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Story [Pathfinder RPG] Malakh'mu'baraka

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by TheRynJedi, Sep 18, 2018.

  1. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
    Findswoman likes this.
  2. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Interesting beginning to the tale. I needed to wiki Pathfinder and what a history it has --- Julene and Calden seem set up to have a fascinating adventure, good storytelling.
     
    TheRynJedi likes this.
  3. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    Part 2:

    A voice was singing, a hymn of praise for the dawn of a new day. Calden hummed along, feeling the peace of the song carry him back to memories of his youth, to his mother’s morning prayers, echoed throughout the temple of Sarenrae by other voices singing, chanting, or dancing their praise to The Everlight. As he lost himself in the memories, tears stung his eyes, then trickled down the side of his cheek.

    A hand caressed his face as the song ended. The hand wiped away a tear, then brushed his hair back, tucking it behind one of his horns.

    Calden came instantly awake, sitting upright and looking around in a panic.

    Julene sat in the grass beside the standing stone he had fallen asleep against. His magic hat rested in her lap.

    “What are you doing!?” He said frantically, snatching the hat away. “Are you trying to get me hunted down and killed? How did you find me?”

    “No one is around,” she said, smiling. “I know the area around my shrine.”

    Calden stood and studied his surroundings as he returned the enchanted hat to its rightful place and reactivated its magic. “You do not know that, I was able to watch you for a while here yesterday morning.”

    Julene blushed, remembering Calden’s confession the night before. “Well, besides handsome young men wandering far from the road, no one else comes here. There is an ancient legend that this part of the forest is haunted by a demon. Young ladies who wander in these woods are taken by him and give birth to fiend-spawn.”

    Calden roughly scrubbed the tears from his face. He let out a sardonic laugh as he retrieved and shouldered his pack. “Well, that explains the paranoia. But if I stick around here with you their legend could be proven right, I have to go.”

    “But, you promised me a story,” Julene begged. “Please stay, your journey can wait another hour, can it not? Besides, I packed enough breakfast for two this morning, just in case you decided to show up.”

    “I didn't decide to show up, I--,” Calden faltered. “I just wandered here… by accident,” he finished lamely as she held out a small loaf of fresh-baked bread.

    Sighing, the young man dropped his pack and sat down, leaning back against the stone once more. He accepted the proffered loaf and took a few bites. He took a moment and gathered his thoughts before he began to tell his story:

    “My grandfather, Sir Calden Lightbringer, was a Paladin of Iomedae, goddess of Justice and Honor. He led multiple campaigns into the Worldwound, through all three Mendevian Crusades.”

    “I’ve heard people mention the Crusades, but what's the ‘Worldwound’?” Julene asked, slicing some fruits and cheese on a small plate.

    Calden eyed Julene incredulously as he finished the last bite of his bread. “It's the reason for the Crusades. It’s a rip in reality, it leads directly to the Abyss. Demons have been wandering out of it for 85 years. About 75 years ago, the kingdom of Mendev, that borders the Worldwound, called for a Crusade to defeat the demons. There's been three of them so far, if that tells you how successful they've been.” Calden stared sullenly at the ground, lost in his thoughts for a while.

    “Please, continue.” Julene urged, handing Calden a piece of fruit.

    “Well, while leading a training and scouting mission one day, my grandfather’s troop encountered a man who said he had knowledge of demon horde movements in the area. He offered to share his knowledge in exchange for asylum.
    Grandfather was sceptical. Especially when the man asked to meet him in private, and revealed that he was an incubus. The demon seemed sincere, though. When my grandfather asked Iomedae for a glimpse into the incubus’ heart, he was surprised to find out the demon wasn't evil.”

    “A demon that isn't evil?” Julene asked. “Is that possible?”

    “Despite what most people --especially Paladins-- think, yes, it's possible.”

    “Well, then anyone can be redeemed, can't they?” Julene smiled at Calden.

    Calden grunted in grudging agreement, and continued. “Grandfather decided to test the demon, whose name was Jazeel. He found Jazeel’s knowledge was useful and the demon’s request for asylum was genuine. Grandfather kept the demon under close watch but allowed him asylum and brought him back to the garrison at Star Keep. Grandfather’s second in command and many of the other veteran knights still had misgivings, though. At their insistence, Grandfather kept Jazeel in magical demon-binding restraints.”

    “Understandable,” Julene replied.

    “One of the first people waiting to welcome the scouting party back to the keep was Sir Calden’s eighteen year old daughter, Shadi. She was a cleric of Sarenrae, like her mother before her. Shadi was fascinated by my grandfather’s strange captive, and by Grandfather’s story. The demon was a perfect embodiment of the Dawnflower’s tenet of Redemption for All. It didn’t hurt that Jazeel was also incredibly handsome.

