The mountain people led the way riding on wholly rhinos.
The way was not long. They followed a fork in the road and arrived at a town around noon. It was a settlement at the side of the mountain with a giant statue carved into the flank rocky cliff. The statue depicted an anthropomorphic version of rhinoceroses they rode.
Was it their local belief that had kept them here, instead of moving to the districts?
The town was slightly damaged and antiquated when compared to modern towns. But one could see life thriving in this place. The caravan was brought to a hotel. The rooms were relatively clean and free to stay a night.
The food was good, the beds were comfy. In short, Seth liked the place. The rest of the party also welcomed a relaxing stay after traveling through the wilderness for more than a week.
After a long sleep and a good meal, he felt a lot better and hit the road. Seth went to explore the town. It was rather hard going on a sightseeing trip in the current world. The giant statue looked quite interesting.
He knew that across the continent a lot of old ruins could be found, but how often would he be able to find one of those. Manila was in charge of their group, so he asked her about the statue and his thoughts from the day before.
”Ah, yes. That is so. Our people stayed because of the monument of Nas ’Korn. You can go ahead and visit it whenever you like. I recommend going in the evening. The statue will give off a gentle humming sound that helps most people relax and calm down. ”
He had asked the party and Ruby was excited to come along, which meant Tekar, Mary, and Jane had to come too.
The statue was huge. At least 30 meters high and hewn directly out of the mountain. Ruby was running around it excitedly while Tekar could only smile wryly. There were some people around, kneeling on the step towards the statue but nobody seemed disturbed by the little girl having fun. On the contrary, some bore a benevolent smile on their faces.
When the sun touched the horizon, a low hum filled the place around and before the statue. Like the deep sound of a huge loudspeaker. Everyone had an expression of relaxation. Even Ruby quieted down. Everyone, except Seth.
He heard the hum at first and then it started changing.
”How am I supposed to help you, when you forgot the ability to understand me? ”
It kept lamenting about the abnormality of the situation and tried to ask why the dead world had suddenly recovered. But nobody answered it. Nobody could answer it.
At least not until Seth went behind its back where he could not be seen.
”Hey, can you stop whining? Your weird language is really ringing in my ears, ” he said annoyed.
”You can understand me? That ’s great! I need to ask a favor of you. ”
Seth sighed. Maybe he should not have spoken up?
”Okay, let ’s hear it. ”
It explained a suspicion Al already had. The reason for the abnormal amount of magic in the mountain. Several thousand years ago, when the world ’s magic was declining, a powerful Archmage had created a formation within the mountain to collect sparse mana in the world and send it to his tower. He wanted this power to elongate his life as much as possible.
The problem was that nobody expected the magic to come back. The formation was way too powerful right now and was going haywire. There was too much mana for the pipeline. If it was not deactivated it might come to a meltdown and create a magic storm that will destroy this mountain city.
The statue somehow read Seth ’s expression who was anything but happy about a sudden adventure.
”I ’m not telling you to do it for free! You are a blacksmith, right? All your items carry your aura. If you go down there, I am sure you can harvest a lot of precious materials from the formation and the pipeline! You might even be able to find a way to his magic tower. He was very rich and should be quite dead by now. He won ’t mind you taking his stuff. ”
Seth thought about it for a moment. It wasn ’t like they were in a hurry to get to Delta and he could Drosi whether he wanted to join him. They could leave the non-combatants in the town with some people.
The totem explained to him the position of the entrance to the hidden formation and a quest marker appeared on Seth ’s map.
”Remember, when you find the door, you have to chant the magic phrase to open it. ”
Seth nodded and left to tell Drosi and the party about the quest. He was sure everyone would feel safer if they had some of the Tijaahk guardians with them.
He returned with the girls, Tekar and his daughter, and assembled the party to tell them about the quest. Everyone agreed to ask Drosi for cooperation. This was not about dungeons, so the danger of actual death existed. It was better to be too careful than to rush in and be wiped by an unknown variable.
He spent the rest of the day talking and planning with his party and Drosi. The old cat was a true merchant. He immediately joined when he heard that there was no acute danger but probably a high reward.
He also got Manila to join them. Whether she believed him or not was of no importance. She knew the surroundings and was a great help in planning their travel. They would leave Ruby, Mary, and Jane together with some guardian and the rest of the caravan in town.
It would only be the party, Drosi, and a few cat guardians. Drosi would be able to fill the gap that Puffles left as a healer.
The entrance to the formation was not too far away, but there were no paths leading to it. It would take several hours on foot to walk there in the snow. This path might very well be the most dangerous part of the quest.
Seth had no doubts that he would be able to stop the formation. He had his cheat lich with him. And in the worst case, they could try to break it with brute force.
Their company set off on the morning of the next day. They had not time to lose. The longer they waited the more dangerous the formation would become.
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