So my friend Josh just got me started playing in a Pathfinder game, and so far it has been awesome. Even better it has gotten my creative juices flowing again and has gotten me writing. The following is a short story I wrote because my character, Raphe D’Uvamore, Cleric of Cayden, met an unfortunate turn of events and became a human arrow holder. Not wanting the story to die there my GM, Josh, gave me two chances. One was a mysterious figure that offered Raphe his life if he would take care of a little problem, kill a child before it could grow up an cause this being trouble.
I could not do that, especially not as a Priest of Cayden.
The second chance was to write out a plea to Cayden as to why he should be sent back. I decided to go one better and wrote the following short story.
In The Afterlife
So this is what it’s like to be dead?
How long has it been? It feels like days.
The empty bar of the First Temple, affectionately known as Cayden’s Place, stretched out in front of Raphe. It was quiet, not even the ghostly bartender could be seen. A diffused dim light filled the bar making it impossible to tell if it was day or night. To Raphe it was quieter than he had ever experienced.
After the Visitor left Raphe waited patiently for Cayden to show up to congratulate him for passing the test. Ale after ale Raphe savored as he waited. He placed his empty stein on the counter and as soon as he looked away it was filled again. After his fourth ale he noticed that he really could not feel the effects of the intoxicant, after his eighth he accepted he never would again. After his tenth he accepted that Cayden wasn’t coming. After his twentieth he started to panic.
It is an odd thing to consume twenty ales and not feel inebriated, nor full, nor have any urge to relieve yourself. In fact, Raphe felt no biological urges at all. It was all very disconcerting. The ale was refreshing and tasty, the pretzels were salty and had a satisfying crunch, the temperature was perfect, but it was quiet. There were no sounds of revelry, no friends chatting in a corner, no songs being sung, no glasses clinking, no wenches running from table to table. It may look like the First Temple, but this is not a place to worship Cayden. It was way too solemn.
Am I in Hel? Raphe said to himself. He then looked around. Shrugged his shoulders and shouted.
“Am I in Hel!”
The sound of his voice shattered the silence but only for a moment. He would have welcomed even the chirp crickets as a response at that moment.
Well, Cayden does help those who help themselves. Maybe I’m just supposed to walk out of here.
With purpose Raphe got up from his stool, turned, and walked to the door. Not even taking a moment to look before he leapt. He opened the door and walked into the darkness… Only to arrive back in the bar on the other side.
“There goes that Idea.” He announced to the silence.
After a few more attempts he resigned himself to the fact that he is trapped.
“Well, what now?”
Raphe already knew the bar in detail, as every priest of Cayden serves at least one year in “Seminary” as a bartender. (Many people would be surprised at how much one learns of people doing so. Most people confide in either a Priest or Bartender when they need guidance or release, and they are ultimately more willing to confide in a Priest that is also a Bartender.) Even though he knew the bar, he took his time to examine every part of it. Finding that every exit he used just dumped him out another one. All the taps were exactly where they should be, every mug exactly where Brewmaster Bosin would require it of the Acolytes[Candidates?], every counter clean, every chair perfectly aligned. Nothing was missing. Nothing was added.
“What now? What do you want me to do?”
Silence is one of the worst torchers.
Silence lets you hear all of the small monsters of your brain. Unable to drown them out with activity or alcohol, they started taking over. Everything from his early childhood, and the feelings of disappointment from his parents that he showed no spark of magic within him. To all the doubts he had ever about himself. Memories of failures.
Memories of his death and how stupid he was to make himself a target.
These monsters picked at his brain for what seemed like days before he could shake them off.
I need to stop this. I need to focus on now. The past is the past. Where am I now? What should I do? Think Raphe. What Would Cayden Do?
He was in Limbo, he thought, or at least a limbo. Maybe Cayden was still testing him? Unsure of what else to do, Raphe took the time to go through his Meditations. He drew his rapier and went through the forms of Cayden, clearing his mind as he did so, focusing only on the problem at hand.
If Cayden is testing me what does he want?
From a simple Swallow Greets the Morning he moves into the more complex Hounds Chase the Fox.
Cayden never asks for anything but for his followers to embrace life, do good, help others, and never let your sense of duty override doing what is right… is that all?
Not even breaking a sweat he moved directly into the more defensive The Wind and The Reed.
Cayden does not like stagnation. He can’t stand boredom. He prizes wit and intelligence as much, or more than brawn.
Excited by the fact that he was not even breathing heavy, Raphe moved into the final form, or at least the last one he learned, and the most aggressive The Falcon and the Snake.
