Blacksmith of the Apocalypse

Chapter 35: Denied!?

Simon was right. It was a bliss to finally be able to take a warm bath after so long. The moment his body submerged in the warm soapy water his fatigue was lifted. Seth actually fell asleep. But after a short nap he was woken by the call of a maid, who had brought a fresh set of simple clothing.

The outfit fit the commoner style of the empire he had seen in town, but was very comfy to wear.

What waited for him when he left the bath was a table filled with food. Soup, Bread, fruits, desserts, various kinds of meat dishes, noodles, rice, and sauces. Seth and the priest did not talk during the scrumptious meal. Quite the contrary, while Seth did not have such an excessive feast for a long time and had reason to shovel food and drink into his belly without a single word, Simon did the same! The rotund priest was vacuuming food into himself like a person close to starvation!

The young man and old priest fought a merciless battle of supremacy on the dinner table. One trying to decimate food faster than the other. The outcome of this battle would stay inconclusive, as both adversaries collapsed under the constant supply of food the demonic maids brought to the table. In their last moment they finally bonded over the realization, that they were not each other ’s enemy. Both had been fighting an uphill battle against the dark forces of the church, the maids.

”This gluttonous beast *cough* priest was already bad enough. Now we have another person with a black hole for a stomach… ”, the maids lamented mischievously looking at their victims, who laid collapsed in a food coma on the ground.

They woke up at roughly the same time. Both had recovered from the bout of overwhelming satiety and were ready for round two.

”So, tea? ”, Simon asked the young man with a roguish smile.

”And cookies. ”, Seth demanded. Both stood up and waddled off, to the priest ’s office.

Both grunting like old man they sat down on opposite sides of the desk. Once they each had a cup of steaming tea and a plate of cookies was settled on the desk between then, Seth told Simon his story. Seth obviously omitted some parts about his class, but he described it as a variation of a blacksmith class. It was easier than coming up with some bullshit lie. He had also started to trust the priest and his church a little more, after listening to Fins monologue.

The past weeks had been very eventful and Seth had majorly calmed down, compared to the first time he had come to Starta, when he was just someone driven like a fugitive. He became clearer about his situation and more confident in his class and himself. The revelations he had about his class, as the level and number of skills grew and the near-death experiences, he collected showed him a direction.

The Apocalypse was dangerous, but had many opportunities for the strong and prepared. The world was in a constant change and would just grow more dangerous in the future, while his skill already started to stagnate. It lacked what he needed the most right now. Knowledge. He could not grow fast enough to harvest the fortunes.

If he stayed alone in this world, it would soon overwhelm him, so he made a decision.

”Say, Simon, could I use the Pathworks to travel to Chrona Empire? ”, he asked when their conversation paused for a while.

Seth´s idea was simple. To grow his skills he not only needed rare materials. He needed more knowledge about enchantments, weapon patterns and materials. Urth was changing right now, he would not be able to find what he needed here. Seth was sure he could find what he needed easier if he could enter an already developed magical world with a stable society. And once he had all the basics down, he could go where ever he wanted.

Simon raised his eyebrows about Seth ’s sudden request.

”hum hum, maybe. If you remember, outsiders are not allowed to help you too much unless you join their faction. ”

”Yes, I remember. ”

”Why the sudden change of mind? ”, Simon asked. He still remembered, that Seth had seemed quite opposed to joining a faction before.

”Well, things happened. I had a long talk with a fairy that would not shut up. And the fact that your god probably had some fun at my cost may have convinced me that you are not just talking nonsense… ”

”hum hoh? God pranked you? That means he likes you! ”, the priest said smiling. It was not often; their god took his time to spend special attention on someone.

”Just to be clear, I won´t join if I have to take order from anyone. And I won´t disclose my skills willingly and- ”

Seth stopped mid-sentence, when the old man in front of him suddenly started cackling like a hyena. He would just not stop. His eyes even started tearing up! It was Seth ’s turn to lift an eyebrow.

”ha ha ha ha! So that was what you were worried about!? Sorry to be laughing about your worries, but it´s a hilarious idea from my perspective. God would punish us, if we interfered that much with an ori huma. I´m glad it was something this simple. ”, wiping away a tear the old priest bowed down to rummage around in his desk drawer. In the end he put a form in front of Seth.

