New Grind, Same Problems

Chapter 2: Graveyard Shift Part 3

They would journey for several miles, and it was mostly uneventful. The forest was pretty at least. A bit…chaotic though, due to the influence of magic. One small chunk may have a lot of red plants due to a larger amount of phosphorus in the soil from fire spells being directed at that area. Another chunk may be overgrown, poisonous, and thick with creatures that make a man nervous.

And another may hide a grave secret. They begin to see groups of undead, all approaching the same area. A hidden factory, deep in the forest. It stands fifty feet tall, and spans across a ten thousand foot area. Its made of black stone, and appears to be surrounded in a dark purple dome of energy.

Its almost night now, with the sun setting. They stop on a large hill that oversees the area, and crouch down.

”It looks like theyve got a dome of concealment over that factory. ” August says calmly.

”Something like that. Ive got a decent idea to start this off. ” Lucius says calmly.

”Im curious. ” August says calmly.

”Im going to hijack one of these zombies- ” Lucius says calmly.

”I thought they were undead. ” August says sarcastically.

Lucius rolls his eyes.

”These zombies are clearly being forced to do this. So they
e zombies, not undead. ” Lucius says annoyedly.

”So its fine if you take them over then? Aren you just as bad as the necromancers then? ” August teases.

Lucius glares at August. August smiles mischievously back.

”Quit arguing with me over semantics. I can already tell you don care about the dead. ” Lucius says annoyedly.

August shrugs and chuckles.

”Yeah, sorry. I couldn help myself. ” she says warmly.

”Anyway, Im going to hijack someone, and use them for some reconnaissance. ” Lucius says annoyedly.

August gives a thumbs up.

Lucius takes a deep breath, and focuses on creating a small green flame in his hands. Then he makes a finger gun, and fires it off at a zombie. A young man with a large hole in his chest specifically.

It hits his back, and becomes absorbed into it within seconds. And his eyes begin to faintly glow green, the only sign that Lucius is in control.

He makes the zombie walk inside the fortress.

”Are there any identifying signs you can see through the zombie? ” August asks calmly.

”Like what? ” Lucius asks calmly.

”Company logos, strange runes, pictures of Employee of the Month, just anything that can be a lead. ” August explains calmly.

”So just anything thats shiny, gotcha. ” Lucius says sarcastically.

August rolls her eyes.

Theres a thick line of zombies just shoving their way through a double door opening. It appears the doors were knocked off earlier, probably by these zombies. Its just an entrance hall, with a secretarys desk at the end of the hall. Through another set of double doors, they enter a factory floor. And its filled to the brim with zombies working to the literal bone, with chunks of their flesh falling off and covering the floor all around.

It appears the factory is making swords, based on the smelters and large amount of anvils and blacksmithing tools lying around. Theres no care for safety though. Molten metal spills onto a zombie and they don blink, even when their dry flesh causes them to burst literally in flames. Then an actual living mage appears to rush down from an office upstairs on the third floor, and shoot torrents of snow onto the flames.

Lucius begins to grind his teeth. August chuckles amusedly.

”You really care about these undead huh? ” August asks amusedly.

”Why shouldn I? They were people once, and most of them probably didn die too long ago. Especially the guy Im in right now. ” Lucius says angrily.

”I understand, but why get so emotional? They
e dead. If I could be of use when I was, Id be happy about it. ” August says amusedly.

”Really? If I told you the factory floor was covered in rotten flesh, youd be happy your corpse is working there? ” Lucius snaps angrily.

August gags and coughs from how repulsive the thought is.

”Okay, maybe its bad. Sorry for playing devils advocate. ” August says regretfully.

Lucius flips August off, then returns to focusing on his zombie. He tries to have him wander in another room, but almost immediately the mage that was putting out the zombie starts pointing at him. Lucius decides to focus on learning more, and enters the next room. He sees lines of zombies walking into a smelter, and being melted inside. Necromancers in black robes with their hoods up surround the smelter, and chant demonic words to a spell. As they chant and more zombies fall in, the molten metal turns from a bright orange to a sinister dark purple and black. Suddenly, the mage who noticed this zombie before grabs him by the back of the neck, and starts filling the zombie with his own mana. Lucius decides to let him have the zombie, and gives up almost immediately.

Lucius cuts off the connection and smacks a fist furiously into the ground.

”They
e **ing using the zombies as fuel to make cursed weapons, and other zombies to make the damn things. Fucking bastards. ” Lucius curses furiously.

”Woah, easy buddy. Getting loud and offensive there. Lets calm it down, we
e right outside this place. ” August says nervously.

”I didn see much beyond the place is packed with zombies. I don think my distraction would last long with that many. ” Lucius says angrily.

”Wait, you didn see much? You were caught? ” August says urgently.

”Yeah, they noticed my zombie wasn controlled by them almost immediately. Probably cause I just wandered around. ” Lucius says annoyedly.

August tilts her head back and groans with pure annoyance.

”Great, they know someones here. But we can make this work. ” August says annoyedly. ”How far can you shoot your flames? ” she asks calmly.

”A few hundred feet, why? ” Lucius asks calmly.

”Alright, we can do a ranged battle. We have the high ground, I need you to summon as many of your ancestors as you can. ” August says quickly.

”Alright, Im on it. ” Lucius says quickly.

Lucius stands up and pulls out three femur bones and throws them on the ground. He snaps his fingers, and they begin to shake, cracks forming. And muscle, skin, more bones, and hair ooze out of the cracks as they form a person together. August gags a little, but manages to handle herself. Shes seen death before.

