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 Glittergold.

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diligently as his friends at supporting the Bradon family and the rest of Kalrek's victims, but he became increasingly withdrawn as the days crept by.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 everyone else.

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 said.

"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 over."

"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 his friends.

"To the end," Revafour spoke for all of them.

The Crown of Arumdina was waiting.

Dedicated to everyone at Canonfire for keeping the flame alive, especially Cebrion for uploading these stories, and Mystic-Scholar, for his invaluable feedback.