As far as could be seen in each direction, the ravages of the fey had been cleaned from the land. Pious Crane spoke aloud a prayer to the sun while Saamri and Herros looked on and bowed their heads. Where once the ice and stone fortress had once stood, now were verdant green fields dotted with trees. A hearty congratulations were shared amongst the trio who had defeated the fey lord. Crane spotted several other figures lying about the wide fields however, and pointed them out to his fellows. Not far off, a woman was lying unconscious on the side of a small hill. When the three drew close, Herros suddenly sprinted toward the figure. He lifted the lady from the ground and held her in his arms. â€œYou know her?â€ Crane asked as he and Saamri caught up. Wordlessly, Herros nodded. Tears had formed in his eyes, and were cascading down his cheeks. He gripped the woman tightly to his chest and rested his head against hers.
â€œThis is my wife,â€ Herros managed to choke out between tears. Saamri smiled, and lead Crane a short distance away.
â€œWe should give them time,â€ Saamri said. Crane nodded and they continued to the next figure they could see. It was an infant, wrapped in glittering cloth. Saamri picked the child up and looked it over. It had very pale features, almost sickly, but with long tapered ears and more angular features than normal for a human child. While inspecting it with some confusion, Crane concluded quickly that the fey lord had sired a child, so much the infant resembled the father. Saamri held the child in his left arm, and his right hand suddenly grew claws. He raised his sharpened extremity, and prepared to drive them into the child. Shocked by this behavior, Crane grabbed Saamriâ€™s right arm to stop him. The young warrior glared at Crane and pulled his arm free. â€œWhy did you stop me?â€ he growled, still bearing claws.
â€œWhy are you trying to kill an infant?â€ Crane asked pointedly. He crossed his arms over his chest and returned Saamriâ€™s intense stare.
â€œItâ€™s a fey child. Half of the lord we drove from this place. We cannot allow his spawn to survive!â€ Saamri almost spat the words out, and the child began to cry. Crane held out his arms, gesturing for the child. After a few moments of hesitation, Saamri handed Crane the baby.
â€œIt has done nothing wrong. But I agree it could be dangerous. So I will keep the child, you neednâ€™t worry.â€ Crane spoke softly, and rocked the child in his arms to comfort its fear. Saamri paced a few steps away with his back to Crane, then lowered his head.
â€œYouâ€™re a good man Crane,â€ he said before heading back toward Herros. Crane gave the young hot-blooded warrior a few minutes, which also gave him time to quiet the infant. He then walked over to where Herros was now standing with his wife next to him. She seemed dazed and worn, but otherwise unharmed. Crane bowed slightly to Herrosâ€™ wife, but not so far down as to move the child he carried. She returned the polite gesture, and held on to Herrosâ€™ arm tightly.
â€œOne of those things took my little girl when it fled,â€ Herros stated to Crane. â€œIâ€™m going after her. Will you join me?â€
Crane shook his head, â€œI would, but I must care for this child. However, Saamri might be convinced to help.â€ Crane grinned at the moon-warrior, who gave him an incredulous look but then smiled likewise.
â€œI would be honored,â€ Saamri replied. Herros nodded, and stepped right up to Crane. He extended a hand out, which Crane took in his own. They shared a hearty handshake, and laughed.
â€œMaybe we will see each other again?â€ Herros asked.
â€œI am sure we will,â€ Crane replied. â€œTake care of yourself, and your wife.â€ Crane then turned to Saamri, â€œWatch after them,â€ Crane said joyfully, â€œand be safe.â€
â€œI will take god care of them, but what fun can we have if we stay safe?â€ Saamri chuckled and dragged Crane into a hug. â€œBe well my friend.â€ Crane, Saamri and Herros stood silent for a long moment, then turned to their separate paths. Destiny had smiled on their meeting.
Perhaps they would meet again.
And so ends the tale of the Iron Lord of the North, an ambitious but ultimately self-defeated tyrant. He lived through his defeat that day, but he was never the same. No longer did he seek to conquer and subjugate. Instead, his shattered soul sought only to destroy that which he had tried so hard to build. He lived on as a wandering agent of ruin, tearing down what men and gods and fey would try to build. Never again would he accomplish what he once had, or have the same power he once possessed. While a danger to those he passed, he could never again be called a blight upon the world. His threat had passed.
Pious Crane set upon a path toward the south, and warmer climates. With him he carried the half-fey child of the iron lord. His mercy was too great to destroy a child for its heritage, and he cared for the infant as though it were his own kin. Herros and Saamri traveled deeper into the wilderness of the North, in search of Herrosâ€™ daughter who was kidnapped by a renegade servant of the lord. With them traveled Herrosâ€™ wife, who began to learn the arts of combat so she could defend herself on their journey.
Farther south, Fenir and Resira arrived in the threshold of creation and began to make a new life for themselves as self proclaimed outcastes from the Empire. Garnet Sparrow returned to her home in the North, and spent many months rebuilding her life where it had been shattered by her capture and torture by the iron lord. Aiden, the Jade Phoenix, did not return home after leaving to the brothels on the same day he arrived in Nexus. He found himself on a new quest, which took him deeper into the East. The Luminary, once one of the unshaped raksha, began where the iron lord had failed. He began to draw the remnants of the lordâ€™s forces to himself, and organized them under the fey-twins.
All who died to the lordâ€™s ambition, passed on to their next life.