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    The Silver Wolf-The Honor Of The Crown: Let The Past Lie
    Posted on Mon, October 25, 2021 by LordCeb
    CruelSummerLord writes "Not knowing what else to do, on the tenth day after the battle with Lady Babylon’s forces, he entered Flinthold’s temple to Garl Glittergold and started to pray. He knelt in front of the altar to Garl for over an hour, reflecting on his failing to stop Kalrek’s treachery, his murdering Laessar, his punishing Kalrek, his efforts to find the Crown of Arumdina and his refusal to take the throne of Flinthold.

    Chapter Twenty-One

    Let The Past Lie

    The next ten days were busy ones for both the gnomes and the Kutunachke. The Kutunachke grieved for their dead, consigning them to their funeral pyres, and Luna joined their priests in praying to Pelor. The gnomes grieved for their own dead, burying them in freshly dug tombs with prayers to Segojan Oerthcaller. Many of the refugees who’d been forced to flee Flinthold’s capital came home to join in the rebuilding, while Flinthold’s other cities sent further food and aid. Much of the treasure Flinthold’s liberators won from Lady Babylon’s forces went to purchasing food and supplies from other nations. The Kutunachke’s hunting provided invaluable further aid, and they were given their own share of Lady Babylon’s treasure in payment. While the Kutunachke didn’t put much stock in material wealth, they often used the treasure they gained to buy things like metal weapons and oil flasks.

    At the same time, preparations began for Arthur’s coronation as His Respected Majesty, Arthur Cyruson I, King of Flinthold. Delegates from other Lortmil dwarf and gnome realms like Garnetholme, Adamanhall, Copper Crossing, Rockhome, the Principality of Ulek and even Steelheart attended. Representatives of human and elven lands like Veluna, Celene and the County and Duchy of Ulek, also came, quickly traveling by magic or flying on griffons and giant eagles. The delegates found that Flinthold’s capital city was still in shambles, its inhabitants still hungry and careworn, but also determined and refusing to give up.

    The coronation ceremony followed old gnomish tradition. Arthur ceremonially offered a wealth of gemstones to Erthrand to honor the gnomish gods for entrusting him with Flinthold’s throne, after which Erthrand placed the Crown of Arumdina on his head. The Crown shone brightly on Arthur’s brow, as if to show that the gnomish gods were pleased with Flinthold’s new king.

    After Arthur was formally crowned, a second ceremony took place to formally renew the treaty between the Kutunachke and the gnomes of Flinthold. The Kutunachke’s part of the ceremony involved a traditional Flan drumming and smudging of all the parties involved. The gnomes’ contribution was a ritual exchange of gems as gifts. The ceremony concluded with a repeat of Arthur’s swearing on the Crown, and the blessing of the gnomish gods, that the Kutunachke’s land rights would be restored. Luna, Erthrand and several of the Kutunachke priests all participated in the ceremony by offering prayers and blessings.

    The companions worked to help the gnomish refugees and attended the memorials to both the gnome and Flan warriors who fell saving Flinthold. Most of them were repeatedly thanked by the grateful gnomes, except for Airk. While he worked as diligently as anyone, Airk noticed the angry glares and muttered whispers that greeted him wherever he went. He knew why many of them were so angry with him, and he felt a terrible sense of guilt.

    Not knowing what else to do, on the tenth day after the battle with Lady Babylon’s forces, he entered Flinthold’s temple to Garl Glittergold and started to pray. He knelt in front of the altar to Garl for over an hour, reflecting on his failing to stop Kalrek’s treachery, his murdering Laessar, his punishing Kalrek, his efforts to find the Crown of Arumdina and his refusal to take the throne of Flinthold.

    He prayed to Garl for guidance, asking the god if he had followed the right path, or if this was just another one of his mistakes.

    “I thought I’d find you here,” a familiar voice said, jolting Airk out of his thoughts. He looked up in surprise to see a younger gnome with close-cropped black hair and dark eyes, dressed in simple yet immaculate clothes that revealed their wearer’s modest tastes but exceptional wealth. The younger gnome’s expression was calm as he approached Airk, but Airk could see a multitude of emotions reflected in his eyes.

