Chapter 34

“Your Highness,” Gale said and stared at the floor,” I have returned. Forgive me for my failures.” He was kneeling on the floor in front of the king who sat on his throne. He wore a white robe and his silver cross necklace was missing.

“Rise, Gale,” the king said and motioned with his hand, “don’t worry about the failure. I’m just glad you’re unharmed.”

Gale stood up. “I’ve made a few important discoveries in the time of my captivity,” Gales said as he pulled out a book from his robe’s newly sewn on pocket.

He opened the book and cleared his throat. “The leader of the new undead kingdom is the corrupted one who guards the fountain of youth. The reasons for founding the kingdom are unknown, but she intends on maintaining a close relationship with the demons. In my time as a captive, I was forced to teach a human boy manners,” Gale said. “I suspect she’s raising the boy as her child.”

“Hmm,” the king said as he rubbed his chin, “was there anything unusual about the boy?”

Gale nodded. “His eyes were golden and his pupils were slit. He was most likely imprinted by a snake or a lizard. He also regularly ate raw meat and he didn’t behave like a human child,” Gale said. “It seemed like the corrupted one wanted to establish a relationship between the demon princess and the boy.”

“Are the reports about the undead true?” the king asked. “They really don’t kill?”

“From what I’ve seen, yes it’s true. The corrupted one doesn’t want to establish hostilities with any of the nations,” Gale said. “I’ve also seen many human and demon villagers migrating to the undead kingdom. The border villages that I passed through are devoid of people and livestock.”

The king frowned. “That is unacceptable,” the king said, “simply unacceptable.”

Gale lowered his head. “Forgive me for my impudence,” Gale said, “but I think a few policies need to be changed in order to keep our people from leaving. The undead are offering food and shelter to the people at the cost of mana. The people no longer need to work for gold or food. A few low ranking adventurers have defected because of this.”

The king’s eyebrows knit together. “Our policy has worked for hundreds of years. Even when the villagers and serfs rose up in rebellion, we were able to continue without changing anything,” the king said. “We’ll just have to post guards at the borders and prevent the undead from coming in and the people from leaving.”

Gale continued to stare at the floor. “Times are changing, Your Highness,” he said. “The undead are a new faction that have the power to support a rebellion. Posting guards won’t work against an enemy that doesn’t need to sleep or eat.”

The king glared at Gale. “Are you questioning my ability, Gale?” he asked.

“No, Your Highness,” Gale said, “I am only speaking from my experience. Forgive me.”

The king nodded. “Very well. I’ll stay my hand,” he said. “Tomorrow, the court will convene and we will discuss the best method to deal with this.”

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“We should crush them, Your Highness,” a man said, “overwhelm them with military force.” He was the leader of the reinforcements that got stripped by the undead army. He sat at a round table with a dozen other men, including the king and Gale. He was bald and had a black goatee. His armor was made of mithril.

“I disagree,” Gale said as he stared at the bald man, “recklessly attacking them won’t benefit us in anyway.”

“What do you know?” the man said as he slammed his fist against the table and stood up. “You’re just a turncoat who lived with those damned skeletons.”

“Geralt,” the king said, “calm down.”

Geralt glared at Gale and sat back in his chair. A thin man with a white beard and blue wizard robes cleared his throat.

“Gale’s right you know,” he said. “If we attack the undead, what’s stopping the demons from attacking us? We’re in the same situation as before, but this time the undead and demons are colluding against us.”

“Oh? Then what do you suggest?” Geralt said as he turned to look at the man.

The man smiled. “It’s simple. We become allies with the undead also,” he said. “Not only do we remove the threat of invasion, we also benefit from trade. A three way trade can definitely be prosperous for our nation. Think of all the items that we had to send adventures into the wilderness for that we can now obtain through trade. Magical beasts, rare herbs, water from the fountain of youth, maybe even phoenix downs.” The man’s eyes twinkled. He sighed. “It’s a shame that the tree of knowledge no longer exists.”

“But what can we offer them?” the king asked. “I imagine they don’t need any of our resources.”

The wizard laughed. “Knowledge,” he said. “Everybody loves knowledge.”

Geralt snorted. “You think they need your stinking knowledge, old man?” he said. “They’re over hundreds of years old.”

The wizard’s mouth dropped open. “You’re right!” he said and turned to the king. “Quickly establish an alliance with them. Think of everything we could learn! Just throw gold and silver at them. It’s useless anyway.”

“If you think it’s going to be that easy, then go do it yourself,” Geralt said and crossed his arms. “I still say we annihilate every last one of them.”

The wizard turned to the king. “Can I?” he asked.

The king’s eyebrows knit together. “I mean if you think you can–“

“Thank you, Your Highness,” the wizard said, “leave it to me!” He stood up and spread his arms open. Wind rushed through the windows and circled around him causing his robes to flutter. A second later, a white light flashed and he disappeared, leaving behind a blue robe.

The remaining men stared at the space he occupied and shook their heads.

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A skeleton stared at the naked man on the floor in front of it. It was patrolling the fields outside of the undead kingdom when a naked man fell out of the sky and landed in front of it. It took a few steps forward and prodded him with its axe handle. There was no response. It shrugged and stepped around the body.

“Wait!” the wizard said as he crawled onto his knees. “Take me to your leader!”

The skeleton paused and looked at the man. “You are seeking the meaning of life?” the skeleton asked. “Come with me. I’ll enlighten you.”

The wizard stared at the skeleton and jumped to his feet while grabbing the skeletons skull. “You can really speak?! Just what level of necromancy has your master achieved? What’s one plus one?” he asked as he peered at its throat and body.

The skeleton coughed. “It’s rude to grab my head, you know?” it said. “And one plus one is two. Hey! What are you doing?”

The wizard poke his fingers through the skeletons eye sockets and pulled out a piece of paper. “What’s this? Is this the source?” he asked as he opened it.

“No, that’s-“

“Five ways to achieve immortality through daily prayers?” the wizard asked as he mumbled to himself. “I’ve never heard of these methods before. Coming here was definitely the right choice.” He nodded and looked at the skeleton.

“Tell your master that the human kingdom sent an envoy to discuss our future alliance,” he said.

“Oh? Will the envoy be arriving soon?” the skeleton asked.

“I’m the envoy. Me!” the wizard said and stuck his chest out.

“Okay, I’ll let her know,” the skeleton said and nodded, “definitely. How about you come with me for a walk first as I tell you about our lord?”

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Lindyss looked out her window, looking for any signs of Tafel’s arrival.

“Rest assured,” the undead leader said, “that was one of our best men sent to retrieve Tafel. He wouldn’t fail.”

Lindyss sighed and nodded. “Alright, let me know when she arrives. I’ll accompany Vur until then,” she said as her eyes passed over the wizard and skeleton in the distance, “and stop stripping people naked. You’ll scare away potential inhabitants.”

 

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