Any member of the Pathfinder Society who’s had extended contact with the tribal Oreads of the West could speak about the state of affairs in the town of Sheerplain, but the young warrior who answers to Aahil is one of very few people who can truly provide insight to the world between Mt. Korzai and Land’s End. In this tiny expanse of land the other races would call inhospitable, the isolated village thrives. Geographically speaking, it is surrounded on three sides by water and nestled in (as the fitting name might tell you) a field of volcanic soil and jagged rocks on the Pumice Cliffs, hundreds of feet above the ocean. The village used to be a normal place, long ago, until the most recent of Mt. Korzai’s very few eruptions. The Great Calamity, as they call it, decimated the population without even hitting the town, when a hunting party with all of the men but three was trapped by lava flow and killed. In addition to this, the trade routes to the city were sealed off, isolating the town from the outside world. King Vilcor II and Queen Agatheria declared a state of emergency and all men of the current and next generation were encouraged to bear as many children as possible. However, when King Vilcor refused to breed with ‘commoners,’ a crack began to form in Sheerplain society.
Now let’s fast forward a bit. Sheerplain is still blocked off from the outside world, and Vilcor III, now in charge, is overtaxing and overworking his mostly-female workforce just because he can. Furious, Jarim Orzo, a local farmer, united most of the women under her and successfully usurped Vilcor. Orzo, who renamed herself to Agatheria II after taking the throne, ordered that all present and future men of Sheerplain would be locked away in an ‘advancement house,’ a free brothel where the women were ordered to try to get pregnant every new moon (even though it was used much more than that). Vilcor III was renamed Jarlo, a word which roughly translates from Terran to mean ‘whore,’ and was the star attraction at the advancement house. Agatheria II then ordered five women to protect her, who were the most skilled in archery, magic, surveillance, swordplay, and unarmed combat, which she called her ‘duchesses.’ When Safuro, the Monk Duchess, had her son, who she affectionately named Aahil, she knew she wouldn’t stand for the new Queen’s awful regime, and formulated a plan. She taught him as much as she could, about the history of his village, her skills as a Monk, and, for some reason, a lot of self-reliance, but he didn’t know why. She taught him about what was beyond Mt. Korzai, about the world she had explored when she was young, but he didn’t know why. On his 60th birthday, when he was supposed to be sent to the recently-built Second Advancement House, Safuro cooked him a huge breakfast, almost more than he could eat, and told him he would need it. She packed him a bag, which he thought would be the things he was taking to his new fate (in a way, he was right). She took him on their morning run by the cliffs, making him bring the backpack for some reason, and she eventually stopped, looking very worried. Rather confused, Aahil asked her what was wrong, and she looked him in the eyes, holding back tears. She said, “My darling Aahil, it is time for you to leave Sheerplain and never come back. I have taught you what you will need to know about the world outside of this awful place, and I hope you will find a place in it. But for now, you must go.” As she pushed her son off the cliff, she said one last time how much she loved him, and then began sobbing.
As Aahil fell, everything made sense. His Monk training helped him gracefully avoid the rocks and land in the waters below, then he began to swim. He didn’t know where, but somewhere. That’s why he needed the gear and the big breakfast. He would have to live off the land, but he had been taught how. He needed to know what to expect, but she had told him. However, there was one thing she told him that he knew was wrong; he knew he would have to come back. He didn’t know when, but he had to.
When Agatheria II came to Safuro’s house, there was no new breeding stock to be found. There was only a grieving mother, crying because her son had jumped to his doom.
There was one thing Aahil didn’t know, though; what his name meant. He was sure it was just an uncommon name or something, but it was actually a word; one from one of the dead languages his mother loved so much.
It was the word for prince.