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    EDIT: The Silver Wolf-For Crown Or Country: Many Paths Become One
    Posted on Sun, May 19, 2019 by LordCeb
    CruelSummerLord writes "

    “I think it means he’s a better fighter than most of the rabble that make up the Keoish Army,” Luna said with a wry smile. “After all, it’s the same army that’s been defeated by everyone from the Ulekian states to the Grand Duchy of Geoff to the Hold of the Sea Princes.”




    Chapter Nine

    Many Paths Become One


    The crew of the Sea Unicorn learned that the sahuagin and koalinth helping the pirates had fouled their ship’s rudder with a net. The net held the Sea Unicorn in place, allowing the sea creatures to cut a hole in the hull to enter the armory while the Tiger Shark attacked. The Sea Unicorn’s crew had no trouble freeing their ship’s rudder or repairing its hull. They tossed the corpses of the pirates and sea monsters to the sharks, and chained the surviving pirates up to be handed over to the Irongate authorities when they arrived. The Sea Unicorn’s crew also sank the Tiger Shark, but not before plundering it of a fair haul of treasure. The companions received half the plunder in thanks for their efforts at defending the Sea Unicorn, without which it would have become yet another of Bloody Roger’s victims.


    Six days later, the Sea Unicorn put in at Irongate. The companions left the next day, riding east through the County of Idee to South Province. They'd originally planned to go straight through the Iron Hills, but rumors of a bloody conflict there made them change their minds. Three days after the companions left Irongate, they reached the city of Ekehold in Idee, and took rooms at the Red Lion Inn. In another three days, they would finally arrive in Zelradton.

    Listening to the chill winds blowing outside, Revafour was glad that the companions reached Ekehold before nightfall. The mid-autumn weather was steadily growing colder as the month of Ready'reat approached. Fortunately, Revafour didn't have to worry about that tonight. He and the other patrons who were still awake enjoyed the large fire that filled the common room with comforting warmth. His friends had all gone to bed, but Revafour decided to stay up for a while. As much as he enjoyed his friends' company, he also enjoyed solitude when he could get it.

    Sitting down once he'd refilled his mug with some more water, Revafour lost himself in old memories of his family and his one-time love Kathleena Nightoak. The Greystar family lodge had fires like the Red Lion's. The lodge's fires were warmer, but the nights were colder in the Duchy of Tenh. Revafour felt a pain in his chest as he contemplated how he'd been banished from his home, and how he wished he could return.

    It was one of the reasons why he stayed with his adventuring friends, even though none of them were themselves Flan. Revafour knew most of them had pains similar to his, feeling that they couldn't-

    The sounds of giggling laughter and feet pounding down the stairs near the bar jolted Revafour from his reverie. Looking up, he wasn't surprised to see Weimar half-stumbling down the steps with a fetching young blonde woman in tow. Revafour recognized the woman as one of the barmaids who'd been working earlier tonight. Given how disheveled both she and Weimar looked it was easy for him to tell what they'd been doing. The woman stumbled as she reached the bottom of the stairs, but before she fell Weimar easily caught her with a remarkable grace. As she landed in Weimar's arms, she laughed again and kissed him on the lips.

    Weimar led the woman over towards the bar where the innkeeper was waiting. He nodded to the innkeeper, who gestured for one of his bouncers to take the woman into the kitchen behind the bar. The innkeeper then turned back to Weimar, who accepted a mug of stout and tossed several copper coins onto the bar in exchange. Weimar took a brief drink to test the stout, and smiled in satisfaction before he walked over and sat down at Revafour's table.

    "I thought you'd be asleep by now," Revafour said with a wry smile as he glanced up and down at Weimar's mussed-up clothes.

    "I said I was going to bed," Weimar said, before taking a hefty swig of his drink. "I never said I was going to sleep."

    "I suppose not," Revafour said. "I wasn't expecting you to come down for another drink, though."

    "We shouldn't be setting out too early in the morning, not at this time of year," Weimar pointed out.

    "Are you sure you should be drinking that much, though? It was bad enough in Scant-I'm not dragging you anywhere this time!"

