The Fall of Nynn
Pikalas was aided by eight Legion Devil Hellguards. Yet even with those odds, the Scions (aided by Muradin) were able to defeat the Devils and slay the evil Pikalas.
Toward the end of battle, Yelena emerged from the tent bearing the glowing rune of Illidus on her forehead. Pikalas bore the same emblem as a brand on the back of her neck.
+ + +
“Why can no one see that she is evil?!”
Eregos, the Dragonborn Cleric of Torm, pointed his finger at Yelena and surveyed the remaining survivors of the ritual slaughter. “She bears the mark of Illidus on her forehead! She was brought back from the dead at the cost of two hundred other lives!”
Yelena turned away from Eregos, away from the Great Fire that burned behind him, and walked back to the tent from which she had been resurrected only minutes before. Her mind was still reeling from what had just occurred, and she was struggling to process the events. She had seen the White Dragon, and Bahamut had tried to tell her something. She couldn’t seem to form words from his roaring, before lights spun around her and breath returned to her deceased body. Yelena managed to sit up before her chest burst open and released a white bolt of energy that seemed to seek out living bodies to attack.
The first victim had been the man standing beside her, his expression turning from elation to horror as the blast punched a smoking hole through the center of his chest before it hungrily leaped toward the next person.
Yelena, somehow intact aside from a stabbing headache, knelt down beside Uther and held his hand. She felt the tears welling in her eyes, but they refused to fall. She felt confused, but the sadness gave her clarity. Uther was dead, and whatever had killed him had left the tent and struck down others. As much as her body rejected any notion of movement, Yelena willed herself out of the tent to try to help any way she could.
Now that the crisis had passed, all Yelena wanted to do was to grieve for her brother and the rest of the two hundred laying dead on the ground. Once her sorrow passed, she would try to determine what exactly had happened to her. But Eregos would have none of it. “Where are you going, devil spawn? Off to summon more demons to do your bidding?”
The cleric of Bahamut stopped and squared her shoulders. She refused to turn around, wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing her tears, but the quiver in her voice betrayed her sorrow. She gathered her resolve before speaking. “I’m going to bury my brother,” she said. “I’m also going to retrieve his sword. If you are in my sight when I return, I will use that blade to make a pair of boots from your hide.”
Muradin placed a hand on Eregos’ shoulder. “Don’t worry about her,” he told the Dragonborn. “Gather the people and start preparing for our departure. We need supplies, food and water. I’m going to need a few men to head to the boats and tell the captains we are leaving. The snow is going to fall any day now and there aren’t many friendly faces between here and Waterdeep if we end up being iced in.”
“We are not having a discussion here.” Muradin tightened his grip on the Dragonborn’s scaled shoulder. “Go.”
Grudgingly, Eregos made his way to the nearest crowd of armed men. Muradin waited until the cleric had departed before addressing the Scions of Legacy. “Much as I hate to admit it,” he said, “I have to side with Eregos. Your girl was brought back from the dead, well and good. But she was resurrected through what I’m told is a ritual for summoning the demon lord Illidus. She’s sporting the demon’s mark on her forehead. You can see how people would be a might untrustworthy of her.”
“I know the feeling.”
The voice came from Yelena, tears still drying on her cheeks. True to her word, she had returned with her brother’s greatsword in her hands. “I know how this looks. I know that when I say that I am me, and not Illidus, nobody is going to believe me.” Her voice struggled to free itself from her. “The one person who would trust me without hesitation was… was the first to die when I was brought back from the dead.”
Muradin placed a hand on Yelena’s shoulder. “Your brother was a good friend of mine. If you need help laying him to rest, I want to help.”
Yelena looked somewhat relieved at the offer. “Thank you.”
While many of the survivors dragged bodies to the Great Fire for disposal, Muradin pulled a burning stick of wood and took it to a funeral pyre away from the others. He stood before the giant mound of logs and timbers and waited for Yelena to complete her prayer before tossing the branch into the pile. Seconds later the oil caught, the flames crackled as the wood caught, and Muradin stood silently alongside Yelena and watched Uther return to the ashes of the earth from wence he came.
+ + +
“This is the situation. There’s a boat in the river that will take us to the coast. It should take about a week to reach there. Most of the supplies had been removed from the boat, and given the current situation it’s safe to say those supplies are, well, spoiled.”
Muradin watched a group of armed men depart. He turned back to the Scions. “I’m asking you to go into Nynn and gather what you can. There may be meat in the butcher shop. Some of the inns might still have rations. There’s rescue teams making their way through Nynn, looking for survivors. They’ll take care of that bit of business. Get what you can, as quickly as you can. You know the town better than anyone here, so you know where to look. Despite what has happened in the past hour, we have no way of knowing if we are safe or not. We are only safe for the moment. Only way to remain that way is to get on the boat and make haste down the river.”
A young man led two horses, pulling a large cart, to the Scions. Muradin jerked his thumb toward the contraption. “It’s not fancy, but it’s your ride. If you load that thing up, we should have enough supplies to get home. Good luck.”
As soon as the Scions passed through the fallen gates of Nynn, they made their move. Lucan and Toby dismounted, leaving Abelarde and Yelena in the cart. Toby drew his blade and walked in front of the horses, moving debris and bodies out of the way so the horses could pass by. Lucan disappeared into the shadows, slowly advancing block by block, checking for ambushes or any other form of unpleasantness that might have been laying in wait. He would emerge only long enough to give quick hand signals to Toby, alerting the big man of any trouble that might be coming their way.
