The Simulacrum Battle

My name is Audric, loyal servant of King Evander Nolaric and member of the honorable Orbonnian Old Guard.  There is a story which must be told, so that we never forget the time of peril that recently engulfed us.  It is a tale of daring accomplishments in the face of impossible odds.  I will tell my part, along with the deeds of a handful of heroes that made a difference in the greater struggle.  This night, our small party consisted of The King, Evander Nolaric, the Old Guard, Ace, Alexander, Ohlo, and myself, the Brotherhood, Lord Pietrov, King Antonio, Mirren, Cabe, and Malcolm Viir, Baron Morgrim Thaonin, Talendra Silvertree, King Fa’Leeki of Eirinn, King Apollodorus of Myrthyr, Duke Timothy of the Sutherland, and the two loyal Knights of Clanthia, Sir Tristan and Dame Lulu.  Let this account of our mission inspire you to do great things with your life.  What follows is an honest account of our actions on that fateful night.

Dusk fell heavily on Marce like some filthy woolen cloak.  The night air reeked with the uncomfortably familiar stench of burned flesh and rotting corpses.  The moon was shrouded by dark, foreboding clouds and the charnel house columns of smoke.  The only light to see by was that which radiated from the burning houses and businesses along the thoroughfare.

Akeem’s forces had been drawn to the east, west, and northern gates of Marce.  The battle for these strategic locations raged in the night.  Elves fought beside Orcs, who in turn fought beside Barbarians, Dwarves, and Sea Elves.  Never before had such a mighty force been raised in the Sutherland.  Likewise, the land had never faced such a potent threat before.  The relative quiet of the south gate rang out like some ominous invitation.  Who would accept such a thing?  Quietly, through the dark of night, a small group of heroes worked their way toward the gate and made ready for the deadliest of combats.

Out of the darkness slipped a lone figure.  It darted from shadow to shadow and would be imperceptible, except for the dim fire light.  It alighted amidst the ruins of a small jewelry shop and sat, watching traffic through the south gate.  Eventually, it turned back and fled into the darkness.  This scout was none other than the Duke’s Seneschal, Lord Pietrov.  Master tactician and killer in the dark, the King had chosen him to assess the entry to the gate.  When he returned, he reported that the sealed gate was defended by several Death Knights and a host of lesser undead.  Our battle plan solidified, we were ready to strike at the archenemy.

My master had decreed that the Old Guard, Pietrov, Talendra, Cabe, Mirren, Sir Tristan, and Dame Lulu would strike first, with the others being held back in reserve.  I captained this strike force and we followed Lord Pietrov into the darkness.  He had found a perfect location for an ambush, designed to lure in the greater undead.  When we were in position, Dame Lulu was to be the bait.  She was instructed to wander out into the street and lure the undead into our trap.  Without fear, she accepted this role and ventured out into harrowing danger that lay in the road ahead.  As soon as she was in line of sight of the greater undead, they immediately began to pursue her.  Dame Lulu raced back to our hiding spot with the abominations in tow.  Rounding the corner, she ducked under our well-timed sword blows and turned to make her mark in the battle.  The Old Guard formed the gauntlet, supported by Talendra, Cabe, Mirren.  Pietrov had disappeared at this point and I’m still not sure where he went.  When the undead rounded the corner, they were immediately received the combined blades of our force.  Talendra, Lulu, and Tristan hurled Curses, Annihilates, and Life spells at the targets.  Cabe remained detached so that he may heal those that would fall.  Mirren defied the orders and waded into the enemy force, swinging his two-handed sword like a toy and singing some battle hymn of his Barbarian people.  Clearly, he was relishing this much anticipated battle against his foe.

The others squared off with one of the Death Knights, but for a moment, I was in a solo fight with the second.  Its skill was considerable and I had to concentrate fully to parry its blows. One aimed at my heart nearly got me, but I deftly deflected it at the last moment.  My battle was a stalemate at this point.  I had no doubt that the other Death Knight would be dispatched soon, so my concern was not great.  It was just a matter of waiting a few minutes.  The question of Lord Pietrov was finally answered.  Much to my surprise, I saw two copper blades slide slowly from the chest of the Death Knight I was fighting.  They hummed with low rumble and glowed softly in the night.  The creature turned to dust and I could make out the form of the Drae.  He was smiling and saluted me with his sword.  We turned to join the other fight, but we were too late.  Talendra was administering the killing blow to the final Death Knight.  So far, the plan was going along exactly as we had intended.  Now, we had to deal with the host of “lessers” that guarded the gate.

