The First Lich Lord - C.159


We marched out of Ostia two days after Aarons arrival. It was enough time that the ravens could have spread our message, but also little enough time that I doubted any forces would be mobilized against us.

Still, just in case, I left all of the mindless zombies under my control with Dagian. He would use them to defend the city, which he was now in charge of until someone else was sent to replace him by Vito. The mindless zombies under the death priests control were what served as a workforce.

I marched south towards Maltis. That regional city was more than I could take with any degree of certainty at that point, but I planned on building my forces as I went. It was a strategic city, controlling access to the vast plains that lay beyond. It was several hundred miles before you could easily cross the river that Maltis set on in either direction.

Sending the ravens out like I had had taken away my degree of surprise. I know it was a foolish thing to do from a strategic sense, but I didnt want to massacre people either. If the city thought it was being taken over by a horde of undead who would kill everyone, then everyone would fight me.

We marched ceaselessly, Raven and Maxwell were the only ones that would truly feel the fatigue, both sleeping on Snappys back when needed. There were no individual homes out in the countryside. They were collected in the hamlets for mutual protection. We came across two on the first day, both had been completely abandoned and it looked to have been just days ago.

It wasnt until late on the second day that one of the Dread Thirteen whod been scouting reported that we were approaching another hamlet, but this time people were there.

Maxwell, Abimelech, Raven, and myself approached the hamlet. My army was arrayed behind me and all of us were on our mounts. There was a small group of four people standing in the road waiting for us. One of them was a man with a long gray beard and a woman with graying hair. One of the others wore light armor but held no weapon, and the fourth was a heavyset man wearing an apron.

My lord, the elderly man bowed. My name is Eutropia Merenda, and this is my wife, Eunice. We are the elders of this hamlet. With me is Arsen, the captain of the guard, and Idetta, the local merchant. Each of them bowed stiffly as they were introduced. We wish to submit to you willingly, asking that our lives be spared.

Your surrender has been accepted, welcome to my dominion. Some of tension left them at my words. And then returned when I spoke again. I do not require your men, your food, nor your money for my army. That was a very standard practice of invading forces to accept the surrender of these hamlets but then fleece them of everything. However, you will send a representative to Ostia, there they will receive instructions.

Of course, my lord, Eutropia bowed deeply. You are very gracious.

Now take me to your graveyard, I said.

All of them paled.


Why didnt we do this in Ostia? Maxwell asked. I remember you telling me that it was very hard to consecrate bodies so they couldnt be raised. Shouldnt their graveyard have been a great resource for you.

Um I scratched the back of my head, trying to think of easy lie, but my stupid brain did not give me one. I forgot.

You forgot, Raven chimed in. Dont we need the army to be as big as possible to conquer Maltis?

We do, Maxwell agreed. But its okay for this dumbass just to forget things as important as troops.

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You two shut up, Im concentrating, I snapped. I was standing in the middle of the hamlets graveyard, a spell building before me.

We both know thats not true, Raven said. Arent you the one who said that you can cast this spell as easily as breathing.

If it makes you feel better, we can send Tola back to raise the dead for us, I said. Raven was of course right, the spell wasnt anything complicated. It wasnt a quick and dirty raise undead spell that I could use in battle. Something like that wouldnt work in a graveyard anyways.

The elders of the village had shown us here and remained just outside, watching. I could sense their unease at what I was doing, but they dared not say anything. I could also sense their fear at the threat my army imposed.

The thing about graveyards, I began to explain, happy to change the topic, is that the dead here arent as simple to raise as the freshly killed. Its also not like that crypt where they were well maintained. From the size of the hamlet and the number of graves, Im guessing well probably get a few dozen mindless undead out of this. Anything that has been buried too long wont be anything more than worm food by this point.

The magic spread out above me as I completed the spell and then it sunk down to the ground. I poured death energy out, flooding the graveyard, and Maxwell and Raven pulled back. The bounds of the graveyard helped contain the death energyits one of the reasons graveyards are used.

The death energy permeated the very air, creating mist that lay there in the stillness of spell. Like in a horror movie, a skeletal hand shoved its way through the dirt.

The spell worked and before long, nearly twenty mindless undead had joined me. A few of them were similar to zombies, but most were more skeleton zombies, and the flesh that remained was putrid to say the least. A small grave had been disturbed, and I realized too late what it was. I still acted, and before the zombie child could crawl its way out, I pulled the magic out. There were some things I didnt want others to see.

The citizens of the hamlet who watched the process all looked sick. Many glared at me, hatred filling their eyes. A woman burst into tears staring at a very intact zombie. I realized it mustve been her husband.

I gave a mental order and all the undead began to shamble out of the graveyard. Most of the villagers fled, not screaming, just not wanting to be near it. The crying woman remained along with the elders. freewebnove(l)

My lord, Eunice said quietly. If it is not presumptuous of me, I would suggest you do not let people watch this, its something they do not need to see.

I fixed her with my gaze, letting my eldritch nature flare behind my eyes. I gave a mental order for the intact zombie to stop along with the ten most skeletal of the mindless undead I just created.

No, you are wrong. Maxwell and Raven paused at first, but I waved them on. This is the world you live in now. The dead do not stay in their slumber. The woman quailed before me and fell back. I lessened the intensity of my eyes. But this is not always a bad thing.

I turned to the sobbing woman. And I am truly sorry for your loss. I really was. Losing a loved one was painful, and nothing ever makes it not painful. I hope that what I did next would not increase her burden.

I hadnt noticed where the intact zombie had been buried, I guessed it mustve been in the back corner, it had to of been recent. I could tell through my connection that very little decay had set in. That was lucky.

I stretched out a hand towards the zombie and cast another spell. This one was far more complicated and far more powerful. The spell poured into the zombie. Most of the energy was focused around the brain. The decay that was there was removed. Normally I would never use a brain that had any decay setting in, but this didnt need to be perfect.

I turned the intact zombie into a controller, which also physically changed it. The flesh had darkened as it became attuned to death magic and death energy. It wasnt living dead, but it was close, closer than even the bone guard. I handed control of ten skeletons over to the controller. I used death energy from my reserves to strengthen them all, not giving them anything special, just making them stronger and able to move more smoothly.

This is a controller mindless undead, I said to the three still watching me. The woman had been too frozen in fear and horror to move while the elders had sensed I hadnt dismissed them. I am giving it a permanent order to follow your commands. You can use it and the ten skeletons it has under its control as a tireless labor force.

T-t-hank you, my lord. Eutropia met my eyes. He was shaken, but I could also tell he understood. A free physical labor force that was tireless was not a small thing in a town where most of the work was manual labor.

They will not be able to accomplish complex tasks, I warned. You shall have to learn the limits yourself. Understand I am not evil, the dead are not evil. Living dead are just different than what you understand and are used to.

I hoped the controller and the skeletons would help to familiarize the hamlet with the utility that could be brought with my rule and the use of the dead. I resolved to leave behind small workforces like this in as many places as possible to help the population see them as valuable.

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