The Jasmine Files

  • Posted below are small stories regarding the blades woman named Jasmine, told from various perspectives.

  • Home

    The Li estate sprawled with acres of field and woodland at the edge of Telflamm. Jasmine and her father Bakkar meandered lazily beside a small stream, occasionally stopping to gaze at the shoreline or throw a stone into the water.

    Bakkar was tall and heavy set, his dark skin reflected his Turami heritage. His advanced years had begun to tell their tale. His hair was salted with gray, and his posture somewhat stooped. Sedentary life had made him a bit thicker around the middle.

    Jasmine hadn’t been this relaxed in months. There was something about home which allowed her to let her guard down. Thoughts of knighthood, duty and adventure in the city of Peltarch seemed so far away.

    Bakkar smiled softly. “It was nice to spend these few weeks with you Jasmine. The letters are nice, but conversation is much better. You could always move back here”, he said, his voice tinged with a bit of sadness.

    “Mother prefers that I stay away. I know she cares, but she has you all to herself now. She and I …. “, Jasmine trailed off.

    It was true. Jasmine and her mother Wen were always oil and water. Wen never had the patience to deal with Jasmine when she was younger, and while Bakkar knew Wen loved her, “like” was never part of the relationship. The household was much more peaceful when they were separated. It always baffled him why even the most innocent of conversations always resulted in argument. With silence, he let the subject drop.

    They continued walking along the river’s edge until they came to a small footbridge. The road led back to the estate, and Bakkar knew that once they returned, it would mark the end of his daughter’s visit.

    “Jasmine, do you have anyone special back in Peltarch?”, Bakkar asked with some hesitation.

    Jasmine stopped on the footbridge and leaned on the railing. She turned and looked up at him, squinting in the sun that shone over his shoulder.

    “It’s complicated”, she said.

    Bakkar leaned on the railing with her, and searched her face for more answers. “In the letters you mentioned the older man, the inn owner”

    “Jonni”, she added.

    Bakkar looked puzzled, “I thought that … ended”.

    Jasmine sighed, “I did. Then it did not. I have heard the term ‘Friends with Benefits’. I think that applies”

    Bakkar furrowed his brow and searched his daughter’s face again. Even though her face was a mask, she had gradually let her guard down while staying at home. He could see she was troubled. He put his hand on her shoulder.

    “There’s no future in it”, she added tersely, and turned to walk off. But Bakkar kept his hand on her shoulder just briefly enough to stop her. She turned around and looked up at him.

    In her eyes, Bakkar could see the ever present turmoil behind them. The tears were there, but held back by courage and discipline. He took her in his arms and held her there for as long as she needed.

    That’s what good fathers did.

  • The Storm Forged Weapon – Part 2

    Despite the late morning hour, it was dark. The deep gray clouds overhead were thick enough to turn day into twilight. Jasmine picked her way back through the trees to Peltarch from the Witch and Seer. Leaves from the previous fall whipped along the ground.

    She sighed and looked up. She was going to get wet. Very, very wet. She pulled the cloak around her and held it taught, bowing her head against the wind. A distant rumble came from the north.

    She reached the sign post and stepped out onto the road. There was little cover here. Debris and gravel pelted her. Another rumble. She counted out of habit as her father taught her. Three seconds. The storm was getting closer.

    The farm land was just up ahead. She’d have to take shelter in a barn, or perhaps ….

    Jasmine’s hair stood on end. A year of fighting the gnoll druids made her acutely aware of what was transpiring. Jasmine threw herself sideways onto the grass beside the road. A potion bottle smashed on a nearby rock spilling its precious contents on the grass. One of her magic bags was left on the road. She barely had time to gather her senses when the lightning hit.

    Jasmine was momentarily blinded. The air became bitter and acrid. Her ears rang, the sounds of the storm muffled in the background.

    The magic bag had been struck directly. Pieces of burned cloth lay scattered along the road. Smoke curled along the ground, driven by the wind.

    In the center of it all, was the staff.

    The celestial runes glowed a soft blue. Arcs of energy rippled along it before settling on three runes which glowed brighter than the others. Ignoring common sense and driven by curiosity, Jasmine approached.

    Despite her knowledge of celestial, the three runes were unfamiliar to her. She had not put them there. Neither had the artificer. It appeared to be a clan symbol, followed by altered runes of fire and battle.

