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Tales From The Drift: No Heroes Here

In the holovids, they make stowing away look practically romantic.

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Tales From The Drift: Deadly Exercises

It’s barely light—just after dawn—and my heart is pounding, hammering in time with the pahtra war drum’s rhythm. The visceral stomp of heavily armored boots and the jagged crackle of automatic rifle fire roil around us all. The vesk move awkwardly, still clumsy and off-balance in gravity that’s far weaker than what they’re used to. They carry their laser weapons with pride, firing sleek lines of light through the trees, and I find myself baring my teeth in a disdainful snarl. The magnetic storms of Vesk-6 make laser weapons risky even at the best of times, but the azimuth laser rifle is the standard-issue armament for the Veskarium army, and so the vesk carry them. My hands tighten on my own rifle, adrenaline surging as the war drum urges us forward. I take to the shadows behind a trio of ancient trees, waiting for the right moment to leap into the fray.

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Iconic Encounter: Something's Rotten

Zemir stepped around a fetid pool of… something… and tried to breathe shallowly. Intellectually he knew that either his mask was working or it wasn’t, and either way the worst he’d suffer was a strong sense of nausea if he did get a whiff of unfiltered air. But the horrid smell that penetrated the mask’s filters still made him want to avoid taking deep lungfuls of the stuff. Which made it difficult to keep up with Obozaya, as his vesk companion strode unfettered through the densely-packed market.

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Tales From The Drift: Colossi

Rock rained near New Valor.

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Tales From The Drift: Thoughts in the Dark

It never failed to amaze Devi, coming out of Drift. The sensation, visual and mental, of time and space returning to their normal flow, of planets, stars, and the black expanding to their normal size. The tiny feeling of relief that he’d made it through.

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The Threefold Conspiracy: Gray Matter

A bearded man clad in blue armor raced through the side corridors of Absalom Station, his gold-trimmed capelet flapping behind him. His eyes wild, he threw glances over his shoulder as he careened around corners and nearly toppled precariously stacked piles of empty crates and garbage. He came to a skidding halt in front of an unmarked door to a nondescript structure and quickly tapped an eight-digit code in the nearby keypad, muttering, “Hurry, hurry” to himself. The multiple locks disengaged with a series of electronic clicks and the man threw open the door with a sharp exhalation. The light beyond spilled into the alleyway.

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Rise of the Runelords: Shalelu Be Food?

She heard them before she saw them.

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Tales From The Drift: Radio Silence

“So I had three planets in my hand, and this crankshaft plays one to the field! I couldn’t have signaled it stronger, so I threw my cards down and drew my—"

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020320_IdariPreview

Tales From The Drift: Chef's Surprise

Tynea Halix Gi Satultir sat in a private booth with a one-way window that overlooked the busy high street of Paradise Village and read the latest electronic dispatch from the captain. It was nothing new: an agricultural report stating crop yields were high, an editorial on how the latest Pact Council decision would affect Idari citizens, and an empty promise to crack down on crime in the Red Corridors. Tynea stretched his two upper arms and stirred his drink.

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Extinction Curse: Waiting in the Wings

Axel wasn’t his real name. He’d wanted a name that echoed in the big top, and something that sounded good in front of “Amazing Aviary.” So now he was Axel, of Axel’s Amazing Aviary, and no one knew who he’d been before he came to the Circus of Wayward Wonders. He was certain his new name would lead to his first real, actual performance.

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The Windsong Testaments: Time’s Price

In the Trophy Room of Shyka the Many, among the infinite treasures that the Eldest has plucked from time, there sits a plinth of banded bone and gold.

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Iconic Encounter: Ready

Seelah took a moment to run a mental checklist before leaving the last place of cover. The sun was high, brightly keeping shadows at bay and ensuring she had clear lines of sight. It also ensured that as soon as she stepped into the courtyard, she would be spotted. Stealth was not her area of expertise in any case. She would need different tactics to overcome her foes, and she hoped she had planned well enough. If she had not, the consequences would be dire.

