Saul Aurora - Mirror of Lathander

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Saul Aurora - Mirror of Lathander

Post by Admin on Sun May 21, 2017 9:44 pm

(Author's note : My second series of posts started around 2014-15 about a character walking the Faerun lands. It involves a man who grew up in Waterdeep, and during a dramatic moment his course in life changes...)

1322 DR, the 19th of Alturiak


A blast of frigid air had gripped the northwest part of Faerun, bringing the coldest temperatures so far in this new year and sending heavy snow combined with strong, subzero winds and bitter cold over Waterdeep.
The very few people whom for whatever reason were to be found outside, didn’t dare to stop moving and struggled to cross streets in the blowing and falling snow. Their breath escaping from their blue-tinged lips rose up in visible puffs. Even the streetlights, now and then fading from sight, barely formed beacons for the ones outside in order to orientate.

None of this at all for the man standing near the window on the first floor of Copper Street number five, his hands clasped behind his back, his chest out like a proud rooster. A woodfire behind him crackled and snapped, sending its pleasant warmth throughout the room. The mantle encompassing this source of comfort was made of pure marble which was richly carved. A series of handmade clay figurines was lined up on it, and on the wall above hung a small oval portrait of a beautiful young woman.

Too quiet… it was too quiet again. When he finally released his hands, his knuckles white from squeezing, he didn’t seem able to figure out what to do with them. Instead his fingers clasped and unclasped each other as if that could reduce the intensity of his nervousness. A quick glance over his shoulder at the door only seemed to confirm that he had to remain patient for a little longer. He peered outside the window again to see how much more snow was added on top of the already considerable layer.

A shrill scream, barely muffled by the closed wooden door had him startled turning around. He leaned his head as if to listen better. And then a few moments later it was there, undeniably. A newborn’s first cries were sent through the entire house, accompanied by an emotion so powerful and so intense that it could penetrate even the most hardened of Steel Fang crusaders.

Now his time had come and only moments later he found himself sitting on the side of the bed where tiny fingers curled around his pinky. He leaned over and kissed the flushing and sweaty forehead of his wife, grateful that all had gone well and both were in a rather peak condition, considering the circumstances. Little legs kicked with tiny jagged movements, looking for whatever resistance they had been used to.

The man’s eyes grew even more soft right before his lips parted, whispering,“ We shall name him… Saul.”

The woman, whoms head was deeply buried in a pile of pillows smiled warmly at her husband and turned her head to the baby, and she said softly,“ Welcome in the light, Saul Aurora…”


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Re: Saul Aurora - Mirror of Lathander

Post by Admin on Sun May 21, 2017 9:49 pm

1323 DR, the first tenday of Kythorn


The fields outside the city were glade-green. Clouds shaped like fluffy pillows glided slowly across a brilliant blue sky. The afternoon air had become sweet with the scent of blossoming nature wafting from the nearby woodlands.
One bird, probably a lonely nightingale had just started a melodious courting serenade in the hope to attract potential mates with its distinct songs.

A little waddling toddler stopped in the ankle-high grass, standing with a wide base of support and some bowing of the legs. His little head turned and he looked up as he carefully balanced. And when from a nearby tree another bird answered the first, chirping along in a fluty duet, the toddler raised his little arm demonstrating some startle reflex before his tiny index finger pointed upwards.
“O.. o .. o!” he uttered.

Behind him on a wooden bench sat a young pair. The man’s hands were wrapped around the woman’s waist, and her arms were locked around his neck. When they both saw how their son moved around pointing at the trees with a cute amazed expression, they turned to look at each other, soft-eyed.

“Just like you he seems to appreciate a true virtuoso, one who sings with heart and soul...,” she teased as she pulled her husband down slightly.

“And just like you he seems to discover beauty in the life which surrounds us all…” he started.

“... if one is not too busy to notice.” she smirked, teasing the hair in his neck with her fingers.

“Hmm… until someone comes along who simply can’t be ignored.”

She laughed, one of her hands moved down over his chest,” Just like the gods showed off when they created you, you mean?”

He grinned widely at the compliment and in front of the toddler the man offered his wife one of his best kisses ever.

And when they broke apart for air they both turned their faces in amazement as their minds registered how their little son had started clapping at them.

Then little Saul giggled in response to his parent’s uncontrollable smiles...

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Re: Saul Aurora - Mirror of Lathander

Post by Admin on Sun May 21, 2017 9:59 pm

1327 DR, Eleint… also known as The Fading


The child looked up at the face that was his world...

