Rise of the Runelords

A campaign for the Pathfinder roleplaying game.

Ntombi Ntombi
Grimalakt Grimtideson Grim

Ntombi's Vigil

Oathday, 2nd Lamashan — Sandpoint Cathedral

How was this possible?

Ntombi stood motionless in a small stone chamber, one of many identical rooms found in the hospital wing of Sandpoint's cathedral. Her clouded eyes, unblinking, stared at the sheet-covered shape in front of her - that of the fallen form of her friend and ally, the dwarf Grimalakt Grimtideson.

For hours, Ntombi had been stood here, silent, contemplative, struggling to make sense of events - struggling to bridge the yawning gap between what she had seen in her visions of the future, and what had instead occurred that very day.

It wasn't possible. She had seen giants, watched them stride across the countryside to smash at the walls of Sandpoint. As they rampaged through the town, she had seen Grim standing against them, proud and defiant. At the time of her vision, she had been on a different continent entirely, back in Osirion, the kingdom of her birth. She had never lain eyes on Sandpoint, never met Grim, but her visions had been so crystal-clear that she had recognised both the town upon her arrival and the dwarf upon first meeting him.

And yet here he was - dead, and not a giant in sight. Had her visions lied? Had she made a mistake, or done something wrong? With her awakening powers, she had been following the threads of time, hoping to find more clues both to what was coming and what had already transpired. Had she accidentally done more than that? Not just followed the threads, but unravelled them somehow? Was Grim's death down to her?

Grim should still be here, she was convinced of that. His role went beyond the events of the Catacombs, or of Thistletop. She had seen the giants attack, she had seen Grim fighting them, but instead he lay in front of her - motionless, magically preserved by the cathedral's priests, but nevertheless dead.

It had to be her fault. She must have done something that she shouldn't have... or not done something she should. Either way, the threads of time had been altered.

Perhaps... if she had altered time so drastically once, even if accidentally, in a way that went far beyond her visions and divinations and subtle manipulations... perhaps she could do it again. If she had shifted the timeline down a path where Grim was now dead, she could shift it again to a path where he was still alive.

Her head tilted, her clouded eyes still unblinking as she considered. She began to concentrate, reaching out, allowing her powers to take hold of the threads of what had been and what was yet to be. She stared at Grim's body, here in the present, motionless on the table in front of her. She stared into the past, at the charging form of Grim as he waded into his enemies, full of vigor and barbaric rage and very much alive. She stared into the future that been lost, the defiant dwarf standing resolute against the invading giants, most hated of his enemies.

Still unmoving, Ntombi concentrated on each of these realities at once, trying to loosen the threads, smooth the tangles, reweave the fabric. Beads of sweat appeared on her forehead as other visions flashed across her mind too - that of the destruction of her village, her journey across the ocean, and the horror beneath Thistletop that had stolen her friend from her. She pushed all of them aside, focusing solely on Grim, trying to reach for his threads alone in order to weave him back into the present.

Ntombi struggled, sweat starting to trail down from her temples. She could bring him back, she was sure... she just had to concentrate harder. Her clouded eyes narrowed, and her teeth clamped together. She could bring him back - not through some plea for divine intervention from the gods, as in the tales and rumours that she had heard but never witnessed, but through the route of reweaving time and space and reality, undoing what had been done and bringing Grim back to the present. She could do this, she just had to focus, just had to try, she could bring him back...

But she couldn't. The threads were there, she could sense them, feel them, even move them... but the weaving was too tight, and could not be undone. Time was fighting back, asserting itself no matter how hard she tried to change it.

Breaking down, Ntombi collapsed to her hands and knees onto the slabbed stone floor, wailing in despair and anger and pain at the realisation that her friend was gone, and she was not strong enough to bring him back. Her wails echoed around the stone room, filling the chamber and escaping out into the corridor behind her.

"Ntombi!", came a distant cry of concern. At the corners of her vision, she made out the kneeling forms of her friends on either side - Rui to her left, Thia to her right.

"I'm not strong enough," she whimpered, tears starting to pour from her eyes. "I'm not strong enough," she repeated, more quietly this time, and then everything went black.