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Chapter 19: Results of a Bet

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: ScribbleHub

Fleur flipped over on her bed and put her pillow over her head, covering her ears from the dreadful howls coming from over the walls of the ancient necropolis. She had already done it countless times over the past hour, but nothing worked.

She missed the mines, because at least there, the zombies were quiet. Here, the zombies never stopped howling.

“You’ve never been here before, have you?” A whisper came from below her.

“Anne? You’re still not asleep?” Fleur asked. It’s already been an hour since they went to sleep.

“You keep moving? It’s making the bed creak,” Anne said. “Don’t worry, everyone is like that for the first week or so. Then, you’ll get used to it, like me. Or you go crazy.”

“Haha…that’s reassuring. Do you want to trade? I’ll make less noise down there.”

There was a dull, light whump below her as something hit the bed frame she laid on. Anne must’ve thrown a pillow. “If you want to, we can trade. You might not be able to come down tomorrow when you’re groggy and coughing otherwise.”

“Ah, no thanks. I like it up here,” Fleur replied. She knew Anne was offering because of her missing arm. While she was grateful for Anne’s thoughtfulness, she didn’t want exceptions made for her.

Slowly, she was getting used to living life with only one arm. It was hard at first, and it was still hard. She had been right dominant, but now she only had her left.

Eating, writing, putting on her clothes—every aspect of her daily life had been impacted by the loss of her right arm except her ability to use magic, which improved instead.

For reasons she did not understand, her affinity to holy mana—which had already been great—grew even more pronounced, until her spells had the same power as many of the older acolytes.

“So how are you adjusting so far?” Anne asked. “Is life here as you expected, or…?”

“Well, yeah. It’s a lot harder than it is at the Church, to be honest. There’s so many things to do, so many things to clean all the time and I thought I’d never finish,” Fleur admitted. “The only reason I did was thanks to you…”

“Don’t mention it! I’m just happy that I finally got someone that’s the same age as me here. All the other acolytes were sent to the other outposts and I’ve stuck here alone.” Anne’s voice trailed off sadly before perking up again. “But it’s fine now since you’re here! Good for me, but not good for you, huh?”

“Yup.” Fleur smiled to herself.

This was her punishment for destroying that gem of control—half of year’s service at the Amaranthine Point outposts. While the punishment seemed harsh, it was already quite lenient. At least here, she could still gain experience and merit toward eventually becoming an ordained priestess.

Normally, for the destruction of such a valuable item, she would have been stripped of her status as an acolyte and demoted back down to a novice. She only escaped that fate because Father Arvel pleaded her case.

Her intimate affinity for holy mana probably had something to do with it too.

She laughed to her smile, but as she drew breath, it caught in her throat until she coughed, which grew more severe until her eyes swam. With shaking hands, Fleur pressed her hand to her chest, gasping out the name of a spell. “C—cleansing Light.”

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Holy mana gathered at her hand, transforming through a construction into a spell. The Cleanse Light spell manifested as a golden glow that enveloped her, entering and permeating every bit of her body, clearing out the undead mana that had accumulated, produced by the tiny seeds within her body that stubbornly resisted purification.

Only a high level spell could clear out those seeds, but until she became an ordained priestess, she could forget about having such spells cast on her.

She clenched her teeth, squeezing her eyes shut as she fought against the pain that burned her. As the holy light annihilated the darkness, she felt like countless ants were crawling within her. In the end, only a small whimper escaped.

When the pain passed, Fleur let her arm drop to her side, utterly exhausted.

“Did it happen again?” Anne asked, after a moment of silence. “Don’t say it’s nothing, I don’t believe you. And I’m not worrying about you; I’m just curious, okay?”

Fleur bit back the “It’s nothing” that had been at the tip of her tongue. Despite Anne’s words, it was pretty obvious that Anne was worried for her. It was just her way of saying that she wished to share Fleur’s troubles.

While Fleur hadn’t planned on telling Anne about what had happened at the mine, it wasn’t like the events were a secret. Since she couldn’t sleep and Anne couldn’t sleep because of her, she might as well alleviate some of her new friend’s boredom.

