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The Isles were a large formation of reef islands that neighbored the shoreline.
These isles were ordinarily below sea level for most of the year due to the effect of the tides. They would only surface during the ninth or tenth month of the year when monsoon season was coming. This place would then become a forbidden area that no sea explorer would ever dare to approach.
That was why the Pale Witches made use of the Echo Isles, constructing a secure forward base from which to launch a constant attack on Garan.
It wasn't as if the elves didn't know of the danger the Echo Isles posed to them; they simply couldn't do anything about it.
The witches had set up a dense layer of various defensive and offensive arrays upon the only main island of the Echo Isles that remained above water throughout the year. With a Third Grade witch stationed upon the island, the elves would have to pay an unimaginable price to rid the island of the witches.
Moreover, there were about thirty to thirty-five kilometers of distance between the Echo Isles and Garan. The elves could only mobilize their large navy and aerial units if they wanted to attack that island. However, the haphazard formation of reefs around the Echo Isles would become the nightmare of the elven navy if they were ever mobilized.
On the other hand, the elven aerial units would have to travel a long distance to join the battle. Most pegasi and hippogryphs would not have the stamina to fly dozens of kilometers and then proceed to attack the well-defended stronghold of the witches. That was how the Echo Isles vanguard witch base had existed for over two hundred years without being destroyed by the elves.
The only thing the elves could do was construct a new elven city near the closest shore to the Echo Isles. That was Greenwater City. A powerful elven army had been stationed there to repel the attacks of the witches. They were the Windrunners.
This Windrunner unit contained almost all aerial units of the elven kingdom that could fly, from low-grade flower fairies to high-grade green spirits, low-grade pegasus knights to high-grade silver pegasus knights, and even groups of hippogryph riders, chimera hordes, and wind eagle strike units.
As long as it was a flying beast that could be found in Garan, it could be found in Greenwater City.
In addition to the large number of low-Grade druids and the forest companions they could summon, the witches would face a sky full of flying magical beasts if they ever dared to invade Greenwater City.
With Greenwater City and the large Windrunner unit keeping them in check, the witches' attacks on the south shore became extremely lackluster.
Upon moving into the Echo Isles, the allied army of the Pale and Dark Witches could only send some small witch squads to harass the enemy. These witch squads had to avoid Greenwater City and create trouble in other areas nearby. The existence of the Windrunner unit and the migration of the elven villages by the shore made it difficult for the witch squads to make any profit. In fact, they even had to endure the tremendous risk of death during these operations.
That undoubtedly lowered the combat profits of the witches, triggering the dissatisfaction of the Dark Witches that had come from the World of Adepts!
In particular, Third Grade Dark Witch Uzzah, who led this party, almost broke into arguments with the Pale Witches over this issue.
Uzzah bore a significant burden upon her shoulders entrusted to her by the witch leader on this mission. Apart from a small elven tribe to be brought back for the Dark Witches, she also needed to find a way to obtain the ultimate sacred relic of the pegasi- Magic Spring Water.
The expansion activities of the Dark Witches in the Shadow Plane were going very well. They badly needed a group from a high-grade intelligent species who could reproduce to migrate to that world. After several selections, they realized that the forest elves of Faen provided by the Pale Witches were the best choices.
However, the elves that the Pale Witches caught from Faen on a periodic basis were either elven warriors or archers. Almost all of them were combat-fit individuals with powerful bodies that were best suited to be trained as combat slaves. However, this didn't fit entirely with the expectations of the Dark Witches.
The Dark Witches wanted an entire tribe of elves that included both the elderly, the young, and the women. There should be at least four hundred of them. That would greatly ease the witches' observation and testing of the Shadow Plane's corruption process on foreign intelligent species.
On the other hand, the pegasus magic spring was the key to why the Fantasy Forest of Garan could continuously give birth to pegasi. It was said that pregnant pegasi or silver pegasi only gave birth to a pegasus if they went back to the magic spring of their holy land and drew upon the magic spring water. Otherwise, they could only give birth an ordinary horse.
This strange phenomenon had apparently attracted the curiosity of the witches.
Recently, the Dark Witches had been thinking of cultivating some suitable flying voodoo beasts. For that reason, they wanted to obtain some magic spring water for research.
However, the pegasus magic spring was located deep in the central mountains. It was an area heavily guarded by the elves. As such, the Dark Witches didn't dare to act boldly, despite being in quite the hurry. They could only find some way to get their hands on it.
That was why Third Grade Dark Witch Uzzah could no longer tolerate the Pale Witches' lack of any significant movements. She couldn't wait for the day they could split off from their group.
Yet, at this moment, she very unexpectedly received an attractive combat invitation.
The invitation came from Alice.
Ever since the start of the Calamity of Witches, the leader of the Fate Witches, Alice, had left the fleet of the Pale Witches. She had relied on her powerful flying ship and entered Garan on her own. The other witch branches very much envied such a massive metal fortress that could advance and retreat as it wished.
