Once the corrosive enhancement was ensorcelled upon the cat’s maw and claws, a word and pointed finger was all Khumbu needed. The great cat’s rippling muscles rippled as he pounced upon the many headed hydra. (I think this would be a fun 1-1 combat to play out). Bloodied and punctured by the bestial bites of 10 heads but ultimately unbeaten, Khumbu returns to Sleestak’s side. Hydra heads, with necks chewed fully through, lay scattered and separated yards from the scaly body. That look of victory – a smile? – was on Khumbu’s mouth.
Nyrissa’s corpse, still savagely perfect in eternal repose, even sans head, is returned with the party to Ashhaven.
All must know who was behind all the cursed mayhem that had befallen the kingdom in the last few years. The telling of this story ruminated in Queen Alarah’s mind. Her speech to the gathered masses would be sincere, bold, and confident.
Sleestak’s labors kept him busy – he had seen so much blood, had taken so much life – he had been the cause of all this death around him, and he took little pleasure in it – that weariness was taking him. He could rationalize it was only the hunt. But it wasn’t. It was more. A test of resolve. Could he kill not just for meat, not just to provide, not only to protect, but for justice? Such concepts were alien to his lizardfolk upbringing. Killing those who deserved it, killing those who stood in the way, killing for vengeance. The darkness of those motives had tainted him some. So much killing. He viscerally felt the arrow wounds he impaled as if they were blood on his own hands. The final necessary work around the kingdom kept his mind off the offensive slain and focused on the future of Stagsheart. Would he ever take joy in the hunt again? He yearned to see his son…
Emmond, able to look upon Nyrissa’s bare skin and not suffer blindness couldn’t help the occasional peek, but more to his interest was the recovery of Candlemere’s citizens. Little was permanently lost, in his city, and across the kingdom, and for that he was grateful. Once only magic was his concern, but now with Candlemere’s growth and open gratitude of the citizens, HIS citizens, a new horizon was unveiled in his thinking. He was to be important, and not just in his knowledge, but in leadership. Many would flock now to the Academy. Many would study under him. Some would be forever, and deeply, changed. And the friendship of Perlivash brought some much needed levity, and reminded him to stop studying and start playing.
No greater joy in her life struck Alarah upon seeing her children alive and healthy. She knew it would take time to drive the image of their charred bodies from her memories…hell, she may have to learn how to remove it herself, an attainable goal. But the normal warmth of their skin, their smiling faces, the pure adoration only they could express…it warmed Alarah’s heart, which had endured such cold and dark feelings. Despair. Hatred. Revenge. Gods willing, those feelings would sleep, and in their place come contentment, hope, charity. A kingdom needed its leader, and Alarah drew strength from the shared experiences of facing the greatest evils together. Sleestak. Eurik. Emmond. Khumbu. They had been through hell, and only barely escaped with their lives. It was time to start living.
Eurik found more than economic opportunity in moving to Stagsheart. What it lacked by being curse-prone it made up for with optimism. A sense that tomorrow will somehow be better than today. It didn’t hurt that that kind of thinking led to loans and easy commerce. The accountant had seen the numbers, and although blanching at first at the recent damage caused – were these reports really accurate? – Eurik knew the kingdom finally had what it needed to grow properly – time. Time unimpeded by insane fey, power-mad barbarians and duplicitous sovereigns. Neighboring nations would not see a defeated kingdom ready for conquering, but a free, open, ready market. And in turn, Eurik would bring prosperity to the young nation like no other leader had. And he had friends. Friends who, like forged armor, had been hammered and beaten in the fires of battle, but came out stronger and shining. Those bonds would be as strong as adamantine and as valuable as mithral in the coming years…
No one could find Slink to comment on the situation. But his touch was evident everywhere. A clue here, a report there, surprises that were least expected and brought almost to tears in some cases…these said he was a loyal servant to the kingdom, had its best interests at heart, and could be counted on in a pinch should diplomacy fail. Perhaps he went on vacation because he was rarely needed anymore…
While events around the borders of the kingdom of Stagsheart endured great change, a time of peace, good cheer, growth and prosperity came, and whether it was a blessing of Old Deadeye that families were strengthened and good hard work was done, or some stroke of Desna’s luck, scholars will always look back at this era.
When what could never be tamed was, and when those from the humblest beginnings rose to lead a great nation to stand among the pillars of the world and in Golarion’s history.