    Jazeel was put in the dungeons at Star Keep. My mother visited him almost daily. She took it upon herself to be Jazeel’s spiritual guide to redemption. She learned that Jazeel was somewhat of a scholar, and that he had become fascinated by the concept of Love. Primal Lust, not Love, is the natural driving force behind an incubus. It was still an occasionally overwhelming problem for Jazeel, but his abnormally (for a demon) methodical, scholarly mind was usually able to somewhat keep his passions under control.

    After realizing how hard her presence was for his self control sometimes, Shadi began to research a cure for Jazeel’s demonic lust, or at least some sort of salve. Jazeel helped, studying the tomes of botany, herbology, and alchemy my mother brought to his cell. Eventually a concoction was found, it just had to be drunk daily as a morning tea. Along the way, though, Jazeel developed an interest in herbology and alchemy; and a devotion to Sarenrae. She is pretty much his only hope of something besides absolute non-existence when he dies.”

    “She will intercede for him, if his heart is true.” Julene assured Calden.

    “Yes, I know the Doctrine, thank you, I did grow up in a temple.” Calden snapped.

    “Sorry.”

    “No, I’m sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you, it’s just a... touchy subject.” Calden sighed, then continued his story.

    “A year or so after my grandfather's scouting expedition, my father’s information got too old to be useful to the Crusade, and a decision had to be made as to what to do with him. Many, especially among the paladins of Iomedae, were not convinced that a demon even could be redeemed. They argued that Jazeel should be destroyed.

    A trial was held, my mother testified of Jazeel’s path of redemption She begged for him to be released to continue his journey. Her testimony swayed the judges, who allowed my father to go free. Shari wanted to take him to live and study with her at the temple of Sarenrae in Kenabres; but the crusader city is covered by a magical field that destroys any demons that come close. A sympathetic magic user who had attended the trial made Jazeel an amulet that would protect him from the field. It is only completely effective if he stays in human form, however.”

    “That was trusting of him.” Julene mused.

    “Her, actually. She’s one of my father’s good friends, now, she runs an herbalist's shop in Kenabres. She's got to be more than that what she seems if she's the one who actually made his amulet, though.”

    “Hmm, lots of people have secrets.” Julene replied. “What happened next?”

    “Many people were unhappy with the decision. My grandfather always believed it contributed to the witch hunts that started to get out of control in the next few years, that eventually sparked the Third Crusade.
    Over the next few years, though, Jazeel got his chance to study true Love first-hand as he worked with my mother almost daily; performing penances for his evil past by working in the temple gardens, attending lectures, and giving time and service to the churches in Kenabres.

    Jazeel eventually gathered the courage (when he finally felt he was worthy to consider it) to meet with Sir Calden, and ask for his permission to pursue a relationship with his daughter. Grandfather had serious misgivings, even after my father’s three years of penances, and forbade it. But soon after turning Jazeel away, he got a visit from my mother, asking for his advice on the same thing. He realised there wasn't much he could do to stop their feelings.

    My grandfather eventually relented, and my parents were married. My grandfather later called it ‘a beautiful celebration of both their union and the power of redemption’.

    I wasn't born for many years later, when my aging grandfather and my mother together somehow convinced my father that even a half-demon child would be loved and cherished by all. They had been actively preventing having children up until that point.

    I’ve been told that my mother's pregnancy was difficult, demon blood and human blood do not always mix easily. Many pregnancies end with the mother or the child dying, often both. I’ve been told my mother and I both required many prayers to Sarenrae on our behalf to just survive my birth.”

    Calden snorted sardonically, “Who knows, maybe it would have been better that way, if I had not survived. It would have saved a lot of heartache and trouble for my parents, and the world as a whole.”

    Julene put a hand on Calden’s arm. “Never think that, all have a reason for being alive. Even you.” She reached down and took his hand in her own, he was too lost in his memories to pull away.

    “At any rate, they never tried having children again. My grandfather adored me, though. He was nearly eighty years old, but he started training me as a squire out at Star Keep as soon as I was able to lift a toy sword. But he died when I was ten, and the new leaders of the garrison were free to finally get rid of the demon-spawn child in their midst.

    I spent the next five years living at the temple of Sarenrae with my parents. Most who didn’t know my parents closely assumed I was a half-demon foundling they had adopted. I hadn’t been seen around the temple much before then. My parents didn’t bother to care what people thought, or explain otherwise, it was easier to keep my father’s nature a secret.

    I continued my sword training, this time with the temple dervishes, their fighting style fit better with my natural abilities than my grandfathers’ had, anyway. The swordmistress said I was the best student she’d ever trained. One day when I was fifteen, an outskirt of Kenabres was attacked. I was told by my parents to stay at the temple while they went to help defend the city.” Calden sniffed and rubbed at his eyes, which were beginning to well up once more.

    Julene put a consoling hand on Calden’s shoulder.