However, powering such a massive flying ship and keeping it in the air for such extended periods of time cost a shocking amount of magical crystals every second. It wasn't as if the other witch branches didn't possess similar methods and tools. They just didn't have the capacity to sustain such extravagant magical crystal consumption.
The Fate Witches, on the other hand, owned a Tower that had sealed itself for up to a thousand years. The amount of stockpiled magical crystals had to be stunning. Consequently, they could make up for their lack of combat power in the short term through such luxurious exhaustion of magical crystals. The witches of the other branches envied Alice's ability to fly so deep into enemy territory, but they weren't too surprised.
The Fate Witches that Alice led had already been in Garan for over two weeks. They must have obtained some substantial spoils of war. However, their squad didn't even have a Third Grade witch that could keep them safe. Surely, they had to have suffered losses from the brutal retaliation of the elves!
Now that Alice had actively invited the Dark Witches to move along with them, it was certain that they had been inflicted with tremendous damage.
Dark Witch Uzzah accepted Alice's combat invitation without any hesitation, even as she harbored traces of secret glee and disdain for the Fate Witch.
Year 10471, Month 10, Day 12 of the Faen Calendar.
Two light elven ships were patrolling around the Echo Isles.
Compared to the massive sea ships of the humans, the elven battleships were smaller and narrower. The upper decks were flatter and wider, often equipped with plenty of the unique magical machinery of the elves- the Birdwing Glaivethrowers.
These elven battleships were clearly unsuited for deep sea, where the winds and waves were enormous. Consequently, the elven ships couldn't travel too far out. However, they were the most common battleships of the elven navy in the shallow seas due to their speed and agility.
It was a sunny afternoon.
The cyan sky was clean and without a trace of a cloud, and the sea winds continued to breeze.
Two elven battleships were lackadaisically patrolling around the Echo Isles. The soldiers onboard were appreciating the beautiful scenery at sea while keeping an eye on every movement of the witches on the Echo Isles.
Winged pegasi would occasionally take to the skies from their ships. The elven knights equipped with telescopes would silently observe the surroundings from high above.
The white steeds-their large, pure white wings and elegant flight posture that made flying look as simple as walking-caused these pegasus knights to attract the attention of everyone. Elven warriors on all sides of the elven battleships were waving at the pegasus knights and paying their respects, shouting their greetings out loud.
These magical beast pegasi might look handsome, but their stamina was inferior to other flying magical beasts. That was why they were usually only responsible for the airspace security of a two-kilometer radius around an elven battleship. Alarms and warnings for more distant airspace would be dealt with by the more durable hippogryphs, who had more endurance.
The sea was extremely fair today. There was plenty of wonder to be found in the blue skies and seas. That was why the flying knights in charge of alerts were feeling playful and started to charge downward from above and ride the waves around the flying ship. Several lithe pegasi carried their knights on their backs and dove from two to three hundred meters high. They then abruptly pulled up at the very moment they approached the surface of the sea. The handsome alabaster pegasi would then step upon the waves and walk above the foam.
This exciting scene immediately drew the cheers of the elves. Several black dots even emerged from the large castle in the distant Echo Isles and looked in this direction.
Cidaris wiped away the sea foam on his face and climbed up toward the skies once more amidst the cheers and hand-waving of the other elves. The silver pegasus beneath him continued to rise until, finally, they were at the side of Knight Hegus, who was up a hundred meters high.
"You're not going down to play for a bit? It's rare for us to come to the Echo Isles. The witches won't dare to come out so easily. It's the perfect time to have our old companions stretch their muscles and loosen their bones. Their bones are practically rusted after all that time spent in the cabins." Cidaris asked with an upbeat tone. His eyes were filled with a profound incomprehension.
Most of the elven air units had been sent to Greenwater City. Several powerful elven god messengers were also stationed there. The eruption of the Calamity of Witches this year had been stopped by the elves at the very source. Even now, the attacking witches hadn't been able to set their foot upon the homeland of the elves.
Furthermore, the scattered witch squads that snuck onto Garan under cover of night would never be able to escape the pursuit of the Windrunners and other elven powerhouses if they showed themselves.
That was why Cidaris had never been concerned about this group of witches.
It was said that the focus of the witches' attack this year was still the Faen Continent, where the humans dominated. The attack on Garan was only a feint. As long as they could make it through four more months of low tides, the ferocious winds would start blowing in the depths of the ocean, and the witches would have no choice but to retreat to that evil Shadow Island of theirs.
When that happened, the Echo Isles would also be devoured by the rising sea level and be submerged underwater once again.
Without this powerful forward base, the witches would have a much harder time trying to harass Garan.
Just as Cidaris was occasionally piping up and 'harassing' Hegus, this somewhat stubborn loner of a silver pegasus knight suddenly trembled. He took out a shiny telescope from his waist and raised it to look at the sea in the distance.
"Sound the alarms…sound the alarms. Enemy assault!"
The very next instant, Silver Pegasus Knight Hegus suddenly rang the ear-piercing enemy siren he wore upon him.