“There’s no reason for this!” Corbin screamed with fury, his voice echoing in the catacombs. Lisbeth’s mind was ablaze with fear and panic. The others looked on without idea of what to do. Silence returned to the crypt for a minute or two until the eyes of the corpse snapped open once more. It inhaled sharply, the party recoiled in surprise at the sudden movement.

Mia’s father opened his mouth and the sound of six different people came out, “Where am I?” 

“Back to a place that you left by the laws of nature,” Corbin answered angrily. Lisbeth shot him a look at would make a dragon roll over.

“This may be tough to deal with, but you died and I’ve given you life once more,” Lisbeth told him, her voice trembling a bit. Knowledge of resurrection had been reserved for the most elite members of her order. She felt lucky to have figured it out on her own. What if they found out, though…  she thought.

The corpse’s voices were no less shocking a second time, “Back from the dead? I don’t remember what happened…” A look of perplexity adorned his face. The hair on the back of Crysx’s neck stood on end at the sound of this tortured soul. Lisbeth informed him that his memory should return shortly.

Crysx cleared his throat and explained the situation; who they were and why they were in this part of the empire. He explained that they were here to help and that his daughter  was just outside. The man’s expression changes int he blink of an eye. Flailing about in an attempt to stand up, he realized his body was atrophied from the long sleep of death. Lisbeth eased him back down, informing him that he needed to rest for a bit before leaving. She didn’t say it, but there was a lingering fear of using healing magic on the newly resurrected body. There was no way to tell if the cursed mark would interfere with her spells, and she didn’t want to find out. In an awkward silence, they all waited for his body to heal enough to the point where movement was manageable.

“We never got your name, good sir,” Tiberius probed. He informed them that is name was Frederick. Pleased that his memory was returning quickly, Lisbeth started to ask him about what had happened.

“The winter came so fast, and it came angry. We didn’t have enough wood so I was outside splitting some for the stove. I heard someone trudging through the snow and simply thought it was Mia. I didn’t bother to look up, she likes to come outside and talk with me as I work. Sometimes it interferes with the work she has to get done, but I don’t mind. My daughter is my life. What kind of father would I be if I always turned her away?” He started to trail off.

Lisbeth cleared her throat, “The sooner we get through this, the sooner you can see Mia again.” Frederick composed himself and continued.

“I said something to who I thought was Mia, just to start a conversation really. They didn’t answer, but kept coming toward me. Being the soft spoken woman she is, I didn’t think much of it. Before I knew what had happened, someone struck me on the back of the head and, in a flash, I was on my back. Everything was blurry, I couldn’t see who it was but they were large. A sharp pain across my throat followed by a warm, wet feeling and then nothing.” It was hard to tell where Frederick was looking without any pigmentation to his eyes. It made speaking to him uncomfortable.

“At least we know this threat is humanoid and intelligent. It’s more than we had before. Maybe they can be reasoned with,” Tiberius said hopefully.

“If we’ve learned one thing on this journey, it’s that things don’t immediately want to reason,” Crysx mumbled to himself.

The group decided it was time to head out. Frederick was able to pull himself to his feet and walk autonomously. Towards the entrance from which they came, something caught Corbin’s eye. The skeletons in the walls were different from the ones deeper in the catacombs, something that was only apparent when revisiting the more shallow parts. Being towards the back of the group, it was easy for him to slow down and examine the specimen. Broad shoulders, long arms and legs, tusks on the lower jaw. This skeleton is a half-orc. This new piece of the puzzle only made him excited, there had to be a reason for it. He decided to poke around a bit more, only to find that most, if not all, the skeletons in this part of the catacombs were half-orcs. I wonder when things changed. Humans are an invasive species, something tells me this has a lot to do with why we’re here. His friends interrupted his analysis, asking if everything was all right. Nodding quickly, he left the puzzle pieces to join his friends.

When they reached the top of the steps, Crysx told Frederick to stay behind while him and Lisbeth went to go talk to Mia.

 

“I don’t understand,” she complained. “What do you mean my father is with you?”

Lisbeth inhaled frustratedly, pinching the bridge of her nose. “I tried to put it lightly, but it seems this isn’t working. I resurrected your father. The problem is that he had a cursed mark cut into him, it messed my spell up. He’s alive, he has his memory but he looks a little disturbing. Just try to show you’re happy to see him. Okay?” The girl nodded sheepishly at Lisbeth’s frustration.

When Frederick walked through the threshold and greeted his daughter, she fainted.

“Family reunions can be hard sometimes…” Tiberius said, trying to lighten the mood.

 

 

Stay Metal \m/