The following short story was written by our resident cover artist, Anthony Butler. As you may notice, the story features "Santiago", an ebonheart magus (one of the new archetypes included in Into the Breach: the Magus, 2nd Wave) and whom graces the cover of our newest Into the Breach series offering. Santiago is a personal character of Anthony's in an ongoing Pathfinder Skull and Shackles game.
The following just goes to show that there is indeed a story behind every cover, though be warned, Santiago's tale features mature content, and is NSFW (not suitable for work).
Blood, Sex, Magic, and Steel
“So there I stand, stark naked, alone in the center of a drow city, in the chambers of the priestess herself, with said priestess fast asleep on the bed. And despite my best efforts, she’s had the presence of mind to chain me to the wall before she passed out,” Santiago regaled the attentive crowd, slouching back in his chair as one of the sailors brought him a drink. “Gracias, mi amor,” he tipped his head in the woman’s direction. “Where was I? Ah yes, chained to the wall. Couldn’t even walk, but somehow, she remembers the keys.”
“Can’t have done that good a job,” another interrupted, to the raucous laughter of the bunch.
“I don’t know, she only chained my feet,” Santiago quipped. The dwarf who had cut in, a grizzled, one-eyed bastard, let out a barking laugh, before refilling Santiago’s tankard, the international signal for “keep talking, friend”. Santiago loved old sailors, they were fun. “Where was I?” He took a quick sip. “The priestess, she’s been dead to the world for over an hour now, and in that time, I find the means by which to break that chains, so I’ve my freedom, if nothing else. Except that, does one of her guards not decide to come in to check on us? And there’s me, wearing little more than a smile. Naturally, he’s suspicious. After all,” Santiago shrugged, “As far as he knows, I’m nothing but a toy, brought to amuse his priestess and then probably sacrificed to whatever dark forces those drow worship.”
He knew exactly which demon the priestess worshipped. However, repeated tellings of this tale had taught Santiago that, though more academic circles appreciated the irony of a priestess dedicated to a demon of - at times disconcertingly creative - sex being out-fucked at her own game, the bar crowd was more concerned with the actual sex act itself than with the theological ramifications. Well, some of the academic crowd cared too. He’d had a grand evening with two sylph sorceresses, both of them very keen on primary sources. Being able to write the Sylvan form of the Elven alphabet with his tongue was a skill that Santiago suspected he would never regret developing.
“With her guard alerted by the sound of my escaping, I’ve need need to distract him, because there is one way out of this room, and it’s through him. Of course, when my crew brought me in, there were two guards, and let me tell you, one of them, well, his interest was certainly more than professional,”
And then it had also become professional. Once Santiago had outwitted the priestess, the sex demon had informed one of her paladins that he was to serve, to quote the most flattering infernal omen he’d had recounted to him, “The handsome one with the hairy chest and the morals as loose as the holes he’s fucked”. Santiago had made a very nice offering after that. His mother may have been a mercenary captain with a bloody swathe carved from shore to horizon, and his father a seafaring brigand who actually owned a cup crafted from the gilded skull of a mutinous second mate, but they had raised their children to be polite. Even if it was to demons.
He’d been fucking the unholy paladin for the past few years, but Santiago omitted that detail, because there was someone’s dignity to think of. It was almost impossible to get a good blowjob from the drow when he was in one of his sulks. Something which Santiago had been vexatiously aware of for the past fortnight. Accidentally mention that the hulking amenaza could get his ankles to his ears to one criminal syndicate...Santiago scoffed into his ale.
“What’d you do then?” One of the sailors asked. From the glint in his eye, he was far more interested in the idea of Santiago than of a nubile drow priestess. Perhaps Santiago could win his way out of the doghouse with a present. They hadn’t had a menage in ages.
“Well, as I’m already naked, there’s but one thing to do. The guard bursts in, demanding to know what the ruckus was, so flirteo, I flirt. And I always flirt hard.” Inflection was key here; a good dick joke was welcome in any circle. “He’s heard the noises, I’m thinking this is half in the bag. If nothing else, I’ll get him disarmed. So I make my move, use all of my charm and wit, and it’s only then that I realize,” Santiago paused, waiting until a few of his listeners leant in eagerly. “I’m making my move on the wrong drow.”
