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    Trail of Dreams: The Silver Wolf
    Posted on Fri, August 03, 2007 by Farcluun
    CruelSummerLord writes ""Where do we go?  Do we even know?  Can we even know?  Does it even matter?"

    The fire was stoked and lit, as the seven companions made camp for the night on the hill overlooking the edge of the Gamboge Forest, in the western half of the Flinty Hills. 

    They were still within the borders of Nyrond, although the royal soldiers rarely came this far into the hills-this was considered gnomish territory, the land recognized as gnome lands by the King of Nyrond when he had formed military and trade alliances with the gnomes of the western half of the hills.  In return for paying taxes and accepting Nyrondal laws, the gnomes had wrested considerable autonomy and recognition of this as their own province, a remarkable exception in the otherwise centralized kingdom. 
    Airk Venbelwar, gnome of the distant Lortmil Mountains, felt strangely at peace here.  Old memories were left behind, and he could ignore the strife between the gnomes here.  The blonde-haired-and-bearded gnome was busily polishing his military pick, rubbing at the hill giant blood that was so difficult to remove from steel.  Dressed in plate mail and horned helmet, a shield marked with the crescent moon and diamond by his side, the gnome looked every inch the warrior he was. 
    “You’re quite sure you don’t want some?” Weimar asked him.  The human ranger’s own blonde hair was the color of straw, his eyes and nose were reddened, his battle-axe, shield and short swords had been cast carelessly behind him on his bedroll, and his disheveled clothes and leather armor, spattered with wine and reeking of spirits, were stained again as he spilled mead all over his breeches. 
    “No,” Airk said dryly as he finally cleaned the last of the bloodstains off his pick.  “I do not particularly enjoy the stench of alcohol in the morning.” 
    “You never spend your treasure properly,” Weimar laughed.  “We clear out a hold of hill giants, and what do you spend it on?  A waste of-“
    “I donate to the gnomish gods,” Airk scowled, looking up at the impudent ranger.  The companions had been engaged by a community of gnomes to take care of a band of hill giants who had established themselves in the region and had been plaguing the gnomes.  Airk had donated much of his own share of the treasure to the gnomish gods, whose priests would use the money to help the gnomes recover from their losses. 
    It eased his conscience a little.  Airk leaned back and closed his eyes, but suddenly snapped to reality before he could fall into reverie-which was the last thing he needed. 
    “I suppose you don’t need to donate to the gods,” a tall, powerfully muscled man dressed in field plate armor and carrying a massive two-handed broadsword reproached Weimar as he sat down and wearily began removing his armor.  He shook his head vigorously, glad to finally be free of his confining dragon-headed helmet, letting his long black hair fall free.  His bronze and copper skin was well-tanned, the mark of years of hunting and fighting in the Flan tradition. 
    A part of Revafour wanted to smash the armor, to destroy it and break it to pieces, but another part of him thought that foolish, that he needed the armor, fashioned even as it was in the Oeridian style, the style of the people that had mostly overrun his own in seizing the continent. 
    Weimar’s people. 
    “Glad to be out of Womtham?” Weimar slurred, offering Revafour a bottle of mead. 
    Revafour considered the mead for a second. 
    He imagined himself smashing it over Weimar’s head, just for a moment. 
    Weimar must have read it in Revafour’s eyes, as the ranger leaned back hastily, blinking his own eyes for a moment.  Then he finished his own bottle and opened up the one he had offered Revafour, pouring himself a glass and sipping it slowly. 
    Airk glanced from the Flan to the Oeridian, and understood.  Sighing, he shook his head as he saw what both men were thinking, as plain as day. 
    Not that he could blame either one of them. 
    “I’ll take a glass, Weimar,” the young woman sitting across the fire from Airk offered.  Her green eyes and strawberry blonde hair agreeably complimented her purple robes, marked with the symbols of stars and moons, and the silver wands tucked into her belt.  She smiled gently as she took a tankard from Weimar, glancing at both men, who relaxed and calmed. 
    “Really,” she chided.  “Why do you both do that every time?  It doesn’t help,” Seline finished.  She had come to hate the stiffness that pervaded between the two men, and what they could not say. 
    “I…” Revafour began.  He had felt the battle-lust of the Tenhas at an early age, and the anger he had felt at what had been done to his people.  His initial anger at Weimar had…what did the elders say?  Wearing armor of steel with a cloak of hide, feathers and beadwork-is that what I must do?  If it must be…
    It was still no less painful.  The dances, the songs, they echoed in his mind, and seeing the hills, so like his own back in the Duchy of Tenh, brought them back.  Revafour leaned back, seeing the stars, remembering the stories his grandfather had taught him…
    He glanced back at Weimar.  Revafour reminded himself once again that it was not the ranger’s fault, and did his best to remain calm. 
    Weimar avoided Revafour’s glance, and turned away, his gaze falling across his Keoish shield, which he hastily turned over. 
    Revafour, Airk and Seline all saw it at once-whether Weimar could accept that it was not his fault was another matter entirely. 
    The halfling sitting next to Weimar snorted without looking up, continuing to work at her knitting.  Red-haired and brown-eyed, the beautiful halfling was dressed in unusual attire-a strapless gown and a black belt around her waist, with garters around her thighs to which were strapped lockpicks and other thief’s tools.  Her wide-brimmed hat caught the most attention-marked with orchids and lilacs, it was her most cherished possession. 
    “Let them go at it, Seline,” Amyalla continued, never taking her eyes off the sash she was working on.  “There’s no sense in trying to convince a man to turn down a challenge, any more than there is in trying to saddle a rabid owlbear,” she laughed. 
    “You sound like you speak from experience,” Seline chuckled. 
    “You mean in riding men or riding owlbears?” Amyalla shot back. 
    “Both?” Seline parried.  It was as much a question as a statement. 
    “Men and owlbears are not so different,” the halfling laughed.  “They both think with their stomachs, their weapon-arms, and their carnal urges.  If you can figure out how to appeal to one of those, they are yours to control.” 
    “So why don’t you do that to me?” Weimar asked the priestess on his other side, a brown-haired, blue-eye beauty dressed in the golden robes and chain mail of a priestess of Pelor.  She sat calmly, shaking her head at the ranger. 
    “Because that would be too easy,” she replied calmly.  “You are lucky that all the barmaids you have previously spent the night with did not realize the power they had in their hands.” 
    “Why should they use it?” Weimar asked ironically.  “Have I ever acted to merit mistreatment or being controlled?” 
    Do you really want us to answer that? the adventurers heard the hands of the massive southerner move as he stepped into the firelight.  The man’s eyes were bright blue-green, his skin tan and his armor of hide and wicker, his face as calm and impassive as granite.  He moved his hands quickly and easily, speaking calmly and without haste with sign-language.  He seemed older than most of his fellow adventurers, thirty and three or four years, perhaps. 

