Welcome back my dear friends. It has been far too long since last we spoke, but I am excited to see that you have returned for the epic conclusion of my grand adventures. When we last left off, my party and I had managed to neutralize a rather notorious crime lord, and after taking a bit of time to ‘re-educate’ and ‘absolve’ him of his many transgressions, he was finally able to find salvation within the arms of the Midnight Lord. With his face now mutilated and his eyes burned away, the once powerful wizard had been utterly reduced to a shell of his former self. I can only begin to imagine how agonizing it must feel knowing that he will never be able to read from his spellbook or cast his magic again. Of course, if that wasn’t bad enough, my party immediately insisted that we entrust his future care to the local authorities, and after gathering enough evidence to ensure his guilt (which included crimes such as murder, theft, and human trafficking), the city guard wasted no time locking him in prison.
Over the next few days, my party and I resumed our duties with the Pathfinder Society, as we took to the task of clearing out an old dungeon that was said to be overrun with swarms of the undead. It was an admirable assignment I suppose, and although I was initially excited to test my strength against these lifeless monsters, I soon discovered that destroying the undead was incredibly unsatisfying. In fact, I can still recall a specific encounter where I was squaring off against a powerful Flesh Golem, and I actually found myself getting bored with the fight. You see, under normal conditions, the flow of combat is much like a dance where the joys of pain can be appreciated by everyone involved. However, when dealing with certain creatures like golems and the undead, the enjoyment of physical agony is sadly one-sided. To compensate for this problem, I tried to focus my attention upon the suffering of myself and the party, but even this only provided a temporary reprieve.
I am ashamed to admit that as we progressed further into the dungeon, my temper was slowly starting to get the better of me, for even after killing scores of zombies, golems, and skeletal champions, that nagging lack of fulfillment I felt only continued to grow. I could tell that the ‘Dark Master’ (or as I affectionately call him, the DM) was amused by my displeasure, while my comrades mostly viewed me with a mixture of disdain and concern. At one point, after we cleared out a room that was filled with at least a dozen feral ghouls, I simply couldn’t stop myself from voicing my frustration.
“This is madness! Absolute madness!” I roared in disbelief, as a blinding surge of anger began to boil up inside of me. “How am I supposed to enjoy the dance if I’m the only one who is listening to the music! I swear, it feels like I’m chopping down trees in a forest! These undead creatures are no fun at all!”
Of course, the worst insult was yet to come, for when we reached the final room of the dungeon (which was coincidentally the treasure room), the last enemy we were forced to contend with was a powerful undead warrior known as a graveknight, and just like the rest of these monsters, it too was also incapable of feeling pain as well. Now, in most cases, I would have happily granted my adversary plenty of time to converse with my companions before engaging in a battle, but sadly I wasn’t in the mood to listen to another monologue. Therefore, when we entered the treasure room and laid eyes upon the graveknight (who was sitting upon an ornate throne with a greatsword at his side), I had already decided what I was going to do next. Just as the graveknight began to rise up from his seat, I calmly walked forward without saying a word, and after calling upon the winds of fate and rolling for my attack, I promptly slammed my fist into the undead monster’s jaw.
“Did you feel THAT you brainless puppet!” I yelled out in contempt, as the graveknight merely glared at me with its dark hateful eyes before letting out a roar of fury and hoisting up its sword. “Fine then. I guess I’ll just settle for your emotional pain instead!”
Although it took a considerable amount of effort, my party and I eventually managed to overwhelm the vile creature and send its wretched soul back into the abyss. However, before we could celebrate our victory, our warpriest proceeded to inform us that in order to truly kill the graveknight, we would need to ensure that its armor was completely destroyed as well.
Apparently even in defeat, the undead creature continued to mock me.
After tending to our wounds and gathering up the loot, my party and I returned to the city with the unholy armor in tow. Our current plan was to purchase several scrolls of the ‘disintegrate’ spell in order to dispose of the graveknight for good, but to be honest, I really wasn’t interested in dealing with the problem any further. Battling the undead had all but drained me of my patience, and I knew that watching a suit of armor being melted into dust wasn’t going to help improve my mood either. Therefore, when we arrived back in town, I decided to pay a visit to one of the local drinking pubs while my comrades restocked their supplies and upgraded their equipment.
