Tales of Lost Omens: Questioning Nature

Thursday, January 02, 2020

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.

All about her the world became green, lush, filled with light. The sandy ground grew dark with moisture, became thick loam, from which sprouted grass, brush, and bramble. Under the half-elf druid’s encouragement, desert plants sprung from the ground around a newly pooling oasis, their leaves reaching toward the diamond-blue sky.

Gifne opened her glowing green eyes and was pleased with what she saw. Where once there was only dry dunes now stood a lush grove surrounding an oasis vital to her employers, the nation of Rahadoum. The potential for life in this place had always been here. All it needed was a little push so it could flower and grow.

She closed her eyes and thanked the Green for its bounty. This was another successful day in a series of successes. If her work continued unimpeded, Rahadoum would have many years before it had to worry about encroachment from the desert once more.

Illustration by Igor Grechanyi.
For more information on the philosophies of the Age of Lost Omens, including both the Green Faith and the Laws of Mortality, check out Lost Omens: Gods & Magic!

With her eyes still closed, Gifne folded her hands and began a new ritual, communing with nature, casting her mind from her body, seeking the next location to continue her work, to re-channel the desert, keep it flowing and healthy, yet maintaining a balance with its human neighbors.

“Are you… you’re not praying, are you?”

Gifne opened her eyes but didn’t get up from her cross-legged position. Jhelana Mandu, captain of the Pure Legion, had been assigned as her bodyguard and guide when she’d first arrived in Rahadoum’s capital, Azir, the Godless Port. The woman was tough, curious, and charming. Over the past few months they’d each saved one another a score of times, changing what was once a professional relationship into a friendship forged in fire and steel. Yet Jhelana’s question represented the rot in the garden.

“Not praying,” the half-elf answered, struggling to keep sarcasm from her voice. Luckily her friend’s Rahadoumi accent was different enough from her Taldan tones to hide the nuance. “I was communing.”

“Communing?” Jhelana asked, eyebrow raised. “With what?”

“Why ask questions to which you already know the answer?” said Gifne, no longer bothering to hide her exasperated sigh. “With nature, with the Green. With life itself, as I’ve told you before.”

“Sounds an awful lot like a deity,” said Jhelana, patting her sword. “Which I’m sworn to put a stop to.”

Gifne laughed to hide her annoyance. She pointed at where the green grass now poked up through the sand at Jhelana’s feet. “Are those blades of grass a god? Is that palm tree? That spit-lizard on the rocks or those flowers by the pool? No. That’s life itself and it’s never wrong to worship life.”

Jhelana moved her hand away from her sword. Gifne had seen her wield it several times since they’d begun travelling together and didn’t envy any who found themselves facing the Legionnaire. “You shouldn’t worship anything,” Jhelana said. “The Pure Legion believes in people. In ideas, as the Laws of Mortality dictate. Not in powers who rule from some golden castle in the clouds.”

Gifne shook her head. How could she explain to the Legionnaire, dear friend though she was, about the will of the green world, the very life force of Golarion? It shone through them all: rock, tree, and water. Even Jhelana Mandu; her more brightly than most.

“I used nature’s magic to heal your wounds when we were set upon by those gnoll reavers last month,” Gifne said.

“You didn’t question where it came from then.”

“I was barely conscious,” said Jhelana. “Plus I trusted you when you said your healing came from no god.”

Gifne raised an eyebrow. “So now you don’t trust me?”

Jhelana shrugged, looking uncertain—very unlike her usual self-assured demeanor. “A troubling thought occurred as I watched you work on this latest encroachment of the desert.”

The sun still shone bright in the sky, its heat bringing dappled sweat to Gifne’s brow. “And that is?”

After departing Azir, Gifne and the captain had traveled east alongside the Winding Way river, making their way through most of central Rahadoum. Gifne could use its vibrant waters to aid her ritual and also, the pair never need worry about dying of thirst. Far off along the eastern horizon, Gifne could see the tall peaks of the Napsune Mountains where stood the fabled Shepherd’s Rock, citadel of the Pure Legion.

Jhelana stared at where the desert had once been, where the lush oasis now stood. “You commune with nature, but what if it’s nature’s will that the desert consume Rahadoum? Would you abandon us, leave my country to choke and die, a forgotten ruin in the desert?”

The wind blew around them, causing newly sprouted leaves to rustle gently, making a susurrus of the long grass. Jhelana’s question pierced through Gifne’s defenses as easily as the captain pierced an opponent with her blade. Was she doing the right thing, here? Or was she upsetting the balance? Gifne looked at the life around her. She stared at the desert, its dunes now several hundred yards away.

“It’s hard to know what nature wants,” said Gifne slowly. “These are things you will need to accept. Balance is never easy, but it’s worth it. I cannot believe the desert would destroy your nation. Elsewise, my rituals wouldn’t work. A balance can be achieved between your people and the desert. I have to believe that.”

