18 「Zurrernorn“s Atonement」
Jack and Ninya were walking along the outer wall. The soldiers and other NPCs from within the fortress were stocking cannons and other live defenses along the walls.
It was clear he was greatly fortifying the place, but it looked like they were preparing for war. Why were they preparing for war? Ninya was watching the horizon as she walked beside him.
She was initially mesmerized by the wall itself. It looked so new, there were no disfigurations. Perfection was the one way to describe it. She wondered, in the future, what would people say about it? How many wars or battles would it strive to survive.
Her gaze turned towards the village itself along with the farmland within the walls.
How big would this place be? How many people would move here and live here in harmony?
Ninya turned her attention back to Jack who was walking silently, but his gaze had never left her.
He was admiring her soft, short, brown hair as it moved by the slightest breeze. How her hands were fidgeting at her sides. This was one of the very few times she had been alone with someone after joining the Swords of Darkness.
However as they were reaching the location they had originally went up the steps to get access to the wall from, he came to a complete halt. The look on his face changed, his eyes shot forward, it was as if there had been a shock to his system.
He had just sensed the death of the Shadow Demon which he had used to guard the leader of the Swords of Darkness. It was generally supposed to be an early warning system that the squad was under attack during a job, that was its initial purpose.
Yet due to the distance there was a delay of about ten minutes.
He turned to look off towards the South, in the direction of the Fortress City known none other than E-Rantel.
Of course they couldn't see the city from here, it was much too far. However, it was clear he could sense something was wrong.
"Jack?" Ninya reached up and grasped the fabric of his tunic, digging her fingers into it as she clutched her hand into a fist. "Jack, what's wrong?" She lightly tugged on him, which oddly was enough to make his upper body move with her minimal strength. Something, something was clearly wrong. "Jack!"
Slowly his head lowered a bit and like any other human being, his eyes got a bit glossy. Though it didn't look like he was going to break down, not like when he thought of his kid sister.
"The Shadow Demon I summoned to protect them, has fallen."
All of the hairs on the back of the girl's neck stood up as she heard him. "Sh-shadow demon?"
"It was supposed to shield Peter from harm, it was taken out." He took in a shaky, clearly angry voice. While they had originally gotten off on the wrong foot, they had begun to accept one another as people. Peter still annoyed him though, at least his friendly and confident interactions. However, that was what gave him life, what made him unique, that personality.
"I don't understand," Jack muttered as he'd look towards Ninya. Both of them looked like they were about to cry, but it looked like Ninya was now using Jack as support to stand as she assumed the worst.
She trusted him so she believed every word he was saying, and of course, she also knew what he was capable of. If he summoned something to protect her friends, she believed him. Even if it had been a Shadow Demon of all things.
"They should have been in E-Rantel by now... They should've been safe." Clenching his teeth hard together, he started to sprint down the step. Skipping one or two along the way.
"Eep!" Ninya tripped and squeaked loudly as she was trying to keep hold of him. So as she went to fall past him, he wrapped his arm around her waist and swung her around, ending up holding her like a board across his torso. Planting her face in his chest as she hugged onto him.
The moment they reached the bottom he stepped out behind the wall.
Standing there a couple meters away was none other than Sir Gallifrey and Min. They already knew something was wrong when a Shadow Demon died and set off an alarm.
"We're going to E-Rantel."
"Yes, M'Lord. What are your orders?"
"Investi--" Jack stopped in mid-speech as he heard something in the back of his head, a voice.
"Jack," it was Momon, "I have unpleasant news..."
Jack's eyes squinted slightly. 「Gate」
Without a single warning a portal appeared swirling with purples and blues, rippling with a cool white waves of energy. The four of them would step in through the portal, after Jack allowed Ninya back onto her feet.
Instantly when they reached the other side, they were standing mere feet away from the scene.
The front door of the pharmacy was broken inward. A dead body had been dragged out with a large hole in its central mass. It was an unknown face, but they were sickly pale, more sickly pale than a normal human being would be even in death.
Ninya and Jack stood in the front of the portal as Gallifrey and Min entered the scene, flanking them on either side. The two strong guardians gazed over the streets and the surrounding area.
