Hello again dear friends. I am glad to see that you have returned for another glorious retelling of my legendary exploits. Much has happened since we last spoke, but I promise to do my best to bring you all up to speed. To make a long story short, ever since my encounter with the Lamashtu cultists, my party and I have continued to work for the Pathfinder Society, doing odd jobs here and there in order to increase our notoriety and fill our pockets with gold. Yet despite our success, my relationship with my comrades still has not improved, and I even learned that they had tried to get me transferred to another adventuring group on more than one occasion. It turns out though, no one else was willing to work alongside me, which I found to be both disheartening and amusing all at the same time.
I suppose on one hand, I should not have been surprised. After all, as a worshiper of Zon-Kuthon, I am accustomed to being viewed as a pariah among most civilized societies, and the fact that I am a suli (or half-genie, as some might put it) also helps to add to my status as an outsider. When I was a child, I used to resent being ostracized by my peers, but now that I have matured, I am actually rather grateful for my harsh and violent upbringing. The fact that I have survived and accomplished so much is a testament to my enduring tenacity, and I am grateful that the Midnight Lord has chosen to bestow so many of his blessings upon me. Even now, I can still feel the eyes of the ‘Dark Master’ (or as I sometimes call him, the ‘DM’) gazing down upon me with a curious expression, waiting in anticipation to see what I might do next.
Thankfully, he would not need to wait long.
After receiving news that my party and I had earned a little downtime away from our immediate duties, we decided to spend a few days in the city sampling the local fare and mingling among the populace. Our tiefling warpriest and aasimar druid immediately expressed interest in visiting the grand library in order to do some research into the history of the surrounding region, no doubt looking for rumors regarding old abandoned dungeons that were likely filled with loot. It was a noble pursuit I suppose, but I honestly had no intention of spending my free time occupied with books. Fortunately, our half-elf magus had a much more carefree personality, for he decided to spend his downtime by gambling at one of the high-end taverns near the center of the city’s market district. Not wanting to abandon my comrade to an evening of loneliness, I decided to accompany him to this lovely little tavern and see what other festivities I might be able to enjoy.
Upon entering the establishment, the half-elf wasted no time in heading over to the gambling tables, and judging by his demeanor, I could tell that he wasn’t thrilled with my decision to join him at the tavern. Being a forgiving soul, I brushed this off without a second thought, and instead focused my attention on the patrons in the bar. It was a full house tonight, with dozens of merchants, travelers, and city-folk occupying the tables, along with a rather beautiful barmaid working behind the counter. She was a fetching human woman with long raven-black hair and a curvy physique, whose smile seemed to light up the whole entire room. After careful consideration, I decided that she would be the perfect person to occupy my interests, and I quickly wasted no time in going over to greet her.
Intrigued by my decision, I could feel the ‘Dark Master’ (or rather, the DM) set his gaze upon me, and I knew that it was time again to cast my dice upon the winds of fate. Now, under normal circumstances, a ‘brawler’ such as myself would not have much luck at wooing a lovely maiden with charm alone, but fortunately in my case, a charismatic suli with a talent for diplomacy can be a ‘very’ persuasive thing. When the results were finally tallied, I could sense that my voice was now surging with confidence, and I soon had the beautiful barmaid focusing her attention on me and me alone.
After ordering a few drinks and engaging in a bit of banter, I ended up spending the rest of the evening with the raven-haired beauty, and when she finally got off work, we decided to continue our flirtatious behavior in the privacy of her bedroom (which also happened to be located in that very same tavern as well). Ah, it was a glorious night, and the young woman truly proved to be very enjoyable company. Our dalliance continued well into the next morning, and we spent much of that time laughing together while having some food delivered to our bedroom. By mid-afternoon, with her face still smiling brightly in obvious satisfaction, I decided to do something ‘special’ for my newly found companion.
“I have it on good authority that a lovely orchestra is scheduled to perform later this evening,” I explained in a seductive voice. “Initially I had planned to attend the event alone, but if you have the time, I would be greatly honored if you would choose to accompany me.”
Much to my surprise, the beautiful barmaid excitedly agreed to my request, and after explaining that I needed to make a few last-minute arrangements, I left the room with the promise to return in roughly five hours. From there, I consulted with the ‘Dark Master’ about what I intended to do, and after spending a bit of coin and making the proper preparations, I was confident that this ‘date night’ would go off without a hitch. When I returned to the tavern later that evening, the barmaid came out to greet me in a gorgeous blue dress, and after complimenting on her breathtaking appearance, I offered her my arm and we made our way into the streets.
During our walk to the venue, we casually engaged in some idle chatter to help pass the time, yet as we neared our destination, I could tell that my lovely companion was becoming somewhat confused. Apparently the barmaid was well-acquainted with the city, for she informed me that the theater district was on the other side of town, and we were clearly heading in the wrong direction. Not wanting to spoil the surprise, I told her that this particular orchestra was being held at a special location, and after rolling on the winds of fate to test my diplomacy, the result proved good enough to help ease her initial fears. With a trusting smile, she continued to walk beside me.
