Today’s snippet, titled “Tears, pt III”, is a piece I wrote about my PC in Mark’s new (Good) Pathfinder Campaign.
Be forewarned, there are mature themes and naughty language below.
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“Celenîdaneth Hinawynakir Iamorganel Loshenthenniel.”
For a moment, Nîda did not respond. It had been so long since anyone used her full elven name that she had practically forgotten the sound of it. Embarrassed, she leapt to her feet. With each quick step across hall and up onto the dais, she checked her appearance with nervous hands. The front of her trousers, smoothed; the wimple upon her head, adjusted; the high neck of her ceremonial tunic, buttoned.
“With this cloak,” Lord Ludovico said, pausing as Master Sorvanir swirled a beautiful silver-edged cloak of white silk over her shoulders, “You are hereby invested into the Silver Legion, here to live and die in service of Our Lady of Glory, Iomedae, and the Chosen Guardian of Kenabres, Terendelev. Do you accept your appointment and, in doing so, vow before these witnesses that you will uphold the tenets of our Faith and Charter?”
Somehow, though her hands trembled inside her gloves, she nodded. “I do so vow, my Lord.”
Slowly, Nîda sank to one knee and bowed her head. She could not recall any other initiation which had required the applicant to kneel on the dais. A glance into the crowd sought out two friendly faces for reassurance. Harry seemed as puzzled as she; he stood on his chair, craning his neck to get a better view. Beside him, Nîda’s other dear friend, Rosabee Thistlewit, was hopping up and down with a wide grin upon her dimpled face. Ugh – you two are no help, she thought, exasperated.
Lord Ludovico cleared his throat, then began coughing. His health had been in decline for years, but this consumptive cough was new. Everyone worried about him and so popular was he amongst the Legion, that even those being considered to replace him would be crushed when he at last expired. After a moment, he shook his head, covering his mouth with a square of silver silk, and stepped aside. Master Sorvanir continued in his stead.
“You are now numbered amongst our proud order, Celenîdaneth. We are pleased with your progress. But more than just a member of the Silver Legion, a title to be honored and valued in itself, we, the Masters of the arcane regiment, wish to extend another gift unto you.
“With this staff, we name you Arcanist Nîda, kindred of the Silvered Web, and member of the arcane regiment.”
The crowd erupted into cheers. Nîda looked up at her mentor and felt warm tears upon her cheeks. Her voice was a meager whisper. “Sincerely? I am to be an Arcanist?”
“Yes, my dear. Now, rise and accept your staff,” he said to her alone. “You have worked hard for this moment. Enjoy it.”
Hers was the last initiation of the day and once she had the silver dragon staff in hand, the assembly quickly dispersed. Nîda found herself sipping sparkling wine with her friends: Harry, Rosabee, Eber, Bamalang, and Yanagar. I keep such queer company, she reflected, a hin paladin, a hin sorceress, a half-elf Vudani priest, a dwarf no one polite should ever associate with, and a tiefling priestess.
“Congratulations, Nîda!” Yanagar said with feeling. “Let me see your staff! Oh! The eyes of yours are real sapphires, aren’t they? Mine are just green glass.”
“Are they? I did not realize-”
Rosabee quelled the tiefling with a look. “Ne’er ya mind that, luv. When Yanagar joined up they did not offer her kind anything of true value – no offense to her specifically, but abyssal blood in Kenabres was unpopular enough before Areelu Vorlesch-”
They all spat in unison at the mention of the witch long believed to have opened the Worldwound on the material plane.
“-Did her thing. Oh, don’t pout, luv. I imagine they’ll replace it one day with emeralds. I’ll talk to the Masters for you, if y’like.”
Yanagar shook her head. “Don’t bother. It’s not the staff that I worry about anyway. I’m here to serve, no matter who or what my ancestors dallied with.”
Nîda hugged her friend who managed a tight smile.
“Things are changing so fast,” Eber lamented. “Nîda is moving out of the prentice bunks to be a full-fledged Arcanist, Lord Ludovico has reached the end of his days, the tide is turning in the war and I heard Bamalang was actually seen to refuse ale with his bacon the other day!”
The dwarf chortled. “If you call that watered down pig piss ale, then by all the Hells – yes, I fucking did refuse that swill with my bacon!”
Eber tossed back the last of his wine. “Next thing you know, Harry and Rosabee will be married and run off to the countryside making ugly little babies and the rest of us will…”
Nîda blinked. She could still see Eber’s lips moving in his handsome, dark face, but her ears rang with a queer roaring silence. Her heart thudded in her chest. Vaguely, she saw Yanagar elbow Eber in the ribs and noticed Rosabee’s smile first widen, then dim. Her vision narrowed to a tunnel focused upon Harry. The halfling man was staring at his feet and as the awkward silence deepened, Nîda realized that he was purposefully avoiding her gaze.
“Is-” she began, forcing her mouth to curve into a smile. “Is there a date for the ceremony? Or is Eber just pontificating again?”
He wet his lips, glancing to Rosabee before finally meeting Nîda’s gaze. “In about a month. It’ll take a fortnight or two for Rosabee’s kin to arrive from Brevoy.”
“Congratulations, you two,” she said, and meant it, for though her ribs had clenched around her lungs like a vice, she really was happy for them. “I- I just remembered. I wanted to talk to Mistress Bonnie about um, a spell. I- er- Excuse me.”
Clutching her new staff to her chest, Nîda turned and strode away as quickly as she could manage with her dignity in tact. Behind her she heard someone punch another in the arm and Eber cried out even as Yanagar hissed something at him.
She headed for her bunk, seeking privacy, but the prentice’s dormitory was crowded and when Nîda approached her own berth – it was empty. Normally, she would have been pleased by the consideration and the obvious demonstration of her new rank. But at this moment, with her hands trembling and her eyes brimming with tears, Nîda just wanted to burrow into her pillows and have a good cry.
Instead, she wandered the Arcanist Tower until she found a room that was both unlocked and unoccupied – it was a supply room much like her beloved Pantry in Aunt Morgwendaneliel’s apartments. Enveloped by the familiar, comforting scents of clove and guano and half-a-hundred dried herbs, Nîda sank to the floor, pulled her knees to her chest, and let the tears fall as they wished.
She could not put words to the pain in her heart, but she was certain of one thing – today was both the best and the worst Ascendance Day celebration of her life.
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Note: Image is “King Jagiello Statue Central” by (Mulligand) from SXC.hu; edited by me