Chapter 27:

The Shadow Tombs

The Children of Eris

Two hours before dawn broke, David, Rebecca and the Raven snuck out of their room and made their way up the steep stone steps towards the Shadow Tombs.Bookmark here

It was a long and silent climb towards the top and, with no sunlight or torches to guide them, Rebecca was terrified, desperately clinging onto the sleeve of the Raven. David and the Raven, however, had the ability to see perfectly clearly in the night and had no problems finding their way.Bookmark here

Maybe it would’ve been better to leave Rebecca behind, David wondered. I brought her along because I was scared she might try to run away or try to tell that town full of soldiers and adventurers about us, but then again. He glanced over his shoulder at her trembling form. I don’t think she would dare, especially not after last night.Bookmark here

Even though they were both human in David’s mind, there was no way that they could have a normal conversation with one another. Bookmark here

There wasn’t anyone who he could talk to normally.Bookmark here

Everyone saw him as the tyrannical and cruel Demon Emperor and nothing else.Bookmark here

He thought back to the pleasant conversation he’d had with Nate and Mellissa, the warm and welcoming villagers and how he didn’t have to be the Demon Emperor here. Bookmark here

However, no matter how much he treasured those times, he knew they couldn’t last. Bookmark here

Stop it! Bookmark here

Don’t think like that!Bookmark here

You don’t have to care about them and none of them will know that you’re the one who killed them.Bookmark here

David had never felt so mortified in his life when he realised just how harsh and cruel those words were.Bookmark here

You already decided your fate when you accepted Eris’s offer. Now, you have to see it through or it will have all been for nothing.Bookmark here

When they finally arrived at the entrance to the Shadow Tombs, the sun had started to rise and a few beams of sunlight illuminated the necropolis before them.Bookmark here

It was just as gigantic and intimidating as he’d imagined, right down to the way the thick fog in the air made his skin crawl and shiver. The gravestones and tombs outside of the main structure were withered and old, and there were bones scattered everywhere.Bookmark here

Among the field of bones were corpses, some appeared very old based on the smell and how much their bodies had decayed, whereas others seemed to be fresher, maybe only a day or two old.Bookmark here

Rebecca covered her mouth and shut her eyes, but it was too late and she threw up behind them. The Raven remained as calm as ever; David, however, was struggling to stop himself from doing what Rebecca had just done.Bookmark here

This is the reality of what I’m doing, David told himself, his teeth chattering. He closed his mouth as tightly as he could and started doing breathing exercises to calm his body down. If I can’t stomach a scene like this, then how the hell am I going to be able to give the order to destroy Black Port?Bookmark here

“…Let’s go,” David ordered.Bookmark here

The Raven nodded, took Rebecca’s hand and the three of them slowly walked towards the main castle. David locked his gaze on a fixed point of the castle, a broken part of the wall near the main gate, and kept walking. Rebecca’s eyes were still closed, leaving only the Raven to check their surroundings for threats.Bookmark here

David could sense that there were a handful of skeletons and zombies stirring in the fields around them, but they were no concern to him.Bookmark here

David knew that he was more than enough to handle the undead swarming around them.Bookmark here

“Your majesty, shall we deal with the undead here?” The Raven asked.Bookmark here

“There’s no need,” David confidently replied. He stopped in front of the gates to the castle, turned around and raised a hand towards the field of bones. “They will handle the other undead.”Bookmark here

A black and purple magic circle formed before David’s palm which began to pour mana from it. It slithered across the ground and wrapped itself around every bone and corpse. Skeletons and zombies rose up from the ground with a purple aura around them. Bookmark here

“Destroy the rest of the other undead,” David commanded.Bookmark here

The skeletons and zombies he’d resurrected immediately descended upon the other undead. They quickly began destroying the rest of the undead at the Shadow Tombs. Bookmark here

“I wasn’t aware that you could raise the dead, your majesty,” the Raven confessed. He put one hand on his chest and bowed. “I am in awe of your power.”Bookmark here

“Your flattery isn’t necessary,” David said. “My powers are not public knowledge and will remain as such, I assume?”Bookmark here

“Of course, your majesty!”Bookmark here

“Lady Rebecca?”Bookmark here

With a slight jump, Rebecca timidly opened her eyes and looked up at the Demon Emperor staring down at her.Bookmark here

“…I won’t say a word,” she whispered.Bookmark here

David nodded and turned back to the main gate. “Then let us proceed. Time is of the essence.”Bookmark here

David threw a powerful kick at the gates, blowing them off their hinges with ease. Bookmark here

