The following is an excerpt of the planned independent novel that continues the story of the main protagonists of the author’s Rise of the Runelords campaign.
She is dreaming.
A silent, desolated battlefield opens to every direction as far as her eye can see. Her mount, a proud white stallion, steps on burned grass and brays in expectation. She is covered in her gleaming battle plate safe for her head and carries her helmet in the nook of her arm while the other grips firmly the reins. Before her stands an army in attention. Lines upon lines of figures with armor and shields polished to a sheen reflect rays of sun that light the battlefield between tears in the grey clouds. Spears, lances, axes, blades, bows all await a command, unmoving. Only the countless banners flap in the soft breeze.
Hundred thousand warriors in steel, white and red. Her army, her command. From her vantage she can see every soldier, and every soldier can see her. She puts on her helmet, draws her blindingly shining longsword from its scabbard and thrusts it high up in the air. In unison, the army raises its weapons in response. The noise created reminds her of distant thunder, and their unflinching gazes give her gooseflesh. They are standing organized without fault. She sees no fear in their faces, only bravery. Commitment to the cause, and understanding that this might be their last day alive. Every soul is ready for war, every company waiting for her order. The Honoured Riders of Gizra. The Thousand Brothers of Kortos. White Guard of Konor. Her own crusader company, the 126th Augustana. And hundreds of others. She smiles, her heart bursting with pride of this moment and her brothers and sisters in arms. Five hundred strides behind her a horde of roaring demons, buzzing insects, massive aracnids and squirming worms the size of mammoths masses to meet them in glorious battle. They will clash in a nameless plain ten miles wide and deep, but the battle will be remembered for ages. And her, the victor.
It is a dream she believes is her fate. She has seen this dream many times before, and knows it is a vision her goddess grants her, to lift her spirits, to drive her forward. Soon she will give the order to move out. But she will first savor the moment, relish its importance and her role in it. The moment is the perfect stillness before a storm of such magnitude that hasn’t raged in a hundred generations. The time for speeches is over. War comes. The horrors spilled to the face of Golarion from the Abyss will be routed for good. The Worldwound will be closed, the darkness borne of a god’s death banished by the light of Iomedae. She exhales slowly, and her breath mists. The vicinity of the powers of the Abyss turns the air colder, but her unwavering belief offers her all the warmth she needs.
Every time before, she has given the command right then. But this time, the dream is different.
A sphere of golden light gently but swiftly descends through the broken clouds and approaches her. It is too bright to look upon, so she shields her eyes with her gauntleted sword arm.
Nyra Sunn, the cloud says with a wise voice of a goddess – one that commands utter respect and one that she has heard only once before. She recognizes it, and in her dream, she dismounts, takes off her helmet before placing it to the charred ground and goes down to one knee. “My Lady”, she replies, barely whispering, overcome with awe and humility. The army of her dream warriors does not seem to notice and remains in attention. The roaring and racket of the throng of nightmares fades away.
My most loyal swordbearer. I see you approach the edges of the great conflict once more. Your iron resolve is much required in the war. My followers pray for your return every day.
She keeps her eyes down, feeling herself unworthy of her goddess’s attention and praise. She has done great things in Her name, but not enough. Not nearly enough.
But they must wait a little longer.
Stunned, she forgets to breathe. Back in the real world, she has ridden across three nations and over two mountain ranges at the head of her once-again complete crusade company of five hundred swords of faith, and her destination is not far. The opposite, it is painfully close.
Darkness approaches the nation of Molthune. You must turn from your path and go there with your brothers and sisters to ensure the nation does not fall into chaos.
She closes her eyes and brushes aside any uncertainties. She would have never questioned Her and Her command. It is Her will. It is her duty.
Two great warriors, brothers, come to Canorate, the capital of Molthune, and will play a central role in ensuring the darkness never rises. In their own way they will help you. However they are unbelievers. The other carries the mark of greed on his flesh, yet his heart is true. But the other has a stained, burning soul that I fear is on a road to damnation. When the time comes, you must end his life and release his soul into the oblivion before it incinerates all around him.
How will I know when, she wonders.
The promise of her goddess suffices. She is Nyra Sunn, Saint of Augustana, Hero of Nerosyan, the Blight of the Abyss, the Daughter in Steel. Young but experienced beyond her years. Generals heed her wisdoms, thousands march where she orders. Hundreds of her foes have fallen by her sword, and she will raise it against anyone her goddess demands.
“By my honour I swear I will do as you ask, my lady Iomedae”, she replies in her dream.
She stirs awake.