|Todd Stewart Contributor|
I wrote these little vignettes as fictional asides in-between game sessions of 'The Moonscar' focusing on my PC Y'dalnia Wyrmtouched, the tiefling/ganzi/whatever cleric of Ssila'meshnik the Colorless Lord. I've edited out the more than colorful language and some ribald content from the original to not offend board rules on the matter. Spoilers ahoy for the Moonscar module obviously:
Irrespective of the absence of a true dawn or a conventional day/night cycle, the arrival of “dawn” –by whatever internal clock she uses– finds Y’dalnia at the edge of camp, prepared and ready for her morning prayers and rituals. Anyone watching would have seen her begin by stretching her arms, legs, and tail and then promptly sitting down cross-legged, hovering an inch or two off the ground, and pouring herself a glass of deep ruby, nearly black wine.
Swirling the glass to aerate the contents, the cleric promptly squints her eyes, passes the wine glass to her prehensile tail, and proceeds to flip off the burning white sky, “Mother f*****...”
Having pronounced her opinion on the sky, she promptly downs the wine in a single chug and smacks her lips before tapping those same lips still wet with wine with her gleaming symbol of Ssila’meshnik the Colorless Wyrm, protean lord of fate, freedom, and paradox. The platinum surface of the bauble strung around her neck writhes and changes moment by moment for several seconds after her silent and alcoholic invocation of her divine and oh so chaotic patron.
“Some for you too Ssila’meshnik,” Y’dalnia smirks and licks her lips clean with a pass of her forked, serpentine tongue. “And if you don’t have a problem, than I don’t have a problem either; that goes for everything, not just the booze.”
Chuckling to herself, she seems to relax, both from the reassuring touch of her divine patron refilling her mind with divine spells, and also the alcohol working its way into her bloodstream. Unseen by any but herself, a shimmering, translucent void worm protean manifests from nothing and settles down atop her shoulders like a purring kitten, if purring kittens were magical, living expressions of pure chaos in the shape of multicolored chaos snakes from the Maelstrom a realm of unbound, manifest everything and nothing all at once.
“Dear Ssila’meshnik, you wouldn’t believe what happened to me…” She pauses and boops the voidworm’s nose with a single claw, “No that’s something else entirely. Let’s try this again.”
“Dear Lords of Chaos and Heralds of the Speakers of the Depths: F**** me sideways, I woke up alone this morning. This needs to change and this needs to change soon. You would think on a terrestrial moon seemingly inundated with gender and appearance changing succubi, that I’d be able to find someone I wouldn’t turn my nose up at. This has not been the case so far. This place sucks, signed, your devoted herald Y’dalnia Wyrmtouched aka Izrashekia the Gossamer Poison of the Chorus of Malignant Symmetry. PS. This place sucks.”
Frowning, Y’dalnia brushes the air in front of her with a pair of fingers dismissively. For a brief moment the air shimmers and gains an almost tangible, liquid consistency, with the streaming sunlight suddenly casting a blue tone across the cleric as if passing through a stained glass window. Then just as quickly as it happened, the air returns to normal and the protean-blooded whosie-whatsit groans and mutters.
“Stupid f****** static reality!” She sticks out her lower lip in a pronounced pout. “You’d think that this place being so tainted by the Abyss that I’d at least be able to warp the landscape if I set my mind to it! Clearly not given that I can’t do it right now when I’m awake, and that I went to sleep last night in the open in a sleeping bag rather than anything else.”
Over the next thirty minutes, Y’dalnia continues at a whimsical clip, alternatively praying in flowing, eerily beautiful, sing-song protean, or just ranting in common or protean about the surrounding moonscape, her current lack of physical companionship, and really anything that drifts to the surface of her mind.
Presumably from the outside, it’s all just a giant sit down at the metaphorical base coils of a protean lord and spilling your guts out sort of event, except it’s up for debate who she’s even necessarily speaking to, and that goes for Y’dalnia herself. The thing is, she herself isn’t ever entirely sure if she’s interacting with the voice of her patron demigod Ssila’meshnik, the mythical lords of her self-proclaimed Chorus: the Watching Seven of Galisemni, or if she’s just interacting with some particularly vivid hallucinations. It’s probably important to know that she drinks a cup of wine before her prayers, and that she instructs her vintner in Galisemni to randomly spike a fraction of the bottles she purchases with potent hallucinogens, just to add in that extra random element. Not that she f%%$ing cares really one way or the other who she’s actually speaking with or who’s actually answering her prayers. It’s likely probable that her actual divine patron Ssila’meshnik occasionally reroutes her prayers to another deity entirely just to turn their servitor’s bizarre litany to another god and let them suffer.
