Rumors that a necromancer had wound up in the forest near one of the border villages of the Grifarim Empire had been circulating for a long time. But those rumors were indistinct. Well, necromancer. Well, he sits in his castle in the wilderness. He does not raise an army of zombies, he does not set liches on people. And the fact that the sky above the castle sometimes shines with green light, so maybe he celebrates his thousandth birthday there. But when a panting peasant fell into the village council, shouting about the rebellious graveyard, those in power realized that it was time to do something about it. They sent a request to the headquarters of the Imperial Inquisition, and there, apparently, having decided to show the villagers power and protection, they equipped a rather large detachment. The Order of the Illuminati also volunteered to participate in the mission, having allocated the best specialist in the undead to lead the fighters. It was rumored that this specialist was from some terribly ancient family, but he himself did not particularly spread about his family tree.
The valiant fighters against the undead entered the village at sunrise. With valiant kicks they woke up the headman, valiantly destroyed the weekly supply of food in the tavern and, taking a guide, went to the necromancer’s castle.
The castle was not a castle at all. No formidable towers, no moat with crocodiles, no hordes of armed undead around. More precisely, there were undead, only at the sight of her the soldiers of the Empire lowered their swords and scratched under their helmets in puzzlement. Dressed in some kind of aprons, zombies with choppers, shovels and rakes were weeding neat beds of turnips, cabbages and carrots surrounding a pretty mansion. Fruit orchards were green at some distance. The dead workers paid no attention to the armed inquisitors, but exactly until the moment when one of the soldiers left the path and stepped on the garden. At the same moment, the zombies closest to the intruder raised their tool and moved towards him.
– Fight undead! – Perplexed by what they saw, the fighters with the undead finally felt themselves in their native element, drew their swords and rushed at the enemy with a whoop. Shod boots turned garden vegetables into lettuce, weapons shredded zombies. But in place of one fallen, ten fresh dead came. And even the dead farmers cut into pieces tried to annoy the detachment. Hands tangled under feet, heads biting into boots. All this spoke of the great power of the necromancer.
The turning point in the battle came at the moment when the battle moved to the fruit trees. One of the inquisitors missed the zombies and drove his sword deep into the trunk of a nearby apple tree…
… And the earth shook. Over the fields and gardens, a howl that bound the body and soul swept through, in which something like “THIS IS APPLES FOR LIQUOR!!!” was heard!
The sky above the mansion quickly darkened. A crowd of heavily armed zombies ran out of the main doors. To the surprise of the warriors, who were preparing to fall in battle, the dead simply surrounded a detachment of people, disarmed, tied them up and kicked them into the house. Apparently, the necromancer needed victims for godless rituals.
The house was literally drowning in luxury. And in magic. Hundreds of candles burned with a greenish magic flame on the walls and under the ceiling, their flame reflected from precious vases, the sound of footsteps was drowned out by luxurious carpets. In the main reception hall, over a huge fireplace, hung a painting depicting an elderly aristocratess wearing a crown. When looking at the canvas, the Illuminati knight turned pale for some reason, groaned and began to look around nervously.
– Riiiiiichaaaaaaaard!!! – A raspy voice was accompanied by the creak of wheels. Two very fresh zombies wheeled a huge luxurious wheelchair into the hall. In the chair sat a corpse, judging by its appearance, very ancient. There was no flesh left on the bones, but a luxurious pigtail hung from the skull. Another scythe, only a combat one, was in the hands of the corpse. The crown on the skull betrayed in the corpse the same aristocratess from the picture.
– Riiiichaaaaard!!! – The corpse’s finger pointed at the squad leader. – So you are cutting my apples trees, fool! You’re trampling cabbage! May be you and your friends let onto a salad? – The scythe in the hand of the dead aristocratess swayed menacingly, and blades protruded from the wheels of the gurney.
– S-s-sorry. And who are you, exactly? – Richard was recovering from shock, but clearly with difficulty.
– Who am I?!! You don’t recognize your ancestors, you bitch’s giblets? In front of you is the duchess Nikta von Schwartz. Your great-great-great-great-grandmother.
– But you…
The scythe whistled past the Richard von Schwartz’s top of the head in half-finger distance.
– Not “you”, but “Your Grace”! Or now I will have one less descendant. Ohhh, this modern young ones! In our time, for this, you would sit on the glacier for a week.
– Your Grace, you have been dead for three hundred years. You were buried by the grace of Emrys, mourning was arranged. You lay down in the damp ground …
– As lay down, so got up. Why lie in the ground in vain, you yourself say, damp. Bad for bones.
– And the garden? Yard? You don’t eat it.
– Oh, heaven gave descendants, they don’t understand in a banal economy. Food can not only be eaten, but also sold. Or do you think that I’m all of this … – Nikta made a sweeping gesture with a scythe – … conjured? I can, perhaps, but why? It is more pleasant to keep real things in the house. More questions, baby?
– What is with the cemetery?
– Are you completely stupid or is it my guys that beaten you like that with a rake? The household is growing, more workers are needed. You are walking around here, spoiling the garden beds. By the way… – Duchess von Schwartz clicked her knuckles, and zombies with aprons and garden tools entered the hall. – Since you are my descendant, live, so be it. But your fellows ruined half of my harvest. So rake in hand, hands in feet and march to corrective labor! Work for a week and I’ll let you go.
– But Your…
– Two weeks! Get out of my sight until you got stuck for a month!
Zombie servants wheeled the chair with Duchess Nikta von Schwartz deep into the house, and the valiant warriors picked up hoes and rakes and wandered dejectedly into the garden. Along the way, they agreed among themselves never to tell anyone about this mission.