Hey guys, first off, sorry it has taken so long to get Chapter 3 out, second, again, this is a homebrew campaign, third, I am writing this in the characters perspective, and fourth, please enjoy, ive had fun building this world up and telling the adventures of Grall and Grodak, anf fifth, this is part 1 of chapter 3, the full chapter being too long to put everything into one thread.
Grall watched his brothers back as he walked slowly behind Grodak, his thoughts Wondering to the last thing he said before they began this journey. “We are going to the scar and going to unite the tribes and take back Whitewater, for Tyril.” The last part was but a whisper, not meant for Gralls ears.
Unite the tribes? Grall scowled to himself. If it was that simple, I would’ve done so when I was still chieftain.
Grodak had insisted that they walk through the night in order to reach the scar in before his troops, troops he had sent for in order to help Whitewater, reached the borders of the scar. As they walked, they noticed a fire in the distance, loud voices coming towards them from the camp site.
“Looks like we found your troops, Grodak.” Grall said emotionless, he wasn’t looking forward to seeing any other orc besides his brother. Grall knew they would try to kill him on sight. Grall did not fear death, knowing that his death is impossible, but instead, feared that he would have to spend time in the Shadow World for his body to recover.
“Yes,” Grodak said with a slight sigh, “it appears so. Come little brother, let’s greet our troops and have them escort us back to the scar.”
Grall wanted to scoff at him, these orcs would rather die a dishonorable death then to ever be called his troops. They approached the camp, Grall hanging further back to give Grodak time to explain to these men why he was there.
“Who goes there?” An orc shouted, the heavy orcish accent sending chills down Gralls spine. Memories of home, his time growing up in the scar, came to mind. How long has he yearned to return, and now that he is, he feels nothing but fear as to what the people may do to him.
“Lower your weapons,” Grodak said with a commanding voice, “it is I, Grodak, and my brother, Grall who approaches your camp.”
Murmurs could be heard among the troops. “Step forward into the light and let us see if you are who you say you are.”
Grodak strolled forward into the light, Grall followed behind him with his hand on his sword hilt. A big burley orc stepped forth and slammed his fist to his chest, the orcish sign of respect. “We apologize chieftain,” he said, his eyes drifting to Grall as he spoke, “we did not expect you to meet us here.” He eyed Grall with disgust as he finished his sentence.
Grodak took notice of the orcs disdain for Grall. “He’s here because the elders ordered it.” He said, trying to keep them in check. “If any of you lay a hand on my brother, I will leave you here, tied to a post and let the animals have you.”
The command in Grodaks voice shocked Grall. Is this the same orc who cared so little about war that he bared himself up in his forge all the time? Grall asked himself.
The orcs eyes went back to Grodak, a hint of anger in them. These orcs were not used to anyone, not even Grodak, bossing them around. “Yes, my chieftain.” He said as he turned around and started barking orders at his men.
Grall watched with grim amusement as the orcs went back to what they were doing while eyeing him with contempt. Grodak turned to Grall after a moment and motioned for him to follow. Grall, reluctant to turn his back to these men, did so.
“Do not let yourself be alone with these men.” Grodak said, stating the obvious. “As long as you’re around me they should not harm you.”
“I’m not scared of them harming me, brother.” Grall said in little more than a whisper. “I’m more concerned with them sending me to the Shadow World.”
Grodak looked upon Grall questioningly. “How would they be able to do that? Only the elders can call upon you to appear in the other world.”
“That was before they banished me from the tribe.” Grall said barely able to hide the sadness that lingered in the back of his mind. “I am an outcast who has the ability to speak to the elders, because of this, I cannot die until the current chieftain dies.”
This news shocked Grodak, and a look of understanding crypt onto his face. “So, no matter what they do to you….”
“The Shadow World would just fix it.” Grall watched as Grodak took in this news.
“Will,” Grodak said with a sigh of relief, “that’s good to hear.”
Grall knew Grodak meant well but he still had to bite his tongue to keep from lashing out at him. Grodak had no idea how torturous this was. He couldn’t die, get drunk, or even fall asleep without the fear of the Shadow World taking him.
