Blacksmith of the Apocalypse

Chapter 58: 58.Aftermath

Seth walked along the dark and narrow basement corridor with just the little magic lantern. It led like a brick-walled tube further and further into the darkness. He kept checking and marking the doors on either side of the way. he had not seen any forks or crossroad yet.

Recently most of the new rooms he came across were empty. Once in a while there was one with some furniture or other junk. He would have probably stopped walking or changed direction if the corridor was not slowly changing like this. It was a chest he had found in one room, that looked empty at first glance. Unsure whether it was a maybe a mimic or a trap, Seth had shot it with an arrow. The impact of the arrow activated a trap and giant steel-jaws snapped out of the ground like a bear trap. it would have decapitated someone kneeling in front of the chest, or cut someone stand there in half.

The chest was empty and useless, but Seth happily stored the traps jaws. He had probably been luck, that the hallway was not booby-trapped until now. He became even more careful when treading on the stone-tiled floor and only gave the most rooms a cursory look without stepping in. One thing was clear, he had most likely entered a dungeon.

He noticed that something was wrong, when he opened a new door and a terrible stench wafted against him. It was exactly the same room as the first one he checked. Barrels and boxes filled with rotten and unidentifiable stuff. There was even still his footprint on the floor in the terribly smelling sludge. But the door had no mark?!

”Don´t tell me the doors change, too! ”, Seth mumbled.

If not, only the rooms changed positions, but the doors too, then his marks were useless. Then what could he POSSIBLY do? An amused smirk crept on his face.

He took out a broken chair leg and set fire to the doors. Seth did not think the dungeon would regenerate the doors, since the marks left on the doors were still there.

So, he leisurely walked down the corridor and set fire to the door left and right, after taking a look into the room. Soon rooms without door started appearing in front of him. Some he had seen, some he had not.

”Krryuuu! ”

Suddenly he heard a sound that did not fit the deserted basement. It was a quirky high-pitches cry somewhere in the darkness in front. Seth took out a fist-sized chunk of table leg, set it ablaze and chucked it into the darkness.

”Krryu-Gha! ”

The ball of bright fire illuminated the path before him and hit something small standing on the path. It fell beside the creature on the floor and bathed it in pale blue light.

It looked like a repulsive little piranha with bulging eyes, buckteeth and four thing limbs. it reached about the height of Seth´s knee and it´s forelimbs it held onto a tiny trident. Seth didn´t know what this creature was, but he didn´t hesitate.

Thunk!

One arrow easily ended the little guys life. Seth observed the corpse from afar and it vanished shortly after. The last indicator that he really was in a dungeon! The palaces basement had really turned into a dungeon. And he still had not found the rest of the weapons! he felt a little annoyed, since he had no idea, whether he could just leave by going back. Or did he have to find the dungeon core first?

”Yeah, let´s turn around…. ”, he turned around and what he saw was a wall.

”I guess…dungeon core it is then. ”, he shrugged and turned towards the dark tunnel before him.

The dungeon had obviously changed. There were no more doors leading to the rooms and they were merely dark holes along the barely lit walls. Seth did not trust the darkness and started throwing burning pieces of wood to light up the path before him.

The corridor slowly turned into an earthy tunnel like the burrow of a beast. Once in a while he met some Swamp Pygmy in the rooms, but they were mostly empty.

A disgusting stench wafted into his nose and he soon found the source. Corpses started to occasionally appear in the holes on either side of the way. Their half-eaten and rotting bodies were covered in rags that resembled the servant uniforms of the palace. Was this the reason the staff rooms had been so empty?

More and more rooms held an increasing number of decaying bodies. Some already looked old a dried up. How long had servants been vanishing from the palace? Or were these people maybe those who had vanished in the old district?

”Maybe some of them, but probably not all vanished end up here. ”, he thought, remembering the swamp siren Yudrid had killed.

However, one thing was clear. There had to be something more dangerous than those pygmy ’s! The scene remembered him of a game. He had played Dead Galaxy and he knew not to trust a peaceful-looking corpses! Not to mention, that he had seen real undead quite often recently. Seth burned each and every corpse he came across as he walked down the path. After a while walking the tunnel finally widened into a big cavern. The stench made him gag and his eyes water.

His lantern started flickering. Roots were hanging down from a low ceiling and there was an irregular crystal sphere in the middle of the room. The last thing he saw in the flickering light of his lantern was a heap of corpses laid in a ring around the sphere on the ground. Then the lantern went dark.

As if it was perfectly timed. The pieces of wood in the tunnel behind him had long burned out and Seth stood in perfect darkness. He waited. Just a moment. Then, as fast as he could, he stated throwing out burning pieces of wood in all direction! The sudden bright light flooded the room and fell on a disturbing figure.

An emaciated man wearing the uniform of a butler, with a giant mane of bleached white hair hung on the ceiling above him like a gecko! Bulging eyes, the size of tennis balls and dry taut lips exposing a moth of circular positioned teeth!

It was the terribly distorted form of Russlan, the oh so benevolent smiling head butler!

Kschyaa!

Russlan hissed as the bright light fell into his giant bulging eyes and subsequently fell off the ceiling when he tried to cover his eyes.

Seth aimed for the moment he fell and gave him a vicious slash with the khopesh, but the skinny old man managed to move his center of gravity in midair and turned the deadly slash into a shallow cut that damaged his clothing but merely grazed the skin

”Chou! Chyou are stronger thhan I thhought for a blackthmith! ”, it spat out and waved it´s hand. The air flickering like a mirage and it vanished. Seth hurriedly looked around and tried to listen for steps.

When he closed his eyes to concentrate on the cracking of the flames and the sound beyond it, it actually started vanishing. The smell vanished. When he opened his eyes, he was home.

His real home. He was in his room and murky sunlight fell in through the window. He heard laughter in the living room. The bell like voice of a woman and a deep baritone of a man talking and laughing.

He left his room and entered the living room. There they sat on the couch watching TV. As if it was the most normal thing in the world. There sat his parents. His mom and dad watching one of his dad´s favorite survival documentaries together.

Tears welled up in his eyes. No! It couldn´t be true! He looked for the weapon in his hand, but it was gone. He wore a simple t-shirt and pajama-pants.

”Dear, what is it? Did we wake you up? Come sit down and watch with us~ ”, the clear sound of his moms voice entered his ears. The fought down the tears. He ground his teeth and clenched his fists. His mother stood up and approached him. She looked just like he remembered, with hair as dark as his and small laugh lines around her eyes.

A bittersweet sadness filled his heart and mixed with a burning fury. He knew it was an illusion and hated that it was an illusion. But he could not move as his mother approached him and-

A searing pain overwhelmed his mind. The illusion waned and the scene before his eyes melted away. Where his mother had stood was the distorted grimace of Russlan.

”Urgh! ”

The creature ’s hand was deeply embedded into his belly, rummaging through his entrails.

”cheche, people ffall cho easily for thhese thimple illuthionth ”, it laughed maniacally.

”You! ”

The laughter was stifled as two hand with an iron grip closed around the monster ’s throat. This was personal. Seth had let go of weapon and shield and started choking the laughing Ruslan ’s neck with his bare hands.

”Chu can´t thuffocate meh! I can-! ”

Seth let go of all reason and just started pumping his raw uncontrollable rage into a jet flame of fire exploding from his body. The creature screeched! It scratched! It´s claw-like nailed ripped apart his skin and flesh, but it was too late.

Russlan in his hands burned. His clothes burned. His armor melted. He cared no more. He fueled his fire with his emotions and watched Russlan melt away, burn away, until there was nothing more than ash.

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