Blacksmith of the Apocalypse

Chapter 55: Explanations and Excuses

The lord was not that old, but he looked like a middle-aged as the hardships and worries of the past years had taken their toll. His clothes sat lose as if he had lost a lot of weight and the otherwise dark hair was crossed by grey streaks. Listening to his son explaining Seth´s suggestion brought some color back to his face.

Seth had no idea what hardships this man had weathered, for a noble and powerful man like him to react as such to a simple offer from a blacksmith. BUT! He did not really care, either. The lord happily agreed for Seth to plunder their personal armory and storage rooms and peruse their library in exchange for equipping their guards with high-quality equipment.

Seth was surprised when he heard, that would not need to make several hundred weapons and armors. Their personal troops only amounted to 30 people, while Zhiqes security force had been reduced to 150 guards, by the lack of funds and the constant loss of life in an attempt to cull the marshlands monsters.

He was only asked to equip the 30 private guards and some extra. He would get everything he could find in the storage and armory and 150 gold on top for a set of spear, short sword, and armor for the 30 personal guards. All of quality comparable to the sword used in the duel. The lord suggested the armory as the place to set up his smithy, since there was already a room, meant for a smithy and offered for Seth and Fin to live in the palace for the time of their stay. There were many empty rooms, as the palace was built, when Zhiqe prospered.

Afterwards, Ikram brought Seth to visit the Armory and the Library.

The armory was in a dismal state. Rusty, damaged, and badly maintained weapons in all kinds of variations filled the weapon racks. Mostly old blades like swords and sabers were left in the armory, but also some spears and blunt weapons like maces. He only took a short look at the armory and they continued to the library.

The library looked a lot better, despite a layer of dust covering great parts of it.

”Ikram, are there any books on skills? Like a lexicon with descriptions and acquisition requirements? ”

Ikram gave him an askance glance, but went to one of the bookshelves and came back with a huge tome. ”This is not exactly what you asked for, but here is the Catalog of Classes. It´s sold by the system church. It only useful to people like nobles and lords, so you won ’t find it in any bookstores. ”

The catalog held an alphabetically order list of all common classes and their corresponding skills. When Seth laid eyes upon this book he finally realized! He had forgotten that he can´t read! Even the characters in a book given out by the system church made absolutely no sense to Seth!

”Based in your expression I would guess you can´t read this, hm? ”, Ikram asked with a smirk.

”No worries, I also wouldn´t be able to read this normally. ”

”But you can read it? ”

”ha! Of course, even if our city has fallen I´m still a noble and acquired the skill. ”, he said really smug. When you are a poor noble, you have to cherish the moments when you can still brag a little.

”Is it a class- specific skill or can I get this too? ”, Seth asked with little hope. The library was completely useless to him if he could not decipher what was written. Ikram looked at loss when he saw Seth becoming a little depressed.

”Yes, technically you could if you get a skill book for . Unfortunately, you probably won´t find one in Zhiqe. It´s a rare skill book and very expensive. You would need to travel to Oriekot to try your luck and find one. I´m pretty sure you could find one in the System Auctioneers. ”

”System Auctioneers? Is this another one of these system institutions?! ”, Seth asked puzzle. How many of these were there!?

”You never heard of it? Yes, it´s another organization working under the regulations of the system. People buy and sell anything there, as long as it is appraised and judged to be worthy. I don´t know the specifics, but I heard from father that they operate on the whole continent. If you can get that skill book anywhere for sure, then there. ”, he shrugged.

When Seth looked out of the window, he could see dusk approaching. It was time to return to Yudrid! He bid Ikram good bye and picked up Asso on his way out.

It was dark by the time they reached the old district and Asso was fumbling nervously as he led the way. Was he afraid? Oh yeah, Seth remembered what they were talking before. About how people started to vanish in the old district overnight. Was the beastman, who didn ’t hesitate to try and rob him, afraid of some monsters in the dark?

Asso had grown up in this district and upon inquiry started telling all kinds of spooky stories about mysterious disappearances. While Seth wasn´t really affected much, it was Asso himself becoming more and more nervous. Before he could become a hysteric wreck and run away, they finally reached Yudrid ’s big warehouse. They could barely see the river or the quay walls in the thick fog that lay like a thick soup over the district. It looked outlandish and toxic in the greenish violet light of the moons.

