“So what now?” Reina asked.
There wasn’t much else left for Barrett to do in Durham. Everyone who he had a grudge against was dead, mostly through no fault of his own. He certainly wasn’t going to take responsibility for a necromancer killing everyone around him in a moment of desperation- not when they were supposed to be that necromancer’s allies. If they had been entirely unrelated, that could have been a different story. “I’m not sure. We can spread the story of what happened, and a few people will believe us… and a whole lot of people will believe the story of a necromancer from Wosmil. Except he’s likely not here at the moment, so we have a bit of an advantage.”
“And the truth on our side.”
Barrett shook his head, “That hardly counts for anything. I don’t really care about my reputation here, but the important thing is they don’t let the necromancer back into the city willingly. I suppose that depends on who ends up running the city though.”
“Shouldn’t that be you?” Reina asked.
“You really think I have what it takes to run a city?”
“Don’t you? You absolutely can’t be worse than your aunt.”
“Well, yeah.” Barrett shook his head, “But it wouldn’t be a peaceful situation. There’s no way the king of Ashia doesn’t have some involvement, and if Artur goes and brings a bunch of his necromancer allies… well, it could be a big problem. That assumes the Ostain Empire itself isn’t involved.” Barrett sighed, “All I can say is I don’t want to fight Artur if he’s ready for me. He managed to do so much with an emergency attack. Granted, he left behind his body so he’s probably weak… but I don’t exactly have a way to track him down.”
“Why can’t some people just die with dignity?”
“Right? At least he can’t cause any trouble in Stredo. Thanks for coming with me, I’m not sure if things would have gone as well without you.”
“You’re welcome,” Reina nodded. “I was glad to get revenge on Denton… though it was about as unsatisfying as you indicated it might be. However, he didn’t seem capable of the luxury of leaving his body behind.”
“Good. I’d really rather not leave him behind to cause trouble. I doubt the city will run itself any worse without anyone ruling… though it probably won’t be long until the king sends someone to replace them. Hopefully the first semi-competent subordinate he lays eyes on. He’ll be rather busy dealing with the fallout of a necromancer living in the city, working for the people he appointed to rule. Especially when he had to have at least tacitly approved of their murder of my family. I’m going to be spreading the word about all of those things, and without anyone around to suppress it… I expect something.”
“Sounds like a lot of work.”
Barrett shook his head, “I have a lot of respect for those who can deal with political situations with finesse. Things would be a lot easier if people just believed the truth.”
Reina closed her eyes in thought, “Not to criticize your actions… but from a certain perspective you look like a murderer as well.”
Barrett shrugged, “If people want to condemn me as a murderer, they can do so. However, if they really spoke out they would only be hypocrites. They didn’t do anything earlier. People are cowards.”
“Not everyone is strong, you know.”
“I know… but there are those who are not strong who are not cowards. I plan to go visit one in the near future… after we clear out anything Artur was using. If he’s still around, we can catch him while he’s weak… and if he’s left, I don’t want him to be able to come back to continue whatever he was doing.”
Nobody stopped Barrett from moving around the city lord’s manor. There were a few figures who ran and hid when he saw them, but Barrett didn’t care about people looting valuables. Sure, all of it probably technically belonged to him at this point, depending on whether Raymond had any other family… but he didn’t care. It took a bit of time to find the secret rooms where Artur had kept his work, but it wasn’t hard to get in once he did. Barrett had no idea what mechanism was supposed to open the secret door, but when he found a hollow wall, he just broke it open.
Immediately after he did so, something jumped out at him. Barrett instinctively threw it to the floor. When it hit the floor with a sickening crunch, Barrett was glad to see that it was just a zombie. It was a low quality, nearly useless undead. Their only benefits were they continued to function as long as their body was relatively whole- even one without a head could stumble around blindly. It only took a few good stomps to change that. Once it’s head and torso were crushed, the arms and legs went limp.
Barrett could tell the secret rooms were part of the initial manor design, which meant Artur had been working with Melody for many years. He was fortunate to have not run into him earlier. Although, on his first trip back he’d had Master Hykel with him, who would have easily been able to kill the necromancer- regardless of any tricks he had. Maybe if Barrett had been ready, he could have done something. After all, throwing a bit of berserk energy at a fleeing soul or whatever shouldn’t have been that hard.
But what he could have done didn’t matter. As far as he could tell, Artur hadn’t returned to take anything. The rooms were full of stuff, anyway. Barrett broke anything that looked breakable, including a few more zombies. There were a few people tied up… but they were already dead. With the state of their bodies, it was difficult to tell how recent it was.
Barrett considered what he would do with the various tomes he found. They described various necromantic abilities, and Barrett supposed they might help him defend against them as well. However, they could also be used to teach people more necromancy, and not even the barely-tolerable kinds. For the moment, he took all of the books. Master Hykel and the Immortal Berserker Sect would be able to properly deal with them. That said, he wasn’t going to bring them anywhere near Stredo. He couldn’t afford to have false accusations levied against him.