“Brother,” Grall said slowly, “do not speak of that which you do not understand.” Grall turned away from Grodak and walked away to sit by himself and watch the stars as they lit up the night sky.
Grall thought back to earlier as they left the now ruined Whitewater and what his brother had told him.
“We have been fighting back necromancers for some time now.” Grodak explained when Grall questioned him about everything. “I had come here to find aid for our tribe, and I was sucked in…. No. That isn’t right, I leapt at the chance to get away from my responsibilities as chieftain.” Grodak looked away ashamed of himself. When Grodak continued there was a hint of unease in his voice, as if this is the last thing he wanted to talk about. “What you saw back there was the result of them catching up to us.”
“What of Tyril?” Grall asked, trying to understand the situation they were in. “How did he die? From what I could see-“
“You didn’t see much though.” Grodak interrupted, Grall could see anger flaring up in his eyes. “A Casarn, only known by the title of Milindar, fought with Tyril and killed him.”
Grall stared at him for a long moment. “Surely you jest, brother.” Grall said in disbelief. “The Casarn died out hundreds of years ago. The elders said so, if-“
“The elders were wrong!” Grodak shouted in frustration. “The elders couldn’t have known that one survived.”
As the memory faded to black, Grall turned his gave to where the spiraling castle should stand in the distance. A sense of dread ate at his nerves. If there is a Casarn still alive today, Grall thought, then may the God’s watch over us.
Morning came quickly, as the sun peeked over the horizon Grall could hear the shuffle of feet as the warriors hurried to pack up their camp. Grall knew it wouldn’t be long before they set out towards the scar once more. The thought of his home coming into view and being able to see those he loved so dearly caused Grall to shiver in anticipation.
Grall walked into the camp finding Grodak. “Is there anything you need from me?” Grall asked.
Grodak looked up from packing his tent and nodded. “I sent out some scouts an hour ago to check the trail and make sure it’s safe but….”
“They haven’t returned.” Grall finished Grodaks sentence and was already heading towards the edge of camp. “I shall go find them for you, brother. I’ll meet you further down the trail.”
Grodak grabbed Grall by the arm before he could get to far. “That’s not what I meant.” Grodak hissed at him. “I need you to get prepared to call upon the elders if we need them.”
Grall thought about what Grodak said for a moment in puzzlement, then realization struck. The last time he saw Gralls ability was back when it took hours to conjure up a single elder from the shadow world.
Grall suppressed the need to laugh as he looked Grodak in the eyes. “I only need to speak one word, brother.” Grall said turning to leave. “Make sure to catch up before mid-day or I might die of boredom.”
Grodak shouted for Grall, but Grall continued to walk away. Grall did find the scouting party, dead and a mile away from camp. They had been mauled by some strange weapon; scorch marks marred their flesh.
A strange suffocating smell drifted in the air causing Grall to cough uncontrollably. Grall heard a horse’s whine as he straightened himself, as he looked up, he saw what he would later describe as nothing more than the reaper himself standing in front of him. The creature’s boney hands held a scythe, his horse skin as pale as the dead.
A chill crypt over Grall and everything told him to run, get away from this abomination. Grall stood his ground, however, and drew oathkeeper readying it for battle.
“If I could die here today,” Grall said with grim satisfaction, “then what a death it will be.”
Grall leapt at the figure, slamming the blade of his sword down upon the creature’s scythe. His shadow moved without any orders from Grall and attacked the creature cutting its armor.
Grall pushed away from the creature and was sent flying into the air. Going for a second attack, the arms, Grall thought, get rid of the arms and he won’t have a weapon to attack. Grall used his shadow to block an incoming attack from the scythe and swung his sword down with enough ferocity that any orc would be proud of the attack.
There was a bit of give, then sharp pain enveloped Gralls abdomen. Grall pushed away from the creature, landing in the sand he hurried to put distance between them, his hand over his stomach where the creature’s hand was just moments before.
Grall stood several feet out of the creatures reach, both just watching the other. Grall smiled, may the elders have you, Grall thought as he summoned forth four shadows from the shadow world.
