It was only near midnight that Khozak and his group finally reached the city of Ronta. The faces of everyone began to brighten up and this useless mission had come to an end. They could get that free drink promised, sleep into a warm bed and relax.
One could see a caravan stuck at the North Gate and some people waiting behind to enter the city. Of course, thanks to the fact that they were adventurers, they didn't need to pass the security checks. And they didn't need to wait in the queue either. The passer-by, seeing a group dodging the wait, began to protest. The guard noticed it but when they saw and recognized Khozak, they returned toward the caravan. Only the captain went toward them.
"Good night Khozak, how was the mission? I heard that you went into a cave full of undead, any treasures?"
While he was saying that to satisfy his curiosity, for the unlucky group it was a reminder of their "treasure". As the chief, Khozak couldn't make the same face that his companions but, inside he was no better.
"Quite easy, we found some stuff, a chest."
"A chest, excellent. I hope he was filled, be a shame to be empty."
The only thing that they wanted now was to shut up that damn captain. They got an empty chest so stop talking about it.
"Don't worry about this, can we go now? We are quite tired."
"Yes, of course. Let them pass!"
The city that should be bustling with activities and people was totally deserted at that time of the day. Only late arrivals like them and the few merchants could be seen. Unfortunately, that means no blacksmith, no repairs, no traders to buy food and water. The only stuff they could do was going to an inn for rooms or to a pub for a drink. They chose the latter while Khozak and Richard will be turning the mission. It was a direct demand from the guild master of Ronta and to be reported as quickly as possible. He will not be pleased to wake up in the middle of the night but it was a lich problem. That kind of thing only demand the best of the best and in this city, they were part of it. They couldn't hold a candle to some of the groups from the capital but till it's not a problem with a strength of a dragon, they could do it.
They entered the Adventurer Guild and didn't even see the receptionist. They were left with no choice than to wait for her to come back. Or him. They shift every twelve hours so maybe it was the transition. Most of the time they take some task in the morning and turn them in the evening. So they see both receptionists. But Audrea was the daughter of Lansco the guild master, while Martin was just an employee. If she was there, it would be easier.
After a few minutes, the sound of a door was heard in the building and the berserk and holy knight saw a human walking in, with a bottle in his hands. They were a little disappointed but quickly called Martin.
"Hey, Martin, can you take us to the guild master bedroom?"
"Yes, but why?"
"You remember the special mission we got this morning, we completed it and want to report it to Lansco."
"Ok, just let me get the keys of the room and drop this before he sees it." Martin said while pointing his hands
The building was composed of 3 floors, the basement, the ground floor and the first floor. The basement was essentially used for storage. The ground floor was where the adventurers could grab the missions, search details about monsters thanks to the library nearby and report the status of their missions to the receptionists. The first floor was occupied in half by the guild master and his family with the rest being the storage of either valuables components or information. The ones that not everybody should have access. One could ask why the guild master has that much power. The answer is basically to trust. Lansco is a dwarf, one of the strongest dwarf, but he is still only a guild master of a remote city.
The reason is the pact signed by both human and dwarf, between the holy kingdom of Aria and the Grey Mountain kingdom. The world is filled by so much threat that such pacts are signed between races with common interests. The world is divided between the civilized races, like the human, elf, gnomes and Halfling and the so-called monster, like the orc, the goblin, the spider, the troll and the undead. Of course, on some occasions, one can see a human trades with orcs, a dwarf negotiates with a lich. But that doesn't represent 0,1% of the interaction between the two races.
Going back toward the current situation, Martin finally unlocked the door of the guild master bedroom. And get instantly knocked-out by a hammer. Khozak, fearing that his turn will come, shouted right after that.
"Lansco! Lansco! Stop it's us, you hit Martin!"
"What? What kind of stupid idea you humans have brew into your brains? Why are you unlocking my room like some kind of thief? In the middle of the night?"
"It was the lich mission, you said to report immediately and here we are." Said the panicked berserker.
"That's true, but you still disrupted my sleep."
Lansco searched a drawer and pull out a potion.
"Give that to Martin, he is lucky that I didn't hit with the intention to kill."
Both Richar and Khozak, seeing the bloody skull of the poor receptionist, were glad that they signaled themselves quickly enough.
"So about it, was it really a lich? Did you clear the entire cave?"
"Yes, no more undead remaining but that was the weakest lich I have ever seen, here take a look at the core."
At this word, Richard took the monster core off his bag and give it to the dwarf. He examined the core for 2 to 3 minutes before sighing.
"You're right, I barely feel the influence of a lich. The frost aura isn't even properly constructed; one doesn't even fear death near it. If I have to guess, I say it's a lich that has less than 10 years."
"We feel the same way, we beat it in 10 seconds and the worst spell the monster knew was [Minor Fireball]."
"I don't know if it's good or bad for you. It's good because you didn't suffer during the fact but it's bad because its core is worthless, I can't sell that as a lich core. If I do it, my reputation will suffer."
"Same story with the body."
The two adventurers were now totally depressed. They killed a lich, but for that, they got an empty chest, a clean skeleton and a useless core. Even the bounty for the mission was only 10 gold because the presence of the lich was not confirmed. But the word body clearly interested the dwarf.
"You have the body with you, great that I can definitely sell it."
Unfortunately, the only answer he got was two pair of eyes void of any happiness. And he understood why after seeing the clean and white skeleton.
"Don't, don't tell me …"
"Yes, it is."
"It's the body of the lich."
"But that's impossible, did you burn it, the flesh of a lich is resistant against rotting and magic, except with an [Inferno], you can't destroy it that easily. That's not like you ate it."
When they heard that, they understood that it didn't decay. But how could the flesh be gone before they come back from the treasure trove? What if they missed a corpse-eater? Lansco didn't know, but after getting depressed by the empty chest, they came back to the city without checking the rest of the cave. With cold sweats, Richard asked.
"There is not a lot of undead that eats bodies, right?"
"Yes, since they are undead, it would be cannibalism, the most common is a ghoul." Answered the dwarf.
"And if he ghoul eat the body of a lich?"
"That would be awful, extremely dangerous, the body of a lich is extremely potent with magic. That ghoul can directly evolve into a matriarch ghoul with a little bit of luck."
"And that monster is worse than a lich?"
"Absolutely, a lich, most of the time, stays inside his lair and researches magic, designs some spells. A matriarch ghoul will attack his surrounding and use the dead to create more ghouls. Those same ghouls, after eating the corpse of powerful foes will evolve too and, with time, create more matriarch. I would rather have 20 liches surrounding me than a single matriarch. Why are you asking those questions?"
Lansco was perplexed, they were talking about a lich, why did they switch the subject towards ghouls? As for the adventurers, they were terrified. They said that they cleared the cave, but after killing the lich, they supposed that no other undead was present. In their minds, they have already destroyed Ronta by their own hands. They immediately rushed towards the exit, without even grabbing the bounty of the mission. They only wanted to grab the 5 alcoholics in the pub and rush back to that cave. Before they provoked the ruin of this region.
They found their companions in the Thirsty Warrior. Without even explaining why they grabbed them and threw them out of the building. After that, without anyone else surrounding them listening, they explained how bad the situation was. When the rest of the group understood that point, they too began to rush toward the North Gate. Maybe if they were quick enough, they could reach the lich lair before midday.
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