All The Warm Lives, part 8: Music Box

Yserveielle stood just inside the doorway to Glenn’s bedchamber, keeping his door propped open with the tip of her tail as she stared at the items laid out on his bed. She could feel another smirk tugging at one corner of her lips. Glenn had insisted that he had nothing to do with how her lingerie ended up arranged on his bed in such a way that would suggest he was more than willing to see her in it – and have her make use of the cold-iron tipped riding crop that accompanied the outfit. Indeed, he had seemed quite panicked when both Yservielle and Osanna had inspected the scene in his room just minutes ago; the fear emanating off of him in that moment had been almost intoxicating to her, and if Osanna had not been right there, Yservielle felt certain she would have dragged Glenn back into the bedroom and taken him then and there, despite any protests he might have voiced.

Osanna had gone back to sleep now, though, and it would be a simple thing for Yservielle to don the underbust corset, crotchless panties, garter belts, and stockings before descending back down to her own chamber where Glenn was waiting. She felt it would not be difficult to convince him to let her have her way with him; she had done it many times before, and no man or woman had ever refused her before.

Yservielle reached for the corset, letting her fingers run down the buckles that fastened the front of it. It would certainly be a pleasant end to what had started as a rather distasteful evening.

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All The Warm Lives, part 7: A Place To Call Home

It seems you have quite a way with words, Lady Redbreeze,” Paralictor Halst commented, holding the door open to an office room in the back of the Bastion of the Nail as Osanna stepped through. Glenn followed, still being escorted by one of the other Hellknights who had accompanied them to the Pediment Building for his sentencing hearing. “This is not the first time you have managed to convince the Justices to release a convicted criminal to your custody.”

I simply state the truth,” Osanna replied as Halst shut the door behind their party. The Paralictor made his way to the opposite side of a heavy wooden desk that dominated the center of the chamber, setting several sheafs of parchment down before him and picking up a pair of reading glasses.

We have a few things to go over before either of you can go,” Halst stated as he slipped the glasses over his nose, glancing up at first Osanna, then Glenn with a small frown. “The Justices have voted not to remand you to the Hells, but that does not mean you are simply free to do as you please,” the Paralictor continued, settling his gaze on the man bound before him. “First, you are–”

Excuse me, Paralictor,” Osanna cut in suddenly. Both Glenn and the Hellknight commander glanced at her, Halst frowning slightly at being interrupted. “Pardon me for interrupting, but – are the manacles really necessary at this point?” She motioned toward the shackles that bound Glenn’s hands before him.

Halst looked momentarily annoyed. “I suppose not,” he conceded after a pause. He nodded toward the Hellknight who had escorted Glenn back to the Bastion. The man stepped forward and unfastened the binds from around Glenn’s wrists.

Um, thanks,” Glenn muttered, glancing up toward the Hellknight’s helmed face as he rubbed his wrists; a thin, angry red line braceleted his skin. The Hellknight didn’t respond as he stepped back.

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All The Warm Lives, part 6: Judgment Day

Most of Osanna’s dialog in this part was written by Derrick.


Zelia sat nervously among the gallery of the courtroom of the Pediment Building, where the Justice Court was preparing to meet regarding Glenn’s sentencing. She had never actually been inside this room before; she had been to the Pediment Building over a few minor infractions over the years, but none of them had ever warranted her going before the Justices.

The room itself looked more like a small arena than a courtroom. The chamber was circular and bowl-shaped. Zelia was currently seated among a row of other spectators in one of the rows of tiered benches that ran along the length of the wall of the room; the one in front of her was set a bit lower, and the one behind her a bit higher, so as to allow everyone a better look at what was happening in the center of the chamber. At the back of the room at ground level stood a pair of double doors that lead to the rest of the building, where other people were currently filing in and making their way up the rows of benches to find seats in the gallery around Zelia. At the opposite end of the floor of the chamber stood a long bench atop a raised dais, with thirteen individual chairs behind it, all currently empty. In the center of the room stood a second, smaller platform, large enough for a single person to stand upon but devoid of any furnishings.

Stop fidgeting,” Carmine said, glancing at her sister. “Just be glad you’re not the one on trial.”

What would I be on trial for?” Zelia demanded, giving her sister a sideways look with a frown.

I have no idea,” Carmine replied with a shrug, “but I don’t doubt there’s something.”

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All The Warm Lives, part 5: Cupcakes

I screwed up Gaetana’s rank in the last section — Lictors are actually the leaders of a Hellknight order.  Paralictors fall beneath them (with a Mistress or Master of Blades (Maidrayne Vox’s rank) being the second in command below the Lictor and above a Paralictor) and Maralictors are beneath Paralictors.  I’m not going to go back and fix the previous chapter, but from here on out Gaetana will correctly be addressed as Maralictor.

