Another six months trickled away, the once proud-standing Centaurian royal capital was now merely rubble, its pitiful state marking the fall of Centauria. Stars had rained down on them a month ago, shaking everything in existence. The low-rank plane had experienced two massive quakes over three years, which was an unprecedented frequency across the past fifty years. Centauria’s climate was completely out of order; there was snow in June, rivers began to flow against the current and volcanoes were spewing violently. There could be only one reason behind such chaos: the fall of an irreplaceable presence that bore utmost importance to the plane.
The eastern continent, where the royal capital used to be in the north, was blemished with deep craters that stretched far and wide. Its bottom was concentrated with rampaging elemental mana, which gave rise to many unfathomable oddities at any given moment. The violent energy bursts were almost as strong as a level-one lifeform that was unleashing its full powers.
This was no place to be, especially for those that were below level one. There was also another similar depression on the western continent. These indents were created when the two level-four Centaurian deities met their demises respectively!
In the astral proximity beyond Centauria, an old man in black fiddled with a luxurious gold-plated longbow mindlessly. "Tch, it’s just a weapon that uses high-grade materials to mask its simple mechanism.” The Archmagister scoffed at the weapon. “You can have it, I have no use for trash anyway.” He tossed the bow to the nearby golden giant haphazardly.
Gaia quickly received the object. The longbow may be nothing in Banam’s eye but it was most definitely a treasure to him. It’d been used by a level-four being for years, which was why it reeked with a distinct vehemence and vitality. This was not a weapon that could be properly utilised by a level-three lifeform.
“Master Banam, I’ll compensate with a million slave creatures,” said Gaia. The black-robed Archmagister completely missing his offer.
The older caster continued to ramble, “Botania is of considerable value but Zachary and Odis seemed to be having trouble settling it fast. I want you to dispatch two of our troops once things are stable here.”
The southern continent of Centauria had been the first to succumb to the invasion. The Three Western Isles had ruled over the territory for dozens of years, long enough to allow the younger Centaurians to accept them as rightful leaders. The newer generation had only learnt of their previous glory entirely from hearsay since the plane had yet to develop a proper documentation system. They hadn’t invented paper yet so they had mostly written on beast skin and communicated information through word of mouth.
Pitch Stone City was a main city that occupied one-third of the southern continent. This used to be a place where only the strongest Centaurians could reside but was now a restricted area even to the most vulnerable Centaurians for it now housed a thousand casters and knights.
Seven Magisters of overwhelming power gathered in a tall tower built of dark stones and wood. The structure greatly resembled the grand Sanctum towers back on the Three Western Isles. It became apparent that the knowledgeable intellects had tried to replicate their native architecture using Centauria’s resources.
“We’ve learnt from Gresy and Chivas that their progress has caught up with ours. The southern continent can be said to be under our full control now,” announced a Magister with a snowy beard. The stature of the other attendees was quite relaxed. After all, the most gruelling part of the war was over and all that was left was to reap their spoils. Even so, there was a Magister that didn’t seem to share the same lightheartedness. He donned a mask that hid his expressions away.
“The higher-ups are demanding that we send one of us to Botania,” said the white-bearded Magister, eyes never once leaving the masked Magister. In fact, everyone’s attention was placed on this eccentric caster.
“Sure, I’ll go,” answered the Magister, seemingly aware of everyone’s attention.
“We’ll leave it to you then, Charles.” The white-bearded Magister was extending a courtesy that went far beyond the norm. He was a level-three Magister and the masked Magister was of a lower rank. What was the reason behind this odd display of respect?
“No worries.” A curt reply was muttered beneath the mask. This wasn’t anything out of expectation since all Three Western Isles’ territories were requested to mobilise some resources for the conquest of Botania.
A month later, a few hundred thousand knights and casters along with a million slaves were loaded into a massive spatial fortress. The Three Western Isles was bound to reign as victor be it on Botania or Centauria, so there was no need for Archmagister Banam to teleport their numbers through dimension folding without urgency. Travelling via the spatial fortress was the most convenient and economical approach since they still needed another three to four years to tie loose ends up on Centauria.
The Three Western Isles had dominated two-thirds of Fertilia in six months. Even so, they failed to make any subsequent progress on the remaining land since a massive number of regular Botanians and their elites that were beyond level two had flocked to the coastlines in panic. It was a mass aggregation of competent resistance forces that greatly hindered the Three Western Isles’ progress.
Locke had been exempted from Ashar’s laboratory today since he was sent to a nearby knight contingent to complete a simple exchange of intel. He rode atop the base-rank scorpiondrake, Parlina’s mana infused brooch dangling off his side as he couldn’t help but notice that he was very different from the other Hall of Knight members.
The knight contingent had just breached the Botanian city, as seen from the large pile of Botanian corpses that were scattered around. The slaughter continued in the background since the essence was just as effective for knights as it was for casters. These brawny knights that thought with their muscles weren’t half as sophisticated as the casters when it came to essence consumption. These muscle heads could be seen around bonfires on the side of the streets, busy roasting skewered Botanian flesh over the open flame.
Locke scowled, not the least bit impressed by their actions. He’d learnt from Ashar’s experiments that the Botanian essence tended to degrade when exposed to higher temperatures. There would be no salvageable essence left in the Botanian skewers by the time it was deemed cooked! Their approach was way too primitive to stomach.
The knights watched Locke too, mirroring his curiosity. The Magister’s brooch and the eldritch scorpiondrake had drawn their attention. It was every knight’s dream to bond with an excellent familiar that shared great synergy. However, they couldn’t initiate binding contracts nor did they possess the ability to leave soul imprints. This had left them with the only option to settle for a long-time pet or leave it up to luck. Fortunately, this would no longer be an issue once they become level-one Ritters. Ritters were then able to grasp simple mental power applications which could be used to bind a mount that was about their level in power.
Locke passed the brooch to the high-rank Knecht ahead once he entered the city hall. He was shown to a corner and requested to wait. Parlina had mentioned that this contingent was led by an excellent level-two Erdritter, hence this was most probably her attempt to allow his interaction with the Hall of Knights. It would be splendid if he could learn more about advancing as a Ritter.
While Parlina always kept him busy with various missions, it was certain that she had his best interest in mind. The slight distance between them seemed to have melted away with time. Locke had been expecting a level-one Ritter to greet him but his thoughts were proven wrong after some waiting.
“Frau Garcia, is that you?”
A female Erdritter strode over with unrivalled confidence, emerald armour glistening in the light. The removal of her helmet freed her soft hair, revealing a face that was equal parts gorgeous and intense. She was indeed level-two Erdritter Garcia from the Aomarian Empire.
“Hey, it’s you!” The Erdritter was taken aback. It appeared that she still remembered the young Knecht that she’d chanced upon in Morphey Forest ten years ago.
The base-rank scorpiondrake let out a scared growl in the yard as it picked up on Garcia’s devastating powers via its exceptional bestial senses.