Only to notice the eyes were sunken and the surrounding skin sallow. The rest of the body -covered by a wrinkled blanket- briefly shivered violently the moment he got noticed.

“Mommy…?”

The man behind him motioned him closer to the bed, but the boy insisted to get -on- the bed. Two strong hands grabbed him gently under the armpits and lifted him on the side of it.

The woman coughed heavily as she tried to push herself a bit up against the pile of pillows. After each cough one could hear a whistling sound that resonated through the entire apartment... as if airways were closing up. She clearly struggled to get enough air and after taking a sharp gasp of breath her arms finally reached for the little boy. The man adjusted the pillows, kissed the woman’s sweaty forehead and stood there watching the scene.

The boy didn’t require any encouragement and cuddled in his mother’s arms, albeit restlessly. He -knew- something was up, and he was clearly scared and nervous he would either miss it or wouldn’t understand.

The woman offered him a weak smile. Truth was after she had woken up and was supposed to have had some rest, her eyes felt like filled with sand and her eyelids clearly weighed down. She felt more weak than ever before and moving her arms took the bulk of the energy left in her body. Nonetheless she tried her best to comfort the boy in her arms and her fingers brushed gently through his hair, caressing his ears like she always had done.

“Everything will be alright… mommy is here,... always will be…” she whispered, pressing soft kisses on the top of his little head.

She looked up at her husband, her eyes filling with tears as she saw his. All her prayers had been answered except for the last one. Now she would do another one. As the child continued to cuddle in the safety of her embrace, the woman’s hand reached for the man’s.

She whispered, her throat clearly hurting,” You... both made my world perfect,... and now I am drowning in beautiful memories. It’s time for me to go however… but I will be waiting for you in the Light…”

Tears rolled down the man’s cheeks as he kneeled next to the bed. His body trembled as he burried his head next to hers before kissing her cheek… her lips… and looking up at her.
“Thank you for the beautiful gifts you have given me in this life… I love you more than anything and always will. We seem to part, but we never will and we will meet again. Our love never dies…”

She smiled weakly at him and caressed his cheek,” You silly man… so… No cries it is over but happy smiles it all happened?”

He looked up at her and nodded, his throat feeling as if someone squeezed it.

“Take… take care of our little angel….” she whispered.

He nodded again, tears rolling freely down his cheeks and blurring his sight,” I will, of course I will…”

After he had rubbed his eyes he saw his wife had closed her eyes, her hand lifelessly on his son’s head. His arm moved around his boy and the woman holding him, and he cried...


A while later…

“Mommy…?”

The man looked up at his child and stroked his hair before carefully moving the cold arms embracing the child to the sides.

But when the man tried to take his boy away from his mother, the child started to scream and kick his little legs vigorously, his arms reaching out for the bed from which he was taken.

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Re: Saul Aurora - Mirror of Lathander

Post by Admin on Sun May 21, 2017 10:00 pm

1330 DR, Highsun


A swoosh of sharpened steel cutting air followed by a loud clang resonated through the training chamber.

“Not bad, pay attention, and try again.”

The boy hefted his own weapon as he studied his adversary’s pose. He made sure his feet were placed in the right angles, the tip of his rapier pointing at the man as they cat-like circled around each other.

“Remember, don’t forget to adjust your balance backwards. If you lean forward too much, I could swipe you… and… this way you can release more power once you really need to push off for another attack.”

The boy’s eyes observed the man and he mimicked the movements of his instructor flawlessly.

“And turn a bit sideways, you don’t want your torso to become a too large target.”

Their practice weapons, free of blood stains, flickered in the light of the torches. The man shuffled slightly to the side, clearly awaiting the boy’s next attack.


Suddenly, as if he was some skilled ringmaster, the boy leaped forward, lashed out with a few combinations, made a quick feint attack to the left and then spun around his axis counterclockwise. The man was just in time to dodge backwards in one fluid move as his little competitor swiveled in his direction. A blade sharp as a needle was thrusted forward,... only to meet the man’s longsword, ending this round with another loud clang.

“Hey! Watch it, Saul! You are trying too hard now, I don’t want you to get hurt as I try and protect myself!” The man shook his head and removed his mask.

The boy looked up at him, a bit bewildered.

“Why are you suddenly pushing yourself like that. I mean it’s good to try… but becoming a daredevil…” the man kneeled before him, his hand in concern on the boy’s slender shoulder.

“Because I want to become like you, dad. I want to join the City Guard and protect the city from harm.”

