The Realm of Joroin
(m) Zhule, The Autumn Maiden
Jack-a-Lynn is a former identity used by the enchantress Zhule.
Zhule is an enchantress whose ability to impose her will upon others is at once both beautiful and terrible to behold. Persuasion, domination, allure, illusion…all these things and more are hers to bring euphoric grace or catastrophic nightmare upon friend and foe.
Once a shape-shifting changeling, Zhule hid too long from her enemies in the guise of an Eladrin by the name of Jack-A-Lynn she met just prior to his death. Zhule buried herself so deep in the persona that she had trouble separating from it. In fact, the burden of so many borrowed identities over the years caused a psychotic break that lasted an entire year. Occupying a monastic cell in the church of Pellor, Zhule covered every inch of any possible surface in the room with scriblings that shifted from persona to persona…all of them concerned with something called “The Riddle of Winter”.
Zhule emerged on the other side of her mental episode more focused and in control of her identity and purpose. She rejoined her former allies Aria, Lorgrimm, and the others in the Feywild where a permanent bond with her Eladrin identity was solidified by Queen Tianna of the Court of Stars.Zhule had found the Queen of Summers very benign to her, and her already mutable nature was bonded with the fluid essence of the Feywild. No longer a paranoid, frightened young girl using misdirection, prestidigitation and chicanery to confuse and harangue foes…Zhule’s will was a weapon honed to deadly precision and she felt no reserve in its use when called upon. The gravity of bonding with the Fey had steadied her course.
In the course of her pursuits, Zhule encountered the Mistress of Winters, The Raven Queen. The Lady of Cold Sorrows had been the one to set the mystery in Zhule’s mind…The Riddle of Winter…and a bond was formed between them. Zhule carried this bond into her role as Shidari Champion, chosen defender of The Fey by Queen Tianna herself. The finality of the grave and the effervescence of the Fey did not war for supremacy within the enchantress, the adaptability of her origin saw to that. Instead, the two aspects of her patrons merged into a cohesive whole. The Lady of Endless Winters and The Queen of Summers found that they had created not a servant, but an ally…The Autumn Maiden, who would become caretaker of The Bridge-realm between The Shadowfell and The Feywild.
The rare visitors to Zhule’s Bridge-realm often hear fairies with gold/red/brown-leaved wings singing in the chill breezes that scurry through the carpet of fallen leaves…
“The Autumn Maiden passes bold
Through rivers of fire and burning gold
Motionless, moving across fallen streams
Caretaker of Summer’s fading dreams
The Harbinger of the Cold
Gathers to her fold
Promises spoken in the sounds of leaves
The Autumn Maiden has the voice of the wind
Oaks and Maples to listen will bend
Diamonds she makes of the morning dew
Casting their wealth across pine and yew
With Equinox’s passing
Nature’s balance, everlasting
She carries with her the memory of trees."
On nights when the moon is full, Zhule can be seen standing in a clearing occupied by a great oak, it’s limbs spread wide touching those of two smaller trees at its sides. On rarer nights still, a huge grey wolf sits at her side.
Zhule is a changeling, but doesn’t really have a concept of what she is. She does not know her parents, or where they or she came from. She was raised from an infant by a noble family in winterhaven. She was in human form when brought to the family, with no idea she could change shape. She lived for16 years as a human. The family advisor was a cold and ruthless teifling who would occasionally perform weird examinations and take extensive notes on Zhule. Zhule is terribly frightened of this Teifling named Klytus, who wears a golden mask and speaks with a polished manner and air.
Zhule was not allowed to leave the family grounds, ever. She had a friendless childhood, with the sole exception of a young human boy, a peasant who worked for her family on the grounds, most often in the stables. During riding lessons, the boy, Aaron, would attend her mount, and help Zhule with it’s grooming and gear. A deep affection grew between the two, one that gave Zhule the strength of resolve to stand up to her family, and most notably Klytus.
One day, Zhule stole to the barn in the hour just before dawn to seek Aaron in the stables as had become their custom. Moving thru the darkness softly calling his name, she heard a sound coming from one of the stalls. Looking inside, she found Aaron mutilated his body in the center of a ring of strange glyphs.
The only happiness in her life gone, she fell to her knees and wept, softly lest anyone should hear her. It had to have been Klytus. Somehow he had found them out.
A scream cut the night, from the direction of the house. Running to the stable door, she saw armed men swarming the grounds surrounding the house. Among hem was a man with pointed ears, who was confronted by Klytus in the manor’s doorway. Both raised their arms and terrible magics flared into the night air around them as her family’s guards and the invaders clashed.
Her only thought now was to hide and flee. She ran to Aaron one last time to say a brief goodbye. She knelt down beside him and cradling his head, kissed him gently. As she lowered him back down, she noticed her hands were different. Rough, dirty, and calloused. Pulling her gaze back, she found her arms were longer, stronger looking and her clothes had changed. They looked like Aaron’s. Dashing to a trough, she peered into the water and found it was Aaron’s face staring back from the reflection, not her own.
Confused and terrified, Zhule ran out of the stable and into the night. Whatever conflict had come to her home, no one in it questioned the flight of a peasant boy.
Over the years, Zhule has come to understand that she can change her appearance to become anyone she wishes, but not why or how. With no means to support herself, she swiftly came to rely on trickery, deceit, and a strange new sense of persuasion to make ends meet. Moving from village to village, city to city, Zhule adopted new personas and looks to hide herself from those who might seek her out. Sooner or later, news of some abominable ritual in the area would reach Zhule’s ears, and she would flee to new lands remembering Aaron in the stable.
Zhule eventually developed he ability to use magicks which she learned furtively from a brief time spent as a cleaning woman for a mage. Stealing a few magic items from him, she left once more changing her appearance.
Zhule rarely stays in one place for long, and when she adopts a new identity, it is always the face and form of someone who has recently died, lessening the chance that two people who look just alike will run into each other. She keeps a notebook full of sketches of various people and races, very detailed and with measurements of height, weight, colors, and manner of dress, mannerisms, and other facts. This she uses to help her assume a new identity from time to time.
Zhule has been on the run for 7 years, and her latest identity is Jack-A-Lynn, an Eladrin she saw in Fallcrest who was killed in a bar fight over gambling debts. She tries to reveal very little of herself, and avoids the spotlight in any situation. This is to reduce her odds of being found and captured by the unknown forces she feels are stalking her.