Settling in


Pathfinder Online

Goblin Squad Member

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(even if a bit prematurely, I'm feeling ispired)

"Here!" Caldeathe said, holding his hand high. Around him, his companions stopped with mixed muterings of releif and frustration. Sliding off their horses, many looking around in confusion.

"Why here?" Huldrin asked, sliding painfully from his saddle. "That spot yesterday was closer to the city and and didn't look any different."

Willum winced, dropped his armour bag off the horse and aimed a dirty look on his brother, who instantly slapped a hand over his mouth, realizing his mistake.

"Because here is what Erastil has led us." Caldeathe began to lecture, as was his wont. "It is not for us to question His will, it is for us to do His bidding and by our obedience incrase His glory." He droned on for several more minutes about the obligations of mere mortals to the gods, until even the horses began to look bored.

Willum eventually took advantage of the slightest of pauses to interject a stream of orders to the party, dispersing them to gather wood and settle the horses. Everyone was careful not to question the cleric again about his choice of spots, though several furtive glances between the others conveyed to everyone but, apparently, him that this was hardly even the tenth best campsite they'd passed today, let alone the finest place to build a settlement.

Although Caldeathe affected to be unaware of their glances, he understood too painfully, his companions' disappointment in the location. It would not have been his own first choice, either, but that mattered not in the least. It was in his bones, as certianly as if he'd had a missive directly from the gods, here was where Erastil had set them, and here was where they would make their home. Whether for a week, or a lifetime, he knew not. The god willing, it was permanent, but if not, then He would provide another when the time came. His quick prayer was internal only. A personal thanks to Erastil, and plea for his companions' safety. It would suffice. It would always suffice. If it did not, it was because they failed to take advantage of what they were given. He turned to the immediate task, making his comrades feel welcome in their new home.

Closer to sunset, rested, fed and with a little ale in their bellies, their moods were improved. As Willum took up his post for first watch, and the others settled down, Caldeathe lay on his back watching the stars. A wolf howled in the distance, and elicited a grumble from the other side of the fire. Still, while they were a long way from where they started more than a year earlier when they first discussed this venture to tame a new land. The stars were bright, the night was peaceful, the air clean and fresh.

A light streaked across the sky from the west, leaving a trail behind it. A star falling far to the east. Many in the land would tremble, taking it as a portent of ill fortune. Not his clan. For them, a falling star was a sign of change, of good luck, and great things to come. Beside him Huldrin grunted "Huh!" then went silent again for a moment. "I guess it's not so bad, after all."

Caldeathe closed his eyes for the first proper night's sleep in he knew not how long. Tomorrow would be a long day, but it would be good.

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"Shhh, get down."

The fur clad group of warriors sunk against the trees, tightening the grip on their keen blades. They looked on in silence at the assortment of strangers settling in to camp.

Day passed into night but the warriors did not move, only watched. It wasn't until they heard the signal, a distant call of a "wolf", that they stirred from their hiding place and returned home to report what they had found.

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Uneasily, Caldeathe glanced around the clearing. Everything was exactly the same as the day before, but it felt--different. Willum, sitting nearby with a whetstone, testing the edge of this sword, squinted, then growled, "Cal...?" Cal tried to hide the feeling, but his brother new him too well. "Dammit, Cal! We barely got the latrine dug. Please don't tell me we're moving."

As his brothers looked at him wearily, Cal shrugged his shoulders. He had no idea what to say, but in the end it wasn't necessary.

With an exaggerated sigh, Willum started giving orders again. "Pack it up, everybody. Looks like we're moving on."

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The whims of gods and men were at play again. A dozen times Cal had told his companions it was time to move, only to counter the decision a few hours later. It seemed they’d been milling about for days, and people were getting grumpy. Willum finished rolling the tent as Cal prepared breakfast.

“Look, Cal, it’s time to piss or get off the pot. we’re not doing anybody any good wandering around the plains like this.”

Cal nodded, drained of joy, wondering what he could have done to cause his god to go silent for so long. A cool breeze broke the heat, sweeping across the plain from the west.

Tala’s voice came suddenly from the south side of the camp, “Travelers ho.”

Cal and Willem turned as one, Willem immediately lifting his shield into place and putting his hand on the hilt of his sword. A troop of men approached from the south and west. One group flying the banner of The Vigilant, while beside them a similar group carried the flag of the Green Mountain Militia. Cal waved down Willum and smiled with a mix of pleasure and relief. “Welcome friends!”

Their respective leaders carried a somewhat more grim look as they approached. “You’re right.” The Vigilant’s commander spoke first. “It’s time to move. It feels like the wolves are nipping are our heels”

Cal nodded. “North?” He asked looking at the Green Mountain Militia’s leader.

Malphris gazed longingly west. In all their letters, he’d expressed a strong preference for the plains near the road, but he was a pragmatist. His team could not hold the settlement they wanted by themselves, and he had an opportunity to build something here. He nodded. “North it is. To the forest.”

Cal turned to Willum, “You heard the man. It’s time to move. North.”

There was a profound sense of relief in the team as they finally loaded everything and struck out for the road. Cal felt only a deep sense of contentment. His whispered thanks to the god went unnoticed by most of his companions, but their notice was not what mattered. He’d found his centre again, and all would be well.

Goblin Squad Member

On their way to the road, they stopped at the enclave of the Phoenix Brotherhood to say goodbye. The groups had talked about cooperating, and several of Cal’s comrades were more than a little annoyed to be leaving the fertile plains and the opportunity to work beside such an excellent group. But the decision was taken, so they made for Valley Road, and turned north.

The land they passed was clean, unspoiled, filled with bountiful game. When they reached the crossroads for Mosswater Road, they paused for a meal, and to discuss whether to continue north immediately, or divert east for a pace onto Mosswater. And whether they ought to stop at Talonguard to convey their respects. In the end, they decided to bide at the crossroads for a few days. They’d sent some invitations out, for which they awaited responses, and it seemed a pleasant place to bide a while.

