#2103

Our current DnD campaign isn’t over yet but I’m already working on my next character because ideas! Her name is Selene and she is a siren (ie killer mermaid) cursed to remain trapped in a human-shaped body, thus preventing her from being with her kin in the ocean. She has none of her siren powers, but she makes up for that by basically being an anthropomorphic shark. I LOVE HER ALREADY.

Name: Selene (in Common)
Race: Siren (homebrew based on water genasi stats)
Age: Sub-adult
Gender: Female
Orientation: Hella gay, just so so gay for pretty ladies
Class: Barbarian
Primal Path: Berserker
Alignment: Chaotic neutral
Intelligence: Mid-low
General physical description: About 5’4″, very slim but well muscled, body somewhat “androgynous” (not very curvy, kinda flat-chested), blueish-gray skin similar to shark skin, completely black eyes, long straight black hair, teeth shaped and in rows like a shark’s, pointed ears
Dress style: Selene is used to being naked and therefore doesn’t like to feel confined by clothing, so she wears as little as possible and what she does wear is very open and flowing; she doesn’t wear shoes or anything else restricting, nor does she need to given her tough skin; she does bear lots of gold and silver piercings in her ears/lips/nose/eyebrows/etc because sirens like shiny things
Weapons: Teeth, claws, shark tooth club that slings across her back, barnuckles (brass knuckles made out of barnacles)
Hobbies: Sinking ships, eating people, playing with her sisters and other sea creatures, sunning on rocks, exploring shipwrecks
Positive personality traits: Curious, brave, headstrong, physically affectionate, easily attached to people or things, open-minded and accepting in a semi-oblivious way
Negative personality traits: Petulant, vengeful, short-sighted, self-centered, spicy but short-lived temper
Sense of humor: Dark; siren humor is like “haha, look, you thought we were pretty ladies but we’re actually scary monsters who are gonna drown you!”
How other people see her: Like a literal monster most of the time since she doesn’t have very good manners and is basically a land shark, or maybe as just a particularly weird water jenasi; she doesn’t easily endear herself to others since she’s more wild creature than human being
Opinion of herself: Generally high; sirens aren’t big on self-reflection
Religion: None – though sirens do respect the sea goddess Umberleigh (aka The Bitch Queen), as it was she who first created them in her bitchy likeness
Background: Selene was just a typical young siren, singing songs and sinking ships, until she sank the wrong ship and the brother of one of the dead sailors cursed her to remain trapped in a semi-human form; until she breaks the curse she can’t return to her home and has none of her siren powers, hence why she has to depend on her body’s physical attributes (strength, dexterity, sharp teeth, etc) when fighting
Reason for adventuring: To find the wizard who cursed her and eat him make him remove the curse, then eat him
Philosophy of life: Eat or be eaten; also, finder’s keepers, losers weepers
Most important thing to know about this character: Although she’s a chaotic monster who literally eats humans, she’s also a young creature away from her home and family in a totally unfamiliar world
Other random facts: She’s good at mimicking sounds; she has little fear of creatures larger than herself; she’s basically always hungry, and will eat almost anything; she’s very distrustful of men; when she gets really worked up she has a harder time speaking Common; she has absolutely no qualms about lying
Other belongings: Her only real belongings of value are all of her piercings, since most of those are gold or silver; she did steal a pack from someone who tried to capture her and therefore also has a waterproof pipe tobacco set, a whittling set, a guilded dragon tooth, something called “the captain’s ring”, a jar of breathe fire, ever-ready tinder, a mini machinists chest, a lake iron hunting knife, an ironwood club, and something called “kindred crow call”

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#2077

I can’t believe I haven’t talked about all the fun (ie terrible) things Mage has done in our recent DnD sessions! As you may recall, our DM and I killed off my magical girl warlock Dhashi and resurrected my psychopathic villain Mage into her body. Mage is theoretically there to help the others complete their quest to defeat the evil god Bezos, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have some fun (and irritate her party members workplace associates) on the way. For example…

