The bear yelps out in pain and keels over. I simply keep swinging the machete down at the half-dead bear with all my might.
My blade strikes relentlessly and tears through the thick coat of the bear and proceeds to hack at its flesh. The blood spatters everywhere but my hand doesn’t stop.
My body is moving on its own. I am witnessing everything that is happening, from a distance, separated from my own body.
The blood spatters onto my face and eyes. But I don’t feel any pain. Well, if I had any sense of pain in the first place, I’m sure I’d be writhing in pain right now.
My arms aren’t strong. It had hardly held anything nor practiced any kendo swings. How is it possible for my noodle arms to tear through the thick coat of fur of a wild animal and hack through its flesh? The mouth that hardly held any food in it, is capable of tearing off a part of a monster’s body?
Well, I suppose normally the answer would be no. If I and the bear clashed, ten times out of ten, the bear would win without question. Even if by some luck I managed to land a blow, I’m certain it wouldn’t be fatal.
And yet, right now, I am greeted with a complete opposite of the expected outcome. The bear still twitched but the blows that my machete landed on it, had cut through it’s flesh and reached its bones. It was obviously fatally wounded.
However, how was I able to bring down such a robust beast? I could guess at the primary cause behind this; from the eerie shocks running through the arms that swung around the machete.
“ Enough. It’s dead. Stop!”
Upon the Lord’s order, the arm that had been moving like it was separate from the body, comes to a stop. I’m not out of breath nor am I tired or in any pain. An undead knows not those concepts.
I look down at my right arm. It was congested with so much blood that it looked like it could drop down and waste away at any moment.
As far as I know, my right arm did not take any hits. I’m afraid the damage resulted from it hacking away at the bear with all its might.
If I’d had any sense of pain, I wouldn’t have been able to deal that many consecutive blows. At the very least, the blows would have been weak. The damage to the arm was that terrible.
It wasn’t just that. During close combat, the abdomen that took a head butt and the left arm that was kicked down by the bear’s huge forelimbs would be put out of commission with just one blow had I been alive. The blow was that powerful.
The broken bone was sticking out of the left arm, and the finger that had been stirring the bear’s brain up until a while ago was bent in a direction it shouldn’t normally.
I can keep attacking relentlessly with all my might without having to care about injury, pain or fatigue. I suppose that is the advantage of being an undead.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that the body can escape unscathed. I can still see the wounds on the Lord’s wolves they received along the way.
My body that had previously been tormented by extreme pain has now been remade into a body that feels absolutely no pain. This was more shocking to me than when I found out that I had been given new life as an undead.
The Lord cast a brief glimpse at the bear’s remains and surveyed me from head to toe, and frowned.
“ I see this all it can do…. Well, I suppose it isn’t so bad considering it was diseased before. It did a good job. Even if it’s not that useful, it’s all good if it serves its purpose in the future.”
Those remarks are really uncalled for given that I was forced into combat. But, that doesn’t mean I can retort.
The Lord sighed and touched his staff to my bloody mess of an arm.
He utters a few words of incantation. It sounded different from the recovery magic cast by the light mages who treated me multiple times before.
“ Come forth from hell, He who is frozen in time, bestows negative energy upon this undead. ‘Force Reverse’.”
The tip of the staff glowed purple and there was a weird sensation around the wound on my arm. All the blood dripping from the left arm promptly returned to the body and the broken right arm put into its rightful place. My chin is mended and my teeth that had shattered to pieces are all restored to their former glory.
I have heard that restoration magic requires extreme finesse. It costs a small fortune to heal even something as simple as a bone fracture.
I don’t know if using recovery magic on an undead requires the same degree of finesse but, I can see that the Lord is an extremely skilled mage.
Usage of magic is often followed by strong exhaustion or so I have heard. However, the Lord looked perfectly fine.
Well I had already guessed as much since he lived alone in the neck of the woods. The Lord is no ordinary man.