Goblin Squad Member

The foreshadowing is thickening.

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Caldeathe inhaled the fresh forest air and relaxed. "Better?" he asked, raising his eyebrows at his brother.

Willum looked no more, or less, grumpy than usual. "Well--" He paused, and assessed the area. "I do like being in the woods more than out in the open. And it's nice to be close to the mountains again." He stopped and wiggled his nose. "But did you hear that party going on to the west? I thought those Tavernhold guys would bring the gods down on us."

Cal grinned. "I told you, it was just a goodbye party. They seemed to want to be closer to the main road. And those Kabalians seem nice enough."

Tala, sitting on a stump nearby, strummed her harp a few times, tuning it. "I do like being closer to the Vigil. They seem like they could be a lot of fun to hang around with. But I feel bad about driving off the group that was here."

"We didn't drive them off!" Cal snapped, perhaps a little guiltily. I tried to tell them we just wanted to hang out and work with them. It's not our fault they didn't seem to speak the same language. It's not like we waved our swords and told them to get lost."

Tala shrugged. "I guess. But still..."

"Yeehaw!" Eldrin and Huldrin interrupted her, running into camp, each with a handful of silver and their cheeks flushed. "Have you seen all the badlands around here? Theirs goblins everywhere. This is gon'na be great."

Willum's face got even stonier, "Great. We went from having a nice cliff on the east to a crazy mix of trees and plains, surrounded by goblin infested badlands. How in the name of Deoghan's boots are we supposed to secure ourselves?"

"Pray with me." Cal said reaching out to his brothers and sister. "That the god has brought us to our new home at last."

"We can only wish." Willum grumbled, but joined his family.

Goblin Squad Member

Caldeathe Baequiannia wrote:

Caldeathe inhaled the fresh forest air and relaxed. "Better?" he asked, raising his eyebrows at his brother.

Willum looked no more, or less, grumpy than usual. "Well--" He paused, and assessed the area. "I do like being in the woods more than out in the open. And it's nice to be close to the mountains again." He stopped and wiggled his nose. "But did you hear that party going on to the west? I thought those Tavernhold guys would bring the gods down on us."

Cal grinned. "I told you, it was just a goodbye party. They seemed to want to be closer to the main road. And those Kabalians seem nice enough."

Tala, sitting on a stump nearby, strummed her harp a few times, tuning it. "I do like being closer to the Vigil. They seem like they could be a lot of fun to hang around with. But I feel bad about driving off the group that was here."

"We didn't drive them off!" Cal snapped, perhaps a little guiltily. I tried to tell them we just wanted to hang out and work with them. It's not our fault they didn't seem to speak the same language. It's not like we waved our swords and told them to get lost."

Tala shrugged. "I guess. But still..."

"Yeehaw!" Eldrin and Huldrin interrupted her, running into camp, each with a handful of silver and their cheeks flushed. "Have you seen all the badlands around here? Theirs goblins everywhere. This is gon'na be great."

Willum's face got even stonier, "Great. We went from having a nice cliff on the east to a crazy mix of trees and plains, surrounded by goblin infested badlands. How in the name of Deoghan's boots are we supposed to secure ourselves?"

"Pray with me." Cal said reaching out to his brothers and sister. "That the god has brought us to our new home at last."

"We can only wish." Willum grumbled, but joined his family.

Cal, there is a book in this. :)

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Maybe a short story. But judging by the royalties on the last ones, I won't be quitting my day-job soon.

My MMORPG story is "A Perfect Circle" in "Misspelled" ed. by Julie Czerneda

But if you don't feel like buying the whole collection, I might be convinced to provide a review copy of my story.

Goblin Squad Member

Very nice seeing the RP growing out of the mechanics of the game. As we chatted about yesterday, you can generate some really strong literary seeds from good MMO play (or in this case...preplay). ;)

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EoX Hobs wrote:
...preplay).

Come on, Hobs, you know the game began on Day One of the Land Rush :-). The electronic stuff we're waiting for is just fluff and eye-candy.

Goblin Squad Member

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Elsewhere (In a nearby forest hex):

Murgin hears noise above. We climb up to see what’s coming. Not all the way. He’ll kill us if we do that. But we’re so hungry. Haven’t eaten in days. So we climb up near the top. Just enough to see what’s happening. It’s on the other side of the big door. Lots of banging and shouting and screaming. Maybe the horrid goblin has fallen and killed himself. That would teach him to be mean to Murgin. Nasty goblin! But wait, then where would we get food? Oh, please don’t be dead nasty goblin. Just hurt. A lot. Very, very hurt, but not too hurt to bring us food. Sweet blood.

We listen close. It sounds messy. And bloody! Murgin feels better. The nasty goblin always throws the hurt ones down the well for us. Murgin is so hungry. He hasn’t thrown anyone in days. We’re all skin and bones. Murgin peaks over the edge and listens more closely. It’s different. It doesn’t sound like nasty goblin. The voices are different, though we can hardly hear them through the heavy door above.

The door is open! We duck back down. Climb back into our tunnel. Hide.

Blood! Murgin smells blood. Sweet blood. Our mouth waters and we stretch up to see what comes. Oh! We dart back into the tunnel. One of them almost saw Murgin. Close the door and wait. Hungry. So Hungry. Light? Hurts. Bright light went by the door and down to the water.

Now there is someone coming down. But not right. Not falling. Not for Murgin to snatch. Climbing? Flying? This is wrong. Murgin must be careful. Hide. It is almost here. Slowly. Looking carefully about it. Dangerous thing. Nasty thing. But it smells so good. There is blood on it. Sweet blood. So hungry. Must have it! Mustn’t! Dangerous. Must have it! So hungry. Murgin is so hungry.