After a few more minutes, I guided the barmaid down a nearby alleyway until we eventually spotted a thick iron door attached to a massive stone building. Realizing that we had arrived, I calmly pulled out a key from my pocket and unlocked the latch on the door, before motioning for my companion to step inside. From there, the two of us made our way down a small stone staircase until it eventually opened up into a dark expansive hallway. Unable to contain my excitement, I glanced down at the barmaid with a reassuring smile before stating that our destination was now very….very close.
With a confident stride in my step, the two of us made our way through the torch-lit corridors until finally coming across another sturdy iron door. One quick turn of the key later, and the door opened to reveal a brightly lit chamber with two curious figures waiting for us inside. After stepping into the room, the barmaid could now see that one of the figures was a man dressed in rags who had been strapped to a wooden chair near the center of the room, while another man stood next to him wearing a city-guard uniform with a simple brown bag covering his face. There was also a large wooden table along the western wall of the room that was filled with a lovely array of impressive ‘instruments’ that were designed to help tonight’s ‘orchestra’ reach all the proper notes and tunes for the impending performance.
“In case you are wondering, that man in the chair is scheduled to be executed in the next few days,” I explained in a gentle voice. “He is a convicted serial killer who has butchered multiple women without a shred of remorse, and I simply could not allow him to meet his end without at least giving him one last night to be purified with pain. As for the guardsman, I can assure you that he is an excellent ‘maestro’, and he has promised that tonight’s performance will be a memorable one indeed.”
After giving a silent nod to the guard, the man calmly reached over and took hold of the prisoner’s hand…before promptly twisting his finger at an odd and brutal angle. The sick ‘cracking sound’ of the prisoner’s finger being broken was instantly drowned out by his loud and sudden scream, as the man in the chair howled out in agony while his muscles tensed up in obvious shock. His scream also served to shake the barmaid out of her stupor, for up until this point, she had been standing in a silent trance while watching the scene unfold, as her mind desperately struggled to process what was happening. However, as soon as the man cried out in pain, her eyes immediately widened in shock and she let out a terrified scream of her own.
“Oh, please do not be afraid,” I said in a reassuring tone. “The ‘maestro’ is merely warming up the ‘orchestra’. I promise that no one will harm you…unless you want them to of course.”
Despite my heartfelt explanation, the barmaid instantly pulled herself away from me and proceeded to run out of the room as fast as her legs would carry her. As I listened to her footfalls fade into the distance, I knew right then and there that our blooming relationship was now well and truly over, and that nothing I could do would ever be able to fix it. It was…disappointing to say the least, but like any good Kuthite, I would not allow this miserable setback to ruin the rest of my night.
“Please, continue my good maestro,” I instructed the guard. “My heart is now broken, and I need a tragic tune to help mend it back together.”
For the next thirty minutes I listened with glee as the guardsman guided his ‘orchestra’ with masterful precision, snapping bones and tearing tendons with an expert amount of care, while the room literally hummed with the screams of the damned. It wasn’t until the prisoner’s fingers, toes, and ankles were broken that the man finally passed out after the guardsman eagerly took a hammer and shattered his left knee. It had been a glorious performance, and after giving my applause and returning the prison key to the guard, I promptly left the building and headed back out into the streets. The next stop I made was at a well-respected eatery, where I happily enjoyed a candlelit dinner along with an expensive bottle of wine. I will admit that it was…difficult to stare across the table at the empty seat that I had previously reserved for the barmaid, but thankfully the food, wine, and performance from the ‘orchestra’ had all helped to put me in a much better mood.
When it came time to turn in for the night, I realized that going back to the tavern probably wasn’t in very good taste, so I decided to return to my room at the Pathfinder lodge and finish my wonderful evening with a nice relaxing nap. However, when I awoke the next morning and met up with my comrades, I could tell that they were clearly upset with something that I had done. To my surprise, word had spread quickly about my ‘date night’ with the barmaid, and apparently many of the city-folk were not very happy with how it turned out. My party then proceeded to inform me that we were now banned from that particular tavern, and that rumors about me being a Kuthite were beginning to spread like wildfire.
“Ah, it’s good to be famous,” I said in obvious joy, yet when I noticed the hateful glares that were being thrown in my direction, I figured it might be best to explain a bit further. “Well, there really is no sense in trying to deny it. I am a Kuthite after all, and I honestly don’t see a problem if everyone knows the truth.”
