The gnome city of Copper Crossing was the largest
of their settlements in the Kron Hills. It was home to some eight thousand of
the noniz, as the Flan once called them, and half again as many humans and
dwarves. Unlike other mining communities, which had become famous for the
variety of precious gems and metals that they produced, Copper Crossing was
more known for producing iron, tin and other metals used for more mundane
projects. The only precious metal produced in Copper Crossing was copper, so by
default it contributed half of the city’s name. The second half of its name
came from its location along the trade routes between Dyvers to the north,
Verbobonc to the west, Celene to the south and the Wild Coast to the east. The
combination of trade and mining had made Copper Crossing rich and prosperous,
and its merchants widely respected in the surrounding lands.
Laessar Bradon was no exception. He had come to
Copper Crossing decades ago to seek his fortune, and in that time he had built
up a powerful reputation and business for himself. The gnome was not nearly as
ostentatious in his display of wealth as some of his rivals, but he cut a
distinguished figure nonetheless. His clothes appeared to be more those of a
common craftsman, but they were exquisitely tailored, and his hired barber saw
to it that his hair was coiffed in a manner fit for a prince. The silver rings
he wore, one to each hand, implied his wealth without flagrantly displaying it.
The manner in which he carried himself was that of a man who knew he was master
of his own house, and was firm and decisive when he made decisions.
That demeanor showed itself as he had his coachman
drive him home, and he strode purposefully through the doors of his manor. It
remained in place as he marched towards his study, where his valet had already
set out his correspondence for his review. Borrus had discreetly left after
that, as Laessar typically gave strict instructions that he was not to be
disturbed when he reviewed his correspondence.
The facade fell away as he shut and locked the
door, and sat down at his desk. Almost immediately, Laessar seemed to age a
hundred years all at once. His shoulders bent, his eyes became clouded over,
and his hands started to tremble, as he began sifting through the letters awaiting
The first two letters were from some of his
friends in the Gentry of Dyvers, writing to assure him that the permits for the
goods being shipped to Willip in Furyondy had been approved, and were merely awaiting
the arrival of his caravan. The next letter provided some advice from a contact
in Veluna City, telling him that the market outlook for Baklunish wines wasn’t
as good as most of the speculators were thinking, and advised him to keep his
investments to a minimum. The fourth letter was from the Copper Crossing
bureaucracy assuring him that his books were all in order and thanking him for
paying all his taxes on time.
For a moment, Laessar’s facade seemed to come
back, as it seemed as though he had no more mail.
Then he noticed the fifth letter.
His hands trembling, it was all he could do to
reach out and open it up.
collection of goods arrive three days from today, at the Wyvern Location.
must go by the Forgotten Route.
You know, of
course, the rewards of success…
penalty of failure.
Tears formed in Laessar’s eyes as he buried his
face in his hands.
When he met with his managers to make the
arrangements, the facade had returned.
Why do trolls have to
stink so much? Weimar Glendowyr thought to himself. Considering how much they attack humans and our ilk, they could at
least have the courtesy to have a more pleasant odor, like rotting carrion or
the excrement of dogs.
And more than that,
why am I thinking about this now, of all times? Weimar wondered, gritting
his teeth as his shield deflected the next blow. It nearly knocked him
off-balance, but that didn’t keep Weimar from striking back with his axe and almost
shearing the troll’s arm off.
Few things disgusted Weimar more than trolls. Their stench
was bad enough, seemingly a combination of every other bad smell Weimar had
ever encountered in his life, compounded by the fact that the wretched
creatures never bathed. In appearance, trolls were no better, being tall and
spindly creatures with lumpy green-gray skin covered in small patches of black
and grey hair and splotches of dried blood and muck. Their hands and feet ended
in wickedly sharp claws, and their wide mouths were filled with deadly
needle-like teeth. Their faces were framed with long, pointy noses, eyes that
were black pits of despair and wild patches of jet-black hair sprouting in
random places on their heads.
Gasping with the effort, Weimar clove his axe deep into the
troll’s leg, forcing it to stumble. Now off balance, the troll couldn’t
effectively resist Weimar as he came in and drove his axe squarely into the
wretched thing’s chest. Howling in pain, the troll collapsed, although even
that wasn’t the end of it. The wretched creatures could not be slain by axe or
sword alone-inevitably, they would recover and heal, until they were finally
slain by fire.
