“We can do it.”
The words reverberated through the cramped but well-furnished captain’s cabin of the Glorious Payoff. Eando Kline, leader of the Pathfinder Society’s Vigilant Seal, spoke excitedly and with conviction. “With the Seal deployed to prevent any fey forces from moving up from the south, the rest of the factions should be able to overwhelm the forces nearest to the portal. We can open the door, claim or seal whatever’s inside, and then beat an orderly retreat while they’re still reeling from the first assault!”
As the famed Pathfinder slapped a hand down on the table to emphasize his point, Fola Barun—a tall Ekujae elf skimming through the pile of scrolls at the far end of the table—raised a doubtful eyebrow and cleared her throat, the quiet noise and simple gesture readily commanding the attention of her peers.
“And what if it doesn’t go as smoothly as you say? Shall we trust that fate and fey magic shall both play out as we expect and gamble with the lives of those who have put their faith in us? I am not interested in a plan that involves the loss of scores of Pathfinder lives as one of its potential outcomes.”
Fola’s eyes drifted back to the scrolls in front of her, though the other Pathfinder strategists knew she was still acutely aware of the ongoing conversation.
“That’s where we come in," interjected the tightly-muscled half-orc woman perched on the table’s edge, former pirate and current leader of the Horizon Hunters, Calisro Benarry. “I’ve got a few of my hunters scouting the eastern ridgeline here, where the trees thin out; they’ll signal us if it looks like anything is about to go awry.”
As she leaned over the table, her keen eyes darted across the map, double-checking the markers and flags that indicated the positions of the various Pathfinder forces, as well as the locations of the myriad pockets of fey monsters infesting the area. She raised her glance to the last of her companions. “Anything to add, Gorm?”
“Oh, I suspect that we’ve got it well in hand.” The metal clasps in the dwarf’s braids jingled as he tilted his head, quietly assessing the map. “I’ve got the best bards, wizards, and clerics the Grand Archive has in its ranks spread throughout our deployed teams. If things get ugly, they’ll make sure to provide the magical support we need for a clean escape, and they’ve gone over every record we have of the area. Hopefully that will keep surprises to a minimum, and if we don’t see something coming, they’ll have the best chance we can hope for to make the right decisions and adapt.”
Eando looked around the room again, meeting the eyes of each of his fellow Pathfinders in turn. “We’re agreed then? It’s time to march?”
One by one, the others nodded their heads. Without further discussion, each left to take command of the Society agents assigned to their teams.
Illustration by Victor Manuel Leza Moreno from Pathfinder Lost Omens: Pathfinder Society Guide
Eando emerged from the cabin first, leaping onto the back of a waiting hippogriff that would ferry him to shore before it and its rider resumed their aerial scouting duties. Gorm muttered a few quick words and flicked his fingers in a rhythmic motion, his body slowly fading away in a cloud of glimmering lights. Fola left captain’s quarters turned perpendicular to the ship’s rail, striding toward the edge as though she were unaware the deck ended only feet in front of her. Casually, she stepped over the ship’s railing as a calm ocean wave crested to meet her foot, bearing her weight as sturdily as the deck had, and whisked her away to the nearby shoreline.
Calisro knew her place was aboard her ship, and she had no intention of abandoning her as the others had. Donning her tricorn hat, she left the briefing room, quietly shutting and locking the door behind her before she climbed to the deck to stand beside the helmsman.
“Hard to starboard!” Calisro cried, her powerful voice cutting over the ocean waves and silencing the chatter of her crew. “Ready the catapults! We’re going to start this thing off by doing what we do best! And what is that?”
With her final question, the sailors scurrying about the deck paused just long enough to yell, “blow something up,” before resuming their tasks. As the ship came about, its port armaments lined up to the shore, Calisro raised a small whistle to her lips and blew. Though no audible sound emerged, Calisro knew that her compatriots on land would receive the signal.
She needed wait only a moment before her expectation was proven accurate. On the nearby shore, a team of Pathfinders burst from behind a veil of magical invisibility, hurling jars of alchemical fire at what looked like a clump of old and gnarled baobab trees. A mere second later, the trees burst to terrifying life, uprooting themselves and charging toward the attacking Pathfinders.