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010820_PhilosophiesPreview

Tales of Lost Omens: Questioning Nature

The ritual continued. Gifne sat in place as she had for the past day, eyes closed, silently repeating the mantra in her mind, communing with the Green, with the Will of the World, with nature itself. Finally, to her satisfaction, she felt nature respond.

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010220_RovagugPreview

The Windsong Testaments: Rage of Creation

It took less than a day for the first seven worlds to end.

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122319_VercesPreview

Tales from the Drift: Improvisations

The Tempering: a time of travel for any kasatha reaching maturity, when the young adult seeks out new experiences, and in doing so, discovers himself. Some accept exciting internships, and others join crews to travel beyond the stars—proud, noble, traditional stuff. It was lost within this wistful self-reflection that Tahja gradually regained consciousness following his accidental dive off a skybridge, his fall unceremoniously broken by a dumpster. In his dawning lucidity, he gazed about and wondered.

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Tales from the Drift: This City Sings For Blood

It was a cold, still night in Arl, and from the thasteron-stained alleys of the Old Quarter to the shimmering stadiums of the Vitaritech Coliseum, the people cried out for blood.

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Tales from the Drift: Walls

The bite of the usqui, a blood-loving fly native to the rainforests of Naleobaseq, delivers a parasite that renders victims psychically mute and deaf. Its effects on telepathic races are quite profound. The resulting silence, a cold psionic exile from kith and kin, so shocks the infected that they’ve been found in fetal curls, talking to themselves to keep from feeling so utterly alone.
—Entomological Survey of the Vast, Vol. 131.7

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120419_TftDAPerfectEndeavorPreview

Tales from the Drift: A Perfect Endeavor

An electric glow bathes the artificial landscape around me, assaulting my senses with a kaleidoscope of neon blues, greens and pinks. The sound of moving mechanical lifeforms and low-altitude vehicles creates a cacophony that somehow manages to generate an odd harmony with one another. Hundreds of beings, both organic and mechanical alike, maneuver the wide open streets of the megaplex city with guided purpose.

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Tales from the Drift: The Long Sunrise

I was two-thirds of the way through a hybrid power converter and already feeling the buzz when a knock on the door caught me off guard. In itself, that shouldn’t have been strange; I’m a private detective, after all. But I’d turned the sign off a week ago. Sentient Robotic Investigations—the only SRO detective agency in the Burning Archipelago—was closed. Figuring someone’d gotten lost, I opened the door to send them away. Instead I found a korasha lashunta waiting, her features as symmetrical as anyone could ask for, wearing an annoyed scowl that brought with it a surge of memories of the old days.

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Tales from the Drift: The Same Stars

Today is going to be a good day.

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The Windsong Testaments: The Acts of Iomedae

We can learn much from the wisdom of the divine, but we can learn as much from their actions. The truly faithful understand that not even the gods themselves are infallible, and that words and promises do not always suffice. Those among us who see no fault in the gods are worse than zealots, worse than puppets. They taint the very idea of faith with their blind devotion. When a god makes a mistake, the results can be disastrous if their faithful do not understand the error. If they take that error as gospel, they are doomed to repeat the error and compound upon it again and again. And in so doing make the initial misstep into something more. In the worst of cases, these repeated mistakes can transcend to become the new order, and not even the gods themselves can turn them back.

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The Windsong Testaments: The Three Fears of Pharasma

“Reality is born. Reality must die. So somewhere in between must dwell both you and I.”

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102419_OnFamilyBondsPreview

The Windsong Testaments: On Family Bonds

The bonds of family are strong and can blind even the gods to atrocity and awfulness. And no deity knows better the dangers of trusting one’s sibling than Shelyn, sister of Zon-Kuthon.

