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    The Silver Wolf-Behind The Mask: Lies And Truth
    Posted on Wed, November 23, 2022 by LordCeb
    CruelSummerLord writes "Ma’non’go gestured to Weimar for his flagon of Big Cedar Log, and took another long, heavy drink before he continued.

     Chapter Seven

    Lies And Truth

    After the harpy battle, Luna healed Airk, Seline and Revafour. The companions resumed their travels, leaving the Lortmil Mountains behind after several hours. They crossed into the far western Kron Hills and started to encounter the homesteads of Velunese farmers and ranchers. One of those farmers was quite happy to serve the companions dinner and let them spend the night in his hayloft in exchange for some of the semi-precious gems the companions won from Lady Babylon’s minions.

    The companions gathered in the hayloft after their supper as Ma’non’go prepared to finally tell his story. He took a long swig of Big Cedar Log before he started.

    “As I’ve said, I come from the city of X’tandelexamenken in Hepmonaland,” he said. His voice was deep but pleasant to listen to, as strong and supportive as its owner. “My father was a prosperous trader who dealt with many of the neighboring dwarves and gnomes.”

    “They exist in Hepmonaland?” Airk said in surprise.

    “Of course they do,” Ma’non’go said. “Elves, halflings, orcs, hobgoblins…they call both Hepmonaland and the Flanaess home. They likely exist all over the world, just like humans. The dwarves and gnomes my father dealt with gave the Olman iron ores and steel products in exchange for vegetables and hardwoods. While my father was a merchant, my mother was a warrior. She was a veteran of our wars with the Touv, another human group in Hepmonaland, and monsters like orcs and goblins. She taught my brother T’acutli, my sister Xoral’qa and I how to wield a trident.”

    “I never lacked for friends growing up. Unfortunately, one of them was the peasant’s son Mez’darro. I never realized how much he envied me. I can only guess how much I could have avoided if I did…”

    Ma’non’go fell silent for a moment, and Revafour spoke up.

    “Is Mez’darro one of the ‘false friends’ you’ve mentioned?” he said.

    “The first one,” Ma’non’go said. “When I came of age, I enlisted in the X’tandelexamenken armies. I won glory against orcs, tasloi and hobgoblins, and I won my comrades’ friendship. But I also won the hatred of my fellow soldier Zed’der’in. He was savage in battle, short-tempered outside it, always unstable and dangerous. Most of our comrades hated him. I thought he and I respected each other from being comrades, but he was my second false friend. He hated me for the friendships he coveted.”

    “I didn’t just win glory fighting for my city. I won love too, the love of the elf Minassalia. She was as fine a wizard as she was a warrior. The elven noble Vincenzeken coveted Minassalia, hating her for rejecting his advances and me for bonding with her. He always acted like it didn’t matter, acting like my closest elven friend over meals of chocolate and pulque.”

    “The third false friend,” Revafour said.

    “He was the third, but not the last,” Ma’non’go said. “The last was Dix’an’aletettel, a shaman and magistrate who I helped rescue when he was kidnapped by a rival city-state. He was an old love of my mother’s, and he took an interest in me as I made a name for myself. I never realized just what he planned to do with that interest…”

    Ma’non’go gestured to Weimar for his flagon of Big Cedar Log, and took another long, heavy drink before he continued.

    “Dix’an’aletettel had influence, and that influence gained him knowledge. That was how he learned I was his former love’s son. It was also how he recruited Mez’darro to his service, became Vincenzeken’s close ally and Zed’der’rin’s patron. I can just imagine the conversation the four of them had…”

    “Dix’an’aletettel’s charge of treason destroyed the Silver Winds family almost overnight. We were accused of plotting to betray X’tandelexamenken to the rival city of U’nan’derlexia. Mez’darro produced letters he claimed I wrote to the U’nan’derlexians about my plans, Zed’der’rin lied about my family’s relationship with them and Vincenzeken twisted my words when I said we should be cooperating with them against the orcs and hobgoblins we were fighting.”

    Tears formed in Ma’non’go’s eyes as he continued his story.

    “My false friends’ lies got my family arrested and executed. I only survived by being out on patrol. When my comrades got word of my family’s disgrace, I had to flee for my life. I spent weeks wandering the jungles, hunted by my kin.”

    “None of the other Olman communities would help you?” Amyalla said, dismayed.

    “They wouldn’t allow such betrayers in ther midst,” Ma’non’go said. “They cast me out when they learned what I was accused of. A few of the kinder people told me who accused my family.”

    Ma’non’go took another drink of Big Cedar Log before he continued.

    “When I learned the truth, something inside me…broke. I couldn’t believe that those men, men who acted like friends, brothers and even fathers, would betray me so. That was how I lost my voice.”

    “I kept running until I finally came to the northern edge of Hepmonaland. I was half-starved, half-delirious, and half-mad. Then I met Lord Roas,” he said, referring to Luna and Seline’s father, a nobleman of the Aerdi House Cranden, who’d made a fortune sailing down to Hepmonaland on trade missions with the Olman. “His magic helped us understand each other. When he returned home to South Province, I asked to go with him. There was nothing left for me in Hepmonaland.”

    “Lord Roas taught me the Common and Flan scripts, and I taught him the Olman tongue. He passed me off in Aerdy as a bondsman he’d hired to guard Luna and Seline until you came of age,” he said, nodding to the sisters. “When they had to flee South Province, I went with them,” he said.

    “And…you know the rest,” he said, shaking his head.

    The companions sat in silence for a moment, overwhelmed by what they’d just heard.

    “…Why wouldn’t you tell us this?” Luna said.

    “…It pained me to talk about it,” Ma’non’go said. “There was nothing left for me in Hepmonaland, so I just tried to forget it. It all came back when we saw everything in the Hall. Then my voice returned when it seemed like you’d all be killed by the harpies.”

    “Why do you think that was?” Luna said.

    “I couldn’t do anything when I lost my first family,” Ma’non’go said, “but I’d be damned if I let anything happen to my second one.”  

    Talking about his old memories from Hepmonaland pained him, but seeing the warm, reassuring glances of his friends filled him with relief.


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