Essays:
Kin
Background

Player: Adrian
Race: Human (Abnoctim)
Class: Transmuter 1/Rogue 7/Fey Friend 1
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Size: Medium
CL: 9
Age: 26
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 170 lbs.

60 NORMAL
17
TOUCH
13
FLAT
14
ARMOR WORN
Mithral shirt

STR 11 +0 FORT +2 +4 Base Attack: +5 "Steel Leaf" +1 deadly precision dagger
+1 human bane firelock pistol
+1 paralyzing firelock pistol
Mithral shirt
Dust of tracelessness
Marvellous pigments
Sandals of the Shifting Sands

Queen Lulea's wings
Pixie darts x10
Tindertwigs x10
Sunrods x3
Vial of antitoxin
DEX 16 +3 REF +7 +10 Initiative: +7
CON 14 +2 WILL +6 +5 Speed: 30 ft.
INT 16 +3 BASE MOD
WIS 9 -1
CHR 14 +2
BASE MOD
Ranks Only:
Bluff 5
Craft (alchemy) 5
Craft (cooking) 2
Craft (paiting) 5
Decipher Script 5
Disable Device 11
Escape Artist 11
Gather Information 5
Hide 9
Knowledge (arcana) 5
Knowledge (geography) 1
Knowledge (history) 1
Knowledge (Sol-Fatara) 5
Knowledge (nature) 9
Knowledge (nobility) 1
Move Silently 9
Open Lock 11
Perform (oratory) 5
Search 11
Sleight of Hand 12
Speak Language (Abishaim) Spellcraft 7
Survival 5
Tumble 9
Able Learner
Exotic Weapon Proficiency (firearms)
Improved Initiative
Nymph's Kiss
Leadership
Scribe Scroll
Weapon Finesse
Talqavist's Blessing: speak with animals
Languages: Common, Draconic, Sylvan, Endict
+3 saves vs. spells and spell-like abilities (racial + Nymph's Kiss)
Spellpool
Transmuter Variant: Enhance Attribute
Transmuter Variant: Transmutable Memory
Barred Schools: evocation, enchantment
Sneak attack +4d6
Evasion
Trap sense +2
Uncanny dodge (Dex bonus to AC)
Jest

0-level
Acid Splash
Arcane Mark
Detect Magic
Detect Poison
Disrupt Undead
Ghost Sound
Mage Hand
Mending
Message
Open/Close
Prestidigitation
Read Magic
Repair Minor Damage
Resistance
Silent Portal
Touch of Fatigue
1st Level
Benign Transposition
Critical Strike
Enlarge Person
Expeditious Retreat
Guided Shot
Mordenkainen's Buzzing Bee
Reduce Person
Shield
True Strike

Scrolls
Enlarge person (CL2) x1
Mordenkainen's buzzing bee (CL1) x2
Shield (CL1) x1
True strike (CL1) x1
Message (CL1) x2
Mage hand (CL1) x2
Wands
Detect magic (CL1) (23 charges)
True strike (CL1) (49 charges)
Potions
Cure serious wounds (3d8+13) x2
Lesser restoration
Protection from energy (130 minutes)
Sheltered vitality (13 minutes)

XP Reserve: 736 XP

"I have never felt more distant from your people than I do today, Beroth. Not even when I was safely cloistered behind the walls of the Collegium. Not even when I was riding through the streets of Fanal-Tîrun in a carriage pulled by spirits of air. Your Festival of Triumphant Dawn is a wonder... my people have no celebrations of great victories.

"Your people live your religion, Beroth. You breathe it. If I understand your teachings correctly, you even walk on it since Sol-Fatara was a gift to your people from Elai. When you walk in the sunlight and feel it warm your limbs, you know the embrace of your god and know that you are important in some way.

"For my people, things are very different. We debate our god. We use complicated hypotheses and logical arguments and we arrive at a consensus that works until it doesn’t. Some of us even question if Esus even really exists.

"Yes, I know, Esus is tied to Elai, so logically Esus must exist. That is your perspective. But imagine mine. I cannot feel Esus. I cannot see her. Some would say that makes my faith stronger than yours since I do not have my god reassuring me every dawn... no, I would not say that. Calm down, Beroth.

