This is part two of my previously uploaded story, The Rebirth Algorithm. I said this in the last part, but I’ll say it again for those who skipped over it. I am writing this in parts, its going to be long and multiple parts. I am also going to be writing this story from the characters perspective. Something I didnt mention in the last part is that this is a homebrew campaign. I will upload the other parts as I go. Please enjoy.
Grodak rode his mount far into the desert, heading to the tower they found Elvyna in. His thoughts raced, Grall shouldn’t be this close to the scar. The elders would never allow it. Grodak had planned to lull Grall into a false sense of security, let him drop his guard and find out what he really wanted and why he had risked death to find him.
Death? For some reason the thought of Grall dyeing felt impossible. But that foolish, Grodak told himself, he is mortal just like the rest of us. He can be killed, and his soul will return to the void.
Grodak had a sinking feeling that he may be wrong. Grodak shook his head to clear his mind. There’s more to do then to allow himself to be trapped in his own head.
As Grodak approached the tower he noticed a strange glint in the distance. There were no towns around this part, and no one should be traveling here either. This was far from natural and Grodak knew this.
Grodak pulled on the reins of his mount and started towards the glint, whatever it was, Grodak didn’t care. It was something he could use to relieve himself of his anger.
As Grodak neared the place he saw the glint he discovered a cave. It had a small opening that was just big enough for him to squeeze in. Dismounting, he pulled his sword out of its sheath and looked at it in marvel. Just the night before, it had been a regular sword that he had spent hours working into one of the finest blades he had ever made, now as he stood there looking at the back of the blade, there permanently etched into it by Imp was runes that would allow him to call the blade back to his hand.
Grodak had thought about how he would normally protest any magic being placed upon his blade and yet now he stood there holding a sword that he personally asked to have magic placed on. The thought disgusted him, he hated that he felt so powerless when compared to magic users that he had to allow one to enchant his favorite weapon. His hand clenched the handle of the blade as he remembered his tribe and why he was there.
Grodak forced himself to focus on the task at hand as he lowered the sword and stared straight forward. He had allowed himself to get lost in his head again, but it won’t happen a third time as he pressed forward into the cave.
Grodak found that only the entrance was low, a few feet into the cave the ceiling rose and became big enough that even a dragon could stand straight without bending its head. Grodak didn’t allow himself to think on the matter as he continued to press forward, entering a large cavern where a looming tower, the size of a mountain, resided.
Grodak hid himself and watched to entrance of the tower as black robed figures walked in and out. A smile spread across Grodaks face; this was where he could relieve himself of all the pent-up anger he had.
Grodak let loose a roar as he jumped out of his hiding place and charged forward killing all the black robes that he came across. His roars must have alerted the others in the tower for soon he was facing hundreds of black robed necromancers that surrounded him. Some of them were chanting strange words, others were attacking with knives and staffs. Grodak fought hard and managed to slay hundreds of them before he was almost overtaken by the masses.
Boom! Everyone stopped as a loud noise came from the tower. The black robes looked up to the tower as cracks appeared in the stone. Grodak had no need to look at the tower, his eyes were on two figures that stood in front of the entrance of the cavern. Imps hands were raised as his lips moved another loud boom could be heard as a piece of the tower fell close by.
Grodak stood as the tower crumbled behind him and walked to the entrance of the cavern. He looked Imp in the eyes, the exhaustion displayed on Imps face brought a smile to Grodaks face for a moment. Grodak turned his back to Imp and Adrian, they cried out to Grodak, but their words fell on deaf ears.
Grodak left the cave, mounted his stead and rode off. He did not return to Whitewater, instead he rode off elsewhere.
Two days went by as Grodak camped out in the wilderness. Grodak didn’t have anywhere in mind that he wanted to go, he just didn’t want to be alone. Grodak had planned to stay that way for longer before returning to his tribe, but something had changed. The air felt stiff and the smell of blood and war were in the air.
There could only be one reason Grodak could sense this, there was only one kingdom close enough that he would feel the vibration of troops marching upon the land, Whitewater was under attack. He had suspected this would happen so he had sent for a thousand orc soldiers to march to Whitewater and help defend the walls, but they would not arrive for, at least, another two or three days.
