The day was sweltering with heat throughout the city, as the sun looked down upon its inhabitants without mercy. Baking the rich and poor alike with its golden rays. Ogden had the window and the door propped open from the room he let with his sister. Thankfully there was a small breeze that would sweep by occasionally stirring the air in a grateful reprieve, even if it was for mere moments. Most days the heat was far more manageable, and he thought eagerly of nightfall and the coolness that was bound to ensue once the fires of the sun were hidden by the horizon, and the cool night air would bring blessed relief.
Grumbling to himself about the heat, he plucked a chord or two on his lute, trying again to concentrate enough on his song to make something at least marginally passable. He found nothing but failure and frustration. She was gone, and his good mood with her. ‘Damned woman, probably flat on her tits again wishing her brother were there to help ’er out.’ He thought darkly as his mood continued to sour. Waiting was never his forte. ‘Ah…serves me right I guess, havin left the gel behind fer me last mission. But ye’d think she’d have wanted to have me with her fer this one after seein what could happen when we were separated.’ Another thought that certainly did not improve his mood.
As dusk began to approach, and the air seemed to be cooling slightly, Ogden heard the approach of footsteps down the alley. Hearing people move about down this alleyway was certainly not unexpected at this hour, but the more important thing about these footsteps, was that they had the distinct stride of his sister Aimila. Sitting up a bit, he took more interest in his lute than he had previously, and tried his best to make it seem as though he was certainly not worried, nor did he even concern himself with his sister’s whereabouts. For all she would know, he never even knew she was gone!
Despite all his efforts, Ogden could not help but think how glad he was of his sister’s safe return. As he sat there plucking at his lute, he could tell his sister seemed to not even have been abashed at having left him behind. That helped to keep an indifferent look on his face. After sitting there for a while, studiously ignoring his sister, Ogden finally sat down his lute and looked his sister in the eye with his only remaining.
“So, ye went off on yer own and came back with yer skin in tact! Glad to see that. Thought fer sure ye’d be on a stretcher lookin for healin or somethin without me there to keep ye patched up.” He said gruffly.
“Well, we did cut things a little close there, but we did have someone there to heal, and besides; I never even took any damage worth sneezing about in the battles we got into. I was actually in an all women group, and we did fairly well, I thought! And we were VERY profitable, I might add. The Sczarni was quite happy that I was able to procure something they had requested of me.” She replied eagerly, and gave a full accounting of the mission she had gone on.
After she reached the conclusion, Ogden decided for sure, there was absolutely no way he was ever leaving her behind again and giving her the opportunity to find more profitable missions to get back at him with. At least she was sharing the coin with him! That would help put a balm on the wounds to his pride that he needed his sister far more than she needed him.
Putting aside his feeling about the situation in general, he finally remembered why he had been so anxious for his sister to return. Excitedly, he told his sister, “By th’ way, Aimi, I jest got th’ news! Yer lookin at an official field agent for the Pathfinder society right here! Whaddaya think o’ that?”
Showing just as much excitement and enthusiasm, his sister replied, “Oh wonderful! I am glad to hear that we have both made it as field agents! I was just told when I got back as well! What do you say we celebrate with some of my mead?”
Ogden was only miffed for a moment that his sister was the same rank as himself, but then he realized that meant they would have better chances of sticking together this way, and joined in her enthusiasm.
“Nay Aimila, though yer mead is certainly th’ best ter be had, lets go to the tavern, I have a hankering fer some gamblin tonight, cuz Ahm feelin lucky!”
Arm in arm, drinking from a jug of ale on their way, they made their way to the first tavern of the night. Ogden was definitely correct in saying that he had a streak of good luck. He joined a game of dice, using one of the gold coins he had brought with him. Thinking he would last maybe a couple of rounds before going broke, he was ready to mooch off his sister after his coin ran dry in the game. He definitely did not expect to have as good of luck as he did that night. Every two out of three tosses won him more gold, and he played at that first game until the players started eyeing him and the dice, and fingering daggers. He knew when it was time to beat a hasty retreat. He was sucked in though. He found another tavern and another game, and played there for a while, leaving before daggers could be reached for and people got too suspicious of his luck. Aimila kept buying rounds for people with his winnings to keep people happy, imbibing far more than Ogden did while he was concentrating on the games.
He continued on from tavern to tavern, game to game, until the wee hours of the morning. He vaguely remembered his sister trying to convince him to go home, finally leaving him behind to find a spot to pass out. Ogden continued on like a man possessed. He had accumulated quite a wealth of coins from all over the known world. He had so much he didn’t even concern himself with the value and weight of certain coins against the value and weight of others. He just kept at it until he was far too drunk to continue on.