* * *

A knock sounded on the door that lead to the conference room where Maidrayne Vox was currently in conversation with Darean Halst inside the Bastion of the Nail. “Lady Vox?” came Maralictor Gaetana’s voice from the hallway. “Lady Redbreeze to see you again, ma’am.”

Yes, send her in,” Vox replied, setting aside the paperwork that she and Halst were looking over together. The door opened, and Maralictor Gaetana stepped aside to admit the Sarenite paladin.

Lady Vox…Paralictor Halst,” Osanna greeted both of the Hellknight commanders as Gaetana closed the door behind her once she was inside the room.

Yes, good afternoon, Lady Redbreeze,” Halst addressed her with a nod. “Lady Vox told me you had come to call.”

We were just going over the final details of the prisoner’s transfer,” Vox added. “I trust you are done visiting with him?”

I am,” Osanna confirmed. Vox could tell there was a hint of uneasiness to the tiefling’s voice as she continued. “That’s actually what I wanted to speak with you about before I left, if I may trouble you for a moment of your time.”

We are expected at the Pediment Building,” Halst commented abruptly.

A moment, then,” Vox declared, holding up a hand to Halst before he could continued. “Speak, then, Lady Redbreeze.”

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All The Warm Lives, part 4: Heart Of An Elephant

Rated R because Sarscha.
Special thanks to Derrick for writing some of Sarscha’s dialog in this part.

Ah, Inquisitor Thrune. I heard you apprehended a fugitive last night, one we’ve been trying to find for quite some time for one of the members of the Council of Ushers. Excellent work.”

Samael paused as he was making his way through the corridors of the Bastion of the Nail shortly after dawn just outside the doorway to the office of Darean Halst. The door was open, and the paralictor to the Order of the Nail was seated at his desk inside, a stack of paperwork piled neatly in front of him. Samael turned to address him. “Thank you, sir.”

I’m sure the Mistress of Blades will be most pleased with this news when she arrives tomorrow,” Halst continued, studying a sheaf of parchment that he lifted from the top of the stack in front of him.

Lady Vox?” Samael asked, raising an eyebrow. “I didn’t realize she was paying the Bastion a visit.”

Yes, she is quite interested in the going ons here in Magnimar, as you may well know,” Halst droned on, glancing up at Samael finally, “and the Gallahad family often pries her for information on this vagabond’s whereabouts at any given opportunity. I’m sure she will be glad to put this business behind her.”

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Xander’s Journal- Epilogue

Xander’s Journal lies on the table in the Library, next to it is a scroll and a pouch with several thousand coins worth of gems, including a very large diamond.  Leaning against the pouch is a note, with Bill, Osanna, Samael, Naru, and Glenn’s names across the top.  “To whichever of you finds this, please read it carefully.  I had to take a journey to address some personal questions, but I hope to be done soon.   Once again I must ask a favor of one of you.  In case it is Glenn reading this, there should be enough in the bag to get someone to use that scroll, if the others aren’t available.  I don’t know if I will be seeing you once it is cast, since that is the whole point of this trip.  Either way, I want you all to know that it was a pleasure getting to know you, and travelling with you.  In case I don’t come back from this, I will always call you friends.  I will remain in the small chamber off the entry corridor.  That should be more than sufficient.”


This is it.

I should be happy, relieved, or something.  I know I should, but I can’t help but feel kind of lost.

Mother is cured, Father is physically alive again, and Varisia is safe from Karzoug, at least.    From what I hear, they are going to Kyonin, where Father will notify his family that he is alive, then move somewhere to start over.  After all these years, the love is still there.

I’ve spent the last several months in the Library, trying to get the Librarian to assist me with taking the actual dangerous books here and separating them from the inane.  Like Zutha’s journal.  That never needs to have eyes set on it again, by anyone.  I think I might have gotten through to the thing, now that I have changed my argument from “Dangerous” to a more codified “Potency Level” system of sorting.

We did it, all of us lived through it, sort of.   I died.  With all the trials and tribulations we went through, for months and months, that actually shocked me.

I mean, I know enough about magic, arcane and divine, to understand that we have the power to cheat death.  Osanna and Glenn died, and we brought them back.  Hathus died, and he didn’t want to come back.

When I died, though, I didn’t get a choice.  I was dead, I was in the Boneyard, and the next thing I know I was laying on the ground with Samael looking at me.

I think about that a lot actually.  It’s like I was robbed of something important.  I never got a chance to decide to go or stay.  I don’t know what I would have picked, and that bothers me.  Mother and Father are alive and healthy, but I know Osanna and Bill would have taken care of that either way, they gave me their words weeks ago.

The things I have done in the Library are more a way of killing time and busy-work than anything meaningful.