Our tactic for this was simple.  No amount of lesser undead could challenge our strike force, so we opted to go directly at them.  Sir Tristan and Dame Lulu rushed to the front and immediately cast Zones of Life.  This offered us the operating room to battle at arms reach.  Again, the primary combat force moved forward and decimated the lessers, scattering bone and rotting meat here and there.  I’ll never forget that terrible stench.  Undead slain, we were faced with a gate that was locked solid from the inside.  In the rear of the party, I could hear King Fa’Leeki, Malcolm Viir, and King Apollodorus discussing some magical matter.  They eventually came to an agreement and Apollodorus stepped forward to take some action.  While we waited, he walked up to the gate and placed his left palm on the rough-hewn wood of its surface.  He closed his eyes in concentration and his hand began to glow with a fiery brilliance.  In a stern voice, he muttered something that was surely the incantation to summon some higher power to aid us.  Turning back to the party, he smiled wryly, and said, “Our surprise factor is about to be gone.”  Suddenly, the night was filled with the most tremendous explosion I had ever heard.  The south gate was consumed by a raging torrent of fire and completely shattered inward.  Splinters, rock, and iron claddings littered the road inside of the city.  The iron bar that held the gates closed impaled a statue in the courtyard.  The explosion rang through the night.  Hopefully, it was so loud that its source would be obfuscated to any enemy listener.

My hope was soon diminished as hundreds of lesser undead swarmed down the streets.  The rustling and corrupt murmuring of these shambling corpses haunts the ear, but I am used to it.  I quickly formulated a battle plan.  Recalling the resources we had available to us, I opted to send King Antonio into action, prior to swords being drawn.  He nodded his understanding and stepped between us and the charging forces.  Carefully and slowly, he reached to his neck and unclasped a ruby medallion.  He kissed it, dropped it on the cobblestones, and smashed it with the heel of his boot.  Immediately, the air around us pulsed with a comforting white light.  Shapes began to emerge and coalesce within the light.  At an ever increasing pace, the shapes resolved into the forms of etheric Gypsies, each wielding weapons or readying magics to fight with.  With a sad tinge to his voice, King Antonio whispered, “Defend us, my children.”  The translucent Gypsy spirits silently floated to the front and joined the battle.  The undead horde had not the means to damage these summoned warriors, so they fell by the score.  Eventually, through a combination of our efforts, we dispatched these hundreds of abominations.  The night was quiet again, except for King Antonio saying goodbye to his spirit warriors in a somber tone.  As quickly as they came, the Gypsies faded back into the ether around us.

King Evander bade us to move on toward our final destination and we all agreed, moving forward.  His forces locked tightly at war on the other gates, Akeem’s defense of the south entrance was lacking and we encountered a fairly low amount of resistance on our ingress.  Lord Pietrov took the lead and scouted the way, often returning with warning of greaters or packs of patrolling undead.  Sometimes, we opted to not fight, other times the relish for battle overtook us and we enacted the King’s justice on these horrors.  In time, we came to a crossroad within the city.  I was certain that we must take the left fork, and the others agreed.  Moving along, I could see Cabe walking on the left side of the road.  I turned away to assess what the others were doing and incidentally turned back to look at Cabe.  He was gone!  The darkness of an alley revealed a hulking figure retreating from the roadway.  I could see Cabe flailing against the immeasurable strength of this unknown horror.  I called the alarm and all responded.  Quickest to react was Morgrim Thaonin.  He charged the beast, ducking under one of its huge fists and found himself behind it.  He raked its back with sword blows and slowly drove it back toward the street.  Enraged, the beast freed Cabe and the fallen Knight immediately responded with a vicious upthrust into the abdomen of the creature.  Spoiled guts spilled on the cobbled alley way and the beast howled in increasing rage.  By this time, magic filled the air and the beast was beset with warriors craving blood.  The beast reached out and grabbed Dame Lulu and Talendra by their throats.  With a horrible crunching sound, it snapped the Ranger and Knight’s necks.  They fell lifeless to the floor.  Sir Tristan proved to be the fastest as he Revived both warrior women rapidly.  King Fa’Leeki rushed in to heal the wounded.  Casting from the General Realm of Earth Magic, he Renewed both women, but strangely recoiled in agony from it.  I was not aware that an Unseeley could even cast such magic, but I did see it happen.  His wounds proved that he could do it.  He immediately cast several Waste spells on himself, restored his Spirit Armor, and replaced his Defend.  By this time, the beast was defeated.  Morgrim proclaimed that it had been a Greater Revenant, which is my least favorite thing to do battle with.

