|Author: TypeAxiom||Original Source: ScribbleHub|
“This place is as loud as ever—well, maybe louder than usual.”
Carmen walked toward the fortress. Its towers were tall, so despite being able to see it, she still had a lot of distance to cover.
The site of desecration she was currently at is called Amaranthine Point, an ancient fortress city that has stood for thousands of years. Legend has it that during a war only vaguely recorded, foul magic was cast on this stronghold by the enemy, desecrating the site with the power of the undead.
As a result, the fortress became a ghost fortress in the span of a single night and to this day continues to create undead. Many large-scale undead outbreaks used to originate from Amaranthine Point until the Church finally created an outpost nearby to watch over the fortress.
Cloud Knights and Church priests jointly staffed the outpost.
Carmen didn’t envy them. The howls of the undead from the fortress continued day and night, never stopping. Even she had been left on the edge of his wits after spending a night here. She couldn’t imagine what kind of insanity she would end up with if she had to stay here for an extended assignment.
She looked up at the sky.
The moon was large and round, its beauty on full display. However, the full moon was also when the undead of Amaranthine Point were at their strongest.
Carmen didn’t really understand why, but theory suggested that it had something to do with the properties of the spell that desecrated the fortress. Perhaps the spell harnessed the power of the moonlight, or it was cast during a full moon.
Regardless of the real reason, Amaranthine Point was at its most dangerous that night, with the howls of the undead especially loud. The likelihood of a higher undead appearing here was also the highest during the full moon.
“I wonder if I’ll meet one? They probably have it better than me,” she muttered. “Normal zombies sure have it easy, having so much energy being donated to them.”
Unlike her who had to fight for every bit of mana, natural zombie knights merely had to exist in order to evolve.
The walls of the fortress soon came into sight through the thinning trees.
As she approached, she circled along the walls, avoiding the main gates. There were gates leading into the city in all four cardinal directions, with a Church output just outside each gate. Right now, she had to avoid the outposts.
She still couldn’t suppress her undead aura, so if she just sauntered up to an outpost, she’ll definitely be attacked.
As a former holy knight, she didn’t want to kill another holy knight if she could help it. Each and every one of them were heroes who fought for the righteous cause.
When Carmen was finally a decent distance away from the gates, she ran up to the walls, tilting her head back to see the ramparts. Despite the height great enough to kill a human from a fall, she wasn’t too worried about getting up.
The walls were easy to climb. The passage of time, complete with millennia of wind and rain, have worn away the mortar, leaving convenient handholds for her.
Even though zombies could survive the fall, normal zombies were too clumsy to climb the walls, so the walls weren’t a valid escape route. The Church made sure to destroy all the stairs up the walls they could find and collapsed all the subterranean tunnels.
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They left only the gates unblocked in order to funnel the undead into an easy kill zone if they ever decided to break out.
Like a giant spider, Carmen easily scaled the walls, flipping over the edge onto the walkway above. There weren’t any zombies on the ramparts, as she expected. But when she looked over the edge, undead were all over the streets as far as she could see.
They staggered as they walked, entering and exiting the houses with broken down doors for all perpetuity.
Amaranthine Point was a true necropolis.
As a city as well as a fortress, there were plenty of bodies within as raw materials to create undead. Hundreds of thousands of undead roamed within.
With so many undead, Carmen couldn’t even begin to count for sure the number of the higher undead hidden inside Amaranthine Point. There must be at least a few hundred to a thousand knight-class undead, and most likely at least a couple of lords.
She didn’t dare imagine it, but there might even be an undead king. She couldn’t think of any other places where there might be one of those rumored terrors.
Heaven knew why they didn’t escape when they clearly had the ability to.
Was there a secret hidden inside the fortress?
The Church never bothered to find out, as it would have taken a prodigious amount of manpower to conquer Amaranthine Point—the combined strength of several Orders.
There were just too many undead. The worst part about fighting in a site of desecration was that whenever one undead was, it freed up man for the desecration to create another one elsewhere.
It would be an endless battle.
Carmen jumped straight off the ramparts onto the streets below, landing softly like a cat before she straightened and dusted off the skirt, sullied by the dirt she kicked up when she landed.
