Kingmaker International

Who is "Buttercup?"

Surya woke up on the white sand. The sun was high in the clear blue sky, but it was not too hot. In fact, the sand wasn’t even that hot. She looked in all directions and saw sandy dunes in every direction. She remembered travelling in a caravan through a place like this a few years prior, but that place was in Qadira. In Qadira, were the sun so high in the sky, it would definitely be very hot… and the sand would be very hot.
It was then that she noticed that she was not properly dressed – far from it. Instead of her blue silks and chamois, she was donned in a pure white gown of linen. LINEN! The same caliber of fabric worn by the acolytes of Sarenrae at the Great Mosque of Katheer. Her father had gone to great pains and great expense so that she would NOT have to wear linen with the other homely little beggar girls seeking greatness in the path of Sarenrae.
She stood in her linen dress and brushed away the sand. It fell from the dress cleanly, leaving the linen bleached white. Surya sniffed the sand still on her fingers. It too did not seem right. There was a musky, earthy smell to the sands in Qadira. The smell stained the skin of the nomadic tribes who called the desert their home and left them with a permanent taint of the desert. It was a strong scent that was carried by the strong peoples of the desert. This sand did not have that smell. This sand smelled clean.
Surya noticed what appeared to be a dark patch of vegetation in a depression off in the distance. Were the day as hot as it should have been, she might have thought it to be a mirage. Were the day as hot as it should have been, she would have doubted whether she could walk the distance before succumbing to the desert. But with the gentle sand that one could walk barefoot through and the comfortable sun shining down from directly above in this peculiarly clean desert, Surya had no doubt that she could cross the distance quite easily.
The dark patch in the sand was, as she had presumed, an oasis of palms and shrubs surrounding a pool of crystal blue water. She had seen many an oasis in her day, but never one with such clean blue water. The plants as well appeared to have been tended by a gardener. The pathway into the oasis to the pool was clean of weeds and flattened as if the sand had been raked and swept.
Surya walked to the pool and knelt to take a drink. The pool was clear near the shore, but further out was as blue as the sky, reflecting the sunlight in the ripples with silver sparkles. She brought her face down to the edge of the pool and then stopped – the pool was too unnaturally clean; as clean as the sand and the well tended oasis. She did not sense that it was an illusion or a trick, she didn’t think that the water was poisoned either. Rather, she felt as if her own presence might be considered an intrusion and could be taken as an insult or disturbance – without her dwarf or ranger to back her up, it probably wasn’t a good idea to ruffle any feathers here.
When she stood from the water, she turned away from the pool only to find herself staring directly into the entrance of a large, red pavilion tent. Rather than being surprised at having a large tent materialize behind her, Surya nodded confidently to herself. This tent confirmed her prior suspicions – this was not a natural place. The sun, the sand, the vegetation, the water, and now the pavilion… none of it was natural. She could still feel the sand between the toes of her bare feet. She curled her feet in the sand and focused on penetrating an illusion, but the sand and the tent and the water persisted. If this place was only an illusion, it was an illusion that she was trapped within. There was no place to go with it but forward, so she pulled opened the flap of the pavilion and stepped inside.
The tent was gently lit by natural light, but unnaturally so. Instead of beams of sunlight bursting through gaps in the tent which illuminated the darkness, there was a blended, almost shadowless, haze of light in all corners of the tent. The sandy floor was covered by a large carpet that stretched out perfectly to every wall, and from the door the entire perimeter was piled with plush pillows and sitting cushions.
There were four well dressed individuals lounging on the pillows – two along the far wall from the entrance, and one near the far corners along each of the adjacent sides. They appeared to be nobles or opulent merchants. More likely the latter than the former, as they carried themselves in a jolly sense of camaraderie. Nobles tended to be more skeptical of others of their own stations (Nobles seemed only to be comfortable themselves in the presence of their subjects and their lessers). These four men were cheerful and talkative, although they spoke in a language that was unfamiliar to Surya.