    The rain came down in torrents, and soon Jasmine was soaked to the skin. It took almost ten minutes of standing over it to screw up the courage to pick it up. She certainly wasn’t going to leave it here lying on the road.

    It felt … different.

    Gone was the weighted, almost magnetic pull to the ground. It was light. Lighter than any weapon of a similar nature she had ever wielded. Exquisitely balanced, she twirled it around briefly in a basic kata. Arcs of electricity flowed along the blades.

    The yell of joy was heard above the storm, almost to the gates of Peltarch.

  • Roles

    The trees rustled outside. A soft breeze blew through the window, rustling her hair which was undone from its usual pile on her head and hung down to her waist. Jasmine stood, unclothed in front of a full-length mirror. She eyed herself critically, as she did most everything in her life.

    She wasn’t tall or short. Stout, curvy and dark skinned, she looked very different than the other citizens of the city. Her slightly slanted eyes betrayed her Shou heritage. Within those eyes was the constant storm of confusion and emotion, so cleverly masked by the steel armor of faith and discipline.

    She turned slightly, and furrowed her brow at the visage of herself in the mirror. She wasn’t pretty like Isolde or the fire priestess from Thay. She would never have legions of followers or men stuttering to find the right words in her presence. There were times she grew jealous of what nature had wrought in those others. To be desired would be wonderful. Empty perhaps, but still wonderful.

    There were a few. Augustus, Lord Byron’s nephew had found her exotic. A campaign of letters regaling his wealth yet meagre accomplishments had been delivered to Jasmine’s parents. Jasmine hated him though. He was a dandy and a twit, full of hubris. She made that opinion perfectly clear. It was doubtful though that her opinion wouldn’t have mattered had she stayed. Despite her training, her role would have been to bear children and be a mother.

    Now she played a different role. The role of city guard and knight in this little city state of Peltarch. The role she wanted though was not open to her. As she regarded herself in the mirror, she wondered why.

    When she left Telflamm to join the Silver Host, she had visions of becoming a knight in service to Torm. Once there, she was startled to discover that Torm has blessed most everyone there. There were priests, both warrior and clerical. Paladins and knights. All touched by the hand of Torm, able to call Torm’s prayers in cacophonies of light and sound. Jasmine’s role was different. She became an instrument designed to kill.

    …and she was terribly, terriby good at it.

    There was a point during Master Ty’s training where she had received an invitation. It was a simple signet with a black mask. Master Ty explained to Jasmine about the Night Masks, and did not encourage or discourage her from the choice. His role was to instruct martial arts, not morality.

    But Jasmine wanted to be the hero of the story. The visions of knightly deeds and heroics danced in the confusion of her thoughts. They still did, but as she stared into the mirror, the figure stared back. Defiantly almost, daring her to admit the truth.

    Unlike those around her, she lacked the presence that would be sung in bardic song or poem. There would be no throngs of people awed or fearful of her presence. She wasn’t that person. She had been trained to kill, and that was her role.

    Long arms gently wrapped around her from behind. “Come back to bed”, the deep voice whispered softly. Jasmine closed her eyes and held those arms, and her reflection disappeared into the darkness.

  • The Storm Forged Weapon – Part 1

    (I would like the thank the DM team and players that helped me gather or craft all the items required to make this)

    The sky was dark with the coming storm. The winds whipped the grass and trees around the two figures on the hill. In front of them, secured in place by a wrought iron stand was the weapon Jasmine hoped would turn the tide of battle with the devils.

    The weapon was a work of art. Crafted by Sonja Haetta, this two bladed staff was ordained with celestial runes of power. Within each rune had been painted blue dragon blood.

    “Are you sure this is going to work?”, Jasmine shouted above the wind.

    The artificer looked at her through dark glasses and just shrugged. “It should…”, he said with some doubt in his voice. “The magic is sound. Storms and lightning are unpredictable however”. Jasmine leaned into hear him, but his voice was lost in wind.

    The artificer pointed to the lightning in the distance. “It’s coming!”, he shouted. “I suggest you get into cover!”

    Jasmine moved behind the large rock and watched. The artificer scanned the tree line as the lighting approached, counting softly to himself. There was a flash of lightning and a crash in the near distance. Nodding at the count, the artificer began.

    The enchantment was cast. The bladed staff, held vertical in the iron stand began to glow a soft white. Another crash of lightning, this time close.