It comes close. Murgin throws the door open. Grabs at the thing. Claws and teeth strike at it. It’s skin is hard. Tough. Nasty. Murgin only catches it once and it does not freeze to wait for us. It is slow though. We lash out again and sinks teeth into it. Sweet blood. Fresh. Hot. Murgin shakes with excitement.

Gone! The food is gone. Vanished up the hole. Leaving nothing but a rope. Murgin reaches out. Grabs the rope. Holds it. Like spider. A hungry spider. Waiting for a fly. Come to Murgin-spider sweet food. Murgin loves you pretty things. Come to Murgin.

Murgin is afraid to peek. There are more. Murgin hears them. Lots more. A whole handful of things. All strong. Dangerous. Be careful Murgin. Wait. Ready for another chance at the food. Sweet blood.

One has taken the rope. Is pulling it up. Murgin yanks the rope. Hard. With all his weight. The food topples over and falls toward us. We snatch at it. Mustn’t miss it. If it falls in the water it is lost. It holds the rope and stops near. Waiting food. Dangling food. Bite at the food.

Talking. Talky-talk-talking. Priest talk!

Fear! Horror! A terrible thing is coming. Murgin lets go the rope. Run! Run! Far and fast. Away into the darkness. Jump over the water. Mustn’t touch the water. She will destroy Murgin if we touch the water. Down the passage. Down. Down. Down. There is nowhere else to go. Murgin stops. Huddled in the corner. Waiting to be destroyed. Fear.

The watcher goblin looks. Peers through the hole at Murgin. “Raise the alarm” he says in their nasty language. “Something’s scared the creep. Get some spears to the lock just in case. Tell Nar there may be trouble.” Nasty goblin. Murgin isn’t a creep. Murgin hopes the nasty goblin dies.

Murgin must run. Run from the horrible. But there is nowhere to go. Nowhere for Murgin to run. It comes for us. We huddle. Rock. Waiting.

Scratching above! Murgin listens. Movement. In the inner passage. Light in the old hole. Reflections on the water. Voices. It’s coming for Murgin. Please! Please no hurt Murgin. Murgin not bad. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to go.

Fear gone? Priest! Murgin spits. Filthy, nasty, priest. Murgin will eat the priest. Chew chewy priest fingers. Slurp slippery priest eyes. Warm, soft brains. Suck priest’s hot, sweet blood.

Murgin hears fight. The goblins and the new things. Goblins getting hurt bad. Nasty goblins! Kill them. Kill all the goblins. Happy. But afraid. Nasty, mean goblins. Always throwing things. Always hitting Murgin. Good they get killed. Die goblins. Die! Maybe the goblins will taste good. Will the new things give Murgin the goblins? Maybe not. Priest may not feed Murgin. Nasty priest! Don’t die goblins. Kill the nasty priest. Feed the priest to Murgin. Murgin will keep watch for goblins. goblins feed Murgin. Feed Murgin food. Sweet blood.

Goblin Squad Member

Well, that was more-than-sufficiently frightening. Congratulations.

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Thanks!

Goblin Squad Member

Willum shifted from side to side, something on his mind. Cal internalized the briefest of prayers before acknowledging his brother, “What’s up?”

“This--survey?” He seemed hesitant. “You’re sure…?” He trailed off

"Nothing’s sure, brother. Erastil might ask us to move again tomorrow, or next week, or 20 years from now. You know that as well as anyone. But I have a good feeling about this.”

“It’s just--I’m not sure the crew has it in them to move again soon.”

Cal smiled at him, then pulled his brother close into a hug and whispered “Then I guess you’d better take steps to avoid anyone but Him making us move.”

Willum grinned as they parted. “Right you are, brother. Right you are.” He turned and began shouting. “All right, ladies, let’s put down roots as deep as they’ll go. I want a secure perimeter before the sun sets. Enialiss, as many dead-fall traps as you and your team can rig by tonight and starting in the morning as many pit traps as you can set up in the next few days. Luke, take your team and find a series of good watch trees, with a clear view and an eye toward eventual watch towers. Huldrin, Eldrin, Take a couple of guys and figure out what the surroundings are like. And no stopping to play with goblins! I want a proper survey by the end of the week. Let’s roll!”

As the team began turned to take on their assigned tasks, a stag elk bolted out of the brush and stopped dead; as did all the people in the camp. For a brief moment, the humans and stag watched each other, then it snorted, pawed the ground three times, and darted back into the brush.

Cal smiled at the excited mumbling of his group as they dispersed, then returned to surveying the space he’d selected for the cathedral. It might be a while, perhaps a long while, but he could already see it in his mind.

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I'm guessing the door of the cathedral goes right about where that stag stood. That story will resonate when it's told.

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No peeking ahead.

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"Sheesh, finicky lot," the elf thinks to himself as he sways in the breeze, high atop a tree. He glances across the canopy to the hill where Ozem's Vigil is located. "I suppose they could all use a bath and the free food is a plus." He twists on the thin branch and turns his gaze south. "Didn't expect them to cross the road though, reports had them much further south. Maybe I'll go say hi." He looks down. "Maybe I'll just stay here for now."

Goblin Squad Member

Cal’s rock was shaken; his sleep troubled. The touch of the god’s hand upon his brow grew fainter with each passing day. The forest was strange and felt unnatural, though he felt no pull to leave. Strange rumblings in the soil over several days had portended unnatural looking growths of stone in the surrounding land. So far they remained indistinct, but they looked like circular roofs of stone tile, as though some great buildings existed beneath the earth that were slowly growing upward through some miracle to form a ring around them. His brothers reported that it was not just a ring though, with similar constructs emerging in various places about them, even some from the very roots of the stone itself in the mountains to the south east. Their neighbours also were being surrounded, but none of the badlands. Whatever the nature of these growths, they seemed tied to the people of the land. It must be the work of the gods, for they were too regular and controlled to be anything else.

