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The Silver Wolf: Ghosts Of The Past, Part Fourteen
Posted on Thu, May 05, 2016 by LordCeb
CruelSummerLord writes "

An hour later, they were on the road, all seven.

The Crown of Arumdina was waiting. 




Casting a cloud of steam at the two men attacking her forced them back, giving Seline time to cast one of the few spells she had left. The mass of webbing did not expand from her hands so much as explode, rising up from the floor to the ceiling and hopelessly entangling the men at the same time.

Finally, Seline cast her last spell, as her fiery sphere rolled forward and ignited the webs. The men screamed in agony as the flames were consumed all around them, collapsing to the ground as Seline brought the sphere back to roll over them. It wasn’t long before they stopped thrashing, their charred corpses lying dead on the floor.

Taking a deep breath, Seline looked around at her companions. As exhausted as they were, bloodied and wounded from the long night of battle, they had all survived. Even Amyalla had outfoxed her opponents, throwing a flask of oil in the face of the remaining soldier facing her after the first one had been forced to block her thrown dagger. Getting the surviving soldier between her and his blinded ally, she had taunted the blinded soldier into striking at her. The sighted soldier was skewered by his companion, instantly slain as the blinded soldier realized what he’d done. It had been an easy matter for Amyalla to cut his throat after that.

Seline felt a tremendous sense of relief at that, but it was soon subsumed by her worry for Airk.

 

He might be killed by Kalrek, but that was only half of the reason Seline was so worried about him.

***

Trendin had distantly heard the sounds of battle from his cell, and wondered if it would be his family’s salvation or their doom. He recalled Kalrek mentioning how he was serving as motivation for another of Kalrek’s old “friends”, and wondered if the sounds of battle were related to it.

For a long moment, all was silence, until the answer finally came in the form of his cell door being flung open. Rising to his feet in surprise, Trendin was surprised to see a young human woman with brown hair coming towards him, a ring of keys in her hand. He was struck by the weariness on her face, and the many cuts and bruises on her body, and the calm silence with which she freed him from his shackles.

Finally, Trendin and the young woman stared at one another for a long while, before he spoke.

“You are a deliverer for my family and I, are you not?” Trendin asked curiously. “If indeed you are, you have my thanks.”

“Yes, that’s right,” Luna smiled weakly, her eyes brightening for a moment. “I am Luna Roas Del Cranden, daughter of Pelor for all my efforts.”

“Are you enemies of Kalrek?” Trendin asked, as he followed her out of the cell. “Or were you bidden by my father to come to his family’s rescue?”

Luna offered no response to that, the haunted look that crossed her face catching the gnome completely by surprise.

“It’s a simple question,” Trendin persisted. “Which of them is it?”

Even the sight of Weimar and Ma’non’go coming down the hall, having freed Marthe and his sisters from their cells, did little to reduce the concern Trendin was now feeling.

***

With the death of their master and so many of the warriors in his service, it had not taken long for most of Kalrek’s other servants to surrender. Nor did it take them long to help the companions release the slaves and other prisoners Kalrek and his minions had kept trapped here, or to reveal the locations of the large stock of healing potions Kalrek had on hand. The potions were a welcome relief to the adventurers and many of the prisoners, soothing the wounds they’d suffered at the monsters’ hands.

Soon, the adventurers and Kalrek’s family were gathered in the main amphitheatre, the rest of Kalrek’s prisoners and his servants gathered all around them. Airk and Trendin stood at the heads of their respective groups, the two gnomes staring at one another for a long time.

Finally, Trendin spoke.

“You’ve done us all a great honor with your rescue,” Trendin smiled gratefully at Airk. “We cannot thank you enough for-“

“You thank me too much,” Airk said quietly, shaking his head as a solemn look crossed his face. “I am merely making amends for a great wrong, amends which are far for complete.”

“…What do you mean?” Trendin asked in surprise.

“I mean that I am responsible for the death of one of the noblest gnomes I have ever known, slain when I attempted to force the location of Kalrek’s lair from his lips,” Airk continued. “My anger, festering for so long, got the better of me, and Laessar Bradon lay dead at my hands, however inadvertently.”

Trendin turned ashen pale, as his mother and sisters staggered behind him.

They all stood there for several seconds as the horrible truth dawned upon them.

Finally, Trendin came forward and struck Airk viciously in the face, knocking the other gnome flat on his back. As Airk began to rise to his feet, Trendin punched him again with his other hand, knocking Airk back down.

