[Author’s note: What are these “AoA” tags? Check out this post to know why I’m writing these and why they don’t have anything to do with superheroes. After writing only the occasional cut-scene, I decided to do a quick narrative before every Pathfinder session instead of a recap. We already had someone in the group writing recaps, so mine felt redundant, and there were too many opportunities for fiction writing that I was letting pass me by. Below are a collection of intros from our sessions. I don’t love using present tense, but it’s what fits best into these tabletop roleplaying sessions.]
Session 67: Barushak’s Fall
[Note: Session 66 intro was a cut-scene written by a player]
“They are quite brave, aren’t they?”
Two voices said these words in unison. One was a male voice, deep and resonant. The other was a female voice, clear and melodious. Yet both originated from the same being.
The angel Chioma sat unseen atop a ledge in the Summershade Granite Quarry, brown bare feet swinging over the edge. Their feathered, fluorescent, red-orange wings spread out behind the angel in repose, their robes artfully draped. Chioma’s unblinking eyes glowed with Sarenrae’s light as they took in the scene spread out before them.
“I’m sorry, Jethro. I will not ask you questions since I know that you cannot answer until they have freed the tether of your mortal shell. But look! You wondered about Coxsackie when you first met him. Yet now he charges across the sky to do battle with a giant, to avenge not just his fallen comrades but his lost tribe. Quite brave indeed.
“You have not met them, but these new companions are no less brave. Flying upon those silver wings is Sabine Sterling, sister to the Robin you knew. If you ever gain an audience with Apsu, I suspect he will share his plans for that one.
“And that faerie dragon there is the familiar of the necromancer hunter Leilani Greyara. She stands over near Obedience, you see? I will be interested to see Leilani’s decision once her prey here is vanquished. Will she link her fate to this group, or continue her lonely borderwalking? One path certainly leads to redemption, whereas the other path… Well, let us focus on the present moment.
“Poor Obedience. Look how in turmoil he is next to Leilani, pacing like a tiger, full of rage and purpose, fighting between his ancestry and his upbringing. The story of Obedience Fletcher has so many chapters left to write. You can rest well that you have set him on his path, Jethro. You have taught the lessons you were meant to teach him. Now we both must see what he does with those lessons. His story is one many of the gods are watching, I assure you. The fate of Golarion rests on those narrow shoulders.
“And do you see that small figure, shining like a beacon, standing with them both atop the cliff? That is Margaret, and I must say that I am thrilled to finally see her here. With you gone from this plane, she is my muse, Jethro Vermillion. I have not seen her since her birth, but… What is this? Oh dear. Margaret does not understand what forces work to shape her own story. Poor Margaret.
“From here, they look like pieces on a gameboard, do they not? Or perhaps actors in a play? I know you cannot speak, Jethro, but sit with me and watch this next act, however hard it might be to do so. I have faith in this group. But, alas, something difficult is about to occur. Here it comes now. Watch…”
Session 68: Shadows and Elves
Iavva looks to her sisters, slogging through the rushing waters towards the sluice mechanism.
“Lemma! Evlin! Be quick about it and shut off this flood!”
Lemma pulls on one of the levers, her pale face turning red. “Oof! They are not easy.”
“Sister, I found Laslunn’s journal! Her letters are scattered across the water! She is not coming back, I think.” Evlin yells over the water and the shriek of the lever as Lemma finally pulls it closed.
“What are you waiting for? Help them! Get the water stopped!” Barushak yells at her.
“Of course,” Iavva says, as she makes her way towards her twins. Her eyes narrow. Why would Barushak speak to her so? If Laslunn has truly left, why is the wizard still here? Wasn’t the plan to flood the quarry and leave if things with the assassins turned sour?
As Evlin begins struggling with her own lever, she catches Iavva’s eye. The two share a brief look.
Something is not right here.
Session 69: Laslunn’s Quarters
Evlin inwardly curses. She should have surrendered. She had fully intended to when she had walked around the corner, responding to that fake Barushak and his league of assassins. But then she had seen Iavva’s body–pierced through her chest and laying in shallow, bloody water–and something within her had broken. Evlin may have fired an arrow and said something stupid, but the world had gone red and she couldn’t remember.
Regardless, she had doomed both herself and Lemma. There is no escape from Laslunn’s quarters.
“What do we do?” Lemma hisses, eyes darting and hands twitching. Poor Lemma. Something had broken within her sister as well, and she was clearly panicked beyond reason.
Evlin curses again. How had she been such a fool? She had sensed something was wrong with Barushak. All three of them had.
But it is too late. She and Lemma are both going to die. Just like Iavva died.
Evlin’s teeth grind. She scans the rooms. Her eyes settle on the sluiceway mechanism, and a wild, desperate idea seizes her.
“Assassins!” she yells, her voice echoing in the caves. “You wanted the water turned off, yes? You tricked us into closing the sluices, yes? It is you who wanted the slaves alive, not Barushak! Well we are opening them again! Go save those worthless slaves if you must! We will leave and you will never hear from us again!”
And to her sister she whispers fiercely, “Go! Pull the levers!”
Session 70: The Lich’s Lair
A riverboat pulls away from the shore. The stern halfling pilot does not speak as he busies himself with his craft, moving with a creak from one side to the next. Here he tugs a rope. There he pauses briefly to peer ahead and behind. All the while he maintains a hand on the craft’s rudder, steering them through the lazy waters.
A goblin, red eyes peering through the tall grass, is flanked by an elven woman and a ratfolk in armor. The three watch silently from the shore. Thirteen pairs of haunted eyes stare back.
It is an eerie moment, in an otherwise pleasant setting. Birds and insects chirp in the late morning. Clouds gather overhead. Level plains of grass stretch out from both sides of the river. Behind the rapidly shrinking figures on shore are the majestic Menador Mountains.
As the river bends and the goblin, elf, and ratfolk disappear, it as if a spell is broken. The thirteen pairs of eyes blink and look around.
They are packed onto the small riverboat, these thirteen. They all bear the marks of their weeks at the Summershade River Quarry. They are near skeletons from lack of food, with angry welts and cuts everywhere. Their clothes, whatever colors they had been, are now uniformly a filthy brown and torn to scraps. And while some have taken the opportunity to wash themselves in the river, most have not. The boat reeks of misery.
“Why aren’t they coming with us?” asks a boy, the only child in the boat.
No one answers him.
“Why?” the boy asks again.
“They are staying to kill the giants,” a woman says finally, her voice flat and emotionless.
“Oh,” he frowns, sounding disappointed. “They are going to die, then.”
No one in the small, crowded riverboat speaks. The pilot moves from side to side, one hand on the rudder. After almost a full minute, the woman says. “Yes. They are going to die.”