Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 17

Lynch’s Journal #132

I have yearned so long to bask in the beauty of the yellow sign. Slowly following its curves with my eyes, it gives me great pleasure to trace its image upon my forehead.

It is all I have ever wanted.

It means more to me than anything in this world and beyond.

Even my beloved Amara.

Amon, Lithia and Balasar look on with their twist maws signing the melodic hymns of the King. Their chorus is pleasant to my ears. Through them the yellow sign speaks to me, ushering me to the union with it that I have so desperately craved.

But something works against the bonding. A strength that matches the power of the divine. I fight against it with every fiber of my being. I am so close to become one with the sign. Nothing will stop be from being whole.

I can hear the faint screams of horror somewhere in the distance. My friends, now faithful to the sign, begin to creep around the library in search of them. The voice are familiar to me, like a lost memory within my mind. It hurts me to search for it. My precious sign feels the pain as well.

Its power grows, pushing against this unseen forcing trying to stop our holy union. The screams grow louder in retaliation, overpower the strength of my beloved. They become more distinct as they take over.

Louder and louder.

Closer and closer.

Clearer and clearer.

With the mighty roar of a dragon my faithful friends of the sign vanish. The chorus of the king fades away. A grip with the strength of a hill giant holds my arm in place. In my trembling hand a bloody dagger stares me in the face. I can feel the tickle of blood running between my eyes and down the my cheek.

Balasar holds me firm by the wrist, roaring in my face to fight whatever has bewitched me. Hearing sobbing over to my right, I look to see Prince Amon holding his wife tightly. Lithia has tears running down her face as the horror begins to leave about what I have done.

Then the sharp pain hits me. Something has scrapped against my forehead. The look on the paladin’s face says it all.

I had did so with the dagger.

The yellow sign had finally found me in this world. I was too weak to defend myself from its hold on me.

My body goes weak at the realization. As I drop to my knees the copperborn quickly grabs my armor to hold me upright. Taking measure to make sure I can do no more harm to myself, Balasar kicks the dagger away as soon as it hits the floor.

The leather tome laid open by his boot reveal empty pages. I frantically pick it up, thumbing through its pages and find nothing, not a trace of the sign remains. Hopeless washes over me knowing it is lost.

Something soft caresses my shoulder. Lithia locks my gaze, looking for an answer. Tears well in my eyes. I lose all control of my emotions for the first time since Remy’s death many years ago. There is only one thing left to do, tell them a secret that I can no longer keep.

I reveal the madness Novak struck me with during our final battle in the throne room of Icewall Castle. Every tale of my death brings a twitch to my eye. The throbbing in my head intensifies with each breath. With every word spoken I can hear the gibberish echoing in my skull.

Despite the relief of finally telling those who I consider family my tale of horror, the thought of it all promises another sleepless night.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 16

Lynch’s Journal #131

Before his destruction, my private conversation with Nathanos started off small. Why are us mortals flawed and the mistakes we make. What lengths we will go to protect the ones we love and the ideals that we hold dear. All of it reminded me of my path from the moment I left the past behind in Waterdeep up to now.

Then the lich revealed something that shook me to my core.

Everything the heroes of Red Larch have been involved with is just a small faction of a war being waged by the gods.

Nathanos tells me that Novak was much more than just The Leader of the Restless Hand. The copperborn was the champion of Vecna, the undead god of magic and knowledge. Everything that bastard was working toward was to aid his divine master in the resurrection of Nerull.

Opposing this lich turned god is the Raven Queen, a mortal who slayed Nerull and took his power over death in Faerun. And to make it worse, Orcus, a demon prince, has spilled his own personal war against the goddess against Vecna’s own forces.

After imparting to me his knowledge of these vastly powerful entities, Nathanos warns me on who to trust in the coming days. Sides must be chosen in the war and that we could easily find ourselves on the wrong side. The Sunbreaker warns me of Vax Ildon, champion of the Raven Queen, who has been seeking to claim his soul during this war. As for Orcus, the lich is lost on who champions his cause. Both the living and the undead worship the demon so any mortal we cross could be them.