    "I never asked you to," Weimar said, as Revafour chuckled in amusement. "I wasn't satisfied with any of the wines they offer here, so I thought I could enjoy some of their stout. Nothing better than a good Big Cedar Log to quench a traveler's thirst."

    "And thank Pelor you haven't gotten into any tavern brawls since Dyvers. Sometimes I don't know how Luna, Seline and Ma'non'go ever put up with you."

    "How do you think? It was my rakish charm…and everything I helped them with in Ulek."

    "…Ulek?" Revafour said, an intrigued look on his face. "That's where you met them?"

    "Indeed it was. My propensity for gallantry set us off on a new road altogether."

    "A new road?"

    "What, you're interested in hearing my story?" Weimar said, blinking in surprise. "It might take some time to tell."

    "Time is what we have plenty of," Revafour reminded him, chuckling again in amusement. "What I'd be interested in is knowledge, unless Ma'non'go and the sisters asked you not to speak of it…"

    "Perish the thought," Weimar said, waving the thought away. "I'd never betray their confidences-it's just that we've never spoken of it…"


    The Principality of Ulek's port of Gryrax was one of the busiest in the whole Sheldomar Valley. Ships came from the four corners of the Flanaess, bringing travelers and trade with them. Luna, Seline and Ma'non'go were some of the newest arrivals, looking around at the sights as they left the city's docks.

    "The captain suggested the Third Tower Tavern, didn't he?" Luna said, as Seline nodded.

    It should be three streets over, Ma'non'go signed to them, as they walked up the road into the city proper.

    The Third Tower Tavern was not exactly what Luna and Seline were used to growing up in Kalstrand, but they'd long since stopped worrying about such things. In any case, they only intended to stay the night before looking for paying work the next morning.

    "So we're headed to the caravan office?" Seline said once they'd rented some rooms and sat down with a meal.

    It's as good a place as any to start, Ma'non'go signed. Or maybe we could inquire at the barracks. From what I heard the barkeep say, it's just about the start of raiding season and there're expected to be more attacks than ever from the Pomarj this year. The pay would probably be better too.

    "Maybe," Luna said with a frown, "but from what I heard many of the Ulekian dwarves don't care much for magic or the people that use it. It's associated with the elvenfolk, as we would be. Would they really accept us?"

    Could it be any worse than Idee or Sunndi? Ma'non'go pointed out.

    "Ah, the joys of being descended from a Celestial House," Seline said as she took a drink of wine.

    "You just need to know who to talk to," Weimar said as he came up to join them, a full flagon in his hand. "The scouting units will take anyone who's willing to volunteer."

    "And you are?" Seline asked, raising an eyebrow.

    "Weimar Glendowyr," he said with a bow. "Might I join you in a drink? I'll be more than happy to buy the next round, if that's your desire."

    "Certainly," Seline said before Ma'non'go or Luna could intervene. "And what did you mean by scouting units?"

    "I mean the Ulekian scouting units that defend against raiders from the Pomarj," Weimar said. "I take it you're new in town?"

    "…We just got off the ship today," Seline said with a frown.

    Are you sure this is wise? Ma'non'go signed to Luna and Seline. You should tell him that he should watch himself around me, he finished.

    "What did he just sign?" Weimar asked in confusion.

    "That you'd best watch yourself around us," Luna said.

    "Come now, I'm just being friendly," Weimar said.

    Ma'non'go stared impassively back at him.

    "Yes, well…" Weimar said, clearing his throat. "You just got off the ship? Where from?"

    "…A distant land," Seline said, a sad look in her eyes.

    "Yes, but what distant land?" Weimar asked, before he saw Ma'non'go shaking his head, a sombre look on his face.

    "It's just not something we like to talk about," Luna said. "Where are you from?"

    "The taverns of Niole Dra, the woodlands of the elves, and the barracks of the Keoish Army. That said, I can assure you that my axe is much keener and my aim much sharper than a typical Keoish soldier's," Weimar said with a proud smile.

    "What do you mean by that?" Seline asked.

