Parlina halted Locke before he could step beyond the ruined gates of Terrain Rock City on a harvest spree. The Magister called for Angelina and Daenie too.
“How can I help you, Grandmeisterin?” Angelina was well-mannered as usual.
The hydromancer patted Angelina's head affectionately, letting her words brew in her mind a little longer. “We’re about to split our contingent into two. Who will the three of you wish to follow?”
The Magisters had already learnt of the shift of manpower before the attack on Terrain Rock City. A part of their resources would remain in Battlezone 33 with Parlina while the other would move to Battlezone 7 with Ashar and Carla. They’d even managed to find out that the latter would eventually end up in Battlezone 2.
This was alarming as Battlezone 2 was one of the most dangerous places on Botania. It was closest to the World Tree and the Holy City. The threat it packed was hefty even for a Ritter, let alone a quasi-Ritter like Locke. It went without saying that many elite level-three lifeforms would collide there.
Locke wasn’t even confident enough to survive through the resultant shockwaves of a level-two lifeform’s attack. He didn’t know how to answer Parlina. Admittedly, he wished to see the extent of a battle between elites yet he feared it. Locke was ultimately limited by his current inadequacy. Angelina and Daenie were in a dilemma too. They were weaker than Locke, hence the risks were high even with the slaves’ protection.
“I understand your concerns. You’ll come with me when the time comes,” said Parlina with a nod. She was rather impressed with their choices. It was appropriate for their circumstances; nothing was embarrassing about temporary avoidance when met with difficult situations.
Yet, the fact that they were even getting a choice further highlighted the favouritism involved. The other Lehrlings would never be given the same privilege. Regular Lehrlings were expected to oblige their Magisters’ orders despite deadly threats.
The spoils received from Terrain Rock City had once again filled Locke’s spatial ring. At this point of the war, he’d purchased around a dozen of them from the casters. Before he could snap out of his glee, a cold voice stirred the atmosphere.
“Locke and Angelina, you are to follow Magister Ashar and Carla to Battlezone 7.” To their surprise, the order was issued by Ashar and Carla themselves. Locke and Angelina quickly set off to meet them.
“Know that I’d never harm you, Angelina. You’ll benefit greatly from following me.” That was the explanation Carla offered when questioned. Ever since Angelina was made her sole mentee, she’d done everything in her power to care for the Faustian princess’ development and wellbeing. Carla had done everything expected of an excellent mentor.
Angelina viewed Carla as a mother figure and had never doubted her. She had no objections to the photomancer’s instructions. However, things weren’t as easy on Locke’s end. Ashar was intent on ignoring Locke. It appeared that the powerful level-one Magister did not wish to spare him the slightest explanation. Fortunately, her charitable attitude towards him had at least convinced Locke that she wouldn’t leave him to die on the hellish battlefield.
They would depart a few days following the complete domination of Terrain Rock City and time was running scarce. Locke quickly led dozens of slaves into the city on a maddened pursuit of Botanians above mid-rank capabilities. Battlezone 2 was packed with danger so Locke wished to equip himself better for the unknown.
Locke had barely felt anything for the Botanians. Allie the peach had been the only Botanian he’d felt empathy to an extent of letting its family loose. Similar to how one would rarely be emotionally attached to their food, Locke viewed the Botanians as nothing more than mere prey. He was more focused on surviving the battlegrounds with his lover than being bothered with Botanian lives. The Botanians were turned into essences and stowed away in Locke’s spatial ring. This was the best form of their value in his opinion.
A floating vessel from Battlezone 7 arrived in their location a few days later. Battlezone 33 was a considerable distance away from the base, making it impossible for them to arrive on time through regular travelling.
There were a total of four hundred Lehrlings and slaves in Ashar and Carla’s contingent. To Locke’s surprise, there were more contingents led by capable Magisters already seated inside the vessel.
Despite being siblings, Ashar and Carla’s temperaments were polar opposites. The photomancer had courteously returned all greetings received from the other Magisters while Ashar ignored everyone pointedly.
Anyone affiliated with the Sanctum would’ve somewhat heard of the sisters. Most of them had smiled wryly at Ashar’s aloofness since they were aware of her eccentricities. The few that knew nothing about her scrunched their brows at her rudeness.
The Akanasd family had followed Locke and Angelina onto the floating vessel as well. Adamyrs could sense the presence of a level-two Magister among the many energies onboard. It immediately laid low, leading its family to an unassuming corner among many of Ashar’s slaves for the journey.