Apparently that wasn’t the response my party was looking for, and after spending nearly ten minutes being chastised for my behavior (which was absolutely glorious), they finally settled down and informed me of our next mission. During their downtime, our warpriest and druid had stumbled across some sort of grand city-wide conspiracy involving a local crime lord, and they wanted to enlist the help of the party in order to investigate it. I also learned that our warpriest had some sort of personal vendetta against this particular crime lord, which is why she wanted to deal with the problem personally rather than alerting the local authorities. Not seeing an issue with this, and wanting the chance to hurt something anyway, I readily agreed to her heartfelt request.
After doing a bit of research, the party was able to discover that a large warehouse on the outskirts of the market district was acting as a front for the crime lord’s base of operations. It was well-guarded at all entrances, and not wanting to cause a scene, my comrades quickly decided to try and enter the warehouse from below using the city’s sewer systems. At first, I strenuously objected to this ridiculous approach, for I didn’t see any point in wading through filth when we could just go up to the front door and smash our way inside. However, after the party pointed out how miserable it would be to traverse the foul tunnels of the city’s sewer systems, I retracted my previous statement almost immediately.
After all, what sort of Kuthite shied away from adversity?
With our strategy now in place, we purchased a few extra potions and headed into the sewers. As you can imagine though, our journey under the city proved to be very unpleasant, and we soon had to contend with several monstrous aberrations known as otyughs, who were perhaps the most wretched and foul-smelling creatures that I have ever encountered. Thankfully they proved to be no match for the party, and after making short work of the filthy abominations, we finally managed to navigate our way into the lower floors of the warehouse. From there, we drank some potions of invisibility and proceeded along cautiously, and after engaging in a few minor skirmishes with a couple of the warehouse guards, we eventually confronted the crime lord in a large storage room on the first floor of the building.
To our surprise, the crime lord turned out to be a middle-aged human wizard who was clearly not too pleased by our unexpected intrusion, and judging by the collection of roguish bodyguards that surrounded him, I could tell that a great battle would be ensuing very shortly. Therefore, while my comrades attempted to converse with the man, I calmly reached into my backpack and pulled out a small bucket before carefully placing it down upon the cold stone floor. Initially I had intended to ‘negotiate’ on my party’s behalf, but after the unpleasant encounter with the Lamashtu cultists, I figured it was only fair to give them a chance to do it as well. Besides, I was barely even paying attention to the conversation anyway, yet as I heard the wizard’s voice starting to grow in volume, I absently removed the lid from the bucket and slowly dipped my hands down into the canister.
As soon as I did this, I could vaguely hear the wizard screaming something about ‘not allowing some upstart heroes to foil his brilliant plans’, and I immediately found myself chuckling in amusement.
“Allow me to correct you, my friend,” I stated in a charming voice, which instantly halted the conversation and caused everyone in the room to turn their eyes upon me.
With deliberate care, I gently raised my head and looked directly at the wizard, before slowly removing my hands from the simple wooden bucket. As I lifted my arms out in front of me, everyone could now see that my fists were completely coated in grease and broken glass, and as I held the wizard’s gaze, the next words I spoke were said with an almost fanatical excitement.
“I am not a hero! I am a sculptor in need of clay!”
In that moment, I quickly called upon the winds of fate to make an intimidation check, and after rolling the dice and tallying the results, I was pleased to see that the wizard’s face had immediately drained of color. Then, with a ragged cry, the crime lord finally shouted the words I desperately wanted to hear: ‘Kill them. Kill them all!’
And with that simple statement, the battle had finally begun.
As it turns out though, the wizard quickly proved to be no slouch in combat, for he ended up attacking first before anyone could react. With a wave of his hand, the crime lord called upon his magic and unleashed a powerful fear spell directly into the party. In an instant, my mind was suddenly filled with a torrent of horrible images, yet after fortifying my willpower with a successful roll of fate, I managed to calm my breathing and shrug off the spell’s effects. Unfortunately, the druid’s grizzly bear and our half-elf were not so lucky, for they immediately screamed in panic and started running away in terror.
No matter. We didn’t need them anyway.
The bodyguards were up next, and with two of them moving to flank our druid, the last one wasted no time in squaring off against our warpriest. Apparently none of them were keen on facing down the man with shards of broken glass covering his arms, but I suppose I really couldn’t fault them for that. Besides, this meant that the wizard was mine for the taking, and when I finally got the chance to react, I immediately charged forward and launched myself at the mage. Just as I suspected, the crime lord hadn’t had time to cast his defensive magic yet, and after rolling upon the winds of fate, my fist easily collided with the spellcaster’s jaw. A bright burst of blood instantly erupted from the impact, as the wizard howled in pain and clutched his ruined face.
