Estimated reading time: 31 minute(s)

Fandom: Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

Summary: In a fleeting moment, Lann caught a glimpse of a glittering blue feather in the sea of tall grass. Then it was gone. 

Notes: OMC Commander Kurt Eklund – Oread/Azata path/Chaotic Good. Minor spoiler for ACT III. Special thanks for my beta Oli. 

The transmuting soil in the Commander’s Court got everybody excited. They first tried with all these cheap armors and weapons, hoping to turn them into powerful relics somehow. But it was like what people said about Desna the most useless goddess, the magical pit only favored true outcasts, useless odd-balls neither people nor themselves know what to do with. Pie crusts, shinny scraps, pieces of colorful strings, chipped cups … all these stuff you would not care about then somehow end up at the bottom of pockets or were left forgotten in attics.

“I bet you also want to have a go.”Daeran smirked. “Do you think Desna will be graceful enough to let you get rid of that horn and finally find a fitting hat?”

“Venomous as ever, I see, Count.” Lann said. “Judging from that cup, most likely I will have a full set rainbow color scaly face and you will never take your eyes off me.” He saw the Commander buried something in the pit. He could not tell what it was from this far. The verdant wind swirled and swirled. Lann thought, great, some useless pieces of junk just turned into some shiny / edible pieces of junk. 

The Oread’s face remained solemnly expressionless the whole time, but Lann knew better at this point that Kurt Eklund was enjoying every moment of it, and was not going to stop at least in the next few minutes. 

Yeah, the commander, Kurt Eklund the Oread, another, probably the biggest odd ball in this party. Lann did not think much of him back when they first met in Kenabras underground. Just another ignorant uplander wandered around and got lost in the darkness, plus, unlike himself, Kurt Eklund was not much of a sight. Kurt Eklund’s features resembled more to stone than to flesh in the shadow. He did not talk much. Most of the time, the Commander was steadfast, reliable, and always got your back like the earth beneath your feet. Sometimes he lost in his thoughts by campfire for so long that Lann could almost swear that nightingales in the woods started to consider a new nesting option. If something looked like a stone, acted like a stone … yeah, Lann had also secretly wondered if the Oread could truly bleed or simply break apart. He later found that out. Not the happiest occasion. 

“Catch me if you can! Of course, if you are willing to let the weakling die for your cause!”

Zanedra laughed with malice nearly to the brim. By then, Lann had already been in position, and attached the arrow to the bow string. If he acted fast enough they might still get to kill her – but then she disappeared into the crypt. 

“Nononono I don’t want to die – ” Kyado, that poor cleric kid screamed behind their back, “I can’t let you in – please – nononono – ”

Lann turned and just saw the kid swung something towards them. He instinctively loosened the arrow. Yes, retrospectively, he felt a bit sorry for the kid. No one deserved the cursed fate of being ratted, gutted inside out, but he betrayed his flock then backstabbed them –  

Out of self-preservation. He reminded himself bitterly. Anyone helpless enough would do it. 

But his trusting arrow landed on a different target. The Commander stepped between them, facing the boy. And the arrow struck out from his shoulder, its fletching glittering in the candle light. 

“Kyado.” The Oread called out, as if he did not notice the arrow. “Kyado. Calm down. Look at me.” 

Miraculously, the boy stopped for a moment, but then he sobbed again and raised his weapon “I don’t want to die like that – Rats, she showed me all these rats -”

“I see. You did all you could.” An almost imperceptible sigh. Then, with an almost graceful swing, the Commander’s scythe cut down the boy’s head. Immediately, Kurt Eklund rushed towards the cellar. Lann saw blood had splattered all over him by the time they went out from the temple.

When they camped that day, Lann finally got around to see the Oread’s shoulder. He gave the arrrow a light tug to test the wound, and the Commander flinched a bit then steadied himself. 

“Ah, sorry.” Lann said with a straight face, “But next time do give me a head start if you want to get in my way…”

Lann felt the tug of the flesh around the tip, then he pulled the arrow out and pressed the wound hard at the same time. The blood beneath his palm pulsed, then tricked down from his fingers, staining Kurt’s shirt. Ember came over, whispering a healing spell. The wound closed. 

“Too bad it is a write-off.” Lann held up the arrow against the firelight, examining it. The tip is blunt and the fletching is stained. “You got some iron hide.”

“Hmmm.” Kurt grimaced. 

“Maybe you did not notice, but I could have accidentally killed you there.” 

“Then I well deserve it. “ That calm voice again. It was usually reassuring, but this time it somehow irritated Lann. 

“Yet I thought I was the one seeking a heroic death there.” 

“It was not a competition, Lann. It was just an … unfortunate accident.” The Oread waved his hand, which earned him another grimace.  “Besides, I believe that dying from your companion’s arrow is stupid, not heroic.”

Lann stared at the Oread for a moment. “You bet.”

“Too bad that you bleed like others do.” Lann handed him a piece of clean cloth, “But I notice that your hairs are shiny like those crystal clusters in caves … in dire circumstances, I say, shall we use them to fill the coffers?”

Kurt looked at him bewildered, then he smiled. “Don’t you even think about it.”

