Curse of the Crimson Throne
Nyxalia Crysania Silveroak, the bastard of Pine Watch
“How can anyone sleep amidst all this snoring?” Nyx murmured quietly to herself. Her eyes scanned the shared room, BOTH of her siblings were snoring, and loudly. Nyx rolled over, just far enough to see the orange and pink in the morning clouds. Sunrise. Time to get up for the day.
Nyx lived in the logging/mining/trapping camp at Pine Watch. It was a difficult life at this rugged frontier outpost. Lumber, ore, and furs were the only major exports. Hard work for hard people. Pine Watch consisted of little more than the Tawdry Tankard, the only tavern, eatery, brothel, inn, and boarding house in camp, a general good store, a blacksmith, a stable, a tannery, and a few other buildings.
The old woodshed behind the Tawdry Tankard is where Nyx and the two other teenage bastards in Pine Watch lived. Nyx sat upright in her hammock; the blonde boy snoring in the hammock next to her was Hrothgar. He had a severe stutter, and his right arm hadn’t come in quite right. Stuttering Whoreson they called him around town. Last in the row was Olyondi the half orc, Pig Nose is what most residents called her. Nyx was sometimes called Nixie (mostly by dirty old men), Betrid’s Bastard, or just Nyx the Knife Ear. She considered knife ears to be better than being called Pig Nose.
Betrid Silveroak, was the most popular bawdy wench at The Tawdry Tankard, she was also Nyx’s mother. Nyx cooked in the kitchen at the Tankard, and in recent months, even did some serving in the common room. Hrothgar helped in the Tankard’s stable, Olyondi washed dishes and cleaned rooms.
“Wake up you gits!” Nyx taunted. “We’ve got work to do and I want to be done early today!” Hrothgar opened one eye and looked at Nyx; “You goin’ to the wo-wo-wooo-wooooos” “Yes, Hroth, I want to go to the woods tonight. Get your chores done and come along, yeah?” Hrothgar smiled, “Ssssss-ssooouu-ssssooouund. Yes!” he answered with a smile and a nod.
A loud belch drew the attention of Nyx and Hrothgar, as Olyondi stood from her hammock, “Oi, anyone seen me trousers?” asked the alarmingly naked she orc. “If you’re this hairy as a HALF orc, may the gods prevent me from ever seeing a naked full orc!” Nyx laughed as she covered her eyes. “By the door Oly, over by the door!”
The three friends dressed and headed off towards the Tawdry Tankard, and a long workday.
Near the end of dinner service, 4 travelers walked into the common room at the Tankard. Nyx had never seen anyone dressed like them before. She watched them closely, an elf, a dwarf, a halfling, and a human woman. They were dressed so…outlandishly, they were beautiful and garish, lurid, they looked like something that existed only in imagination.
The elf spoke to the innkeeper, who waved to a small stage in the corner. The elf bowed graciously, and the traveling quartet moved towards the stage.
“Gentle beings of Pine Watch!” the elf began “I inquired with the Landlord about our troop treating this hamlet to an evening of meticulous melodies, heavenly hymns, moving minuets, astounding arias, and luring lullabies! Even beings of labor and toil have souls that need stirring! Are you fond of this proposal? We are humbled at the opportunity to share the dulcet tones of our song and the sultry dance of Elora!” The elf waved towards the beautiful human woman, who then bowed. “Our performance, just this one night only, here in the Tawdry Tankard, will be gratis of course!”
Nyx could not hide her smile as she thought “These loggers have no fucking idea what he’s saying, or what he’s even proposing.” The elf stood there, arms outstretched, looking slightly surprised that no one said anything, or even clapped. “No ovation? No acclimation, no extolment? Can the interest here truly be nigh?” He scanned the faces in the crowd and realized all too late, that the citizens of Pine Watch had no fucking idea what he was saying.
“Oi, play us a song, Fancy Knickers!” Nyx yelled from behind the bar. A loud “Hurrah!” came from the dinner time crowd. “Ah yes! At once!” The fastidious elf proclaimed with a perfect smile. Nyx noticed that all 4 members of the troupe looked at her, in unison, and smiled.
Gilthanis Goldstring produced an elvish harp from his pack. The harp being much larger than a backpack, drew murmurs from the crowd. Bruenor Battlebeat pulled a cajon from his bag and sat on it. Silas Swiftfingers pulled a bandore from his cloak, and the Exotic Elora removed her cloak to reveal her bedlah. She pulls a tambourine from her pocket.
Gasps came from those seated, and more than one person said “witchcraft!” Just in time, the band began to play. For the next 90 minutes, citizens of Pine Watch took in the most incredible musical performance any of them had ever seen. The small stage was littered with coin, ore, and several furs and tanned leather.
