44 The Beating of a Hear
Once the somber moment had passed, and they finished looking around the lower deck, Zoey and Nito made their way onto the upper deck. This area of the airship was in bad shape as well, with broken planks and splintered boards littered about. There were sizeable holes in the deck that Zoey could easily fall through if she was not careful. She was careful as she took a look around to see if she could learn more about how the Kreppelin operated.
The raised platform in the center of the deck still supported a damaged control podium. When she looked closer, she could see it once had a wheel attached to it to steer the airship. There was a metal panel bolted to the podium that had some levers built into it. These looked to be control rods of some kind.
Sure enough, when she look a closer look she was able to decipher some of the array engraved into the metal. The levers were for forward movement, the brake, raising the ship up in altitude, and lowering it. These levers and the wheel would have allowed a pilot to control the ship when it was operational. She did discover that the ship was wind powered, with an array set up on a projector near the stern of the ship that directed wind into the sails. Using magic to produce their own wind was fairly smart, but the entire thing felt elementary and inefficient to her.
"Nito, how old is this ship?" Zoey asked as she inspected the wind array on the stern.
"Hmm, fifty or sixty years. Was fairly new when the Ursag family used it to flee from the Rellens," he replied as he glared in the direction of Colten.
"Are most Kreppelins built like this? Sails and levitation?" Zoey questioned further trying to distract him a little.
"Mostly, yes. Some function differently, but this has been the popular method over the last five hundred years, give or take… It's the least expensive to build and maintain," Nito replied.
"What do they use for power sources?" she asked.
"Aether stones. Mined from areas with large amounts of magic. Very expensive. Nobles fight over new mines all the time."
Zoey nodded her thanks to him. She could already think of a hundred different improvements to the array system of the Kreppelin. The horrible inefficiency of the system made her itchy. She hadn't seen one of these Aether stones yet, but her Aether Engineer talent would likely be able to fabricate them once she saw one. Slowly, there was plan forming inside her mind. It would take some time, but seeing this crashed Kreppelin gave her an idea.
They spent another hour searching the wreck, but found nothing else of interest. They decided to head back to Nito's home while hunting more Ice Venom Sky Snakes. They made it back before midday the next day and went about sorting their hunting haul. The sheer amount of snakes they had hunted was phenomenal considering that they were only two Rank 2 hunters. Thankfully, Zoey was a walking arsenal and Nito was getting increasingly proficient at using his Scythe Mantis Reaper technique. What he lacked in firepower he made up for with tenacity.
In total Zoey now had the essence stones from forty five Rank 1 Ice Venom Sky Snakes, and four Rank 2 stones, also from Ice Venom Sky Snakes. She also had the various materials from the snakes. All of this was stored in her storage ring. She had tried to split the spoils with Nito, but he adamantly refused, saying that the Scythe Mantis Reaper technique she had given him, and that she had helped him discover the necklace from the crashed Kreppelin was enough of a reward.
That evening after everything had been cleaned up and sorted out, including themselves, they had more grilled snake and wild greens to eat. Nito ate most of the food he made. His increase in strength and level had increased his need for food somewhat, so his appetite was pretty big. Zoey on the other hand barely ate a few mouthfuls. Since her body and organs had been changed on the trip to this universe she had not needed nearly as much food as before to survive. A few bites a day was enough for her body to operate at its peak.
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Once they settled in for the night, Zoey checked the egg she had been keeping close to her the last three days. When she held it in her hands, the connection she had felt with the egg before seemed stronger. She could now feel the faintest heartbeat through the connection, confirming that something in the egg was alive! She also felt a slight sense of hunger through the link. Seems like it needed more of her blood. She cut her thumb open and let a few drops fall onto the egg. Like before the intricate blood rune formed again, absorbing her blood into the egg. It only took a few moments before she felt a happy, satisfied feeling being transmitted to her through the link. Zoey smiled. For some reason the feelings she felt through the link warmed her heart. The family she once had back on Gaia had been lost to her along with many of her memories, but this feeling definitely felt like she had regained a tiny portion of what she had lost. She treasured this feeling, holding it close and promising never to let it go again.
After a few moments of reflection while cradling the egg, she returned it back to the inside of her shirt. Then, a brief flash of magic into her Mittra Regen rune healed her thumb with not even a scratch left behind. She took a look at her inventory and manually calculated how many essence stones she would need to rank up to Rank 3.
She had already absorbed one Rank 2 essence stone with the Null Stalker essence stone she got from the dungeon. She had four more Rank 2 Ice Venom Sky Snake stones, those would get her halfway to Rank 3. After that she could either hunt for more Rank 2 essence stones, or she could use twenty five of the Rank 1 essence stones she had to substitute. However, after she did some research on the subject using her terminal, she found that the best practice would be to use only Rank 2 essence stones to get to Rank 3. The reason being that the rank of essence stone used would directly affect the size and quality of your essence source in your inner world. Using Rank 1 stones to achieve Rank 3 would had a detrimental effect on her growth and power later on.
Knowing this, Zoey decided to hunt more Rank 2 essence stones to rank up. She did not want to take shortcuts when it came to her strength and growth. Tomorrow she would go hunt more Rank 2 creatures. Maybe she would hunt something other than Ice Venom Sky Snakes. She also wanted to do more testing with her Null Field rune. She still was not sure of how much it would actually protect her and from what. She still had that strange book too…
With those thoughts she drifted off to sleep accompanied by the sounds of the night from the Exile Frontier.