Frightening though these events were, it could not hold a candle to Erastil’s absence. To feel no touch upon his brow during morning prayer, to hear no voice in his mind during his sleep, to have his thanks and thoughts unanswered. These were the things that frightened Caldeathe the most. In all his years as child and youth and as priest to his family, he had never felt so alone as he did now. He dare not let the family know his bereft state yet. In this strange and terrifying land, he was their rock, and their rock he would remain for so long as the blood and spirit moved within him.

It seemed like they had a good home here. The nearby people in Ozem’s Vigil were good folk, sturdy and true. And he felt a certain kinship with the careful and controlled folk of nearby Callambea, though their intensity and focus were very different from his family. Other groups in the area all seemed like good neighbours, who they could trust in a pinch, at least until resources proved scarce. But the world was off, of late. A general feeling of disconnect in the air.

He shut out the sounds of the camp around him. As he set to his morning prayers, it occurred to him again that he might beg, as so many of his fellow clerics did. Asking their god for boons, for signs, for proofs. But no. The will of the gods had always served the Morrigans well, and he would not test Erastil’s patience. If he was his family’s rock, then faith in their god was his. He knelt facing the forest and once again offered his soul to Erastil, unconditionally, even in the face of his fear, to begin his prayers.

In an instant, the Stag appeared again from the forest’s edge. The bustle of the camp’s morning activities ceased as his family stopped as one. The stag stood for a moment, seeming faint; more insubstantial than Cal thought proper. Then a moment later it was joined by a great golden hound from the trees. Near as large as the stag itself, and shining with the light of the gods. As the elk faded slowly, the hound pawed the ground three times then bounded into the forest. As his family erupted with confused excitement and a hint of fear, Cal felt a new touch on his brow, and heard a new voice in his head. Joy flooded through him.

“It’s all right” he spoke loudly to get his family’s attention as he rose from the earth. “Nothing to fear.” He approached them and hugged them one after another as he continued. “Erastil is not ready to make himself a part of this land. We will have new tests here, that are unlike any we have faced in our past. He has given us unto the care of his ally Sarenrae, who has sent her Hound Archon Charlabu to welcome us to this new land in her name. We will face new challenges, which will become apparent in coming weeks. And we will stand firm in their face and make a place to welcome Erastil when he is ready to rejoin us.”

As was their wont, most of his family took this change in their state with little more than a shrug of their soldiers and returned to the day’s activities. They had their rock, which was all they needed. And now, he had his again, too.

Goblin Squad Member

“The party camp is back.” Cal opened his to see Willum staring down at him in the entrance to the pavilion.

“Sorry? What?”

“Tavernhold. They’re back to the west of us. Partying.” He glared at Cal and growled, “All night.”

Cal was still having a little trouble focusing. “What time is it?”

“Do I look like a timepiece? It’s nearly dawn”

“Nearly…?” Cal sputtered, “We’re practically as north as we can get. How is it even possible to get up before dawn? Why is it even possible? Why are you up?”

Willum waved his sword at Cal. “You might be able to sleep through those drunken louts, but if I’m not getting any sleep, then neither are you. I want you to go have a talk with them?”

What drunken louts?” Enialliss poked his head in the pavilion.

“Tavernhold!” Willum practically shouted.

Enialliss shrugged. “They’re not such bad guys. They’ve got this sweet redhead playing harp at the Battered Fish tavern.” His eyes unfocused slightly and his lips turned up in a smile.

“You!” Willum swung the point of his sword toward his older brother, “You were over there all night. You were one of the ones keeping me up.”

Cal sighed as his sleeping area threatened to become a council chamber again. “Of course he wasn’t. Enialliss knows he’s on duty at sunrise.” He looked at their brother, “Right?”

“I’m here. I’m ready to stand guard. Relax.” He said, and grabbed at the tent-ropes to steady himself. he smiled a little sheepishly.

”Deoghan's boots! You’re drunk, you cretin. You can’t guard like that. We’d all be dead by lunch time. I’ll kill you myself.”

“Willum!” Cal stood quickly. “I think that’s enough. Enialliss, you get to bed. I’ll ask Tala to stand your duty this morning.”

Enialliss saluted with a smile and stumbled off to his tent. Meanwhile, Willum looked like he might hyperventilate. “Relax Brother. It will be all right.”

“All right?” Willum growled

“Yes. All right. It’s been a long spring, and we all need a little down time. You’ve found us an excellent spot, now relax, and let the men do their jobs.”

Willum looked like he wanted to say more, but instead he turned abruptly and vanished into the darkness outside. Cal slipped on his clothing and emerged from the tent to see the high summer sun peaking over the distant eastern mountains north of Callambea. He sighed to himself and mumbled, “A long spring, indeed. I just wish I thought the summer wouldn’t be longer.”

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Cal was returning from the river when he almost ran into Enialliss, looking around at the campsite as though he had no idea where he was. When his eyes met Cal’s, the confusion only seemed to deepen. Cal put a hand on his brother’s shoulder, to share his strength, “What’s wrong?”

Enialliss twisted around, looking right and left as though he expected to be attacked at any moment, or had lost something important. He put his right hand to his left shoulder and ran it down the chest as though feeling for an injury and perplexed that he wasn’t finding one. “I--Uhm.” He paused for a moment. “I….” He turned all the way around again quickly, drawing his short sword as he scanned the surroundings, then stopped, and ran a finger down the side of the clean blade, as though surprised to find it so. When his fingers came to nick in the steel, he stopped, and stared intently at the offending mark. His head came up after a few seconds, and he seemed surprised, again, to find Cal staring at him. “I…”

“Brother?” There was confusion, to be sure, but Cal also sensed evasion in the mumbling.