The man’s eyes turned from slightly stern to soft in an instant. He patted his son’s cheek gently,” Lathander bless you you already know what you like to become… but for the City Guard you are still a bit too young.” He smiled kindly,” First your studies and then we’ll discuss your career, little soldier.”

The boy saluted,“ Yes, sir…”

“Your mom would have been so proud of you…”

Saul smiled brightly,” She -is- proud, dad, I know she is… she is in the light, with us.”

Lieutenant Roger’s eyes gleamed a bit as he rose to his feet again and motioned his son to come along. He patted Saul’s back as they walked towards the exit,“ Oh, I’m sure she is… she sure is…”


Perhaps it was due the stillness that fell upon the room, that he could hear his late wife calling their names. He would go to her room, help her comb her hair and take her for a walk in the parc. The memory overwhelmed him a bit, but then he shook his head. His son was right. She wasn’t gone… she only would be if they would forget her. Right now, she just was... out of reach.

The man nodded to himself as he opened the door and lead his boy out...

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Re: Saul Aurora - Mirror of Lathander

Post by Admin on Sun May 21, 2017 10:01 pm

1334 DR, halfway Mirtul


This was it, this was the moment the boy had yearned for. But as soon as he cornered the blacksmith’s building and bumped into the bustling mass of people forcing their way through the sides of a crowded High Road, he started to fear he may not even catch one glimpse of the entire event. Blocked from his immediate goal, the boy’s eyes shifted left and right, searching for a path around.

With slight sorrow he witnessed how other, smaller children were picked up by their parents and straddled, like clinging little monkeys sat about necks and shoulders. Or how his chances of watching from a barrel instead diminished almost completely. He looked up at the open windows and balconies along the main street, and it seemed as if every single spot was occupied. For a moment he wished he and his father didn’t live in Copper Street but he quickly rejected that thought. He was not a child anymore, and he had been taught not to sulk over setbacks, but instead to learn from them. His lesson here? Be on time. A hard yet true enough lesson, especially when he wanted to join them.

When you are sixteen, his father had told him.
He was twelve now, he had answered, and was more than ready for it. His skill with the blade was above average and he knew how to handle himself in smaller combat situations. His father had only laughed and replied the moment he was able to wear at least a chainshirt without his knees bowing, he could join.

The boy brushed over his bare upper arm. He had been training, every single day. Push ups, sit ups, pull ups, high repetition excercises… you name it, he had done them. The months of training didn’t have had a significant impact yet, at least not visibly. But he -was- able to pull up his own weight more than enough times, even while wearing a light armour. He scanned the walls and he caught sight of a facade with a more than sturdy enough looking drainpipe and solid ledges that could hold his weight, probably.

Not much later the boy had found a perfect route and started his climb without worrying over anyone addressing him about this example of daredevilry. He grinned. He was like a blossoming ivy shooting up a wall, effortlessly finding more than enough objects for support and without caring moving past obstacles in his journey upwards… into the light.

As the sun warmed his neck, the boy was just in time to turn his head and to witness how soldiers, dressed in polished chainmail covered by the black tabbards of the City Guard, marched past and towards Northgate… his father on a white stallion in the front rank….

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Re: Saul Aurora - Mirror of Lathander

Post by Admin on Sun May 21, 2017 10:03 pm

Present day, East of Waterdeep



A brilliant shard of white light broke through the casket-black sky and briefly illuminated the battlefield, the sight of it being enough to make the average person’s teeth chatter before fleeing from the scene. Although Saul sensed how the hair at the back of his neck prickled and his heartbeat quickened, he did not cower under what seemed the inevitable. Gone was the light and once more the plain before him was filled with shadows, a shimmering crowd of Undead pulsing below in that vast darkness and pushing him and his fellow brothers and sisters back. Just like the others his sword rose and fell even though they all knew this battle was lost. Here they stood to protect the village from what had to be thousands of soulless things.


Distorted appearances screamed and slashed at him, their wail of pain setting his teeth on edge. He wanted to stop them as well free them from their hollow existence of eternal torment as these were different from the ‘free-willing’ Undead who embraced their so called immortality. Next to him a jet of blood surged into the air as another fellow brother was taken down, life leaving the man even before he had been able to whimper in pain. Never ever before the night had been as dark as this, the usual glare of the moon and stars had faded right before this horrible mass came swarming down the hill into the valley, bringing nothing but death and destruction with them. Merely hours ago the mobilized Lathandrites along with what was left of the town guard had evacuated the area, barely in time saving the locals from being slaughtered.

