Fey and elfin features blend well together – Ylithain is rather comely, her face girlish, with large eyes an off shade of green, dotted with silver and gold highlights, her head crowned with dimly glowing hair that is almost intangible, spreading for meters around her head when she swims through the waters, falling, or rather, flowing down to the small of her back when above the surface.
Her skin is glossy, glittering with the sparkle of captured moonlight. Thus, it is brightest right after the full moon, and almost dim in the nights following the new moon.
Without a clearly defined seam, her body continues into an eel-like tail marked with concentric patterns, spirals, circles, waves. From the center of those concentric patterns, tendrils grow which Ylithain can use to manipulate, propel herself or to strangle evil wizards. Similar tendrils grow along her spine. To the touch, she is moist, very soft as if she had no bones, and elastic; when struck, her body offers all the resistance of water.
Ylithain adorns all of her body with jewelry – bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and piercings on her tendrils, a diadem on her head. Well, she likes her shiny stuff for sure.
She doesn’t have a voice, but her runes glow a pale blue.
Manzark, called imaginatively ‘The Black’, was an elf most unsavoury even then, delving into dark sorcery and plotting for conquest, domination, subjugation, and similar social activities. No wonder that he was thus quite lonely and fair damsels screamed rather in terror than in delight upon his arrival.
To satisfy his overbearing libido, he used the tools he had at his disposal, being a sorcerer of darkness: mind control, necromancy and summoning. Soon, he grew to loathe the fake smiles of succubae and cold bosoms of vampires, not to forget the voracious appetites of both. Paging through his tomes of summoning, the mage soon stumbled upon pages telling of the fey. Clapping his hands and licking his lips in anticipation, Manzark proceeded to savour his new fancy.
The monsoons hit hard that year, shedding all their tears over the course of a few days. The warm winds that drove the clouds hither raced on, to see as much of the land before they tire, and sang of the lush valleys to the mountain snows. Fed up with the long winter, the snows sought to see the wonders of the spring lowlands for themselves, and melt.
Heavy floods struck, turning brooks into raging rivers and the main waterways into colossal flowing serpents that writhed over the land, devouring all in their way.
Looking for a special treat, Manzark called a river fey. Ma’aanan ‘Ndala answered the call, once a small spirit of a lazy forest stream, now swollen with the raging energies of the flood, brimming with energy and remembering sanity as a memory distant and hazy.
As soon as he had voiced his demand, the fey swept over him like a flash flood, and the wizard was in for the ride of his life. All his strength and sorcerous might it took to save his life from being drained by the overly amorous river spirit.
The river fey remembered little of what came to pass, and was, the floods having ebbed away to the sea, surprised at the life growing within her. Strong with the energies of the raging waters, a child was born, both fey and of the realm of flesh, of dual spirit.
Wild and capricious, the child was named Ylithain, Hungry Water, very fittingly so, for she hunted from the first day on all that even as much as touched the water surface. In the rare instances that the puzzling child sought to communicate, it was with symbols of the arcane art and pictograms, impossible to decipher for the fey with their instinctive approach to magic and widespread illiteracy.
Though the fledgling grew more somber and irrational, the elder fey paid little attention, for she was still at ease when with her fellows. Little did they know that Ylithain was consumed with loneliness and her inability to make herself heard, her futile efforts to communicate with other fledglings failing one and all.
If they became closer to her, perhaps they would listen, perhaps they’d understand? In this desire she swallowed the up, dissolving them in her essence, unread glowing runes in the air telling of her wish to be closer, ever closer.
Horrified, the fey cast her out, their ranks bristling with weapons and readied spells. Ylithain fled, ever downstream, ever chased, into the bayous and bogs, stagnant pools and blind waterways of the Marrana river delta.
The waters there were much unlike the bubbling streams of her home, staining Ylithain’s sparkling blue form, much unlike the moonlight she so loved. Long lay she on beaches, reaching out to the moon, until her flesh was filled with sparkling rays of moonlight, sweeping away the stain of the stagnant waters. Lonely and longing, she inscribed every one of her sorrows on the water lilies so abundant in this place, her arms and tendrils drawing lines of faint sorcery across every leaf.
The food in the delta was much unlike the occasional deer seeking to slake its thirst or a careless otter – strange two-legged animals floated around on shells of wood, hunted fish with teeth on sticks, or dwelled in burrows built by the water, with bright lights sparkling on ropes and sticks all night, and some of them had voices, both from their throats and things they held in hand, sweeter than the songs of the nightingale.
They tasted far sweeter than any of the beast of the wild, or any cold fish of the delta; but what she desired most was not their blood nor breath, but their voice.
For years she listened, waiting just below the water, to one whose voice was pure gold, who sang by the lake every eve of the full moon. Others said his name often, and it was Athanir, and Ylithain sought to speak the name, but she could not. Thus she watched, hidden, too amazed by the music to even feel hunger.
