Kingdom of the Weak - Chapter 183

Published at 31st of August 2019 09:59:11 AM

Chapter 183

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Ten days after the expedition to the south began, three bedraggled figures emerged from the steam and smoke of the Flame Emperor's domain .

One of them was limping along with the help of some makeshift crutches . One more had his arm in a sling . The third one was stumbling about in broken pieces of armor hastily cobbled together and on the verge of falling apart at any moment .

Father Petrov, Professor Alexei and Sir Ivan had finally made it through the mountainous region .

And before them… was a land of death .

"What… what happened here?" Father Petrov stared, stunned .

The land was black . Actually, more than half of it looked semi-liquid . There were blackened bones everywhere, skeletons of beasts that would take thousands of words to describe for no other reason than to increase this chapter's word count . Suffice to say the variety was very wide, and even looking at the bones, these three men felt they had been fierce beasts .

The important thing was that the skeletons were very, very large . The smallest ones were around Tier 4, and those were rare . The majority were Tier 5, easily the size of houses, and Tier 6, the size of a block of commercial shoplots . They were everywhere, the entire horizon was littered with bones as far as the eye could see .

Very little plant-life covered these forms . It was like the plants around the wildlands just flat out refused to go anywhere near that plain of death .

"I think it's oil . " Sir Ivan said, crouching over the ground and touching it hesitantly . "Black oil . "

"Nobody light a fire . " Father Petrov said fervently . "Whatever you do, do not cast fire magic here!"

"It's okay, I think . " Professor Alexei mused . "The oil has lain dormant over the ground for a long time . We won't really have to worry about it all catching fire suddenly . It's the fumes we need to worry about . That's the stuff that catches fire . Unless a disturbance causes fumes to rise, there shouldn't be anything to worry about . "

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"But the mana density is coming from deep inside this death zone, isn't it?" Father Petrov grimaced . "We're going to have to walk right into it to find the Source . In other words… we'd be that very disturbance you were talking about . "

"How much farther?" Sir Ivan asked . "Can we go around it?"

Professor Alexei shook his head . "It's very close now . Mana density here is ten times greater than that of Ecclesia . It's so thick, I feel like I could fly without an airship, just using wind magic, if I tried . Looking at far how this field stretches, and how close the Source feels… I get the feeling that the Source of Magic is somewhere inside that death zone . "

"Figures . It's no wonder the legends say it's evil . " Sir Ivan muttered darkly .

"What do you think happened out here? Did the Wilds fight each other over the Source of Magic?" Father Petrov hazarded a guess .

"Who knows? Whatever happened, it happened a very long time ago . " Alexei took a deep breath, braced himself, and walked right into the black .

His footsteps squished as he walked . He sank almost an inch into the ground with every step he took . He turned around with a grimace . "About those fumes and the disturbance we were talking about… we're definitely going to stir things up . Absolutely do not start a fire . "

"Right . " Father Petrov took one step forward, and paused .

"What are we waiting for?" Alexei asked .

"Me!" a voice called from behind . "Wait for me!"

They turned to see Mindy emerging from the fog, looking very dirty, and very worn-out, but smiling brightly as she emerged and took a moment to bask in the warm sun . "Aah… that feels good . "

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"You have a sword?" Sir Ivan asked . Trust a knight to ignore all the other aspects of her well-being and notice her weapon first .

"Kind of . " Mindy shrugged, one hand on the hilt at her side . It was a short one, barely over a foot long, similar to the shape and style of the Iron Legion gladius, but judging by the shape of the sheath, just a bit broader . Also, the sheath was a dark red, almost brown .

"Might I borrow it if the need arises?" Sir Ivan asked . "I have lost all my weapons during the course of the journey here . "

Ah . So that's why .

But Mindy shook her head . "Sorry, Sir Ivan . I would, but this one's special . I can't lend it out . "

Sir Ivan sighed . "Bone it is, then . "

He got to work on a nearby skeleton, something with bones not quite so badly blackened, and started to try and pull out a relatively straight, sharp piece . "Go ahead, I'll catch up in a minute . "

"We'll wait . " Father Petrov insisted .

Alexei grunted . "We've already waited this long . What's another minute, eh?"

Mindy cautiously examined the ground, the bones, the air, sniffing and peering and shaking her head all to herself with her hand on the hilt of her new sword . At length, she grimaced but said nothing .

Father Petrov nudged her . "Hey . It's good to see you again . I'm glad you made it . "

"Me too . " Mindy grinned . "For a while back there, I wasn't sure anyone would survive this trip at all . "

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But here they were, on the edge of their destination, in a land where it seemed the Wilds dared not intrude upon .

"Think there's any last, hidden dangers around here?" Father Petrov squinted . "Other than gas fumes?"

"Yep . Probably . " Mindy figured . "We can't relax just yet . "

"Got it!" Sir Ivan waved his new bone spear around triumphantly . "Now I am armed!"

"Great . " Professor Alexei held up his hand and before their eyes, a bluish form started to take shape . In moments, he held a gladius formed entirely of ice . "Me, too . "

"Wow . I didn't know you could do that . " Mindy said, eyes wide .

"Normally, my ice magic is limited to chilling drinks with cubes and maybe a few shards, but the mana here is so thick… so heavy… I think… maybe…" Alexei hesitated, then raised his other hand, and more ice began to form, crackling as a bluish buckler formed on his arm . "Yes . I can even manage that!"

"Do you think maybe this is it?" Father Petrov asked dubiously . "That perhaps this is the evil Source of Magic we were looking for? A graveyard of dead Wilds, producing mana out of their decay?"

"No . There is thicker mana ahead . I can feel it . It calls to me…" Alexei whispered, turning around and going deeper into the dead lands . "It's close . So close . "

Ten minutes in, Father Petrov yawned . "Come on . Where is it? We should be right on top of it by now . You don't think it might be buried, or sunk under the oil, do you?"

"Shh!" Sir Ivan grasped his arm hastily . "Quiet!"

Father Petrov blinked, and lowered his voice . "Why?"

"There's something moving in the oil . " Sir Ivan pointed . "Something alive . "

Petrov gulped and stopped for a moment .

"Keep going . " Mindy whispered . "There's nowhere to run . Just… don't cause a ruckus . "

They all but tiptoed forward as best they could, wincing with every squish and squelch of their footsteps despite their best efforts .

Almost before they knew it, they crept around some particularly large skeletons and suddenly found themselves overlooking a deep crater .

Father Petrov was visibly trembling by the time . Alexei looked enthralled, almost ecstatic as they reached the crater . Even Sir Ivan could sense that something was up with it .

"We're here . " Alexei said . "This is the Source of Magic . "

"Where is it?" Sir Ivan asked . "I don't see anything . Is it buried in that crater?"

"No . It's there . " Alexei pointed .

There, in the air, was a dim, faint line, crooked like a vein… with odd, orange light gleaming from it .

"What… what is that?" Sir Ivan asked .
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"That, my friend, is where all the mana in our world is coming from . " Father Petrov grimaced . "The Source of Magic is a crack in space . "