Startled, Enialliss looked at him again, eyes wide. “When did I...Did you heal…” He stopped. Cal raised an eyebrow at him. “Uhm. Nothing. Nothing. Is Eldrin around?”

“I haven’t seen Him since the two of you went hunting after breakfast.” Cal looked at Enialliss with suspicion. “How was the hunting, by the way? You’re back early. Or have you not left yet?
I swear I thought I saw you head over the hill a while ago.”

“Early?” Enialliss seemed confused again, and kept scratching at his left wrist.

“Well you were gone less than an hour.”

“An hour?”

“yes. Less. And what are you scratching at?”

His brother looked at him, still confused, so Cal nodded at where Enialliss was scratching. He pushed his sleeve back to reveal the symbol of Pharasma that appeared few weeks earlier. It looked red, almost to the point of glowing. Enialliss stared at it for a moment, then over to the statue of the goddess beside which they’d established camp. “That…” He stopped and looked worried. “Less than an hour? How much less?”

“I don’t know, much less. But a lot less.”

“I--I think I better go find Eldrin.” He took off at a run in the same direction he’d gone earlier. “He might need me.”

Cal shook his head after his departing brother and turned back toward the cook tent, just in time to see a shimmer in the air, by the statue of Pharasma, and their brother Eldrin appear out of nowhere, looking around in confusion.

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Cal spotted Eldrin and flagged him down. “did you get those herbs I asked about?

Eldrin seemed a bit embarrassed, “No. sorry. I came back early. There was this guy with a bow….”

“I see?” Cal said, moving his head to indicate he really didn’t.

“No. I mean, he was just running around with a bow. Nothing else.”

“I don’t get it. You mean no gear, or what?”

“I mean nothing--” Enialliss paused for a moment, as though he didn’t really want to continue. “Well. He did have underwear on.”

“Underwear?”

“yeah, underwear.”

“Nothing else, just underwear?”

“And a bow. he was pretty good with the bow.”

“Could it have been some kind of cult?”

“Like what? The cult of mostly-naked archers? I told you, he didn’t have anything else. How would I know if he was in a cult?” Enialliss was agitated

“No need to get snippy.”

The two stood silently for a moment, as though uncertain what to say to each other.

Finally Enialliss spoke again, a little grumpily, “I’m pretty sure it was a gnome.”

“A gnome?”

He nodded. “With red hair.”

“A mostly naked gnome archer with red hair. You’re only pretty sure?”

“What? You wanted me to stare at the half-naked gnome? Besides, I didn’t get close. He was pretty much killing everything in sight.” Enialliss turned and stormed off.

If Cal had to guess, his brother was more embarrassed than angry. He sighed, and said a little prayer to Sarenrae before returning to his work.

Goblin Squad Member

*cough* Why, what a fantastical story. Nothing like that could ever actually happen, of course.


Very good story writing {: am enjoying it

Goblin Squad Member

Caldeathe was hunting; his brother Enialliss, to be exact. The slippery rogue had been avoiding him for a couple of days and he had him in his sights now. He saw his brother start to get up as he approached the table, but he laid a hand on his shoulder. “I want to talk to you, little brother.”

“It wasn’t us.”

Cal shook his head, “It certainly was”

“No way. It was the Xeilians.”

“The Xelians? What are you talking about?”

“The fireworks last night. It was the Xelians. They made a big announcement last night. Came as a big surprise to nobody but them, I say.”

“Fireworks? What are you...Never mind. I don’t care about fireworks.”

“Oh.” Enialliss squirmed.

Cal could tell his brother knew it wasn’t any fireworks hew was wondering about. “What’s going on?”

“Uhm.” He squirmed a little more. “I don’t know?”

“You couldn’t bluff to save your live, Enialliss. Out with it. What are you and Huldrin up to with that statue?” He gestured at the object by the stream.

“I--We--I--” He sighed. “Fine. I think we’re immortal.”

Cal stared at him wordlessly, knowing his brother couldn’t resist elaborating given time.

Another heavy sigh, “I got hit by a goblin the other day. When we went...hunting. And the next thing I knew I was back at the camp talking to you. So I ran off to find Huldrin, because he was still fighting goblins, but when I got there, both of our bodies were laying there in the cave. And there was this bloody goblin dragging mine away and he dropped it into a well. I hid, trying to figure out what was going on, then Huldrin ran up behind me in time to watch them throw his body down the well too. “I’m not making it up!” Enialliss got defensive at the look Cal was giving him. “Ask him.”

“I will.”


Dun dun dunnnn

Sorry.

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“1476, 1477, 1478…” Cal stopped as bumped into the invisible wall again. The tip of his nose wriggled a bit in confusion. The world was getting bigger. Which, of itself was no concern, but why, he wondered, had it been smaller to begin with? He’d never encountered such invisible walls before in his travels. Only upon entering this strange and fierce land. It made no sense at all. There was plenty of vegetation visible beyond the wall, ‘though no animals he could observe. it was as though the world were merely some complex painting of the gods and they were not yet done filling in the details of this bit just beyond his reach.

Was it only this place? Something unique to this remote corner of the river Kingdoms? Or was the same thing happening across the world in the far corners opposite him? He imagined the hand of Iomedae at work, in fits and starts. Coming pack to her painting to add a little more world before supper. There must be something on the other side, so why not more? And he could hardly be the only one wondering what was on the other side.

As if to prove his point, in the distance a warrior took a running jump at the side of the nearest mountain, as though he might fling himself to its peak by sheer force of will. He attempted repeatedly, moving around the face of the rock and jumping, shifting a few feet jumping again, over and over again, each time getting to near the same point, sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but inevitably sliding back to the bottom. Cal drifted closer to see if he could identify the eager mountain goat. It appeared to be one of the southerners. Probably that DakCenturion fellow. Seemed like a good sort, ‘though the contortions he made as he jumped repeatedly at the mountains made Cal wonder if he had it all together up there.

