Tales of Lost Omens: When it Rains

Thursday, September 19, 2019

“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?”

She twirled, cloak spinning out around her. “Come and join the dance!”

He grunted. “Pass.” The tome before him, chronicling a supposed journey through the Doorway of the Red Star, hadn’t been written by Old-Mage Jatembe himself, of course—the true history of the founder of this school (though it was strange to call a place with no real classes or schedules a school!) was shrouded in myth. This book was written by a scholar whose grandmother had heard the tale as a child from a descendent of one of the Ten Magic Warriors, and that was as close to a primary resource as Couvo was likely to get. “This is too important. I can dance once I’ve ascended to Conversant.” Couvo had recently finished his term as an Initiate, after spending a year sorting a room full of scrolls and tomes recovered on an expedition a decade prior and never properly catalogued. Since being promoted to Attendant he’d been assisting the arcanist Thanda (some called her Thanda the Wanderer; others Thanda the Plunderer) with translating some of her finds from prior expeditions. Couvo had come to the Magaambya after a period of study at the College of Mysteries in his native Absalom because he’d heard there were works of great antiquity hidden away in the Mwangi Expanse. Though he’d found the Magaambya bewildering in many respects, it hadn’t disappointed in terms of treasures to translate.

Seliette plopped down across from him and pulled the book out of his hands. He sighed, knowing better to protest. Seliette was a native of Nantambu whose parents were associated with the academy, and she’d grown up in the towers, vaults, halls, and fields of the Magaambya. She was an Attendant too, and for reasons of her own, she’d decided to take Couvo under her wing, a position he found more pleasant than annoying as a whole. Without her guidance, he'd still be wondering where all the lecture halls and laboratory exercises were instead of successfully navigating the looser, stranger approach to the magical arts the faculty took here. “Did I say dance?” she said. “Forgive me. I meant to say, 'Come see a high-level collaboration between primal and arcane adepts in a rare demonstration of the power of halcyon syncretism’.”

“Oh.” Couvo closed the book. “Why didn’t you say so?”

In a sunlit forest clearing, a young woman wearing a red skirt, an assortment of bracelets, and stripes of white face paint dances surrounded by drummers, while a crows of smiling spectators looks on.

Illustration by Tomasz Chistowski

“This looks exactly like dancing.” Couvo stood off to the side of a line of drummers who pounded their instruments with a beat so compelling it threatened to co-opt the rhythm of his own heart. A leaf fell on his head, and long grass tickled his ankles beneath his robe. Couvo hated being outside. Hadn't he seen the sky enough for a lifetime on his journey to the Mwangi Expanse?

“Some of the spellcasting I’ve seen you do looks like extremely complicated waving,” Seliette said. “Or as if you’re fending off a swarm of bees. This dance is both an ecstatic celebration of life, and one component of a spell blending natural and arcane magic.”

“What are they trying to do?” Couvo looked around the gathering in the clearing beneath the trees, trying to figure out who was taking part in the ritual and who was a spectator like him. The woman with the elaborate spiral paint was surely involved, but what about the catfolk, and—was that a Nidalese man? It was amazing who ended up here. There were a few people wearing Magaambyan masks, too—antelope, lion, even lizard—who were probably taking part. As an Attendant Couvo had the right to create such a mask, which would allow him to access his spiritual self more directly, and would gradually take on a life as its own and serve as a sort of familiar... but he found the notion of such a second face disconcerting, and since the masks weren’t compulsory, he’d avoided the issue.

Seliette spread her arms. “They’re going to make it rain.”

Couvo glanced at her, wondering why she looked so excited. There were clouds gathering, and controlling the weather was advanced magic, certainly, but several of Couvo’s teachers back in Absalom could have called thunderstorms or even tornados, if the season was right, and they wouldn’t have needed a drum line and a crowd of collaborators to manage it. “That’s it? Rain?”

She laughed. “Making it rain here, I admit, is not so impressive. But the Aspis Consortium has caused a terrible drought in one of those barbarous nations you have up there.” She gestured vaguely northward. “A group of us plan to travel there and bring the rain back.”

