The Rise and Fall of Glamorfell

Divinations and Fallen Paladins
Kaede's letter to Emiko Lin

Honored Emiko Lin,

I have found the other fallen paladin, matching your description. His name is Akiros, and the scarring — both inside and out — is truly seen.

We discovered him during final battle at the fort, in the employ of the Stag Lord himself, as his recently-elevated second in command. My companion Sayd managed to win him over to our side during the fight, and fallen paladin’s prowess was instrumental to our victory. He has since joined us in our travels, and is currently with us in Restov as we prepare to attend the Surtova wedding tomorrow.

Not much is yet known about his history. So far, I have noticed two things about Akiros: he possesses some deep brooding gloom about him, but when in a battle rage he attempts to smash and destroy — Teret’s axe was nearly broken in twain by the fallen paladin when we first fought him.

I will attempt to dig deeper into his past, but I am loath to press too much, for fear of losing what we’ve managed to gain thus far. I will say this: he is nothing at all like Kalkamedes.

Yours in Honor,


How I spent my winter vacation...

It was early night, which was fine for Yelenya, she happened to be more active at night anyway. Lady Vellara sat on the couch talking with Sayd about the deals that the Black Cats had made. Yelenya was not terribly interested in the particulars as much as she was in the overall cost/benefit ratio. There were some things that had been on offer that she had been skeptical about, fortunately it seemed to her that Sayd had managed to get the most milk for the least amount of moo. She remembered the short time that they had worked milking cows… the farmers’ son had been cute, which was why she and Sayd now had a “called shot treaty.” The fire was busily warming the winter chill from her bones almost as well as the two baths a day had finally gotten the road dust off her skin. She was a bit disturbed by the Pharasman Intercessor, just because someone was dead didn’t mean that they were a bad person, just as being dead didn’t mean that they were going to stay where you planted them. She was walking, talking, proof of that. Yelenya rested her head on the outside of the elven Lady’s knee, and a few moments later was rewarded with some gentle scratching. It was nice to be in a civil environment, civilization itself could hang however as far as she was concerned. The elven woman, the oldest of the group as far as the dhampir could tell, was more than a bit unsettled by her actions. The scratchies, however, were the best that she’d had in a while, and if she was to hide in with the nobs then she should get into a pampered mindset. She didn’t mind the priests of Erastil, and the Toreg’s could be dealt with carefully, and she liked the Sarenrae optimism, but the Asmodeus would be hired as legal council on an individual basis to keep them from getting a foothold in the land. The nobles could also be kept at varying distances dependent on Sayd’s needs… which just left the cat in the room. Her sense of smell was actually pretty decent for a humanoid and she could still smell the perfume of the little butterfly that had rested her bottom in that chair over there. Akilina… dear Lady, did that girl have any idea what she was getting herself into? The girl certainly came off as a cat’s paw sheathed in velvet. Yelenya found herself tossing a quick hope out to Erastil that the girl was stronger that anyone, including her, thought she might be. Several of the other girls, although Yelenya looked younger than several of them they’d have to live another 90 years fast to catch up with her, had impressed her enough that she had toyed with the idea of hiring them. She had always known and feared what her role would be in any settlement that the Black Cats had created. She was already drawing up personnel lists: she wanted Edgarin for his advice and honesty, and at the moment there was no better choice that Jeva. If there was to be a “night of the long knives”, and Yelenya and Sayd had survived a few in the past few decades, then having a werewolf working for you was about the biggest knife there was. Mentally the pale woman grimaced although she kept the luxurious “spoiled twit” look on her face, she was going to have to start recruiting early and often. Grennel might be able to offer a few suggestions, but caution was going to be important in the early days. Varn would, perhaps, be amenable to trading information, and the Kobolds would be pressed into service. It was time the little lizards started pulling the weight collectively rather than just sending a few off to fight. In the mean time she’d see about visiting the Honey Queen and making a friend there. She could bring Lyla some new flowers. Varn’s purple trollop, how dare she swipe Yelenya’s favorite color, might be some help once she got over Sayd being betrothed. Yelenya would have to make sure the woman understood the girl was off limits… possibly pointedly. Sheesh, adding people to her protect list without asking her about it was rather rude of him, but as long as the girl never did anything against Sayd then she would never act against Akilina. The lack of the Iron Wraiths returning was bothering her… Yeah, that was it… Yelenya cracked her eyes slightly and stared at Sayd from between her lashes. Her little boy was all grown up… more or less… and may the goddess watch over them all. This had been a long year, the next ones looked to be even longer. As the conversation went on from evening into night, with the others piping in now and again, Yelenya kept her own council. Mostly she was figuring out what to wear and how many weapons could be brought in before people started looking at her funny. Lots… she finally decided.

