The Long Shadows of Brightstone

The Eye of Gruumsh

Narthus stood on top of the Bazaar, roughly right over where his friends were engaged in battle. He watched Cyrus and Garianna as they casted and chanted in unison. The two have been channeling their dark sorcerous powers for a few minutes now, Narthus thought. He was waiting for their signal, the signal that would tell him to unleash his fiery breath weapon onto the top of the large dome to create an opening. The air around the sorcerers began to get thick, he could feel something coming, he could tell that the two were summoning something. Narthus waited.

The Orc shaman had been focused on his ritual for quite some time now. After he saw his other fellow shaman slain so easily he retreated into the crowd of Orcs to start his chanting. He was nearly complete, he was ready to sacrifice himself for his God. This would be his last spell he thought, better not let  Lord Darkblade down. Just a few more seconds.

Trome Titæn lined up his shot and let his arrow fly. Darkblade was quick, he immediatley spun his body and arched himself backwards to try and avoid the arrow that was aimed for his face.  He wasn't quick enough. Trome's shot was true and the arrow pierced through both of the giant Orc's cheeks. Darkblade roared so loud it shook the foundations of the Bazaar. The Orc stumbled backwards in pain, grabbing at the arrow lodged in his face. 

Sylvanoran grinned behind his mask as he saw a good opportunity to deliver more pain. The warlock launched himself into the air, his dark power keeping him aloft, gathered energy into his scepter and unleashed it all down onto Darkblade. The Orc caught the volley right in his forehead and it sent him crashing into the floor.

 Isidro, not bleeding anymore, came sprinting over to Darkblade with both blades out. The Orc  was doubled over, his smoking face buried into the floor. Isidro leapt up and landed onto Darkblade's back, sinking his swords into either side of his spine. Darkblade roared once more, jumped to his feet, thrashing around. Isidro held strongly to the hilts of his weapons, keeping them buried deep.

With the Assassin still clinging to his back, Darkblade took up his sword and charged towards Trome. Four arrows came flying towards the Orc, an attempt to slow him down, it didn't work. The arrows were shattered or deflected by thick armor. Darkblade's sword went high and then came crashing down towards the archer. Trome did the only thing he could to deflect the sword, use his bow to block the strike. The giant bastard sword struck down onto  the magical bow, deflecting the attack, but also utterly destroying the bow. The force of the strike sent Trome to the ground.

The large nimble archer tumbled to his feet and began to put some distance between himself and the Orc as he drew out a second bow from his magical quiver. Darkblade closed the distance quickly and lined up for a second strike when  Illikan charged into the Orc. The flying elbow strike sent Darkblade tumbling to the ground, the sound was like two mountains colliding. Isidro safely withdrew his blades and tumbled out of harm's way before he was crushed by Darkblades armor.

The Orc lay very still. The Riders of Brightstone could tell that he was just buying time before he makes his next attack. Darkblade was running out of options. Trome walked over cautiously with two arrows knocked, ready to plant them into Darkblade's skull when suddenly, from out of the crowd came the second shaman running towards Darkblade with his eyes and hands all aglow with a strange red energy. 

The shaman was fixed on one thing only, become a physical link between Darkblade and Gruumsh. A conduit to transfer what remaining strength the god had into Lord Darkblade. Two arrows struck him, struck him simultaneously in the neck. An attack that would have killed the shaman immediatley, the attack nearly severed the shaman's head. However, this orc forfeited what life force he had when he began casting this spell, he was now animated by Gruumsh himself.

Trome gasped as his arrows didn't slow the shaman (the arrows DID continue to fly into the crowd of Orcs killing five BTW). Sylvanoran pieced together what was probably going to happen if the shaman would reach Darkblade's body and with a burst of dark vapor he teleported himself over Darkblade just before the shaman reached him. The warlock's demon arm flew up and grabbed the shaman by the head and lifted him off of the ground. Sylvanoran's large clawed hand completely covered the shaman's face. The Orc kicked and thrashed, but was too weak to break the warlock's hold.

The energy inside of the Orc seemed to be incredibly unstable and Sylvanoran paused a second to think of how to dispose of the Shaman safely. The shaman was rendered helpless by the warlock's grasp, but that didn't stop Darkblade. The giant Orc sprang to his feet and thrust his clawed gauntlets into Sylvanoran's back. Sylvanoran could almost feel Darkblade's hand coming out the otherside of his chest, he used his teleportation power once more and vanished. The shaman, not being held anymore, fell to the ground and Darkblade reached for him. Illikan grabbed Darkblade from behind and put him into a bear hug. The massive monk did everything he could to keep Darkblade away from the glowing Orc.

