Rush Of Blood To The Head, part 5.21.
The tunnel that we have been passing through for quite a while, finally separates in two and the right branch leads us to a dead end. Though as we inspect the large room we have ended in, perhaps it is actually our destination… it seems to be decorated artificially, I conclude looking at the floor, laid out with rectangular cobblestones.
Five large stone statues depicting demonic warriors grace the hall, placed in a circle around the room and Viconia and Imoen stop to examine one of them, trying to read the inscriptions written on the pallet of the statue. The rest of us head deeper into the room and in the farther corner the sixth statue stands, a huge monumental demonic figure made from unrecognizable dark stone is hidden in the shadows.
Jaheira and I simply stand and regard the fear-inspiring construct, while Edwin is hopping around the statues side in hopes to read something that is carved in the dark stone.
“Release the prince…” he repeats after one hop in the air, “ah, I see, of course…”
“…by placing an animal sacrifice…” he manages to discern during the second hop, “yes, yes, that must be it…” after landing safely on the ground, he retrieves a small wand from his mage belt and uses it to conjure up a small war dog.
“What are you doing, Edwin?” I ask him with suspicion, “is it safe?”
“Of course, have I ever steered you wrong?” he replies sovereignly, “apparently this mad prince is summoned by placing an animal summon on this here altar, like this…” with these words, Edwin commands the dog to walk over to the altar to demonstrate the truthfulness of his words… and as the animal walks near the statue, its huge stone jaws close, crushing the poor animal between them.
“Edwin… do you realize that this prince might arrive with an entourage, consisting of a small army of angry fishheads? We should have prepared before you do something like that,” I ask him, more than incensed and he gulps feeling uncomfortable.
Suddenly, the room fills with loud, roaring sounds and the floor is starting to shake as if an earthquake has descended upon us… small pebbles from the ceiling are falling upon our heads. Imoen and Viconia quickly run to our side, Viconia screaming, “What did you do, fools?”
“Well, Edwin thought that his little prank will summon the prince before us,” I spit out angrily.
“Idiots, you have ensured our deaths,” Viconia yells, “We can’t take on the Prince of Demons…”
“Wha… what? Prince of Demons? But we thought that it was…” I am too stunned to speak, but still manage to give out the right orders, “Summon, quickly! Someone, cast protections and hurry!”
Quickly, Edwin and Imoen both summon monsters and animals and spread them out through the still rumbling and shaking room, Viconia and Jaheira fill us with protective magic as quickly as possible.
“Behind you!” Imoen shrieks suddenly and I turn around and raise my sword just in time to deflect a powerful swing from above… One of the stone statues has come to life and now I recognize the Demonic Knights from the ancient texts in Candlekeep. Jaheira breaks off her spell and swiftly jumps to my side and plunges her scimitar into the neck of the unbalanced evil knight. The foe is dead surprisingly quickly, but the sounds of battle that are coming from the opposite corners of the room suggest that its not over yet. Indeed, as I look at what is going on, I see that the four other statues have come to life as well and they are mowing down the summoned creatures with an incredible pace.
“We have to take them quickly,” Jaheira speaks aloud, “Theo, Viconia and I, each pick an opponent, Edwin, Imoen, take the forth out with magic and then help us!”
The three of us rush towards the demon knights who are still busy slaughtering the last summons, Edwin unleashes his spell sequencer and a barrage of magic missiles fly past me and hits one of the knights in chest and Imoen’s conjured flame arrow brings even more pain to the enemy. I pounce on my opponent as he is killing a hapless hobgoblin summon, the heavy blow from my sword knocking him off balance, but not doing any lasting damage. He raises his sword to strike at me and I parry his blow, we continue to exchange strikes, but every time the opponent manages to block the hit… I have to admit that my opponent is a worthy one…
Meanwhile, Edwin and Imoen have conjured more monsters to distract their opponent and continue to fill him with spells – soon this tactic brings the result and the demonic knight falls in the pile of bloody body parts of the expendable summons. They now focus their attention to help Viconia, who has been pressed into the corner by her opponent and is doing her best to block the swings of the enemy’s sword. With the help of the mages, the tide of battle turns in her favor, eventually…
I have managed to cut a deep slash on my opponents arm and it has weakened him greatly, only need to bide my time and I can… just as the thought of how Jaheira is doing, enters my mind, amidst the clattering of weapons I hear the most terrible sound that freezes my heart…
A loud cry of pain and following that is a quiet sigh… and after that I hear a loud thump as something heavy hits the stone floor. Cold sweat trickles down my spine as with the corner of my eye I see that Viconia, Edwin and Imoen are all standing and looking to the farther corner of the room with incomprehension.
Viconia recovers as the first as she yells loudly at Edwin, “Curses! Come here and help, quickly!” and the Thaywian complies and hurries of to aid the drow, I understand that Jaheira has been injured and they need to stop her assailant… which means I need to finish off my own as fast as possible. Imoen comes to my aid and as the demonic knight staggers backwards, being hit by Imoen’s spell, I finish him off with a powerful blow of my sword… Meanwhile, the room has fallen silent and I understand that Viconia and Edwin have managed to kill off the last of the assailants.
“Damn, damn, damn… don’t just stand there, Edwin, help me remove her armor… oh, Shar grant me power…” Viconia commands loudly as I rush to Jaheira’s side, I still can’t see what has happened from where I stand.
“Imoen, don’t let him here, please – he will only get agitated from seeing this,” Viconia speaks hurriedly and suddenly I feel that my advance towards the place where Jaheira lays, fallen, is hampered as someone is clinging to me and trying to stop me from going further.
