Chapter 1170 Day and Night
During the day, the desert was like hell. The small, ruthless sun bathed the pristine white world in suffocating heat, making the Awakened feel as if their bodies and minds were slowly being dissolved into the blinding white radiance.
Mundane humans would not have lasted even a single day in this scorching inferno, but even the experienced Awakened warriors were struggling to persevere. If not for the fact that they had come prepared... the soldiers of Valor shivered despite the unbearable heat when imagining how agonizing such a journey would have been.
The government soldiers pulled into this hell by the Call never stood a chance. After all, the probability of them possessing Memories to mitigate the heat and create unlimited reserves of water was slim, not to mention other dangers.
Most importantly, they would not have had a map.
The rough map created by the scouts of the great clan was, without a doubt, the most vital distinction between Warren's squad and those poor fools.
Because, while the desert was like hell during the day, it was infinitely more harrowing during the night. The heat retreated, replaced by murderous cold... and the dead soldiers of the ancient armies that had once clashed in this land rose from the sand to continue their eternal battle.
This had been one of the last battlefields in the world-ending war between the Demons and the Gods - considering who had fought and fallen here, even the cursed remains of the ancient soldiers were too dreadful for mere mortals to face.
If there was one mercy in the white desert, it was that these accursed remnants were too powerful to enter the waking world through the lesser Nightmare Gates.
...Of course, there were countless other Nightmare Creatures populating the white dunes, as well. These abominations were not restricted to only moving at night, and even though they preferred to stick to the shadows, Mordret and his companions had to fight more than a few horrors as they traveled across the desert.
The heat, the blinding light, the constant danger of being attacked by swarms of frenzied Nightmare Creatures...
Mordret pierced the body of a swift abomination with his sword, then bashed it with his shield, throwing the creature back and off his blade. Sweat was rolling down his face, and his helmet felt as hot as an oven. Even the charm he was using to keep himself cool seemed to be struggling, despite the fact that it was hungrily devouring more and more essence.
By his side, someone swayed and fell to their knees.
Mordret moved, shielding the Awakened warrior from a lunging Nightmare Creature. With its momentum broken, others attacked from the sides, bringing the beast down.
He reached down and helped the Awakened stand up.
"Argh... curses. I'm sorry, Warren. The heat got to me."
Mordret shook his head.
"At ease, Crass. Breathe. Drink some water. This was the last of them."
The other warriors had already finished off the remains of the swarm. All of them seemed tired, their eyes grim.
"Warren, can we rest?"
Varo's usually carefree voice sounded strained and muddled.
Mordret smiled behind the visor of his helmet.
"There's no time. We'll all be dead if we don't reach the destination before sunfall. Ah, don't look so discouraged, Agathe... today is the last day! We are almost there."
Indeed, they had almost reached the rendezvous point with the forces of Knight Shtad. They traveled from one shelter to another following the map that the Ascended had created, hiding in them during the night and enduring the merciless desert during the day.
But now, they were drawing close to the end of this journey.
Mordret shook the blood off his sword and hung his shield on his back using a leather strap.
"Come on, men! We have already been held back by these vermin long enough. Quicken your steps!"
The veteran elites followed him without hesitation.
The sun was already falling behind the horizon when they approached one of the ruins that protruded from beneath the sand like a black obelisk. The ancient structure was broken and tilted to one side, its purpose and original shape long erased by the passage of time. It was casting a long shadow, which hid within itself a refreshing coolness.
A lone light ignited in the depths of the shadow and blinked a few times, relaying a coded message. Mordret summoned a luminous Memory and covered it with his palm, answering.
After that, they proceed toward the ruin.
A tall figure was standing near the collapsed wall, clad in heavy armor of black steel. Even surrounded by the scorching heat of the hellish desert, the man seemed intrepid and composed. His weathered face was calm and cold.
Knight Shtad was as fearsome as his reputation.
There was a heavy halberd resting on his shoulder, and a pile of horribly disfigured abomination corpses strewn across the blood-soaked sand around him.
Mordret bowed, pretending to be tired.
"Sir Shtad. It is good to see you."
The Knight of Valor studied them for a few moments, and then nodded.
"It is good to see you too, Warren. Come. The night is approaching."
He led them deeper into the ruin, where a fissure in the obsidian stones opened a path to the interior of the ancient structure.
Soon, Mordret found himself in a subterranean chamber that was half-filled with white sand. There, a group of Awakened were resting, looking rugged and battered, but also much too relaxed for the dire nature of their surroundings.
They met Warren's group with grins and welcoming gestures.
"Finally! We were going crazy waiting for reinforcements." 𝗳𝐫𝗲𝗲𝐰𝗲𝐛𝐧𝐨𝘃𝗲𝐥.𝐜𝐨𝐦
"Come eat, guys. You must be tired."
"It's Warren and his people. Good. The creature won't stand a chance..."
Once everyone settled, food and fresh water were distributed. Everyone was tired and hungry, so they spent some time in silence catching their breaths, recovering from being in the heat, and eating.
As they did, a chilling clamor slowly rose above them, soon turning into an dreadful cacophony. The old bones were once again crawling from the sand to resume their eternal battle.
At some point, Mordret put away his flask and looked at Knight Shtad with a masterful pretense of respect and veneration.
"Sir Shtad... we are at your service. What is your intention?"
The intrepid Knight lingered for a few moments. Then, a calm smile appeared on his face.
"My intention is simple, Warren. Tomorrow, we will slay the Guardian... and take the Citadel."