His audience howled in approval. Even now, Santiago never heard the end of that one, though, in his defence, he’d seen both guards once, it was dark, and he’d had more important things on his mind than which of the priestess guards he’d be seducing, things like not dying. Or the frankly disgraceful dearth of oral reciprocity he’d just been party to. He may have forgotten the priestess’ name, but it certainly wasn’t the result of her skill at giving head. Even now, he could feel her teeth.
“So now, mares tormentosos, there I am, barking up the wrong tree, this culo apretado between me and the door, fully armed, and while I’ve an impressive weapon of my own, between you and me, I doubt it would penetrate that armour.” Santiago accepted the groans of dismay, raising his arms in mock celebration. He’d once been slapped for that pun, but as the archivist had ridden him in the middle of her desk, he refused to leave it out of the store. She’d actually become even more aroused when he started talking dirty in Old Draconic, so it had been all good fun. Sadly, he’d still not yet figured out the trick to using Draconic to spice up foreplay, but they’d made a good game of the effort. Such was to be expected from a language whose alphabet required claws to accurately inscribe, he supposed.
The other sailors were clamoring now, to hear how he’d escaped, and so Santiago braced for his grand finale.
“At this point, I’ve one move left to me,” With a snap of his fingers, Santiago lit the candles on the table - a demonstration of magical power lent that extra touch of credibility, after all. “Before me, esta follacabra, and behind me? La chupacabra stirs. Drow priestesses aren’t known for their lenience, and I’d been told to wait for la dama’s pleasure, I’ve one shot to make my escape. So, I conjure forth a cloud of obscuring mist, as thick as the hair on this one’s arse.” With theatrical gesture, he indicated the sailor who had interrupted him. The dwarf had the good grace to laugh harder than his fellows, “In the confusion, I sprint past the guard, relying on memory not to dash into the burly bastard’s arms.”
Every good story contained truth, lies, blood, and sex, and now Santiago had covered three of the four. He’d no need to memorize the room, not when he’d used the cover of the mist to shift into his hybrid form and locate the guard by scent and sound.
“He’s swinging blindly, just barely grazes me with his blade,” Santiago pointed to the scar on his cheek, “But to no avail! I flee the room, and book it down the hallway, towards an open window facing the courtyard.” He knocked back the tankard, the ale here was watered down something fierce, perfect for a man who wanted to tell a tale or two without vomiting on his audience. “From outside, there comes a terrible racket, like an army invading. The priestess is screaming behind me, conjuring her demonios, so I dive out the window, and do I not find myself right in the middle of a fucking warzone! Turns out, the one of my crew who disguised himself as a drow soldier has accidentally started a peasant uprising, and now there’s fighting and flames, and me without trousers.”
There were cries of disbelief now, and Santiago had to agree that this was a most unexpected turn. Their plan had been for stealth, more or less, speed, in some matters, and most of all, not a violent political upheaval, which had backfired. The result had been the drow priestess losing so much face that she’d been trying to take vengeance on him since. Foiling her first attempt to assassinate him by invoking extraplanar entities who had eviscerated a mercenary company - Or was it two? No, no it was two, he’d just disliked the first victims enough that their deaths hadn’t stuck - before being dispatched hadn’t sweetened her disposition. Nor had the scathing assessment of the priestess’ skills in the bedroom - particularly the part about her being a selfish, unskilled tragona - which one of the demons had quite happily delivered back to its mistress. And read out loud. In front of the assembled matriarchs of the city. And the army. She certainly was proving his initial assessment of spitters to be incorrect though, Santiago had to give her credit. Not much though. He hated being wrong.
One of these days, Santiago would meet a priestess and not piss her off. Druidesses, wizardesses, sorceresses, the odd bruja, none of them went to these lengths to kill him; they saw, they came, they parted company. But mares hirviendo, one more priestess, and he’d have to sit down, engage in some serious introspection, and if there was one thing Santiago hated, it was serious introspection. Worse than treacherous shipmates, venereal disease, being wrong, people who didn’t like him, and treacherous, lying, backstabbing, greedy shipmates. One in particular who Santiago was going to find, and when he did, unravel every ounce of happiness that traitorous, goat-fucking bastard had built for himself, before leaving him a broken, bitter shell of a man, stranded on some godless spit of an island where only -
“Eh?” Santiago snatched the folded note in front of his face; one of his crew, a recent addition who hadn’t yet distinguished herself enough yet to get out of tracking down the captain, and as such wore an expression hinting that she was superbly relieved that the captain was still wearing his pants, was sheepishly waving it at him.
