Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 32

Lynch’s Journal #147

Our return to Mirabar was agonizingly slow for myself. As the others make plans to search a prison a few days from Diamond Lagoon, my thoughts were full of Amara. A full year and more we spent together before all this began. All of those moments cannot even bring a smile to my face.

Despite those memory I could only think of the new one I had made, one that strikes me with guilt. Lithia had given me the chance to make another great moment in my life and I chose not to out of cowardice, out of fear that I would not return from this hunt for Tuskgutter and Lothric.

The sorceress watched me as the days passed. When the two of us were away from our friends, Princess Frost encouraged me that I would have my chance to give my love the ring. She reminds me that the Siege of Icewall was bigger than this and we had survived. Our determination to save her husband’s kingdom gave Amon and herself the chance to be together and that this will be no different for Amara and myself.

Again, I could not help but feel she is wrong.

Lamaron proved to once again be a charitable ally once we reached Mirabar. The leader of the Shadow Guard had procured a scroll of teleportation for Lithia. With the location of Diamond Lagoon fixated in her mind, she would have no issues harnessing the magic within the parchment to get us there.

The days away from the sight of the slaughter had covered up any evidence. No traces of the battle with the murderer were visible. Even the body had became covered by the piling snow, hiding any sign of fire. Not trusting the undead, I took the time during my watch to reassure myself the remains were still there.

Deep inside I was praying to whatever gods would listen that it would rise to fight.

There has only been one sign of life on our journey to the prison. Our final days before arriving a large, white wolf had been stalking us at a distance. I have no clue if the beast knows that my eyes have been watching it as well. The animal is smart, keeping to the heavy banks so it blends in perfectly with the blinding snow during the daytime hours.

Maybe too smart.

Hours before we arrived the wolf broke off its pursuit. Though the others think nothing of it, I am not convinced that is a good thing. Being the only living creature for miles and willing to give up the hunt of the only prey is a clear sign that we should not be here.

But when you are searching for a friend what choice do you have?

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 31

Lynch’s Journal #146

I feel as empty as Randle Dundragon and Braun’s caskets. Even the calm, rhythmic pattern of Amara’s chest as she slept did not ease my mind. After everything myself and the others have discovered, my love is the one thing that should bring me peace but does not.

Why?

As we eat breakfast she is all smiles. I am forced to lie and offer one in return. It is no different than the lies I have told upon my return. It is proof that the harsh lesson is true. It is one that is quickly becoming natural to myself like pulling a blade from my sheath.

Sometimes lies are needed to keep the peace and protect those we care about.

I am relieved at the knock on the door. Not sensing any danger due to the musical beat of it, I call out for the unexpected guest to enter.

Princess Frost waltz in, inhaling the aroma of sausage and eggs before greeting Amara with a hug. They rapidly chatter like chipmunks over the garments the dress designer had given her for the celebration last night. As they do, my love motions for her to sit, offering some of our breakfast which she delightfully does before the sentence is finish.

It is obvious that something is amiss. Lithia would never come to my home for any reason. The sorceress would relay any information once you came to her despite its importance.

Leaning forward on the table, I stare into my hot coffee and ask what is wrong. Having gain no manners since her marriage into royalty, she speaks with a mouth full of breakfast to tell me it is too important for anyone else to hear.

Now that strikes me odd.

Amara looks at me with concern as my eyes dart to her. Just like yesterday upon my return, the face furrows knowing I must leave. I can only be grateful that she understands and accepts why. With that I motion for Lithia to speak, informing my friends that whatever informations she has that my love can be trusted.

The eyes of the princess narrow, a look that is all too common when she is fed up with Amon when he does not listen. She repeats herself, this time a bit more forcefully. With a deep sigh, I push myself from the table to get my armor and gear.

The sorceress makes no move to finish breakfast as silence fills my home.

Moments later Lithia is back to her chipper self much like she was when knocking on the door. Nothing seems amiss, she offers no dire news. Realizing my friend is waiting for me to speak first, a game she enjoys playing, I question why she needed me.

A huge smile spreads across her face. Without missing a beat, she pulls a small, wooden box from the folds of her robe. The grin tells me all I need to know. As I take it she continues on the to the Last Tavern on the Left, motioning for me to make haste so we can return to Mirabar.

Fear, worse than I have ever known, keeps me frozen in place. My eyes dare not look away from the small box. With all my strength and courage I cannot bring myself to open it.

Running to catch up to Lithia, I furiously ask her why she is doing this. Why is she giving me this wedding ring? Tripping over my words as they vomit out of my mouth, I repeat myself not once, not twice, but three times. I have never asked Amara for her hand in marriage.

Princess Frost does not even look at me as we continue to walk to the tavern to meet up with her husband, Balasar and Vax. She maintains the smile on her face during my ranting. After repeating the questions of why, Lithia finally answer.

When Amara gave her the dress with no charge due to their friendship, she asked my love what she wanted.

The answer was for me to ask for her hand in marriage.

My eyes grow wide at the revelation. There is no doubt about the love between us. I would willing die for Amara. After this divine war ends, my plans were to give up my life of the blade and justice to settle in Red Larch with her. I had even dare to believe I would buy a ring myself. Now I am faced with the fact that she, too, wants this.

Then why am I so scared of Lithia’s gift?