He wouldn’t just abandon a follower, but he also wouldn’t reward someone that was befell by misfortune that he brought on himself. He can’t save everyone, but he wouldn’t leave them in a place such as this. Since I cannot see that I have done anything to anger him, or anything that was too stupid that he would abandon me, then maybe there is something else going on here.
His mind then turned to the Visitor.
No servant of Cayden would ever ask anyone to kill a child. I may have been tasked with mentoring the child, or saving the child, or even teaching the child, but never killing one. A true servant of Good would have at least waited until the child had become an adult and no longer innocent or savable. Ergo he must have been a servant of Evil, or worse Neutrality. Cayden would never let such a one into his domain.
As he finishes the final form, Raphe is still amazed at not feeling tired at all. How long had it been since he last slept? How long had he been in this limbo? It feels like forever. Has it been days? Weeks? He stopped counting ales after the first hundred. With no day or night, no need to sleep or relieve himself, no ebb and flow of crowds, he had lost all sense of time.
He now knew what he needed to do. He needed to reach out directly to Cayden. To do so he would need to be completely focused, he would need to summon more power than he ever has before. He set to work on designing the ritual. Thinking back to his training here at the bar just a few years ago.
Raphe turned to his teacher after a daunting lesson on ritual, “Why do we bother with these rituals and Devotions? Cayden doesn’t seem like the type of god to go for such ostentations. I think he just laughs at us when we do this.”
His teacher, Brother Orisai, an older man with white hair and a world weary face, looked at him thoughtfully before he spoke.
“The power of a Cleric is not directly from the Power of their god, “ Brother Orisai told him, “but rather from the spark of divinity within the Cleric focused through your belief and closeness to your god. This is why a Cleric of Torag and a Cleric of Cayden both have the same abilities and same access to spells and divine favors, even though Torag is much older. Rituals, symbols, devotions, and all the trappings of a Cleric are not because the gods are vain, but they are there to sharpen your own will, your own resolve, and bring your own inner divinity closer with that of your god. So even though Cayden does not require much of us, and often laughs at the idea of ritualized worship of him, we must still use these tools if we are to bring our own Spark close enough to his to be of service.”
Brother Orisai was one of the few Priests of Cayden that was a Cleric before he converted. They say that he was once a High Priest of the High God Rummentens, a god of Wealth and Law from beyond the Sea, but he had lost his faith when the laws of his lands brought about misery and his god disapproved of his way of changing them. He found Cayden while in exile and pledged his life to Cayden’s cause of doing the right thing no matter what.
Remembering Brother Orisai’s words, Raphe cleared off the Area in front of the small alter at the back of the bar. He skillfully arranged pints of ale, beer nuts, candles, and even a small tankard of rum. Using what Symbols in Celestial and Draconic he inscribes a circle of power, mostly using salt and the chalk from the dart board. The Circle was a mess, mostly because Priests are never really taught how to use them, he pulled the design from memories of his childhood when his father would communicate with other worldly beings. He inscribed Cayden’s Full name in a number of spots, as well as his titles, paying close attention to his Title of Protector of Children.
After a long time he felt that his preparations were complete. It looked official. It felt official. And even better it made him feel official. He wished he had some incense or a least some Mutton roasting to complete the engagement of all five senses.
Slowly he began the ritual, walking around the circle, chanting the five names of Cayden Cailean, before entering the circle and approaching the alter. Once there he poured the ale, wine, and rum, taking care not to spill. When he felt the power within him reach the correct level he let it out with his plea.
“Cayden Cailean, The Accidental God, The Lucky Drunk, The Drunken Hero, Protector of Children, Hear Me! I am Raphe D’Ovamore, a Priest of your following. There is a Child that needs your help and it is for this I beseech you. A Stranger greeted me on my arrival to this realm and tried to get me to agree to murder a child in exchange for my life. I would not agree and I believe he has trapped me here in this limbo because of my refusal. I believe that he does not want his intentions know to you. So I reach out to you, Cayden, Protector of Children. This child in danger and this Being has tried to profane one of your priests into performing the deed. This is an insult to you and everything you stand for. Please help this child. If you wish, I will be your instrument. If you do choose me, I promise to be smarter about it than last time.“
With that Raphe raised his own tankard of ale, and in one blast he released all the Divine Energy he had stored, and drank deeply.
“And if you don’t, could you please at least send me some company?”
I hope that is enough. I hope the child will be safe.
I hope I don’t run out of ale.