Chapter 30: 018. Imperial Prince is Really Toiling Away -3 (Part Two)
Right then, something large flew in and crashed into a nearby large house, thereby rudely interrupting Jenald in the middle of his words. Bricks tumbled down as debris flung about everywhere.
Both Jenald and I flinched at this sudden disaster.
At first, I thought it was a large boulder or something. But as it turned out, it was a lump of ‘meat’ instead. It began wiggling before breaking apart into smaller pieces.
The intertwined arms and legs reached and touched the solid ground. The once-meshed-together bodies began crawling on the soil, trying to free themselves. Zombies staggered back up to their feet. The numerous pairs of crimson eyes were looking around, their slack jaws bobbing up and down.
I was so stunned that I ended up muttering involuntarily, my eyes wide open. “…What the hell? Did they really catapult zombies inside?”
“Uh… How did these undead get inside the territory…?”
Even the feudal lord was making a dazed, lost expression.
“It’s the undead!”
Chaotic screaming soon resounded out. Citizens fell into unchecked panic and began running away in all directions.
This was bad.
If these zombies managed to hunt down the panicking citizens, then a lot more undead would start roaming around within the interior of the fortress. It already sounded like the undead outside the walls were plenty dangerous enough, so it’d be game over if the inside was filled up with them too.
“Get into formation!”
Soldiers quickly gathered around to fight against the zombies.
“W-wait! Listen, everyone! This place is safe! It’s dangerous to go anywhere else! Hurry, head towards my mansion…!”
Viscount Jenald shouted out at his citizens. However, they failed to hear him after fear took control of their hearts.
He gnashed his teeth and spoke to a knight, “I shall entrust you with a new task. Protect the denizens and guide them towards my residence.”
“But my lord! We’re here to protect you…”
“I’ll be fine. What’s more important is for you to protect them first!”
Jenald’s voice got louder.
The knight quickly bowed his head. He then took a portion of the soldiers away to rush towards the panicked citizens scattering in all directions.
“Please rest easy, your highness,” Jenald said as he unsheathed his sword.
I didn’t say anything and simply stared at him.
“Other than their high physical strength, zombies are weak, you see.”
How dependable you sound right now, mister.
“If we use their sluggishness to our advantage, we can easily subdue…”
Jenald was saying these things to calm me down, probably. But…
– Cough! Cough!!
The doors to many houses shattered open one after the other. I quickly shifted my gaze beyond the open doorway of one house, only to discover a hole in its floor and the droves of undead emerging out from within said hole.
These were undead with melted faces, thin and spindly bodies, long arms, and claws resembling scythes. They were ghouls.
The feudal lord, Viscount Jenald Ripang, dropped the sword in his hand. The dependable air he exuded just a second ago was now gone, his complexion now paler than a sheet of paper. He was suddenly jolted awake from his stupor and quickly picked his weapon back up.
“P-please rest easy, your highness! E-even if it’s a ghoul, as long as we stay sharp…!”
Sorry… but I don’t think I can trust you anymore.
I massaged my forehead, recalling the aura of death I sensed a week ago. It seems that what I sensed back then must’ve been these guys.
To think that they would show up through the underground tunnels…!
The jaws of the ghouls clattered noisily. Their gazes were now focused on the soldiers as their disfigured eyes formed chilling smiles. This was an expression one would make after discovering delicious prey.
On the other hand, the soldiers were shrinking away like a pack of rabbits that ran into a vicious predator.
I squeezed my eyes shut.
It seemed that my relaxing week-long holiday was an omen of things to come. Our dear Goddess Gaia-nim must’ve been dying to put me through hell from the looks of things.
(In 3rd person POV.)
In front of them, zombies. In the rear, ghouls.
The soldiers hurriedly faced behind them, right after judging that the ones appearing there possessed a higher degree of danger than regular zombies.
Numerous ghouls began exploding out of the houses to pounce on the location of the soldiers. A man was forced down, then his shoulder was pierced through by a raised claw.
