“End. Follow me.”
The Lord gives me a curt order and leads us out of a room that resembles a research laboratory. I follow him without a word.
My body moves well. My extremities move as I will them. I wonder how long it’s been since I was able to walk properly….
It felt strange to have a body that feels no pain. Somehow, it hasn’t really sunk in yet… as if I’m watching a dream unfold.
After leaving the room, the Lord stops walking, turns around and looks at me. His eyes, glint gold, look at me like it can see right through me.
“Hmph…looks like words do get through to you. You would be worthless if you couldn’t comprehend verbal commands.”
If I couldn’t comprehend… verbal commands?
I don’t really get what he means by that. But, I recall what happened right after I regained consciousness, my body seemed to prioritize the Lord’s order over my own will.
This… is bad. It doesn’t look like there’s any room for defiance. Even without all the details, it doesn’t take me long to realize. The feeling of danger.
I’ve read that a Necromancer is capable of manipulating the living dead. I am no different from a doll as far as the Lord is concerned.
The Lord nods at the silent me with a satisfied look on his face and resumes walking. I follow after him.
Truth be told, I have no clue as to what is happening.
About why I was resurrected, where I was, what I would be ordered to do, the reason, the details or what future holds in store. It can’t be that the reason I was resurrected was just to release me from my agony.
But, there’s one thing I do understand.
That this isn’t the time to bombard the Lord with questions or attempt to escape this place. I have to figure out all the details.
Luckily, thinking was my forte. Before when I was alive, thinking was all I could do as I lay in bed, groaning in pain and evading death.
Although, there isn’t much difference to then and now, this is a lot better considering I’m not writhing in agony.
After tagging along with the Lord for a few minutes, we descend a flight of stone steps and reach what appears to be the cellar. The Lord proceeds to open a huge metal door and enters the cellar.
Surprisingly, the cellar looked very spacious.
I swallow the words that almost spilled out unconsciously. There, lined up in rows were… thousands of dead bodies. They all lay on a stone slab, a few spaces apart from each other. Unlike me, they didn’t show any signs of movement.
I have never seen a dead body before. Perhaps I would have been afraid originally, but for some reason, although I was surprised, I felt no fear.
“Standby in this room, until I order you otherwise.”
His breath came out in white puffs as he directed a cold gaze at me and gave the curt order.
✧ ✧ ✧
The sound of the Lord’s footsteps start to grow fainter. I give it a bit of time to completely disappear and begin to move from my position.
First, I want to check how well my body can move. I swing my arms and shake my legs.
The pain that tortured me for years was nowhere to be found. I feel completely fine even if I swing my arms, shake my head, stretch my back or lightly jump up and down. It feels like a dream.
Although I almost wanted to laugh out loud, I settled for grinning like an idiot. This is the cellar. I dare say the Lord isn’t going to come running back if I make a bit of a sound, but the situation is still unclear. I want to err on the side of caution.
It would appear the room I was ordered to stay in, was a morgue. No, rather than a morgue, I suppose calling it a storehouse might be more appropriate.
Laid out on the stone slab were real, human dead bodies. All of which were almost completely unscathed. Their ages ranged from late teens to thirty years and most of them were men. They had all been properly clothed, looked uninjured but there were no signs of life.
The bodies took me by surprise when I first entered the room but as time passed, I had already adapted to the situation. Before, when I was alive. Well, at that point, I was practically half dead anyway, and in reality I probably had already died once.
Who knows? Maybe a few of them might end up becoming my colleagues. Such silly thoughts start popping into my head.
The morgue was of a simple design. There was only one entrance, and apart from the stone slab on which the bodies were placed, there was a single table jutting out of the wall. The surrounding walls seem to be made of stone and when given a light tap, a dull, heavy sound was returned.
The room I woke up in looked more inhabitable than this one. Thinking that, I go to examine the table.
Right now, I need all the information I can glean. No matter how small.
I pull out the drawer very carefully. It hadn’t been locked.
It appears that the Lord expects all of the bodies laid out here to be functional.
