Jaeludra is the fan made term for the OTP-like pairing of Jaela and Aludra the Dwarf on the Drunks and Dragons podcast. It began almost as a joke that the two females in the party would be sleeping together, but then, just like in She's All That, what started as a joke became so much more.
Her Adherant, courtesy of Sam Brady aka The God of Tits and Wine aka @samuelbrady7 on Twitter.
Darkest Before the Dawn
"A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself.
Can make a heav'n of hell, or a hell of heav'n"
- John Milton, Paradise Lost
It was the screams that were the hardest to forget. No matter how many hundreds or thousands of times she would be reborn, she would never be free of them. Not entirely.
It was silly to fear demons. Jaela was the Adherent of Erathis. The hand of her ineffable will. And it wasn’t fear demons made Jaela feel. Demons are those who have succumbed. Who have looked in the seemingly infinite hopelessness and darkness of the gods who would do mortals harm and have believed what they saw to be the inevitable. Jaela was a being of belief. Belief and hope given form, given flesh, given purpose. To hear the demons scream was to feel mortals give up all belief. To lose sight of what they might build with their great gods together and to slide into an ultimate unending apathy.
And everywhere she went, Jaela heard the demons and their screams. Everywhere mortals still dared to pick up swords, they were immediately and unendingly confronted by the demons and their terrible, terrible screams.
But Jaela fought. As she had fought in a thousand life cycles and would for a thousand more. As long as Erathis’ will was manifest on this plane, she would be an instrument of that will. But she could feel the strength of mortals she fought with against the very forces of the nine hells diminish. First she stood with millions. Then with thousands. Then hundreds.
This was the apocalypse. The final end. Jaela refused to put that growing feeling she had into words. To ever acknowledge it as a possibility let alone a truth she was ignoring. But it was everywhere. Every face screamed this inescapable truth as terrible as any demons screech.
No, it was not the fear of demons that made Jaela feel. Fear was good. Fear pushed her. Fear was something she could fight, overcome, defeat.
It wasn’t fear. It was a deep dark terrible acceptance.
And so, after killing nearly one hundred demons in this life cycle and not feeling she had yet made a significant impact in humanity's last stand. Jaela strapped her halberd to her back and began to walk back towards Pelor’s Hope.
She was still the Adherent of Erathis. And while there was even one other person with her standing against the darkness, she would stand strong with them. So when people looked to her, their Adherent, walking the near empty streets of Pelor’s Hope, she would smile at them. Exort them to carry on. To endure. To thrive. To cling to Erathis. But the well from which she had for a thousand life cycles drawn her strength seemed closed to her for the time being. With an emptiness she could never before remember knowing, she walked into the first tavern she saw.
“Erathis. Grant me strength. I don’t know what to do.”
Lightning in a Bottle
A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow. – William Shakespeare
In few of her lifecycles did Jaela remember feeling lightning strike like it did entering the tavern of The Wandering Dragon. She could feel a burning sensation on her mark--the mark over her heart on her chest.
Contrasted with her being so impotent against the demons, once more feeling the light of Erathis was a palpable relief.
She looked around. This tavern was known for its wenches and at a glance it was obvious why. A very famous wench she knew, Steph Kingston, was attending to a table with a hugely varied group of adventurers. Another attractive wench was sitting in the lap of one ferocious huge green dragon born adventurer.
As she looked at the dragon born, the burning sensation on her mark grew. She looked at all the adventurers. They were looking back at her quizzically. There was a very fit human with arcane looking tattoos or maybe burns--hard to say at this distance--covering every inch of his exposed skin. Wearing a loose white shirt and traveling pants. He had a long traveling cloak resting on the chair behind him.
An imposing dragon born who exuded confidence. With sparkling green scales, he seemed aloof. As he spoke quietly to his companions and his doting wench, occasional lightning crackled by his mouth. He seemed to have a tail--something uncharacteristic of dragon borns as far as she knew. It was lazily waging slightly. The dragon born appeared to be nearing 6’8’’. At his side was a huge sheathed greatsword. There was a congealed horrifying puddle of blood formed beneath his sword, with drops slowly dripped down the scabbard dripping onto the puddle. His scabbard had streaks of both dry and wet blood. He certainly had seen much carnage.