    The artificer ran. He reached the rock just as the lightning struck.

    For a moment, the entire area became as daylight. The staff was struck, and the celestial runes glowed a brilliant white.

    “Wish me luck!”, he said to Jasmine and ran to the staff.

    In his gloved hands were two items. One, a small crystal laced with raw magic. Its use could either rip the weave to shreds or imbue an item with power. In the other, a gem blessed by a storm giant priest.

    He touched the crystal to the staff.

    The flash of light made the artificer squint even with his dark glasses. The runes took on a bluish hue. An umbra appeared around the blades. Putting the now empty crystal back in his pocket, he took the blessed gem, and touched it to the celestial rune of storm in the center of the staff.

    There was a pop as the gem exploded. The artificer was thrown backwards to land ignominiously on the ground. The effect on the staff though, was telling.

    The lightning had been captured. Electricity rippled up and down the staff settling in on the runes. Jasmine watched at a distance behind the rock, and was awestruck. She watched as the power of the lightning bolt settled in on the staff, arcs of power rippling playfully upon it.

    This would be a weapon the devils feared she hoped.

    She and the artificer waited patiently for the storm to pass before stepping out of cover. The weapon in its iron stand still served as a lightning rod, and another lightning strike could injure or kill. Jasmine approached cautiously. Smoke curled up lazily from the ground around it, and the celestial runes pulsed gently, almost invitingly.

    Jasmine yanked it out of its iron stand…

    …and that was the last thing she remembered. The artificer told her when she woke up 3 hours later that she had been knocked some 10 to 12 feet away after grabbing it. Her head throbbed terribly, and she had the same, weak fuzzy feeling that happened after enchanting an item.

    Clearly, learning to use it was going to take practice.

  • The First

    Jasmine sat in the bath. It was quiet in the bath house at 4am, but she’d been up most of the night unsettled. Due to recent events, thoughts drifted back to a darker moment. She was 13, and Telflamm was her home.

    A few years had gone by since Master Ty had started training her. It would be a few weeks before she would make her oaths to Torm. The dark skinned waif that had roamed the city streets had begun to turn into a young woman. Despite her privileged upbringing, Jasmine found city life much more interesting. The markets fascinated her, and she found herself leaving the estate unescorted to see the many things that Telflamm offered.

    Drew and Hale were two young men who also made Telflamm their home. While they were not as financially privileged in either upbringing or coin that Jasmine enjoyed, they considered themselves privileged to anything that crossed their path.

    Today, that was Jasmine.

    At first it was the clothes and the coin. Jasmine didn’t remember exactly how the conversation went, but it had been one of the first times she was truly scared. They were older, stronger, and wanted far more than the coin.

    Jasmine had always been deceptively strong. She got that from her father, a powerful Turami man who often stood head and shoulders above his peers. Drew and Hale were overconfident. They were having fun. Jasmine was not.

    Hale became the first victim of adrenaline, a couple years of intense martial training and two very sharp knives. Jasmine had used leverage, and Drew found himself on the ground. Hale had let go of Jasmine and recoiled in horror at the wound in his arm that showed parted skin and the muscle underneath before being obscured with blood. Drew looked a bit confused about his change in perspective.

    Hale ran. Drew never felt the second of eleven knife strikes. People don’t when they’re in shock. He got up to run and made it about 10 feet before sinking to the alley, and then crawling another 10 feet before passing out due to blood loss. It was the deep cut under the arm that did it. The artery there bled him out in moments.

    It was the first time Jasmine had killed anyone. Despite the justification, Drew’s face still haunted her thoughts.

    Jasmine closed her eyes in the bath and pushed them out of her head. There were a lot of faces now, and it took longer.

  • A Prayer

    Acolyte Gregory dutifully lit the candles this morning, as he did every morning for the past six months. It was a ridiculous task he thought, to do something that could easily be done with magic. But he knew in his heart that it was an exercise in ritual and discipline. Mundane tasks cleared the mind. Successful completion first thing in the morning set the tone of the day.

    She came as she always did. The bells of the church struck the ninth hour of the morning. She had pulled apart her ubiquitous bladed staff into its two halves, and secured them at her side. A pile of inky black hair rested on top of her head, secured in place with two fine daggers. Her dark skin made the whites of her eyes shine more brightly. She proceeded straight to the altar, said her prayers, kissed the symbol of Torm around her neck, and left.