Grodak mounted his stead and rode off in the direction of Whitewater, plumes of smoke had already started to waft into the air. When Grodak arrived in Whitewater he discovered an army of ten thousand, possibly more, undead fighting against the humans. Grodak leapt off his mount and charged into battle.
Grodak brought the handle of the blade up as a skeleton approached him and shattered its skull. Without even pausing, Grodak threw his sword, shattering several skulls before it stuck in the back of a necromancer.
Grodak held his hand up and his blade ripped out of the back of the necromancer and landed in his hand. Grodak provided to cut his way through the undead looking for Tyril.
“Evacuate the citizens!” Tyril shouted.
Grodaks eyes turned to the source of Tyrils voice, he alone was fighting back the hoard of undead as his soldiers scrambled to evacuate the kingdom. Grodak rushed to Tyrils side and helped him hold the line.
“What are the odds your orc soldiers would arrive now?” Tyril asked with a smile on his face.
Grodak chuckled as he kicked a necromancer back into the hoard of undead. “Slim to none I’m afraid.”
“Will,” Tyril said as he blocked a skeletons blow, “that’s disappointing.”
The two fought back to back for what felt like ages against these monsters. Each making up for the other faults, if an outsider was peering in, they would have thought they had always fought together.
Loud footsteps echoed in the distance as the undead and necromancers made a path and back from Tyril and Grodak. Grodak looked down the path to see a large man like creature standing in front of them. He was too small to be a giant, too big to be a human, he had a single horn that protruded from his skull as he toward over Grodak and Tyril.
“Run…” Tyril said in a low whisper, barely able to speak. Grodak glanced over at Tyril quizzically. “Run.” Tyril shouted at Grodak and as Tyril shouted Grodak noticed Tyril was trembling next to him.
“No.” Grodak said resolute. “I can take him-“
Before Grodak could say anymore he found himself laying on his back some yards away. “You idiot.” Tyril shouted. “This man isn’t one you can fight. He is a Casarn.”
Casarn, Grodak couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The Casarn were exterminated thousands of years ago along with the God’s, or at least that’s what the world has been led to believe.
“So,” the Casarn said as he looked down his nose at Tyril, “we meet again Tyril.”
“Unfortunately,” Tyril said as he got into position to defend himself, “we do Milindar.”
“This shall be the last time though.” Milindar said as he pulled his helm over his face.
“Yes,” Tyril said in agreement, “this will be the last time.”
Tyril leapt forward, disappearing and reappearing behind Milindar, swinging his blade in a downward motion. Milindar caught the blade in midair and threw Tyril over his shoulder and into the dirt.
Grodak watched in horror as Milindar toyed with Tyril before finally breaking Tyrils neck with a sickening snap. Tyrils body hit the ground lifeless and Milindar laughed a wicked laughter before turning and leaving.
Grodak crawled through the battlefield, too stunned to stand, and took Tyril in his arms and stared into his lifeless face. Pain, anger, sadness, rage all flowed through him at the same time driving him mad as he held the body of his last hope to save his tribe.
Madness almost overtook Grodaks mind but then he heard something, it was faint at first but then grew louder. Someone was shouting his name, but who could it be. Grodak looked up and to his surprise, Grall stood by his side fighting back the hoard of undead, keeping them at Bay while Grodak moaned.
Grall sat in the bar staring into a mug of mead mumbling to himself. “Where the hell did you go Grodak?” Thoughts of the night before rushed to mind.
Grall had made his way to his brothers’ location but found nothing but ruins and signs of battle. Distressed, he thought Tyril might know where his brother went but, to no one’s surprise, the young king didn’t know.
“Hey,” a voice called out behind him, “Grodaks brother.”
Grall turned around and looked to find Imp and the human, who seemed to be friends with Grodak, standing behind him. “Ya,” Grall said unamused, “what do you want lizard man?”
The human unsheathed his sword and was readying to strike Grall when Imp stopped him. “Adrian,” he said, “he is drunk and doesn’t know what he is saying.”