Surya greeted the four men as if they were hosts and she was a guest in their home – which was probably not far from the truth. “Blessings of the Dawnflower be upon you!” she said with a bow of her head and her hands folded in prayer, “I beg your forgiveness for this intrusion and a lack of a gift for your hospitality, but I have found myself out of place and away from my things.”
“Be at ease, Priestess of the Goddess,” one of the men on the side instructed with a flicking gesture of the hand, “You are not a guest or a wanderer – we summoned you here to talk.”
“You summoned me?” Surya lost a bit of her courtesy, “You think to summon me? Do you know who I am?”
“We sure do,” a second man replied, “The question is, do you know who WE are?”
“No…” Surya had little trouble being as mocking as the man who had replied, “But I am sure you are just about to tell me, aren’t you?”
“But of course!” the second man replied and stood to his feet, “My name is Cassimornov. But refer to me as Dawnglow. I represent that which is truthful.”
Dawnglow had barely sat down when the first to speak stood, “I am Deritritium. I prefer to be called Greenwing. I represent that which is divine and holy.”
A third man, one from the back, stood and said, “Weyrmakin is who I am, but I prefer the name Robinswreath. I uphold that which is just.”
When the third man had taken his seat, the fourth man stood and said with a humble nod, “I am Monseratu. Call me Darkbane… and I stand against.”
Surya who was a little confused and a little amused by the pantomime occurring before her asked the fourth man, “What exactly is it you stand against?”
Darkbane replied, “That which is not Just, Truthful, Divine and Holy.”
Surya’s eyes narrowed with suspicion, “Who are you? Who are you really?”
“We’re your handlers,” Dawnglow answered, “Some call us guiding spirits or guardian angels. But in your case we are more like caseworkers.”
“You see,” Robinswreath continued, “It’s our job to keep you on the right track and make sure you don’t get all twisted and screwed up on the way.”
“Twisted and screwed up?” Surya did not like how this sounded.
“Oh yeah!” Greenwing said with a chuckle, “Like pronouncing yourself a living God or commanding your followers to build a ziggurat tall enough to reach the heavens… stupid stuff like that you would never figure you could do in a million years… but nevertheless, people do it.”
“Wait a second,” Surya stuttered, “Am I on trial, here? What is going on?”
The four handlers got quiet for a moment. They were all looking at one another wondering where to begin. Robinswreath shrugged his shoulders and nodded to Darkbane. Darkbane turned to Surya and asked, “What do you know about orcs?”
Surya snorted, “Orcs are the bane of civilized existence. They are the enemy of all intelligent races, and they are bent on the domination or destruction of all life on Golarion.”
The four handlers all nodded in agreement. “Good answer,” Darkbane concurred, “but are they evil?”
Surya snorted again, as if she was hearing one ridiculous question, “Of course they are evil! They are one of the most basically fundamentally evil creatures in existence.”
“And as a fundamentally evil creature,” Darkbane explained with her, “They are a threat to all that is good and must therefore be destroyed for the sake of the preservation of that which is good.”
“I can see the logic in that,” Dawnglow agreed, “For the protection of a good and just society, it is necessary to fight evil…”
“And not just defensively!” Darkbane exclaimed, “Goodness is not akin to naivety! You should not be forced to protect that which is good only at such point in time as evil is knocking at your door. It is necessary to root it out at the source.”
“Right!” Surya exclaimed, but then started to wonder if she was being led into a trap of reasoning, “Right…” she repeated, but less passionately. This had to have something to do with the dwarf’s quest, that much was certain.
Greenwing chimed in and said, “Let’s get off of the beaten track for a second. I have a question that isn’t about orcs. Do you mind if I interrupt?”
The other handlers nodded and gestured for Greenwing to continue. “I have a hypothetical situation for you Surya, do you know what that means?”
