Blacksmith of the Apocalypse

Chapter 307: Sand in the Gears

Chapter 306: The Dungeon

Hermes had just entered the Pathworks and was on his way back to Olymp. He had come personally instead of just sending a projection. He wandered along the dark passages when he felt a presence behind him.

“Ah! H-Hekate, I didnt expect you to arrive this fast. Im sorry I gave that lockpick your name, but its just a- Argh! Ugh-“

A hand with a vice-like grip had snatched him from behind and slowly lifted him off the ground. The blonde youth craned his neck and found himself face to face with an empty hood.

The arm that held him led to a figure wearing a gaudy magicians cloak. At first glance, it looked like childish stars and moons were drawn on the dark blue fabric.

But the longer he looked the more details he saw, a murky dark aura was enveloping the other and the childish signs kept turning into complicated diagrams and formulas even he, a god, could not understand.

“Nobody. Messes. With. My. System.”

A dark sphere of void shreds enveloped them and they stood in a dark world. There was no light, no sound. Neither energy nor space could be felt here. Hermess divine senses had been shut down.

“W-Where?”

“This is the place I prepared for tricksters like you. Dont worry, you wont be lonely.”

The hand had suddenly released him and he started falling into the void. He fell and fell and fell. He could use his powers to fly or flee. He could only wait to smash into the ground if there even was one…

Just when he came to the conclusion that he would keep falling his beautiful face smashed nose-first into a smooth hard surface. Blood was trickling from his nose.

“Yo~ Did you mess with the rules?” an impish voice asked with undisguised schadenfreude.

He looked around and saw a mean-looking man with a short black beard sitting in not far from him. He was the only light and sound around.

“Seth? You too?”

“Yep.”

—————-Theocracy————–

Night had fallen and AlSalzar woke up the sleeping blacksmith. It was time to leave the servant area and take a look at the rest of the fortress. She had fathomed that there had to be a primary nucleus like an altar that channeled divine power into a network to suppress the system.

As long as they found and destroyed this center the suppression field should theoretically be lifted until it is repaired. But she was unsure where this could be located.

Finding this was the main priority. Since it could be anywhere Seth wanted to check the ground floor first and work his way up.

The strongholds hallways were plunged in complete darkness when Seth found his way out of the servant area. These halls were richly decorated with expensive fabrics and paintings. Only areas with guards were illuminated by candle holders.

The first floor was made up mostly of offices, dance halls and things like this. Seth guessed that people were still doing things until deep in the night in the guarded rooms.

In a building split off from the main castle, he found the warriors and magicians quarters. He found them sleeping in big rooms full of small beds. They had it slightly better than the workers.

Seth also found a church-like structure with high ceilings, even more, lavish decorations and an altar. A giant statue of a humanoid figure bandaged in chains dominates the hall with an overbearing presence, but it wasnt the nucleus they were looking for.

Seth was getting ired from seeing the empty luxurious rooms. It was frustrating that even the offices held no valuable information. All the documents he found were written in an alien language he couldnt understand without the system skills.

He wandered through the halls until he finally found a staircase. What made him hesitate was that it led both ways. A flight of stair led up but another led down again. What confused him was that they were far away from the subterranean rooms he had explored earlier.

Where did these lead to? If he was a crazy theocracy that wanted to enslave the rest of the world like a bunch of raving lunatics, where would he put his important nucleus of his power field?

The cellar of course!

Seth snuck down the stairs and soon found that this place was not a silent as he had hoped. Once again he entered a network of tunnels but the air was filled with the smell of blood and the incoherent screams, crying, and gurgling of people.

Rows and rows of cells line the hallways. It was similar to the place he had been, but its purpose was obviously different. He ignored the guards who were playing cards at the entrance chamber and walked down the row of cells.

His stomach churned when he looked into the cells. Seth couldnt be called squeamish after all he had seen during the last year but this made him feel sick. Inside he saw all kinds of people from different races but no humans.

They were mutilated in a myriad of ways and in some of the cells, their tormentors were still at work abusing and torturing their captives.Their sadistic chuckles beeing mixed with their victims helpless screams and whimpers.

Seth would have run in to stop it, but he could only hold back. If he revealed his presence now, without a good plan, he would simply fail. Still, he kept walking and looking because he wanted to know why this even happened.

He couldnt find any Humans among the captives but many looked similar to each other. Seth finally concluded that maybe the collars didnt completely work on some races. It was doubtful that this would lead to the super-secret nucleus of the suppression field.

Just when he wanted to turn around and leave he heard an ear-shattering roar. One he knew. Following the sound in the direction where it came from he soon found the cell, it originated from.

Inside a humongous tiger beastman was strapped to an iron rack. Much of his majestic fur was charred and his body was covered in burns, cuts, and bruises. Duhu had been captured and it looked like he was tortured for the last two weeks.

His impressive muscles had shrunk but despite the marks of torture, his eyes burned with rage as he roared at the torturer swinging his whip at the defenseless beastman. His will never broke.

Seth had to hurry. Even if his will didnt break, his body would at some point.

With grit teeth and clenched fists, he turned away from the torture dungeon and returned to the stairs to go deeper into the belly of the beast. Further down everything was dark and the tunnels were silent. There was nothing except the biting stench of bleach.

He found laboratories that befit a crazy scientist. Rooms for autopsies or operations filled with all kinds of foreign arcane devices and formations.

“Al, do you have any idea what this is for…?”

~…~

“Al?”

~ Im not too sure, but Im afraid they create Living Dead. ~

“Like undead?”

~N-no. More like fleshpuppets or meat golems? They are still alive, but mindless and grotesquely enhanced. ~

There were also store rooms with rows and rows of shelves. They were filled with jars holding organs, humanoid and beast body parts, and what looked like sheets of skin swimming in something the lich called a nutrient fluid.

These body parts were kept fresh for operations.

And soon Seth also got to see what the sorceress had meant with meatgolems. Further down he found more cells or should he call them storage rooms? Looking trough the windows in the cell doors he saw rows of mindless monsters with empty eyes.

Many had a humanoid base with many different monster parts added to them, others were genuine chimeras. Beasts mixed with other beasts, their eyes just as emoty a those of everything else. They all wore the slave collars.

He kept exploring the underground but he only found more and more rooms with chimeras. There had to be hundreds or even thousands of them.

“This is an army…”

Another point was added to his bucket list of worries.

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