We pressed on toward the quarter of Marce where our target had last been seen.  Again, we fought and fought, depleting our reserves to the point that I became seriously concerned that we would have nothing left to fight our final battle with.  That said, I’m not paid to worry.  I’m paid to kill and protect the Kingdom, so I soldiered on.

As we progressed, we came upon something unusual.  Stretching across the street was a shimmering black wall. Indeed, it extended as far as the eye could see, dividing buildings and gardens.  Upon further inspection, the wall curved slightly as its height increased.  It was then that we realized that it was a dome over this quarter of the city.  The Fey King muttered something about “Necromancy” but couldn’t offer a solution.  It was Ohlo, of the Old Guard, that finally stepped forward. Stroking his chin, he began, like he typically does, to discourse on higher theories of magic.  Some of our party clearly followed his line of thought, but I was lost and the rest looked like they didn’t know any better.  Seeing our confusion, the Hobling looked frustrated and said, “All I’m trying to say is magic is woven like a tapestry.  If you find the right thread, you can unravel it.  It’s simple… watch this.”  With that, Ohlo made some gestures and a strange incantation that sounded very much like Dwarven.  Slowly, I began to see what can only be described as “threads” stringing their way through this Necromantic wall.  Here and there were various knots and twists.  Ohlo focused on a particular knot and reached out to grab it.  This was probably a mistake, as dark energy flowed into him and made the hair on his hands stand on end.  As he grimaced, obviously in pain, he resisted the negative magic filling him and pushed it back.  Sweat beading on his forehead, he pulled at the thread of the knot and it began to unravel.  Slowly, the blackness of the Necromantic wall began to undo itself and a man-sized gate took shape.  Looking pleased with himself, Ohlo bowed and gestured us to go forward.  Still sweating, he followed in the rear of the party.  His paleness proved to me that this had been a difficult task for him.

Inside the dome, all was quiet.  We didn’t encounter any undead, whatsoever.  The air was filled with a sickly energy that gave me goosebumps.  I didn’t like it at all and everyone else seemed on edge, waiting for that proverbial other shoe to drop.  Making our way through the eerie silence we came upon the gates to the Governor’s Mansion.  They swung slowly like someone had just passed their threshold.  We all looked around at each other, waiting for someone to issue an order.  Clearing his throat, King Evander decreed that we move forward and go through the gate.  We all agreed and pushed the gates aside.  What awaited us was a foul, Necromantically twisted garden.  Flora was twisted with corruptive magic and there was a pall in the air that nearly suffocated the air from me.  This was when the other shoe dropped.

The courtyard was a large rectangle, bordered by the dark garden, and it was littered with hundreds and hundreds of corpses.  The flag-stoned center was approximately 60 feet wide by 100 feet long.  Standing in the center of the courtyard was our target.  The Simulacrum.  Fear tickled my heart as I looked upon his towering frame and wicked swords clutched in each hand.  This is what I was born to do, however.  That mantra rolled through my head, driving the fear away.  The Simulacrum spoke is a low, rumbling voice, “You have invaded my inner sanctum.  I can see in your faces that you are ready to die.  Bring me your fledgling King and I will spare you all.”  Ace laughed at this and decided that now was the time to fight.  He cast his magics full bore at the Simulacrum, most of which was resisted.  Then the storm started.

