Chapter 348: Staying behind
Early in the morning, the Chimera leader approached him during breakfast.
“Oh, Leader. Its rare for you to approach me on your own. Whats up?”
“I came with an important matter. Also, please call me by my name.”
“Name? You finally decided?” Seth asked in surprise.
Since the chimeras had no memories of their previous life, they obviously had no name. They chose their new names themselves, but their leader was one of the few that had still waited with the decision. Until now.
“Yes. Please call me Azul,” she said with a smile.
“Congratulations, Azul. Was that the important matter?”
She smiled when he naturally used her name.
“No, it isnt. I came to inform you, that many of our people would like to stay here.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, those who traveled with you retold what happened and described the city to the others. Many would like to stay.”
This came as a surprise to Seth but not utterly unexpected. At the beginning of their journey, Seth had expected to leave many of the former slaves in Hope. They had not known what a shit hole this place was at that point.
After what happened with the Angels, there were not many freed slaves left that could stay here. After seeing the city, himself, the blacksmith had also given up on simply leaving them here. These people did not have the system.
People like the slaves or Lynri would need to visit a system church to join the system as they came from a world outside of its reach. There were no churches in Hope. These people would be helpless in this landfill of a city.
He had expected for people to stay here, but it was a surprise that someone decided to stay after seeing the place firsthand.
On the other hand, maybe the chimeras would fare better here, than in human society. From what he saw, they were good people but rather rough. They might get into trouble in the big city. A city like Hope might be the place for them to bloom.
“Are you staying, too?”
Azul looked at him in surprise.
“No, I and some others decided to stay in the caravan and follow you. Are you really going to just let them stay here?”
“Its not like I can stop them. I mean, I could. But why would I? I am just glad that you wish to follow me.” he said with a smile.
“Still, let me meet those that want to stay. I will have to talk to them before we leave.”
The one she led him to, was the second in command of the chimeras. There was a split among them. One side did not wish to travel any further. After they heard what the city was like they felt that they would have a better life here than when they stayed on the move.
Their opinion matched Seths thoughts. It was an environment where the strong strived and even the augmented were treated normally. Seth was not that involved with the general members of the caravan, but it seemed that the chimeras had experienced their fair share of human society through the eyes of the slaves and warriors.
Even the adventurers did not cover themself in glory. The ones wishing to stay were those with the worst experiences of human interaction. Seth could not deny their fears and he could not guarantee that Delta would treat them better.
The vice-leader stepped before him. It was a huge humanoid male. He had the torso of a human and the arms of some kind of gorilla beast. He stood at 2,30 and easily towered over Seth. The height came from his long, backward bend legs.
Nevertheless, Seth could see him shake as he tried to act confidently in front of him.
“C-Caravan leader, did you come to stop us?” h stuttered at first but the rest of the sentence seemed to be practiced well.
“No, dont worry. I understand your reasons. I just wanted to have a short chat with you.”
Since he was the one who had freed the chimeras, he felt somewhat responsible for them. Because of that, he wanted to leave them some advice. He did not want to see them turn into inhumane tyrants after all.
He gave them a full sermon on morals. Well, his own take on it at least. He also made them take the same oath as the giant. To help Pip in her goals, when she returned here one day.
After dealing with the deserters, the caravan got back on their way.
A few days later——————————
The mounts were nearing their limits as the rescue forces hurried to the west. It had been three weeks since they departed from Gamma and bad news kept pouring in.
Leona got the messages via a communication crystal. At first, there was a wave of adventures that returned and reported of a living forest of darkness that tried to take their lives.
From their statement and with Simons confirmations it became clear that the corruption had spread quickly after the theocracy had fallen. Previously, it was the Starta Village that had staved off the darkness and the growth of the forest.
They calmed down when a messenger returned and told them, that they had successfully overcome the terrifying forest. However, he was unable to give an understandable report about what exactly happened.
Something about a rain of fire and a desert of ashes. It sounded very cryptic and hard to understand. The priest reported to the Princess only that the caravan had overcome the danger.
Had they reported about the sea of fire, Mina and the other would have had an inkling about who had stepped up to save them.
Right now, they were in a hurry because of the latest news from the caravan. Just days after the messenger arrived and a wave of several hundred confused and heavily wounded adventurers arrived in Delta at roughly the same time.
It took a while, but after they put their statements together, they concluded that the remaining forces of the theocracy had ambushed the caravan outside the forest.
The current status was unknown, as no new messengers had been sent since then. This was the reason why Leana and the combined forces of the empire, Y-City, and Arget Nore were in a constant hurry.
Leana aimed for Hope by traveling straight to the east. They knew about the city from the first messengers that were sent back. It had been a little more than a week since they last heard of the caravan and the mood slowly turned.
Mark Baker and the general of Arget Nore were rather pessimistic about the caravans survival. Even the princess had her doubts, but she decided not to voice them. Fin and Yulecats Fur were adamant that they had to keep going.
They would keep going, even if the leader decided that it was hopeless, and turned back. She didnt want to leave them, and especially Fin, behind. However, she would not have a choice if there were no life signs.
“Dont think we will be able to keep going at this rate,” Mike stated at the campfire. The rest of Yulecats Fur looked slightly depressed.
“Yeah, the other leaders are putting pressure on the Princess. Its not like i dont understand their point of view. Traveling across half a continent to pick up a bunch of cold bodies would be too much of an expenditure for them.” Lyxiss stated.
“You could have phrased it better, but yes. In times like this, humanitarian missions like the recovery of dead bodies dont have a high priority. We can be happy the is even a rescue mission.” Bulko said commented.
“Hey! Dont be such a downer. We all know there is no way Seth would die to a bunch of religious nuts. Right, Mina?” Fin exclaimed confidently.
“Right, even if the whole caravan is wiped out, there is no way Seth and Puffles would be among them.”
“Yeah, that guy never takes a fight he cant win.” Mike joked.
“hes different from some kind of reckless brother who just jumps into battle and needs others to save his sorry ass when the opponent is too strong.”
“That was only ONCE!”
“At least three times.” Fin said.
“Actually, its seven. You only joined us recently.”
“You too, Bulko!? Wait! You kept count?” the bullied party leader exclaimed.
“I mean, he has AlZalsar. There is hardly any fight he can lose if she is off cooldown.” Lyxiss jumped in to save what was left of the tattered pride of their leader.
“The point is, he is definitely out there. We cant give up.” Fin concluded.
“It seems that the allied forces are traveling west. They ride without a pause and will soon catch up to us.”
“Those damn bastards. If only the Theocracy had kept their promise. Those useless slavers, all incompetent, just like their god.”
“Master, what shall we do?”
“We wont be hunted down like some weak animal. This will end in one big fight. Its either them or us.”
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