The Silver Wolf-The Honor Of The Crown: Crowning Achievement
Date: Wed, September 01, 2021
Topic: Stories & Fiction

Everything changed when Airk said those words. The Crown of Arumdina, still in his hands, started glowing brightly, the gold and platinum light its metal parts emanated shot through with streaks of diamond, emerald and ruby light. Everyone in the room, gnomes, humans and halfling, stood in shock at the Crown’s reaction. They could feel the power emanating from the Crown, power that was finally manifesting itself.

Chapter Seventeen

Crowning Achievement

Moswen and most of the other surviving members of Flinthold’s Regency Council had taken a large room in Silverspire’s town hall as an impromptu council chamber. From there, they worked to try and find food and shelter for the Flinthold refugees, while also rallying the rest of Flinthold’s military. The rest of Flinthold’s towns were sending as many soldiers as they could spare, but some of them remained as guards, knowing the Scarlet Woman’s forces could strike at any time. The army was gathering, but their morale was uncertain without the Crown of Arumdina.

Most of the councillors were not pleased to learn Arthur hadn’t consulted them about sending the companions to retrieve the Crown or to ask the Kutunachke for aid. The councillors were in a foul mood when the companions returned to Silverspire two days later accompanied by Borrinn and Pellana. The air filled with tension as the councillors gathered in front of the long table they used to conduct their business, while the Kutunachke ambassadors faced them in front of a bench sized for human guests. The rest of the councillors made Arthur stand several feet away from the other councillors, their glares making it clear what they thought of him.

Revafour and Airk stood between the humans and the gnomes, briefly introducing the two groups to each other. Revafour also held a small bowl in his hands, which contained two small bundles of fabric tied up like pouches. A faint smell of tobacco was detectable from the bundles, plants that Revafour had gathered during the companions’ journey to the Kutunachke’s lands. Amyalla put together the fabric pouches at Revafour’s request, before he’d filled them with the tobacco leaves.

“The Flintholders likely aren’t familiar with most Flan traditions,” Revafour said to the ambassadors, “so I hope you won’t mind my making this offer on their behalf.”

“…Offer?” Moswen asked, before Revafour turned back to speak to him.

“In many Flan nations, it’s customary to start meetings like these with a ceremony or offering of some sort to symbolize the relationship,” Revafour said to the councillors. “One common way is an offering of tobacco to anyone you ask to share wisdom or knowledge, or to otherwise ask for help. That’s why I’m offering these pouches, or ties as we call them, as part of Flinthold’s asking for the Kutunachke’s help. The tobacco can help us all speak with good attitudes and thoughts.”

He turned back to the ambassadors, who exchanged glances. They stood silently for several seconds, before they took the ties. Finally, the ambassadors sat down on the benches and the councillors took their seats at their table, their expressions dubious at the use of the tobacco offerings. Airk and Revafour moved off to the side to rejoin their friends, leaving the leaders to face each other.

The Kutunachke ambassadors were silent for some moments, waiting for the gnomes to speak first.  

“You say your people can help us retake our capital, do you?” Moswen said, his face lined with the strain he was feeling. “We’d appreciate it, but we need to know the price of your aid. We would need some of the treasure we’d win from the invaders for rebuilding. Until we know what your aid will cost-“

“We’re not interested in money,” Pellana interrupted Moswen. “If our people help yours, we want to regain our lands.”

Several of the councillors murmured to each other at that, wondering what to make of the demand. Moswen’s expression showed exactly what he thought of it, as his face turned crimson with anger. He stood up from his chair, his fists clenched as he stared hatefully at the human ambassadors.

“So you can drive our people from their homes? When they’re suffering enough as it is? I’ll show you what you can do with your demand!” he said, slamming his fists on the table.

“Who said anything about depriving your kin of their homes?” Pellana said, shaking her head. “All we’ve ever wanted is just to share the lands. Our help wouldn’t just end with fighting this Scarlet Woman, whoever she is, either. We can help you feed your refugees-“

“And how much are you going to charge for that?” one of the gnomish councillors asked with a suspicious glare. “More than we can afford, no doubt!” Moswen smirked at his fellow councillor’s words, and several more of the councillors chimed in.

“They just said they don’t want any mo-“ Arthur said, before he was interrupted.