Despite the cleric’s failed attempts to alter the landscape around herself as if she were back in the Maelstrom, her prayers have had a demonstrable effect on her surroundings nonetheless. Stray objects within a fifteen foot radius now drift and tumble as if caught in the subtle currents of some immaterial liquid, freed from the moon’s already feeble gravity. Y’dalnia’s hair likewise drifts and moves as if she sat underwater, with stray locks occasionally lashing out like a hungry eel at tiny pebbles that pass within their reach. Y’dalnia herself seems to either not notice this at all, or considers it such a prosaic, normal thing in her life that she doesn’t make any outward display.
That said, this brings us around to Y’dalnia’s introspection about her current companions, or at least what passes for that:
“I’ll admit that I’m still learning their names.” She shrugs and idly twirls a finger through her multicolored hair. “I’ll be honest, and this does not make me bigoted, but mortals tend to all look alike to me…”
The translucent voidworm acting like a living shawl about her shoulders suddenly taps her chin with its tail and glances deliberately back towards Natalya.
“Ok yeah, I know her name. She’s the only one weird enough to remember.” Y’dalnia rolls her eyes and laughs. “As for the others, I’m working on it. For the moment it’s humanoids #1, #2, and #3, otherwise known as the kineticist, the Calistrian, and the paladin of Abadar.”
The voidworm looks askew at the mention of the paladin before looking over Y’dalnia’s shoulder in his direction.
“F*** if I know man…” Y’dalnia shrugs, her tail curling into a pronounced question-mark shape. “It’s certainly not the strangest combination I’ve been a part of. But hey, in the grand game of Chaos versus Stupid, if I can tilt a servitor of Dumb versus moon-dwelling servitors of Dumber, let’s go for it.”
Seemingly pleased, the voidworm begins to slowly sublimate back into nothing from whence it came, not that that stops Y’dalnia from pouring herself more wine and continuing to ramble on for the better part of the next hour as everyone else finally begins to wake up.
“Still, I’ve got issues, both in general and with this stupid moon. Granted it’s much more interesting than Golarion, but I’m disappointed nonetheless. Seriously, from what I’d gathered before we got up here, I figured that I’d end up marooned in the Lustocracy of the Moon Succubi.” Y’dalnia smiles, glancing in the retrievers’ direction across the lake with a lecherous glint in her eyes, flicking her tongue out and back like a serpent tasting the air. Abruptly though her expression changes to a exasperated frown and her eyes shift in color, her pupils cross-dilating and contracting at odd intervals as she once again proceeds to flip off the sky and then the ground in turn. “Except son of a b**** no! Instead, so far all I’ve gotten are some succubi school rejects with hard radiation poisoning, a looming sunburn, a poisonous jungle, and lots of undead critters. Again, son of a b****! I swear, if I’m here another day I’m making a f****** demiplane to sleep in…”
Having finished her prayers (such as they were) she shoots back the last of her wine, shakes her head and stands up. Abruptly the terrain returns to normal, the bleed over from the underlying presence of the Maelstrom ceases, and the drifting stones and other minor items abruptly fall back to the surface.
“What are you all staring at?” Y’dalnia perks an eyebrow and shrugs, realizing a moment later that yes indeed, when your clothes are illusory and dependent on magic items for their effect, they require you to actually turn the effect back on once you wake up. Provided that you didn’t sleep in your glammered armor, which she did not, that puts her naked in all her protean-blooded glory at the edge of camp.
“Oh, that.” She glances down before triggering the illusions of the dress and other assorted clerical vestments she wore the previous day. “Whatever. Meh. Good morning regardless.”
|Todd Stewart Contributor|
Having begun their descent into the hidden reaches of the spire of the Insatiable Queen, the party milled about searching for any additional hidden doors, traps, and of course, more enemies. As the five of them poked at the massive telescope trained on Golarion and then beyond it to other objects in the demon-haunted fortress, unseen by any of her companions, Y’dalnia turned her head towards the glimmering, phosphorescent body of the voidworm drifting alongside her.
“So what’s your opinion of all of this?” The cleric asked, pausing and hopping up to sit, drifting in space and supported by nothing obvious.
“Are you asking me, Ssila’meshnik by proxy, or yourself?” The protean’s eyes lazily drifted several inches, meandering through its ephemeral, diaphanous flesh before returning to their original location, albeit in different colors from when they started. “Because really, that’s an important question. Are you Y’dalnia Wyrmtouched channeling the divine spiritual essence of Big Daddy Whimsy Herself or are you still hallucinating from your drugged wine this morning?”