Sylvanoran appeared towards the edge of the area that the Orcs had cleared for the fight. He was on his hands and knees and was losing a lot of blood. The warlock held his breath, and concentrated on his gaping wound. Slowly the wound began to heal. All he could do is wait for his wound to close up before he could rejoin the fight. He looked up and saw Illikan holding Darkblade, his tree-trunk-arms wrapped around the giant Orc's body. The shaman was on ground, still pulsing with divine energy, he got to his feet and moved towards Darkblade. 

Isidro moved in desperately to stop the Orc, a flurry of stabs and slashes removed an arm and half of the Shaman's face. The shaman continued. A volley of five arrows blew straight through the Orc's chest and continued into the crowd. The Orc continued. Darkblade could tell his days would be numbered if he didn't get to the Shaman. Darkblade drove the back of his head into Illikan's face and used his spiky armor to drive his elbow into his stomach. Illikan stumbled backwards bleeding from the face and torso.

Darkblade grabbed the shaman and took him up into a bear hug, crushing the energy out of the little Orc. The shaman burst and was vaporized, creating an explosive charge of sheer divine power. The blast rocked the Bazaar, every one of the two hundred Orcs was thrown off of their feet. Trome, Isidro, Sylvanoran, and Illikan were all tossed a few dozen feet into the crowd of fallen Orcs.

When the blinding light subsided, everyone climbed to their feet. The RoB were surrounded by dozens of Orcs, but for this short moment nobody seemed to care. All eyes were on Lord Darkblade. The large Orc Lord held his sword up into the air and roared with such intensity it made the ground shake. There, standing in the center of the Bazaar was Lord Darkblade, avatar of Gruumsh. Re-energized and strength bolstered, Darkblade began to walk forward, towards the exit of the Bazaar. He was so focused that he seemed to forget he was just locked in deadly combat. Trome and Isidro ran back to the center circular clearing quickly, ready to re-engage Darkblade. Sylvanoran stood his ground, not seeming to care that he was surrounded by a hundred angry and awe inspired Gruumsh fanatics. Illikan burst from the crowd and sprinted towards Darkblade with lightning speed. The monk was a blur, he rounded up behind the Orc King for a strike. In a flash Illikan hit the floor. The monk was in a daze. Bleeding from his face, he looked up at Darkblade's extended fist.

Gruumsh's chosen warrior raised his sword and drove it into the ground, right where Illikan laid. Illikan watched Darkblade's sword hilt descend all the way down to his chest.  Larizha, screamed in terror as she watched her good friend get skewered to the ground. Illikan made no sound or facial expression. His mind was so well tuned and focused that he had no use for pain anymore. The monk just laid there, helpless. Darkblade removed his sword, after twisting it of course, and continued walking out of the Bazaar. "Destroy the scum here. It's time we end this war once and for all!" Darkblade roared while exiting. 

The two hundred Orcs screamed battle cries and raised their weapons. Isidro and Trome stood in the middle sizing up their opponents that were closing in from all sides. Larizha ignored everyone but Illikan, she ran to his body and began using her mystical healing power on him.

With a crack of thunder and a roar of flame, a twenty foot diameter opening in the ceiling blast open and a small army of demons began to pour into the bazaar. Flying and falling down, crashing onto the Orc's shield and sword. RoB braced themselves for the assault until they realized that these demons were in fact, allies.

Cyrus and Garianna, exhausted, finished the ritual and monitored the gates they opened from the Abyss. Narthus stood back until all of the demons had entered the Bazaar, and he jumped in after them to engage the Orcs. Garianna turned to address her Fey'ri allies "Engage the enemy, cover all exits but stay clear of Darkblade." The fifteen or so winged demons sprang into action. Fireballs and Lightning bolts began to rain down onto the Orc armies below.

The Sorcerers closed their gates to the Abyss and flew towards the sky. Several hundred feet up they could get a much better picture of where they could be useful next. The Bazaar was now the center of the action. On the west side was Darkblade's army and on the East was Prince Thaynin's forces. It was a full on battle at this point, and all hell was breaking loose inside of the Bazaar.

Sylvanoran watched the demons crash down onto the Orcs, distracting them long enough so he could finish healing his wound, and by that time he was surrounded by a pretty decent pile of dead Orc. The dark warlock clapped his hands together and created a burst of necrotic energies that swirled around him and entered a dozen of the deceased bodies near him. One by one the dead Orcs rose to their feet and marched over to Sylvanoran for further instruction. "Lead me out of the Bazaar, and don't let any of these ugly Orcs get near me." The Orc zombies grunted in acknowledgment and the twelve surrounded him as they began to march out of the Bazaar.