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101719_BeautyOfHorrorsPreview

The Windsong Testaments: The Beauty of Horrors

One never needs look far from the loveliest flower to find the worms fatting on the buried dead below, providing for beauty’s banquet above. Such truths are known to the gods. There can be no light without darkness, no life without death, no good without evil. As one of the First among the gods, these truths are held as virtues to glorious Desna, Song of the Spheres. She knows and teaches that a thing of beauty to your eye may be a wretched affront to mine. Beauty and horror can exist simultaneously. Beauty and horror can be the same.

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101019_ZemirPreview

Iconic Encounter: The Reality Next Door

“There's nothing we can do—all systems are jammed! Prepare for emergency landing!”

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Iconic Encounter: A Hail Of Bullets

“I thought you said the signal was coming from a ruin,” Velloro said into his comm unit, looking up at the huge, very intact fortification in front of him with a large, unruined door blocking the way forward. The captain’s response was garbled, no doubt thanks to the rocky, mountainous terrain between him and the Sunrise Maiden. “Ye… …is th… …thing there?”

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Iconic Encounter: The Scientific Method

She was in the temporary laboratory structure built for her by Iratha Incorporated deep in the swamps of Zulypsindo, a Near Space world known for its extensive marshlands and the site of the latest episode of “Dr. B’s Science Jubilee.” The windowless, prefabricated walls provided ample protection from nearly any environment outside, and the overhead lighting within dispelled the shadows, providing for a clean and efficient work space.

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092619_PathfinderSocietyPreview2

Tales of Lost Omens: The Idol and the Scythe

Legends say only a single man survived the doom that befell Fog Peak Hold. The Pathfinder sages will tell you that’s wrong: five made it out alive, though only three were still sane. The little matter of the collapse of the eastern pass had made the hold irrelevant by that point, and I guess the Taldans have been busy with other matters for the last few hundred years, so the place was never reoccupied.

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Iconic Encounter: Good News and Bad News

Raia executed the last commands, feeling the change in the engine’s thrum as the Voidspear shifted course. She cued her coms. “All right, I’ve got good news and bad news.”

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091919_Magaambya_Preview

Tales of Lost Omens: When it Rains

“Come on, Couvo!” Seliette tugged at his sleeve, breaking his concentration and causing his complex mental translation to collapse into gibberish. He blinked up at his fellow student, confused by her voluminous waterproof cloak. The last time he’d gone outside onto the grounds of the Magaambya, the sky had been blue and cloudless. He hadn’t been sequestered in this reading nook that long, had he? Maybe Seliette was off on another of her field trips. He could hardly keep track of all the to-ing and fro-ing she did with her assorted mentors. “Come on where?”

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091219_QuigPreview

Iconic Encounter: Goodnight, Sweet Bot

Sparks flew as Quig’s plasma cutter burned through the robot’s cranial plating. On the makeshift workbench, the bot twitched and shook, servos seizing as batteries failed and crucial fluids leaked from the wreckage of the robot’s lower body. The cranial plate popped open, revealing crystalline arrays and circuit boards blackened by discharge from misfiring neural processes.

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091219_LastwallKnightsPreview

Tales of Lost Omens: Seeds of Hope

In her dreams, they all sounded together: the alarm and the battle march and the frenzied call to retreat. The calls overlapped into chaos, yet Veldrienne heard them all distinctly, and she understood with the perfect, crazed, crystal logic of dreams that of course the battle march was wild with panic, and of course the first call to alarm was a dolorous cry played over the bloody field of a lost battle, and of course it all began and ended with a weak, wounded note that broke on the thrust of a dead man’s spear.

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090519_ObozayaPreview

Iconic Encounter: Obozaya’s Mayhem Playlist

Obozaya peeked over the rocky ridge. There was still just one of the creatures guarding the entrance, less than fifty feet away. The tunnel mouth behind it was nothing special—just a dark hole in the side of the hill. Yet this was where the footage had shown the creatures taking her crew.

