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Tellura Ibn Shartalan, The Dire Shepherd: Baernaloth of the Demented (1 of 13)

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 Relating the tale of Joran Beshelford, member of the Mind’s Eye, as he wandered through the woods of Niffleheim, searching for something he couldn’t put a name to, but struggling each step of the way in his quest for self-improvement and self-enlightenment. He found enlightenment, and something more.

 

 It had been five days of rough hiking out of ‘Death of Innocence’ and the incessant cold fog and sleet had started to take their toll on Joran. His hair was frozen stiff with ice, and his nose and ears ached from the bitter cold that by that point had started to seep into his bones themselves, or so it seemed. And, for a moment, even if only a moment, he questioned just why he was out there risking his life and health in a plane of abject evil. Just why was he out there where the snow frocked trees and fog banks threatened to hide bloodthirsty fiends while they themselves took on shapes, fueled by his imagination, to hint at lurking things that existed only his own subconscious.

 

 “Sodding ice and rain…” The man said as he paused for a moment to lean against the snow-frosted side of a cedar. His feet had begun to ache from the miles and miles he had walked there out into the wilderness, blindly seeking some enlightenment by pushing his body to its limits. If the multiverse was a test, surely he was on the verge of either beating it, or failing miserably. Wincing, he rubbed at one of his heels through the padded leather of his boots. The ice that crusted the arch of his left foot was sprinkled red; evidently one the blisters upon his foot had torn and begun to bleed. Only the bitter chill had prevented it from bleeding more, but at the rate things had begun to progress it seemed likely that he’d suffer frostbite in short order if he couldn’t find shelter from the elements, let alone shelter from one of the wandering fiends and fiendish wolves that prowled the woods.

 

 Joran ran a hand over his stiff hair, his gloves dusting the ice that gave his blond locks a sheen of their own aside from the sweat and oil of five days without bathing. Whatever test the multiverse was hurling at him presently, it needed to give him a momentary respite or else he was in danger of failing it; certainly the rewards for it all, or the lesson taught, would surely have to be worth it, that much was certain.

 

 “Oh now…” Joran said as he blinked and peered through the freezing fog, straining his eyes at a glimmer of light that filtered through the trees in the distance. For the first time in days a smile graced his face as he recognized the pattern and glow of firelight.

 

 “Sweet merciful power that I’ll be… you’ve got to be sodding joking…” The wry smile on his face was both optimistic and jaded at the same time as he drew an arrow out of his quiver and strung his bow. After all, firelight would mean one of several things out here in the Waste: another traveler like himself, a hag or ‘loth seeking to lure prey, or a trick played by either the plane itself or one of the bitter powers that populated the blighted forests with their own misbegotten petitioners.

 

 As he brushed the frost from the fletching of his arrow and strung his bow, Joran slowly and cautiously began to stalk closer to the glimmering through the trees. Nearly as silent as the gently falling snow, the seeker crept up towards the copse of trees that was the source of the firelight and caught a brief image of a single figure sitting upon a rock before a small campfire.

 

 “Bless this little multiverse of mine, it knows how to treat me when it comes right down to it.” Joran smiled as he paused to observe the figure in the clearing. He never noticed the fact that when he stopped to spy on the figure by the fire he was a hundred feet or more distant, but that when he stood up to step towards the clearing that distance was barely ten feet. Either the distance had closed in and of itself, or he had been drawn closer without realizing he was moving.

 

 

 A young aasimar girl of around age thirteen or fourteen sat upon a rock next to a small campfire, smiling and holding a cook pot over the flames. Laying next to her was a crooked staff that might well have been a simple crutch or walking stick, or a wizard’s staff, but to Joran it mostly resembled the staves he had seen shepherds use while tending to their flocks of sheep or other livestock.

 

She was dressed in pale blue and gray robes that seemed far too thin for the bitter cold. Her legs were bare below the knees and on her feet she wore only sandals and nothing else. Her right leg was twisted at an odd angle, seemed thinner than her left, and appeared to be propped up as if she was lame.

 

 The girl brushed back her shoulder length hair to show her face, a pale but healthy skin tone that was the color of cream or white marble. By any comparison she was attractive, if far, far too young for Joran by a decade or so. Her hair was bluish black on one half of her head, nearly a shade of blue like a raven’s wings that bordered on purple, while the other side of her head was a nearly white blond even without the sprinkling of snow sifting down from the trees overhead. Curling out from her head from just above her mildly pointed ears were a set of curling rams horns, not unlike those of a bariaur or a cervidal.

