Iconic Encounter: In The Eye Of The Storm

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Though the night air was still, Korakai’s feathers still rustled as if in a light breeze as he leaned on his staff and finally arrived at the mountain’s summit. The climb probably would’ve been easier if he hadn’t eaten so many skewers, but what was he to do? He’d reached the mountain trail after a long day’s travel, and he very well couldn't ignore the delicious smells and clinking glasses from the homey tavern tucked to the side of the road.

Korakai had to respect the location. He clearly wasn’t the only one who’d found the good food and drink more appetizing than an arduous hike, and like his family’s own restaurant, this tavern had been abuzz with the easy energy of a community that knew each other. One thing had led to another, and Korakai had ended up trading recipes with one of the regulars, an elderly spice merchant.

The night had devolved into an impromptu cook-off, and it would have been impolite for Korakai to not sample every combination of skewer and dipping sauce that had filled the table—as a professional courtesy to a fellow cook, of course. Korakai couldn’t believe the merchant had never heard of yuzu, though. He’d managed to whip up a substitute from lemon and orange, and though he knew his father would roll his eyes when he found out his only son had butchered a family recipe, Korakai thought the mix had actually turned out rather well.

Sighing contentedly, Korakai pulled a worn map out from his pack, shaking it out as his ever-present static clung the parchment to his feathers. He reflexively moved his talons, tracing symbols to conjure a light, but stopped as he realized he could make out the map just fine in the red glow of… Korakai turned around and his heart froze. In the valley below, he could see the tavern to his right, and creeping towards it, the glow of burning trees to his left.

No matter how quickly he ran down the trail, there was no way he’d make it around the steep switchbacks before the fires reached the tavern. Which meant… Korakai paced back and forth on the mountaintop for a few precious seconds, fidgeting and clicking his talons together. He wasn’t going to like this next part

Korakai recalled the words his grandfather had told him when he was younger. “A tengu belongs to the sky. A tengu does not fear the earth. A tengu belongs to the sky. A tengu does not fear the earth. A tengu belongs to the sky. A tengu does not fear—” Korakai clenched his eyes tight and leapt from the edge of the cliff, opening them again only when he felt the four winds catch him and carry him gently from the mountaintop.

Smoke stung Korakai’s eyes as he looked around a forest bathed in orange and red. Something felt wrong about this blaze, but he couldn’t quite place it. Soon enough, though, he found its source in a clearing before him: a pack of fiendish beasts slavering infernal fire that dripped to the group, setting the brush alight: hell hounds, four in all. Korakai’s legs locked. Had someone summoned the foul creatures here?

Before the fiends could notice Korakai, he tried to weave magic to shield himself, but fear had reduced his voice to a stammer too feeble to sustain the incantation, and the spell collapsed. As one of the hounds sniffed the air—how could it smell anything, when it reeked of brimstone?—Korakai wheeled around a tree and made himself as small as he could. He held his khakkhara staff close to him for comfort, for once happy that the heirloom was broken, as his trembling would surely have made the staff’s jingling rings give him away, were they still intact.

Maybe he could make a break for the tavern and warn them to evacuate? No, that wouldn’t do. Right now, the hounds were traveling in a pack, but if they split up, they’d set the forest on fire even faster. Even if everyone could get to safety—questionable, given the state some had been in when Korakai had left the tavern—it would take the owners forever to scrounge together the coin to rebuild it, and there’d be no replacing the memories it held.

No, he had to stop this here. Korakai breathed deep, trying to steady his trembling hands, and sank deep within himself. In his mind’s eye, he saw it standing there, unchanged since the day he’d swallowed the sea: a massive floodgate of salt-encrusted stone and metal. Even with the gate closed, Korakai could feel the ceaseless surging of water—six swelling waves, then a crashing seventh—the storm of creation just beyond. The hounds were powerful, yes, emissaries of the gods and rulers of the lower planes. But Korakai too was connected to gods, spirits, and myriad other sources of divine power—eight million or more—as numerous as grains in the sea. He had nothing to fear. Korakai stepped out from behind the tree and opened the floodgates but a crack.

Korakai, the tengu oracle channels his inner tempest to douse his enemies in water.

Illustration by Valeriya Lutfullina. Korakai channels his inner tempest to douse his enemies in water. Tap into your own oracular mystery with the Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide, available everywhere July 30.

Power welled forth, coursing through his veins and churning in his lungs. The hounds noticed him, snarling. As the first of the pack leapt forward, Korakai swung his khakkhara in an arc, feeling the deities of wind and sky—good and evil alike—guide him. A gale surged, catching the hound in midair and sending it careening into a tree, where it exploded into embers.

As his beak opened in a grin, Korakai felt the unleashed energies swirl, their opposing currents clashing in a turbulent whirlpool. Winds howled as a sacred storm spiraled forth, and Korakai winced as electricity danced across his feathers. He had known it would happen; this was the price of drawing on the tempest, of opening a door that led somewhere unknowable.

The second of the hounds took advantage of Korakai’s distraction to circle behind him. In response, the tengu willed the floodgates to open even further, and this time, the spirits of rain and waves passed through. Water collected in Korakai’s balled fist, and with no more effort than it took to splash in a tidepool, he blasted it at the hound, where the torrent met its pelt with a hiss of steam. For a moment, it seemed like the fiend would withstand the deluge, but less than a heartbeat later, the lightning that wreathed Korakai’s body found its way through the waters, extinguishing the hell hound in a spray of saltwater. The backlash was immediate and fierce. Rain fell despite the cloudless sky as the winds around Korakai accelerated into a fierce hurricane.

