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    The Silver Wolf-A Light In The Dark: Chapter Eight: Two Paths Become One
    Posted on Sat, September 16, 2017 by LordCeb
    CruelSummerLord writes "

    “So you’ve been wandering since then,” Weimar reflected. “Searching for something?”

    Revafour frowned at that.

    “You’re not alone in that,” Weimar said, “not at all. I’ve often wondered about that myself, and if I’ll ever find it…”

    Chapter Eight

    Two Paths Become One

    Airk, Revafour and Amyalla knew they were approaching their goal, and could only hope they would arrive in time.

    Weimar, Luna, Seline and Ma’non’go knew there would be a reckoning when they found the evil they sought.

    Airk, Revafour and Amyalla were surprised when they saw the four humans approaching on the trail, not knowing what to make of them.

    Weimar, Luna, Seline and Ma’non’go were just as surprised to see the large Flan man accompanied by the gnome and halfling approaching the trail they were following.

    The seven individuals stood facing each other for several long moments. They all had their hands on their weapons, knowing the dangers lurking in the Cairn Hills. Still, the two groups saw caution, rather than hostility, on each other’s faces.

    Finally, Seline broke the silence.

    “You’re fellow travelers, I take it?” Seline ventured, briefly bowing in respect. “Be assured we mean you no harm, and seek only our own path.”

    Behind her, Luna, Ma’non’go and Weimar looked at one another and back at Airk, Revafour and Amyalla, who returned the gesture.

    “We seek many of the same things you do,” Amyalla replied, “and you may be assured that we mean you no harm, either. In what direction are you traveling?”

    “North by northeast,” Seline replied, always keeping her tone even and cautious. “And you?”

    “The same,” Airk said, adjusting his dragon-headed helmet.

    The adventurers glanced at each other, first at the ones they knew, and then again at the ones they did not. Suspicion played on some of their faces-did their enemies know that they were on their trail? Revafour, Airk and Ma’non’go, especially, all showed their wariness.

    “I wonder,” Luna ventured, a contemplative gesture on her face.

    “Wonder what?” Amyalla asked, raising an eyebrow.

    “We’re traveling in the same direction, so perhaps we also seek the same goals?” Luna wondered.

    “We seek the return of children taken from their homes, who want nothing more than to be reunited with their loved ones,” Amyalla replied. “What do you seek?”

    “Much the same thing,” Seline nodded. “We’ve been tasked with finding several children who was abducted from his home. Their parents are worried sick about them, and want nothing more than to have them brought home.”

    The seven adventurers stood in silence for another moment, before Weimar spoke.

    “We clearly seek the same goal,” Weimar noted, “Perhaps we might be able to help each other?”

    Airk stroked his moustache, before he spoke up.

     “You’re clearly magic, considering your clothes,” Airk nodded at Seline, glancing up and down at her robes. “

    “And you, that pendant around your neck…you’re of Pelor, aren’t you?” Airk continued, turning to Seline.

    “Quite so,” Luna nodded.

     “Your timing is rather good, isn’t it?” Revafour asked slowly, a suspicious look in his eyes. “Is it simply a coincidence that we meet one another at such an opportune moment, when we don’t know what we might have to fight?”

    “We might ask the same thing of you,” Weimar replied with a disarming half-smile. “Surely there are safety in numbers, my dear fellow? After all, we don’t know what we’re to face. Besides, if both our parties are following these kidnappers for the same reasons, they can clearly strike in one place. Surely that’s not too much to suggest?”

    Weimar spoke in his most calm and collected tone, seeming perfectly at ease despite the tension in the air. Luna and Seline smiled at that, although Ma’non’go still had a cold, suspicious glare on his face. Revafour didn’t seem convinced by Weimar’s words, and Airk was hesitant and uncertain.

    Shaking her head at Airk and Revafour, Amyalla decided to take things in hand. Striding forward, she smiled widely and bowed to Weimar.

    “Surely we could use some assistance, particularly with magic,” Amyalla grinned. “And I suspect that your efforts would also benefit with the addition of some new blades,” she noted. “What say you?” she asked her companions.

    Revafour remained silent and still, standing with a look of mistrust on his face.

    Airk was still undecided, but he glanced at Revafour. His expression shifted, as if he was about to refuse, but then he turned to Amyalla. His expression shifted again, and he finally nodded his agreement, and Revafour did the same.

    Weimar looked hopefully back at his own companions.

    Luna was reserved, and it seemed to Weimar that she was still unsure about his proposal.

