The Silver Wolf: Ghosts Of The Past-And I Dub Thee Unforgiven
Date: Sun, October 21, 2018
Topic: Stories & Fiction

Trendin gasped in horror as his mother and sisters cried out in despair. Airk stared at Laessar’s body while the rest of Luna’s companions glanced at one another, realizing what had happened. Luna felt weak in the knees as she realized her failure, and she would have collapsed if Ma’non’go hadn’t caught her.

Chapter Seventeen 

And I Dub Thee Unforgiven

Seline chanted quickly as the large man charged towards her, tossing a piece of butter on the ground between them. The butter expanded into a large puddle of grease into which the man stepped, slipping and falling flat on his face. As the man tried to get to his feet, Seline walked up to him. She spread her hands out in front of his face, her thumbs touching, as she chanted another spell. Her hands burst into flame, igniting the man’s face and causing him to scream in pain before he fell dead. 

Taking a deep breath, Seline looked around at her companions. They were all battered and exhausted from a long night of battle, but they’d survived. That was a relief to Seline, but she was still worried about Airk. 

Trendin heard the faint sounds of battle from his cell, and wondered if it meant his family’s salvation or doom. He recalled Kalrek saying how he and his family were acting as bait for another of Kalrek’s old “friends”, and wondered if the sounds of battle were related to it. 

The sounds of battle eventually fell away, and everything was silent for several long minutes. Finally, Trendin heard his cell being flung open. Rising in surprise, Trendin was surprised to see a large Flan human coming towards him. The Flan man carried a ring of keys in one hand, and in the other he carried a large, bloodstained sword. Trendin was struck by the weariness on the man’s face, and the many cuts and wounds on his body. The man’s armor was marked with blood as well, and Trendin suspected that much of that blood was the man’s own. 

Trendin and the man locked stares for a long moment, before Trendin spoke. 

“You’re a deliverer for my family and I, are you not?” Trendin said. “If you are, you have my thanks.” 

“And glad to receive it,” the man said, setting down his sword and kneeling to unlock Trendin’s shackles. “My name is Revafour, of the Company of the Silver Wolf.” 

“Company of the Silver Wolf?” Trendin asked in surprise as he followed Revafour out of the cell. “Were you hired by my father to rescue us? Or did Kalrek cross you as well?” 

Revafour didn’t answer, and the disturbed look that crossed his face caught Trendin completely by surprise. 

“It’s a simple question,” Trendin said. “Which of them is it?” 

Revafour still didn’t answer, and even the sight of his mother and sisters coming down the hall accompanied by Weimar and Luna did little to reduce the concern Trendin began to feel. 

Once the companions freed Trendin and his family, they assembled the rest of Kalrek’s servants, the various accountants and researchers who managed the plunder Kalrek’s raiders brought in and researched where the Crown of Arumdina might be. The servants knew better than to try and confront the companions, and they quickly helped the companions free the slaves and other prisoners Kalrek kept trapped. They also revealed the large collection of potions and spell scrolls Kalrek kept. The potion collection included a number of healing potions which brought welcome relief to the companions and many of the prisoners. 

Finally, the companions gathered everyone in the wide chamber that once served as a residential area. Besides the companions themselves, Laessar’s family, the other prisoners the companions freed, and all of Kalrek’s servants were there. The companions and Laessar’s family were at the center of the assembly. Airk and Trendin stood at the head of their respective groups, staring intently at one another. 

“You’ve done us all a great service,” Trendin said, smiling gratefully at Airk. “We can’t thank you enough for-“ 

“You thank me too much,” Airk said, shaking his head as a solemn look crossed his face. “I’m only making amends for all my sins.” 

“…What do you mean?” Trendin asked in surprise. 

“I caused the deaths of all my fellow gnomes during the Hateful Wars,” Airk said. “I failed to anticipate Kalrek’s treason. And the blood of one of the noblest gnomes I’ve ever known is on my hands, blood that came from my trying to force the location of Kalrek’s lair from his lips. My rage got the better of me, and I caused Laessar Bradon’s death.” 

Trendin turned ashen pale, as his mother and sisters staggered behind him. They stood still for several seconds as the awful truth dawned on them. 

Finally, Trendin came forward and punched Airk viciously in the face, knocking him flat on his back. As Airk began to rise to his feet, Trendin punched him again, knocking Airk back down.

Trendin reached out as Airk began to rise again, putting his hands around the older gnome’s throat. He was about to strangle Airk when he looked into the older gnome’s eyes. The look in Airk’s eyes reminded Trendin of one he’d seen in his father more than once, when Laessar would sit alone in his study for hours at a time, refusing to speak to anyone who tried to disturb him. Trendin also noticed that Airk made no effort to defend himself, even with Trendin’s hands around his throat. 

Releasing Airk’s throat, Trendin turned his gaze up towards Luna. 

“You, do you have the power to revive Laessar?” Trendin demanded. 

“No, I don’t,” Luna said, shaking her head. “There may be another means-if Copper Crossing had a priest powerful enough to assist us.”

“It doesn’t,” Trendin said, shaking his head, before he looked back down at Airk. 

“Pray, for your sake, that she finds a way,” he said. 

