Blacksmith of the Apocalypse

Chapter 424: The Deal

Chapter 423: Akhaz

The following battles became harder on the team as more of these beasts appeared. Nonetheless, after having experienced the perfectly orchestrated teamplay, they became a lot better overall which took a lot of pressure off of Seths throat.

What stayed true was that the beast gave disproportionate less experience compared to their strength. Seth managed to barely fill up his experience gauge and reach lv. 61.

As they got closer to their destination, thick clouds appeared on the horizon. Only at the sight of this wall of dark clouds, did they realize their blatant absence up until now.

The intensity of the sun let up as they entered the slightly cloudy landscape.

“Hoh? Is that the work of a demon?” Misto wondered at the sight.

“Ah, yes. The lord has made a deal with a demon to cover the skies above the city in thick clouds that protect the city from the curse.” Ahmed explained

“You made a deal with a devil?” the hero voiced his concerns. People outside Delta did not have much interaction with demons and the short time with Misto in the team had not helped Ben to let go of his prejudices.

“Do not worry. Lord Culus is a trustworthy person. His cloud formation has really saved our people.”

With the heaven covered in clouds, they started traveling through the day and could soon see Akhaz. The sky above the city was inky black and its outlines were hard to see without night vision.

The city plunged into darkness was surrounded by a huge wall. The wall was massive but in a state of disrepair. They could see scaffolding and dozens of workers frantically trying to fix the huge gauges and breaks in the fortifications.

Hundreds more were seen in the moat lugging away and burning the bodies of abominations. As they got closer, they saw the hundreds of black columns of smoke rising into the sky, joining the dark clouds. The area was marred with craters and signs of battle.

Ahmeds face fell upon seeing the amount of damage, but he hurriedly hid it from the party. It seemed that the last blood sun was worse than the knight expected.

It was day, but only the bare minimum of ambient light illuminated the city in the dim twilight. If somebody had seen the knights shocked face, they kept it to themself.

Seth held his nose as the stench of burning and rotting flesh hit them, as did most of the others. The workers wore dirty rags on their faces, but Seth was unsure whether those really helped cope with the abysmal smell. The murky water of the moat gave off an even more putrid stench when they followed Ahmed across the drawbridge.

Looking down, the blacksmith saw that the moat was still filled with many rotting corpses. He almost threw up and added his own stomach contents to the mix. Workers used boathooks to catch and pull out the decomposing bodies.

~ I have no interest in those. ~ the Ivicer suddenly declared. Was he supposed to feel relieved or concerned because the centipede thought he was thinking of collecting those things?

Ahmed greeted the guard at the gate.

“These are important guests that wish to talk with Lord Haz,” he explained their presence before they were let in. The city beyond the giant wall was in shambles. The terrible stench was slightly alleviated by the fresh breeze from the sea.

Of the houses closest to the wall, only skeletons were left. When the merchant asked interestedly, Ahmed explained that many houses had been decommissioned and scavenged to repair and reinforce the wall.

Ordinary civilians could hardly resist the sun at this point. It was impossible to send people to quarry for materials. They had to manage with what they could reach within the cover of the clouds.

“What are you doing about food?” the merchant asked, seeing the malnourished people huddle in their homes, or what was left of them. It was like a siege, but the enemy army was the sun itself.

“When I left, we still had enough rations in store for 2 months. In the beginning, we could still fish in the shallow waters close to the coast, but the sea has become too dangerous in the meantime. I heard the court mages were working on artificial farms. If they did not succeed, things might become dire…” the knight answered honestly.

The merchant fell in brooding silence.

“Ahmed, do you think we could also meet Lord Culus?” Misto asked. The demon ad been staring into the sky in fascination, ever since they entered the city.

“He will probably be there, once we meet the lord,” Ahmed answered as h brought them to the city lords palace.

The stately mansion had been spared from material scavenging so far. A good number of guards made sure nobody trespassed. Many were occupied with holding back the starving mass of people who came to ask for more rations.

It was only thanks to Ahmed, that they were led into the mansion peacefully where they could finally meet Lord Haz. There were a few reasons they needed to talk with this noble, aside from the heros rash promise to help the struggling city.

They needed to get a ship and probably a crew. According to the information they had collected at the catacombs, they would need to cross the sea and travel to northern Tyrybhz. However, sea travel was currently unthinkable for the harbor city.

Commerical sea trade was suspended because of the dangers. This only left asking the lord for a crew, a ship, and probably the permission to leave the harbor.

The first person they met was the lords advisor who had hurriedly come out to greet Ahmed after he got the news. They waited for Ahmed to make his report.

“We cannot expect any help from there. Nobody will come.” he ended the report. Listening to Ahmeds story, reminded the party again, of how grave the rise of the blood sun was. None of them knew, that all his comrades fell during the siege on the catacombs when they helped protect the populated floors.

The advisors face fell when he heard the bad news, but he pulled himself together. He couldnt show weakness in front of guests. It was unprofessional.

“Its great you made it back. Was it thanks to these people?”

“Yes, they are visitors from another world and might be able to help us. I managed to return thanks to them.”

“Visitors from another world?” the advisor asked shocked.

Ahmed repeated what they had told him, about the motives in coming to this world and the heros promise to help them. The advisor did not trust them as readily as Ahmed had, after the influence of Seths voice.

Still, they were in a desperate situation and didnt have much of a choice. After listening to them for a while, the advisor finally brought them to the city lord. Only he could make the final decision.

They didnt meet the lord in a grant throne room or a luxurious office. The middle-aged man, with a black beard and long hair, was covered in sweat and working on a field, in a kind of greenhouse.

A framework of rods, covered by a thick, light-tight fabric. Inside the fabric was tightly packed in magic runes that illuminated the field. Although they were different from what he had learned, Seths experience told him roughly what these runes did.

There were arrays that recreated sunlight, some strengthened the aura of the earth and water to facilitate plant growth, others gathered magic to power the greenhouse. There were other figures in robes, tending to the fabric and taking notes.

The field was filled with small green sprouts. The first normal green plant life they got to see in this world.

“Ahmed! You are back. Its great you made it.” the lord greeted the knight happily. But no matter how happy he was about the knights return his expression turned stern when he heard the news. He was also skeptical about the party from Urth.

They had changed locations to a drawing-room, where they could talk in peace.

“So, you want to help us in exchange for a ship with a crew to cross over to Tyrybhz.” he mused, speaking more to himself, than to them, after hearing the whole story from Ahmed and the Hero.

“I cant give you a crew. I wont force any of my sailors to traverse those waters ever again,” he said with a serious face.

“Then how about several ships?” the merchant suddenly spoke out of turn.

“Hubert?” Harker asked surprised.

The hero had insisted that it was his role as the leader, to negotiate with the lord. He only looked at the merchant peeved, but he let it go as it seemed like the merchant had a motive.

“Several ships, but no crew? What would you gain from that?”

“That would be our problem.” the merchant did not comment any further.

“I heard you are strong, but thats not enough to earn a ship.”

“Would you give us a moment to draft our proposal?” the merchant asked.

The lord looked at the older gentleman for a moment, before nodding. He left them alone in the drawing-room.

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