Blacksmith of the Apocalypse

Chapter 336: Clouds at the Horizon

Chapter 335: The Expanse

After several days the caravan had finally left the terrifying forest behind. The travel on the ashen desert was hard. Dust would keep getting in their eyes and mouth. They needed to wear rags in front of their faces.

Once in a while, the carts would get stuck in the soft ground and it kept draining their stamina. but they realized how much easier it was when they reentered the thick forest.

Not only did they have to deal with finding their path in between the trees and shrubbery, but they were also constantly tortured by insects. Sometimes people would break down from being stung by poisonous bugs or a sickness.

Even after they entered the forest, the heat did not stop, it became worse. The forest air was warm and moist. This routine of suffering was only interrupted by ambushes from creatures that were unlucky enough to enter Urth in this place or mutated woodland creatures.

Soon after entering the forest, they had found brethren in suffering. A group of children, caked in ashes and dirt, had come running at the caravan with tears in their eyes. Their clothes were in tatters, slightly singed and stained with blood.

A band of orcs was hot on their heels, and it became a messy skirmish to save the children. After the Orcs were taken care of the children warily took their distance from the adults.

At their helm was a young girl that acted as a sort of leader.

The children, none among them older than 15, only hesitatingly opened up about who they were and what had happened. It seemed that they had to leave their foster home because of a calamity, had to flee from the darkness, and even a forest fire.

At that point, some among the caravan like Marcel looked away awkwardly as they had a hunch about that fire.

In the end, they joined them despite their distrust. They would have brought the children with them anyways, but their leader, Pip, offered something they could not refuse. The children were able to use magic that kept the pesky mosquitoes and poisonous bugs away.

This was how they made a deal to protect the children until they reach the edge of the forest in exchange for bug spray service.

“Where do your intent to go now, pip?” Marcel asked the young leading figure.

“I dont know, but not Hope. I beseech you, dont go there. It is a terrible place.” she said with a sorrowful look that told of more than a girl her age should have experienced.

“Dont worry, we are pretty strong.”

“Still…”

“Dont worry, we also have a guy who is a lot stronger than all of us together. You didnt meet him, because he had some business. But he should return soon. Are you sure you dont wish to stay with us?”

“I… well, not all the way to hope, but we could come along for a few more days. I have to talk with the others.”

“Sure, maybe you get to meet him before you leave.”

——————-

Seth and his crew could already see the edge of the forest from afar. Like a cut in the landscape, the field of trees simply stopped and gave way to wide plains and steppe with sparse dots and groves of trees all the way to the horizon.

Duhu had been correct. The way back had seen more action as monsters constantly kept pouring in from random pathwork portals. However, they did not pose any obstacle to their travel. Not with Duhu, Puffles, and Seth in the group.

This way Seth managed to collect a few more small and medium-sized souls. His biggest regrets were the Gale Birds that managed to run away from them. It was a kind of bird of prey that was partly wind, like a spirit. He was sure their souls would have had an interesting effect.

They had chased after them, but they were faster than Puffles and after his flight time was over, there was nothing they could do but continue their journey.

After reaching the border of the forest they finally took a real break. Puffles stamina was tremendous, but even he was tired. The others were not much better off. Sleeping on a flying or running centipede was possible, but not very restful. It was more of a passing out from fatigue.

Duhu was still fine, and Seth could deal with it, but the other three could barely think straight. While Seth set up the camp, it was the tigers time to shine.

As a warrior from many walks of life, he had expertise in tracking prey and people. He would travel along the border of the forest and look for signs of the caravan passing. Once they found their tracks, they could simply follow them until they caught up to them.

Although the plains seemed safer, it was still dangerous to go alone. But Seth had to stay with the camp in case something happened. They could only trust in the Tigermans strength for now. Even if he could not beat something, he was confident in running away.

The blacksmith stayed in the camp and set up the portable barriers and motion sensors before resting himself. The blaring alarm of the motion sensors woke him up. What happened? He had just rested his eyes a little!

A bunch of apes had approached the camp from the forest. They looked similar to the small ones the giant snake had fed on. They were comparable in size to humans with bright golden fur. Seth could not really name an ape or monkey they looked like.

Since they were aggressive anyways, Seth used to get an idea of their strength

~ The great mee, need rest, I wont help. ~

“Dont worry, they are not much. Just right to try something.”

After the group of almost 30 monkeys had set off the alarm they had charged at the camp, where they were stopped by the barriers. Currently, they were banging wildly against the shield to break it.

Their mouths were ripped wide open, as they screamed and growled. The blacksmith could get a good look at their terrifying sharp fangs and the saliva spraying all over the place as they banged their fists against the safety measure.

Seth stepped outside the shield with a wave of blue fire that instantly enveloped the horde. Over thirty apes now lay on the ground, with their fur burned away and third-degree burns covering their naked bodies.

But they were not dead. He had made sure to control the power.

~Cruel. ~

~Cruel. ~ echoed the sorceress.

“Oh, come on. They attacked first. Its not THAT cruel. Its in the name of science!”

~If its like this, then okay. ~ Al conceded

~Its still cruel. ~ Puffles kept his opinion.

“Whatever.”

He started humming, followed by a deep chant.

“Dusa VibrajiJa!”

The battered apes twitched in shock and lost consciousness, but their souls did not separate from their bodies.

Well, at least there was one gain from this experiment. Seth had hoped that he could replicate what he did with the Zarkists as long as the targets were close to death. After all, his skill stated that he could manually separate the souls because they were close to death.

But it seemed that either it was impossible for a song to break this connection, or his skills were not there yet to have this much power. This only left him with harvesting the pack of apes manually.

Although he harvested them, their souls stayed small and common. At the 13th monkey he relieved from its soul, he suddenly heard a ring.

The skill had finally leveled up. He knew it was the right decision to wait for a little, instead of using his SP on it. Looking at the skill he looked at the perk list. His eyes widened when he saw what came with level 7.

Harvested Souls now had a 20% chance to contain the ego of the target. He looked at the remaining creatures on the ground. Statistically, he had the chance to get 3 or 4 ego souls from them!

…He ended up with 2. They were a complete disappointment.

Turns out the ego of an ape, was still trash. At least according to Al, who checked them for him. They had the bare minimum of intelligence, but they were not really sentient. Not like the thief in the key, or the Matriarch who refused to communicate.

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