”Is this really all you have? ” August says nervously.

”My ancestors are strong, don disrespect them. ” Lucius says annoyedly.

Eventually, after many disturbing bone cracks, meat squelches, and pained breathing, three interesting figures appear before them.

From left to right, there is a tall man in steel plate armor, carrying a serrated black greatsword. His helmet has been sculpted to emulate a wolf, and he bears the crest of Alpheriuss army. A double headed eagle wearing crowns, and in its claws it holds a flaming sword.

There is a woman wearing a black veil, and thick white makeup covers her face. She wears black robes covered in stars, with strange green and blue tentacles connecting the stars. And she wields a large staff with a green jade crystal on the end, sculpted to look like the face of a strange, eldritch creature. This creature has twelve eyes, a circular mouth filled with fangs, and inside that mouth is a tiny red crystal with a sinister red aura. Its body is like a snakes, and winds down the shaft of the staff.

And finally there is an old man in blue overalls and a straw hat. He wields a large, enchanted farmers fork. The enchantment covers it in a blue tint.

”So Im happy about these two, ” August says calmly, pointing at the two on the left. ”But this guys a literal normal guy. ” she says skeptically.

”Hey, you leave Uncle Bob alone. He is a vicious animal. I once saw him take on a pack of wolves by himself with just that fork. ” Lucius says angrily.

Suddenly, a gunshot is heard. They both turn and see down below, men in dark clothing with weapons have stepped out from the factory, and are taking potshots at them as they approach.

”Lucius, make your ancestors march down. Then find a good position and open fire. ” August states firmly.

”Yes maam. ” Lucius says sarcastically.

Lucius snaps his fingers, and his ancestors start jogging down the hill. August takes cover behind a nearby tree, and pulls out her revolver. Lucius does the same with a different tree.

Lucius starts firing small green fireballs wildly at their enemies down below, while August takes careful shots. Its a good combination, as it keeps the enemies suppressed while someone can actually kill something.

”This will have to do until the ancestors close the distance. ” August thinks annoyedly.

She turns to Lucius, and ponders.

”Hows your ability to be a conduit for your undead? ” August asks calmly.

”Im good, why? ” Lucius asks tensely.

August holds her wand out, pointed at Lucius. A white clock appears on the end of it, and begins to spin clockwise wildly. Lucius becomes covered in a thin, white aura. And soon, so do his ancestors. Lucius stares in awe as August manages a minor, but significant feat nonetheless.

”That was a primal spell! Time magic! ” Lucius says quickly with awe.

”Shut up. It was just a basic spell to help turn the tide sooner. ” August says tiredly.

The spell took a good chunk of Augusts mana. She drinks a basic, Tier Two Mana potion to recover her mana. It tastes like a sports drink, but if a terrible cook managed to burn this liquid.

The ancestors move exactly 25% faster, which is honestly not that much for two of them. But for the strange woman, it was enough.

She mutters and growls in a strange, eldritch tongue. Her staffs eyes glow bright red, and a darkness begins to form inside its mouth. Then she manipulates the darkness created by the factory. The enemies own shadows grow out from the ground as thick, black blobby men that barely resemble their counterparts. They would wrap their hands around their throats, and pull them in close. The ooze would then attempt to absorb them entirely.

August whistles with an impressed tune.

”Hmm, thats a good spell. Can your ancestor teach me that? ” August says happily.

”Yeah, good luck with that. Youd have to do a lot of sacrifices to her for that. ” Lucius says amusedly. ”And she likes worms for some reason. ” he says with a mix of confusion and slight disgust.

August begins walking down the hill, spinning her revolver on a finger with a smug smile. Lucius hesitantly peeks out from his tree.

”Hey, you sure its fine to go down? ” Lucius asks anxiously.

”They
e all being taken care of, what could be the problem? ” August says with amused confidence.

Lucius begins to nervously walk down the hill as his ancestors finally get within melee range of the enemy, with exception to the strange woman. She stayed a few dozen feet away from the factory.

The knight heaves his greatsword like a baseball bat, and swings a hard left slash through five struggling men. Their corpses barely manage to spew any blood on his armor or the walls before the shadow men absorb them. Upon completion, their bodies morph into near identical versions of the men. The key difference is that they have a shadowy aura, and their eyes are black with purple irises.

”Heh, doesn this count as a zombie Lucius? ” August teases amusedly.

”I can control her, the womans a demon. ” Lucius says nervously.

The strange woman chuckles, and for some reason it sounds distorted as she does. It makes her laugh scarier than it should be, considering its high pitched.

Luciuss eyes suddenly widen with shock.

”I can sense they
e doing a mass order with all those zombies! They
e going to make them all come out and attack us! ” Lucius yells fearfully.

August strokes her chin as Lucius pulls on his hair anxiously. The groans of zombies begin to be heard, and become louder by the second.

”How many of those zombies could you steal Lucius? ” August asks calmly.

”Ummm, maybe like twenty. ” Lucius says nervously.

”What about your nice aunt? ” August asks calmly.

”I can do around fifty, maybe more if I focus on weaklings. ” the ”Nice Aunt ” says warmly.

”Thatll do. Ill need you all to make a stand here, while I sneak through the chaos and find the necromancers in charge of these guys. Then Ill kill them, and these guys should all drop. ” August explains calmly.

”I don know if we should split up. You could be hurt. ” Lucius says nervously.

”Ill be fine. Im a powerful mage, and you have a bunch of undead and zombies, so quit worrying. ” August says curtly.

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