82 The Price for Arrogance and Carelessness
Clay was floating in the skies of Evernight as he tried to contain his fury. He had the urge to kill Marduke for the spell he unleashed but realized that it was his fault for even allowing the Lich to cast the spell. His arrogance in thinking that nothing the Lich threw at him would work on him backfired and ended in disaster for his people.
At first, Clay hadn't considered the men of Evernight as his people. They were merely pawns that needed to work hard to release themselves from the torment of the Grand Liches' rule. However, after a few years of working on them and with them, he slowly changed his way of thinking. He cherished these people as his own army. He did not train them like he did his retainers, however, the amount of battles that these men faced for the past years could be said to have exceeded even the battle experience of Caltec and the rest.
Every day, they had to fight with their lives on the line only relying on the equipment and the minimal training that Clay had given them.
Thinking about the men he lost this time grieved him terribly. And the guilt that came with it almost consumed him with anger. However, Clay also knew that he would not be able to bring them back unless he knew how to recall souls or if he could even reproduce their souls from being devoured.
So, he knew what he had to do. He had to visit one last Grand Lich and extract information out of him.
He was the one who delved into souls that retained their memories and even their experiences in life, albeit enslaved to Ackers. He had to know the secret to his necromancy to fully utilize it in accordance to his will as well.
"I have to stay cool. I don't need to kill him." Clay decided to pay Ackers a visit and instantly, he disappeared from the skies of Evernight and into the dark lair of Ackers.
Ackers place looked exactly like what a barracks would look like. He stayed at a separate place to rest, however, most of the time, he would be staying at the training field where he would train his soldiers day in and day out. These soldiers needed no sleep nor food and drink, and their stamina was inexhaustible. This enabled Ackers to train these undead soldiers all-year-round without worrying about fatigue and overtaxing the body.
As Ackers was resting in his tent, Clay silently appeared behind him.
Ackers was quite sensitive to the living, especially to those who possessed strong souls. So, although Clay appeared silently, he noticed Clay and even prepared himself to defend himself if Clay attacked. He was waiting for it and acting as if he had not noticed, however, Clay did not attack nor did he move.
It was Ackers himself who broke the stalemate and greeted the "guest."
"To what pleasure do I owe this visit?" Asked Ackers, vigilance in his voice. Ackers was a body taller than Clay. His armor was living armor, which meant that he could not take it off even if he wanted to. Which added to his look of ferocity. The armor he wore was decorated with skulls and dark pigment. If Clay stood at 6 feet, then Ackers stood at 11 to 12 feet. He was basically a giant. Yet this giant knew how dangerous this puny human in front of him was.
Even until he asked the question, Clay stayed silent. A few seconds later, Clay's head snapped up as he stared at Ackers face armor. Ackers' eyes were pale blue, as he was a Deathknight. Originally, his body was only as tall as Clay, however, when he absorbed more souls and leveled up into the Grand Arch Deathknight that he was currently, his body grew and even his eyes changed color and glow.
"I need your Grimoire. Hand it over." Clay was obviously fighting the urge to just end this ant in front of him and taking the Grimoire for himself, however, he learned that there are things he could learn from having a conversation with others, case in point, Elkanor.
Ackers heard this command-like tone and immediately, the air around him changed. He was mad. He never took too kindly upon humiliation and especially against those that seek to order him around. Ackers was on the verge of assaulting Clay despite his caution earlier.
"Don't make me kill you, ant. I merely seek your Grimoire and nothing else. Make a move and I'll take more than what I came for." Clay released a hint of his magic energy outside and instantly, the air that felt refreshing a second ago, now felt as heavy as iron weighing down on Ackers and even those outside the tents.
Clay had no time to waste with arguing with Ackers who obviously did not have a tinge of brilliance in terms of his brain power. So, Clay scanned the whole barracks and found a soldier who was holding on to a conspicuous book bigger than half of his body.
Clay extended his telekinetic grasp to grab the soldier and brought him forcibly inside the tent they were in. Arriving inside, Clay immediately snatched the book from the soldier and found that the Grimoire he was looking for was this very book.
Clay was curious as to how this powerful thing can be handed to a mere soldier and Clay investigated his curiosity. "You, who is the real person in charge here?" Clay asked Ackers. He was doubtful that this brute was able to handle the finesse that was needed to work the Grimoire.
"I… I AM!" Ackers shouted while struggling to stand straight.
"I don't believe you." Clay grabbed Ackers by the air and bound him in place as Clay started to crush him slowly. Then he turned to the soldier and asked the same question, "How about you, who is the real person in charge here?" Subjected to Clay's glare, even if he was not subjected to the weight of Clay's magic energy release because of being grabbed directly by Clay in the air, the little undead soldier almost released his own soul to escape the impending threat to his life. If only he was able to.
"I... I… I… I don't know! I'm o-o-only tasked to b-b-bring the book around after General Ackers comes out of the forbidden chamber!" The little soldier was scared out of its wits. The disadvantage of having a soldier that had a soul was that it knew how to fear and even breakdown as well.
"Forbidden Chamber? Hmm… Take me there. You, stay!" As if commanding a dog, Clay humiliated Ackers even more and took the soldier as he led the way to the forbidden chamber, which even Clay could not sense where.
"You're certain you're not lying to me?" Clay was doubtful. And this attitude frightened the shit out of the little soldier. As if he forgot that he was an undead, immortal.
"I-I-I'm not lying to you sir!" stuttered the little soldier. Clay had already read the Grimoire and put it inside his storage.
When they arrived at the door to the chamber, Clay could not help but feel threatened by what's inside the chamber. It was as if he was facing something that was beyond him even in terms of his incalculable stats already. Even UltiCo was blaring with alarms in his head.
[Danger!] [Danger!] [Danger!]
However, Clay had never felt this feeling of danger and threat ever since he came to Alleucanth and grew stronger, so he was more curious than scared, one can even call it carelessness. However, no man, grew from just standing still. So, Clay steeled his heart and opened the Chamber's door and closed the door behind him. Leaving the little soldier outside.
The moment Clay stepped closer to the center of the room, the entire chamber lit up and the threatening feeling he had while outside the chamber multiplied exponentially as his neck was filled with cold sweat and his instincts told him to run. When finally, he decided to retreat, it was too late.
"A mortal? Coming to the Forbidden Chamber… Hur hur hur." Said the being that appeared in an eruption of deep green flame from the ground along with it. As if a trapdoor that slowly elevated the being into Clay's presence.