Santiago snatched the paper away, indicating with a tilt of his head that the junior sailor ought return to the ship, and as she left, broke the seal holding the paper shut. He bared his teeth in glee as he scanned the missive. His first mate had returned, and not a moment too soon either, he’d started to miss the catfolk thief.
It never failed to astound him, how much time Akela would save if she just wrote out her notes to him, instead of spending four times longer on these intricate cartoons. This one was a masterpiece though: an exceptionally sneaky cat, who Santiago knew to be exceptionally sneaky because of her exaggeratedly delicate posture, was snatching a comically oversized bag, labelled "gold coins". Behind her, a wolf covered with lipstick marks and with smell lines coming off of him - Santiago hastily dipped his head down and sniffed. He smelled fine, he’d bathed that morning - was leading away a guard, who was conveniently labelled "Dumb guard".
“Mates, it’s been a delight, always,” Santiago flashed a grin at no one in particular. Although, that mercenary over by the bar had a great set of tits on her. Nor would Santiago be in the least opposed to taking that handsome sailor, who was still paying rapt attention, and unfurling his sails. Eventually, at least. Santiago had to concede that he should probably be properly penitent and let el novio have his way with the lad’s arse first. It was just polite, to bring back unfucked souvenirs from shore leave, he reasoned as he curled the letter back up on itself. “Unfortunately, pressing matters call me away from your scintillating company.”
The mercenary didn’t seem to be paying him any heed, and he was in a hurry, so no sense wasting time trying to persuade an uninterested party. Indeed, he saw as he stood, she was mesmerised by the sway of the bard’s hips (and they were lovely hips, he couldn’t fault her taste in the least), and silently, he wished the woman well. Besides, judging by the stains on her armour, the mercenary got seasick easily, and he’d no place in his bed for una desperdicia de espacio like that.
“Where you off to, then?” the sailor’s voice held a pleading note, and he licked his lips when Santiago held his gaze for that tiniest bit longer. Lad had best have his sea legs by now, he’d certainly need them when Santiago was through with his arse. He was a dashing fellow though. so if the half-elf knew how to handle a rudder, Santiago would keep him around.
“To far off lands, where I shall dive into danger, plunder strongholds, seize some tesoro, no doubt have the sort of adventures that a man recants to strangers bar when he’s of a mind to make some friends,” was Santiago’s grandiose response. He flipped the mercenary a few coins on the way out, with a twitch of his head towards the bard and a wink, one lech to another. “And please note that at least two of those were double ent-”
“Look lads, it’s the pretty boy!”
Mar sin fondo.
“You? Again?” Santiago ground his teeth. He’d really thought he’d left these fuckwits behind him. “I thought you would be too stupid to find me. Clearly, I was wrong. I dislike being wrong. Also, you nearly ruined my coat. I quite like this coat.” He let out a theatrical sigh. “That makes two things I should kill you for. Also, compañero, a man with your bone structure really shouldn’t be slinging around “pretty boy” like an insult,. At least I can grow a beard.” Here, Santiago made a show of stretching on his toes and leaning forwards, as if peering down the brigand’s shirt. “Well. Body hair too, it would seem, sin pelo.”
When the leader of the highwaymen’s mouth fell open, Santiago swept in to fill the space. He’d been accused of being in love with his own voice more than once, and though a good number of the accusers had changed their tune when they discovered what else he could do with his mouth, he’d cop to it that yes, he did love to talk. Kept people distracted from their plans to kill him, for starters.
“Sorry, was that too fast for you to follow?” There was a handful people that he could think of in this world who would recognize this particular flavour of cheer, and only because they were actually still friends with him for some inexplicable reason, and therefore were still alive after they heard it. “Let’s start over.”