    Originally given as a protector to Seline and Luna by their father, the man was quiet and devoted, a pillar of strength to those who had lost so much.  Seline and Luna had taught their companions Ma’non’go’s sign language, and they could converse with him just as easily as could the sisters themselves.  

    “Unless you manipulated men like pawns on a chessboard, I should say not,” Airk scoffed at Ma’non’go.  “Someone may be a drunkard, but if he does not treat his fellows like expendable toys, he does not deserve a terrible fate.” 

    The humans and halfling around him looked at Airk in askance. 

    The gnome merely raised an eyebrow in response. 

    “Am I wrong?”

    Perhaps not,
    Ma’non’go signed back, but I should think I can speak on this matter as well. 

    “It’s all so meaningless, I suppose,” Airk nodded.  “Used as mere toys, used up and thrown away.” 

    Revafour noticed how white the gnome’s knuckles were as he clasped his water-skin. 

    The gnome seemed to calm as he looked into the fire, then glanced over the edge of the hill, towards the forest.  He enjoyed the trees, the forest, the beautiful sunset, and the beginnings of the starlit sky overhead.  It provided some balm. 

    The adventurers were silent for several moments, preparing and cooking a meal of venison slain by Revafour-hunting the deer was very important to him-and some of the potatoes they had purchased from the gnomes before setting out once again.  They began to eat, as Amyalla spoke up. 

    “That’s something I never understood about you,” she said to Ma’non’go.  “You’re purchased as a slave by an Aerdi noble, and you’re loyal to a fault.  Why is that?”

    Seline and Luna both flinched, glaring at Amyalla, as Ma’non’go’s eyes flared dangerously.  The sisters were not at all happy at being reminded of their Aerdi heritage, of the fact that they had once belonged to one of the noble houses of that decaying and evil empire.  House Cranden remained enlightened and of goodly weal when most of the other houses had suffered from a horrible moral decay, and was not immune from the attacks and ravages of other noble Celestial houses. 

    The Baron saved my life,
    was all Ma’non’go would sign to Amyalla. 

    “Ma’non’go was either going to be purchased by members of House Naelax and suffer their debaucheries, or be purchased by our father and be treated well, and be made to protect us,” Seline said firmly. 

    I swore an oath,
    Ma’non’go answered. 