There were bodies all around Weimar as he dropped his axe
and shield and picked up the troll’s arms. Most of them were of the ten trolls
that Weimar and the other people fighting beside him had ambushed, although
four of them were of the brave human warriors who had given their lives in
defense of their loved ones. Although Weimar lamented their passing, he was
grim-faced and silent as he joined the other men in stacking the trolls’
Taking a flask of oil out of his backpack, Weimar stuffed it
with a rag, again following the leads of the other men around him. Almost as
one, they lit the rags with their tinderboxes and tossed the oil flasks onto
the trolls’ impromptu funeral pyre. Some of the trolls had healed to the point
where they could start to move once again, but they were too late as the fires
began to consume them. Screaming in agony, the dying trolls spat curses at the
humans who watched them die.
Weimar hardly cared for their fates, being more concerned
with the fate of the men around him. Almost all of them were of the Flan, the
humans of bronze skin and black hair who were the first human inhabitants of
the Flanaess. Owing allegiance to no one but themselves, they dwelled in the
town of Oakdale in the Cairn Hills north of the City of Greyhawk, and now their
homes were under threat from the trolls. The people of Oakdale had done Weimar
and his friends a good turn some weeks before, and now Weimar and his
companions had come to return the favor. The Flan of Oakdale gratefully
accepted the offer, knowing full well what the Company of the Silver Wolf was
At first glance, Weimar himself did not seem to be much to
look at. His fair skin and hair, not to mention his green eyes, seemed
undermined by his tall, lanky build and the redness of his eyes and nose, both
of which testified to his fondness for drink. Nor were his wine-spattered
leather armor or drab beige clothing particularly impressive. There was much more
to him than that, of course, as the large and bloody battleaxe and
wicked-looking daggers hanging from his belt attested. His darkwood shield,
painted silver and black and decorated with the profile of an angry boar’s head
on the front, and his dangerous looking longbow completed the picture. He was
completely at ease in the woods, as calm and collected as he might be in front
of a comforting hearth-fire in a guarded home.
“How many more would you say there are in this part of the
woods?” Weimar heard a voice ask from behind him. Turning around, Weimar smiled
in greeting to the large Flan man who came up to him. While most of the Flan
wore lighter armor and carried small swords or spears, Revafour Greystar was
quite different. He shared the copper skin, brown eyes and black hair of his
fellow Flan, cut to shoulder length, but he was also powerfully built, the
sheer size of his frame clearly displaying the immense strength it carried.
Revafour’s strength likely explained how he was able to move as easily as he
did in the thick plate armor that covered his body, to say nothing of the huge
two-handed broadsword he had strapped to his back. A long beaded cloak added a
splash of color to his ensemble, and contrasted oddly with his heavy armor, as
did the moccasin boots on his feet. His face was typically calm and stoic,
although now his eyes were glowing brightly, as his old battle-lust subsided.
“Probably one or two packs at most, depending on how well
we’ve done,” Weimar suggested. “Trolls don’t exactly breed as fast as other
humanoids, of course.”
Revafour only nodded at that.
“How do you think the others are doing?” the larger man
“Who knows?” Weimar shrugged. “These trolls weren’t
“Pray to Pelor it was like that for all of them,” Revafour
said calmly, before turning around and marching to rejoin the rest of the group
as they prepared to leave. Weimar quickly followed, picking up his equipment as
Weimar saw the wide smile that crossed Revafour’s face as he
exchanged a few words with Dennine, the Flan brave who led their war party. He
had only known Revafour for a few weeks, but already he saw how calm and
reserved the larger man was, except on occasions such as this. He could open up
to Weimar and the rest of their little band, people who had earned his trust,
but it was only among his fellow Flan that he was this comfortable among
strangers. Otherwise, he was typically only calm and polite to strangers, save
with those who were unlucky enough to have made him angry.
Not that Weimar could really blame Revafour-he’d noted how
many of the other Flan hadn’t been entirely comfortable with him, either.
Weimar knew full well about the ugly history of the Flanaess, and how its first
human peoples had been repeatedly betrayed and attacked by the Oeridian and
Suel humans that had come later. The Flan, much like the Rhennee, still had to
deal with much of the same bigotry and violence they’d always faced. Weimar
himself had gotten into more than one tavern brawl with the thugs who thought
that attacking Rhennee or Flan men who they outnumbered somehow proved their
courage and strength.
Weimar knew all that, he really did.