“So... this isn’t a ritual to summon a shower for a few hours?” That was the extent of the weather control he knew about.

“Oh, no. The arcane methods of weather manipulation get things started, but the primal magic connects more deeply to the land and the air, restoring balance to the area, in a sustainable, ongoing way: healing the climate rather than just changing the weather.”

“So the arcanists provide the spark, and the primal magicians create the fuel that keeps the fire going,” Couvo said. He could feel the change in the air now, the drop in pressure, the scent of rain.

“A fire metaphor isn't particularly apt," Seliette said, "but more or less. It's not just arcane here and primal there, though. The powers collaborate, and some adepts use both forms of magic at once—that's halcyon magic, the blending of traditions to create something new and marvelous.” She put her arm around him. “Isn’t that why you’re here, Couvo? Or did you just come to read old things? Books are wonderful, but to serve the Magaambya is to live in the material world and change it for the better. You could come with us and lend your own strength to our dance.”

He hunched. “I’ve got so much work to do, Seliette—”

“If you want to stay in your reading hole, Thanda will continue to take advantage of your talents, I'm sure… but she’ll keep you as an Attendant forever. If you hope to become a Conversant, and direct your own studies, you have to go out.” She cocked her head. “Tell me, Couvo. What are you doing all this studying for? What’s the purpose?”

It was a question he’d considered before, and always pushed back to think about later... but maybe later was now. There was a certain appeal to staying where it was warm and dry, translating the things Thanda brought back from her expeditions, working firmly within the limits of his competence, but he knew Seliette was right—that was beginner’s work, not substantively different than what he’d done as an Initiate… or even what he’d done back in Absalom. He’d always believed in the value of knowledge for its own sake, but could there be new satisfaction in using that knowledge for a purpose? He'd just translated a scroll reputedly copied from a Shory manuscript about manipulating weather patterns to benefit their legendary flying cities, and perhaps, with the proper blend of primal magic, it could be useful here…

Rain began to fall, just a few drops at first, and Seliette spread out her arms and spun in a circle, dancing to the drums and laughing her bell-ring of a laugh. After a moment, Couvo reached for her hand and spun with her, as the heavens opened and delivered their bounty.

About the Author

Tim Pratt is the author of more than 20 novels, most recently the Axiom space opera series, including Philip K. Dick Award finalist The Wrong Stars, The Dreaming Stars, and forthcoming third volume The Forbidden Stars. Tim’s five Pathfinder Tales novels—City of the Fallen Sky, Reign of Stars, Liar’s Blade, Liar’s Bargain, and Liar’s Island—are available now. He's a Hugo Award winner for short fiction, and has been a finalist for Nebula, World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Mythopoeic, Stoker, and other awards. His collection Miracles & Marvels is coming this fall. He tweets incessantly (@timpratt) and publishes a new story every month for patrons at www.patreon.com/timpratt.

About Tales of Lost Omens

The Tales of Lost Omens series of web-based flash fiction provides an exciting glimpse into Pathfinder’s Age of Lost Omens setting. Written by some of the most celebrated authors in tie-in gaming fiction, including Paizo’s Pathfinder Tales line of novels and short fiction, the Tales of Lost Omens series promises to explore the characters, deities, history, locations, and organizations of the Pathfinder setting with engaging stories to inspire Game Masters and players alike.

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Tales of Lost Omens Web Fiction

11 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

HUZZAH!
Love all the work done to make that region more interesting. :X


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Huzzah! and thank you. I really enjoyed this story and it has me intrigued.

Contributor

19 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm so, so happy to see this!
Writing the Magaambya section for Lost Omens Character Guide is probably the hardest creative projects I've ever undertaken. So the experience of getting to read how another author breathed life into those details is, frankly, indescribable. Great work, Tim!

And I hope all y'all're excited to learn more about the Magaambya!


4 people marked this as a favorite.

For years I've thought of multiclass Necromancer/Druids as the overseers of Geb's luxury crop plantations. Now I'm thinking that they are a corrupted offshoot of the Magaambya...

