CruelSummerLord writes "
Airk looked around at his fellow adventurers, his second family.
“You’ve all come this far to help me,” he said. “Now it’s my turn to help all of you. Wherever you want to go, whatever you need…I’ll be with you.”
received some of Lady Babylon’s more portable treasures for slaying her and returning
the Crown of Arumdina. In particular, they received her jade and ivory
statuettes and a collection of gold and silver chalices. They also received
several of Lady Babylon’s magical potions, although her hoard had no permanent
magical items. Of the potions, Ma’non’go insisted on taking one that Seline
identified as being able to restore the drinker’s youth.
it’s safe? Ma’non’go
asked Seline as she handed him the potion. They were sitting at a table in the
Sign Of The Wolverine’s common room, the inn having withstood the siege of
Flinthold better than most of the city’s other buildings.
Seline said, “but I don’t understand why you were so determined to have it.”
answering, Ma’non’go uncorked the potion bottle and drank the golden liquid it
contained in one motion. Several long moments passed as the potion’s magic took
effect on Ma’non’go. He was in his early thirties, but the potion made several
of those years fall away. He became eight years younger, by Seline’s estimate. Now
he was physically the same age as Revafour and Weimar, who were both in their
middle twenties. Seline blinked a few times, startled by the potion’s effects.
When Ma’non’go raised an eyebrow at her, she realized just what kind of
attention she was paying him, and how much of it.
I take it
you like what you see? he
said with a half-smile.
Seline said, eager to change the subject, “but why is it so important to you? I
mean, none of us mind you taking it, but…”
surprise, Ma’non’go’s look suddenly became cold and grim. He resembled a
statue, and Seline felt a chill run down her spine at the look in his eyes.
I have my
said, and I won’t speak on what they are. Let’s just say that looking
younger than I really am will help ensure that some men get the justice that’s
long, long overdue to them.
at that, realizing it was Ma’non’go’s business and no one else’s.
“I have to
wonder, though,” she said, eager to change the subject, “about whether Kalrek
would have been doomed even if he’d found the Crown and returned it himself. There’s
no way Garl Glittergold would have given Kalrek any blessings through it.”
asked Airk about that, Ma’non’go
said. He said that Kalrek probably would have rededicated it to Urdlen, he
continued, referring to the evil gnomish god of bloodlust and murder.
with an artifact?” Seline said in shock.
Ma’non’go said, his
expression showing his confusion. What makes an artifact different from any
other magic item?
on a plane of their own as magical items,” Seline said. “They can be extremely
powerful…and extremely dangerous to use. Either they can have all sorts of
horrible effects on their users, or the users have to follow some sort of moral
code for them to function.”
still a gnomish god, Ma’non’go
pointed out. If the Crown is an artifact of the gnomish gods, couldn’t
Urdlen channel his power through it too? And how many people could even tell
That made sense
to Seline. From what one of Lady Babylon’s human spies had said when he’d
surrendered to the Flinthold forces, Lady Babylon made Flinthold her target
because of how badly its leaders’ infighting weakened it.
Flinthold was united under a strong king, Lady Babylon would have probably
never attacked,” she said. Ma’non’go nodded in agreement, recalling what Airk
said about how Kalrek could have gotten the Regency Council’s support.
The spring festival of Growfest had come and gone during the companions’ efforts
to recruit the Kutunachke. The gnomes of Flinthold were more concerned with looking
after their refugees and preparing to retake their capital than with
celebration. A few of the gnomes made some half-hearted attempts to belatedly
celebrate, but most of their kin weren’t in a festive mood.
She was about
to say something else when Revafour, Airk and Luna all walked into the Sign Of
The Wolverine and joined them at the table. Weimar came over to join them, bringing
a fresh tankard of Big Cedar Log with him. Amyalla came last, as she finished
the card game she’d been playing with several of the inn’s other patrons and got
a cup of wine before joining the rest of the group.
“How are you
doing?” Seline asked Airk, her expression reflecting the worry she and the rest
of his friends felt for him.
terms with it all,” Airk said. “Don’t worry about me. Right now, we need to
decide where we’re going next.”
said in surprise. “You’re coming with us?”
“Yes I am,”
Airk said. “There’s nothing for me here.”
this your home? I’d have thought you’d be admired as a hero here, Ma’non’go said. And what about your
“Many of my kin
blame me for everything that’s happened,” Airk said, shaking his head. “Some of
them think that I attracted Lady Babylon here by bringing the Crown back.
Others are angry at what we’ll have to concede to the Kutunachke.”
exactly?” Weimar asked.
be off-limits to mining, for one,” Revafour said before Airk could do so.
“Places where the Kutunachke might collect rents from Flintholders living there.
The Kutunachke’s right to make decisions about how their lands are used.”
blessings will help Flinthold regain its prosperity, but those blessings depend
on our honoring our treaties with the Kutunachke,” Airk said. “The kingdom as a
whole might recover, but some gnomes’ purses are still going to be thinned. They
might not be able to stop it, but they won’t like it at all.”
“What if that
fool Moswen tries something?” Weimar said.
“No one takes
him seriously anymore,” Airk said, shaking his head. “He nearly led us to war
with Garnetholme, and his stupidity helped Lady Babylon and her forces overrun
Flinthold. I wouldn’t be surprised if he leaves the kingdom altogether. Without
Moswen, King Arthur won’t have a problem settling Flinthold’s mining dispute
with Garnetholme. That’s another thing some of my kin will blame me for.”