The shadows attacked the creature before they were even fully summoned. Shadow blades clashed with bone and steel before a high-pitched screech from the creature threw the shadow elders to the ground.
“Guess it’s just us then.” Grall said with a groan. The pain was enough to cause him to pass out, but his fear of the Shadow World kept him awake. Grall ready oathkeeper once more, focusing on his blade, readying himself for the battle that could mean his death. “Let’s end this.”
A blade flew past Gralls head striking the creature in the head as several arrows pelted the creature. Grall turned to find his brother riding up to him, Grodak had a grim expression on his face.
Grodak lifted his hand up and the blade that buried itself into the creature’s skull flew back to his hand. “Today,” he said with a sneer, “death bows to me.” He threw the blade once more hitting the creature where heart would’ve been. A loud screeched echoed out of the creature as it and its horse disappeared from existence.
Grall looked to Grodak in astonishment, when did he become such a mighty warrior, he thought. Before Grall could utter a word however, he felt himself falling into the familiar darkness once again. As he fell, he could hear Grodak crying out to Grall, his voice filled with worry.
Grall stood in the Darkness, alone. It was unusually quiet, no voices, no one to greet him and tell him what must be done. Grall had an uneasy feeling as he stood there waiting and expecting someone to show their selves and tell him that he was useless and how much of a failure he was.
“I see that you two are trapped here.” A voice called out of the darkness.
“Who’s there?!” Grall shouted turning around and searching. “Show yourself.”
“No,” the voice said, closer this time, “not trapped here yet,” the source of the voice came into view. A big orc wearing a chieftain’s head dress, one Grall had never seen before, which struck him as odd, he has at least seen all the elders in the shadow world before, “but soon you will be if you don’t change your ways.”
“Who…” Gralls voice caught in his throat, as if not wanting to come out. “Who are you?”
“You would not know who I am,” he said the sadness in his voice echoed across the eons, “I am Durgrak, the second chieftain of the tribe, the sword of the God’s…. The one who was banished.”
“The forgotten second.” Grall said in astonishment. The elders never spoke of him and it had become an unspoken taboo to ask about him.
“Come,” Durgrak said turning around, “we shall speak as we walk.”
“What caused your downfall?” Grall asked as he followed close behind.
“I…” Durgrak paused in his words thinking back to the days he was banished. “I refused to fight in the God’s war. They wanted to destroy the Casarn even though they only wanted to live like the rest of us.” His voice echoed the sorrow he felt in those days. The sorrow from eons before Grall was born, during the time of the gods. “I took a small tribe, those that would follow me, and fled in the night…. We didn’t make it.”
“Your story sounds much like mine,” Grall said, sympathizing with Durgrak, “I made a decision to attack a neighboring tribe whom we thought was going to attack us. There was so much death that day.”
I heard about what happened,” Durgrak said, “it wasn’t your fault, you were just acting in what you thought would be the best interest for your people, just as I did.”
As they walked Grall noticed the surroundings beginning to change. “Where are we?” Grall asked, he couldn’t hide the surprise he felt in seeing this place. “This is different from the rest of the Shadow World.”
“This…” Durgrak said, “is my prison.”
“The prison of the one who was banished.” Grall felt dread creep over him. “The place I will end up when I die.”
“Yes,” Durgrak said, “if you cannot change the minds of the elders. That is why I have brought you here, so that you can gain something I once lost. The ability to see the truth of this world.”
“My eyesight has become dulled.” Grall stifled a bitter laugh. “I can’t even see what’s true and what’s not.”
“This will give you the ability to see all.” Durgrak said stopping in front of a pedestal.
Grall looked upon the pedestal, it had an odd shape and looked like someone was meant to put their face onto the pedestal. For what? Grall was soon to find out.
Grall stepped forward and placed his hands on either side of the pedestal. He stared at the engraving of a face for a long moment before slowly lowering himself onto it, as he did so, the pedestal formed to fit his face.