  • While fighting a horde of zombies, she ripped the arm off of one and used it to beat its head into a pulp
  • She has used Shatter and Eldritch Blast several times to make enemies explode
  • When the group found themselves trapped by a thieves guild, she used Misty Step to teleport behind their leader and cut her throat (specifically in such a manner as to incapacitate the woman but ensure she died a slow and extremely painful death, which my wife was happy to describe in great medical detail*)
  • She beguiled two guards into leading the group to a secret catacomb entrance, then forced the guards to come along in case they needed someone to “test” the traps and wards
  • After one of the guards burned to death doing just this, she cut his arm off and used it to continue safely triggering traps
  • She also might have looted a locket from him with pictures of his kids inside; too bad, so sad
  • She tried to fight another PC who is waaaay above her level and immediately lost, but got a sick sidecut in the bargain so no hard feelings there
  • She convinced the goddess of the ocean to defeat some enemies for them and in return told the goddess she could destroy a town full of innocent people
  • She bought a jug that can produce anything; she used it to produce BEES and then set them free in a tavern for funzies (and before you ask, it wasn’t even that many bees, thirty is not a lot of bees, please tell my DnD group that)

*Yes, I asked my wife the best way to cut someone’s throat and she answered immediately because she’s AMAZING

#2074

“You wanted to see us, ma’am?” Mage and Mercer stood before the Raven Queen’s throne, the gunslinger with his hands clasped respectfully behind his back and the witch using one of her smaller throwing knives to pick something from her teeth. The goddess nodded and gestured to the nearby scrying bowl. Its surface rippled and revealed three travelers: a goliath, a fire jenasi,and an aasimar in a hideously frilly dress. “Yes. I have assignments for you both. Bezos grows far too bold and I find his antics distasteful. I have seen that he will slay one of the cursed ones, the girl, and while I cannot stop this action I can at least counter it with one of my own. Mage, once the deed is done I shall place you temporarily in her body to act as my Champion on the mortal plane until Mercer has finished training her to take your place.”

“NICE,” Mage pumped the air with her knife and grinned triumphantly at Mercer. “Suck it, I get a body again.” Mercer rolled his eyes and retorted, “I didn’t say nothin’, did I?” and then more softly under his breath, “Be nice to have a little peace ‘n quiet ’round here anyhow.”

“Mercer,” the Raven Queen interrupted before the conversation completely derailed, “are you prepared to guide another through the training? And quickly?” The gunslinger touched the brim of his hat. “Yes ma’am.”

“Good. And Mage…” The goddess hesitated, considered the fact that Mage wouldn’t follow 99% of the rules and precautions given her anyway, then said only, “Just keep them alive until she’s ready. And try not to murder too many people while you do it, please. The paperwork is horrendous.”

“Murder everyone,” The witch flashed double fingerguns and a wicked smile. “Can do, boss lady.”

“You’re dismissed,” The Raven Queen waved them away and as her two Champions disappeared down the twisting corridor beyond her throne room, their bickering voices growing fainter, she rested her chin on her hand with a weary sigh. “Sometimes I wonder at the souls I choose to surround myself with,” she muttered under her breath. “This is a gamble, to be sure.”

.