The place was abnormally quiet. It appears the area had been doused in a sound dampening spell. It was probably from the dead man as Dyne hadn't known a smell like that. Both Ninya and Jack were sure of this.
Jack walked up to Momon, not making contact with him initially as he stood there with Nabe at his side. He opened his mouth slightly, before looking up at him. "Where were you?"
Momon seemed to sigh, it was clear he wasn't feeling pleasant over this situation. Though it was probably for a different reason all together than that of Jack's. The only similarity was that they were upset about losing something.
"Registering the Wise King of the Forest."
Jack slowly nodded before looking towards Nabe, he knew she was there to protect Momon and not the Swords of Darkness, but it was clear she hadn't needed to join him.
If Nabe had joined them, if they had gone to register the monster together, this wouldn't have happened.
"It's common courtesy to walk your friends home," was the one thing he managed to mutter before walking towards the residence and peaking inside.
The smell was uncanny, especially the zombified Dyne. He smelled worse than Lukrut and Peter who had been freshly killed. The place was overwhelmingly painted by the blood of a single individual, one which he narrowed his eyes on.
Blond, red eyes, pale skin and scantily clad armor. They were bisected diagonally from shoulder to hip. He was sure the weapon used was none other than Momon's, but the attacks on his party members were consistent with the stilettos on the girl's corpse.
Ninya reluctantly padded over to the door and covered her mouth. One hand rested on the busted door frame for support as she almost puked in her mouth.
She found herself falling to her knees as her lips quivered and she could hardly hide a whimper. She saw the lifeless eyes of her friends. "Why..."
Peter's were looking at the door, while Lukrut were facing forward at nothing in particular as he was propped up against the wall
Jack moved forward, pushing himself into the house. He stumbled over and knelt down beside Peter's corpse. He checked his injuries, they could be fixed up and he could be revived. He looked to Lukrut and it was the same thing.
The only one who wouldn't be able to come back was Dyne. He stared at the headless corpse of the man who could have been an advisor to not only his friends, but even one day a King. His interpersonal advise was something to cherish and now, he would never give it again.
His eyes moved back towards Lukrut, remembering the last time they saw one another and how he was constantly being rejected by a woman such as Nabe. He could only give this morose chuckle as he rested the back of his head against the table.
"...Help!" A voice in the distance called out. "Somebody!"
What was going on?
Momon turned to look down the street. It was the watchman from the Cemetery. Why wasn't he at his post?
Nabe idled her hand right on the hilt of her weapon and stepped forward, though Momon placed a hand on her shoulder to stop her from attacking the man as he came closer.
"Thank the heavens!" He saw the plate armor before he saw Momon's rank. "The cemetary... The Cemetery is filled with undead! They've already broken through the gates!"
Raising a brow, Jack came striding out of the house, but stopped and looked to Ninya who was resting her head against the side of the door frame. Her eyes were stuck on her friends as she could only give small whimpers.
"Ninya..." Jack uttered as he reached over and placed a hand on her shoulder. "We have to go. We'll bury them later." He had plenty of resurrection items, hell he even had a revival spell. The only thing though that was in the back of his mind was that it wasn't worth it. They'd just die again. If they couldn't face these two beastly humans, how could they go against the minions of a noble who took Tuare. "We have to save your sister."
He turned his head to see several undead roaming down the street, slowly it was becoming a Horde. Their stench, their hatred for the living, it was impossible repulsive.
"Sir Gallifrey, pinpoint the source." Jack ordered as he looked towards his head guardian.
With his waxed handle bar mustache, Gallifrey bowed his head. "Yes My Lord!" He then rushed off in the direction of the cemetery.
His gaze then moved towards Momon as he sent Nabe off to the registration area with the Hamster for him as he dealt with something else. It appeared he was going off into the cemetery as well. Likely to find and track down the source of the undead.
Tears and snot stained Ninya's face as she was brought back up to her feet. She took her staff from her back and pressed it firmly to the floor.
Her eyes dare not move from her friend until Jack lightly pulled her away from the residence.
