104 Approaching Brumau
The eastern border of the Exile Frontier was formed by a section of land known as Frenach. This section of land stretched over five thousand kilometers north and south, and about a thousand east and west. To the north of this land was the area controlled by the Rellen family and their vassals. To the south was the Great Desert, to the west was the Exile Frontier, and to the east was the wasteland inhabited by savages and monsters the like of which nightmares were made out of.
The nobles fondly referred to this area as the slums of the continent. No noble family claimed Frenach as their own, so the local dictators and aspiring powermongers saw this as their opportunity to build their own kingdoms.
As a result, this stretch of land was in constant turmoil as wannabe kings rose and fell, and dictators seized power only to be betrayed. No single town or location stayed in the same hands for more than a few months, and bandits and pirates roamed freely through the land preying an anyone weaker than them. Frenach was a chaotic and brutal land that showed mercy to no one, especially the weak.
However, sometimes the appearance of a greater threat would force all of the factions in Frenach to put their differences aside temporarily and work together to defend their home. Ever so often, the monsters that lived out in the wasteland to the east would go into a frenzy and swarm westwards in a tide of destruction, leaving nothing living in their wake.
But thanks to a legendary artifact that had been used decades ago in an attempt to stem the beast tide, the people of Frenach had a way to defend themselves. When the artifact had been used, it had created a massive cliff that formed a barrier against the wasteland in the shape of stony cliffs over two hundred meters tall, and even taller in some places. The people of Frenach called this stretch of cliffs the Bulwark.
This Bulwark protected Frenach for many years, but as it is with all things, time took its toll. Over the years, cracks had formed canyons and gorges in the Bulwark, forming narrow and dangerous paths that led down to the base where the wasteland waited. Naturally when the beast tide happened, the horde of monsters that came charging out of the wasteland funneled towards these gorges and canyons that led to the top.
These cracks in the Bulwark were numerous, and the smaller ones were sealed rather easily, but the bigger ones could not be sealed. So when the beast tide came sweeping out of the wasteland, the bigger canyons became defence points where the factions of Frenach would gather to defend their land against the waves of beasts.
The town of Brumau was one such location. It was located only a kilometer away from a larger canyon that was routinely flooded with monsters and beasts when the tide would occur, and as a result was a staging point for the various groups that came to defend against the tide.
Brumau was a mid sized settlement that grew rather crowded when the beast tide happened. The folk that lived in the town were mostly farmers and crafters and welcomed the adventurers that flocked to the town when it was time to defend. The town was considered to be rather stable, having only changed ownership twice in the last year, and this current beast tide was a benefit to the town's economy.
Naturally, the adventurers, mercenaries, pirates, and gangs that normally would be at each other's throats would not simply defend Frenach without getting something in return. The beast tide was a lucrative event. Essence stones in the thousands would be the reward of anyone who was brave enough to step into the canyon and help in the defence. Of course, you had to be strong enough to keep them afterwards too.
There was glory to be had as well. The various owners of Brumau had established a tradition over the many previous beast tides to honor and reward the highest performing team to defend against the beasts.
It was a game of sorts for the residents of the town. The teams were limited to four members, and there were inspectors authorized and put in place by the town's leaders that would tally the amount and quality of the essence stones that each team had collected after every wave. In the town square was also a large board set up where the leaders were displayed, invoking competition in the defenders that gathered in the town.
Brumau was the town that Doris had planned on stopping in for a spell to make some money. Currently, the Flame Scorpion Kreppelin was a few days away from reaching Brumau. Their journey from the Exile Frontier through Frenach had been uneventful, and the crew was eager to get their feet on the ground again.
Zoey was equal parts excited to see a new location and worried about Sethrii's continued absence. It had been over a month since the goddess had disappeared and neither Athena nor Zoey had heard a peep from her. But she could only move on with their plans.
She had made great progress with her "project" she was working on inside the cube with the help of Custodian 704. It had been a long time since she had gotten to design and build a large scale engineering project, and she was thoroughly enjoying the process. Judging from the progress she had made, the "project" would be almost complete in a week, making it about a month total of work. Zoey was rather excited to see it in action for the first time.
Aside from that, Athena had located and destroyed the corrupted creature she had been hunting in the south. She would be heading to Frenach to meet up with Zoey once the cleanup was taken care of. Nito was close to his destination, the city of Nine Peaks, and was eager to arrive so he could get his task underway.
Meanwhile, Doris was preparing his crew for landing at Brumau. He did not want to get embroiled in local politics, so his orders were clear; Do not antagonize anyone, and stay in groups with comrades when in the town or heading to the Bulwark to fight in one of the waves.
If they played their cards right, they could get in and out with no trouble and enough capital to keep them going for several years.
And so, the excitement aboard the Kreppelin grew as they closed in on their destination.