Why? Ma’non’go said. Because their
fortunes won’t be as large as they used to be? Even after everything the rest
of your people have already lost?
so,” Airk said, nodding.
scat if I ever heard it!” Weimar said, ignoring the surprised looks the inn’s
other patrons gave him. “If it wasn’t for us, the Crown would have never-“
matter,” Airk said. “Ma’non’go mentioned my siblings, and…” he took a deep
breath before continuing. “Osian’s dead, Gilduros was nearly killed, Ruby
nearly widowed. I can’t stay with them after everything that’s happened. They
might be harassed by other Flintholders who’re angry at me.”
going to happen to them?” Luna asked.
“I saw to it
they were provided for,” Airk said. “It’s just like it was after the Hateful
Wars. Arthur offered me a fair amount of Lady Babylon’s coin as a reward, but I
had him give it to their families.”
mean you can’t stay here,” Luna said.
doesn’t,” Airk said. “But even if it doesn’t...I just don’t feel like I belong
Weimar said with a scowl. “You’ve every right to stay-“
“My head knows
that, but my heart doesn’t,” Airk said. “Seeing so many of my kin die during
the Hateful Wars...seeing so many more die now…this isn’t the place for me
“So we can’t
get rid of you,” Amyalla said with a smirk. “Does anyone know where we should
go, then? South, to the Duchy of Ulek?”
northeast to Verbobonc?” Weimar said. “They pay well for guards against Elemental
Evil raiders who survived Emery Meadows. And they don’t mind if you take a bit
of time to do some exploration of your own,” he said, his eyes lighting up.
“I’d like to go
north to Veluna,” Luna said, her eyes lighting up. “I’d love to see their
interpretations of Rao’s faith, and how it intersects with Pelor’s.”
“I have friends
I left in Highfolk after we fled from Blackmoor,” Revafour said, frowning at
the unpleasant memory of the winter flight south. “I’d like to check in on
them, if I can. And besides, it should be my right to decide. The second of Planting
was my birthday, and none of you even acknowledged it!”
friends all looked more than a little embarrassed and ashamed, but the wry
smile on his lips showed that he was teasing them.
exactly tell us before now,” Weimar said with a smile of his own. “Besides,
what would you even want as a gift?”
“Making sure the
gnomes respected the Kutunachke’s rights was the only gift I’d really want,”
Revafour said, his smile widening into a grin. “But I would like to visit
everyone in Highfolk. There’d be a lot of work for us too. There’s always the
danger of monsters from the Yatil Mountains and the Vesve Forest. We could sail
or even canoe down the Velverdyva river from some place like Verbobonc.”
should go west before we do that,” Amyalla said. “I heard one of those dwarven
nobles talk about the ruins of a dwarf-hold some days to the west of here, a
place called the Glimmering Hall. You ever heard of it, Airk?”
“Oh yes,” Airk
said with a nod. “Old tales used to tell of it as a dwarven city that was named
for the way its platinum and mithril veins shone in the torchlight. It fell to
an orcish siege during the Hateful Wars, but then the orcs mostly destroyed
each other fighting over its riches. The Glimmering Hall’s been unclaimed ever
since. A few places sent expeditions to try and retake it, but none of them
ever returned. It wasn’t long before the place was abandoned altogether.”
“Why do you
bring it up?” Airk said. “Are you saying that we should explore it? No one’s
ever come back from there alive!” He tried to sound incredulous, but he was smiling.
reason would a group of daring adventurers have to venture there? Brandobaris
only knows what treasures we could find!” Amyalla said, returning his smile. “We
could likely travel north from there to Veluna and Highfolk.”
“We’ve got plenty
of treasure already,” Seline said, joining in the game.
“And how much
of it will we lose in taxes if we go to Veluna or the Uleks?” Amyalla said, her
smile growing wider. “Best we have as much as we can get. Besides, training and
sorcery aren’t cheap. Remember how much it cost for you to recharge your wand?”
“That was an
investment!” Seline said, her expression one of mock outrage.
“Not to mention
tithing to Pelor,” Luna said. “I mean, honestly-half of all my wealth?”
The rest of the
companions looked askance at her.
asked, a smile of her own playing around her lips. “Why can’t I make a joke
once in a while?”
I’d be all
for it, said Ma’non’go,
but what about you, Airk?
around at his fellow adventurers, his second family.
come this far to help me,” he said. “Now it’s my turn to help all of you. Wherever
you want to go, whatever you need…I’ll be with you.”
where?” Revafour asked.
to be somewhere,” Airk said. “Being beside all of you is as good a place as
The rest of the
companions returned his smile.
half-expected the voice that had tormented him for the past several months to
speak up, but it was utterly silent.
Instead, an old
gnomish traveling song entered his mind, a song that suited his mood very well
at that moment.
tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down…he
thought, recalling the lyrics.
tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on.
tomorrow, I’ll find what I call home…
tomorrow, I know I’m free to roam.
thinking of the peace he felt at that moment.
to Anna Meyer, whose hard work in mapping the Flanaess has been so helpful to
me and countless other Greyhawk fans, and to everyone on the Greyhawk Resources
forum for their support and encouragement. "