I stand there with my back against the closed door. My body locks up as it becomes hard to breath. My head spins at the revelation. I find myself trying to imagine what it is like to even witness a deity. The thought of someone so powerful is unimaginable.

I approach the others in the smaller, adjoining library to tell them the revelation of Nanthos. As Lithia begin to speak chills run up my spine. The hairs on my body stand up. Her jaw elongates to a silent scream causing her eyes to roll. From it comes a voice I have not heard in quite some time.

The whispering gibberish has returned.

It grows louder as Amon and Balasar begin to take the same transformation. Thick, slimy tentacles slither from the depths of their throats. As one, they all point to a book shelf. Everything in my vision blurs violently except for one dusty tome. It calls to me in its alien tongue.

The leather cover is colder than the snow outside as I take it from its resting place. Some unseen force opens the forgotten book and rapidly thumbs through its pages, stopping on one of pure beauty. Curiosity and pleasure wash over me as I gaze upon it. Rubbing my forehead ever so intimately, I remember how it filled the void within me.

Such is the grand power of the yellow sign.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 15

Lynch’s Journal #130

It is taking the much larger Balasar all he has just to hold back Amon. Prince Frost’s anger is unbelievable and rightfully so. It has been over a year since The Restless Hand’s siege of his kingdom of Icewall and he has just found out the source of where most of Novak’s undead forces came from.

The questions is why did it happen?

Nathanos is a Sunbreaker, loyal to serving justice. He is someone Lothric places his trust in much like myself. If he has gone the way of the First Breaker then why summon us here? Why ask me to destroy him?

As if reading my mind the prince screams at the lich, demanding to know why he would raise the dead to attack his home. That his grandfather believed him to be righteous and an ally to Icewall. He calls him out on his oath as a Sunbreaker to protect and serve the people of these lands as a reminder to him that he failed.

Sitting in his throne of rot and decay, Nathanos hangs his head. As he does bits of his flaking skull and mold fall, mimicking tears of regret. He attempts to apologize to my friend, telling him that he cannot help but be flawed and that it was his mistake that lead to the tragedy that befell his kingdom. Then he hits Amon with the hardest fact about all of this.

The lich reminds Prince Frost that the unfortunate accident was no different than when the he accepted the First Breaker’s promise of power to protect Icewall. A mistake that lead to his fall from the Sunbreakers. A mistake that helped lead to the siege of Icewall before the dead rose in the North.

Amon slumps in Balasar’s strong arms, crumbling under the heavy weight of the truth. While under the First Breaker’s influence our friend had done well to hide his intentions from Balasar and myself. When Lithia found out and tried to break the mark placed on her lover, she, too, lied to protect the prince.

I tell Nathanos that is enough, that he has nothing to prove by reminding Amon about the past. The prince has done nothing but redeem himself since. I turn the question against the mage, asking why could he not do the same? Why could he, with all his arcane power, not control the undead?

Continuing to gaze down to the growth of fungus around his throne, he states that his power over the dead grew out of control after his power left him. Motioning to what tomes remain untouched in the room, the curse afflicted upon himself unable him to search for a method to halt them. Any book he touched became useless. What little magic within him would only allow him to scry on the battle for Icewall.

Again, Nathanos reminds me that these are the reasons he summoned me. To put an end to his damnation. He gestures to a small, metal box inscribed with runes upon a shelf near the Sunbreaker staff. The lich claims that destroying the crystal within is the only way to completely destroy his essence.

Retrieving it along with the wooden staff, I ask where is Lothric. The lich admits our mutual friend had came to him seeking aid before heading Northwest. The sheriff believed Brask had fortified an abandoned prison and was in need of old maps of the area. Having no further use of it, he ask us to take it along with anything we made need in our journey to find the last Sunbreaker.

Looking to Princess Lithia, she gives me a knowing nod, taking Balasar and her visibly upset husband with her to gather anything of use.