At the Last Tavern I pay no attention to the planning between my four allies as I ponder the possibility of what Prince Frost has laid before me. I find myself sliding my hand into my pouch to remove the ring and roll it across my fingers. Its delicate touch terrifies me to my core but yet the reason as to why does not come to me.

With whatever plan being agreed upon, we head for our horses to ride North. Before doing so I stop by the Growing Blossom to give my goodbyes to Amara. In her eyes I see the worry and it hurts me. Answering it with a sigh of regret, my love kisses me one last time to reassure me she knows I will return.

But I cannot help but feel that is not the case. This war between The Raven Queen, Orcus and Vecna is far beyond battling Novak and The Restless Hand. These entities could do more than lay siege to Icewall, with ease they could destroy such a fortified castle. I fear worse will befall us if we are to do battle with them.

This is why I cannot give her the ring. I cannot uphold vows to my love at this time, maybe not ever. My guts tells me that my end will come during this war. It is something I willingly except. What I cannot except is a promise of marriage knowing that I feel my death approaching.

That is why I hide the ring where Amara will never find it and brand myself a coward.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 30

Lynch’s Journal #145

The good folk of Red Larch never fail to impress me. With the announcement of royalty returning to their town they spare expense for the celebration. Despite what awaits us on our return North, it does my heart good to see the adoration for Prince Frost. Without Amon’s bravery, the people would never see myself the way they do today. It is a debt I will always owe him.

But this night Lithia outshines her husband, for she was a local before the threat of The Restless Hand. The rabbit trapper had now became a princess, a true reason for a celebration this magnificent. For every little girl it is a dream come true to go from having little to nothing to royalty. Though she receives grand pleasantries, the sorceress remains humble, showing the common folk that a castle has not changed her.

Luckily for me the two make just the distraction I need to sneak inside the church of Pelor. Though I hate the idea of picking the lock like some thief, it is better than breaking a window. Feeling the guilt of having to do this, I leave more in the offering plate that I normally would before heading to the graveyard.

Grabbing a shovel, I head toward Randle Dundragon and Braun’s tombstones. The grass is undisturbed, a good sign to any who tends the headstones but deep within I know better. Burying the shovel into the frozen ground above the cleric’s resting placing, a mixture of regret and hate swell in within me. No one should ever have to look at the remains of a fallen friend, let alone dig the corpse up themselves. But I continue on, facing the hardship so the others do not have to.

Being lost in my thoughts I do not hear her approach. With confusion and shock in Jaline’s voice, she ask what I am doing.

Damnit.

Of all the people in Red Larch she was the one I did not want to know about this.

When the church was built by Dundragon’s own hands as a show of good faith to the town, Jalina was quick to take the opportunity to seeing the day to day activities. Knowing what we and Remy had been through as children back in Waterdeep, my friend shaped it into a safe haven for orphans.

And now she has caught me defiling it without her knowledge.

Shame washes over me as I see the emotion in the caretaker’s eyes turn to anger. After all we have been through, after all she has been through without me, I should never had to do this behind Jalina’s back. Even after I failed to rescued her from Novak, after I left her for dead back in Waterdeep, there is no reason not to trust her with what I am doing. Taking a deep breath I tell her everything.

The site inside the cave at Lance Rock.

The attack on Icewall.

The calling and destruction of the lich, Nathanos.

The hunt for Lothric and Tuskgutter.

Jalina rewards me with a slap followed by a strong hug, a hard way of saying she understands my actions. After a few seconds, the embrace is over and we both begin to shovel the cold dirt.

With my best friend at my side an hour flies as we uncover the casket. The echoing thud of the shovel against the wood is answered by my heavy sigh. Jalina looks at me curiously as my shoulders slump in defeat. The sound is all I need to know not to dig for Braun.

Forcing the lid open with my crowbar, the caretaker of the church of Pelor gasp as we find Randle’s body missing.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 29

Lynch’s Journal #144

Red Larch.

Home.

Balasar and myself take in the welcomes from the folk as we ride in from the north. Their friendly waves and grateful smiles will always drive me forward. It was them who put faith in me when the Restless Hand came to run their extortion as I did all I could to keep coin in these people’s pockets.

And it was all lead by Amara.

I cannot hide my grin as she runs down the snow dusted road to greet me. Without her speaking up for my deeds at the trial I have no doubts that I would be dead now. Red Larch might be what drives me, but this woman is my strength. It is the thought of her that keeps me fighting when my back is against the wall.

Dismounting the horse I scoop her up and and spin as she laughs, feet kicking in joy. Despite the snow and the cold breeze of winter Amara is as warm as spring and smells just as good. Before I can tell my love that I miss her she smoothers me in kisses.

They meet no resistance.

With the rest of Red Larch crowding around, Balasar sets our plan into motion. I hide my distaste in Amara’s hair from what the paladin is about to say. Every part of me hates to lie and keep secrets from these good folk. But I have unfortunately learned a valuable lesson and a harsh truth from Lothric in the last year.

Sometimes lies are needed to keep the peace and protect those we care about.

The copperborn makes the announcement that Prince and Princess Frost will be arriving in a few hours and that we need to prepare a celebration in their name.