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

When heaven's dressing beads off my face
Then pain is nothing that a downpour won't erase

Rain, you can't hold on to it
A treasure you cannot frame
Rain, somehow I'm drawn to it
I feel engaged, one and the same

Delerium- "Flowers Become Screens"


4 people marked this as a favorite.

I have to echo the above sentiment; the work going into the Mwangi in 2e have made it my favorite part of the setting.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had-


5 people marked this as a favorite.

I’d love to talk about the story, but that artwork mid way through is just so good I can’t tnjnk of anything else


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Is that a man-cheetah I see?

I want to do something with this.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is great! Using an outsider as viewpoint character really works as a hook, just like it did last time. That said, I hope that we get an insider perspective at some point. I also really liked the bit about Thanda's titles. That tells us a lot about a character without having her appear in the story.


Roswynn wrote:

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you

There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had-

Dang it, now I have to read it again with that playing in the background.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain
Comin' down on a sunny day?

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Oh this was lovely all around.

And yay for a happy Nidalese ^w^


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Fumarole wrote:

Is that a man-cheetah I see?

I want to do something with this.

That’s an amurran/“catfolk.” They have a nation in southern Garund.


How may I recognize the Nidalese among the group?


3 people marked this as a favorite.
UnArcaneElection wrote:

How may I recognize the Nidalese among the group?

I think it's the white-haired guy to the right, with the ponytail and the blue robes. White hair is common among Nidalese.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
keftiu wrote:
Fumarole wrote:

Is that a man-cheetah I see?

I want to do something with this.

That’s an amurran/“catfolk.” They have a nation in southern Garund.

Indeed you are correct. I mistook it for this.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Quote:
She laughed. “Making it rain here, I admit, is not so impressive. But the Aspis Consortium has caused a terrible drought in one of those barbarous nations you have up there.” She gestured vaguely northward. “A group of us plan to travel there and bring the rain back.”

I love this so much.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The mention of drought in northern nation made me think of Rahadoum, although I'm not sure if that is intention.
Still, I wonder how Rahadoum will be accomodate not only Magaambyan magic, but all the new Sorceror magic,
with even non-divine Bloodlines all easily able to access divine spellcasting via Crossblooded.
Even ancestries can access divine magic, and that isn't new considering planetouched and dhampir with such SLAs.
It feels like there is need for philosophical clarity in Rahadoum's laws, considering all this stuff is common enough,
so blindly associating it with "god magic" seems implausible to anybody with modicum of knowledge, which Rahadoum seems to possess,
although if there is gap between the theoretical and popular application in less enlightened quarters, that wouldn't be surprising.
I'm not even sure if there is any strict distinction of "divine" vs non-divine in terms of observable characteristics,
with traditions / essences overlapping,
and in terms of hostility to healing spells as exemplar of "god magic", that seems like specific rule can handle that...?


2 people marked this as a favorite.

^Or maybe the government of Rahadoum DOESN'T want complete clarity in the laws, so that they can practice selective and changeable enforcement in certain useful cases.

Liberty's Edge

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Rahadoum has long been established as only having laws against worshiping deities, but having a great deal of prejudice and suspicion directed at anyone and anything that smacked of Divine magic, often in a 'witch hunt' sort of way.

Alalhazra, the Iconic Oracle, is a Rahadoumi, and indeed an atheist, whose family cast her out to die in the desert when it was revealed her magic was Divine. Note that no legal authorities were contacted there. Indeed, what her family did was almost certainly illegal under Rahadoumi law...but they still did it.

I'm pretty positive the same background would work for a Divine Sorcerer. Though so would, theoretically, one with less intolerance.

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Then, an indeterminate time later, the breakthrough was made that crumbled the formerly impenetrable walls between Essences and Traditions, and the first Mystics appeared, followed by the first Technomancers.

Also, d'aww, another uplifting story about places on Golarion that aren't eternally fraught with danger and corruption. I love this one as well.

Shadow Lodge

(I see no voluminous waterproof cloaks in the picture)

But the story was very nice.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I thoroughly enjoy these short fiction blogs. Such interesting characters in every one.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Lost Omens Campaign Setting / General Discussion / Paizo Blog: Tales of Lost Omens: When it Rains All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in General Discussion