The fey observed how the musician went to sleep, how he tended to his instruments before that, his throes of passion when a fan of his slipped into his hut after the feast to show him her appreciation.
Fascinated, Ylithain collected jewelry off the uncounted drowned, adorned herself abundantly, certain to succeed in gaining the affection of the singer. The artist was surprised at first, seeing the glistening fey rise from the waters, shocked soon thereafter. Little did he care for the glowing signs that appeared around Ylithain, sought to escape her presence. Like trails of stars her tendrils slung around him, dragging the bard into the waters, his honey-sweet voice a high-pitched scream. Like she saw before, Ylithain sought to kiss the singer’s full lips, caress him, all he did was scream. She pressed her lips tighter against his, delighting in his escaping breath, wishing for a voice like his, wishing for his affection. The only thing that happened was that the bard went limp, and the fey felt the spark that was driving him escaping. Reaching for the light, she pressed it back into the man’s chest.
“You are not going anywhere!”
To the bogs she carried the bard, to sing for her, and his soul understood what his ears previously could not. On the shore or below the waters he sat, sustained by the magic of the waters, neither dreaming nor awake, filling the bogs with a voice surreal and eerie.
He was the first, but certainly not the last. After some time, travelers in the delta bore witness to haunting melodies, and one wizard who had traversed the murky waters in the shape of a river dolphin spoke of a ball of the drowned at the river’s bottom, presided by an inhuman queen adorned by naught but a thousand jewels.
The study was dark, except for a few dim candles shedding light upon a dusky tome, and the glowing lines of a summoning circle. Manzark stood beside it, an eager smile on his face. Shuddering pleasantly at the remembrance of memories a few dozen years past, he was better prepared and ready for his summoned bride: he was going to call the wild water fey, but this time, he’d be the master.
Sorcerous chains crackling in his hands, ready to bind whatever might heed the calling, he finished the summons. How great was his surprise when the figure that appeared in the circle did not exceed four feet in height, a serenely bubbling semi-translucent female with a peaceful look in her eyes, more child than woman. “Are you Ma’aanan ‘Ndala, whom I once called?” The fey shuddered, covering her face with her hands: “Yes I am, my lord, but I beg of you, please, do not afflict me with a monster like that again!” She gazed at him, a sincere plea in her eyes. “A monster, you say?” the wizard grinned. “Tell me more.”
Delighting in the sparkle of the gibbous moon, Ylithain floated on her back, letting the silvery sparkle purge impurities from her body, and settle in argentine spangles beneath her skin. Then, from across the swamps, she heard an eerie song most enchanting, a calling she could not resist. Up from the water she gazed at a man most unusual, flawless as if painted, and not born, sitting on a sturdy branch protruding over one of her favorite pools. His raven-black hair, deep blue eyes and angular features were complemented by his silver-and black attire, decent jewelry and subtle cologne. What caught Ylithain was his song and only that, a melody that made the shadows dance and emerge from hiding, one that blurred the stars and made them spiral ever closer, it sent waves of enchantment across the moon’s face.
She caressed the water’s surface as if it was this mysterious singer, not daring to approach as not to break his tune through fright and flight, and the ensuring fight. Then, she could bear its compelling sound no more, and, hesitatingly, came forth from hiding, displaying the glowing rune for attraction above her head. *Am attracted to the song*like Tanar’ri to fresh-spilled blood*like wolf to the moon*like sun to sky* she meant. Still, the fey gasped with surprise when the stranger replied in kind, his fingers tracing attraction-inquiry/curiosity-enthrallment/fascination in elegant, natural strokes. The first to speak her language, the stranger drew her attention even more. A halo of radiant signs they formed, all the unasked questions, unspoken desires, one and every dream. Smiling, the stranger came closer, and Ylithain held her breath as he reached out and caressed her face. “Monster? You’re not. A wonder? More so.” And he was content. His daughter just liked his smile and grinned back.
Ylithain told all to the likeable man, proud at her accomplishments and delighting in her ability to share them; she spoke of her collection, jewels, hunts, of the secrets of the delta, truly, her monologue was not to be halted. Manzark just smiled, nodding, sometimes uttering an affirming ‘yes’ or ‘oh, is it so?’ smiling pleasantly. Finally, she fell asleep lying on his chest by the water’s edge, fading with the first rays of the sun.
How great was her delight when the wizard appeared again next night, carrying a harp, his fingers playing eagerly with it. Soon, he played with her flowing hair, singing softly, the third day, they kissed, falling into each other’s arms soon thereafter. The memory of passion still fresh, they rested on a beach still warm from the sun’s rays, Ylithain’s emotion was mirrored by the murky waters, the surface swirling, whirlpools springing into life and fading again, fish swimming in dazed circles.