T̷̗̪͈̻̈́̎͛́̀͆̇̚h̵̘͕́̓̔͝e̸̡̲͎̪͇̹̖͂ņ̸̼̠̦̣͚͂̐̎͗͒̔̾̋̀̆͂͑ ̶̛͈̣̙̱̦̘̩͚̺͚̒̾͆ͅw̴̢͍̮̜̞̖͙̦̠̦͚͓͗͋̈́̂̏͝͠h̸̢̧̥̫̣͈̪̦̝͉̘͈͙͂́̃̍̉̌̔̑y̴̛͎̬̬͌̀̔͛̾̂͑̑͊͐̎͑̕ ̵̢̧̘̪͇͋̏̊͒̕͝͝n̸̩͓͎̮͙͕̩̮̤͖͉̱̓ȍ̷̬͕͇̖̮͉͍̜̊͑̾́͌͑̔͐͗͋̑̍͘͝ẗ̴̟̻̹̳̝̩͉̖̩̤̽̂́̍͜ ̸̱̣̺͉̖̣͓͉͝͠s̴̠̟̝͗̈́̿̈͐̌̓̌̿̉̕̕͠͠͝e̴̛̼̲̔͆̃͊̕̕n̸͔̤͔̣̭͂͊̃̾̏͛̌̌͑̎͝d̸̤̝͔͍̲̯͒ ̵̡̨̪͕̯̠̹͕̘͙̰̲͙̲̻̿͊̒̉̈́̂̅͗͘͠m̴̠̈͊̈̀́̌͑͗ę̵̛̱̜̫̦̟̹̞̦̯̩́͑̌̽̂̄̊͒̈́̈͛͘͠?̶̡̛̛̥͙̖͚̙̭͇͖͓̺̈́͒͑̀̕͘͜͠ ̶͚̲̙͎͙̦͚̓̋I̸̗̣̣̖̺̙̣͚̤̙̱͒̔̍̓̋͐̈ͅ ̶̜̫̀̽͗̃͌͛̄̎̍̒̚c̸̡͖͓̙͖̱̺͇̳̯̩̰̈̃̌̓͐́̈́̆͘̚̚͝o̶̺͉̬̞͕͠ṵ̴̺͇͌̏̄͌͒̏̀͘͝͠l̸̪̋d̶̡̡͍͖̲͔̱̘͍̣̹̣̗̗̊̐̓͆̈̀̉̓́̈́̚ ̷̘̍̽̃͌͑̈́̏͝h̴̛̫̥͖̙̤͙̲̪̣͊͌̒̊̔̄a̷̯̮͙̪͋́̏̾̌̋͌͒̋͂͛̆̈́̕͠v̵̨̡̲̪̩͚̲̥̩͉͈͊̍̔̍͋͊͆̏͐̕͘͝ẽ̶̡̧̡̢̨̜̰̝̯̝͓͎͓͐͠ͅͅ ̷͇̝̺͎͚͇̫͔̻̱̥̯̾̿̍ͅţ̶̧̨͍͔͉̼͇͚̟̞̥͛h̸̨̨͍̟͍͇͔̥͚̳͖̙̳̬̖̃̃̌̐̎̂̈́̉͝͠e̸̻̮̙̗͓̥͉̣̿̒ͅ ̸̡̢̭̫̥͓̯͚̘̱̰̞̦̩̊͂̋̈̔̄͜t̸̨̫̲̙̼̼̜̮͈̓̈́̅͌͒̎̍̐̂͆͠h̵̡͓̜̳̞̹͐̀̊̐̂͑̽͛͘͜į̵̞̯̙̝̰̮̬͓̦̄̽̓͌ņ̴̢̡̛̪̜̠̥͖͉̬́͝ǧ̶̡̢̧̛̣͕̪͉͔͈̰̞̝̳̾̔̑̐ ̷͔̲̻́̒̑̄͝d̵̰̠̦̱̼̟͈͔̯̃͐͘ö̸̳̻͎͖͙͍͖́͋̀̑̾̐̂͂̅͌̾̔͠͝͝ņ̶̛͙͉͍̟̭̲̱͚̖̜̯̀̋̿͊̓́́̒̕͜͝ë̶̢͉̮̱̝̬͖̹̥͎̣̈̔̓̍̓̓̆̏̓̅̔̕͠ ̷̛̳̬͉͚͕̼̰̘͕̑̿́͊̐̄̉̚ͅį̴̘͗̍̽ń̷̠̪̖͚̮̆̔̒̊̃͑̒̿̿̀͘̚͝ ̸̡̩̼̖͓͎̞̣̠͒̐́̂̽̈́͗͘a̵̡͕̗͛͜ ̵̨̞͕͙͔̰̫̺͖̥̮̞̃͐͂̄̂̌͗̓̋̊̚̕͝h̶̢̞̬̫̘̪̙̙͑͗͂̋̂̒̍̐͜e̶͚͉͎͕̠̱̟̪̣̰̘͓̐͐͒͒̓̀̑̂͊͛́͗̍͝͝ͅä̵̮̞̦̥̖̗̻̭̼̣̞̮́̈́̔͑̊͗̽͋r̶̢̛͕̦̝̽̔̃͒̊̈́̃̍̚̕̚t̵̡̢̛̹̱̬̥̞̖̱͇̬̜̽̿͐̓̂͌͂̕͠b̵̡̨̗̠̦̥͇̞̬̥̹̮̮͛͐͌͛͊ͅͅḝ̶̦̲̙̠̱̰̹̇̓͋͊̌̏̇̉̏͘̚͘ͅa̷̟̰̮̺̓̆̊̍̓͒͠t̶̢̛̮̖͓̳̪̜̙͕̱͓̭̠̄̽̌̉̄̏̔̕͝ͅ.̸͙̖̟̱̪͙͈͖̲͉͗̈́̀͒̊̒́͆̔́̑͂̎͒̈͜
.