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090519_Hellknights_Preview

Tales of Lost Omens: Rat Trap

Watching from a hidden perch across the street, Ulthor studied the place. It was a stinking, squalid wreck in Absalom’s Puddles district. Dead fish lay half-surfaced in the sucking mud around the entrance, their rotted heads poking up as if straining for one last breath. Inside, the air was thick with flayleaf and pesh smoke, spilled ale and unwashed bodies, and the pervasive, inescapable stench of the Puddles’ foul tides. Dingy gray cloth covered the grimy windows and hung from the rafters, turning the already-dim tavern into a warren of shadows.

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Iconic Encounter: The First Rule of Captaining

Navasi grabbed Keskodai and yanked him around the corner, sending him sprawling as lasers sliced through the space he’d occupied a moment before. She returned fire, then ducked back behind cover and glared at the shirren. “I thought I told you to go in disguise!”

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082919_BadDogs_Preview

Tales of Lost Omens: Bad Dogs

Ketchi peered through the shrubbery at the overgrown monastery and grinned. "This must be the place!"

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Iconic Encounter: Cathedrals of the Mind

“Okay, you’re in.” Even though she was holed up in the data center, hacking the locks remotely, tension made Raia whisper. “The tracker chip I planted says Averly is in there. We need to get to him before they do... whatever it is they do to people.”

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20190815-preview

Iconic Encounter: The Museum Job

Iseph crept through the empty museum, footsteps soundless on the tiled floor. All around the android, monsters loomed—alien creatures propped up in glass-walled display cases, their exhibits pumped full of inert gas to prevent the corpses' decay. In the dim emergency lighting, some of them almost looked alive. But of course that wasn't how places like this worked.

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Iconic Encounter: Personal Magnetism

Iconic Encounter: Personal Magnetism Thursday, July 18, 2019 “‘Fix the shuttle,’ she says. ‘It’s only a little banged up,’ she says.” Angry clanging noises came from beneath the deck, followed by Quig’s face popping up out of the engineering access bay. He waved a spanner angrily. “Next time Navasi wants to sign us up for a salvage mission, she can patch the junker, and I’ll stay on the Maiden and watch for pirates!”Altronus stared down from the hallway, both sets of arms crossed. “I’m sure...
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Tales of Lost Omens: Dragonfear

They were talking about the dragon.

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Tales of Lost Omens: Portents from the Deck

Irhina felt their agitation thrumming through her tiny sea cabin. It was a sharp, jangled vibration, like a dozen out-of-tune instruments all bleating different songs. Something was coming, some great weight that sat on destiny’s weaving and bent all the skeins of fate toward itself.

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Tales of Lost Omens: The Snare

“There. Yes. Those two.” Excitement, wet and thick, curdled Chemurr’s voice. She coughed and swallowed noisily, but she was too agitated to keep the phlegm worms from crawling back up. Her swollen fingers clenched around Gaiter’s arm. “Come, boy.”

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20190711-preview

Tales of Lost Omens: The World Expands

Hadizah stood stiffly between two other students—one a degenerate lizardfolk and the other a savage Ekujae elf—as their frail teacher Mawunyo gestured with a staff at the vine-covered towers, graceful arches, and broad towers of the Magaambya, greatest magical academy in all of the Mwangi Expanse, if not the world.

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20190704-preview

Tales of Lost Omens: Bound for Glory

Ishaani walked through the bustling market in the shadow of her efreeti guardian, Shadqadir. "I don't like this. It's dangerous, dealing with... these matters... out in the open." She clutched the scroll case close to her chest, though it was already secured across her body on a leather strap and further sealed with magic.

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20190627-preview

Tales of Lost Omens: The Sea's Vengeance

Devrin Arlos laughed and eyed the six Chelish warships closing in on them. They'd chased Nightwave all the way from the Arch of Aroden, along the coast of Rahadoum, and through the treacherous Jagged Reach. They weren't likely to give up now. Ahead loomed the Eye of Abendego.