    "I think it means he's a better fighter than most of the rabble that make up the Keoish Army," Luna said with a wry smile. "After all, it's the same army that's been defeated by everyone from the Ulekian states to the Grand Duchy of Geoff to the Hold of the Sea Princes."

    "Aren't you a bright lass," Weimar said with a laugh. "Yes, Keoland has a very long and very rich tradition of military shame, I'm afraid to say. That's why I consider myself lucky to have only been placed in one of the irregular scouting units."

    "Why did you leave?" Seline asked curiously.

    "I simply mustered out. I went back to Niole Dra, but as you can see," Weimar said with a smile before he took another drink from his flagon, "I sometimes get too far into my cups. I ended up in too many fights-duels, especially-for my own good and I had to leave."

    "I see," Seline said, unpleasant memories of Idee and Sunndi coming back to her. "So what are your plans from here?"

    "As I said, I was thinking of seeing what work I could find with the scouting units dealing with Pomarj raids," Weimar said. "From there I might head west through southern Keoland, or north to Greyhawk. There's plenty of work in either direction."

    "Perhaps we could join you?" Seline said, her words catching Luna, Ma'non'go and Weimar by surprise. "You seem to know your way around."

    "If that's what you want, you're welcome to join me," Weimar said with a shrug as he finished his drink. "Indeed, it'd be good to have some fellow mercenaries I already know for a change…"

    "You don't typically know them?" Luna asked.

    "Not very well," Weimar said, shaking his head. "Most of them tend to drift away, or die, or both…"

    "I can assure you we don't have any intention of dying any time soon," Seline said with a smile that Weimar found immensely appealing. "Your offer remains open, then?"

    "If you want to take it, then it does," Weimar said with a nod.

    Luna, Seline and Ma'non'go exchanged glances.

    "Agreed," Luna said.


    The companions had no trouble finding work at the scouting units' offices. Given the hazardous nature of the scouts' job, the officials were always looking for new recruits. As Weimar explained to his new friends, their job would be to track the progress of any major humanoid raiding parties, track their progress and kill them if possible.

    The companions' journey was uneventful for the first three days. On the fourth, they encountered several grisly sights. Those sights were of the bloody remains of no less than three other scouting parties. Their corpses were alternately torn, crushed or even burned, with large pieces of flesh torn from them before they were left to rot for the scavengers. Bizarrely, none of them had any gold or other valuables on them either, their killers taking their wealth as well as their flesh.

    "These parties were all following a common trail," Weimar said when the companions finished inspecting the third party. "Something's been killing them one by one…"

    "And we're on its trail?" Luna asked, glancing warily at the trees around them.

    That's what we've been paid to do, though, Ma'non'go reminded Luna and Seline before they translated for Weimar. And how do we know this creature, whatever it is, isn't also on our trail?

    "We don't," Luna said, "which is why it probably won't be long before it's after us."

    Luna's prediction was proven right on the fifth day of the companions' trek, as they reached a wide dale between two forested hills. The officials at the scouting office had asked them to specifically investigate the dale, as it was a popular trade route between Gryrax and Celene, and the officials were receiving reports of caravans disappearing in the area.

    The companions were on the alert, and they were not surprised by the lions' roars, dragon shrieks and goat bleats that filled the air as the chimeras struck. The two monsters flew down in a synchronized dive as they breathed fire at the companions. Luna managed to block the flames with her shield, and Weimar rolled out of the way, but Seline and Ma'non'go were not so lucky and were burned by the flames. The chimeras brayed in triumph as they came to ground level, charging in to attack the adventurers.

    Weimar ducked the chimera's next burst of fire and blocked its claws and goat's headbutt with his shield. Before he could strike back, the chimera's lion head jutted out and bit deeply into his shoulder. Yelling in pain, Weimar struck back with his axe and cut a gash across the chimera's underbelly. As Weimar struck again, this time chopping into the creature's leg, he heard Seline chanting behind him. She released a flurry of silvery-blue energy bolts from her fingers, blasting the chimera and causing all of its heads to cry out in pain.