The first drawer that I exultantly pulled out… was empty. The second and third ones were also empty. The fourth drawer held a few strange fangs but that doesn’t help explain this situation much.
The fifth drawer was empty as well. The sixth one had about a dozen bottles filled with some strange liquid. Disappointed at finding the seventh drawer empty, I opened the eighth drawer. My eyes widened at what I find inside it.
“ There’s food in here.”
The words spill out in spite of myself. My hoarse voice echoes off the walls in the silent room that contains the bodies.
Now that I think about it, it has been quite a while since I’ve let out a sound. And, of course doing so doesn’t hurt anymore.
It’s wonderful to not feel any pain. Feeling like humming a song, I take out what I found in the drawer.
It was a square mirror. I wipe the cloudy mirror with my clothes and take a peek at it.
I looked the same as I remembered.
Fragile looks, hollowed cheeks and sunken eyes. Only, my hair looked more in place than the dishevelled mess it was before. I suppose after I was dead, my body was prepared for the funeral so I was appropriately dressed one last time.
Looking at my reflection for a while, I was overcome by many emotions. I carefully placed the mirror back in the drawer.
I am myself. Although, it’s a pity that I couldn’t find anything else useful, I am satisfied with this for now.
I make a quick check around the morgue and head towards its only entrance.
The Lord did not lock the door behind him. I’m sure of it because I had my ears cocked to it when he left.
I tiptoe towards the door.
I still don’t know the layout of the mansion. I don’t have a good grasp of the current situation either. However, there is too little information in this room.
I… am ignorant. I want to find out. About this mansion and Necromancy. Also about just what I have become.
Because unlike my previous life, I can freely move around now.
The Necromancer is an evil being. I’m sure he can’t be trusted. If so, I have to do what needs to be done.
I grab the brass knob, taking extra care to not make a sound and slowly turn it.
Contrary to my fears, the knob turned easily. I was right. It hadn’t been locked.
I open the door slowly as I keep my ears pressed to the door. There isn’t a single sound. The stillness was so great that I couldn’t hear my heartbeat nor the sound of my blood gushing through my veins.
A sense of relief washes over me. I push open the door to check the situation outside.
The door is opening. Although, only by an inch, I can already see a gap forming. However, no matter how much I push, it won’t open any further than that.
Too heavy…? Locked? No. That’s not it. I’ll check again but it wasn’t locked and it didn’t look like it was barred with anything.
I push with my arms. With my whole body. I try to push.
That’s when…..I realized something.
I felt like I had been struck by lightning. My knees gave out and I slid to the floor.
The door was made of metal. I’m sure it’s quite heavy. But, it wasn’t about its weight. That wasn’t the problem.
Again, I extended my hand towards the door that was very slightly ajar. My hands tremble but I steel myself and push at the door with all my might.
I did push—-or so I thought.
My arms hadn’t moved by even an inch. No matter how much strength I put into them, they wouldn’t move any further.
The Lord’s last words to me before he left the room cross my mind.
“ Standby in this room, until I order you otherwise.”
Yes. I’m afraid it wasn’t that the door was too “heavy” but that it “wasn’t being pushed”.
My body is prioritizing the Lord’s order over my own will. Just like how my body obeyed the order and knelt down before the Lord right after I regained consciousness.
A cold shiver runs down my spine. My mind is in disarray. Arms trembling, I try to desperately push the door. However, quite contrary to my feelings, my body won’t budge an inch.
I was under the belief that I had understood it. However, it had been nothing more than a “belief”.
I open my eyes wide and shake myself by my shoulders. The emotion I felt quell up within me wasn’t fear or surprise.
It was anger. It has really been a long time since I’ve been at the throes of such anger. I understood then for the first time, about how a person’s face could contort in rage.
I shall not scream. Nor will I lose my head. However, I shall keep it all in my heart.
I was under the impression that I had attained freedom. There was no pain. I was in cloud nine at having gained a body that worked perfectly fine. I thought I was invincible with this body that was capable of normal movement.
However, I was wrong. Nothing had changed. Is this better than before? Far from it!
