Greetings my friends. Please take a seat and make yourselves comfortable, for I wish to share with you all a glorious tale, one that I am sure will leave a lasting impression upon you. The story you are about to hear is of my own making, and while I know it might seem selfish of me to brag about my own legend, I can assure you that this particular saga will be well worth your time.
Like any good story, I suppose it is prudent that we start at the beginning, but before we can do that, allow me to give myself a proper introduction. My name is Xaldin, and if you haven’t already guessed, I am also an adventurer of some notable renown. In the early days of my life, I grew up on the streets of a thriving metropolis, and due to my status as an orphan, my childhood was often marred with a great degree of adversity. The fact that I am a suli, or half-janni, probably didn’t help matters much either, for although I looked mostly human, my striking ‘otherworldly’ beauty quickly had me labeled as an outsider among my peers. It wasn’t uncommon for me to suffer brutal beatings at the hands of street thugs and gang members, but over time, I slowly started to build up a tolerance to the pain.
Realizing that I needed to defend myself, and not wanting to entrust my life to a flimsy little blade, I gradually began to learn the art of bare-knuckle boxing. My goal was to transform my body into a living weapon, and after grasping the fundamentals of hand-to-hand combat, I soon became a gifted and very violent ‘brawler’. Rather than shying away from a fight, I began to embrace them with a zealous fervor that left many of my opponents unnerved by my behavior. The sight of blood and the sound of soft flesh colliding with my fists became an addicting sensation, and even the prospect of pain no longer seemed to bother me. In fact, if anything, I started to enjoy it.
It was because of this fascination with pain that I eventually became a worshipper of Zon-Kuthon, or as some might call him, the Midnight Lord. For the unenlightened among you, Zon-Kuthon is the deity of envy, loss, darkness, and suffering, and his followers are often referred to as Kuthites. He is normally reviled among most civilized societies, for he is commonly regarded as the God of both sadists and masochists alike. And while most who follow his faith possess a malevolent nature, I never once counted myself among their number. Despite my rough upbringing, I always tried to maintain my status as a ‘law-abiding citizen’, although I still wore the title of a ‘Kuthite’ with pride.
To my mind, pain and pleasure were just two sides of the same coin, so rather than embracing one and living in fear of the other, I decided to welcome them both with an equal amount of enthusiasm. And while I understand that this philosophy might seem a bit unorthodox, I was confident that Zon-Kuthon approved of my devotion. After all, I had always felt like the eyes of fate were constantly watching me, like an invisible and lingering presence that would never leave my side. I even began to address this entity as ‘the Dark Master’, but I think for the sake of our story, I will simply refer to it as the ‘DM’ for short.
But enough about my past, for while I would happily regale you with the exciting exploits of my youth, I think it’s about time that we get to the real meat of the matter. You see, after acquiring a basic education and earning a few coins in the underground fighting circles, I happened to notice a job offering at one of the local guildhalls for the Pathfinder Society. Apparently they were searching for volunteers to help with wilderness exploration, dungeon crawling, and other matters of an investigative nature. And while I will admit that I was not particularly talented in any of those fields of study, I was convinced that my brute strength and innate charm would help to make up for any deficiencies that I possessed. Besides, the thought of expanding my horizons and going on grand adventurers certainly did hold a great degree of appeal, and I was eager to test my ‘talents’ against many of the dangerous monsters of the world.
After signing up for the guild and completing my initial trials, I was assigned to a small group of adventurers who were also recent newcomers to the Pathfinder Society. I can still remember their faces when we were finally introduced, for as I walked into the meeting hall and glanced around the room, I simply could not keep myself from smiling in delight.
These people, these glorious creatures, were to be my new companions!
The first one I noticed was a tiefling woman who proudly displayed the holy symbol of Iomedae around her neck. Apparently she was a talented warpriest who had signed up with the guild in the hopes of honing her skills in battle and becoming a worthy champion for her Goddess. The next person who caught my attention was an unassuming half-elf wielding a longbow, who I later learned was a magus, or more specifically, an eldritch archer. He was a brilliant and good-natured fellow who was gifted in the arcane arts, and his ability to combine both spellcasting and archery was truly an impressive feat. The last member of the group was a serious looking aasimar druid who possessed a young grizzly bear as his animal companion, and although no one in the room seemed ready or eager to talk, I simply couldn’t stop myself from making my presence known.
