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The Silver Wolf: Ghosts Of The Past-Old Demons, New Suffering
Posted on Sat, March 17, 2018 by LordCeb
CruelSummerLord writes "

Looking at one another, Airk’s companions nodded reassuringly. 

Ma’non’go was certain, however, that he wasn’t the only one troubled by the look that was still in Airk’s eyes.



 


Chapter Six

Old Demons, New Suffering


The adventurers soon found themselves in an area of worked stone, one where it was clear many feet had recently trod. Some of the footprints were smaller in stature, others large, and it only reconfirmed Airk’s suspicions. Further ahead, the adventurers saw several tunnels branching off at a crossroads. Weirdly glimmering lights flickered along the tunnels, and shadows danced eerily on the tunnel walls.

They didn’t post any guards, but that’s just to lure people in, Airk thought to himself. Looking around, he found a smaller cave off to the side and gestured towards it. Leading his friends into the cubbyhole, he further led them to dim their lanterns, knowing full well the dangers of the light giving them away.

Airk had a fairly good idea of how their opponents would have designed their lair. He began tracing an outline in the grit at the companions’ feet, whispering quietly as he explained his plan.

They lure people in and expect them to be easy prey when they finally arrive, the gnome thought to himself, smiling inwardly.

Let’s turn that against them, he decided.

And they call themselves tricksters…


Amyalla was as silent as the darkness around her as she crept down the tunnel, her eyes alert for any kind of trap. The creatures the companions were about to face shared many of the engineering skills of the gnomish race. Their lairs were often rigged with deadly traps to hinder and kill intruders before the attackers could ever raise a sword against them.

The first tripwire, leading up to the crossroads, was easy to miss, but Amyalla knew what to look for. Hopping over the wire with an impish grin, she continued on down the tunnel to the first crossroads, keeping to the shadows as she considered which one to travel down.

“’Ere now!” said a nasal, almost whiny voice from further up the corridor.

“’Wot’s all the bother?” another voice said, this one sound much deeper than the first.

“When’s mealtime?” the first voice asked, as its owner came stomping down the corridor. Amyalla squatted down as quietly as she could. In her mind, she thanked Yondalla that these creatures couldn’t see her body heat, the way so many inhabitants of the underworld could.

Over three feet tall, with the prominent nose and thick hair of a gnome, the creature that advanced into the crossroads could have been mistaken for a gnome at first glance. However, the sickly jaundiced yellow of his skin, the redness of his bloodshot eyes, the rounded, bulbous shape of his nose, so different from the long pointy noses of true gnomes like Airk, and the hateful sneer on his face marked him out as a spriggan.

Spriggans were vile cousins to the gnomes. They possessed strange magical powers that were said to come from their consorting with the darker aspects of the fairy world. They lived for banditry and violence, whether slitting the throats of hapless victims from the shadows in their normal size or sadistically playing with their victims in the giant forms they could assume. The spriggan Amyalla saw, like all of his kind, was dressed in clothing typical for his kind. His dirty breeches and leather armor looked as if they would rot on him before they were ever washed, accenting the disgusting stink of his unwashed body.

Quietly, Amyalla sprinted after the spriggan as he walked down another corridor, noting the way he ducked under a particular point. Looking up as she repeated the motion, Amyalla noticed another tripwire, this one set at about the level of her head. Her practiced eye caught the worked stone further up the wall, and Amyalla could well imagine what it might release if the tripwire was set off.

The spriggan turned into an opening in the left-hand wall, from which several more voices echoed. Carefully peering into the opening, Amyalla looked into a large common space. Several other spriggans lazed about on a variety of mismatched furniture, most of it no doubt stolen or otherwise acquired during their travels. Despite herself, Amyalla swallowed hard. She saw how several of the spriggans were a good ten or twelve feet in height, and took especial note of how their weapons grew in size with them.

Returning to the crossroads and walking down another corridor leading off it, she soon came upon a kitchen and a lever set into the wall next to the doorway. Rubbing her chin thoughtfully, Amyalla could see that the lever was set to trigger a deadfall of loose and sharpened stones near the crossroads.

Every sense on alert, Amyalla flitted through several more corridors, noting where the spriggans had set their traps. Twice she had to hide to avoid spriggans walking through the corridor, but their guard was down and they were not particularly alert for intruders, expecting their traps to warn them of any attackers.

Satisfied that there were no more spriggans in the immediate area, Amyalla lifted her skirt, revealing the lockpicks and other tools she kept hidden on her garters.

