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    The Silver Wolf-The Honor Of The Crown: Maybe Tomorrow
    Posted on Fri, November 12, 2021 by LordCeb
    CruelSummerLord writes "

    Airk looked around at his fellow adventurers, his second family.

    “You’ve all come this far to help me,” he said. “Now it’s my turn to help all of you. Wherever you want to go, whatever you need…I’ll be with you.”




    Chapter Twenty-Two

    Maybe Tomorrow


    The companions received some of Lady Babylon’s more portable treasures for slaying her and returning the Crown of Arumdina. In particular, they received her jade and ivory statuettes and a collection of gold and silver chalices. They also received several of Lady Babylon’s magical potions, although her hoard had no permanent magical items. Of the potions, Ma’non’go insisted on taking one that Seline identified as being able to restore the drinker’s youth.

    You’re sure it’s safe? Ma’non’go asked Seline as she handed him the potion. They were sitting at a table in the Sign Of The Wolverine’s common room, the inn having withstood the siege of Flinthold better than most of the city’s other buildings.

    “Positive,” Seline said, “but I don’t understand why you were so determined to have it.”

    Instead of answering, Ma’non’go uncorked the potion bottle and drank the golden liquid it contained in one motion. Several long moments passed as the potion’s magic took effect on Ma’non’go. He was in his early thirties, but the potion made several of those years fall away. He became eight years younger, by Seline’s estimate. Now he was physically the same age as Revafour and Weimar, who were both in their middle twenties. Seline blinked a few times, startled by the potion’s effects. When Ma’non’go raised an eyebrow at her, she realized just what kind of attention she was paying him, and how much of it.

    I take it you like what you see? he said with a half-smile.

    “Er…well…yes,” Seline said, eager to change the subject, “but why is it so important to you? I mean, none of us mind you taking it, but…”

    To Seline’s surprise, Ma’non’go’s look suddenly became cold and grim. He resembled a statue, and Seline felt a chill run down her spine at the look in his eyes.

    I have my reasons, Ma’non’go said, and I won’t speak on what they are. Let’s just say that looking younger than I really am will help ensure that some men get the justice that’s long, long overdue to them.  

    Seline shrugged at that, realizing it was Ma’non’go’s business and no one else’s.

    “I have to wonder, though,” she said, eager to change the subject, “about whether Kalrek would have been doomed even if he’d found the Crown and returned it himself. There’s no way Garl Glittergold would have given Kalrek any blessings through it.”

    I actually asked Airk about that, Ma’non’go said. He said that Kalrek probably would have rededicated it to Urdlen, he continued, referring to the evil gnomish god of bloodlust and murder.

    “He’d tamper with an artifact?” Seline said in shock.

    An…artifact? Ma’non’go said, his expression showing his confusion. What makes an artifact different from any other magic item?

    “Artifacts are on a plane of their own as magical items,” Seline said. “They can be extremely powerful…and extremely dangerous to use. Either they can have all sorts of horrible effects on their users, or the users have to follow some sort of moral code for them to function.”

    Urdlen’s still a gnomish god, Ma’non’go pointed out. If the Crown is an artifact of the gnomish gods, couldn’t Urdlen channel his power through it too? And how many people could even tell the difference?

    That made sense to Seline. From what one of Lady Babylon’s human spies had said when he’d surrendered to the Flinthold forces, Lady Babylon made Flinthold her target because of how badly its leaders’ infighting weakened it.

    “And if Flinthold was united under a strong king, Lady Babylon would have probably never attacked,” she said. Ma’non’go nodded in agreement, recalling what Airk said about how Kalrek could have gotten the Regency Council’s support.

    Seline frowned. The spring festival of Growfest had come and gone during the companions’ efforts to recruit the Kutunachke. The gnomes of Flinthold were more concerned with looking after their refugees and preparing to retake their capital than with celebration. A few of the gnomes made some half-hearted attempts to belatedly celebrate, but most of their kin weren’t in a festive mood.

