CruelSummerLord writes "“We thank you for helping us deal with the giants,” Borrinn said, “and you’re welcome to half the treasure as payment. We also wish you safe travel on the rest of your journey…and I also wish more Flintholders knew more of their own history.”
Long Trails And Longer Memories
Airk took a
long swig of ale, savoring its warmth as he finished his meal. He and his
friends were staying at the Dragon’s Luck Inn And Alehouse, in the dwarf city
of Ignean. They’d reached Rubydepths without any trouble, and from there it was
an eight day journey along the Low Road to Flinthold. The companions made good
time, and after four days they’d reached Ignean, halfway between Rubydepths and
sure what disturbed him more, having to stay in a dwarven city or hearing his
friends compare it to the gnome city of Copper Crossing in the Kron Hills. Like
Copper Crossing, Ignean was constructed partly above and party below ground. That
was where the similarities ended as far as Airk was concerned, though. He
considered Copper Crossing to be far better designed. Copper Crossing’s
buildings were also much more pleasing to his eye than Ignean’s ugly buildings,
which Airk thought resembled nothing so much as large stacks of cinderblocks.
head in disgust at his friends’ comparison, Airk went back up to the bar to get
a new mug of ale. He ran into Revafour getting some water, and they sat back
down together at Airk’s table.
decided what we’ll do when we reach Flinthold?” Revafour asked him after they’d
toasted and had a drink.
not,” Airk said with a frown. “We might have to spend longer in Flinthold than
I expected, at least until they figure out who’s best suited to be king. If you
don’t want to-“
word,” Revafour said, waving away Airk’s suggestion before he could say it.
“We’re seeing this through to the end, and we’re not leaving Flinthold without
you unless you want to stay there. We’ve been through this, remember?”
“I know, and it
means more than I can say,” Airk said, clasping Revafour’s hand. “It’s
just…fear, guilt, I don’t know…”
“I don’t know
either, but I do know it’s natural to be feeling the way you are…” Revafour
said, before he trailed off. His eyes widened as he looked past Airk, and Airk
turned to see what he was looking at.
A group of five
Flan men walked into the Dragon’s Luck, dressed for traveling and carrying
various weapons. Revafour raised his mug in greeting, and they returned the
gesture. One of the men came over to Revafour and Airk’s table, asking if he
and his friends could join them. Revafour eagerly agreed, as did Airk, and soon
the five Flan were all seated with them, each with a meal of mutton and
vegetable stew before him.
you to Ignean?” Revafour asked, once he and Airk had introduced themselves. “I
take it you’re traders?” Independent Flan groups often visited other human and
non-human communities for trade, offering things like foodstuffs and furs in
exchange for goods like metal weapons and oil. They also often used the treasure
they won from humanoids and other monsters for trade, though they had little
use for it otherwise.
“If only it
were that,” the leader of the Flan group, who introduced himself as Borrinn
Tall Pine, said. “We came to Ignean for help dealing with a pack of fire giants
raiding our homes. When we saw you, we hoped you might know who we could talk
to. Unless you’re travelers yourselves?”
at Airk, who just nodded with a half-smile, knowing what Revafour was about to
travelers,” Revafour said with a smile, “but we’re also the people you probably
want to talk to.”
The rest of the
companions readily agreed to help the Flan people, who belonged to the
Kutunachke nation, battle the fire giants. The companions departed with the
Kutunachke warriors the next morning and linked up with another group of
Kutunachke before they started tracking the giants. Fortunately, the giants
weren’t difficult to find, as they made no effort to conceal their trail. They
also moved at a leisurely pace compared to the humans, gnome and halfling, so
that the companions and the Kutunachke were able to get ahead of them and
prepare an ambush.
Weimar felt a
sense of eager anticipation as he walked alongside Revafour. He was dressed for
combat, wearing a leather jerkin and hanging a bronzewood shield with a boar’s
head in profile from his pack. His trusty battleaxe was strapped to his back,
as was a quiver full of arrows, and several daggers hung from his belt. He
carried a finely crafted longbow, as did Revafour. The rest of the companions
were walking with them, seeming like an ordinary group of travelers who would
be easy prey for a giant attack.
When the fire
giants came into view of the companions, their expressions clearly showed they
thought the companions would be easy pickings. There were six of them, their
bright orange-red hair and gleaming steel armor contrasting oddly with their
dark skin. They each had a sword hanging from their belt or strapped to their
back, but the companions were more concerned about the boulders they carried in
eagerly, the giants tossed their boulders at the companions, who cried out in
alarm and scattered as the rocks crashed down around them. They managed to
avoid being hit, but they seemed in disarray and unable to regroup to fight as
the giants drew their swords and charged towards the companions.