“Hail and well met, my new and wondrous friends,” I said in a welcoming tone, although I have been told that my voice can sometimes sound a bit more ‘sinister’ than I intend it to be. “My name is Xaldin, and it is an honor, privilege, and pleasure to finally make your acquaintances.”
In response, all three of my companions gazed merely at me in surprise, for they clearly weren’t expecting such a flamboyant introduction. Still, I took their momentary astonishment in stride, and over the course of the next few days, I decided to do my best to learn more about my comrades. As it turns out, each of them also possessed a very enticing backstory, and I couldn’t help but admire just how devilishly tragic some of them were. The tiefling, for example, was a former drug addict who managed to find her purpose in life by devoting herself to the cause of justice, while our druid had suffered the terrible indignity of watching both of his parents die at a very young age. As for the half-elf, he currently wasn’t on speaking terms with the rest of his family, although I sadly was never able to figure out why. And while I suppose I could bore you with other aspects about their personalities, let’s just be honest: only their hardships ever really mattered.
“You are all so very fortunate,” I said to them one night, as we huddled around a campfire deep in the forest. “Each of you has tasted an exquisite form of suffering, and I find myself truly envious of the terrible burdens you bear. I pray that the Midnight Lord continues to bless us all, and may our journey be constantly wrought with both joy and misery alike.”
Despite the sincerity in my words, my companions weren’t exactly moved by my impassioned speech, yet their obvious lack of gratitude was appreciated all the same. In fact, even the druid’s grizzly bear seemed resentful of my company, for it would constantly growl and snarl at me whenever I got too close. I honestly wasn’t surprised by this of course, for ever since I became a worshipper of Zon-Kuthon, I noticed that many animals became oddly uncomfortable whenever they were in my presence (which I suppose is understandable when you consider who I am). After all, animals always did have a knack for sensing out a dangerous threat.
But I digress…
For our first assignment together, our party had been charged with investigating a newly found cave system located about 40 miles north of the city. It was said to be a perilous journey through the unforgiving wilderness, and the previous scouting party had also reported that there was some sort of ‘hostile force’ guarding the entrance to the cave. During our first day of travel, while the party followed behind our druid who was guiding us towards the cavern, a strange pair of humanoid creatures suddenly burst forth from the tree line and began dashing towards us with longswords in their hands. As we soon learned, these bizarre hyena-faced monsters were actually gnolls, and they had caught the entire party completely by surprise.
And, as luck would have it, they both ended up charging directly towards me.
‘Ah yes, Zon-Kuthon has truly blessed me this day,’ I thought to myself, as I watched the first gnoll raise up its sword and deliver a brutal slash across the front of my chest. A moment later, a thick stream of blood suddenly sprayed across the ground, as a glorious wave of agony rushed across my body. The blow had been a critical hit, and I nearly ended up passing out from the pain.
It was marvelous. Absolutely marvelous.
My heart started thumping rapidly in my chest, and my muscles burned like fire from the rush of adrenaline. This was without a doubt, pure and utter bliss, and I knew right then and there that my decision to become an adventurer had been validated beyond reproach. Fortunately the second gnoll missed with his attack, yet as I felt the Dark Master’s eyes upon me, I could tell that the winds of fate were slowly preparing to change.
Without hesitation, I cast my dice into that endless abyss, but sadly the results were not in my favor.
My ability to react had been stunted by the pain, but thankfully my party members fared much better than I. Before the gnolls could strike again, our tiefling and druid rushed forward to flank them, and even the young grizzly bear aided in the assault. Although the tiefling missed her mark, my other two companions found purchase with their attacks, as the druid slashed one of the gnolls with a scimitar across the gut, while the grizzly bear raked its claw harshly across its face. I then watched with a satisfied smile as the injured gnoll howled out in pain before collapsing to the ground in a lifeless bloody heap.
One down. One to go.
Realizing that his chances for survival were dwindling by the second, the last gnoll made a desperate attempt to finish me off for good, as he lifted up his longsword and tried to take my head. Thankfully I managed to avoid the lethal blow, and when it finally came time for me to react, I carefully measured my strike and rolled the dice on the winds of fate. With a favorable result, I effortlessly slammed my fist into the gnoll’s outstretched jaw, yet sadly the attack wasn’t strong enough to put it down for good. To my delight though, I had managed to hit the creature hard enough so that when I pulled my fist back, I noticed that several of the gnoll’s broken teeth were now embedded in my hand. A few moments later, the tiefling and the half-elf finally succeeded in finishing it off for good, and with all the threats now neutralized, my companions wasted no time in helping to treat my wounds.