And then, with a series of jumps, the other bounced up, up, up until he stood on the crown of the earth, far above Cal’s head. A moment of shocked surprise changed to a a feeling of envy as he watched the other survey the bit of world that only he could see. “Has he found his way into the realm of the gods?” Cal mumbled to himself in wonder. “What wondrous things lay before him on that high plateau?”

All Cal could do was accept his lot. And pray, that one day soon he might glimpse the things that brave soul was seeing now. He returned to pacing the boundaries of his world.

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Cal gently stroked his holy symbol for comfort.

The intricately carved piece of stag’s horn had been given to him by a grandfather dead more than a hundred years. The human had been close to nature in a way few of his people could manage. It was he that had named Caldeathe and dedicated him to Erastil beneath a riverbank willow that had been old before humans came to the River Kingdoms.

Behind him, the south wall of the log building fell with a crash, startling Caldeathe from his musing. He swallowed and released the symbol to lay on his chest, and finished stuffing his pack and strapping it shut. It was for the best. He couldn’t help feeling a little sadness as he looked around the rapidly dissolving site. Some of the community members had a hollow look, still showing that they weren’t quite sure they understood the decision. Cal had no such concerns, though. There had been a lot of rumbling and activity through the land of late, and Iomedae had spoken with clarity. She would give them all that she could in this place, but her attention was already stretched thin in this new land. By moving, they would only be bringing themselves closer to her.

He said a little prayer and looked north-east toward their new home. Luke and the rest of The Vigilant were leading the way. Lean travelers, they’d been packed and ready to move before the rest of the camp was fully stirring. The Green Mountain Militia were also leaving camp. They’d had more difficulty coming to terms with the nature of this new land, but were nothing if not determined. His own team was almost fatalistic in their activity. Just another day in the life for them, tearing down a town to move it through the bush.

He’d asked them to move so many times it was a wonder they still listened. He smiled. No. Not a wonder at all. Of the many things Erastil’s Irregulars lacked, faith was not one of them. They’d accept the move and build the best they could build wherever His service sent them, whether this piece of forest, or the plateau at Ozem's Vigil. And that was the greatest comfort of all.

Goblin Squad Member

Be sure to let us know the title of the book when you publish, Cal.

Goblin Squad Member

I'm not sure it would sell to anyone that can't read it here.

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The site was rapidly clearing. As was their wont, soon there would be little sign the Irregulars had ever passed by, let alone started building a town. Cal finished his last bag and heaved it into the cart. Behind, him, he heard his youngest brother shouting, “Get that pit filled! Now! I want all the carts moving by noon.”

As usual, Willum was looking like he’d eaten something that disagreed with him. Caldeathe moved to join him and started to ask him what was bothering him at the moment. The second he opened his mouth, though, Willum raised a mailed hand palm out toward him. “Don’t even.”

“Willum?” Cal struggled not to sound hurt.

“No. I’m doing my job. I’m sick of changing our minds and I’m sick of building and I’m sick of tearing down and I don’t want to talk to you right now.”

Cal paused a moment, thinking. “Did we mention the stone?”

Willum went still for a moment, then looked at him. “What stone?”

“Ozem’s is in hills. Rocky hills. Plenty of forest to the west, but good stone in their land, and more to the east.”

“Huh!” Willum grunted.

“And they’re further from the road.”

Willum fiddled with some straps on a pack. “How much further?”

“Not a lot, but further.” The two were silent for a moment as Willum worked. “And they’ve seen some very promising signs of starmetal to the north.”

“There was starmetal right in our backyard here.”

“No neighbours on the other side of theirs.”

Willum nearly smiled for a moment. “Hmmm. No cropland, though, I hear?”

“Well, no, but they have good hunting. And they’re far enough from Tavernhold you can’t hear it.”

“Well that would be a relief.” He finished fiddling with the straps. “Stone, you say?”

“Quite a bit of it.”

Willum grabbed the large bag by its straps and hefted it onto the cart. “What’s the hold up, ladies? If we aren’t on the road in 20 minutes you can forget about goblins, it’ll be me you have to worry about.” He turned to Cal. “Let’s do this!”

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(In a distant corner of the of the forest)

The Worldwound called to the elf across the miles and he trembled a little, his tight grip on the handle of the knife sending a twinge of pain through his wrist. He could feel Pharasma’s minions spreading through the land and for a moment he lost his grip on the future he’d seen.

Bone weary. There was no other way to adequately describe the feeling. For nearly 50 years he had labored at the spell. There was nowhere left in his compound that he could go to escape the stench of death. Thousands of sacrifices spread over the interminable years had left him numb. He wondered for a moment about simply stopping. Now. Today.

Then shook his head wearily. Many times he had wondered why he didn't stop, but nearly ten centuries of fighting had built an inertia of purpose that wouldn't be overcome.

He knew he was becoming emotional of late. The detached sense of purpose he'd begun with was a thing of the past. Every new death cut into him like the very knife that caused it. He'd once expected it to be the other way, and, to a degree, it had in the beginning. The second hundred deaths had been far easier than the first, and the second thousand easier yet. Now though, the ghosts he'd made crowded his every thought, their cries gnawing at his sleep, the stench of their cast off corpses filling his mind at every waking moment. A numbness filled his body like lead as he struggled to raise the arm.