Even with all that, he couldn’t help but stew with
resentment at the dirty looks some of the Oakdale Flan were shooting him.
“Everything’s ready?” Amyalla Reorsa asked Seline Roas Del
Cranden, who only smiled. The two women looked from one another to the Flan
braves who had helped them set everything up. The Flan all smiled back,
confirming the women’s hopes.
Amyalla smiled back as she and several of the other Flan
marched off to play their part in the plan. Despite her diminutive stature, at
only three feet tall, few men of any height could resist Amyalla’s charms. With
a slender, beautiful figure, long flowing red hair, and bright green eyes,
Amyalla radiated both cunning and beauty. Her long, stylish traveling gown and
the fancy orchid- and lilac-decorated hat on her head contrasted oddly with her
rough leather jerkin and worn leather boots, and the daggers that hung from her
belt. She moved lightly, with remarkable speed for her small size, always with
an expression somewhere between wry amusement and clever knowledge.
Seline was no less beautiful, her long strawberry-blonde
hair contrasting with her green eyes and the deep midnight blue robes that
covered her gorgeous frame. The silver moon- and star-designs that covered her indigo-colored
robes marked her clearly as a wielder of magic, but her lilting voice could
easily have been that of a minstrel and she was almost as light on her feet as
her halfling friend. The clever sparkle in her eyes was all her own, however,
reflecting both her inner spirit and powerful intellect, and outward demeanor
and the joy she took from life.
It wasn’t long before Amyalla and the Flan scouts who’d
joined her were making their way through the woods towards the troll pack the
scouts had spotted with their telescopes. The trolls were making no effort to
be silent, of course, eagerly howling their bloodlust to terrify their prey.
Branches snapped and bushes crackled as the trolls tore through the woods,
having picked up the scent of the humans and halfling. Amyalla and the Flan
scouts waited long enough for the trolls to get a good look at them, before
they turned and ran, screaming for their lives.
Eager for blood, the trolls howled in delight and stormed
after them as Amyalla and the Flan ran in terror. They stopped short, however,
at the cloud of fog that came up almost out of nowhere. Suddenly unsure of what
to do, the trolls resorted instead to their senses of smell, and began picking
up the scents of their prey…
…as well as the smell of electricity in the air as a
lightning bolt tore through them.
The trolls’ healing could overcome their injuries, but they
were enraged at what had happened. They’d been led into a trap, blinded and
then attacked, played for fools, but now they could hear their victims running
in all directions, taunting them. Now angered, the trolls split off into
several groups, each of them running after some of their prey.
The trolls spotted the ambush almost immediately. They had
emerged onto an open, cleared path that was frequently used as a trail by the
inhabitants of the Cairn Hills, and it was an obvious point for an ambush. Not
that it was a problem for them-trolls were experts at climbing, and they could
make their way through the upper tree branches as well as any human or
halfling. Already, they could see the Flan scrambling through the trees, crying
out in terror at the realization that their ambush had failed.
It was while they were climbing through the trees that they
heard the laughter. Before the trolls knew what was happening, they had become
entangled in netting carefully placed among the trees and colored to look like
leaves and branches. Crying out in annoyance, they set about cutting themselves
…before they heard the sadistic chuckles coming from above.
Looking up, the trolls could see Amyalla and several of the
Flan smirking at them from the highest branches of the trees. They pulled on
the cords in their hands, and then the trolls realized their doom as the
bottoms fell out of the concealed boxes and dropped the bottles of acid on
them. Acid was one of the few things that trolls feared, for it could work just
as well as fire in killing them. They might have recovered from the injuries
they sustained in their falls out of the trees, tangled in the netting as they
thrashed about in agony, but in combination with the burns from the acid the
falls killed them.
Amyalla smiled at that. Purchasing the acid in Greyhawk had
not been easy, nor had rigging all the netting and the buckets alongside the
Flan, but it had been worth every bit of effort to see the trolls slain. Her
knowledge of traps, the Flan’s knowledge of the land, and Seline’s magic had
all made a powerful combination.
Quickly making her way down from the trees, she
went to see how Seline was faring.