 

 Joran stopped as the girl looked up at him suddenly, her eyes pools of brilliant sky blue, and a striking contrast against the uniform gray of the plane. Before Joran realized he had done so, he was sitting down opposite the girl on a rock that he had never noticed was there a moment earlier.

 

 “Good morning,” the girl said pleasantly as Joran sat opposite her. “I wasn’t expecting company, but you look cold and I have a fire built. It’d be a shame to not share. Please, sit down and join me.”

 

 Joran was lost in the blue of her eyes, feeling calm and warm, safe and sheltered for the first time in days. The feeling he felt was a welcome respite from the ravages of the Waste he had suffered since leaving Death of Innocence. Without realizing it he had unbuckled his sword belt and laid it behind him as he leaned forwards to warm his hands over the flames.

 

 “Good morning to you as well, thank you for letting me share the fire. It’s been hellish out here to be wandering about aimlessly like I’ve been for the past several days. That you happened to be here and have a fire built, well, it seems like the multiverse was smiling down on me for enduring for so long.”

 

 “Life tends to reward those who reach out and strive to succeed, but sometimes it feels good to sit down and remove ourselves from the struggles that we’re handed. Sometimes it feels good to have someone watch over us simply because we’re weary from what we’ve accomplished. You look like someone who has been through quite a bit.”

 

 “Indeed, like I said, its been hellish out there and I was very nearly ready to turn around and give up before I saw your campfire. You’re a very welcome thing in this place. It’s quite a contrast to be sure.”

 

 She smiled, and anyone else might have thought her giving a grin at a joke that was lost upon her guest. With a soft murmur of effort she shifted her position on the rock she sat upon and reached out to adjust the cookpot that sat amongst the fringe of the flames. The movement was awkward and it seemed to confirm that she was indeed crippled in her one leg.

 

 “Oh please, can I help you with that?” Joran asked her as she opened the pot and stirred its contents quickly by swirling it around. He offered her aid but at the same time felt a bit of camaraderie between himself and his beliefs as a seeker and her own struggle to do something as tiring as cook herself a meal given her apparent infirmity. That she was out in the middle of the second layer of the Waste, alone and unarmed, simply never entered his mind.

 

 She glanced up through the smoke and haze of the flames, her face blurred by the heat. She seemed taken in by his offer and gave a soft chuckle as she sat back up. “Thank you, I could certainly use a bit of help actually. But don’t your kind appreciate struggle?”

 

 He tilted his head to one side, “How do you mean? Appreciate struggle?”

 

 “You’re a seeker. Doesn’t your faction believe that everything is a test by the planes to make you better and elevate you through triumph over those tests?”

 

 Joran narrowed his eyes. He’d never mentioned that he was a member of the Minds Eye. “I never said that I was…” He stopped and laughed as she leaned forwards and pointed at the faction symbol that openly dangled from his shirt.

 

 “I apologize, I should have realized sooner. It’s just that this place doesn’t breed trust in most persons that you meet.” Joran said, feeling flustered.

 

 “Don’t worry about it at all, I can’t blame you. This really isn’t a place to trust anyone you wander across.” She leaned in to stir the pot once more and smiled back at Joran. In fact, there was no way that Joran could have known that the faction symbol that dangled from his shirt was the same one that he had lost two days out of Death of Innocence when it snagged on a branch and ripped free. The very symbol that hung then from his shirt should have been laying in the frozen soil miles and miles away, but there it was back upon his clothing as if it’d never been lost in the first place.

 

 “I’m sorry, I’ve been sitting here enjoying your fire and your company and I’ve never asked your name and never told you who I am.” Joran laughed at his idiocy.

 

 “You may call me Tellura, though I’ve been called other names before. That one suits well enough I suppose. And yourself?”

 

 “Joran Beshelford, member of the Mind’s Eye, recently out of Death of Innocence.”

 

 She frowned slightly and brushed her hair back behind her horns. “I can’t say I much care for the town actually, though I’ve been there a few times. I suppose you could say that the place just has an air about it that I find distasteful. The sap running from the walls don’t make for a fine sense of visual aesthetics either.”

 

 “Well I suppose that’s true, but it’s better than waiting out here for a fiend to devour you or have the plane suck the passion right out of your soul. Speaking of which though, pardon me for asking, but what in the name of all that’s holy are you actually doing out here alone.”

 

 “Making dinner, if you’ll allow me to be blunt about it. Talking to a friendly stranger. What more is there to say?” The blue of her eyes was beguiling even through the smoke of the cookfire.