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20190620-Preview

Tales of Lost Omens: All That Glitters

Invisible and as silent as a church fart, Twilp Farfan slipped through the sparse midday crowds of Sothis's Malhitu Bazaar. Skulking in broad daylight always freaked the halfling out, but if he didn't stir up too much dust or bump into anyone, his passage would go unnoticed. Sothans tended to close up shop and nap in the blazing heat of the day, so there weren't many people about.

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20190613-Preview

Tales of Lost Omens: Blood Fate

Twenty-four black hooves, four iron-rimmed wheels, and fourteen glowing red eyes, the coach and six, the harbinger of my fate, my promise, my doom, glided down the cobbled street toward me without a whisper. The good citizens of Cesca scattered, scuttling into doorways, slamming shutters, scurrying into alleys like terrified rats. I stood and awaited my fate.

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20190606-Preview

Tales of Lost Omens: Far From Heaven

Selik slouched along at the back of the party with Boret and the other archers. "Stupid crusader. Why is he even here? We don't need him. Our god has returned and reunited us with the rest of the clan."

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20190530-Preview

Tales of Lost Omens: The Hopeful

Over the din of the bustling street market the young boy's cry reached the passing nobleman. "Pardon me, my lord. Are you seeking the god rock? Do you need the courage to take the leap? The blessing of one who passed the test?"

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20190521-Preview

Tales of Lost Omens

Now that we've concluded our Iconic Evolutions video series, I'm sure all of our readers are eagerly awaiting news of what exciting content we'll be sharing on Tuesdays going forward. Have no fear, brave Pathfinders, for I've got you covered!

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PZO8500-Jendara2

A Farewell to Web Fiction

For the last five years, Wednesdays have held a special place on this blog. Every Wednesday, it was our distinct pleasure to present a new chapter of serial Pathfinder web fiction. Some stories were from authors you already knew, tied into the latest Pathfinder novels. Others were from first-time Pathfinder authors, trying out new characters in front of a live audience—the entire internet.

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PathfinderTales

Crisis of Faith

Sandwiched between a boulder and the side of a mountain, with a burning skeleton trying to grasp at him from above, Jeddah found himself thinking of his wife and son—the two people who meant the most to him in this world—and silently said his good-byes.

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PathfinderTales

Crisis of Faith

Jed stood, his holy tankard outstretched in one hand, his rapier in another, as the zombies approached in their ponderous, shambling gait. For all appearances he might have been one of the great Caydenite adventurer-priests of old, ready to banish evil with holy power and charming wit.

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PathfinderTales

Crisis of Faith

The forests and low hills surrounding them were as bucolic as anything the bards described at Cayden's Rest, but Jed's spirits remained low as he followed his new companions over the quickly diminishing trail.

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PathfinderTales

Crisis of Faith

Jeddah Cailean tore a piece of bread off the loaf under his arm and tossed it into the vat of cooled barley tea before him. He then picked up a small barrel containing the last dregs of a previous batch of finished ale, swirled some water in it, and dumped it in as well.

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PathfinderTales

The Price Paid

Akina stood rooted, a peculiar chill dousing the embers in her gut. Could it be possible? Could these creatures truly want to handle things in a civilized manner? Ever since leaving for the war, she'd only ever encountered them on the battlefield, knowing full well they sought her death as much as she theirs. What if Ondorum was right? What if these hobgoblins hadn't participated in the fighting and were just victims of circumstances? Could she damn them for the actions of others?

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PathfinderTales

The Price Paid

The goblin's head morphed into a humanoid skull with a piggish nose and enormous, bat-like ears. Milky eyes fixed on Akina as fangs filled a slavering maw. The beast's body expanded and hunched over, bristling with fur until it resembled an enormous wolf with clawed hands instead of forepaws.