“Ask yourself a question of your own smartness,” Y’dalnia pantomimed taking a deep and well deserved draught. “Would it necessarily matter to me if I was straight up hallucinating, talking to a figurehead of my divine patron, or if you’d spun yourself out of the Maelstrom’s slithering fingertips of chance and possibility by a quirk of nothingness or my eagerness to yammer to someone just as crazy as me?”
The image reflected back at the protean-blooded cleric in the voidworm’s eyes smiled and laughed, and then a moment later she actually did the same. The answer was obvious and nonexistent, a fitting response for a cleric of a god of paradox.
“Either way you know,” Y’dalnia pulled out a slender pipe, stuffed it and lit it, and took a deep drag before exhaling a stream and puff of purple, iridescent smoke. “Either way around that question I’m handling this in the most grownup, responsible way that I can.”
“That’s not saying much.” The voidworm quipped as it swam in a figure-eight pattern, sending swirling eddies through Y’dalnia’s pipe smoke.
“F**k off,” Y’dalnia smiled, passing her pipe off to her prehensile tail and using both hands to good-naturedly flip off the protean, “Besides, anyone watching or scrying me is going to be getting this sh*t in a totally different tense than before. Screw the voyeurs, they can read my escapades in third person past rather than present progressive like they could before. F**k it man.”
The cleric rolled her eyes, shook her head in a curious, bobbly manner, and hopped back down to her mismatched feet and continued strolling about aimlessly. Briefly her body acted as if free of bones, oozing more than walking for several steps before snapping back to a normal, corporeal form, much apparently to Y’dalnia’s disappointment.
Oblivious to her other companions noticing her or not, Y’dalnia strolled about the periphery of the demonic observatory, casually puffing out smoke rings among other shapes in blatant defiance of the laws of nature. At the same time, her tail alternated between swinging back and forth at the divided portion like a happy, lazy cat, or flitting about taking half-hearted swipes at the voidworm tagging along with her meandering waltz.
“This place is rapidly becoming boring, you know?” She mused, pursing her lips and blowing a smoke dodecahedron through the air (despite not having taken a hit of her pipe to do so). “Maybe I should just go back to that party up above?”
The voidworm corkscrewed in place before coming to a rest upside down to stare at its friend before giving her an answer, “Would you enjoy going back to that party now that you probably managed to butcher every single alu-fiend in the place, to say nothing to incinerating a succubus who you did mention to me immediately after the fact that you thought was kinda cute?”
“… no.” Y’dalnia pursed her lips and frowned, the swirling halo of symbols above her head slowing their transit and several of them abruptly dropping to the floor where they clattered loudly like dropped coinage before sublimating into nothing and reappearing back in orbit as they were before.
“Not that I’m judging you for finding a succubus cute.” The voidworm blinked rapidly, pantomiming an overly flirty fiend.
“I can’t help it really. Whatever the reason, while I deeply disagree with their metaphysical weight, allegiance, and ideological goals, fiendspawn are just f**king hot.” Y’dalnia flicked her wrist, fanning herself with a purple and pink, heart-speckled paper fan appearing out of nothing and then vanishing back into nothingness. “Now of course this might entirely bubble down to a stewing cauldron of gratuitous ego on my part all related to my being frequently assumed to be a tiefling or half-fiend and treated as such even after making my typically boisterous correction.”
“Wait,” The voidworm perked an eyebrow not actually attached to its translucent head but rather floating several inches above it. “I thought you were a tiefling… you’re not?”
Y’dalnia narrowed her eyes, “One of these days I’m going to tie you into a pretzel shape. If you weren’t immune to polymorph spells I’d actually straight up turn you into one.”
“Assuming that I’m real.”
“Assuming that you’re real.”
Both Y’dalnia and the purple voidworm paused and laughed, briefly tapping the ends of their tails together in a curious, protean version of a fist-bump. Shortly thereafter the cleric looked around, noticing that her behavior had finally drawn the notice of her other companions.
“Uhh, yeah.” Y’dalnia smirked at the voidworm, glancing over her shoulder at Qoloran and Natalya. “I should probably get going and not sit here talking to myself. I don’t want to get a reputation or anything like that.”
“Yeah that sounds like a good idea.” The voidworm smiled warmly. “Best of luck to you my favorite crazy bundle of awesome. I’ll be back at some point, but for the moment, you take care Y’dalnia.”
“You too Ssila’meshnik.”
Suddenly translucent and devoid of color, the voidworm dove back into nothingness.