why not pt 1

She walked down the street huddled against the chill and the snow, the big bag by her side looked to be filled with groceries. It actually contained her reversible overcoat, she couldn’t be too sure that walking around three sides of a walled compound with watchtowers wouldn’t attract attention. Her hands were in her pockets and her head was lowered, her boots crunching on the mashed snow that covered the icy sidewalk, her attention was on the walls and the guards huddled in their ramshackle towers. She rapidly became aware that there was someone, or maybe a group, following her. She reached an alleyway and turned down it. She made it almost to the end before they stepped out in front of her. She didn’t understand all of the language, but she got the gist: there was going to be bad times in her immediate future if she didn’t get away. Her right hand tightened slightly on the grip of the snubnosed .357, her left on the curved knife, both in her jacket pockets, as a small shiver of fear ran up her back. She managed to dodge a punch or two before a blow struck her high on the cheekbone, the shock of it threw her off balance and she started to fall. Yelenya managed to kick the feet out of beneath one of her opponents and send him crashing into another as she fell, the ice aiding her. She took a kick to the back and threw herself into the wall to avoid one to the head as she regained her feet. Yelenya dashed out of the alleyway panting and slid into the street before she managed to redirect herself. She was breathing heavily as she broke contact and got away, her pace slowing to a normal stride as she wandered aimlessly back to their hide site. She climbed the stairs up to the apartment that they had taken over several nights ago. There wasn’t much of a watch posted, mostly because it was becoming daylight. She tapped out the code on the door before opening it with a key. Sayd was the only one visible that was still up, his back to the door and a cup of coffee, probably spiked with brandy in one indolent hand. He stared at the wall, hate burning feverishly in his eyes, as she stalked up next to him. There was a picture of a man wearing a helmet in the shape of a skull of some sort, a candid shot taken as he was giving orders to his lieutenants. It was an old photo, Sayd had it for over a year. The man had cost them several of their companions previously and now they were going to get another crack at him. Yelenya had memorized his face long ago and to her it was just a piece of paper with a dead man on it, Sayd had been consumed with gaining revenge for the loss of his comrades. Without looking he held out his other hand and she accepted the glass of red wine, sipping slowly. Finally he stirred:
“There are watchers on at least three sides, and they are not shy about making contact, I imagine that they are augmented by watchers on the roof of each building, possibly cameras although I did not see any. The watchers… there are too many to simply force our way through, we’ll need a decent diversion to draw their attention so that I can slip the wall. The wall itself is shoddy, but topped with broken stone and glass, the inside may have barbwire, but I cannot be sure until I get a better look. The only obvious way in is the front gate, four guards in towers, but they were staying huddled up under shelter. Long range interference is a possibility, but without a way to deal with the watchers and anyone else outside the gate it is at best a one shot deal.”
Sayd nodded distractedly and turned to her to say something, but his mouth worked wordlessly for a moment before a far too casual “how does your head feel?”
“It hurts, I got hit by the watchers, two or three times, is it bruising?”
“Ah, no, no you are bleeding rather alarmingly from the left side” He pushed her hair back and sighed, “new rule, no more wearing stud or otherwise sharp backed earrings when on the job.” He pulled her ear free from where the metal posts had stuck into her skin with a wince. Yelenya opened her eyes a little unsteadily as he packed a folded cloth, her cashmere scarf, against the wound.
There was concern in his voice “do you think that you will be up to some snooping tomorrow night? Maybe we can send the new girl in…”
“No, I’ll hit them tomorrow night, see if we can learn something.”


Curtainfall, by Edgrin Galesong
Based on his experience of the assault of Death Hill

What madness drove us there that night
To catch an eagle fast in flight
I do not, can not hope to know—
Save that our leader bade it so.