And then there was a dwarf. Clearly the most armored of the party, she was in exquisite scale mail armor, with a shield at her back and a warhammer at her side. She had long, wild blonde hair, somewhat braided but somewhat askew, and a very soft face. Her form was imposing and impressive, as most dwarfs are, but her features seemed…softer than dwarfs she had encountered before. Shimmering blue eyes. A button of a nose. Very fair skin. Immaculate.
Her mark over her heart continued to burn. Yet she could feel the sensation of her heart beating beneath it. Jaela’s face flushed from its normal purple to more of a mauveine.
She could hear the human male speak to the group but could not make out his words. The dwarf lady broke eye contact with Jaela to slap him.
“Ha ha ha, Aludra, don’t laugh at all my jokes!” The human exclaimed loudly.
“You guys stay here I’m going to go hit on that,” the dragon born said.
“You guys are a bunch of brutes!” The dwarven lady said, clearly exasperated.
Jaela stopped close to their table. Looking at these warriors with wide eyes. The wench who was vying for the dragon born’s attention scurried off and started speaking with Steph Kingston in the corner in hushed tones.
The male human smiled all of his brilliant white teeth on full display. She could see at this distance that he was in exceptional shape and carried himself with the poise and presence of a human of noble birth. This didn’t inform any opinion or impression she might have of him. Erathis’ light was discovering and achieving your potential. High or low birth, great potential was in all.
“Hey, I am Lord Titus Harper of Pelor’s Hope. Well met. What’s your name?” the human asked.
“Hi, guys. My name is Jaela. It’s so nice to meet you. And you have…” she looked down, slightly embarrassed, “such lovely hair.” She questioned how those words could have possibly escaped her breath.
Both the Harper character and the dragon born replied in unison: “Thank you!”
“I don’t wash it that much,” explained Harper, now fretting with his shoulder length hair.
“Oh no, not your hair,” Jaela replied. Raising her eyes to again meet the dwarf’s gaze. Her heart’s mark of Erathis had the most pleasant warm sensation. She imagined it would be warm to the touch. “Your hair, Ms. Dwarf Lady. Your hair is lovely.”
“You don’t think my hair is pretty?” growled the huge dragon born, seemingly forgetting the fact that he did not have hair.
“You also have great hair,” spouted the dwarf. She was smiling wrying at Jaela.
“Your--er--scales are very shiny,” Jaela remarked. Her complexion shifting from Mauve to Electric Purple.
Now the dragon born was confident he was being paid a compliment. He stood up and looked over the shimmering green scales on his arm. His reptilian mouth pulled back in a smirk. As he looked up expecting the same adoration he was giving himself, he noticed Jaela was admiring the scale mail armor the female dwarf was wearing. He exhaled the slightest bit of electricity and smiled bemused. “Aludra, she just complimented you.”
“Oh, my scale armor? Thank you!” Aldura beamed, chuckling slightly to herself. “Don’t pay these guys any mind. They couldn’t handle a compliment, anyway.”
“Listen,” the human began. His practiced charismatic smile dropping somewhat. “Your white swirls on your face and the fact that you have purple eyes is great. We’re going to have a great time.”
“Harper, you need to be cool right now. Have you ever been around a female aside from myself?” Aludra asked.
Completely ignoring Aludra, Harper continued right on. “Were you born out of an egg??”
“WHAT?” Jaela shrieked. To nearly everyone in her life, Jaela was the only Deva they had ever encountered, so questioning her heritage was not uncommon. Even then, it had never been put so bluntly or directly before. She snorted and broke into a fit of laughter.
“Stop laughing,” said Harper, offput by the reaction he had caused in her. “You’re so kawaii, I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”
The dragon born, with his sharp teeth in a toothy grin, tried to get the group back on track. “How long has this town been sealed off?”
Jaela regained some composure. She had a hand on the table for support and was still laughing. Her lavender eyes tearing up slightly. “Um, no, I was not born in an egg. I was born in a burst of sunlight as Erathis’ will was given form.”
Aludra stared at the tall Deva before her. Spellbound. “Wow,” she breathed.
Harper laughed nervously. “So, uh, do you want to be our best friend and help save the world?”
