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    The Silver Wolf-The Honor Of The Crown: Family Reunion
    Posted on Sat, April 03, 2021 by LordCeb
    CruelSummerLord writes "

    “Without the help of Garnetholme, we wouldn’t even have a Flinthold,” Airk said, returning Osian’s glare. “Or did you forget how they helped us survive our war with the Steelhearts?”

    “That was then,” Osian said, waving his hand dismissively. “This is now.”

    Chapter Nine

    Family Reunion

    There was a family gathering at the house of Osian Venbelwar that night. Osian was the oldest son and patriarch of the family, who’d achieved a prominent position in Flinthold society through his record of military service both during and after the Hateful Wars. He carried himself with the quiet but determined manner of a man who’d seen his share of horrors but did not allow them to overwhelm him. His hard eyes and stoic demeanor made many people think twice before crossing him, and he was rarely known to smile except to his lovely wife Diamande.

    Gilduros attended with his wife Jhannisse and their three younglings, as did Airk’s eldest sister Ruby, accompanied both by the child she carried within her and the husband Lorian Landsonne who’d impregnated her. Airk had no spouse, and so he brought his friends as guests instead.

    Not all of the Venbelwar siblings were there, of course. Tarnek had died during the Hateful Wars, his ribs crushed by an ogre’s hammer. He joined his other brothers Finn and Nordick, who’d perished before the Wars at the hands of fire giants and an auromvorax. Pearlinn was still alive, having moved to Verbobonc with her husband, as was Britanne, now living in the city of Livingstone in the far western Lortmils. Every one of the family who was in Flinthold was otherwise present, eating supper with most of Airk’s human friends. Amyalla, Seline and Jhannisse played with her and Gilduros’s children in the other room, keeping the little ones entertained with everything from elaborate stories to songs to sleight of hand tricks.

    Diamande was an exceptional hostess, serving an elaborate meal and ensuring all her guests were comfortably seated, whatever their race. She carried herself with a warm and easy manner, and all of her in-laws saw the relief and gratitude in Osian’s eyes whenever he looked at her. 

    Despite her best efforts, the tension at the table was palpable. Flintholders were deeply divided on how to approach the current conflict with Garnetholme. They argued over the right course to take, and their arguments were louder than ever with the Crown of Arumdina’s return. Osian was a noted supporter of war with Garnetholme, and he wasn’t amused by Airk’s outburst in Flinthold’s council chambers.

    “I honestly don’t know why you’d be questioning the Regent’s desire, Airk,” he said, the fierce look in his eyes and slender, beaklike nose making his glare look decidedly hawklike. “With the Crown’s blessings, he could lead us to the glory Flinthold’s been sorely lacking for too long.”

    “Without the help of Garnetholme, we wouldn’t even have a Flinthold,” Airk said, returning Osian’s glare. “Or did you forget how they helped us survive our war with the Steelhearts?”

    “That was then,” Osian said, waving his hand dismissively. “This is now.”

    “So you’ve forgotten how the Garnetholders were our brothers during the Hateful Wars? Brothers to you, me, Gilduros and Tarnek?” Airk said with an appalled expression.

    “Were they brothers like you were with Kalrek?” Osian said, an ugly sneer on his face.

    Airk stood up from his chair, his eyes burning with rage. Fortunately, Ma’non’go was sitting next to him and grabbed his shoulder. He forced Airk to sit back down, although he had to make a visible effort to do so.

    Airk was by far the angriest of his siblings at Osian’s comment, but Gilduros and Ruby both clearly showed their disgust at their older brother. They scowled at him, as did Lorian and even Diamande, and their scowls deepened when they saw Airk close his eyes and take a few deep breaths. Airk’s human friends were just as appalled. The only thing keeping them silent was their being Osian’s guests.

    Osian wasn’t at all bothered by their anger. He simply maintained his sneer, and looked at everyone else at the table in turn, raising his eyebrow expectantly.

    “That crossed a line, Osian,” Gilduros finally said. “You know as well as we do that Airk made Kalrek pay.”

    Osian shook his head and sighed.

    “…My apologies, Airk,” he said after a few moments. “I’d rather not send more of our young men to suffer the way we did during the Hateful Wars,” he continued, a look of bitter regret crossing his face, “but this is Flinthold’s best hope of prospering again. How can we back down and look weak? You know as well as I do that our race respects decisiveness.”

    Osian and Airk both noticed Ruby glancing down at the child she carried within her. Her lighter platinum blonde hair, small nose and small build made her look frail, but her frame was as solid as the mountains the gnomes called home. She’d had to see to Tarnek’s burial when he perished in the Hateful Wars, as their mother was inconsolable. Her brothers could imagine what she was thinking, and what she might have to endure in the future.

    “So our old alliance with Garnetholme doesn’t count for anything?” Airk said.

    “It’s old history, and that’s all it is-history,” Osian said, shaking his head again. “You’ve done Flinthold a great service by returning the Crown and punishing Kalrek, but you need to realize the here and now is what matters.”

    Revafour glanced at the rest of the human companions, seated in specially made chairs to ensure their comfort at a gnomish dinner table. They seemed uncertain what to make of Airk’s and Osian’s arguments, and were probably more worried about Airk’s own well-being. They likely didn’t feel it was their place to speak about the gnomes’ internal issues, either.

    Revafour might have felt the same way, but he thought back to the Kutunachke men the companions encountered in Ignean.

    He did well to keep a scowl off his face.

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