“Tis our sworn duty,” so he said,
whose silver tongue so well misled,
and none but gods could hope to win
the fury from blackhearted Krynn.

So matched Sayd pace for pace we did,
Until we found the place where hid
The Stag Lord and his savage men,
Curled fast like vipers in their den.

A portrait now, of Death Hill’s gate:
a place the gods had loved too late;
so black and frozen lay the posts,
so thrilled with hunger screamed the ghosts,

And zombies rising from the snow,
And archers stalking those below,
Gave currency to my own fear.
Twas then I heard what I must hear.

The voice sang out o’er midnight’s pitch,
each word to bind my faith as stitch.
Twas HE who sang the demon’s part
And met my fear with steely heart.

“So now we dance the game of knives!
The one with surest hands survives!
In dark and night, the wolves may glower,
But I, Sayd Krynn, shall stand the hour!”

Let all men know from here to Geb,
from the rushes to the spider’s web,
from temples draped with gold and pearls
to the hovel where the river curls:

The Stag is dead, his heart lies still;
His life was cut by ferocious will;
The Black Cat howls, his voice is power;

The Stolen King has stood the hour.

The Demon in Winter, Part Two

The window burns to light the way back home,
a light that warms no matter where they’ve gone.
They’re off to find the hero of the day—
But what if they should fall by someone’s wicked way?

- Metallica

16 Calistril, 4711 AR
I knew I was dreaming, but it was more than that, some magic or witchery I have not before now seen. I spoke with a woman, and she was not a figment of my dream. I felt her kiss on my cheek, so familiar. Her voice was poison, and cure. We stood upon a plain of cratered white rock, devoid of ornament—the stars stood as pinpricks of fire, and the soft blue glow of Golarion bathed us like angels. I was on the moon.

I did not see her for true, for she appeared as many figures, all women. At once she turned her head and locks of white cascaded down, and she looked at me with the pitiless gaze of Pharasma, the Lady of Graves, but a moment later she held her fingers aloft with songbirds resting on them, and appeared as the seductress Quintessa Maray. Languidly she transfixed me with her words and morphed through slow turns into any woman I might know, from Yelenya to Baba Migori.

She did not speak but smiled, drinking in my wonder, waiting for me to do more than gaze in awe.

At length I smiled back, as one does, and opened my mouth to speak. “Who—”

“Are you,” she finished. Her voice was as soft and cool as mist. She pursed her lips.

“Do you not know me, Sayd?” she said. Except she did not say “Sayd.” She called me by my birth name.

I nearly became angered with surprise, when I realized that I did know her. She swayed slightly in front of a promontory of white rock.

“You are…Phoebe,” I said. “The priestess of Calistria. Phoebe Kissingdeath. You saved my life.”

She smiled sweetly, beaming at the recognition, and before my eyes she assumed her true form—a svelte young halfling woman with purple and black hair, shining green eyes and a playful smattering of freckles on her cheeks.

“Tis your true form,” I marveled. “Why did you not show me before?”

“I walk in many guises, dear one,” she said. “But Sayd, I fear I must press on to the reason for my…visit.”

“Go on,” I urged. Looking about the blasted landscape, I wondered if I could control the stuff of my own dreams. With effort I caused an ornate table and two chairs to appear. On the table was a tea set and a rose in a vase. She seemed impressed and we sat down, laughing to ourselves at the absurdity of having tea on the moon, in a dreamscape. I poured us each a cup.

“Sayd, when I saved you from the Maghrattan’s poison before, I told you a story,” she said. “Do you remember?”

“You told me I was special to Calistria,” I said.

“Yes,” she fretted, twisting her napkin. “That was true, in a sense. But also a lie. I said I had read your past, that you were born as a pawn in a fued between followers of Nocticula and Lamashtu, both Demon Lord of the Abyss. That is indeed what I saw in my vision. And that you were rescued by a knight loyal to Calistria…here, look—”

She spread her hand and an image appeared in the air of a yellow desert in far southern lands. In the background, a massive temple sunk into the earth. In the foreground, a weathered knight in a brown robe, a massive sword slung across his back, carried a baby away from the wreckage. A blond baby, with a tiny horn and tail.

“That man, his name was Bonn Meridyth. No greater swordsman ever lived, nor fiercer drunk—or so they say. He named you on the day of your birth. He carried you across the sea.”