Jaela beamed. “What? Yeah! That sounds great!” Erathis’ will was clear the moment she spied these adventurers. She was to join as their companion. Flashes of insight were typically painfully clear to her and only her. And she had to convince those around her of Erathis’ will. If they could feel the pull as strongly as her…they would together be a perfect conduit of Erathis’ light.
Jaela felt for perhaps the first time in this life cycle, peace and purpose. She found herself smiling at Aludra. Her lavender eyes glowed softly. “Are we going to go fight demons?!”
“Oh, yes--hell yes!” Aludra exclaimed, matching Jaela’s enthusiasm. Her hand instinctively wrapping around her war hammer.
“We’ve been dead for months,” Harper said out of nowhere.
“I guess we aren’t too good at being people again. We may need some time,” said Aludra, now looking at Harper. It was clear that this party had been through much together. Heaven and hell, from the sound of it.
“I mean...” Jaela began with a measured tone, “you guys know what happened, right?”
Could they have been spared somehow by the unending demon invasion? The terrible and omnipresent feeling of loss and hopelessness all mortals seemed doomed to?
Aludra looked uncomfortable.
“More or less,” the tall dragon born finished. His face was unreadable.
“We might have been involved,” said Aludra.
“Wait. You guys did that?” Said Jaela. Suddenly feeling the emptiness she had known all this life cycle rushing back. Her arm felt incomplete without her halberd. She never felt complete without wielding it, especially when she didn’t know what to do.
Harper hissed softly. Aludra looked uncomfortable. The dragon born spoke: “I wouldn’t say that we did that so much as I’d say we…did...that.” His aloofness made it hard to interpret his voice.
Jaela searched her feelings. She still felt Erathis’ light emanating from each of them. She felt as connected to them already as she had to any other. Besides, how could three adventurers have ‘caused this?’ What would causing this even entail? Conflicted between this life cycle’s mortal being’s suspicion of their seeming involvement of the demon invasion and its need to blame anything or anyone for the world being more torn asunder more than it ever had, and between her unending service of Erathis which seemed to dictate she devote herself to this party…she studied them all impassively.
It was odd: in this life cycle she seemed to feel a dissonance between her immortal soul and her new mortal body. Perhaps this cycle’s mortal being she had been given by Erathis was more passionate than she was used to. She would have to be more attentive to that.
Deva have an unnerving habit of becoming perfectly still, only moving to blink. She must have been doing that now because all three of her new party member’s were looking right at her.
“Uhm, there is a big portal. I mean, you know the Braiser of Worlds has been opened and now they are destroying everything,” she said. Flashes of her past-self fighting back to back with a small band of humans against the demon tide. The sensation of a demon’s teeth sinking into her neck as Jaela’s past-self’s scream mixed with that of the demons. Echoing their horror and their hopelessness. She closed her eyes.
“Do you have a family?” Harper implored. “Listen. Do you have a family?” he repeated.
“Well, not per say but I remember the last time I was alive I was my brother,” Jaela responded.
“What??” Harper asked startled.
“So...we remember our past lives. Or at least little bits of them. So the last time I was alive was a couple weeks ago, and it was my brother. But he died. He was fighting demons. And then I came back.”
“How many people have you been?” asked Aludra, distinctly taking everything in.
“Umm…well, I only remember him. And then a little bit of the person before. And the further back I go, the fuzzier it gets. So I don’t know, perhaps many people.”
“And now you work for Erathis!” Aludra stated without question. “Which is awesome, because she brought us back to life.”
“She’s the coolest, isn’t she?” Jaela said, smiling at Aludra. “I love her so much.”
The large dragon born was chuckling to himself. He had been thinking of something for a while. “Did…did…did you ever make out with yourself?” he asked with a low, guttural throaty laugh.
“Thom!” Aldura and Harper chidded.
Ah, his name is Thom, Jaela thought to herself. She was amused at how amused he was.
“Uthgar” Aludra cursed.
Uthgar? thought Jaela.
“Have you ever met Uthgar?” Harper asked Jaela.
“No!” Jaela said firmly. “Why would I?...no.”
“Uthgar has never been that good to us,” Harper continued.
“That’s why you should come to Erathis,” beamed Jaela. “She’s the best to everyone!”
