Chapter 448: Broadcasting Again
Leana cursed silently. Their worries were correct, the spies had left backdoors to highjack the broadcasts. She hurriedly called Hardwig.
“I know! We are already working on cutting the connections.” her brother said distressed and immediately hung up on her. If they were already working on it, there was nothing she could do right now, except to watch.
Panning out the shot showed Natina Durnham surrounded by a company of roughly 60 pale people, standing at the edge of a pale cliff. A dark vapor surrounded all of them was visible in the sunlight. An obvious sign that they were undead. The attractive girl, wearing an intricate black dress let out a bell-like laugh of confidence.
Their identity shocked the audience of Chrona. Especially the royals involved with the evaluation had grim looks on their face, when they saw the gallery of undead. This was completely unlike what they had expected.
They recognized all of them as participants of the evaluation. People whose adventures the citizens had watched avidly over the last two weeks. Each of them was a brilliant gem of their home world and shone with impeccable and unique skills.
“Im sure you recognize them, Chrona. I, Natina Durnham of Spatia, have singlehandedly exterminated all of your precious Sparks.” she bragged and paused for dramatic effect.
“It couldnt be…!” Elza thought in a panic. She couldnt believe that she was the only one who survived! What about Marcel! It was the first time the cold beauty felt this disturbed.
“Calm down, Elza. Its a lie. Look at the people behind her. None of them is from Urth. She is shaming the royal family in front of the citizens with her lies.” Leana calmed her and Mina.
It was true, they couldnt spot a familiar face among the people standing with the girl. Although she had not shown it, even Mina had been a little agitated at the girls words.
“Why did she call them Sparks? Because they burned out so quickly?” Fin asked a little confused. She knew about Spatia, but she didnt know a lot.
“Its what they call the talents. Like sparks that can light a fire. People from new worlds with the talent to have a great impact on their world and even others.” the princess explained absentmindedly.
“Citizens of Chrona, this is not all! The reason these valiant heroes were sent here, to their death, was to retrieve a full set of ancient dragon bones!”
Another revelation caused a commotion among those watching. The voices around made Leana scowl. She was well away, that similar conversations were probably going on everywhere in the empire that showed these broadcasts.
“Ancient Dragon Bones!”
“How good are they if its from an ancient dragon?”
“Everything on a dragon is legendary, isnt it?”
“Yes, you could make a national treasure from any part of its body.”
“Why would they send the rookies on such an important quest?”
“What were the royals thinking?”
The crowd was swaying between wondering about the material and criticizing the royal family to choose something this important as the goals for the evaluation quest. A distorted cry from the screen made the crowd fall silent.
On the screen showing the panorama of Natina and her row of servants, a giant shadow fell on Natina and the cliff they were standing on.
“Witness my power!” she said dramatically as a gigantic zombie dragon landed behind her and the row of undead participants. With the recorder trying to show the full scope of the dragon, the people were not even recognizable anymore.
In the end, it flew so far back, that the whole cliff and the citadel below could be seen. The dragon was like a mountain looming over everything. Its eyes burning with a viciously purple spirit flame, it seemed to stare directly into the camera, stunning the audience.
The picture cut back to Natina, now standing in the shadow of the dragon. She opened her mouth to speak, but a shadow suddenly appeared beside her from a violet mist. After listening to it, a sardonic smile appeared on her face.
“It seems that challengers have appeared, that wish to give me a chance for demonstration,” she announced.
The stream cut to a sole man, standing on the ruins at the bottom of the cliff. With his shining armor and vicious-looking sword, he would have almost appeared valiant. If it wasnt for the black-haired mans expression of shock as he stared up the cliff.
“Find a way to wipe it off, he says…”
He mumbled something, but they couldnt exactly hear what. It didnt sound happy at all. Leana and the group with her immediately recognized Ben Harker, the Hero from the urthan team.
“What is he doing there! This is simply suicide.” the four thought in sync. There was another thing, especially Leana recognized. The hero was not wielding the sword given by the empire, but the one she had returned to Seth before their departure.
“That means that thrifty blacksmith is around and actually opened his coffers,” Leana commented. She explained about the sword. Although Fin and Mina didnt like what she called Seth, they couldnt deny it.
“Did you come to challenge me and take revenge for your comrades? I admire your valor, but you should have- hey what are you doing?”
On-screen, the hero didnt wait for her to finish her pretentious monologue and started charging toward the cliff. However, to the onlooker it seemed less like he was charging in to attack in a last brave fight, but that he was running away.
It was Natinas turn to widen her eyes and make a grim expression. The audience had no idea what was going on off-screen, but it seemed that she was not happy.
“Cut the broadcast,” she said sternly, and the screens fell silent.
“Sir, the pirate signal has vanished.” one of the enchanters said with a sigh. They had been in a rush to track and cut down the connection, but the signal stopped on its own,
“Then hurry and find what backdoor they were using and close it,” Hardwig answered stressed.
However, he did not get a break. An imperial censor suddenly came running to him.
“Sir, some of the signals from our recorders came back online,” he reported.
After the connection had been blocked previously, all signals had vanished. At that time, they really thought either all participants were dead or had their recorders destroyed.
Now five signals suddenly reappeared. Three were the overview recorder golems of Urth. They were showing a field of ruins, but at the edge of the picture, on the horizon, part of the zombie dragon could be seen.
The other two were broadcasting what was currently going on. His eyebrow popped up when he saw what was being broadcasted. For the first time, since the whole chaos started, a small smile appeared on his face.
“Broadcast these two,” he said with a smile.
“In the meantime, get our people ready to open a portal at the location of the three stationary ones. I will talk with my father to get an elite team for the extraction. We have to hurry and control the damage.”
A few minutes after the screens went silent, a new broadcast appeared. This time it lacked the cocky commentary. There were only two points of view. One showed the cliff from afar, with the small figures of Natina and her Sparks on the cliff, the giant luxurious citadel, and the hero down below, standing among the ruins at the shore.
The dragon standing on the cliff was so big, that only its toes and claws digging into the edge of the cliff could be seen
The other recorder was closer to the cliff, somewhere between the hero and Natina above. It showed the hero closer with sunken ruins and the ocean as a backdrop. The hero was in a hurry to reach the cliffs, as the whole ocean behind started broiling.
The people finally saw what had ruined Natinas mood. No wonder the hero was in a hurry to get away from the water!
“Do you think…?” Lena muttered,
“Trying to throw one headache at the other? Its definitely Seths idea.” Fin commented gleefully. In her mind, only the blacksmith would try something this crazy. Especially since he could use the Hero as the bait.
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