companions and their new friends continued for several hours before stopping
near dusk. As they ate a meal and set up camp, Luna and Nusanne fell into
our lives in the County of Urnst.” Nusanne said. “Always farmers, but two of
our boys weren’t interested in working the land like us. Went off to Radigast
City when they came of age, and only Willianak stayed. None of the priests
could help him when his illness came, and he died before a more powerful one
could come. We didn’t have much reason to stay after that,” she continued
sorry,” Luna said, holding Nusanne’s hands in her own.
“We came to
terms with it,” Nusanne said, blinking back a tear. “Better to die in his own
bed than at the edge of a goblin’s sword.”
kept up a stoic front, but Luna could see the bitterness in her eyes.
he have to die so soon?” Luna said. “Why would Pelor, or any of the gods, allow
it to happen?”
not surprised by the deep sigh Nusanne gave, but she was surprised by the
strange look Nusanne gave her after that.
you say such things about your god?” Nusanne asked, her eyes narrowing. “You
call yourself a daughter of Pelor?”
not surprised by Luna’s deep sigh, but she was surprised by the saddened look
Luna gave her.
“What have you lost then, child?” Nusanne
not something I’m…” Luna said, before Nusanne nodded in understanding. “I want
to believe that Pelor’s my guiding light, but when I see all the suffering in
The look in
her eyes was clear as glass to Nusanne this time.
It’s not just what
she’s lost, Nusanne
thought, but also who she’s lost. At
least Bretten and I chose to leave Urnst, and start anew…
“I have to admit, I’m not the most fond of
light wine,” Weimar said, before taking a draw on the wineskin. “I mean, I
appreciate their paying us, but…” he took another drink, doing his best not to
grimace at the taste.
And yet, that doesn’t prevent you from
partaking of these peoples’ attempts to repay us, Ma’non’go signed as he chewed his food, putting
down his utensils to do so. Indeed, out
of all the wine we’ve consumed on this journey, you’ve drunk more than half of
it by yourself.
have,” Weimar said with a smile.
Why, then, don’t you employ that magic flagon
you found in the hags’ lair? Ma’non’go asked, referring to the magical drinking vessel that Weimar
had claimed from the treasure of the hags they had slain at the Bearded Lord’s
turn down the hospitality these kindly folk have seen fit to show us?” Weimar
asked, offended. “Certainly not, my good man! It would be an insult to suggest
that their gratitude is not good enough for us! Besides, the flagon would be
much more worthily used to celebrate when the journey concludes in Etterboek!”
What a convenient explanation, Ma’non’go signed, after he’d taken
another bite of his food.
you mean by that?” Weimar asked.
I mean that you always have an excuse to
indulge in all the liquor you can lay eyes on, Ma’non’go explained. I’m curious as to why you indulge in it so much, and why Revafour
refuses to indulge in it at all.
about to take a third pull on the wineskin, but he stopped at that.
heard the bigoted jokes, of course,” Weimar said, “about drunken Flan and their
fondness for liquor. Never mind that Suel and Oerids can act just as stupidly
when they’re in their cups.”
Much like you, for instance, Ma’non’go signed.
you asking me this?” Weimar demanded. “What does it matter to you how much I
I’m merely curious, Ma’non’go signed, curious about those I travel with and the
different parts of the world I visit.
didn’t have liquor in Hepmonaland?” Weimar said, raising an eyebrow.
Pulque drinks are mostly consumed by the
wealthy upper classes, Ma’non’go explained, and there
were taverns as you would know them were rare. Most common folk in the more
civilized parts of X’tandelexamenka drink coca tea in coffee houses similar to
that’s fascinating,” Weimar said, his frown revealing that phrase for the lie
that it was. “And yet, I’m curious that my imbibing is so interesting.”
I just find it strange, Ma’non’go signed. From what I have experienced of warriors who
are as attuned to the wilderness as you claim to be, most of them use two
swords in their battles, not the axe and shield you do. They also typically
don’t make spectacles of themselves by indulging in tavern brawls or spending
as many nights with barmaids and dancing girls as you do.