So far, so good, Seline thought with a thrill of pride. Let’s just hope that everything works out to
In her mind,
Seline gave a heartfelt prayer of thanks to the gods. The wand she had obtained
some weeks before, in the conflict at the Bearded Lord’s Hollow, could emit
clouds of fog and steam, while the ring she wore, a keepsake of her old life as
an Aerdi noble, allowed her to become invisible from sight. They saved her from
having to use her personal magic for these things, freeing it up for more
constructive purposes. The lightning bolt had served its purpose well, getting
the trolls angry enough to want to pursue their opponents, and the sounds of
flight and taunting cries she’d generated with another spell kept up their
light-footedly down the slope, Seline entered into the cave at the base. It was
little more than an old bear’s den, long since abandoned by its owner, but it
served Seline well. Making herself visible, she called out to the trolls,
reaching into her pocket and chanting quickly as they charged into the cave.
were suddenly stopped short, as the mass of sticky webbing in Seline’s hand
exploded into a mass of tendrils that fully entangled them. Roaring angrily,
they began to flex their claws and rip through the webbing. The strands of
webbing were strong, but they couldn’t hope to hold the trolls for more than a
more than enough time for Seline. Sulphur, tallow and iron fell to dust from
her hands as she chanted, replaced by an orb of bright orange fire. Tossing it
at the floor of the cave, Seline directed it towards the trolls, who cursed and
tried to break free. It was to no avail, however, as the fiery ball ignited the
webbing and the trolls with it. The creatures screamed in agony as Seline
directed the fiery sphere back and forth, burning them all the more fiercely
because of the webbing they were trapped in.
wounded by the lightning, the trolls were soon no more than charred corpses
lying amid the ashes of webbing. Seline crinkled her nose at the stench, but
had to admit that it was still better than the way they smelled when they were
way out of the cave to rejoin Amyalla and the Flan, Seline felt a thrill at how
well everything had come together. She felt a keen sense of pride at how well
she’d worked her magic, and how well the spells she’d chosen had all come
It’s almost like music, she thought to herself, choosing the correct instruments and using
them in the correct order for a symphony. That’s the thing about magic-it can
be so infinitely creative when a wizard sets her mind to it!
To no one’s
surprise, large bales of wet grass and mud came flying through the air, hurled
from the surrounding woods. The missiles landed on the fires set all around the
perimeter of the town of Oakdale, extinguishing them and allowing the trolls
that had hurled them to attack the village in full force. That was what the
humans had expected, of course-the trolls came on eagerly, many of them
activating the tripwires that had been so expertly set and concealed. Acid
poured from the containers triggered by the wires, searing the trolls and
catching them off guard.
of the Silver Winds eagerly charged forward at that, ready to play his part.
With his huge, powerful frame and the practiced ease with which he carried the
large trident in his hands, it was clear that the bronze-skinned, black-haired
and dark-eyed man was a force to be reckoned with. By the standards of the
Flanaess, his multicolored clothes cut a strange figure, reflecting his
heritage as an Olman from the southern continent of Hepmonaland. Despite his
size, he moved with astonishing speed, brutally driving his trident into the
first of the trolls, even as he avoided the troll’s slashing claws. Normally,
trolls knew no fear, but as it stared into Ma’non’go’s eyes it was startled at
the intensity that shimmered within them.
troll came at Ma’non’go from the side, but the large man simply flung the troll
impaled on his trident at the second monster. Both of the creatures were
knocked flat on their backs, and rising to their feet as Ma’non’go came after
them again. The first troll was stunned as Ma’non’go drove his trident into his
face, collapsing from its injuries. The second troll ducked under Ma’non’go’s
next blow, and sank its teeth into his arm. Ma’non’go gritted his teeth, but he
made no sound as he reached out with his free hand and drove his fingers into
the troll’s eyes. The creature recoiled, and Ma’non’go drove his trident into
the creature’s face.
into his pocket, the large Olman retrieved a metal bottle, which he carefully
opened. An acrid smell and steam rose from the bottle as he opened it, and
Ma’non’go’s nose twitched at the stench of the acid within it. Pouring the acid
over the downed trolls, he smiled in satisfaction as the trolls screamed in
pain, the deadly concoction burning them and finishing the job that Ma’non’go
had started with his trident.
attack came, Luna Roas Del Cranden knew what she had to do. Placing one hand on
the pendant around her neck, and holding a leaf from the sumac tree in the
other, she chanted a prayer to Pelor, the god of the sun who she had devoted
her life to serving. She could sense the magic flowing through her, until her
right hand glowed a bright yellowish-red. The light extended into the shape of
a mace, confirming to Luna that Pelor had indeed answered her prayer.
