Blacksmith of the Apocalypse-Chapter 717. Somewhere Else (19)
--- Somewhere in the Central Mountain Range close to Mount Agra---
He really wasn't made for this kind of journey. Cormac Payl, the chosen of Hephaestus really regretted not putting more effort into leveling up and fighting. He was never an athlete and enjoyed staying in his workshop a lot more, even before the apocalypse.
As a mechanical engineer and subsequently gaining a higher blacksmith class, he always enjoyed the privilege to stay at the base and using materials that the agency's hunters brought him. Even with the world going to shit and the war against the fish people, he never actively joined the battle.
Now he regretted his hesitation. The harsh weather alone was already a hard burden to his weak body. Even though he had the golems made in accordance to divine blueprints, their materials were not the best and the monsters they came across in the mountains were more than just a little frightening.
After a hand full of fights, the golden bull already looked worse for the wear and needed urgent repairs. Flying on the back of the bronze eagle was no solution either, because of the many flying beasts that had found their home here.
Cormac had gained a few levels thanks to the initial fights, but he quickly learned his lesson from the near-death experiences. Following his almost loss of the golden bull in a fight where the eagle and the bull had to work together to defeat something that looked like a giant olm, he started avoiding monsters as best as he could.
Stumbling through a heavy snowfall he managed to find a dry spot under an overhang. Really, his only saving grace was that he at least tried to prepare for this journey.
He had enough rations and had even managed to purchase a skill book without Ypsilon's leadership noticing. Thanks to the skill, he at least knew where he was and he knew the rough location of Mount Agra, his first goal.
Reaching this little shelter his knees weakened and he plopped to the ground. He needed a break to collect his thoughts and repair the bull. In preparation for his escape, he had also made a portable forge and anvil that enabled him to work along the way.
His heart ached, seeing the bull in its current state. Many of the armor plates that covered the mechanical body to create a smooth surface were bent out of shape, broken, or even missing. The parts beneath had also taken quite the hit. At least the core was not damaged.
Warming his body in the blaze of the forge, his thought finally calmed a little. After the repair of the bull, Cormac brought out the leather of the olm. He had not been able to prepare materials for the journey and the olm was the first beast that was left with enough materials for a cloak after he used loot on it.
The blacksmith had underestimated how hard it would be to get his hands on materials on his own. Without a professional hunter, just looting a corpse was a huge waste of materials. He quickly got to work, as there was no worth in regretting the loss.
He had put some effort in his as part of his blacksmith work, yet the result of his work with leather still was not pretty. It was a cloak mottled with gray and white patches. It had uneven sides and a crooked hood. As ugly as it was, it was at least functional, giving him enough cold resistance to stop freezing and even some amount of camouflage in the snowy landscape.
He had no stealth skills, so being able to hide from monsters and avoid fights with the help of the cloak was a great help to him. Since both, the eagle and the bull were too flashy in this environment, he opted to keep going on foot for now.
A pet? A mount? He had always only worked on items and spent the pay he got for it from the association on more materials for his private work. He never had the chance to tame or buy a pet or mount, so all he could do was trudge through the snow with his own feet, once he left his little shelter.
At least he had a strong body. As a blacksmith and being the chosen of Hephaestus, his strength, dexterity, and endurance were boosted giving him a good stamina. His hands covered in thick calluses also had no problems with climbing the sharp, rocky cliff and mountains in his way once the cold was less of a problem.
Since the first part of his journey happened on the back of the eagle, he was far off any trodden paths. Finding an old road, a path, or anything that could ease his travel became a priority, only second to advancing forward. He was only able to navigate thanks to and his knowledge of the estimated location of Mount Agra, otherwise, he would have been absolutely lost.
Funny enough, the most nerve-wracking moments were not when was curled up into a ball, watching some outlandish and terrifying beast pass by, hoping it wouldn't find him.it was every time he couldn't find a way around and had to climb the steep cliffs that barred his way.
His palms were sweaty, his knees weak and his arms heavy. His neck was cramping as he continuously looked up, or else he feared to empty the humble contents of his stomach onto his sweater. If a monster saw him, he could still try to fight. If he fell... it was over.
Cormac was climbing such a cliff and almost had a heart attack, when his hand grabbing the highest ledge slipped and his head turned, looking beneath him. He stared into the depths and was struck with fear for a moment. But this wasn't how he would die, he didn't accept this.
Out of pure defiance, he swung around, grabbed the ledge with all his strength, and pulled himself up in one move. His resolve was immediately rewarded and his heart jumped in joy. He stood on a ridge that led down to a small valley.
Everything was covered in snow, but he could clearly see the signs of civilization. At the bottom of the small valley was a street, or at least one that existed here decades ago. The important thing was that it was an even path leading through the mountains.
Laughing happily, he started sliding down the small ridge down into the valley. Reaching the bottom, he found that it was really a street. At one point it might even have been asphalted, but now it was just a graveled road.
He couldn't see any obvious sign of recent use, so he couldn't tell if this was part of the routes merchants traveled to Mount Agra. This didn't mean that it wasn't, Cormac wasn't a scout or pathfinder and everything was covered in snow. There may have been traces he just didn't notice.
However, it led in roughly the right direction he remembered so he decided to travel along this road. Even if he med beasts here, he would rather fight another olm, than climb another cliff after almost falling just now.
He traveled along the road for a few days. He did encounter more beasts and had to hide, but he was still a lot faster on the road when compared to off-roading. He also found a few places with old campfires that indicated that this road was used at least a few times in the last months.
He even found a portable defensive barrier in one of these places. It was broken, but Cormac was sure he could repair it. The reason why it was broken and left behind was rather tragic, but the blacksmith did his best not to think about what he had seen that day.
This barrier was a cheap product, in Cormec's opinion, that was made up of engraved pieces of linked to a chain that created the formation if laid on the ground. It had a weak defensive barrier and a slight stealth function that would allow the camp to stay hidden.
With the material of this chain barrier, the blacksmith was able to make a new one and strengthen it's overall effects. There may have been other useful things, but he didn't dare to linger in that place of death.
He was getting close to the estimated location of Mount Agra when the mountains were suddenly covered in a thick carpet of fog. Cormac could barely see a few meters ahead of himself This was no situation to stay out in the open, so he started crouching along the edge of the road, looking for a place to hide.
The blacksmith squeezed into a small crevasse beside an alleviated ledge above the road. He had been lying there for half an hour, tightly wrapped in his cloak, when he heard something. It was the echo of many, many, rhythmic steps that came down along the road he had just been on.