 

 Joran laughed, “I suppose that’s a fair enough answer, but I was more curious about why you’re barely dressed for a cool evening walk, as opposed to the freezing weather out here in the woods. You barely seem cold, and well, you’re not exactly armed or physically imposing in the event that you run across something more threatening than I am.”

 

 “I manage well enough.” The faint undercurrent of irony in her voice was, once again, lost on Joran. For a brief moment the seeker glanced behind Tellura into the darkness of the surrounding woods, thinking for a moment that he had heard something approaching in the dancing shadows cast onto the snow dusted evergreens.

 

 “I take it that you’re a mage of some sort, maybe a priestess? That would certainly explain away everything.”

 

 “A priestess? Hardly,” Her tone was friendly, but a smirk played across her face. “As for being a mage? I see how you might call me something of a sorceress, though terms and definitions are too clear-cut on such things for my taste. Like I said, I manage well enough.”

 

 “Very well Tellura, I won’t pry, not when you’ve been kind enough to share your fire with me. It was just my luck to blunder across you when I did, and for that I’m thankful.”

 

 “Luck? Oh I wouldn’t call it that. Not at all.” She whispered as she stirred the pot in the fire, the flames casting her shadow behind her in a long and exaggerated manner that danced among the trees with the flicker of the light.

 

 Joran didn’t hear what she said as once more he glanced around at the line of trees surrounding the clearing as he distinctly heard the sound of a snapping branch. His hand reached for his sword immediately and he mentally called himself a fool when he noticed that he had slipped it off and tossed it to the side. By the time he had picked it up and drawn it free from its oilcloth scabbard, whatever had made the noise he heard was gone from the spot his eyes darted towards.

 

 “Tellura… did you hear something out there in the forest?” Joran asked with some concern.

 

 The young woman was tasting a spoonful of her dinner and smiling at the apparent taste when he asked his question. She glanced up and looked over towards the spot at the edge of the firelight.

 

 “I think your ears and eyes are playing tricks on you Joran. There’s nothing out there to be worried about, just the wind and the flicker of the light. Calm yourself.”

 

 “No, there was something out there, I distinctly heard som…”

 

 “Don’t worry Joran. Are you hungry?” She held up the spoon in her hand with utter lack of concern shared with him over whatever might have been out there in the darkness. But, true to her words, Joran felt calm simply by her reassurance that it was only a trick of the wind and the dim light.

 

 For a time they talked and Joran told her about his beliefs and his time out in the forests of Niffleheim since he had departed from Death of Innocence. As the minutes grew in number and he talked more and more he finally turned to ask her about herself. The fog had been growing thicker and the air more chill, but she seemed unconcerned and untouched by it all except when she brushed her bluish black locks from her face when the breeze blew them across her forehead.

 

 “Out of curiosity, and I hope I’m not too terribly crass in asking this, but what exactly is your heritage? I’m tempted to say an Aasimar of perhaps cervidal descent, or perhaps some manner of tiefling.” Joran’s question hung on the air for a moment before she chuckled and replied.

 

 “Nothing at all of the sort, and about as far away from the former as you could get actually, but that’s neither here nor there. Suffice to say you wouldn’t have run across one of my kind before, there’s not very many of us still lingering about the planes.”

 

 As Tellura answered his question, out in the forest came the distinct sound of movement around the clearing from at least two different places. It was perhaps just possibly a tree branch or two breaking under the weight of the ice that coated them, but to Joran’s ears it sounded like heavy footsteps. The moment that he stood up and turned to glance out into the darkness Tellura smiled and her dancing shadow that was cast out onto the boulder behind her smiled back, mirroring the expression that Joran never saw.

 

 “Oh hells, that was no trick of the light or the wind in the trees. There’s something out there and there’s more than one of them. I’m a fool for not noticing it sooner. Whatever it is they’ve been circling the camp while we’ve been talking. If you have anything to defend yourself girl, get it ready.”

 

 Joran grabbed and quickly restrung his bow and then hurriedly slung his quiver over his back. Whispering a prayer to nothing in particular he took an arrow into his fingers and made ready to attack the first thing that entered the camp. Tellura’s calm and gentle insistence that there was nothing to worry about was ignored wholly as he turned his back to her and studied the line of trees before the snapping of branches and a ragged snarl made Joran spin around.

 

 He turned and drew pale with shock as he watched a Mezzoloth emerge from the forest directly behind Tellura, its eyes burning with malice and a strand of acidic drool dripping from its insectile maw.