glance, few observers would have credited Luna with the power she wielded. Her
beautiful face and crystal-blue eyes, framed by a mane of long, chestnut-brown
hair, and her slim, gorgeous figure were accented by the soft blue and gold
robes she wore, reminiscent of the sun rising over a mountain lake. Luna’s
demure and soft mannerisms were further evidence of how gentle she seemed, at
least until observers took note of the silvery chain mail she wore over her
robes, and the heavy shield in her left hand. They, along with the intensity
with which she spoke, revealed the steel that lay hidden at first glance.
her, the Flan inhabitants of Oakdale were fighting, ready to die to protect
their home and their loved ones from the foul things that now infested it. The
fiery magic of her spell was lethal to the attacking trolls, and so Luna found
herself finishing off the wretched creatures whenever they were too injured to
fight, or helping out a Flan warrior in dire need.
surrounded by suffering and death, and she tried to banish the thought of it by
thinking of how she might use Pelor’s blessings to restore so much of what was
lost. A gruff voice off to the side grabbed her attention, and she made haste
to assist him. Two trolls had already fallen at his hands, and she struck them
in the head with the flaming mace in her hand, putting an end to their
of the downed trolls and the gruff voice was soon at her side, the only defender
of the village who was not a human. Many gnomes were themselves as quiet and
withdrawn as Luna was in the company of humans, but Airk Venbelwar was a
notable exception. Clad in heavy plate armor and a horned helmet, Airk carried
a viciously curved military pick in one hand and a shield decorated with the
sign of the moons and stars in the other. A spiked morningstar hung at his
belt, and the gnome’s skill with it was no less impressive than the ability
with which he carried his pick. His combative appearance was only heightened by
the waxed handlebar moustache and elaborately trimmed beard he wore, all of
which spoke to the intensity with which he fought. Cursing, he slashed another
troll across the eyes, seeming not to care about the blood pouring from his
frowned at that, even as she drove her flaming mace into the skull of the last
troll. The creature screamed and died, even as the stench of burnt troll flesh
assaulted Luna’s nostrils.
A part of
her wanted to cry out in disgust, not so much at the stink but at all the fire
and death around her, fire she herself was forced to wield.
defenders did not have as much acid or flaming oil as they would have liked, as
they’d had to give much of the supply out to their own war parties. So it was
that they had to leave many of the trolls incapacitated but not dead,
continually striking them down before they could heal enough to fight again.
Fortunately, there were not as many trolls as they had feared-their own war
parties had likely taken care of most of the creatures. Of the score of trolls
that had assaulted Oakdale, half of them had fallen to acid or Luna’s fiery
spell. The rest were then stacked up in a large pile, before which Luna stood.
Chanting another spell, she gestured to the sky and Pelor responded, as the
pile of troll corpses burst into flame. The makeshift funeral pyre filled the
air with a disgusting stink, a smell that made Ma’non’go want to wretch.
didn’t bother him as much as the scenes in the town, though. Wounded men cried
out in pain as the priests tried to ease their suffering, women and children
sang songs of lament for their fallen kin, blood and acid stained the very land
itself. It was no different in the Great Kingdom of Aerdy or Hepmonaland-people
suffered and died at the hands of monsters, even as their loved ones tried,
often in vain, to protect them. More powerful individuals could and did make an
effort to protect them, as Ma’non’go did in the old days in X’tandelexamenka.
Coming to the Flanaess and becoming the sworn protector of Luna and Seline had
not changed the nature of his duties much.
only frowned at the effect the conflict had on those of his friends who had
remained to help protect the village. Airk scowled and muttered under his
breath constantly, mumbling something about ‘hateful wars’, while Luna made a
valiant effort to keep up a brave face, even though the strain in her eyes was
all too clear to her perceptive guardian.
head, the tall Olman moved to clean the gore off his trident and see what he
could do about helping to tend with the wounded and begin work on rebuilding.
didn’t feel much better when the Oakdale war parties returned to the village.
Although they’d returned in victory, few of them were particularly inclined to
celebrate, given how many of them had been wounded, and in particular how many
of their kinsmen were now dead at the monsters’ hands. Luna and the village’s
own priests worked diligently to heal the wounded, even as many of the
villagers set about repairing the damage their homes had suffered, and men
began posting watches in case of any more trolls.
There’s no rest for the weary, Ma’non’go thought to himself as he
carried one of the large bales of grass and mud the trolls had thrown. Where are all these creatures coming from, I
bale into the woods, Ma’non’go made his way back towards the center of town
when he heard two familiar voices conversing in Flan. One of them was his
friend Revafour’s, while the other was of Dennine, the village’s war leader.