Trome stood over Larizha and Illikan, a barrage of arrows finding anyone willing to get near. The ranger decided to wait this out for awhile. Take in what was all happening. Orc god? Abyssal army? 'What have i gotten myself into?' he thought.

Meanwhile Isidro was performing his dance of death. The assassin twirled, spun, flipped, and tumbled through the ranks of Orcs, leaving a path of death in his wake. The Orcs were the thickest near Darkblade, and that's just where he was heading. The "friend" he had contacted before the assault began will be reaching the battle soon, and he did not want to miss their arrival.

NEXT: Darkblade… I mean Gruumsh's Fate

 

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Gruumsh's Chosen One

Garianna, Trome Titæn, Isidro, Narthus, and Sylvanoran stood several hundred yards away from what was known throughout the Kingdom of Wingard as the Bazaar. This gigantic domelike structure used to house tradesman and craftsman from all over the world. Great shows of skill and magic were seen daily. A place of wonder indeed.

On this particular day however, the Bazaar was filled with Orcs. Hundreds of Orcs. Lord Darkblade's chosen regime of his finest warriors. The Riders of Brightstone stood on the East side of the huge dome, the same side as Wingard's strike force. The West side of the dome was a horde of Orcs screaming Gruumsh war chants. As Wingard's forces moved in on the Bazaar they split down the middle and headed north and south around the dome. The Orcs heading from the West did the same. Metal clashed and sounds of death rang out from the battle.

All sides of the Bazaar were covered in Orcs and battle… Except the East side. Wingardian Knights, under the order of Prince Thaynin, protected the east entrance of the Bazaar. Thaynin told the RoB that he'd give them a clear path into the dome. 

With the aid of sort of flight spell, Cyrus swept down and greeted the RoB. After a short discussion, everyone agreed on an attack plan.

  • Trome, Isidro, and Sylvanoran would head straight into the Bazaar and seek out Darkblade directly.
  • Narthus, Cyrus, Garianna, and the Fey'ri would fly up on top of the Bazaar and strike from above when needed
  • Piqwet was to stay back and wait for any instruction from Sylvanoran
  •  Nobody cared… but Lance told everyone that he'd be protecting Prince Thaynin.
  • Larizha, seeming very grateful for RoB's assistance, says she'll head into the Bazaar and provide aid to anyone who needs it.

So, in they went. A wall of Wingardian Knights creating an open path for Trome, Isidro, Sylvanoran, and behind them, Larizha. Inside the Bazaar was… Intimidating. Two hundred orcs greeted the warriors by banging their weapons against their sheilds and screaming death threats. But they did not attack. Straight ahead, on the opposite end of the gigantic dome, stood one of the largest Orcs the RoB has ever seen. Covered head to toe in demonic plate mail and wielding an oversized bastard sword, Lord Darkblade was an impressive sight.

One hundred orcs to his right, and one hundred orcs to his left. His forces made a wall of ugly around him except for a ten for opening, an invitation for somebody to try to take him on. Sylvanoran warned Trome and Isidro of the two shaman standing behind darkblade. "Expect him to be protected and healed by those two." he hissed. As he spoke the shaman conjured up a circle of gusting wind. A forty foot diameter of protective wind spun around Darkblade. The wind pushed his men back a few steps. 

Trome cursed under his breath. His arrows won't be very effective shooting through the windwall. Isidro picked up his step, moving in on Darkblade who was still, what seemed, to be a few hundred feet away. "Back me up, I want to take him first." Isidro instructed. So they all ran forward up until they met the wind wall. They stopped and re-evaluated the situation.

One hundred orcs on either side of them. They were so close, the orcs were spitting at their feet. Ahead was a forty foot diameter clearing where Darkblade stood in the center, and behind him were his two shaman protectors. Isidro drew his blades (Adujar's Blade of Demise and Adujar's Blade of Defiance.) Sylvanoran stood confidently, his hands aglow with raw arcana. Trome had his bow out with four arrows nocked at one time… Larizha stood behind, looking out of place.

Isidro darted in, running straight for the giant Orc. Sylvanoran and Trome placed one step through the windwall and both targeted the same shaman. Isidro was a blur, his speed seemed to catch Darkblade offguard. Just before he struck, Isidro actitated the power within his bracers making his attacks impossible to read. He unleashed a quick flurry of deadly attacks onto Darkblade that all ended in the pinging of his armor. Isidro was stopped short so fast that he staggered back trying to recover his momentum. Darkblade reacted faster than Isidro imagined he could. Before the Genasi assassin realized it, Darkblade had his giant sword crushing down over Isidro's head! Just then, the assassin's magical animated shield whirred into action and placed itself between Isidro's face and Darkblade's adamantine bastard sword. BOOM! Sparks, flame, and metal exploded over Isidro's head as he deftly tumbled backwards ten feet or so, avoiding the rest of Darkblade's unstoppable strike.