The Undead had begun pounding and pummeling the hastily raised Lathandrian shields, using their numbers and climbing over one another in an attempt to overrun them. And that is when their commander decided to sound the retreat. Time for plan B and make a stand up on the hill in order to buy more time for the reinforcements which had been summoned but not made their appearance as of yet. Inspite of the chaos and the intimidating mass, the Lathandrites started to move back, disciplined, step by step over a soil so thoroughly burnished with entrails and flooded with blood that it was almost too slippery to stay up on their feet. Cold hands that tried to pull their shields and weapons out of their grasp were quickly chopped off and for a moment it seemed as if the swarming mass had come to an halt, much like a river’s flow being blocked or at least slowed down by a dam.

“There are more coming from Ardeep Forest! We have no choice but to retreat to the river, sir! They can’t swim and the undercurrent will drag any of those who try into the ocean!” was what one of the executive shouted.

“Negative! We’d have to remove our own armor or we’d be dragged along with them.” said one of the novices.

“We have no time to discuss that but we do as brother Alex proposes,” their commander shouted back.

Saul was suddenly confronted with a pair of bulbous eyes and they blazed crimson-red with hatred. The creature snarled and clawed at him, its nails scratching at his armor, tearing in the metal with ease. A moment of deja-vu struck the Lathandriate but there was no time to think and his body responded before he could anyways. From below his armor his old scars started to glow and resonate with the very power from which he drew his spells. And then… there was light.

Not just any light but a painful brightness enough to rival with the sun itself, able to make one’s eyes water under its intensity when directly looking at it. For a moment Saul and everything in his immediate vicinity was plunged in brilliant rays and from the theatre of the dead rose up a series of keening and hair-rising, caterwauling sounds.
The brief outburst of daylight pushed back the darkness, and for a moment it was as if the living were all able to breath again. The pressure on their ranks lessened, albeit temporary and it bought them enough time to withdraw and regroup.

“Good thinking there, Saul!” the novice from earlier sounded.
...


Last edited by Admin on Sun May 21, 2017 10:07 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Saul Aurora - Mirror of Lathander

Post by Admin on Sun May 21, 2017 10:07 pm

The remainder of the Lathandrites and other gathered fighters retreated behind the hastily erected barricades made up of horsecarts, wood, and all sorts of building debris. Saul peered in the direction of the forest, his infravision enabling him to oversee the strangely landscape shrouded in a murky darkness and to perceive the now dead trees thrusting their crooked limbs at the overcast sky like pleading fingers. As if it were a voiceless cry for mercy…

It would be to no avail as undead simply exuded a kind of indiscriminate malice toward all other living things, including nature itself. It hadn’t been thousands of undead but at least a strong few hundred, and a fairly large part of them was still at their feet but they were waiting at the point where their advancement had begun to flag. Then, as he observed the battlefield he caught sight of something out of the corner of his eye. Shadowy forms scurried from place to place among those very trees. Some of the shapes were upright, others were not. They didn’t seem immediately to be a part of the army below so Saul shouted at the commander.

“Sir, you may wish to see this.”

The armored form of a very tall man appeared a moment later next to him, a steel mask and gigantic hammer at hand. “What is it brother Saul, I can’t see a damn thing in this darkness. We need more light…”

Saul raised his hand,” No sir, wait! I believe… it is…” he squinted in the darkness, his free hand over his forehead as if that could increase his sight in such a dark place. His armor showed a severe number of dents, but he spoke as calmly as if he had not spent the entire night involved in heavy fighting. “Sir, I believe we have some unexpected reinforcements arriving.”

“What do you mean, brother?” the large man next to him rumbled.

Saul turned his head and flashed a grin,” Elves, sir… though we may wish to try and make contact with them in order to coordinate our efforts here.”

The commander nodded,” Very well, we’ll send…” but his sentence was cut off by another shout at their left.

“Sir! They are bringing in more heavy stuff!”

Both the commander and Saul turned their heads in the other direction.

There was a shimmering disturbance in the air, a bit comparable to heatwaves rising up from a tile roof on a hot summer’s day. Saul stared in puzzlement at the strange phenomenon where large shapes began to emerge in the middle of it, and he could sense the use of magic tickling the skin below his armor. At first the shapes were amorphous, shifting, changing, gathering form from the surrounding darkness itself. Then they flashed to completion with violent purple outbursts of power, the shapes coalescing quite suddenly with a great rushing together, and assembling to a single towering form that faced the army on top of the hill, snarling at them with a mindless hatred. A pair of burning eyes gleamed from an awful head and Saul could sense its evil essence peering into their very souls. The magic that had been used violated the entire intention of the willingness conditions on resurrection spells. This wasn’t something even near a resurrection. This was pure blasphemy!

