Death And Undeath Of Kintaro

Chapter 1

It is often said, that people should die gloriously. A way that would make others celebrate the life of the recently departed. A way that would make one revered. The apex, the veritable pinnacle of life, all boiled down to one singular moment. It is an understatement, to say that most do not achieve this grand finale that they are seeking. For most, life does not end with a bang, but a whimper. On the island of Thain, off the Sword Coast, this is entirely true. Many lives do not end in a celebration, surrounded by loved ones and family. Instead, there is despair.

Bodies, broken and bleeding in the chill of the night, as whatever monstrosity present at the time claims the unfortunate victim. The pain that courses through their bodies, the screams for their god or their beloved, agonizing on the ground, wondering why it would be them that suffered the unfortunate fate that they are tied to.

But, what if you could come back? What if life was simply the first stage, and there was something more beyond? The ability to see vengeance upon your murderers? The aspect of being something more than a mortal being, yet somewhat less? Would you do it? Would you actively seek a second chance, no matter how drastic it may change you?

That is, if you were given the option at all. Some were never offered; they simply got the chance.

One such man, was a warlord, named Kintaro. Most of the people that knew him, called him General. He led a group of assassins from a location on the island called the Poisonwood. Mostly of elvish blood, they were identifiable to each other with a small token called the Seal of Syann. They were a cruel and malicious tribe, at war with the neighboring city of Greenvale, ruled by Queen Yu'syu. Yu'syu herself was also once a member of the Posionwood, who fled to create and rule Greenvale.

I know such things, because I was once a Poisonwood Assassin. My talents were vested in the arcane, which combined with cloak and dagger warfare, made me an invaluable resource among their ranks. There was a time, where we were engaged in constant strife against the Circle Defense Forces, led by one Jeri Theed Orman, a machinist and warrior. One of Orman's raids had succeeded, and led to the capture of General Kintaro, leaving the Poisonwood without a leader.

The debate on how to retrieve him was long, arduous, and stressful. Debates from a full assault on the compound, to a more underhanded breach of the main castle, in order to retrieve our General from Elisara's clutches. Meanwhile, losses began to accrue, and our morale, as well as our patience, was beginning to dwindle, if not be erased entirely.

Frustrated, I sought out the easiest option to allow unguarded access to Greenvale: chaos. Finding an old building, worn and unattended to, I climbed into a desolate home, and proceeded to open up a passage to one of the most terrible places in the known multiverse.

The Abyss.

It did not take long, for one of the dreaded tanar'ri to poke its massive burning skull through the portal, and slowly step through, realizing this was a direct route to a place where terror and fear could be spread. Normally, gates of such magnitude are closed immediately after such a creature is pulled, in order to limit the collateral damages.

It was a gate I never closed.

Chapter 2
Center of the Storm

There was a reddish glow in the air. The nighttime sky burned brightly, illuminating the highest peaks of the city, and drowning out the stars with a closer aspect of illumination. A few flashes within the city gates were visible as I came down Hammersong Mountain, watching, fascinated. Before I had even reached Elisara, I knew the damage I had caused; the lives I had shattered, destroyed, maimed, and snuffed. The funeral processions would be many; the burial grounds seeing a rise in occupants.

Not surprisingly, as I made my way to the front gates of Greenvale, there was little visual indication that atrocities were being committed inside. The lack of keepers of the gate could have been the only real giveaway. The Razorfang tribes had known something was going on, so close to the source. A few were standing, watching the surreal glow with their cannibalistic kinsmen, in the open. They did not notice my presence: I had placed myself under the illusion of invisibility well before coming within close proximity. As I neared, the echo of steel clanging, of screams, and words spoken in dark tongues, began to be heard, dissected in my mind.

I stepped into the City of Elisara once more, and did not recognize the landscape that I had left. Marks of battle were strewn in all directions, as were trails of blood, and bodies at the end of those trails. The looks on the faces of the dead sung in unison: they were unprepared and terrified for what was transpiring. Their city was burning.

Many of the trees were burning, as wood is simply a flammable material, and with demons who prefer fire to civilized discussion, there was little hope for anything else. Soldiers poured out of various buildings, bows and blades at the ready, striking back at the invaders. Subjected to multiple penetrations, many of the tanar'ri breathed their last breaths before my very eyes. Yet, for every one demon slain, another took retribution with a skillfully tossed ball of flame, detonating and sending three or more elvish folks plummeting to their doom, or dead from instant immolation.