“Please, bro, listen to me… she’s in good hands and it will be all right… you will only distract Vic from doing her job…” Imoen tries to talk sense into me and I finally stop in the middle of the room and Imoen hangs around my neck, whispering calming words in my ear…
I wonder why Viconia is not casting any spells yet - I guess she is trying to remove Jaheira’s clothing that obstructs her work… I don’t feel comfortable with Edwin seeing her, but I have enough sense not to complain about that now, as every second might be a question of life and… death. And Jaheira’s weak groans as she is obviously in a lot of pain make me realize the seriousness of the situation, each muffled cry cutting deep into my heart.
“Gods, what a mess…” Viconia’s words certainly do not inspire any trust in me and Imoen realizes that and resumes her whispering in my ear… something about Candlekeep, blue skies, apple trees, piles of hay and whatnot… but my eyes are still fixed to where Jaheira lays, the pool of red blood beside her is slowly growing larger and larger and I wish that Viconia would finally cast something. I see Jaheira’s leg twitching reflexively and then falling limply on the ground and Viconia’s loud curses sound really ominous indeed…
Finally, finally, Viconia starts to cast a healing spell, but it takes her an incredibly long time to cast it and I want to yell for her to hurry up, but am afraid to disrupt her… with horror I realize that Jaheira’s legs are now completely still, which would mean…
“WELL, WELL… I TOLD YOU THAT IT WOULD HAPPEN. SHE WILL DIE AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT… UNLESS YOU LISTEN TO WHAT I SAY, SON…”
“No… you’re lying…” I fight back weakly, “Viconia is healing her as we speak, and she will fix her…”
“FOOL, DON’T YOU SEE THAT SHE IS KILLING HER ON PURPOSE? SHE AND THE WIZARD HAD IT PLANNED OUT ALL ALONG.”
“Why? Why would Vic do such a thing?”
“IS IT NOT OBVIOUS? SHE IS A JEALOUS WOMAN… SHE WANTS YOU FOR HERSELF. SHE IS MANIPULATING YOU AND KILLING YOUR BELOVED… YOU WON’T STAND FOR THAT, WON’T YOU?”
“You can release me, Immy,” I smile down to my little sister, “I’m okay now… don’t worry, I won’t be turning into the Slayer, I am absolutely calm…”
She looks at me surprised and I realize that saying ‘absolutely calm’ was pretty dumb considering the situation as she looks at me with disbelief and does not release me from her grip.
“I don’t think so, bro… you’ve got that strange glint in your eyes… snap out of it, brother… Jaheira will be all right, trust us…” she tries to convince me, but I shake her off roughly and head over to where Viconia is chanting. Just as I have reached her, she finishes the incredibly long spell and leans back with a sigh of relief…
“Oh, Viconia…” I speak, grinning evilly… a traitor’s death is what you will get, Drow bitch… but suddenly, I see Jaheira drawing breath and opening her eyes just for a moment before closing them again. In a flash the murderous seeds that Bhaal had planted in my head are waved away as I heavily slump into the pool of her blood.
“Edwin, you can go now and stop staring at her naked breasts,” I order him weakly, “and think about what your irresponsibility caused… I have no strength to scold you for what you did…”
Edwin complies without any protests and looks even slightly regretful as he retreats to look at our war trophies – the weaponry and armor of the demonic knights. Viconia now places her hands over the deep wound in Jaheira’s chest and starts casting more healing spells to close it fully and after that is done I gather a piece of cloth and start to clean up Jaheira’s chest from the huge amounts of blood… she has really lost a lot of blood and I can only hope that she will pull through.
“How could that happen?” I ask Viconia, who has gathered another piece of cloth and is wiping Jaheira’s face clean with it.
“Looks like the sword somehow passed through the plates of her armor… unlucky, but it sometimes happens,” Viconia explains, “it was a terrible sight, Theodur, good that you did not see it… the sword must have pierced lungs, the loss of blood was hard to stop and she was coughing up blood the whole time… I think another healing spell is necessary, she is still very weak – we will have to rest here for a longer time until she recovers. It seems that the fishmen are avoiding this area so we should be safe,” she mutters and starts another healing spell.
“Good that you did not lose control over yourself. Imoen must have done a good job,” Viconia adds, before resuming her work to get Jaheira as clean as possible. I have to admit that the feelings inside me, as I see her hand with the cloth striking Jaheira’s breasts, are rather… contradictory… even though I understand that she is just doing her job as a healer.
“Yes… yes, she did well to talk me out of it…” I reply absentmindedly, “but you sure took your time with that healing spell, had you delayed for a moment longer…”
“But you held out long enough and only that is what matters,” Viconia notes, “and… I must have admit, that it was a miracle that the spell even worked, Theodur.”
“How so?” I ask, surprised.
“I thought… I was sure that her heart had stopped beating, Theodur… perhaps, a faint spark of life was still there, something that I could catch on to… had it not worked, I would have now be casting an altogether different spell,” Viconia sighs.
“You mean… resurrection?” I can barely manage the words, frozen in horror.
“Exactly… she was on the verge of death. Actually, she was already over it… but I managed to pull her back. Had I not been able… you know very well that there is a great chance that a resurrection spell might fail,” Viconia looks at me meaningfully, “I have already managed to cheat the death twice, so I can consider myself as extremely lucky. I have no desire to try my luck again, as it is unlikely for the spell to be successful three times in a row.”
I’ll be damned, if I can’t protect you, Jaheira… I think, looking at her now peaceful face, I will get you, us all, out of here alive… I will. I promise as much.
Rush Of Blood To The Head, part 5.21.
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