    Ma’non’go’s expression was as suspicious as before.

    Seline smiled brightly as she nodded her agreement with Weimar’s proposal.

    Ma’non’go turned to look at Seline, and she nodded encouragingly. Finally, the large Olman sighed, and nodded his assent.

    The seven adventurers set off, now sharing a common goal, and wondering what horrors they would have to face at the Bearded Lord’s Hollow.

    The weird sisters particularly enjoyed practicing their rituals at twilight. While the time of day did not particularly affect the weird sisters’ magic, they’d noted how many humans and their related races found the evening skies and sunset to be particularly beautiful. The weird sisters took particular pleasure in conducting their obscene rites at a time of day the humans would consider most pleasant.

    Dorbella began the rite by setting the rhythm of the chant with her harsh, guttural croak. After that, Ublodine chimed in with her high-pitched shrieks. N’arghenn then began to actually chant the spell itself. N’arghenn’s chants blended with the screams and songs of her sisters, melding into a disgusting, bloodcurdling cacophony that sounded as if it came from the bowels of the Nine Hells themselves. The weird sisters felt their visions fade in and out of focus, as a thick white mist obscured everything around them. The weird sisters closed their eyes briefly, and when they opened they all saw the same thing through their six eyes.

    The weird sisters saw the seven heroes approaching and learned their motivations, as their foul master granted them a vision. The weird sisters saw the hideous, horned face and large bat-like wings of their master looming at the edge of their minds as the vision faded. The white mist rose before the sisters’ eyes again, and finally their individual vision returned.

    Their first ritual completed, the weird sisters fell silent as Dorbella gestured to Bruddelmort, who stood nearby with the rest of his kin. Bruddelmort stepped forward as the weird sisters began another ritual, this time with a different spell in mind. The second ritual was directed at Bruddelmort, preparing him for the next phase of the weird sisters’ plan. That ritual was soon completed, and Dorbella began one final chant of her own, preparing herself for her own role in the coming storm.

    “You seem quite the collection of travelers,” Seline said to Amyalla as the seven adventurers continued walking down the trail. “Where are you from?”

    “The Duchy of Urnst,” Amyalla replied, “and well glad to be rid of it. Now I go wherever my feet will take me.”

    “And you both?” Seline extended her smile towards Airk and Revafour.

    “Flinthold, in the Lortmil Mountains,” Airk replied calmly. “And you?”

    Seline fell silent, looking back at Luna.

    “We’re from further east,” Luna replied, “beyond Nyrond.”

    “So, you’re Aerdi, then?” Revafour spoke up, an edge in his voice.

    “Where are you from?” Seline asked him in response.

    “The Duchy of Tenh, as you may have noticed,” Revafour said, indicating the beadwork on his cloak and the moccasins on his feet. “And I noticed that you did not answer my question. Am I to conclude that you’re Aerdi?”

    Seline fell silent, looking to Luna.

    “It’s not something we’re proud of,” Luna said quietly, twisting her fingers around the holy symbol of Pelor that hung from her neck.

    “I should think not,” Revafour said coldly as he raised an eyebrow. Revafour’s glance met Ma’non’go’s at that moment, and no one missed the disapproving gaze that flickered across Revafour’s face as he considered the other large man.

    Ma’non’go only glared angrily back at Revafour, breathing more heavily, as Weimar frowned reproachfully at Revafour.

    “What was that about?” Weimar asked, as the adventurers stopped their march.  

    “I don’t see how it’s your concern,” Revafour replied bluntly, crossing his arms.

    “Well, I want to make it my business,” Weimar shot back. “And by the looks of it, so does my large friend,” he noted. Weimar gestured with his head towards Ma’non’go’s face, which was now suffused with an enraged look.

    “Very well then,” Revafour replied, his own eyes flashing. “I should like to know why you can call yourself a priestess of Pelor and yet have a slave following you around. A mute one, no less.”

    “I somehow doubt that he’s a slave,” Amyalla tried to intervene, as she saw the tension rapidly growing between the two large men. “Surely not?”

    Ma’non’go shook his head vigorously, pointing at Revafour and then back at himself, before gesturing that they should step away from the rest of the group. He signed something to Luna and Seline, who nodded.

    “You’re sure?” Seline asked, and Ma’non’go nodded. The large Olman then looked at Revafour expectantly.

    Revafour glanced back at Amyalla and Airk. He saw that the halfling and the gnome both seemed very uncomfortable with the way things were going. Frowning, he began to follow Ma’non’go. The two men went some distance away, leaving their weapons with the rest of the group, before they finally sat down together on a large fallen tree.