Surya was a bit too wary to be insulted by the possible presumption that she didn’t understand the word, “hypothetical.” She answered, “Yes, I know what it means.”
Greenwing nodded and continued, “Imagine for a moment you are hearing pleas and confessions in your temple. An old man comes to you and says, ‘I have lived a life of purity and goodness since I was a child. I have cared for the sick and poor, given money to noble charities, and always followed the will and the way of the Dawnflower Goddess.
“Now that I am old,’ the old man says, ‘I seek only the happiness of my daughter. Yet, I find that she has been beguiled by the love of a man that is not right for her. He is not wicked, but he detracts from her potential… makes her less of the person she was meant to be. She has been accepted into the Great Mosque to train to be a healer – she will save hundreds of lives in that aspect – but she has turned her back on this path for the sake of this man. I seek the blessing of the church to kill this man so my daughter may go on and live a happy life and be a healer for the church.
“Now,” Greenwing summated, “The question is, what do you say to this old man?”
Surya shook her head and tersely replied, “What can I say to this old man but convince him not to kill this person.”
“But what about his daughter?” Robinswreath asked, “What about her future? What about all the good that she may do that is lost?”
“Shall I punish a man for something that has yet to occur?” Surya answered, “What sin has he committed besides giving his love to another? Who is to say that she will not eventually follow the path of a healer anyway. The old man has no right to kill an innocent person for what MIGHT happen!”
“But this old man,” Darkbane argued, “Isn’t he entitled to some concessions from the church?”
Suryu slowly shook her head with squinted yet piercing eyes, “I am not sure what you mean.”
“What I am saying is, since he’s led such an honest and pure life, wouldn’t it be alright if we let him kill just ONE person? I mean hasn’t he earned the right after years of service to the Dawnflower Goddess?”
“NO!” Surya was horrified by the question, “Certainly NOT!”
Darkbane nodded thoughtfully, but continued, “Well, how many years of service are required then to be granted the right to kill an innocent man?”
“There is NO amount of service that is enough!” Surya angrily retorted, “We are not Chelaxians! Protecting the innocent is one of the pillars of the church of Sarenrae. The lives of the innocent are not a commodity to be bought and sold by the church. That sort of nonsense has only happened in the history books of long ago, and those of the clergy who used to trade in those rights have all long since passed on…”
“Yes!” Dawnglow exclaimed, “They’ve all passed on and now they are all peacefully roasting in a flaming pit of hell!”
“Fine, fine… we all love reminiscing about the mistakes of the past,” Darkbane interjected, “But let’s get back to the point at hand…”
“Your hypothetical?” Surya asked.
Darkbane shook his head, and his expression took on a serious nature. “No,” he replied, “Let’s get back to the orcs.”
Greenwing pressed on with the orc discussion, “Your group assaulted an orc tribe, and surprised them with a flaming sneak attack in their sleep…”
“Which was most impressive!” Darkbane interrupted.
Greenwing continued, “… and then proceeded to systematically wipe out the rest of the tribe.”
Surya nodded proudly, “Yes we did! I am not sure where the problem with this lies.”
Greenwing recoiled in shock, “Problem? There’s no problem with this… Dawnglow, do you have a problem with this?
Dawnglow shook his head, “Not me… Robinswreath?”
Robinswreath replied, “No problem for me either… how about you Darkbane?”
Darkbane chuckled, “Would have done the same thing myself!”
Surya nodded curtly and shrugged her shoulders with an air of irritated confusion, “If there is no problem, then why are we having this conversation.”
“Tell us what you did next?” Darkbane asked, his eyes had lost their playful, social expression and were staring at Surya with a piercing gaze. All four of them stared with intense expressions.
Surya knew that this was the point of conjecture right here. She did not attempt to avoid that which they probably already knew, “We took care of the females and cubs.”
Greenwing looked confused, “Took care of the females and cubs? How do you mean took care?”
