Title: Malakh'mu'baraka Fandom: Paizo's Pathfinder RPG Genre: Fantasy, Drama, Romance Type: Multi-chapter Characters: Calden, a 20 year old young man, adventurer (Fighter [Dawnflower Dervish] 1/Rogue 4); Julene, a 21 year old young woman (Cleric 1 of Sarenrae). Summary: Calden, a mysterious young adventurer; meets Julene, who is more than your typical innocent farm girl. Content warning: Sexual themes, nothing too explicit. (This is the SFW version, PM me if you want to read the full NSFW version, though it's not complete yet). Last updated: 09/18/2018 Status: Incomplete Other Relevant Info: This is the original & somewhat clean version of part of the backstory for a PC (Malakh'mu'baraka, Tiefling Paladin of Sarenrae) I played for 2+ years in Paizo's "Wrath of the Righteous" campaign. I am working on a more epic length expanded version of this story about her parents, and of her story before and during the campaign. Download Links: Google Docs Part 1: First Meetings Calden stared into the campfire, watching it flicker and dance ever brighter in the fading light of the early Spring day. Flames swirled in a sudden breeze. Cinders spun like the woman he had seen dancing at dawn that day. She had been singing a song he knew by heart, but that had not touched his lips for over five years. Not since his mother--. “Whooo, where did you two find this pretty piece of meat?” Gregor’s too-loud voice slurred, interrupting Calden’s reverie. “She was wandering in the woods, all alone,” Fotak answered. “So we decided she needed some friends. Say hello, m’lady.” Calden looked up from his barely touched drink. Two of his fully inebriated companions were ogling a frightened girl. She was held at dagger point by a third member of the adventuring party. The girl’s arms were tied behind her back at the wrist and she was gagged with pieces of her dress. The dress had been torn open to her waist, exposing the curves of her sun-kissed, slightly freckled skin. The curls of her light auburn hair were tangled in her captor’s long bony fingers. She struggled against her bonds. The tall gangly man holding her jabbed her lightly in the neck. The dagger drew a glistening drop of blood. “I still have my dagger here, lady,” he warned, his voice lustful if somewhat slurred. “Don't make me use it.” The girl flinched away, her hazel eyes desperately searched the camp. She glanced over each of the men around her, looking for some chance of escape. Her eyes widened in sudden shock as her gaze locked with Calden’s. The tall, bland-looking young man stared back, wondering at her shocked look. He began to subtly reach towards the pair of sheathed scimitars resting nearby, atop the bundle of his other belongings. He thought better of it, though, he needed a deterrent, a simple show of force. Not a pitched battle in close quarters to the woman he was trying to keep from getting hurt. Calden tossed his drink into the fire and rose to his feet in a single gracefully fluid motion. He tipped back the brim of his hat to better stare down the man holding the girl captive. “Come on, put the knife away, Bartax,” Calden warned. “The three of you are way too drunk for this, things could get messy, and this village we’re camped near is paranoid enough about our kind.” “You must not be drunk enough, Calden,” Slurred Bartax as he continued to press the knife against the girl’s neck and lean into her. “You've never had a problem with having a bit of fun with a whore before, it's been way too long since our last one...” He released the girl’s hair and reached around to grope at her. He licked the drop of blood from her neck with an oddly forked tongue. “This one's not a whore,” Calden replied, stepping around the campfire. He rested his hand on the hilt of the large knife sheathed on the side of his leg. “Let her go.” “Well, look who’s become the champion of a lady’s virtue,” said Fotak with a mocking bow. “Calden, of all The Creatures.” Raucous laughter echoed through the trees as Calden waded into the muddle. “I said leave her!”, Calden shouted, drawing the knife and shoving Bartax away. The drunk stumbled and fell backwards into the brush at the edge of the clearing, his dagger flying from his grip. “Hey, easy now,” said Gregor, backing away from Calden. Nearly falling over as well as he wobbled drunkenly. “Eh, jusss wants her for ‘imself, ” Bartax called from where he lay in the bushes. “You know his kind...” he cackled lasciviously. “Come with me,” Calden said to the girl firmly, taking her arm. He began trying to pull her away from the campfire, towards the shadowy woods. She resisted, struggling desperately to escape her bonds. Calden hoisted her by the waist, slung her over his shoulder, and stomped away from the camp. The men drunkenly whistled and cheered as the pair left the clearing. The girl kicked her legs and twisted, trying to escape, her screams muffled by the gag. “Quit struggling, damn it, I’m probably saving your life.” Calden demanded to the pretty girl over his shoulder, awkwardly