The creature with its shredded leathery wings slicing air and bones protuding from all sides roared dangerously, its rotten tail swooshing and indiscriminately sweeping the earthen floor that was littered with undead warriors between broken bodies. What once had been a majestic and mighty creature had now been converted into a huge teeth-snapping abominiation, angered by the torturing magic that held its returned spirit captive. Saul assumed it had to be blind when so suddenly after centuries coming back to this world, and it probably would kill anyone on sight. For a moment there he wondered what on earth possessed people to design and create such explicite connections. Not that he had much time to overthink it. The shrieking noise erupting from a mouth that ran most of the length of its head made people wanting to curl up and press their hands against their ears.

“UNDEAD DRAGON!!!” someone shouted needlessly.

And as the predator put his first paw in their direction, the entire hill shook, the barricades suddenly looking like nothing more but piles of toys and toothpicks...


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Re: Saul Aurora - Mirror of Lathander

Post by Admin on Sun May 21, 2017 10:08 pm

Saul winced at the enormity of the skeletal dragon as it spread its wings, sending gusts of winds in the direction of the unit assigned to take it down. Its tail only had swept once and already knocked a third of the brave men who tried to charge upon it, from their feet. Like a lasso the long body part grabbed two more men who died a violent death with their necks broken on a protruding pile of jagged boulders. Then, the tail coiled back and was raised in the sky were it lingered ominously as the creature clawed and kicked at the remainder of the squad.

Their commanding officer got back to his feet, and as blood poored from his mouth and nose, the man roared orders for his men to attempt casting chains over the wings and body that would secure the unholy thing. The man pointed at the tail, shouting for his men to cut it off as soon as it would come down. Foul juices dripped from the monster’s beak, the stench of rotting death overwhelming even at this distance as it shrieked in their faces.

Saul admired the man for handling this situation so greatly, and so bravely. It had been this captain’s idea and he had insisted on being in charge of this daredevilry. Everyone else around wanted to help out but their instructions had been clear. They would stay out of this and focus on the bulk of the undead forces. Saul saw the dragon bucking, struggling against the chains and the joint forces keeping it low against the surface. And then the captain called forth more soldiers to one side while he drew a second blade that hung from his hip, the metal glowing with a bright radiating light as it slid free from the scabbard.

The magic and the undead creature raised had perhaps been powerful, it still hadn’t been a match for the cunningness of mankind that has evolved over the centuries with a focus on survival. Later on Saul would learn that Captain Errander was also known as a slayer of dragons and his experience in taking down such creatures had been more than welcome. The semi-solar turned his attention back to the front while the dragon was chopped to pieces, and his own formidable, two-edged sword removed another skull from a rump. The rest was really too easy now, just mindless ranks of rotting corpses slowly shambling forwards. But at whom’s whim, and why all this effort? He peered over at the wretched grey and now lifeless wasteland where there was still no sun at the sky. It should be dawn by now.

Strange, cold winds had started to howl around them, blowing through the dead vegetation and over the slippery, bloody parcour of bodyparts, entrails and worse. It was as if some nameless evil whispered in the air. Saul figured it would be better to burn as much of the bodies as they could, and after calling the men back he quickly summoned two pillars of fire that engulfed the area. The smoke and stench drifting into the atmosphere was impossible.

Somewhere from behind him he heard one of the staff shouting at him. “Dawnbringer Saul, status?!!”

“Sir! Everything fairly under control. Though I would pull back the bulk of the men and continue to cleanse the area, sir!”

For a moment there was no answer, probably they were consulting each other. Saul joined a moment in shopping down a few more zombies when the next order came.

“Everyone pull back! We’re going to bombard this place with the Lord’s divine light and flames!!”

But just as all the regiments moved back and the Dawnbringers, clerics and similar summoned their magic, Saul's eyes caught those shapes again, leaping between dead trees and scurrying over rocks, heading in their direction.

“Sir! Hold the fire! We have company!”

“Brother Saul?!”

“It’s the elves, sir! They’re coming this way! Rangers I think!”


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Re: Saul Aurora - Mirror of Lathander

Post by Admin on Sun May 21, 2017 10:11 pm

Saul, close enough to the command post, was able to overhear parts of the conversation between his commander and a fairly tall elf.

“What?? Are you sure??” The commander bellowed.