“When I was a child, this didn’t happen!” Jhelana said. “The desert might grow slightly in the dry season, a few hundred yards at most, but when the rains came, the grasses retook it. The movement was slow, there was balance. Only now…”

Gifne stared at her friend in shock. The Legionnaire never spoke of her childhood, never told much of herself at all, really. “What’s happening now?”

“The desert is like a glutton who can never be sated,” said Jhelana, and Gifne heard the fear in her voice. “The rains slow its progress, but it keeps growing by miles every season. Nothing about this is natural. Nothing!”

Gifne refrained from telling her friend that trying to determine what was natural on Golarion was often a futile exercise. In its earliest days her own faith, druids of four factions had warred over whose philosophy best represented nature. Only by intercession of nature itself did they learn to work in balance together as the Green Faith. Even now there were schisms and disagreements, but at least none could claim to be the only true path.

“I believe you, my friend,” the druid said. “And I promise two things. You will never have to compromise your beliefs with me. I worship nature.”

Jhelana nodded. “Your second promise?”

“This I swear, Jhelana Mandu,” said Gifne, slicing open a palm with a clawed thumb and letting it bleed on the thick brown soil. “If the source of the growing desert is unnatural, we will put a stop to it, you and I.”

Jhelana stared at Gifne’s bleeding hand in surprise. Then, quicker than thought, she too cut her sword-calloused palm with a dagger and grasped the druid’s hand. Gifne smiled.

“We must keep to the Winding Way, for now, but soon we will come to this Eternal Oasis. I would very much like to see that, if we’re able.”

“Why?” Jhelana asked. “It’s said those who go in don’t come out. Besides, it’s one of the few places in Rahadoum that doesn’t need your help.”

“That’s just it,” said Gifne. “If there is indeed an unbalance, something strange happening in Rahadoum, it may be we can find the answers in this Eternal Oasis.”

Gifne watched the uncertainty in Jhelana’s face give way to determination. The captain nodded and the two began to make their way back to the Winding Way to find the next place to push back the desert.

All around them, as the wind blew through the new grass and rippled the oasis pond, the desert waited.

About the Author

Patrick Hurley has had fiction published in Galaxy’s Edge, Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, Abyss & Apex, New Myths, Arcanist, Aurealis, Frozen Wavelets, The Overcast, and The Drabblecast. He is a 2017 graduate of the Taos Toolbox Writer's Workshop. In 2018, he was a finalist for the Baen Fantasy Award. Patrick lives in Seattle and is a member of SFWA and the Dreamcrashers. He still can’t quite believe he has to good fortune to also be an editor at Paizo.

About the 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.

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Primal Magic is not Divine Magic I have always preferred that distinction.

Love the dynamic with these to and the conversations.

Dark Archive

13 people marked this as a favorite.

I know this is short story written to illustrate the green faith and laws of mortality, but I could really see book written about these two characters huh xD


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
I know this is short story written to illustrate the green faith and laws of mortality, but I could really see book written about these two characters huh xD

Agreed!!!!


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Well done!


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

Great job in making these characters so interesting with so little.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This brings up something I hadn't really pondered until now - primal casters are more welcome in Rhahadoum than divine casters, meaning druids get a pass that clerics don't. I don't anticipate that being a distinction every Pure Legionnaire to make, but it's a distinction that didn't exist before 2E.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

12 people marked this as a favorite.

It did exist, in the sense that druids have always been present in Rahadoum, as were spellcasting rangers, but the difference between divine, arcane, primal, and occult magic is one invented by us in the real world rather than necessarily codified within the world of Golarion itself. Certainly not to someone who isn't schooled in magic. And really not someone who was raised and employed to keep their nation safe from the influence of deities and who is likely always on the lookout or paranoid about something slipping past their watch.

Silver Crusade

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Quote:
That spit-lizard on the rocks or those flowers by the pool?

Do not taunt the smol lizard shaped deity.


Misroi wrote:
This brings up something I hadn't really pondered until now - primal casters are more welcome in Rhahadoum than divine casters, meaning druids get a pass that clerics don't. I don't anticipate that being a distinction every Pure Legionnaire to make, but it's a distinction that didn't exist before 2E.

Looks like Druids get a very uneasy pass, which is actually not too far off from what I expected.


I’d not read up on the Pure Legion before this. Now they are one of my favourite things in Pathfinder. I hope they make it in some form to Starfinder too, although that may make them a bit slow with the inability to use the Drift ideologically.

Dark Archive

Them showing up in Starfinder wouldn't make as much sense to be honest. They are very much tied to Rahadoum. Plus religious freedom is kind of modern ideology so group of people seeking to restrict it wouldn't be as good fit in Starfinder outside of tyrannical governments. So you wouldn't have Pure Legion in Starfinder without Rahadoum, at most you'd have planets with similar governments.


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I guess there could be a human colony planet in the Vast called "New Rahadoum", but even that would imply that Rahadoum survives until Golarion's space age, which would be information that I don't think Paizo would want to commit themselves to as being canonical.

Dark Archive

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David knott 242 wrote:


I guess there could be a human colony planet in the Vast called "New Rahadoum", but even that would imply that Rahadoum survives until Golarion's space age, which would be information that I don't think Paizo would want to commit themselves to as being canonical.