    Ma'non'go caught the other charging chimera on his trident, but that didn't prevent it from slashing his arms with its claws. Gritting his teeth in pain, Ma'non'go was grateful for the healing spell Luna cast on him from behind, which soothed the pain of his burns and cuts. He ripped his trident out of the chimera's body and struck again, this time driving it through the chimera's dragon head. The monster bleated and roared with its other heads and tried to strike at Ma'non'go, but Luna came to his side, blocking the attacks with her shield.

    Weimar was slashed painfully by the claws of the chimera he was fighting, but he struck back with his axe, this time cleaving more deeply into its wounded leg. The chimera was about to attack again, but Seline muttered a quick chant and tossed a small blob of butter between Weimar's legs. The butter expanded into a puddle of slick grease that spread all over the ground under the chimera's feet. The chimera gave a surprised yelp as it lost its footing, and Weimar split the lion head in two and chopped off the dragon head. The chimera tried to butt him with its goat's head, but Seline came up beside him. She held up her hands before it, casting a spell that caused them to burst into flame. The flames burned the chimera's goat head, incinerating it and leaving the creature dead on the ground.

    The other chimera recoiled and tried to attack again, but Ma'non'go easily dodged aside and Luna bashed it in its lion's head with her mace. The creature staggered for a moment, dizzy from the blow, and Ma'non'go tore into the creature's wings with his trident. Luna hit it again with her mace and then Ma'non'go thrust his trident into the monster's spine. With a grunt, he slashed his weapon up the chimera's body towards its heads. The creature shuddered and fell dead, killed by the shock of the blow.

    The companions stood in silence for several moments, catching their breath as Luna healed Seline's and Weimar's injuries.

    "Well, at least we know what targeted those caravans and the scouting parties," Seline said, smiling weakly.

    "And we'll likely be in for a substantial reward too," Luna said. "Who knows how much wealth these creatures collected from the people they killed?"

    "That's only if we can find their den, of course," Weimar said, "which won't be a problem, I can assure you."

    "I take it there's a lot more work where this came from?" Luna said as she followed Weimar up one of the hills to look for the chimera's tracks.

    "At this time of year, yes," Weimar said, as Seline and Ma'non'go fell in line behind them, "but we can do a lot more in this part of the world than act as border scouts. I could show you…"

    "I'd like that," Luna said with a smile.

    As the companions crested the top of the hill, Weimar's glance briefly met Ma'non'go's.

    Weimar could have sworn that he saw the hard look in the other man's eyes soften.


    "Soften, you say?" Revafour said, raising an eyebrow at that. "Pelor only knows what Amyalla would have said if she'd seen that."

    "Something amusing, I'm sure," Weimar said with a laugh. "In any case, we returned to Gryrax in time for Growfest. We did some more scouting work before we set sail for Hardby in Planting. From there, we started for Greyhawk and met the Listells on the way. You know the rest."

    "Growfest, eh?" Revafour said, rubbing his chin. "I suppose you enjoyed yourself," he said, a wry smile playing about his lips.

    "You wonder how Luna, Seline and Ma'non'go put up with me? Well, sometimes I wonder how you and Airk ever put up with Amyalla," Weimar shot back, returning Revafour's smile.

    "That's a tale worth telling, I suppose," Revafour said, rubbing his chin again.

    "And don't forget, you owe me a story for the one I just told you," Weimar pointed out. "You're the one always talking about the stories of the Flan-"

    "-and how they're often belittled by the Oerids and the Suel," Revafour said, frowning. "Seline's one of the few people I've met who's treated them with respect."

    "I haven't belittled them," Weimar said. "In fact, if that's how you want to repay me…"

    "No, it's quite alright," Revafour said. "It's funny how you mentioned Growfest, since that's where Airk and I first learned to put up with Amyalla…"


    The magnificent city of Chendl was not only Furyondy's political capital, but also its economic centre. All of Furyondy's major trade routes centred on it, and caravans were always coming and going. Adventurers and mercenaries visited the city all the time to find work with the merchants who were always seeking guards for their caravans. The city was especially busy at this time of year as it celebrated Growfest, celebrating the bounty of the land and commemorating a new agricultural season.