A glimmer of wonder at how any human could ever have developed this spell, let alone expected to carry it out, gave him pause but his tired mind couldn't hold the thought to a conclusion. Fifty years of calculated murder had cost him the ability to think of anything else. A tear slid down his cheek as he braced to pull the razor knife through the next throat in line. With the experience born of years of practice, the knife sliced cleanly. Fastidiously positioned, not a drop of the blood touching him as the fresh corpse joined the loathsome pile at his feet. The words came. He didn't think it would be possible to kill without the words anymore. Nearly twenty thousand times he'd repeated the ritual and he could hardly stop now. The next sacrifice was placed in front of him and up came the knife again. Slice. Drop. Speak. Slice. Drop. Speak. A drop of blood on his sleeve caught his eye. Irritation tore through him at his carelessness but it quickly vanished. Slice. Drop. Speak. An automaton of death carrying out its program. Moments later, when no new sacrifice appeared he stared stupidly at at his assistant, Gaernon.

"That's all m'lord. You are done for the day." The man took him gently by the shoulder and steered him into the hall. "Time for a rest before supper"

Relief was the one pleasant emotion left to him. It washed over him like an orgasm, leaving him tingling and drained. His long pale fingers reached up to rub the death smell from his nose. It was a compulsion now, every day he rubbed, every day he failed. As they entered the hall, the perfume of thousands cut of flowers assaulted them, but could not drive the corruption out. Completely docile, he was lead to his sleeping chamber and put onto his bed. Four comely females came forward and began to rub his body with scented oils, straining themselves to relax his taught muscles and distract him from his pain. Though his mind tried to be interested in them it was beyond him. He felt a momentary twinge of guilt; Gaernon put so much work into finding and training them yet. But the guilt passed quickly. As fair and pleasing as they were, he just couldn't be interested any more.

As his consciousness slipped downward to the cruelty of nightmare laced sleep, his angry thoughts drifted outward "Where are you Saermund? I know you are out there, watching. Where are you hiding? When will you finally make your move?" As he felt the beginning of the fall into sleep, his thoughts focused for a breath. "At least the stench hasn't reached my dreams."

Goblin Squad Member

Actually, Cal, if you finish it, tag it with a date and your name, edit it (a lot, probably, given life) and send it to both Paizo and GW, you might just find yourself a published author. Who knows.

Of course, I'd imagine it might have to dry up on the "fourth wall" humor. unless you make it a comic book...

Goblin Squad Member

I am lucky to have so many talented people to play with in Ozem's Vigil.

Goblin Squad Member

BrotherZael wrote:

Actually, Cal, if you finish it, tag it with a date and your name, edit it (a lot, probably, given life) and send it to both Paizo and GW, you might just find yourself a published author. Who knows.

Of course, I'd imagine it might have to dry up on the "fourth wall" humor. unless you make it a comic book...

The secret is, I'm already a published author. I just never made time to turn it into a career.

Misspelled Collection Edited by Julie Czerneda, DAW books


Impressive

Goblin Squad Member

But Cal, that isn't PfO, and thus: not important. I don't like raining on your awesome parade (total lie, by the way, I'm just doing this all to mess with you) but we are talking about THE Pathfinder Online world here. Not some poor book about a tart what cannot spell things right.

On a side note, I'm totally going to get that for my kid cousin and I to read... <,<

Goblin Squad Member

I hope you enjoy. My story is actually about mmorpgs. Well, actually it's about the nature of evil, using mmorpgs as medium.

While I love writing to a set theme, writing for an existing IP is complex. I might enjoy it, but I'm not going to hold my breath that there is room. If they ever announce they want to do a participant anthology, I'd be all over it.

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In an ethereal refuge, elsewhere.

“Forgive me, My Lady, you can’t carry on like this.”

Eyes closed, the lady in question gave a final twist to the image in her mind and sent it to Aragon’s shrine. She immediately grasped another and cherished it. “I can. I will. I must” She sent the new one to Hammerforge.

“You haven’t stopped in days. It’s consuming you, My Lady.”

She smiled, eyes still closed as she cherished the next one and sent her to Blackfeather Keep. “And what if I did?”

“My Lady?”

Her nose wrinkled, but she dutifully sent the next one to his destination. All the same, she thought. Each as precious as the next in its own way. The next went to Talonguard. “What if I stopped, Araak? What would that achieve.”

“My Lady.”

“Exactly.” Two more to Aragon in quick succession.

“Yes, My Lady.”

Sunholm for the next one. Then the briefest of pauses to wonder what Thamilos was up to in the north. So many souls taken. So many lost. Then it began again. Phaeros, Forgeholm, Brighthaven, Callambea, Ozem's Vigil...

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She uttered a most un-deity-like word.

“My lady?”

She shivered at the feeling of long-buried energy flowing over the land like syrup. Her inner eye turned to land’s-center and she felt the glow before she saw it. “Gorwhynne!” She snapped, and grabbed another of her charges by the soul, squeezing perhaps a trifle tighter than was necessary.

“My lady?”

A sigh. Another one. Not dead, not at all. But something was interfering with her hold on the people. She went on to the next one. That one, at least, was a proper case. Next. Another bad word. It was clear to her, he was dead, and needed to be at Ossian’s crossing to continue to do his work. But as soon as she released him to the shrine, she could feel his confusion at not having died and being miles from where he expected with an empty back pack. She moved to put his name in the book, but he vanished from her site. One of the lucky ones, then, probably. If the Stones smiled, he’d find himself back where he expected when he awoke.

She realized Boranmack was still standing there. She’d have stamped her foot in frustration if she were the sort to stamp her foot in frustration. “Get me Gorwhynne. Now! I need to know what in the name of the Seven Standing Stones that child of Zog is up to.”

“My Lady?”

“The Emerald Tower. It’s back.”

“Yes, My Lady.”

And, she thought to herself, I’m losing my grip on the people. Resurrecting them when they don’t need it. Shifting them halfway across the nation from where they expect to be. Thamilos is misbehaving, and interfering. And I won’t put up with it. I need to know what that spawn-of-the-Worldwound is up to.