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PathfinderTales

The Price Paid

Akina trailed Ondorum across the main threshold, which he said the hobgoblins had been using to come and go. The air turned chilly and musty, with an underlying reek that flared the embers in Akina's gut—a fetid mix of blood, grease, dung, and rotting meat unique to hobgoblins. It conjured up too-fresh memories of their hideous warcries and how they'd clamber over the corpses of allies and foes alike to slaughter all in their path.

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PathfinderTales

The Price Paid

"There!" Akina thrust her maulaxe out, pointing to the craggy ruins on the hillside. "Told you I smelled hobgoblin stink. We'll have our pay by morning."

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PathfinderTales

The Gem

The grootslang coiled in the ruins of its egg and hissed. Its body was thick and muscular, like a snake's, armored with red and dull golden scales and supported at one end by two legs. Each leg was as wide as Jiri, and ended in thick claws. From the heavy chest between those legs a long neck stretched, ending in a blunt, triangular head. It looked like a viper's head, with slitted yellow eyes and a wide mouth lined with fangs, but from either side of that mouth grew three sharp tusks, six in all. A forked tongue flickered out of the grootslang's mouth, tasting the air before sliding back over one of the tusks, stripping the blood and tissue from it.

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PathfinderTales

The Gem

"It's not really Dahren's boat." Khair was slimmer than his companion, and a little taller, but with their beards and clothes they looked similar. Related, or just foreign, Jiri wasn't sure and didn't really care. She sat with Fumo and Hadzi in the cracked prow of the ship, under the watchful eye of half a dozen hunters. The hunters were Jall tribe, Jiri knew, from their short, dyed braids and the pattern of their mud cloth, but they hadn't introduced themselves. They were far from their lands in the east, working for foreigners and being rude.

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PathfinderTales

The Gem

The crocodile's jaws looked as big as Jiri. Its huge tail pushed it with the flooded river's current, angling toward the drift of brush that Jiri clung to. It would slam into that loose pile of logs and knock Jiri, Fumo, and Boro into the water.

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PathfinderTales

The Gem

Outside, the children of Thirty Trees laughed and their parents talked, monkeys chattered in the canopy and birds sang to the morning sun. But inside the little house that Jiri shared with Oza, the only sound that mattered was the muted clicks of the clay pots her teacher was packing into his bag.

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PathfinderTales

Diamond in the Rough

"He's resting, although not comfortably," Chakori said. She'd taken Anandi into the foyer outside Ravi's room, although they left the door cracked open. "I've done what I can for him. The rest he's going to have to do on his own."

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Diamond in the Rough

An hour's walk took them to a small cave along the rocky shoreline, one exposed by the low tide and grown brown and slippery with algae. Anandi followed Ravi inside, careful of his footing. "Well?" he asked, impatient.

Instead of answering, Ravi curled his hand around the back of Anandi's neck and pulled him close. The kiss tasted of wine and pesh. Anandi let it last longer than he should have, surprised by how much he liked feeling the firm body pressed against his. Gently, Anandi pushed him back. "Is this your price?"

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Diamond in the Rough

At sunset, Anandi returned to the captain's villa where a few silver coins to the doorkeeper saw him inside. The party had already begun, made lively by the musicians and acrobats in the ballroom. The human man seated in the chair covered in velvet and gold filigree was obviously the captain. A thick brown beard trailed down his chest, resting lightly on the blue brocade coat studded with golden buttons and trim. The jeweled goblet in his hand was already filled with wine and a servant stood by with a bottle at the ready.

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Diamond in the Rough

No sane person would leave Jalmeray to venture to the small, lawless island of Veedesha, which lay just off the coast, but Anandi had business there on behalf of the thakur.

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The Patch Man

"So where do we go?" Blit pulled the hood of his cloak over his head. He wasn't used to being out at sunset. He felt exposed.

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The Patch Man

Before Blit could reply, the worm-eaten door crashed open. An enormous green man with incisors the size of tent spikes ducked and stepped inside. Odim and two other Banshees walked in behind him. Gedrak carried nothing—he didn't really need to—but the other three held clubs and torches.