Feeling the urge to find a safe place for his coin, he decided in a haze of booze that he must find his way home, and to his sister. He stumbled along, making his way in the direction he thought was the correct one. He never suspected or even considered the fact that some foot-pad may have already marked him for easy prey. Nor did he pay enough attention to hear those ominous footsteps tailing him. Tired, lost, and too drunk to even think about anything else, Ogden passed out in a narrow alleyway, out of view of the street, and hoping no one would find him until he was awake enough to get home.
Snoring fit to wake the dead, Ogden never even stirred when the foot-pad stripped him of his coin, his clothes, and his lute. He did stir a moment when he was lifted onto a cart, and received a lump on the head for the effort, however, and no further sounds or protests came from the unconscious dwarf.
Come morning he was being carted away from his home, and dumped outside the city, without ever having been seen or noticed by the drudges doing the work. Slowly, excruciatingly, Ogden felt the intrusion of sunlight upon his closed eye. Try though he might, he could not ignore the blinding light that shone down upon him, creating a pain like a thousand smithies pounding through his head. He was horribly confused, and in a great heap of pain. Looking for his clothing he finally recognized the fact that he wore not a stitch, and was laying in a pile of refuse outside of a city.
He lay there groaning partly from the headache, and partly from being ill from too much booze. He couldn’t remember anything. He didn’t try to remember anything. Thinking hurt far too much. Dehydrated, and beyond caring at this point, he dragged himself out of the refuse pile, and shuffled his way down the path looking and listening for sounds of water. Nothing looked familiar to him. He had no idea where he was, or what the name of this city was that he was outside of. He stopped trying to figure it out, and just kept shuffling along, naked and thirsty. After about an hour’s search, he finally found a nice clear stream, hidden in the woodlands outside the gates. It tasted sweet and refreshing, and restored a bit of his spirits. The trouble was…he had no idea who he was, where he came from, what he was, or really anything he should know at all.
Not knowing what to do, he sat by the stream, happy that the season was summer, and so wearing clothes was not necessarily the most comfortable thing anyways. While sitting there, he nodded off into a deep sleep. While asleep, he did not notice the sounds of footfalls approaching through the woods, even when a booted foot nudged him in the side.
Rhys was travelling as her Goddess has compelled her. She never knew where Desna might draw her in her travels, and she had never imagined she would find herself in this area yet again. It had been a long time since she had been here. She saw the city in the distance, wondering how much it has changed since she was a young child. Pushing those thoughts away she continued on the road towards the city. She had just left an Inn, a way-house for followers of Desna for these parts less than a day gone, and was feeling uplifted still from the prayers and benedictions she had received by the priests of her Goddess.
As she traveled, she looked around her at her surroundings, marveling at how much had changed. As she continued on the road, she saw a small trailed leading off to the south, and felt compelled to explore it when she saw a swirl of butterflies head in that direction. As she turned off the path, she examined where she was stepping a bit closer and noticed a cart had been through there earlier in the day, but very little traffic seemed to head off in this direction. She continued on, and heard the faint sounds of flowing water, mixed with some other very harsh, very loud snoring.
More than a little curious, Rhys quietly made her way through the woods to the small stream off to the side of the trail, and saw a red haired dwarf laying in the grass and dirt beside the stream, naked as a new born babe. More than a little shocked and curious, she approached the sleeping creature, and nudged him slightly with a boot. He didn’t even flutter an eyelash, though she did see another lone butterfly alight from his nose after nudging him. She looked him over, wondering what his story was, and then noticed the goose egg on his head. Oh the poor thing! I can’t just leave him like this! She thought, trying to figure out what she could do for him, having no healing potions on her. She reached into her pack and found a blanket to cover the dwarf a bit more decently, and started setting up a camp around him, so he would have some shelter and some food when he finally began to rouse many hours later. Desna had lead her here, and she would not leave this dwarf to the elements with so clear a message from the Goddess.
“Oooooohhhh me head!” He moaned, clutching his temples, when he finally roused. His eye still closed, he didn’t seem to notice anything that was going on around him, let alone that a lovely elven ranger had joined him and set up a small camp. He would have to be willing enough to open his eye first. At this current point in time, he had no intentions of doing.
“Oh, you’re awake!” Rhys said softly, applying a cool damp rag to his head. “My name is Rhys, what brings you out here, and in such a state?” she asked, unable to hide the shock in her voice when mentioning the state he was in.
“What state? Eh? I don’t right know where I am t’ be honest, lady. And what state do ye mean?” he asked, obviously confused for a moment. “Oh, right, me clothes!” He shook his head, and wished he hadn’t as it made him fairly dizzy. “I honestly haven’t a clue where me clothes have gotten to, where I came from or even who in th’ bloody hell I am. Don’t that make a pretty story?” he said with a harrumph.