”Here! This is a simple contract to become a Lay Follower of the System Church. With this you can use the Pathworks at any System Church for a small ”fee ” and you can stay within the territory of the Chrona Empire and any other faction that acknowledged the church. Great, right? ”

Seth was a little wary. This went way too easy.

”Sounds great, yes. What is the catch?

”Hum hum, a catch? ”, the old man ’s eyes glinted, ” Let me be honest. The church will not actively help you. Even if we help you, it won´t be for free. You will be barred from joining any other faction in the Pathworks or other worlds. This is a lot less than other factions will offer you, but their catch will be expectation in you. The church on the other hand will guarantee your identity and won´t care about whatever you do, as long as you don´t break any laws. We offer you the freedom you want in exchange of denying you free help. ”

This speech might have sounded cruel for some people, but it was great new for Seth. He did not need help and was afraid of others meddling in his affairs.

”But why do we offer this weird deal? Don´t look at me like that! It´s written on your face. It´s simple, it´s part of our doctrine. Taking you in and making others unable to interfere is defending our god ’s interests. Freedom is struggle, struggle is fun to watch. ”, Simon shrugged his shoulders.

”Just sign here. The sooner you sign, the faster we can talk about where you wish to travel. ”, Simon smirked. He was sure it was an offer; Seth could not refuse.

Seth kept staring at the paper and reading the translation of what was written. It was true, everything Simon had said was written in the document. He lightheartedly signed the contract.

Simon smiled; he was sure the young man had made the right decision. They kept talking a long time, even till deep into the night. About Seth´s rough goals and the territories that could be reached from their current position. Seth also tried to get some secrets out of the old priest, but the other stayed mute about anything that would spoil Seth, about his future.

It was late when they finished talking and a maid brought Seth to a guestroom.

”Ah! Wait. Can you bring me to the room the fairies are staying? ”, Seth suddenly asked the maid. The maid pondered for a moment. ”Yes, I think that´s ok. ”, she said and turned around. She gestured Seth to follow her and brought him to a room the same size as his.

On the big bed sat a lot of tiny figures with cast down faces. Their wounds had been treated for the most part, some still had bandages and splints. They all turned their head toward the door in unison when it opened.

”Errm, hello? ”, Seth said awkwardly, not knowing what else to say.

”Hello Seth! Did Seth come to meet Fin!? ”, the only overloaded ball of energy among them shot at him like a bullet. Her over excited behavior really made him smile, despite the heavy task he was burdened with right now.

”Yes and no Fin. Actually, there is something I wanted to tell you. All of you. ”, with this all the unfocused stares of the fair folk landed on him.

”I´m sorry, if I´m a little late with this, but that night I also … I collected your dead, too. Of course, I don´t know your practices and maybe I did something wrong, but it did not seem right to leave them there for the fish and birds to… Maybe you want to- ”, Seth stuttered and spoke really fast to get this rather uncomfortable task over with.

He was interrupted by an older looking fairy suddenly rushing up to him and grabbing his collar. ”D-Did you say you collected them?! ”, an unprecedented light was filling it´s black eyes. ”Ah, er-yes! ”, Seth nodded a little stumped. It was not just the fairy before him, even the others on the bed had a tiny glimmer in their eyes.

”What a fortune! Are they in your inventory? Can you please take them out? ”, the elder fairy´s voice. Seth did not really know what was going on, but he came before the crowd on the bed and one by one put almost 40 fairy bodies on the bed in front of them. It was almost as many, as there were survivors. Each body brought a gasp or tears from among the crowd. Some more some less, but the fairies always seemed glad to see them, more than sad over their death.

”You are probably confused now Seth, right? ”, on his shoulder sad Fin. Her extreme energy and high pitch has subsided. She seemed almost mature, as she looked down at her people with tiny smile and little teary eyes. ”Maybe I will tell you in the future. ”, she added cheekily and flew away.

Seth saw that the fairies were occupied with their own matter and used the chance to leave for his own room.

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