    Gregory admitted a small preoccupation with her arrival. A sense of infatuation. Her arrival was part of the routine of the morning candle lighting ceremony, and he looked forward to it. She wasn’t there every day. Word had it that aside from her guard duties, she traveled with royalty to far off places. But when she was there it was exactly at the same time…

    …except once. Early one morning just as the sun rose, she had thrown herself in front of the altar weeping and speaking in that strange tongue. He had heard her from the alcove, but dared not approach. Galin was sweating and looking awkwardly at her, but let her be. Gregory had wanted, so very much wanted to go out and comfort her, but he knew it was not his place. It bothered him terribly to see her so distraught.

    He had watched her in the tournament on the prince’s first birthday. The way she danced with the staff had seemed magical. He had seen many a knight and soldier practice on the grounds, but her fighting style was unlike anything he had ever seen. It was foreign and exotic.

    When she won, it was the only time he had ever seen her truly happy. Every morning when she came into to the temple, her eyes betrayed a sense of suffering and struggle. He didn’t understand what would plague her so. As far as he knew, she had everything.

    After Dame Jasmine left, Gregory finished with his chores and offered a prayer. Even at 14 years of age, Gregory was wise, and knew his infatuation with this young woman was a manifestation of his calling. He cared about her suffering. It was what good priests of Ilmater did.

  • Reflections

    Jasmine walked the late evenings at the docks. The air had turned cold. Almost bitter, with the promise of more snow. The magic in the cloak she wore prevented her from feeling any of it, and the light armor of dragon scales reflected the lamplight in myriad small images. The combination formed a contrast to the bundled and cloaked passers-by.

    Jasmine loved this time of day. It was quieter and allowed one to reflect and make sense of what had happened the hours before. It also allowed time to sort her feelings, which were a jumbled, incoherent mess.

    Her uncle had called her “broken”, and suggested she be institutionalized. She hadn’t learned to talk or utter a single word until she was three, and the constant outbursts led her parents to think she was possessed. She knew the trouble she had caused them, and it was a guilt that always lay heavily upon her. The shame upon the family had been great, and after two miscarriages she knew her mother felt somehow responsible. It wasn’t until Master Ty had been brought to the estate that things had changed.

    No one knew exactly who he was. He was simply “Master Ty”, the martial instructor for emperors, kings, and their children. His legacy went back eight centuries, and rumors of his immortality took many flights of fancy. But Master Ty was much more than a martial instructor.

    He had seen children like Jasmine many times. Often born of older fathers, so often seen in people with privilege, their afflictions often came with odd gifts. Some had supernatural hearing. Others became mental giants and great wizards. They paid the price for these gifts in often harsh ways. Blindness, crippled gate, or the inability to be touched without pain. More often than not, it left holes in social interaction. People afflicted often suffered lives of loneliness.

    For Jasmine, the world was simply too big. Sights and sounds bombarded her constantly, and crowds were crippling. But Master Ty had seen this before. He taught her to breathe and focus and push aside the noise and confusion. Sometimes, the world would still be too much, but he gave her the tools to cope. But with this affliction came a rather odd gift.

    Patterns and puzzles simply fell apart under Jasmine’s gaze. She counted everything unconsciously around her. When Master Ty realized that Jasmine could also see patterns of movement and attack, he quickly put together a training regimen for her. Master Ty taught her every kata he knew. Every weapon. He made her memorize it. All of it. Then he taught her counters.

    Fortunately, Jasmine had her father’s physical nature. She lacked his height, but was powerful, strong and coordinated. Feats that required muscle memory and agility came quickly. By the time Master Ty left the Li estate in Thesk, Jasmine had become a promising warrior, one that he suspected would surprise and fluster more experienced opponents.

    Jasmine had done just that in the tournament held in honor of the prince’s first birthday. She had won, and was knighted by the king. Now, not even 20 summers old she was officially now “Dame Jasmine of Peltarch”.

    As Jasmine walked the docks, the thought of that left her in a further state of confusion. What did it really mean? Master Wingates said that all titles were empty. Did “Dame” in front of her name confer any authority or privilege she didn’t have before?

    Jasmine found herself at the end of a dock. She had passed 47 doors, 118 windows, 183 people and 2 dogs. She looked down into the water. The magically lit staff she held shone upon its surface. Her wavering reflection stared back with the same stoic gaze that hid the swirling emotions beneath it.