Nyx approached the troupe, tears in her eyes. “That’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen” she blurted. “Thank you, child,” said the ever smiling Gilthanis. “How old are you? What is your name?” Nyx made sure to stand up straight, and answered evenly “I’m Nyx Silveroak, I’m 16.”
Again, all 4 band members looked at her, smiling. “Well, of course you are! I can see it now. Hello Nyxalia Crysania Silveroak. We have travelled several thousand miles to meet you here.” Said Gilthanis. Nyx was thoroughly confused. “You couldn’t be here for me? Besides, I’m Nyx, not this Nyxalialia Crystal whatever.” They all laughed, and Nyx began to feel uncomfortable.
“Listen to my words, child.” Gilthanis told her, soothingly. “Think back to when you were 6 or perhaps 7 years of age. A man visited you here in this… place. He gave you several things, do you remember?”
Nyx did remember a man, an elf, visiting her years ago. He had given her a small satchel, and! “He gave me a bandore! A bandore just like his!” Nyx cried while pointing to Silas. “Yes, he did. He told you that he was your father, did he not?” Nyx tried to focus, to concentrate. Did That really happen? Or was that one of her many imagined stories to help her escape here?
“He-he did.” Stammered the rattled teen. “He told me that my name was Nyxalia. He gave me a whole bag of things. He… said he would come back for me. But he never did.” Nyx replied, as tears began to fill her eyes.
“That is not my story to tell you, child. Your father was a musician like us, a wandering minstrel, a guild member, a Bard. Not just any bard, but a bard from the Fochlucan College. The same college that trained us, the same guild that we are members of now. Your training has been paid for, in full, and we are here to bring you back with us, if you are interested. Nyxalia Crysania Silveroak, come with us and embrace your destiny!” Gilthanis replied.
“Yes” She replied. “I have little to gather, but I’ll need just a bit. Do we leave at first light?”
“No” Gilthanis answered. “We leave as soon as possible. Gather your possessions and say your goodbyes Nyxalia. We will wait for you right here.”
Nyx had never been far from Pine Watch, but she changed into her best “travelling” clothing and placed her whole life into a backpack. Tears flowed back in the little woodshed, as Nyx, Hroth, and Oly said their goodbyes.
Nyx and her mother were never close, and Betrid’s care for her could be best classified as a mild neglect. None the less, Nyx decided to head upstairs to her mothers’ room. At the door she could hear that her mother was “working.”
“Goodbye Mother.” Nyx said coldly to the oaken door. Nyx walked back down the stairs, slowly, and returned to Gilthanis. “I’m ready.” She calmly said. “Do I need a horse? I don’t have one.”
“No child. We have several thousand miles to travel. We begin our journey with magic!” Gilthanis unrolled a scroll and began to speak in the arcane tongue. A teary-eyed Hrothgar, and green skinned orc, giving her the middle finger, was the last Nyx saw of Pine Watch. A moment later, all 5 of them disappeared.
Some time passes…
“No, no, NO!” She yelled. “It’s one and two and three and four, NOT one, two, three, four! You graceless clods! You dance like goblins fornicate, awkward and sloppy! We want you to dance with nobles, not trod upon their feet!” cried Ms Cambineaux.
“By all the Gods, the old and the new, our instructor is a righteous twat!” Nyx whispered to her dancing partner, Zez. “I fookin hate dancing.” He replied
Some time passes…
“Never lift the menu from the table! You view the bill of fare, and order what you will. The waitstaff will handle the menu. Nyxalia! Once you sip from a glass, you MUST sip from the exact same place on the glass! No Lord wants to see an unsightly lipstick ring around the rim of your champagne flute! Save it for his lips! Zez! Gods help you, that is a salad fork! Put the pepper mill down! I would call you uncultured swine, but I am far too fond of pigs to make the comparison!” Barked Mme Clermont.
Nyx look to Zez, seated directly across from her. “I fookin hate tables manners!” Zez replied
Some time passes…
“This here is a dwarven defender, not some rusty back alley padlock. Who can tell me the first tool needed to pick this lock? Remember, the tumblers in this lock are made of mithril.”
“A half diamond pick?”
“A gonzo hook?”
“My battle axe?”
“No Zez, by the gods!”
“A wedge rake?”
“Yes! A wedge rake! Great job Nyxalia! Come and show us how to do it.” Said Instructor Ryll
“I fookin hate lock pickin!” proclaimed a crossed arm Zez.
Some time passes…
“What we are doing today is simple. I am going to blindfold each of you, and you will navigate from here to that door at the end of the hall. You need to be perfectly silent. Avoid the broken glass and caltrops, make no noise. You cannot join the thieves guild until you can navigate this hallway silently, and pick the tumbler on that door. Blindfolded.” Said Instructor Quickfoot
“Nyxalia, you are next.”