Cheers erupt from those around us. Some run to spread the news, other go to their shops and parlors to prepare the goods for the coming of royalty. It is not lost on these people how much the couple means to them, especially Amon. Without him spearheading the fight against Varix, Maddox and myself, who knows what state Red Larch might find itself in these days. The prince, above the rest of us heroes, will always be the most beloved.

As much as I wish to lose myself in Amara there are matters to attend to in town. The party is just a cover up for our true intentions. Pulling back from a kiss she stares me in the eyes, there no doubt that my love knows I have not returned for good. Lowering my eyes from her own I offer an apology.

With a furrowed face and deep sigh she assures me that it is alright, that she understands. Amara knows that my first priority is to protect the people of this town which includes her. My love knows that nothing will stand in my way of that, not even my feelings. Much like the lie Balasar told, it is a harsh truth we both have to face.

But I promise her tonight we will be merry. Toasts will be raise in the name if Frost. Music will be played and the folk will dance and drink their fill.

And none will be wiser for our true intentions for returning.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 28

Lynch’s Journal #143

Though the idea of someone, or something for the matter, being able to hold Balasar in the middle of a teleportation spell is a cause for alarm. Between the three casters none could explain how Tuskgutter could do such an incredible feat. It does make us all question the abilities of the abomination.

With no threat following the paladin, Lithia quickly uses the arcane circle to send herself and Vax quickly away to Icewall. Minutes later both return with Amon, who is still suffering from battling the horde of demons, in tow. After a small meal with Lamoram we ride our horses with haste to Red Larch.

The trip is long, too long. Deepwinter’s grip makes traveling difficult despite the magic gifts bestowed upon by Pelor’s church. Despite the biting cold we push on. When the others ask for a break from the bitter winds I offer none. They do not stand to lose what I left behind at my home.

Amara and Jalina.

Their well being is all that is on my mind.

As the snow and ice eases up further south so does my worries as we reached the outskirts of Red Larch. Guards on horseback mark our approach with a wave of a hand. These are people I know, men and women Balasar and myself trained to defend our home after the defeat of The Restless Hand.

Garin, Kriss, Barlow and Treven.

The paladin and myself return the wave. As we get close the four ride up to greet us, grateful to see our return. Unfortunately, I warn them that it cannot be announced. They share concerned glances at one another before telling us Red Larch has seen no troubles in our absence.

I breath a sigh of relief.

Though the news is good it does not change the fact. I tell them to stay at their post while we attend to other matters before returning to town. None of them disagree and reply with understanding nods. If all goes well I assure them that we will return in just over two days.

The words kill me as I say them. So close am I to see the women who hold my heart yet I am bound to duty. To protect not only them but those around them in the small town. For all those townsfolk have done for me in the past I will always owe it to them.

Another day on the road and luck holds out. The old Sunbreaker tomb remains untouched. There are no traces of activity in the area except for our own and the memories of the past. This very place is where everything changed for us four.

Vax can see it our eyes, the thoughts are written on our faces. Before he can ask Amon begins to speak of his mentor, his closest friend, Henry. He goes about how this crypt set his current life into motion, how it brought him to a reality he was blind to.

Lithia places her head on her husband’s shoulder to comfort him as tears well in his eyes.

I chime in about how the good dwarf’s reveal to be a tied to the Restless Hand much like myself was hard to believe. But unlike myself he was playing the game against Novak to aid the kingdom of Icewall. Henry had redeemed himself and now it has come back to haunt us all as his body has been taken.

Princess Frost and Balasar jump in and before we realize it Vax has learned our story. The elf now knows the rough roads that lead us to one another. Much like the forgotten Sunbreaker, those troubles were laid to rest.

And just like the old soul, it is time to head home and rest ourselves.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 27

Lynch’s Journal #142

I will be grateful to get to Mirabar.

My night was full of fitful sleep when I could do so. What little I could get was brought on by exhaustion due to battling Diamond Lagoon’s butcher. Learning about Randle Dundragon and Braun being taken from Red Larch kept my mind racing all night. It was not that the bodies were taken.

It is the fact that the two people I love more than anything in this world could be in danger.

Maybe even dead.

After Vax and Lithia prepare their spells for the day, the champion goes about marking the wooden floor with sigils. With each one marked I study the ritual, learning his are akin to hers. As he writes the final one, a wisp of smoke materializes from his arm and sinks into the floor boards. The room dims a little despite the sunlight.

The teleportation circle is ready.

The elf motions for us to step in which draws hesitation from Balasar and myself. It is not that we do not trust Vax, it is that we have never done such a thing. And what I have learned of teleportion, it can be a disastrous casting. But I think of Amara and Jalina to push past those thoughts. They are all that matter in this moment.

With a word whispered the sigils do not flare to life like the night before, it is completely the opposite. They pull all the light from the room into them causing everything to become pitch black. All of sudden there is a lurch as if something in the darkness snatched me away with its godlike strength from where I am standing.

Nausea hits me in waves as I come to a sudden stop. The dark slowly gives away to a dim light given off by candles. Adjusting to my new surrounds, I begin to see the sigils marked on the stone slab we stand on. A giggle brings me to me senses at Princess Frost finds my misfortune entertaining.

But something is wrong, Balasar is not with us. Did Vax perform his ritual wrong and the paladin suffered for it? Fearing the worse, the elf opens the secret door to the small room that leads into a familiar basement. Symbols of a blazing sun light up the room.

