TSS: Reflections – Ishirou #1

      Today’s snippet, titled “Reflections – Ishirou #1”, is a piece I wrote about the Pathfinder campaign I’m running – “The Serpent’s Skull”.
      Be forewarned, there may be mature themes and naughty language below.
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      The jungle was sultry and the bugs were oppressive. Ishirou wiped his hand across his forehead and realized he felt much older than his twenty-odd years. Debt was a killer, adventuring made one ancient before one’s time, and this equatorial heat was just as rough on him as the frigid north had been.
      Ishirou shifted the map case upon his back, letting it ride his hip for a time. He had carried this selection of maps all the way from Varisia, finally free of the chains of the Consortium and ready to pursue his own dreams of wealth beyond measure, but they represented only a fraction of the charts, sketched routes, and maps he had possessed in his years.
      “Hey, Ish,” Aerys called, “You’re slowing us down, old man. Even this weird little bugger can keep up with me.”
      “Hai, I come. I come.” Ishirou increased his pace. The elf liked to insult everyone; she was brazen at best and a complete asshole at worst. But, she was not content to stay idle and wait for the other four to find a way off the island. Ishirou respected that. He too, was eager to move on.
      Once upon a time, he would have been eager to set down roots. To have a family and a normal life. In his youth, sixteen years old and sick of the sea and tired of the constant privation of a life moving along the coasts but never stopping to make a home and establish a dynasty, Ishirou had made a tragic mistake. It haunted him even now and he had trouble looking into the flames of their nightly fire without feeling that old constriction in his chest.
      “What about this?” Gelik held up a length of twine. “Just laying here like this?”
      Ishirou frowned, scanning the floor around where the gnome stood. The twine stretched across the path, but had long ago come undone and was slack. He recognized the layout immediately and began searching silently for the payload. Aerys was barking at him, but he ignored her, crawling over some large, wet-looking bushes. Ah, there. Trap. This would hurt, were it not rotted away.
      “I said,” came the elf’s growling voice over his shoulder, “What the fuck are you doing, old man?”
      “Not old,” he said, refusing to turn and face her. Giving her direct attention at this point would only inflame her self-righteous indignation. “See? This?”
      “Yes, I see some old twine. What of it?”
      Ishirou turned and made a smashing motion with his fist and palm. “Bash. Is trap. We watch more.”
      Gelik weaseled closer, peering at the tree he indicated. “This here? Bah! It is probably five years old, maybe more. See how it has come loose? Whoever set this was probably just hunting those big jungle goats and they didn’t catch any so they left. Or died. Who cares?”
      Ishirou frowned, but nodded. “So desu nee.”
      As they tromped on, he could not help but wonder if it was smart to dismiss the evidence so easily. Perhaps this trap was old, but maybe there were others. What if he who set the trap did not give up, or die of starvation or thirst or exposure, but was taken and eaten? Those wings… those flapping wings at night… I heard them again last night on my watch. They do not believe, but I know what I saw. I know there is something out there. Something big.
      He chose to remain silent on the point, plodding along and mulling over the whole thing in his mind. As long as they were vigilant, kept watches at night and their eyes open during the day – they would probably survive just fine until help came. Still, the constant twinge of danger on the edge of his mind had begun to fray his nerves after just six days ashore and Ishirou found himself wondering, for the first time ever, if any amount of treasure was really worth all this stress.
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Signed, Josie
Note: Images are “Nessie” by (dsidwell), Ruins at Chicen Itza by (BenEarwicker), and Goat Skull by (humusak2) from SXC.hu; edited by me

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