It was an oddly touching moment, for I could tell that my party had ‘mixed feelings’ about aiding me with my injury, but I was glad to see that the loyalty of comrades triumphed in the end.
From then on, we decided to proceed with a bit more caution, and after another full day of traveling (along with a few more random encounters), we finally reached the end of our perilous little journey. However, upon arriving at our destination, we noticed that two more gnolls had been stationed outside the cavern’s entrance (no doubt to act as guards), and after having a brief discussion amongst our party, our half-elf decided to try and disable them by using a powerful spell known as ‘color spray’. Before we moved into position though, I suggested that we try and capture one of the gnolls alive, and this idea was immediately met by several looks of disapproval.
“There’s no sense in killing them both if we can avoid it, and besides, having a hostage might prove to be useful,” I said with a charming smile, and although my party still suspected ill-intent, they nevertheless nodded their heads and agreed to my request.
Thankfully the plan went off without a hitch, and after the half-elf managed to incapacitate one of the gnolls with his color spray spell, I promptly knocked the other one out using nonlethal force. With a brand-new captive now slung over my shoulder, I watched as our tiefling warpriest moved up to the second gnoll and promptly cut off its head with an impressive coup de grace. Ah, so ruthless. It truly does warm my heart to see such merciless behavior in my fellow party members. Perhaps I will get the chance to make Kuthites out of them yet.
At any rate, with the guards now dealt with, the party wasted no time in heading into the cave.
Not wanting to miss my chance, I quickly volunteered to take the lead in the group, for I knew that none of my comrades were capable of dealing with traps, and I certainly didn’t mind being used as the party shield. Unfortunately though, our journey through the tunnel proved mostly uneventful, with only a few scattered groups of goblins and giant spiders to act as our opposition. It was…disheartening to say the least, for I had been hoping to encounter a much more worthy adversary, and I would hate to think that this entire expedition had been an utter waste of time.
As we ventured further into the cave, the narrow passageway eventually opened into a large central chamber that was dimly illuminated by a phosphorescent light. In the center of the room was a hideous stone statue depicting a large winged demon with the head of a jackal, while numerous piles of bones could be seen littering the cavern floor. Although I did not recognize the sculpture, our warpriest quickly informed us that it was a monument to Lamashtu, the demon Goddess of monsters, and that this chamber was likely being used as one of her makeshift temples. Almost instantly I found myself shivering with excitement, for I knew that such an unholy place would not be left unguarded.
Of course, as soon as I finished that thought, three shadowy figures suddenly emerged from behind the statue and moved to stand before us with menacing intent. The first two creatures were a pair of lumbering humanoids with brown patchy fur and a hulking physique, which we immediately recognized as bugbears. However, the third individual was a horribly scarred half-orc woman adorned in leather armor, who carried herself with an air of authority. It wasn’t hard to deduce that she was the one in charge of this rag-tag group of misfits, and yet despite the hateful look in her eyes, I actually found her to be surprisingly attractive.
“Your scars are beautiful,” I said with a genuine smile, for I always did admire a woman who appreciated pain, and judging by her appearance, this one had clearly seen more than her fair share.
Sadly the half-orc ignored my little comment and instead addressed the party in a harsh commanding tone. She stated that she was cleric of Lamashtu, and then proceeded to inform us that our presence in this cave would no longer be tolerated. As she continued to speak though, I suddenly felt the ‘Dark Master’ call upon me again, urging me to scan the room for any signs of treachery. With deliberate care, I cast my dice upon the winds of fate, while the rest of the party did the same as well. As it turns out, I was the only one who happened to notice that somewhere along the western wall of the room, two more bugbears were lurking in the shadows, and they were each clearly waiting for a signal to attack.
Oh what devious creatures.
Turning my attention back to the priestess, the half-orc calmly encouraged us to lay down our weapons and surrender immediately, yet I could tell that my party had no intention of doing so…and neither did I. However, rather than allowing combat to ensue, I decided to use this opportunity to make one last plea on behalf of my comrades.
“Wait!” I yelled, as I took a step forward, while still carrying the unconscious gnoll slung over my shoulder. “I wish to negotiate!”
Almost instantly I felt my party narrow their gaze upon me, and I even sensed that the ‘Dark Master’ was surprised by this as well. For a brief moment, I could tell that companions feared that I would betray them, yet rather than explaining myself, I calmly laid the unconscious gnoll down upon the ground and knelt down over top of him while gazing at the priestess.