I kept walking, looking for signs of something out of place, a door or passage I had not seen before, as the vibrant stomping of the damned ones strode right past me, unaware that I was the calm in the center of the storm. Battles raged on around me, close to my presence, but never involving my direction or action. Some of Elisara's finest were teaming up to tackle the larger of beasts, while succubi directed the tempted to raise blade against their kinsmen. In one corner, I watched a vrock slowly advance towards a younger elf, terrified, unable to run, tears streaming from his eyes. I had to turn my head away, not due to what I could have witnessed, but due to the more pressing matters that caused this scenario to unfold in the first place.

Somewhere, in this city, was General Kintaro, captive, hopefully unharmed, more than likely aware of the agent of Syann bringing vengeance for transgressions enacted against the residents of the Poisonwood.

It was tough to discern where entrances were along the walls, with various shades of ember and life splayed across the walls. Nearing the castle, something caught my eye, causing me to hesitate a step. A thick wall of ivy, that covered an grand amount of feet in both length and height, was gone, burnt to shades of black and ashes. In its place, was a small, unassuming door, that was untouched, yet plainly visible. No persons, of any sort, came from that door, and it was largely ignored.

As it turned out, that door held the fate for General Kintaro.

Chapter 3
End Of The Beginning

A network of tunnels, far below the city. Torches brightly lit each, giving each bracket no hope of creating a shadow. Yet, I moved at a frenzied pace, scanning each intersection or diversion from a forward path to see if there was an increase in activity, guards, or even doors. There was none. The information we recovered may have been a ruse; despite the tortured applied to the elven infantrywoman, she may have been fed false information. My fears grew, my anger rose, my desperation began to escalate. The war between the Orders of Syann and Elisara had taken a crucial step, as the catalyst for further aggression was on the surface. I was certain that I had plunged the two factions, and perhaps the entire island, into the brink of war.

Yet, the eerie silence, disrupted by each of my footsteps, slowly began to gnaw away at my hopes that Kintaro would be found that day.

Nearly given up hope, I arrived at a simple room, wherein Queen Yu'syu stood, holding both blades of the General. Hovering in place, was the man himself, the one we were told to seek, and obtain. Only feet away, and with the added prize of Queen Yu'syu being in the same room. Within that moment, my directive had changed. I would incapacitate her, steal her from this place, and bring back Kintaro at the same instance.

I would be hailed as a savior of the Poisonwood. Yet, as I came to instantly find out, my intentions, were never to be carried out.

The Queen, the leader of her people, upon my appearance, looked at me with cold, sad eyes. With a perfect motion, both of those blades she held, the personal possessions of Kintaro himself, were plunged deep into Kintaro's chest. For the safety of her people, she had said. To end this destructive conflict, to cease all hopes of warfare, was the purpose of the action. Kintaro's body straightened, then ran limp, collapsing to the ground.

A shadow moved across my peripheral vision, giving me a second to glance behind, to see Drogo Burrows, spymaster and Shadow Lord, barring me from simply leaving. A grueling task loomed; I would now need to incapacitate two master warriors, instead of one, and my primary objective had collapsed before my feet, dead.

In that very moment, Queen Yu'syu had turned the blades around, and offered them to me. The informing that I would be allowed to freely leave, to send General Kintaro off to burial. That him, and his blades, would no longer be a threat to the island.

My mind rattled with options, contemplations, suggestions. My tool, the dead, was based upon the living. The greater the life, the better they would serve as an undead servant. And, before me, was a warrior of the highest caliber, snuffed from life with a pair of blades into his lungs.

I departed via portal. Soon he would have no need for his lungs, or air.

Chapter 4

The Mourning Knight Inn. Why I had decided to go here, was based on pure logic, with a dash of insanity. In was the largest gathering of vampires in the area, and one only had to lay out the sugar to attract the bees. I walked in with a sort of saunter, one that naturally attracted the attention of the proprietors, also cursed with larger teeth and the ravishing hunger to drink blood like a fine red wine. Confronted almost immediately, I gave them a sneer, as their initial hostility was not going to benefit them, and I told them so. There were other prizes at hand.

Kintaro. Now just a shell of a man, trapped in a vessel, unknowing of the infinite tortures I would place upon him. As I laid out his body before the now coven, their eyes widened, a sick maniacal glee twisting onto their faces, as they realized who was set before them. I was regarded with cold, vulgar eyes, and as they whisked him away, they knew to leave me alone, for the time being. They were off to create Kintaro, Vampire Lord.

