Erastus, Fireday the 23rd.
The Outskirts of Heldren
It was the middle of summer and it was snowing. It was a light snow, a gentle snow over the town of Heldren, but it was unnatural, and frankly, very off-putting. These were the thoughts of one Magnus Ravenwood, who right now was just a robed figure wandering through the snow into town. His scarf covered his face as it flowed in the light wintry breeze. It was a bit refreshing to be out of the summer heat which permeated most all of Taldor.
His mission was one of investigation and discovery for the Pathfinder Society. Pockets of winter had sprung up all over Golarion, and they needed capable young initiates to investigate while older members took care of more concerning matters. (Since the chaos in Varisia began, the Society had its hands full.) Magnus was a wizard…of sorts. He had a natural attunement to magic and a voracious curiosity for the arcane, but his spells were a bit…unwieldy. The senior wizards and sorcerers had seen nothing like it; he could read the words, he could summon the energies and wield them with remarkable prowess, but there were what could only be described as “side effects.” People would inexplicably change colors, older wizards found their beards turning into gelatin while the lodge cat had developed some kind of advanced intelligence and begun studying medicine.
They were quite eager to send Magnus on his mission, a bit…too eager, but Magnus thought little of it. He also didn’t seem to notice the strangeness of being sent alone, or that they didn’t really give him a timeframe to return. But with a wide-smiled goodbye, they sent him on his way, and now, he had finally reached his destination.
Magnus was a strange looking sort in any area, but no doubt he looked particularly out of place as he meandered his way into Heldren. Travelers, while not unheard of, were rare and Magnus’s crimson azure robes were catching a lot of attention from Heldren’s simple folk. His hair was unkempt and his bag was stuffed to the brim with scrolls, books and other arcane literature. His eyes darted from building to building, person to person, like the ogling eyes of a praying mantis. His body needed warmth and a chair, as his eyes settled on the engraved stein painted above the Silver Stoat, he knew he had found both.
The Silver Stoat
Sherazhad stood idly behind the bar counter at the Silver Stoat, the only soul in the unnaturally empty tavern.
It was 6 PM, and the lack of customers was driving Sherazhad completely nuts. She was used to being up to her golden curls in drunken hunters, passing mercs and hungry workmen. The Silver Stoat was the place to be during happy hour, which gave Sherazhad, or “Sarah”, as she liked to be called when the lushes couldn’t pronounce her full name, plenty opportunity to exercise her passion for storytelling. Many a night had been sung to her praises as she dazzled the townsfolk with stories of bravery and romance, all while dedicating her revelry to Cayden Cailean, the god of heroes, adventure and freedom, the things that Sarah treasured above all else. And of course, if a little bardic magic influenced a few drunken patrons to be generous with the tipping, there was no harm done.
But none of that mattered, because no one was here. The snow had kept everyone nervous, and no one felt much like plowing through the snow, let alone a night of partying. She had waxed all the tables, all the chairs, and the bar several times over. The damn thing was practically a mirror, her heavenly Aasimar radiance made it shine like a bar of gold.
She sighed deeply, slamming her fist on the bar in frustration. These were dark times, and like the chill that flowed through the darkened bar, they didn’t show any sign of changing.
Sarah’s forlorn silence was broken by the sign of the tavern door creaking open, as the figure of a robed man stepped in from the snow.
“H-hello,” he squeaked nervously, “Are you…open?”
Sherazhad practically flew over the counter to greet her singular customer.
“Yes! Yes! Absolutely we are! We have a lamb meat pie for our special today and a lovely appletart for dessert. Can I interest you in a stein of our house ale?!”
Magnus could barely utter a response louder than a meager “Um…er….” while Sherazhad smiled brilliantly. An awkward silence chilled the air more than it already was.
“Y-yeah! That sounds…nice. Can I uh…sit down?”
Magnus’s speech was a symphony of stutters and verbal ticks, quite unlike the usual fare of husky woodsmen that were the Stoat’s main market.
“Oh, yes! Of course, have a seat!” doted Sherazhad.
She bounced to the kitchen to rouse the cook before pouring a flagon ale for the young man, who proceeded to sit at a far corner table before plopping down his enormous bag. Without hesitation he pulled out book after book in a flurry of ink and paper. By the time he was done, the table was practically a library, complete with a fine, scholarly mess of paper.
Sherazhad returned with a piping hot pie and a frosty mug of ale with a flirty smile and a feminine cock of her hips. “Anything else I can get for ya?” She asked.
Magnus, seemingly unaware of where he was in the few minutes he sat down to read, stared up at Sherazhad like he had no idea what she was talking about.
“Er, uh…no thank you. N-no thanks.”
Sarah’s smile quickly faded into a tight-lipped nod before returning to her station at the bar. Magnus continued to shuffle into his papers, leaving his pie untouched and his ale undrunk. Sherazhad sighed again.
“Gonna be a long day…”