His face livid with rage, Trendin might have struck again, but he paused as he saw the look in Airk’s eyes. The older gnome wasn’t even trying to defend himself, simply rising to his feet again as if ready to take another blow.

Staring stone-faced down at Airk, Trendin then turned his gaze up to face Luna.

“You, do you have the power to resurrect Laessar?” Trendin demanded.

“I’m afraid I don’t, not yet,” Luna shook her head sadly. “There may be another means-if we were to find an appropriate priest in Copper Crossing who might assist us.”

Trendin didn’t say anything, only shifting his gaze back down to Airk.

“Pray, for your sake, that she succeeds,” Trendin said solemnly.

***

The next several days were busy ones for the companions. Luna treated the injuries her friends and many of the prisoners had suffered; the complex was stripped of the food and riches it contained for return to the surface; the companions conferred with the slaves and prisoners Kalrek had captured, learning where they had been abducted so they might return; and Kalrek’s servants readily surrendered all the information they had been able to gather about the Crown of Arumdina’s possible whereabouts and the reach of Kalrek’s organization.

The servants knew full well that they themselves would be sold into slavery or slain if they tried to betray the companions or Kalrek’s prisoners, and so the adventurers knew they had nothing to fear. Some of Kalrek’s minions had returned to the lair, but they were easily killed or driven off. Indeed, many of them had slain each other in the tunnels, eager to thin out the competition for the bounty Kalrek had been offering.

***

So it was that the companions, the prisoners they had freed, all of Laessar’s former servants, and the vast treasures Kalrek had accumulated, made their way back to Copper Crossing without any difficulty. Along with the truly staggering amount of monetary treasure Kalrek had gathered, they had also found several magical scrolls and potions, including a scroll of clerical magic that contained a spell to resurrect the dead, and that Luna could use to revive Laessar.

Such magic was always a tentative thing, of course, but Luna knew she had to try. Now, she stood in the library of the Bradon manor, surrounded by Laessar’s family and her own companions, with Laessar’s body kept reverently in state before them. Her eyes looking from Laessar’s body to the living people around her, Luna lowered her gaze to the scroll and began to chant. She could feel the power connecting with her mind, attempting to make her its vessel.

If the caster was not innately powerful enough to use the spell from their own casting, it might fail or even turn back on the caster, but Luna’s abilities met the test, the spell embracing her fully as she gathered the runes’ power into herself.

Laessar’s body seemed to twitch, but none of the living realized it, focused as they were upon Luna.

Give me your strength, Pelor, Luna prayed fervently as she continued the chant, building the spell’s power, preparing its release. Help me, help Laessar, help heal the grievous pain this family has suffered…

Laessar’s body began to glow, as his limbs began to move. His eyes, previously closed, began to flicker, opening and closing even as the wound in his neck began to close.

The spell reached its climax, as Luna’s chant rose an octave.

Finally, with the last syllable, Luna released the power, channeling all of it into Laessar.

The glow surrounding Laessar’s body vanished in a final flash, before the gnome began to raise himself up on his elbows.

Then, with a sudden gasp, he collapsed once more, the life gone out of him entirely.

Trendin gasped, as his mother and sisters cried out in despair. Airk only stared at Laessar’s body, while the rest of Luna’s companions looked at one another, realizing what had happened.

Luna herself staggered from the realization of her failure, and would have collapsed if Ma’non’go hadn’t quickly caught her.

“What happened?” Trendin demanded, whirling around on Luna with an angry glare. “Curse you, woman, why didn’t the spell work?”

Tears streaked down Luna’s face, as Ma’non’go looked with concern at her, and then angrily back at Trendin.

“I asked you a question!” Trendin shouted, clenching his fists as he stepped toward Luna and Ma’non’go. Their companions stepped forward, ready to defend their friends, but Airk got there first, stepping between Trendin, Luna and Ma’non’go. His eyes blazing with anger, Trendin threw a punch at Airk, but the older gnome easily caught it.

“Resurrection magic is an uncertain thing,” Airk told Trendin, the intensity in his voice catching Trendin’s attention. “The shock of being revived is itself dangerous for its recipient, and they may not survive it.”

“You…all of you,” Trendin muttered angrily, “his blood is on all of your heads!”