“FIRE!” At Calisro’s scream, her bombardiers unleashed their deadly barrage, sending whistling orbs of magically augmented metal arcing first through the ocean breeze, and then the wooden bodies of the singed arboreal guardians. The captain took in the destruction, and the efficiency with which the Glorious Payoff’s crew had brought it upon the Society’s enemies. A slow smirk curled the her lips as she turned to issue more orders. “So far, so good!”
Deep in the coastal jungle, Eando fought a desperate battle against a pair of redcaps. The twisted little fey looked like caricatures of muscular gnomes, each wielding a scythe with a three-and-a-half-foot long blade. As the first swing came at his left flank, Eando quickly tossed his sword from his right hand to his left to deflect the blow high.
The second redcap stepped in and swung low from the right, hoping to separate the Pathfinder from his legs while he was distracted. No novice to battle, Eando used the momentum from his initial block to his advantage, letting the force of the first redcap’s blow carry him into a twisting somersault over the second attacker’s whistling blade. Turning his body nearly parallel to the ground, Eando flipped his sword back to his right hand, catching the hilt midway through a forward thrust. The blade parted the second redcap’s filthy beard and emerged an instant later from the back of its neck, silencing the murderous fey’s cackle with a staccato gurgle.
Completing his somersault and landing in a three-point stance, Eando kept his left hand on the ground for balance as his right swept back around in a second attack. Even as the remaining redcap raised its scythe to block, Eando switched sword hands once more, springing forward from his crouched position as he caught the blade in a left-handed grip.
The redcap’s eyes, still looking where the blade had been just a second before, widened in surprise before turning down to see Eando already withdrawing the length of the blade from the fey’s chest.
Without a hint of hesitation or fatigue, Eando flicked the blood clear of his blade and dashed further into the woods, yelling to draw an angry dryad’s attention away from a beleaguered group of Pathfinders wrapped in clinging vines.
Mere yards from the site of Eando’s incredible feat of swordsmanship and agility, Gorm stood ready under the shroud of invisibility. He chuckled in quiet amazement, dropping his hands and dismissing the magical energy he had been holding to blast a redcap with darts of magical force had Kline needed aid. The dwarf moved deeper into the jungle, following the sounds of battle.
It didn’t take long for Gorm to find Fola Barun, the shaman’s hands raised in the air, magically commanding the jungle’s fauna. A bramble of thorny vines whipped through ranks of surprisingly fearsome pixies while ancient ferns raised their wide fronds to deflect bursts of magical water launched by naiads away from the Pathfinder forces.
Gorm quickly unslung his harp and began playing a tune he’d written himself some years back, a lullaby he thought to call Sleep of the Petal Maidens. Hearing the ensorcelled notes through the din of combat, the pixies and naiads began to nod and blink drowsily; the distraction wasn’t enough to lull the fey to sleep, but it did slow them just long enough for Fola to shred the nearest of them with her magically controlled vines and send the others scurrying into the forest.
“Well done!” Gorm cried, dismissing his invisibility and stepping up beside Fola. A moment later, Eando emerged from the nearby trees, smiling roguishly and brushing what looked like sawdust off his sleeve. Other parties of Pathfinders joined them, and soon the small expeditionary army was almost completely assembled.
“Now the hard part,” Eando said gazing into the jungle depths ahead. “A long march through trackless jungle toward an enemy who knows we’re coming, armies of fey hidden in every valley and copse of trees between us and our destination, and then we just need to open a magical door no one’s ever opened and hope whatever’s inside doesn’t kill us all.”
“You’re absolutely right,” Gorm replied. “I do so love being a Pathfinder!”
About the Author
Michael Sayre is the former Pathfinder Society developer and newest member of the design team at Paizo. He’s also a prolific freelancer, having contributed to numerous Paizo books and publications from other publishers, such as Lost Spheres Publishing, Rogue Genius Games, and many other companies, in support of the Pathfinder RPG and other table-top game systems. You can find more of Michael's short fiction in our Organized Play blogs and in the introduction for the iconic alchemist, Fumbus.
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.