A wide smile crossed her face.

It was time to go to work.


The spriggans leapt up when they heard the sounds of the footsteps and cries of pain. The first tripwire, the one in the corridor leading from the crossroads back to the underground lake, had clearly been triggered, striking several intruders with poisoned darts. A few seconds later, the spriggans heard another agonized cry as another tripwire was set off, this one pouring acid down on whatever creature had been unlucky enough to set it off. A third set of screams followed after that, as another set of intruders had breached the flamethrowing trap that was placed down the left-hand corridor branching off from the crossroads.

Grinning to one another, several of the spriggans eagerly leapt up and charged down the corridor towards the crossroads. Some of the others went in the opposite direction intending to flank the intruders from another one of the passages leading to the crossroads. They knew well the dangers of setting up a lair in the dangerous underground passages of the Deepoerth, and had taken suitable precautions.

The leading spriggans charged down the corridor that contained the acid-dumping trap. A couple of the stragglers, following along behind their kin, were the only ones who noticed that the acid-dumping trap was somehow still in place. Blinking in surprise, they were caught off guard at the lack of corpses, or indeed anyone at all, in the corridor.

An ominous chanting was their only warning before a cloud of white fog enveloped them. A couple of the spriggans saw the form of a young human woman dressed in indigo wizard’s robes marked with the images of the moon and stars down the corridor leading from the crossroads to the underground lake.

The human woman seemed to appear out of nowhere, but the spriggans had no time to think about it before they screamed in pain at the burning heat of the fog. Too late, the spriggans realized the fog was a deadly cloud of steam. Several of the creatures fell dead, horribly burned by the searing heat, made all the worse by the confined narrows of the crossroads.

A couple of the spriggans managed to stumble free of the steam cloud and into the corridor where the human woman stood, their skin burned and red. Behind them, more of the spriggans charging into the crossroads felt the agony of the steam. Several of the spriggans, shifting into their giant forms to better withstand the steam’s painful heat, suddenly felt another stinging sensation as a flurry of arrows came flying into the steam cloud from the corridor where the young woman awaited them.

Thinking that the young woman had shot the arrows at them, three of the spriggans ran down the corridor towards her. They caught sight of her, but they saw that she was now standing behind a lean blonde man wielding a longbow and a massively built dark-skinned man wielding a wicked-looking trident.

Angrily the spriggans charged, swinging their axes furiously. One of them was halted by Ma’non’go, who caught the creature’s descending axe in his trident and pushed it back up. Lashing out with his foot, Ma’non’go slammed the spriggan in the gut, causing him to stagger and let up the pressure on his axe. With the spriggan’s defenses now open, Ma’non’go charged forward, gutting the creature on his trident.

To Ma’non’go’s left, Weimar fired several more shots from his bow at the other two spriggans, dropping the first one before picking up his axe. The second spriggan had shrunk back down to gnome size to avoid the arrow, but Weimar easily drove his battleaxe into the creature’s chest, killing it as the steam ahead began to clear.

He smiled in satisfaction as he saw six spriggans lying dead where the steam cloud had struck. The companions’ plan had worked perfectly. Amyalla had disarmed all of the traps she found, while letting Seline know what exactly they were designed for. Seline’s magic then created the sound of intruders being caught on the traps, luring several of the spriggans to investigate and running into the steam cloud Seline had conjured with her wand.

Now it’s my turn, Weimar thought with a grin, as he retrieved his bow.


Ma’non’go stalked off down the right-hand corridor, his trident red with the blood of some of the spriggans who had survived the steam cloud but were too injured to fight back. Looking around warily, he recalled what Airk had told the companions about spriggans, such as how the nasty little things could strike from the shadows.

Amyalla was following along behind Ma’non’go. When a spriggan leapt out from an alcove in the rock wall to stab Ma’non’go, the halfling’s warning cry saved her tall friend from being hamstrung. While Ma’non’go managed to avoid having his leg torn as he spun to confront the spriggan, the creature slashed his hip.

A wave of agony went down the right side of Ma’non’go’s body as the spriggan grew to full size. The spriggan howled in glee as he slashed at Ma’non’go, his dagger now the size of a sword. Ma’non’go blocked the spriggan’s slash with the handle of his trident, turning the spriggan’s eager cry to a curse of frustration. Ma’non’go ducked the spriggan’s next sword slash and quickly struck back, tearing a gash along the spriggan’s stomach and leg.