Ma’non’go remembered the man well, as it was a patrol he had led that brought
Ma’non’go and his friends to Oakdale in the first place. The Flan had told them
about the Bearded Lord’s Hollow, confirming the results of the divination Luna
had cast to try and find the kidnapped nobleman’s son Teddyrun.
did you lose?” Revafour was asking Dennine.
thirty men,” Dennine replied grimly, as Ma’non’go stopped to watch. “The
hunting’s going to be bad this fall.”
to hear that,” Revafour frowned.
have been much worse if it hadn’t been for you and your friends,” Dennine
have won against these creatures,” Revafour pointed out.
“Even if we
had, we would have lost far more people than we would have. Things are going to
be bad, but think about how much worse they could have been?” Dennine reminded
He tried to
smile at that, but Revafour didn’t react.
should have gotten this bad to begin with,” Revafour replied flatly. “Where
were the dwarves of Greysmere, the people of the mining colonies, or any of the
other civilized settlements in these hills? Where were our fellow Flan, of all
people?” he demanded, his voice becoming more agitated.
likely had problems of their own,” Dennine pointed out. “It was the dwarves who
provided us so much of our oil and acid, after all!”
didn’t respond, simply turning about and stalking off, the tension palpable on
only shook his head and sighed.
that expression on the faces of too many Flan people during his travels with
Luna and Seline. Perhaps more than anyone else in their band, he too could
identify with it, recalling all too well the jibes so many people in Aerdy, and
even in Idee, had directed his way.
X’tandelexamenka was necessarily any better, of course.
Ma’non’go enjoying seasoned venison and roasted wild apples with his
companions, served by the Flan to their guests in gratitude for their help in
defending Oakdale. They had been entertained with fiddle and drumming music,
which renewed the welcome the Flan offered, which Luna had joined on the pan
flute she always carried, calling her contribution a return of the Flan’s
gratitude and hospitality. Such reciprocal exchange was very important to many
of the Flan peoples, and the residents of Oakdale were no exception.
Ma’non’go couldn’t help but notice how he and his companions had been given
their own table separate from that of their hosts. The food and the mead were
delicious-Weimar was already on his fifth tankard, to no one’s surprise-but
Ma’non’go felt somehow detached from it all, and wondered if his companions
felt the same way.
point during the festivities, Meloanne, the leader of the community, had come
up to them and asked Revafour to come with her. He’d gone off to confer with
Meloanne and the rest of the Oakdale ruling council for several long minutes,
Ma’non’go wondering what exactly what was going on. Of his companions, only
Luna seemed concerned, as the rest of their group was either watching the
festivities or finishing their meals.
Revafour came back to the table, a pensive look on his face.
has asked a favor of us,” he said.
would that be?” Weimar asked, his speech now slurring.
did well to keep a straight face at the smell of his friend’s breath, although
Amyalla had no such restraint.
like us to track the evil of these trolls to its source, and to destroy it,”
Revafour explained. “The elders are concerned that the trolls might attack
again. We don’t know how many there are, and the elders aren’t certain that
Oakdale has the resources to survive another attack.”
companions looked at each other at that. They and their Flan allies had slain
more than three-score of the foul things, and the idea of having to do it again
was not a comforting one.
think anyone will disagree with me when I say we’re all for it,” Amyalla chimed
in. “Do we have any idea where they’re located?”
their general area, based on the tracks and trails the trolls took to get
here,” Revafour. “You’d all best get some rest-we’ll have an early start
you, though?” Weimar asked slowly, as he took another drink. “Aren’t you going
to join us?”
look crossed Revafour’s face.
have…other things I need to take care of,” he said, somewhat evasively.
“I take it
that has to do with the rest of the Flan not going to sleep yet?” Weimar raised
“…We have a
moon dance yet to participate in,” Revafour explained, clearly not pleased with
the question. “It’s our way of saying goodbye to our fallen allies. Tomorrow
morning there’s going to be a sweat lodge, too.”
is it at?” Weimar asked.
need to know,” Revafour replied, an edge in his voice. “It’s only for-“
can’t participate?” Weimar demanded, rising to his feet. “I’d have thought we
could pay our respects, too! Or is it just because I’m Oerid?” he continued,
referring to his Oeridian roots.
some things we keep to ourselves,” Revafour said, an angry look on his face.