I figured that a strong drink and the company of a beautiful woman would be the perfect remedy for my battle-weary mind, yet when arrived at the brothel and greeted the head Mistress, I was promptly informed that the doors of this particular establishment would never be open for a ‘Kuthite’ like me. Apparently the rumors regarding my devotion to Zon-Kuthon had spread very fast indeed, and it turns out that not many people were willing to tolerate a worshipper of the Midnight Lord. The head Mistress then went on to explain that every tavern and brothel in the city had placed me on a blacklist, which essentially meant that none of them would be willing to provide me with service.
As you can imagine, I didn’t exactly take this news very well, and after rolling on the winds of fate to test my diplomacy, I sadly bungled any hope of negotiating with the head Mistress. With a snap of her fingers, the woman quickly summoned two of her bodyguards to ‘escort me’ out of the building, and for the briefest of moments, I idly considered taking out my frustrations on the two hapless brutes who were preparing to throw me out. However, rather than giving in to this temptation, I decided to cooperate and leave the brothel in peace, for while I was confident that I could easily defeat the bodyguards in combat, I honestly wanted to save my anger for a much more worthy encounter. Besides, I really couldn’t fault the bodyguards for simply doing their job, and I didn’t want to ruin my reputation as a ‘respectable gentleman’ among the community.
Of course, with that being said, if I didn’t get the chance to hurt someone soon, I feared that I might start becoming a little…unhinged.
Thankfully the magic item shops were more receptive to my company, and after purchasing a few helpful trinkets, I decided to retire for the evening back at my room at the Pathfinder Lodge. However, upon returning to my chambers, I discovered that a curious letter was waiting for me in my mailbox stating that my presence was requested at the jailhouse at the earliest possible convenience. With my curiosity piqued, and with no other pressing issues at hand, I promptly wasted no time in heading over to the prison.
After speaking with the guards and having a brief conversation with the warden, I soon learned that the crime lord that we had captured from earlier was demanding to speak with me over a matter that he claimed was of the utmost importance. I will admit that I was touched that my former enemy was willing to seek me out like this, and despite my earlier frustrations, I was eager to hear what this poor blind wizard was wanting to say. When I finally entered his prison cell, I was pleased to see that the crime lord looked even more miserable than I had previously remembered, for he was curled in the corner of the room dressed in ragged clothes, and judging by the numerous scars upon his arms, he had apparently taken to cutting himself since the start of his incarceration.
“Your devotion to the Midnight Lord is truly admirable,” I said in a welcoming tone, as the wizard visibility flinched at the sound of my voice. “Oh, don’t be afraid my friend. You must remember that pain is not something that should frighten you anymore. You are a follower of Zon-Kuthon, and thus the fear of agony should no longer taint your soul. Now then, what is it you wish to speak with me about.”
After taking a moment to gather up his courage, the wizard finally spoke in a slow and whimpering voice. He explained that before he was captured, he had made an alliance with a powerful Incubus demon, and that the two of them had intended to sabotage the community by opening the city gates and allowing a tribe of frost giants to rampage through the town. Apparently this Incubus demon was a follower of Lamashtu, and he was looking to exact revenge upon a group of adventurers from the city who had desecrated a temple to his Goddess and killed the high priestess. In exchange for opening the city gates, the Incubus demon promised to help assassinate many of the prominent leaders within the community, and once the frost giants finished pillaging the town, the wizard and his gang of thugs would take advantage of the confusion and establish themselves as the new rulers of the city.
The former crime lord then went on to explain that the attack was scheduled to take place at midnight three days from now, but before that could happen, all three factions had agreed to have one last meeting in person before the day of the assault. Of course, now that the wizard was imprisoned, it was unlikely that the attack would take place at all, but if my allies and I acted quickly enough, we could set up an ambush at the meeting place and kill the frost giant leader and the Incubus demon in a single decisive strike. As I pondered upon this information, the crime lord proceeded to inform me that the rendezvous point was located deep in the forest about 30 miles north of the city, and the location would be distinctly marked with a symbol of Lamashtu.
When the wizard finished speaking, I decided to call upon the winds of fate to see if the crime lord was trying to deceive me, for although I would have liked to believe that my former enemy was telling the truth, I simply wasn’t foolish enough to take him at his word. Therefore, after casting my dice into the endless void, I felt my instincts sharpen up considerably, allowing me to sense his motives with a greater degree of accuracy. And while his words did appear to be both genuine and sincere, I was also able to detect a sinister undertone that he was desperately trying to hide.
“You’re lying to me,” I said with a wicked smile, although I purposely spoke to him in a soft and gentle voice. “You didn’t tell me this information in the hopes of trying to help me, and you certainly didn’t do it to clear your conscience either. No, you gave me this information because this is your last best chance to get your revenge. You want me to go to this meeting because you’re confident that your allies will finally be able to kill me. Isn’t that right ‘my friend’?”