As they do I open the small box. The brightness within escapes to wash over the red glow of the Sunbreaker gem and myself. Shielding my eyes, it reminds me of dawn creeping over the horizon. I am caught off guard by its soothing warmth. It is almost hypnotic.

But this is not a time for relaxation. There is no peace here, only darkness.

Knowing this light will rid this world of this cursed plague, I slowly close the door.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 14

Lynch’s Journal #129

We are all shocked at what has just happened. The old dusty tome Lithia had thrown was covered in rot before it landed at the feet of Nathanos.

He speaks softly, sounding more disappointed in himself that at the book. The bright green of its eyes dies down as Nathanos tells us that everything he has done to gain knowledge accidentally left him in this state. If he was to leave his reading room everything the lich came across would be destroyed.

Regaining its composure, the Sunbreaker informs me that if Lothric trusted me with the key that he trust that I will show him mercy and end his life. His tone of voice gives away his desperation, it is as if he is begging.

There is no doubt in any of our minds that Nathanos is right. It is obvious he is the focal point of this rot. But before the others or I can do so we need answers. Lithia is quick to ask first, being curious to how the mage ended up in this situation.

A few moments of silent pass before he answers, a clear sign he is a bit aggravated at the question. Nathanos informs us that all the power he had amassed over his undead lifetime had exploded. The lich is clueless as to how it happen nor does it know of the area affected by it. Guilt is thick in his cracking voice as the undead admits he wishes to destroy himself over the mishap and its aftermath but cannot until his own gem is returned to Cindermaw, master of the Sunbreakers.

Satisfied with the answer, Princess Frost goes to ask another question but Nathanos quickly cuts her off. His gaze focuses on Amon as the green flares up in his eyes, admitting he is the reason for the undead plague that brought ruin to Icewall.

The prince quickly goes for his axe but is held firm by Balasar. Tears well up in his eyes. He screams at Nathanos that he destroyed his kingdom, that if he wished to meet his end then he would gladly bring it.

I nod my thanks to the paladin. The copperborn was quick to realize the lich was goading our friend to giving him his wish. My mouth goes dry at the fact that we have to hold the prince back. He deserves justice. As much as I want to let Amon kill Nathanos we need more answers.

We need to find Lothric. And if Nathanos summoned me here then he had to be the last to see the sheriff. The lich has to know where my friend went.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 13

Lynch’s Journal #128

Entering the mountain castle we find ourselves in a circular room dimly lit by small, glowing orbs floating in the air. A spiral staircase leads up. The thick dust resting on the handrail is a sign that no one has been here in quite a long time. Just past it a doorway leads into a larger room straight ahead. In the dead center rest a well full of water. Decorating the walls are expertly painted portraits of honorable men.

Upon further inspection of them there are faces that I recognize. Three are Lothric’s friends, the Sunbreakers who fell at Icewall during the siege. In the beginning of all this I found myself wanting to flee from them. In the past year I have found myself growing curious of what type of men they were since I have come to know Lothric.

Another is a tall, black half dragon with large wings who we all knew as the First Breaker. It was he who corrupted Prince Amon and his Sunbreaker gem. Along side that bastard Novak, both had tried to conquer Icewall in the name of Vecna. If not for those two, we would never be known as the Heroes of Red Larch.

Without that I would never be the person I am today.

And the last is a brutish half orc like myself. Unlike the others, he wears little armor with heavy robes. His green eyes reveal a cunning intelligence. His Sunbreaker gem rest within the entangled branches of an all too familiar wooden staff.

Nathanos.

Lithia leads us ahead to the larger, circular room which turns out to be a grand library. The shelves hold hundreds, if not thousands, of books covered in dust much like everything else that we can see. The doors mark the only exits within, each guarded by two suits of armor wielding spears. The small beads of red glowing inside the helms mark them as animated skeletons.

Why am I not surprised after learning that this Sunbreaker was a lich?

As we step further within the room none move to harm us. It is good enough of a sign for Lithia to inspect the dusty lore on the shelves. Amon, always the protective husband, remains on guard of the undead as she does so. Balasar never takes his eyes off of guards, it is almost as if he is looking for a fight after the long days in the frigid cold.