Nothing. Grall stood there for a moment as nothing happened. Grall started to pull away when two prongs shot out stabbing his eyes, ripping them out of their sockets. A loud wild scream echoed out of Gralls throat as the pain and darkness enveloped him.
Time passed, minute turned into hours, hours to days, days to months, months to years, Grall lost all sense of time as the pain continued. Just when Grall thought it was all over he felt something being forced back into his eye sockets.
As the prongs left Grall, the device let go of his head and for the first time Grall saw what the Shadow World truly was, a prison. Before Grall could ask what happened, a bandage wrapped around his eyes and an arm reached in and pulled Grall out of the shadow world.
“Grall!” Grodak shouted, he hadn’t moved from the spot where Grall fell into the Shadow World. “Brother,” sorrow painted Grodaks voice, “what happened to you?”
Even though Gralls eyes were ripped from his skull and a bandage wrapped tight around his head, he could see clearer than ever before. Durgraks words echoed in his mind. “This will give you the ability to see all.”
Grall hunched over his mount, the pain slowly receding. Grodak rode close to Grall, making sure he didn’t fall off his mount.
“Brother, I am fine.” Grall said weakly, he found that he didn’t even need to look up to see those around him. Everything was in eyesight yet nothing. Grall found that in order to make a clear distinction of what was around him he had to focus his new eyesight on it.
“I don’t care if you think you’re fine.” Grodak said, worry shown in his voice but not on his face.
Of course, he wouldn’t show his worry over a traitor such as myself, Grall thought. It would make him appear weak in front of his men, one thing he did not need on the verge of battle…. Battle? Grall asked himself in confusion. Why did I say battle? Grall focused on Grodak, looking him up and down, he had the face of a warrior who was about to head to war. Battle wouldn’t be too far off.
“How did you pull me from the Shadow World?” Grall asked watching Grodak for any change in expression.
“…. I don’t know, brother.” Grodaks expression hadn’t changed a bit.
“You must have been accepted as the true chieftain then.” The sorrow upon saying such words leaked into his voice.
“You think?” Grodak smiled a bit. “Enough about that. Tell me,” Grodaks smile disappeared, “what happened in there? You went in with a stomach wound and come out with your eyes covered in a blood-stained bandage, one that I couldn’t peel off you.”
Grall let lose a sigh, he hadn’t wanted to tell Grodak the full extent of the Shadow World. “The Shadow World heals my wounds when I enter it, it also provides any substance I need. Food, water, sometimes even air.”
Grodak nodded his head in acceptance, he had known that my connection with the Shadow World was odd to begin with and only grew more so as time passed. “And the eye wounds?” He asked prompting Grall to explain.
Grall bit his tongue, trying to remember what all happened only to gain a headache. It might be best to lie, Grall thought, at least until I know what happened.
“The elders took them.” Grall said flatly, hiding his face just in case his expression gave him away. “They took them when I was complaining about the darkness of the Shadow World, then a man named Jarada came along, he took petty on me and gave me a form of eyesight. You pulled me out of there after that.”
Grodak remained silent for a while, contemplating what all Grall had said. When he spoke, it was in a soft whisper, only loud enough for Grall to hear. “Hopefully you will be able to see better now.”
Grall felt like he had heard something similar in the Shadow World but could not remember. “Brother,” Grall said, “I lost my eyes, not my ears.”
“That’s good to hear,” Grodak said, “because I have big plans, little brother, and I want you to be there every step of the way.”
There was no need for a response, Grodak knew Grall would have his back in the days to come. It was, after all, the only thing the elders kept him around for.
Grall looked from Grodak and faced forward, the familiar scene made clear in the morning light made Grall shiver in anticipation. Grall pulled on the reins of his mount, slowing it down.
“You go ahead, brother,” Grall said as Grodak looked at him in dazed confusion, “I’ll hang back for now and catch up to you once it’s safe for me to enter the scar once more.”
Grodak laughed, his grim amusement astonished Grall. “Brother, how many times must I tell you,” he said with a smile, “as long as I am around, no one is going to harm you.”