attempting to resheath his blade, carry her, and keep his hat from getting knocked off, all at the same time. “Those guys get out of control sometimes, and people get hurt.” The girl continued to struggle, Calden got his knife back into its sheath just in time to clamp his hat back down after a wild swing of her elbow hit him in the back of the head. “Stop it!” He shouted sharply, swatting at the girl, his hand landing forcefully on her upturned backside. She froze in shock. Calden had not intended to spank her, but it had blessedly stopped the struggling. After a few more minutes of walking, Calden set the girl down and roughly spun her around to cut the cloth tying her hands. Gods, she even smelled alluring, Calden thought as he stepped back and tossed the girl’s bonds on the ground. Bartax was right, It had been too long. The fear in her hazel eyes had aroused something darker than usual in his half-demon blood. He closed his eyes and leaned over, hands on his knees, taking slow deep breaths. Trying to calm the demon-born lust raging in him. The auburn-haired beauty turned to face him, shaking the circulation back into her hands. “Are you alright?” She reached out to the young man’s shoulder in concern. “You really didn't need to carry--” He flinched away from her touch. “You need to go,” he said, a bit breathlessly as he fought, quite literally, his inner demons, “if I know those guys, they’ll probably be passing out drunk soon, and won't follow you--” He paused for one more deep breath, then continued: “But I wouldn't chance being alone on the road, it's getting dark.” Finally regaining control of himself, he stood upright and opened his eyes again. The girl, well, young woman actually, now that he noticed, was still there. She looked like she might be a little bit older than his own twenty years, but maybe it was just her bearing. She was shorter than he was, but then most people were; he stood just over six feet. She was watching him carefully with those gorgeous hazel eyes as she rubbed her wrists. She seemed to be trying to make up her mind about something. Calden stared back, groaning inwardly as recognition finally triggered in his mind. “You're the one who lives at the farm up the road, aren't you?” he asked. He pinched the bridge of his nose as a headache started to form behind his eyes. She nodded, with a puzzled look. This was woman he had seen dance and sing in the dawn’s rays that morning. “You don't want to walk alone, do you?” She shook her head. “Ok, If you trust me-- though I wouldn't if I were you,” he muttered, “I’ll walk you home.” The young lady nodded, seeming to come to some sort of decision. “Thank you sir.” She replied. “I’m not a sir anything, don't call me that.” He said vehemently, starting a brisk walk towards the road. He straightened his hat again, trying to keep his thoughts out of the murky, demon-tainted depths that swirled in the back of his mind. “Then what do I call you?” she asked, hurrying to catch up. “Calden.” “Thank you, Calden.” “You're welcome.” Silence. “Jules, by the way,” the woman piped up. “Jewels? Did they steal something from you?” “No, it's short for Julene... my name.” “Oh.” They walked in silence for a while more. “What did that one mean about ‘of all The Creatures’ and about the village being paranoid of your ‘kind’?” The woman wondered which of the insular village’s many paranoias he’d referred to. “That's what we a-- the group calls itself, the Creatures,” he replied, somewhat hesitant. This headache was getting worse by the minute. “But he seemed to refer to you as a ‘type’ of creature. You yourself said: ‘our kind’.” “Look miss, you really don't want to know any more about me, or my… friends.” Calden warned, growing frustrated at her questions. “Why not?” “It's too dangerous.” “For me? Or for you?” Julene probed further. “Both, neither, just … don't ask.” Calden snapped, anger coloring his voice. “Too late,” the woman said, teasingly, “I’ve already asked, so why don't you just--” Calden spun to face the woman, hissing his words into her face: “Because we're fiend-spawn.” Julene paused, trying to decide if he was being serious or not. “Demon-blooded? But...you all looked like normal men.” Calden turned around and started walking again; wiping his hands down his face in frustration. “That's because some of us are lucky, and the others have magic hats.” “Now I really don't believe you,” Julene laughed. “You're just trying to scare me away, magic hats, really?” He stopped and turned around again. He leaned his face close to hers once more. “Do you really want to chance it? What is it with you?” “I’m inquisitive.” She replied impishly. She reached for the brim of the simple looking, yet well-made, hat. Calden caught the woman’s hand. “Fine, you want proof?” He dragged her off the road and threw her to the ground behind a nearby clump of bushes. Squatting beside the suddenly uneasy woman, he yanked off his hat. “There, see?” He announced, pointing to his face. A pair of large glossy black horns