Unfortunately, Ma’non’go was so caught up in his own battle he didn’t notice another spriggan coming up behind him. This creature held a shimmering dagger in his hands, eager to succeed where his comrade had failed.  


Revafour led the way down the central corridor, Luna following in his wake. He carried a lantern in one hand as he walked, and suddenly stopped when the lantern was extinguished. Many of the torches ahead of him were extinguished as well. Revafour recognized one of the spriggan’s magical powers, the ability to snuff out the flames from torches and lamps. Fortunately, he was prepared, dropping the lantern and reaching into his pocket. The corridor blazed with light again as Revafour pulled a stone from his pocket and tossed to the cavern floor behind him. Luna had enchanted the stone with a magical spell, and she and Revafour had no problems seeing any spriggans that might attack them.

Revafour and Luna didn’t have long to wait. One of the creatures charged down the corridor towards Revafour, and another one charged at Luna from a side room the companions had passed. The spriggan coming at Revafour was in its small form, making a ghastly face as it jabbered all manner of ugly-sounding noise at him. The spriggan was using another of the creatures’ powers, the ability to instill fear in his opponents.

It took more than that to scare a Tenha warrior like Revafour, however. The spriggan stopped his babbling and grew to giant size when he realized that Revafour wasn’t scared of him. Revafour’s sword clashed with the spriggan’s as the monster attacked, and the spriggan began pushing Revafour back with his superior strength. Revafour only smiled, suddenly breaking away from the spriggan and causing him to stumble forward. The spriggan was completely defenseless, and Revafour didn’t waste the opportunity. Raising his sword, Revafour brought the blade squarely down on the spriggan’s neck, chopping his head off in a single stroke.

Behind Revafour, Luna brought up her shield to block the hammer the other spriggan was swinging at her. The spriggan anticipated her move, and brought his hammer around Luna’s defenses and struck her on her hip. Luna was knocked prone by the blow, but she recovered more quickly than the spriggan expected. Picking up her mace, she slammed it down on the spriggan’s foot before he could strike again. Crying out angrily, the spriggan raised his hammer to strike Luna down, but she slammed his foot again and then struck his knee as she got to her knees. Staggering from the blows, the spriggan shrunk back down to gnome size, charging straight at Luna. She hit him squarely in the face, and he fell dead.

Luna stood up, and she saw a third spriggan advancing on Revafour. The creature kicked the corpse of the first spriggan at Revafour, knocking him off balance. Revafour tried to defend himself, but the spriggan was faster, his sword aiming for the Flan warrior’s stomach.

Crying out, Luna flung her mace at the creature, uttering a desperate prayer to Pelor in her mind.

Pelor seemed to answer Luna’s prayer as her mace hit the spriggan in the chest. He stumbled back from the blow, landing on his rump. That gave Revafour all the time he needed to recover. He brought his sword down on the creature with a titanic slash, cutting the monster almost in two and staining the entire length of his sword blade red with blood.

Revafour initially smiled at his victory, but then he frowned as he heard Luna casting a healing spell over her wounded side.

His smile returned at the look of relief he saw on her face.


The spriggan stalking Ma’non’go didn’t realize it, but he should have been watching his own back. He belatedly heard a whistling sound, his only warning before a dagger thudded painfully into his hip. Crying out pain, the spriggan turned around, reaching for the dagger now protruding from his hip.

Amyalla had caught the spriggan by surprise with the first dagger she’d thrown, and threw the second one when he was off guard. The second dagger thudded into his chest, killing him instantly. Turning to consider the scene, Ma’non’go smiled in amusement as Amyalla came up to the corpse of the spriggan she’d killed, pulling her daggers out of the monster’s body.

 “I dare say these creatures probably have a fair amount of treasure, wouldn’t they?” Amyalla said, grinning at Ma’non’go. “Care to help me find it?”

I presume you’ll need a stronger pair of arms than your own to haul much if it away, will you not? Ma’non’go signed back to her as he returned her smile.

“I’m hurt,” Amyalla said, a pouty look replacing her smile. “You think I’m just asking you for your strength, without appreciating your handsomeness?”

Ma’nongo just rolled his eyes in amusement. 


Marching ahead of Weimar and Seline as he led them down the left passage from the crossroads, Airk scowled at the four spriggans charging towards them. Two of the creatures were in giant form, the others the size of gnomes, tossing spears and daggers at the adventurers. Fully expecting the spriggans’ tactics, Airk knelt down and held up his shield. Airk nodded as a spear and dagger bounced harmlessly off his shield. He knew the spriggans were naturally going to attack him first, even with Seline spellcasting behind him. 