"That is another thing about you Fatarim: so emotional, so connected. If I—let me start over. If an Azalim were to say that Sheverash was a chamberpot that had been too long unemptied, he would find himself surrounded by angry Fatarim in an instant, and he would be lucky to keep his skin attached to his bones. If that same Azalim were to say that Dabu-Nareen was that same neglected chamberpot, a few Abnoctim would laugh at his cleverly-worded jest. A few others would dismiss him as a crude person. Still others might actually have pride enough to call him to task over it. Most would probably see it as an invitation to debate.

"Do you see the difference?

"No. We are not cowards. We are... alien. How is that? It means 'stranger'. We are a race of strangers.

"Look at our cities and our colleges. They are constructed the say way:

"Over here, Bowgentle. Over there, Dabu-Nareen. Still further, Finilmandil. Scattered and isolated. Strangers to each other.

"As the cities, our people:

"I can tell you who my three-times-great grandfather was, but I cannot remember my grandmother’s face. I can find Viscachün on a map but I cannot tell you what my mother likes to eat for breakfast. Or what my father thinks about when he smokes. Or the names of all my half-brothers.

"Viscachün: it is in the Grey Jungles up the River Shator from Saman Sur. In the south. Yes, much further than the Lake of Steam.

"I know that because while you were coddled by your family in a shack and taught the songs of your people, I was studying old scrolls, alone, in a library built by a dead race.

"I am hungry, Beroth. Let us retire to the mess tent.

"Something else before we go: you and I are committed to the same cause, Beroth, and we are almost friends, but if you call my people 'cowardly' again we will be 'not-friends.' I am exquisitely serious when I say these words. Good, let us go."

Puzzles

Joff Tenn’s meeting room was large by Fatarim standards, but Joff was a man who liked the better things. Luxuriant tapestries extolling the virtues of (ironically) the simple act of farming kept the room warm and adorned the walls. Dark wooden columns flanked the approach to Joff’s immense teak desk. The only light in the room was a small oil lamp on the desk. A play to Joff’s vanity, he liked how it made his face glow when he spoke to his subordinates, rather how he imagined the face of El’i to beam in Solaris. An unsheathed longsword that lay atop the desk’s neatly-stacked reports and communiqués was a recent addition, however, and Joff’s hand resting upon it betrayed that Solaris was the furthest thing from his mind at the moment.

Joff, a former landowner who had left his substantive country farm-estate to join the Fatarim Resistance, had been selected to ascend to the leadership of Brightest Dawn, the innermost circle of the Resistance, based in the (more or less) safe haven of Sheverash. Unfortunately for Joff, his predecessor, Dulcider Hannen, had taken more than a few secrets to the grave with him when he fell off a ladder while fixing his roof. Joff had wished many times since that old Dulcider had accepted the aid of the priest of Virtus who had arrived on the scene, but the old patriot had refused the blessing of any god but El’i (whose priest the Azalim had placed under house arrest).

Joff had been heard to describe his inheritance of Dulcider’s position as finding an unmarked box full of jumbled puzzle pieces: he didn’t know how many puzzles there were, how many pieces each was supposed to have, or if there were pieces missing.

So when Joff heard that Beroth had returned to Sheverash after three years on the “front” in Fanal-Tîrun with, of all things, an Abnoctim wizard in tow, he was confused but not altogether surprised.

“You’re telling me you were on some mission for old Dulcider all this time…”

Dutifully, Beroth, the handsome mountain of a man, bowed his head and intoned, “El’i light his soul…” at the mention of his former leader.

“…that somehow involved convincing the Collegium to give us a helping hand? You were not to report back until you had succeeded, and only then to the head of the resistance, and only then would you receive further instruction. El’i’s Warmth, Beroth! This is enough to crease the brow of Seviamos Himself!” Joff’s dark eyes flashed with mingled outrage and incomprehension.

Beroth rumbled, “When old Dulcider said to ‘jump’, you asked how high on the way up, Joff. That was the kind of respect he commanded.” Joff decided to ignore Beroth’s implied insult.

“The man waiting in your,” Beroth struggled to find the right word, but gave up and continued with, “…waiting room is Nerenethos, a powerful wizard, a master alchemist, and a quick study of everything else.”