started just above his hairline and curved back over the top of a head of thick wavy black hair that reached his shoulders. The horns were far too big to have been simply hidden under the hat he was now holding. The young man’s features had also shifted; his face had become more angular and darkly handsome with a distinct dark grey color to his smooth skin. His eyes were red with a soft glow that was fading, his anger cooling as he watched the woman study him. No one had ever looked at his true face quite like this before. Fear - all the time, disgust - sometimes, loathing, even lust (that had been an interesting night). But this was a look his father would have sported while studying a newly-collected botanical specimen. Taking in minute details. Beng excitedly fascinated. He rubbed at his lower back and took the opportunity to uncoil his long prehensile tail from around his waist. He usually kept it there while in disguise. The magic of the hat merely hid his features, an invisible tail could still be trod upon or horn felt if he wasn't careful. But he would get this horrible cramp at the base of his spine if he kept his tail wrapped up for too long. The tail was dusky grey, like the rest of his skin, and tapered in size from about the diameter of his forearm where it sprouted at the base of his spine, down to about the size of his thumb before it flared out briefly in a narrow, arrowhead-like shape at the tip. Julene opened and closed her mouth a few times. She she had a hundred questions stumbling over themselves to get out, and could not decide which one she wanted to ask first. “You really don’t want to know more about me,” Calden warned. “You won’t like what you find out. I’m not a good, or safe person to be around.” “What did your friend mean by ‘your type’?” She asked finally, leaning back on her hands to get a better look at the somewhat frightening, yet fascinatingly handsome man. Her torn and now very revealing dress completely forgotten for the moment. “My father is an incubus,” he answered, turning to gaze into the strangely lingering sunset. It gave Julene an excellent view of his otherworldly features in profile in the process. His ears were pointed at the top, like an elf’s. “Incubus?” She asked, tilting her head. “Over six feet tall, horns, bat-like wings, tail, overwhelming… um... sexual appetite.” Calden explained, now staring at the ground and fiddling with his hat. “They usually choose to appear human while on this plane of existence. Full-blooded incubi are lucky like that.” He snorted bitterly. “It helps them seduce their prey. Unfortunate half-bloods or tieflings like me are stuck using other methods to try to hide in a world that hates and fears us. It isn't very conducive to living a long happy life.” “Oh.” Julene paused, suddenly noticing how the poor demon-spawned young man was trying desperately to avoid staring at her nearly-exposed breasts. Jules sat upright, pulling her torn dress more closely around her. “So, was your mother some sort of witch or demon-worshipper, or… forced…?” “Absolutely not!” Calden snapped, his eyes glowing brightly in the gathering twilight. Julene scooted back in fear, her damaged clothing falling open again in her haste. “I’m sorry,” he apologized, closing his eyes and taking a calming breath as she re-gathered the torn edges of her bodice. “No, she was a devotee of Sarenrae, goddess of the dawn. Just like you. As unwise as it may have been, I was conceived on purpose, in mutual love, and wedlock.” His mother, a priestess of Sarenrae, married a demon? She thought incredulously, but asked aloud: “How did you know I’m a--?” “I saw you at your morning devotions today.” Calden confessed, his grey skin flushing slightly. “Oh.” “I--, I didn't mean to spy on you. I was wandering in the forest and heard your singing and…” He paused, then finished with an apologetic shrug. “I didn't want to interrupt.” “That was my mother's favorite hymn, and dance.” He added, a bit wistfully but with a hint of deep sorrow. He lapsed into silence for a moment. “What happened to her?” Julene inquired softly. “I don't want to talk about it.” Calden snapped, turning to hide the tears prickling his eyes. He stood up and donned the magic hat. His horns and tail vanished as he tapped the brim in a particular sequence. His features became bland and unremarkably human once more as he offered a hand to help Julene to her feet. She accepted, and was quietly thoughtful as they returned to the road. “I think I like you better without the hat.” She announced, falling into step beside him. “Much more handsome.” Calden raised an eyebrow at her with equal parts surprise and scepticism. “Well, I don't think your father would like me better without it, so it’s staying on.” “Halvar’s not my father,” Julene countered, “my parents died of the fever when I was little. Halvar and Malene were never able to have children of their own, they took me in.” “He still wouldn't like me very much.” Calden replied. “How did your parents come be