For Airk and the spriggans, this was just another chapter in the eternal blood feud between their races. The hatred between gnomes and spriggans rivalled that between the dwarves and the duergar, or the hatred that once existed between the elves and the drow, those dark blue-skinned elves that were now known to be nothing more than folk-tales. 

The spriggans weren’t going to spare the humans, however. Weimar grunted as a spear struck his own shield, and a spear bounced off the protective barrier Seline had cast in front of her. Seline struck back first, releasing a lightning bolt that blasted the two spriggans in giant form dead on the spot. One of the remaining spriggans grew into giant size and charged at Weimar, while the other remained the size of a gnome and attacked Airk. 

Weimar grunted again as his shield absorbed another blow from the spriggan attacking him. Gritting his teeth, Weimar struck back and cut the spriggan in the hip, before crying out as the spriggan struck him in the shoulder. Weimar ducked another swing from the spriggan, and he retaliated with a strike that clove deep into the creature’s chest. As the spriggan fell to his knees, Weimar hacked at the monster repeatedly, chopping through the spriggan’s arms and finally taking its head off. 

Airk did not flinch as the other remaining spriggan struck his shield. The gnome’s expression was stone cold as he struck back, tearing a long gash down the spriggan’s leg with his military pick. As the spriggan staggered, Airk pressed the assault, slamming into the spriggan’s legs with his shield and making the monster stumble. The spriggan fell to one knee, and Airk lashed out with his pick, catching the spriggan in the eye. Airk pulled down on his pick, tearing a long gash down the spriggan’s face and gouging the creature’s throat. 

Through it all, Airk maintained that cold, unmoving expression. 

“Do you think that’s the last of them?” Weimar asked Airk. 

Airk ignored Weimar and Seline, running off down the passage. 

Weimar and Seline looked at one another in concern, before running to follow Airk.


It’s the Hateful Wars all over again, Airk realized. Just like when we fought those spriggan bandits who preyed on our defenseless villages…

 

During the Hateful Wars, many of the gnomish communities who sent their warriors to the front lines were left underdefended. Those communities were constantly preyed on by spriggans eager for blood and treasure. Airk had learned much about the vicious creatures from his old brothers Osian and Tarnek during their time together in Flinthold’s army. The Venbelwar brothers’ unit had confronted a band of spriggans who had kidnapped several gnomish children, intending to sell the children as humanoids for food or to treacherous dwarves as slaves, whichever would offer the higher price.

Airk had passed the knowledge of spriggans he had received from his brothers on to his new human and halfling companions. He was quite pleased with how his companions had used his knowledge, but he hadn’t told them everything. Spriggan bands were usually organized around a single leader who only entered a battle when he thought he could ambush his victims. If the leader didn’t get the chance, he would try to flee with as much treasure and other essentials as he could carry.

Glancing all around the passage as he ran, Airk soon found what he was looking for. He saw a door leading to a kitchen further ahead to his right, and he had passed a general sleeping area several feet back. He knew that a spriggan leader would want his minions close by to protect him and to be close to the kitchen to have first choice of the meals, so…

The door in the left wall of the passage, almost flush with the kitchen door, was the one Airk knew he was looking for.

Bursting into the room, Airk stared hatefully at the spriggan leader. The spriggan leader had been about to escape through a secret door in the wall opposite the door, but he turned to face the intruder. Airk’s eyes narrowed as he locked stares with the spriggan. The spriggan leader was ugly even by spriggan standards, powerfully muscled even in his small form and heavily marked with tattoos and piercings. He hefted a vicious two-handed battleaxe, kicking aside the treasure chests he had dropped when Airk burst into the room. Airk strode forward, raising his bloodstained pick, and the spriggan leader spat at him.

 “Think you’re clever, don’t you?” the spriggan said with a sneer. “Think that just because you slay a few expendable fools, you think you can triumph?”

“You think you can kill us all by yourself?” Airk said, a smile crossing his face. “You’re quite calm for someone facing the end of his life.”

“I never thought I’d meet you,” the spriggan said, raising an eyebrow.

The spriggan’s sneer turned into a wicked grin as Airk stared in surprise at his words.

 “How do you know me?” Airk said, confusion replacing eagerness on his face.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” the spriggan said, laughing evilly. “Pity you’ll never get to find out!” he shouted, as he suddenly grew into his giant form. The spriggan’s axe grew with him, and he howled with glee as he swung the huge weapon down at Airk.