“Shut up, you fool!” Moswen said. “It’s your fault we’re wasting our time with this!” he finished, as several of the other councillors joined in shouting Arthur down.

Borrinn and Pellana watched the gnomes’ argument, appalled at what they were watching.

“I should have known this was a bad idea,” Borinn said, turning to Pellana. “They’re just as bigoted and selfish as their ancestors were!”

Borinn and Pellana rose to leave, but they stopped as Airk walked up between them and the council table. He held the Crown of Arumdina, which he hadn’t given back to the Regency Council.

“Haven’t you learned anything at all from the loss of our home?” Airk said, looking in disgust at every member of the Council in turn. “No wonder Kalrek thought he could convince you to make him your king! You care more for your own pride and power bases than doing right by Flinthold!”

Most of the councillors stood up from the table. One of them pulled a dagger from his belt, while another gestured to the guards standing nearby and watching the meeting.

A few of the guards drew their swords and advanced on Airk, but he didn’t seem to notice them.

“What good has the Crown of Arumdina done us?” he said, the gnomes approaching him freezing in place as his voice rose. “Where are all the fabulous powers the legends say it has? It didn’t do a gods-damned thing for Wilhelm when he put it on! Do you think it’ll do any different for you, Moswen?”

Several of the gnomish councillors and guards exchanged glances, murmuring to each other in some concern. Amyalla and all the humans watching the debate stood in anxious silence, not daring to interrupt.

“Of course I do,” Moswen said, not impressed by Airk’s questions. “Wilhelm didn’t have the makings of a king. Give me the Crown and-“

“…and that’ll prove why we lost the Crown in the first place,” Airk said.

Silence filled the council chamber at Airk’s words. A strange light shone in his eyes as he locked stares with Moswen, whose own eyes flared with hatred for Airk.

“Do you remember how Flinthold was defeated by Loamhedge?” Airk asked his fellow gnomes. “It happened just after we broke our old treaty with the Kutunachke. Maybe Garl Glittergold and the rest of our gods are angry with us for our betrayal. Everyone says the Crown has all this great power, but are we really worthy of it? The Crown isn’t showing its power because we don’t deserve it!”  

Moswen looked angrier than ever at that statement, and several of the other gnomes shared his rage. He raised his hand to order the guards to seize Airk and the Crown, but then Airk spoke again.

“Do we deserve Garl Glittergold’s trust after all that’s happened?” Airk said. “Betraying the Kutunachke? Threatening war with Garnetholme? Our part in the violence and hatred between the allies in the Hateful Wars? Honoring our treaty with the Kutunachke might show Garl that we’re worthy of the Crown’s power!”

Everything changed when Airk said those words. The Crown of Arumdina, still in his hands, started glowing brightly, the gold and platinum light its metal parts emanated shot through with streaks of diamond, emerald and ruby light. Everyone in the room, gnomes, humans and halfling, stood in shock at the Crown’s reaction. They could feel the power emanating from the Crown, power that was finally manifesting itself.

Moving as if in a dream, Airk removed his dragon-headed helmet and put the Crown on his head in its place. He felt as though he was in someone else’s body, watching through their eyes, as his actions were not his own. A surge of power flowed through his body, which shone with a bright golden glow that shone on everyone watching him. From the looks on the other gnomes’ faces, he realized that the glow must make him seem to almost resemble Garl Glittergold, the leader of the gnomish gods manifesting in oerthly form.

His gaze passed over his fellow gnomes, then to Borinn and Pellana. The ambassadors returned his gaze expectantly, letting him know what they demanded of him.

His gaze then shifted to his friends. The looks they gave in return were ones of relief and hope, looks that renewed his confidence and confirmed what he felt in his heart.

“Flinthold will honor its treaty with the Kutunachke and return the disputed lands,” Airk said, the glow around him seeming to brighten as he did so. “This I swear by Garl Glittergold and all my race’s deities. If we do not, may we lose the gods’ blessings, as we lack the honor of the Crown,” he said, as the glow around him faded and returned to normal.

Airk’s friends looked from him to his fellow gnomes. Some of them were enthralled by what they were seeing, hardly able to believe it. Others like Moswen looked angry at the pledge Airk was making, but they didn’t dare speak against it.

Then Airk’s friends looked at Borrinn and Pellana.

“We intend to hold Flinthold to that pledge,” Pellana said.

This article comes from Canonfire!

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