Agus felt his anger mellow out with a new Botanian nucleus core in his grip. The core was far from perfect by any means but it was enough to pacify him. The nucleus cores of the awakened past level-three Botanians were defects at best for they didn’t have much life left in them. Those from whom perfect level-three nucleus cores could be harvested were of the current generation. Even so, the Botanian essence in those ‘defects’ still made it more valuable than the regular level-one nucleus cores. It was still equivalent to at least two energy crystals among the private trading circle of the level-three Zauberians.
Agus scoffed, “You shall be next,” glaring daggers at Tendril City in the distance. He had a gut feeling that the sunflower Botanian that’d ambushed him long ago was there.
The bloodshed in Battlezone 2 continued without rest. A sea of slaves and Ritters had swept the outer corner clean of any Botanian above level one, leaving the vulnerable regular Botanians entangled in a messy fight against the Knechts and Lehrlings.
Locke launched his spear into a pouncing Botanian atop Adamyrs, another quickly following from another direction before he could take a breather. The Akanasd beneath him blew inky fumes, melting the assaulting Botanian into puddles upon contact. It had been a while since he’d wielded a spear but his technique was far from rusty; the weapon was all he had in his earlier years, after all.
On the other end, Angelina reaped the Botanians with ease atop Shiva’s spine. A few base-rank major monsters surrounded them as aid. The surrounding knights and casters followed the couple’s lead. They moved around the two transcendent-rank major monsters and helped subdue the Botanians. Most of the cannon fodder was on the frontlines and the battle behind had fallen mostly on the shoulders of these Knechts and Lehrlings. While the Three Western Isles’ dwindling manpower was the motivation behind the arrangement, the Magisters too had intended to train these younglings. Exposure to the bloodshed and gunpowder of war would force them to hone their skills, after all.
Battlezone 2 was plagued with pure chaos. Both Angelina and Locke were separated from their initial group, which the few base-rank scorpiondrakes had managed to tail. Yet, the formidable combination of the Akanasds and their competence had attracted the reliance of their nearby comrades. The battlefield was huge, unlike their previous missions that focused on conquering a city. It was nothing but violence at every corner as the Botanians put up a stubborn defence while the invading forces attempted to breach it relentlessly.
It seemed as though the stubborn Botanians had gotten on the Akanasds’ nerves at some point. They stretched their wings and leapt, bringing both Locke and Angelina towards the sky. The Akanasd sovereigns let out a deafening screech, sending several waves of intense energy to the ground. Orbs of Shadow were Ashar’s signature attack; Adamyrs and Shiva had released similar yet larger ones but its vehemence paled in comparison to Ashar’s. Theirs were only as strong as those capable of high-rank major monsters with their only advantage being wider coverage and rapid frequency.
Dozens of energy balls exploded below, clearing the space temporarily that allowed the knights, casters and slaves to breathe easy. The powers of a level-one lifeform were on full display; the Akanasds were masters of their attacks for it barely scratched anyone on their side. Unfortunately, the clearance was short-lived. More Botanians soon came rushing over and the chaos resumed. The war was going on forever without an end in sight and all everyone could do was to push through it.
The echoing war cries persisted even when night fell. The Botanians were largely vulnerable in the night for they depended on sunlight for sustenance. For humans, on the other hand, darkness was nothing to those above high-rank Knechts unless they’d suffered some form of visual disability. While the knights were observably exhausted, their attack was no less precise. Casters were casting illumination spells across the field constantly, relying on their energy crystals to replenish themselves since Botanian essence was ineffective in that aspect.
It became obvious that this was a battle of attrition. The Sanctum and Hall of Knights’ determination to flatten Battlezone 2 were unmistakable for they refused to leave any breathing room for the Botanians.
Two months later, one capital and eleven Botanian cities in Battlezone 2 had fallen to the Three Western Isles while those in the remaining territories struggled to survive. As war continued to boil over, demigod Magister Mist was busy casting a meteor shower spell in the background. Four months later, meteors were sent raining down, burning down Tendril City and many others. The sunflower high priest had escaped with grave injuries while two past level-three Botanians were found charred to death.
Locke watched the marvellous cataclysm from a distant corner. The level-three Magister Mist would later vanish from the battlefield after his successful gathering of all nearby meteors in the astral realm. The heavy exertion of mana on a foreign plane had proven to be taxing on his physical body; He would need at least a month-long recuperation to recover.
The final Botanian capital was defeated five months later. Locke and Angelina were following Ashar and another level-one Magister to conquer another city by then. It had taken six months for the Three Western Isles to gain dominance over the entire Battlezone 2. It was finally time for the two demigod Ritters to lead ten level-three Himmelritters and a few thousand Ritters into Battlezone 1.
Sensing its impending doom, the World Tree that reached into the skies began to tremble. Its consciousness was deeply disturbed by the unwelcomed presences, causing it to wilt. Its dried leaves rained down with a loud rustle.