“Why should I follow what others do if it
doesn’t suit me?” Weimar said. “Is it really so strange? Or were such things
frowned on in Hepmonaland?”
They’re often frowned on here, Ma’non’go reminded him.
arrogant nobles,” Weimar said, scoffing disdainfully. “They hide behind their
airs and wealth when they can be just as violent as any lowly vagabond. Trust
me, I know.”
Is that why you indulge? Ma’non’go asked curiously. Because of your disgust at them? Because you
want to show how different you are?
a long drink of the wineskin at that, draining it completely before putting it
down next to his empty plate.
I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know, rationally, why I enjoy my drink. Are
you quite happy now?” he demanded.
frowned, a wounded look on your face.
I didn’t mean to insult you, he signed. I was just curious to learn more about the Flanaess and its human
cultures. They’re different from the humans of Hepmonaland. Perhaps, if you were the one in Hepmonaland,
you’d be puzzled by the ways of the Olmans, Ma’non’go reminded him.
all,” Weimar said. “My apologies-I don’t know where my mind is today.”
Think nothing of it, Ma’non’go signed, noting the shame
in Weimar’s voice.
Ma’non’go was quite satisfied with the conversation. He knew that Weimar had
likely revealed more about himself than he’d intended.
observations about his companions only reinforced his belief that there was
nowhere else on Oerth that he’d rather be.
of travel brought the adventurers and their temporary companions to the
outskirts of Etterboek. Bretten and Nusanne thanked the adventurers profusely for
their help, assuring the adventurers that they would could take care of
themselves from here.
gods’ luck be with you, then,” Airk said with a nod. “We should be off soon,
once we replenish our supplies. There’s still a good amount of daylight left,
and if we travel-“
spend the night, at least?” Bretten asked. “Surely you deserve a rest, and we
should like to repay your escorting us here!”
another journey of our own to make,” Airk said, “and we’ve been delayed enough
as it is.”
Nusanne looked considerably disappointed. Airk’s companions, who understood the
gnome’s turmoil, merely looked at one another. Seline took Airk by the
shoulder, leading him away for a few minutes.
“You can’t keep going at this pace,” Seline said
to Airk. “If you do, you’re sure to drive yourself mad!”
decades,” Airk said. “Kalrek’s gotten away with his crimes for decades. How
much longer is he going to be able to do it?”
all you can think about?” Seline asked. “How much do you think Kalrek would
enjoy knowing that?”
“I…” Airk trailed
off. “I…can’t…I can’t just…”
Seline said. “We’re just worried about you. You can’t let yourself be consumed
we’re with you,” Seline persisted. “You know we’ll be off on the morrow. Just
give yourself this one night of peace.”
finally nodded, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath.
that Seline was right, and he knew that it was right to accede to her request.
But in his
mind, he still heard the screams of his brothers in arms, the cries of the
Steelheart dwarves, and Kalrek’s laughter.
blood running like rivers over the stone.
rest of the day, the companions bought fresh supplies in Etterboek. Nusanne
found lodgings for herself and her husband, while Bretten himself found some
carpentry work. That evening, Bretten and Nusanne gave the companions a final
feast of goodbye and thanks. The feast was modest, livened by the use of
Weimar’s flagon, but the feeling behind it was sincere and heartfelt. The
invitation Bretten and Nusanne extended to the companions to visit them if they
ever returned to Etterboek had the same warmth behind it.
So too was
the invitation Bretten and Nusanne extended to the companions to visit them if
they ever found themselves in Restin again.
that the rest of his companions were grateful for the respite, and the meals
and companionship they’d shared with the Urnstian couple they’d escorted here.
He put on a brave face during the meal, and he was indeed happy to see the
Urnstians arrive safely in Etterboek-something that didn’t happen as often in
the dangerous Flanaess as it should.
In spite of
it all, his mind kept coming back to memories of the past, memories he had
carried for the last six and a half decades.