Airk managed to block the blow with his shield, but the sheer force of it left him reeling. The spriggan followed up his first attack with a vicious backhanded chop, slashing Airk across the chest. His entire body on fire with pain, Airk ducked and was fortune not to be decapitated by the spriggan’s third strike. Blood ran down the front of his torso, and Airk knew that his heavy armor had likely saved him from being instantly killed.

As the spriggan prepared to attack yet again, Airk shouted in a rage. Airk struck back with his pick, tearing a long line in one of the spriggan’s arms. The spriggan grunted in pain, and his next attack passed harmlessly over Airk’s head. He recovered faster than Airk expected, and he chopped straight down with his next attack, slashing another wound across Airk’s back.

Airk was now covered with blood, most of it his own, but if he felt any pain he did not show it. He struck back with his pick, driving it into one of the spriggan’s hands as the creature withdrew his axe. The pick’s point penetrated the spriggan’s hand almost up to the handle of the weapon. Forced to strike one-handed, the spriggan managed to hit Airk just under his head, tearing a shallow gash in his neck.

Airk seemed not to care.

The gnome’s rage was rising again, as he remembered the Hateful Wars and what the spriggans had done. One moment he was seeing the spriggan he was currently fighting, the next he was remembering fighting alongside Osian and Tarnek. His attacks were as deadly as ever, as he ripped into the spriggan’s foot with his pick. As the spriggan screamed, Airk tore a gash in the spriggan’s stomach, causing blood to run down his legs.

Murder was in Airk’s eyes as he went into a frenzy, hacking away at the spriggan’s torso one moment, and then at his legs when the monster tried to protect his vital areas. Finally, staggering from his wounds, the spriggan sank to one knee.

Glowering with rage, Airk drove his pick into the middle of the spriggan’s face, right between the creature’s eyes. Withdrawing the weapon, he struck again and a third time, widening the gash each time.

Airk only broke out of his trance when Seline entered the room and called out his name. He turned to face her, noting the concerned look on her face.

Seline was worried to see Airk covered with blood and looking half-dead.

The look in his eyes, on the other hand, sent a chill down her spine.


“Are you alright?” Luna asked Airk once she’d finished casting her healing spells on him. The rest of the companions had joined Airk and Seline in the spriggan leader’s room, reporting that the rest of the spriggans were dead. They were looking through the chests the spriggan leader had dropped, and had already accumulated an impressive pile of coins and gemstones.

In response, Airk jumped to his feet-more quickly than Luna would have liked-and ran over to join his companions looking through the chests.

 “What did you find?” he asked. He was initially interested in the money they had found, but that interest vanished when he saw the sheaf of parchments Amyalla was holding.

“None of us could make much sense of these letters,” the halfling said as Airk read the parchments. “I take it they’re all in gnomish?”

“Yes, they are,” Airk said. “More than that, though…”

“What is it?” Amyalla asked.

Airk didn’t reply. He was focused on trying to recall where he had seen the handwriting in these letters before. Finally, a memory flashed across his mind, something half-forgotten and buried stirring from within the recesses of his consciousness.

He flinched for a second, trying to remember what it was about, before he forced himself to read the first letter again.

Gorkyn,

Excellent work. Your raids have been even more profitable than I expected, and the profits will finance some truly important parts of the search. It will have to be laundered through that fool Laessar’s merchant house, but that’s hardly a problem, of course. He’s known as a master dealer, so a few more gems will hardly attract much attention.

More than anything, I should like to commend you on your use of those stupid trolls in your raids. Not only are they excellent shock troops, and perfectly expendable, but they are almost impossible to trace back to us. It reminds me of the old days, when some of our different nations began manipulating the humanoids to attack our rivals. Needless to say, after our rivals had exhausted themselves, it was a simple matter for us to take what we wanted.

In gratitude for your fine work, I would encourage you to keep half of the spoils for yourself. But no more than half-you should know, after what I did to Crullach, that I have eyes everywhere.

I am always watching you.

I am everywhere.

And yet, if you stay with me, you shall share in the riches that shall be mine. The game I am playing holds many rewards for the bold, rewards that-I will repeat myself-will be passed on to the most loyal and devoted of my followers.

The Crawler be with you, my brother.

Kalrek Burunne.

Airk’s blood ran cold, as his mind raced back to that horrible night more than six and a half decades ago.