It was here that Lamoram had tested Lithia and myself. The dark elf leader of the Shadow Guard had easily enough lifted my friend’s coin purse form her. Luckily my sharp eyes from all of my days of thieving in Waterdeep had noticed it, leading me to call the cleric out on his actions.

That test to see where loyalties lied with one another. As I look around it is crazy to believe it lead to us to this very moment. Without trusting Lamoram then I would have never found these heroes I call friends.

Never would Jalina returned to me.

My heart would never have known Amara’s love.

Vax’s worry snaps me out of the memory as he and Lithia go over the sigils marked back at Diamond Lagoon. The commotion draws the attention of the elf’s leader as he comes with a few guards in tow. Lamoram is surprised to see not on the Champion of the Raven Queen but the sorceress and myself as well exiting his secret chamber.

Vax begins to explain to the cleric the mishap at him. On que, the light is pulled into the small room hiding the teleportation circle. As the room begins to brighten Balasar stumbles out backwards with greatsword in hand, on guard of something inside. The copperborn screams to arm ourselves, claiming it will follow him.

With weapons drawn and spells at the ready, Vax rushes to the secret door. A look of confusion crosses his face as he looks within before looking bask to Balasar. The paladin exclaims that it was there, holding him in afloat in the darkness, giving a warning of our impending death and of the slaughter coming to our world.

As his last words are spoken he looks down to the destroyed forearm bracer. A perfect imprint of a large hand had melted through the armor to leave a matching burn on his scales and flesh. The paladin’s look of uncertainty at the wound tells us everything we need to know.

Tuskgutter had come.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 27

Lynch’s Journal #141

Panic swells up in me. Forget this mission, in this moment I could careless about some war between gods and demon lords. The only thing that matters is the woman I love and the closest friend anyone could ask for. I need to leave for Red Larch immediately.

As Vax rambles on Lithia looks at me knowingly. Princess Frost has first hand experience how rash I can be when those I care about become involved in the battles against our enemies. She will not hesitate to hold my body motionless if need be.

My fear grows worse as the Champion of the Raven Queen continues with his information. Two humans were taken from the town, joining with Tuskgutter alongside another of their kind and a dwarf. With that there is no doubt in mine or anyone else’s mind who these four followers are.

But it is the bit about the sword given to the abomination by Henry that gives my growing concerns pause. Vax says it is a blade of pure crimson, like that of blood. The elf is unsure of what the weapon truly is but its aura is one of pure evil and death.

Then he speaks of the whole reason Balasar and myself even headed to Icewall in the first place.

The obsidian skull.

Much like the one that we first found back at Lance Rock, he has seen them as well. Like the crimson sword, they, too, give off the essence of powerful magic. His investigation had lead him to discovering that they are tied to a something called a Soul Forge.

Vax believes them to be the power source that created Tuskgutter and his kind. But unlike the one he had killed, the rogue worries about the intelligence behind our enemy’s eyes. He event shows us proof in letters written by the brute that he had came across. The elf thinks the abomination will be a deadly foe.

Seeing the advantage that his tale has given me, I dump the cursed object from my pack and offer a trade. It for a trip to Red Larch. Seeing that he has been in this frozen land by himself for so long, I have no doubts he can guide me straight to Mirabar without heading back to Icewall.

As expected, my friends give me a look that says what is going on currently is far more important than those away from us.

And I don’t care.

To change there minds I bring up a point that none of them had thought about. If Henry and Dundragon have risen from the grave and give their intelligence back, they more about the workings of Icewall Castle than Amon himself does. Any assault mount against the walls will be far worse than those attempted by Novak.

The validity of that gives them pause.

Staring at the obsidian skull, Vax defers from taking it. He is just grateful one is in our hands and not with Brask. To my surprised, the champion informs me he can teleport me to Mirabar with a quick trip by horse to the south. This catches Lithia’s attention, leading both to discuss a trade for sigil locations with our newfound alliance.

With that we form a plan. Princess Frost will send Amon back to their home in Icewall with the remainder of her arcane magic. On arrival he is to warm his father of what we have discovered. King Frost can then seal off any secret entrances to his kingdom and seek out Henry’s old clan halls for traces of Brask and his growing army.

In the morning, Vax Ildon will use his own shadow magic to take us to Mirabar. From there the sorceress will take the elf back to Icewall, quickly grabbing her husband only to return. Then we ride to Red Larch.

Taking a deep breath, Lithia casts the spell. Using her finger, she pulls the arcane from the Weave to the Material Plane to draw her personal sigils on the wooden floor. As she does they are a faint blue but shimmer to life as the princess finishes. Giving Amon a wink and a kiss, he instantly vanishes with a soft popping sound.

Now it is my turn to take a deep breath to steady myself. Both Balasar and Lithia give me sorrowful expressions to reflect how I feel. I need to see that Amara and Jalina are fine with my own two eyes and they both know it. Nothing else will suffice.

It will be the only way I can see the rest of this mission through.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 25

Lynch’s Journal #140

The Champion of the Raven Queen was surprised we knew so much about him. He was caught off guard that we knew of the Shadow Guard and their former alliance with the Sunbreakers. What shocked the elf most was the fact we knew that it came to be after Cindermaw’s brother, Thordax, had killed his mother.

The question is why would the dragon kill this elf’s mother?

