Patryn Kael

Sometimes the dead refuse to stay that way

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You stare. Does my appearance… disturb you? No, do not look away, I do not mind. I received many such stares over the course of my life, and now that that life is ended I expect to receive many more.

Yes, you heard me correctly. I am no longer the man I once was—death has transformed me into something else. Not a mindless, shambling zombie or an instrument of evil, though. I am still my own person, but with a different perspective now. And the man before, well, he is still there, just…

...the construct blinks out of existence, and my mother smiles. She looks human now and the smile is warm and genuine and full of pride, but something in her eyes betrays her fiendish nature. We have the same eyes, she always says, and I share some her other traits as well, but not the ability to cloak myself in another appearance. I’ve never been ashamed of what I am, of the infernal blood that is a part of me. Sometimes it seems to whisper to me, imploring me to succumb to its temptations, but I am stronger than that. I have to be. “You have power, Patryn,” she says to me. “It’s up to you to decide what to do with that power. Don’t make the same mistakes I did.” She looks at me, and I can feel the sorrow in her thoughts, even though her expression shows nothing. I know she regrets that she was…

...buried. The memories are hazy and faded, obscured by my passage across the veil or the changes that I’ve undergone, and they come to me unbidden sometimes. Some memories are filled with sorrow and regret, others with joy and triumph. Few are complete. I recall my companions, but the thoughts are fragmented. I see a face with no name, hear a whispered voice with no source. When I remember our times together I…

...get down!” I shout, but my warning is a fraction of a second too late. I dive behind the outcropping just as orange flame blossoms behind me, washing over the stone and searing my skin. Peering over the top of the jagged rocks, I see no sign of Lar, smell nothing but choking sulfurous fumes and burnt flesh. I see nothing but fire raining down onto a red plain from a red sky, and I know that we shouldn’t have come, that we weren’t ready for this. A scream to my left draws my attention, and I pivot in time to see clawed hands gripping Virienne and fear in her eyes as she is pulled back out of sight. A leering, horned face appears in her place, the bloodied, spiked body supporting it drawing up over the ridge. It looks at me with glowing red eyes and intones in a harsh voice dripping with malice, “Welcome to your new home, my pet.” There is no escape from here, none that I can find, none that I’m strong enough to take. I’m so sorry, mother, father. Sorry I couldn’t…

...sometimes smile, sometimes frown. I feel no remorse for what the memories show me, no guilt for what I see. What I was is no longer what I am, and I cannot take that kind of responsibility for what is, at best, an incomplete truth. There is a different path before me now, one that a new man must walk, relinquishing the power of old and embracing the second life that has been given him. If the memories show me anything, it is…

...smiles at me with his usual mischief. “There, that’s better! I bet you’ll get a different reception this time.” My mother would be proud that I finally learned to alter my form, I think, even if it was through psychometabolism and not natural ability. I’m as content today with what I am as I was all those years ago, but sometimes disguises are necessary. I’m still the same person inside, though, regardless of how I appear on the outside. There are some who accept me without question, and maybe that is all that matters in the end. I smile as I follow the sorcerer through the doors. Yes, it will be good to not terrify the courtesans this time…

...that I can make my own choices, and that I can deal with the consequences. That, no matter who you are, and no matter what you have done, you can find acceptance. It doesn’t have to be from everyone, thus you can think whatever you want about me. I am surprised you are still here, actually. You have no reason to…

...streaks overhead, and the plains around us smoke from the radiance of its passage. I shield my face from the brilliance, the heat washing over me but leaving me uninjured—another reason to be thankful for my infernal heritage. I raise my eyes in time to see it pass over the mountains to the north before exploding in a fireball that stretches far into the sky. Looking at the others, I see a mixture of emotions. Determination. Anger. Confusion (although I still hope that one will pass with time). Just when it seemed we had won, victory has been torn from us. I sigh. I’ve been with my companions long enough to know that they will continue to fight, give everything they can to stop whatever is happening. Even the ones who claim they don’t care. And I will be with them the whole way, because they are my family now, and nothing will…

...stand with me. There are others who will, others who would lay down their lives for mine, tainted and incomplete though it may be. And I would do the same for them. The me that was learned long ago what it meant to lose my companions, and we both agree on one thing: there is nothing that I wouldn’t do to prevent that from happening again, not even if it means my…

...stuck here! Release us, and I’ll agree to your terms,” I plead. The destruction somehow trapped us here, I think, but now there is an opportunity to return. Something is calling us back, but we can’t follow on our own. The path is unclear – blocked – whether by intention or accident I don’t know. I can feel the others nearby, but I can’t hear them, can’t find them, and I have been trying for so long. I don’t know for sure if they’re alive or dead, don’t know whether I am either. His proposal carries a high price, but it is a price I am willing to pay if it spares my friends any more of this non-life. “Very well,” he drones, disappearing back into the mist. “Lord Kelemvor accepts your offer of service…

...death.

Patryn Kael

The Only Constant gkb103 gkb103