“It is as certain as death, commander. The Undead are merely a distraction. Within our woods there lurks an army of orcs of considerable size, and we simply have not enough members in our small community to send an arrow through each skull. They brought a few trolls as well with them and their shamans made friends with some necromancers to create... -this- here.” The elf raised his arm in a single, fluid move, his golden eyes fixating on the walking corpses.

“But that means we…”

The elf simply nodded. “You have brought the wrong army, human. We counted the orcs and they outnumber you greatly. Like said, together we may have a chance however.” The elf looked approvingly in Saul’s direction. “Burning the bodies is a good idea since I suspect it’s their way to weaken you with the ones deceased, only to bring them back.”

“Alright, I’ll accept any help we can get. Tell your seer to retreat and bring your people out of those woods. We’ll be carving a rude path your way and meet you at the borderlands. Let’s pray that those greenskins have no clue what we’re up to.”

“Very well…” the elf turned around and motioned to his band of scouts to move out.


Soon after that, the survivors regrouped and as one dense massive phalanx formation the combined forces of Lathandrites and City Guard faced the undead. A light emanated from the core of the phalanx and any attack of the undead upon them failed to break their ranks. Slowly the small army of less than three hundred men and women pushed towards the treeline.

Saul was in the front, kicking at one zombie and beheading another with a swing of his blade. The creature shrieked in an unnatural way as its head rolled over the soil. Foul magic. Another giant zombie lashed out at Saul with its rusty axe, the metal glancing off his hastily raised shield. The blow however shivered down his shield arm and made him stagger across the dirt. In the next moment he heard the wood splinter right next to his ear, the impact of the axe on his shield going as a great punch through his entire body. It was a sudden, jarring shock that burst pain through his shoulder and chest, and it definitely would have been a killing blow if he hadn’t brought that shield along. Saul was trained to ignore the pain for a moment and the muscles of his shoulder bunched against the wood, using his broken shield in a slam attack in an attempt to knock the large zombie off balance. Then, he lashed out with the tip of his sword, adding a bit of divine magic to it. Bits of rotten flesh, bone and blood splattered everywhere as his brothers joined him in the counterattack.

“Thank you!” Saul said as he wiped his forehead.

The man next to him nodded. “Brother Aurora.”

For a moment they stopped and more divine flames were cast upon the bodies, the heat so intense that it was impossible to ward it off entirely. Saul tossed his broken shield to the side and tested his arm. Sweat beaded on his face, plastering his golden hair to his forehead as he watched the flesh melt from the desiccated limbs. The others around him were cleaning their helmets and shields splattered with blood and gore. For a moment Saul looked over his shoulder in the direction of Waterdeep, almost half a day traveling away from them. He wondered what this small enemy army’s purpose was and what they did had in mind when they received the first reports about the presence of a considerable ‘Undead force’ ravaging the land here. He hoped the city was alright as several Dawnbringers had joined the City Guard's call to arms. Saul was both, and as a lieutenant of the City Guard he was here in charge of a small squad. Since there were barely any undead left standing, the phalanx had been split up to smaller units again which spread out over the plain towards the first trees.


They were not far from the edge of the forest anymore as sudden rushes of cold wind swept over the area. Saul sensed how the sudden gust of wind with uncontrollable enthusiasm started to circle his unit, and whispered words in their minds.


“Know me, fear me… my embrace is for each and every one of you, for eternity……
Know me, fear me, not even the strongest, the bravest, the fastest and hardest will stop me...…
Know me, fear me, never am I asleep, always am I there, in smile, in shadow, and in tear...…
Know me, fear me, life asks for death, never too early, never too late, let me show you now... and strip you down to your boney essence...”



A few of Saul’s men gasped and staggered backwards in horror. One shouted,“ Myrkul’s!!!!!”

Saul himself was immune to fear, but he knew fear when he saw it. It happened when people looked death in the face, when it finally fully dawned on them how mortal they actually were. And in this case, fear itself was so close that it could practically kiss them on the lips. A long time ago however Saul had learned that fear was a natural thing, and that it should be regarded as something that would wake you to do what needed to be done. Instead of letting it overwhelm him... he owned it... he used it, he used it to steel himself to hold his nerve. But he did have a difficult time with what happened next…

A violent gust of wind struck him and his men frontally and even tore the headband from his head. Two skeletal forms almost completely devoid of any skin and flesh materialized, pairs of empty sockets with only a milky blue light within looked directly at them. Each form seized a long shaft of some sort and something bright reflected Saul’s divine light. It were long curved blades on each staff and they were held up motionless. Some of Saul’s men looked a moment fascinated, other soldier’s faces were blanched with fear as they stood frozen to the spot. The liches seemed to move in slow motion towards them as they brought their scythes around, holding them up a split second….