“Not on their heads,” Airk reminded him calmly. “On mine and mine alone. They have come this far with me, contributed to saving the lives of you and your family, solely out of friendship and compassion. They deserve none of your curses and hatred-if you intend to direct them at anyone, direct them at the deserving!” Airk continued, his eyes flashing with intensity.

Trendin struggled briefly in Airk’s grip, but the look on his face relaxed at the other gnome’s words.

“So you are deserving of my hate,” Trendin replied. “How, then, should I take the revenge that is rightfully mine on you?”

“My fate is whatever you deem it to be,” Airk said calmly. “If you choose to have me to face whatever justice awaits me here in Copper Crossing, I will do so. If you choose to send me into the depths of the oerth alone, never to return, I will do so. If you choose to strike me down here and now, then take the morning star that ended Kalrek’s life, and use it to complete the circle. My companions shall take no action against you, as this is but gnomish justice.”

Trendin stared intently at Airk, who awaited his judgement. He looked back at his mother and sisters, and thought of all of Kalrek’s other victims. He then looked at Airk’s companions, who had faced fire and steel to rescue them, and the tense, concerned looks on their own faces.

He remembered that he was now the head of the house of Bradon, heir to everything his father had built and strived for, and the stories that his father and Kalrek had both told him of his ancestral land of Flinthold. He recalled, too, the times that his father had mentioned Airk as an old friend, a fellow veteran of the Hateful Wars who had fought for all his heart for their shared homeland.

“I do indeed have the right to strike you down, or do whatever else I might deem a fitting punishment,” he said calmly. “And yet you led your companions to rescue my family, and Kalrek now lies dead at your hands. Without your intervention, and those of your friends, we would all be as good as dead. You too are a son of Flinthold, much like my father, and so you know the truth of Kalrek’s search for the Crown of Arumdina.”

“You seek to make amends for the blood on your hands,” Trendin continued, “so I will give you that chance. Kalrek Burunne sought the Crown of Arumdina for his own selfish ends. Find the Crown in his stead, and return it to the regents of Flinthold, so they may ascend the throne as proper kings, and restore Garl Glittergold’s blessings to his people. If you succeed, I will say that you have made amends for my father’s death. Refuse, and I will see you hanged here in Copper Crossing for murder,” Trendin warned.

“I agree to your terms,” Airk agreed, “and I will take them further. I say now, that if I fail in my efforts, may there be no rest for me among the gnomish gods. I shall instead be cast into the Abyss, to the company of Urdlen, as a punishment for my crime.” 

Airk’s companions were startled to hear that, and even more startled to see the serene looks on the faces of both Airk and Trendin.

***

The next two weeks were busy ones for the Company of the Silver Wolf. First, they had divided up the vast treasures accumulated by Kalrek. Much of the wealth was paid towards helping many of the kidnapped slaves return home with their passage paid, while another large share was devoted to compensating the Bradon family for everything they had suffered at Kalrek’s hands, not the least of which was Airk’s accidental slaying of Laessar. Then, they had attended Laessar’s memorial service, where Airk’s oath to retrieve the Crown of Arumdina as atonement for his sins was sworn once again.

Airk had been working as diligently as anyone, but Revafour was becoming increasingly concerned with how withdrawn the gnome seemed. All anyone could get out of him was one-word answers, if that, when they tried to speak with him, and he ate and slept in silence, away from anyone else.

Unable to bear it any longer, Revafour marched into the side room of the Owlbear Arms where Airk was eating his midday meal, and sat down next to him.

“It’s a busy time, isn’t it?” he asked the gnome.

“Yes,” Airk replied without looking up.

“Is that all you can say?” Revafour asked.

“What else is there to say?” Airk asked, glancing at Revafour out of the corner of his eye.

“That’s more reaction than you’ve given anyone for the last few days,” Revafour noted. “Why is that?”

“Perhaps I don’t need to say anything else,” Airk replied sharply. “Did you ever stop to consider that?”

“Did you ever stop to consider that perhaps you ought not to be tormenting yourself the way you are, as we have continually reminded you?” Revafour reproached him. “Or do you intend to spend another six decades wallowing in your shame, every time something new troubles you?”

Airk’s eyes flared for a moment, before he cast them down again.

“…I don’t know,” he finally said. “I still have a lot to think over.”

“You’re going to search for the Crown, of course,” Revafour noted.

Airk said nothing.

“And we’ll be accompanying you,” Revafour continued.

“If you want to, I won’t stop you,” Airk finally said.

