16th day of Chess. Morning. Milbourne.
"There's one thing we are forgetting," interrupts Garth. As all the others look on at him expectantly, he continues, "Even though we have no body to formally lay to rest, I feel that we should have some ceremony for Kre today. Especially for the Lady Leira. What say you all?"
"Ah say 'Aye'. An' Ah think it fitting if Ras gave the verbal farewell to our friend since he knew Kre best. Garth, ye have a way with words that surpasses me own and Ah'd not know how ta rightly honor a surface-born elf. Perhaps ye would officiate?" says Ortho somberly.
Gnore listens to Ortho and takes in a breath to speak his mind. At the last minute however, the dwarf simply looks to Garth and nods his head in agreement.
Garth nods silently and says, "Aye. I'll need a volunteer to go and fetch a small white aspen sapling, roots and all. Then meet us at the site of our other fallen comrades grave. An' would someone else fetch Lady Leira?"
"I will take care of the sapling," offers Ras with a slight smile as he rises and leaves the Inn.
"And I will see to the Lady," answers Beleg as he too rises and heads toward the stairs.
The remainder of the companions await the return of Beleg and the Lady as Ras searches for the sapling. After a few moments of searching, Beleg returns to the common room without the lady.
"She is gone."
"Where?" asks Talimar of his friend.
"I know not. All her things were gone from her room, nothing was left. No note, nothing."
"Another kidnapping?" inquires Dain?
"I don't think so," answers Beleg as he shakes his head slowly. "I think she just left. We know nothing of her, perhaps she didn't feel as strongly for Kre as we thought? Did any of you see her leaving during the night?" This last he asks of the dwarves who remained in the common room all evening.
"Hmmph," and shake of his head is all the reply from Gnore.
"Nay, nothing of the lass," replies Ortho as Drunker and Snagger shake their heads. Talimar frowns slightly and wonders if the dwarves would have noticed a carnival troupe parading through the room in their condition last evening.
"I did not see the lady either," replies the voice of Kersath from deep within his cowled hood.
"Then she must 'ave slipped out the back way," rumbles Druckner. "P'rhaps she's dealin' with the loss in her own way. Who's ta say?"
"I thin' me kin is right on this one," replies Snagger. "We should'na wait around fer her."
"Agreed," replies Talimar. "When all are ready, we will go to meet Ras at the grove."
An hour later finds the Companions of the Red Feather Company gathered in the secluded corner of the cemetary where Brother Randor was laid to rest. Thirty or so of the townspeople of Milbourne are gathered around to take part in the ceremony and say farewell to the likeable rogue. When all have convened and quiet settles over the assembled group, Garth nods to Ras who steps forward.
"Kre died doing what he loved best, taking a chance. He lived by chance and died by chance. I know Kre would want to be remembered and thus I say when we return to the caverns we rename the cave he died in after him. I have picked up some chisels and I will put his name on the wall." He turns around uncomfortably, "I am not very good at this but then again, neither would Kre have been." He then returns to his position.
With Ras finished, Snagger speaks up, "Kre had a heart strong enough ta die for his friends and though I knew him not dat well I'd still consider 'im kin." The other dwarves nod solemnly at their words from their friend, their long beards bobbing below them.
Garth then takes his position in front of everyone once again, "Neither the first of our company to fall, nor surely the last, Kre will not be forgotten. He was as full of life as any I have ever known. Quick to laugh and quicker still to back up his comrades. So full of life that he even found time to love and care for another when he wasn't aroving with our band." At this point, Garth once again thinks of the Lady Leira and wonders why she would have ducked out so soon.
Proceeding with the ceremony, Garth motions to Ras and takes the slender sapling from the small hands of his companion. "A poor substitute for the laughter of our friend and his lively demeanor, this sapling will be planted in memory of our friend Kre."
Pausing to clear a hole near the grave of his other fallen comrade, Garth plants the sapling and gently covers up its roots. Raising his dirty hands and caked finger nails, Garth calls forth, "Oh Lady Selune. My heart is breaking as I try and make peace with the loss of another dear friend. He died for a greater good and I know that his soul is happy in the bosom of his god. I ask you, oh Lady Selune, as your humble servant, mark this tree as a reminder of our friend Kre, a member of the Red Feather Company. Let the sight of its limbs be of comfort to his friends and loved ones all the days of our lives."
Pausing, Garth turns to the eastern horizon and pulls forth his holy crescent of Selune from under his tunic. All eyes follow as he points at the horizon and then folds his hands in silent prayer. As the moment grows longer, a sliver of moon grows over the horizon as the moon begins to rise. Surely Garth did not call forth the moon, though he must assuredly be in tune with its rising and setting!
Suddenly a villager standing behind the company gasps loudly and cries, "Look! The sapling is turnin' red!"
With a start, everyone turns around and notes that the leaves of the white aspen sapling are tinted red, as if a delicate red light were pouring down on it from somewhere. Garth pauses to walk to the sapling, his body passing between the moon and the tree. As he does this, the sapling momentarily changes back to normal color. The villages murmur amongst themselves at this.
Garth raises his hand for quiet, his face now looking quite pale. When all is quiet again, he explains, "Selune has seen fit to honor the memory of Kre with this blessing. This sapling will grow one day into a mighty tree in memory of our friend. Whenever the fair face of Selune is in the sky, we shall also be reminded that Kre was also a member of the Red Feather Company. And so Kre will not be forgotten, at least in our lifetime. I look to you, friends and villagers, to maintain this site in his memory and ours."
Almost falling over, Garth leans suddenly on Ortho, his service to his friend done. A mixture of awe, pride and sadness washes over the face of Ortho as he supports his friend. "Fine service," is his only reply.
Having looked on silently during the ceremony, at a loss for words to express his emotions, Dain takes the moment of everyone moving away to say his own farewells. He takes a small polished oak box out of one of the many pockets of his robe. Turning the soil over several inches, he places the box in the hole before covering it back once again. After this, he says simply, "May your journey to the after-life be a pleasant one. You were a fine companion and your presence will be missed. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." Having said his good-byes he then turns away from the others and appears somewhat unemotional.
With the service completed, the companions make their way back to the unofficial headquarters of the group, the Baron of Mutton and make their preparations to go about their business. Those leaving for Shadowdale ready themselves and insure that anything they need done in Milbourne will be handled while those not travelling but needing supplies from Shadowdale make sure that their needs will be seen to.
Following a hearty lunch and despite the late hour, Gnore, Druckner, Ortho, Dain and Beleg say their goodbyes and start out toward Shadowdale. Having received a sizeable sum of coinage from Ras to pay for the needed items, the companions feel quite capable of handling their business in town. The other companions settle in to take care of things in Milbourne and do some further investigating as well as relaxing.