The voice isn’t audible in the chamber, nor is it spoken into the Raven Queen’s mind; she hears it on some other, deeper level, and it makes her go cold. Her eyes flicker to the sealed door beyond which rests the locked, warded, and thrice-blessed coffin. “You know I’m not fool enough to set you free for such a simple task,” she replies to the empty air, feigning the same casual manner in which she spoke with the other Champions. “If they fail and Bezos is victorious… perhaps. Until then, you stay put.”

.

F̴̯̟̗̼̻͇̄̋͑̏͆̐̌̑̒͘̚͠͝ơ̸͔͙͉̖̦̅́͐̏̀̓͝r̵͓̤̱͎̺̥͎̘͙̲͚̪͔̹̈́̐̑̌̿̂̕ ̷̛͙͓͈̮͇͓̿̈́̀̾͆͐̐̆̾́̈́̀͜͠ņ̵͈̳̣̻̫̺͖̎̀̚͝ơ̷̡̡͖̼͚̗̈͛͛́̽̽̃̓͝w̵̖͋͆.̴̧͔͎̫̥̺̌͗̓
.

#2072

[ This follows the scene with Dhashi and the scrying bowl ]

“Hey there, little one. Yer Dhashi, right?”

“Oh!” Dhashi, kneeling on the cold stone floor, lifted her head from her hands and wiped at the steadily falling tears. In the doorway stood a tall man wearing the usual uniform of a gunslinger, complete with brimmed hat and sarape. If Overwatch existed in this universe, Dhashi would have noticed he looked extremely similar to McCree; but it doesn’t, so she didn’t. “Y-yes,” she replied, getting unsteadily to her feet. “Who are you? Where’s the Raven Queen?”

“The name’s Mercer. She sent me to show you around, get you settled and stuff,” He took a step into the room, figuring the girl had had enough scares for one day and not wanting to alarm or overwhelm her. “That okay?” Dhashi glanced back at the basin, her only link to the world she had just been ripped from. “But… my friends…” Mercer came a few steps closer and laid a hand lightly on her shoulder. “It’s okay, you can come back here any time you want.” The touch calmed her a little, and Dhashi managed a braver smile than she felt. She nodded for him to lead on and he steered her back out into the long, columned hallway, an arm resting around her shoulders.

“So this is the Raven Queen’s home?” Dhashi glanced up as they walked, eyeing the dark stone arches and the weak light filtering in from windows set high in the walls. “It’s so… spooky.” She shivered as a spider skittered across the marble floor. “And dark.” Beside her, Mercer shrugged. “It ain’t so bad once you get used to it. And you won’t be here often once you become a Champion.”

“Oh,” Dhashi’s feet seemed to stop of their own accord as her stomach flip-flopped. “Right. That.” Mercer stopped as well and knelt down so they could talk on level, his hand never leaving her shoulder. “Don’t worry, kid, you’ll do great.” He gave the aasimar a conspiratorial wink. “You have the best in the business to teach you.”

“You’re one of the Raven Queen’s Champions?” Dhashi’s look of surprise changed to one of suspicion and she eyed him as if he would transform into a monster at any moment. “But you’re not all scary and mean like the other one.” Her comment made Mercer throw back his head and laugh, and the atmosphere between them relaxed once more. “I assume you mean Mage. Yeah, she’s… intense, that’s fer sure. We’re not all like her, though. Think of us like special tools – you need the right tool fer the job, whether that’s somethin’ small and delicate,” he pointed at Dhashi, “or big and strong,” he pointed at himself, “or utterly terrifyin’ and almost certainly insane.” He laughed again, not noticing how wide Dhashi’s eyes had gone. “Are my friends going to be okay with her?” she asked.

“Oh yeah, they’ll prob’ly be fine,” Mercer climbed to his feet, then finally noticed the tears welling in the girl’s eyes. “Oh jeeze, wait, don’t start cryin’ again,” he pleaded, but it was too late. The tears fell in waterfalls. “Dangit,” he muttered, “I’m terrible at this mentorin’ thing. Uhh,” he glanced around desperately for a distraction, “look, birds! Look at the nice birds.” He steered Dhashi toward the nearby rookery, pointing up at the ravens of all sizes and ages that roosted or hopped from perch to perch in the airy room. He had no way of knowing how much Dhashi missed her own animal companion, Charlie, but either way he breathed a sigh of infinite relief as her tears ceased and her smile reappeared.

