At least this time, Newt knew the firestorm he was heading toward.
It was Johenn’s fault. It was always Johenn’s fault. What was worse, Newt owed him a favor. So when the longshank had discovered him in the middle of some research at Forae Logos, the largest library in Absalom, the uncharacteristically erudite monkey goblin found himself recruited.
Within the hour, they returned to the safety of the Grand Lodge and made their way into the lowest level of the gardens. Still a few too many longshanks to make Newt comfortable, but at least there were fewer stares, fewer glares. Here, at least, he knew he belonged, and he had the wayfinder to prove it.
The first to spot Johenn was a young woman in a fancy, blue and white dress, her light brown hair tied in a playful braid at the back of her head. Her eyes brightened as she recognized the young man and perked in excitement. She did a quick double-take upon seeing Newt, but her attention was fast to return to the young man, and her voice rose to greet him.
“Please tell me you found it.”
Johenn flashed her a playful grin as he hopped the last stair, answer in itself. With his usual flair for the dramatic, the dark-haired man reached into his long overcoat and revealed a large, leather-bound book. He pranced over to where the young woman sat, sweeping the journal in an arc to rest before her.
“Tonight’s selection for the lady,” he crooned as she accepted it. “Hadagaskar’s Recollections on the Lost Kingdoms. Might I suggest a pairing of some blackberry wine or perhaps a dessert plate?” Not waiting for an answer, he turned his attention to another nearby companion. This elder human held himself proudly, his copper-and-white beard carefully braided and ringed.
Reaching into another pocket of his longcoat, Johenn withdrew a scroll case, twirling it expertly in one hand before presenting it with a flourish. “And for the distinguished gentleman, a light palate cleanser: From [Horn] to [Chair-with-Raised-Staff]: a Refresher on Pre-Giant Logograms. Volume 3.”
The man nodded, taking the scroll case, gently releasing its protective latch and sliding the contents into his eager, gnarled hand.
“And, my friends, please allow me to introduce to you the sharpest mind I know.” Johenn motioned towards the dark blue monkey-goblin. “My old friend and adventuring companion, Newt. Newt, might I present to you Lady Zaya—“
“Just Zaya,” she corrected.
“—just Zaya, and her beloved hound, Alouicious.” The gray mutt looked up upon hearing his name, took quick account of the surroundings, and laid his head back down.
“Ranger,” Newt said with a nod, and was met with a delighted smile.
“Well spotted,” Johenn grinned. “Our dear lady is with the Horizon Hunters, and a forward scout for her team when she is not taking her leisure among us.”
Newt was amused to find Zaya rolling her eyes – something which he himself had done at Johenn’s dramatics many times.
“And our be-robed gentleman is Cromberly,” Johenn continued. The elder’s age-clouded eyes were already darting eagerly over the scroll; he raised a gnarled hand, distractedly waving a greeting.
“Cromberly here has a heart for adventure to put shame to us all,” Johenn smiled. “And an impressive knack for survival, I hear.“
“Fine to meet you both,” Newt acknowledged, “but let’s get right to the import of it. Johenn’s only started telling me about your mystery, and I’m keen to help. Catch me up.”
llustration by Victor Manuel Leza Moreno from Pathfinder Lost Omens: Pathfinder Society Guide
Zaya considered where to begin. “We discovered Five Eyes by accident; my team was originally sent to the Impossible Lands, off the coast of Jalmeray.”
“Following up on Padiskar?” guessed Newt.
Zaya chuckled. “That’s what Cromberly guessed too. But no, Padiskar’s old news.”
Without looking up, Cromberly entoned, “Padiskar was built around the ruins there, with strict laws and lots of borders to make sure no one intrudes on the creature down there. It was even reviewed by the Vigilant Seal and is considered safe for now.”
Zaya agreed. “Padiskar’s in the north, and we were off Jalmeray’s southern coast. We were there to investigate an environmental phenomenon: the sudden appearance of odd-shaped trees, fully formed and emerging straight from under the water.”
Newt nearly interrupted with a question, but then stopped himself. Impossible Lands indeed.
“Their sudden arrival attracted a number of pilgrims, who claim the appearance of these trees was the dying wish of their old, benevolent god, Five Eyes. The trees themselves seem harmless, and the pilgrims have been peaceful. We’re keeping an eye out. Since I’m here, I’ve been taking the opportunity to look more into Five Eyes.” Zaya lifted the tome Johenn just gave her.
Newt nodded thoughtfully, his golden eyes shifting to Johenn as the dark-haired man continued the story. “I’d really just meant to assist our beautiful ranger in her research” – another eyeroll from Zaya – “but, through fate or folly, my own recent adventures seemed tied to hers.”
He paused for a moment, allowing the silence to stretch. And stretch.
“Johenn,” Newt said distastefully, waving his hand. “Performance later. Details now.”
Johenn grinned sheepishly, caught in his old habit. “Of course, of course. Forgive me. My most recent assignment was in the Menador Mountains, in Old Cheliax. We were sent there to investigate some newly-discovered caves in the area. Imagine my surprise when we discovered our old friend there.”
This time, Newt did understand the meaningful pause. He hissed a quiet name. “Alden.”
Johenn nodded somberly. “Apparently, the Aspis Consortium also heard of this potential find. It got….tricky. It became less of a careful expedition and more of a race to find and catalogue everything we could before Alden and his team got a hold of it or destroyed it.”
Newt grumbled, and Johenn nodded empathetically. “We’d discovered a series of old cave paintings, sculptures, and inscriptions… Newt, it was amazing.”
The goblin asked the more pressing question: “Was anyone hurt?” Again.