“Have you seen my tat?” Harper asked abruptly, pulling back his puffy white shirt to show the sigil of Erathis over his heart. Aludra chimed in, “or mine?” She began to unhook her scale mail the back.
“I have the same tattoo, guys! Its like we’re friends!” Jaela purred. She could feel the light of Erathis all around. Nothing was a better sensation than divining her Goddess’s will for her. And this was it. This was providence. She enthusiastically reciprocated their guester showing her mark of Erathis over her left breast.
“Ahhh!” Harper screeched. Jaela looked at him quizzically. Apparently exposing her tattoo mark on her chest had an effect on these people. Perhaps being male so recently, Jaela forgot such things. She straightened her shirt, covering herself and exploded into laughter.
“So I know that you were just born in a burst of sunlight a few days ago,” said Aludra to Jaela “But um…your accent is very interesting. Is this some leftover from a previous life, or it this just a heaven accent?”
“You see, I’m from Yanghar. Yanghar is in the East. It’s across the sea. I came over on a boat.”
They all looked at her quizzically. They didn’t seem to connect to what she was saying.
“It’s in the East. The East East.”
“Well I’ve traveled a lot with the free companies North of here and…Yanghar’s not a place,” Harper added.
“That’s because we’re not North, we’re East of here.”
“Well yeah, we are from the North but we travelled all over the place,” Harper said incredulously. “We’ve been to the ruins of House Vidalis and the swamps of Ichtaka. You realize this, right?” he looked dumbfounded at Jaela, then turned his attention to Thom. “Thom, have you heard of this place?”
“Uhh...the House Vidalis? Yeah,” the large dragon born replied.
“What about Yanghar? You’re from the East,” asked Harper.
“Yanghar…no, is that…is that just South of Sandusky?”
“Um---no. We’re very East. Like, we’re not on the same continent.”
They looked intensely confused at the word continent.
“So this piece of land that’s here. There is another piece of land way East. That’s over an ocean.” Jaela explained patiently.
“Bullshit!” Thom exclaimed.
“So where you are from, are there more like you?” Aludra asked.
“There are only a few of us. But there are a lot of fun Eastern things.,” Jaela responded.
“Like what, what are fun Eastern things?” Harper asked.
“Well, we really love dragons. Not the ones that burn your faces but fun festival dragons!” Jalea began,
“I’m a fun festival dragon!!” Thom roared. Abruptly perturbed.
Harper seemed amused at Thom’s reaction. Jaela was taken aback but then quickly put a hand on Thom’s shoulder. “You would be the king of the festival dragons, Thom.”
“Damn right!” he replied with pride.
“We really like industry. And progress. And the sun rises in Yanghar,” Jaela continued.
“So wait, have the demons reached over to Yanghar?” asked Aludra concerned.
“Well, they hadn’t yet but I am trying to fight them off so that Yanghar stands. Right now it has the biggest temple of Erathis is in Yanghar. Well, the biggest since Caer fell.”
“Pelor’s Hope is obviously all about Pelor. We definitely offer omege to other deities. But…Pelor’s great. He’s very cool,” Harper said.
“I mean, he’s not as cool as Erathis.” Jaela said.
“We’ve been out of it for a while. We were dead. Do you have any ideas of what we should do?” asked Harper. “We were also reborn through Erathis.”
“Oh man, that’s really cool. We’re like the same person!” Jaela said, feeling as though she belonged.
“I feel as though I was born in a burst of sunlight too.” Said Aludra.
Just then Thom growled, “I’m not a lady!!”
They looked at him dumbfounded. “No, you’re not, Thom” said Jaela quizzically.
“If I had to guess,” Jaela started, “We should kill demons. And try to close their portal.”
“Listen. It’s as if your ship is sinking. You’ve gotta stem the flow. You can’t just keep pouring buckets of water out because that won’t fix the problem. We only need to kill demons so much in that we close the portal off,” Aludra concluded.
“What if we snuck into Caer and shut down the portal?” Harper suggested.
“I mean, maybe you could do that if it was still there,” Jaela said.
“Oh, right, it’s in the Abyss.”
“First of all, we need to gather information about how best to fight these demons,” said Aludra thoughtfully.
“I mean, you fight them,” said Jaela simply. Her right hand slipping to her Halberd.