Isidro's attacks had failed against Darkblade's magical armor and his shield was completely destroyed. Isidro cursed out the Orc as Trome jumped forward unleashing his one shot volley of arrows into one of the shaman's stomach. The orc roared in pain and stumbled back, the attack was almost to much. The shaman looked as if it was going to heal it's new wound when Sylvanoran unleashed a devastating blast of energy into the shaman's face. The Orc toppled over onto the ground in a smoldering mess.

The Orcs surrounding the fight roared with disagreement. The 3 took that small gain stoically. Darkblade rushed forth with amazing speed and power. His quick jabs and swings were blocked by Isidro, but the force of the attack threw the assassin right out of the circle and into a pile of screaming orcs. Trome danced around  Darkblade and readied four more arrows and fired. All but one were completely deflected by his armor and the one that got through barely made a scratch. Sylvanoran knew that physical attack would not best this beast. He summoned up the best of his dark energies and unleashed it all onto Darkblade's back. The giant orc roared in anger, not in pain, as he was almost thrown to the ground from the incredible blast. 

Armor smoldering from the attack he rushed Sylvanoran and swung high cutting downward. Sylvanoran couldn't dodge the attack so but he slowed it by blocking the strike with his out reached demonic arm. The blade drove deeply into the powerful demon arm. Sylvanoran's knees buckled under the force of the attack. The warlock grabbed the blade with his hand and tried to force the blade away from him. Darkblade freed up one of his hands off of his sword and back handed Sylvanoran up along the side of his head. Bleeding badly from his arm, and almost thrown unconcious from the punch he fell to the ground. 

Isidro burst forth from the crowd of orcs in a flurry of strikes and swings that left several dead behind him. Keeping his momentum he ran towards Darkblade, who was still standing over Sylvanorans body. Isidro ran, jumped up and landed on the giant orc's back, finding placement for his feet in the notches and crevaces in the orc's armor. He spun is two swords upside down and drove them into the back of Darkblade's neck. KLANG! The oversized demon helm deflected almost all of the attack. Darkblade angrily shook the assassin off of his back, spun around with a following 2-handed strike with his bastard sword. Before Isidro's feet even hit the ground, Darkblade's sword found a home in the side of the rogue's chest toppling him end over end onto the ground near the edge of the circle. 

Trome saw his two allies in a heap… Darkblade stared him down. That is until Larizha ran into the circle straight towards Isidro. Her arms were outstretched already glowing with mystical healing magic. Darkblade lept, lunging his blade straight out towards her chest. The attack would have skewered her easily if Trome wouldn't have knocked 4 arrows into the orc's hand that was holding the sword. The attack caused the sword to miss it's mark by just a hair.  Larizha was not skewered, but Darkblade did manage use his clawed gauntlets to tear into her back causing her to crash down onto the ground next to Isidro. As she screamed in pain, Trome could tell that Darkblade was smiling behind that Demon Helm.

Just then, from what seemed to be, out of nowhere came a giant of a man crashing his fist right into the side of Darkblade's head. The lightning fast strike and with the force of resounding thunder completely levels Darkblade out. Darkblade fell onto his side, his helmet crushed and broken rolled on the ground away from him. Bleeding from the mouth, Darkblade sprang back to his feet to meet his new attacker.

Standing over seven feet tall, dressed only in wraps, was a Goliath. This huge man seemed to be carved from stone. His body has met with perfection. Every inch of him was a finely tuned weapon. He stood and stared down Darkblade with total confidence and concentration. "His armor is broken. Now he'll bleed." was all that Illikan said.

Sylvanoran pulled himself to his feet. 

Larizha began to heal Isidro.

Trome smiled and raised his bow.

 

NEXT: GRUUMSH'S TRUE CHOSEN ONE!

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... Of Giant Proportions

 

 

The Riders of Brightstone assembled at RehTael Keep. It was there they all met up with Cyrus. He had returned to Cyan.

After asking everyone for an audience, Cyrus continued to explain why he had returned from his "leave of absence". He went on to tell the adventurers about the war that is waging in The Kingdom of Wingard. He explained that Lord Darkblade's forces are overwhelming Castle Wingard. It won't be long until Wingard becomes a nation of Orc and Giant if they do not intervene. Some scoffed at the idea of swinging in and saving some country they have no relation to, but everyone kept an open ear.