Going down the stairs, into the deep, cool, blanket of night that was their cave, I saw the undead set him about, laying the elf into a position where multiple fonts of blood could be drawn upon. Several had taken to knees, gorging upon the life force of the warlord, draining him to an elvish pulp. Not many words had been spoken, certainly none by myself, for this was something that was a rare visage to see. Watching a vampire be created, before my very eyes, one that could potentially hold dominion over all other children of the night, and one that would be under my command. Like a general with his undead lieutenant. The possibilities and concepts of warfare were limitless. It was a grand scheme, and it was working to utter perfection.

Yet, like all schemes, one kink dislodges the gears, and breaks the mechanism. That kink, was Kintaro itself.

He rose, eventually, in a sort of uncertain stupor; suddenly self-aware and able to think, reason… and it was then, when he realized his surroundings, as well as his companions in undeath. There was a look of horror in his eyes that I had never seen before; a horror that he never showed whilst alive. It was a success! All that was left was the dominion of his shell. It was a simple spell to do so, and the control could easily be renewed, but that is when it all turned south.

Kintaro's creators were never given a chance to speak, as the Warlord of Poisonwood was too busy tearing them limb from limb. With his bare hands, he began moving at an absurd speed; decapitating and terminating those around me. Undead ashes began to fill my nostrils; I knew I had pushed the limit too far, and this was going to take more effort than I had to give at the moment. He fled upstairs; I had to follow, to assess the damages.

Soon, there would more than the smell of ashes in the air, as something had caught ablaze. Vampires, normally terrified of flames, perhaps had resorted to the things they feared, to contain the mess.

My mess.

The inn had been set ablaze, and while the undead spawn did not have to worry about suffocation, I did. Hastily I shuffled feet out of that burning inferno, leaving me a coughing mess outside in the gentle contradiction of the rain.

Glass shattered, Kintaro had jumped from a window to escape immolation. Finally, his eyes locked upon me, a snarl in his voice, the memories and the knowledge of who I was, and what I did for a living, putting all of it together, to target me as the source of his new misery. I hunched down, knees bent, hands a quiver, as my mouth began the incantation to make haste under the aspect of time, and depart. He lunged forward, in absurd speeds, leaping forward, inches away from delivering the underside of a boot to my face. Yet, the spell had worked, and now, he hung, static, in the air.

Instinct told me to run. Yet, like a fool, I stepped to the side, studying him, his form, the poise in his martial art, and guessing that his foot would have crushed my skull. Nor did I retreat, when time returned to the norm, and Kintaro crashed into the trees beyond, shattering one at the trunk. He tumbled down, rolling over twice before orienting himself to his feet, another look of horror in his eyes. He had not submitted, yet he had not been beaten, or even contained. It was then, that he fled, jumping far into the darkness, far out of my sight, and more than likely, far away from his creator.

As I stood alone, with the rain falling on my face, the Mourning Knight Inn burning a short distance away, I could not have felt any more a fool.

Rishkin Templar created a vampire, from Kintaro, Lord of Poisonwood. As much as I felt a fool, I have never felt so proud.

Chapter 5
Blood Seeker

Time had transpired, some had gone while others arrived. The terror of that night had faded away with the sunrise, and my actions had become snuffed in the records of my mind. A dark secret, that added a little swagger to my step, a slightly brighter smirk on the face of a being who decayed with each passing day. Each day, I held the prize of my leader, given by Queen Yu'syu herself: the blades of Kintaro. They were twins in spirit, enchanted with fire and ice, and their presence was a trophy in my arsenal of weapons that no mage would normally carry.

Soon, anomalies began occurring. I would come across a body, deprived of life, the teeth marks telling the story that I had already known far too well. My allies at the time, would tell me of the stranger in black, looking for me, hissing with contempt and rage.

The lone walks that never felt alone.

His eyes were watching, waiting. Hungering for my fall, waiting for the right time to strike. My words became concerned; my prideful steps had shifted to paranoia; my eyes now darted to and fro, wondering when and where he was going to strike from. The blades that became a source of pride, felt a burden; a beacon for him to find me and extinguish me. The fear had grown to a new height; those blades were tucked away in captivity, stored entirely off of the material plane.

And yet, this was one of but many concerns. The hordes of the Abyss had taken notice of my fears, and began to see how fragile I was. The little betrayals soon turned grave; I was often abandoned when I needed their help the most. I was a fool to depend on them then, and it is a mistake that continues to haunt me to this day.

