"The idea that necromancer lords have no need for the living and rule over areas of mostly dead lands where living people could only scrounge up the barest of livings is nothing but hogwash! Even my less enlightened neighbors kept their serfs and thralls in good health and with plenty of food at the worst of times. Corpses and bodies do not grow on trees, after all. Neither does Bone." - Nec Aarin, the Bone Lord.
Aideen felt that the clean up after the battle was by far the worst part of this fight.
She understood the necessity of it. Her mother had explained to her long ago that thralldom the way Junorans practiced it was most insidious. It was easily resisted during the initial process, but once it took hold? The person's original soul was gone, leaving only his mortal shell for the necromancer to puppet.
Also the main reason the Junorans indoctrinated into their serfs that to be chosen as a thrall was a high honor, to ensure minimal resistance.
She shuddered at the thought that her family could have ended up the same way - the village her grandfather originally lived in was Junoran prior to the rebellion -, and felt nothing but pity at the now mindless thralls, as they milled about with no semblance of order.
One last command - embedded within the thrall's mind - that triggered upon the death of their controller, was for the thralls to seek out any living being in their vicinity, and attempt to kill it. For that reason, the only mercy the thralls could receive, was for them to be put out of their miserable existence, as soon as was possible.
Because of that, both the Vitalican and Ptolodeccan armies were busy putting down the last surviving thralls on the battlefield. Aideen was just glad that she was spared from having to help massacre the thralls, and instead worked her craft as she tended to those unfortunate enough to be injured instead.
Only three of the Ptolodeccan infantrymen were even seriously injured, and she quickly healed their injuries with her magic, as the brunt of the casualties had been on the skeleton soldiers instead. Nearly half the skeleton soldiers had fallen in the messy battle before the Junorans lost control - likely when Myrddin hit their necromancers - and the tides turned completely to the allied forces' favour.
Gathered soldiers moved to the side and made way when Trí and Ceathair returned from the carnage. Both were almost completely covered with blood and guts, and smelled to high heaven because of it, but not one of the soldiers had even scrunched up their nose as the two undead monstrosities passed by.
She quickly saw the reason why they returned.
With her mother in the lead, her black necromancer robes billowing in the wind, and staff in hand, the rest of the infantrymen marched in, along with the mage cadres. The two undead monstrosities knelt before her mother, and she dismounted from her black mare, after which she approached them.
Aoife Mac Lir, Personal Disciple to the Bone Lord
Both towering monstrosities lowered their heads - in Trí's case all six of its heads on its flexible spines - and rubbed on Aoife, which naturally got blood all over her clothes, but she didn't mind and just petted them like she would a cute animal instead.
"I knew you'd be here when I saw those two," came a voice from behind.
Aideen turned around and saw her father, whom she hadn't seen in two and a half years, as he dismounted from his white - now mostly brownish red - steed. Her father had not noticed her at first, but then again he only saw her from behind, and under a layer of grime, blood, and guts.
Ciarran Fiachna, Head of the Templar Order of Vitalica
She watched as her parents hugged each other, and kissed, neither minding the mess that covered the other. In the meantime she saw as her two brothers arrived as well, at almost the same time.
Faerghus Fiachna, age 32, circa 37 VA
"Wait, why is Diarmuid here too?" Her father asked as he spotted his younger son arrive. As his eyes roved he noticed Aideen as well, as she gave him a wave from where she stood. "Aideen too!?"
Aideen Fiachna, Age 22, circa 37 VA
"They've grown up, Ciarran," stated her mother with finality, as the three siblings exchanged looks with each other. Looks of pity for their father, that is. "Coddling them would do no good to anyone. Chicks ought to leave the nest, sooner or later."
"I know," said her father as he sighed in defeat. His shoulder slumped even as his wife held his hands to console him. "I just wished they could have lived their lives without all this… ugliness."
"But I guess that ship has sailed by now, has it not?" He added with a shake of his head.
"I'm afraid so, father," Answered Diarmuid as he came and hugged his father. Aideen soon followed suit, before they turned and hugged Faerghus as well. "Maybe we should have trained much harder from long ago, and some things might have been… preventable."
Diarmuid Fiachna, age 27, circa 37 VA
The family of five looked at each other at Diarmuid's somber statement, and pondered his words.
All around them, the sound of the Ptolodeccan soldiers singing a song to celebrate their victory echoed over the field of corpses, and Vitalica soldiers, while at first reluctant, soon joined in the singing.
Your mind at peace, your soul at ease~
The battle has finished~
Lay down weapons, heal the wounded~
Our masters have been pleased~
O brave soldiers, you should rest now~
As the battle had been won~
Now we have time, for rest and peace~
For other fights lay beyond~
The templar knights looked lost in the midst of the singing, as if they didn't know what to do. So the Fiachna family walked over to where they congregated, together as one.
Loot the corpses, take the salvage~
Put your back into the work~
Dead men need not, coins and weapons~
Let the living have the perks~
We will go on, to the next fight~
As we pledged before our lord~
Both victory or death are fine~
For either, we're on board~
When Ciarran took the lead and joined in the song, first his family, then one by one, the templars joined in the singing. The Ptolodeccan infantrymen soon mingled with the templar knights, and offered each other waterskins of booze, and other snacks they had on them at the moment.
Come on hither, more cadavers~
And yet more loot to have~
All the glory, and the money~
Will be within one's grasp~
Have no remorse, for war is cruel~
And no mercy were given~
All you can do, is just your best~
To survive opposition~
It was a heartwarming, yet also grotesque sight, as the soldiers from the two nations traded jests and relaxed in one another's presence, while the still-warm corpses of soldiers from a third lay astrewn on the ground beneath the feet.