Cyrus proposed that they combine their forces and assault Darkblade's present base of operations, in turn, crippling the warlords momentum. He explained that the city of Lockton has been completely overrun and completely militarized by Orcs and Giants. That is where Darkblade is controlling all his army's actions. 

 Nobody seemed convinced.

The tiefling continued to explain that he had been tasked by someone (he could not disclose their identity) to end this war and by doing so this person would reward Cyrus with an item of great power.

It wasn't until Cyrus said that this item of power could be used to destroy the Angels of Heironeous and  Brother Michael, did they start to pay attention. So:

  1. End the war: which meant to Kill  Lord Darkblade and Larsuvious
  2. Cyrus is rewarded with "mysterious item of power"
  3. Item of power is used to destroy Brother Michael
  4. Trome Titæn can then, with the angels out of the way, open up the room that holds the key to his destiny.

After everyone agreed to help, Cyrus went on to explain what they had to do.

A small elite attack force was sent by  King Arrum Wingard in a last ditch effort to try and kill Darkblade. At the time, the force was just east of Lockton, unable to press their attack. The only way into Lockton at this point was completely barricaded and armed with Cloud Giants and Orcs manning catapaults.  There was no way Wingards forces could pass this defense with the small numbers they brought.

Cyrus proposed that they teleport inside of the city and destroy Darkblade's defense from the inside, and after the barricade is down, they will let Wingard's forces through. And then they'll have a clear shot at Lord Darkblade.

 The next day Piqwet used his magic to teleport  Sylvanoran, Cyrus, Garianna, Trome Titæn, Narthus, Isidro, and twelve Fey'ri sorcerers to Lockton. Piqwet managed to transport them inside an Inn that was right next to the barricade and the Giants.

Garianna and her Fey'ri secured the building and went to wait in the basement of Inn until an opportunity arose for them to strike. Piqwet followed the Fey'ri, he was their ticket out of here if things went sour. That left Narthus, Trome, Sylvanoran, and Isidro to assault the defense barricade. 

The Inn was practically surrounded by Orcs and Giants. Isidro and Sylvanoran took the front entrance, Narthus and Trome took the back.

Casting invisibility spells, Isidro and Sylvanoran casually walked out the front door onto a street filled with Cloud Giants and fully armored Orcs that acted as Darkblades personal guard. Sylvanoran began the fight by trapping a handfull of orcs in a field of necrotic tentacles that began to pummel and tear the warriors apart. Isidro deciding to keep his distance from the Cloud Giants for now, used his bow to rain a few sneak attacks down on some unsuspecting Orcs.

Meanwhile, Trome crept around a corner to see a couple of 17' tall Mountain trolls and keeping the trolls in check were half a dozen of the armored Orcs. Trome opened up a constant volley of arrows that dropped both trolls in a matter of a few moments. The orc handlers charged furiously towards Trome but they were ended quickly by Narthus' halberd. Volley after volley, Trome was thinning the ranks. Narthus kept himself busy by keeping the Orcs off of Trome.

An Orc Shaman put an end to Isidro and Sylvanoran's unseen killing spree by disenchanting  their invisibility spells. Now that the Cloud Giants could see who was attacking them, they began to swarm the two. But as soon as the Cloud Giants got too close to Isidro, they seemed to die. The assassin's blades went to work on the thick skin of the Giant's bellies and made short work of them. Sylvanoran let loose a few overpowerd blasts of dark arcana to slow the charge. As soon as the first Giant fell, The warlock used his dark powers and animated it to fight against it's allies. 

The RoB continued to wage battle against Darkblade's finest warriors. As soon as the ranks were thin enough Garianna and her Fey'ri emerged to begin their magical assault. Fireballs and Acid storms filled the air around the Orcs and they're catapaults. They were dead and destroyed in seconds. By this time most of the Cloud Giants had beem slain. Garianna took the last two giants out with a Prismatic Eye spell.

The giants were dead, the catapaults aflame, and the barricade destroyed. The Wingard forces began to move into the city. The Riders of Brightstone met up with two grateful Wingardians (Lance and Larizha). One of which offered to heal the entire party. A temporary alliance with the Wingard forces was then created.

With the Wingard forces invading Lockton, there would be a clear path for the RoB to move in and attack Darkblade. They just needed to find him. Cyrus split off from the group awhile back to try and locate the Warlord so the next plan of action would be to meet up with Cyrus…

NEXT: Battle at the Bazaar.

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