The key pulls me toward the door straight ahead where the stench of death grows stronger. Much like the other doors there is no lock, just a simple brass handle. Red light baths me upon opening it. Instinctively, I hold my breath and look away due to the reeking smell, taking all I have not to vomit. By the looks on the faces of the others it is obvious how powerful it is.

Pulling my bandana over my nose and mouth, I turn to see Nathanos before me but he is far worse than what his spell revealed. Everything around him within a dagger’s toss is mold and rot. It is as if he is the focal point for a creeping infection spreading throughout the room. Untouched by the contagion is the wood staff, the red Sunbreaker gem nestled in the tip and lighting the room for me to see.

As I go to step inside the lich’s tiny green eyes flare to life. In a dry and cracked voice Nathanos screams a warning not to enter, that doing so would be to sentence myself to an agonizing death at the cost of his misfortune. To test his plea, the mage begs of me to take a book from his library and toss it within. Lithia, with one already in hand, flings a tome to the wretched thing.

Instantly it begins to mold and deteriorate as soon as the book enters the diseased area.

A gasp from Princess Frost is enough to say exactly what I am thinking.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion : Entry 12

Lynch’s Journal

Entry #127

Since leaving Icewall I have thought back many times to my conversation with Kribik, the orc watching me in the armory and father of Ozruk. He had confirmed all of our fears during the celebration of Balasar and myself’s arrival.

The northern tribes were not only at war with one another but were being hunted by Tuskgutter as well. As they began to catch on, all the chieftains tried to call for an alliance but it was too late. What remained of his tribe and nearby others had banded together, fleeing to Icewall.

Luckily for them the atmosphere had changed there after the attempted siege by Novak and the First Breaker.

It does ease the worry knowing that Tuskgutter is in the North instead of around Red Larch. Amara’s safety is one less burden on my mind. Regardless of what these orc tribes morals were, I hate that my relief comes at the cost of their lives.

It is as if all these events over the past ten days were meant to lead me down the path I stare at now. At the base of the Spine of the World the key had brought me to one hidden by powerful magics. None of the others, including Lithia with all of her arcane might, could not see past the illusion.

A benefit of having Lothric’s frigid key.

Staring at it, my mind takes me back to Red Larch and the strange, red mist that covered the surrounding area of my adopted home. The whole illusion was to distract us Heroes of Red Larch from the First Breaker summoning it’s demon army. Luck helped us break free of the magic then. I can only hope Tymore favors us again this day with the lich.

Hours down the path a mountain range looms. The slight pulse from the key grows with each strep closer.

At the base we find a lone wooden door being watched by two windows high above. It is hard to make out who or what watches us from them but it is obvious they have bows drawn. I call up to them, informing them that Nathanos had summoned us. For proof of my claim I display Lothric’s key for all to see.

No answer.

There is no lock on the door for the frigid thing either.

The key’s rapid pulse never slows.

A low growl from Balasar speaks for everyone’s annoyance. Lithia answers him with a small, frustrated whine. Prince Amon answers my questioning look with a clueless shrug.

Resting my head in my hand, I close my eyes while rubbing my temples. It cannot be this easy can it?

Slowly pulling open the door, I am greeted by the stench of death.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 11

Lynch’s Journal

Entry #126

On Prince Frost’s command every citizen within Icewall moves from the outer walls and into the center to be closer to the keep. They are to cease work on any reconstruction and begin assembling defenses and armaments to aid in any attempt of a future assault. The most important of his orders is that all children, including those among the refugees, continue with their learning and studies.

Despite his slip up with the king earlier, my friend continues to impress me as the future ruler of the kingdom.

Those among my kin who can wield steel are sent to the armory to aid in Icewall’s defense. I tag along to help with communicating in the orcish tongue. Among them is young orc no older than myself when forced into The Restless Hand testing the feel and weight of the swords. A small scar marks his cheek as do many on his hands. It seems his tribe had begun training him for battle at a young age. I approach the lad and ask him his name.