“So do the elves, so do the dwarves, so do everyone. Why is that so hard to
because of my hair, I can’t-“ Weimar snapped, before Seline put a hand on his
arm to calm him down.
please,” she asked him in a soothing voice. “We don’t need to be arguing like
this. Not tonight.”
Airk interrupted, in a voice that showed he wouldn’t take kindly to arguments.
“If that’s how it goes, Revafour, then of course we’ll respect your wishes.”
nodded once, before turning away from the table and returning to join the
even a word of thanks,” Weimar muttered under his breath, finishing off his
I think they’ve given us enough thanks already,
Ma’non’go signed to
Weimar, after poking him to get his attention. Besides, do you really think you’d be able to stay awake through it
all, after all you’ve had to drink?
nothing,” Weimar bragged in mock tones as he sat back down. “I once drank three
dwarves under the table in a contest. The losers had to pay the winner’s
tab…and even that wasn’t as bad as the humiliation of losing to a human!”
exchanged laughter at that, although Ma’non’go could see the look of concern on
Seline’s face, as well as the look of disgruntlement on Weimar’s.
rhythmic chant in the background filled Revafour’s ears, just as the scent of
sweetgrass and sage filled his nose and lungs. Almost all of the tension
vanished as he sat among his fellow Flan, embracing the millennia-old rituals
that were their inheritance.
were slightly different in Oakpoint than they were in Tenh-tobacco and cedar
were also used in Tenha rituals, although that came from the wide variety of
influences in the Duchy-but they were comforting and reassuring all the same.
The Flan had lost so much in the centuries since the other human races had come
to the Flanaess, but there were still some things uniquely their own.
that, his argument with Weimar from the night before still nagged at Revafour’s
Why was he so insistent on participating? Revafour wondered. Why can’t we have just these small things to
ourselves? Would that be too much to ask? It’s just…that…
uncomfortably aware of the fact that he used a sword and armor of Oeridian
make, not to mention a plaid cloak, although he’d personalized it with the
beadwork he’d sewn into its lining.
How many of them even know what it’s like? Revafour wondered, as the lead
cleric poured another cup of water on the flames. They aren’t responsible for what happened-of course they aren’t!-but we
still live the impact of it every day.
did his best to put the confusion and uncertainty out of his mind as he inhaled
the sacred medicines once more, and lost himself in the rhythm of the chant.
Why’d I have to go and be such a bloody fool? Weimar wondered as he finished
shaving. He had gotten used to hangovers long ago, but his headache this
morning came from his guilt and frustration. I try goading Revafour, and look what happens. No wonder he got so
…and yet, why would it matter that much to me
wondered, as he put his shaving knife back in his pack and wiped away what was
left of the lather on his face. Why
should I care if Revafour and the other Flan have their ceremonies?
found that disturbing.
ready to go?” Seline asked as she walked into Revafour’s room. The large man
was now dressed for the road, clad in his heavy armor and with his huge sword
strapped to his back.
am,” Revafour said, picking up his backpack with a stoic look on his face.
“Shall we be off, then?”
“We have a
little while yet,” Seline shook her head. “Amyalla’s getting our supplies
ready-we’re going to need as much oil as Oakdale can spare, plus whatever’s
left of the acid. We don’t know what’s going to be out there.”
Revafour muttered as headed for the door. He moved as if to push past Seline,
but she held out an arm to stop him.
alright?” she asked him, more gently this time.
wouldn’t I be?” Revafour asked calmly.
like you were pretty upset by Weimar asking if he could join that sweat lodge
you and the other warriors were going to have,” Seline reminded him. “Is
everything alright about that now?”
it,” Revafour shook his head. “Let’s just-“
it matter so much?” Seline asked curiously.
see why he, or any of you, would need to be involved,” Revafour replied, his
eyes narrowing. “Why would you need to be involved, anyway? Surely we can have
these private things for ourselves?” he demanded, his voice rising.
look on Seline’s face made Revafour flinch, despite his otherwise stoic
“Why did it
happen in the first place?” Seline asked curiously.
what happen?” Revafour asked in confusion, although he began to get an idea of
what Seline was talking about.
overrunning of the Flanaess,” Seline said. “From everything I’ve seen, the Flan
had many of the same facilities and knowledge as the Oeridians and the
Suel-blacksmithing, writing, magic, architecture, and more…so why were they
pushed aside by the new arrivals? Why do you wear a sword and armor of Oeridian
design, when the Flan had their own examples of these things long before any
other humans came to this land?”
stared at her for a moment, trying to understand why she was asking.
your studies told you that,” he finally said, confusion replacing his anger.