In the corner of my eye, I could see my King raise a Circle of Power and place a familiar red candle at its center.  I was filled with dread when I realized that this was for the purpose of resurrecting our fallen friends.  He was safe, however, and that removed a distraction from my mind.  Myself, Pietrov, Cabe, Dame Lulu, Sir Tristan, Talendra Silvertree, Ace, Morgrim, Malcolm Viir, and Alexander took the fight to our enemy.  Most of us have never fought together before, but we were empowered by a strange harmony that night.  The fluidity of battle was uncanny.  At times, we simply danced and made art with our swords.  The Simulacrum was equal to the challenge, however, and brilliantly defended himself with stroke and counterstroke.  Lord Pietrov was the first to fall.  The enemy swung a mighty blow that couldn’t be parried and sliced the right leg off of the Drae.  At the same time, he punched my ally hard in the chest, emitting a burst of Necromantic power that rendered Pietrov into a cloud of dust.  Talendra cried out and pressed the attack harder.  The enemy swung at her with ferocity and the impact of sword versus sword drove her back a full ten feet.  After she regained her footing, she lowered her sword, closed her eyes, and began to glow a soft, warm green light.  The flagstones of the courtyard began to be upturned and great roots began to crawl forth.  They twisted their way through the allies and began to enshroud the Simulacrum. Soon, he was cocooned by Talendra’s magic and could not fight us.  We cleaved and hacked at him.  Pietrov, freshly resurrected, gathered his swords and joined the assault, too.  Slowly, one of the enemy’s arms tore free of the roots.  That devilish sword hacked away at the remaining roots and he was soon free.  Quicker than the eye could see, he flung his right-handed sword in Talendra’s direction.  Surprise framed her face as she realized that she had been impaled by the flung sword.  Emanating from the blade was a sickly blackness that overtook her skin and caused her to start crumbling to dust.  One more ally slain in the name of justice, I thought.

The procession of resurrections began in earnest.  We were falling like flies, but we were dealing severe damage to our enemy.  As I opened my eyes from resurrection, I glanced over to the fight and saw Kings Apollodorus and Fa’Leeki standing side-by-side.  Apollodorus glowed with the light of a terrible storm, while Fa’Leeki shone with a light like moonlight.  The Arcane King spewed a curse at the Simulacrum and unleashed a torrent of lightning that eclipsed anything I had ever seen.  The bolt struck home and incinerated the left arm of our foe, sword falling uselessly to the ground.  For Fa’Leeki’s part, he did some bizarre Fey incantation and stepped to the left.  Strangely, his shadow did not follow him.  It took form and darted to the fallen sword, took it up, and began the attack on the Simulacrum.  It did serious damage, as the sword must have been enchanted with great power.  Unfortunately, the shadow soon faded.  Malcolm Viir joined in, releasing a torrent of Earth destruction magic.  His effort peeled away layers of the Simulacrum’s defense and revealed the dark bone beneath.

As I sat up, reoriented from my resurrection, I saw Cabe leap upon the giant’s back.  He had a mithril knife in his right hand and drew it viciously across the throat of the Simulacrum.  A gout of black blood spewed forth and the beast violently threw Cabe to the ground.  Mirren came to his aid and fended off the most serious attacks.  Finally reaching his breaking point, the Barbarian bellowed and charged the Simulacrum.  Ramming his two-handed sword to the hilt through the beast’s stomach, it actually fell to one knee.  By the heavens, we might actually win this thing, I thought.

Prone on his knees, Ace and Alexander triggered their forceful powers and laid into the Simulacrum.  I joined the fight, switching to a favored fighting style of sword and shield.  Ohlo backed us, flinging bolts of pure magical energy.  He’s remarkable like that.  Our combined attack pushed the beast back on his elbows and exposed his impaled chest to us.  Talendra, Pietrov, Mirren, Cabe, Morgrim, Dame Lulu, and Sir Tristan marshaled all of their power and piled into the fight.  Antonio stood back and fished something from his satchel.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that it was a wine bottle.  I laughed a little inside, because I thought it was a great moment for a drink.  I was a little surprised when Antonio uncorked the bottle and flung its contents on the Simulacrum.  Wherever the liquid touched, dead flesh burned with a bright light, searing away the meat and exposing the bone beneath.  Duke Timothy made his way through the party, healing with potion and spell alike.  Through his diligent efforts, everyone survived this moment of the battle.

