Airk paled at her question. His expression showed he hadn’t even considered it. Soon, he was the one who hesitated for several seconds before speaking.
A Simple Question
“I think I
speak for all of us when I say we’re done sailing for a very, very long time,”
Luna said as she raised her glass of wine. Her companions all followed suit,
being just as sick of sea travel as she was.
were enjoying an evening meal in Gryrax at the Three Towers Tavern. It was the
middle of Readying, and the Merman’s Envy had finally made port after
over forty days at sea. Luna and Airk found the voyage nearly unbearable. The
rest of the companions didn’t dislike water as much as Luna and Airk, but their
experience wasn’t much better. All seven of the companions were relieved when
they finally reached land, and they were determined never to travel by ship
again unless they had to.
“It did have
its charms, though,” Amyalla said, “like giving us enough time to provide
appropriate gifts.” With that, she handed Ma’non’go the scarf she’d spent much
of the voyage knitting. Ma’non’go’s thirty-third birthday happened while the
companions were at sea, and they decided to wait until they were in port to
celebrate it. They’d done a similar thing with Weimar’s birthday last year. Weimar,
Luna and Ma’non’go had celebrated Seline’s birthday while they were sailing to Hardby,
but they didn’t want to do it like that again.
One by one, the
rest of the companions gave Ma’non’go their own gifts. Revafour and Airk
collaborated on a crafted and painted artwork that depicted Ma’non’go standing in
a warrior pose, while Weimar offered a cruder woodcut that depicted him
battling a fire giant. Seline offered a selection of fine Hepmonaland fruits
and chocolates she’d bought in Naerie, and Luna presented a hot, spicy tea
blend, the kind of drink Ma’non’go particularly liked.
beamed with joy at the gifts his friends presented him. It took him several
moments to compose himself before he could speak.
are all very kind, Ma’non’go
said, and I appreciate them. But they symbolize something more important to
me-the friendship you’ve all shown.
sat for some minutes, finishing their meal and enjoying the last bit of respite
they’d have before they set out for Flinthold the next day.
promised to lay out their itinerary for the others, and he did so when the supper
dishes were cleared. He spread the map of the County and Principality of Ulek
and the eastern Lortmils he’d purchased earlier in the day across the table.
north to the Principality’s town of Thrunch and enter the Lortmils from there,”
he said, tracing the route with his finger. “Our first destination in the
mountains themselves is the dwarfhold of Rubydepths.”
area claimed by the County of Ulek?” Weimar said, his eyes narrowing
“The humans and
elves like to claim large parts of the Lortmils, but their reaches often exceed
their grasp,” Airk said, shaking his head. “Most of the dwarves and gnomes
don’t pay them any mind.”
runoff be a danger going through the mountains?” Revafour asked. He had a look
of concern on his face, one that Weimar shared.
be traveling underground for most of the way,” Airk said to reassure them. “From
Rubydepths…” he hesitated, as his friends noted how unhappy he was when he
mentioned the name, “we can take the Low Road. You might know it Weimar, but does
at Airk’s statement, but the rest of the companions only stared back blankly.
“The Low Road
is a network of roads that that travelers regularly use. It links many of the
underground dwarven and gnomish kingdoms,” Airk said. “Once we’re on the Low
Road, it’s a fairly straight route to Flinthold. It’s right here, about due
west of Enstad, the Celenese capital,” he said, tapping the spot with his
finger. “Any questions?”
Most of the
companions seemed satisfied with Airk’s explanation, but Seline seemed both
hesitant and uncertain.
“What is it?”
Airk asked with a frown.
Seline said, before swallowing hard.
wrong?” Airk said. “Whatever it is, you can say it. I won’t be offended,” he
It took Seline
several seconds to speak.
“What are you
going to do with the Crown once we reach Flinthold?” Seline asked. “Are you
just going to give it to whoever’s in charge, and then leave? How do you know
they’ll use it wisely?”
Airk paled at
her question. His expression showed he hadn’t even considered it. Soon, he was
the one who hesitated for several seconds before speaking.
by a council of nine nobles that choose one of them to be a regent,” he finally
said. “The regent might be crowned the next king, but the rest of the council
would have to agree.”
really sure it’s going to be that simple?” Seline asked.
relaxed mood vanished, replaced by one of uncertain hesitation.
Try as he
might, Airk couldn’t come up with an answer.