Chapter 1305 - The Price of Truth (Part 1)
No matter how good the Kingdom's anti-undead security measures were, they couldn't distinguish the regular living from those in the process of being turned into undead.
Not even Life Vision could do it.
Even Awakened would need to examine everyone present with Invigoration to recognize them and even if they did, many thralls didn't even have a blood core since their master belonged to an undead species that couldn't bestow upon them any power until they were turned.
Only Soul Vision allowed a Guardian to identify from a distance the presence of a pseudo blood core or the deep-seated despise for the living typical of those who choose to become an undead.
Most of them were power-hungry people willing to pay undeath's heavy price, but some of them were just people suffering so much that they would do anything to make the pain stop.
They were the two kinds of people for which Baba Yaga had created the gift of immortality.
Those willing to sacrifice part of their freedom in exchange for the strength to break the shackles of destiny and those who suffered from invisible wounds that not even a genius of light magic like Manohar could heal.
Undeath would make them strong in both the mind and the body, allowing them to shrug off any form of weakness.
'It seems you owe me, dear granddaughter.' Leegaain said via a mind link as he shared his Soul Vision with Faluel.
'What the heck are those' She now saw through his eyes, and the dining hall looked like a scene from a haunted painting.
The elegant cherry wood tables and the comfortable chairs around them were among the few things that didn't appear distorted.
Soul Vision revealed people's true nature and what Faluel saw wasn't pretty at all.
The smiling faces of the resort's staff had become filled with envy as they served at the tables or twisted with their daily worries.
The guests, however, had now a monstrous appearance.
The thralls with a blood core looked like conjoined twins, with their undead side growing stronger as their human side got weaker.
The undead twin always bore the mark of their sire, allowing Faluel to recognize a Ghoul from the still dripping flesh in his mouth and a Blood Witch from the arcane runes that made her veins bulge.
Yet even more disgusting were the regular nobles sitting comfortably at their tables.
Their deathly pale skin reflected the loss of humanity as anything but status and wealth lost meaning to them, while their bloody clothes represented how low they had stooped to get what they wanted.
Their faces were twisted in a perpetual smile filled with fangs that hissed against anyone who they envied or who had wronged them, no matter if the injustice was real or just perceived.
The shadows of the nobles were equally expressive.
Instead of being black slates, they had faces distorted by greed and unnaturally long fingers that clawed at their neighbours in the futile attempt to steal from them the objects of their d.e.s.i.r.e.
Unlike a Soul Projection that showed solely the dominant thought of its owner, Soul Vision revealed the true nature and even the history of its subjects, if one knew where to look.
'That's the reason why I don't like to go out often.' Leegaain replied while sitting at an edge table and asking for a menu. 'What do you want me to do with the thralls I can easily dispose of them, but that will cost you.'
'I don't think that all of them are here for Lith's parents and not all undead are bad people.
I'm not willing to slaughter them just because of their race.' Faluel replied.
Even though she felt as if they were surrounded by enemies, she had a hard time not chuckling when the waiter refused to comply with Leegaain's request until he checked the key of their suite.
'Since he's paying, I might as well use the suite and the members of the nest to finally have a night out with the girls.' She thought.
A few minutes later, when Lith's parents arrived, their walk among the tables made many heads rise and murmurs filled the room.
Elina looked lovely in her cream-colored day dress and her choice to not wear jewellery to go as unnoticed as possible only emphasized her delicate features.
The red streaks in her hair shone more than any gem could whenever the daylight from the glass walls brushed them.
"With this, I've seen them all." A man said with a voice full of envy and scorn.
"That guy is either loaded or he's taking advantage of a blind woman."
Those at his table nodded in approval while similarly mean words were spoken at the nearby tables at the passage of the Verhen couple.
Such thoughts could only be whispered since showing open envy was the same as admitting their inferiority, but little could escape the ears of a Dragon, be they Lesser or not.
"What a bunch of losers." Leegaain whispered loud enough to be heard.
"Raaz may not be the most handsome of men, but he's a good person and they make a nice couple."
Even though Raaz was in his early forties, thanks to Lith's treatments he looked barely in his late twenties.
He was about 1.63 meters (5'3") tall, with dark brown hair and deep-seated eyes.
The years of working in the fields had given him a lean muscular build but also deprived his movements of every grace.
Only thanks to Jirni's etiquette boot camps he managed to not walk on the hardwood pavement as if it was muddy ground.
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'They look perfectly human.
I knew it! They don't have a single drop of Dragon blood.' Leegaain thought.
"I think you're misunderstanding something." Faluel's silvery giggle drew a lot of envious gazes from the noble dames who despite their make-up and jewellery looked homely in comparison.
"Those men aren't talking about Raaz who wears a stylish black suit and is displaying perfect manners.
They are about you."
"What do you- Oh, crap!" Leegaain still had the appearance and clothes of a travelling merchant, the form with which he had gone to Faluel's lair.
Compared to him, Raaz looked like a dandy and the timing of the comments was only due to no one noticing Leegaain until Elina's arrival had made people turn their heads toward the entry where the Guardian was sitting.
"It's too late to change now." Leegaain said with a sigh.
"Let's get this over with.
I've already made a fool out of myself."
The two of them walked to the table of Lith's parents and Faluel tapped on Elina's shoulder to have her attention.
"Raaz, Elina, sorry to drop by unannounced.
Do you mind if we join you"
"Faluel, what a pleasant surprise!" Elina recognized her immediately and hugged her with joy while Raaz had two more chairs added to their table.
"Who is this handsome fellow One of your brothers"
"He's actually my lots-of-greats grandfather.
Have you ever heard about Leegaain Grandfather, they are Elina and Raaz."