“You should know better than that by now,” Revafour reproached him. “Surely you cannot think that we wouldn’t follow you to the ends of the Oerth, if that’s what you would need to finally resolve this matter!”

Airk fell silent again.

“Perhaps this might help,” he said, pulling something out of a pocket of his cloak and pressing it into Airk’s hand. Looking down, the gnome was surprised to see that Revafour had given him an eagle’s feather.

“What’s this for?” he asked curiously.

“Many Flan peoples revere the eagle as a bird of strength and courage,” Revafour explained. “They use eagle feathers as a source of strength in difficult times, a reminder of what they’re capable of, a reminder that they’re not alone. It’s helped me many times in the past, and maybe it can help you.”

“It’s…magical?” Airk asked in surprise.

“Not in the traditional sense,” Revafour shook his head, “but it means a great deal to the Flan, not only to receive but to give such a feather. It can be for you too, if you want it.”

Airk sat in silence for several moments as he let the words sink in.

The ghost of a smile crossed his face.   

***

Finally, on the morning they were due to depart, Airk hesitated in the doorway of his room at the Owlbear Arms. He was not troubled with the idea of a quest for the Crown of Arumdina-indeed, he thought it a fitting atonement for his crime.

I don’t know how long it will take, the gnome realized. They could spend years of their lives pursuing a mad quest, only to end it all in their graves. I led them into this madness, so how…

It was when he emerged into the common room that he saw his friends, dressed and equipped for the road. They had already ordered a morning meal, and gestured for him to join them.

“You’re all joining me, then?” he asked hesitantly as he sat down.

“Why wouldn’t we?” Amyalla asked. “Surely you would want us to do so?”

“…If you want to,” Airk said slowly.

“What would be the issue?” Seline wondered. “You-“

“You don’t feel we should come, is that it?” Weimar asked bluntly, arching an eyebrow at Airk.

The pained look on the gnome’s face told them everything they needed to know.

Luna looked from the guilty look on Airk’s face, to the suddenly grim faces of her companions, her own eyes flashing.

“No,” was all she said. Her tone was calm, but the force in her voice was all too clear.

“…What?” Airk asked, blinking in surprise.

“Have you ever stopped to think about it, Airk?” Luna asked. “Why did we bond so easily, after a random meeting in the Cairn Hills? Why we’re still together, when we could have gone our separate ways?”

“I…” Airk trailed off.

“We’ve all lost so much, Airk,” Luna reminded him. “We’ve all been alone, all been searching…have you forgotten that night in the Gnarley Forest?” she asked him, asked all of them, pointedly.

Airk looked intently back at her, and then to all of his companions.

“To the end, then?” he asked with a smile.

“To the end,” Revafour spoke for all of them.

An hour later, they were on the road, all seven.

The Crown of Arumdina was waiting. 

"
 