I was confident that we would be victorious, but I soon ate those thoughts.  Hacked nearly to pieces and oozing black ichor, the Simulacrum lay motionless on the ground.  Had we won?  We all looked around at each other in puzzlement.  This had been too easy.  As that thought crossed my mind, a flash of Necromantic power engulfed us.  I could feel myself disintegrating from the inside and I saw my comrades collapse to dust in front of me.  As I faded away, I saw that Timothy, Antonio, Fa’Leeki, and Apollodorus had resisted the effects of the Obliterate, most likely because they were Soul Stored and hadn’t died yet.

Again, I resurrected and strangely remembered what had happened.  Alas, such is the power of the King.  The first things I saw were Apollodorus and Malcolm Viir blasting the newly healed Simulacrum with a barrage of magic.  Their power is staggering. King Fa’Leeki had drawn an emerald sword that glowed with a sickly internal light.  He screamed, “Sorrowind!  Feed on my soul and grant me the power to defeat this foe!”  He fought far better than he should have been able to.  Sorrowind cleaved great hunks of meat from the Simulacrum and briefly staggered him.  This was the opportunity the warriors needed to seize the day.  Charging from all directions, these heroes of Tyrra smote the Simulacrum with world-shaking power and again brought him to his knees. Antonio flung deadly vials of acid, melting away the rotting flesh of the Simulacrum.  Talendra took the form of a great bear and clawed away at the foe’s ebony armor.  Pietrov painted a masterpiece of sword work that would have brought any other foe to his death.  Apollodorus casually waved a hand and set our weapons ablaze.  Ace and Alexander locked together in harmony to create a whirling dervish of destruction.  Cabe’s killing strokes were masterful, but had little effect on the beast.  Fa’Leeki summoned a swarm of bees that transformed into blazing arrows.  Timothy summoned an armored figure of the purest white to fight for him.  An elemental, no doubt.  Mirren wrenched his sword from the torso of the Simulacrum and began fiercely cleaving at its head in the purest of rages.  I stood my ground, protecting Ohlo, while the wizard worked miraculous feats of magic.  Morgrim stood back from this onslaught and I could see he was digging something from a pouch at his side.  I couldn’t be bothered with it at the moment, but I hoped it would help.  Dame Lulu and Sir Tristan lived up to the heroic reputation bestowed upon them, hacking deep into the legs of the beast.  For the Simulacrum’s part, he fought like a nightmare, rending flesh and shattering soul.  Dame Lulu was the first to suffer in this moment.  The foe’s sword cut her from shoulder to hip and tore her soul away, rendering her to dust.  Sir Tristan sought to parry the blow with his shield, but was kicked to the ground by a massive boot.  Prone, he was driven through with a left-handed sword, its metal sinking deeply into the flagstones beneath.  The beast could not wrench the sword free and abandoned it, reduced to using his great, clawed hand to make war.  Antonio finally succumbed after the Simulacrum wiped away the acid and charged him headlong.  Grasping the Gypsy King in a bear hug, he crushed the life from his shattered body, dropping him limply to the ground.  In an instant, Antonio was summoned back from death as a dreaded Death Rogue.  Suddenly, there was a new threat.  I turned my attention to this abominable Antonio and brought my sword to bear on him.  The battle was heroic and once Ace, Ohlo, and Alexander joined me, we dispatched our stricken friend in quick fashion.  As I said previously, I remember all of these deaths, so it’s no wonder that I clearly remember the pain of a great ebon sword plunging through my heart.  I also remember the horrible sensation of a rush of Necromantic energy flooding my soul.  I looked down at my hands and saw the bare bones beneath where the flesh was supposed to be.  I felt unbridled power in my body and I sensed the Simulacrum’s intent in my mind.  “Kill the living!” it said.  I swiftly turned to Ohlo and struck him down.  The Simulacrum cast his foul magics and warped Ohlo into a Death Lord.  In turn, Ohlo and I struck down the depleted Ace and Alexander.  Again, the Simulacrum attempted to summon Ace forth as a greater, but a Viir Soul Shield saved him and he died instead.  Alexander was less fortunate and was mutated into a Death Rogue.  Suddenly the tide was turned in favor of the enemy.  The three of us ruthlessly attacked Lord Pietrov and Lady Silvertree, catching them off guard.  Like cornered animals, they fought viciously, dealing great damage to me. Talendra overcame Alexander somehow, but the two struck each other down simultaneously.  Compelled by the Simulacrum, I became empowered with great Necromantic might, which I used to animate Talendra into another Death Knight.  Ashamed as I am to say it, I felt ecstasy in this moment, as I was serving my master in the best way.  Ohlo, the Death Lord, imprisoned Lord Pietrov and cut his throat… again, another Death Knight.  Cabe fell to the same fate, newly empowered by Necromancy, he set his sights on Apollodorus and Timothy.  Fa’Leeki skirted the outside of the battle with Mirren in tow.  They backpedaled and fiercely defended themselves, using High Sorcery and enchanted blade.  The Fey King tripped on an upturned flagstone and fell harshly on the ground.  It was I that gave chase and I leapt in the air and drove my sword deep into his heart.  He was dead and I summoned him forth as a Liche.  In his new form, possessed of his old powers, he utterly destroyed Mirren and rendered him to ashes.  The Myrthyrian King and the Duke became cornered in the courtyard and unleashed the might of their realms against the attackers.  Ohlo was incinerated, Timothy’s avatar made short work of Pietrov, but was destroyed in the process.  Talendra attacked Apollodorus directly and managed to wound him to the chest.  Staggering, the Myrthyrian King did the unthinkable and called down an Elemental Strike on his own location.  The resulting conflagration disintegrated Timothy and seemed to heal Apollodorus.  Suddenly, he was faced with a number of greater undead, former allies, that were intent on killing him.  He fell like a true hero and took me, Fa’Leeki, and Cabe with him.  The last sight I saw in my undead form was Lulu, Tristan, and Mirren reforming inside Evander’s circle.  Without their weapons, they were defenseless, though they were protected by the King’s circle.  Eventually, Ohlo and I also resurrected, along with Fa’Leeki and Cabe and Ace.  We were trapped.