    “Maybe if I had disobeyed and followed them, my mother wouldn’t have been killed. Maybe I would have only died with her. But when the defenders returned, carrying the dead and wounded, my father returned carrying my mother's corpse.
    I went crazy. My father and I argued. I blamed him for her death, and in my anger I drew my weapons and attacked. He was forced to drop his human disguise --in the middle of the temple’s central atrium-- to disarm me.

    I’m sure it traumatised the majority of the temple, most hadn't known what he was. But it just enraged me more.” Calden’s tone became heated, “Of all the things that I’ve inherited from him, his ability to just -- be a normal looking human whenever he wants is the one I didn’t get. I have always resented him for that. He has no idea what it was like getting chased down a street as a child and being spit on, or beaten.”

    Calden’s tone became mournful again, tears were beginning to trickle down his magically disguised face.

    “I ran away from the temple that day. I left the city, and never went back, not even for my mother’s burial. I couldn't face him. Mother loved me and taught me to live, Father just gave me his weaknesses and no way to cope with them."

    "I’ve spent the last five years trying to run from my pain, falling further and further from what I know is right and good. I’ve betrayed my mother’s memory by forgetting the lessons she taught me. I’ve let my father’s half of my being take over."

    "I miss him, though,” Calden admitted tearfully, “gods damn him for his demon blood in me, but he's the only family I have. I’m so alone, and he doesn't even know if I’m alive.” He buried his face in his hands and sobbed.

    Julene couldn't stand to see his pain and loneliness any more, she had to stop this. The young woman got up on her knees, hiked up her skirt, and swung a leg across the distraught young man’s lap. Calden’s head jerked up in surprise as she sat down astride him with a knee on either side of his hips.

    Julene yanked the magic hat from Calden’s head, revealing his true grey-skinned and tear-stained face. She cupped his handsome angular jawline in her hands and began kissing the salty wetness from his cheeks.

    “Don't do that,” Calden gasped and leaned back, trying to pull away from her, but he ran into the shrine, the tips of his horns scraping against the standing stone. She began to tug at his shirt, pulling it out from where it was tucked into his pants. He moaned, fighting a rising panic and rush of demon-fueled lust. “I - I won't be able to control--. Stop--”

    “I don't want to stop, and you need this. Don't worry my poor lonely demon-spawn,” she said. “I know what I’m getting myself into, and you need, and deserve, to be loved.”

    “But you're--.” Calden began, protesting.

    “What? An innocent farmgirl?” She answered leaning forward to nip at one of his pointed ears, pressing herself against him.

    “You're not the only one with secrets, my poor lonely soul,” She whispered.

    The demonic lust took control and Calden’s conscience evaporated.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2018
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  4. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    I hope she doesn't regret this, but dang, this is what happens when one is starved for entertainment!;)
     
  5. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    LoL!
     
  6. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    Part 3:

    Calden’s rational mind slowly regained consciousness. He was alone, curled into a fetal position on the fragrant Spring grass, physically and emotionally spent, but more at peace than he had felt for years. He was also naked, and covered with a blanket he did not recognize.

    He remembered only flashes of the previous hour. Skin on skin, his dusky grey against her flushed peach as they intertwined. An overwhelming rush of both emotional and sexual release. She’d had no fear of him, and no reservations.

    “Secrets…” he whispered, smelling her scent lingering on the blanket, then sat up to look for his clothes.

    ---

    “Excuse me, miss, but I found this blanket in a field nearby, might it be yours?” Calden asked, standing outside the farmhouse fence holding the quilt.

    The young woman hanging laundry out to dry in front of the farmhouse turned to face him, and out of view of the farmwife sitting on the porch behind her, winked at Calden. “Oh, my, saved by you again, sir, thank you so much.”

    “Did you leave a blanket out in the field after morning prayers again, Jules?” the old woman tisked, looking up from her sewing.

    “How often does it happen?” Calden queried, “that ‘people’ find and return your lost blankets?” He gave a significant look to Julene as she came over to retrieve the blanket.

    “Oh, occasionally,” she replied with a knowing smirk, “this is the first time in many months, but Malene likes to harp me so about it.”

    “Months?” Calden mouthed. How many times had she done with other men what they had done together this morning? Julene just smiled that secret smile again.

    “You left so suddenly last night, we weren't able to thank you properly,” said Halvar, coming around the side of the house with a pail of feed. “Have you had breakfast, son?”

    “I have, and a rather satisfying one too,” Calden heard Julene’s quiet snort of laughter as she turned to take the quilt back to the house. “But I thank you all the same. Is there anything I can do for your good family sir?”

    “We are in your debt already for rescuing Julene from those ruffians, she was almost raped and might have been killed from what she told us last night, you saved her life, and preserved her virtue.”

    Calden choked. He coughed quietly to clear his throat. He didn't want to see what Julene’s reaction to that was, he pointedly didn't look at her. Instead he rested his hands on the waist-high gate, leaning against it and looking down as he spoke.

    “Actually, sir, I have a confession to make--”

    Julene looked up from her laundry basket in a panic.