 

 Joran screamed a warning at her as he nocked the arrow to his bow and drew back the string. “Behind you! Powers above, get out of the way!”

 

 Tellura looked up at him and smiled, unconcerned and seeming almost amused at his concern for her safety. “And why would you want to hurt him?”

 

 The fletching of Joran’s arrow tickled his cheek as his hand wavered ever so slightly in confusion at her reply. “What?”

 

 She glanced back at the fiend and gestured to it with her left hand, bidding it approach like a summoner to a creature bound by spell and contract. The Mezzoloth lowered its head and crawled to her side, dropping its trident into the snow and itself onto all six limbs as it curled up like a favorite pet around her feet.

 

 “What in the hells…” Joran’s hand wavered more and he watched while the girl stroked the tips of her fingers across the steel hard carapace of the lesser fiend like a mother comforting a child. The fiend was mewling like a babe in response to her touch.

 

 “There’s no reason for our friend here to harm you or I now is there? No reason at all little one, you only came in from the cold to sit with us and share in a bit of the meal you smelled from afar.”

 

 Left within the flames of the campfire too long, the pot had begun to overheat and boil over. Bubbling up like a punctured heart it began spilling its contents out onto the snow in bursts and spatters of brilliant crimson. Joran barely noticed it, not even when it splattered onto his feet; his attention was instead focused on Tellura and the Mezzoloth before her.

 

 “Just what the hell is going on here? What the hell are you?” He stammered as he stumbled backwards as the forest behind the shepherdess seemed to come alive. Burning motes of crimson lit the freezing fog that cloaked the woods as a dozen or more Mezzoloths began to emerge into the clearing, all of them approaching Tellura with reverence that seemed to border on worship as they sat around her like a cluster of kittens or puppies.

 

 Tellura looked up at Joran, and despite the overwhelming sense of peace and comfort that seemed to emanate from the depths of her blue eyes, he felt his blood run cold. As the young woman looked up at him, so too did the fiends, slavering and snarling, hissing and chattering promises of death and dismemberment.

 

 She ignored his questions as he continued to babble in fear, but instead she stood up abruptly, bracing herself on her shepherd’s staff. Hobbling a few feet over towards a pile of her belongings she bent down awkwardly and removed a small sack, seemingly to the delight of the assembled fiends. Joran stared in disbelief at her mannerisms and seeming control over the creatures that should have rightly been ripping the two of them to pieces.

 

 Staring at her he watched as her staff burned and smoked where it touched the ground, sending up a curl of flames wherever it touched as she supported herself on its length. And wherever her own feet touched the ground there was a sharp cracking sound as the snow upon the ground froze solid and then shattered in her passing. Then, with a smile to Joran she stood more fully upright, leaning upon the staff and he saw horror that should never exist. Removed from the smoke of the dying fire, outlined by the light of the flames, her shadow was fully cast upon the surface of a boulder at the edge of the clearing. What Joran saw then was not the shadow of a young woman in her late teenage years, not even the shadow of an aasimar. The looming shadow that welled up behind her should more rightfully have fit a creature some 9 feet tall that was only ever so vaguely female with lopsided, anemic breasts and gnarled wasted limbs, one leg twisted and lame, and with gnashing fangs and spade like incisors.

 

 As Tellura fully turned to face her horrified companion, and smiled a smile of innocence, her shadow likewise smiled, and where the shadow’s eyes were a hypnotic and burning shade of blue, the young woman’s eyes were no longer blue, but rather black, bottomless orbs in their sockets like pits of hell unto themselves. And, never taking her gaze from Joran, she reached into the bag and began to toss bits and pieces of raw, bloody flesh to the Mezzoloths, gently coaxing them to take their treats and fight amongst each other to receive the choicest bits.

 

 “Would you like some as well my lost little lamb?” She asked Joran who had dropped his bow and was stumbling backwards as she spoke. But Joran then paused as he suddenly recognized the object she held aloft, offering it to him from out of the bag she held. Holding it out like a candy to a small boy, she held up a single digit from a man’s hand, a ring finger, snapped off at the bottom knuckle and still dripping blood out onto the snow. The finger in her hand bore a ring that matched his own, a ring that marked him as a member of the Mind’s Eye.

 

 Joran suddenly looked down in horror and screamed in agony. His hands were mangled and torn, missing half of their fingers and his right foot was a bloody, ragged stump. A strip of boot leather dangled from the side of the shepherd’s pot, crusted with his own boiled blood and rendered fat from its time in the flames of the fire. Joran could do nothing but scream in abject terror at the living incarnation of nightmare that smiled up at him with a face of innocence while its true visage wavered behind it, framed by the light as it was.

