Username Password
   or Create an Account
HomeForumsFAQArticlesReviewsDownloadsLinksTop 20Feedback
 Features
 
Greyhawk Wiki
Is Down :(


 
The Silver Wolf: Ghosts Of The Past, Part One
Posted on Thu, August 06, 2015 by LordCeb
CruelSummerLord writes "

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! 




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 him.

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.

The usual collection of goods arrive three days from today, at the Wyvern Location.

These goods must go by the Forgotten Route.

You know, of course, the rewards of success…

…and the 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’ bodies.

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 capable of.

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 asked.

“Who knows?” Weimar shrugged. “These trolls weren’t particularly clever…”

“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 they went.

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 free…

…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 the last…

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 anger.

Skipping 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.

The trolls 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 minute.

That was 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.

Already 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 alive.

Making her 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 together.

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.

Ma’non’go 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.

Another 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.

Reaching 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.

 ***

When the 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.

At first 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.

All around 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.

She was 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 miserable existence.

The source 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 wounded shoulder.

Luna only 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.

 ***

The 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.

The smell 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.

Ma’non’go 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. 

Shaking his 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.

 ***

Ma’non’go 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 wonder?

Tossing the 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.

“How many did you lose?” Revafour was asking Dennine.

“A good thirty men,” Dennine replied grimly, as Ma’non’go stopped to watch. “The hunting’s going to be bad this fall.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Revafour frowned.

“It would have been much worse if it hadn’t been for you and your friends,” Dennine reminded him.

“You would 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 him.

He tried to smile at that, but Revafour didn’t react.

“It never 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.

“They 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!”

Revafour didn’t respond, simply turning about and stalking off, the tension palpable on his face.

Ma’non’go only shook his head and sighed.

He’d seen 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.

Not that X’tandelexamenka was necessarily any better, of course.

 ***

Evening saw 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.

Still, 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.

At one 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.

Finally, Revafour came back to the table, a pensive look on his face.

“Meloanne has asked a favor of us,” he said.

“And what would that be?” Weimar asked, his speech now slurring.

Ma’non’go did well to keep a straight face at the smell of his friend’s breath, although Amyalla had no such restraint.

“She would 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.”

The 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.

“I hardly 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?”

“We have 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 tomorrow.”

“What about you, though?” Weimar asked slowly, as he took another drink. “Aren’t you going to join us?”

A hesitant look crossed Revafour’s face.

“I 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 an eyebrow.

“…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.”

“What time is it at?” Weimar asked.

“You don’t need to know,” Revafour replied, an edge in his voice. “It’s only for-“

“So we 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.

“There are 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 grasp?”

“So, just because of my hair, I can’t-“ Weimar snapped, before Seline put a hand on his arm to calm him down.

“Weimar, please,” she asked him in a soothing voice. “We don’t need to be arguing like this. Not tonight.”

“But-“ Weimar protested.

“No buts,” 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.”

Revafour nodded once, before turning away from the table and returning to join the elders.

“And not even a word of thanks,” Weimar muttered under his breath, finishing off his tankard.

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?

“This is 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!”  

The companions 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.

 ***

The low, 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.

The rituals 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.

Despite that, his argument with Weimar from the night before still nagged at Revafour’s conscience.

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…

He was 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.

Revafour 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 angry…

…and yet, why would it matter that much to me anyway? he 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?

He didn’t know…

…and he found that disturbing.

 ***

“You’re 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.

“Yes, I 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.”

“Fine,” Revafour muttered as headed for the door. He moved as if to push past Seline, but she held out an arm to stop him.

“Are you alright?” she asked him, more gently this time.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Revafour asked calmly.

“You seemed 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?”

“Never mind it,” Revafour shook his head. “Let’s just-“

“Why does it matter so much?” Seline asked curiously.

“I don’t 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.

The wounded look on Seline’s face made Revafour flinch, despite his otherwise stoic demeanor.

“Why did it happen in the first place?” Seline asked curiously.

“…Why did what happen?” Revafour asked in confusion, although he began to get an idea of what Seline was talking about.

“The 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?”

Revafour stared at her for a moment, trying to understand why she was asking.

“Surely 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?”

“Many of 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…”

That was something Revafour hadn’t expected.

“…Why are you asking?” he asked, genuinely puzzled by her request.

“Because I want to know,” Seline replied. “I want to hear it from your perspective.”

Revafour sat down at the table at that.

“…The Great 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 effectively.”

“…So it was bad luck?” Seline asked in surprise. “That’s what caused it all?”

“In part,” 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.”

“What do you mean?” Seline asked, now feeling her own puzzlement.

“The evil 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.”

“I’m so sorry,” Seline said sadly, reaching out to gather her hand in his. “I wish that…”

They were 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…

 ***

Luna looked 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.

To her surprise, she found Weimar at the door, a pensive look on his face.

“Do you have a moment?” he asked, seeming uncomfortable in spite of himself.

“Of course I do,” Luna assured him, leading him into the room and shutting the door. “What’s the problem?”

“You remember…about last night, right?” he finally managed to say.

“Of course I do,” Luna nodded. “What about it?”

“…I can’t figure out why I was so angry about it,” he said, looking at the floor in shame. “It wasn’t that important, surely?”

Luna thought on that for a moment.

“What made you want to participate in the first place?” Luna asked. “What made you want to ask?”

“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…”

That wasn’t right, and they both knew it.

“Perhaps, I…I hated being left out,” he wondered. “The idea that I could be excluded just because of who I am, and…”

“And that upset you, of course,” Luna nodded. “Was there anything else, though? What do you think you might have gained by participating?”

“…I’m 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.”

“…Something?” Luna asked in surprise.

“Damned if 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…”

“I don’t 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?”

“No, I 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 that?”

“So you want ceremonies and songs?” Luna asked in surprise.

“No-I’m not one for myths or music,” Weimar frowned. “I was wondering about what it means, though, and…”

“Do you feel like something’s…” Luna trailed off.

“…Missing,” Weimar frowned. “As to what it is…”

“It’ll come in time, I’m sure,” Luna reminded him. “Pelor’s light guides everyone who seeks the right path. You just-“

“We’d best 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!”

So saying, the gnome immediately turned around and marched out, keeping ahead of the humans despite their attempts to catch up with him. 

"
 
 Related Links
  · More about Stories & Fiction
· News by LordCeb


Most read story about Stories & Fiction:

Iuz the Evil, Part 2

 
 Article Rating
 
Average Score: 0
Votes: 0

Please take a second and vote for this article:

Excellent
Very Good
Good
Regular
Bad

 
 Options
 
 Printer Friendly Printer Friendly

 
Associated Topics

Stories & Fiction

"Login" | Login/Create an Account | 0 comments
The comments are owned by the poster. We aren't responsible for their content.

No Comments Allowed for Anonymous, please register


Canonfire! is a production of the Thursday Group in assocation with GREYtalk and Canonfire! Enterprises

Contact the Webmaster.  Long Live Spidasa!

PHP-Nuke Copyright © 2005 by Francisco Burzi. This is free software, and you may redistribute it under the GPL. PHP-Nuke comes with absolutely no warranty, for details, see the license.
Page Generation: 0.22 Seconds