the crystal ball in her grip, letting a projection of the city appear atop its surface.
“Oh? It’s the one with two Botanian city lords, right?” The current strategists and decision-makers of the contingent were Porscher and Parlina. Ashar and Carla, on the other hand, had preferred to stay out of such affairs.
“That used to be the case but there’s only one city lord left now.” Parlina sighed heavily. Battlezone 33 was way easier to conquer than their previous zone since they’d yet to encounter any particularly difficult opponents. Every escaped level-one Botanians was a huge loss to them.
“Huh? Why is that so?” Porscher was bewildered. A study conducted by the Magisters had shown that the Botanians were incredibly loyal to their homeland; they wouldn’t flee under normal circumstances. City lords, especially, tended to stubbornly guard their cities since it was their place of birth and growth. Their cities bore great sentimental values and they were nurtured by the land for centuries.
Parlina shook her head. “I have no idea. This seems to be happening everywhere too. Something beyond our knowledge is happening.” She rotated the crystal ball and channelled a stream of mana into it. The screen of light flickered slightly, projecting an aerial map of a few Botanian cities this time. Something odd caught the Magisters’ attention: tiny dots were moving out of the cities. The hydromancer intensified her mana output to get a clearer image. The Magisters could finally make out the escaping hoard of Botanians pouring out of the city.
“What is going on?” Porscher mumbled under his breath. From the looks of it, it was a mass migration.
“The surveillance image shown here was taken a week ago by the surveying Magister.” Parlina lowered her voice. “Maybe it’s time to report this to the commanding division.”
“Yeah.” Porscher agreed.
Even so, the Magisters’ joint report barely drew any attention from the commanding division in Battlezone 7. The level-two Magisters had received plenty of similar reports over the past month from various zones. The mass migration of Botanians was spotted all across untouched territories on Wilderia. A level-three Magister’s observation and numerous divinations had found that these Botanians were flocking towards the Holy City.
“What the hell is going on?” A level-two Magister echoed Porscher’s confusion. The only thing that answered him was the equally perplexed expressions of his colleagues. Their leader, a level-three Magister, seemed to have struck an idea. He turned around to instruct, “Quick, mobilise the spatial fortress’ energy detector for an analysis on the energy distribution of these migrating Botanians.” This wasn’t an issue since the commanding division was authorised to use some of the spatial fortress’ functions.
A general outline of Botania was received with the energy mass spectrum diagram requested. There were energy arrows positioned at different areas across the three continents, which invariably pointed towards the Holy City on the south of Wilderia.
Lifeforms that were labelled with arrows were those with considerable energy. From the intensity of its colour, the level-three Magister could easily pinpoint it as a level-three Botanian. Those that gathered around it were most certainly level-two Botanians while level-one Botanians could be seen tailing the formation. The direction of the arrow was a visualisation of the plane’s energy flow. Needless to say, the vast energy recorded behind the arrows was an astonishing crowd of regular Botanians.
“Are they trying to gather their resources for a final battle?” The level-three Magister snorted. Based on his rich experiences in planar wars, this seemed to be characteristic of a last-ditch effort. Regardless, it was just a pathetic way to hasten their defeat. Their attempt at attacking the Sanctum and Hall of Knights were laughable.
Despite that, the level-three Magister still quickly sent the newly obtained information to Magister Mist, who was currently at the frontlines. He’d also sent a copy to the Hall of Knights representatives right away.
Soon enough, Magister Mist’s transmission arrived. “Shift one-third of our people to Battlezone 2 right away!”
One after another, magical lights were cast towards various corners of the plane. The Hall of Knights responded quickly to the situation. Despite their ongoing massacres across Wilderia, Fertilia and Aqualilia, they’d dispatched a part of their manpower over to Battlezone 2, which was strategically placed near the Holy City.
Parlina couldn’t help but sigh when the explicit orders arrived at their camp two days later. “I can’t believe the final battle will come so soon.”
She’d thought that the invasion gradually wear into the forces of Botania. Yet, the Botanians had resorted to gathering their remaining resources in the heart of the plane. While war may not be their true intention and the move was probably meant to protect their treemen formation, it did look like they were about to mount a decisive final battle in the Three Western Isles’ eyes.
The Sanctum refused to let them have their way and the Hall of Knights were adamant about securing their profits. No matter how hard the Botanians resisted, the Holy City was bound to be breached and the minor place was destined for doom. Some Magisters could already see an early ending to this conquest.