He could’ve easily opened the doors or just walked through the holes in the walls, but David wanted to remind Rebecca and the Raven of his great strength. Bookmark here

After what happened in Stonefall with the Sons of Tartarus, some people at the keep might need another reminder not to cross me or go against my wishes.Bookmark here

David scowled and he bit his lip. I can’t let them put me or my family in any more danger than they already have.Bookmark here

The Raven and Rebecca timidly followed David into the tombs into the deepest part of the castle, its crypts, where lines of unopened coffins lay. They had been sealed with magic runes and, based on the scratch and scorch marks around the room, many had failed to open them.Bookmark here

“Are these the undead we are after, your majesty?” The Raven asked as he inspected one of the coffins more closely. Bookmark here

“Perhaps,” David mumbled. He raised his hand up again and conjured the magic circle he had used earlier. “If Nate’s theory is right, then there are some mages here that we could revive as liches to raise the undead army for us. There would be no need for any one of us to do the process ourselves.”Bookmark here

David’s mana poured across the room and attacked the magic seals, breaking them easily before slithering inside. Bookmark here

Then, the coffins began to shake.Bookmark here

Cracks appeared in the stone before the coffins eventually exploded into tiny pieces, revealing the skeletons dressed in torn clothes holding rotting, wooden magical staves inside. One by one, the freshly raised liches clambered onto their feet, then dropped onto one knee before David and lowered their heads to him. Bookmark here

“We serve the Dark Lord!” They said in unison, their sickly, creepy voices echoing throughout the chamber.Bookmark here

“As expected of your majesty! I have never seen someone raise twenty liches at once before,” the Raven praised.Bookmark here

That’s hardly a surprise when you aren’t even a year old, Raven, David thought, amusing himself slightly. Bookmark here

“You there,” David said, pointing at the lich he sensed to be the strongest. “You will be the lich king of this castle and command the others in my stead whenever I’m not here. Understood?”Bookmark here

The lich with a long, black beard with spiderwebs in it, looked up and bowed to David. “I graciously accept my liege.”Bookmark here

“Excellent. Then, hear my words and follow my orders to the letter. You liches have one month to raise an undead horde of at least thirty thousand strong and then march on the trade city of Black Port. You are to slaughter everyone inside the walls, raise them as undead, occupy the city, then terrorise the areas within five miles of Black Port. Bookmark here

“You are not, I repeat not, to go further than five miles from Black Port until further notice. Then, once that area is under your control, you will take a few hundred undead back here with you twenty and then continue raising undead. You will not leave the Shadow Tombs again until I order you to do otherwise. Is that understood?”Bookmark here

“Yes, Dark Lord!” The liches cried.Bookmark here

“Then, why are you still kneeling here?”Bookmark here

The liches bowed once more, then quickly departed for the main chamber to begin their preparations for David’s army.Bookmark here

Soon, we’ll see just how strong the Holy Empire really is.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

I wasn’t able to stop him.Bookmark here

Right before her eyes, the person who had freed her and her servants from her parents was ordering the slaughter of tens of thousands without batting an eye.Bookmark here

She knew, deep down, that there was nothing that she could possibly say or do that would make the Demon Emperor change his mind, but that didn’t ease the pain grasping her heart. Bookmark here

Why don’t I have the courage to say anything again?Bookmark here

Rebecca had a small hope when the Demon Emperor had taken over her home that maybe he wouldn’t be as cruel as her parents had been and that Castle Kelsey might become a slightly safer place for her and the servants.Bookmark here

At the cost of her freedom and the servant’s safety, Rebecca had to bear witness to the crimes that the Demon Emperor would commit and she wouldn’t be able to stop them.Bookmark here

She could’ve tried telling someone about him and his plans, or maybe have a servant leak the information in Stonefall, but she knew it wouldn’t be of any use. Bookmark here

Rebecca was too scared to even try to stop him.Bookmark here

She might have been freed from her parents, but she wasn’t free from the chains that bound her.Bookmark here

I might not be able to save these people, but there must be something I can do to try and save some people from the Demon Emperor, Rebecca thought. Even if I had no choice in the matter, I am a co-conspirator of the Demon Emperor and a member of his council.Bookmark here

If I have to walk down this path, then the least I can do is try to save as many people as I can and, to do that, I need to change. If he was willing to spare us, then perhaps he would be willing to spare other people. Bookmark here

Rebecca steeled herself and firmly looked upon the back of the Demon Emperor.Bookmark here

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I will break free from these chains and do everything I can do to save as many people as possible by your side, Lord Allaric.Bookmark here

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