The next four days were busy ones for the companions and the prisoners they’d freed. Luna treated the injuries her friends and many of the prisoners suffered. Kalrek’s servants gave up all the information they’d been able to gather about the Crown of Arumdina’s whereabouts. The prisoners told the companions where they had been taken from, so that they could be returned home. The companions slew those of Kalrek’s minions who returned to the complex. The companions, the prisoners and the servants stripped the complex of all its food and riches for the return to Copper Crossing. 

Things became even busier for the companions when they and everyone else with them returned to Copper Crossing. Kalrek’s servants were turned over to Copper Crossing’s city watch, while the companions found temporary lodgings for Kalrek’s prisoners and began sorting through the truly staggering amount of monetary treasure Kalrek had gathered, as well as his collection of potions and spell scrolls. 

Among Kalrek’s spell scrolls, Luna found one of clerical magic that contained a spell to resurrect the dead. Such magic was always a tentative thing, but Luna knew she had to try. After the companions and Trendin’s family had dealt with Kalrek’s prisoners and servants, they gathered in the library of the Bradon manor, with Laessar’s body kept reverently in state before them. Luna looked from Laessar’s body to the living people around her, before she took a deep breath and began to read the scroll containing the resurrection spell. 

Luna felt the divine power filling her mind as it attempted to make her its vessel. She focused her mind on the power, making sure to keep a tight grip on it. That focus was important when reading a spell from a scroll. If the caster was not innately powerful enough to cast the spell on their own, it might fail or even turn back on them. 

Give me your strength, Pelor, Luna prayed fervently as she continued to chant. Help me help Laessar, help heal the pain his family has suffered…

Pelor answered Luna’s prayer as the spell fully embraced her. She realized that it would not turn on her, and would go where she directed it.  

Laessar’s body began to glow as the resurrection spell began its work. His eyes began to flicker, opening and closing even as the wound in his neck began to close. 

Finally, with the last syllable, Luna released the spell’s power, channeling all of it into Laessar. The glow surrounding Laessar’s body vanished in a flash before he began raising himself up on his elbows. 

Then, with a sudden gasp, he collapsed once more, the life gone out of him entirely. 

Trendin gasped in horror as his mother and sisters cried out in despair. Airk stared at Laessar’s body while the rest of Luna’s companions glanced at one another, realizing what had happened. Luna felt weak in the knees as she realized her failure, and she would have collapsed if Ma’non’go hadn’t caught her. 

“What happened?” Trendin said, turning on Luna with an angry glare. “Damn you woman, why didn’t it work?”

Tears streaked down Luna’s face as Ma’non’go looked with concern at her, and with anger at Trendin. 

“I asked you a question!” Trendin repeated, his voice rising to an angry shout. He started to advance on Luna, but Airk stepped between them. Trendin’s eyes blazed with anger as he threw a punch at Airk, but Airk easily caught it. 

“Resurrection magic is an uncertain thing,” Airk said, as Trendin stared back at him. “The shock of being revived can be dangerous for its recipient. They don’t always survive that.” 

“You…all of you…Trendin muttered. “Laessar’s blood is on all your hands!” 

“Not on theirs,” Airk said, shaking his head. “On mine. My friends have only come this far with me because they are my friends. They don’t deserve your curses and hate-focus them on someone who actually does.” 

“So you have my hate and my curses,” Trendin said. “What does that mean?” 

“Whatever you want it to,” Airk said. “If you want me to face trial in Copper Crossing, I will. If you want me to go into the depths of the oerth alone and never return, I will. If you want to kill me in return, then you can take the morning star that ended Kalrek’s life and use it to complete the circle. My companions won’t take any vengeance on you, since whatever happens, gnomish justice will be served.” 

Trendin stared at Airk, who awaited his judgement. He looked back at his mother and sisters, and thought of all of Kalrek’s other victims. He then looked past Airk to the latter’s human and halfling companions, who’d faced fire and steel to rescue him and his loved ones. 

Then he looked back at Airk. Again, Trendin saw the haunted look in Airk’s eyes that reminded him so much of the look he’d seen in Laessar’s eyes during Laessar’s bouts of melancholy. 

Trendin remembered that he was now head of the house of Bradon, heir to everything his father built and strived for. He thought of the stories Laessar and Kalrek both told him of his ancestral land of Flinthold. He also thought of how Laessar’s stories told him that mentioned Airk as an old friend, a veteran of the Hateful Wars who’d fought with all his heart for their kingdom. 

“Any of the things you mentioned would be a fitting reward,” Trendin said, “but you led your companions to save us. Without your help, we’d all be as good as dead. You and I are both sons of Flinthold, like my father was before me, so you know about Kalrek’s search for the Crown of Arumdina.” 

“You owe me a blood debt, and I’ll give you a means of fulfilling it,” Trendin continued. “Kalrek Burunne sought the Crown of Arumdina for his own selfish ends. Find the Crown in his stead, and return it to the regents of Flinthold so they can rule as proper kings. Restore Garl Glittergold’s blessings to his people. If you succeed, I’ll hold your debt fulfilled and your crime forgiven. Refuse, and I’ll have you hanged in Copper Crossing for murder.”

“Very well,” Airk said, “and I’ll take them farther. If I fail in my efforts, then let me find no rest among our gods. Let me be cast into the Abyss, into Urdlen’s maw, as punishment.” 

Airk’s companions were startled to hear that, and even more startled at how serene Airk and Trendin became.

This article comes from Canonfire!

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