Chapter 244 Feast 4
The Death Lord visibly balked at Aldrich's words. "Did I hear correctly, Usurper? You wish for MORE from me?"
Aldrich shrugged. "More? Not more. I lost something because of you, and I now want something back from you. It's an equivalent exchange. Technically speaking, I'm not taking more from you."
"You never even used that little bottle!" protested the Death Lord.
"I know, but I still liked having it around me for the sake of insurance. Plus, the more my health pool gets, the more percentage heals like that get even more valuable."
Valera nodded. She faintly smiled, relishing in a chance to get in on a cooperative effort to bully the Death Lord. "He is right. I remember how many countless times that flask saved him. To be robbed of that is quite the problem."
"That goddess is nothing! You should be quite grateful I took her corrupting influence from you," the Death Lord crossed her arms dismissively.
Aldrich threw a side glance at Valera, and she glanced back at him too. When their eyes connected, it was like they had signed a partnership right then and there for the express purpose of bullying the Death Lord.
Aldrich started off. "I willingly rejected the goddess Amara's healing for you because I thought maybe you had a replacement for it, but if not even you, the Death Lord, can match Amara in that department, I guess I wouldn't feel too bad about it."
"That is true. The goddess Amara had no equal in the healing arts, hence, why she had so many followers. I suppose there is no shame in understanding that there are some things you cannot do compared to her." Valera took a cool sip of her blood wine while the Death Lord looked between her and Aldrich with increasing annoyance.
"You truly believe I fall below that foul eyesore of a god!?" said the Death Lord.
"I'm sure in some areas, you're much better than her," said Aldrich.
"Yet in the healing arts, with your hesitance to provide, it does seem quite obvious there are some fields where you are simply not quite her peer." Valera tipped her wine glass towards the Death Lord, pointing at her. "But that is to be expected, no? She is goddess of light and life, while you are master over death."
"Forget I asked," said Aldrich. He took his two pronged fork and knife and started to take bites of the grilled griffin, as if to say 'of course you can't do this, so let's get back to eating'. The griffith tasted just like chicken, which was kind of disappointing considering it was a fantasy creature. "I would be asking too much of you, and like you said, you've already done so much for me."
By this point, a light flush of hurt pride reddened across the Death Lord's pale cheeks. She bared her fangs as she exclaimed, "Fine! Fine! I will show you that anything that four faced fool can do, I can do even better! Give me that flask of yours!"
The Death Lord held out a demanding open hand towards Aldrich.
Aldrich manifested his healing flask from his inventory and handed it over to the Death Lord. She snatched the vessel away, staring at the glowing gold and blue and liquid within with abject disgust, like she had happened on raw sewage. The skin around her palm where she made contact with the flask started to singe, little wisps of smoke curling from it.
Aldrich raised a brow, concerned. The Death Lord saw this and shook her head. "What has this come to? You worry about even this tiny injury when I am the mighty Lord Over Death. The Dragonsbane. The Eternal Conqueror.
I am no damsel in distress, Usurper. My skin simply reacts more to the goddess's foul influence more yours as I am more attuned with death.
And I will show you once and for all that I am no 'second place' to Amara! I will have a replacement for you by the morrow!"
Valera put a triumphant hand on Aldrich's arm, as if to wordlessly say 'we won' and to herself, 'I finally get to bully the Death Lord after all the teasing she's thrown my way'.
"Hmph! Why do you heroes all obsess over this flask?" The Death Lord eyed the flask with a fang bearing frown. "All this does is restore your frail life. It does not add more, if simply returns you to weakness.
But why even bother when you could discard the weakness of your flesh and embrace undeath? True eternity?
I do not get it. Undeath uplifts mortals into immortals, and because of that, Amara and the goddesses feared I would sway the populaces against her. How fiercely they resisted my campaign to spread undeath across the realm for it."
"Well, you DID also have a campaign of complete massacre," said Aldrich. "Like that elven city you talked about. You completely destroyed it and killed all the residents. That's quite helpful in inciting fear, and fear is a good motivator to force men into action."
"For me, it was all or nothing. Absolute surrender or absolute defeat." The Death Lord sighed as she put the flask aside. "I gave chances for all settlements, towns, cities, fortresses, and the like that I bore down upon to surrender, and I made it quite clear that refusal meant accepting permanent death.
And why not? I thought it quite reasonable. Even in the case that I moved my power and forces in to annihilate those that resisted me, I made sure to grant all as quick and painless a death as possible.
My undead armies respect the sanctity of a pure death. We hold not the base desires of cruelty that force mortal or demonic armies into committing atrocities, torturing and taking and defiling in victory.
No, we promised to spread the cold embrace of death with as much purity as possible.
No torture. No defilement of bodies. No breaking of minds.
I had thought that quite honorable, but none of the mortals seemed to agree with me."
"That made your armies ever the more terrifying," said Valera. "It was said that your undead legions knew nothing of negotiation. They knew no emotion, no fear, no anger, simply an unextinguishable drive to kill any and all.
I understand your point. Mortal armies and forces commit countless atrocities when they are able to. I have seen it with my very own eyes. But there is something about an army that has no face, no emotion, and a pure drive to spread death that makes it even more sinister than even the most brutal of mortal armies."
The Death Lord sighed. "I simply do not understand mortal lives. Perhaps because I was already immortal dragon beforehand. Regardless-" The Death Lord smiled again. "This is no time to be reminiscing of a past of failed conquests and mortal idiocy. It is a time of feasting!"
The Death Lord stood up and clapped her hands. "Bring forth the drink! This feast is held in celebration of the Usurper, and yet, why does he have no cup!?"
"Yes!" boomed Volantis as he slammed down a huge mug, shaking the table and spilling some green colored liquid. "What is the point of this feast if the Warleader does not drink!? How can you show me your worth!?"
"I thought I already did that by fighting you-," began Aldrich.
"No, no, no!" Volantis exclaimed. "Worthiness in battle and worthiness in the feast are two entirely different things! Why do you think I battle Leos with such fierce will now!?"
Leos the burning skeleton raised his mug of green colored alcohol. "Yes, he is right! I have never heard of a leader that could not outdrink his subordinates. Come, Usurper, show me your worth! If I am ever to serve you one day, I must do so knowing it shall be under the right man!"
"I drink too! No matter what, I beat you two!" Okeanos also raised a mug.
"What?" Aldrich watched as large skeletons brought over a giant mug to Aldrich as well, topping it off with green liquid from a barrel. The liquid teetered over the edge of the cup, threatening to spill. "Is there even a point to this? Undead have poison resistance-"
"You think I do not know that?" The Death Lord said. "This is special alcohol that bypasses your resistances. Toxic to the normal mortal, but for us undead, quite the popular delicacy as it allows us to relive drinking days."
"Sounds like something an alcoholic would say." Aldrich looked at Volantis, Leos, and Okeanos drinking and thought maybe he HAD stumbled on a group of alcoholics. Immortal undead living armor, burning skeleton, and city destroying variant, yes, but still alcoholic nonetheless.
"Come now, drink up." The Death Lord pushed the mug to Aldrich. She stared at Aldrich's serious expression. "It is for one night. Take the time to ease up and bond with your troops. Look, even your guardian knight, so pure of a maiden she is, indulges herself in wine.
I will make sure if anything goes awry, if you ever need waking, to heal any intoxication from you."
"..." Aldrich sighed. "Fine."