“Here are my terms,” I said in a gentle voice…before suddenly bringing my fist down and punching the unconscious gnoll HARD in the face. His entire body twitched in shock, and although I had only hit him with non-lethal force, I knew that the accumulated damage would eventually add up into lethal results. But of course, that was the point, for I wanted to prolong this moment for as long as humanly possible. “So long as you do NOT surrender peacefully, I promise to do everything in my power to purify you with pain!”
Without hesitation, I quickly brought my other fist down and punched the gnoll again, causing a large splatter of blood to spray across the floor.
“I swear by the Midnight Lord!” I shouted out in bliss, as I delivered another blow…and then another…and another…until I started to hear the sound of bone breaking beneath my fists. “I will make every effort to keep you alive…*punch*…so that I can ply my craft upon you…*punch*…and save your worthless souls!”
By this point, the unconscious gnoll’s body was no longer twitching, and my voice was starting to rise to a high-fevered pitch.
“So please, I beg you…*punch*…do not surrender or attempt to flee…*punch*….for I cannot bear the thought…*punch*….of not blessing you with my touch!”
When I finally finished, both the bugbears and the half-orc were gazing at me in shock, while my party looked utterly mortified by what I had just done. Even the druid’s grizzly bear was staring at me in horror, yet as I pulled my bloody fist away from the messy soup of goo that had once been the face of a gnoll, I could tell that the ‘Dark Master’ was pleased with my work. In a panic, the half-orc priestess immediately ordered her minions to attack, and I simply could not keep myself from shouting out with joy.
After tossing my dice on the winds of fate, I soon learned that my reaction speed had become somewhat stunted due to my excitement. As such, one of the bugbears swiftly capitalized on this by rushing forward and striking his war hammer hard across my face. The metallic taste of blood instantly filled my mouth, but my hands were already shaking with undisguised pleasure. When my senses finally returned to me, I closed my eyes and called upon the elemental energy in my blood, causing a burst of supernatural fire to envelop both of my fists. With a roar of delight, I proceeded to turn that bugbear into my own personal punching bag, slamming my fists into it again and again, and listening with joy as its flesh began to burn and its bones began to break.
Eventually I managed to land a lethal strike to its throat, and as I watched the poor brute crumple to floor, I quickly turned my attention to the next closest enemy. By the time combat finally concluded, all four bugbears laid dead upon the floor, while the half-orc woman was unconscious, but stable, near the foot of the stone statue.
“Good. She’s still alive,” I said in a pleasant voice, yet before I could reach her, our druid suddenly stepped out in front of me and prevented my approach. “Please, stand aside my friend. That beautiful young woman is in need my aid.”
Rather than complying with my request, the party proceeded to inform me that they would not sit idly by while I tortured the half-orc, even if she was an enemy.
“Torture? Why, whatever do you mean?” I asked in honest surprise. “I do not intend to torture that woman. I only wish to ‘purify’ her with the touch of Zon-Kuthon. After all, if she dies now, then her soul will surely be condemned to damnation, but I know that I can still save her if you give me a chance. The fact that she follows Lamashtu is a clear indication that she is need of our help, and I am confident that I can get her to renounce her faith and adopt the worship of a more worthy God…perhaps even someone like the Midnight Lord himself.”
In response to this statement, our warpriest suddenly walked over to where the half-orc was laying and promptly drove her sword into the defenseless woman’s heart.
“No!” I shouted, as I collapsed to my knees in shock. “How could you do that?! What have you done?!”
For the briefest of moments, my party simply watched as I lowered my head and openly wept for the needless loss of life. Yet, as the seconds dragged on, my sobbing was slowly replaced with fits of joyous laughter that gradually began to sound more sinister and depraved. When I finally lifted my head back up, my expression had curiously shifted to one of pure delight, as I addressed my fellow comrades with kindness in my voice.
“You are all so terribly cruel to me…and I absolutely love you for it.”
Disgusted with my behavior, my party wasted no time in exiting the room, and they didn’t even bother to search the bodies for loot. The last thing they heard before leaving the cave was the sound of my voice echoing off the cavern walls as I cackled and wailed madly in the dark. Thankfully though, this wouldn’t be the last time that my party and I went adventuring together, but I think I will save that story for another day instead.
For now though, I would like to thank you all for listening to my little tale, and if the Midnight Lord wills it, I will hopefully get the chance to tell you more very soon. So until then, may your suffering be legendary and your misery be great, for it is only through the hardships of life that we can ever hope to find the purest form of truth.
With Deepest Regards: Xaldin.