together?” Julene asked. “It must be a fascinating story.” “Some other time,” Calden sighed, trying to divert the conversation. “It’s long, and look, you are already almost home.” The farmhouse appeared as they rounded a bend in the road. “Is that a promise?” Julene grinned. “What?” “That you will tell me the story some other time.” “Maybe.” “Well, you know where I will be at sunrise tomorrow...” She hinted, with a smirk. Calden didn't respond, he just continued to the farmhouse gate, which he held open for the young woman, who passed him by and ran up the steps. “Jules! Where have you been? We were about to go search for you when you didn't return by sundown,” said the large grey-haired man standing on the porch. He held out work-callused hands to his adopted daughter. “Oh Papa Hal! I was waylaid by bandits,” Julene exclaimed. “They would have killed me if this young man hadn't come along and saved me.” “Yes, it was lucky I came along, sir,” Calden replied, following with Julene’s story. No need to mention that he was normally counted among the group that had waylaid her. “But I will be taking my leave now that she is home safely.” “Please, accept some coin as thanks.” The farmer offered as his wife appeared in the doorway to gather their ward safely home. “I have enough, no need.” Calden replied, waving the suggestion away. “Some dinner? A drink?” The farmer offered. “No, thank you, good night” he said, and quickly left the farmhouse behind. Calden returned to camp to find his drunken companions, as expected, passed out around the dying fire. He packed his belongings and a somewhat larger than equal share of the group’s ill-gotten gains, and turned his back on his erstwhile compatriots. His travels with them had been long and adventurous, and seemed fun and exciting to the angry lost teenager he had been five years ago. But he had seen his ‘friends’ fall further and further into their dark natures. They had dragged Calden down with them. He had done many things he was ashamed of. The decision had been plaguing him for a while, but tonight he made it final. He would be one of the Creatures no more. He walked aimlessly into the night. He wondered where he should go, back home? No, he was not ready to face his father again, or the clergy of Sarenrae’s temple in Kenabres. His father would accept him back unconditionally, but Calden was not ready to face him, not yet. It would mean having to deal with the events that drove him away. He wondered why the woman, Julene, had accepted his nature so quickly. He could swear the first time their eyes had met across the fire, her expression was surprise mingled with… recognition? What was her story? Should he accept her invitation to meet her again? In the waning hours of the night, he found himself in a clearing deep in the woods, a large boulder stood at the center of it. He dropped his pack on the ground, sat down, and leaned back against the sun-warmed stone, staring up at the fading stars. For the first time in nearly five years, he felt homesick and lost. Julene sat in her room late into the night, her head resting on her interlaced fingers, her elbows on her knees. Dear gods, what was happening to her? First, she'd received a vision this morning during her devotions. The face of a somewhat unremarkable young man had appeared before her, with the distinct impression that she was to seek him out. A feeling that he was more than what he seemed, needed her help, and their fates were intertwined. Then her capture that evening by those men as she had wandered the woods near her home, pondering her goddess’ message. Then discovering the young man from her vision in the ruffians’ camp, only to have her be rescued by him. Wasn't he the one the Dawnflower had said needed help? Calden was an enigma to her, he was obviously good-hearted. He could have taken advantage of her in any number of ways. From what he had briefly explained of his heritage, had probably had to actively keep himself under control. Julene sympathized with the poor man, she herself had similar issues, which had gotten her into trouble before. There had been more than a few secret dalliances over the years with handsome young strangers. With more than one visit to the village healer for a concoction to head off a possible pregnancy before she had found a reliable preventative charm. But this time was different, and not just because of the divine message foretelling their meeting. Calden acted as if he was dangerous and a fallen creature, unworthy of anything good. Julene did not believe that. One of the core tenets of Sarenrae’s teachings was redemption for all who desired it. How did the goddess want her to help this young man? Could she convince him that whatever he may have done, he could still be redeemed? That even he was worthy of being loved and cared about? Julene decided to visit her secluded shrine at dawn once more, and ask for further guidance. She lay down to sleep, her mind, and then dreams, full of the mysterious, and handsome, young man.