Rise of the Runelords

A campaign for the Pathfinder roleplaying game.

Thia Thia
Gwenwyn ('Gwyn') Gwyn
Ntombi Ntombi
Rui Rui

On the Lost Coast Road

Wealday, 29th Lamashan — Varisia, The Lost Coast

A gentle breeze blew, and Thia shivered slightly in the cold Lamashan air. It's getting colder, she thought, chiding herself softly for having packed her blanket away rather than keeping it easily accessible. The month of Lamashan was mere days from giving way to Neth; another blink and along would come the short days of Kuthona, and winter would be upon them. Thia made a mental note to retrieve her blanket from her pack at the first stop.

"Ntombi," began Gwyn, his soft voice rising only slightly above the gentle rustle of the trees in the breeze. "I have been meaning to ask you about your visions. My studies of the arcane arts have thus far included little on the subject of divination, and I am most curious to learn more. Would you be willing to discuss them with me - their content, their meaning, and how they come to you?"

"Certainly, to the extent that I can," agreed Ntombi, the soft accent of her Osirian tongue decorating her speech. "Their content I can share with you; their meaning too where it is known to me, although some remain unclear and open to interpretation. As to their source, or how they reach me, that I am afraid is a mystery that remains veiled even to me."

"Fascinating," uttered Gwyn, attentive and already deep in thought.

"I have seen much," continued Ntombi, "and little of it was comforting. I have seen a dragon atop Sandpoint Cathedral, and giants striding in to batter the town. I saw the monstrous beast beneath Thistletop long before we encountered it, although I had not the wisdom to see it for what it was, nor to foresee the toll it would enact upon us."

"Can't believe he's gone," said Rui quietly, referring to their fallen companion, Grim.

"Nor I," said Ntombi. "I feel his loss keenly, and more so for the confusion it sows within me. My visions showed that Grim would be present for the battle of Sandpoint, standing firm against the giants. I do not know how to reconcile that with his death - visions that previously seemed clear are now clouded with doubt."

"Grim will be there with us," said Thia, firmly. "His bravery will be our inspiration, and the memory of his strength will bolster our own."

"Agreed," said Rui. "When giants come, they'll hear his name on our lips."

"When they hear it, it will be grim tidings indeed," declared Thia, unable to help herself. She smiled slightly at her own pun, but the smile wasn't quite enough to fully dispel the sadness in her eyes.

Gwyn had listened attentively as the trio spoke of their friend, the fearless dwarf. Now, he lost himself in thought.

Ahead, Thia spied a stone wayshrine at the side of the road. As they approached, she noted the butterflies carved into its walls, indicating the the subject of its dedication: Desna, goddess of dreams and stars and travellers. The sight made her think of Shalelu, and the wooden butterfly worn around her neck. She had left Sandpoint almost three weeks ago now, on a mission to scout out the movements and dispositions of the various goblin tribes in the wake of Thistletop. Despite Shalelu's obvious capability and skill, Thia was beginning to grow concerned as the days passed without either sight or word. As they drew level with the shrine, Thia glanced inside, observing the small altar and the smattering of assorted offerings clustered upon it.

"One moment," requested Thia, dismounting. She threw quick glances at Nyx and Boots, who had been flanking the group at a short distance, checking that the animals had noticed that they had stopped. Thia stepped quietly inside the shrine, and knelt respectfully in front of the altar. Closing her eyes, Thia sent a whispered urging to Desna: watch over her, and bring her home. She wasn't sure how likely her request was to be heard; Desna was not a goddess that she had paid particular observance to in the past, and she had no offering to leave. Nevertheless, Thia felt compelled to try to bring some divine attention or assistance to bear, even if fleetingly, on Shalelu's distant efforts.

Thia returned to the waiting group, removed a blanket from her saddle bags, and mounted. Gwyn and Ntombi had resumed their conversation on the oracle's visions. Thia quickly realised that the discussion had turned a little too esoteric and academic for her ears, and she noted also that Rui had - bar a few sentences about Grim - been even quieter than usual during the journey. Leaving Gwyn and Ntombi to their discussions, Thia steered herself adjacent to the taciturn druid.

"Hey, Rui," prodded Thia gently. "You okay?"

"Fine," said Rui, quietly. The answer didn't placate Thia, however, who continued to look at Rui with a slightly-raised eyebrow. Rui frowned and continued.

"Worried about big city. Used to outside, few people. Even Sandpoint too much."

"I know what you mean," said Thia, nodding in agreement. "I'm not really keen on cities myself, if I'm honest. My time in Riddleport was... well, let's just say that going from an elven village to a human city was quite a culture shock. I don't regret leaving Crying Leaf, but I certainly don't regret leaving Riddleport either. Perhaps Magnimar will be different, though."

"Maybe," muttered Rui, unconvinced.

Thia looked over at Rui, realising that her words had not done much to provide comfort. She decided to switch approach and give the half-orc something else to focus on.

"Just remember why we're heading there. Whoever Xanesha is, whoever these Brothers are - they need to be stopped. The sooner we reach Magnimar, the sooner we can unroot them, deal with them, and prevent any more murders. Once that's done, we can return to Sandpoint."

"Yes," nodded Rui, with a little more conviction. "Too many dead. No more."

Thia smiled, but talk of returning to Sandpoint replaced concern for one friend with concern for another. She turned to glance behind her, looking again at the Desnan shrine slowly dwindling behind them as they travelled. Hopefully, by the time they were back in Sandpoint, they would find that Shalelu had also returned safely. If not, Thia decided, her next stay in Sandpoint would have to be a short one.