Mal and Lani on the Road to Magnimar

When the caravan stops to make a short-camp to eat and rest the horses Mal approaches Lani while he’s alone..

“Lani, can we talk for a moment.”

“What happened earlier with Tsuto cannot have been easy for you. I admit I feared that being forced to choose between family and companions you might opt for the former.”

Mal pauses for a moment, glancing over the camp at the rest of the party before continuing.

“It is not news to you I am sure that our little band is a divided one, Shoanti and Varisians circling each other and butting heads, but you always seem to set yourself apart. An outsider standing outside the bear-pit and watching the sport.”

Mal pauses, closing his eyes. The susurrus of whispers surrounding him rises in volume, subsiding again to the bare threshold of hearing as he opens his eyes again.

“Personally, I’m sick of it. All of it. I know what it is like to be an outsider, to stand apart from the rest.” He pauses. “You wield the Pathfinder Society like a shield, to separate yourself from the group, but neither of us can do that anymore. Goblins and ghouls are one thing, but I feel the enemies we have yet to face will test us in ways we cannot imagine, and we cannot stand unless we stand together.”

Mal extends his hand to Lani in fellowship.

“You are skilled warrior and a valuable ally, Lani, but I’m glad also to call you a friend.”

Lani gathers his thoughts for a moment. His cloak-covered head cocks to the side as he seems deep in thought. After realizing that he’s left Mal’s hand hanging, he reaches out and grasps it.

“I admit, Tsuto has me slightly conflicted. Family should always come first, but Tsuto has thrown that out the window. By killing one of my own, he has shown he is /not/ part of my family.”

He withdraws his hand and removes his hood. What’s left of his face pushes itself into a lopsided grin.

“One thing that the Pathfinder Society taught me, is that family is not necessarily the one that you grew up with. Family is the people you are close to. A family is those people who you would risk your life for and who would, in turn, risk their lives for you. Each of you have tried to protect my home in your own ways and have succeeded several times. This group has shown me that it’s part of my family.”

He pauses before continuing.

“It may seem that I’ve been wielding the Society as a shield, but in reality, that’s not what I was trying to do. I have indeed seen how this group is splintered and have been trying to correct this. I’ve been trying to wield the Society as an example to aspire to, as an adhesive force, trying to foster co-operation and trust in our little group. I have not been successful, and may have caused the divide to widen. I have never been good at convincing others, and it may have become a significant problem here.”

Again Lani gathers his thoughts. His eyes become unfocused, and he begins in a much quieter voice.

“In my time with the Society, I saw a cleric of Pharasma and a necromancer become friends. These are two people that should have hated each other on site. The laws of the Society forced them into co-operation. In the beginning they threw verbal barbs at each other and did not trust. They worked with each other only because they had to. Over time, they saved each other’s lives countless times and the trust grew. In the end they disagreed with methods, but understood that they needed to work together to get things done. They became friends, and to this day they constantly heckle each other about methods. But they /trust /each other. Both of them would name the other as the person they wanted at their back in a fight. This is what I have been trying to achieve with our group.”

Lani takes a deep breath and his eyes come back into focus. Then he speaks again.

“I’m glad you spoke to me tonight. I had despaired that our group would remain fractured and vulnerable because I was not strong enough to weld us together. You have reminded me that it is not my responsibility alone to garner trust in the group. By taking this step you have shown me that, perhaps together, it may be possible to unite us.”

Mal looks over at Tsuto’s cage and shudders.

“While I may work to try and save Tsuto’s soul, rest assured that the four of you are part my family now and I will /never/ betray my family. I’m glad that you called me friend. I hope eventually we can call each other Brother.”

Mal and Lani on the Road to Magnimar

Mysteries of Golarion BlaiseW Sulaco