 

 The seeker broke into a shambling run, somehow hopping on his one good leg and ignoring the searing pain from his stump of an ankle as it punched into the frozen ground beneath him. Joran never stopped his screaming till his voice was ragged and his throat bled while above the pain he prayed to all the benevolent powers of the multiverse, himself even, that we might somehow outrun the fiends and live to see Death of Innocence again. But as his screams faded into the frozen night, Tellura Ibn Shartalan sat down with her flock and smiled.

 

 

 Joran regained consciousness and regretted it immediately. His entire body ached and he felt only a dull, numb ache from his hands and his ankle. He tried to move his right foot but there was nothing there to move. Joran began to softly cry at the realization that it hadn’t all been just a dream, not the physical damage anyways. Desperately trying to rationalize what he remembered as some nightmare born of frostbite or hunger, Joran opened his eyes and immediately screamed as he looked up into the brilliant blue eyes of the Shepherdess as she smiled down at him.

 

 “Calm down! It’s alright, you’re safe!” The healer said as she tried to calm her bandage swathed patient. It had been a miracle how he’d arrived at the gates of the city, obviously ravaged by wolves before he stumbled to the town and collapsed from exposure to the elements and starvation.

 

 Joran stopped his thrashing and his screaming as he realized that the woman looking down at him was not her but someone else entirely. It just happened that her eyes were a similar shade of blue, but upon closer inspection not really that same damnable color as he remembered.

 

 “Where am I? Who are you?” He mumbled as his eyes darted around the room.

 

 “Relax sir, you’re in a temple in ‘Death of Innocence’, I’m one of the lesser priestesses of Arawn. We found you outside the city gates like you’d fled out of the woods from something, it looked like wolves because you were missing… bits of your body… they looked like they’d been torn off or eaten. I’m sorry, but we’ve only barely been able to keep you alive and bring you back to good health. I’m afraid that growing back your lost foot and fingers is beyond my own ability.”

 

 Joran said nothing and clenched his eyes shut. Perhaps it had all been a horrific nightmare. Oh how he prayed that was all it was.

 

 “But, by the grace of Arawn you’ve yet to pass into the arms of the dead, your time hasn’t come yet, you’re lucky. Honestly it says something about your will to live, seeing how you found your way here despite your wounds, dragging yourself back and not falling prey to anything else along your way. Your faction looks like it taught you well.”

 

 The priestess smiled and placed a warm, damp cloth across Joran’s forehead. The seeker said little for several minutes and finally asked her a question. “How did you know I was a seeker?”

 

 “Oh? Oh, I assumed it from the symbol on the ring we found next to you by the gate where you’d collapsed.” She said matter-of-factly and held up a small golden ring from where it had been sitting on a table next to the bed. Joran trembled. He’d left the ring behind along with its attendant finger, in the hands of that girl, whatever she was. He never had the ring with him when he fled out into the forest and somehow made his way back to the city.

 

 “You look pale. Are you alright?” The priestess said with some concern as Joran shook more violently, trembling with fear. She had let him escape, she had followed him, perhaps even seemingly brought him back and left the ring next to him as evidence that he had not escaped. Harrowed by the implications, Joran passed out and drifted into a thankfully dreamless sleep.

 

 Sometime later Joran awoke to the sensation of a warm cloth on his head and a delicate hand brushing his cheek. He assumed it was the priestess, and then he heard her speak.

 

“Rest well my little one, it won’t be long. No it won’t be long. Won’t be long till you’re healthy again and rested and ready to journey once more. And I’ll be waiting with my flock, my hungry little flock to tend. And you’ll be walking again and passing beyond these walls. And when you do I’ll be waiting for you, walking out to me like a lamb to the slaughter.”

 

 Joran’s eyes shot open and he looked around the empty room for the fiend clothed in innocence but he saw nothing at first. Then, glancing down, he saw the rising depression in the bed sheets next to him from where someone had been sitting very recently. With his heart in his throat he then saw a shadow upon the far wall of the room, trailing behind her as he caught the barest glimpse of her crippled leg drag out of the doorway into his bedroom. And her shadow looked at him with eyes of burning, brilliant blue.

 

 The priestess and her attendants grew worried for Joran then, for he never spoke a word the next five days, though he seemed to whimper at times and stare off into space, eyes unfocused and glazed. However his health did improve and they could only discharge him with a blessing when he was well enough to hobble on a crutch out of their care.

