“Well, how is it?” Luna asked Revafour eagerly
as he sipped at the tea.
Revafour sighed eagerly. “What kind of blend is it?”
special kind,” Luna smiled. “It’s a blend of traditional Flanaess spices
combined with some of the more exotic herbs that the traders say come from the
Baklunish West, and farther yet even. Apparently there are vast tea fields and
plantations in those lands, harvested by halfling farmers who are said to have
been doing so as long as the Oerth itself has existed.”
tales,” Revafour shook his head, as he took another sip.
surely we know how often travelers’ tales turn out to have much more than a
grain of truth to them?” Luna smiled. “Besides, my own studies of these herbs
show just how different they are from anything produced in the Flanaess. And if
you don’t believe the tales of mountebank merchants, hopefully you might believe
me?” Luna grinned.
enough,” Revafour smiled back. “But I must ask-why are you keeping me company?
Surely you’d want to be with the rest of the passengers?” he asked.
adventurers had returned to Greyhawk to book passage on a ship to Dyvers, the
mercantile city to the west of Greyhawk. From there, it would only be a couple
of weeks, at most, of travel southwest until they came to the Kron Hills and
the gnome city of Copper Crossing, where Airk had said they would be able to
get some information on what Kalrek might be planning. With the wealth the
adventurers had acquired from their destroying the hag coven at the Bearded
Lord’s Hollow and their campaigns against the trolls and spriggans raiding the
communities of the Cairn Hills, it had not proven difficult for them to find a
ship willing to take them.
sailing west across the Nyr Dyv as passengers on the Coast Dancer, the Company of the Silver Wolf had been enjoying a
well-deserved, if brief, respite. Unlike most of his companions, Revafour had
largely avoided socializing with the crew or any of the other passengers.
Instead, for the past three days he’d mostly stayed in the cabin he was sharing
with Weimar, carving at a block of wood with his sculpting knife. Luna had
brought him a meal, and they were now sharing it, Revafour taking a break from
come to join me?” Revafour asked, before taking a bite of the stew the ship’s
cook had prepared. “You don’t care for large crowds much either?”
particularly,” Luna shook her head, “but you know that, don’t you? That’s not
the reason you’re asking, is it?”
probably know the reason, I asked, I’m sure,” Revafour replied, more solemnly
this time. “Have you tired of your music already?”
a break,” Luna said unconvincingly. “Besides, if there’s any more singing to be
done, Seline can do it, I’m sure.”
you’re more animated when you perform than the song requires, I’d think,”
Revafour reminded her. “Is there a problem?”
“…Am I that
obvious?” Luna asked, slight dismay in her voice.
those who know you,” Revafour replied, raising an eyebrow. “Now, am I to take
it that there is indeed a problem, one that you did not feel comfortable
discussing with some of the others?”
hoping to speak to you or Amyalla,” Luna replied, “because-“
Airk, of course,” Revafour nodded. “We’ve known him for longer than you have.
You’re concerned about him still?”
“How can I
not be?” Luna said, a flustered look crossing her face. “I wanted to ask
Amyalla, but…” she trailed off, flushing in embarrassment.
getting to know many of the sailors,” Revafour continued after taking another
bite of stew. “So you came to me,” he frowned.
you have me do?” Luna shot back, annoyed by Revafour’s tone. “I’m concerned
I have you do?” Revafour interrupted her. “This is something only Airk can
truly come to terms with. Why else would we be going on this mad quest?”
it’s mad?” Luna asked in surprise. “Then why-“
for the same reason you and the others have, of course,” Revafour explained, as
if it should be obvious. “Because Airk is our friend. But it’s entirely likely
that he’s still struggling with something, something that he feels the need to
see through to the end.”
They ate in
silence for a few minutes, Luna trying to think of something to say, but having
a hard time thinking of anything to counter Revafour’s logic. It was only the
slamming door that brought her back to her senses, as Weimar strode in and sat
down at the table, his breath reeking of the grog he had paid several of the
ship’s crew to share with him and some of the other passengers. Despite the
redness of his eyes, he was still remarkably agile, the only signs of drink
visible on his face and his other movements those of a perfectly sober man.
“And here I
thought sailors were supposed to be jolly types,” Weimar slurred, folding his
arms in disgust. “You beat them at a drinking contest, and they cut you off…”
would have been appreciated,” Revafour said harshly, none too pleased by the
interruption. “Perhaps it would have been better for you to lose the contest,
for wanting to enter the cabin that I’ve just as much right to be in,” Weimar
shot back, his bloodshot eyes flashing. “What are you all doing here, then?”
Airk?” Luna asked before Revafour could answer.
enough, surprisingly,” Weimar replied. “He actually seems more at ease on a
ship than he did on land. And here I thought most gnomes didn’t like the sea. I
wonder, though, how much of it is an act…”
Luna asked in concern, as Revafour frowned again.
has he been carrying this around, his grudge against this supposed traitor?”
Weimar wondered, a faraway look appearing in his eyes once again. “How long has
he been dwelling on what was done to his people? How long has he blamed himself
for all this, even when only a fool would consider him responsible for it all?