Santiago raised his hand, clenched in fist, palm facing away from the highwaymen. He unfurled his thumb first “Our previous encounter suggests that I’m being very generous when I say that you are in possession of half a brain between the four of you, which makes it astounding that you tracked me this far. I’m going to chalk that one up either to sheer dumb luck on your part, or else I’ve been neglecting to toss a few coins to el mar.”
He extended his pointer finger now. “Next, to fill time while I decide if I want to rip you a new asshole or just outright disintegrate you, I once again must raise the matter of my coat, and, as you can clearly see, the three inch tear it now sports in one sleeve. I’ve quite a long, rich history with this coat, you see, found it on a ship infested with undead, had to fight my way off of it with an old friend, and we lost a few good sailors there. Never knew their names, but one of them had a pretty mouth I’d been planning all manner of sins with, so I was sad for a moment.”
Santiago’s middle finger rose, making for three fingers showing. “I should also point out that you’ve proven me in error about your tracking abilities, and I will admit, I am a prideful man, so I might just keep your skulls around to see if I can’t contrive something nasty for them.”
“Then,” Now only his little finger was still curled down. “I again criticize you for your blatant hypocrisy in calling me a pretty boy. I am not, nor have I ever, been anything less than a handsome hunk of a male specimen, a fact which more men and women than your tiny brain could ever dream of can confirm. That seems like pettiness on your part, no doubt some projected insecurity because su culo es tan lampiño como su cara.. Under other circumstances, I’d be verifying that claim.” Santiago quipped, with his most predatory sneer. “But to go by that vacant expression, I’d wager you require some further simplification of the stream of insults I’ve hurled in your general direction, which is just reinforcing my desire to leave you strewn about this fine establishment in a form easy enough for the lovely owners to clean up, so here it is, friend: given as you’ve pissed me right the fuck off, it’s time for me to tell your fifth mistake.”
He paused now, extending his last finger, slow and grandiose, and all four of the highwaymen were so busy staring at his left hand, and what was revealed to be lying in his palm. Which meant that not one noticed that Santiago was also reaching down to grasp the handle of his rapier with his right hand. “You should never let a magus keep talking for this long.”
As he barked out the final words of the incantation, Santiago crushed his hand around the lodestone and pinch of sand that he’d palmed from his spell component pouch, feeling the components vanish as he pointed at the largest, nastiest looking of the four, who was also standing farthest back. The highwayman just had time to stare at the thin green beam lancing out from Santiago’s fingertip, before he’d crumbled to dust.
His companions’ heads had whipped about at their now departed comrade’s cry of anguish, a fatal mistake on their part, as Santiago was now leaping across the table, thrusting his rapier through the one besides the leader, channeling one of his favourite necromancies through the blade as he did; his victim’s crumpled, and Santiago felt the rush of life energy through his veins. He laughed, dodging a clumsy blow from one of the man’s comrades as Santiago pulled his sword out, then reached out to grasp the man’s face, conjuring a burst of fire. The third idiot fell to the ground, clutching his face and screaming, so Santiago did him a favour and stabbed him, somewhat fatally.
That left the leader, the one who’d called him pretty boy.
“So, what’ll it be then, compañero, spell or steel?” With a savage flourish of his blade, Santiago offered out both options, conjuring a tiny spark of light to his fingertip. “Despite what your face would suggest, your balls must have dropped by now. Man up and stop wasting my time, I’ve a sailor to fuck and a heist to plot.”
The leader started running. From the scent, he’d pissed himself.
Santiago sighed. “I’ll be right back,” he said to the sailor he still planned on taking back on board. He shrugged off his coat, making sure to give a quick flex as he tossed the garment on the tablet. “Keep an eye on that, would you, hermosa?” Santiago asked, and with a wink, added, “Fighting always gives me a raging cockstand,” before he took off after the last target.
He did wait until he was out of sight before shifting, just because that half-elf was nearly in the sack, and he didn’t want to risk having to handle matters himself that night. Some folk had issues with being fucked by a werewolf, they were convinced that they could catch it. Santiago had lost count of the times he’d had to explain that no, he had to bite them in forma híbrido to transfer the curse, no he wouldn’t transfer it, because that would be rude, no, you can’t contract lycanthropy from swallowing, and no, he wasn’t transforming, that was his chest hair, he never had sex in anything other than human form, that would just be fucking weird, and you know what, you should probably just leave.
