The next day Vance could already feel the benefits, with the three contracts he transferred the day before his mana pool returned to eighteen percent, he still had to supply a small amount of mana every day to the book in order to replenish the energy emitted by the book to keep the contracts running but he would eventually be able to recover more mana every day than the paltry fifteen percent he was stuck with.
According to his calculations the book would take just twenty percent of his mana compared to the sixty percent the contracts took at the moment, allowing him to recover up to sixty percent every day.
There was still the problem of the other twenty percent mana required to keep his connection to his territory, that amount would grow as his land did but that would have to wait until he got his hands on better materials for enchanting.
Besides transferring contracts the next days were spent overlooking the modification of the fortress, the end goal was to have a mountain with a plain vertical face to the swamp in order to spot enemies from the front while the back would be the mountain itself, any enemy coming from that side would have to either dig the bedrock or to climb the mountain and descend from above.
This is why it was important to have a clean, vertical face, in order to force any back enemy to drop in front of them when climbing down and it was a long term project for the diggers.
The bunker could be abandoned at any moment but everyone was a little attached to it and they transformed it into an outpost to scout from that side, an equivalent to the small fortresses they had going on at the mountain front, an area now called “The swamps.”
Those fortresses would eventually become towers, both for spotting and attacking enemies from the outside and from above the mountain, the towers would protect the mountain and the mountain would protect the towers.
The areas closer to the mountain were adapted for agriculture, the world changed in early spring and everyone wanted to have the food production running again as soon as possible.
In general the swamp could be divided in three areas of similar size: the agricultural one which was closer to the mountain and mostly empty at the moment, the towered area which would eventually be upgraded into two sets of walls and served as main battleground, and the outer swamps, which were meant to spot and slow down enemies.
First swamp, second swamp, third swamp, most of them were still dry but the names were already on use.
The land raider returned.
Edward explained the environment they found outside, a mixture of forests and plains with hills and mountains of all sizes, it was as if someone took a chessboard and filled each square with some degree of jungle, forest or plains, water bodies were more rare and they only found a small stream, some highways would be splintered there and there and their first objective was to find them to make subsequent travels easier.
The first achievement they got was the discovery of a broken hill, the place looked as if someone had cut half of the hill and put it away, which was most likely the case during the world fusion, the important part was the existence of a small vein of crystalline minerals on it, as little as the thickness of a person, it also had a little tunnel running along, no thicker than a leg, which they determined to have been water carving a path on the vein it before the water source got teleported away.
If not for the distinctive look of the cut hill they would have never found it.
The other important discovery was a big town, or a small city depending to who you ask.
The traffic sign said “Los Angeles, home to the best grilled dodo in Canada.”
Amelie was nervous, the singularity got weaker again and the felines got ready for another wave of attacks, the town’s resources had been funneled into the reinforcement of a cold war bunker and they managed to form a small network of tunnels with several emergence points but they were proving inefficient against the new monsters.
The first weeks were fine, thanks to the singularity they managed to gather enough ammunition and weapons to fend off the initial lone monsters but as the days went by their magic proved more and more destructive.
According to the singularity the monsters would grow by eating magic and would require long periods of rest in order to digest and absorb the energy, and now everyone got some degree of magic in their bodies which made them easy and desirable prey.
Amelia wanted to warn the whole town of the impending collapse but they only had a week and nobody believed them, then her family switched to getting huge loans in order to stock food, weapons and tools and used them to bribe the mayor and his family into sharing the bunkers with them.
This worked until the rest of the town realized they were inside and sieged them to demand entrance.
They broke the street and cut the pipes they could find, depriving them of air and decreasing the water supply, when the monsters culled them down enough Amelie´s family and the mayor’s family finally agreed to open the bunkers but the overwhelming numbers forced them to fight back and even kill many of them as not to be killed themselves by the desperate horde, eventually the more desperate ones ran away.
This was like a sign and all of the people who managed to survive with some degree of success went to them and the community grew in power, they organized themselves, made fortifications to their homes, barricades around the town and took turns to kill the monsters and raise their levels.
Then the singularity failed for the first time and the enchantments on the weapons wore off, destroying most of them, they made maces, shields and lances expecting to resist now that their levels became high enough but the monsters were also busy hunting.
They killed and eat each other, what used to be a wide variety of creatures slowly transformed into a pack of felines and with their fine senses they killed the humans in town little by little, cruel as they were they pretended to disappear from an area until the humans came out to gather food, then they would pounce from the shadows and maim them, hoping to attract more people with their screams.
From their bunkers Amelie and the fifty families watched with horror, the singularity’s power fluctuated and the enchantments allowed them to go out and fight from time to time but as things were their mages would not become strong enough in time to become the support required and the stash of firearms got smaller and smaller each day.
Thanks to her Healer class she would be able to stay inside as much as possible but their numbers were already too small, from the forty thousand the town had barely a thousand survivors, their only chance was to make use of the mayor’s plan and run away in search of more survivors.
At that point the system of bunkers got reinforced again and again until a small tower got erected above them, from it the scouts would keep watch over the felines, the surrounding buildings were tore apart to avoid enemies hiding and this was particularly effective against the shadow camouflage of the felines, like every day at noon the guards made sure the area was clear and made the bell ring.
Upon the signal the survivors on the surroundings ran out from their hideouts and into the bunkers, they had seen the families sending raiding parties to kill the felines and were told to gather with them if they could, so they did in hopes of survival, but also in hopes of prosperity as the bunkers were able to send out powerful warriors every night.
People wanted that power to fight back themselves.
Fifty survivors got in, Amelie went to receive them and healed them while struggling with her guilt, a third of them were too injured, missing limbs or facial organs which effectively made them cripples, those she would not heal even if she had the mana for that many, which she didn’t.
Could they have done things differently?
Hardly, the main problem was the lack of trust, nobody believed in the end of the world until it was too late and too desperate, the only two scenarios where things could have gone better were if they believed them and got organized... or one in which the mayor’s plan got implemented sooner.
The survivors got a warm soup and tea, or coffee depending on their tastes, after they finished eating Amelie and her assistants instructed them to take a seat in another room and wait, the place was a small auditorium capable of housing two hundreds, instead of a podium a dark red piece of cloth covered a long, rectangular object, the bump in the middle suggested they were two table-like objects next to the other.
The drug in the soup took effect and the survivors got asleep, to drug enhanced people required larger amounts of drugs, but thanks to the singularity they managed to achieve the same results with even fewer materials.
Amelie hated this, but she hated more the world that forced them to do it, after the people sieged the bunkers the mayor developed a secondary class after killing so many of them.
He had become a Blood Mage.
The ability allowed him to sacrifice people to create charges of magic compatible with everyone’s abilities, but the singularity could turn those charges into body enchantment to give them super strength, combining their powers they developed their own super soldiers and send parties at night to kill monsters in hopes of becoming strong enough without the need of sacrificing their own.
They could sacrifice monsters, after all, but they had to be captured first which made the ritual extremely hard to accomplish in the wild.
According to Amelie they would have to sacrifice over a thousand people in order to become strong enough to stop depending on sacrifices, had they implemented this plan before they could have saved from five to ten thousand people and develop a force of two thousand fighters, but now they were stuck with saving five hundred while aiming to develop a force of two hundred fighters.
Being cruel was wrong, but not being crueler had been their worst mistake.
The drugged people were sacrificed one by one and their blood collected in a big rectangular container, on a steel table they had a man in his twenties bound by thick steel plates, Matthew Kent, also known as The Singularity.