As soon as her hand grasped the halberd, everything faded to white.
“Instrument of my will. My most loyal servant. My Adherent, hear me.” The voice came into focus as though it had always been there and she was just now listening to it, able to hear it. She dared not breathe; her heart dared not beat as she was filled with the visage of her Goddess.
“Adherent. Lead your companions to find the Demonomicon. With this, you will stand against the darkness.”
She came to slowly. She knew from experience that when spirited away she appeared perfectly completely still. Her new companions seemed more at ease with this mannerism now and were excitedly talking about rituals.
“Demonomicon,” Jaela commanded.
Her companions all looked at her.
“It would help. We have to find it,” Jaela continued.
“Okay,” Harper said, “where would we find one?”
“There is only one. The Demonomicon of Iggwilv. We have to find it,” Jaela said.
“Okay. We’ll find it,” Aludra concluded.
“Would any of you care for some beer?” Jaela asked. They began excitedly talking amongst themselves about the Demonomicon and what rituals Harper could cast. Paying her no mind.
Jaela approached the tavern owner.
“What can I get ya?” he asked.
“Dwarven Ale for four. And food for four. I’m sure you have the best food here,” Jaela said with a smile. She couldn’t remember being a fan of Dwarven ale, but she imagined it would suite Aledra. And she felt a strange and sudden taste for all things Dwarven. Perhaps something to do with this most recent body.
“Eh, it’s okay. We have salt potatoes. Is that good?”
“That’s perfect!” Jaela said, beaming at this tavern owner. “That’s my favorite! And I think you underestimate yourself. You should be more confident in your cooking skills.”
“Why thank you, purple lady,” he said a little dumbfounded yet flattered. “I’ll get those right for you.”
Jaela’s lavender eyes shimmered. Erathis saw everything and everyone as they could be. Not as they presently are. That was a part of the pain of the demon invasion so acutely felt in Jaela. It was a million bright futures cut down that she was all too cognizant of. But it also meant that Jaela, as an instrument of Erathis’ will, could see the potential in everything and everyone around her. The power laced in her words was probably lost on the tavern owner but she was blessing him and blessing this tavern for Erathis.
She looked over the upturned tables. The war torn and mostly empty tavern, with two wenches and four patrons. She saw the bustling center of life and energy of Pelor’s Hope it could--it would be. She saw memories being formed. People falling in love and forgetting their troubles. She saw, as she always saw, progress.
As she scanned her vision she saw her companions. She saw Thom standing tall with a huge and terrible greatsword. She heard his deep powerful voice singing songs of bravery and courage. She felt his light. How he gave people around him the strength to carry on. The living breathing heart of this party.
She saw Harper, a living storm of energy and power. Lightning crackling from his fingertips, and all around him. His shoulder length hair standing on end. Him being an inconsolable hurricane of energy, emotion and magic. The sight of his power gave her goosebumps. Never in this cycle had she encountered a being with as much a capacity for destruction as herself. She tasted his power and knew that he was such a being. Of terrible destructive energy. She only hoped he did not hurt himself or the ones he loved.
And she saw Alurda. A powerful primal being. With nature spirits swirling all around her. She saw bonds, powerful bonds that she had. Some broken, some strained. She could see her giving herself entirely to a young child. And somehow she felt more awe for her as a mother than she did for her as a warrior. She could see her rending the hells below asunder and defying the very heavens above to protect her friends. Jaela also saw a Aludra take on the visage of Winter’s Herald. A terrifying and achingly beautiful being of ice. Jaela became aware that this was the most iron willed mortal she had ever beheld in any of her countless cycles. Jaela also could feel those bonds, and that iron will of protection extending to her. And feeling that brought tears unbidden to her eyes.
“Here you are, Miss.”
She still had her back to the tavern owner. And was looking at Aludra. The shimmering vision she had of her as Winter’s Herald was slowly fading. A few tears continued to run down Jaela’s face.
“Do you…have rooms available?”
“Aye. For you sure!”
“So you have…one big room?”
“We have several, Miss.”
“One large room will be great.” She quickly wiped away her tears. And turned around smiling. “This food looks so perfect! Thank you very much, kind sir! Please always believe in yourself and in your wonderful tavern.”