    “--I realized after bringing Miss Julene home last night that I have been walking a path for many years that could very well have led me to be one of those very ruffians that accosted your daughter. I want to leave that path. I have been inspired to begin to try to make amends by staying around here helping your family for a few days.”

    Calden stood upright, shrugging off his travelling pack and placing it on the ground beside the fence.

    “Are there any tasks you need help with around your farm, sir?” Calden unslung the baldric carrying his pair of sheathed scimitars and added them to the pile of gear. “I grew up in a city, so I do not know much about farm chores besides a bit about caring for horses, but I am able and willing to learn.”

    “I appreciate your honesty, young man,” said Halvar, walking to the gate and reaching across it to clap Calden on the shoulder. “And I would be honored and appreciative of helping you with your penance. Please, come in.”

    The greying farmer opened the gate and welcomed the young stranger to his home with an outstretched hand. Calden clasped it briefly as he entered the gate.

    “So where do you need me?”

    “Well,” Halvar pondered, stroking his bushy salt-and-pepper beard, “help Jules with hanging the laundry, I’ll finish the chores I’ve started in the barn and take a few minutes to decide where best to use you, alright?”

    “Yes, sir” Calden replied, and went over to join Julene by the clothesline.

    “What are you doing?” She muttered sharply as she pinned a blouse to the line.

    “Sticking around for a few days.” He murmured, handing her the next piece of clothing from the basket. “Changing my life.”

    ---

    “Come away with me, Jules,” Calden begged one morning weeks later, as they sat together in the morning sun.

    “I can't,” Julene replied, resting her head on Calden’s shoulder. “Halvar and Malene need my help running the farm, they do not have the money to hire help if I left.”

    “What if I gave them enough money to hire someone?” Calden mused, stroking his lover’s hair. “There was one benefit of my time adventuring with The Creatures, I have a bit of money in the church of Abadar’s vaults.”

    Julene turned to look up at her tiefling lover. “What, a dowry? You're being traditional and asking for my hand in marriage now?” Julene asked, in mock surprise.

    Calden stammered, realising the implication of what he had just proposed. “I- I guess I am? That is, if you want to--?”

    “Shh, I’m teasing,” Julene chuckled. “That may just work, love. Of course I want to.”
    Calden held her tightly, and buried his face in her auburn hair, amazed that he had asked such a question, and more amazed she had accepted.

    “It will mean a long journey to retrieve it,” Calden mused as he released her. “I may not be back for close to two months.”

    “I think I will survive,” Julene smirked, looking up at Calden, “But will you?”

    “I may die of loneliness,” Calden whispered. “But coming back to you will bring me to life again.”
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2018
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  7. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    Author Note:

    The expanded re-written version of this story is somewhat better, but unfinished. The next chapter is the last, and contains major events that will be spoilers for the expanded version. So, if you ever want to read/follow the expanded version without having ending spoilers, go here now: AO3

    If not, the final part will be next...

    You've been warned.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2018
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  8. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    Final Chapter:

    Spring had faded and Summer passed; Autumn had come before Calden was able to make his way back to the lonely road to the farmhouse again. It was night when he arrived, so he stole past the house and went to Julene’s grove to wait for the morning.

    In the pre-dawn light, Calden waited, growing anxious as the morning approached and there was still no sign of Julene. Then he saw her, slowly making her way through the fallen leaves. As she neared the clearing, Calden hid and waited for her to pass.

    As the sun rose, she began to sing, the same hymn for the dawn that had drawn him to her over six months ago. Calden slipped in behind her and joined the song, his strong but rough baritone joining her clear alto. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders from behind and she leaned back into his embrace as they finished the hymn together.

    “I wondered when you would return,” Julene whispered, reaching up to touch Calden’s face, then quickly reached further to yank off his hat and toss it into the trees.

    “Hey, careful with that, it was expensive.” Calden murmured, nuzzling the side of Julene’s neck. “I’m sorry, it took longer than I expected--” Calden cut off abruptly as his arms, attempting to wrap around Julene’s waist, encountered something.

    Calden turned his lover to face him, seeing finally her belly, swollen with child.

    “Dear gods,” he whispered, “please tell me the child isn't mine.”

    “I have been with no one else.” Julene answered him.

    Calden collapsed to his knees, holding his horned head in his hands. “Why, Julene, why would you knowingly keep a demon-spawn child? You know what I am, why condemn another to my misery?”

    “Because it is a life!” Julene answered, kneeling down awkwardly before him, “a child who deserves a chance the same as any.”

    “No child deserves this life,” Calden whispered, pulling at an ebon horn as if wanting to break it off.

    “This one does, because it is yours, and mine.” Julene replied, “and she has a destiny.”

    “She?” Calden asked, “How- how do you know this?”

    “Did the Dawnflower never give your mother council?”

    “Yes, but-”

    “Shh, Secrets.” She said, placing a hand on his lips. “Perhaps one day She will permit me to tell you.”

