CruelSummerLord writes "
“Then perhaps we ought to see what comes of this conference between the Knights and their allies,” Ma’non’go said, before taking a long drink.
“Especially after what happened in Baranford,” Revafour said. “It sounds like Iuz or the Horned Ones might be acting soon.”
The next day, the companions and the Velunese delegates
resumed their journey up the Velverdyva. For most of the journey, the scenery
on either side of the river was the fields, moors and parkland of Furyondy and
Veluna. That scenery gradually fell away after the travelers left Baranford, replaced
with charming valleys, sparkling streams, and the majestic sights of the Yatil
Mountains and the Vesve Forest.
Every night, Revafour regaled his friends with stories of
Highfolk’s beauty, whetting their desires to see it for themselves. When the
companions finally arrived, they realized that Revafour wasn’t exaggerating. The
Velverdyva was a brilliant sapphire blue, almost seeming to mirror the cerulean
sky. Small stands of oak, elm, hornwood, poplar and galda-fruit trees,
offshoots of the Vesve Forest, shone like emeralds as they reached their summer
blooms. Wild animals such as stags and bears met the travelers’ gazes as they
passed by, while eagles and falcons flew overhead. In the distance, the Yatil
Mountains watched over the river valley like silent guardians, their presence
somehow both imposing and reassuring at once.
Villages began to appear on the riverbanks, their buildings
somehow combining the rustic charm of log cabins and the elegance of finely
crafted manor houses. Some of these villagers were human, but many more were elves,
both the darker-haired high elves and the red- and gold-haired sylvan elves. Some
of them waved and greeted the travelers as they passed by, even singing elven
songs that blended with the flow of the river, the cries of the birds and the
rustling of the trees.
The travelers made land at one of those villages on the
final day of their journey. The village was renowned for its fine stables, and
provided the large party a collection of horses and ponies to ride to Highfolk
Town, the region’s capital. It was the first day of Wealsun, and the sun shone
brightly overhead during the party’s daylong ride.
Highfolk Town was everything the travelers had seen on their
trip up the Velverdyva, only somehow even more impressive. The town’s buildings
had the same charm and strength as those of the smaller villages. Most of the
town’s residents were elves, but the companions and delegates could also see a
scattering of humans, gnomes, halflings and even a few dwarves among them.
Unlike the rigid streets and city blocks of most human
cities, the roads of Highfolk Town seemed to flow more naturally, like water
streams or mountain trails. Small stands of trees, sparkling ponds and creeks, wildflowers
and rock formations blended in freely with the surrounding buildings, all of
them combining into a larger whole. The town was framed by the Yatil Mountains,
which surrounded it like a troupe of protective sentries.
The scene was framed by a sun that was low in the west when
the travelers arrived. The sunset cast a warm light over the town, making it
seem to glow like a welcoming hearth.
The companions smiled to each other as they entered Highfolk
Town, basking in the warmth of both the land and its inhabitants.
The companions found lodgings at the Bruin Inn, and they
separated to explore the town. Revafour set out to meet with his Flan friends,
and he was fortunate to find one of them less than a block from the Bruin Inn.
“You look like you’ve been doing well,” Shenniaq Callingcrow
said to Revafour as they walked through the streets of Highfolk Town. “It’s
amazing how much things can change in a year, isn’t it?”
Shenniaq was one of Revafour’s friends from the distant
Archbarony of Blackmoor. Revafour was captured and sold as a slave in that awful
realm after he was banished from Tenh. He was fortunate that the man who bought
him was Quendamak Running Griffin, a respected elder among the Blackmoorian Flan.
Quendamak was Revafour’s liberator rather than his master, giving him a home
among his people.
That home was not to last. Bestmo, the hateful and
treacherous Archbaron of Blackmoor, gave in to his greed for the caribou herds that
the ancient treaties gave the Flan the right to hunt. When Bestmo broke the
treaties and attacked the Flan, most of them were were slain, including
Quendamak. The survivors were forced to flee south with little more than what
they could carry during a cold, unforgiving winter.
Many of the Flan perished during the long, perilous journey
through the lands of the Wolf Nomads and the Vesve Forest. The remaining Flan
who made it to Highfolk joined the community, welcomed by the kindly elves.
Revafour didn’t want to stay, still feeling something was missing in his life.
He set out as a wandering adventurer, meeting Airk and Amyalla when he signed
on to guard a merchant caravan in Furyondy.
“It certainly is,” Revafour said with a smile. “The native
Highfolk have treated you well?”
