While Aleera, Kaladrax and Milo were restoring King’s Crest and bringing peace back to the lands around it, Hepolita and Kariss had decided to stay among the dwarves. Kariss had formed a tentative bond with Gralmore. She admired his strength where, before her salvation, she had always been weak. They were walking the walls, overseeing the restoration work, when they were informed of an arrival.
Brom Thornshield, head of household Thornshield of Iron Mountain, had come from the mainland to join his youngest son. Gralmore went to his side immediately and looked on stoically while his father spoke to Hepolita and Kariss. Brom pretended that it had been his idea to send Gralmore to restore proper order in Drakenforge. He further argued that the ladies were only distractions in the greater work that was the restoration and restarting of work in Drakenforge.
Kariss and Hepolita stood dumbfounded. Gralmore wore an expression of remorse but said nothing. Brom finished his admonishment with a declaration that the ladies needed to leave the dwarven lands at once. Kariss quickly spoke of a treaty she had in mind for the entire island to band together in times of crisis. Brom nodded and agreed that the dwarves would attend before stomping off.
With that final edict, he left his son to carry out the order. Gralmore only nodded his acquiescence as he turned to the lady he had been forming a bond with and her friend. People that had freed both the slaves and the dwarves from a terrible mistake.
He escorted them to the main gate in silence. Karris couldn’t hold back her anger. She confronted him as they walked.
“How could you not stand up to him, you know we helped for a good reason!? You know he is wrong! Does he plan on continuing the slavery? Will anyone be held to account?”
Gralmore could not answer. He was torn between loyalty for his family and his oath to uphold justice. Kariss did not know about this inner struggle and continued berating him until they were beyond the main gate. He looked at her face, scrunched in anger, one last time before turning away. Kariss was left staring at the iron gate, now closed to them.
Hepolita was at a loss. She had no idea how to comfort someone. She put a hesitant arm around Kariss and pulled her away from the gate, further down the path. Once Kariss had gotten over the initial shock of their expulsion from Drakenforge they made plans to visit the wood elves and invite them to join the treaty summit.
For the next few days they traveled along the backroads and pathways through dense wood. On the way they met a traveling merchant that sold magical tattoos. He carried special inks with him and Karriss ended up picking up a tattoo for herself. She chose a pair of white fluffy wings so she could match with her adopted daughter, Ara. They, in turn, escorted the traveling tattoo artist along the same path they were traveling. He was headed to King’s Crest but would take the detour to the elven city if they got him to King’s Crest. The ladies agreed and the three set out together.
After about a week of travel, they arrived at one of the wood elves’ main cities. They were met with bows aimed at their faces and spears pointed directly at them. The tattoo merchant was terrified at who he was traveling with and tried to separate himself as just a simple traveler. The elves let him step to the side for the moment and escorted the ladies to the chieftain of the elven city.
They arrived before the leader and were made to bow before him. When he spoke he spoke only to Hepolita.
“You have been banished on the penalty of death, yet here you are standing before me. Why?”
She looked at the floor as she answered and said,
“ We are traveling to invite all the people of Novos to join in a treaty to help each other out in times of crisis. We came to invite you.”
Kariss also spoke out, blurting out that they were there to extend the branch of peace to everyone on the island. The chieftain looked stunned for a moment, then smirked.
“You’re kind, killed our people and stole our precious artifacts while the rest of Novos did nothing! Where was the rest of Novos when we asked for help to reclaim our forests? Where were they when our woods and animals were being poisoned to death? Our people fell ill while no help came. So many died to the curse and the blight on the land. We will attend this summit. We will air our grievances before the leaders of Novos and we will demand restitution!”
With a flounce he turned away from them and the guards seized them by the arms, leading them out of the city. The tattoo merchant came behind the guards meekly and joined the ladies as they were thrust out of elven lands. Having technically completed their mission they spent the next few days traveling back to King’s Crest to join their friends and have a nice hot bath.
They walked in silence as Kariss pondered the theft her people had committed and Hepolita pondered the rift between herself and her people. The trio arrived in the early evening to the sight of the newly repaired walls of King’s Crest. Their home and their friends were within sight and that was all the family they needed.