“She means that they butchered them,” Darkbane explained, “Like the animals that they were… did you not?”
Surya nodded, but remained suspicious, “That’s right… they were animals, so we butchered them like animals.”
Robinswreath quickly added, “So then you ate them?”
“What?” Surya responded in disgust.
“They were animals that you butchered,” Robinswreath explained, “Killing of animals arbitrarily for the joy of killing is an act of wickedness. The only moral reason to kill an animal is for survival, be it for food, clothing, or protection. You have demonstrated your adherence to that code quite admirably in your clearing of the wilds of the River Kingdoms. Did you practice the same with the orcs? Did you skin their hides and carve the flesh from their bones for the sake of feeding your people?”
“Would it have made a difference if I did?” Surya curtly replied. She was being mocked, and she did not LIKE to be mocked!
Robinswreath nodded, “Of course it would… it would have made you a cannibal – a wicked, unwholesome savage who feasts upon the flesh of other sentient humanoids. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if you did, you would merely have been stripped of your power and title and then put onto the pathway to hell.”
Dawnglow explained, “Orcs are NOT animals and they should not be considered as such. They are sentient, rational beings that choose to be who they are. They are not bound by instinctual drive, but by a sense of free will and the pressures of their society.”
“Orcs choose to be evil,” Darkbane added, “They are not given much in the sake of options, but they do make that choice. Sure, there are racial tendencies that push orcs down a path of rage and destruction, and let’s not forget the huge social pressures that you can’t possibly comprehend. In fact, choosing a path NOT of evil for an orc is akin to a death sentence, and most don’t even considered it an option. Nevertheless it is by choosing a path of evil that makes an orc an enemy to all that is good, just, and true.”
Surya sighed, “So again, I ask… where is the problem?”
“The problem is that you killed the innocent who had not yet chosen a path of evil,” Greenwing flatly declared.
“The females and the cubs?” Surya asked.
“The women and children,” Greenwing corrected her, “But not so much the women, they had chosen an evil path as well, and not the older children either as they were already committed to a path of wickedness. But the youngest – they were still free of the sin of the orc culture.”
This was just silly! Surya could hardly believe she was being held accountable for a few stinking orc babies! “I can’t see how just a few orc cubs…”
“How many innocent lives are you entitled to butcher for your lifelong service to Sarenrae?” Robinswreath harshly interjected. “You asked that question yourself.”
“But they weren’t humans or elves or dwarves,” Surya tried to explain, “They were ORCS!”
Dawnglow jumped on this statement, “Who is to say that these orcs, freed from the social bonds of their tribe, would not have chosen a different path? Who are you to kill an innocent for something that they MIGHT become?”
Surya could recognize her own words in their argument. It was that damn hypothetical… she should have known! She had trapped herself, but more than that she realized that she had probably made a huge mistake. “Protecting the innocent is one of the pillars of the church of Sarenrae,” she softly whispered.
“Yes, it is,” Darkbane replied, evidently hearing her gentle words quite clearly, “So why did you do it? Why did you kill the orc infants?”
Surya shrugged her shoulders, “What else could I have done with them? Even if I hadn’t killed them they would have died of exposure. It was winter, after all…”
“Abandoning the innocent to die is not protecting them either,” Greenwing argued, “By our faith you should protect the innocent… how should you have protected them?”
Surya knew what the answer was but she was shocked at the question, “Are you suggesting that we should have taken them with us?”
All four handlers nodded their heads and looked to one another in agreement. “Yeah,” Dawnglow spoke, “That seems like a pretty good choice.”
Surya shook her head emphatically, “No… it never would have worked.”
“Why not?” Robinswreath asked.
“Because the dwarves never would have tolerated it!” Surya explained, “We were on mission for the church of Torag. We were trying to rectify the damage that had been done to Ox’s name in the eyes of his people. If we had come marching into the Five Kings mountains with a handful of orc cubs in tow…”
Darkbane finished the sentence for her, “It would have tarnished your own reputation with the dwarves. They would have looked upon you as sympathizers of the orcs, and they never would have agreed to set up trade routes or work your mines, or provide you with dwarven services in stone and metal.