    They sat in silence for a time.

    “Your father, has he been hard on you?” Calden asked, tentatively reaching out to touch Julene’s belly, still not quite daring to accept that another demon-touched soul was inhabiting the womb before him.

    “I told him that I had sent you a message, and received letters from you, with a pledge of marriage.” Julene explained.

    Calden fumed, “I didn't even have a chance to find a safe place to send letters from. It took me three extra months just trying to evade my former companions so they wouldn't follow me back here. What if I had never returned?”

    “I knew you would return.” Julene explained, kissing Calden tenderly on the forehead. “I was told you would return before the child was born, and that--.”

    “That what? And don't you dare say ‘secrets’.”

    Julene swayed, Calden caught her as she collapsed.

    “Julene! What's wrong?”

    She laughed weakly, wincing and grasping her belly. “You're here, it must be time for the baby.”

    Calden gently laid her down and rushed to retrieve his hat.

    “I will take you home,” he explained, activating the hat’s enchantment. “We will talk of destiny later.”

    Calden gathered up his lady and hurried towards the farmhouse. Fear for her life and the life of their child warred with fear of what the child may look like as he made his way through the woods.

    As they approached the farmhouse, Calden called out for help. Halvar appeared in the doorway of the barn. He dropped his pitchfork and ran to meet Calden as he entered the yard.

    “She says the baby is coming,” Calden explained quickly, the farmer reached to take Julene, but Calden held her close, “no, I’ve got her, where do you want me to take her?”

    “Follow me.” The old farmer said, turning to hurry towards the farmhouse. “It's about time you showed up, son, I was starting to think Jules was making up stories about your promises.”

    “I am so, so sorry for what I have done to your daughter, sir.” Calden said contritely as they entered the farmhouse.

    “Hey, I’m not exactly innocent in this either.” Julene countered breathlessly.

    “I’m just glad you came back to make an honest woman out of her.” The farmer said, clapping Calden on the back. He opened the door to Julene’s room and gestured to the bed.

    Calden laid Julene on her bed as the farmer rushed out to fetch the village midwife.

    Malena hurried in, her arms full of blankets, towels, and other sundries. “Here, boy, make yourself useful now and fetch some water, you remember where the well is?”

    “Yes ma'am,” he looked to Julene, nervous about leaving her.

    “I’ll be OK, Calden,” she said, waving him out. She forced her breathing to be deep and slow. “Do as Mother Malena asks.”

    As he left, he heard the farmwife's worried mutter, “too early...”


    Calden returned with the pail of water and was directed to put it by the fire to heat.
    The midwife soon arrived and shooed the men out into the main room. They waited outside, too nervous to do much more than pace.

    Julene’s occasional moans became suddenly louder. Calden turned to the closed door, ready to burst in.

    “Stay calm, Son,” the farmer said, laying a hand on his shoulder. “You will only be in the way, let the womenfolk handle this.”

    But when Julene let out a full-throated scream, Calden couldn't stay out, he opened the door and stared in horror at the sight. There was blood soaking the blankets and towels beneath Julene’s legs.
    Calden rushed to Julene’s side, taking her hand, she squeezed his hand and screamed again in pain.

    “What’s wrong? Can you do nothing for her?” Calden exclaimed.

    “Patience, boy,” the midwife scolded, “when the child is out, I will pray to Sarenrae and Jules will be healed.”

    Julene screamed again.

    “Here it comes,” the midwife announced, Malena got a towel and blanket ready. The mother and midwife huddled together to receive the child.

    A newborn’s cry filled the room, Calden grinned at Julene, who smiled weakly and collapsed back on the bed, losing consciousness. Calden turned to the midwife, expecting to see her coming to heal Julene.

    Instead, the midwife dropped the wailing bundle on the bed and jumped back. The farmwife screamed in horror, calling out for her husband.

    The farmer rushed in, saw the baby lying on a bundle of bloodied blankets, and grasped Calden by the arm. He pulled the young man away from his semi-conscious adoptive daughter.

    “She has deceived you, son, deceived us all, the child is not yours. She was taken by the demon.”

    Calden refused to be budged, still trying desperately to revive Julene.

    “You,” Calden pointed to the midwife, choking back a hysterical sob. “You are a healer, heal her, she is dying!”

    The midwife backed away, making a sign against evil. “I will not.”

    “Come son, there is nothing we can do,” the farmer explained, pain and sympathy in his voice. “The child and mother must be destroyed or the curse may spread, stay away lest you be cursed as well.”

    Calden’s tears turned into hysterical laughter as he wrenched the magical hat from his head. “Oh it is far, far too late for that.”

    Halvar abruptly released the young man’s arm as the skin beneath his hand shifted to a dark grey color. He looked up to see fiery red eyes blazing beneath a head crowned with glossy black horns.

    The farmer fled in terror, dragging his wife behind him, the midwife following on their heels screaming about a demon destroying them all.

