Blacksmith of the Apocalypse

Chapter 281: 281.Increasing the Difficulty

In a cinema dimension sat a bunch of people with Hades, Hephaistos, and Seth sitting in the prime seats. They were flanked by a huffy faceless magician in a catchy robe and another faceless figure in a brown old robe.

”I really like what you built here. I normally only get to see cinemas after humanity got overrun by monsters. ” the figure in the brown robe wondered.

”I ’m glad you like it, ” Hades said amicably.

The robe talking was the god of dungeons. He and Hades had a rather good relationship as both their businesses focused mainly on what happened below the earth. Much of the dungeon business also couldn ’t really work without the permission of gods of death like hades.

The dungeon god of in the good books of most of them.

”I have to admit, what you put together this time could be quite entertaining. ” the system god acknowledged the trio ’s idea.

”It ’s not just our work. Without the dungeon god actively nudging the guild into the right direction, this couldn ’t have happened. ” Hades gave credit to the proudly nodding robe.

It was the dungeon god ’s interference that made the guild move and allowed for the tournament to work the way it did.

”But I have to say, isn ’t it a little boring with just these monsters? ” The System god asked. Monsters like Gnolls or Skeleton Knights were not really a big obstacle for people in a similar level range.

”Why are you guys smiling so creepily? ”

”Just wait for the second round. You will see. ” Hephaistos said mysteriously with a knowing smile.

—————-Delta Stadium———–

The first round was no problem for Jess and James. With more than 5 levels difference there was no way for them to lose. Other people had it a little harder, especially those in parties without a big level advantage.

They understood why parties were allowed-In the end, they didn ’t bring any advantage as the opponent mirrored them. Worst case, the mobs had actually a better teamwork compared o some of the makeshift parties.

”The round is scheduled for the evening. We have two hours of free time. ” Jess said with a smile. The first round had already kicked out over a hundred participants just in their bracket.

”We could visit the blacksmith and have our equipment repaired. ” James mused and got poked by Jess.

”I meant we could go and eat something together. I heard it ’s free for participants. ”

”Oh. Yeah, let ’s do that after dropping off our equipment. ”

Jess nodded a little unwillingly but understood his point. Their gear was not damaged too badly, but it was better to be early.

There was a long line at the counter to the blacksmith. It felt like a checkroom in a club or restaurant. The line was moving moderately fast, so they didn ’t have to wait long to get closer to the counter.

It only became really weird when they could finally get a look at what was happening. The people were not simply dropping off their gear and getting a slip to get it back later.

They would put their items on the counter where a tall, muscular man with black hair took them only to return them a minute or two later. No matter what crossed the counter, it was returned just moments later.

”Hello, you two. How can I help you? ” he said with a bright smile and leaned on the counter. James handed him his sword and shield.

Although the monsters in the first round were no problem for them the Gnoll shaman had buffed up the warrior who made some dents in his shield. And the skeleton priest they faced second had cast a spell of weapon destruction on his sword.

It was not a lot of damage, but the next rounds would only get harder. It was better to go in prepared.

”I see most of your items are well used and cared for. That ’s good, wait a moment. ”

They didn ’t really get a chance to answer before the blacksmith vanished. And he returned before they could really think about what he had said.

The man came back with a fully repaired shield and a new sword.

”Here ’s your shield. I ’m but your sword is actually more damaged than it looked. It may take a while to repair. I hope it ’s okay to give you a substitute until I repaired your sword. ”

The substitute sword had exactly the same length as his old one, but it felt much better balanced. He wasn ’t used to the hilt, but it felt more comfortable in his hand. He did a few test swings and felt like he would rather keep the substitute instead of getting his own sword back.

James took the sword, shield, and a token to get his original sword back before Jess pulled him off to grab a meal.

———————

~ Why do you keep doing that? They are nothing special. ~

Al complained about Seth ’s action. The reason the repair was cheap was that the Tower Master himself was doing the work. Of course, nobody outside of Minas Mar knew.

He had a few reasons. The biggest was that he could use Al to scan through the participants that came by and make a judgment based on their stats, skills, and titles.

Like he just had, he would help the promising ones by upgrading their gear a little bit. Al was grumpy because Seth had his own idea about the promising ones.

Even if they were ordinary, if he took a liking to them or they showed other qualities he would help a little. He had liked the air between the couple just now and their gear was very well maintained. People who were meticulous with their gear would live longer in this business. Is what Tored used to say.

Seth did it on a whim, but it was also a way to mark promising ones and a test of character. Nobody would force the man to bring back the better substitute but if he did, he would have much higher chances to be scouted.

On the contrary, those who wouldn ’t bring it back would drop out of the selection. No matter how strong their skills or rare their classes were.

——————————–

It took longer than they thought for the first round to end but it wasn ’t bad. They could watch the show and eat for free. The variety and ways how others dealt with the opponents were surprising. But it was inevitable that most of the people would be eliminated during this first round.

The biggest part of participants was made up of parties that reached the bare minimum to register. Many of these were not well-attuned teams, but a bunch of individuals who thought their chance to get further would grow in a party.

Those people had it the hardest against the teams of monsters that would spawn to match their numbers. I good team was more than just the sum of its members. And the summoned creatures were a good team, unlike most adventurers.

Even when they summoned their pets, the lacking cooperation broke their neck more often than that it helped.

The most interesting were the few parties and people that managed to pull through even against opponents of a higher level. There was an lv. 25 solo-adventurer who managed to defeat a gnoll, a skeleton warrior alone. Even a 3 level higher Hobgoblin died once he worked together with his pet. A kind of lightning wolf that could stun and burn enemies.

Another good example was a typical well-balanced dungeon party. A swordsman class, a tank, a mage, a healer, and a thief. Individually they were nothing special, but they excelled in teamwork and got through the first round as one of the few parties.

There was something even more attention-grabbing than the matches for the two adventurers. Once in a while, there would be masked figures at the edges of the arena; watching the matching close up.

Jess and James had not noticed them at first but the longer they watched the more suspicious they seemed. Sometimes they would talk with the overseers of the guild and leave just to appear at a different field in the stadium.

Jess was extremely curious who these people were, as no one except for guild personal and the participants were allowed in the arena.

”Maybe they are the scouts of Minas Mar? ” James pondered.

”But why hide their faces? ” she asked back.

”Privacy maybe? I can imagine it would be rather annoying if people kept bothering them in their free time for a chance to enter Minas Mar. ”

”Figures. Do you think we can also get masks like that? They look so mysterious! ” Jess suddenly changed her focus. Perplexed James looked back to observe the masks more closely.

All of them seemed unique and there were at least 7 or 8 different masked individuals. The partner was right, the masks had a weird otherworldly charm. Except for one that looked like a demonic grimace. That one made him feel disconcerted and uneasy.

In the evening, when the sky slowly started turning red the final match of the first round ended.

”This concludes the first round of this part of the tournament! ” the commenter announced.

”As a the last point of today and as a teaser for tommorrows spectacle we ask the particiants of the first group to enter the arena for round two. ”

Thsi was their call. The couple got up to enter the arena.

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