    Was this woman any different than the one yesterday?

    Yes, she thought to herself. This woman was free.

  • Introductions

    “I ain’t takin’ orders from no 19 year old bitch”, Sal said, spitting at the potted plant in the corner

    Sal Vignetti was taller, a hair over six feet with broad shoulders and a square jaw. His hair was light brown, cut close to his scalp. A Peltarch native, he had grown up on the docks, served in the Defenders for 4 years, and been a guard for the remainder. Although he had a rank of Sergeant, common opinion that’s likely where he would remain for the rest of his career.

    Mick Carter was about the same height, a bit leaner, with poorly cut brown hair and a lengthy moustache. He had been a guard in Damara for three years, but the civil strife had him taking his wife and two children east to safety. They had found a home in the city, and now his 15 year old son was working part time unloading ships and moving crates in warehouses. Mick looked over the papers in his hand and shook his head.

    “Well, you won’t be taking orders from no 19 year old. It says she just turned 20 last month Sal”, Mick said grinning to his friend.
    Sal rolled his eyes, “Fuck, who gives a shit. I wanna know who she blew to get this position. Is Halbrook picky? Shit, I’d blow Halbrook for the kind of coin she’s getting”

    Mick and Damon both snickered and laughed.

    Damon Waite was a bit shorter than Sal and Mick, with a much slighter build. Dark eyes were framed with dark hair and a well trimmed beard and moustache. Despite his size, most folks knew not to mess with Damon, as underneath that thin build were cords of muscle from working the logging mill in Norwick. Recently married, Damon had moved north to make a better life for her and the coming family.

    Unlike the other two, command opinion was the Damon was going places. He had an incredible knack for observing people. Damon had been brought in to help with questioning on numerous occasions, and his skill at poker was almost legendary. His dark eyes swept over the paperwork surreptitiously absconded from the captain’s office, and something sounded familiar.
    The papers said she was from Thesk, and Turami and Shou origin. No family was listed. Odd he thought, as he recalled her being very well spoken, almost overeducated. She was the odd dark skinned girl that hung around the royalty.

    As he dwelled on that, the door opened down the hall and Jasmine walked in. Sal and Mick carried on describing various indiscretions that could be used for advancement, but Damon turned quiet as he watched her in the hall talking to one of the soldiers.

    She was medium height, dressed in that odd, red scaled light armor. Far too much hair was piled up on her head secured in place by … knives? Damon watched her and took in her movements. The way she spoke, moved and balanced. This is what Damon did.
    Jasmine smiled and nodded to the Defender who pointed down the hall at the three sergeants. As she turned and walked down the hall toward them, Damon watched.

    “Shut the fuck up you two”, Damon said insistent and in low tones

    Sal turned to his smaller friend and sneered, “Oh look! The bitch his here. I wonder…”

    “I mean it. Shut the fuck up now, Sal”, Damon turned to his friend.

    As Jasmine walked down the hall, all the pieces offered to him came together in an unfinished picture, missing pieces but plain enough to paint a portrait. The bearing, the way she moved and carried herself, he’d seen it before. Someone had trained her to kill. As she got closer, he could even see it in her eyes.

    Jasmine, moved around the table and greeted the three of them. Sal gave Damon a sideways, “What-the-fuck-is-your-problem look”, but Damon was more interested in watching the new inspector.

    She started off with formal introductions. Damon noticed her incredible vocabulary, over politeness, and the deft reigning of emotional turbulence the eyes couldn’t hide. She spoke plainly, openly admitting to knowing far less about the city than the three sergeants, and said that she wanted to listen and learn. She was professional beyond reproach.

    As Damon watched, more and more of the pieces were put into the place. The portrait became sharper with more detail. Damon noticed that the symbol of Torm was worn on the right side. She touched it a lot, as would befit her stay in the Silver Host. Her equipment was meticulously clean with eastern Celestial symbols.

    Damon listened, nodded politely, and offered opinions on cases. But in the back of his mind something was missing.

    Someone with her bearing and education didn’t some from nowhere and offer to be a private in the city guard. That made absolutely no sense. Why would a trained killer be in the city guard at all? Who or what did she run away from? Why was she here? Without a family listed, he even doubted that Jasmine was her real name.