    Calden turned to the frantic infant, trying to urgently remember anything and everything he had ever heard about a newborn. There was a cord to be tied, and the child needed to be cleaned up and kept warm. As he tended to the baby, he saw what had frightened the midwife; it was his child without a doubt. The babe had similar dusky grey skin, a tail, and sharp nubs of horns just above her forehead. He understood now what had caused the blood and pain.

    He awkwardly bundled up the baby and placed it on Julene’s chest, the baby began rooting around in hunger. Calden opened the bodice of Julene’s dress and helped the baby find her breast and latch on.

    They had to get out of there, Julene needed help. Calden suddenly remembered his adventuring gear, left behind in Julene’s grove. He had a couple magical healing potions, would they be enough to save her?
    Calden wrapped the bloodied blanket around Julene and the newborn, and lifted them both. He carried them out of the room and out of the farmhouse.

    “Julene, stay with me, I’m going to get you some help, don't leave me, please.” Calden said as he moved as fast as he could without dropping her.


    He made it to the clearing and laid Julene on the grass where they had spent so many wonderful mornings that Spring. He rushed to search his pack. He fumbled out the pair of small potion bottles and pulled the stopper out of one. He lifted Julene into a reclined position and tilted the potion into her mouth. She stirred a bit and swallowed it.

    Her eyes fluttered open, “Calden,” she said, weakly.

    “I’ve got you, Julene,” he replied, easing her down across his lap.

    “Take care of our baby,” she said, reaching up to caress her lover’s cheek. “She has a great destiny.”

    Calden grabbed her hand and held it tightly.

    “No! I can't care for a child by myself, Julene,” Calden replied, panic rising in his voice. “I need you, don't leave me! I -- I have another potion.”

    Calden grabbed the second bottle and started prying it open.

    “Save it, it will not be enough. This was foretold to me, Calden,” Julene whispered. “Our baby would survive, but I would not. You must be strong, my love.”

    Calden wept.

    “I want to see our baby,” Julene murmured, trying weakly to untangle herself from the blanket.

    Calden unwrapped Julene and lifted her up to lean against his chest. He held on to Julene with one arm and unwrapped the the baby bundle on her lap with the other.

    “She looks like you,” Julene smiled. She stroked the baby’s dark fuzz of hair and fingered the little sharp horns.

    “She has a tail, too,” Calden choked. “The poor cursed child.”

    “Never pity her, Calden, and do not feel guilty,” Julene’s voice faded to barely a whisper. “She will do great things one day, I promise.”

    Julene’s head drooped. She slid sideways. Calden caught her in the crook of his arm and supported her head with his other hand, turning her face to his and kissing her deeply.

    “Goodbye, love,” she whispered. “We will see each other again some day.”

    Calden held her to his chest, sobs wracking his demon-tainted frame.

    “Oh, Calden, look…” Julene gasped as she looked beyond Calden’s shoulder. She happily sighed her last breath.

    A brilliant glow appeared at the edge of the clearing, accompanied by the sound of a flock of doves taking wing. Calden turned to look and was blinded by a suddenly blazing light. He squeezed his eyes shut in pain and turned away. An after-image of a massive humanoid figure with outspread wings remained behind Calden’s closed eyes.

    There was a rustle of dry leaves as someone crouched on the ground beside Calden. The young demon-spawn felt a large pleasantly warm hand rest on his shoulder. A deep harmonious male voice spoke:

    “Be at peace, young mortal. Your trials have been difficult, but your desire for redemption has been true. My Mistress has sent me to retrieve her servant Julene, and to give you aid on your path.”

    “No, please, don't take her away from me.” Calden cried, holding tightly to Julene’s body.

    “She is in the goddesses’ care now, Calden, you must continue, your child needs you.”

    Strong, yet gentle hands took Julene from Calden’s arms, and handed back the small bundle of infant. Calden blinked the tears and fading blindness from his eyes and looked down at his daughter, she was awake, calmly gazing up at him. Her eyes were not his, he realized suddenly, they were her mother's hazel-green.

    “I know nothing about taking care of a baby-,” Calden began, daring to try another look at the visitor.

    He was shocked to silence as he beheld a being he had only read of in Sarenrae’s holy books: Sunlord Thalachos, Herald of the Goddess; it was said he appeared at particularly auspicious births. The angel was crouched beside Calden, Julene’s blanket-shrouded body held in two of his four platinum-hued arms.

    “Take the child to your father, and the temple of Sarenrae, they will help you,” the Herald explained. “Take this to sustain her.” He held out a small bottle filled with what looked like a golden, softly fluorescent milk.

    Calden took the bottle with an unsteady hand.

    “What do I do when it runs out?” He asked, trying to remain calm in the awe-inspiring presence of the Sunlord.

    “It will not.” The Herald smiled peacefully, then looked into the distance, his expression hardening.