“She’s okay, pack her up, boys” the wizard spoke to several shadowy figures emerging from the undergrowth. His minions flung ensorcelled chains all over Ylithain, laughing gleefully as she was too startled to resist. The fey gazed back at them, and shrugged as her body became fluid briefly, the chains sinking through as if she was no more than water pure. “Even if you flee, you told me all my dear!” Manzark laughed, certain of his triumph. “You’re mine!” Concentrating all her antipathy in a single grimace, she let but one rune appear: *evil* Amused, the sorcerer braced his arms against his sides: “Yes, that is one name they call me. What are you going to do about it? There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide!”
Her stern look surprised him, along with the defiance accumulated in it: *negation-fear*negation-flight*evil-cure* she let the runes speak, and before he could react, she flung her tendrils around the wizard’s neck, holding it tight, no magical syllable could escape. Towards the murky depth the fey dragged him, the weapons of his minions passing harmlessly through her. Under the surface she held him, letting his neck free, watching the bubbles go, one by one. “Breathe out evil, stay pure, beautiful, let evil go.”
As he went limp, her magic was ready to bind him.
Sadness and frustration held sway over her, for bound, the mage’s spark was gone. She sought to wake what delighted her, the wit, deep eyes and enigmatic smile. Letting him free was out of question though – then she knew. The seed he had filled her with, his captive magic, and the free sorcery of the river would suffice to re-create what good and beautiful was in him!
Weaving the magic into the shape of Elven flesh, infusing it with the life of the river, she held her breath to witness what fruits her work bore. Could she have screamed, she would have. While her creation had many traits of the wizard, like his goatee, long flowing hair, even his black cloak, it was twisted, broken, eyes but two black soulless holes; pale it was like the worms that feast on refuse on the river’s bottom, it moved as if driven by a force to whom legs and arms were entirely foreign. In shame, she hid below the waters, covering it with mud. Much to her grief, all other attempts to create ended likewise.
Tears running down her translucent face, she floated amongst her beloved lilies, inscribing them with desire and wish, longing and loneliness, angst and gloom, despair, frustration.
Pick a lily if you dare.
Ylithain has difficulties communicating. This is made no better by her impulsive character and little empathy on her part. Still, she delights in communication, but may be distrustful. She is very concerned about her appearance, grooming herself meticulously. Her personality is mostly melancholic, with a defiant streak. In any sense of the word, she cannot be considered mature, though her poetry and thoughts will be very deep. Of those she considers ‘hers’ she’ll be very caring, in her own weird way. She is quite concerned about her marshlands, though will allow human presence out of curiosity – of course, anyone of them whom she considers evil will be drowned, and NOT kept.
*Goth blossoms: why do so many noble youths from a city fall to dystopia, and eventually take their lives? Are the strange water lilies connected to it? Alternatively, the broth of the petals may be a potent depressive agent, or even cast random dark magic spells on the drinker - a welcome weapon of assassination.
*Dark Flowers: in the swamps, wizards are battling for strange flowers said to aid sorcery. One of them, a strange elf in a black coat, approaches the PCs requesting aid in halting the madness.
*Ball of the drowned: On the river bottom, the drowned sing and dance in a strange trance. The PCs encounter this weird spectacle – what if they spot someone they know? Can he be freed?
*A Shadow walk the Earth again: ah, success, the vile fey has freed your friend, Luigi the bard. What a pity that you also freed Manzark the Black, a scourge most perilous! Do him in, please.
*Perilous romance: you did it. Ylithain fell in love with you. Sucks to be you, right? Learn to communicate with a sociopath fey.
*A monster: driven from the marsh by another fey, Ylithain has settled in the port of a city by a lake upstream. Do you combat the fey, or rather seek to relocate her until she collects all the city’s singers?
*Dark Breed: you are a dark sorcerer intent on breeding a nice child of evil. Now, Manzark the Black, your idol, has apparently passed on, but he was known to lay strange creatures, and one of them, a fey mentioned in his diary as the last entry, may have some of his seed >:)
someone will want to fight Ylithain – PCs are known for their aggressiveness after all. This will not be easy: most often, the fey has advantage of her home terrain, hiding in the water, racing through marsh where PCs can but crawl along. Also, as she only manifests at nighttime, the darkness will be a foe of all PCs as she can easily extinguish any torch or lantern.
Most weapons will be of little avail. A curious feature is that if any river creature is currently swimming through her body, and that creature is harmed, Ylithain will be harmed too.
In need, the mesmerized Drowned and her misshapen creations can be called to aid - the former fighting in good old zombie fashion, the latter using low-end dark magic spells they have been born with.
Of course, the can be fought with fire – but any non-holy flame will but harm her body, allowing her to manifest soon thereafter. Attacks of pure magic and holy strikes can harm her seriously, but the way to go would be sigils, and, say, luring her into a magic circle or the like. A direct sorcerous assault on her connection with the power of the river would be the most effective way.
Done after brainstorming with Ancient Gamer.