“So instead of potentially currying the disfavor of the dwarves, you chose to butcher a few innocent orc cubs?” Darkbane concluded. “You ignored the innocent nature of these orcs and killed them with the rest of the lot in exchange for political favor and the services of the dwarves.”
There was little argument left in Surya. It seemed pretty straightforward once it was laid out on the table. She simply nodded and replied, “Yes… I suppose that is what I did. What are you going to do now?”
“Well,” Dawnglow explained, “Were this a simple cut and dry case we would not be having this conversation. You would be punished for your transgression until such time as redeemed yourself in the eyes of Sarenrae. But this is not so simply cut and dry.”
Greenwing continued to explain, “The problem is that Torag has set you down the wrong path. Torag, and all of the dwarven gods that look to him, consider orcs to be akin to demons. Killing a baby demon is no more sinful than killing an adult. But they’ve got history with orcs, on Golarion and in the higher planes as well.”
Robinswreath took it from there, “Nevertheless, Torag is our esteemed ally. The church of Torag may have put you on this quest, but they did so not realizing that there would be a spiritual conflict in your execution of it. The fact that you did not recognize the spiritual conflict, however, is unfortunate… but it is not a mortal sin.”
Surya tried to swallow in the vagaries of the discussion, “So… what are you saying then? Am I to be punished? Am I to be damned? Am I free to go? What must I do?”
Darkbane, the most direct of the four, answered Surya’s question, “You are to be tasked. You may not have recognized the spiritual conflict of your quest, but that is where the fault is with you. You need a deeper sense of appreciation for the helplessness and innocence of youths and infants. You need to understand the malleability of their spirits, and how at the earliest ages they can find themselves along any path…”
Surya knew exactly what they were implying. She turned white as a ghost and put her hand to her own belly. This couldn’t be happening!
Darkbane continued, “We need to instill upon you a nurturing sense, a motherly sense. You need to appreciate the role that is played in developing the young into pious and hardworking adults… and not just with those of your own kind, but with the other races… including orcs.”
“Goddess save me!” Surya shrieked, “You’re going to impregnate me with an ORC?”
The four handlers stared at Surya with blank faces. Darkbane stuttered a reply, “Uh… no…” Then all four handlers burst into laughter. It was a very non-celestial display. Surya went from stark white to beet red in a matter of seconds. The handlers continued to laugh and slap each other on the shoulder for what seemed a very uncomfortable amount of time. Finally, Darkbane gathered up enough composure to address Surya once more. “No… no, my dear… no orc babies for you… but could you imagine?”
The handlers, again, lost their composure and fell into hysterical laughter. Surya folded her arms and tapped her foot in irritation. “Just let me know when you are done amusing yourself at my expense!” she shouted, but doubted any of them could hear her.
Again, Darkbane recovered his senses enough to address her. “No pregnancies. Besides, it is not your own children that you need to empathize with, it is the children of others. You are instead tasked with the building of an orphanage. Sarenrae commands that you build a manor and a yard suitable enough to house and feed 500 children as well as the caregivers they require. The children must be provided with beds, food, schooling, and opportunities for work and play. The Goddess commands that this manor must take priority over defense and worship… that means no castles, no walls, no barracks, and no temples until this manor is built.”
“How am I to protect an orphanage without a castle or walls?” Surya argued.
Dawnglow shrugged his shoulders, “That’s your problem… no one said it would be easy.”
Greenwing added, “Besides, it’s not as if you will fill every bed the moment the last brick is laid. Finish the manor and quickly begin work on your defenses. Orphans will come from across Golarion, so prepare a place for them.”
“But I don’t even have any stone!” Surya continued to argue.