– – –

“Going well?” The Raven Queen appeared at Mercer’s side as he leaned against the open doorway. He nodded to where Dhashi sat on the rookery floor, birds already nestled among the folds of her dress, perched on her arms, and grooming her long, golden hair with their sharp beaks. She murmured to them as she smoothed their glossy feathers, and the ravens burbled and croaked in reply. “She’s got a big heart,” Mercer conceded. “And she’s braver than she realizes. Dunno if that’ll be enough, though.”

“It will have to be,” The goddess clapped him on the shoulder, then disappeared. Mercer stood watching Dhashi for a moment more, then went to join her. She smiled up at him as if they were old friends and began telling him the birds’ names.

#2071

“You can talk to her, if you want.”

This was it; they had finally arrived. After traveling south from the ruins of Lunanoff,sailing across the Bay of Pitch, laboring their way through the mountains beyond Dull, and fighting their way through the undead keepers of the Raven Queen’s temple, Ro and Ilkan and their new companion workplace associate Mage finally stood before the infamous goddess herself. However, their hope to be reunited with Dhashi, and subsequently rid of Mage, was not to be fulfilled; the goddess explained that Dhashi wasn’t yet ready to return to the mortal world, that she needed more time to train before she could act as the Raven Queen’s champion. They would all be together again soon, she promised, but not yet. Disappointment weighed on Ro and Ilkan, two battle-hardened warriors who would never have guessed the absence of one irritating, hyper-optimistic teenager could hurt them so. The Raven Queen understood, of course. The Raven Queen had dealt in death and loss since the beginning of time.

“You can talk to her, if you want,” The Raven Queen, who towered over the three cursed companions as she sat on her throne, motioned toward the scrying bowl at her feet. Mage, bored now that the killing was over, picked her nails with a knife. Ro resolutely shook her head, eschewing anything the goddess of death might offer and holding fast to her raging grief. But Ilkan nodded and moved toward the bowl. “I’d like to,” he said, voice uncharacteristically thin. The Raven Queen held her hand over the bowl and the mirror-clear surface shimmered, then stilled again. Instead of Ilkan’s reflection, the water showed a man garbed in the brimmed hat and sarape of a gunslinger. “Mercer,” she said, “put Dhashi on.”

“Got it,” The gunslinger tipped his hat to the goddess and then turned to someone beyond the mirror’s edge. “Dhashi!” he yelled. “Dhashi, the boss wants you! …Dhashi, c’mere! Stop paintin’ the ravens’ claws and–” Behind him, a mass of black wings and pink glitter shot past. “DHASHI GET YER BUTT OVER HERE.” Mercer disappeared, replaced by a Dhashi who looked fairly unchanged, albeit paler and a little diminished in some essential way. She waved hesitantly and managed a fairly good approximation of her usual smile. “Hi Ilkan…”

“Hey,” The goliath waved one giant hand in return. He was already fighting back tears. “How are you?”

“I’m okay,” Dhashi shrugged a little, suddenly shy for all that she had been longing to speak with her friends again. “It’s not so bad here. Mercer’s nice. How are you?”

“I’m.. we’re…” Ilkan glanced over to Ro’s stiff back and shrugged as well. “You know.”

“Yeah,” Dhashi wiped at her eyes, then managed a truer smile. “You guys are doing really well, though. I’ve been watching.” A moment of silence passed, strained with all the things that could be, but were not, said, and then Dhashi brightened a little. “Can I say hi to Charlie?” Ilkan managed an honest chuckle at the eagerness on the aasimar’s face and nodded. “I was just about to get him out,” he said, pulling the little glass bowl out from where he had stored it in his pack before the battles in the temple. He held it over the scrying bowl and the little fish inside swam around in its usual unhurried manner. “He misses you.”

“Hi Charlie!” Dhashi wiggled her fingers at the fish, who didn’t seem to notice at all, and wiped away more tears as they continued to fall. “Thank you for taking care of him, Ilkan. I miss you guys so much. I’m trying really hard so I can come back soon.” She turned her head to look at something or someone beyond the scrying bowl’s surface, then looked back at Ilkan with a bittersweet smile. “I should go. Say hi to Ro for me, okay?” Ilkan nodded. “Okay.”

The mirror’s surface shivered and cleared, once again reflecting only the Raven Queen’s temple and Ilkan’s tear-streaked face as he turned away. As he carefully returned Charlie to the relative safety of his pack, he caught the sound of a surreptitious sniff from Ro’s direction. When the party gathered back together, though, she had her emotions under their usual tight rein.