And as expected, he knew us as well. Most likely from Lamoram, the dark elf leader of the Shadow Guard, a hidden faction in Mirabar who protects the northern realms from within the dark. Vax has heard of our tales against The Restless Hand, The Bringers of Woe and are actions during the Siege of Icewall.

But what he was most impressed with was the death of Nathanos. There was a bit of jealously in his voice when Vax mentioned he had been after the lich for years. It struck me odd that the elf would know of it seeing how I had destroyed the Sunbreaker in the safety of his own castle that was not only magically sealed from intruders but also from those with prying eyes. Before I can ask how the Shadow Guard how he knew, the Raven Queen’s champion gave me my answer.

He said that the death had righted the unbalance of the lich’s undead existence. With that, his goddess had claimed a valuable soul.

Then Vax unknowing tells us the pieces of Nathanos’ story we were missing. The mage’s arcane energy had exploded due to Orcus. Using the Sunbreaker as a conduit, the demon lord has unleashed his necromancy upon the North. With the energy, the fiend had raised all the dead in the land and brought forth his own champion in this divine conflict over death.

Brask.

Seeing the concerned looks upon our faces, the Raven Queen’s champion nonchalantly admits none of Icewall’s siege is the lich’s fault. Regardlesss if it was or not, Vax flatly states it was past his time in their plane of existence. With finality, the elf states that Nathanos nor anyone else should deny their passing to his goddess by mocking her with undeath.

Now I am starting to see the connections to everything since finding Slukx’s makeshift lab at Lance Rock. Since Prince Amon has brought us four together and defeated Vecna’s forces, Orcus was making his move against the Raven Queen. Just to see if Vax has any useful information that may tie this to recent assault on Icewall being connection, I inform him about the bodies of our fallen being taken.

It is no surprise that he does. Vax says that it must not be an isolated incident because it happened over a tenday ago in a small town between Waterdeep and Mirabar. The place goes by the name of Red Larch.

Fear strikes me with those words. My thoughts are flooded with images from Amon’s tale of Henry’s taking. I can hear the screams of the townsfolk as the large birds bombard my home. I can feel the heat of the building burning.

Balasar and myself had been baited and fooled from Red Larch, leaving it defenseless.

And all I can think about is that the death of Amara and Jalina is on my hands.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 24

Lynch’s Journal #139

Needing much rest, Amon decides it is best to barricade himself in one of the homes with magic as we search Diamond Lagoon for survivors. It proves to be a quiet investigation. Though we look for survivors it is the last thing in our minds. The sword Prince Frost wields is a major issue among us, most heavily on Lithia. What is he does not return next time?

What if he is not there when we return for him?!

Amon assured us it would all be fine, informing us that the blade is sentient and promised to protect him. The fact that the weapon thinks for itself is a whole other frightening issue. My friend has been prone to be easily persuaded by power in the past. I cannot help but feel it is no different here. As usual, it will be up to me to confront him about it.

His experience in this crimson realm of demons does not help the still and eerie feeling of the lagoon as I row to the lone island. Though there were no signs of a boat in the water, Balasar points out how defensible it could be with means of escaping that would slow down the freak we had just battled. The paladin thought it was best we check it out before moving on from the town.

After casting a magical alarm on our boats, I move to the backdoor of the small bungalow as the copperborn leads Lithia through the front. Once inside there is no sign of struggle, not even a dead body as we enter. Balasar leads into the darkness, slowly opening the first door to look inside. He does not even see the movement slipping between rooms ahead of him.

Giving the sign to warn Princess Frost to stay back, I creep ahead to the room on the left. There in the corner, using a wall to hold himself up in somewhat of a defensive stance with a dagger, is a battered elf. I sheath Thoughts at the sight of his busted leg. Looking him in the eye I tell him that everything is alright, that we had killed the murderer and were here to help him.

His shoulders slump as his dagger clatters to the floor.

Sheathing Prayer, I cautiously approach to show him no threats. Once the fellow does not show signal to halt, I pull some of the dirt from the forest that surrounds Red Larch and rub in on the wound. Whispering the words of nature’s power, the magic infuses the patch and heals the wound enough for him to walk on. The elf thanks me with a sigh of relief from the pain.

I called out for Balasar and Lithia, who he greets with thanks as well but wastes no time in asking how we killed the abomination. Reaching up to rub my sore neck in remembrance, I reply that it was not easily. With a chuckle Lithia chimes in, making a joke about how I just leaped in without regard for my well being.

The smirk on the battered elf is a sign of needed trust. As I offer my hand to help him up, that trust is solidified as he gives us his name.

Vax.

My questioning look to both the paladin and sorcerer is met with the same curious expression. Balasar does not hesitate to reveal that we have heard of this elf, finishing his first name by giving is last, Ildon. He even goes so far to tell Vax that we know he is part of the Shadow Guard.

All the surprised elf can do is stare at him in disbelief.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 23

Lynch’s Journal #138

As I come to, Lithia has discovered much about the creature. For one, it is not Tuskgutter. Much like the orc abomination we battled at the Bringers of Woe compound, this thing is stitched together with human parts. A clear sign that Doctor Slukx still created it.