That was when
the Kutunachke struck. They’d called the Lortmils home for countless centuries,
and were experts at moving stealthily through the mountains. They seemed to
appear as if from nowhere on either side of the giants, releasing a flurry of
arrows that caught them off guard. The giants cried out in anger and turned to
attack the Kutunachke, but Airk and Ma’non’go charged forward to attack them
while Revafour, Weimar and Amyalla added their own missiles to the flurry.
As they did,
Seline moved into position. She wore an opal-decorated ring that allowed its
wearer to become invisible at will, so that the distracted giants didn’t notice
her. She pulled a piece of quartz out of her robe pocket as she quietly chanted
a spell. The quartz in her hand crumbled to dust as her spell took effect, conjuring
a large wall of ice over the scrambling giants. It landed on the giants with a
sickening crunch, causing them to scream from the impact before it broke into
smaller pieces that scattered on the ground around them.
One of the
giants fell to one knee, dazed from where the ice wall had struck him in the
head. He was seeing double as Ma’non’go approached him, and the Olman warrior
easily dodged his half-hearted slash. He plunged his trident into the giant’s
gut, and as the giant reached down to try and stop the bleeding, Ma’non’go found
a gap in the armor guarding his neck and ripped his throat open. The giant
collapsed, overwhelmed by his mortal injury.
fought Airk in a fierce melee, a look of frustration on his face as Airk
skilfully dodged his every blow. Gnomish warriors received special training in
battling giants, and Airk was no exception. He blocked or dodged every one of
the giant’s attacks, and for every blow the giant missed with he landed a
successful blow with his military pick. Soon, the giant’s arms and legs were
crisscrossed with bloody scars. As the giant grew more and more desperate to
kill Airk, he lowered his guard against other attacks. Finally, the giant took
an arrow in the eye from one of the Kutunachke warriors and fell dead.
Several of the
other Kutunachke warriors scrambled to avoid a third giant’s sword as the
monster closed into melee with them. One of the warriors couldn’t dodge in time,
and the giant’s sword caught him a vicious blow, covering the front of his
torso in blood. As the warrior collapsed, the giant raised his sword to strike
again, but he suddenly turned as Weimar chopped into his leg from behind.
Weimar carried his axe and shield now, and he pressed in on the giant from the
left as several of the Kutunachke warriors pressed him from the right.
As the giant
stepped back to adjust his stance, Luna came up and knelt down next to the
mortally wounded Kutunachke warrior. Placing her hand on his shoulder, she
chanted a healing spell, causing the man’s wound to close. While his breathing
was shallow and his face was pale, he wasn’t going to die.
the man would be alright, Luna stood up, clutching a mace in her hand. It was a
mace she’d bought in Thrunch, not the one she normally wielded in combat. She
concentrated on it as she cast another spell, causing the mace to fade into
nothing. Another mace soon appeared in the air as Luna’s second spell took
effect, glowing a bright gold in color.
With her free
hand, Luna gestured at the giant Weimar and the other warriors were battling. At
Luna’s command, the golden mace streaked at the giant and slammed him in the
temple, making him fall to his hands and knees. He had almost nothing left
after Seline’s ice wall and the damage the Kutunachke, Weimar and Luna
inflicted on him, and Weimar struck the fatal blow when he chopped into the
One of the
giants saw Seline appear when she conjured the ice wall, and he advanced on
her, murder in his eyes. Ma’non’go ran to intercept him, but Seline was faster.
The cat fur and glass rod she held in her hand burned up as she cast her next
spell. Her hand glowed with electricity, and she hurled it forward in a
powerful bolt that struck the giant dead on the spot. The bolt continued past
the dying giant to strike another giant in the back.
That giant had
engaged Revafour and torn a nasty gash along his hip and arm, but he was forced
to let up his attack when Seline’s bolt struck him. Revafour didn’t waste his
opportunity, severing one of the giant’s legs at the knee with a vicious slash
of his sword, and then plunging his blade into the monster’s throat when he
collapsed. Smiling despite his own vicious wound, he ran to help the Kutunachke
warriors fight the last giant, which was soon as dead as its comrades.
relief, Revafour and Weimar were her only friends injured in the fight. None of
the Kutunachke warriors were killed, although some of them were seriously hurt.
She shared her healing magic with them as well as her fellow companions, and
soon they had all recovered from the exertions of the fight.
and the Kutunachke were fortunate not to have suffered any casualties. Their
missiles and Seline’s ice wall seriously injured the giants before they closed
to melee. Their size allowed many of the Kutunachke to keep shooting arrows at
them, helping their kin and the companions kill the giants more quickly.