They knocked on the big doors of the warehouse and the echo was muffled in the fog. Silence followed. They awaited a moment and knocked again. Nothing happened. Standing in the dark weirdly colored fog in absolute silence, even Seth started getting nervous.

Then suddenly the sound of steps in the fog. Slow, unsettling slow steps drew near them and then!

”Oh, hey guys! Did you wait long? I had to get another bottle of booze~ ”, it sounded friendly as a dirty dwarf stepped out of the fog waving with a bottle of booze.

Asso tensed up but didn´t say anything. Seth just started to relax when suddenly a giant axe came flying out of the fog and lodged itself into Yudrids head, almost splitting the face off her skull! The dead dwarf slumped over and a grubby little hand caught the bottle of booze before it could fall to the ground. Good thing he had , or he might have screamed at that.

”God damn vermin! ”, Yudrid cursed after taking her booze back, ”How dare you steal my booze! These swamp sirens keep getting bolder! ”, she mumbled and spit at the corpse on the ground.

Now Asso relaxed, too. On the ground laid not a dwarf, but a repulsive swamp creature. It´s upper body was roughly humanoid, looking like a terribly malnourished girl with big bulbous fish eyes. From the hip down it had the body of a black eel. Yudrid appearance before had all been an illusion to lure its prey!

”C´mon in boys. ”, Yudrid said without giving the thing on the ground a second look as she unlocked the door and went in.

”How did you know that was not Yudrid? ”, Seth asked as they entered the warehouse that was now filled with the different parts of the juvenile.

”Way too friendly. ”, Asso said and shrugged and he followed Yudrid further into her shop while Seth waited in the storage space for them to come back.

”Alright, want me to walk you through everything? ”, Yudrid asked once she had returned with Asso in tow. Seth agreed and the dwarf starting listing and showing a whole slew of materials, of which only some could be assessed with . There were 150 teeth and over 300 ribs of different sizes and over 20 meter of snake leather she had pulled off in one piece. Here Yudrid complained about all the small arrow wounds that had complicated her work! The 4 fangs were rated rare while the rest was uncommon material. He put it all in his inventory as he passed it.

He had to take Yudrid´s words for granted when it came to other things, like the medicinal use of the different organs such as the liver or eyes. The meat had a strong smell and Yudrid told him, that she would not recommend anyone to eat this.

It was not poisonous, but the taste and texture were… not good. Still, into the inventory it goes.

The next thing she brought out were two separate small boxes. The first held a bean-sized and milky-transparent stone. It was smooth and had an uneven form that reminded of river gravel.

”This is the magic core. I did not expect this beast to have one. Congrats! The next one was of little surprise after I saw the core. ”, she said. Inventory.

Lastly, she brought up the second box. In here was a small rough crystal glowing with a red sheen. He could see Asso´s nervous reaction behind her, was this the thing he needed?

”Lastly we have a Karfunkel. Some call it wyrm crystal or serpent pearl. It´s a stone that grows in the brain of reptiles with the potential to rank up into dragon races. Even I have not seen many of these after so many years! ”

reacted to the magic core, but not to the karfunkel, it was not a crafting material he could use. Yudrid had read his expression and gave an explanation.

”As you can probably see from Asso slowly turning into a nervous mess, this is the reason he…approached you. Karfunkel have no other use than to increase the potential of beatsman or reptilian pets and help them evolve. Don´t get me wrong, this is plenty enough of use to make this thing extremely valuable. ”, she added which made Asso behind her look really depressed.

The way she said it, made it clear, that there was no way for Asso to be able to pay for it. Seth took the box she handed him and looked clueless at the tiny stone. Looking at the depressed reptilian Yudrid scratched the messy hair on the back of her head and sighed.

”You are a blacksmith, right? ”, the dwarf asked out of the blue. Seth could only nod at the sudden question and Yudrid nodded. ” You know, I raised this scaly idiot behind me, so his deeds are my responsibility too, I guess. But I also took a liking to him and spent over a decade raising him. This might be a little rude now, but would you be willing to trade the karfunkel with me? ”, the messy huntress finally came to the point.

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