    “Go now, the villagers are hunting for you. They will reap their own rewards for forgetting the goddess’ teachings of redemption, and tolerance towards those who truly seek it.”

    The Sunlord gently touched the infant on the forehead with a platinum forefinger, a blazing golden ankh shone there for a moment and then faded. The Herald then rested his hand on Calden’s own demon-horned head. The holy bring didn't even flinch at touching what was a major evidence of Calden’s corrupted blood.

    “The Dawn Brings New Light, Calden,” the Herald said in benediction, “She is with you as long as you remember Her.”

    The Sunlord stood to his full eight feet of glory, spread his metallic silver wings, and launched himself into the air. The angel vanished into the noon-time sun, the flock of doves circled for a moment before vanishing themselves; leaving a more peaceful, yet still broken-hearted man behind.

    ---

    A knock sounded on the small side door of the kitchen wing of the temple, Sister Odene hurried to answer it. Instead of a delivery boy, as she was half-expecting, a tall stranger bundled in an enveloping fur-lined hooded cloak stood in the windswept snow of the courtyard outside.

    “May I come in?” The man asked, his voice somewhat muffled by the layers of clothing protecting him from the frigid air.

    “Of course! All goodly people are welcome in Sarenrae’s temple. Come in out of the cold!” She closed the door behind the stranger and ushered him to the fireplace. They passed a group of young acolytes busy preparing for the noontime meal.

    “Though most goodly people use the front door…?” she continued, with a questioning tone.

    “As kind, and probing, as ever, Sister Odene. Thank you.” The young man chuckled lightly as he stomped slush off of his boots and shook the snow off his cloak.

    “Well, you're welcome, but I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage, young man. Who are you?” As she demanded, the young man pushed back the hood of his cloak.

    The priestess gasped in recognition. “Oh, lad… all grown up, and come back to us.”

    “Where might I find my father?” he asked, removing the heavy cloak. He hung it by the fire, and unwound some of the wrappings around a small bundle slung across his chest, “I need to speak with him as soon as possible.”

    “Oh, probably in his quarters,” the matron answered. “Studying his books. Where is he ever, in the wintertime?”

    “Thank you, Sister.” The young man said, turning to go.

    “Calden?” she asked. The young man paused and looked back over his shoulder.

    “It is good to see you again, lad,” she said with a grin. Calden returned the smile, though his was much less enthusiastic than his mother’s dear friend’s smile had been.

    ---

    A hesitant knock on his door interrupted Jazeel’s review of a treatise on the uses of wolfsbane.

    “Enter,” he called out.

    The handsome man appeared to be in his mid-forties, wearing the long tunic and overcoat of an acolyte of Sarenrae. He placed a bookmark into the tome and stood to greet his visitor. Jazeel nearly collapsed onto his chair again in shock as his long-lost son entered the room. He was carrying a small bundle wrapped in a blanket.

    “Calden? By the gods--. Where-?.”

    Calden went to one knee and bowed his head. “Can you forgive me, father? I have caused you so much heartache. I can only now begin to imagine the loneliness and pain of losing mother, and then losing me as well...” Calden’s voice trailed off into a sob as he collapsed and sat on the floor, hugging the bundle to his chest. “I have caused so much pain to so many...”

    “Oh, Calden,” Jazeel whispered, crouching in front of his son and placing a hand on either of his shoulders. “I’m just happy to have you back, whatever you have done can be redeemed--.”

    A sound came from the blanket in Calden’s arms, the squeaks and burbles of an infant just waking up.

    “What is this?”

    Calden unwrapped the bundle, revealing the three month old demon-touched babe.

    “Your granddaughter.” Calden answered continuing to fight back tears, “I haven't named her yet, I decided to wait and let you have a say. Her mother-,” Calden’s voice faltered, he took a deep breath before continuing. “Her mother did not have a chance to tell me what she wanted to name her.”

    Jazeel held out his arms. Calden obliged and handed the baby to her grandfather. Jazeel sat cross-legged on the floor and gently cradled the baby in the crook of an arm, stroking her soft pinkish-grey cheek and noting her small black nubs of horns.

    “Well, she’s certainly related to us, isn’t she.” Jazeel remarked. The infant turned her head, trying to catch Jazeel’s finger with her mouth.

    Calden dug into a pouch on his belt and retrieved the mystical bottle. “Here, she's hungry,” he said, handing the bottle over.

    Jazeel accepted the bottle. But stopped and studied it, swirling its contents in fascination until the baby fussed and reached for it.

    “Oh, sorry dear one, here you go. Please, tell me everything, Calden, where have you been, where is the child’s mother?” Jazeel asked as he fed the softly glowing bottle to his granddaughter.

    Calden nodded and took a steadying breath.

    ---

    “I need you and the temple to take care of her,” Calden begged, his tale told. He paced the room, his pain and sorrow had become an agitated nervous energy as he had confessed his nearly five years of misadventure. Ending with the birth of his daughter and his journey home to Kenabres.

