Chapter 4 003. Imperial Prince is a Gravekeeper -2
Chapter 4: 003. Imperial Prince is a Gravekeeper -2
As I studied the distancing backs of the two farmers, the [Mind’s Eye] skill showed me their current conditions.
Speciality: Farming. Physical labour.
+ Currently in a blessed state.]
There it was, the status info so short that someone who couldn’t be bothered to must’ve written it. However, I shouldn’t be worrying about that right now.
Blessed? I only drew a cross with my fingers and said ‘amen’ though?
Despite my actions that could be construed as sacrilegious, the divinity inside my body still leaked out and the skill activated on its own. More importantly, though, I didn’t possess any skill called ‘Blessing’.
I sank into a deep contemplation before remembering a certain skill.
‘[Horrifying Curse]. Damage a target for a prolonged time by inflicting pain.’
It seemed that its attribute had been flipped on its head.
…Well, it shouldn’t pose any problems later, right?
Eiii, what could possibly happen, anyway? I mean, it wasn’t a curse but a blessing, so it should be fine.
Even rotting food would serve as medicine if you don’t get sick after eating it. If you didn’t die after getting hit by magic, it would be a blessing in and of itself.
If something really did go wrong, they would surely seek me out right away. With these thoughts in mind, I decided not to worry about the matter anymore.
I was a gravekeeper. The ‘Priest’ that maintained the monastery, buried the dead, and performed the purification ceremony.
Indeed, there was no need for me to sweat over the ongoings of the outside world.
Right. No need to mind the outside world.
My job was to simply start shovelling, dump the maggot-infested corpses inside the burial pits, and then perform the purification ceremony so no one would turn into zombies. That’s it. I felt no dissatisfaction towards what I had to do.
In fact, I didn’t feel any repulsion towards the dead bodies, which probably had something to do with the effects of my ‘Profession’, Necromancer. This job was even rewarding in its own way and could be fun at times too.
However… This ain’t it!!
“Imperial Prince-nim…! Imperial Prince-nim!”
The farmers from before had shown up again while pulling a wagon with great difficulty this time. However, the wagon was now carrying 4 or 5 corpses instead of one body they lugged around previously. The accompanying flies and wriggling maggots were simply an additional bonus.
I fell into despair after seeing that wagon.
“Goddammit, there’s more?!”
Each of the bodies weighed at least somewhere between 50 to 60 kilos.
Digging the burial pits and moving the corpses were easy, since I could just turn them into zombies and make them do all the hard work. Afterwards, all I had to do was close the graves and perform the perfunctory purification ceremony. That’s it.
It was possible to take care of everything so effortlessly, but I couldn’t utilise my skills at all thanks to the farmers that kept paying me a visit far too often.
In the end, I had to shovel, shovel, and then shovel some more. On top of that, I now had to lug around the bodies and perform the burial properly…
This had to be the zenith of all hard labours in this world, period.
Goddammit, to think that the Holy Emperor’s grandson, supposedly beloved by the Gods, had to perform such stupidly hardcore labour.
This didn’t make an iota of sense.
Ahh, the highest esteemed Goddess of love and mercy, Gaia! Have we become sworn enemies now?
I inwardly threw curses and insults in the direction of the Goddess that the Theocratic Empire worshipped. While doing so, I flinched greatly as I stared at the corpses.
“How many days has it been since they died?!”
“Pardon? Oh, uh, maybe 3 or 4 days…?”
“…What about the cremation?”
“As you can see, we didn’t do it.”
The wagon suddenly began bucking wildly. And then, three zombies promptly stood up.
While spitting out phlegm-filled roars, the zombies tumbled down from the wagon.
The farmers cried out in panic.
I became utterly speechless by this scene. Hell, I was even tempted to pretend that I noticed nothing and ignore them for now.
Why was I given this gravekeeper job? Being thrown into the army would’ve been more preferable than this.
I groaned under my breath as I wielded the shovel still in my grasp. Then, I began smacking the heads of the zombies.
The first blow, second, and then, the third.
Zombies collapsed as their heads exploded. Blood splattered on my face. I scowled reflexively at this.
After wiping the blood away with the back of my hand, I lifted up the unmoving bodies.
D*mn it, this was still a part of my job.
If only my profession was a Warrior or a Barbarian… however, my current ‘job’ was that of a Necromancer. The profession that was at the height of sneaky cheapness, one that simply threw a bunch of zombies and skeletons out there and watched them fight for you.
Such was the characteristic of this ‘dark magic’ profession, meaning there was no way that my strength stat would be any good. I definitely had a weak-ass Priest’s physique. But my muscles and stamina were built up a bit by all the shovelling exercise I’ve done lately, which barely managed to prop me up until now.