At first the wizard said nothing as he continued to sit in the corner of the room while a dark and eerie silence gently hung in the air. Then, without warning, the crime lord slowly lowered his head and began weeping into his hands, for he knew there was no denying the truth in my words. For several long seconds I simply stood there and listened as the heart-broken wizard sobbed in despair, before finally deciding to give him the cruelest gift of all: hope.
“Sssshhhh. Do not cry my friend. I’m not angry with you,” I said in a tender voice, as I slowly walked over and placed my hand upon his shoulder, which instantly caused the man to sob even louder. “Believe it or not, you have actually given me a wonderful gift, and out of respect for our shared faith in the Midnight Lord, I will go to this meeting place and confront your former allies. However, I’m afraid this will be the last time we will ever speak again, for as soon as I leave this cell, I intend to pay the guards so that you will never be able to contact myself or my allies again. You will never know if we survived or died from this fateful encounter, and I hope that this knowledge haunts you for the rest of your natural life. So goodbye my dear friend, and I pray that Zon-Kuthon continues to grant you his mercy.”
After giving the wizard’s shoulder one last comforting squeeze, I politely excused myself and exited the room, ignoring the broken sobs that followed in my wake. From there, I quickly paid a visit to the warden of the prison and offered him a hundred gold pieces to permanently place the crime lord into solitary confinement, ensuring that he would never be able to contact the outside world again. With all of that out of the way, I immediately set my sights on tracking down my allies and bringing them up to speed on all that I had learned. Fortunately, it didn’t take much effort to convince them to join my cause, and after alerting the authorities of a possible impending attack on the city, my party and I quickly headed out in search of the rendezvous point.
As it turns out, even with our druid’s exceptional tracking skills, it still took us an entire day to locate our destination, and when we finally arrived, we swiftly began to strategize on how to properly set up our ambush. The meeting place itself was located in a large open field that was surrounded on all sides by a thick foliage of trees and had a massive stone boulder in the center of the clearing. After calling upon the winds of fate to test our perception, our magus happened to discover that a strange yet noticeable mark had been carved into the side of the boulder, and upon further inspection, we quickly determined that it was a symbol of Lamashtu.
With only a few hours left until our ‘honored guests’ arrived, we decided to play it safe by having our magus climb up and hide in one of the trees, while our warpriest and druid (along with the druid’s grizzly bear) opted to conceal themselves in some bushes near the base of the tree line. As for me, I decided to act as bait by standing near the massive boulder and disguising myself in an oversized cloak, hoping that this would be enough to lure our enemies out into the open. I am…embarrassed to admit that my disguise wasn’t exactly the most clever or convincing, but for the purposes of our ambush, it would have to suffice.
About an hour after sunset, we finally heard the distant footfalls of a large and lumbering creature approaching from the north, and as I fixed my gaze in that direction, I was surprised to see not one, but rather two enormous frost giants emerging from the tree line. The first was a burly brute clad in leather armor with a large adamantine war hammer strapped to his hip, while the second frost giant was adorned in chainmail and had a rather impressive great axe harnessed to his back. As I watched them draw closer, a dark and twisted smile slowly formed upon my lips, as my fists began to shake with undisguised excitement. At long last, I would finally be able to unleash my fury upon a strong and worthy opponent, and now all I needed to do was wait for that foolish Incubus demon to finally arrive.
Then, as if on cue, a sudden flash of magical energy shifted my gaze to the east, and as I turned my head to inspect it, I noticed that a strange humanoid figure had somehow materialized about fifteen feet away from me. He was a tall, grey-skinned man wearing a fancy set of ornate armor and had two large bat-like wings jutting out from his back. Judging by how quickly he had arrived, I could only assume that he had utilized some form of teleportation magic, yet before I could ponder upon this further, the incubus demon slowly turned and began approaching me as well. However, after taking only a couple of steps, the creature suddenly paused and stared intently at my face, as several moments of tense silence passed between the two of us. As you might imagine, it didn’t take him long to uncover my disguise, and as the incubus demon hissed in anger and demanded to know who I was, I decided to enlighten him with a rather memorable introduction.
“Who am I?” I said in response, as I calmly spoke to the demon in a low and threatening voice. “Well…I am an artist, and you are my canvas. My fists are the brush, and your blood is my paint. And if you give me enough time, I will make you into a masterpiece!”