Both the brute and the burlap sack radiate necromancy, tying it to the power of death. The magic of the sack gives off a fear affect which Princess Frost believes caused the folk of Diamond Lagoon to flee from it instead of defending themselves. What was odd is the lake itself is tainted by the magic. Surely Slukx could not be the cause of all this.

Then Balasar rolls over the corpse to point out the brand on the upper back. It is comprised of a skull and rod. I recall seeing it in the books I studied in the Nathanos’ library. The thought of it fills me with dread.

Orcus.

It seems the Demon Prince is finally playing his hand in this divine war.

Fearing the waters could bring the undead abomination back to life, I take the sack and toss it with the blade far into the snowy rocks at the base of the mountains to be lost. If anyone in the future would find Diamond Lagoon I can only hope they would never come across it. For reassurance, I decapitate the head and burn the body.

As we watch it burn the flames dance and stretch in shades of green. The smell is beyond awful. It is if I can feel the evil and undeath leave the body to merge back into the lagoon.

Amon is the first to speak up about what we had just discovered but does not get the chance. As soon as the first word leave his lips the prince vanishes with the sound of a soft pop. The look of shock and fear on Lithia’s face tells me that the prince did not disappear with his or her own magic.

Now that fear strikes myself. I have seen this before, I was even a victim of such magic. In Prince’s Frost own castle in Icewall as we battle Vecna’s chosen. Corrupted by the gibberish, Novak had teleported me through the realms of those he drew power from.

With each one encountered, I experienced true terror and madness before my life would end. With each death the cycle would repeat and I would live again only to die once more. Though time elapsed in mere seconds on my world, the nightmares lasted for hours with each realm explored.

The experience left me cursed with the yellow sign.

And as quick as he disappeared, Amon returns with the magical sword Lithia had took from Nathanos. Exhausted beyond belief, the blade falls from his hand as he collapses to his hands and knees to the snow. Unlike my own experience, Prince Frost’s was obviously different.

He and sword are covered in blood.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 22

Lynch’s Journal #137

I patiently wait for Tuskgutter as he marches forward. The brute has made it painfully obvious it is far stronger than any of us so I will have to rely on my agility when he strikes. There is no technique in the overhead chop of his shortsword, allowing me to quick step to the side and rapidly stab Prayers into the ribcage.

Once.

Twice.

The radiant energy sends jolts of agony into his body but the abomination fights through the pain. With frightening speed, he slams me back down into the snow with a clubbing blow. Before I can even get to my knees, Tuskgutter is on me with his blade raised high for the killing blow.

As he swings I cannot help but feel this is the end. This thing is too strong, too fast, impossible to kill. It is almost as if it was designed to destroy us.

And I instantly feel guilty about such thoughts as Amon intercepts the attack with his shield. With all his strength Tuskgutter bears down, driving Prince Frost to his knees. The look on his face says he is not going to hold on for much longer.

I quickly get up to help him but Lithia beats me to it. Her bolt of fire stikes the burlap sack over the brute’s face with enough force to stagger it. Taking advantage of the sneak attack, her husband pushes Tuskgutter away with his shield. As it staggers backwards, Amon takes a defensive position as I move to his left.

Catching its balance, the anger in its eyes still focuses on me. With each heave of a deep breath hatred builds within Tuskgutter but not a word is spoken. He means to kill me first.

His one step forward his halted as a large blade cuts down in front of him, cleanly cutting off the hand gripping the shortsword. Before it can register Balasar’s next attack, the paladin buries his greatsword into Tuskgutter’s side. Roaring in defiance, the copperborn pushes the weapon through to the spine.

And again, within wisps of fog, Tuskgutter vanishes.

But I know his trick this time.

I yell for the prince to move to his right and for his wife incinerate the area with fireball. Knowing he will teleport behind me, I go into a forward roll to avoid any damage from Lithia’s spell.

It is the perfect trap.

Rolling up to my feet I find Tuskgutter materializing directly in front of me, his hand reaching out for my throat.

Squeezing the life out of me, he lifts my feet out of the snow. Both Thoughts and Prayers drop from my hands as I struggle to break his grip. Already weak from fighting the bastard, I desperately try to breath.

Lithia blasts Tuskgutter in the head with another bolt of fire.

And his grip remains strong.

The abomination’s eyes are wide with hate as it stares at me. I can feel the anger radiating from him. With just the strength of his one hand my head feels like it is going to burst.

Amon summons an orb of corrosive acid, burning it between Tuskgutter’s shoulders.

And his grip still remains strong.

The burlap sack over its head becomes lost in the blur of white and red. I can feel my body becoming as cold as the snow around us.

Then all of a sudden his grip loosens and I can breath again. The brute tumbles backwards as I hit the ground. The rush of air into my lungs burns like taking a shot at The Last Tavern.

Reaching for Prayers I see the severed arm of Tuskgutter. The fingers still flex as if trying to grab my hand.

Taking up the shortsword, I roar as a leap to take him down. Roaring again, I bury the blade into his forehead. Quickly pulling the sword out, I bury it into his heart with another roar.

Tuskgutter’s body becomes still.

Letting the raging orc blood in my veins take over, I repeatedly stab and roar.

Stab and roar.

Until I pass out.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 21

Lynch’s Journal #136

This is exactly what it felt like when Lithia‘s magic went out of control and caused me to fly. The only difference is I am moving at a much faster speed. Recalling what it took to manage my bearings, I position myself to crash into Tuskgutter shoulder first.