Before, my body was racked by never-ending pain and my arms and legs were all but useless. All I could do to forget the pain was immerse myself in my thoughts. No, I suppose I wasn’t even able to focus enough to accomplish that.
Still, I hadn’t lost control of my body. It hadn’t been in the hands of another person.
I don’t mind following his instructions. The Lord was, in a sense, my saviour. Even if he was a Dark Mage, I cannot be reluctant to aid him.
However, I cannot forgive him for this.
I am not yet aware of Lord Horus’s intention behind my revival. However, I cannot possibly forgive him for holding the power of life and death over someone.
The emotion was so overpowering me that it even took me by surprise. Looks like despite having resolved myself to my fate—-I hadn’t really wanted to die.
Right now, I do not want to lose this “Second Chance at Life” that I was fortunate enough to be blessed with.
Yes. I will make sure of that by any means necessary.
I try to take in a deep breath, and that’s when I realize that I wasn’t breathing. I place my hand on my chest but I don’t feel any heartbeat.
What an idiot I am?! That is when I finally understood what an unpardonable existence I had become.
The body is capable of movement. There is no pain. But that doesn’t mean I’m alive. I can just move around, that’s all.
Now that I think about it, when we arrived at this room, I noticed that the Lord’s breath came out in puffs. The bodies here show no signs of decay. Yes, this place —- is cold. I can’t feel the cold. I have lost a part of my senses.
To begin with, I can see everything clearly in this room. A room that has no window or light source.
My body has—undergone a metamorphosis. Is that perhaps why I don’t feel any fear at coming face to face with this many dead bodies?
I entertain that thought for a minute after which I shake my head.
It doesn’t matter. I am conscious. I am capable of thought. I exist—here, right now. I can experience the life that I so desperately yearned for.
I was ill. To add to that, I had been bedridden for years and buckled under the torture of the unexplained pain that plagued my whole body. I was a ‘dead-alive’ so to speak which had now changed to ‘living dead’. That was all.
Then—–I should accept this fate of mine. Even if that means that I am a being of darkness, it’s still a much better alternative to leading a meaningless life.
I stood up and scowled at the slightly open door and pulled it shut. The door that hadn’t budged an inch despite my utmost effort closed promptly.
I wasn’t really taken by surprise. The reason was the Lord’s order after all. An absolute order that overrides my own will. I wonder if it’s a privilege bestowed upon the one who revives the dead.
However, there must be a loophole. I’m sure of it.
I remember what the Lord told me. “You would be worthless if you couldn’t comprehend verbal commands”, which means that for resurrected ones like me, incomprehension of verbal commands is a possibility.
I will survive —-no matter what. I shall collect information. The kind of information that will allow me to escape from the Lord’s control.
I am too ignorant of many things. I know nothing about necromancy, this mansion or even the changes that my own body has undergone.
Now is the time to gather intel. I have to patiently bear with this and wait for an opportunity to strike.
Patience was my strong suit after thinking. Seeing as how that is going to be helpful now, perhaps my previous life wasn’t all for naught.
With renewed vigour, I walked over to the place I was ordered to stay and stared in front of me.
I stood there affixed, and started counting numbers inside my head.
I don’t feel hunger, fatigue or the need to sleep. My eyes don’t become dry even if I don’t blink.
With eyes fixed to the front, indifferently, void of any emotion I merely count. As I pretend to be just like one of the dead bodies around me.
✧ ✧ ✧
The Lord returned to the room when I had counted to around 2000 and something.
The Lord was enveloped in a long, pitch black robe. After checking whether I had properly stayed put as ordered, he extended his arm to offer me something.
It was a machete that was about a meter in length. Its blade was wide, dark gray and had blood clinging to it and yet strangely enough, it was actually oddly shiny.
I did as ordered. I almost lost my footing under the brutal weight of the machete that pulls down my entire body.
It doesn’t seem like the Lord suspects anything. He looks at me straightening up and needing both my arms to hold up the machete and snorts in disapproval.
“Follow me. I am going to put you to the test.”