“Phoebe,” I said, “I’m literally all ears, and I find this endlessly fascinating, but perhaps you’d tell me why this is so suddenly and vitally important that you would use sorcery to cross the leagues and tell me of it.”

“You do not wish to know this,” she sighed.

“I am who I am, dear,” I said softly. “Knowing the past will not change that. I knew the people who raised me in Kaer Maga.”

“Then I will not tell you,” she said. “What’s important is this: you have a benefactor among the priesthood of Calistria. This person calls upon me for favors in watching over you, because I am close by and they are far, far away….” she paused. She look up at me, her finger rimming the edge of the teacup, and her eyes grew greener, her smile more sly, and she laughed.

“I am sorry, but I can’t keep doing this,” she said, barely containing the gales of laughter. She collected herself, but one look at the apparent consternation on my face set her off again.

“Oh Sayd,” she said. “In truth, I have not come to warn you of anything.” She licked her lips.

“You’re not Phoebe,” I said.

“You know exactly who I am,” she said. My blood turned to ice in my veins.

“You….you are not her,” I said. “This is impossible.”

“Mmmm,” she laughed, “perhaps I am just her servant, then. Perhaps she is too busy for ego-stroking whelps like you.”

“Why are you in my head?” I demanded.

“I came to touch you,” she said, smiling. And slipping across the table faster than I could move, she put her hand into my chest and broke something I didn’t know was there.

I was back on Golarion, in a misty thicket. I was watching myself. There I was, and Wally, and Teret, and only us. We stood before a white statue of a beautiful maiden, a shining red apple in her cupped hands. I watched myself reach out and take it while the others hesitated.

And I could see it for what it was.

It was all the stolen wilds, the still water and the raging water, the hurricane and the flower petal, the claws of the beast and its fury, the mountain’s fall and the inky black of the abyss condensed into a single glistening dewdrop. I watched myself bite it. I watched Sayd throw my head back, savoring the taste of the fruity flesh, and no one who lived was ever more beautiful.

You can’t stop it now, fool she whispered, this time invisible. This time inside me. You INVITED us in. She laughed, waves of fluttering ecstasy filling me. Don’t you know why your kind calls them the Stolen Lands, dummy? Because they are full of the stolen. And now they’ve stolen you, too. You just couldn’t help it, you HAD to have that apple. Do you know why it tasted so good? Because the gardens of the First World are BEYOND PEER, you joke. All you needed was a little touch, blond baby. Your blood is strong to protect you, but not strong enough.

When I woke up, I could smell them all—my friends, the horses, the shrews. I could hear water dropping from a branch across the meadow. I felt so hot, so fevered. I saw my image in a dark puddle, so hot with living. I knew then that Sayd Krynn of Kaer Maga would never leave this place. I would stand at a clear pool’s edge and he would stare at me from the waters, trapped, a prisoner of the world.

It is the 16th day of Calistril, 4711 AR.

I have been Stolen, ne’er to return, and the thought makes me smile from my soul, and my eyes shine with pale fire.

The night hath been to me a more familiar face than that of man; and in her starry shade of dim and solitary loveliness, I learned the language of another world.
- George Gordon Lord Byron

Horse work

The day was sunny, though cold, and she could feel the warmth in her bones. She disliked it. The light bothered her eyes and while, less effectively than at night, she kept an eye on the land before them she mulled over different ways to limit the sunlight. Options considered and discarded littered the paths of her musings as she sat cross legged atop her horse. It was an unconventional way of riding that allowed her to slide off to the ground at a moment’s notice. Bucksy (they would have to find a name they both agreed on) was trained, but not to the extent of Silverwind, and she was not a natural rider and so she fought from the ground. Different materials wandered through her mind, sooner or later everything turned up in Kaer Maga, and the list was rather long. She settled on glass, made partially opaque. There was likely something more durable available, but would be difficult to source locally. She made a little snicking noise and the horses’ head came up and he turned right as she tapped him on the side of the neck. Teret was fussing with a buckle on his armor as she steered her horse over to where he was riding. Silverwind snorted a little nervously, she had spent a lot of time feeding and grooming Bucksy to make him less nervous around her, and inwardly she smiled that the horse was as twitchy as the human. Her voice was further muffled by the purple scarf she had pulled up to just under her eyes and she spoke in what was, for her a shout, "I need you to train my horse so I can fight on him. Silverwind can teach him how to fight on his own, right?