The clopping of the horses were the only noise in town. The smell of smoke drifted in the air, remnants of the fires that had levelled over half of Nynn. Occasionally Lucan would see one of Muradin’s rescue parties clearing buildings, and once in a while they’d bring out living civilians. But aside from weeping locals and clip clopping horses, Nynn was as silent as a grave.
The skies had clouded over, and a chill blanketed the town. Toby kicked a decayed zombie head through a doorway. “Got cold pretty fast,” he said and looked up at the sky. “Snow’s coming soon.”
“We’re almost at the shop,” Yelena said. “Lucan’s probably there already. Hopefully we can load the wagon and get back to the Great Fire before it gets too chilly.”
“Cold would be bad,” Abelarde said to Yelena’s chest.
Toby noticed the movement in the shadows. “We’re clear to the butcher shop.”
The Butcher Shoppe, Toby’s former land of employment. Lucan stood in the doorway. “Coast is clear,” he said. “The meat is still there. Doesn’t look like anything’s been touched.”
Toby shouldered his weapon and followed Lucan inside. Abelarde held the reins. “I’ll stay out here to keep the horses calm.”
“I’m sure,” Yelena said. “Why not just -”
She stopped because Abelarde wasn’t looking at the horses. He wasn’t even looking at her clevage. He was looking past her. She didn’t want to look. Something told her not to look.
The Blood Lord looked back, with his blood-red eyes locked firmly on the symbol glowing on Yelena’s forehead.
“I’ve been looking for you,” he said. His smile wasn’t very comforting.
+ + +
The Blood Lord stood in the middle of the road, and Abelarde observed that there was never a runaway wagon train when you needed one. “Can I interest you in a side of beef?” he asked.
The side of beef happened to step out of the doorway that very second, and he was armed in a flash. Toby was in motion by the time the Blood Lord raised his hand. “Hold, Barbarian. I have not come here to kill you.”
“That’s going to make my job a whole lot easier,” Toby growled.
The Blood Lord’s facial features were concealed beneath his helmet, revealing only his sneer and burning red eyes. Those eyes seemed to take in everything at once. “Where I can see you, Lucan.” He pointed his finger toward the side of the building and motioned him forward. “As I said, I’m not going to harm anyone unless they do something foolish.” He looked at Toby. “Or suicidal.”
“Why are you here?” Yelena asked, already suspecting she knew the answer.
Two large humanoids stepped out from the burned-out shell of the spice shop across the street. They had no features, appearing to be roughly carved from obsidian. They stopped twenty paces behind the Blood Lord. “You bear the mark of my Master,” the Blood Lord told her. “But you are here, and He is not. He should have used you as an anchor to this world, and manifested out of your still-warm flesh.”
“Happy to disappoint you,” muttered Yelena.
“Something went wrong. Never trust a Drow to do a Man’s work. Still, you bear the mark so there’s still hope.”
Yelena pointed at the glowing mark on her forehead. “How do I get rid of this?”
The Blood Lord lost his smile. “There is no getting rid of it. It is a great mark of power. You’ll be rid of it once Lord Illidus tears through your flesh and is rid of you.”
Yelena stood up in the cart. “I won’t let that happen!”
“You can’t stop it,” the Blood Lord told her. “It’s already done. It’s only a matter of time before he sheds you like a cocoon.”
“We’ll stop it,” Toby warned.
The two obsidian humanoids slowly turned around. Lucan stood in the doorway of the former spice shop and slowly dragged the tip of his dagger across his throat. “We’ll stop you,” he told the Blood Lord.
“Eladrin, you couldn’t save your town from my minions. What makes you think you can stop me?”
“That’s what we do,” Abelarde said matter-of-factly. “We’re Abelarde Whitby and the Scions of Legacy.”
“You never stop, do you?” Yelena said under her breath.
“That’s what I do,” Abelarde whispered back.
The Blood Lord addressed the group. “Save your strength for now. The Scions must keep the vessel safe until her protector arrives. He will be tasked in protecting the vessel until Lord Illidus emerges.”
“Stop calling me the vessel. You make me sound like a ship.”
“I won’t make any ‘filled with seamen’ comments then,” Abelarde said with a smirk.
“Good thing,” Yelena said. “If you did, I wouldn’t be the only one here without a penis.”
The Blood Lord raised a fist into the air. “Good luck Scions.” He looked at Yelena. “I look forward to our next meeting.”
“I look forward to killing you,” Toby said with a great deal of enthusiasm.
“Uh, he doesn’t speak for all of us,” Abelarde noted.
The Blood Lord turned around, flanked on either side by the obsidian constructs. He tilted his helmet up slightly, and Lucan watched the burning eyes change to normal, human eyes as they emerged from the shade of the visor. “Tell your Father I send my regards,” the Blood Lord told him.
Before Lucan could reply, the Blood Lord opened his hand and let a small black orb roll off his palm. It quickly expanded in mid-air and the three were swallowed by the globe of darkness.
The ride back to Tent City was quiet. Everyone rode in the cart, which was filled with meat and various other supplies. Muradin appeared relieved when they approached. “Looks like you got everything,” he said. “Any problems?”
Abelarde hopped off the cart and tossed the reins to Muradin. “Not really, no. Now which way to the vessel – I mean ship – I mean boat!”
The flying hog’s head caught him in the back of his own. Muradin looked down at the swine skull. “Why would you bring a pig’s head with you?” he asked.
Yelena wiped her hands and looked at Abelarde. “You never know when you’re going to need one.”