Blacksmith of the Apocalypse

Chapter 110: Leaving Tora

The night was quiet. They travel during the next day, too. Were the wyverns tired from the fight against the bloodslave drakes? No matter what the reason was, Seth and the rest were glad not having to fight. Of course, this did not mean their journey became comfortable. The climate of the region became rougher and rougher the closer they came to Tora.

Snow covered the environment and the harsh cold creep into their armors. Wind kept pulling on their clothes and the wagons ’ covers. This was the reason, they were glad, that there were no attacks. Fighting under such conditions would have been terrible. Even the mood to chatter had made way to their teeth ’s clatter.

Their company had grown with the additional hunters and traders. The hunters were useful as they knew the region and could scout their surroundings. They found some frozen corpses along the road, but there were no concrete signs of whether they were killed by monsters or the climate.

The priests showed mercy and used some mana on buffs to fight the cold, but their relief was great when they reached the next checkpoint; a natural hot spring. The place smelled of sulfur and other volcanic gases, so it was not a nice smell. Nobody had the urge to go for a dip either. But it was nice and warm in the dwarven cave heated by geothermal energy.

They were heavily guarded during this night, to prevent what had happened in the last cave they had tried to stay in. Still, the night was almost suspiciously quiet. It was as if that night had been a lie. They set off early in the morning. The goal was to skip the next checkpoint and reach Tora in the evening.

The recent peace had dulled their vigilance. The valley they entered at noon changed that completely. The road led through a small valley basin covered in a thick layer of snow. Sticking from the snow were a huge number of frozen corpses and body parts. Like a forest of limbs, they were reaching up to the sky from beneath the snow.

Judging by the shocked expression of the hunters, this was not supposed to be here. Was this a big caravan that had been ambushed by drakes? Or did the wyvern throw their victim here to store food? No matter the reason, their nerves were taught as the caravan tried to hurry past the macabre scenery.

It reminded Seth so much of many scenes from games and movies. He had the powerful urge to preemptively set the whole valley on fire. However, he couldn´t. There was no guarantee that there was a real danger. Seth couldn´t just reveal his powers and probably increase his arsonist title, for no reason but being cautious.

It was when they reached the bottom of the valley basin when Seth saw a small movement in the corner of his eyes.

”I knew it… ”

He was not the only one who had seen the movements. Many adventurers took a battle stance and their colleagues soon followed after Venturi gave the command. The corpses were slow, so the Vice-master acted fast and used the time. The caravans ’ wagons were moved to form an easily defendable circle, with the horses and non-combatants in the middle. The parties got in formation to defend the wagon fort.

All the damaged and frozen corpses around them started moving in broken and erratic movements. It looks very unnatural and off-putting to watch them walk on broken bones. Their broken arms bend in weird angles as if possessing several joints.

Puppet suggested that someone was controlling these things. Among the shambling marionettes faster, more agile shadows rose from the snow.

They were the same creatures Seth had met in the abandoned dungeon.

”Be careful. The fast ones are a lot stronger than their level suggests! ” he warned the others as they got ready to defend against the wall of rotten flesh.

The undead only

The Frontliners were surrounding the wagon fort, while the casters and ranged units stood on the wagons and carts to attack the monster slowly surrounding them. The corpse puppets could pose a threat to D-Ranks or ordinary traders but posed no threat to them. Even with their numbers. The bloodslaves ’ strength could have been a surprise without Seth´s warning, but with it, the people stayed vigilant.

The humanoid bloodslaves could pose a threat to ordinary C-Ranks at most, but not to this party full of B- and A-Ranks. Even if they were stronger than their level suggested, a genuine B-Rank adventurer was lv.50+ and kitted out in powerful items. It was just a matter of time before the undead and bloodslaves were wiped out under the hand of the overpowered adventurers. Whoever set up this trap had expected bunnies, not bears to step in.

The most fascinating show of power in Seth´s eyes was probably Venturi. The old mage had chanted something for 5 minutes and suddenly unleashed a wave of energy. There was no fire or great special effects, but all corpse puppets in a radius of 50 meters around them suddenly started to blister as if they were burned and melted into puddles of rotten sludge. It was one of the most horrific processes Seth had seen ever since leaving home.

The caravan hurriedly left the valley behind after spending two hours exterminating the vermin. Seth got the vague feeling, that someone did not want anyone to reach Tora. Fin had told them what had happened in Ora. About how there was something that had upset the wyverns and Tora didn´t tell them. It seemed pretty obvious now what had upset them, but what was their reason to keep these things secret?

They increased their speed to make up for the time lost in the valley. Even the powerful horses the rescue party had come with were slowly reaching the limit of their capabilities. It just showed how strong they were, the normal horses with only single riders had a hard time keeping up with them pulling the carts.

There were more traps like this on the way. The corpses of victims or monsters suddenly moving and attacking. Unlike before, they didn´t stop but simply passed by the slow undead with overwhelming speed. Venturi ’s decision was to be fast and efficient. He did not take any more unnecessary fights. The adventurers on the other hand dearly wished to stop and fight. Even the non-combatants had this wish. The wagons were not spring-loaded for the most part and traveled at full speed on rough roads. They would do anything for a break from this torture!

Even bigger was their joy when they finally saw Tora appear on the horizon. The city was a lot smaller than Ora but similar in built. The biggest part of the city was located within the slopes of a mountain peak with only a small part being buildings and houses surrounded by a big city wall. The latter had less of a city and more of a fortified settlement.

On the other hand, was Tora the doorway to the subterranean dwarven kingdoms. While Ora´s prosperity and size came from the many mines it was connected to, Tora was a crossroad where many trade routes of the different dwarven cities came together and connected to the surface.

This great trade hub laid before them in concerning silence.

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