Lord Horus said with an unamused expression after confirming that my wounds had been properly healed,
“Let’s search for the next prey. End, follow me.”
Eventually, I was ordered to engage in combat with a total of five monsters.
After everything was over, I was once again taken back to the cellar. Well, it looks like the cellar is going to be my station.
I’m afraid I’m nothing more than a weapon at the hands of a swordsman.
The Lord leaves and being left alone in the silent cellar, I have all the time in the world.
I am now fully aware of the condition of my body. It is capable of movement, does not tire and doesn’t know the concept of pain. I can also see in the dark. Come to think of it, the Lord’s breath came out in puffs in this cellar, meaning it’s really cold down here. Nevertheless, I don’t feel it all. I’m afraid all the above are characteristics peculiar to my current body.
Talking about this body, it is obvious that in all aspects, it is far better than my previous one. However, having no sense of pain also means that there exists the possibility of me not realizing when it takes damage, so I should be careful about that.
I also came into another useful piece of information. The Lord is a powerful mage with a number of strong subordinates under him.
The night wolves were one of them and I also came across a walking bag of bones. A Skeleton, the kind that is often depicted as slaves to a necromancer in stories. Although that was all I caught sight of, necromancers in stories usually have a large number of undead under their influence. So I wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that there are a lot more undead under his command. And of course, I can’t underestimate the Lord’s personal fighting strength either.
However, more importantly, I am still not aware of the Lord’s intentions.
His reasoning behind resurrecting someone with a sickly body. Even if I am supposed to act as his guard, I’m sure there were countless other options to choose from.
However, what worries me the most right now is… my body being ‘different’ from the Lord’s expectations.
A little while after the Lord left, I moved from my position.
I quietly tiptoe to the door and carefully place my hand on the doorknob. The door lets out a creak which catches me off guard but I didn’t feel the presence of the Lord.
I put some strength into my arm. The door that wouldn’t budge the slightest the first time around, opens ever so easily.
I focus as I grab the door frame with my right hand.
I slowly extend my hand outside the door a little.
My feet can touch the floor, outside the room.
… I knew it. It is as expected.
I can leave the room. Before, when I was told to standby in the room, I couldn’t leave it no matter what I did and yet now I can make it out.
What is the difference between now and then?
The Lord, before leaving the room… did not issue any sort of order. Unlike the first time, there was no command that stopped me from leaving the room.
That is the reason I, unbound by the ties of an order, am now able to freely leave the room.
Badump! It felt like my heart just leapt even though it is supposed to have stopped beating already.
This is it… the disparity. The disparity between the Lord’s expectations and my current state.
I don’t think the Lord has ever considered the possibility of me escaping. There’s not a chance that the Lord simply forgot to issue an order. A mage who controls the dead can’t be that foolish.
Perhaps the order from before wasn’t by design. There doesn’t seem to be any particular reason behind it.
Moreover, why was me escaping not considered a possibility?
If my heart hadn’t already stopped beating, it would be hammering in my chest by now.
I suppose I should consider myself lucky.
I feel grateful towards the person I was before. Owning to good fortune, I didn’t open my mouth when I first awakened.
Thinking back, everything the Lord had uttered up until now sounded very much like it was all addressed to himself. Even when he issued orders, it didn’t look like he acknowledged my presence.
I pull my leg back into the room, quietly close the door and return to my initial position.
Given the current situation, it would be too reckless to walk around the mansion. I should at least familiarize myself with the Lord’s daily routine before attempting to take a look around the mansion.
If I am not mistaken, I think the Lord is still yet to realize that I possess a will of my own.
I don’t have enough information yet. But be it the fact that the Lord had to confirm whether I could comprehend his words, or the fact that he does not question my silence, my assumption can’t be wrong.
Above all, had he known that I possessed a will… I’m sure that there would have been something like a ‘First and foremost order’.
It’s imperative that he never finds out.
I let my hands hang loose on my side and assume the appearance of a statue. I’m sure that there will be chances to accomplish whatever I intend to do.