However, despite the incredible damage he suffered, I had purposely attacked him with a non-lethal strike, for I wanted more than anything to capture him alive. Thankfully the crime lord had no intention of making this easy, and as he took a step back and raised up his hand, a magical bolt of lightning suddenly erupted from his palm. Before I could even react, the lightning bolt slammed into me with an impressive amount of force, and the wizard even managed to angle it just right so that our druid and his two bodyguards were caught in the blast as well. After rolling on the winds of fate, the druid and I were unable to reduce the damage of the attack, but it appeared that the mage’s bodyguards had not been harmed at all. Apparently having ‘evasion’ can be a very handy thing.
When it came time for me to act again, I knew that I needed to end the fight quickly before this pesky little spellcaster could cause any more harm. And so, after taking a step closer and measuring my strike, I called upon one of my brawler techniques and prepared to hit the man with a ‘knockout blow’. With the ‘Dark Master’ watching closely, I cast my dice upon the winds of fate and delivered a brutal uppercut to the crime lord’s exposed chin, and although he tried to resist the attack, the fortitude of wizard was never very strong. A split second later, I watched with a satisfied smile as the mage’s eyes glazed over and he collapsed to ground, unconscious but still alive and bleeding rather badly. I then spent the rest of my turn attacking the helpless wizard with a few more non-lethal strikes, just to make sure that he stayed down for good.
Not long after that, the rest of the crime lord’s bodyguards were swiftly disposed of, and as we took a moment to heal our wounds and gather around the wizard, I politely asked my party if they would be willing to entrust the spellcaster to my care. To my surprise, our warpriest actually agreed to my request, stating that the man deserved to suffer for everything that he had done, and that she honestly didn’t give a damn about what happened to him now. And so, with a gentle smile, I calmly retrieved a healing potion and poured it down the wizard’s throat, not enough to heal him completely of course, but just enough to wake him up in a severely weakened state. From there, I knelt down and cradled his face gently in my glass-covered hands, and when the ruthless crime lord finally managed to open up his eyes, the first thing he would see would be the image of my face staring back at him with a smile. And little did he know, that would be the last thing he would ever see again.
“Do not be afraid my friend,” I whispered in a gentle voice. “I promise that this pain is for your own good.”
As soon as those words escaped my lips, I called upon the elemental energy in my blood, causing a supernatural burst of fire to envelop both of my hands…the hands that were currently cradling the spellcaster’s ruined face. Oh how the wizard screamed out in agony as the fire seared his flesh and burned away his skin, while the smell of cooked meat began to fill my senses.
“Pray to him!” I yelled at the mage, as my voice somehow managed to rise above his screams. “Give thanks to the Midnight Lord and beg for his mercy, and if the great Zon-Kuthon finds you worthy of his notice, then he will surely give you the strength to endure this horrible pain! Embrace Zon-Kuthon with every fiber of your being, and allow His cruel touch to humble your wicked soul!”
At this point, my party members were now looking at me in utter disbelief, for they clearly hadn’t expected me to take things this far. However, before they could even react, I called upon the winds of fate to make a diplomacy check, and as the ‘Dark Master’ watched closely and tallied up the numbers, my hard work was finally rewarded with a marvelous result. Through his ragged screams and wails of pain, the wizard began crying out for the Midnight Lord’s mercy. He begged and pleaded for any form of relief, and after feeling the ‘Dark Master’ give his consent, I allowed the flames on my hands to slowly fade away.
When I pulled my palms away from his face, the party could now see that the crime lord’s eyes had been utterly seared away, leaving him completely blind yet oddly relieved. Unable to stand the scene any longer, our wapriest abruptly drew her sword and pointed it in my direction, declaring that I was a monster and that she should never have allowed me to torture this man in the first place…even if he did deserve it. In response, I gently looked back at her with a strangely peaceful smile, before carefully explaining my actions in a calm and rational voice.
“You misunderstand. I did not do this to punish this man, but rather to give him the chance to repent for his misdeeds. After all, killing him would have gained us nothing, but now he has the opportunity to redeem himself by informing us of all the other criminals that he has conspired with. We have saved his soul, and with his help, we will surely bring many others to justice as well, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a win in my book.”
Before our warpriest could argue further, the wizard slowly reached up with trembling hands and began to mutter ‘thank you’ in a raspy broken voice, declaring that he would happily aid us with anything we desired. My party members merely sneered at this before demanding that I take the man to the local authorities, and after nodding my agreement, they finally let the matter drop and proceeded to loot the bodies. When we finally exited the warehouse, I couldn’t help but feel that we had achieved a major victory, and as I carried the weeping crime lord carefully in my arms, I knew that even greater challenges were in store for me in the future.
Sadly though, I fear that we must pause for the time being, for the hour grows late, and I am sure that many of you are weary of my ramblings. However, if you would like to hear more, then please feel free to come back again, and perhaps I will tell you the exciting conclusion to my epic little story. In the meantime, I wish you all good fortune and a very blessed day, and I hope that the Midnight Lord grants you the wisdom to overcome your misery and grow stronger through your pain.
With Deepest Regards: Xaldin.