Joff thought, “But why would Dulcider turn to outsiders?,” but said, “Very well, tell me of this person you were sent to recruit.”

“Well…” Beroth’s voice trailed away for an instant, and Joff snapped at the hesitation to relieve his growing unease.

“’Well’ what? Don’t dawdle, Beroth. What about this wizard?”

“Well, most of what I know about him is from what he told me. It’s…pretty queer stuff, if you ask me, but maybe those wizard-folk all have strange lives. They aren’t like us, I know that.” Beroth paused for a moment to collect his thoughts (such as they were), during which time Joff slowly counted to ten.

“Nerenethos was born in the elfland, in the eastern part near a witch’s wood. His father is the Abnoctim ambassador to the Azalan Empire…”

At this point Joff’s ears perked up and he started paying attention.

“…and his mother is an alchemist, which I suppose is where he learned. He claims he grew up playing with…umm…” Beroth looked embarrassed for a moment, but continued, “fey-folk and the like. He actually calls himself ‘the Fey’.”

Eyebrows raised, Joff said, ”That’s not possible, the gnomes have been gone for over two-hundred and sixty years. This wizard is a liar.”

“No, he said that they weren’t gnomes, but pixies and centaurs and satyrs and…umm…woodmen…and…well, other kinds of faeries, so he claims. He…umm…” seeing Joff’s hand tense spastically in irritation near the longsword hilt convinced Beroth to forge ahead as quickly as possible. “…was kidnapped by a giant, and wants it to be clear that every six years he will have to be excused from his duties to go tell a dragon bedtime stories. His weapons and armor were given to him by sprites, and they can make him larger or smaller. He once sneezed so hard he was invisible for a week and had to find some kind of special wine to get made natural again. He tricked the queen of the grigs into loaning him her wings for a day, but when rats attacked her pumpkin palace he had to give them back; he feels she still owes him half a day. He used to go fishing in the sky and had a chariot made from a potato.”

Joff was dumbfounded. When Beroth left for Fanal-Tîrun three years ago, he was a competent, respected, devout man. Joff didn’t know what to make of the man standing before him spouting fairy-tale nonsense. Eventually, he merely said, “Is there anything else, Beroth?”

“That more or less ends the strangeness…although Nerenethos is always telling more stories. Lately they’re about the Kingdom of Frogs… Umm, anyway, his father sent for him in Azalan, and Nerenethos had to go to a special kind of school called a “fostering”. He met his half-brother Nimlinor there, who is also at the Collegium in Fanal-Tîrun, but he didn’t seem to care…about much at all, I guess. They had some sort of argument when Nerenethos left.

"Nerenethos does not talk about his time in Azalan, but I spoke to some of the servants who accompanied him from the fostering. It’s some kind of tradition those wizard-folk have, I guess it makes them better wizards, but I think it’s just creepy how they leave their mothers like that. And it ain’t natural how the moms and dads don’t live together…

"He speaks fondly of his dad, but when he does he often touches a strange curved stick he carries on his hip. I cannot determine what purpose it serves, I can only guess it is a wizard’s wand of some sort. He was at this fostering for eight years, when he was sent to the Collegium. I made contact with Neren the Fey a few months after his arrival.”

“'Neren the Fey'? That doesn’t sound like a wizard’s name at all…Beroth, I hope this is getting to a point where you’re going to tell me how we can use this man.”

“Well, Joff, I think that’s going to be your job to decide, seeing as you’re the leader now,” Beroth growled.

Joff decided that rising to Beroth’s bait was the wrong thing to do, that leaders should be calm at all times, and he patiently waited for Beroth to act on his last instruction. After a tense, silent moment, Beroth continued.

“Nerenethos was easy to approach, and he seemed to really care about our plight. He said it was like his home in elf-land, although then he started talking about a bunch of other stuff that didn’t make sense. You get used to that crazy-talk after a while. By way of helping, he started making all manner of strangeness for the Tîrunim cell, and showed me how to use it. I said these things were magic, but he laughed and said they were just alchemy. Bags of something stickier than honey, sticks that glow or make fires or make smoke, even a liquid fire. My contact in the Tîrunim cell was happy, but I never revealed my source…”

And thus claimed credit for your dupe’s work, surely,” thought Joff.