#2070

“A Candlenights celebration? We have to go! Please please please?” In the tavern common room, Dhashi turned her wide blue eyes back and forth between Ilkan and Ro, bouncing eagerly on the balls of her feet as she did. Candlenights was her favorite holiday and she absolutely couldn’t miss a chance to celebrate it in the big city. She was sad that she couldn’t spend the holiday with her fathers, of course, but this would totally make up for it.

“Will there be food?” Ilkan asked, and Dhashi knew she had him. “Lots!” she replied. “And most of it fried.” The goliath shrugged. “I’m in.” They turned their attention to Ro, who scowled over her tankard and jerked her head in her version of an eye-roll. “Fine,” she muttered. “I suppose we could use a break from saving the world anyway.”

“Ohmygosh yay!” Dhashi dashed up to their rooms in a blur of ribbons and glitter to change into a more holiday-appropriate outfit.

– – –

“Oh my gosh, everything’s so beautiful!” Dhashi’s eyes glimmered with the reflection of the colorful lanterns bobbing in the air above the festival. Her outfit, a monstrosity of red and green ribbons, white lace, and little bells that tinkled every time she moved, blended in so well with the festival’s decorations that several passersby assumed she was one of the performers. As Ro and Ilkan stared dubiously into the packed crowd, the assimar danced back and forth to a tune only she could hear, apparently, and tried to catch snowflakes on her tongue. But then a chance gap in the crowd revealed the rows and rows of game booths, the giant prizes caught Dhashi’s attention, and she went bolting into the crowd with a trailing, “Ooh, games!”

“Aaaaaand there she goes,” Ro sighed, wondering how they would ever track Dhashi down in the chaos. “Bloody hell.” She turned to her companion, who already had his nose in the air sniffing out the direction of the food vendors. “Shall we hunt down some of that promised fried food first?” she suggested, and would have lost Ilkan in the crowd as well as he ran off, had he not stood several heads above everyone else. Ro followed after at a more sedate pace, using her swinging cane to clear a decent path through the crowd and begrudgingly admiring how fast Ilkan could move when food was involved.

– – –

Stuffed animals, lanterns, charms, dolls, there were so many prizes to choose from that Dhashi couldn’t pick which game to play first – until she reached the last stall and stopped short, staring up at its rows and rows of glass bowls, each with a goldfish or betta fish swimming lazy circles inside. Her eyes somehow managed to get even wider and she hurried up to the counter. “Oh my gosh,” she asked the bored teenager running the booth, “how do I win one of those fish?”

“You gotta knock three statues down,” The teenager mumbled around her mouthful of gum, raising one lazy finger to point at the setup. “It’s five gold for three balls.”

“Okay, I’ll play!” Dhashi threw down her gold, collected the balls, and tossed them with zero skill at the wood statues stationed in rows. One of the balls managed to hit, knocking one statue down, but the other two flew too wide. The teenager yawned and tossed a floppy lock of dyed black hair out of her eyes. “Too bad,” she said woodenly. “Want to go again?” Dhashi pursed her lips and slammed down another five gold. “Yes!”

Miss. Miss. Hit? No, miss. Miss. Miss. Dhashi exhaled furiously, glaring at the traitorous, clearly rigged game. Still, she set down another five gold, and then another, and then yet another after that. As before, she missed most of the time and failed to knock down three statues even when she did hit. After each attempt the teenager would repeat in the same disaffected tone, “So close. Want to try again?” and Dhashi would throw down her next five gold. She went to do this a final time… and found her wallet empty. Her eyes filled with disappointed tears. Her bottom lip trembled entirely of its own accord. All she wanted was one little fish… She’d never had a pet before…

“Oh good lord,” Ro, fried dough in hand, had been watching this pitiful display for some time. The tears were too much even for her, though, and she dug out five gold. “Here, take it, just… don’t cry.” She set the gold on the booth’s counter and Dhashi wiped away her tears, gazing up at the jenasi with awe. “Really?” she asked, sure this must be a trick of some kind; Dhashi knew she wasn’t exactly Ro’s favorite person, and certainly not high enough in her esteem to warrant such a gesture. But Ro waved at the proffered gold and went back to eating her fried dough. “Yes, really.” Dhashi stared at the game uncertainly, then shook her head. “I’m too nervous!” She grabbed Ro’s free arm and tugged her forward. “Will you do it? I keep missing.”

