155 The Alchemist“s Journal
The next morning, Zoey was up and refreshed more so than she had been in a while. Viridi as well seemed to be full of energy when she came out of her inner world and joined Zoey as she got ready for the day.
The first thing Zoey did was sit at the table near the back of the bridge and pull up her information feeds and spread them out on the table's surface as interactable windows that she could use. She was primarily looking for information about the last few days and what had happened after the dungeon was closed.
She still did not know if that was the only place responsible for the beast tides, or if there were more out there producing mutated beasts and sending them at the Bulwark. She still had all of her small drones collecting info in Brumau, and that was what she used to pull the info.
When she checked the feeds, she quickly discovered that word was spreading around that the beast waves had stopped suddenly all along the Bulwark. This strange occurrence at the height of the beast tide had everyone was confused as to why. Everyone thought it was a temporary lull before a massive attack, but so far there were no more signs of activity from the wasteland.
Zoey figured that the dungeon had been the source of all the beasts, and when she had taken the dungeon core, the entire operation had ceased. Hundreds of years of beast tides ended just like that, and Zoey was responsible. Well, only partly responsible. Without Max and his insight into the situation she would have likely never came looking for the source.
Reminded of the dungeon, Zoey pulled out the journal she had recovered from the place and opened it up. She could tell it was old, and had been unused for a long time. She hoped that reading it would give her some insight into the origins of the dungeons. Using her interface she started translating the journal and reading the information contained within.
It turned out to be from a young alchemist that lived in a city on the edge of the wasteland hundreds of years ago when the wasteland was simply unclaimed prairie. This alchemist had been brilliant, wealthy, and influential in the city, and as a young man had his life ahead of him.
Then the tragedy came. He fell in love with a girl, and for a year had planned on marrying her to begin his own family. But only a month before the wedding, the family of the girl sold her to a noble for wealth and prestige. The alchemist tried to get her back, but by the time he had reached her it was too late. The noble had killed her.
Maddened by sorrow and rage, he began to attack everything in sight, his powers of alchemy throwing the city into chaos. But he was eventually defeated by the very man who had taken his love from him.
But he survived.
Near death he had crawled into the unsettled prairie and hid there while hatred festered in his heart. His only reason for living had become vengeance against those that had wronged him.
This was where the journal became hard to decipher for Zoey as the writing depicted the alchemist's descent into madness.
From what she could gather, he had formed an alliance with an unknown party and through that had somehow acquired the dungeon where his work had begun. He was given materials and resources and had put them to use in creating an army of mutated beasts. Then had come the very first beast tide.
It was little more than an excuse to attack the city where his love had died, and he had led the initial wave himself. With his hundred thousand beasts, they had torn the city down to the foundations in a night.
The alchemist himself had found the noble that had killed the love of his life and ripped the heart from his chest with his own hands.
The journal ended shortly after that, with one final sentence; "I have lost my love, and have achieved my vengeance. Life no longer carries purpose for me."
Zoey could imagine what had happened from there. Whoever had worked with the alchemist was the one pulling the strings and was also the likely culprit that had set everything to automate the way it did. The alchemist had only been responsible for creating the mutated beasts, and had probably been disposed of after he had lost his usefulness.
It was a tragic tale, but one with lasting effects. The alchemist had been dead for centuries, yet his creations had made the Bulwark a necessity and the years of beast tides had formed a culture all on their own in the towns along the wasteland. Now that it was all over who knew what would happen next.
There were still many questions for Zoey. Why had this been done? What role did this play with the corrupted and how was it all connected? Was it an isolated incident? Or maybe it was part of some grander scheme?
She turned her eyes to the monitor that showed the cloaked figure still making his way towards the sinkhole across the wasteland. Maybe they would have some answers. For now she had other things to worry about.
Zoey put the journal away and suddenly noticed for the first time that Max was sitting next to her at the table! She hadn't noticed him until now which was odd. Was she getting that used to his presence that she simply accepted him being around? How curious.
"Good morning," Max said in his quiet voice as Zoey looked at him.
"Same to you. Sleep well?" she replied.
He nodded in response, his eyes like a calm grey pool. She could tell he was in a good mood.
They both then turned and looked back to the table at the displays Zoey had spread out across the surface. The table was made of photonic glass and hooked directly into the cruiser's systems, and therefore Zoey could use her interface to stream data directly to it. This meant that others could also what she displayed, unlike when she used her interface which was only visible to her.
Seeing his curious look, Zoey smiled and started to explain to Max what it all was and how to use the system. Max eagerly went along with her and started absorbing the information as if he was a sponge. Zoey was impressed with his learning speed, and happily kept showing him more and more about how the system and the cruiser worked.
The two of them, huddled close together at the table as they worked while Viridi rolled around behind them chasing her tail created a rather nice picture that warmed the heart.