With his heightened senses, Santiago caught the man’s scent fast enough; the leader of the highwaymen had not only pissed himself, he’d shat his pants too. At this point, putting the man out of his misery - mar sin fondo, to say nothing of Santiago’s - would be a kindness.
Sure enough, there stood the snivelling coward, fumbling with his longsword, a dark stain spreading from his groin down his trousers. He started crying as he saw the werewolf barreling down the track towards him, pleading for his life.
“Shouldn’t have ripped my coat,” Santiago growled, baring his fangs, and then he leapt in for the kill, feeling the feeble blows glance off of his skin. One did manage to cut his arm as he shredded the highwayman’s throat; it would leave a dashing scar, he suspected. When there was really no chance that the leader of the pack of morons had survived, Santiago stood, surveying his handiwork.
He spat out blood as he shifted back, wiping his mouth on the back of one now slightly less hairy forearm, before picking through the pockets of what had once been an elf, and now….well, they’d be able to say he’d been humanoid. Maybe. If he’d not had more pressing sailors to attend to, Santiago would have burned the body, and kicked a few of the more distinguishing bones into a ditch, out of spite. “These look sentimental,” Santiago remarked, fishing out a pair of earrings and a locket. “Rude of you to take them, eh, dumbass?”. Though, and only because Santiago prided himself on being the two biggest dicks in the room, he planted his boots firmly on either side of the remains, undid his placket, and paid his final respects to what remained of the unfortunate highwayman.
When he strode back into the inn, bloodspattered, shirtless, and grinning widely, the room fell dead silent. His sailor friend still sat at the table, one protective hand on the coat. From the looks of things, the rest of the man’s crew had abandoned him, which was awfully rude, but Santiago needed to recruit some new blood, and besides, the man was handsome; with that jaw, he’d be sharing a bunk with at least one or two crew members who’d come aboard under similar circumstances in no time.
“Follacabra ran into an owlbear, got himself mauled, it looks like,” Santiago said casually, in a tone that just dared anyone to challenge him. “Must have been fiendish. Pissed on his corpse too. Terrible, petty things, those fiendish owlbears. Had these on him though,” he continued to the innkeep, plunking the jewelry he’d recovered onto the bar. “To my eye, they look old and expensive and probably belonged to someone who, if they aren’t dead, would very much like them back, so you should no doubt hunt the poor dear down. And if they aren’t gracious enough to reward you,” Santiago fished around in his pocket, before dropping a good handful of coin on the counter. It was probably too much, he’d never hear the end of it from his first mate, about his spendthrift ways. “We’ll say a round of drinks on me, and the rest to you as my apologies for the mess, por favor?” The patrons remaining let out a ragged cheer, and the innkeeper shrugged in acceptance. Santiago added a few more coins to the pile, because people who didn’t raise a fuss over an oddly well-spoken pirate spilling some blood over their floors deserved a good tip.
“Well,” Santiago sauntered over to the table to collect his coat. “You even folded it,” he said, surprised.
“Me mother raised me well,” the sailor muttered, looking down. His eyes kept slipped back towards Santiago’s groin though. Santiago reached out, seizing the man’s stubbly chin firmly, and pulled him to his feet for a good, hard kiss. He’d always had a thing for half-elves, that lanky elven grace roughened up by human blood.
He heard the mercenary at the bar let out a wolf whistle, and Santiago threw her a cheerful salute without breaking the kiss, his free hand sliding down the sailor’s back to cup one hard ass cheek and give it a squeeze. That would definitely get him out of trouble with el novio.
“What say you, let’s back to my ship then, and I’ll show you the other way I make men scream, eh?” the magus growled, once he’d broken the kiss.
He’d been wasting time for long enough, his long-absent first mate’s letter was just the excuse he needed to go sailing into trouble. She’d been planning this particular heist for ages now, and Santiago had been telling Akela that he’d die of boredom before she set the damn thing in motion. And now that she’d proven him wrong. If nothing else, it would be good fun.
“What’s your name, by the way?” Santiago asked the sailor, slinging an arm around the man’s shoulder and leading him out to the dock. “You don’t have to tell me, I’ll just make one up.”
“Sebastian! Good, strong name! Bienvenido a bordo!”