    To Revafour’s surprise, Ma’non’go took a pot of ink, a quill and a roll of parchment from his backpack. Ma’non’go set the parchment on his lap, before he dipped the quill into the inkpot and began to write. Revafour sat in silence for several moments as Ma’non’go wrote out on the parchment. Finally, Ma’non’go completed his writing on the parchment, before holding it up for Revafour to read.  

    Why do you ask such questions? Revafour read on the parchment.

    “I should think it obvious,” Revafour replied suspiciously. “You are their slave, are you not?”

    No, I am not, Ma’non’go wrote in reply. I protect Luna and Seline because I owe their father my life, and I have pledged my word to guard his children so long as I am able. They fled their homes and lost everything they had, and so they have needed my protection. Why do you jump to such immediate and wrong conclusions about my relationship with them? I can see your hostility-we all can. From what does it stem?

    “Surely you know of the betrayals, the mistreatment and the broken promises our people have suffered,” Revafour replied, somewhat incredulous that Ma’non’go would not be aware of them. “Even now, in far too many cases, we suffer the same oppression and abuse.”

    In response, Ma’non’go began writing on his parchment once again, before handing it back to Revafour.

    I am not of the Flan, Revafour read on the parchment, although I know all about the suffering of your people. I come from the south, beyond the Flanaess, born in the city of X’tandelexamenka in the land the peoples of your continent call Hepmonaland.

    “So you’re an Olman,” Revafour realized, handing the parchment back to Ma’non’go.

    I am also all too acquainted with betrayal-betrayal by those I thought were my friends and allies, who dishonored me, took my entire life away from me, and left me for dead in the merciless jungles. It was Luna and Seline’s father who found me and nursed me back to health. None of the local people in the part of the jungle where I was abandoned would have me, so I had little recourse but to return to Aerdy with Lord Roas. He gave me a home, and now I repay his hospitality, as is my duty of honor as an X’tandelexamenkan, Ma’non’go wrote on the parchment, before returning it to Revafour.

    “And you’ve never returned home?” Revafour asked in surprise. “You don’t seek vengeance?”

    There is nothing there for me anymore, Ma’non’go wrote, the bitterness clearly spelled out on his face. I could do nothing against them even if I wanted to.

    “Why do you not speak?” Revafour asked, his demeanor softening. “Is it because of…”

    It is because of the trauma and betrayal I have endured, Ma’non’go wrote, as a look of sadness crossed his face. Would that I could talk again, but until I can I must communicate by quill and parchment, or by the hand signs that Lord Roas taught me. I have nothing and no one else but those two children I am pledged to guard.

    “…How unfortunate,” Revafour finally said. “I should apologize for misjudging you.”

    It was not through malice that you do so, Ma’non’go wrote in assurance.

    A contemplative look crossed Ma’non’go’s face, as he began to write again.

    I should ask, though-why are you so concerned about such matters when you yourself wield a broadsword and plate armor that are so clearly of Oeridian make? If you so abhor what the newer arrivals to the Flanaess have done, why do you continue to use their tools? Ma’non’go wrote curiously.

    “I don’t see myself as having much choice in the matter,” Revafour said, shifting uncomfortably. “And I would be a fool to fault everything the Oerids and the Suel have done, particularly when I see the beauty and elegance of their own art and their stories.”

    You enjoy such things as well? Ma’non’go wrote with a smile. Then you will surely enjoy the company of Luna and Seline.

    “And what of the blonde man, Weimar?” Revafour asked, his brief smile vanishing.

    He has proven his courage and his loyalty, Ma’non’go nodded, a businesslike expression on his face. I have seen no reason to doubt him.

    Revafour nodded in reply as he and Ma’non’go stood up.

    Soon, Ma’non’go had packed up his writing supplies and begun walking back with Refavour towards the rest of the group.

    Glancing at Revafour’s face, Ma’non’go was gratified by the expression he saw, which was much more serene and contemplative than before.

    “Is he always like that?” Weimar asked Airk and Amyalla as the rest of the group waited for Revafour and Ma’non’go to return.

    “Not always, but I can sympathize,” Airk replied before Amyalla could speak up. “I noticed it struck a sore point with you, too.”

    “That’s because Revafour was being unfair,” Weimar replied, trying to stay calm as he glanced away from Airk.

    “Are you sure that was all it was?” Airk asked sharply, noticing Weimar’s discomfort.