Then, a thought occurred to me… where was Morgrim Thaonin?  Last I saw of him, he was rifling through his belt pouch, looking for something.  I lost track of him after that.  I scanned the area, looking for him.  I saw him finally, lurking is a far off corner of the courtyard.  I could see that he had candles arrayed around him and he was holding a piece of parchment.  What was he doing?  I tried not to draw attention to him and I was successful.  There we were, trapped in a circle with our King.  If he lowered it, we would be slain outright.  If we stayed in it, we would fail in our mission.  Our only hope lay in whatever he was doing.

Soon, we could not see the foe under the press of enemies.  Then, I knew in my heart that we had won the day.  I was sad, and deeply troubled, that we had won it in this fashion.  What would the King think?  What would the Druid, Fa’Leeki, think?  How was this happening?

Soon, the thrashing at the center of the courtyard ceased and the undead horde spread out to form a circle around the fallen Simulacrum.  It was then that my King took action.  He lowered the Circle and strode forth to meet the beast.  Wherever he walked, undead turned to dust in a wide radius around him.  Once he stood over the prone Simulacrum, he said, “Here is your absolution.” One great sword stroke was all it took to sever the beast’s head.

There was absolute silence from our party.  The only sound was the shuffling of our despicable allies, the undead horde.  From somewhere to my left, an order was issued, “Undead.  Destroy yourselves.”  It was whispered with a heavy sigh and a sound of deep regret.  Undead turned their swords on one another and laid waste.  Soon, we were met by total silence and our own thoughts.  Had we just been saved by the very evil that nearly destroyed us.  I stared at Morgrim in disbelief.  How had we come to this?

There we stood… our majestic King, Evander, King Apollodorus, King Fa’Leeki, King Antonio, Duke Timothy, Lord Pietrov, Talendra Silvertree, Malcolm Viir, Ohlo, Ace, myself, Alexander, Cabe, Dame Lulu, Sir Tristan, and Mirren.  We were covered in blood and weary from the fight, but we stood victorious.  Hopefully, the Faithful fared better in the fight against Akeem.  They would need our well-wishes.

In that moment, we all made an oath to each other.  I will not speak the words of this oath, but suffice it to say, it was made from iron and blood.  We forever shared our destinies.  We forever shared our fates.  Bonded until the end of time, we would shape the course of Tyrra.

Talk to me.

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