Luske Truestar by Kah

Luske Truestar


5 May 2019 at 02:17:16 MDT

I wanted to show off one of the major NPCs the party's recruited from my current ongoing Pathfinder game.

Luske Truestar, a faithful priestess of Sarenrae the Dawnflower, always took pride in serving as one of her goddess's many deliverers of light, warmth, and redemption to the peoples of Golarion. While many of her fellow worshipers readily took up arms in service of the goddess, seeking to smite the many evils of the arid plains of Katapesh that could not be redeemed by even the most gracious acts of kindness, Luske never had much of a heart for combat, but still wore the sacred scimitar of Sarenrae at her side as a divine focus to channel her many blessings. She found herself much more adept at healing the sick and wounded, of which there were many in the small town of Solku. While the country of Katapesh allowed and was indeed infamous for the trade of slavery in the region, Solku itself, which had such a large contingent of Sarenites, did not look kindly upon the practice. While it would be unlawful for them to free or forbid the trade of slaves, it was not uncommon for pens and chains to mysteriously weaken or break in the dead of night, and the guards of Solku always seemed to have better things to do than track down escaped 'property'.  

Unfortunately, lacking anyplace to escape to that would not see them back in bondage once more, many slaves ended up turning to banditry out in the wastes, roaming the savannas to the east and mountains to the west in multiracial tribes, willing to take in anyone and anything they could get their hands on just to reclaim some semblance of control in the world.  Luske was dispatched with her fellow Sarenites as part of the Dawn Vigil to combat one such group of bandits after they had raided a civilian caravan escorting refugees to Solku. There she witnessed the horrors this particular tribe was known for - their practice of cutting down even their own should they fall in battle.  Assailed by a poor young piggy-orc boy, she felt great sorrow at watching his reckless, formless strikes and the desperation of the starving youth. As a mercy, she laid him low without drawing her blade to ensure he would not bleed out, only to find one of the boy's own clan-mates, later she would learn, his father, prepare to execute the failed runt.  Intervening, she castigated the brute with the Dawnflower's own holy flames, reclaiming the boy to bring back to Solku with her against his wishes, twice wounding his pride both for besting him, and again for denying him an honorable death.

Eventually, she convinced the church to take him in and train him to join the order.  Despite the boy's initial misgivings, he took to the combat drills well, and eventually came around to the scripture of the lady of redemption as well.  He felt a great remorse for the way he'd lived his life, but soon grew to feel an even deeper pity for those still lost and in pain without Sarenrae's guidance. Despite his best attempts, he could never muster the resolve to become a fully-fledged Paladin of the order, but eventually the Dawnflower's blessings found their way to him, igniting his fervor along the path of the Warpriest. Luske was delighted that her pupil had come so far over these many years, and wished him a tearful goodbye as he left the city to join the Pathfinder Society, hoping he could put his divine gifts to better use there since the Church still saw him unfit for duty.

Left in an empty nest, Luske soon jumped at the opportunity to find a new purpose, taking a mission to infiltrate a cult in the heart of Katapesh City far to the west, the greatest hive of scum in villainy this side of Cheliax. She trained for months to hide the signs of her faith, to conceal the aura of her blessings, and to cast from a concealed holy symbol stitched into the interior of her undergarments, before making the journey across the sands to Katapesh itself. It didn't take long to find signs of the cult at work, apparently following an orc by the name of Lucky Farouq, a notorious scoundrel and con artist who'd supposedly gained divinity from one of his wild schemes, empowering him to bestow miracles upon the poor of the city who know flocked to him. The sick were cured, the invalid healed, and countless Pesh addicts freed of their burdens. 

But they were stealing. A lot. And in Katapesh, nothing can be allowed to interfere with the flow of trade, so the enigmatic Pactmasters that ran the place had an obscene bounty on Farouq's head, and if the Church of Sarenrae ended up being responsible for dismantling the cult, that'd translate into far greater political clout to help win them favor in the courts of the coin lords.  Keeping watchful vigil over the poor and destitute and soon posing as one herself, Luske was soon recruited into the cult and led to their lair in a disused monastery of Sarenite worship in the hills outside of town, of all places. She could feel the righteous indignation burning in her blood as the thugs and layabouts defaced and dismantled what little remained of the once-holy place, but she had to contain it for now.  She expected it to take quite some time to cultivate enough trust to rise in the cult's ranks and meet Farouq himself, but to her surprise, the leader called for her almost immediately.

It quickly became clear why. He was a disgusting, fat lech of a man who took to shame in abusing the women of his cult. She remained evasive and was able to keep him distracted from pursuing her too closely at first, but eventually he grew suspicious. Things came to a head when she watched him slay a young rat boy that was grovelling at his feet - and out of reflex she'd conjured a burning blade to place at his throat.  With a grin, the illusion he'd lain had faded away, the rat not even present, but his suspicions confirmed, and her presence outed.  That's when things got... fuzzy.