Enraged, the two remaining hounds inhaled, chests distending as they stoked internal hellfire before breathing out twin gouts of flame that met in a burning wave. Korakai laughed, feeling for a moment oddly at home—he knew how to meet a wave. Recalling childhood lessons learned from his mother in the island surf, he dove forward, tucking his head under his arms, and the deluge of his storm protected him from the worst of the heat. Emerging in front of the shocked fiends, Korakai gave himself fully over to the tempest and brought his hands together in a thunderous clap. A deafening peal dispersed smoke and steam alike, shaking leaves from the trees, and when the sound cleared, the hell hounds were no more.

Audible in his mind, even amid the echoes, Korakai heard the floodgates slam shut. Though the energies he’d already drawn forth continued to rage around him, he found himself cut off from the primordial storm, unable to gather any more from the other side. It was a humbling reminder that he was a conduit for its power, not its owner. Once again, he was just Korakai, nothing more.

As he stood at peace within the hurricane, Korakai leaned on his staff again and let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. With a bit of meditation, he’d be able to quell the storm somewhat, but as he looked at the flames, he realized he might have use for it for a little while longer. He’d let the revelers in the tavern keep enjoying their night while he searched for who, or what, had summoned the fiends here in the first place. Rains and wind quenching the flames with each step, Korakai walked into the burning forest, trembling no longer.

About the Author

James Case is a developer at Paizo, where he helps to bring Golarion and the Pact Worlds alive as part of the organized play department. James has also edited manuscripts for scientific researchers, translated materials for music labels, and written for various RPG products, including the Pathfinder and Starfinder game systems. You can find him (and his thoughts on comma usage) on The Twitter at @toriariaria.

About Iconic Encounters

Iconic Encounters is a series of web-based flash fiction set in the worlds of Pathfinder and Starfinder. Each short story provides a glimpse into the life and personality of one of the games’ iconic characters, showing the myriad stories of adventure and excitement players can tell with the Pathfinder and Starfinder roleplaying games.

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Tags: Iconic Encounters Pathfinder Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition Web Fiction
Grand Lodge

9 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Wow! This Oracle is a bad ass. Also lot of nice hints of things to come in the APG like how the tempest mystery works and that Tengu can get either racial flight or gliding.

Horizon Hunters

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Such wonderful imagery. Like reading a chapter from a book. And with the picture, it was many times easier to see it all in my mind.


7 people marked this as a favorite.

Huh, I like how he is just a conduit of a force, not just a specific God but every holy entity that is a part of said force.

Liberty's Edge

5 people marked this as a favorite.

I can feel the storm inside. Really interested in the Oracle now. Great job. Thank you.

Liberty's Edge

4 people marked this as a favorite.
VerBeeker wrote:
Huh, I like how he is just a conduit of a force, not just a specific God but every holy entity that is a part of said force.

And unholy too.

In a way, the Oracle seems like a small scale deity of their Mystery. Which I like.

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Squawk!!!!


5 people marked this as a favorite.

I really like that he is unsure in the beginning. Not sure how to best resolve it, even shaken with fear as the nice tengu cook he also seems to be before he gathers his wits and goes in adventuring mode

You don't need to have no feat to be a hero, you just need to act without letting fear control you

He certainly deserved the skewers he had before :P

Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Very cool!

Grand Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Great story! And now I want that recipe!

Paizo Employee Design Manager

13 people marked this as a favorite.

Wow, the Brazilian translators have actually already translated this blog into Portuguese. Our Brazilian fans rule!

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Well done James!

Grand Archive

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

That’s awesome. In term of personality and character, he is already my favorite Iconic!

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

13 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for the kind words, everyone, and thanks to the team for letting me come back for the iconic encounter to finish introducing Korakai to you all. He's not the most confident hero, but he's trying his best! (And he's previewing a fair number of tengu and oracle abilities coming out soon)


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

Is anybody else kind of falling in love with Korakai?


5 people marked this as a favorite.

DA FUZZEE BURD BOY MUST BE PROTEKTED AT ALL KOSTS


13 people marked this as a favorite.
Quote:
The climb probably would’ve been easier if he hadn’t eaten so many skewers, but what was he to do?

Finally a truly relatable hero

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Great use of hydromancy. Approved!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Whoa, Oracle curse effects sound really cool now! Being able to use the storm from your curse to do stuff like put out fires- even after you've expended all your mystery uses- is really nice. That's more like the mixed bag that PF1's curses were.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

I really love this depiction of the Oracle. It kind of turns magic as practiced by other classes on its head. For an Oracle, calling on the magic is easy. The hard part is making sure you aren't obliterated in the process.

Dark Archive

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Korrakai wrote:
In his mind’s eye, he saw it standing there, unchanged since the day he’d swallowed the sea: a massive floodgate of salt-encrusted stone and metal.

Rather love this detail; puts in the mind more of realizing his powers as an abstraction made real.

I do like him as a character - a birb that is more comfortable having a cook-off than adventuring, but realizes the powers he gained should be put to use and gaining confidence in that truth.

Also like his calming mantra. Very relatable. Would like to see him and the other iconics in other fiction!

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

In the eye of the hurricane
There is quiet
For just a moment
A yellow sky

Grand Archive

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
“Nelson Mandala” wrote:
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

That was wonderful to read.

Liked seeing into Korrakai’s mind, and the effects of being Oracle and the magic that comes along with it, the static, the visuals, possibly combing spells?

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