The pain of doing so is worse than I imagined. It is like slamming into a thick tree. With as stout as the brute is, a part of me did not think I would knock it to the snow. Regardless of the damage done it gets up without hesitation, as if the abomination never felt a thing.

Great.

Before it can hack into me with his shortsword, Balasar is there to keep Tuskgutter down. With roar to Trithereon, the paladin’s blade shines like the sun as it comes crashing down across the fiend’s back. The light sears the thing’s skin as it is forced back into the snow.

I gather myself just in time to see Princess Frost summon a bolt of fire to crash into the abomination’s ribs as it gets to its knees. Seeing how durable Tuskgutter is, Amon takes a defensive stand between us and his wife. Summoning his own magic, the prince cast a spell of protection on himself.

Crawling to my own knees, the blades of Nathanos and I go to work. Thoughts gets thrusted into the gut, sending psychic energy through Tuskgutter’s body. It shows no signs of pain from the attack, not even a grunt as I pull the sword out.

Being the faster to my feet, I stab Prayers into the abomination’s back. To my surprise the radiant power of the blade causes Tuskgutter to tremble in pain. Wasting no time, I quickly pull the sword out to jab him again and again. Tuskgutter violently looks my way as I do as it quickly fades away into wisps of fog.

That cannot be right. The look of shock on Balasar’s face proves it. The fog begins to creep over my shoulders.

Tuskgutter is a godsdamned teleporter.

The tip of the sword bites into my flesh as my armor barely holds up against the sneak attack. Before I can react a heavy blow knocks me forward to the feet of the copperborn. As I pull myself up to wipe the snow from my face the abomination marches forward.

With another roar to his god of retribution, the paladin charges to meet Tuskgutter head on. Vowing to slay him, Balasar’s weapon glows bright with the radiance of holy power as he runs it through our enemy. Just like with the energy of Prayers, its body is racked with pain from the attack.

Staring hate in my direction, the abomination backhands my brother in arms. Its strength is so great that the copperborn is launched a dozen feet away. Without hesitation, Tuskgutter pulls the greatsword from his chest and casually tosses the weapon aside to continue the march toward me.

Great. I have definitely got the brute’s attention with the spell. If I survive this Nataku is definitely going to regret teaching it to me.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 20

Lynch’s Journal #135

Rushing to the bungalows I feel it in my gut that Tuskgutter is here. By the looks of the trail he is moving at a slow pace through Diamond Lagoon. What concerns me is there is no sign of Slukx with him. Maybe he went to the other side of the lake?

Caught up in the chaos of the slaughter Balasar and I had found causes me to lose focus. Something solid trips my feet under the snow, planting me face first in the cold. Pushing myself up I notice small specks of red in the drift as the copperborn rolls over the dead body of a male human.

Something sharp had been ran through the poor fellow multiple times. The heavy snow falling around us had covered up his body just enough so we could not see him. His warm blood has already melted

the snow underneath, a clear sign we are getting closer.

As we move around the next bungalow we discover the source of the broken glass. Covered in tiny cuts, a male dwarf is nailed to tree clinging on to life. A spear holds him firm in place as he struggles to free himself. Lithia yells out to him, bringing a smile of hope to his face as blood trickles into his beard. Within arms reach of healing that hope rapidly fades as the bearded fellow points ahead during his final breath.

A bow shot away something as large as Balasar marches through the heavy snow. Coveralls hide the identity and a burlap sack covers its head. It wields a bloody shortsword as it stalks up to the next home.

Tuskgutter.

As it ignores my screaming for him to stop, Princess Frost goes into summoning her arcane power. A rippling spiral of color darts forward to strike the creature.

Nothing.

The rest of us charge forward as Lithia goes into another casting. Amon slows down to protect her as she informs us there is no control the thing’s mind. Balasar’s divine sense detects the reason why the sorceress’ magic has failed but I already know. Tuskgutter is just like the abomination we had battled when looking for the Bringers of Woe. He is a walking collection of slaughtered orcs stitched together.

An undead.

With the thick snow covering the ground we will never catch him before he enters the bungalow. Prince Frost and the paladin shout warnings to whoever may be inside. Once again, Lithia draws power from the Weave by summoning fire into her hands.

Not slowing my pace, I summon the earthy magic taught to me by Nataku. My friend had used this spell many times in the woods around Red Larch to leap high into trees. The elf had shown me that with a running start the magic could launch you like a javelin. I have never done so myself but I have to stop Tuskgutter. Seeing no choice I cast and fling myself forward.

It happens fast.

Faster than I expected.

Hurtling toward the enemy, my arms and legs flail around. That bastard Nataku should have warned me of this. I swear I can hear the druid laughing.

Bringing my gifts from Nathanos to bear, I struggle to right myself on my collision course with Tuskgutter.

This is going to hurt.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 19

Lynch’s Journal #134

The trek to the map’s first destination is uneventful. Using a technique taught to me by the elf druid Nataku, I have been communicating with the frozen landscape around me to locate any potential threats in our area. The occasional presences were nothing to be concerned about except for one, a dragon. The terrain itself is terrible and I cannot fathom battling a wyrm in it.

It took a day before I realized it was Balasar and his heritage that was being detected.

It seems luck favored us there.