Luske couldn't remember much of what happened after that. Only his eyes - his damned eyes. They held a profound power she could not fully describe. Even the most reluctant of his girls would end up fawning over him after locking eyes with the pig, and Luske fears she fared no better. She counts it a blessing that she hold so few memories of the months that followed, up until Farouq decided to try a new technique on her.  A total psychic extraction - everything she was, and everything she knew, would be drained out and locked away for his perusal, but she'd have to consent of course. Of course. When you're one of Farouq's girls, consent comes easy.

Perhaps the technique needed more work, perhaps her mind was too much for him, or perhaps the goddess interceded, but what happened next could not have been what Farouq had planned.  Luske stood awake, sober, in control of her faculties for the first time in months, but on the ground before her was her own lifeless corpse.  She now occupied the body of Lucky Farouq, and he was nowhere to be found.  

Distraught with this harrowing revelation, Luske came to pieces, sobbing alone for hours in the undercroft beneath the Monastery with only her own remains for company. Eventually she allowed herself a prayer, to apologize and seek atonement from the goddess for allowing herself to stray so far. But to her surprise once more, the miracles of Sarenrae were still at her fingertips.  She could still conjure light, still deliver healing, still call upon divine fire.  She took this as a sign from the goddess, that it was her duty to steer the false idol's flock.  

She came to realize that many of them could not turn anywhere else for aid. The few temples of Sarenrae in Katapesh were horribly overburdened and were unfortunately unable to care for a fraction of those who needed them, and the more populous church of Abadar would lay blame upon them for the grave sin of destitution, and relieve them of their hands if not their very lives for daring to steal in order to feed themselves.

For now, she was all they had. She resolved to reform the cult, to inject it with the Dawnflower's teachings, to actually heal the afflicted and addicted, a clear step up from Farouq's hypnotic placebos.  She explained the differences in her miracles (and behavior) as having reached a new level of enlightenment. No longer would the followers cower in fear of 'The Great One', but instead speak plainly and openly to her about their problems.  She considered trying to seek outside aid... but who would believe her? Surely someone as wily as Farouq could fool a Zone of Truth.

It was not until another adventuring party arrived that she was freed from this burden. Among them was her orcish pupil, Izzy, now a great adventurer in his own right.  Her tears overflowed at being reunited with him, despite him failing to recognize her in this new body. Unfortunately, the young Warpriest had discovered Luske's decaying body stowed in the undercroft before resolving himself to slay Farouq for his heinous crimes. Luske had tried keeping the body fresh with Gentle Repose at first, hoping perhaps she could undo what had happened somehow, but as time went on and her flock continued to grow, she simply didn't have the time (or spell slots) to keep it up, as she had so many others to keep healthy.

"Did you kill her?" he asks, flatly
"I... Izzy I'm... this is hard to explain." the pig bites her lip. 'I am Luske Truestar..."
Izzy looks deep into the pig's eyes and it seems like she's telling the truth.
Izzy falters a bit, looking over the portly half orc. "I...I..." he keeps his eyes on the half orc. "Tell me something about me then, something only Luske would know." he mutters
The half-orc sniffles, wiping away her tears. "You always snort when you drink your soup." she offers, continuing without being prompted. "You had stable duty for almost half a year for trying to 'free' the vigil's horses." "You always say please and thank you when it's time for dinner, no matter how tired you are. And you have the biggest heart of any of the young recruits I even mentored back in Solku." she allows her sniffling to break down into big, heaving sobs.
Izzy scours Luske's face for any hint of impropriety but... every word rings true...
Izzy reaches out for hug, wrapping his arms around the pig's torso and squeezing.

Luske sobbed into that embrace for what seemed an eternity, eventually explaining to the adventurers everything that had transpired. As it happened, they were aiming to found their own town just an hour's walk from Katapesh, and were happy to provide aid, housing, and labor to the members of her flock.  Their leader, the shrewd and charismatic Rakshasa Catfolk Anizhar, suggested that in exchange, Luske could provide her services as High Priest of the budding settlement, helping to coordinate and settle religious matters amongst its populace.  Thrilled to be able to get these people the help they needed on a more permanent basis, and to find a place to call home even in this new body of hers, Luske agreed eagerly. Now she serves as the High Priest of Venture, using her position to settle disputes between alarmingly high number of Rovagug and Lamashtu worshipers in the city, and to extend aid to bring the destitute of nearby Katapesh to the growing city so that they might have a place to live, work, and prosper.

Finally having time to herself after all this madness, she's started to develop a relationship with Izzy. She loves to hear the stories of his many heroic exploits, and is still more than willing to serve as his guiding light when he holds doubts about the path ahead.  As a lasting reminder of Farouq's influence, she finds that the body of a portly, virile pig man inescapably appealing - both Izzy's and her own included, and is debating if she might just want to stay this way now, even if she does still prefer being addressed as, and dressing as, a lady.

Luske Truestar belongs to myself and Riz Lysander.
Artwork courtesy of Min.
Setting belongs to Paizo.

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