Chapter Fifteen

Trail Of Dreams

It took four long, wearying days for the adventurers to gather the children, treasure and provisions from the hags' lair and load them into the wagons the monsters had used to bring them to the Bearded Lord's Hollow. From there, it took another three days to drive the wagons back to Greyhawk.

On the way back to Greyhawk, the adventurers stopped at Oakdale and other settlements in the hills to return children who lived in those communities to their families. It was as joyous as it was sad, some parents relieved that their children were safe and others merely saddened as they buried their loved ones.

The caravan was attacked once on the journey back to Greyhawk, by a gang of orc and goblin brigands who were eager for the treasure and food they thought they could gain. It was the worst mistake the monsters could have made. The adventurers were still seething with anger at what the hags had done to their victims, and eager for something to take it out on.

The monsters were crushed like flies and left to rot at the side of the road.

When the adventurers reached Greyhawk, it took them another week to return all of the living children to their parents. Pieden Ronard was reunited with his son Elian, not even thanking the adventurers as he marched off down the street. Louella was beside herself with joy, nearly crushing Amyalla in the thankful hug she gave the halfling for bringing Sienna home. Morin and Jacquileene Listell came to Greyhawk to take Teddyrun home after a joyous reunion, leaving the adventurers a large coffer of gold coins in thanks for their deed.

At the same time, Luna also made arrangements with the temple of Pelor in Greyhawk to give a decent burial to the bodies of the children who the adventurers had not been able to save. Many of those children had no one to claim them, and were likely street children or abducted from faraway lands. The temple of Pelor also arranged for the care of the few living children who had no one to claim them.

Eventually, the adventurers were left on their own, nearly two and a half weeks after the battle at the Bearded Lord's Hollow. Revafour mentioned that he needed to leave Greyhawk, even if just for a couple of days, and the rest of the adventurers insisted on accompanying him.

The group marched west out of Greyhawk, traveling for almost a day, before they made camp in a forested area just off the road to the city of Dyvers.

The forested area was a common stopping point for travelers between Greyhawk and Dyvers. However, as the adventurers got a fire going and ate their evening meal they felt as if they were the only people in all the world. Shadows crept in around them as the sky filled with a dazzling collection of stars. The stars contrasted with the light of the fire, lending an aura of wonder and mystery to the adventurers' surroundings.

Finally, far away from it all, the companions felt a sense of peace and relief that they had not experienced since before their battles at the Bearded Lord's Hollow. The fire grew brighter as the night grew longer, both comforting and warming all at once.

For a long time, they had sat in silence, until Revafour finally spoke.

"Why did you all come with me?" he asked, looking from one to the other of the people who had accompanied him on his journey.

"Because we're like you," Seline said. She looked at Luna and Ma'non'go, who nodded in agreement. "We needed to get away from everything, even if only for a while."

"But you could have gone off on your own," Revafour said. "You didn't have to come with me, either," he continued, turning to look at Airk and Amyalla.

"Why wouldn't we?" Amyalla asked. "Where else would we have gone?"

"Anywhere," Revafour said.

"Yes, but what would be the purpose?" Weimar said. "We would just be alone again, would we not? Besides, everyone has to be somewhere, and here is as good a place as any."

"So what do you plan to do now?" Amyalla asked.

I, for one, am not certain, Ma'non'go signed with his hands. Luna and Seline had begun teaching the rest of the adventurers the sign language Ma'non'go used to communicate, and they could now understand his basic conversations. Will our association end here, as we go our separate ways?

The look on Ma'non'go's face reflected his disappointment at the thought, and the rest of his companions were following suit.

They sat in silence for several moments, until Airk spoke.

"Who says it has to end here?" he said. "Think of it-I knew little of either of you before we came together," he continued, looking at Amyalla and Revafour, "and yet here we are. Is there any reason why we should split up? What would it accomplish?"

"Nothing!" Luna said immediately. She seemed rather embarrassed as everyone looked at her, surprised by her outburst. "It's just…there's no reason for us to split off, is all," she said.

"And I'd personally hate for it to end this way," Weimar said, "particularly after everything we've been through together."

That made Revafour stare up at the starlit sky, a faraway look in his eyes.

"Together…" he said.

"That's what we all have in common," Weimar said, glancing from one to the other of his companions. "We've all been wandering, alone in our own ways…searching for something. Who's to say that, together, we might not have found it?"

"Companionship?" Amyalla asked.

"Just so," Weimar said with a smile.

A company, then? Ma'non'go signed, the expression on his face showing how pleased he was by the thought.

"Just so," Weimar repeated.

"Well then, what should we call ourselves?" Amyalla asked.

Revafour was thinking about the question, as he resumed looking up at the beautiful starlit sky. He started at the howling he heard in the distance, the songs of the wolves as they greeted the night.

"The silver wolf," he said with a faraway look in his eyes. "The stars of the sky, and the songs of the wolves. Many of them may start out alone, but then they can come together into a pack."

"Wolves howl to call their packs together, to locate one another when they're lost and to communicate over long distances, to remind them that they're not alone," Weimar said.

"Is that what we are, then?" Airk asked. "Akin to wolves, come together in a pack under the silver sky?"

"The Company of the Silver Wolf?" Seline said, speaking for all of them.

None of her companions replied to her. They didn't need to, as they each knew what the other was thinking.

Some of them settled down to sleep, and some of them took the first watch.

The Company of the Silver Wolf prepared at dawn to return to Greyhawk, the sunrise providing a fitting background to the bright new future they saw together.

Dedicated to the memory of Gary Gygax, without whom none of this would be possible.