“What? Oh, bloody hell,” Ro transferred her dough to her other hand, picked up one of the balls, and tossed it at the game in one fluid, careless motion. She hit one of the statues dead on, and as it tumbled down it took two others with it. Dhashi squeaked in triumph; the teenager clapped slowly, snapping her gum. “Congrats,” she sighed. “Which one do you want?”

“Um…” Dhashi stared up at all the bowls, unable to decide which fish she liked most. Then she knew. “The saddest one, please,” she requested, knowing the prettier, flashier fish would all find homes before the end of the festival. The teenager rolled her eyes but did bend down to pull out a dusty bowl. Inside a betta fish swam in idle circles, its scales a dull brownish-green that matched the algae growing on the inside of the glass. It was, admittedly, not a very lovely or lively fish; yet Dhashi accepted the proffered bowl like it was filled with gold, hugging it to her chest. “I’ll name you… Charlie!” She beamed up at Ro. “Thank you thank you thank you thank you!”

And that is the story of how Dhashi the magical girl warlock aasimar found her familiar, Charlie the depressingly bland betta fish.

#2065

“Goodbye, friends!” Remr, standing on the stage where Never would soon play, waved to Dhashi, Row, and Ilkan as they disappeared into the Candlenights crowd. “They were nice,” she commented when Never came up behind her carrying an awkwardly shaped instrument. “I hope they get uncursed and… stuff…” Her voice trailed away.

“Uh, Remr,” Never shifted the heavy object in their grip, “can you move please? I kinda need to put this right where you’re standing.” But the Tiefling didn’t seem to hear them; she was staring into the milling crowd of revelers, frowning as if something there puzzled her. Never was about to ask what she was looking at when she shouted, “Wait!” and jumped into the throng of people. Never, who was honestly pretty used to Remr running off in pursuit of something science-related, set down the instrument and continued to prep for the show as if nothing had happened.

– – –

“Wait!” Remr pushed through the knots of slow moving people, using her Tiefling height to her advantage. Somewhere ahead of her, glimpsed briefly every few seconds between a gap in the crowd, a flash of lavender skin or white hair revealed her quarry. They played cat and mouse in this way through the brightly lit streets, past games and food vendors, performers and fortune tellers, all the way though the Candlenights celebration and into the dark city streets beyond.

Now that they were away from the crowd it was easier for Remr to see her still fleeing target. It was definitely another Tiefling with lavender colored skin and long white hair. The Tiefling dashed down a side street and Remr followed right on their heels, breathless but determined to continue the chase as long as she could. Luckily for her, the street down which her prey ran was a dead end and as she skidded around the corner she found the other Tiefling trapped by a high wall. Face to face, Remr was positive now of the other’s identity and they both stared across the distance between them for a tense second.

“I knew it was you,” Remr took a hesitant step into the alley. “La’lua, what happened? Why did you stop answering my letters? I thought…” She shook her head. “I didn’t know what to think. What are you doing here?”

“Remr…” The other Tiefling grimaced, her tail darting back and forth anxiously. “I’m sorry, I wanted to reply, I did, but there was no way…” She backed up a step. “I can’t explain. Just forget I was here, okay?” La’lua’s eyes flickered to the rooftops above and Remr knew what would happen. “Lua, wait!” Remr broke into a run, but before she could close the distance La’lua bent her knees and leaped high into the air, catching the edge of a rooftop and disappearing over the adjacent wall. Remr slid to a stop and caught her breath, dashing away the tears of frustration as they fell.

– – –

Remr reappeared during one of the band’s breaks, wandering backstage with an aimless expression as she searched for her bag. Never looked up from retuning their lute and asked idly, “Who were you harassing for a sample of their skin this time?” Remr didn’t answer. An uncharacteristic frown tugged at her mouth and her eyes were unusually distant. “Remr? Hello?” Never waved a hand in front of her face. “You okay?”

“Huh?” Remr blinked as if waking from hypnosis. “Uh… yeah. Totally. I just thought I saw the… churro cart. But, uh… they were out.” She managed a poor imitation of her usual smile to cap off the obvious lie. “Bummer, right?” Ignoring Never’s perplexed stare, Remr grabbed her bag and backed up. “Anyway, um, I should probably go do… science… stuff.” She flashed very half-hearted fingerguns at her friend. “Catch ya later.” Never watched her go, then went back to tuning the lute with a shake of their head, muttering, “She gets weirder every day.”