Ozruk.

I pull the old cutlass from its sheath, holding it out before me and admiring the blade. There are many memories I can see in the reflection. Each knick on the edge is a reminder for each time I have fought for my life or to save a friend. Resting the flat of the blade in my other hand, I motion for Ozruk to take it.

He hesitates, questioning my motives.

In our kin’s tongue I inform the young orc that the sword has slayed many enemies of this kingdom. Urging him to take it, I remind Ozruk that this is his home now and he needs to protect his people. With understanding beyond his youth, he slowly takes the blade and longingly stares at it as I had just done.

As he swings the blade to adjust to its size I give him a word of advice given to me by Lothric. It is not the power of the weapon that matters. It is the skill and knowledge of the warrior who is wielding it.

Out of the corner of my eye an orc who dwarfs me in size watches on as I teach Ozruk a few moves with the cutlass. With each practice stroke of the weapon there is a nod of approval.

As long as these refugees are in the care of Icewall, I promise that they will never end up like those butchered by Novak or Slukx.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 10

Lynch’s Journal

Entry #125

We all sit in silence. The quiet is deafening as everyone tries to sort it all out. I cannot hold my rage back anymore and speak my mind. It makes the most sense.

My suspicion is instantly shot down by quick thinking Lithia. She points out that if the Skulx is building the abominations, why would they need Henry.

A solid point.

Balasar finally chims in, bringing to my attention that it could be our new friend in the North. The couple looks at him confused as I think it over.

The paladin could be right. It is very odd that Nathanos would contact me days before the attack on Icewall happened. The mage also knew we were heading North as well. And anyone in their right mind would never trust a lich.

Except Lothric.

Prince Amon asks who this friend could be and I do not hesitate to tell. He and Lithia’s jaws drop at the mention of what he is and the ties to the Sunbreakers. I assure them that Nathanos is honest in his claim at the title, informing them that I took a look at his gem. They look skeptical as I reveal to them that the undead wants us to head to his castle as I reveal the key.

Doing so brings the eavesdropping King Frost into the room, who gently scolds his son for hold private matters in such an open area. The prince slightly hangs his head to hide his reddening face. It seem I may have spoke to soon of the boy become a man.

Placing a hand on his son’s shoulder, King Frost assure Amon that he is grateful for overhearing our news for the king knows of the lich’s name. Nathanos has a place in the history of Icewall. Over a century ago, then a living and breathing orc, he traded with Prince Frost’s great grandfather. They considered one another a trust alley.

We all breath a sigh of relief.

It seems the gods are favoring us with this news. We need to meet the Sunbreaker to find Lothric. Once the sheriff is found surely Brask will not be too far behind. Then we can retrieve Henry’s corpse and return it to peace.

The only downside to this is that we believed we were done with Cindermaw’s chosen. Now as soon as trouble begins to brew they enter our lives again.

So be it.

Snatching the key from the table, I inform everyone that in the morning it will lead us to the lich.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 9

Lynch’s Journal

Entry #124

I warn Amon and Lithia about Tuskgutter and Doctor Slukx, the creator of the thing. Throwing the notes and journal on the dining table, I express my fear that since they have let these orcs into their kingdom that the abomination will head here seeing how the two were heading North.

The concern on the royal couple’s faces is dreadful at the news.

With another deep sigh, Prince Frost tells Balasar and myself the story, how days ago the orcs had arrived at the gates freezing, starving and fearful for their lives. None would speak of what they experienced save for one survivor. The refugee’s appointed leader told our friend of a hulking and savage one of their kind who easily killed all who opposed it.

There is no doubt in my mind that it is Tuskgutter.

Amon’s journey into manhood continues to impress me as he decides to move the orc survivors further into Icewall to protect them. Further more, construction will be halted until the spring months. Hopefully this will protect not just the newcomers to the kingdom but all of its citizens.

Another deep sigh leads the Prince’s terrible news.

