[Hit a big ‘end of disc’ moment in current Pathfinder campaign. Here’s the first little bit of the next story, and a fond adieu to some of the characters off on new adventures.]
Back in black I hit the sack
I been too long I’m glad to be back
Yes I am
Let loose from the noose
That’s kept me hanging about
I keep looking at the sky cause it’s gettin’ me high
Forget the hearse cause I’ll never die
I got nine lives cat’s eyes
Using every one of them and runnin’ wild
Cause I’m back
Yes I’m back well I’m back
Yes I’m back
Well I’m back back
Well I’m back in black
Yes I’m back in black
– Trollkin Drinking song, Traditional – Bard Unknown
The hounds and the thieves fell back into the world like a sack of potatoes tossed on the floor — all eyes and with a loud whump.
Several of the party coughed, as hot air and gritty sand blew into their mouths. They were surrounded on all sides by dunes made of yellow sand. They had landed in a small hollow between the dunes that gave some protection from the wind, but none from the heat. The wide face of the sun was well on its way to the far horizon, it would be night soon.
There was no sign of their quarry, the strange woman and her perilous sword. Only on the crest of a dune a few hundred paces to the west, a black discoloration could be seen in the sand.
Zed, or rather Bowman as it would soon become impossible to keep the Zeds straight without reverting to their Rainscour nicknames, shrugged the bound wizard, Janus, onto the sand as he stood up, putting a hand over his eyes to shade them.
“We didn’t see what we just saw. It’s preposterous. There’s no way we just saw the actual Sword of Ruin, right?” the notorious thief asked. “Someone please reassure me, just lie to me if you would be so kind.”
The other Zed, Dagger, laughed and hopped up as well. “If you like. It was just the Saber of Major Unpleasantness.”
The desert wind blew across the thieves and hounds alike, bearing with it the faintest smell of ash.
Lysander’s eyes popped open. For the first time in days his head felt clear – so frustrating to be in a wondrous place like Rainscour and then the starry void between worlds with a headache brought upon by dimensional distortion. The cleric sat up and looked around.
A few of his companions were nearby, most still unconscious from their escape from the shattering constellations. The only others awake were their savior, the steel-touched traveler Crim and and the tengu, Fletch. The magus Ozmen snored loudly against the bright blue tile of the plaza floor.
Lysander looked around – they were in a a plaza, not too dissimilar from the one they had sheltered in the strange streets of Rainscour. Where that city had been filled with rain, this place seemed to almost riot color and sunlight. The only water burbled joyously in the fountain, ringing against the sides of the marble with tranquil rhythm. Off in the distance, the cleric could make out the sound of construction – hammers on wood, hammers on stone, voices shouting instruction and derision as they went about their work.
From a nearby building with wide arched windows, a broad head topped with red hair furiously shout through with gray appeared. It appeared again at the next window, then the next, as if the person was making their way towards the entrance, but couldn’t resist looking out each window as he did.
At last, the short and stout figure of a dwarf appeared at the entrance, trotting with exuberance that belied his age towards the party. Crim stood up sorrowfully and waved, but most of his attention was focused on the shattered Jump-Node that he held in the crook of his elbow.
“Well, hellacious day, travelers!” the dwarf boomed as he approached. “You just made every doodad and scrying stone I have go bonkers. Hell of a leap you must’ve made from wherever you came from.”
Ozmen helped Fletch to his feet, both blinking their eyes at their strange new surroundings and the garrulous greeting party.
“Where is here?” Lysander’s mind reeled. “We’re from the world called Cynus, and we kind of jumped blind from the dimensional void. Is this Cynus, is this home?”
“Or could this be Turn?” Crim asked without hope. “I never met any dwarves there before but…
“Sorry, my new friends,” the dwarf smiled. “You’ve fallen victim to the Thief, I’m afraid. Our world is so greedy, it’s always plucking strays from all over the place. This is not your world, traveler – but we’ll do our best to make you feel at home. My name is Bragg – and while our world has many names, this city has but one. Welcome to Kythera! The City of Wonder left by the Precursors for us to explore. Now come on! You’ve got some stories to tell I imagine, and the tea just came to a boil before your portal got everything squawking at me back in the lab. They do have tea where you came from, I trust?”
Lysander felt himself smiling despite the strange situation. “Depends, do you have sugar here?”
“We do, lad. We do.” Bragg nodded sagely.
The lost travelers followed the dwarf to tea, and off into their own story which will find its own time to tell.