In September 2011, I began writing a short story for the Eastern Frontier setting. White Haired Man had recently completed the last planned adventure for the Kith’takharos setting, and I figured it wouldn’t be long until we started our next setting, which we had decided would be called the Eastern Frontier. We had even commissioned a setting map from Devin Night. That map on its own was enough to get me excited about the new setting.
But the future played out in ways I could not have anticipated. A week after I started the story, my Stepfather passed away after an short and unexpected illness. For a long time I associated the story with his death, and I just couldn’t bring myself to start writing again. My White Haired Man colleague doubled-down on his schoolwork as he aims to finish his degree in 2013. Because of these events, as well as a host of other job and family related responsibilities, we really haven’t done much in the past year besides release Pathfinder versions of some of our adventures and revise the Kith’takharos setting.
So, while my colleague finishes his degree, I plan to ease my way back into White Haired Man work. I first decided to finish the Eastern Frontier story. Writing a story helps immerse me in the setting. Once I actually start writing the setting and any associated adventures, that deeper understanding of the setting will pay off.
The story is called Mersah Matruh. Here is a short except.
Late on the third day he became tense, anticipating the moment of change. When the breeze finally felt like it was crawling over his skin and searching for a way inside, he knew that he was in the Tainted Land.
He fought an urge to whirl around or look over his shoulder. Instead, he readied his sword and bow. He whispered a prayer and spoke the phrase that activated the medallion he wore beneath his leather armor. Most of his woodcraft wasn’t worth warm spit now, but he didn’t care. Let them come and taste old Empire steel. He glanced at the eagle carved into the metal below the cross-guard of his sword.
Ghost extracted a square of vellum from his pack. With a word, the visible writing faded to reveal an image he recognized as a late Empire map of Tamanrasset Province. Another explorer had scavenged the page from some ruin and sold it to him as a worthless scrap, happy to gain the funds for another night of drinking at Jak’s.
The palimpsest showed Uqbar City, Attar’s Gate, and a few other landmarks he knew from his own explorations. It also contained places of which he had never heard, and one location out of legend. Ghost’s finger hovered above a small circle north and west of Uqbar City. He mouthed a name mentioned in Jak’s only after men had consumed much ale and in contented inebriation speculated about myths of danger and treasure and dreams of a rich strike. Mersah Matruh.