Today’s snippet, titled “Nîda: Tears, pt VII”, 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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Nîda wore a white flower tucked into the rim of her wimple as if behind her ear, to show solidarity with all the new graduates. There were fresh-minted paladins and priests from all the temples and schools, rogues and rangers and mages and fighters – most of the Faith, but some secular as well, gathered in the plaza. The throng of excited youngsters was beautiful, though for the first time in her ninety years, she did not count herself among the youth of the city.
Jovi’s love and his betrayal had made her a woman, in equal parts, at last.
She kept her chin held high, defiantly, as the Silver Legion’s newest members passed by, settling on a position near the front of the crowd. Jovi was there, looking as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as could be, clad in a stark white robe with silver edging. He shone like a star amongst a group of moons, with no light of their own, just reflecting his glow.
“I did not expect to see you here, Celenîdaneth.”
Her spine stiffened as Lord Henrietta’s whisper found her ear.
“And yet here I am.”
She fully expected a physical blow, a booming admonition, some humiliating show of excommunication in public, in the square at St. Clydwell’s.
What she did not expect was a warm, firm hand on her shoulder and a throaty chuckle.
“I always knew you were not a tiger, Arcanist Nîda, but I was equally certain that you were no mouse.”
Nîda allowed herself the tiniest, relieved side-long glance at the Lord of the Silver Legion. “You were surer than I.”
“I think perhaps I knew you better.” Lord Henrietta’s arm was heavy upon her shoulders, but she had no desire to push it away. “Master Sorvanir has no end of opinions about his favorite prentice, and no shame in telling them all. Frequently. But he always serves excellent wine at his table, so we sit and listen just same.”
Her cheeks flushed at the unexpected praise. Nîda thought to reply, but as Prelate Hurun stepped up to the podium the masses of people fell eeriely quiet.
“His speech last year was fantastic,” Lord Henrietta said in a voice so low few around them could hear it. “He spoke about the rightness of the Crusades, and how even though they were marked by deprivation and corruption and even defeat in the past, that our future remained rooted in hope and there would be great victories ahead.”
Nîda adjusted her satchel upon her hip. It was heavy, but mandatory, even on ceremonial occasions. Any time a Legionnaire left the property, they must carry with them certain necessary supplies. Just in case. Nîda had always found it rather silly. She glanced down at Lord Henrietta and smiled to herself. Seems I’m not the only one breaking rules today, she thought. The Lord is arrayed in all her finery – there’s no room for burlap bags of weapons and rations.
“…and on this day, we mark the occasion of- URK!”
Prelate Hulrun’s prepared speech broke off suddenly. Chaos erupted in the square. People began to scream and run and trample one another in panic. A cracking whip so long it reached halfway across the plaza lashed out from the beastial grip of a hulking demon.
“Khoramazzadeh,” she heard Lord Henrietta gasp, drawing her silvered ceremonial blade from its bejeweled sheath. “Impossible.”
With the trumpeting cry that was so familiar to those in her Silver Legion, the great guardian of Kenabres rose to the balor’s challenge and the two clashed ferociously. Khoramazzadeh’s electrified whip sent scores of on-lookers to the ground; many dead, others twitching and shrieking as the voltage ripped through their bodies. Nîda caught sight of one elf – a famous wizard of the Blackwing – who survived a direct hit from the whip only to watch the whites of his eyes seem to boil down his face.
Moving as fast as her old bones would take her, the Lord cried out over her shoulder. “Get the new Legionnaires out of here, Nîda! I shall rally the masters and-”
In an instant, the whole scene changed. The Kite and the Wardstone burst in the most brilliant explosion she had ever seen and the cobblestone plaza disintegrated beneath their feet. Dozens of people were sucked into the void; Lord Henrietta, the newest Legionnaires, freshly graduated paladins and clerics and all the rest, innocent commoners, mercenaries… all vanished in a heartbeat.
Nîda saw Terendelev’s great eyes turn in anguish from the battle she was fighting with the balor king to the tumbling citizens of her city. Proud, even to a foolish point, she could not let them fall. A spell emanated from her graceful claws; the slight hesitation was all the opportunity Khoramazzadeh needed. He swung round his massive blade. It caught the glittering scaled flesh and sliced.
Crimson droplets from both the great dragon and the huge demon splattered the area. Nîda felt the hot, sticky rain upon her face and cried out.
“No! Iomedae, please, do not let her perish like this!”
Through the pink haze, her eyes fell upon a small group of students huddled near the broken lip of the hole. One dark head, smaller than the rest, stood out to her. She watched in horror as an argument erupted within the throng and one of the taller ones was pushed headlong into the gap.
Rage, emboldened by the horrors she had witnessed impotently, surged through her and she screamed the incantation of a spell over the rumble of the streets as they continued to crumble. “JOOOOOOVIIIIII!”
Their eyes met for a heartbeat. She registered his shock, his fear, his anger; but there was no love in those dark eyes, not anymore. Before her blood pulsed again, a single burning ray of energy slammed into his chest. Jovi teetered, then collapsed into a heap on the cobblestones.
“Oh God,” she gasped. She began to run forward, toward him, her heart aching in her chest.
Suddenly, the rumbling intensified and the gaping wound in the center of the city widened.
She was falling. Everyone was falling. The folks around Jovi, Jovi himself, and… and…
A whoosh of conjured air whirled up around her. The choice was hers. Four souls – she could save four. Her fingers splayed out in their direction and of the twelve or so people, four were kept aloft, drifting harmlessly down into the abyss.
The others dropped like stones, splattering on the rocks below.
Nîda curled her arms around herself, squeezed tight, and wept.
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Note: Image is “King Jagiello Statue Central” by (Mulligand) from SXC.hu; edited by me