Drunk? Grall thought, I wish. I can’t get drunk without that accursed place dragging me down to its depths. “What do you want?” Grall repeated.
“We have been asked to investigate a tower close by.” Imp spoke slowly as to make sure Grall understood what was being said. “We thought you might want to come along. Your brother might already be heading that way after all.”
With a sigh, Grall stood up and tossed a few coins onto the counter. “Sure.” He said turning back to Imp and Adrian. “Let’s go.”
They rode on their mounts for a day only stopping to let the horse rest and to stretch their legs as they made camp for the night. Grall sat staring into the fire thinking about all the events that had transpired since he last was this close to the scar, the place he once called home. The memories flickered in his mind just as the flames flickered in and out of existence.
“So, your Grodaks brother?” Adrian said looking Gralls small frame up and down.
“Yes?” Grall said confused and surprised by the sudden question. “Why do you ask?”
“Y’all don’t look anything alike.” He said bluntly. “Grodak is tall and muscular where you’re small and as tall as an average human.”
“Ah.” Grall said in understanding. “We have different mothers and he takes after our father where I take after my mother.”
Adrian nodded his head in amusement then handed Grall a wineskin. “Well, whatever it is, I think we will get along nicely.”
“What makes you say that?” Grall asked inquisitively. “As far as you know my brother and I could be like night and day.”
“That’s true but if you were a threat Grodak wouldn’t have stopped with just one punch.” Adrian spoke almost as if he had known Grodak all his life.
“Oh?” Grall said, a smile creeping upon his lips. “But we are brothers, do you think he would kill his own kin?”
“Not without reason.” Adrian was quick in his reply.
“I think you’re right, Adrian,” Grall said as he lifted the wineskin to his lips, “we are going to get along really well.”
Grall took a big gulp from the wineskin expecting to find water, only to find alcohol. Grall could feel his cheeks becoming flush before the wineskin left his lips. Then darkness overtook him once more, where instead of fighting it he let the alcohol take him as he slept peacefully in the never-ending darkness of the shadow world.
When Grall awoke he found himself in front of the tower with Adrian and Imp standing over him.
“Where are we?” Grall demanded. “How did I get here?”
“That’s what we want to know.” Adrian said. “One moment you were taking a drink out of my wine skin and the next your gone. We just thought you somehow ran away without notice but then, when we got here you just suddenly appeared.”
“I-I…. Magic?” Grall spoke carefully.
“It is a form of magic,” Imp said, “but it’s one I’ve never seen before.”
Grall chuckled nervously, “Will,” he said trying to change the subject, “we’re here. Are we going inside?”
“Not just yet,” Imp said eyeing the doors, “we need someone to stand guard outside.”
With a sigh, Grall sat on the ground and looked towards the door. A strange feeling came over him and all his senses screamed for him to run. “I’ll guard the doors,” he said, “but hurry up in there. I don’t like the feeling this place gives off.”
“So,” Imp said looking Grall over, “you feel it too.”
Grall snorted and jabbed his thumb towards the door. “Stop with the nonsense and finish what you came here to do.”
Imp smiled and said, “We will try to finish our business here as quickly as possible.”
Imp and Adrian entered the tower leaving the door open along the way, probably for a quick escape if need be, Grall thought.
A few moments went by and nothing happened, Grall stood up and unsheathed oathkeeper saying, “Training it is then.” Grall made a few practice swings in the air before his real training began. He summoned forth an elder chieftain from the shadow world and held his sword at the ready.
Grall needed this practice, it always helped to clear his mind, and the God’s know that he needed that more than ever. Without allowing the shadow orc time to attack Grall charged forward and swung his blade catching it on his opponents. The sound of metal clashing upon each other rang out into the nearby forest.
The two warriors clashed blades several times, neither giving an inch to the other. Their blades danced upon the light of the morning sun, sweat glistened on their skin, their breathing harsh. Neither warrior wanted to lose this battle, their orc pride depended upon it.
