“What does that mean?”
The old man paused, wondering where the confusion had crept in. His grandchildren looked up at him, puzzled.
“What’s done in blood cannot be undone,” Nathan repeated. “What do you mean?”
“In this kind of dark magic, blood is the key.” He answered. “That special curved knife the warlord used… it wasn’t man made steel or titanium. They say it had been fashioned from a demon’s horn. It had an evil power all on its own but when blood touched the razor-sharp edge, its strength multiplied. It was that power, combined with the willfully given blood; that created the curse befalling our captains and their men. The blood brothers had no idea that they’d been cursed until much later but it bound them from the instant the very first drop touched the blade.
“Is this the worse-than-zombies part?”
Erica laughed at her son’s reaction. All three boys had become more than a little obsessed with zombies over the past year. She’d sat through several zombie makeup tutorials on Youtube just to get their Halloween costumes right.
“Yes, this curse is even worse than becoming a zombie because zombies are mindless eating machines. Zombies feel nothing. These men are neither dead nor undead. They cannot die but they’re not entirely alive. The can feel pain, heartache, and loneliness but no matter how much agony their body endures, it just keeps trudging on. They’re forced to battle evil from one corner of the earth to the next, for all eternity. Over the centuries, their families have grown old and passed on to Heaven but our brave captains and their men just keep marching to their next battle.”
“But how did they find out, Grandpa?” Madeline wondered aloud. “Did they look all gross like zombies?”
Ignoring boy’s snickering, the old man explained further.
“No, there had been no visible change in the men. If you saw one today, you’d never be able to tell. They look just like the rest of us; their skin color is just the same as it had been centuries ago. They’re not infirmed save any maladies they’d carried on the day of the curse. One of the warriors had lost a finger prior to the curse so he no longer bears that finger but any injuries incurred after the curse do not remain. That was their first clue.”