“Well then, let’s just evolve and then get out of here. No need to stay here longer than necessary.”
She winced as a zombie, who was walking by, howled right next to her ear.
Carmen was about to kick the zombie when she realized she was still wearing her dress. “Why do I only have dresses? I can’t do anything in these!”
The skirt limited how high she could kick and she had to constantly worry about getting her sleeves dirty when she punched something.
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If only the dress wasn’t made of such expensive material she wouldn’t be worrying so much, but they were.
“I need a weapon,” she realized. Carmen sighed. How had she not realized that sooner?
As a knight, hand to hand wasn’t her strong suit—weapons were.
The only reason she didn’t use a weapon these past few days was because she didn’t have one. The mining tools were so unwieldy it was better for her to use her hands and feet.
But she was in Amaranthine Point now, a fortress city. A fortress. There was bound to be weapons lying around, even if they weren’t the best.
Carmen looked around and her eyes lit up. “Found one.”
Just across the street, there was a skeleton clacking out of a house, holding a rusted sword in its bony hands. Unlike normal, inert skeletons, these undead skeletons were covered in inky darkness. The black mist of undeath solidified on their bones and joints, becoming tendons and muscles.
Carmen marched up to the skeleton, who turned to look at her. It was just about to look away and she smiled and stopped it with a hand on its shoulder. “I need to borrow your sword.”
Since skeletons didn’t have any dried gore that might dirty her clothes, she punched it in the face with her other arm without the slightest bit of concentration, sending its skull flying off.
The skull crashed against the wall of one of the houses, bouncing onto the ground.
Carmen was about to continue dismantling the skeleton when it slipped out of her grip and chased after its skull. It picked up the skull and settled it back on the it’s spine, backwards, right before Carmen’s eyes. It looked like a comedy routine.
But the routine soon stopped being a comedy.
Slowly, the skull turned until it was staring at Carmen, and the skeleton lifted its weapon menacingly.
With surprising fluidity, the skeleton charged and slashed at her, following through the move with its entire body.
The intent to kill was thick in the skeleton’s movement, with every bit of its strength it had put into the move. In life, the skeleton was clearly a competent swordsman. With its skill and current undead strength, it might be able to chop a man in half even with its rusty sword.
Carmen stepped to the side, ducking as she did so. The sword sliced through the air right beside her. However, the skeleton did not stop there. It brought its slash to a stop seamlessly and then cut at her, horizontally this time.
Gathering her dress, Carmen jumped back, falling outside of the skeleton’s reach.
“Oh my…a tough one right off the bat?”
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For lesser undeads, skeletons were among the most powerful types. Thanks to its abundant black mist, it was more resistant to holy magic than zombies, and its physical prowess was impressive.
This particular skeleton, while not yet a higher undead, was especially strong. It was probably in its transitional period, just like Carmen, having regained some of its skill in life.
With Carmen out of its immediate reach, the skeleton straightened and adjusted its grip on the sword. Then it stepped forward once and lunged with the next, closing the gap between them in an instant.
Unlike a living human, the undead did not show any tells on what it will do next. The skeleton could have picked any number of ways to get Carmen back into its reach. The movement was so sudden, so efficient, that Carmen almost didn’t manage to react in time. Her instincts took over. With her bare hands, she grabbed the sword and pushed it to the side.
The serrated edges of the rusty sword easily sawed through Carmen’s hand with the help of mana and a pinky fell to the ground.
Carmen gritted her teeth as the undead mana imbued in the sword scattered into her open wound.
Still, the trade was worth it.
For the temporary price of one pinky, Carmen pushed the sword to the side enough that she managed to dodge it.
But as she stepped in for a counter attack, the skeleton stepped back as well, pulling the sword with it. The ragged edges tore through her hand that still grasped the sword. Another finger fell, a thumb this time.
The frigid pain from the undead mana seeping into her was too much and Carmen backed away, cradling her hand. She severed her connection with her fallen fingers without hesitation, and her hand began to regenerate.
Hissing from the fading pain, she glared at the skeleton. “I underestimated you,” she grumbled.
What she didn’t expect was for a purple glow to flare to life in the skeleton’s empty orbs. Its jaws remained still, yet a voice came from the skeleton. “I did not underestimate you.”
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