Interlocutors are the artists and scientists of the kyton race. Eremites are the leaders, exemplars, and godheads; augurs are the voyeurs and scouts; and evangelists are the recruiters, soldiers, and (might as well say it) evangelists of pain. Interlocutors are the scholars and sculptors. Like grisly MFA candidates, pain for them is a field of study, but that study must never take a backseat to art and inspiration. It is both a medium and a conversation they have with their victims—hence their name. But because they are only interested in self-improvement and their eventual apotheosis, this conversation is inevitably, hopelessly one-sided. Like Count Rugen in The Princess Bride or Firefly’s Adelei Niska (only, let’s be clear, vastly darker and more unfathomable) interlocutors are only interested in the answers that confirm their own appalling beliefs…and their victims are only future components for their vile bodies.
Velothrum the Maestro is even more of an aesthetic than most of his fellows. This interlocutor kyton specializes in incorporating bards and birds into his form, with a special fondness for tengus, harpies, and sirens. He also constantly searches for malevolent musical instruments and sonic weapons that will turn his attacks into performances of majestic violence.
Captain Bloodwraith is the skipper of a kyton research vessel, the Fascia—a ship with sails of living skin that can cross the divide between the Plane of Shadow and the Material Plane. Since the ship actually manifests a bit of the surrounding black ocean as well—and since the Shadow’s seas do not always follow the Material Plane’s coastlines—Bloodwraith sometimes strikes shockingly far inland.
Interlocutors on the mortal world often gravitate to certain objects of study. Barbarians’ ability to sublimate pain into rage makes them ideal subjects. Sorcerers seeking to unlock the secrets of their blood and mutagen-quaffing alchemists are often attractive targets (and yield unique organs and fluids). But monks are perhaps the most attractive target of all, as their quest for bodily and spiritual perfection matches the kytons all. Lawful evil orders in particular are ripe for interlocutor infiltration. The Stone Crabs are taught to embrace pain and shed concern for their bodies like a crab ripping off a wounded limb, sparring with shark-tooth-tipped weapons and fighting off sahuagin incursions barehanded. The beating heart of their dojo is an interlocutor kyton who secretly oversees all, seeking candidates to incorporate into his body or “promote” to the Plane of Shadow.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 3 174
Yeah, you know the crab I’m talking about. I’m not even going to link it.
The eremite was only the second Bestiary 3 monster The Daily Bestiary tackled, so I’ve had more time to think about kytons since then. A lot of evil monsters are into torture, so I think part of the key to kytons is differentiating them from the other sadists out there (and, ideally, without making them cheesy S&M parodies despite all the whips and chains). So: Devils torture as an expression of domination. Demons torture to drive victims to despair while ruining their bodies. Daemons are less interested in torture; they merely wish to see its effect on souls as part of their greater quest to snuff out all mortal life. Other creatures feed on the fear or agony that torture produces, or do so out of a hatred of the living—many undead fall into this camp.
But with kytons what is striking is their simultaneous selfishness and interest in self-improvement. They are after transformation, revelation, and apotheosis at any cost. The anguish they cause is of interest because of how the kyton can feed on it and what it teaches the kyton about its own journey. They are harvesters—of body parts, sensations, and agony—and editors—cruelly scalpeling away all that is deemed necessary, and revising till the original work is transformed or cut to ribbons. Devils’ and demons’ aims for mortal victims are horrible, but vaguely understandable. Kytons are chasing something else entirely.
Final thought: Remember, these are creatures so self-absorbed that Hell itself—a realm of infinite schemers and martinets—couldn’t hold them. That right there? That’s a thing.