Whether I decide to make an enemy out of the Lord or not, I need as many cards as possible.
And thus, began my new life.
I played my part in assisting Lord Horus which mostly included guarding the Lord outdoors and hunting.
I would hunt monsters and the Lord would use their remains to create more undead.
One could get used to anything. Even my barely existent fighting skills improved with each combat and I started defeating monsters more efficiently. There was no more need to resort to barbaric methods such as sinking my teeth into the opponent.
As ever, my body shows no signs of pain or fatigue. To add to that, the Lord backed me up perfectly. I discovered that the Lord boasted a good range of offense magic skills.
When I made the mistake of letting a monster pass by me, he just simply destroyed it. Moreover it all happened in an instant and no trace of the monster was left behind. And, he had nothing to say about my blunder either.
Upon witnessing the horror of his magic, I realized all over again that the monsters of these woods were no real opponents to the Lord.
It was clear that he is stronger than I am. If I think about it, he wouldn’t have built a mansion in these woods, if the monsters living in it were something he couldn’t handle. I had somehow unconsciously taken this old mage for someone with poor combat skills.
However, this has made me realize that… the plan of using the monsters to send him to his grave is in fact impossible.
In any case, at this point, I have no idea what would become of me after his downfall.
In the stories I have heard, upon the master’s death, the undead do not disappear with him but are forced to wander the world forever. However, the truth is unknown.
A week had passed and I had grown to be able to defeat a lone night wolf almost completely unscathed.
I was also getting the hang of properly wielding the machete that I was given. A trick to dealing a death blow was to put the strength of your whole body into the strike.
I stood in front of a night wolf that had its head split open and brain matter spilling out. The Lord had a dubious look on his face as he muttered,
“Hmmm… I wasn’t so sure at first… but this corpse seems to be quite capable…”
Of course, I don’t respond. However, something felt odd.
The arm that had swung the machete with all its might was fine, unlike the bloody mess it was the first time I fought the bear. The first combat was done with much fear, confusion and through the effect of the order. Hence, the backlash was severe as I ended up using too much force. That said, I don’t think it is only the reason behind why I improved so much in such a short span of time so as to be able to defeat a night wolf unscathed.
I had a weak constitution. Since I had been bedridden for several years before my death, naturally, my muscles, bones and my organs had all but wasted away. The Lord’s order may be powerful enough to have me display strength beyond my limits but considering that the foundation was already weak to begin with, there must certainly be a limit to how much strength I can exercise.
This body of mine is not alive. The Lord referred to me as ‘Flesh man’. If I am dead, then physical growth should naturally be impossible. I am still supposed to be in my growing phase but I don’t need to take any food so my muscles cannot return to being as weak as they were before.
Nevertheless, I have certainly become stronger.
If not for that, it would be too unnatural for me to be able to slaughter monsters like I was some sort of skilled warrior in just a week.
I don’t believe I had the talent to be a warrior.
The Lord observed me in silence for a while and muttered with a sigh,
“… is it getting closer to evolving into a ‘Ghoul’? That was fast… almost too fast, not that there’s anything wrong with that…”
‘Ghoul…’ I remember hearing about it. It’s a type of undead that liked to feast on human remains.
But that is where my knowledge ends. The Lord’s soliloquies are my only source of information.
I suppose… the time has come for me to make a move.
I steeled my resolve as I looked down at the Lord’s forehead etched in wrinkles.
I already have a general understanding of his daily life. It may be dangerous but, doing nothing is not going to make the situation any better.
Not to mention, if he is right about this ‘evolution’ getting closer, I need to know all the details about it before it happens.
I have to explore the mansion.
The Lord is a mage and a research scholar. In the room in which I was revived is a laboratory which had a countless number of apparatuses and rows and rows of books.
It may be way too dangerous to break into the laboratory. It can’t be the only place with information in the whole mansion. I must be able to find something that would help me make sense of my current circumstances elsewhere.