    Airk was impatient for the festival to end and to be out of Chendl. While he'd enjoyed the first few days of the festival, he'd had all the socializing he could take for the time being. He considered himself lucky to find a caravan planning to leave on the sixth day of Growfest, its caravan master eager to depart before tomorrow's Foolsday festivities. 

    "You don't mind walking?" the caravan master asked Airk, raising an eyebrow. "We won't be providing our guards with horses."

    "I can manage well enough," Airk said, twitching his moustache in annoyance.

    "Be ready, then," the caravan manager said with a shrug, before he turned to leave. "We're leaving in less than an hour."

    "Don't mind him," Airk heard a feminine voice behind him say. "He thinks we're somehow limited by our heights."

    Turning around, Airk raised an eyebrow at the sight of Amyalla.

    "Do you like what you see?" Amyalla said with a smile.

    "It is what it is," Airk said with a shrug. "Are you a guard or a guest on the caravan?"

    "Why don't you guess?" Amyalla said with a smirk, hiding her disappointment at Airk's lack of reaction.

    "You could be either, judging by your attire, but if I had to hazard a guess you're a guest who paid her way," Airk said, gesturing at the strapless blue traveling gown and fancy hat Amyalla wore. "I take it your leather jerkin and boots are for conveniences' sake, Miss…"

    "Amyalla Reorsa, at your service," she said, tipping her hat and giving a brief curtsy. "And you are?"

    "Airk Venbelwar, formerly of Flinthold," the gnome said, nodding in acknowledgement. "And where are you headed?"

    "Radigast City, if all goes well. After that, wherever my whims take me."

    "You don't have a destination?"

    "No more than any other adventurer. And what about you? Is guarding human caravans all you want?"

    "No, but it's something to do while I seek something else."

    "Wherever your whims take you?" Amyalla said, a twinkle coming into her eye.

    "Perhaps," Airk said with a shrug.

    "Best of luck to you, then," Amyalla said, tipping her hat once again. "I must be off, since I have some more shopping to do before the caravan leaves, but I'll be back soon enough."

    "Until then," Airk said with a nod as he and Amyalla parted ways.

    Airk introduced himself to the human and dwarven guards. They all seemed friendly enough, but they were all reserved and more interested in collecting their pay than forming any friendships. The guard captain organized them into pairs, and Airk found himself partnering with a large Flan man named Revafour. The caravan soon set off after that, and Airk chuckled to himself as he saw Amyalla sitting comfortably on one of the wagons between two handsome human men. They chatted merrily, their conversation interrupted by the occasional burst of laughter, seemingly oblivious to the world around them.

    Airk tried to think about how to relieve his inevitable boredom as he walked alongside Revafour. It wasn't likely the guards would do any fighting for the first few days of the journey, since bandits and orcs were almost nonexistent in the civilized heart of Furyondy. Not entirely sure what else to do, Airk struck up a conversation with his new partner, who seemed to live up to the Flan's stereotype of stoicism.

    "So, where are you from?" Airk started. "I'm from Flinthold in the Lortmil Mountains, myself."

    "Further north," was all Revafour said, without returning Airk's glance.

    "I thought as much," Airk said. "Are you from Tenh, then?"

    Now Revafour returned Airk's glance.

    "It's where I'm from," he said, brushing some of his hair back before looking ahead at the road. "I left when I had to, though."

    "Much like me," Airk said. "You've been wandering since then, I take it?"

    "…Among other things," Revafour said after a few moments. "And youself?"

    "A fellow wanderer," Airk said with a nod. "I couldn't stand the Lortmils for very long after the Hateful Wars ended."

    "Why's that?" Revafour asked, his curiosity piqued.

    "You'd know if you'd seen the gnomes, the men and especially the dwarves betraying each other to claim the richest halls left behind by the humanoids," Airk said, a bitter look crossing his face. "That's the thing with dwarves, you know. They make fine promises, but then they don't think anything of picking your pocket or sticking a knife in your back if it earns them a few extra coppers. They've done it to each other for millennia, and now they do it to their gnomish 'cousins' as well."

