I was in my shop on the northern edge of the coins when a young news runner raced in and back out with holler of “… is attempting the Test…” I laughed, shaking my head. He was so over excited.
It was a nice day outside. I was alone in my shop so I decided to close up and join the crowd of onlookers. There was always a crowd whenever someone attempted the Test of the Starstone. Business had been slow for a while, not unusual for a specialized shop like mine. Absalom might be the city at the center of the world but firearms are still explosive, expensive, exotic weapons untrusted by many. Perhaps I could drum up some new business in the crowd. At the very least, I could get another idea for crossing the chasm.
Eventually I wanted to attempt the Test of the Starstone myself and become the first God of firearms. The first true gnome God. I fondled the cubic die with seven pips on the one side in my pocket while exiting the shop. I locked the door and lovingly stroked the bronze female mask upon it. Not only there to symbolize that my shop crafted items on commission but also to attach a glyph of warding to, making the rune on the forehead glow. If anyone tried to get into my shop while I was gone, the sonic blast from the glyph shouldn’t do too much damage.
The walk wasn’t very long. I had set up my shop as close to the Starstone Cathedral as I was able without having to pay for the Ascendant Courts higher property values. The crowd was gathered towards the right, by Arodens fallen bridge. It was not too large yet and I was able to make my way close to the front so as to not be blocked by taller people.
Standing on the edge of the bottomless pit surrounding the Starstone Cathedral was a female catfolk. She faced the crowd that had gathered to watch her with a toothy grin. She was practically purring from the attention. I was too far away to know for sure if the black stripes on her white fur face were natural or dyed.
After a long time, with the crowd doing nothing but growing, a halfling in plain black robes pushed his way next to me. Someone directly behind us shouted “Speech.” A few more voices took up the shout, which quickly turned into a chant. The halfling beside pulled out an inkpen and traveling journal. The feline held up her hands shoulder high and waved at the crowd. The crowd went silent.
“My name is Vanus. I am a summoner.”
My first thought ‘you’re going to die.’
“I have defeated demons at the Worldwound. Slain a dragon.”
“I got this cloak from a worm that walks.”
‘How much gold did that cost her?’ I wondered as she twirled to show the cloak off.
“I recently slew a pack of moon dogs on my way here.”
‘How Many? Three?’
“Now I am going to cross this and enter the Starstone Cathedral.” She said as a griffon flew on an updraft from the chasm to land beside her.
‘It’s about time.’ I glanced at the halfling next to me and saw his brief notes. Vanus. Catfolk. Griffon rider. “Really?”
“Let’s see.” The halfling said with a grin.
I turned back to see the want-to-be goddess struggle up on the griffons bare back.
As I watched the griffon take off, and fly once around the crowd before heading straight towards the Cathedral, I thought. ‘If she was such a powerful summoner why didn’t she summon an air elemental instead? They fly so much better.’ When the female griffon flew over me, I saw the single set of breasts as opposed to the lines of nipples most cats had. ‘Had she been trying for a catfolk version of Mother-Sphinx?’
At the edge of the chasm, the griffon got caught by an updraft and threw the catfolk off trying to regain its own stability. Vanus landed on her feet at this side of the chasm. “Come here.” She yowled at the griffon. It landed beside her and she once again clambered onto its back.
The wind shear would not be the same. It changes just as the inside of the Cathedral changes configuration. The griffon, obviously not knowing that, overcompensated and the summoner nearly flew herself over the griffons head. Nobody has succeeded in obtaining godhood through the Test of the Starstone in eight hundred eighty-five years, not since Iomedae, and it did not look like that streak would be broken.
A gust of wing caught the griffons’ left wing, causing the beast to roll over in the air. The catfolk hung on for dear life. Many in the crowd gasped and cheered when the griffon righted itself with her still on its back.
As the wind buffeted its right wind, the griffon seemed to stagger in midair like a drunk walking over cobblestones. Hard to believe that Cayden Cailean passed the Test of the Starstone on a drunken bet.
A gust of wind blew the griffon back once it finally neared the far edge. The gust blew the griffon nearly into the rim of the chasm in front of us. Vanus flung her legs back, ready to jump off back onto the ground in front of us if necessary. At least she had good reflexes. She would need them in a demiplane where magic was known to not always behave normally. That was if she could get the beast to the other side.
The griffon flapped its wings and tried once again to get through the gale. It was nearly to the other side when in a burst of light it disappeared. The summoner plummeted then her descent slowed.
“Feather fall won’t save her.” I mumbled.
“Perhaps we can finally find out how deep it is.” The halfling said stepping close to the edge as the crowd dispersed.
“Is griffon rider going to be on her monument in the Shrine of the Failed?”
“No.” The halfling said then looked me in the eyes. “Any ideas on how you are going to be using your firearms in the water hazards?”
“None I am willing to share.” I said grinning and turning to return to my shop. “Besides, first tests first.”
“Indeed.” The halfling said behind me.
Aroden became a God when he raised the Starstone from the ocean. It is only natural that water hazards would be present during the Test of the Starstone. Alas, water and gunpowder did not work together.