    She was about to say something else when Revafour, Airk and Luna all walked into the Sign Of The Wolverine and joined them at the table. Weimar came over to join them, bringing a fresh tankard of Big Cedar Log with him. Amyalla came last, as she finished the card game she’d been playing with several of the inn’s other patrons and got a cup of wine before joining the rest of the group.

    “How are you doing?” Seline asked Airk, her expression reflecting the worry she and the rest of his friends felt for him.

    “I’ve…come to terms with it all,” Airk said. “Don’t worry about me. Right now, we need to decide where we’re going next.”

    “…We?” Seline said in surprise. “You’re coming with us?”

    “Yes I am,” Airk said. “There’s nothing for me here.”

    But isn’t this your home? I’d have thought you’d be admired as a hero here, Ma’non’go said. And what about your siblings?

    “Many of my kin blame me for everything that’s happened,” Airk said, shaking his head. “Some of them think that I attracted Lady Babylon here by bringing the Crown back. Others are angry at what we’ll have to concede to the Kutunachke.”

    “Like what, exactly?” Weimar asked.

    “Areas that’ll be off-limits to mining, for one,” Revafour said before Airk could do so. “Places where the Kutunachke might collect rents from Flintholders living there. The Kutunachke’s right to make decisions about how their lands are used.”

    “The Crown’s blessings will help Flinthold regain its prosperity, but those blessings depend on our honoring our treaties with the Kutunachke,” Airk said. “The kingdom as a whole might recover, but some gnomes’ purses are still going to be thinned. They might not be able to stop it, but they won’t like it at all.”

    “What if that fool Moswen tries something?” Weimar said.

    “No one takes him seriously anymore,” Airk said, shaking his head. “He nearly led us to war with Garnetholme, and his stupidity helped Lady Babylon and her forces overrun Flinthold. I wouldn’t be surprised if he leaves the kingdom altogether. Without Moswen, King Arthur won’t have a problem settling Flinthold’s mining dispute with Garnetholme. That’s another thing some of my kin will blame me for.”

    Why? Ma’non’go said. Because their fortunes won’t be as large as they used to be? Even after everything the rest of your people have already lost?

    “I’m afraid so,” Airk said, nodding.

    “That’s bull scat if I ever heard it!” Weimar said, ignoring the surprised looks the inn’s other patrons gave him. “If it wasn’t for us, the Crown would have never-“

    “It doesn’t matter,” Airk said. “Ma’non’go mentioned my siblings, and…” he took a deep breath before continuing. “Osian’s dead, Gilduros was nearly killed, Ruby nearly widowed. I can’t stay with them after everything that’s happened. They might be harassed by other Flintholders who’re angry at me.”

    “So what’s going to happen to them?” Luna asked.

    “I saw to it they were provided for,” Airk said. “It’s just like it was after the Hateful Wars. Arthur offered me a fair amount of Lady Babylon’s coin as a reward, but I had him give it to their families.”

    “That doesn’t mean you can’t stay here,” Luna said.

    “Maybe it doesn’t,” Airk said. “But even if it doesn’t...I just don’t feel like I belong here.”

    “Nonsense,” Weimar said with a scowl. “You’ve every right to stay-“

    “My head knows that, but my heart doesn’t,” Airk said. “Seeing so many of my kin die during the Hateful Wars...seeing so many more die now…this isn’t the place for me right now.”

    “So we can’t get rid of you,” Amyalla said with a smirk. “Does anyone know where we should go, then? South, to the Duchy of Ulek?”

    “How about northeast to Verbobonc?” Weimar said. “They pay well for guards against Elemental Evil raiders who survived Emery Meadows. And they don’t mind if you take a bit of time to do some exploration of your own,” he said, his eyes lighting up.

    “I’d like to go north to Veluna,” Luna said, her eyes lighting up. “I’d love to see their interpretations of Rao’s faith, and how it intersects with Pelor’s.”

