Osanna finishes polishing her shield and places it on the stand that also bears her armor and helmet. As she admires her reflection in the armor, she is content that the last two hours’ worth of toil was more than sufficient. “I have to be the standard, after all.” She pauses to look at the shrine to Sarenrae in her room and asks aloud, “How do I spend a normal day, Mother? I fear that I’ve forgotten how.” As she considers the events for the remainder of her day, she pauses to look at the trophies about her room that tell a story of their own. A rune giant’s tusk, a gigantic white dragon’s fang, a huge stone giant’s war horn, a lock of nymph’s hair, and a repaired statue of an angel. Lastly, with a smile, she stops to admire an old bell on her desk from what feels like the distant past, but isn’t. “I should polish this old thing…no. It would lose some of its character, I think.” She opens the shutters in her room and is barraged with the late morning sun and a cool, but not uncomfortable breeze. She closes her eyes, smiles, and takes in a long slow breath. “You’re right, Mother. I’ve taken this for granted for far too long.”
A short while later, Osanna is seated on the front steps of Sarenrae’s temple with her book of illustrations and set of charcoal pencils. The most recent drawing is of Osanna conversing fondly with a radiantly beautiful well-dressed Qadiran woman of a greater height than herself with the sun shining down upon the Underbridge district. “It doesn’t do you justice, Mother.” She smiles, turns to the next page, and begins to draw with what skill she has. She pauses intermittently to wave at passersby that greet her or to throw a ball back to children playing. As she draws, she has what she considers to be a rare in gift in the form of peace, quiet, and time for reflection.
I recall now the surge of emotions that I felt when I set that first foot down off of the caravan in Sandpoint. Relief, excitement, determination, anxiety, hope, and curiosity. It was my first posting as a woman and a paladin in this faraway, exotic land known as Varisia, and I was as completely different from the people there as could be imagined. Or so I thought. It’s true, I looked tremendously different than the mixed folk that I discovered there, and I had accepted that initially they’d be afraid of me. And they were, at least some of them.
The Swallowtail Festival was, in hindsight, the best thing that could have happened. They all had a chance to sit with me, eat with me, dance with me, and see me for who I am past the horns and the violet skin of my birth. It turned out that we weren’t so different after all. I feel like I was so young back then, before I met them. Them.
Osanna frowns, erases a few lines, blows the refuse off of the paper, and continues to draw.
If I would have asked Sarenrae as a girl who would save the world from the Rough Beast or some other horrors, divine or otherwise, I would have never, ever guessed that she would have told me what would come to pass without laughing mirthfully. I can almost hear her voice with a giggle as she was gently pushing me off of the caravan. “It will be wonderful, child. You’ll see. You’re going to meet the most wonderful people here. But you won’t be traveling with them. The five you’ll be with are..well…fixer-uppers. Make sure to get enough sleep and don’t kill the butterflies! Desna hates that! Ta!”
The journey and its ending is a tale fit for the grandest of bards, for certain. What I’ve seen, what I’ve done, where I’ve gone…all of it. The people of Varisia can finally flourish and live in peace, and all of my fixer-uppers, jagged edges and all, were worth fixing. Though none of us will ever be the same again, we’re all better off than we were. Bill has his father and his peace and quiet, Xander has his mother sans curse, Samael is soon to embark on a great pilgrimage to the land of my birth with me in tow in order be free of Asmodeus’ shackles. Naru, my strange friend, is off and about in the wilds caring for orphans and founding a druid’s circle. At least, that’s what I think she called it. Even though I’ll never fully understand all of her gifts and mysticism, I still enjoy hearing her stories. Glenn…he’s human again, true, but he’s far from whole. The demons and daemons of his past still hound him, and only time will tell if he’ll heal from the ordeal. I do not know what will happen to us all down the road, or whether or not we’ll stay close, but I plan to check in on them whether they like it or not. Cluck cluck.
Me, you ask? I feel as though one chapter in my life’s book has ended and another has begun. Here I am again feeling relief, excitement, determination, anxiety, hope, and curiosity. I have work to do. I look at the Underbridge District and I smile. The Sczarni cockroaches will soon attempt to scatter to their dark holes when I shed light upon them, only to discover that they’ll have no holes to hide in. I’ll cleanse this place, build it, mold it, improve upon it, and make it my home. Make it so that all who live here and come here will have a sense of pride for what they’re a part of. And perhaps, here and there, I’ll have more frequent moments in time much like this one when I can live, relax, and enjoy those around me and the fruits of my labor. Perhaps I’ll even find love some day with a man worthy of it.
Osanna finishes her drawing and holds it up to inspect her work. It is a likeness of her dearest friends and comrades-in- arms walking along the road between Sandpoint and Magnimar together, laughing with each other and not thinking about the next horrors awaiting them. Except for Samael and Bill. Those two always look grumpy. As she closes her book, she’s caught completely off guard by a snowball hitting her in the shoulder followed by the sudden laughter of a small group of boys and girls that frequent the alleys of Underbridge. With her telltale narrowed eyes and half smirk, she goes to battle again versus worthy adversaries.