As they locked blades again, the shadow orc pushed back on Gralls blade, forcing Grall to take a step back as he fought to keep his footing on the moist dirt. Moist dirt? Grall thought, as he disengaged from the shadow orc.
Grall turned around, taking in the landscape, the once brown dirt had now turned deep crimson. Pools of red liquids formed in some places and was steadily rising. A boney finger poked out of the ground. Grall turned towards the tower and found the door shut.
“What in the name of the God’s is going on here?” Grall whispered barely above a breath.
Then Grall heard a small sound behind him. It sounded almost like the wind blowing but it had a mechanical whirl to it. Grall spun around, oathkeeper at the ready, and saw a small metal object floating ten feet above ground. The air around it seemed to distort as if from some unknown magic.
Without even a second thought, Grall motioned for the shadow orc to attack the metal object, just as he did the same. As the shadow orc got close, however, the metal object lashed out, attacking the shadow orc and destroying its form in the mortal realm. Grall rushed in and swung his blade only to find the strange distortion stopping it.
Whatever this distortion was… It’s going to be difficult to get passed. Grall swung his sword again hoping his blade would pass through the strange distortion. As Grall watched his blade contact the distortion he noticed that the distortion would only center on where he attacked.
The metal object then turned as if turning towards him, a strong blast, like a heavy gust of wind hit him in the gut causing Grall to topple over in pain.
Grall clutched at his stomach for a moment before swinging his blade up towards the sky, as he did so his very own shadow moved out and swung a similar blade, where one missed the other hit. Grall staggered to his feet as his shadow held the metal object in check, then with a flick of his wrest he managed to damage the metal object.
The creature let out a sharp pitch whine and tried to move to block Gralls second blow. As it did so, Gralls shadow attacked, finishing the strange creature off.
Grall fell to the ground panting from exhaustion. “Damnit,” he said to himself, “what’s going on with this land?”
After catching his breath, Grall stood up and walked to the closed door. He could hear a battle raging inside.
I must get inside, without being seen, Grall thought as he looked around for a way in. Four feet above him stood an open window.
“There!” He exclaimed out loud. Without another word Grall began to climb the tower towards the window, as he made his way up the sounds of battle ceased. Grall grew weary, the battle had ended but who was the victor?
Grall clambered into the window finding, not his companions or an enemy, but an empty room filled with books. He turned back towards the window and looked down to find the dead rising out of the ground.
“God damn necros!” Grall shouted, if there was one thing he hated fighting the most, it was mindless undead. “Last thing I fucking need right now!”
Grall turned from the window and surveyed the room, looking for the cause of the spell. Nothing. Just a bunch of research material that was laid about casually, as if the last person in this room left in a hurry.
As Grall went to leave in search of the cause he heard faint sounds coming from below. It sounded like two voices conversing. Looks like they are ok, Grall thought as he opened the door to the room. Outside of the door was a winding staircase that only led up.
When I get a chance, Grall thought, I am going to destroy this tower. Grall climbed the staircase with hesitation, checking every corner, his hand never leaving his swords hilt.
As Grall made his way up the staircase, he found a strange door with runes etched into the stones. Grall could hear screams coming from the other side of the door. Carefully, Grall opened the door and found that the source of the screams was coming from Imp as a strange device was latched onto his arm.
Grall rushed over to help Imp just as the device let him go. “Imp!” Grall shouted as he reached him. “Are you ok? What the fuck…” Gralls words trailed off as he noticed Imps arm. Imps arm was no there, in its place was a stone like structure with many runes etched intricately into it.
“He wanted this.” A metal like structure appeared beside Imp. “I tried to advise against it, but he would not have it.”
Grall unsheathed his sword and pointed it at the metal thing. “What did you do to him?” Grall demanded. Grall didn’t very much care for the Dasari but no one deserved to be forced to live like this.
“Grall,” Imp said weakly as he tried to stand, “it’s not her fault. I wanted this so that I may have control over the tower.”
Grall felt a sense of disgust, he mauled his own body so that he could gain power. Grall looked down upon those that would sacrifice their own wellbeing for power.