    "It sounds as though they'd make fine relations to most of the Oerids and Suel," Revafour said. "I take it you're familiar with the history of broken treaties, betrayed allies, and murders committed for gold?" he asked, referring to the fates that all too often befell the Flan in their dealings with the other humans who'd come to the Flanaess.

    "But you're working for them," Airk noted. "Not to mention that your sword, your armor and your cloak are all of Oeridian make," he said, pointing at Revafour's sword, his plate armor and finally his red and green plaid cloak in turn.

    "It's the state of the world," Revafour said, before frowning and looking away again.

    Several days of travel passed uneventfully, the conversation between Airk and Revafour dying away. Airk wondered if he'd offended his partner, although Revafour shook his head when Airk asked him about it. Finally, they walked in a dull silence, as Airk felt boredom creeping over him again.

    That boredom was shattered as the caravan passed into a small wood. The air was suddenly filled with loud bellowing and crashing sounds, and Airk was on his guard immediately. As Airk pulled out his military pick, he saw four massive forms emerged from the trees around the caravan. Two of the huge monsters came from each side, resembling large bull-like creatures breathing a sickly green gas and covered in metallic-blue scales. Everyone in the caravan recognized the monsters as gorgons, infamous for turning to stone anyone who inhaled the gas they breathed. The gorgons were dangerous enough on their own, but things were worse as they each bore a heavily muscled humanoid on their back. The humanoids were minotaurs, hideous creatures that resembled crosses between men and bulls.

    Wielding huge battleaxes and flails, the minotaurs drove their gorgon steeds into the midst of the caravan guards, crushing and petrifying several of them in the process. A few of the guards tried to strike back, but they were easily cut down by the minotaurs.

    Airk was faster than most of the other guards, raising his shield to protect him from one of the gorgons and minotaurs as they passed him by. Lashing out with his military pick, Airk caught the gorgon in the leg, piercing its joint and throwing the creature off balance. The gorgon reared up in pain, its injured leg causing it to stumble, and the minotaur fell off the gorgon. The minotaur was quickly attacked by one of the other caravan guards, leaving its gorgon mount to attack Airk.

    The creature breathed again, but Airk used his shortness to his advantage. Holding his breath, he ducked under the gas cloud and ran under the gorgon's head and between its legs. Smiling wickedly, Airk began hacking with his pick at the gorgon's soft underbelly. He tore several wounds into the creature's underside before it moved so he was no longer under it. The creature charged at Airk, but he struck it in the eye with his military pick, piercing right through into the creature's brain. The dying gorgon reeled back, taking Airk's pick with it, and crashed into the bushes at the side of the road.

    The creature's minotaur rider bellowed in anger, easily beheading the caravan guard it was fighting. Kicking the guard's dead body aside, the minotaur charged at Airk, intending to avenge its mount's death. Airk braced himself to receive the minotaur's charge as he pulled out his morning star. He managed to strike first, but he cursed as the minotaur blocked the blow with its shield. The beast kicked Airk in the chest, knocking him off balance, and tore a gash across his back with its axe.

    Airk was tougher than the minotaur gave him credit for, though, and his riposte was brutal. The minotaur expected him to collapse under its blow, and it was too surprised to prevent Airk from slamming it in the knee. A sickening crunch filled Airk's ears as his morning star struck home, and the minotaur howled in pain. The monster stumbled from the blow and Airk struck again, this time breaking its thighbone. The minotaur collapsed on the ground, and the last thing it ever saw was Airk's morning star streaking down towards its head.

    Revafour had his sword out the moment the monsters attacked the caravan. He beheaded the first gorgon in a single stroke, cutting it down before it could even breathe at him. Its minotaur rider jumped off it easily, and lashed out at Revafour with a spiked flail. Revafour easily ducked the blow and thrust his sword like a spear. The minotaur was forced to dodge, but it quickly got its flail back into line to strike. It never got the chance, as Revafour brought his sword across in a powerful slash that cleaved deep into the minotaur’s chest. Gasping in pain, the minotaur dropped its flail before it fell, its lifeblood pooling all around it. 