When she did her eyes locked onto the dozen or so undead coming their way. Some of them were fresher than the rest. Some of the familiar, looking to be people whom had been missing for a long while now.
"No... Oh my..."
Jack wore a frown as he saw a sea food salesman he recognized from the market.
Raising one hand, holding his palm forward towards the hostile forces encroaching on their position like it was a canon, Jack centered himself. With his other hand around Ninya's back and holding her closer to himself, he closed his eyes halfway. His hand began to glow a bright gold, which appeared like a white star with gold rims.
"「Triple Magic, Holy Hand」!"
A blast of holy emissions escaped from his hand, projecting three hand shaped beams of light through the air. The further they went, the larger they grew. They were truly blinding, and unyelding.
These holy blasts engulfed those of which had been unfortunately cursed with zombification.
"My Lord!" Gallifrey called upon Jack through telepathy, "I've found the source. There are necromancers numbering in the tens. They appear to be part of some cult."
Nodding slightly, he frowned. Jack knew of a cult which practically worshipped death in the form of creating entire cities of undead. He was sure this was the work of Zurrernorn.
His eyes moved towards the dead necromancer near him and narrowed his sights on what appeared to be the Crown of Wisdom. It was a beautiful artifact, but didn't quite understand what it was for, or why a man such as he was carrying it. It looked like an item a female would wear with a white dress.
"Momon," Jack used telepathy, "Gallifrey has located the perpetrators. They're in front of the central Mausoleum. According to his intelligence, you already killed their immediate leadership. They're unorganized."
"I see them..."
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The sounds of explosions could be heard off in the distance, the use of explosive and lethal spells. Yet none of them would do any good against Momon.
Jack merely smiled faintly at this as the people who were aligned with those who killed most of the Swords of Darkness were being slaughtered entirely one sided. It put a good taste in his mouth.
Looking over at Ninya who was sniffling, he gently placed a hand on her cheek, wiping away her years. He wasn't going to ask if she was okay, she clearly wasn't. He doubted any normal person would be.
"Do you have a box...?" Ninya whispered quietly before letting out a cough and sniffled right after that, wiping her nose with her sleeve.
Jack nodded reaching into his inventory with his free hand he had just used to blast away some low level undead zombies, he revealed a black box with golden floral designs and a glass window at the top. It was a small display box, he had an idea what she wanted it for.
Taking hold of it, letting her staff fall to the ground, Ninya slowly waddled towards the corpses which were once her friends. She knelt down beside peter and took this black short sword and placed it in the center of the box he had given her. She moved to Lukrut, pried his from his fingers and put that on on the right.
When she came over to Dyne, she sat on her knees there for a while. Staring at the headless body. It was hard to believe that this was her friend.
She let out a shaky breath before acquiring his short sword, placing it to the left. She then proceeded to take their adventurer ranks and wrapped them around the individual hilts.
She placed the display box down on the table and rested her hands on the surface at either side of it. Her eyes stared at the semi-reflective glass as her tears dripped onto it. She could hardly see now as her sights were flooded with salty fluids that burned.
She closed her eyes finally and let her head dip down between her shoulders. Her chin at her sternum, she tried to imagine the warmth of their voices. Their arms around her shoulders.
The memories and their adventures. They were irreplaceable. The trust they once held together, they had until the very end.
Jack came into the residence once more and closed the eyes of Lukrut and Peter, allowing them to rest. He then folded their hands over their chests and used telekinesis to move their bodies like stiff logs. Lining them up in front of the house, on the stone ground, he placed his hands together.
Jack was not one to pray to a god, nor fall prey to one. Yet in this instance he found himself assuming there may just been a god or many gods in this realm.
Magic, undead, the supernatural, the legendary and the mythological all existed here in this place that was now his home. He closed his eyes and he prayed to anyone who would listen.
Should there be an afterlife, should there be reincarnation, should there be an underworld, heaven or hell. He wasn't quite sure, even if it was just the end, he wanted the best.
Feeling Ninya's arms around his mid-torso, he opened his eyes to find her head nuzzling into the double layered breast of his tunic. His arms which he had in front of him, rested their elbows on her shoulders as his forearms wrapped around her head.