With a great flourish, I shrugged off the cloak from around my shoulders and signaled to my party that now was the time to attack. Our warpriest and druid immediately responded by bursting forth from the tree line and moving to engage the frost giants in melee combat, while our magus provided ranged support by unleashing a powerful fire spell upon one of the hapless brutes. As for me, I quickly closed the distance between myself and the demon, as we all prepared to roll upon the fickle winds of fate.
Despite the success of our ambush, the Incubus somehow managed to act ahead of me in combat, and after drawing forth his scimitar and calling upon his magic, he quickly lashed out to attack me with a powerful ice-based spell. As his hand slammed against my chest, I felt a terrible chilling cold spread throughout my body, and although I was able to shrug off most of the damage, the spell still left me staggered and barely able to move. When it came time for me to act, I decided to try and end the fight quickly by using a ‘knockout’ blow, and after casting my dice upon the winds of fate, I managed to land a brutal strike into the demon’s stomach. Thankfully I had already taken the time to coat my fists in grease and broken glass, and although my attack did manage to hurt the vile creature, his fortitude proved strong enough to keep him on his feet.
As the battle continued, the demon and I quickly fell into a pattern of exchanging blows with one another, as he constantly kept me staggered with his annoying ice-based spell, while I repeatedly battered his body with my glass-covered fists. At this point, I wasn’t even paying attention to what the rest of my party was doing, but judging by the heated sounds of battle I heard in the distance, I could only assume that they were struggling against their oversized foes. It was then that I began to realize that the incubus wasn’t trying to kill me but was instead just wanting to keep me out of the fight, at least until his frost giant allies could finish off my comrades. For the longest time, it looked as though his plan might just work, for I simply couldn’t do enough damage to drop the fiendish bastard, and his magic was constantly keeping me staggered and off balance.
Then…something amazing happened.
After getting hit yet again with that insufferable ice-attack, I called upon the winds of fate and carefully pulled back my fist, as I focused all my anger into my next attack. When I cast my dice into the endless abyss, I suddenly felt an incredible clarity overwhelm my body, as my muscles seem to surge with an unholy amount of strength. With a sickening crack, my fist instantly collided with the demon’s smug face, as I easily shattered his nose with the force of a critical blow. Blood sprayed everywhere as the incubus roared in pain, clutching its ruined face, and snarling out in rage.
“Oh my, that looks like it hurts,” I said with a cocky smile, as the demon promptly cursed at me and made a solemn vow that I would suffer the pain of a thousand deaths for what I had just done. Of course, little did the incubus know that he was speaking to a worshipper of Zon-Kuthon, so after making such a glorious promise of pain, I couldn’t help but offer him the following reply. “The pain of a thousand deaths you say…Mmm, don’t tease me.”
Sneering in disgust, the demon slowly stepped back and summoned forth his magic, yet rather than attacking me with yet another spell, the incubus suddenly disappeared in a blinding flash of light. It took me only a few moments to realize what just happened, and when I finally figured it out, I simply couldn’t stop myself from screaming out with rage.
He ran from me. The bastard actually ran from me! And all I had wanted to do was carve my name into his flesh!
Never in my life had I felt so cheated out of a victory, yet rather than allowing myself to become blinded by my anger, I swiftly shifted my attention back towards the fight. After all, there were still two more enemies who were in desperate need of a thrashing, and I didn’t want to be rude by making them wait too long. As I glanced across the battlefield though, I noticed that one of the brutes had already been killed by my party, but my comrades had also suffered some heavy loses as well. Both the druid and his grizzly bear were unconscious upon the ground, and judging by the amount of blood that had pooled around their bodies, I was certain that at least one of them had already succumbed to their wounds. As for our warpriest, she was currently facing off against the frost giant leader, although she looked as if she were about to collapse at any given moment.
“No. You cannot kill them! They belong to me!” I yelled out hotly, as I quickly made a desperate dash towards the frost giant leader, while at the same time calling forth the elemental energy in my blood.
In an instant, my fists were suddenly enveloped in a blazing torrent of fire, as I sprinted across the battlefield and prepared to make my attack. However, as I entered within the frost giant’s reach, the massive brute abruptly turned and swung his mighty war hammer, striking me with a critical blow directly upon my shoulder. A pain unlike any other washed across my body, as I heard my left shoulder pop out of its socket, causing my arm to go limp and dangle uselessly at my side. However, even after enduring such a devastating strike, I managed to fight through the pain and stay on my feet, as I immediately kicked up off the ground and made a desperate lunge towards the frost giant’s face. In that moment, I offered up a quick prayer to the glorious Zon-Kuthon, praying that this next attack would not miss its mark.