As an acolyte that used to be from Moltrost as well, Anne knew about the zombie mines, so Fleur didn’t have to worry about keeping anything secret.

Starting from the very beginning from when she first saw the zombie girl, Fleur recounted the events she experienced. At first, Anne giggled at Fleur’s description of the zombie girl, especially her height; her laughter faded when Fleur reached the part where the zombie called her a hypocrite.

“What do you think, Anne?” Fleur asked.

Since that day, there hadn’t been a day where she did not think about that zombie girl’s words. Although she considered telling Father Arvel, she was afraid of his answer.

“I don’t know. Maybe we are hypocrites, but sometimes the lesser good has to be sacrificed for the greater,” Anne said. “Even if that zombie wasn’t an enemy, she’s still an unpredictable, uncontrollable undead. I don’t see anything wrong with killing her.”

“Haha…yeah.” Fleur laughed weakly.

“Don’t worry about her anymore. She’s probably already dead. It’s been a week already,” Anne said soothingly, trying to reassure her. “Remember, every undead is a being of pure evil and should be eliminated.”

Fleur knew that Anne was right. They learned all this in their studies—every undead instinctively seeked to annihilate the living. Still, she still held doubts.

The impression that the golden zombie girl gave her was too deep. When she spoke with the zombie, she truly believed the zombie’s words, as if the zombie had been sincere.

“If every undead should be eliminated, then why do we raise them?” she mumbled. “Doesn’t that go against what we stand for?”

The words were just her talking to herself, but Anne heard them anyway. “I don’t think so!”

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Fleur looked at her bed, as if she could see through the cushions and bed frame at Anne. The question had bothered her for days. “Why?”

“Because it all cancels out! We raise then, then half a year later, we purify them, so we’ll have essentially created zero zombies in total. If we factor in the wild undead we purify, doesn’t that tip the scales?”

Anne sounded so proud of herself for that answer that Fleur couldn’t help but laugh at the logic. “Yeah.”

“So then what happened afterwards? You still had your arm then, right?”

“Yeah, I did. So I used the gem to call the zombies…

“…and somehow, the gem exploded, scattering black mist everywhere. It covered my arm before the amulet my mentor gave me took effect and blocked the rest. However, my arm was already affected, so it leaked out into the rest of my body before I managed to purify it,” she said, finishing her story. “And that’s how I ended up here with my arm gone.”

“Yikes. That sucks,” Anne said. “I don’t even know what to say.”

“You don’t have to say anything. I’ve already gotten over it. It’s just my mistake and I paid the price for it.” Fleur shrugged. Even if Anne couldn’t see it, she could probably hear it from the creak of the bed.

“Nothing is worth that price.”

The bed below Fleur creaked. Fleur cocked her head, trying to figure out what Anne was doing, but as she turned her head, she heard the wooden ladder on the side of the bunk beds thump as someone climbed up.

Anne’s eyes peeked over the edge of the bed, staring straight at her. Through the bright light of the full moon shining through the window, Fleur could make out Anne’s fiery red hair. Though Anne’s face was hidden in shadows, her amber eyes seemed to glow from the meager light that reflected off the walls.

“What are you doing?” Fleur asked.

“Nothing. Just checking to see if you’re okay.” Anne’s voice was muffled by the wood.

The reason confused Fleur. “Why? I’m talking to you right now.”


Fleur’s skin prickled under Anne’s unblinking gaze. “What is it?”

Anne looked away. “You know, you don’t have to stay up here. If you want, you can sleep down there…” Her voice faded as her head disappeared below the edge of the bed.

“Anne, it’s fine.”

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The first night Fleur spent here, Anne had offered her the bottom bunk. Since then, she has already lost count of the number of times she’d refused in just two nights. It always managed to come up in their conversations.

It might’ve become a running joke if Anne didn’t look so serious about it all the time.

“Let’s go to sleep now. Thanks for talking to me, Anne. I feel much better now.”