“Even if we’re dealing with zombies, I’ll still feel bad if they’re damaged like this, you know.”
I tossed the corpse with the busted head down the burial pit. The farmers helped me too, sweat trickling down their faces.
Soon, most of the work was done.
Feeling tired, I sat down on a tombstone that hadn’t been set in place yet. While pretending to pull something out from a leather bag, I accessed my item window.
I pulled out a boiled potato and took a bite out of it, with bloodied hands and all. This couldn’t really be helped though–trying to wash myself before eating every time would be a waste of time.
Also, this body must’ve been sturdier than I thought, or maybe I should thank the divinity inside me. I hadn’t fallen ill once after occupying this body.
It was then that the farmers, finished with their quest to help me in my work, suddenly addressed me. They exchanged glances with each other as if they were scared of the sudden change in my mood, and then, they cautiously opened their mouths.
“I-it’s like the village has been cursed by an evil spirit. B-because, how can a plague like this one be…”
An evil spirit?
That wasn’t even funny, dude. Looks like these gullible fools got suckered into believing yet another baseless superstition here.
“W-well, Imperial Prince-nim. You’re a Priest, aren’t you? How about exorcising the evil spirit from the village…?”
Son of a gun. They were now asking me to become an exorcist too?
I frowned heavily towards the farmers as I spoke, “I’m telling you this right now, I’m a Priest only in name. And yet, you want someone like that to exorcise evil spirits? Say something that makes sense, will ya?”
Unfortunately, my job description meant that I couldn’t refuse them.
As long as I possessed divinity, I should be able to defeat all the undead in this place. However, this was a really cruel thing to ask from a 15-year-old boy.
And so, shouldn’t requesting the Paladins that showed up like clockwork every month the smarter thing to do here?
“Besides, I’m only 15 years old. Do you really want to entrust the exorcism to a 15-year-old kid?” 
The two farmers shrunk back since they also knew this point oh-so-well.
“O-of course, but, but…”
“…The lord Paladins who visited the village the last time told us to leave everything to you unless it’s a truly dangerous matter, Imperial Prince-nim.”
Those stinking Paladin as*holes.
Just as I began hurling all sorts of curses at them…
“A-also, you’ve bestowed us with blessings, haven’t you?”
“You’re an amazing Priest capable of that, so we were hoping that you could also purify the village…”
What were they on about now? I stared at the two farmers with a puzzled look on my face. They noticed my expression and spoke up again.
“After you baptised us, we weren’t struck down by the plague.”
I tilted my head after hearing them.
Well, you two just got lucky, that’s all.
“We’ve been dumped with this task, to cart around these plague-infected bodies the whole day. But then, rather than falling ill, we….”
The farmers began patting their torsos as if it was the oddest thing ever.
“It’s as if we’ve been filled with lots of energy for the past few days.”
My tilting head leaned even further to the side.
But… surely that’s because of the stamina you built up by farming?
“The injuries we suffered healed really quickly too.”
But… that’s because the folks of this world are especially sturdy, so…
“Both me and this fool, the two of us are the only survivors from our village.”
I stared at the two farmers with a dazed expression.
It had already been a week since I used the skill [Horrifying Curse/Blessing] on these two. Between then and now, about 20 corpses were brought here. Those must’ve been their fellow villagers then.
Yet, these two farmers who brought in all those plague-ridden corpses were still perfectly fine. Even right now, they weren’t wearing those cumbersome masks because they got in the way.
“The effects of making a cross the air with my hand and saying amen was that strong?”
“…Yes, it is.”
The farmers nodded their heads with certainty.
Holy cow! Dear Goddess Gaia!! Did you feel lazy like me and just haphazardly slap them with a blessing or something?
I knew it! I was wondering why so much divinity leaked out of me back then. It seemed that the blessing itself had been pretty generous, to say the least.
I crossed my arms and groaned loudly, “A skill activated all on its own, and it even has a super awesome effect, too.”
I guess it’d be better for me to raise the proficiency of my skills so that I could use them at will later. That’d be a much smarter thing to do rather than not even knowing that I somehow used my skills.
I shifted my gaze back to the farmer duo. “Did you say that you two are the only survivors? Then, where are you staying?”
“We’re currently residing in a neighbouring village.”
I massaged my forehead.
This was a job I had to do anyway, so I figured it’d be better to do it as soon as possible. And as an added bonus…
“The two of you, help me out.”
…Doing it while I had two additional helpers would be smarter, right?
The farmers became somewhat confused after hearing me, but they still nodded their heads.