How long do such memories stay with someone, particularly when their lifespan
is so much longer than ours?”
frowned at that, more worried than ever for their gnomish friend. Revafour, on
the other hand, merely slammed his fist on the table, as he felt a surge of
anger rise up within him as well. Staring directly into Weimar’s glassy eyes, Revafour
made no effort to disguise what he was feeling at the moment.
supposed to be an accusation?” he demanded.
anything bad,” Weimar replied, realizing in spite of his drunkenness what it
seemed like he was saying. “Who could blame someone for feeling that way, after
the wrongs done to them? Their feelings are entirely justified. No, my friend,
I’m more concerned about what it might drive them to do. Airk’s already driven
to pursue this Kalrek bastard, but who knows what else it might drive him to
in concern from Weimar to Revafour, reaching out and grasping Revafour’s arm in
an effort to calm him. To her immense relief, Revafour seemed to be doing just
that, relaxing his clenched fists and taking another sip of tea. She also
noticed just how much Weimar’s words seemed to have affected Revafour, a look
of intense concentration on his face, before looking back to her.
only one solely motivated by concern for Airk here, aren’t you?” the large man
asked, a half-smile crossing his face. His eyes came back down to the scene
carved into the wood block before him, even as he picked up his sculpting knife
“So this is
what you’ve been doing all this time,” Weimar observed as he stood up and
leaned forward to get a better look at the carving. “And here I thought all you
did was paint pictures…”
the time,” Revafour replied, turning the knife over in his hand.
sculpting myself,” Weimar replied, running his fingers admiringly along the
lines Revafour had already etched into the picture, “but damned if I could ever
create something so lovely.”
Set out in
several panels, Revafour’s wood carving depicted a kingdom founded in
brotherhood, later sundered by a brutal, bloody war. The kingdom struggled to
recover from its loss, weighed down by the memory of past betrayals, having
already lost much that it would never truly recover.
what things used to be like, before…” Luna trailed off, as she turned to look
at the panel herself.
into Revafour’s eyes, and then into Weimar’s.
much,” she sighed.
do we go from here?” Weimar asked once again, his voice remarkably calm and
clear, free of the slurring that had marked it before.
Revafour was the one who found himself without an answer, looking intently at
what he had created without fully realizing it.
that turtle bit down on the barrel, it blew up real good,” the sailor grinned
to Amyalla, who only smiled back as she took a sip of wine. “See, that’s the
secret to dealin’ with most of these sea bastards-the stupid ones run like dogs
when they’re burned by flamin’ oil. Even the smart ones don’t think of stayin’
round too long after that, if’n you’re lucky…”
interesting,” Amyalla finally said. “Does the same trick work on pirates?”
not,” another sailor, who’d identified himself as the bosun, shook his head.
“All it makes ‘em more interested in is putting a ballista up your arse,” he
shook his head. “Not that we’ll be lettin’ a pretty little behind such as yours
suffer such a fate!” he continued in a gallant tone.
think of it,” Amyalla smiled, picking up one of the kerchiefs she’d knitted to
help pass the time on the ship. “And yet, such bravery and foresight deserves
reward,” she continued, handing the kerchief to the bosun. “Pray take this as a
token of my memory and esteem.”
ladyship does me no small favor,” the bosun replied with a solemn bow. “In
thirty years plying these waters, rarely, if ever, have I seen a more lovely
flower than yourself.”
merely smiled coquettishly, her eyes saying more to the bosun than her voice
halfling was enjoying herself immensely. She enjoyed the attention she was
receiving, of course, and she admired the bosun for his quiet professionalism.
If anything, he’d been downplaying his experience, considering how she’d
watched him put several of the more anxious passengers at ease about the
dangers of lake monsters, clearly explaining the contingencies the Coast Dancer had in place for dealing
with them. He’d also alluded to the abilities that some of their passengers
possessed, likely referring to Amyalla and her friends or possibly some other
great warriors or wizards, who could help defend the vessel. He also maintained
a firm discipline with most of his crew, although most of these men, rough and
tumble as they were, were indeed gentlemen of the sea.
weren’t, notably the ones who’d made snide comments about Revafour, Ma’non’go
and Airk, had been “persuaded” by their fellows to treat the passengers more
appropriately. Charming her admirers was easy, of course, particularly when
they’d had several flagons of the higher-class grog she’d purchased for them.
Once that was done, all she’d had to do was complain about the way her fellow
adventurers were being treated and her new friends would straighten things out
with their less than admirable mates.
It’s so much like last time, the halfling mused, back when I exposed Kivern as the
philandering son of a whore that he was.
No, that’s not right, she continued. This time I haven’t had to resort to stealing Kivern’s letters,
planting suspicious evidence in the homes of the men whose wives and daughters
he was seducing, or charm his mistresses’ servants into providing me what I
something wrong, my lady?” the bosun asked, as several of the other sailors
began to show concern.
nothing at all,” Amyalla shook her head. “Please, continue with your most
I must return to my duties, as must the rest of the boys,” the bosun shook his
head, nodding at his men to follow him as he stood up. “Your company’s been a
pleasure, my dear, and I hope that we might be able to converse once more
before the voyage ends.”
What a pity, Amyalla thought as the bosun led his men away. What would it be like, forging a life
alongside you? Surely your wife, if indeed you have one, is a fortunate woman.
And yet, it simply cannot be…
…I’ve found what I’ve been searching for, or so
And yet, why do I
still feel unfulfilled?