The other soldiers thrust their spears out and stabbed at the figure of the ghoul, only for another one to rush in and crash into them, flinging the human soldiers away. It then viciously swung its claws everywhere.
The formation was breaking down.
“Gather around! Don’t break the ranks! We need to drag in the injured…!”
The soldiers showed an immediate reaction after hearing Viscount Jenald’s shouts. Which wasn’t surprising since they were properly-trained formal soldiers, and not some ragtag bunch of convicts. In other words, they were true elites who had enough real-world combat experience, and had undergone training to deal with all types of undead monsters.
They quickly created a circular formation with the feudal lord and the Imperial Prince as their centre. The first line wielded shields and swords, while the second was equipped with spears.
The feudal lord Jenald dragged in one of the injured, tore off his own clothing to stem the bleeding and stop it from endangering the soldier’s life any further.
‘We’re in danger!’
His body continued to tremble in fear at the situation laid out before him. What should he do? What could he do, realistically speaking?
He was just a feudal lord who ruled a small territory in the frontier. It had already been two years since he got demoted to this place, yet he still hadn’t gotten too familiar with the land or his job.
He felt lost with not knowing how to command the troops in an event like this one. If only an experienced knight was alongside him, that could’ve been a huge relief. Unfortunately, he already sent that one away due to the severe shortage of manpower, all in order to combat the zombies trying to invade the fortress.
That meant that he now had to take command.
The inside of his head was as blank as a fresh sheet of paper and he had no clue what to do next.
It was then, the group of undead finally pounced towards them. A zombie bit into the shoulder of a soldier. By relying on its physical strength, it forcibly dragged the poor man out and began biting into him.
His shoulder was torn up; skin, muscles, flesh, all of them ripped away as a fountain of blood sprayed out.
“H-how can this be…! Wh-what can I…?”
Jenald fell into a state of panicked confusion.
One of the injured soldiers grunted in pain and wobbled unsteadily. He forced himself to maintain their formation, raising his shield up no matter what happened.
The undead focused their attacks on the injured soldier, attracted by the stench of approaching death. They grabbed onto the shield and tried to break the formation by yanking it away.
The supporting soldiers behind him quickly thrust out their spears and pierced the undead to incapacitate them. However, different zombies grabbed onto the weapons and continued their attacks.
The shield-wielding soldier should’ve lent his own support by swinging his sword by now. Unfortunately, he couldn’t raise his weapon due to the injured shoulder.
And… the zombies didn’t miss this opening.
The undead monsters reached out to rip the shield away. Four of them grabbed it at the same time. The soldier gritted his teeth and did his best to hold on, but as expected, he alone wasn’t going to be enough.
Just before the shield was torn away from his grasp…
“…[Plague of Debilitation.]”
[Wide-area blessing has been activated.]
All of a sudden, the hands of the zombies that were holding onto the shield began melting away.
These zombies staggered back ungainly. They stared at their arms that had already melted down to their forearms, then shifted their gazes back to the soldier.
The human who was almost at death’s doorstep began emitting a bright glow. His torn shoulder ballooned up and exploded; the sign of the after-effect of divinity forcibly interfering with demonic energy trying to invade one’s body.
A short while later, the soldier’s deeply-gouged body part rapidly filled up with muscles, strands of flesh quickly growing like dancing tentacles. New skin instantly covered everything up after that.
Was that all?
Similar things were happening to other soldiers as well.
The wounds that were inflicted on their bodies while they maintained formation healed up at a visible rate. Their fatigue was also getting washed away in just a few moments, as well. Then, bright light glowed from their shields, swords, and armor.
Their wavering minds recovered in an instant.
The nearly dying soldier couldn’t figure out what just happened and simply stood around in a daze. Suddenly, he noticed a ghoul swinging its claw at him and reflexively raised his shield to defend.
The claw crashed into the shield, bouncing away before shattering apart into pieces.
The one to get flustered wasn’t the ghoul, but the soldier instead.
“I-I blocked it??”
< 018. Imperial Prince is Really Toiling Away -3 (Part One and Two) > Fin.