And then, without hesitation, I cast my dice upon the winds of fate and waited for the results.
With a great roar of triumph, I raised up my one good arm and clenched my fingers tightly, as I forcefully drove my fist (the fist that was currently covered in fire and broken glass) directly into the left eye of the frost giant leader. Oh how the burly brute howled out in pain as my hand easily managed to burst through his cornea and embed itself down to my elbow into the squishy jelly of his eye. Unfortunately though, even this wasn’t enough to bring the creature down for good, and as I hung there with my burning fist still buried in his eye socket, I knew that we needed to end the fight quickly before the enraged frost giant could attack us once again.
“Burn us!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, as I called out towards our magus who was still sitting safely in the trees. “We cannot afford to give this monster another chance to attack! We have to kill it now, no matter the cost!”
Nodding his head in agreement, our magus quickly conjured forth an orb of magical fire and immediately hurled the spell directly towards the frost giant. A moment later, a thunderous explosion followed by a blinding burst of heat enveloped both of our bodies as the fireball exploded, although thankfully the rest of my party was spared from the blast. After rolling upon the winds of fate, I managed to use my reflexes to avoid most of the damage, but I could tell that my oversized ‘friend’ hadn’t been so lucky. The frost giant screamed in agony while I could only laugh with joy, as I felt my flesh being incinerated by the unforgiving flames.
And then, just like that, everything went dark….
When I finally regained consciousness, I found myself lying on the ground with the corpse of the mighty frost giant leader laid out in a heap beside me. Our warpriest was currently in the process of healing some of my wounds and popping my left shoulder back into place, while our magus carefully administered a potion to our fallen druid as well. Unfortunately though, the druid’s faithful grizzly bear was sadly beyond our help, for it’s body had been utterly crushed during the final encounter. However, despite that little tragedy, the four of us stood triumphant as the victors of the battle, for we knew that we had saved the city from the frost giant invasion.
We were, for all intents and purposes, heroes.
After burying the druid’s grizzly bear and resting up for the night, my party and I wasted no time in heading back into town, yet as we entered through the city gates, we did not receive the ‘hero’s welcome’ that most might expect. There were no cheering crowds nor mobs of grateful citizens, for aside from the city guard, no one else was even aware of the incredible disaster that we had just averted. Instead, the people of the city went about their daily lives, blissfully ignorant of all that we had done.
“The great Zon-Kuthon has smiled upon us again, for not only has he blessed us with the terrible pain of loss, but he has now also enlightened us with humility as well,” I said in a grateful voice, as my companions merely scowled at me before slowly walking away.
Not long after that, my party and I finally decided to go our separate ways, for although we had accomplished much during our time together, we figured that we were long overdue for a nice little vacation, and we still had many goals that we wished to pursue on our own. From what I remember, our magus and warpriest traveled to the east in search of rare artifacts and unexplored dungeons, while our druid returned to his home in the forest and decided to become an instructor for the next generation of druids.
And as for myself…well….let’s just say that the trappings of the city no longer hold my interest, so I’ve decided to try and travel abroad and seek out new adventures to keep me entertained. Besides, I still have an Incubus demon running around on the loose, and I would hate to let such a cowardly creature escape the merciful touch of the glorious Midnight Lord. Perhaps if I am really lucky, I will also find a beautiful woman to join me on my journey, for I would love to have the company of an alluring companion who enjoys the open road and isn’t afraid of a danger. After all, while the cold pain of loneliness is certainly refreshing, it’s nice to have someone else who can share your burdens as well.
In any case, before I let you go, I would like to thank you all again for taking the time to sit down and listen to my story. I hope I was able to leave a memorable impression upon you, and if you enjoyed yourself, then I am grateful for your affection (and even if you did not, then I can assure you that your hatred is appreciated all the same). I do not know if our paths will ever cross again, but even if they do not, I am glad that I was given the chance to be a part of your life. Just remember though: true strength is never measured by how much pain you can give to others, but rather by how much pain you can learn to endure. We all suffer together, each and every day, but if you are brave enough to conquer your fears, then nothing in this world will ever be able to hurt you. So please, enjoy your suffering and revel in your grief, and if you can learn to overcome your burdens, then perhaps one day your story will surpass even mine.
With Deepest Regards: Xaldin.