    “You were sold and bought as a slave, and you swore an oath to the man who purchased you?” Amyalla asked in disbelief. 

    Luna merely shook her head, frowning grimly.  She fidgeted with her mace and took a long drink of water. 

    Amyalla looked at all three of them suspiciously.  Seline had a scowl on her face, Luna seemed ill at ease, and Ma’non’go became as impassive as a stone golem once again. 

    Are they lying?,
    she thought, as a wave of sudden fury erupted inside her.  If they are…a dull, flickering light appeared at the edge of her mind’s eye.  She suddenly felt listless and distracted-it hurt to think about that. 

    Weimar gazed at Luna for a long while.  She was drifting, he knew, lost and not knowing where she would go or what would happen to her.  Of course, that seems to be a fairly common thing these days…although, what that meant he did not quite understand.  Why can’t I…he wondered, as a sudden headache came over him, before refilling his tankard in irritation and downing it in one swig, putting out the flames before they could get too large. 

    Revafour knew well that Ma’non’go’s story was his own to tell when and where he saw fit.  He fell silent once more, staring into the flames.  Stories and songs, dances and memories…the Flan elders were right, he realized.  These were things common to all races-human, elf or dwarf, Flan or Oeridian, and they had all contributed to each other in some way or another.  They all had their own merits-to claim that one was greater another was foolish. 

    He looked at Airk and Weimar.  How were they affected by the stories they had been told, and the stories they had told themselves?  Quite likely they had been affected in ways they did not yet realize-and he could only hope and pray that they would find their own way.  He glanced over at his heavy sword and armor…

    There are not many warriors who would reflect on such questions,
    he thought ironically.  Most warriors were content to hack and slash orcs and goblins to death, before making off with all the gold and silver they could carry.  He might have made a fine monk or cleric, Revafour realized.  He had often wondered about these types of questions-where would he, where would they, where would everyone go from here?  Odd thoughts to be having when hacking at gorgons or burning trolls. 

    Amyalla finished her meal and set it aside, returning to her knitting.  She worked continuously in silence, the clicking of her needlework echoing as her hands moved with astonishing speed.  An angry scowl twisted her face, as she seemed to be stabbing the needles furiously into the garment she was weaving. 

    Luna came over to the halfling, putting her hand on her shoulder.  Amyalla jumped and turned around, putting down her knitting.  Her eyes were inflamed and narrowed as she glared up at the cleric. 

    “We didn’t mean to…” Luna began. 

    “I was just asking,” Amyalla responded. 

    “Well, it’s just that the past is…painful for us to discuss.” 

    Amyalla’s expression softened. 

    “I know…I, of all people, should know.” 

    Now it was Luna’s turn to be curious. 

    “What do you mean by that?” 

    Amyalla fell into silence. 

    “I would…rather not say,” she started.  Especially since it’s the reason I had to leave in the first place, she finished mentally. 

    Luna returned to her place by the fire, taking out her lute and strumming a few random notes upon it.  Airk rose up and smiled-he recognized the song, as Seline began to sing. 

    Where do we go from here? 

    From the past to the future,

    Battles with chimeras and trolls,

    Slaying orcish foes and defeating evil plots;

    Lost on a trail of dreams,

    Unsure of where we go,

    But continuing on,

    For the good of the world,

    Because we are among those who still care.

    Not the most original verse, but it captured well what they felt, as the night sky arose, bringing with it a river of stars and reflections, and reflections on what the next day would bring. 

    The fires continued to dance as the first watches were taken. 
    Not the most original verse, but it captured well what they felt, as the night sky arose, bringing with it a river of stars and reflections, and reflections on what the next day would bring. 
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    Re: Trail of Dreams: The Silver Wolf (Score: 1)
    by Mystic-Scholar on Thu, October 01, 2009
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    Much reminiscence and reflection in this. And too much underlying tension and antagonism. One must wonder how this "adventuring party" ever formed?

    The evident racial tension between Revafour and Weimar is palpable. Two such persons with these kinds of issues would hardly join the same adventuring group, unless necessity put it upon them to do so.

    The same can be said for Amyalla. Her obvious distaste for slavery and her anger at Luna, Seline and Ma'non'go's complacent acceptance of it, make it unlikely that the four of them would willingly adventure together.

    Unless there is more to this story, I cannot "see" such a necessity here.

    And how would Revafour know that he would make a good cleric or monk? Does his self-reflection give him such insight? What is there in his past to qualify him to make such a judgment? This portion should have been reworded, making Revafour ponder whether or not he should have chosen another life course.

    There is potential here in plenty, but story line is lacking. What brought these people together, seeing as how they shouldn't be together in the first place?

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