Dawnglow shrugged again, “Again that is your problem. Find the stone and… Oh crap, she’s coming!”
The four handlers were all at once very nervous. They started gathering pillows and straightening them in rows along the back of the tent, smoothing out their own clothes and hair, changing their postures until they were sitting straight and tall in their seats. Their eyes betrayed the deep-rooted concern and discomfort in their hearts.
Surya, once again, was thoroughly confused – as if she had been excluded from a joke or not given the same instructions as everyone else. “What’s going on? Who is coming? What does this have to do with me?”
No sooner had Surya finished her question than the flap of the tent behind her was tossed open and into the pavilion marched a young girl. She was a homely looking creature, apparently in her early teens, with large ears and nostrils for a little girl, and standing only about a head shorter than Surya herself (who was not overly tall). She wore raggedy and patchy clothes, what you might find on a street beggar, but they were stain free. In fact, her entire person was immaculately groomed – she wore her black hair in simple pony-tails but without a single hair out of place, and her skin was as smooth as café and cream without even a speck of dust to mar her complexion. She wore a small golden necklace with a charm of the Angel Ankh around her neck.
The four handlers bowed their heads as she entered, and Surya was pushed aside as the little girl brushed by her.
“Why are you still here!” the little girl hissed at the four handlers, “You should have been finished with this cleric a half hour ago.”
Ravenswreath hesitantly answered, “We thought it necessary to fully explain the circumstances of our decision to Surya so that she understood why…”
“Nonsense!” the little girl snarled, “You dropped her out in the dunes and made her wander her way to the tent so you could spend time lounging on cushions instead of tending to your duties. You four have wasted enough time here and you are late getting to where you need to be. I will not tolerate laziness, foolishness, or tired excuses!”
The four handlers stood from their cushions and humbly bowed their heads. “Yes ma’am,” they said in unison.
“Excuse me!” Surya spoke in a commanding tone.
The little girl froze like a statue, pausing briefly before slowing turning around to face Surya. Her face was smiling, but it was a smile of a tiger ready to pounce. Her eyes were warm, but the warmth at the edge of a volcano. “Yes?” she spoke with fluid, melted steel, “What can I do for you?”
“In my country, it is customary to share greetings with those people you do not know,” Surya proudly proclaimed. She was a little unnerved by this little girl, but she committed herself not to show it. Nevertheless, after she had spoken she heard Greenwing whisper to himself, “Oh hell no she didn’t…”
“In your country?” the little girl replied with a slowly intensifying frown growing on her face, “Qadira? Greetings?” Surya nodded to each question. The little girl snorted as if she were a mighty queen staring down at a humble servant girl, and not the other way around. “I seem to remember when we created that custom back a few years past… I forget, sometime about two to three thousand years ago. If I recall, I was against it – too much can be hidden in a name! A true judge of character exists beyond a name and a reputation. Nobility is in the heart, not in a title.
“Besides the fact, I see no reason to greet you… you have no need to know my name and I already KNOW who you are,” the little girl spoke the words like a stabbing of a knife, “You are the slayer of the innocent, the herald of racism, the bane of redemption. Personally, I would cast you into a pit of hell myself were it not for these confounded technicalities…”
Surya was put off by the matter of fact tone of the little girl, “Those four seem to think…”
“Those four answer to me, and I answer to the Goddess,” the little girl bowed her head when she spoke the last word, and lifted the small necklace in her blouse, kissing the Angel Ankh. “However, you have been tasked on a course of redemption. You need to learn compassion, forgiveness, and redemption… and you WILL learn these things. There is no place in the heavens for one without a sense of compassion and forgiveness,” the little girl paused thoughtfully for a moment, staring into the distance as if into nothing, “just as there is no place in the heavens for a soul bereft of humility and a sense of humor…”
Surya understood the need for humility, and she knew that her mother chastised her for the lack of it, but a sense of humor? “But I have a good sense of humor…”
The little girl shook her head, “Not you, foolish girl, ME! I walk my own course of redemption. Humility and a sense of humor are the burdens which I myself must strive for on my own the path. Do you not see this burden upon me? LOOK AT ME! Am I not humble? What is more humble than a poor child?” The little girl spread her arms for Surya, and then turned and faced the handlers. They averted their eyes and bowed their heads – it would be worse for them to lie than to not answer.