    “I can’t take care of her right now, maybe not ever. I have too much to atone for. I am enlisting in the next company of crusaders. Maybe I can find redemption in the Crusade.”

    “This child needs her father, Calden.” Jazeel countered, rocking the now sleeping infant. “You told me yourself what you have been informed, by the goddess’ Herald himself, about her destiny.”

    “Destined birth or not, it's still my fault Julene’s dead, if I had not met her, had not gotten her with child, she would still be alive, and untainted by infernal blood.” Calden mourned.

    “Not necessarily, son.” Jazeel replied, “I know of that village, actually, I did not want to interrupt your story, but some years ago I transcribed a traveling priest’s mission report for the temple archives. He had been called out to investigate a rumor of a demon plaguing the village, he found none. What he did find digging through their own records was that the village was originally settled over 300 years ago by a small group of retired adventurers seeking a quieter, simpler life. One of that group was half-succubus. Her demonic blood has probably spread through most of that village over the generations. The demon-touched births there aren't because of any haunting, they’re simply the villagers’ own bloodlines occasionally combining with just enough potency that demonic traits emerge. No matter who your Lady had a child with, the baby could have turned out to be just as much a tiefling as this one.”

    Calden shook his head as he paced once more across the small room. “It doesn't matter, it's still my fault. Dear Gods, how many other children of mine might there be be out there? Killed at birth, or caused their mothers’ deaths, or living a life of pain and squalor?”

    “At least your partners were willing,” Jazeel said. “That is, I’m hoping you never…?”

    “No, never. Most were paid,” Calden admitted. “But never forced. I can't say the same for my companions' relations though.”

    “Then in that alone you have less to atone for than I did,” Jazeel replied, consolingly. “Do you think I felt prepared - or worthy - to be a father? Incubi are not exactly known for their patience and compassion. There's a reason I let your grandfather take care of you as much as he did -not that I could have stopped him from doting on you- I was completely overwhelmed by the responsibility; though I did have your mother, and our friends here at Sarenrae’s temple for support.”

    “I can’t, Father.” Calden insisted once more. “That support is here for you, and will be here for her, maybe I can come back some day and be the father she deserves, but right now, my conscience just won't let me.”

    “Very well, I will care for her,” Jazeel said, taking a deep breath and letting it out in a rush.

    The tap of Calden’s soft boots as he continued to pace was the only sound for a few minutes before Jazeel spoke again.

    “Do you know yet what to name her?”

    “No,” Calden replied, finally coming to a stop beside his father and joining him in gazing thoughtfully at the babe. “I thought about naming her after her mother, or my mother, but the names didn't seem to fit. Do you have an idea?”

    “I do, actually,” said Jazeel, stroking his granddaughter’s soft dark auburn hair that surrounded but didn't quite hide her budding demon horns. “Malakh’mu’baraka.”

    “That's a mouthful.”

    “It’s Kelish, your grandmother’s people, it means ‘blessed by an angel’.”

    Calden let out a mild snort at the incongruity of a demon-spawn child with an angelic name, but nodded in agreement.

    “I like it, it is truth.”
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
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  9. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    I enjoyed your story's themes, such powerful ones of redemption and righteousness, and the depictions of self-righteousness of the midwife et al. Good luck, little “Malakh’mu’baraka.”:)
     
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  10. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
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  11. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    A very engaging and intriguing tale, with some mighty fine characterization and worldbuilding—you really are quite something at painting the full cultural picture of alien species/races, and you have a very nice knack for romance, too! [face_love] I know nothing at all about this universe, but the title of the piece intrigued me—taken from Arabic, right? (Mal'akh is "angel" in Hebrew, too.) I found Calden's backstory really fascinating, with his demon dad who wants to learn, in a very scholarly way, what true love is as opposed to demonic lust—it looks like Calden is carrying on that same struggle between those feelings with his mixed incubus-human heritage, and you've done a great job bringing his inner conflicts and feelings to life here. Calden and Julene's encounter turns into a very sweet and tender romance; in a way they're kind of "meeting each other halfway." That "demon" who's gained a reputation for seducing young women in the forest turns out to be a very caring lover, and that sweet farmgirl-priestess who accepts Calden even as he is also turns out to have a real passionate side to her (it's interesting that she is the one who initiates things). They have so much to learn from each other about what this whole love thing is, which makes Julene's death in childbirth all the sadder. But little Mala will have a caring home all the same in the temple with her grandfather—it's a wonderful bonus to see the wise and well-spoken Jazeel reappear at the very end to become her guardian. Even though her parents' romance was tragically cut short, it looks like Mala is off to a hopeful start, and I'd be curious to see more of her story! (Indeed, I noticed a few more of your stories about her on AO3, and I also took a peek at the uncut version of this story. ;) )

    Wonderful work yet again, and thanks so much for sharing—always a treat to read your work! =D=
     
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