    “I have friends I left in Highfolk after we fled from Blackmoor,” Revafour said, frowning at the unpleasant memory of the winter flight south. “I’d like to check in on them, if I can. And besides, it should be my right to decide. The second of Planting was my birthday, and none of you even acknowledged it!”

    Revafour’s friends all looked more than a little embarrassed and ashamed, but the wry smile on his lips showed that he was teasing them.

    “You didn’t exactly tell us before now,” Weimar said with a smile of his own. “Besides, what would you even want as a gift?”

    “Making sure the gnomes respected the Kutunachke’s rights was the only gift I’d really want,” Revafour said, his smile widening into a grin. “But I would like to visit everyone in Highfolk. There’d be a lot of work for us too. There’s always the danger of monsters from the Yatil Mountains and the Vesve Forest. We could sail or even canoe down the Velverdyva river from some place like Verbobonc.”  

    “Maybe we should go west before we do that,” Amyalla said. “I heard one of those dwarven nobles talk about the ruins of a dwarf-hold some days to the west of here, a place called the Glimmering Hall. You ever heard of it, Airk?”

    “Oh yes,” Airk said with a nod. “Old tales used to tell of it as a dwarven city that was named for the way its platinum and mithril veins shone in the torchlight. It fell to an orcish siege during the Hateful Wars, but then the orcs mostly destroyed each other fighting over its riches. The Glimmering Hall’s been unclaimed ever since. A few places sent expeditions to try and retake it, but none of them ever returned. It wasn’t long before the place was abandoned altogether.”

    “Why do you bring it up?” Airk said. “Are you saying that we should explore it? No one’s ever come back from there alive!” He tried to sound incredulous, but he was smiling.

    “What better reason would a group of daring adventurers have to venture there? Brandobaris only knows what treasures we could find!” Amyalla said, returning his smile. “We could likely travel north from there to Veluna and Highfolk.”

    “We’ve got plenty of treasure already,” Seline said, joining in the game.

    “And how much of it will we lose in taxes if we go to Veluna or the Uleks?” Amyalla said, her smile growing wider. “Best we have as much as we can get. Besides, training and sorcery aren’t cheap. Remember how much it cost for you to recharge your wand?”

    “That was an investment!” Seline said, her expression one of mock outrage.

    “Not to mention tithing to Pelor,” Luna said. “I mean, honestly-half of all my wealth?”

    The rest of the companions looked askance at her.

    “…What?” Luna asked, a smile of her own playing around her lips. “Why can’t I make a joke once in a while?”

    I’d be all for it, said Ma’non’go, but what about you, Airk?

    Airk looked around at his fellow adventurers, his second family.

    “You’ve all come this far to help me,” he said. “Now it’s my turn to help all of you. Wherever you want to go, whatever you need…I’ll be with you.”

    “No matter where?” Revafour asked.

    “Everybody has to be somewhere,” Airk said. “Being beside all of you is as good a place as any.”

    The rest of the companions returned his smile.

    Airk half-expected the voice that had tormented him for the past several months to speak up, but it was utterly silent.

    Instead, an old gnomish traveling song entered his mind, a song that suited his mood very well at that moment.

    Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down…he thought, recalling the lyrics.

    Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on.

    Maybe tomorrow, I’ll find what I call home…

    Until tomorrow, I know I’m free to roam.

    He smiled, thinking of the peace he felt at that moment.

    Dedicated to Anna Meyer, whose hard work in mapping the Flanaess has been so helpful to me and countless other Greyhawk fans, and to everyone on the Greyhawk Resources forum for their support and encouragement.  

    "
     
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    Re: The Silver Wolf-The Honor Of The Crown: Maybe Tomorrow (Score: 1)
    by Califor on Fri, November 12, 2021
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Wonderful story!  It’s really impressive how far you’ve taken it. 




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