    “Please, do we need to be arguing like this?” Seline protested, as Amyalla glared reproachfully at Airk and Weimar. “We have more important problems to deal with, and we need each other’s help!”

    Airk and Weimar looked at one another again, before they nodded.

    “I mean no insult,” Airk said, more calmly this time. “Rather, I ask more out of curiosity. You seem rather more interested in the matter than I would have thought.”

    “Too many people have insulted my Keoish heritage in the past,” Weimar muttered. “It’s not something I appreciate.”

    “Few people would,” Airk nodded. “I’ve had enough dwarves looking down their beards at me to know what it’s like.”

    “You’ve had dwarves looking down on you?” Luna asked curiously.

    “Aye, all too often,” Airk frowned. “I take it you humans have heard of the Hateful Wars?”

    They nodded in response.

    “Few humans know anything about those wars but what the dwarves have said about it,” Airk explained. “Suffice to say that the dwarves were not always the most faithful of allies. Nor were our fellow gnomes, for that matter.”

    “Your fellow gnomes?” Seline’s eyes widened in surprise.

    “Oh yes,” Airk replied, a look of disgust crossing his face. “I know all too well what it’s like to be betrayed by one of your own.”

    “So do I,” Amyalla spoke up, as she’d listened to the conversation with interest. “It’s why I would prefer to avoid ever returning to Urnst, if at all possible.”

    Luna and Seline looked at one another at that, pained expressions crossing their faces.

    “What’s wrong?” Amyalla asked curiously.

    Seline looked as though she didn’t want to say anything, and Luna spoke up for her.

    “Being Aerdi isn’t exactly something we’re proud of, particularly when our noble house got into a conflict with a rival and our father was murdered. The other noble house tried to claim us as ‘compensation’ for the wrongs they said our family did, and so we had to flee for our lives with Ma’non’go,” she explained, pain in her eyes as she recounted the unpleasant memories.

    “And yet, how young are you? No child should ever have to go through that,” Airk shook his head sadly.

    Seline only smiled sadly back at the gnome, mouthing her thanks as Revafour and Ma’non’go came up to rejoin them.

    “Well?” Amyalla asked promptly.

    “I should apologize for my forwardness,” Revafour finally said. “Suffice to say I’ve had some bad experiences.”

    “You’re far from the only one,” Amyalla smirked.

    “It’s quite alright,” Seline assured him in Flan. Revafour’s mouth fell open in surprise, not having expected Seline to reply to him in Flan.

    “Shall we continue?” she asked, this time in the common tongue.

    The band resumed their march, each of them thinking over what they had just heard from their new companions.

    Dusk was approaching on the horizon, so the adventurers decided to make camp for the night. It did not take long before they had a fire going, and began to prepare a meal.

    “Anyone else for a bit of Big Cedar Log?” Weimar asked, as he pulled the bottle of ale out of his backpack. “The dwarves of Gryrax swear by it, or so they say.”

    Revafour only raised an eyebrow as he took a drink from his waterskin.

    “You only drink water, eh?” Weimar sighed. “You don’t know what you’re missing, my friend.”

    “Perhaps you’d prefer some tea?” Luna offered Revafour instead. “It’s a new blend-I mixed in some good Celenese herbs.”

    “Also bought in Gryrax?” Revafour raised an eyebrow as he accepted the cup Luna gave him and took a sip of it. “The dwarves are willing to sell something produced by an elven realm like Celene?”

    “What can I say?” Luna shrugged, a smile playing around her lips. “There’s quite a lot of demand for it. Is it any wonder the dwarves are always willing to sell it?”

    Revafour only smiled as he sipped Luna’s tea.

    “What do you think?” Luna asked.

    “Good, very good,” Revafour nodded approvingly, licking his lips briefly. “It goes well with supper,” he indicated, pointing at the wild boar steaks that were now roasting over the fire.

    “Don’t you think you put too much spice on them, though?” Seline pointed out. “I mean, it seems like rather a lot.”

    “You just always say that,” Luna shot back teasingly. “I take it you’re having your tenderloin strips and apples again?”

    “Why wouldn’t I?” Seline shot back. “You always make dinner so spicy. It’s almost as bad as half the tea recipes you come up with!”

    “Are you sure you should be an adventurer?” Amyalla spoke up, raising an eyebrow. “You have the palate of a princess who’s never been out of her castle in her life!”

    “Is it too much to ask that at least some of the food we eat doesn’t burn our tongues off?” Seline shot back.

    “Yes, yes it is,” Weimar pronounced authoritatively.