He had the look of a long lost old friend by the campfire. But Lann saw how that man fought. Correction: Lann saw how that man executed. Not just Kyado the poor boy, or a few druids who refused to rest in peace. He meant much more intimidating enemies. They piled up behind him. Yet, the Oread’s eyes were always calm and his hands were steady.  Demonslayer’s entry level job requirement? Maybe. But Greybor definitely was not like that – Some days Kurt Eklund walked as if there was a trail of the dead behind his back. And yet, people said Pharasma was a weak patron deity only for the gravediggers and midwifes. 

The verdant wind blew again. 

“Do you know what’s he been up to?” Daeran looked bored, which was an extremely dangerous sign. “I saw he was talking to the maestro then those calvary who had dare to call themselves sculptors …”

“Your guess is just as good as mine, Advisor.” Lann shrugged, “I overhead it was something to do with an art project … a mosaic painting or an edible statue. Hey, why don’t you continue that earlier charitable endeavor, asking the maestro there to draw your nude instead?”

“Eavesdropping, naughty, aren’t we?” Daeran grinned. “Nope. As much as I would love to donate myself for the sake of aesthetic and righteous causes, the maestro here is a veteran. It would not be half as fun as with our artistic cleric.” 

“Then what about those outrageous sculptors?” He was just secretly hoping to get away. 

But then, Daeren beamed. “Why! One, no, several edible statues of my nude in Mendev major cities surely can irritated my dearest cousin to no end. The brazen slap on divine dignity! The ultimate feast upon the heavenly beauty! I thank you, scaly face, you can be an inspiration after all.” He curtly nodded, then walked down the hill, soon engaging in a discussion with those calvary which Lann had absolutely no intention to know the contents about. He also was not going to hurry back to Kenabras in the foreseeable future. 

He moved away a bit.  The commander was still busy with whatever business he had with the soil. Lann stifled a yawn, and blinked away tears. In a fleeting moment, he caught a glimpse of a glittering blue feather in the sea of tall grass. Then it was gone. He blinked a few more times. No. Probably just the trick of light and open sky and nearby pond. 

And that damn old arrow. As if it had not haunted him enough. Lann the monster kid had not forgotten the sky, not immediately. When his father took him beneath the surface again, his elven eye had a hard time to re-adjust to the darkness. Somehow it still stubbornly remembered that his little arrows shoot through the tall grass, leaving bright arcs behind. Even in the darkness, his elven eye still made up its own illusion. Like an unanswered prayer, like a false hope. As if he saw it enough, his mother would be back.

Until Wenduag came along and helped him to stump that illusion out. Darkness is what darkness is. They hunted together. She taught him how to fix his arrows with limited resources. They would also occasionally sneak up to the surface and stole a few chickens for real meat and nicer fletchings.

Until this darkness also went away. He felt strange to see the full arc of arrows, but by then he did not need any of those colorful markers anymore. He was a good archer. He saw everything. The surface was full of colors and light, and yet uplanders acted as if they were blind. 

He never expected to see one of his toy arrows again. Of course he remembered it, but he also felt strange to touch it at the same time. Lann wondered if this was what snakes felt like when they saw their old skins. 

It was also hard to imagine how Kurt Eklund agreed to get involved in this mess. Lann thought. The face he had when he saw me snapped that thing right in front of him. You thought the Oread was going to break apart. Nia must manage talk something into him. Then he saw the Commander walked up to him, holding something in one hand. 

“If I were you, I would avoid that corner from now on.” Lann pointed vaguely in direction of the camp of cavalry sculptors. “I may gave the Count some ideas which I am going to regret for the rest of my life.”

Kurt Eklund smiled and shook his head. “Let’s hope whatever that is does not manifest itself too fast.” He hold out his hand. Feathers. All sorts of colors. Heaven, midnight, meadow, blood, moonbeam, sunlight, all rested on his palm. Lann wondered what kind of birds grew these feathers.  

“I hope that they will make good fletchings.” the Oread said. “I ruined your arrow back in the temple, remember?”

“What? That was nothing.” Lann waved. “Besides, I am not a rookie archer anymore. I don’t need these … “ He thought of something, then he continued, “Have you told my mum that I didn’t want to see her?”

Kurt Eklund hesitated for a moment. “Not yet.”

Lann raised his eyebrow. 

“I could not bring myself to. I … may get mixed some of my personal feelings in this.” The Commander confessed, “I lost my mother when I was young, too.”

“Hope you did not torture her with false hope.” 

“No. Worse.” Kurt Eklund swallowed, “She was human, a retired demonslayer. An old enemy found her and attacked. My father was out, and by the time he came back, he found that she and the demon died in a blood pool, while I was standing there, holding the demon’s blade with no memory of the event at all.”

Lann looked surprised. “I did not expect this. What happened?”

“I killed her myself. Or that’s what my father believed.”

“Do you believe it?”

“I refused to. I am not sure about it anymore.” The Oread said with painful finality. “Only Pharasma knows the truth. Enough about me. Do you still want these?”

Lann stared at these feathers. Maybe he could use them for rookies after all. He took them. 



“If you are going to see my mum, just … give me a head start?”

“What don’t you just meet her yourself?”

“I said, I don’t want to talk to her. I still don’t. You see, what kind of crusaders brought their mums along? I would be laughed at in barracks and in pubs.”

The Oread shook his head, but then he said. “I will. ” He nodded and walked away. 

Lann watched the Commander left. Maybe I will try to talk to Nia. Maybe.