Many Worlds Chapter 45
Jules and the rest of his friends were exhausted, some emotionally and some mentally, and everyone physically, since they had needed to move fast on the retreats. This was the same for many of the natives, but those who were assigned to prepare central “keep” were somewhat better off, though still not fresh by any means. It seemed that the second of city they had just come from was the hardest pressed, as most of the rest of the city was falling back from the second defensive line to the third, while they had barely had time to stop at the third because of the giant mantis. The battle in the air was, if not over, at least more subdued. Some of the creatures weren’t interested in attacking, but just avoiding the effects of the landshift, and these milled around outside the city for the most part. Even flyers such as birds eventually landed, though they flew as much as they could.
The battle gradually came to a close, at least for the most part. Not all parts of the city were pushed back to the fort, which meant it would be easier to reclaim after the landshift, when most of the monsters and animals would leave. Some still approached the fortifications, but were easily dealt with.
Douglas was collapsed into a heap on the ground, and the rest of the friends moved nearby to converse. Isaac started, “So, Robert, do you have more of those vials? Seems pretty useful.”
Robert shook his head. “Useful, yes. Not easy to get. You might think so, with the rates at which those nanobots replicated, but I can’t reuse them. They weren’t originally meant for that kind of work, so repurposing them, and making sure they don’t go out of control, was hard. All of the ones in that vial came from me over the course of a week, and it cost me a couple of levels.” Robert shrugged. “So, it’s not worth using most of the time, but for things like that, it absolutely was. If it had the wrong composition, the nanobots would have worked much slower, or even died out. They need various things to replicate themselves and use as fuel.”
“Still very useful for taking down big monsters.”
Robert nodded, “Except, if you had missed with that vial, they would have just died on the outside of its shell. If its blood had been more acidic, they may have dissolved. Not that most things have blood like that, but I can imagine things like that, which means they might exist.”
Jules looked at Douglas, curled up on the floor. “Are you sure it’s a good idea to keep getting strength from evil unknown entities.”
“Ughh…” Douglas groaned and held his head, “I’m not sure if it’s a good idea at all, but they’re not evil, just dark and callous. Possibly imaginary, but I’m not sure how to tell.” Then, he half shrugged, and winced. “As long as I avoid overusing it I’ll be fine.”
“I’m pretty sure you overused it.”
Douglas shook his head. “Nah, I can still talk, kinda, instead of howling in pain, so this doesn’t count.”
Robert shook his head. “Are you crazy, or just a masochist?”
Douglas grinned. “Well, I’m not a masochist… but I might be as crazy as the rest of you.”
Jules blinked. “What about me? I didn’t give up levels, or charge a giant mantis, or summon black fire from the void or whatever.”
Robert raised an eyebrow. “Were you also not the one who got shot at with your real body, and then went out and did superhero style antics again?”
“…I didn’t get shot at the second time.”
Over the next day, the shaking died down and eventually stopped. There weren’t many monsters that attacked the fortifications, and a sense of peace returned to the city, even though almost everyone was still contained in the keep, where it was very cramped. However, they had enough provisions for a few weeks, though it should only take a few days at most before the city was clear of danger.
With the end of the landshift came rewards. The adventurers were paid, though there was still the matter of clearing out whatever monsters stayed in the city instead of leaving. Isaac was especially happy about this, as he had plenty of ideas for what he would buy, or make. Jules would invest in a better weapon and whatever armor he could reasonably use, but was not as interested in that.
The bigger rewards came in the form of experience. Jules looked at his level in astonishment. “Did anyone else get… like… twenty levels?”
“Nineteen,” said Douglas.
“Twenty-one,” said Robert. “Though, I spend a couple, so it about evened out.”
Jules just grinned. “So that’s what he meant by interest. Nice.”
Word was received from around the rest of Uesmeth. Mostly it was positive, however, not all the news was good. Three cities had experienced massive hordes of monsters and been overrun. One had its central keep breached, and very few people had made it out of the city. The other two were currently still overrun, managing to hold onto their central keeps, but the monsters had stayed to occupy the cities, and the keeps were still in danger of being breached. However, very little help could be sent, at least for a few days, as everywhere had their own problems to deal with. However, those cities that were better off did immediately send some soldiers and aircraft to try to ease the pressure. However, since they were still limited in number, there was only so much they could do. At best, they could keep the situation stable for a time.
The cleanup in Fesmoilia proceeded fairly smoothly. Sections were opened up and cleared of threats, and then the next section was opened. Jules participated in this. He even ended up clearing out a few monsters in his favorite cafe. It was sad to see all the shattered windows, broken tables, and general destruction. However, he was also glad the important part, the people who worked there, were still safe. Still, it was depressing to walk down the streets, littered with bodies. Most of them were monsters, but occasionally there were soldiers. Adventurers left no bodies. Even if the streets became safe, they were still extremely unpleasant, and the entire city would be working to clear out bodies and clean up destruction… probably for weeks or months, and some things might take a year or more to repair or rebuild. Jules couldn’t imagine having to go through this every generation or two. He wondered if something more permanent could be done.