Saul’s mind however was warped back in time to the moment of the drama… the drama that occured ten years ago…

...

Saul heard the screams of the soldiers echoing through the tunnels of Mount Waterdeep, the sound of clashing steel ringing like alarm bells. His breath was coming in harsh pants as he was running back to the spot where his unit had split up. It sounded awful to his ears and -she-… -she- was with them. The walls of the tunnel trembled slightly, as if an inhumanly powerful blow had been delivered onto the rock. He heard incantations of the accompanying Dawnbringers, only to be followed by more earthquakes and a soundless wind that raged throughout the tunnel system. Two explosive releases threw him to the ground.

But Saul struggled back up quickly and with a grueling pace he kept running up the sloping underground, his sword and shield ready. When he reached the cross-section, he took a left and bolted down the tunnel in which he had sent them… in which he had sent -her-. Tears had him blind as he didn’t overhear any battle sounds anymore. He could only hope. The pounding noise of his military boots resonated off the walls of the dark tunnel with a clanging echo that matched well with the fear that was gripping at his heart, squeezing all the warmth out of it.

Finally, in the distance at the end of the tunnel he perceived a small light. Perhaps…?

But as soon as he got closer, the Aasimar’s nostrils were assaulted by the dreadful smell of death. A thin blackish stream flowed sluggishly down the tunnel, splattering his boots and armor as he ran through it. And when Saul cornered the next turn and entered the cavern, he could see his worst nightmare had come true. Blood leaked along the walls, droplets of the life fluid falling upon his hair and armored shoulders. Lifeless bodies, body parts... with blood oozing from countless abrasions and bone-deep cuts... all over the place.

Saul went pale at the amount of blood gleaming dark and wet on the cavern floor, the color swirling in his mind. He detected one of his friends among the corpses, with lifeless eyes staring out from a pale bloodstained face up at the ceiling... and with his fingers still clasping at the ripped flesh of his own cracked chest. Another one right next to him looked like his head had been turned all around with one violent twist. More motionless, mutilated bodies littered the ground, and body pieces had been tossed about like parts of a broken toy.

Wild eyed Saul looked across the massacre, the very sight practically suffocating him. Every creature in this section of the tunnels, from the tiniest to the strongest had been slain. And… and… and then… then he could distinctly make out his wife. He yelled out to her... but she couldn’t hear him anymore. Saul ran to the other side of the cavern… all the while knowing he was too late. He whispered her name over and over again as he fell to his knees beside her body. He cried out as he hugged her lifeless form, looking down in disbelief upon that strange young bloodied face that was supposed to be his wife’s. A cry that seemed to well up from the most primitive part of his soul erupted deep and low from his throat. A heart couldn't possibly get broken any worse than this…

The love of is life was gone, and as if filling the void itself naturally, anger entered his mind, and within moments it consumed his thoughts. No feelings of powerlessness, but instead a sheer, bitter rage howled inside him like a living thing that tried to free itself from his chest. He would avenge her… he would avenge everyone else who had suffered and who would be suffering as long as this -thing- was about. It would suffer... just… just like he was suffering. He didn’t wait for any reinforcements, but picked up his shield and blade and entered the tunnel behind the blood glinting scene.

Not that he had to go far as he knew this tunnel had a dead end at some point. The one he hunted now couldn’t go anywhere. And he didn’t care that this creature was so strong and that it had taken out half of his unit. Perhaps they had harmed it enough for him to have a chance. And then.. then...


“Ahhhaa… I was almost afraid I would have to wait too long… -not-... that I was in a hurry… guardsman.”

Saul froze in his tracks as he heard the cold voice and perceived a dark shade at the other side of the tunnel, slowly heading his way with a determined step.

“Well… only one to stop me this time?” The shade shrouded in a black hooded mantle stopped. There were glimpses of pure white bone as arms from under the cloth motioned in Saul’s direction. “Are you insulting me, human…?”

Saul clenched his jaw, his fingers gripping tightly around the handle of his blade before he said with a low voice. “I… am... not... human…”

“No… Really…??” An ice cold wind rushed into Saul’s direction as the mantle was removed, revealing the liche in all its unholy glory. “Let’s have a look at you then.”