We got lucky,
Ma’non’go signed to
Airk as they searched through the pouches hanging from the belt of one of the
giants. In all the times I fought them in Hepmonaland, fire giants tend to
cause more casualties than we suffered here. Was it the same for you too?
said as he tossed aside the pouch he was holding, which contained nothing but a
large wedge of stinking, moldy cheese. “I lost a lot of comrades to these
bastards…and that’s with our advantages against them. Poor Finn was literally
cut in two.”
Finn? Ma’non’go asked.
“My brother, a
fellow soldier,” Airk said, a faraway look in his eyes. For a moment, Ma’non’go
feared Airk was about to fall into melancholy or rage. He was surprisingly
calm, and Ma’non’go realized Airk was more recalling the memory of someone
whose death he’d come to terms with, but who he loved very much.
sympathize. He suspected his brother M’acutli and his sister Xoral’qa were both
dead, arrested when his false friends framed his family for treason. He’d only
escaped because he was out on patrol when his family was taken. Unable to
return home, he’d been left to wander the wilds of Hepmonaland until Lord Roas
Del Cranden found him and took him back to the Great Kingdom of Aerdy.
about to say something else when Airk exclaimed in surprise. As Ma’non’go ran
up to him, he saw Airk pulling the giant’s earring out of his ear.
Is that… Ma’non’go said, blinking in surprise.
“Oh, it’s a
ruby, alright,” Airk said, rolling the large earring around in his hands. “And
it’s cut just the same as the ones from those other monsters we fought before
we reached Rubydepths.”
I wonder if-
Ma’non’go said, before
he and Airk turned to face several of the Kutunachke warriors coming towards
them. The warriors had unpleasant scowls on their faces, which struck both
companions as strange given their victory over the giants.
“That’s a fine
stone if I ever saw one,” one of the Kutunachke said, gesturing at the ruby
earring Airk held. “Maybe now the Flintholders are ready to pay for everything
they took from us?”
you?” Airk asked, as he exchanged incredulous looks with Ma’non’go. “What in
the Nine Hells are you talking about?”
“I might have
known,” another of the Kutunachke said, waving Airk away in disgust. “He’s as
ignorant as the rest of them. Typical.”
said, his face flaring with rage. “Come over here and say that!”
“Maybe I w-“
the Kutunachke man said, before another voice interrupted him.
on here?” Borrinn asked, running up from one direction as Revafour came up from
“Damned if I
know,” Airk said. “Apparently we Flintholders are all too ‘ignorant’ to know
“At least now
you’re catching on,” the Kutunachke man who’d insulted him said. He opened his
mouth to speak again before Borrinn cut him off.
Danyen,” Borrinn said. “They helped us deal with the giants. Go gather up our
share of the treasure. I’ll settle this.”
“You do that,”
Danyen said, never taking his stare away from Airk as his comrades led him
all about?” Revafour asked, unhappy at the sudden tension in the air.
friend ever tell you about Flinthold’s war against Adamanhall?” Borrinn asked.
said, as he and Ma’non’go looked at Airk. “What war was that?”
shortly after the king of Loamhedge stole the Crown of Arumdina,” Airk said. The
gnomish kingdom of Loamhedge was Flinthold’s oldest rival in ancient times, and
stole the Crown of Arumdina to try and undermine them. “We faced an invasion
from the dwarves of Adamanhall, and we were fortunate to win. That was the
start of Flinthold’s bad luck.”
“And worse luck
for the Kutunachke,” Borrinn said, frowning as he folded his arms. “You really
don’t know, do you?”
Airk said, confusion replacing his anger. Ma’non’go and Revafour exchanged
glances, equally as confused.
“Know how the
Kutunachke helped Flinthold against the Adamanians,” Borrinn said. “Both our
peoples were weakened by the conflict. If anything, we suffered more, especially
when Flinthold expanded its borders into our lands. They were our sacred home,
and we’ve never forgotten the loss.”
“I never knew
about that!” Airk said, dismay crossing his face as Revafour scowled.
“I suppose it’s
not surprising that the Flintholders forgot the agreements our people made with
them,” Borrinn said, “not when the Oeridian and Suel humans have been just as
bad. But we remember.”
“Those kinds of
agreements are a sacred trust to Flan,” Revafour said, as Airk turned to look
at him. “The Duchy of Tenh wouldn’t exist without the wampums that symbolized
its creation. Breaking them is a betrayal.”
Airk stood in
silence for a long while.
what to say,” he finally said.
“We thank you
for helping us deal with the giants,” Borrinn said, “and you’re welcome to half
the treasure as payment. We also wish you safe travel on the rest of your journey…and
I also wish more Flintholders knew more of their own history.”
stayed with Airk as he and the rest of the companions returned to Ignean to
resume their journey. "