 

Three days after he left the temple of Arawn, Joran was gone. Members of the city militia would later report that he seemed to have just walked out of the main gate of the city, wearing only the barest of clothing, not at all the heavy traveling clothes and equipment for someone leaving to journey out into the forsaken wilds that surrounded them on all sides. They would also report that he was then seen stepping into the woods and weeping uncontrollably, giving a single forlorn glance back at the city before he vanished. One of the militiamen would later, in the depths of his cups, claim that he had seen a pale female hand touch the man’s shoulder and another hand that held a crooked staff, and that the wind had seemed to whisper, “Now now little one, don’t cry so…”

 

 

 

Details and Abilities:

 

 

 The Dire Shepherd, Tellura Ibn Shartalan appears as a young half elven, aasimar, or tiefling girl in her mid to late teenage years; a picture of innocence in many ways, though the irony of it all is stark and striking. Her eyes are often described as lurid and hypnotic, having an ability to calm and pacify those who encounter her, most of whom never fully realize till later just what they stood in the presence of.

 

 Like all of the Baernaloths, The Shepherd is marred by one physical flaw, and hers is more overt than most, being that one of her legs is twisted and crippled. This flaw also appears to mark her when she assumes a form more in line with the other Baern. Most often however she assumes a more placid and appealing form, her shadow being the only clue that she is not what she appears, nor claims to be.

 

 Some have speculated on which of her forms, the innocent crippled shepherd girl or the looming, leering shadow of the thing that she truly is, is in fact her true form at any given moment. Perhaps the shadow is simply that, a reflection of that which is hidden within the young woman’s shell she presents to the world, or if the shadow itself is her true form and the young girl is simply a puppet or a hollow shell it manipulates.

 

 Of those abilities which Tellura Ibn Shartalan has demonstrated in the past, most of them are subtle. She seems to have the ability to deceive those in her presence, either by modifying their perceptions or their memories to weave for them false events. She has demonstrated an ability to draw persons towards her without their conscious perception of their paths being altered, and some have even suggested that she has some ability to warp concepts of distance and location in order to literally take the role of shepherd in herding a victim towards herself.

 

 Like all Baernaloths, The Dire Shepherd displays a surreal ability to manipulate and control other fiends, though her ability is more overt and powerful than most. Yugoloths appear to view her almost like children to a mother, with respect bordering on worship, though in no recorded event has she been observed consciously directing or controlling them; the loths simply appear to want to follow. Baatezu and Tanar’ri are likewise subject her whims, with any non unique example of either race being immediately subject to her control if she wishes it to be so. [For unique specimens, DMs should feel free to assign the save DC at whatever they feel is appropriately high given her nature and status]. Curiously, Hordlings do not appear affected by this ability, but Hags display an irrational fear and cowed nature in her presence. Despite not appearing to be overtly controlled, they nonetheless will obey.

 

 Within the informal ranks of The Demented, Tellura Ibn Shartalan stands near to the top of the cabal though all of the 13 are nominally equals. Simply by her relative activity within the lower planes and apparent prestige among the Yugoloth hierarchy she stands somewhat above other less active members of The Demented who may be just as active elsewhere, but not as well known among their creations or their actions felt overtly in their native plane, such as The Wanderer, The Dream Reaver, and The Proselytizer.

 

 There is of course great speculation on her name, or at least the name she uses as the Baern do not appear to possess true names in the same sense that the other fiends possess them. Her name is nearly identical to that of another of the 13, Lazarius Ibn Shartalan, The Architect. Perhaps they are in some way siblings, though that would introduce the nightmarish concept of the Baern being able to sexually reproduce more of their number. Perhaps the latter portion of their name holds a meaning in the language of the Baern, or perhaps refers to a place of origin on the Waste.

 

 Somewhat related to The Dire Shepherd’s name and its shared association with that of The Architect is a 3rd name in the style of the Baernaloths that appears in several ancient sources such as the tomes ‘The Skin Manifesto’, ‘The Book of Derelict Magiks’ and the fragmented treatise ‘Misery Within the Peaceable Kingdom’. That 3rd name is that of Ghoresh Ibn Shartalan. None of the sources mention this other Baernaloth’s title, nor its relationship with the other two who share portions of their name, nor its own membership or relationship to the 13 of the Demented. Planar scholars note a possible connection between Ghoresh Ibn Shartalan and the incident at Ghoresh Chasm within the Gray Waste. As the burning seal at the bottom of the chasm remains unopened, any speculation further is just that, speculation.

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