Diamond Lagoon rest in a canyon between two mountain ranges. The history of it is not lost on Amon. He recalls that the place was once a bustling community when the mines ran rich with the precious gems that gave way to the name. The latter part was given when the mines had collapse and flooded some twenty years ago, creating a small lake that separated the town.

After the accident many residents packed up and left, hence the creepy silence of the place.

It seems more like dread to the rest of us. Not one person is to be seen as we approach. As the lagoon greets us I use my keen eyes to look among the buildings that spread around the shores of the lake. As I do Balasar calls upon his divine senses, finding that evil radiates from the water. The closer the paladin moves toward it, the stronger it grows. The presence makes the copperborn uneasy and sickly.

Knowing we made need him for whatever is lurking here, Balasar rests as I begin to focus, reaching into the awareness of the mountains that surround the town. Besides the copporborn only one undead is detected within the area of Diamond Lagoon. A small threat to the four of us. If anything it could be a clue to the evil of the lagoon.

Though the gift is useful, there is a drawback. I have no idea where the presences are that nature detects, turning any possible search into a guessing game. Scanning the area for any clues, Lithia picks up heavy boot prints that are covered by the freshly fallen snow heading in the direction of the bungalows on the right of the lagoon.

With her and Prince Frost following a dagger’s toss behind us, Balasar and myself cautiously follow the tracks to the first home. Before we can even step upon veranda, the sound of glass shattering echoes around the homes. Not wasting anytime, the paladin and I lead the rush to investigate.

The tracks lead toward the sound but become more frantic and spread out, the clear signs of a struggle. Following the incident to the door of the next bungalow, Balasar covers the back door with Lithia and Amon as support while I bust into the front. The mess of wet footprints leads down to the hallway where a trail of blood leads from one room to the next.

Balasar gives me the nod to move ahead to the first room. Within is a most gruesome scene, in a fresh pool of his own blood is the dead body of a male dwarf. The smooth edges of the cut across his belly tells that one swing disembowel the poor fellow. It would take something as strong as the copperborn to make one clean cut such as that.

If anything it tells me that the murder has not gotten far.

Motioning to Balasar, I move forward to follow the blood trail to the next room. Death awaits for me there as well. Pinned to the wall with a longsword are two elves. It seems the male was attempting to protect his lover from whatever impaled them. The blade is pushed all the way to the hilt into them, fastening them to the wall half a foot above the floor.

Another sign of this thing’s impressive strength.

Is this the doing of Tuskgutter? I have no doubts about it. The abomination was heading North. Diamond Lagoon is the only clear path through this area so he and Slukx were forced this way. That would make me sense of the large boot prints that lead us here. I am betting they wanted no witnesses to their passage.

Rushing out of the room and past Balasar, I tell him what was discovered. As he rushes behind me I yell out for Prince and Princess Frost to check the snow for fresh blood. It does not take long to find it hidden among the snow, heading further into the bungalows.

We waste no time following the trail to the fiend.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 18

Lynch’s Journal #133

Our trek through the Spine of the World to our first destination is long and isolated. Scouting ahead of the others gives me plenty of time to reflect on meeting the Sunbreaker lich, Nathanos. It had proven to be a great boon in our search for Lothric.

Though the magical aid Lithia found and the lore contained in his vast library was useful, the best bit of information we found was the sheriff had left there over a ten day ago. My friend had copied the map we now have and left notes in the back of the lich’s journal about hunting Brask. Lothric believes the soldier who was once under Randle Dundragon’s command is tied to this war between the gods.

At this point I would not be surprised by it.

I have no doubts he is championing Vecna. After killing Novak for a second and final time, surely the divine lich looked to Brask to lead his war against the Raven Queen and Orcus. He knows Icewall seeing that he lived there during his life. Also, he fought alongside The Restless Hand during the siege. It makes sense Brask lead the attack and took Henry’s body days ago.

But he is a small part of our larger problem.

Revealing this war over the power of death has rattled the others. The scope of it all is beyond our imaginations. Amon seems to be affected the most . It is understandable seeing how The First Breaker almost corrupted him for Vecna’s cause. Prince Frost is still haunted by the small taste of power the god had to offer. Now knowing he could have been the champion of Vecna must make his torment worse.

On top of this there is my personal issue that is out in the open, the yellow sign. Personally, I feel some relief by telling them of the madness and horror of dying over and over again. After Amon’s own affliction, I feel ashamed. Since discovering Henry’s ties to the Restless Hand long ago, I promised to hide nothing between us four. Yet I did nothing but that with my own curse.

With the experience of the tome I fear that this could play more of a role in what is to come. I know this King in Yellow and the other entities I had witnessed are what granted Novak his powers. Are they, too, part of this war we have found ourselves in? If Brask was the true champion of Vecna from the beginning, was that bastard their own?

Since Novak’s death have they searched for a new one? Is that why the yellow sign has haunted me since that fateful day? Is that why it recently called to me?! Am I to be its champion in this divine war?!

I can only hope not. And if by some chance that is the case, my friends, those I call family, will fight for me. Side by side we defeated The Restless Hand. Our bonds to one another saved Red Larch and Icewall. Together we overcame the First Breaker’s influence on Amon. With them I broke the hysteria inflicted upon me by the tome.

If we are that strong then nothing can defeat us.

Not even the gods themselves.