Everything I have done since coming back is… nothing really.  I started out with these grand plans, but when it comes down to it, I had no reference point for actually deciding what to do after something like this.  Now, I don’t even know if  I should be doing anything.

Desna… I believe she guided my steps, rambling and erratic as they were, to this path.  But, even knowing that, I don’t know where I stand now.  I’m here, but I don’t know if I should be.  Actually, I wish I’d had more time in the Boneyard.  Some time to think about things, to reflect.

I’m trying to listen for her, trying to understand the next steps, but I don’t hear anything.  I can’t make it out anymore.

I have to know.  And there’s really only one way to do that, really.  I just don’t see any way around it.

I won’t know for sure until I stand there, in the Boneyard again, what my answer really is.     

All The Warm Lives, part 3: Apprehension

Rated R because Sarscha.

Osanna woke early the next morning, before the first rays of the Dawnflower had graced the sky. Laying on her side, she shifted slightly in her bed, sensing a presence behind her. She sat up, slowly and silently, and glanced over her shoulder; Glenn was fast asleep on the opposite side of the bed, laying on the edge of the mattress, his back toward her.

The tiefling turned slowly so that she was facing him, watching him for several moments. He looked peaceful and content for the moment, sleeping quietly, although she knew he would not be once he woke. Her heart ached painfully, knowing there was little she could do to comfort him during this painful time – worse, that she had probably inadvertently added to his suffering with her misplaced words the night before.

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All The Warm Lives, part 2: Home, Sweet Home


Glenn came awake with a start. His hand was on the hilt of his sword before his eyes were even open; he had left it propped against the side of the sofa next to him before he had laid down. His reflexes were one thing that had not dulled in the time he had been gone, although he had been so deeply asleep that he hadn’t noticed Osanna step back into the room. She was crouching in front of him now, a hand on his shoulder, looking at him sadly. He stared at her for a moment before looking away, feeling a mixture a doubt and resentment as he slowly sat up. A half-eaten apple, obtained from the platter of fruit she had left for him before she had departed earlier and discarded when he fell asleep, sat on the floor between them.

I know you’re tired,” Osanna said as Glenn pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes, “but I think you would feel better if you got cleaned up before sleeping. You are free to rest here as long as you like after that.”

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Osanna. Part 2. (Osanna’s Journal Part 28)

Osanna finishes polishing her shield and places it on the stand that also bears her armor and helmet.  As she admires her reflection in the armor, she is content that the last two hours’ worth of toil was more than sufficient.  “I have to be the standard, after all.”   She pauses to look at the shrine to Sarenrae in her room and asks aloud, “How do I spend a normal day, Mother?  I fear that I’ve forgotten how.”  As she considers the events for the remainder of her day, she pauses to look at the trophies about her room that tell a story of their own.  A rune giant’s tusk, a gigantic white dragon’s fang, a huge stone giant’s war horn, a lock of nymph’s hair, and a repaired statue of an angel.  Lastly, with a smile, she stops to admire an old bell on her desk from what feels like the distant past, but isn’t.  “I should polish this old thing…no.  It would lose some of its character, I think.”  She opens the shutters in her room and is barraged with the late morning sun and a cool, but not uncomfortable breeze.  She closes her eyes, smiles, and takes in a long slow breath.  “You’re right, Mother.  I’ve taken this for granted for far too long.” 

A short while later, Osanna is seated on the front steps of Sarenrae’s temple with her book of illustrations and set of charcoal pencils.  The most recent drawing is of Osanna conversing fondly with a radiantly beautiful well-dressed Qadiran woman of a greater height than herself with the sun shining down upon the Underbridge district.  “It doesn’t do you justice, Mother.”  She smiles, turns to the next page, and begins to draw with what skill she has.  She pauses intermittently to wave at passersby that greet her or to throw a ball back to children playing.  As she draws, she has what she considers to be a rare in gift in the form of peace, quiet, and time for reflection.

I recall now the surge of emotions that I felt when I set that first foot down off of the caravan in Sandpoint.  Relief, excitement, determination, anxiety, hope, and curiosity.  It was my first posting as a woman and a paladin in this faraway, exotic land known as Varisia, and I was as completely different from the people there as could be imagined.  Or so I thought.  It’s true, I looked tremendously different than the mixed folk that I discovered there, and I had accepted that initially they’d be afraid of me.  And they were, at least some of them. 

The Swallowtail Festival was, in hindsight, the best thing that could have happened.  They all had a chance to sit with me, eat with me, dance with me, and see me for who I am past the horns and the violet skin of my birth.  It turned out that we weren’t so different after all.  I feel like I was so young back then, before I met them.  Them

Osanna frowns, erases a few lines, blows the refuse off of the paper, and continues to draw.