He recalled the deaths of his fellow warriors of Flinthold, fellow gnomes he had grown up with, kinsmen and blood brothers.

We were assured the cavern was safe…that the claim had to be made…Airk heard himself think.

How could we see the stalactites coming, after Kalrek had insisted there was no danger?

At first there was nothing but silence, the sound of peace and the anticipation of a bright future after suffering and loss…

…and then bloodshed, the mocking laughter of the dwarves, their axes aided by the toxic poisons released by the broken stalactites…

The blood of the guilty dwarves, washing away the innocent gnome blood, was my only redemption…

Dozens set forth, and two alone return home…the last of the survivors.

…A joke of Garl Glittergold’s? More likely a joke of Urdlen.

What did Flinthold gain, for all those years of war?

None of the promised riches, none of the sought glory…

…nothing but broken families, hundreds slain, betrayal by those who were thought to be our allies.

Is that what you sought, Kalrek? What did you gain from it?

How much gold was our peoples’ lives worth?

For the rivers of blood, pouring over the stone?

Finally, Airk became aware of his surroundings again. Glancing from side to side, he saw that Revafour and Ma’non’go each held one of his arms, and the rest of his companions were staring at him in horror.

“What happened to you?” Weimar asked. “You dropped the letter, and then you just began to scream…”

Airk took several deep breaths as he managed to calm down. A haunted look remained in his eyes, the look of someone who had seen the memories of an ancient horror come screaming back to him.

“…Kalrek…” Airk murmured, before he took a deep breath.

“Who’s that?” Revafour said.

“The cause of it all,” Airk said, looking down at the cavern floor. “Kalrek is the gnome who betrayed my clan to the dwarves that nearly murdered us, and caused so much suffering for Flinthold. So many decades on, and he’s still doing it. The attacks on the Flan, consorting with spriggans, all this suffering and murder to line his own pockets!”

“He organized all this?” Revafour said. “The troll raids and the spriggans?”

“All that death and murder,” Airk said, not seeming to have heard Revafour’s question. He seemed to have aged two centuries in as many minutes. “So many decades and their deaths are still unavenged. What’s he planning now, and why would he involve Laessar?”

 “Who’s this Laessar?” Amyalla said, turning Airk’s head to make him look her squarely in the eyes.

“Laessar is a friend of mine,” Airk said, shaking his head as he attempted to focus his thoughts. “He left the Lortmils with his family a few decades after the Hateful Wars, and set himself up as a merchant and gem dealer at Copper Crossing in the Kron Hills. What would he be doing with a monster like Kalrek?”

Did you- Ma’non’go started to sign, before Airk suddenly spoke again.

“Not now, not anymore!” Airk said, his voice rising to a shout. “If Laessar still lives at Copper Crossing, I’ll make him speak the truth face to face!”

“Will you stop your ranting and listen to what we have to say?” Revafour demanded, turning Airk to face him. “Or have you gone completely mad?”

 “…Mad?” Airk said. “No, I’m…not…by the gods, I’m sorry…for everything. I know how difficult and curt I’ve been over the last several days. It’s just…when I saw that Kalrek was involved, everything just…”

“…It’s alright,” Luna said, leading him over to a comfortable chair at one side of the room and sitting him down. “Is there any means by which we could help you?”

“There’s a gnome city in the Kron Hills called Copper Crossing,” Airk said. “I intend to travel there-I need to speak to Laessar and ask him about Kalrek. Whatever Kalrek is planning, I have to stop him.”

“…Are you sure that’s wise?” Amyalla said. “You don’t exactly seem like you’re in the best condition to-“

“The Nine Hells how I feel!” Airk said. “After all these decades, I’ve finally found a lead on Kalrek, and a means to avenge the blood he’s spilled! Think of the Flan, too, and everyone else his minions have likely murdered. What else could he be planning? He has to be stopped! Garl only knows who else might suffer if we don’t!”

The rest of the companions only looked at Airk in dismay.

“I’m sorry…those memories,” Airk said. “I can’t…it’s so hard to let…”

Your pain at your recollections are entirely understandable, Ma’non’go signed. Surely you recall, however, that you are not alone with your suffering? We too have endured similar traumas, and we understand what you are experiencing.

“Then…will you join me?” Airk asked. “Justice demands no less of me than to finally punish Kalrek for all his crimes.”

Looking at one another, Airk’s companions nodded reassuringly. 

Ma’non’go was certain, however, that he wasn’t the only one troubled by the look that was still in Airk’s eyes.

"
 
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