An Unexpected Turn

The others returned from hunting a band of orcs that were terrorizing the wilderness near our camp. They were readily driven off, I hear, so it wasn’t really an adventure, but I felt disappointed to be left out all the same.

I received my first totem tattoo last month, in honour of my first solo orc kill – a shaman’s apprentice gathering herbs by the river. It was a great honour, having the hawk upon my face, so our enemies could see the heart of their defeat. And I was so sure that meant I could finally join the raids!

Chilling Stare and Pouncing Tiger came home last year after encountering caverns infested with aberrations. I learned everything I could about their journey and what to watch for, to ready myself for helping protect our animal allies from the taint of dark magics. But no, it has been a month since my kill and my totem and still I hunt weak foragers and game for meals – children’s work! Sleeps in Brambles left last week with the expedition to revisit the caverns and finish clearing them, and to explore and cleanse further, and he hasn’t had his totem much longer than me. I realize I’m not ready to face those threats alone after my first solo kill. I’m not a fool! But can I not be trusted to follow, learn, and guard with the others?

Well, I know the direction they headed, and I am tired of these meaningless tasks. I am packing tonight and will catch up. They can’t have gotten too far to track, but by the time I join them it will be too far to send me back. They will be forced to use my skills and learn my true worth!

. . .

I lost the trail at a branching river. They must have encountered rivals, because I can imagine no other reason to stealth through the woods for so long. There were many tracks that look like huge bears. Could it have been an owlbear hunting party? There’s a rocky hill in farther ahead that seems like a suitable place to regroup. I can probably recover the trail from there.

. . .

Finally, I spotted careful tracks last night. I don’t understand why the expedition is taking such extremes to hide. They were really good – only one person left tracks, and even they were barely noticeable. If I hadn’t crouched to hide from a bear I’d spotted, I surely would have missed the signs entirely.

. . .

By the hawk’s cry! I finally caught up with the tracks and found not my hunting party but instead my eldest cousin, Roars with Thunder. Alone! Last I heard, he was advancing as an honoured Thunder Caller warrior, and leading raids against orc settlements. Leading! So why would he come so far south alone?

. . .

This morning I awoke early to dreams of animals fleeing the southlands, led by a cloud of swallowtail butterflies. They were deeply disturbing, so I climbed a nearby fir and stared south, toward the cities on the coast there, trying to make sense of the vision or shrug off the foolish sense of dread, but I could do neither. The dream shook my core. As the sun began to rise, so did cousin. I didn’t yet have the heart to speak, so I watched passively as he prepared for the day. Strangely, as he began to collapse the camp, he kept furtively checking his mouth, and at one point stopping to huddle by the packs to … file away at one of his teeth? His complexion has been looking a bit off recently, but I thought he was just tired from the long journey. This is madness!

I slid from the tree and rushed over to check on him. Instead of appearing comforted to see me, he looked cornered.

. . .

We are heading to the heartland of my dream. Roars with Thunder needs powerful magic to reverse the orc curse, so we will start the search in Sandpoint. It delays my own quest to prove my worth to my quah, but he is my cousin, and a powerful asset to his quah. And I can at least admit to myself that I was lost when I found him. Better to stick together and watch his back. Besides, there may be unnatural beasts to hunt there, too!

An Unexpected Turn

Mysteries of Golarion BlaiseW clovercanuck