“Well, if it isn’t Laladi.”
It was when she was standing in the middle of the forest that Laladi was approached by Kühling, a fellow member of Yelquchira. While it could hardly be claimed that any of the guild’s members got along particularly well, the level of familiarity changed from one person to another.
It was rather fortunate then that, even though Laladi and Kühling had no love lost between them, their animosity… wasn’t quite lethal in its toxicity. They were perfectly capable of holding a good old-fashioned conversation, at the very least.
“Why did you come here?”
“I heard that some fool was trying to get closer to the Master and got a little ahead of myself. I wanted to chase him down and kill him. But I see that you’ve gotten to him before I could.”
Kühling spared a fleeting glance towards Doss as he laid on the ground. Blood clung to his body, and his whole frame appeared twisted and beaten.
Even more of Doss’ blood dripped down from the branches of nearby trees. The trees, their duties carried out, had been replanted, sent back to where they had originally been growing,
“How’d you know he was gonna be here…? Righ. Lala remembers now. You’re working with the Demon Lord’s army for now, aren’t you?”
“In a way, yes.”
Laladi had grasped the answer to her own question, even before she could ask it properly. She had remembered their regular meeting, when every guild member had, despite their staggering differences, taken the time to discuss matters among themselves.
Kühling had made it known that she had allied herself with the Demon Lord’s troops for the time being. That wasn’t to say, of course, that she had betrayed the guild… or their master, in any way.
No, had that been the case, then Laladi would have willingly, happily even, seen to it that Kühling would be pushing up daisies. Truth be told, it was far more likely that Kühling would never forgive herself for her own betrayal. Their devotion to the Master, though it went largely unrecognized, was massive enough to break through the skies themselves.
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“So, tell me. Did he do something to hurt the Master?”
“Nothin’. It’s not like a pip-squeak like this could ever hurt the Master anyway. And besides, as long as Lala’s around, nothing’s gonna happen to Master. But still… those orcs did get too close to him, that’s true. Lala took care of them.”
“You don’t say…”
Kühling’s eyes went dead once she’d heard what Laladi had to say. Did the bastard have any idea how much effort she’d put into getting close to the Master?
He hadn’t, and yet he had deemed it fit to let his grimy, filthy orcs approach the Master. Even death wasn’t enough to make her forgive his sins. So, Kühling decided to introduce Doss to her own strain of harassment.
She held her hand over Doss’ corpse, letting light flood over him. When one thought of light, they generally conjured up the image of some bright, warm thing in their minds.
Contrarily, Kühling’s brand of light left behind impressions of a pitch-black cold. Doss, his cadaver bathed in that very same light, underwent an astounding transformation.
Doss, though having been killed by means of Laladi and her ability to let the trees move at her whim, slowly began to rise up. Despite that, no one could say that he had been revived per se.
For one thing, the grave wounds that littered his body, courtesy of the trees, hadn’t healed. In fact, a quick look confirmed that he had only decomposed even further. Laladi said the first thing that came to mind.
“A ghoul, huh…?”
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“Right on the money.”
Kühling’s chest swelled with pride, and she chuckled boastfully. Laladi, despite her best efforts to avert her eyes from the sway of her large bosom, failed to do so and clicked her tongue. Kühling had brought Doss back to life, resurrecting him as the monstrous creature known as a ghoul.
“Yikes… That’s pretty harsh, don’t you think?”
“How else am I supposed to make him see the weight of his actions? This is what he gets for letting filthy orcs get so close to the Master.”
Though her actions were enough to make Laladi reel back, if only lightly, Kühling saw them through without so much as twitching.
Laladi mused that she was just venting her anger and frustration at never finding it in herself to be honest around the Master, though she didn’t openly say as much.
She considered Kühling to be in the same boat as Sorglos, another affiliate of hers that had fought off the joint forces of the nearby lands; namely, in that they were both vile fiends that cared little for the means as long as they met their ends. Laladi gave a sigh.
She was, naturally, completely blind to the fact that she had beaten a man to death simply for letting orcs get into close proximity to her Master.
“So, a ghoul… that kind of ghoul, right?”
“What other kind is there?”
Ghouls were a kind of monster that could be brought about through one of the many methods required to raise creatures after their death and to let them shamble about as living carcasses. The soul of any creature turned into a ghoul would be held in its monstrous form, forever unable to cross over to the afterlife.
Their spirit would never rest, not until a guild or a group of knights came by to subjugate them. Otherwise, they would only wander for eternity, locked away in some cold abyss.
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If the ghoul had been weak in life, then it wasn’t too hard to do away with it. But Doss, now a ghoul, had once been a lieutenant in the forces of the Demon Lord, and his power matched his title.
His defeat would be anything but simple. When it would come to pass that Doss would truly die, no one could say.
“By the way, Lala didn’t know you could use that sort of magic, Kühling. I always thought it was more you-know-who’s specialty.”
“You’re right, that’s who I picked it up from in the first place. Still, my spell isn’t nearly as perfect as hers. I’m sure she wouldn’t even need to lock his soul away as a ghoul. If she put her mind to it, she could probably seal it off as is.”
The face of another member of Yelquchira popped into their heads. Someone incredibly devoted to their Master… her devotion was so overpowering, in fact, that it was much more akin to complete reliance on his existence.
Had she been aware of their little situation, she would have likely simply ripped Doss’ soul from his body and made his life hell by wearing it out until it had completely dissipated. Well, they supposed that the other girls in the guild were almost as dependent on the Master as she was.
“Phew… Well, Lala’s goin’ back to her date with Master.”
Now that the vegetation she had propped up to keep an eye out had come back with pertinent information regarding Maho’s suspicions, she felt the need to return to the Master as quickly as she could to protect him. In doing so, however, she had needlessly agitated Kühling.
Though she was aware that she might invoke unwanted attention from the other members of the guild, she was just far too happy to have the Master all to herself to care, and Kühling, strong-willed as she was, refused to back down without a fight.
“Oh please, you’re the only one who thinks it’s a date. The Master only thinks he’s helping you learn to walk right.”
“Love can blossom from the little things, you know.”
“You’re so dead, you pint-sized whore.”
“That’s my line, cowtits.”