Blacksmith of the Apocalypse

Chapter 305: Seth on the Prowl

Chapter 304: Somewhere Else (6)

She ran along with her friends casting . Using the color of their aura they made insects like butterflies, dragonflies, and fireflies fly around and follow them.

It was the third Serras, one of the Seven Serras. A number of games to learn nature magic. All the children wanted to master these seven games because they could become an apprentice of Master Karina.

Pip was 13 this year. Like many of the others here she came from a place called Hope. Nobody liked to talk about their past, as it was filled with sad and bittersweet memories.

She had only arrived recently and still had a hard time learning the magic. Running around and playing the Severn Serras with the other was fun, nonetheless. It had been a long time since she could relax like this.

Despite her efforts to distract herself with the wonders of Karinas Grove, as the other children called it, the memories of the past year kept creeping back into her consciousness now and then.

Her life was actually quite a happy one and Hope lived up its name. Her parents had told her that their ancestors had stood before the choice to either leave their homes or stay and build something new.

She still remembered the beauty of the city. The high building that reached far into the sky and the hanging gardens in between them. Her parent owned a big house with many rooms, and they grew vegetables on the roof.

She had always loved to help her mother in the garden or visit the market with her father to sell some of their produce. She didnt like school, but it was still fun to meet her friends there.

In her memory, those days were sunny and full of smiles. But now they had a bittersweet note, because she knew, that those times would never return.

Shortly after she turned 12 the grownups suddenly started to talk about something they called the apocalypse and people started using magic and swords. At first, she was stoked about this. She had read a lot of novels about wise magicians and valiant knights.

A world filled with swords and sorcery seemed like a dream come true! She was a little bummed that her parents had chosen farmer as their classes because they thought it would help in their work.

Aside from the classes, nothing changed, and everything was great. Until she and everyone else realized what an apocalypse was. In the surrounding plains and forests, terrifying and strong beasts started appearing.

Wildlife mutated and strange species appeared.

People left the city less and less to avoid the danger, but the danger didnt stay outside. People started dying and conventional weapons were useless. People with powerful classes stepped up to protect the community and she imagined them in glorious fights like in the comics she read.

Her fantasy broke apart when monsters appeared in her school. She survived but the picture of her friends and the people, who were supposed to protect them, dying never left her.

In her mind, Hope became a darker place afterward. Although they managed to survive and the grownups managed to build a wall to protect everyone, something felt broken.

Her parents were worried and stressed, like everyone else. They didnt smile as often, and arguments became more frequent. School life was gloomy as many mourned lost friends and family. it was hard to return to the sunny days.

Hope withstood the monsters of the apocalypse. But it could not withstand the dreadnaught of destruction, people.

More and more strangers appeared from the No mans land, and the least of them had good intentions. The once happy atmosphere of Hope became a mere facade of people trying to avoid reality as their city fell into the hands of others.

Bandits, Criminals, and refugees that fled from the districts or the surrounding settlements slowly but surely flocked to Hope. Under the pressure of more and more people the community crumbled. Outsiders fought for control, and many died.

Many had let their life during the initial protection of the city, so now there was no one that could stand up to these invaders. Instead, many decided to turn a blind eye and pretend as if nothing had changed.

Still, she and her parents hung in there- but then came her personal apocalypse. They were just doing their work in the botanic gardens when some bandits decided to raid the place and killed Pips parents before her eyes.

The euphoria and glee in their eyes as they slaughtered them before her eyes far outranged the trauma from seeing her friends killed by animals. Animals felt no joy when killing prey.

She was disgusted by humanity. She was disgusted by the monsters, but she was even more disgusted by those smiling adults who pretended as if everything was okay. They were slaves in their own homes.

Pip had decided to flee, she couldnt stand this city any longer. But it wasnt as easy as one may think. The things she had to do. The things she had to sell. It took a lot to find a way out of these tall and dark walls that were once supposed to keep them safe.

No matter how terrible these memories were, it was worth it in the end. Back then she thought that even death in the wilderness and being eaten by monsters was a better fate than staying in that city.

Now she knew that the thought was stupid, and life was precious. Pip had faced near death in the deep and dark forests outside. She had felt how it was when the blood wouldnt stop flowing and she had felt her life trickling away.

Everything would have been over if Karina had not found her. Many children here had a similar story to tell. But as mentioned, they rather enjoyed the present than dwell on the past.

They ran through meadows and groves and collected insects. Their destination was the stele of the third Serras. A big menhir with a hole inside.

They had to cast to see the surrounding mana flow. Inside the hole was a big mana sphere and they needed to use their aura to make the insects dance within the orb.

When a child managed to complete the dance, the menhir would light up and it could inscribe its name on the stone. Putting your name on the menhir was proof to have succeeded in the game.

After succeeding in every game, Karina would personally teach magic to them. She always told them, that it was best to learn magic from a young age. And once they were old enough, they could choose a powerful job from the system.

Karina always gave them hope, that they would be able to choose their own way once they were strong enough, but nobody really planned on leaving her.

Although she was not human, she was a bright light of hope to these children who were disappointed by the world. A New Hope, so to speak.

—————

Karina observed the children playing below her crown with a genuine smile on her face. Few adults had the will or the necessary personality to stay with her in this place.

As a dryad, she was very perceptive to the aura of beings and couldnt tolerate most adult humans. On the other hand, she liked children even more. Their innocent smiles and laughs. Their pure aura was a blessing to her just as much as this place was a happy place to them.

Although she prepared them for the time when they became adults, she dreaded the time when they would leave to become tainted by the world out there. But until then she would protect them.

Nobody would be able to harm her foster children as long as they stayed in her grove.

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