“This young lady is fleet of foot!”
“And predictably, she makes short work of the door! You pass Nyxalia!”
“Ok, Zez, you are next. I am keen to see some orcish dexterity.”
sounds of crunching glass
(“bollocks! I’ve found the glass!”)
(“I’ve lodged a caltrop in me foot meat!)
“Zez, that is a fail. Excessive noise!”
(“this blindfold is fuckall!”)
The whole class “Zez!”
“I fookin hate sneakin’ round!”
Some time passes…
“Almost 200 years ago, the Gardens of Gallowspire were valiantly defended from the invading gnollish hoard. What nobleman led those brave knights into battle?
“Ser Michael of Riddleport”
“Baron Valdemar the Pious”
“Zez, fighting is your specialty, it is in your blood. Who was the Nobleman?”
“Well, if I have the dates correct, I believe the victorious commander was Lord Farty Britches of NobShire.”
“Sir Cassomir Gallowspire?”
“Yes, Nyxalia! Excellent!”
“I fookin hate history!” snorted the half orc
Some time passes…
Recital day at Fochlucan College.
“Nyxalia, that was a beautiful rendition of ‘Ragnar the Red,’ I’ve not heard that piece on the bandore. Most excellent!”
“Zez, what have you prepared for the class?”
“Bit of poetry I suppose.”
“Oh capital! Treat us to your prose!” Mrs Miggens said with delight.
“Right.” Said Zez. “I call this one ‘Elf Girl’ hope you enjoy it Mum. Elf Girl, I like your style, I like your class, but most of all I like your ass. Leather pantalo-“
“Zez! That is completely inappropriate! Try again!”
“There once was an Orc from Rodsuttle”
“I’m gonna stick this here in your gobpuddle”
“By the gods, Zez! That’s quite enough!”
“I fookin hate poetry!”
Some time passes…
“We’ve been practicing all week, today we test your arcane theory and how well you execute your spell.” Said Instructor Greyleaf.
“Nyxalia, you’re up next. Proceed.”
Nyx reached out her right hand, as her left hand traced intricate patterns in the air… “bandoracus….appearacus…handicus!”
Nyxalia’s bandore appeared in her hand…
“Magnificent! Class, Nyxalia has flawlessly performed ‘summon instrument’ a very useful spell for the aspiring bard! Brava!’
“Zez, you’re up.”
Zez placed his hand out in front of himself, palms facing Nyx…
“Enlargem…. duo-mammarum… grandicus!” chanted the orc.
The top button of Nyx’s doublet popped off and the class stared as Nyxalia’s chest began to grow…
“I fookin love magic!” Zez chortled
After 6 years of intense training, Nyxalia, Zez, and a handful of others graduated from the Fochlucan College. Veiled under much closer secrecy, they also joined the Council of Thieves, based out of Westcrown.
Nyxalia could dance and sing, but her specialty was stringed instruments. She knew how to parley at court, she knew how to flirt, wear a gown, and how to move through places undetected. Picking locks, swordplay, archery, and she could even throw a few spells around. She was an amazing actress.
Over the next 5 years, Nyxalia, Zez and a handful of others stepped foot on every continent on Golarion. They performed for kings and queens, brokered deals with foreign thieves guilds, aided some lands, and robbed others blind. Playing their roles, whatever they happened to be, Nyx and Zez lived lives of luxury. Nyx has been through 13 proposals and could have been a queen twice.
The better they did for the guild, the more attention they garnered. In a manner of speaking they were promoted within the guild. Nyx was a fully fledged operator now, and her first job was a big one. Assassinate the prince of Mendev…
“I don’t want to be an assassin, Zez”
“We killed folks before Nyx”
“Not like this Zez. If I kill someone in a fight, so be it, we both had a chance.”
“You gonna tell the guild no?”
“No. I don’t think I have the clout to start saying no yet.”
“You’re a bard Nyx, we’re lieutenants for the Council of Thieves”
“Prince Galfrey already proposed. I had tea with the Queen of Mendev and her ladies in waiting.”
“And now I’m supposed to bed him and kill him.”
“That’s the job, Nyx.”
“But he’s good! The Queen is good, they stand up for what is right.”
“We’ll sort it out on the boat.”
“I don’t think I can, Zez.”
“We will figure something out, Nyx.”
Weeks later, In Mendev…
Nyx looked down at her stomach, and the crossbow bolt stuck in her belly. She looked back to the bed. Prince Galfrey laid there, eyes wide open, face twisted in rage, even in death. Nyx knew she had only a few seconds more before the guards came. “He let out quite a scream, that’s the only reason he’s dead”, Nyx thought to herself. She was opening drawers, looking through the armoire, she didn’t even know what she was looking for.