If I would have asked Sarenrae as a girl who would save the world from the Rough Beast or some other horrors, divine or otherwise, I would have never, ever guessed that she would have told me what would come to pass without laughing mirthfully.  I can almost hear her voice with a giggle as she was gently pushing me off of the caravan.  “It will be wonderful, child.  You’ll see.  You’re going to meet the most wonderful people here.  But you won’t be traveling with them.  The five you’ll be with are..well…fixer-uppers.  Make sure to get enough sleep and don’t kill the butterflies!  Desna hates that!  Ta!

The journey and its ending is a tale fit for the grandest of bards, for certain.  What I’ve seen, what I’ve done, where I’ve gone…all of it.  The people of Varisia can finally flourish and live in peace, and all of my fixer-uppers, jagged edges and all, were worth fixing.  Though none of us will ever be the same again, we’re all better off than we were.  Bill has his father and his peace and quiet, Xander has his mother sans curse, Samael is soon to embark on a great pilgrimage to the land of my birth with me in tow in order be free of Asmodeus’ shackles.  Naru, my strange friend, is off and about in the wilds caring for orphans and founding a druid’s circle.  At least, that’s what I think she called it.  Even though I’ll never fully understand all of her gifts and mysticism, I still enjoy hearing her stories.  Glenn…he’s human again, true, but he’s far from whole.  The demons and daemons of his past still hound him, and only time will tell if he’ll heal from the ordeal.  I do not know what will happen to us all down the road, or whether or not we’ll stay close, but I plan to check in on them whether they like it or not.  Cluck cluck.

Me, you ask?  I feel as though one chapter in my life’s book has ended and another has begun.  Here I am again feeling relief, excitement, determination, anxiety, hope, and curiosity.  I have work to do.  I look at the Underbridge District and I smile.  The Sczarni cockroaches will soon attempt to scatter to their dark holes when I shed light upon them, only to discover that they’ll have no holes to hide in.  I’ll cleanse this place, build it, mold it, improve upon it, and make it my home.  Make it so that all who live here and come here will have a sense of pride for what they’re a part of.  And perhaps, here and there, I’ll have more frequent moments in time much like this one when I can live, relax, and enjoy those around me and the fruits of my labor.  Perhaps I’ll even find love some day with a man worthy of it.

Osanna finishes her drawing and holds it up to inspect her work.  It is a likeness of her dearest friends and comrades-in- arms walking along the road between Sandpoint and Magnimar together, laughing with each other and not thinking about the next horrors awaiting them.  Except for Samael and Bill.  Those two always look grumpy.  As she closes her book, she’s caught completely off guard by a snowball hitting her in the shoulder followed by the sudden laughter of a small group of boys and girls that frequent the alleys of Underbridge.  With her telltale narrowed eyes and half smirk, she goes to battle again versus worthy adversaries.

Last Letter

I meant to post this before the first part of All The Warm Lives went up.  This was the letter Glenn left for Osanna before he left Magnimar in The End Of The Beginning.

Dear Osanna –

Do you remember when we first met? It seems like so long ago, but really it’s been less than a year. And yet, we’ve gotten to know each other so well in such a short amount of time – like I’ve known you all my life. I’ve never had a friend like you. I can’t imagine not knowing you – not having you in my life. You mean more to me than I could ever properly express through words.

And yet, I’m writing this because I have to leave for a while. I can’t tell you where I’m going, and I don’t know how long I’ll be gone, and I already know you’re going to be angry. Please stop giving me that look. You have no idea how it tears me up to know I could possibly be the cause of any sort of anguish to you. Please believe me when I say that there is something I must do, something very important, and this is the only way.

I know this is a poor way to say goodbye. You deserve so much better. You have a lot of questions and you’ll probably have a lot more when the Hellknights come looking for me. I would much rather tell you this in person, but it would be better, for you and the temple, if you know as little about this situation as possible. Know that I’m alright, and so is Helena, but we can’t stay in Magnimar. I suspect it would be relatively simple for you – or, more accurately, Bill – to find us, but I would ask that you don’t. There is something the two of us must do, and it would be best if no one follow us for the time being.

I made a promise, once, to return to her. I didn’t break that promise, exactly, since I was able to fulfill it tonight, but it took much longer than I had anticipated, and I fear the damage that has been done is irrevocable. So I’m not going to promise to return someday. I couldn’t bear to break a promise to you, should something happen to me. But I will do everything I can to come back and explain everything properly one day.

Perhaps this is for the best, honestly. You know how I feel about you, and I know you can never return those feelings. Recently being near you – especially now that we don’t have goblins and giants and Runelords to worry about, and we can simply enjoy each others’ company – has been some of the happiest moments of my life, but also the hardest. I know we can never be together the way I would want us to, and I would never ask anything more of you. I have accepted that, but it still tears me apart inside.

Please understand.