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    The Silver Wolf-The Honor Of The Crown: Survivor's Guilt
    Posted on Wed, January 20, 2021 by LordCeb
    CruelSummerLord writes "

    “…You’ve never forgiven yourself for any of this, have you?” she said.

    “Because I don’t deserve to be forgiven,” Airk said with a scowl. “Forgiving myself would dishonor the memories of Laessar and my other brothers.”

    Chapter Two

    Survivor’s Guilt

    When the new year’s festival of Needfest ended and the month of Fireseek began the new year of 577 CY, the companions left the Menowood and returned to Naerie to find passage on a ship. Count Fedorik’s influence got them passage on the Merman’s Envy, and now they were bound for Gryrax, one of the Principality of Ulek’s main ports. Although the Flanaess was still in the depths of winter, the Azure Sea was far enough south that it was safe to sail year-round.

    Luna shook her head and shuddered briefly as she looked away from the window of the cabin room she and Seline shared. Most people would have been enchanted by the sight of the sun-flecked Azure Sea, visible through the window, but it just made Luna uncomfortable. She disliked traveling by ship, and indeed disliked water in general. She hated getting caught in the rain or otherwise getting wet unless she had to.

    The rocking of the ship and the presence of nothing but water all around her weren’t the only things disturbing Luna. She wanted to see how Airk was getting on, particularly once they finally reached Flinthold. Like most gnomes, Airk didn’t like traveling by water any more than Luna did, and he spent most of his time sitting in his cabin. He seemed in better spirits after the companions’ visit to the Menowood, but Luna wasn’t convinced.

    Airk looked up when Luna entered the cabin he shared with Weimar. He didn’t seem very pleased to see her, and she flinched at the haunted look in his eyes. She could tell he wasn’t sleeping well, and it wasn’t due to any seasickness. As she sat down, she wondered how she could get him to open up.

    “I take it you don’t like staring at the sea any more than I do?” she said.

    “No, I don’t,” Airk said, shaking his head. “I loved the Menowood’s beauty, though.”

    “I’ve heard the same things said about the Lortmil Mountains,” Luna said, happy that Airk opened up a little. “I only saw them briefly with Seline, Weimar and Ma’non’go.”

    To Luna’s delight, Airk smiled broadly as he started to discuss his homeland.

    “They’re every bit as beautiful as you heard. The underground can be just as stunning-the colors of the stone formations, the light emanating from the minerals, the fungi and the fire beetles…You remember Copper Crossing? Well, that was just the beginning,” he said, referring to the gnomish city the companions visited in the search for Kalrek Burunne.

    “So you’re looking forward to seeing your home again?” Luna asked.

    Airk’s face fell, and he hesitated for several seconds before speaking.

    “…I’m not entirely sure,” he said. “I’ve longed to see Flinthold’s peaks, trees and valleys again. It’s just…I don’t know how my kinfolk will receive me, especially after what I did to Laessar,” he finished, as his shoulders slumped.

    “Why did you leave Flinthold after the Hateful Wars?” Luna asked, taking his hands in hers. “Didn’t the Steelheart dwarves invade?”

    “I helped fight against that invasion,” Airk said, “and I didn’t leave until my family was provided for. I had to leave when the guilt became too much, though.”

    “Guilt?” Luna asked in confusion.

    “I didn’t see Kalrek’s treachery until it was too late, and Garl knows how many of my brothers in arms perished because of my stupidity. Their blood’s on my hands as much as it is Kalrek’s. I couldn’t rightly call Flinthold my home after that. I’m returning to bring the Crown home to fulfill the promise I made to Laessar’s family, but I’m not staying after that,” Airk said, putting his hand on his temple to deal with the piercing headache he suddenly felt.

    “Kalrek’s treachery and the Steelheart attack weren’t your fault,” Luna said.

    “Yes they were,” Airk said without hesitation.

    Luna sat in silence for several long moments as she took Airk’s words in.

    “…You’ve never forgiven yourself for any of this, have you?” she said.

    “Because I don’t deserve to be forgiven,” Airk said with a scowl. “Forgiving myself would dishonor the memories of Laessar and my other brothers.”

    Luna tried to think of something, anything, she could say to that. She knew that Airk was wrong, but she didn’t know what she could say to change his mind.

    All she could think to do was resolve to pray to Pelor for guidance.

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