All the while, Kintaro was searching for me. The vanquished ruler of Syann's Order, already replaced with a new figurehead, had continued his pursuit of Rishkin Templar. A lone voyage into a cave near the Crossroads had proved to be more hazardous than I intended: Kintaro was there, awaiting me, boiling with spite and hatred, pale as a full moon, confused by rage and the fragments of his old elven heritage. The words he did mumble, were mad and raving; and soon it dawned that he needed his blades - my blades, which would enable him to be a complete killing machine. The curved slashing implements were keeping me alive! The damned vampire knew who I associated with, who took my interest, and whom I relied upon for the most secure and trusted of tasks. And he threatened them.

It had been the breaking point. There was only one hope now; and that was to remove all trace of General Kintaro off of Thain entirely.

Chapter 6
Second Sunrise

There was no time to waste; any and all efforts to find General Kintaro would have to be done soon, as his tactics became more aggressive, and his efforts to exhaust my life twice-fold. Randomized attacks, and various forms of sabotaging my work, my allies, and my mental state, did little to offer me any kind of relief. With a renewed thirst for vengeance, I sought to bringing the fight directly to Kintaro's doorstep. For too long, the guerrilla tactics were working, and a daytime assault on a vampire would have limited his movement options, as well as forced it into a corner.

No running. No hiding.

Within the secluded reserve of a woman whom I knew at the time, I set down a small scrying crystal, as well as the blades that I rightfully claimed as my own from the deceased elf. Clad in robes enchanted for better divination, I set to my task: bringing to the surface the visions of where the undead warlord and former leader lay for the daylight hours. It was integral to have daylight hours while I scryed: were it during the night, the visions would be on actively present location, instead of dormant location. The last thing I needed to have seen would be his present course, as intercepting the vampire would have proven dangerous far beyond anything I could possibly imagine.

With the arcane at my side, the visions became clear, but not definite. Woods, vast and expansive, a shade of green radiating from the leaves illuminated by the sunlight, were a clear and obvious distinction that he was careful of not being exposed to great amounts of sun, even while resting. Then, the Weave refocused, bringing forth his tomb, made of stone and secure in the dark… but surrounded by stone. The hewn walls only told me that Kintaro resided within a cave.

It narrowed down his locations rather quickly, but still had room for error.

After that time had passed, I relayed a message to the Keepers. They boasted themselves as scions of what they perceived as 'just' and 'good'. Yet, they are a cult of racists, a policing force without any actual authority. Their hatred for undead would bring them out, bring them to see one of their greatest rivals: an elf who chose not to live as they wanted people, down.

So they came. Andras D'arkkon, Bryony Heinste, Keira Siadys'varilo, and one other that shall be referred to as "The Betrayer". Others came as well: Eshtarra, the shadowtouched avariel; Yohirril, the elven monk; Pravus, of the Poisonguard, and Xerous Maines. We traveled into the forests that surround Feywood, looking for recesses into the darkness. One was found, and it turned out to be the vital one.

At long last, Kintaro was captured, still slumbering. I strode up to the sarcophagus, eager to tear it open, and blast it with all manners of anti-necromancy. As I pushed the thing open, panic ensued.

It was empty. And his voice was now behind us.

Words were spoken, and battle ensued. Kintaro was dangerous, and several blades swinging at the same object often clashed with each other, as Kintaro managed to dodge several attempts at being impaled. Being a vampire gives one such reflexes, after all. Yet, as strong as he was, and as enraged as he proved to be, he could not dodge magic that sought him out. Spells flew, fire was sprayed everywhere, and many of us felt dealt with the concept of massive explosions and spells in close quarters.

I had run out of spells, as had others. There was one last item that would work; a bag, that once opened, would produce sunlight as pure and real as if we were all standing outside. Kintaro had smelled my blood; several blades of his had hit their mark, and it oozed gently down my sides, face, and arms. He lunged, hoping to make his original target the first to fall. My hands and mind were ready, and in a proximity close enough for discomfort, I opened the bag.

Sunlight blasted out, the warlord was entirely unaware or expecting it.

Nothing but dust remained. The war with the dead was over, and the Poisonwood lost their leader forever.

Tired and weary, I shambled over to those ashes. The efforts of joining the order of Syann, and the wars they fought, became burdens. Burdens I no longer needed. I was no elf, I was no assassin, and I had just eradicated their leader from the universe. I set that sigil, that seal, directly on the ground. No longer a member of that group, free to pursue other endeavors.

Yet, the day would not conclude. The Betrayer had other plans for me, to send me to the Feywood to be held accountable for the actions of a rogue vampire. It would be the action that would ensure his death; I would make sure of that in the near future.

However, that is a story for another time.


Rishkin Templar

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