Not necessarily, perhaps Rahadomi wizards decided they wanted an entire world where there simply wasn't any clerics to worry about, they use interplanetary teleport magics to leave Golarion and go 'elsewhere'. Their new planet, which they build entirely based upon the laws of man, far, far away from Golarion, advances technologically just like everyone else does and eventually they become a star faring people and find that much to their dismay... there are gods everywhere out there.


As a big Rahadoum fan this was lovely. More content, even fiction, in this country is always welcome! Btw, I've read the Salim Gadafar novels and LOVE THEM. And I had a Pure Legionnaire as my first PFS PC.

Dark Archive

This was beautifully written. I wonder what Salim would think of the Green Faith and Primal Magic...


When did Rahadoum become Rhahadoum?

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

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Gisher wrote:
When did Rahadoum become Rhahadoum?

2555 AR


1 person marked this as a favorite.
CorvusMask wrote:
I know this is short story written to illustrate the green faith and laws of mortality, but I could really see book written about these two characters huh xD

I fully agree.

I was truly enjoying the conversation between them, and just want to learn more of these two individuals, then poof the text came to an end. I really like Patrick's style of writing of this blog post, quite similar to James L. Sutter, which I enjoy reading.

I so hoping Patrick will take up the challenge to write a novel about this two individuals, so i can feast on the world his painting for us, and the tough balancing of political perceptions.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Will the Legionnaire multiclass in Druid?

Liberty's Edge

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BTW why are we in Website Feedback?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Them showing up in Starfinder wouldn't make as much sense to be honest. They are very much tied to Rahadoum. Plus religious freedom is kind of modern ideology so group of people seeking to restrict it wouldn't be as good fit in Starfinder outside of tyrannical governments. So you wouldn't have Pure Legion in Starfinder without Rahadoum, at most you'd have planets with similar governments.

The Rahadoumi section of Absalom Station is rather unwelcoming to Drift pilots and engineers.


I always held the thought the encroachment of the desert was the result of not the gods' vengeance, but the gods removing their protections to respect the will of the ruling class of Rahadoum, but now the thought occurs to me that if there is an imbalance if it is Rahadoum's doing? Either accidentally or more likely another one of their false flag operations.


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The NPC wrote:
I always held the thought the encroachment of the desert was the result of not the gods' vengeance, but the gods removing their protections to respect the will of the ruling class of Rahadoum, but now the thought occurs to me that if there is an imbalance if it is Rahadoum's doing? Either accidentally or more likely another one of their false flag operations.

Ooooor... That dangerous Eternal Oasis is actually sucking the life out of the surrounding environment... :O

Maybe a powerful spellcasting creature in there doing this.


Elfteiroh wrote:

Ooooor... That dangerous Eternal Oasis is actually sucking the life out of the surrounding environment... :O

Maybe a powerful spellcasting creature in there doing this.

Those are interesting thoughts and just as probable as other suggestions.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
It did exist, in the sense that druids have always been present in Rahadoum, as were spellcasting rangers, but the difference between divine, arcane, primal, and occult magic is one invented by us in the real world rather than necessarily codified within the world of Golarion itself. Certainly not to someone who isn't schooled in magic. And really not someone who was raised and employed to keep their nation safe from the influence of deities and who is likely always on the lookout or paranoid about something slipping past their watch.

"He who names miracle magic, insults churches and gods, and he who attributes unto a spell divinity, insults its caster. Confusing magick and religion is both offensive and blasphemous." -- Genin, On Magick.


Mark Moreland wrote:
Gisher wrote:
When did Rahadoum become Rhahadoum?
2555 AR

I'm confused. You're saying that it was always spelled "Rhahadoum?" The new World Guide spells it "Rahadoum."


If you go to Rahadoum, you will die.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Y'know, while I've always thought the druid class was cool, I've struggled to integrate and utilize them in my campaigns in a meaningful way without my early D&D days imposing ideas about Celtic inspiration, pro-wilderness/anti-civilization, eco-friendly/eco-warrior, monolithic hierarchy, etc. This didn't really change with 3e & PF1 when druids could be any neutral alignment. How do you square the circle for good-aligned druids and evil-aligned druids, especially if part of the same organization/faith? Etc.

I'm sure this falls into the "well, of course, duh" category for most/many but until reading this Tale and coupling it with PF2's primal-focused instead of divine-focused druids, it never really clicked for me...

...but druids can basically be treated as Pathfinder's answer to Force users. Drawing their power from life itself (almost like an energy field, wink, wink) and applying it to their desired ends... And unlike a deity, this lifeforce/energy doesn't explicitly spell out what it wants and how to obtain it, so philosophical & dogmatic differences can arise easily.

I know it's not a perfect analogy but it's a much more interesting one to me than eco-hippy traveling with the murder-hobos that I usually see in adventuring groups. It definitely gives me a lot of inspiration on creating different druidic factions for may campaigns.

Kudos to Patrick Hurley! I love these Tales of the Lost Omens blogs!

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