In what might be the first piece of fan fiction my works have ever received, here's a short story about Tarklo Dirge, the protagonist of The Duskwalker's Due, the solo adventure you can get right here. It's by my good friend Ken Melvoin-Berg and it's a lot of fun!

The Duskwalker’s Gift by Ken Melvoin-Berg

Hunting is what I was born for, literally. I was born again in this body of Tarklo Dirge and given a mission: hunt the undead to restore the balance of life and death. I was getting a smile on my face because I saw by his footprints how close I was now. Twelve hours at most until I was face to face with my prey. And the target was one of the living, a rare thing for me. Duskwalkers like me have a job to do, and we take it very seriously. I came to Daggermark to find a man named Horvath Fletch. What a terrible name, and what a terrible man. I have been tracking him for two weeks now. Once I mark my prey, it’s really just a matter of time. And time is something I have a lot of. 

I found his campsite and his night soil, still fresh. The campfire still had smoldering embers. I saw where he bed down, where he hoisted his pack up in a tree, and where he entered and left the campsite. He wasn’t covering his tracks; every time he walked the twigs bent, his footprints were obvious as mountains, and his scent was still in the area. This couldn’t be easier.

I hate Daggermark and the entire bloody River Kingdoms. The people here are mostly assassins (no judgment here), poisoners, pickpockets, ruffians, thieves, and con artists of every variety. The land is full of nothing but swamps, flies, humidity, and death. It is all one gets here. Truly it is misery. But once a year they hold the Outlaw Council. A body of criminals that meet for the sole purpose of banding together against those that would capture and detain them. They saw themselves as paragons of personal liberties that would die rather than submit. They thought they were defenders of the truth that their small personal freedoms were more important than helping the public good. In actuality, they were greedy children that poisoned, raped, robbed, and murdered. They would rather bring everyone else to the grave with them than submit to the idea of law and order. In a way, they were the only government in this area, but government led by chaos is like a brothel was run by a celibate, and what’s the point of that?

Ten hours behind him now. The smell of moist soil, the putrid water was getting more intense. At least it was cool; it was early enough in spring to melt the snow but not hot enough to make the swamps like living in the moist trousers of a fire giant. I was surprised a man of his caliber was travelling alone, especially since I doubt he could defend himself physically. If they knew his name and what he did, though, people generally left him alone. 

I assist the undead to the other side. I make sure they not only stop being a nuisance, but help keep the delicate balance between life and death. I know my purpose is to restore that equilibrium by helping the dead, relieving the undead of their wretched existence, and occasionally help the living along to their final destination. But out of all of them, I really despise the living the most. I do! Although I don’t assist them to the other side unless I have no other choice, hearing the privileged living whine incessantly about this and that makes me want to stab them in the neck. But that wouldn’t help the balance. At least, I keep telling myself that. 

My prey was slowing down. Horvath didn’t appear to be injured, at least according to his tracks. While I was tracking him, I decided to bring out my axes and sharpen them with an edge keen enough to shave the hair off a spider’s ass. I loved these axes more than people. They were masterworks of a dwarven smith named Yorn Boulderbender, master smith of Dongun Hold, crafted a long time ago. Darkwood handles carved with images of skeletons being smashed and sliced by dwarven warriors of yore. They fit perfectly in hand, the handle was so well balanced I could put it on one finger on the butt of the handle and keep it upright for hours. The blades, though, were obviously crafted by a virtuoso of death. The head was made of a metal from a star that fell from the sky. It was harder than diamonds and as sharp as a Chelaxian’s wit, but still I sharpened it more. The inlays were placed perfectly to see a contrast of the blackened metal with the silver of the inlaid mithril. The design was a dwarven clan braided knot that marked it from the Boulderbender family. I had found them in the tomb of a druid wraith that I had released, a nice prize for a tough battle. I discovered their history from my travelling companion at the time, a bard named Melvoin the Magnificent, but that is a story for another day.

Eight hours behind him at most. Fletch had killed so many, an amazing feat for someone in his line of work. It wouldn’t be long now. I was surprised he was coming to the Outlaw Council, but at least that gave me an edge if I actually lost his trail. I knew where he would be in six hours, what he would be doing, and who he would be doing it with. I was surprised he decided to accept the job. Little did he know, he wouldn’t finish. I would catch up to him first.

Four hours later, I was on the outskirts of the marshy stinkholes outside of Daggermark. I had to watch out now; they would have sentinels watching for those who might oppose them. It was time to be stealthy, slow down, and sneak into the city.

The Outlaw Council would be meeting at a large inn on the north side of town called the Black Dragon’s Rest. Not too shabby if I do say so myself, but I wasn’t here for a vacation. Not that duskwalkers get vacations or holidays at all. My quarry was inside, alone.

The Black Dragon’s Rest was a long building; almost one hundred feet long and half that wide. It was three stories in height with windows in every room. The first story was all a large open room meant for feasting, fireplaces, long platters of meat and tankards of ale. The stairs lead to a second level which was all rooms for travelers, the top level was four large rooms meant to be either luxury suites or meeting rooms that came with a spells that would alert those inside of intrusion. No way to get to his room from the inside, so I decided to wait until dark. There are many hours between dusk and dawn that are best for stealth. I went to the alley behind the building, barely missing the kitchen wench dumping a pail of garbage. I waited in silence in the dark until she left. I threw my grappling hook up to the roof and climbed to the second story where he would be. I brought out a special snare that would make a fluttering noise like a bird outside his window, and then stun him when he opened the shutters. The windows were framed in solid oak and locked with intricate metal bars and a lock. Smart. Very secure, but no match for the clever snare that tricked him to open the locks and peek outside. I set the trap, put a harness around my waist, and waited.

In one hand, I held a magical token made of feathers that would let us both float silently to the ground. I'd use my the other hand to grab his dazed body under the arms. He unlocked one lock, the second lock, and finally the third. He carefully opened the window . . .  and the trap went off, powdered lethargy poison dust in his eyes. I grabbed him and whispered the magic words, “Avia Levitarum!” and floated gently to the ground. 

Horvath Fletch was asleep like a babe in its mother’s arms. This was a snare of my own design, a variation on the stalker bane snare with lethargy poison and a bird call. I sidled down the alley, stuffed him in a large sack, and promptly stole a nearby horse. I put the man's unconscious body on the back of the horse and rode out of town before his absence was noted.

Hours later, I arrived at my predetermined location: an island in the middle of a large river with a small abandoned shrine to Cayden Cailean, a perfect location for my needs. I took Horvath out of the bag, set his unconscious body upright, brought out my bag of goodies, and waited.

Horvath Fletch was confused. He really had no idea where he was or what was going on. Then he saw me, looked me up and down, and started sobbing.

“Please don’t murder me. I'm wealthy! I will give you any ransom you demand! Please don’t hurt me,” blubbered Horvath Fletch. “Truly, I have no idea what I have done to you!”

“I am Tarklo Dirge, duskwalker and a ghost hunter. You may not know it, but you’re the best at your craft in the world, and you have killed hundreds. You didn’t do it intentionally. They died softly, sweetly, and with full bellies. But I'm not here to take revenge, or to kill you.”

“What in all Golarion do you want of me?”

“The reason your victims all died was they couldn’t say no to your craft, and they consumed all you made until they could hold no more. You are truly the best. Today is my birthday, and the one thing I want, the only thing I want I had to get for myself, and that was you. Now open the bag.”

Inside was flour, eggs, sugar, honey, milk, and spices, everything he would need.

I continued, “You see, it’s my birthday, and I want a birthday cake made by the greatest baker on Golarion, Horvath Fletch. And I always get what I want.”