I am out on the night hunt with the Lord. Now that there is no need to conceal my abilities, the monsters in the woods are no real opponents to me.
I had already gotten used to the physical abilities of a ghoul. The machete and the claws, in addition to abilities that far surpass a fleshman and with the Lord’s backup, there was no way these monsters could pose any kind of threat.
I slaughter a pack of night wolves, that were once terrifying, and partake of their flesh.
The meat was raw, but I felt a strange, pleasant heat pass through my throat and set my body ablaze.
Earlier when I used to sneak out to hunt at night, I had to take off my clothes out of fear of getting them dirty. I also had to be extra careful about getting no blood on my body. I need not care about that anymore.
As he looked on me drenched in blood, fervently devouring the corpse, the Lord muttered,
“To think you evolved into a ghoul in just three months… what a talent! And that you managed to hide it so well…”
“How many months did it take for my predecessors to evolve into a ghoul?”
“Ten months. But that was not slow in the least. You are just too fast. Not disregarding the fact that it may depend upon the individual, I suppose it is… because you’re a noble…”
Indeed. I was from a small noble house that ruled over a small land.
However, not high nobles like the ones that came up in stories. There were not any great accomplishments made by any member of the family tree either.
Just that, it was richer than the average house. I am grateful to them for having prolonged my life after I was afflicted with an incurable illness. However, I do not think I ever felt like I had any special qualities just because I had a bit of noble blood in me.
My razor sharp teeth dig into the night wolf’s meat clinging to its bone as I glared at the Lord.
“… No matter if it’s a noble or a commoner. Everyone’s just a corpse once they’re dead.”
“… Indeed. Oh, well. Considering your growth so far, you should be able to evolve into a ‘Dark Stalker’ very soon. I can think about the reason behind it all at a later… time.”
The Lord almost sounded like he was speaking to himself.
All I managed to obtain as a result of my desperate effort at rebellion, was very little new information.
And the most important fact of all, is that the Lord is not someone who I can win against as I am now.
My hands are tied, now that I have been forbidden from ever attacking him or doing anything that could put him in harm’s way. Even if not for that, it would be impossible to snuff out a 120 lives before I receive an absolute order. I was able to take two of his lives since I took him by surprise, but even if he had not stopped me, I doubt I would have been able to kill him.
The Lord has his magic. And I have no way to counter it. I had thought that I did not need to take it into account if I caught him off guard. But I had underestimated magicians too much. The only reason I was not killed then, was probably because the Lord did not consider me as much of a threat.
Dark Stalker is the next stage of evolution from a ‘ghoul’. According to the books, not many of those exist in the world. Although that does not mean I could match the Lord’s strength even if I evolve into one.
“… Will I be able to win against the Death Knights if I become a ‘Dark Stalker’?”
“Well, of course not. Don’t think too much. Although it’s a rather annoying fact, the Death Knights specialize in hunting down creatures that lurk in the darkness. Even the third grade knights can be formidable foes in a head-on battle. Among the ‘Living Dead’ the only ones that could win against them… are the abominable ‘Vampires’. Even with all their power, the Death Knights have a hard time obliterating them.”
The Lord speaks of one of the most famous undead, a stage that lies pretty far ahead in my path of evolution.
I thought I had become quite strong after evolving into a ghoul and becoming capable of defeating the monsters in the woods. However, as it turns out, I was a little too arrogant.
The Death Knights are only humans. Unlike me, they cannot get substantially stronger by killing the living.
I wonder how they managed to get that powerful even though they are just humans. The Lord, necromancers in general, seem to be more powerful than described in stories, which would mean, the Death Knights must also be strong enough to oppose them.
It is a concept beyond my understanding as all I had was a body that could do nothing but await death.
And, that is precisely the reason why I absolutely cannot let myself be killed by them.
I would rather kill… than be killed. Even if they were my aspiration in my past life, they are my enemies if they try to kill me.
“Don’t worry. The woods are under surveillance. And they… are your enemies at present. You may have the makings of a King, but you are weak right now. Our interests are aligned. I won’t let us be taken out that easily.”
Saying so, the Lord snorted and there were underlying dark emotions in his tone.
I expressed disapproval inwardly, finished my meal and jumped up to go in search of new prey.
☠ ☠ ☠
The Lord is my enemy. My greatest enemy. Because of his absolute authority over me, he is more trouble than the Death Knights, who I could simply deal with by running away.
As usual, I was returned to the cellar and was ordered to ‘stay put’. The only thing I was allowed, was what had led Roux to accuse me, the very same books that I had already read over and over.
I imagine I would have done the same had I been in the Lord’s position. Absolute authority is certainly powerful but it is not without its loopholes.
At the very least, I am sure it’s only detrimental to the Lord to have one of his subordinates who resents him to gain more knowledge. Especially since the Lord’s library is filled with grimoires (which I cannot read), it certainly poses too much of a risk to give an undead with intellect access to them.
Although it makes perfect sense to me if I think about it, the current circumstances still angered me.
Compared to the degree of freedom I had before, which included slipping out at night to hunt, my movements were too restricted now. I feel like I have been deprived of air.
Well… naturally it is still far better than getting killed.
In the morgue lined with corpses that were off-limits to me, I was left alone to my thoughts and maybe a bit of exercise.
The only thing that is fortunate about this whole situation is the Lord’s assumption that my intellect is a result of my evolution into a ghoul.
The worst thing is not the Lord forbidding me from defying him, but the fact that he is simply too strong.
Too strong. I wonder how you could snuff out the existence of someone who has a hundred and twenty lives.
Given the number of lives, accidental death is out of the picture. Death from natural causes… is not something I could expect either.
Above all else, I have no idea what the Lord’s motives are.
Why, despite my defiance, does he still take me out to hunt every night, which will only help me evolve? Why despite trying to make me stronger does he not give me the necessary ‘knowledge’ pertaining to that strength?
And, what in the world, is the King of the Undead? What is he trying to accomplish in these woods? I tried to ask him about it but he only evaded my questions.
Well, he is a necromancer. I am sure he is up to no good. I daresay, the joy on his face when he looks at me, is not what a father shows to his son, but because his experiment had succeeded.
Does he want to make me stronger in order to have a strong pawn under his control? I, who rebelled against him?
That does not make sense. The Lord does not place any trust in me.
I looked at the owl in the corner of the room. It has its shining eyes fixed on me, looking at me mechanically. It was the Lord monitoring me.
The Death Knights are closing in on us. I have to kill the Lord no matter how. A hundred and twenty… since I snuffed out two of those lives, what remains is a hundred and eighteen lives and the Lord, whom I have to somehow outwit.
I huddled into the corner of the room and lowered my head. Scratching my head, I opened my eyes wide and racked my brain for a solution.
However, I did not experience an eureka moment.
☠ ☠ ☠
And thus, three days had passed, as I led a trapped, restrained life. After the usual hunt, the Lord frowned and said,
“End. You are going to accompany Roux into town as her guard.”
The unexpected words hit me so hard that I forget my caged life for a minute and open my eyes and ears wide.
The Lord looked at my expression, with furrowed brows, stroking his staff.
“The town has its dangers… but I can’t possibly go along. I have a device that will help you conceal your dark aura. It should be alright if you stay careful. I’m sure you’ll be fine considering you succeeded in deceiving even me.”
And, that is where I will end up seeing heroes.
The archenemy of the necromancers and undead alike. They, who are proud of the overwhelming advantage they possess over darkness, and who are purported to be the strongest warriors ever since time immemorial.