Beginnings Again

Today is a good day. Today we hunt the Stag Lord. It has been a very long time coming. We chose to hunt him earlier, and while I do not blame him defending himself, he will still die, and I do not care what he thinks about it. Shelyn teaches us to love, and I do the best that I can, but I will not grieve his passing. Everyone that i’ve killed, I remember even if dimly. The Stag Lord I will remember, possibly for hundreds of years. I am no oracle, nor do i pretend to see the future, but I do see the past. And soon we will be at a turning point. Jacob Featherstep is coming with us… better to have named him Chickenfeather, it would give him room to grow. I am somewhat disappointed by his lack of field skills, although after waking that manticore he was game for fighting it. I worry a bit about him. Guts will get you killed. We succeed in killing our enemies through speed, surprise, and violence. Without at least two we have a debacle like in Albany’s woods. If he can shoot and is willing to learn, we can teach him the rest. I rather wish we had Kimi, and Jeva. Poor lonely Jeva. Slip her over the wall and let her be herself. I worry that our companions do not understand what is going to happen here: this is not going to be clean, we are not shiny knights in the sun with pennants fluttering. This is going to be extermination, no quarter given until we’re done. I don’t think it has dawned on them yet. They have been spoiled fighting mites and kobolds. They haven’t had much experience fighting they’re own kind. I don’t have that problem, nor does Sayd. Monsters never do.

She put Sayd’s journal back in his pack and sipped her cup of tea. Kaede and Teret were beginning to stir and soon it would be time to break camp.


I dream of peace; love the idea, hate the consequences. I prefer the life I live now: chasing oblivion, slaying as I will, drinking the last gasps of life. It warms my soul, if I flatter myself in believing I have one, and brings everything into focus. The cold night air surrounding me when I rest beneath the stars, the warmth of my companions when nature forces me to shelter beneath a tent and blanket. I freely admit that the visual capabilities of my allies irritates me, I would vastly prefer to hunt throughout the night, a unfortunate issue that they cannot see in the dark. Well, magic overcomes. Perhaps. I have a new amulet, for the moment, and that pleases me. Poor Albany, forced by another hand to defy his nature. I very rarely get angry to this extent, but I would happily drain that fey to the dregs and defile her corpse. Later, perhaps. So many things rely on chance: the kobolds, Olegs’, the Black Cats, the Stag Lord. So many chances, so many things. I gambled a bit on one of those chances earlier, Jeva. I have no urge nor reason to try to bend her to my will, the optimist in me thinks that if she is shown that there are ways to exist with the monster rather than surrendering to it she may follow. It costs nothing to be kind, and it may buy a life. My companions, the foolish ones anyway, do not trust her. I do trust her, specifically I trust her to be her. I would love to bury my face in her fur and whisper that everything will be alright, ultimately though it is her choice as it should be. My gaze catches on the piece of sable unicorn hide, the weather will dry it, under Kaede’s guidance I have scraped the meat and fat from it. Poor thing, to have lived a decent life, to be twisted against your nature, and now I muse, be made into a vest. I think the fastenings will be dragon teeth through rings of legendary boar bone. That would be a fitting gift. I care not about favor, but it amuses me to do the unexpected. Yesterday we killed a unicorn. Today we journey to get paid for it. Soon we go to end a very specific life. And flowers will bloom.

Yelenya stretched silently. Her list of things to do was long, and as days went by they were ticked off one by one. She rubbed her thumb on the unicorn hide and bid it’s previous owner to rest.

The Demon in Winter, Part One

The Voice is worship
Follow the Inner path
Speak only in True Need

- Skyrim

15 Calistril, 4711 AR
Next week it will be one year since our party left the bustle of Restov for the wilderness we now call home. The people I traveled with—the bookish elf with her tiny bird; the soldier, still wet behind the ears, who received cardiopulmonary resuscitation from a dwarf (!); the fearsome bumpkin we rescued from mites—all strangers to me then, are now my dearest friends, and, with Yelenya, are the closest thing I have to a family in this world.