The sound of battle filled the hallway outside the prince’s room. Nyx flung the door open, just in time to get hit with a second crossbow bolt. She didn’t even remember hitting the ground, but saw Zez throw two daggers, killing the crossbowman.
“Nyx!” Zez ran to his friend’s side. “Nyx, you’re hurt, bad”
“Get me on my feet Zez.” Said Nyx, as she vice gripped his hand.
Once she was standing again, Nyx could see several wounds on Zez. Bad ones.
“We have to get outside” said Nyx, “There will be guards at every corner in here.”
“Grab some of these tunics they’re wearing. Otherwise they’ll follow the blood right to us.” Suggested Zez.
They wrapped their wounds as they half ran to the nearest door.
Two House Mendev guards came through the very door they were trying to leave through.
The two rogues exchanged worried looks…
Nyx lay on the stone, blood leaking from her belly and leg. Some feet away, laid Zez, a broken spear protruding from his chest.
“Nyx. I ain’t gonna make it. You know I fookin hate dying too.”
Nyx smiled, weakly.
“You’re the best friend I ever had, Nyx. So, let me ask, why did you partner with me? No one else would, but you did. Why? That’s all I want to know before I die.”
“Well” Nyx said through a grimace, “I had already lived with an orc for almost 10 years. I was already conditioned to orc flatulence; from every orifice you have.” Nyx coughed “Thought… I would be immune to your stink. Plainly I was wrong.”
Zez laughed as much as he could before clutching his wounds.
“Confession time Zez. I’ve never told a soul. My mother was a prostitute. The day I left Pine Watch, the innkeeper told me I had one week left in the kitchen, then I was expected to do the same. Nyxalia, Whore of Pine Watch. I was gonna tell my friends that night, instead the guild came and took me away.”
“I bet the money would have been nice. Cause your pretty and all, for a half elf.” Smirked Zez
“The money would be nice?! Zez I’d have been a hooker! A trollop! A tart! A working girl! A tramp! A hussy! A scallywag! A sporting lady! A cocotte! A call girl! A Cyprian! An escort! A strumpet! Grande Horizontale! A real woman of the street!
“I didn’t know there were that many words for whore! Ha!” quipped the dying Orc
“Ok Nyx, I’m glad you aren’t a prostitute. I got a confession for you too. I aint a half orc.”
“What?! What the hell are you then?” asked the incredulous Nyx.
“I’m just an orc, a full-blooded orc.”
“How? What happened?
“Well, my tribe was traveling across the Dalelands. Guards rode us down, and they just started killing us. It looked like the Knight Commander was having a hard time, you know, sayin kill the orc kid? So I looked up at that tin suited wanker and said ‘Please Ser, don’t kill me, I’m only a half orc. So he says, ‘you can go’ and off I ran. Too bad no one else thought to say, wait I’m only half orcish”
The two friends looked at each other and erupted in laughter.
“Nyx, before I die, do me one favor?”
“Pull that dress down and show me your jubblies”
“In the name of the Gods, Zez!”
“C’mon, show me your nibbles! Every Lord on Golarion seen em!”
“Fuck off, Orc boy!”
A few minutes go by…
“Zez. What would you want to do if we weren’t going to die on the roof of Mendev castle?”
“I can’t tell you”
“Of course you can tell me, you’re my best friend and we’ll be dead in ten minutes!”
“No, I mean I’d need a map”
“A fucking map? Why?”
“Cause I’d wanna find a place, as far from here as possible, and open my own place. My own bar, eatin’ house, and maybe even an inn.”
“Zez the fucking innkeeper?”
“I’d call my place the Wicked Fork, you could be my bartender?”
“Well you made it pretty clear you don’t want to be a prostitute.”
“That true, very true.”
“Show me your nubs.”
“Not in this lifetime, Zez. But I’d run your bar for you.”
“Too bad we’re gonna die up here. Oh, and too bad the guild will burn us and take every possession and coin we have.” Reasoned the full blooded orc.
Nyx reached into her nightgown and produced several small pouches. “I took these gems from the princes room, and this jewelry.” Nyx wiggled her fingers in the moonlight and pointed to her neck. “We can fence this stuff for thousands.”
“Where was that place we never go into? The thieves guild there wouldn’t even meet us?”
“Korvosa! No one knows us in Korvosa, our guild has no presence there.”
“Too bad we’re gonna die up here”
“Let’s go down the wall, climb the trellis. Steal one of those rowboats?”
“If they see us, we’re dead.”
“If we stay here, we’re dead, plus at dawn I can heal us a bit”
“Let’s do it”
Some time passes…
A beautiful red headed woman looks up to the opening door. “Welcome to the Wicked Fork! What’ll ya have, love?”