Surya, however, replied quite plainly, “Well… I think you are making an effort.”
The little girl turned once more to Surya and spoke plainly, without any forced intimidation, “To make an effort is to journey the path of redemption. Keep up the effort, and continue the journey… that is wisely spoken. Perhaps I am too quick to judge you.”
Darkbane spoke up from behind, “Ma’am, she did say something very funny, I think you might have laughed, even.”
“Was it cruel? I’ll not have you resorting to cruelty to invoke humor for my sake!” the little girl snarled, “You know I will not tolerate cruelty.”
Darkbane shook his head nervously, “Oh no, no, no! We did not invoke any cruelty, it was simply a misunderstanding! You see, she thought we intended to punish her by making her pregnant with an orc baby!”
“And this was funny?” the little girl snapped at Darkbane, who did not seem to be so enthused anymore. However, he did sheepishly nod his head, as did the other handlers. The little girl turned on Surya and sharply posed the same question, “And did you think this funny as well?”
Surya shrugged her shoulders, “I suppose, looking back now, I think it was a little funny.”
The little girl snorted derisively, then waved her hand over her shoulder. “You four… to your duties!” The four handlers began to shimmer with white, silver, and golden sparkles as bright as the sun. The Qadiraan attire disappeared from their bodies like whisps of clouds. Large fans of light, like wings, folded out from behind their backs, spreading and flapping against the tent. The tent and the carpet and the pillows themselves began to dissolve in wisps of clouds, leaving not a sandy oasis behind but a starry sky in all directions – no up, no down, no ground even to stand upon. With a few flaps of their gossamer wings the celestial beings were gone, leaving only Surya and the little girl floating in the starry black space.
“I’m assigning you a guardian to watch over your progress,” the little girl spoke frankly to Surya, “Utilize him as you deem necessary, but take care not to lead him down any unsavory paths. He has just been redeemed in the eyes of Erastil himself, so he is not starting with a clean slate. He is loyal and he is dedicated to his own redemption, and he should be able to assist you on yours.
“Don’t let us down cleric!” the little girl became more firm in her voice, “More than just your own soul is riding upon your character. You have an entire nation to grow and protect. You’ve shown you can punish the wicked, now show us some mercy, forgiveness, and redemption. Don’t screw this up! If you fail, we’ll put your little ass right on the fast track road to hell…
“… or at the very least, we’ll try another go at redemption. But this time we WILL give the impregnating you with an orc idea a go. Who knows? I may even get a good laugh out of it! That would be worth something at least.”
There was a flash of light, and Surya found herself waking down in the hold of the dwarven galley on the northward trip bound for Greenlund. She no longer wore the linen gown of the acolytes, but was donned in her silk nightgown, wrapped up in a bed of furs. She remembered every detail of the encounter with the handlers and the little girl – it was as real to her as a recent memory. It wasn’t a dream, that much was certain. She had been brought before the choirs of Sarenrae and had been councilled by the angels. There was a great honor in this, but also a great shame. Surya steeled herself to follow the path that the handlers had given her and bring glory and joy to the church of Sarenrae.
There was one more thing she remembered as well of her encounter, something that did NOT occur yet she remembered nonetheless. She knew the name of the little girl, at the very least the name that she wished to be spoken as – not the true name, which for some reason had also been given to her by her handlers.
It was true then, what the little girl said, that a person could not be judged by a name or a title, for her name was Buttercup. It was a poor descriptor of what she truly was.



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