All that came from below was a quiet wordless mumble. Perhaps Anne was already on the verge of falling asleep. Fleur envied her sometimes, but perhaps being able to sleep on command came with experience.

The zombies’ howls cut through the silence that had descended in their room.

Trying hard to tune them out, Fleur shut her eyes. Sleep was a long time in coming, but she did her best. Just when she thought she could sleep, her eyes shot open as a wave of silence rolled over her.

No, it wasn’t a wave of silence. It was a wave of…darkness—a wave of darkness that dimmed the light for a brief instant. Shortly after, another wave came. Her heart throbbed in response to it and she bit her lips as she casted Cleansing Light once again.

As she gathered the mana, Anne’s voice came from below her again.

“Did you feel that?”

“…Yes,” she said with gritted teeth. “What was that?”

“The birth of a new higher undead—two of them. Both right at the very edge of the city too,” Anne replied. Her tone was even, as if she had experienced this countless times before. If that was true, then no wonder she hadn’t been surprised or impressed when Fleur told her about the zombie girl.

“It’s stuck in the city, right? It has nothing to do with us, since we’re only supposed to keep the zombies in?”

“Normally, yes.” The bottom bunk creaked. Fleur looked over the side to see that Anne had gotten out of the bed and was in the middle of taking off her nightgown.

“What are you doing?” she asked. “It’s the middle of the night right now.”

“I know, but it doesn’t matt—oh, you don’t know about it.” Anne paused in her changing and motioned up at her for her to come down.

Reluctantly, Fleur crawled over to the ladder and carefully climbed down, sliding her left hand down the side of the ladder instead of hanging on to the rungs. When she reached the ground, she joined Anne in changing.

“Are you going to tell me?” she asked. Anne seemed to be sulking at something.

“Yes. So a few days ago, our vice captain made a stupid bet with our captain. He lost, and now he has to go kill the first higher undead that next appears, which is this one.” Anne finished putting on her inner shirt.

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Fleur noticed that instead of her normal acolyte’s robes, Anne was wearing something else that had layers of padding. It looked awfully thick, as if it was meant to absorb blows. Looking through her own drawer, she found the same shirt.

“Don’t tell me we’re going too?”

“We are. The captain obviously won’t let him go alone, now it’s a team activity for the whole outpost,” Anne said. She didn’t seem too troubled by the fact, yet for some reason Anne still sounded upset.

Anne sometimes got like that. Fleur really didn’t know how to deal with her friend when she became sulky.

The padded shirt was much harder to get on. By the time Anne finished putting on her clothes, Fleur was still trying to get her remaining arm into the sleeves. Without a word, Anne began to help her.


With Anne’s help, everything went much more smoothly and soon, Fleur was fitting in a strange padded robe that would have been stuffy and hot if not for the icy crystal woven into the attire cooling her down.

“This is…?” she asked, gesturing at what she was wearing.

“Our armor. While ideally the knights will keep the undead off our backs, it doesn’t mean we should be helpless if one does get near,” Anne said with a matter-of-fact tone. She held out her right hand. “Come on.”

As Fleur grabbed Anne’s hand, she still hadn’t finished processing everything. One minute she was about to fall asleep, and the next she was heading to battle?

“Um. We’re acolytes. Are we really qualified to join a higher undead hunt? I couldn’t even scratch one,” she mumbled after Anne, who pulled her toward the door.

“Well, we have to gain experience somehow, right? And this is as good a time as any. We just have to target the lesser zombies.”

“I see…” It looks like she wasn’t getting out of this one. She can’t believe that her first battle here wasn’t going to be a routine and planned undead extermination and sweep around the fortress, but rather an…adventurous…excursion into one of the most dangerous locations in human territory, hunting for a higher undead.

Already, Fleur missed the church at Moltrost. The only comfort she had was that several Cloud Knights were in the team as well.

According to rumors, each holy knight had the power to stalemate a zombie knight, while the more powerful ones could win.

Hopefully the rumors were true. Fleur squeezed her eyes shut, praying to the Gods as Anne led her toward the weapons storage where several people had already gathered.


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