“So be it.” Grall said as he sheathed his blade. “There’s a horde of undead outside of the tower, so unless this tower can fly-“
“Oh, it can,” The metal object proclaimed, “but only the one who has control over the tower can make it fly.”
Grall looked the metal thing over, he couldn’t tell if it was lying or not. “Is that why you wanted control over this…” Grall paused for a moment trying to find the right word for the structure. “Thing!”
“Yes and no.” Imp said. “You see Grall, this is an ancient-“
“Don’t care.” Grall said annoyed. “Let’s just get back to Whitewater in a hurry.”
Grall walked off and stood in the back of the room with his back against the wall as Imp discussed how to work the device that controls the tower with the metal thing. Moments later, the tower began moving, throwing Grall off balance and throwing him into the nearby bookcase.
“For God sakes Imp!” Grall shouted in anger. “Be more careful with this fucking contraption.”
“This isn’t exactly elementary, Grall.” Imp said, his voice strained. “It is very difficult to control, and it takes everything I have just to make sure it doesn’t fall out of the sky.”
As Grall stood back up, he peered through a nearby window and saw Whitewater below. A two-day ride made in seconds, Grall thought, impressive.
As Grall appeared through the window he could see that the kingdom of Whitewater was under attack by the undead. Grodak and Tyril were down below, fighting side by side.
“Brother.” Grall shouted. He turned around and started to look for a way down. “Is there any way off of this damn tower!”
“Oh?” The metal object exclaimed. “I can transport you down to the ground.”
“Then do it.” Grall said as he watched his brother fight off the undead.
It was an odd experience, one that he had hoped to never experience again, as he was suddenly surrounded by magic, unable to see, hear, or breath. What is this? Grall thought, as a swirl of color appeared. What’s going on? Then, as suddenly as the feeling began, it disappeared leaving him on the battlefield.
Grall had so many questions about what just happened, but there was a battle raging in front of him. Grall unsheathed oathkeeper as he pushed those thoughts to the back of his mind for now. This isn’t the time to be distracted, he told himself.
Grall pushed his way through the undead, striking down those that got in his way as he made his way to his brothers’ side. Grall knew Grodak could handle himself, he just didn’t want to hear his bellyaches about how Grall wasn’t there to help. Grall told himself this as he reached Grodak.
“Brother.” Grall said as he cut down a skeleton warrior that held his sword raised to Grodaks throat. “I’m here brother.”
“I don’t need your help, little brother.” Grodak said in anger, he held a bloody body in his hands. Tyril, king of Whitewater, was dead. Grodak swung his sword, using the sheer pressure from the swing to mow down several enemies, and began to lay Tyril down. As Tyrils body touched the ground, it disappeared.
Grall wanted to ask so many questions about what was happening why is there so many undead attacking Whitewater, how did Tyril die, and what happened to his body? All these questions floated in his mind but once again, Grall pushed them back. Now isn’t the time for questions, he yelled at himself, there is a battle right in front of me and if I do not focus, Grodak may die. These thoughts helped Grall focus as he pushed back on the horde of undead, keeping them away from the stunned Grodak.
“Brother,” Grall shouted over the deafening noise of war, “we need to leave. It’s unsafe here.”
Grodak looked up at Grall, it was almost as if he was coming out of a strange trans of some kind. “Your right little brother,” Grodak said as he stood up and swung his blade towards the west, clearing out the enemies in front of him, “let’s go home.”
“Home, brother?” Grall ask as he followed Grodak, blocking all would be attackers as they went.
“To the scar, little brother.” Grodak said with a smile.
Grall felt his blood turn cold and he stared at Grodak in fear. “The scar?” Last time Grall had seen the scar was the day he was chased out by the very people he was protecting.
“Don’t worry, little brother,” Grodak said noticing Gralls fearful look, “I am chieftain now, so I will protect you from the people at all cost. You have your brothers’ word.”
Much good that will do, Grall thought as he cut down another approaching undead. Your word means little to me, Grodak, but I have nowhere else to go. “Alright, brother,” Grall said, “I’ll go with you to the scar then.”