    Looking around, Revafour could see one of the minotaurs still riding its gorgon. The two monsters killed the last of the caravan guards attacking them, before they turned to attack the nearest wagon. Before the gorgon could start moving, a dagger seemed to come flying in from out of nowhere, catching the minotaur right between the eyes. The minotaur was instantly killed, falling lifelessly off the gorgon before it slammed into the wagon.

    Revafour saw Amyalla leap off the wagon at the gorgon, a dagger in her hand. Revafour saw that it was similar to the dagger that had killed the minotaur, and realized that Amyalla must have thrown the first blade. She landed on the gorgon's neck, holding onto its horn with one hand while stabbing at its neck with the other. The creature breathed its petrifying gas at her, but she held her breath as she twisted around, looking for a vulnerable spot on the gorgon's hide. Finding what she was looking for, she cut the gorgon's throat and leaped free, running away as the mortally wounded gorgon went into a stamping, dying frenzy. Amyalla wiped her bloody dagger on a nearby bush before running to retrieve her first blade from the forehead of the minotaur she'd already killed.

    The last gorgon and its rider, who'd both been badly wounded in their fight with the caravan guards, immediately fled back into the woods. Of the original twenty-five guards who'd signed on to the caravan, six of them were lifeless stone statues and eight more were killed fighting the minotaurs and their mounts. Fortunately, the caravan found more recruits when it arrived in Critwall, the capital of the Shield Lands, several days later. The final leg of the journey to Radigast City in the County of Urnst was without incident.

    The caravan would stay in Radigast City for several days to sell its merchandise and take on a new shipment of goods before returning to Chendl. Revafour and Airk didn't intend to go back, though. They agreed to split the cost of a room at the Falcon's Eye Inn, after which they'd decide what to do next.

    "I hope I didn't offend you with my previous comments," Airk said to Revafour as they ate supper in the Falcon's Eye's common room.

    "No, it's just…I don't know," Revafour said, shaking his head. "It's not something I like to discuss."

    "Fair enough. What are your plans from here on?"

    "I don't know. I suppose I'll try to see if there's any work I could find in Radigast City. I don't feel like returning to Furyondy."

    "You won't find much work amongst the Urnstmen," Airk heard a familiar voice say before he could reply. He and Revafour turned to see Amyalla approaching them, a plate of food in one hand and a mug of ale in another. "Mind if I join you?"

    "Not at all," Airk said, before he pulled out a chair for her. As Amyalla sat down, Airk introduced her to Revafour, who returned her smile with a cordial nod.

    "How would you know there's not much work in Urnst?" Revafour asked.

    "Suffice to say I've been around," Amyalla said. "I've found my share of troubles and broken my share of hearts. Most of the troubles in Urnst occur behind closed doors. It's so common in goodly lands, don't you think?"

    The looks Airk and Revafour gave Amyalla told her everything she needed to know.

    "So, like yourselves, I'm in Radigast City without any plans," Amyalla continued. "That gave me an idea-why don't we cooperate for the time being? We can all look after ourselves, and from what I heard you discuss we have similar interests. Surely three outsiders could do worse than that?"

    "And what do you get out of it?" Revafour asked.

    "The same as you both," Amyalla said. "A place in this world, somewhere to call home, people I could know…I suppose wealth and fame wouldn't hurt either."

    The massive Flan and the diminutive gnome looked at each other, and then at the halfling. There was something in her voice that touched them, although they could not figure out what.

    Slowly they nodded in agreement, and smiled.


    "And now, here we are," Weimar said as Revafour finished his story. "It's fascinating, isn't it?"

    "What is?" Revafour asked.

    "How people's lives will cross when you never expect them to. We all began in different places, at different times, and now I can hardly imagine traveling with anyone else."

    "Maybe it's not so strange. For a long time, I felt like I've been searching for something."

    "And?"

    "Maybe I've finally found it," Revafour finished with a smile.

    "You're not the only one, believe me," Weimar said as they finished their drinks.

    "
     
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