Blacksmith of the Apocalypse

Chapter 521: Scarred Earth

Chapter 521: Scarred Earth

For several minutes, everyone was pressed in their seats as the bus accelerated and left Delta and its floating islands behind.

It seemed that Al’Zalsar has also made some modifications to the bus pertaining to its speed. The mountain peaks below flew by as they traveled north. Seth was looking out the window when a soft hand grasped his own.

“Mina?” he whispered, seeing his girlfriend intertwining her fingers with his and grabbing his hand tightly.

She nervously looked out the window. Although she tried to hide her fear, her ears and tail gave it away. Could it be that Mina had fear of flying? It wasn’t often that Mina showed a weakness to him and her trying to hide it made it even more endearing.

He grasped her hand tightly in return and looked her in the eyes to reassure her. They didn’t talk, but he could feel her become less tense beside him.

After a while, it became boring to watch the mountains and people started to have an idle talk.

“S-Say, Seth… how come you have such a peculiar vehicle? It doesn’t seem like something you would have bought in Chrona? Don’t tell you can also make something like this…?” Leana approached him when their flight stabilized.

“Oh, this? This is the work of our finest dwarven blacksmiths and our affiliated enchanter.” Seth answered her question without committing to anything.

Despite the incident of destroying several peaks, the princess knew little about Al’Zalsar and her power. Seth didn’t feel like telling the princess information about the terribly strong person backing them. The fewer people knew about the true power behind Minas Mar, the better.

“Fantastic. I didn’t expect that there would already be people with such skills in Delta. It’s good to know that you are developing so quickly.” she said with a bright smile.

Seth had not expected her to react so…positively. He almost felt a little bad for having secrets. Up to now, all interactions with the princess normally ended in mutual benefit or with him gaining something. He had to admit, that his distrust seemed unwarranted.

Still, it didn’t feel right to just spit out his secrets to her.

“You are just placating me. The sky of Chrona is full of flying vessels, This should be nothing in your eyes.”

“Well, that’s true, but something this fast and well armored also isn’t common. Even I don’t have something like this here,” she admitted with a smile.

“It’s eating more than enough magic crystal in exchange for his speed.” the blacksmith answered self-deprecatingly.

They spent some time this way, talking about nothing really. Others did the same, after all, there was nothing else to do for now. Not many monsters were able to keep up with the bus, speeding through the sky.

To everyone’s surprise, even Seth’s, those that could keep up were almost immediately taken down by Ceres. It was almost creepy when the bird set off and burned creatures out of the sky with a burst of gleeful laughter.

At first, everyone would stare at Seth with a questioning stare, but what was he supposed to do? He had taken some time to get an idea about Ceres’s skills, but outside of actual combat, he didn’t really have a way to assess the full extent.

Fortunately, they got used to it after some time and Seth was spared from their dumbfounded looks. Seth also got the chance for some private talk with Yvette. Of course, it was about the dragon scales. He couldn’t help but blame her a little to get herself into danger while holding onto something so precious.

“I only accepted because Leana said that we are traveling with you. Isn’t this your quest to get those things cleansed? I thought it might even come in handy when I was already there with the dragon scales when you finish the quest.” she argued with a hushed voice.

Though unwilling, Seth couldn’t help but acknowledge her logic. It was the best course of action for her, as she could stay on good terms with him and Leana. If she wanted to grow the religion of Sanhach she couldn’t only rely on Minas Mar.

When everyone got a little hungry after several hours of flight, Bulko brought out the ration Link had prepared for them.

“Wow, this is really delicious!” Leana complimented when she tasted the bronze bird dishes the gourmet hunter had made for their journey.

“Were these prepared by the head chef of the Turquoise Anvil?” she asked excitedly.

“You know about Link?”

“Of course, I have been visiting the restaurant regularly.” she bragged.

“I hate to interrupt your talk, but what is that over there?” Lixiss commented.

She was pointing out the window to the right. Currently, they had left the central mountain range and flew along the edge over the foothills. The quarter elf was pointing at a vast stretch of land covered in dark clouds.

With a clean cut, a gray and dead wasteland without any visible plant life began below the blanket of dirty, sick-looking clouds. Especially Leana’s face fell when she saw this.

“Is that… Gamma?” Seth asked speechlessly after checking his map. He could see Lena balling her fist tightly.

“Does this something have to do with Arget Nore?” Mina asked seriously.

She was accompanying the princess when they dealt with the undead empire, so she was the first to question the connection when she heard that they were close to Gamma. Leana let out a long sigh.

“Yeah, I heard about this. It’s a strategy of the undead empire called Scarred Earth. They terraform their territory into a land of dead that does not allow for any life. This way they demotivate other from trying to reconquer the land… ” she explained with a serious expression.

“Could this be the reason your scouts didn’t come back?” Yvette asked but Leana shook her head.

“This magic doesn’t have any immediate effect on players and barely any on someone at the level of the scouts. Also, we still have a truce with them, they wouldn’t attack people from Chrona. Still…”

“This isn’t what you expected they would do after making a truce?” Seth concluded from her expression.

The princess had obviously not thought that Arget Nore would go as far as to use the Scarred Earth.

“Maybe there is a special reason we don’t know. The undead usually aren’t this aggressive in their approach. There has to be a reason why they created such a foothold on Urth.” the princess deliberated.

If there was, they didn’t know it.

“Should we do something about it?” the cloaked figure asked the princess, but Leana shook her head.

“It’s not our mission right now. But I will ask Arget Nore for an explanation when we are back at Delta.”

Seth didn’t worry too much. His heart sank at first when the saw the wasteland, but in the end, he realized that this was not necessarily a problem. Gamma had long been evacuated with the help of Chrona and the people had suffered a lot more under the Zarkists, than from the undead.

Did his heartache because Urth kept changing under these foreign influences? Sure, a little. But then why would he be more upset about the undead empire, than about the giant forest that almost killed him, or the districts that were left in ruins.

Urth was changing, probably a lot more than he himself knew about. With the Age of Gods, this would probably only become worse. He could only accept that. It wasn’t all bad, he could look forward to the first chosen of a holy God that would set out to vanquish the undead for easy experience.

The sight of the devastated land did not accompany them for too long, but the impact stayed. The bus had fallen silent as everyone had their own thoughts about what they had just seen.

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