147 The House of the Dead
Those words struck a chord inside Lith’s very core, triggering something that he had considered dead for a long time. First, the corners of his mouth turned upwards into a smirk. Then, he couldn’t stop himself from a chuckle that soon evolved into a hysterical laughter.
The traitorous soldier was startled for a second. That wasn’t the reaction he was expecting.
According to their intel, Lith had a very strong bond with his relatives, using most of his earnings over the years to improve their quality of life and status, instead of trying to buy his way into nobility.
It was public knowledge that there was no love left between him and his disowned brother, Orpal, but the other one, Trion, had been part of the family, until he willingly joined the military. He had been well dressed and fed all his life.
According to the locals, despite having different interests and goals, the two brothers went along. Too bad it was just a ruse, that the two brothers had agreed upon for their parents’ sake.
Were Lith felt only spite for Orpal, Trion didn’t fare much better, receiving his complete indifference. Their relationship had never mended, since both of them had never tried to solve their differences.
Lith simply didn’t care about it. In his twisted vision of the world he had long drawn a circle, separating the people who mattered from the useless trash, where Trion belonged.
Trion, instead, at first had been too ashamed to approach Lith, after all he and Orpal had done and said to him over the years. Having always followed his older brother’s footsteps, he had never developed a sense of kinship toward Lith.
They had been strangers to each other for so long, that every apology he could think of sounded fake and forced even to Trion himself. So, he had waited for the right moment to fix that mess, but the moment never came.
Lith had too many jobs, first as hunter and Tista’s nurse, then healer and bounty hunter. He would never spend much time at home, and when he did, he focused on those that mattered for him.
It didn’t take even a year for Trion’s feelings to fester again, while his mood turned sour. As any child, he had always dreamed of one day discovering to have an incredible talent, to be special.
Yet with each passing day, everything changed only for the worse. While he was stuck in his routine of dreams and chores, Lith grew more and more powerful, his talent inspired awe in their parents first, then Nana, and finally Count Lark.
Soon, envy outgrew guilt and there was nothing to mend anymore.
The soldier wasn’t aware of all that, so Lith’s behaviour appeared to him as that of a madman. His laughter was full of scorn, like he was in front of the biggest idiot he had ever met.
“Do you really have my brother? Then I have a favour to ask. When you kill him, tell him that I didn’t give a sh*t about him. I like to pay my debts in kind.”
Lith said, while taking a small step back. There were so many ways he could have killed him, either by using physical attacks or spirit magic, but neither of them was safe enough for his tastes.
Moving at high speed didn’t go well with the crow shaped mask he wore, and being in a morgue full to the brim of victims of the plague, he didn’t want to risk for the sword to even scratch his skin.
As for spirit magic, the guy was too close for comfort. Lith either had to break his neck, losing the opportunity to interrogate him, or attempt to restrain him, hoping his victim didn’t have hidden weapons or wasn’t able to use them before the binding was complete.
“This is no joke. If we do not get out of here within a minute, my associates will consider the mission failed and order your brother execution.” The soldier didn’t let Lith get away, even if a sudden fear was twisting his guts.
Despite the cold of the morgue, he found himself sweating bullets, blurring his vision from under the mask, with all his body hair standing up.
“And why should I care?” Lith kept moving backwards, closer to the metal shelves. The mockery in his tone growing with every step.
“Kill him, marry him, whatever. Besides, your plan has several flaws. First, it’s easier stealing a dragon egg than taking me alive. Second, I don’t believe your communication amulet works.
Third, and most important, staging an attack inside a morgue, when most kinds of magic are sealed is suicidal.”
Lith had yet to finish talking, when a multitude of hands suddenly grabbed the soldier by the left shoulder, arm and leg. His first instinct was to jump away, but each hand had the strength of a vise, so he slashed at their wrists, to force them to release him.
Like most soldiers, he had an enchanted weapon, capable of easily cutting unprotected flesh and bone, yet each strike felt like hitting a rock, making his sword vibrate on each impact.
Then, he finally remembered where he was. When he noticed dozens of red glowing eyes, staring at him from the shelves, his mind went blank out of panic.
“Did you really believe I would waste my time talking?” Lith chuckled, reanimating more corpses by the second, infusing them with his mana and will.
Lith had learned during his first day at the camp that the only elements he was free to use were light and darkness.
Light, for allowing the healers to keep searching for a cure, and darkness to sterilize people and clothes when going from the residential block to the hospital. He had simply exploited his opponent’s idiotic speech to stall for the time necessary to rise his bodyguards.
The zombies piled up on the wretched soldier, pinning him to the ground.
“Let’s see if you were telling the truth about your associates.”
Lith activated Life Vision, noticing two human figures sneaking around the morgue’s entrance. With a simple thought, he sent a group of undead to welcome the newcomers.
The restrained soldier went into panic, screaming and writhing to get free. The zombies’ naked bodies were disgusting to see, but even more to the touch. Despite their strength, the flesh was cold and flaccid.
Many of them had open wounds, either caused by the parasites or by the autopsy, letting their bodily fluids drench him in a matter of seconds.
“Stop screaming. As you pointed out earlier, the tent is sound proof.” Lith had one of the undead rip the mask off the soldier’s face and shove a hand in his mouth. The man barfed for a few seconds, before falling unconscious from the terror.
When the other two entered inside the morgue, the zombies flooded them. They fought bravely, but were outnumbered and outsmarted. Lith had the undead tanking the strikes and only aiming for the soldiers’ masks.
Realizing they were against intelligent plague zombies, the two went into frenzy, losing any will to fight and trying to escape, but the tent curtain, like a closed door in a horror movie, refused to budge.
“How the f*ck can a piece of cloth be locked down?” A feminine voice screamed.
“How indeed.” Lith chuckled, using wave after wave of spirit magic to keep the door shut and savouring their terror.
Soon, all the three traitors were either unconscious or wetting themselves. They knew that without the masks, even if they miraculously managed to escape, it would not change their fate.
Their minds were frozen, uncapable to decide if to beg for their lives or a swift death.
Lith’s eyes glowed with a cold red light under the mask.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have to talk.”