Am I leading them to their deaths?

Tis a valid question to ask, here in dark scribblings on the page. The plains are moon pale, silent and drifty with snow, but I require no light to go about my business. Scant paces away, Yel rests upon a pitted stone, her eyes lidded, her keen ears alert for aught that might trouble us. “Can you hear it, darling—the song of the night?” I might ask her. But there is no need to ask her. I know she can hear the song of the night. We are of Kaer Maga, the City of Strangers. In my satchel I carry a banner upon which all the history of my life is writ. I do not fear death. The black cat that saunters by, back arched, under the ladder, by the broken mirror, holds no malice for me. I’m a black cat, too.

And yes, we know the night. Gods, a tiefling and a dhampir? The night is our mother. The night taught us to steal. The night sky, where Desna holds her court, is the temple of my people. The temple of Yel’s people. “We shall know no rest from travel”—I read that somewhere. A snippit of poem from one of Kaede’s books, perhaps. I read them sometimes while she meditates in silence, dead to the world, living an inner life I cannot fully grasp. At any rate, it is a fair description of a Varisian.

So no, the night does not trouble me, nor the snow. Nor the threat of that manticore returning. What troubles me are two simple questions, the first already voiced: am I leading my friends to their deaths? The second is far more insidious, far more restless.

Why did I come to the Stolen Lands?

I told them it was for revenge. Yelenya and I, and our friends, were hired out of Daggermark to wax the Stag Lord. We didn’t know who he was—some pretentious bandit or other, who happened to be out of his own territory and who someone wanted dead. There was a timetable, a travel route he would be taking, and a payoff that we wouldn’t get to collect on. He was the first man to defeat me in single combat. If not for Yelenya, I’d be dead, just like our friends.

So when we recovered, we took the job in Restov and met the others. It was another chance at the bastard, with another pot of gold attached. And when we first left the city, I was as full of vitriol as any man might be, in my boots. But it didn’t last.

One year, I wrote. One year since we left Restov. Does my passion burn as bright? Of course not. This turned out to be far more than any job Yel and I have taken. Surveying a country. Uncovering the mysteries of the Narlmarches. In the last year I have decapitated bandits, slain a Singing Tree, surrendered to a giant Honey Queen, killed a creature of myth by shoving it into a furnace, murdered a kobold king and lain with his wife, then installed a new kobold king and traded her off to him. I have fallen in rivers, leapt from roof to roof, held off a mite army by refusing to yield. I was nearly killed by an old tick of the First World. I watched my friend eat the corpse of an undead dragon. I burned down a witch’s hut by accident. I stopped the charge of a shadowed unicorn with my bare hands, and cast its corpse down upon the snow with a borrowed wand. I made friends and bitter enemies, most of whom are now dead. And I realized something.

I am a killer, plainly said. My business is taking lives. Of course our cause is just. It is, right? Well what exactly is our cause? We violently transgress from situation to situation, never knowing quite what we are doing. Sometimes it is more clear cut than others. We rescued the children of Hollow, all of them. To do so, we killed many and more kobolds, let a werewolf go free, stopped a dark ritual, etc, etc. Only Pharasma knows which of these things bodes well, and which ill. We are cloaked in confusion, and yet our clearest path out of the fog is the one we cleave with our swords. That is what being a hero means. It means you face down death and kill all who oppose you, without really knowing why. And I—

I want to know why.

16 Calistril, 4711 AR
I have had a revelation. No other word can describe it. No other word is appropriate. It was so much more than a dream. By Shelyn, it was more real than real life. I startled Kaede half to death the way I awoke. Daybreak is here, and the others are breaking camp, but I must write this down, must commit it to the page. Every detail may be important. I have been left a map, a map to a treasure that is beyond gold and jewels.

But Gods, how can I write when the world is howling in ecstasy?


To Master Norwick

It is not often that I find myself in need of specialty items. A mutual friend of ours has spoken of your abilities and I think that you may be the best chance of finding what I need. I seek information as to whether or not it is possible to create a item that changes positive energy to negative energy. One of the downsides to my birth is that healing injures me. I would prefer to be able to visit churches and not feel ill, or be wounded by a blessing. I’m sure that you understand. Enclosed is a sum that should help your search, although I would ask that you be careful in your inquires.


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