“…but he was found out by his wizard-school and made to leave, so he lived with me for a time in Tîrun…we started going on small missions together…I thought he’d be a burden like you think of wizards with their robes and frippery, but Nerenethos had faerie armor and everything. One time, when the Azalim were going to hang one of us, he rigged the trap door to open beneath the hangman instead of beneath our man when the lever was pulled. Then one time we were all talking about how much we needed to get the guard captain’s seal. For weeks we knew we needed it. One day Neren the Fey walks in and tells me to open my mouth, and E’li burn me if he didn’t pull that seal out from under my tongue!”

Joff’s brow creased further. “So is he a thief? Or a wizard? I don’t understand, Beroth.”

“He calls himself a ‘saboteer’, whatever that is. And it’s not easy to understand Nerenethos, Joff. He’s…different. On the trip out here he demanded that we rest for a day by a spring because he had to try to paint a picture of it. With the Azalim road wardens hot on our trail, he pulls out a piece of paper and starts drawing a tree. It was a pretty sight, sure, but there wasn’t time! But…well…Neren started talking in gibberish to this tree…”

“What do you mean by ‘gibberish’?”

“Well, it was some magic-speak…he opened his mouth and made noises that made me all sad inside, but I didn’t know why, like if I had missed the best sermon ever because I wasn’t paying attention…it made me think of my ma’s strawberry pie and how she used to make it for me when I was a kid, and how much I missed her…”

Joff straightened his throat to get Beroth’s attention.

“…but the weird thing was that the tree seemed to talk back to him. Anyway, Neren talked to the tree for so long, we got captured. There we were locked into a wagon, and all of a sudden Neren starts mumbling and making all manner of weird movements, and then pulls out the keys to unlock us. As we were getting away, we got spotted and the wagon came after us, but then all four wheels fell off at the same time and we got away…that was two nights ago, and now here we are.”

Joff toyed with his longsword and thought for a moment before saying, “It sounds like this Nerenethos, or Neren the Fey, or whatever he calls himself, is a liability. You say he’s got some talents, but we can’t have our missions in danger because he wants to talk to a bug or whatever. Send him away, Beroth. I don’t care where he goes.”

“I’m not your doorman, Joff, and old Dulcider (E’li light his soul) had some purpose in looking for wizard-folk help. You should at least meet him for yourself.”

Joff considered for a moment the change in Beroth in the last three years. His time in Fanal-Tîrun seemed to have hardened him somewhat. If he could get Beroth more on his side of things, he could be a huge asset in the resistance once more. E’li save Dulcider, but these hidden plans…these blank puzzle boxes…were starting to wear on Joff. Still, if it meant placating Beroth…

“It is true what you say, Beroth. For Dulcider’s sake, I should at least meet him.”

Beroth again bowed his head and intoned, “E'li light his soul.”

“’…and illume his way forevermore,’ I believe is how that prayer ends,” finished a strange voice from the rear of the room.

In a blur of motion, Joff Tenn was on his feet, the naked longsword seeming to have leapt from the desktop to his hands without crossing the space in between. As his eyes vainly tried to pierce the shadows near the doorway, he noticed Beroth had not drawn a weapon but was instead just rolling his eyes ruefully.

The voice continued, this time much closer. “No need for that, Joff. Although there is need for adequate and varied reading material in your anteroom…it got really boring out there waiting. And you should oil your door hinges once in a while; it took a cantrip to get them to open without creaking.”

Unnerved by Beroth’s strange reaction to the disembodied voice that addressed him so familiarly (and how he seemed to be mouthing the word “anteroom” as if to memorize it), Joff circled the desk warily but could only stutter, “W-who goes there? I demand that you show yourself!”

“Who am I? Oh, I opine that would be obvious to even the oblivious…” from behind the column not two feet to Joff’s right stepped an unhandsome young man with a delighted twinkle in his eye and a strangely sweet smile across his crooked face.

To Joff’s surprise, the absurd but vaguely discomforting figure clad in purple and blue made an elaborate, low bow from the waist, right hand tucked behind his back, left hand sweeping out grandly.

“…I’m Neren the Fey.”