    Airk merely rolled his eyes at the bantering humans and halfling, smiling slightly as he sat some distance away on a rock, looking out at the sunset as he sipped at the tankard of mead Weimar had been gracious enough to pour him.

    Airk was startled out of his reverie when he heard the footsteps approaching from behind him. Looking up, he saw Ma’non’go’s towering form coming to join him. The tall Olman pointed at himself, and then at the rock, as Airk nodded at him. Ma’non’go sat down to join the gnome, before pulling out his familiar quill, ink and parchment.

    You do not desire the company of the others? Ma’non’go wrote.

    “Of course I do,” Airk nodded. “There’s something to be said for just enjoying the sunset, though. It’s a beautiful evening, especially with the breeze.”

    I could do without it, Ma’non’go wrote in reply. I’m not all that fond of the cold, as you can probably imagine.

    “No doubt,” Airk nodded. “On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t do as well in your homeland, either. Far too hot and rainy, I presume?”

    “You don’t like the rain?” Luna asked as she came over to join them, giving Airk and Ma’non’go each a share of the boar steaks.

    “Not in the least,” Airk shuddered. “More particularly, I abhor getting wet.”

    “You’re hardly the only one,” Luna assured him. “Seline always used to mock me for hating stormy weather.”

    I should say that neither of you realizes what you’re missing, Ma’non’go pointed out, writing once again on his parchment. One of the things I always used to enjoy was the pleasures of swimming.

    Airk and Luna only looked at Ma’non’go, then at each other, frowning all the while.

    As I said, neither one of you realizes what you’re missing, Ma’non’go finished writing, a smile playing around his lips, before he put down his writing materials and picked up his food.

    “You’re sure you won’t take even just one tankard?” Weimar asked Revafour later, once the adventurers have finished their meal.

    “I don’t drink,” Revafour shook his head.

    “Not at all?” Weimar asked curiously.

    “No,” Revafour shook his head again.

    “Why?” Weimar asked. “Is it because of…” he trailed off.

    “Because of what?” Revafour asked, a chill tone coming into his voice. “Because of the stereotype of Flan as lazy drunkards? I suppose that’s what you were expecting, wasn’t it?” he continued with an angry glower.

    “No, it wasn’t,” Weimar replied, his own eyes narrowing. “What made you think that?”

    “The voice of experience,” Revafour replied, crossing his arms suspiciously.

    “And I suppose that it’s expected of me, given my background?” Weimar asked defensively.

    “What is your background, then?” Revafour asked, raising an eyebrow. “Most of the rest of us have told something about ourselves, but you’ve been rather reticent.”

    “There’s not much to tell,” Weimar replied. “I’d certainly never disparage any Flan who drink, certainly not when I’m far guiltier of it than any of them could be,” he continued with a smirk. “Like father, like son, though-old Clausen got himself thrown out of the Keoish army for his boozing. I wasn’t much better, mind you-with all the tavern brawls I got into, I got to know just about everyone in Niole Dra’s city watch,” he grinned.

    Revafour only blinked in surprise at Weimar’s admission.

    “I grew tired of nights in the city dungeons, so I found the Royal Keoish Army might be a better outlet for my energy,” Weimar continued. “Quite the experience, I’ll tell you-learning all about the ways of the weather and the woods…to say nothing of the ways of the elven maidens!” Weimar said with a lewd wink.

    Revafour’s jaw fell open in shock, glad that the rest of the adventurers weren’t listening.

    “So no, I’m not fool enough to believe the stupid things too many people say about the Flan,” Weimar assured him. “Not when I’m far guiltier than they ever could be of that,” Weimar continued, more seriously this time.

    Revafour blinked at that.

    “What of yourself?” Weimar asked. “You’ve told us little of your own story so far. And aren’t stories important to the Flan?”

    “Fair point,” Revafour said with a slight half-smile, before he related his bitter experiences with Tuomad Wolf-Slayer, his time in Blackmoor and Archbaron Bestmo’s betrayal.

    “So you’ve been wandering since then,” Weimar reflected. “Searching for something?”

    Revafour frowned at that.

    “You’re not alone in that,” Weimar said, “not at all. I’ve often wondered about that myself, and if I’ll ever find it…”

    Revafour’s frown disappeared, replaced with a contemplative look. 

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    Re: The Silver Wolf-A Light In The Dark: Chapter Eight: Two Paths Become One (Score: 1)
    by RobertJames on Fri, May 12, 2023
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    The strange sisters noticed that when a dense white mist hid everything around them, their vision would come and go.  kitchen remodeling contractor NJ

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