Finally opening his eye with a deep squint, he took in the view of the woman speaking with him, and the small camp that was set up around him. Definitely surprised, he couldn’t help but wonder why someone would go through the trouble for one such as himself. Was he handsome for a dwarf maybe? Perhaps that was the reason.
“What brings ye to this part yerself, lass? I don’t right know what I look like to one such as yerself, but either way, ye definitely didn’t have to put yerself out carin fer me.” He asked her, head tilted to the side.
“I believe my Goddess, Desna brought me to you. I think that you have been given luck and a second chance, sir Dwarf. I found you here, near dead, and have been tending to you ever since, afraid to move you, lest you perish. I feel it will be necessary to take you back a ways to the Inn I had just left. It is owned by priests of Desna, so they will be prepared for healing. But I will wait until you are able to travel. Thus the camp. I certainly couldn’t leave you out here to the animals in the wild.” She stated simply.
His head shot up at the word luck, it seemed to have meant something to him, but it disappeared again before he could think on it too far with another stab of pain from the goose egg on his head. He merely nodded, and accepted the food he was offered.
That night, he slept deeply yet again, this time with a little more rest, and some fantastic dreams. He couldn’t remember much of it, but he did know that in his dream, he had seen a beautiful elven maiden clothed in a flowing gown with butterfly wings and a massive amount of butterflies surrounding her. He had no idea what it meant, but he knew it was pleasant, and his sleep was very restful. The next time he woke, his headache was quite diminished, and he felt more refreshed.
Feeling better, he examined the blanket covering his nakedness, and then started unconsciously twisting and wrapping the blanket around him, turning it into a toga of sorts that he no longer had to clutch around himself, and made for easy movement. Hmph, wonder how I knew to do that…he wondered idly, then put the thought out of his mind, and set to assisting Rhys with breaking camp.
“So, lass, why should we turn back and go to this inn you spoke of? Instead of into th’ city? Doesn’t it make a bit of sense that healin could be found there as well as in this Inn ye spoke of?” he asked of her.
“Perhaps it makes more sense, but I doubt neither you or I have the coin necessary to heal you and restore your memory in the city. The Inn I spoke of is run and tended by followers of Desna,” she said reverently, “it is a place of rest for her followers, and I am sure one of her priests will heal you, especially after I speak with them on your behalf.”
“Well, lass, ye certainly seem t’ be goin out of yer way for curmudgeonly dwarf such as meself for some reason I cannot fathom. But I am grateful for it, and will follow where ye lead. I have no other place to go, and no earthly idea what I would do without ye at this point. Why would ye speak on me behalf? Have I done some service for ye?” he asked very serious indeed.
“No, I had never met you or seen you before yesterday. But I feel it was a sign by my goddess that lead me to you, and I would be failing my goddess not to tend to you, as seemed to be her will. You are a very lucky Dwarf. The path I found you off of was not often traveled, you might have been attacked by creatures in the night, had I not found you. I don’t say this to make you feel indebted to me, merely to show just how lucky you are. And my Goddess is a patron of good luck, and travel. I saw a sign from her that lead me to you, and I will not leave you until I have performed my duty.”
Slowly they traveled back to the Wayfarer’s Inn, with very little of note happening along the way. Ogden was still in pain from the lump on his head, and needed some support from the eleven woman, but they made their way slowly.
As she woke from her stupor, Aimila realized that she was not in her home. She was in a narrow, unfamiliar bed, and her brother was nowhere to be seen. The way her head felt, she had been drinking hard and heavy, and she assumed her brother must have done the same. The night was a blur, with vague memories of her brother winning gold, flowing cups of mead, and the purchase of a room after her brother refused to hear sense and find shelter for the night. ‘Where did that blaggard end up anyways?’ She thought groggily. She pulled her armor back on, and the clothing her brother had made for her. Bleary-eyed, she made her way back to the room they had rented, and was a little surprised not to find her brother there.
A small nugget of concern entered her fogged mind, because alone even for a few minutes, her brother could find the worst trouble possible. But she figured he had found a tavern to sleep his drunkenness off in, and wound up laying in her bed to sleep off her own inebriation. It wasn’t until late that day when her brother never showed up that she really began to worry. She set out looking for him, asking fellow members of the society if they remembered her brother, or saw what happened to him. She heard many reports, most ending with the teller spitting at the end in disgust, about a dwarf who had taken all their gold, and then left for another tavern. No one seemed to be able to tell her where he had last been, and where he had ended up. Growing frantic, she asked assistance of the society in finding her brother, but having been drunk and carousing, they said give him a day to wander his way home, he would be fine. She knew he wasn’t. She didn’t know how she knew, but she always seemed to know when her brother was in trouble, and she felt he was in far worse trouble than he had ever been in thus far.