“Of course they have,” Shenniaq said, leaning her head on
Revafour’s shoulder. “We’ve been keeping really busy, though. There’s so much
to do-helping to patrol the Vesve, hunting and growing food, trading furs and
other goods…I can’t count how many mothers I’ve helped give birth, human and
“A midwife’s skills carry over between races?” Revafour
asked, smiling slightly.
“Of course they do!” Shenniaq said, laughing. “Is fighting
humans different from fighting orcs?”
“Better them than dragons,” Revafour said, shaking his head.
“I hope we never have to do that again…”
“A dragon?!?” Shenniaq said, her eyes widening in amazement.
“You clearly have some stories to tell…”
“And I will when we get to the lodge,” Revafour said.
“But these new friends of yours, they’ve done right by you?”
Shenniaq said, her expression one of concern.
“They came all this way with me, so I’d say they have,”
Revafour said, smiling reassuringly. “We’ve helped Flan communities when they
needed it to, whether by fighting trolls or helping them regain their lands.”
Shenniaq beamed at that, but then she look concerned again.
“You haven’t thought of returning to Tenh, though?” she
Revafour halted, frowning.
“How could I, though?” he said. “I was banished.”
“Unjustly, though,” Shenniaq said. “Surely you could get it
Revafour resumed walking, his mind whirling with emotions. Just
like Ma’non’go and Airk, he knew what it was like to be betrayed by a false
friend. He and Tuomad Wolf-Slayer loved the same woman, Kathleena Nightoak, but
she only loved Revafour. Tuomad’s jealousy led to him spreading lies about the
Greystar family, provoking an all-out feud between them and the Wolf-Slayers.
Tuomad and Revafour were made to settle the feud in a trial by combat, which
Tuomad won by further treachery. Revafour was punished for his family’s supposed
crimes by being banished from Tenh.
“…I don’t know how I could even prove it,” Revafour said. “False
papers, lies from men Tuomad bribed, my own kin tricked into hurting
themselves…and that was all years ago.”
“But you do want to return, don’t you?” Shenniaq asked.
Revafour just sighed.
“I do,” he said. “I think of my family…Kathleena…my home
city of Atherstone…the land itself…and how much I miss them all.” But then I
think of my friends, and then I’m not so sure. They’re a second family to me,
Shenniaq, one I don’t want to lose. If there was a way I could bring them
together…and then…Tuomad…” he trailed off, his face darkening in anger.
Shenniaq cursed herself for upsetting Revafour, realizing she
should’ve known how deeply he felt about Tenh.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Did you want to smudge before
meeting everyone? I’ll provide the cedar, if you do.”
Revafour smiled his thanks to her.
When Revafour returned to the Bruin Inn, it was past
midnight. His feet were sore from the moon dance he’d done, his nostrils still
held the scent of the cedar he’d smudged with and his ears echoed with the
sound of the drumming his Flan friends did to welcome him. As physically tired
as he was from the grueling journey to Highfolk, he felt refreshed. The journey
was everything he’d hoped it would be, and he was thrilled to see his friends
from Blackmoor again.
As he walked through the common room, he was surprised to
hear someone calling his name. To his surprise, Ma’non’go was sitting by
himself at a table nursing a thick mug of ale. Revafour smiled and waved back,
getting a flask of water before he came over to join Ma’non’go.
Revafour was surprised to see the three empty mugs on the
table in front of Ma’non’go. The Olman warrior didn’t usually drink that much,
making Revafour wonder if something was wrong.
“Are you okay?” Revafour asked, once he and Ma’non’go tapped
their drinks. “Or did you just have a drinking contest with Weimar?”
Ma’non’go chuckled at that, but he shook his head.
“Nothing like that,” he said. “Weimar went to sleep after
the barkeep cut him off. I was just thinking…”
“What about?” Revafour said.
“…The past,” Ma’non’go said. “Everything that’s happened
over the last few years.”
“Are you alright?”
“I’m really not sure. I enjoy being with you all, but
there’re times when I wish I could return home…”
“I know how you feel. You remember the story of how I was
banished from Tenh?”
“You, me and now Airk. I wonder which of our friends will be
the next one to talk about being betrayed.”
They laughed at that.
“So, have you done everything you wanted to with your Flan friends?”
“Yes, I have,” Revafour said, nodding.
“What should we do next, then?” Ma’non’go said. “Do we stay
in Highfolk for a while?”
“Maybe we should,” Revafour said. “There’s no lack of things
that we could do here. And if Iuz and the Horned Society are such a threat…”
“Then perhaps we ought to see what comes of this conference
between the Knights and their allies,” Ma’non’go said, before taking a long
“Especially after what happened in Baranford,” Revafour said.
“It sounds like Iuz or the Horned Ones might be acting soon.”
“Or someone else entirely,” Ma’non’go said, his expression
turning grim. "