The next two weeks were busy ones for the
Company of the Silver Wolf and for the Bradon family. First, they divided up
the vast riches accumulated by Kalrek. Much of the treasure was used to pay for
the kidnapped slaves’ and prisoners’ passage back to their homes. Another large
share compensated the Bradon family for everything they had suffered at
Kalrek’s hands, and for the loss of Laessar. The companions also attended
Laessar’s memorial service, where Airk’s oath to Trendin to retrieve the Crown
of Arumdina was sworn before Copper Crossing’s highest-ranking priest of Garl
Airk worked as diligently as his friends at
supporting the Bradon family and the rest of Kalrek’s victims, but he became
increasingly withdrawn as the days crept by. All he gave to anyone who tried to
speak to him were one-word answers, and he ate and slept in silence away from
Finally, Revafour couldn’t bear it any longer.
On one day when the companions were taking a brief respite at the Owlbear Arms,
Revafour walked into the side room where Airk was eating his midday meal and
sat down next to him.
“It’s been a busy time, hasn’t it?” Revafour
“Yes,” Airk said without looking up.
“Is that all you can say?”
“What else is there to say?”
“This is more reaction that you’ve given anyone
for the last few days. Why is that?”
“Maybe I don’t need to say anything else,” Airk
said, finally looking up at Revafour. “Did you ever stop to consider that?”
“Did you ever stop to think that maybe you
shouldn’t be tormenting yourself?” Revafour said. “Or do you plan to spend
another six decades wallowing in shame every time something new troubles you?”
Airk’s eyes flared for a moment before he cast
them down again.
“…I don’t know. I still have a lot to think
“You’re going to search for the Crown, of
course,” Revafour said.
“Of course I am,” Airk said.
“And we’ll be accompanying you.”
“No you won’t,” Airk said. “You’ve come more
than far enough for me already.”
“You should know better than that by now,”
Revafour said. “Surely you can’t think we wouldn’t follow you to the ends of
the Oerth if that’s what it took. We know you’d do it for any of us!”
Airk didn’t say anything.
“Maybe this might help,” Revafour said.
Reaching into his pocket, he pressed something into Airk’s hand. Airk was
surprised to see a small carved and painted wooden engraving, one that depicted
a wounded and despairing wolf that had lost most of his pack. The wolf seemed
doomed to wander alone until he found a new pack, one that gave him a new home.
The seven wolves in the engraving were of different heights, colors and builds,
but there was a sense of belonging among them that belied their differences.
Airk looked back towards the ceiling, thinking
about what Revafour had just given him.
He offered a half-smile in return.
The next morning, Airk walked
down the main street of Copper Crossing towards the tunnel leading back to the
surface part of the city. Halfway to the tunnel, he paused, still uncertain
about his decision to leave early. He had spent a good hour last night thinking
about the engraving Revafour had given him, and wondering what he should do.
In the end, though, he realized
it would be right for him to leave on his own. The search for the Crown could
take years of his friends’ lives, years that they had all too few of. They
deserved to make more of that time. He’d left a letter for his friends back at
the Arms that made those points. As much as he knew it would have been right to
leave Revafour’s engraving back with them too, he couldn’t bring himself to.
It was a small but comforting
reminder of the brief time he’d deserved such companionship.
“Did you really think you’d get
away from us that easily?” Airk heard Weimar say behind him. Turning around in
surprise, Airk saw all of his companions dressed and equipped for the road.
Before he could say anything, they came up to join him.
“You don’t need to do this,”
Airk said, shaking his head. “You can do anything else you’d like to.”
“Why would we?” Revafour asked.
“Where else would we have gone?”
“Wasn’t that my line?” Amyalla
said, raising an eyebrow. The companions briefly remembered the night in the
woods off the road to Greyhawk where they’d first agreed to come together.
“What would the purpose be?”
Weimar said. “Everybody has to be somewhere, and being beside you is as good a
place as any to be. Otherwise, we’d probably just be alone again.”
Airk opened his mouth to say
something, but then he only smiled. Reaching into his pocket, he took out the
small engraving Revafour gave him and held it out in front of him.
One by one, his friends placed
their hands on top of it, each one on top of the last until all seven of them
were as one.
I won’t rest until I’ve fulfilled my responsibilities to Laessar, his
family, the brothers we lost in the Hateful Wars, and Flinthold, Airk
thought. I have much to answer for, and
there will be a reckoning for my sins, but no matter how many roads I have to
walk before I do, I know that I won’t walk them alone.
“To the end, then?” Airk asked
“To the end,” Revafour spoke for
all of them.
The Crown of Arumdina was
Dedicated to everyone at
Canonfire for keeping the flame alive, especially Cebrion for uploading these
stories, and Mystic-Scholar, for his invaluable feedback.