Saul tossed his shield aside and readied his blade with two hands, his blue eyes gleaming in the darkness as he kept his gaze fixed on the dreadful appearance that was holding nothing in his bony hands. Only a dark golden chain hung from the liche’s neck and a pair of bracers were attached on his wrists.

“Ahh… oohhh… your blood I do like even more! Still… you are no less pathetic than they were…” The liche raised his bony hand, vaguely pointing to the tunnel behind Saul. “The taste of their soul was above expectations however.” The liche chuckled. It was not just a malevolent cackle, but it also displayed pure amusement.

“They were not pathetic… vile creature…. they were my friends… my companions… my wife…”

And just like a kettle in a kitchen abruptly boiling over, with steam flushing out in an angry cloud, Saul curved like a whirlwind around the liche and attacked him with defiant anger. Blade and claws clashed and Saul saw immediately he was at a massive disadvantage. The edges of his sword chewed but not sliced the bones, and somehow those regenerated. The creature had wards cast upon his form and thin wisps of black smoke rose up from the spots were his nails raked over. Those claws were larger than the tip of a spear, sharper than a blade and hot enough to melt steel.

But he didn’t care… the images of the villagers and their children, his friends and his wife kept him going. He wasn’t afraid either… his only fear was that he wouldn’t be able to avenge them. Frantically Saul kept lashing out, and fully concentrated on his attacks instead of defense… since he knew he too would lose this battle anyways. But this creature would die with him, and if it did, it wouldn’t be able to kill anyone anymore since they had found and destroyed its secret little ‘life jar’ earlier.

Suddenly, it was as if everything began to happen in slow motion...





The blows the liche delivered upon him were staggering but also lightning fast, the injuries they caused, deadly too as they sucked at his life force. At some point when Saul struck at the liche’s neck, sacrificing all his defenses in order to do so, he sensed those claws slicing through his armor and scraping over his bones. Pain beyond imagination slammed into Saul when more flesh was torn from his body, the liche’s reaction a combination of raw pleasure and yearning hunger.

Saul tried to fight it down, forcing the pain away from his thoughts, ignoring the blood gushing from his torn shoulder. He clutched the handle of his blade so tightly that his knuckles protuded. He raised his blade as if in an attempt to put an end to the liche with one devastating blow. Tears streamed openly down his cheeks, and a cry of frustration mixed with an anger that no living creature could possibly have missed, erupted from his lips.
“She was pregnant, you monster! Cease to exist!! In the name of Lathander!!”

In the next split-second he noticed the liche’s expressions, as far as he had any, transforming in an instant to surprise and perhaps horror as the lights in those empty eye sockets grew… as if he widened eyes he didn’t have.

And then… Saul sensed it… a strange warmth that seemed to seep into the very pores of his being like hot oil. The liche’s form was bathing in a bright, golden light. Saul’s mind was too small to contain what was happening next, yet he did sense a fresh, otherworldly power filling him… reaching all the way to his heart and replenishing the energy that had been drained by the liche, albeit temporarily...
Saul’s body shone with divine glory… and the next thing… he seemed to explode...


...


Merely a seconds later Saul fell out of his distant thoughts and staggered back into reality, his own body meanwhile flaring with a white-hot light that broke free from those old scars. He pointed at the two liches and shouted to his men.

DO YOU STILL WISH TO RISE IN THE MORNING WITH THE SUN WARMING YOUR FACE !?! I SEE THE FEAR IN YOUR EYES BUT WE HAVE FOUGHT THESE IN A THOUSAND BATTLES, AND KNEW A THOUSAND VICTORIES !! TODAY WE HAVE TO DEFEND OUR LAND AT WHATEVER THE COST MAY BE !! IF WE DO NOT END THESE, THESE WILL END US, AND EVERYTHING ELSE WE CARE AND WILL CARE FOR.. WILL COME TO AN END !! SHOW THESE HOW BRIGHT HIS LIGHT SHINES, AND STRIKE WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT ALTOGETHER NOW THAT THE BLOOD IS STILL RUSHING THROUGH YOUR VEINS!!! STRIKE… STRIKE… FOR A NEW DAY!!!


The company fought bravely and together they destroyed the liches. With their most powerful necromancers been slain, the orcs had second thoughts on their chieftains’s orders, and head over heels turned back to their homelands. But not after the elves had knocked some arrows in a few more backs. The survivors of the victorious company with Waterdeep finest city guards aided by a detachment of Dawnbringers, returned safely to Waterdeep.
And the first thing Saul did was visiting the temple of Sune… just to make sure.

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