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Re: The Silver Wolf: Ghosts Of The Past, Part Fourteen (Score: 1)
by Mystic-Scholar on Sat, May 07, 2016
(User Info | Send a Message) http://mysticscholar.blogspot.com/
Normal 0 There are two sins you have trouble shaking, but do not let that discourage you. The first sin is shared by nearly ever writer . . . you confuse your Points of View. This can be seen in the third paragraph: "Taking a deep breath, Seline looked around at her companions. As exhausted as they were, bloodied and wounded from the long night of battle, they had all survived. Even Amyalla had outfoxed her opponents, throwing a flask of oil in the face of the remaining soldier facing her after the first one had been forced to block her thrown dagger. Getting the surviving soldier between her and his blinded ally, she had taunted the blinded soldier into striking at her. The sighted soldier was skewered by his companion, instantly slain as the blinded soldier realized what he’d done. It had been an easy matter for Amyalla to cut his throat after that." Oh really? And how does Seline know this? Was Seline not busy "casting a cloud of steam . . . giving Seline time to cast one of the few spells she had left . . . finally, Seline cast her last spell, as her fiery sphere rolled forward . . ."? Well, was she busy doing all of that, or not? Then how could she possibly know what Amyalla was doing? Was Seline using telepathy as well? If not, then how could she know what Amyalla was thinking? "Amyalla had outfoxed . . ." Intent also plays to the "thinking" aspect, as does motive. Sounds to me like Seline's spells all failed and that Seline neither killed, nor bested, anyone. Seems to me that Seline failed her Concentration check, so her spells fizzled and did no harm. The phrase "Amyalla had outfoxed her opponents . . ." was the beginning of a new paragraph and a new Point of View; Amyalla's Point of View . . . not Seline's. After casting her spells, all Seline could do was look at her companions and see that they had all survived. She could not have been watching all of their individual actions during the combat, much less their thoughts, feelings and/or emotions. I'm lumping grammar, punctuation and sentence construction together. Your opening paragraphs give good examples of these as well. For instance: "Finally, Seline cast her last spell, as her fiery sphere rolled forward and ignited the webs. The men screamed in agony as the flames were consumed all around them, collapsing to the ground as Seline brought the sphere back to roll over them. It wasn’t long before they stopped thrashing, their charred corpses lying dead on the floor." Excuse me but, what are you saying here? "Finally, Seline cast her last spell(,) as her fiery sphere rolled forward and ignited the webs." See that comma? The one that comes after the word "spell"? That's got you all messed up, thus it's got your readers confused too. What that comma implies is this: "Finally, Seline cast her last spell, as her fiery sphere rolled forward and ignited the webs . . ." what? What spell did Seline cast "as her fiery sphere rolled forward"? I'm still waiting. I believe you meant to imply that the "fiery sphere" was her "last spell", but that is not what you sentence structure actually says to me. No, your sentence structure implies that there is another spell coming and that this spell is being cast as the sphere rolls forward. So . . . I'm still waiting. If you mean that Seline's fiery sphere is her last spell, then the structure should be like this: "Finally, Seline cast her last spell. As her fiery sphere rolled forward . . . " Two separate sentences. A comma -- punctuation -- completely changes the meaning of the image you are trying to convey. More sentence structure: "Finally, Seline cast her last spell. As her fiery sphere rolled forward and ignited the webs. The men screamed in agony as the flames were consumed all around them, collapsing to the ground as Seline brought the sphere back to roll over them. It wasn’t long before they stopped thrashing, their charred corpses lying dead on the floor." Yeah, that second sentence isn't really a sentence anymore, is it? It's really just the first half of a sentence now. A sentence that should look something like this: "Finally, Seline cast her last spell. As her fiery sphere rolled forward and ignited the webs, the men screamed in agony as the flames were consumed all around them, collapsing to the ground as Seline brought the sphere back to roll over them." Better, but still not quite right. Perhaps this phrasing is what's got us messed up; "the men screamed in agony as the flames were consumed all around them," Excuse me again, but "as the flames were consumed"? By what? What could possible "consume" flames? Perhaps you meant to imply that the flames were, themselves, consuming something? Perhaps you meant this: "Finally, Seline cast her last spell. As her fiery sphere rolled forward and ignited the webs, the men began screaming in agony, collapsing to the ground as the flames consumed everything around them." See, I think that's what you meant . . . but that's not what you wrote. There are other examples throughout, but I'm not the least interested in "beating you up." I'm just interested in offering some advice, which you asked for. For instance, this portion of your story is posted as a "stand alone." This means that certain elements need to be reintroduced each time, so as not to lose the reader, as in Airk. How is Airk introduced into this portion of the story? What's the Point of View? "Seline felt a tremendous sense of relief at that, but it was soon subsumed by her worry for Airk. He might be killed by Kalrek, but that was only half of the reason Seline was so worried about him." No idea what that's supposed to mean, or why I -- the reader -- am supposed to care. Moe explanation for this Point of View needs to be given with this statement.
More sentence structure: "With the death of their master and so many of the warriors in his service, it had not taken long for most of Kalrek’s other servants to surrender." Who in the heck is "their master?" That identity should come first, not after. Who is "his service?" Who is "his?" Try this: "With the death of Kalrek, and so many of his warriors, it did not take long for his remaining servants to surrender." Or this: "With the death of their master, and so many of his warriors, it did not take long for most of Kalrek's other servants to surrender." "Their master" needs to be identified right off, not later in the sentence, or paragraph. Consider what I offer and reread the material for yourself. The impression I come away with is that your thoughts are crowding your mind and you are in a hurry to put them down on paper. That's all well and good, but that doesn't mean you need to be in a hurry to publish it -- also known as posting it to Canonfire! You've expressed a liking for my stories, in the past. I'll remind you of what I've told you before; I read my own stories until I am sick of them. Only then do I post them here. Proof read your material; over and over and over again, looking for the mistakes. You feel rushed to get your thoughts down on paper; have at it. Knock yourself out! There's no need to "rush them into print." Quality, not quantity. I hope you take the

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