Scarab Sages Goblin Squad Member

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Bravo! Great job integrating PFO's glitches into Golarion lore.

Now, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves when we pop up on the far side of the map, we can feel sorry for poor Pharasma.

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Yay, more Settling In!

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“I still can’t figure out what it is.” Enialliss said to Edrin, as his brother returned from down the hill.

“Maybe some kind of sculpture? Some magical art-thingy?” Eldrin answered, handing over one of the sausages-on-a-stick he’d picked up from a vendor below.

“A bit ostentatious for the lawful-goody-two-shoes, don’t you think?” Enialliss took a bite.

“True.”

“Hey!” Eniallis turned to his brother. “This is really good sausage.”

“Yeah. It’s that new guy, passing through from Callambea. He uses some kind of mountain-boar, and those berries from Alderwag that you can’t move without tripping over. Not as much salt as Hadrian, too.” They watched the scene for another moment or two as they enjoyed their lunch.

“I still don’t get it, though.” Enialliss gestured at the keep.

A fellow watcher leaned in. “Apparently whoever it is accidentally targeted one of the guards by the bank last night.”

Eldrin noded. “Well that explains a lot. Poor bugger.”

“That isn’t--Cal? Is it?” Enialliss looked perplexed.

Eldrin squinted. “It could be.” They each took another bite, and watched the show. For one brief moment it looked like the man might escape, as he landed in an empty area and sprinted for the edge of town. But then he was stunned, and the guards closed in and dispatched him yet again.

Eldrin Shook his head and tsk’d. “Whoever it is, the guards sure don’t like him.”

“Yep”

“Heeeeeeeeeeeeeee...” The figure cried, falling from the sky in the middle of the guards cried, the plaintive howl cut off as they dispatched him in less than a second.

“lp meeeeeeee….” Another quick death.

“Definitely Cal’s voice.” Eldrin said, taking another bite of his sausage. “Do you think we should--help? Or something?”

“Do you want to be up there beside him? They say the guards never forget.”

“I suppose they’ll eventually get tired of killing him.” Eldrin took another bite. “But it could be a long day for him.”

“Yep.”

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Cal felt a cold breeze across his back. He looked up from the pile of trash he’d been combing through and shivered nervously at the eerie energies jumping between the clouds. Carefully placing the tiny blue gem he’d uncovered in his pocket, he stood, removing his gloves, and looked around. A wave of dread washed over him.

“Back to the Vigil.” he shouted at his companions, “Now!” He gathered his tools, and weapons and turned to the east.

Willum looked up from the pile of rocks he’d been working on the other side of the glade. “What’s up, Caldeathe?”

“Trouble in the air. Something’s coming. Soon. We need to get back to town.”

Willum knew better than to argue with Cal in this state. Not so, Eldrin, who was wrapt in his harvesting of a nebulous cloud of energy. “We need to take advantage of this. It’s one of the richest finds of essences I’ve seen since we got here.”

“No. Now.” Cal said and headed east.

“I’ll catch up with you.”

Huldrin paused his own activities to look at the sky. He turned to their brother. “Look up, Eldrin. He’s right. we need to get back.”

Eldrin watched the energy bounce between the clouds for a second. “Damn it! Fine! Just a couple of minutes.”

Cal and Willum ignored the two, setting off at a trot.

***

“Weak as Water!” The goddess spat. “The lot of them!” She pointed into the silver pool in the middle of the raised dais.

Gorwhynne stirred the mirrored fluid and nodded softly. “He’s spoiling them, Milday.”

“Of course he’s spoiling them. By the time I need them, they’ll be fat, sloppy, insipid--Bah!” She slapped the liquid, sending silver droplets flying across the chamber. “I’m minded to wipe everything and start over.”

“As you wish, Milady, but we both know they’re frustration will be ample, and may turn to stronger feelings.”

“Yes! Yes! Fine” She paced around the dais for a moment as the disturbances in the liquid settled back to a perfect mirror. When she stopped, she draw a finger delicately across the surface, leaving the barest hint of a furrow in the liquid metal. She continued thus for several minutes, concentrating on the activities it showed. Finally she looked up and clapped her hands, “All right. I’m making some changes. Right now.” She waved her hands over the mirror, and softly whispered the power to her. the people stopped in their tracks, the sun quit moving, and the surface went black before vibrating and then brightening again. Bewildered people started moving again. Some of them failing to move at all as their belongings dragged them to the ground.

“let’s see how Thamilos likes that.”

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“I need a little bit more.”

“My Lady?”

“Rebuilding her. I bring the vessel, but it always takes a little more material to put them back together. I’m using up the world too rapidly. I need a little more.”

“Perhaps, my lady, you could use some of her equipment?”

“Oh! Perfect!. Just a sliver though. They’re so attached to it that they thread themselves into it as though it were a part of them or I wouldn’t bring it at all. It’s so heavy to drag through the aether.”

“Perhaps the equipment you leave behind, My Lady? There’s often so much of it. And they are frequently so disappointed to leave it behind.” Boranmack felt the world chill as she turned her eyes to him. “I’m sorry, My Lady. You are already doing far more than your share.”

She looked pensive for a moment. “It would reduce my draw on resources--No. They’ll just get all careless again. Bad enough I have to watch them jumping off mountains. If they want their stuff so badly, they can go looking for anything that doesn’t trap some of their soul in it.” She pursed her lips and studied the half-resurrected wizard in front of her. “Maybe a bit. Yes! That’s it. I’ll tidy up the bits that have no soul in them, and take a share of it, plus a sliver of what they hold dear, as a payment. Anything that’s left from that can go in the kitty for the naked ones that keep turning up. And if they care so much for the rest, I’ll put in a memory of it and they can go looking for it. Excellent thought, Boranmack.”

“Yes, My Lady.”

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