Unable to do much more, she continued asking around, and searching alleyways for her brother, hoping she didn’t find his corpse.
They arrived at the Wayfarer’s Inn before nightfall, and were given rooms for the night. Ogden and Rhys were in the common room eating some dinner, and waiting for one of the priests to be available to assist. They watched the people inside the Inn, and ate their food in relative silence. A comfortable one, to be sure. Rhys seemed a quiet sort, and Ogden had no idea what sort he was so he figured silence would work best. After they had eaten and had their plates taken away, they were approached by a diminutive gnome woman, with her touched on both sides with silver, showing her age.
“So, this is the dwarf we have been expecting. Desna had revealed his arrival to me in my dreams last night. I am Fili, and priest of this Order. Come, I will offer you healing now.” The gnome gestured as she finished speaking, and lead the dwarf and elf out of the Inn to a clearing full of flowers and butterflies, the last vestiges of light fading, and the stars bright overhead.
“Divine healing works best under the stars placed by our Goddess Desna, should she will it, you will be healed all your wounds and your memory restored!” with that, she began praying to Desna, dancing through the meadow in the starlight, and singing of her devotion. It was a wild and mesmerizing display, beckoning Ogden to join in. He didn’t even think, he just started stamping a beat on the ground, and clapping time for the gnome, adding in harmony and counter-point to her song, as if he had been singing all his life. Not knowing what he was doing, Rhys stepped back and watched, not willing to interrupt the display, obviously encouraged by Desna, for the clearing fairly swirled with butterflies and moths, and she could feel the magic in the air.
Ogden broke out into a song of his own, his voice coarser, and less refined than the priest’s had been, but it seemed stronger, more sure than it had before, and carried a certain note of joy to it.
Feeling the pain in his head go away, the damn burst. He remembered who he was, what he was, and where he was from. He remembered he was a bard, and that was where his musical skills came from. He also realized the gnome he had been singing with, had ceased her praises. She watched him as his baritone faded away, a small smile on her lips.
“Young one, do you remember now who and what you are?” she asked finally, head tilted to the side.
“Ah Fili, thank ye. I do remember who I am, me name is Ogden, and I do thank ye, and yer Order for the healin I have received at yer hands. I dunno how te repay ye fer this service. All me coin was stolen, along with me clothing, and I have no clue where me sister is holed up right now. She is probably worried sick about me!”
“Do not fret Ogden, I cannot charge you for healing so obviously blessed by Desna. You certainly seem to have her favor…and the favor of a Goddess is certainly not something to squander. I hope you will consider this day, and may you find continued blessings of the Goddess through your travels.”
With that, Fili left them, and Ogden and Rhys spoke a while. Rhys spoke about her childhood in the nearby city, how she became a follower of Desna, and why she had returned at this time. It was all a very sobering night to Ogden. He had never been a godly sort, and he would need to think hard on what to do. He supposed if he were to follow any sort of God or Goddess, Desna was certainly closer to his sort than many others. That night, he dreamed of the Goddess again, and woke with a determination to delve deeper into this faith, and explore the foreign depths of piety.
In the morning, he parted ways with Rhys, who gave him a holy symbol of Desna as a parting gift. A symbol he would forever treasure. He made his way home in clothing provided to him by Fili, and a pack of food to eat along the way to the city. His thoughts went down many paths on that lone walk home. When he finally arrived at the city, it was near night fall, but he made it to the gates in time to be allowed entry. One of the guards seemed to recognize him and haled him over.
“Are you Ogden? Brother to Aimila?” he demanded.
“Aye, that I be, who does be askin?” he asked in return.
“Your sister has been bothering all of us to keep an eye out for a dwarf somewhat matching your description, were I you, I’d find my way to her before she gets murderous. She has been searching for two days now, and getting more and more agitated and worried by the minute. Move along now, we can’t be stopping up traffic yammering.”
Ogden hurried through the city to the tiny room he shared with his sister, and after a very exuberant greeting when he finally made it, he told his sister what had happened. They bother agreed, to be separated again for whatever reason, was asking for disaster. He mentioned Desna to his sister, but not the depths of what he was feeling regarding that certain elven deity. He sat pensively thinking the rest of the night, uncharacteristic for him, for sure. But Aimila was too busy being happy her brother was alive and in one piece to truly see what he was going through. They went to bed for the night, and come morning, Ogden had convinced his sister to travel with him back to that Wayfarer’s Inn. When they arrived, he gave a donation of 20 gold, and took Fili aside to ask her how he could become a cleric of Desna, and serve her better in the world.
Thus did Ogden the Atheist begin his journey towards becoming Ogden the Devout.