“What a bloody spectacular sight this is.”
We arrived at the farmer’s old village.
30 or so shacks greeted us with a portion of them having already collapsed. There were shattered windows and broken doors; various filth and corpses littered their vicinity.
A village that would’ve had a starring role in a horror movie was waiting for us.
I observed the conditions of the corpses lying around the village. After turning one of them over, I ran my hands over the damaged parts and tilted my head.
“…Looks like he’s been bitten by something.”
Did an animal take a bite out of this corpse? No, hang on. The bite mark was too small to say that an animal did this.
I raised my head and scanned the village. “What a relief, there doesn’t seem to be any zombies around.”
The corpses found around the village were either quietly staying dead, or were far too damaged to become undead.
I looked at all the puke stains and filth scattered everywhere and scowled real deeply.
Since there were so many dead bodies around, I naturally spotted lots of rats gnawing on them too. The rodent closest to me stopped chewing a corpse and raised its head to meet my stare.
It had a disgusting stench and red eyes filled with murderous intent, as well as the faint trace of ‘demonic energy’ coming from it.
It then bared its crooked fangs and dashed towards me at a frightening turn of speed. It was so quick as if it couldn’t wait to bite the crap out of me.
I raised my shovel and then slammed it down. The rodent was sliced in half, its torn flesh bouncing around.
“What’s up with this guy?”
Even though it was in two pieces now, the rodent wasn’t dead yet. Despite ending up as a severed torso, it was still trying to bite into my leather boots.
I lifted my foot up and heavily stomped on it.
The farmers flinched at my actions and shrunk away.
I squatted down and picked up the dead rodent before glaring at the farmer duo. “This thing was a zombie. A damn undead rodent, okay? So, since when did things like this little guy begin running around in the village?”
The farmers hastily exchanged glances with each other. Then, while making perplexed expressions, they shook their heads.
“We don’t know.”
What a refreshingly honest reply that was.
“Is that information important, your highness?”
They tilted their heads.
“Well, no. Not really.”
I tossed the zombie rat away.
It wasn’t only humans who could turn into zombies. A portion of any lifeform that died near a ‘Negative Field’ would turn into an undead.
You wouldn’t turn into a zombie just because you got bitten by an undead in this world. However, if the toxin spread in you and you died from that, then sure, there was a good chance that you’d turn into one, but if not, you’d just suffer from high fever.
As long as you didn’t die, you’d naturally recover. Meaning, it was that sort of an illness, no more and no less.
“The stench is pretty intolerable though…”
This rodent, however, was no longer on the level of simple zombification. A seriously thick amount of demonic energy was permeating from within it.
Since there was so much, there was a high chance of a human dying from its bites and then turning into an undead later.
Was this thing a hundred-year old zombie rat or something? If there was only one, or maybe two of these critters around, other animals or even humans would have easily killed it off, but….
I shifted my gaze again.
I spotted pitch-black shadows coagulating around a certain collapsed shack. Dozens upon dozens of zombie rodents, all with crimson eyes, were glaring at me.
Seeing this spectacle caused my eye muscles twitch all on their own.
With such a vermin horde around, it’d been even stranger to see a village that managed to escape unscathed.
“You two, are you sure you didn’t start a vermin farm or something?”
I asked the farmers, and of course, they hurriedly shook their heads.
Once they also saw the zombie rodents, they egan stumbling backwards in pure terror.
“T-there is no way! I-it wasn’t like this a few days ago…”
“I remember now. You said that you left this village, didn’t you?”
The farmers quickly nodded their heads.
“E-even if this place is our h-home village, e-everyone was a-already dying from the p-plague, w-who’d want to stay here? Our f-families have left t-this world a long time ago a-already, t-this i-is why we didn’t have any reasons to s-stay put. W-we’re currently staying in the n-neighbouring village.”
“They readily accepted you two?”
“Y-yes. In turn, the village tasked us with delivering those who died from the plague.”
Oh, so that’s why you were accepted.
Seriously, man. There’s so many things I’ve gotta do now.
I glared back at the zombie rodents. “Well, there’s your evil spirit. Not only that, they’re pretty dreadful ones at that too.”
Hundreds of zombie rats opened their eyes wider. And then, the horde began to dash towards us. My sole weapon was the shovel in my hand. Unfortunately, it’d be impossible to fight them with just this.
“I-Imperial Prince-nim, run…!”
While glaring at them, I stabbed the shovel into the ground.
I sucked in a deep breath, and as whitish air exhaled out of my mouth, I muttered out the name of a skill.
“[Swamp of Death].”
< 003. Imperial Prince is a Gravekeeper -2 > Fin.