Chapter 431: An Ace
“See, I told you he wouldnt hold back,” Seth claimed triumphantly the moment the city wall started rising imbued with arcane life.
The rest of the audience scoffed at him in disdain. When did he say it? Wasnt he the one whining about finally getting out of isolation only for his champion to lay low?
Hades went as far as to decisively ignore the braggart and concentrate to appreciate the show.
As the blacksmith on the screen started deploying modified souls and growing bizarrely shaped golems like weeds, Hermes could not help but lean forward.
“Say, dont they remind you an awful lot of your spartoi?” he spoke to Hephaistos in the seat in front of him.
Hephaistos only nodded with a slight smile. Although it was never him who deployed the spartoi, they were indeed his work. His dragon tooth warriors worked a little differently, but the blacksmith god had made this connection months ago and it touched him.
Back then, the founder of this unique class had been a talented dwarven master, but despite Hephaistos offer, he had worked hard to become the champion of hades. At the time, he had felt a little offended.
But seeing how much work that person had put into a skill that attempted to copy some of his own works comforted the god of craftsmen. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The dwarf had chosen a different way but achieved a similar result with hard work.
Likewise, Seth had not chosen the path Hephaistos would have wished for him, however, the god of craftsmen was probably the one who had enjoyed the last months the most. It made him happy that the little blacksmith still ended up learning the basics of automatons.
But it wasnt all. He had worked continuously to improve his works and craft, bringing new elements into blacksmithing and reaching impressive results. Even going as far as to create a method of artificial reincarnation.
Despite them not choosing him or his path, how could the god of craftsmen not appreciate the work and effort they put into their workmanship. It was a shame he had been unable to keep an eye out for that dwarf after he became the champion of hades.
Unlike the gods, the audience of chrona was confused to the max.
Things seemed to be going well. There was a huge hype when the pets first appeared and easily solved the dicey situation. Nobody had expected the bard to have such a terrifying beast hidden up his sleeve.
It was really gratifying for Leana to see Hardwigs face when he saw what kind of monster the plain bard pulled out of nowhere.
Then things started falling apart without warning.
One of the team members was suddenly killed. This caused a shock, that reminded them of the vanished team again. Was something broken with the empires technology? Champions were not supposed to be able to die during the evaluation. They were supposed to be transported back, before receiving a finishing blow.
Leana and Hardwig were watching the live feed in shock. Furthermore, things kept going haywire and even the imperial censors had a hard time piecing together what actually happened afterward.
The reason: The recorders had caught almost none of the primary action after this. Whether they were looking into another direction, were blocked by sand, or were too far away, there was not enough information to really understand what had happened there.
They could only use the other perspectives to infer what happened. The hooded girl evaded the sneak attack and managed to counter-kill the murderer. The saintess also managed to flee and rode her pet to safety.
From their perspectives, they knew that half the team vanished in a giant sandstorm. The slavemancer almost lost his life to a similar sneak attack and was only saved because of the heros sudden decision to rush back.
Their perspectives were useless in finding out what exactly happened, they could only continue to sight the material and hope there would be an explanation.
As for the audience, they got the heavily cut version which simply jumped most of these events and went straight to the team in their magic vessel.
–Bay of Akhaz–
Lightning struck the vessel, but it simply ran along the hull and was redirected back to the ground without causing any damage.
“See, I told you. This is what you get when you purchase the highest quality.” Hubert said smugly, as they made their escape from Akhaz.
The lightning strikes came almost frantic for a moment but stopped altogether when they got too far away from the shore. No matter how much they wanted to feed them to the cloud furnace, it made no sense to waste energy, when they couldnt retrieve their bodies.
They were still under the cover of the clouds but had entered the open sea. Setting the ship on autopilot, Seth and Hubert returned to the community room in the ship.
Although most of them had not known the demon for long, the atmosphere was rather gloomy. Losing a comrade had hit all of them, but the hero was hit the hardest.
Besides looking depressed, the hero also kept giving Rich the stink eye.
“Whats with you two?” Seth asked curiously. Hadnt those two gotten along quite well until now?
“He lied to us about his ability!” the hero broke out.
The whole story was like this:
Even if the slavemancer relinquished all right to give the other commands, there was still a failsafe. In case Rich was in mortal danger, his strongest slave would rush over and save him, even against their will.
Until they reached safety, he would have total control over the slave. On the other hand, Rich complained that the hero has actually planned to stay behind and protect the commoners. They were only here because the slavemancer was able to order the hero to flee.
“Despite losing someone because of them, you wanted to stay behind?” Cade asked coldly.
“The commoners are innocent! I had to protect them,” he claimed righteously.
The rakshasa girl only scowled at him. He had no idea about the darkness dwelling in the hearts of humanity. She really wished for him to fall flat on his face and realize how naive he was.
“Dont talk like you are some Samaritan. Dont believe you would have considered staying without that quest!” Rich said sarcastically.
“Thats not true!”
“Pff, you said it yourself, when I asked why you want to stay back. You cant lie under Absolute Control”
It came out that the power of the hero class scaled with Virtue, an attribute Seth was familiar with because Tatzel had gained it, too. The hero would frequently get quests to help people would get Virtue as a reward.
“I would have still wanted to help, even without the quest.” the hero insisted.
“Anyway, we are all here now. Hubert, why did you get an airship? I thought we take the sea route?” Yvette interjected and tried to change the topic amicably. Hubert got the cue and started explaining.
He wanted to get a magic ship at first, but when he remembered the dangers, Ahmed had talked about. The beasts that hat picked off his men along the shore, he was not so sure about it anymore and looked into hybrid vehicles.
The current vessel was fit to fly in the sky and swim in the ocean. The flight cost more energy, but the ship could recharge itself by absorbing magic from the environment. This was they could use it as a ship at normal times and flee to the skies if there were dangers in the water.
He went on to brag about all kinds of features of the ship, but they were too tired to listen. Everyone wanted to get some rest and chose a room from those available on the ship.
Seth excused himself and waited until he was alone in the room, then he checked his map again.
“Now then, how long will you pretend to be dead?” he asked into the seemingly empty room.
There was a short laugh and Misto Pheles materialized from the water vapor in the air. It was really him. It made sense that he had a similar way to avoid death, as Culus had.
“How did you know I was here?”
“Trade Secret,” Seth answered. He saw no reason to tell the demon about the life detection effect of one of his earrings. This allowed him to see life signs on his map, in the same fashion as he had experienced it in Deltan.
The Demon sighed and sat on one of the chairs.
“Fine, you got me. I wanted to stay hidden until I recovered enough for another decoy. I feel vulnerable otherwise.”
“hmm, maybe you should stay hidden even then. Although I might not be the only one with knowledge of your presence, it might be better to keep you as an ace.”
“An ace? Why?”
“We dont know what might happen in the future. Its always good to have an ace.”
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