Large, mounted birds of some kind bombarded the graveyard outside the kingdom’s walls. Due to the distance, none were able to get eyes on who or what rode in the saddles. None were shot down by the archers. As Amon, Lithia and a handful of guards rushed the area they where stopped and routed by walls of fire from the bombs.

The attack had lasted only minutes, making it apparent that whoever had lead the assault knew what they were seeking. Besides scorched earth and minor damage to some headstones, only one grave site was disturbed.

Henry’s body had been taken.

My heritage’s rage begins to take a hold as I through a chair into the wall. We were kindred spirits, both used by Novak as he held our families against us. None at this table could ever understand that bond. Even though the dwarf feared the King of Icewall would have his head if he found out about Henry’s ties to The Restless Hand, he died a hero and gave his life during the siege.

And now those bastard came for his body. I just know it was them. Why would anyone in all of the Sword Coast come for one dead dwarf with a brand?

Then it dawns upon me.

This incident and Tuskgutter is connected. It has to be. The Restless Hand are building more of these orc slaughtering freaks. But why do they need Henry’s body?

Whatever the reason I am going to hunt Tuskgutter, Slukx and the reaming members of my former organization and kill every last one of them.

Rise of the Obsidian Legion: Entry 8

Lynch’s Journal

Entry #123

As our horses trot to the gates of Icewall I see the spell Nataku had taught me months ago worked. The snowbird that was enchanted by my nature magic delivered the message ahead of our arrival. On top of the battlements of the gates Balasar and I can see Prince Amon Frost pointing us out to his guards.

Our friend is a welcomed sight from the harsh winter cold of the North. We have been through much together in the short time Amon and I have known each other. I went from setting Maddox, Varix and myself up for the prince to capture to pleading with him to aid me in destroying The Restless Hand. Prince Frost had proven to me that he was the only person I could trust through Novak’s long reach on the Sword Coast. Alongside Lithia and Balasar, we defeated him and his organization.

Or so we thought. Luring him in with promises of power to protect his people, the naive prince fell under the corruption of the First Breaker.

He was an unwilling agent for Vecna’s causes. They were using him to not only get to me but to take over the kingdom of Icewall. Despite the deceit, Amon broke free over their control to rise up and help us defeated The Maimed Lord’s minions once and for all.

We have a friendship bound by brands turned scars.

He welcomes us into Icewall with firm hand shakes that are pulled into hearty hugs. The boy seems as if he has grown into a man with the beard now framing his face. I would hope so seeing how Amon is now a father more than anything.

As the guards take our horses to the stables for some much deserved rest I am proud at what I see in this once war torn kingdom. Prince Frost’s promise that all citizens would be treated as equals has come to fruition. All within the walls are working together to rebuild what was lost during The Restless Hand’s siege almost a year ago. Then there is quite the surprised for Balasar and myself among the folk.

Full blooded orcs?!

Balasar and I cannot believe our eyes at what we are seeing. Just over a dozen of the strong brutes are assisting in erecting several of the buildings. A few look in our direction with nods of approval and not a care for the look of shocks on our faces. Has the young Amon truly become worthy to carry the title of king?

The smirk on his face as we look at says enough.

We continue our walk to the keep without much of a word spoken. What the prince is doing in Icewall will speak volumes to the community in the North after the fall of the orc kingdom Many Arrows years ago.

To solidify this stance as we enter the dining hall, Lithia Muun-Frost counts among her children an orc infant among their twin boys. The baby is tended to by the maidens of the sorceress no different than Henry or Randle. A good sign indeed for the future of this kingdom.

Or one that could bring a bloodbath if Tuskgutter were to find itself within these walls.

As my friend begins to introduce her unusual babe I cut her off, warning both Amon and Lithia of the terrible news I bring and how it will now affect Icewall and its newest citizens.

Looking sternly at me in a way only Muun can, Amon exhales a deep sigh of concern. Prince Frost waves away the maidens to take the children as he hangs his head in one hand, taking another deep breath to slowly release it.

It is a sign that Lithia and he have terrible news as well.