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    The Silver Wolf-The Honor Of The Crown: A Simple Question
    Posted on Sat, January 30, 2021 by LordCeb
    CruelSummerLord writes "Airk paled at her question. His expression showed he hadn’t even considered it. Soon, he was the one who hesitated for several seconds before speaking.

    Chapter Four

    A Simple Question

    “I think I speak for all of us when I say we’re done sailing for a very, very long time,” Luna said as she raised her glass of wine. Her companions all followed suit, being just as sick of sea travel as she was.

    The companions were enjoying an evening meal in Gryrax at the Three Towers Tavern. It was the middle of Readying, and the Merman’s Envy had finally made port after over forty days at sea. Luna and Airk found the voyage nearly unbearable. The rest of the companions didn’t dislike water as much as Luna and Airk, but their experience wasn’t much better. All seven of the companions were relieved when they finally reached land, and they were determined never to travel by ship again unless they had to.

    “It did have its charms, though,” Amyalla said, “like giving us enough time to provide appropriate gifts.” With that, she handed Ma’non’go the scarf she’d spent much of the voyage knitting. Ma’non’go’s thirty-third birthday happened while the companions were at sea, and they decided to wait until they were in port to celebrate it. They’d done a similar thing with Weimar’s birthday last year. Weimar, Luna and Ma’non’go had celebrated Seline’s birthday while they were sailing to Hardby, but they didn’t want to do it like that again.

    One by one, the rest of the companions gave Ma’non’go their own gifts. Revafour and Airk collaborated on a crafted and painted artwork that depicted Ma’non’go standing in a warrior pose, while Weimar offered a cruder woodcut that depicted him battling a fire giant. Seline offered a selection of fine Hepmonaland fruits and chocolates she’d bought in Naerie, and Luna presented a hot, spicy tea blend, the kind of drink Ma’non’go particularly liked.

    Ma’non’go beamed with joy at the gifts his friends presented him. It took him several moments to compose himself before he could speak.

    These gifts are all very kind, Ma’non’go said, and I appreciate them. But they symbolize something more important to me-the friendship you’ve all shown.

    The companions sat for some minutes, finishing their meal and enjoying the last bit of respite they’d have before they set out for Flinthold the next day.

    Airk had promised to lay out their itinerary for the others, and he did so when the supper dishes were cleared. He spread the map of the County and Principality of Ulek and the eastern Lortmils he’d purchased earlier in the day across the table.

    “We’ll travel north to the Principality’s town of Thrunch and enter the Lortmils from there,” he said, tracing the route with his finger. “Our first destination in the mountains themselves is the dwarfhold of Rubydepths.”

    “Isn’t that area claimed by the County of Ulek?” Weimar said, his eyes narrowing doubtfully.

    “The humans and elves like to claim large parts of the Lortmils, but their reaches often exceed their grasp,” Airk said, shaking his head. “Most of the dwarves and gnomes don’t pay them any mind.”

    “Would spring runoff be a danger going through the mountains?” Revafour asked. He had a look of concern on his face, one that Weimar shared.

    “We’ll actually be traveling underground for most of the way,” Airk said to reassure them. “From Rubydepths…” he hesitated, as his friends noted how unhappy he was when he mentioned the name, “we can take the Low Road. You might know it Weimar, but does anyone else?”

    Weimar nodded at Airk’s statement, but the rest of the companions only stared back blankly.

    “The Low Road is a network of roads that that travelers regularly use. It links many of the underground dwarven and gnomish kingdoms,” Airk said. “Once we’re on the Low Road, it’s a fairly straight route to Flinthold. It’s right here, about due west of Enstad, the Celenese capital,” he said, tapping the spot with his finger. “Any questions?”

    Most of the companions seemed satisfied with Airk’s explanation, but Seline seemed both hesitant and uncertain.

    “What is it?” Airk asked with a frown.

    “Well…I…” Seline said, before swallowing hard.

    “Is something wrong?” Airk said. “Whatever it is, you can say it. I won’t be offended,” he assured her.

    It took Seline several seconds to speak.

    “What are you going to do with the Crown once we reach Flinthold?” Seline asked. “Are you just going to give it to whoever’s in charge, and then leave? How do you know they’ll use it wisely?”

    Airk paled at her question. His expression showed he hadn’t even considered it. Soon, he was the one who hesitated for several seconds before speaking.

    “Flinthold’s ruled by a council of nine nobles that choose one of them to be a regent,” he finally said. “The regent might be crowned the next king, but the rest of the council would have to agree.”

    “…Are you really sure it’s going to be that simple?” Seline asked.

    The companions’ relaxed mood vanished, replaced by one of uncertain hesitation.

    Try as he might, Airk couldn’t come up with an answer.

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