“It is not harm to myself I speak of, brother,” Grall spoke slowly, knowing that it takes small words to get through to Grodak, “it’s harm to you and your reputation as a chieftain. Don’t forget what happened to me, one little mistake can send you down a narrow spiral that there is no coming out of.”
Grodak sighed, he knew Grall was right, it only takes a small mistake and your days as a chief are done for. “You’re right, brother.” Grodak said looking to his troops. “Do you think I should order them to remain silent about you?”
“No,” Grall said without hesitation, “to do so would breed miss trust among your soldiers which would transfer to the people. Explain what it is you brought me along to do, they are your men and will understand, as long as it benefits the tribe.”
“You’re right.” Grodak grunted in annoyance, he hated when Grall was right. “I’ll tell them.”
Grall did not know what Grodak had in mind, nor what he wanted from him, he didn’t care. Grall only wanted to see his home once more, be able to speak to the people again, and show them that even if they try to chase him to the end of the world, his home will always be the scar.
Grall watched as Grodak gathered the troops up and explained to them what he wanted to do. Grall didn’t bother to listen, he would find out soon enough what it is Grodak wanted of him. As Grodak finished, the orc warriors let out a roar of approval.
“Now let’s tell the rest of the scar what it is we are going to do.” Grodak yelled in a deep burly voice, followed by another roar of approval from his troops.
Grall smiled as he followed behind the soldiers slowly, as they marched into the scar. Grall stopped just outside of the entrance watching as Grodak walked in, grabbed a medium size ax and rammed the blade into the post.
“Today,” Grodak yelled, those who weren’t paying attention to the orc as he entered now turned to face him, “we go to war! We do not rage war on humans, elves, or even the Dasari. We rage war on the fractions that refuse to unite with us and become a single tribe. We take not from the people, but we give them what they want. This ax will not be removed until all tribes have banded together to face an even greater threat. Hunger, lack of water, and fear. Fear of what will happen if we stay.” The crowd erupted into cheers; they ate this up as if it was the first meal they have had in years, but Grall could tell that this was just an excuse to move everyone out of the scar. For what, he did not know. “There resides a fallen kingdom that is a three days March from here. It is the perfect place to settle, once we have united all the tribes under one banner.”
It dawned on Grall just then, he wants to create an army of orcs to fight the necromancers. Gralls thoughts raced on as he listened to Grodak issuing instructions to the tribal orcs, preparing them for visitors and sending messengers to deliver the invites to each chief. He thinks because he and I can handle their magic so to can they. I must put a stop to this…. No. He would not listen to me. All I can do is support him and help keep the death count at a minimum.
Grall made his way through the crowd, everyone too busy to notice him now, and stopped at his brothers’ side. “What is it you would have me do, brother?” Grall asked.
“You, little brother,” Grodak said with a smile upon his face, “are going to be my spy master.”
Grall stared at Grodak waiting for the end of this sick joke. “No,” Grall said when none came, “I will not be responsible for another spy network.”
“Oh, but you will,” Grodak said, his smile disappearing, “if you don’t, I will have the elders take hold of you until you agree to do so.”
“Do you not remember last time I was in charge of the spy network, brother?” Grall asked, his anger showing in his face and voice, he had just about enough of this true chieftain nonsense. “That was how I was banished from this tribe.”
“And how you will redeem yourself in the eyes of the elders.” Grodak said, his words rang in Gralls ears, as if he heard them before.
Grall shook his head ridding himself of those thoughts. “Ok,” Grall said, he was already formulating a plan of action to best suit the needs of the tribe, “I’ll do it, but only if you don’t interfere in what I must do.”
“I trust you, brother.” Grodak said with a serious expression upon his face. “Don’t break my trust.”
“Oh,” Grall said in amusement, “I won’t.”
Grall left Grodak to deal with his matters and walked to his old house, which was once used as the spy master’s tower, and walked in expecting to find it empty. As soon as the door was opened three blades were put to his throat.
A chuckle echoed out of Gralls throat, of course it wouldn’t be empty, Grall thought. They saw me come in and knew I would come here. It’s just how I trained them.
“Why do you return here, banished one?” One of the cloaked men asked.