Johenn shook his head, and Newt released the breath he didn’t remember holding.
“It was close,” Johenn admitted. “But we got out safely. The fool demolished the cave to get at something beyond the wall. We held the area as long as we could, while I combined all of our bookthief brew. We copied everything we could, but there was so much. It was nearly impossible to figure out which paintings were the most important. With a fight incoming, we had to make a lot of guesses. I’d been taking tracings of some of the inscriptions, but there wasn’t time to complete them.”
“You did well,” the goblin rumbled. “Agents first.”
Johenn nodded, though Newt could tell that the loss of the information hurt the archivist keenly. “We got out with what we could. I made copies of what we were able to save with the brew…seems to be a series of writings on an enormous creature…”
“…with five eyes,” Newt finished the sentence, guessing. Johenn arched his brows in ascent.
“Zaya and I have been pooling our resources since then. Some of my saved pages caught complete phrases, so we’ve been able to translate those. With the rest, well…that’s where Cromberly comes in. He’s got a knack for languages.”
“Got it,” Newt nodded. “So what do you have so far?”
“It’s patchy,” admitted Zaya. “Johenn’s team did a fantastic job saving what they could. But that still leaves us with only snips of information and a lot of guesswork.”
Johenn offered his journal to Newt. The goblin accepted it and sat down a few paces from Zaya. The monkey-goblin grunted as he paged through the scribed, translated pages. “Five Eyes Awakened…mm-hmm…old wrongs set right…unbound, unfettered, unrestricted…the dying wish…”
“There were a lot of those symbols repeated on the lost cave wall,” Johenn offered, reading over the goblin’s shoulder. “Especially mentions of Five Eyes, and a lot of repetition about his dying wish.”
“Hm. What’s this part here, about ‘no dragon remains, only bones’? And here, where it’s paired with the dying wish.” Newt squinted at one of the pages critically, tucking a pinky into the book to save his spot while he looked back a few pages. A grunt of annoyance passed his lips as he found another passage; his tail snaked around to help him hold the extra page.
“Hm. Here.” His tail pointed to one page. “It’s talking about Five Eyes ending the age of dragonkind. And here, again. Is that part of this ‘dying wish?’ Or was that maybe how he himself died…?”
“I’m not sure,” Zaya admitted.
“It all reads like a prophecy,” grunted Newt, the last word dripping, poisonous.
“Well. At least that would be nothing to worry about,” chuckled Johenn with a sardonic smile. “Prophecies are reliably unreliable these days.”
“True,” acknowledged Cromberly, finally looking up from his scrolls. “But it’d be folly to ignore what we found, even if it’s a legend we’re researching. The sudden trees in Jalmeray means something’s happening. Best if we went in prepared.”
Newt nodded and continued paging through Johenn’s sketches. Something nagged at him. “Tell me more about the trees you discovered, Zaya.”
The woman nodded, reaching into her satchel and drawing out her own field notebook. “The trees were petrified. Each had its own root system extending below the water, with tendrils lost in the ocean floor.” She turned a page. “All these trees had a spiraling grain along the wood, but each spiral was grown over itself. It looked like veins, really.”
Zaya turned another page and flipped the book around to show Newt a rough sketch. “None of the trees had any growth or sign of life. Just…a copse of petrified, swirling trees.”
Newt blinked a few times. “I don’t know if you meant to do so, but your sketch certainly makes those trees look like pointed teeth to me.”
Root System. Veins. Teeth.
And that was what he needed to remember. He snapped his fingers. “Several months ago, I was part of an investigative crew in the thick of the Mwangi Expanse. We were looking into the theft of relics from a local museum. The thieves completely bypassed some of the more obvious and lucrative targets, instead opting to take the petrified remains of an ancient, mostly unknown creature.”
“What did you learn about it?” prompted Cromberly.
“There were more questions than answers. The display was of several petrified teeth the length of a human arm, and a few, sharp-ended scales that belonged to a creature only called Ko’kquali, so named for the formation of its teeth. There wasn’t much more to learn about it – it’s largely a mystery – but professors believed the creature to be the apex predator of its time, feasting on dragons as easily as today’s dragons feast on sheep.”
“Oh, my.” Cromberly had grown pale
“I see your friend speaks the dialect,” the goblin ventured.
Nodding, Cromberly spoke up. “Ko’kquali. Five points. Not eyes.”
“So…” Johenn swallowed. “So hear me out here. It seems like Zaya here discovered a newly-formed place, set for worship by pilgrims for Five Eyes. A place that looks like petrified, stony teeth.”
“Some ancient remnants of an old creature that ate dragons for a teatime snack have been stolen. And that creature was named Five Points.”
“…and my team just found a whole bunch of cave paintings – literally writing on the wall! – about Five Eyes, how the age of dragonkind will come to an end, and how there’s some dying wish.”
A long silence hung over the agents. Johenn reached for his journal, and Newt handed it back wordlessly.
Johenn lifted the book and asked one last, quiet question. “What if this isn’t a legend, isn’t a prophecy… What if these are instructions?”
Newt cleared his dry throat. “Then I’d say that we have a long journey ahead of us, Johenn. Let’s get the word out, and then we have a lot of answers to find. And quickly. Before we find out what the Dying Wish can do to Golarion.”
About the Author
Rachael Cruz is an award-winning writer / game designer. Her TRPG work can be found in numerous properties, including but not limited to Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed-Of, Corvus Belli’s Infinity RPG, Dune: Adventures in the Imperium, Fantasy Age, RuneQuest, and Star Trek Adventures. She has been helping people play pretend before it was cool. She also believes in you. Yes, you. Follow her on Twitter at @Witchwater!
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.