    Airk knew him well. The younger gnome was Trendin Bradon, Laessar’s son. Trendin was the one who’d tasked Airk with finding the Crown of Arumdina and restoring Flinthold’s monarchy to atone for killing his father. In the months since Laessar’s death, Trendin had taken over his gem-dealing business. Airk realized that Trendin was attending Arthur’s coronation as one of Copper Crossing’s delegates.

    “…You were looking for me?” Airk said. He’d sometimes wondered what he’d say to Trendin if he ever met the younger gnome again, but he’d never been sure. In fact, he privately hoped he never would.

    “Of course I was,” Trendin said. “When the Lord Mayor of Copper Crossing was invited to your new king’s coronation, I knew you were responsible.”

    Trendin paused a moment.

    “So it’s come to this. You returned the Crown as I demanded, and you’ve atoned for my father’s murder.”

    Airk wasn’t sure what to say, and he couldn’t bring himself to look Trendin in the eye. Even if he’d seemingly atoned for his crime, he didn’t feel as though he truly had. He couldn’t say anything, but his expression made his feelings clear to Trendin.

    “I’ve come to terms with everything that’s happened in my head,” Trendin said, “but not in my heart. I’m still angry, and I can’t forgive you for killing my father.”

    “…You’re right not to,” Airk said, still not able to look Trendin in the eye.

    “No he isn’t,” the two gnomes heard Luna say as she and Revafour walked towards them. They’d come into the temple shortly after Trendin and heard most of the gnomes’ conversation. “Airk’s done everything he pledged to you, so you shouldn’t be-“

    “Luna, please,” Airk said, interrupting her. “He has a right to say what he did.”

    “No he doesn’t,” Revafour said with a scowl, “not when we all risked our lives to find the Crown. The only reason we did that was to help Airk.”

    Scowling right back at Revafour, Trendin turned and walked out of the temple without saying anything. Revafour took a step as if to follow him, but Luna grabbed his arm and shook her head. Luna and Revafour then turned back to Airk.

    “Are you all right?” Luna asked, putting her hand in Airk’s shoulder.

    “…I’m not sure,” Airk said. “I thought bringing the Crown back and making things right with the Kutunachke would help me, but it didn’t. I’m still guilty of falling for Kalrek’s trickery and for killing Laessar. Do I owe Trendin anything else? Was I wrong to refuse Flinthold’s throne? Can I still even call myself a Flintholder? I don’t know what to do…”  

    “Maybe you don’t need to do anything at all,” Revafour said. “You avenged your brothers in arms by killing Kalrek, you made amends for what happened to Laessar by bringing the Crown back to Flinthold and you figured out how to use its power. Without you, without us, Flinthold would be a conquered ruin! What else could you possibly even need to do?”

    Airk hesitated, but then Luna spoke again.

    “This isn’t the first time you’ve wondered whether you can call this place home,” she said. “I remember your telling me that’s why you felt you had to leave the first time after the Hateful Wars.”

    Airk closed his eyes and nodded, recalling his conversation with Luna aboard the Merman’s Envy.  

    “You’re not alone in that, though,” she said. “Seline would have loved to stay in South Province, but she can’t. Ma’non’go can’t return to Hepmonaland. Revafour’s been banished from Tenh. You’re not alone in what you feel, or what you’ve been through.”

    As Airk heard those words, his gaze passed over the altar to Garl Glittergold at the far end of the room and then back to his friends. His memories of the Hateful Wars faded, replaced by a memory of how his friends had refused to let him search for the Crown of Arumdina alone. They’d come with him all this way simply because they were his friends.

    That realization gave him a tremendous sense of peace. He would likely always carry his guilt at his past failings, but in time he might start to forgive himself.  

    Revafour and Luna were overjoyed to see the look of resolve on Airk’s face.

    “What do you all plan to do now? Whatever it is, I’m coming with you,” Airk said.

    “We’ll have to decide that as a group,” Revafour said. “Let’s go.”

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