Perhaps I have gone too far. The Osirian—a pathfinder, I thought—seems hardly worth my time. Still, it is the goddesses will that any slight be repaid a thousand fold. He deigned to call me a cow when we bumped in the street, even though it was his error. He should take his eyes of his compass when he walks the thoroughfare. His look of disgust at my buxom cheeks, the ripples of welcoming fat undulating under my sheer chemise, deserves an answer.
I wore the guise of Curva at the time, of course. She has been my favorite of late, with her silken blonde curls and heavy eye shadow. This ring has given me endless pleasures. When I found it lying half covered in autumn leaves last year I knew immediately what my lady wanted me to do with it.
The Osirian is dead. ‘Twas a harsh punishment, to be sure. I meant only to lure him on with the aspect of a nymph, far out into the snow, and leave him stripped to find his way back. Perhaps frostbite would have taken a toe, or aught else! I did not expect those men to spring from the path and waylay him with steel invitations. I made a quick exit. What’s done is done.
I know not why I have lingered in these parts. I briefly stayed at an old outpost wearing the trappings of an old wise woman, and was greeted most warmly by my hostess, Svetlana. It did not take long to ferret out her desires. I told her of the moon radish, which is known to grow in these parts. I hope Calistria blesses her with a child, for hers is a kind and loving soul.
The fey are in an uproar. I hear whispers as I walk, talk of dark tidings. I saw something while bathing invisibly in a hot spring today. A troop of mites passed nearby, and their leader, a twisted little fruit, rode upon a creature I never thought to know. I remember seeing depictions of him when I stayed in Kyonin, the stylized drawings a perfect caricature. Tickleback, his name is called in the common tongue. The elves called him Mahgretaan. He is a creature of the First World, the bane of the Gnarlmarches for long centuries, as I heard it. His kiss is death. He was a wonder to behold.
It all makes sense now. I know why I have wandered these rolling hills, chasing dreams and shadows. ’Twas the will of Calistria. There is an outsider nearby, a dark mirror of me, and he burns for revenge. I can feel his fire, but I must find him before it goes out.
He has the blood of succubi pumping through his heart, like I have the blood of lyrakien flowing through mine. His face was angelic as he lay dying. I found him “resting” in an alchemist’s hut, mere days from complete collapse. He spoke haltingly, whisperingly, of how he and his friends had stormed the Great Oak and unseated Grabbles, the mite king. This was the very creature I saw in the company of Mahgretaan. The bloated ancient bit him, he said. I told him to close his eyes, and in his ear I whispered words of salvation, and kissed him. I asked him what his name was.
“Sayd Krynn,” he said weakly. I could not help but giggle.
“That is not a name,” I said. “They are just words in the abyssal tongue. Sayd Krynn means blonde baby.”
“So it does,” he said, and fell to slumber.
My magic has failed me and I do not know why. The sickness remains. The venom of Mahgretaan lives up to its legend. That he has not perished is sheer miracle, though he has an audacity to live that few mortals could match. I have communed with scholars in Elysium, and they are suggesting certain formulae for the alchemist to concoct. I am pushing Bokken and his laboratory to the limit with this, but he seems happy to help. I think his mind is gone.
He lives in twilight. He is not really here, but still speaks. His tale is full of such wonders that no sane being would believe it, but I know it is true. He tells of how he was born from a gnoll, a high priestess of Lamashtu, as some sort of revenge for offending Nocticula; how he quickly passed into the hands of a paladin, who had not the heart to slay him; how he was raised in a secret city of witches; how as a boy he was borne out of the sea on the back of a whale when his ship wrecked, killing all the others; how he was rescued in Kaer Maga by a dhampir sellsword who taught him the blade, and so much more. He thinks that he is in Absalom, that I am some other priestess, that we are lovers. He told me his true name.
He is strong enough to eat today. He will recover. I realized that I have appeared to him and to Bokken without disguise. They see my true form: halfling-slight, jewel toned hair, radiant eyes, a child of Elysium. He is fascinated by me. Could it be that in all his travels he has not met another like him? We spoke quite frankly for hours. I described to him what would become of his soul when his mortal form passed, how it would be ripped apart in the abyss to birth new incubi, how Nocticula only cares for cruelty. I laid his head on my lap and told him tales of Calistria that I learned at the feet of the masters. How her exploits, though violent and cruel, always began with a seed of pleasure and amusement, not sadism and hatred. He is deadly fearful to abandon his goddess for a new one. Nocticula gave him life.
“She has not forgotten me,” he says, looking emotional for the first time. “She would never forgive my betrayal.”
“Nocticula is a toothless bitch,” I say evenly. “She eats scraps from my lady’s table. I have communed with sages from the outer planes, beings whose vision reaches far and farther. Do you not know who saved you on the night of your birth? ‘Twas worshipers of Calistria who stormed the ruined fane where Nocticula’s ritual lay in wait. You were born from Ashgrazaa the Jackal, high priestess of Lamashtu, and held before her as the ultimate indignity and testament to her failure—the goddess of fertility could not even pop the right monster out of her own servant. Then Ashgrazaa was impaled. You were probably meant to be the main course for the celebratory feast. You were a prop. The only reason you live is because a priest, Coradd Raventress, plucked your crying body from the floor when the bloodshed was done and felt pity for you. Do you not remember the wasp broach he wore? Did you not speak of it in your illness?”
His mouth hangs agape.
“That is what the sages say,” I finish. “Twas not Nocticula who has given you your charmed life, Sayd Krynn. Calistria has brought you through the fire time and again. Am I not here at the very hour of your demise to blow life into body again? And who has sent me?”
“But—why?” he says, astonished.
“Because you are beautiful to her,” I say.
I am off again, out of this strange land. Spring has arrived. Sayd will never be the man he was. Mahgretaan’s venom should have killed him. He is weaker now. He is sluggish. His body has forgotten some of its athleticism, his hand some of its skill with the blade. But he will live. He will live to take his revenge.