“Or wouldn’t the other Flan peoples you’ve met have told you?”
the texts I’ve read depicted the Flan as backwards and uncivilized,” Seline
frowned, “and I didn’t feel right trying to broach the subject with Flan I
didn’t know too well. I thought, that...well…”
something Revafour hadn’t expected.
you asking?” he asked, genuinely puzzled by her request.
want to know,” Seline replied. “I want to hear it from your perspective.”
sat down at the table at that.
Migrations came at a bad time for my people,” Revafour finally said. “We’d
suffered at the hands of tyrants like Vecna in the Sheldomar Valley, the
Archmage Tzunk in the lands around the Nyr Dyv, war against the Ur-Flan and
their draconic overlords in what are now the Aerdy lands…we were so weakened
from battling all those menaces that we couldn’t resist the new arrivals
“…So it was
bad luck?” Seline asked in surprise. “That’s what caused it all?”
Revafour nodded, “but there was also base betrayal, and a great deal of it. We
welcomed many of the new arrivals as brothers and potential allies…but all
across the Flanaess, promises were broken, treaties were violated, we were
repeatedly sold out and betrayed by those who had sworn to aid us…not that the
dwarves or gnomes were necessarily any better,” he finished with an ironic
smirk. “We lost so much in the process…in its own way, it was worse than simply
being defeated in battle.”
you mean?” Seline asked, now feeling her own puzzlement.
ones among the Flan doomed us all,” he finished with a disgusted sigh. “And
now, because of them, we’re forced to live in the shadows of the new masters of
the Flanaess, save in more isolated places like this, or in the few realms
where we continue to dominate, such as Tenh.”
sorry,” Seline said sadly, reaching out to gather her hand in his. “I wish
interrupted by Ma’non’go stepping into the room.
We’re finally ready to be off, he signed to his friends. Amyalla’s waiting for us, and she doesn’t
seem very patient…
up at the knock on the door, wondering who it could be. She wasn’t sure who it
could be, particularly since she’d just finished packing for the road, and in
any event she wasn’t entirely pleased at being delayed.
surprise, she found Weimar at the door, a pensive look on his face.
have a moment?” he asked, seeming uncomfortable in spite of himself.
I do,” Luna assured him, leading him into the room and shutting the door.
“What’s the problem?”
remember…about last night, right?” he finally managed to say.
I do,” Luna nodded. “What about it?”
figure out why I was so angry about it,” he said, looking at the floor in
shame. “It wasn’t that important, surely?”
thought on that for a moment.
you want to participate in the first place?” Luna asked. “What made you want to
“I was too
much in my cups, I suppose,” Weimar shrugged. “All the flute music didn’t help
much, either-I’m not at all fond of wind instruments…”
right, and they both knew it.
I…I hated being left out,” he wondered. “The idea that I could be excluded just
because of who I am, and…”
upset you, of course,” Luna nodded. “Was there anything else, though? What do
you think you might have gained by participating?”
really not sure,” Weimar shook his head. “I thought for a moment that I might learn
more about the mysteries the Flan know more about, or that I might
get…something out of it.”
Luna asked in surprise.
I know what it is, though,” Weimar shook his head. “I just hated the idea of
being left out, of missing something special. I know how silly it sounds…”
think it sounds silly at all,” Luna said, taking Weimar’s hand in hers. “It
sounds like you’re looking for something-do you know what it is?”
don’t,” Weimar shrugged again. “It’s just that I saw the ceremonies and songs
the Flan have going for them, and I began to wonder…what have I got that’s like
want ceremonies and songs?” Luna asked in surprise.
one for myths or music,” Weimar frowned. “I was wondering about what it means,
feel like something’s…” Luna trailed off.
Weimar frowned. “As to what it is…”
in time, I’m sure,” Luna reminded him. “Pelor’s light guides everyone who seeks
the right path. You just-“
be off!” Airk announced as he burst into the room, the door slamming against
the far wall. “Come on-Amyalla was already screaming at us to get moving, and
you can just imagine what she’ll be like if we keep her waiting much longer!”
the gnome immediately turned around and marched out, keeping ahead of the
humans despite their attempts to catch up with him.