A.C 308, Late Summer
“But where did he get the power?” Tanis asked again.
Flint shook his head. There were rumors, of course, legends of a source of great chaotic power hidden in caverns deep below Qualinost, but the dwarf was not of a mood to recite legends.
He ordered ale for the both of them. The innkeeper at the Inn of the Last Home brought the beverage to their table in overflowing mugs, and Flint sighed. “Ah, lad, I have longed for this. A comfortable table in the corner of a cozy inn. Real ale, with a kick like Fleetfoot’s.”
“Miral—Arelas—killed so many people because he’d been sent from Qualinesti as a child? Flint, that’s not reason enough.” The half-elf toyed with his mug, twirling it in a wet circle on the wooden table.
The dwarf nodded. “I know, lad. There’s some power behind all this, something we don’t know about. But there are tales that would explain it.”
“The Graystone? That’s a myth, Flint.” The half-elf’s tone was flat. There would be no convincing him.
Flint shook his head and hoisted his tankard, then he smacked his lips. Five days in Solace, and still the taste of a mug of good ale was a fresh treat.
“Now what?” the dwarf grumbled.
Tanis’s tone was urgent. “The amulet saved my life. Why didn’t it save my mother’s? It belonged to her.”
They’d been over this, too, during the weeks they’d spent on the trail, Flint rocking along on Fleetfoot and Tanis posting smoothly on Belthar. “I don’t believe it was enchanted when Elansa had it, Tanis. I think Ailea had something to do with that.”
The mention of Ailea cast a shadow over the friends.
“But I thought she could perform only magical illusions, tricks to amuse children,” Tanis disagreed. “And minor magic to use in childbirth. Nothing major.”
“We thought Miral was a minor mage, too.”
Tanis nodded and was still for a bit. Then a new thought occurred to him. “The mage killed all of them—Kethrenan, Elansa, Xenoth, Ailea. Even Tyresian, when he saved Laurana from the falling marble. And why? So Arelas could eliminate all the heirs between himself and the Speakership. Did he think he could walk out of the rubble of the Tower and announce that he was really Arelas and that they should make him Speaker?”
Flint nudged the half-elf’s ale a bit closer to him. “Give it up, lad. Some things you have to take on faith. It made sense to Arelas.” When Tanis opened his mouth, Flint held up a hand. “Enough.”
They sat silently for a time. Then Flint lifted his mug again. “A toast,” he said.
To turn down a toast was an insult. Tanis curled his hand around the handle of the tankard. “A toast,” he echoed.
“To Ailea.” They exchanged glances and clinked their mugs. “And to future fellowship,” Flint added.
“To fellowship,” the half-elf agreed.