Rush Of Blood To The Head, part 6.6.
The Golden Sands Inn is indeed an establishment of a very high quality and perhaps the high prices is the main reason why it is quite empty even during the heights of the tourist season. Jaheira and I are quietly relaxing in our comfortable room after a hefty dinner, she is sitting at the window and quietly watching the lake while I absentmindedly recount our funds… around seven thousands in gold coins and a collection of a very rare jewels and gems from the Underdark – those should fetch a good price in Athkatla.
“I’m glad that we didn’t have to look for another inn… I commend you on your courage,” I break the silence, pouring the coins back in the purse and sinking into the pillows to find a comfortable position for my tired body.
“What are you talking about?” despite the words, her tone is not harsh.
“Well… they do serve only Calishite brewery here…” I choose a silly remark, trying to get her into the talking that I think is long overdue since the occurrences at the lake.
“I am not a hysterical wreckage, Theodur. I will not break down in sobs at every reminder, as soon as someone mentions the word,” now she does sound rather annoyed, but for a good reason.
“You are far from your old self, Jaheira. Don’t deny that – you might as well tell me exactly what bothers you so much,” my openness surprises even myself.
“I suppose you deserve to know as it concerns you as well… to some extent,” she rises from the chair to come over and sit on the side of the bed, “you might find my words… hurtful, even though they are not meant to be. Do you wish me to go on?”
“Yes, proceed. Whatever it is, I can handle it,” of course, that is not true as I can imagine at least couple of things that I would not be able to cope with, but these days I am so assured of her love and devotion to me that I am fairly certain that our relationship will not be questioned.
“This place brings back memories… many happy memories. We… Khalid and I… we were… gods, I cannot,” she inhales sharply and turns her face away, but I quickly draw her close to face me.
“You need to get this out, Jaheira. It is obviously important and eating away at you – it is not that your mention of Khalid’s name will hurt me,” I try to force her into talking, even knowing that it will probably be painful to me.
“We were so in love, Theodur… just… just like we are now, mad about each other,” she whispers quietly, “I used to remember only the last years of our marriage, when a lot of things had already gone wrong… how he went miles to try and appease me and how I sniped at him for no other reason just because I could not figure out what the hells was wrong with our relationship. What had extinguished our fire? I never found out and only lashed out my frustration on his head… but I tried, I really tried to sort it out…”
“And now you were reminded of those happy years, filled with love and passion,” I conclude, trying to sound as calm as possible.
“Yes. And that scares me… I mean… what if,” she averts her gaze, “I am drawn to you now, like I was drawn to him back then… what if…”
“What if our fire runs out as well?” I look at her, incredulous, “I find it hard to believe… but it is a scary thought, I admit. I cannot imagine that my love for you one day would end just like that…”
“But the love never ended,” Jaheira falls on my chest, sobbing quietly, “it is… something different, I know not how to explain it…”
“So… sleeping with me back then was only an attempt to save your marriage? Is… is that what you are trying to tell me? To ignite the fire that you both lacked? You… Khalid and you… you did not love me then?” I release her from my embrace and rise in a sitting position, unable to stomach the shocking news.
“I… I think I already did, though at that moment I could not admit it to myself. I… I knew that you loved me, Khalid – he knew it as well… and I saw that those feelings were tearing you apart. I thought that what you had for me was just an infatuation that would pass quickly… and I decided to give you what you were aching for, hoping that it will open your eyes and will make you see that you have been mistaken thinking those feelings for love. Instead… I found myself drawn to you, unable to resist, having not felt such passion in years…” she falls silent, awaiting my reaction.
“So that is why you got so angry and slapped me, when I told you that I love you, afterwards… You realized that it was very serious for me…” I conclude, recalling the events of our first night together and she nods in affirmation.
“You love him still, do you not? Of course you do, what a stupid question,” I add bitterly.
“I… I do. But that changes nothing, Theodur… please, believe me,” she looks at me pleadingly, “I just think you need to know how I feel and where exactly we stand… I do not want it to happen again…”
“Are you afraid that what we have is only a temporary infatuation? And that he… Khalid, that he is your… is that what you are afraid of?” I try to swallow a lump forming in my throat.
“Sometimes… sometimes I catch myself fearing that, Theodur… but perhaps that also shows how much I care. My feelings for you have only grown stronger with our time spent together… No, what we have is not just a short-term affair, I do not believe or wish that to be the case…” she wipes her eyes clean and finishes her speech adamantly and that makes me feel somewhat more relaxed.
Well, if she has gone and shared a secret with me, then I suppose I should answer with the same, I realize that this is probably the one of those rare moments when I will have the nerve to confess to her about killing her husband… granted it is not the perfect moment, but is there ever a perfect moment for such an awful confession?
“There is no need for these words, Theodur,” she interrupts me, “I know that you love me. I love you too… and I always will.”
Her kiss is so tender and imploring that it momentarily destroys all my resolve to tell her the truth… Right now it is only her teasing caresses and warmth of her body that holds any matter to me… everything else is inconsequential.
“Fine shack, isn’t it, Vic?” Imoen is sitting at one of the tables in the common room, a fancy glass with the finest sort of wine held in her hand.
“Not too bad, I suppose. The one we had in Athkatla was much the same, the atmosphere here is not so noisy, however,” the drow nods in affirmation, sipping her drink.
“Oh, I hope I get to see it for myself… but then we probably won’t get to stay long in Athkatla, right?” Imoen asks.
“I would think so, Theodur looks very eager to get his soul back as quickly as possible. Not that I would blame him,” Viconia adds, “incidentally, Imoen…remember the talk we had in the caverns of the Underdark?”
“Umm… what talk?” Imoen blushes, “oh… that talk… Why are you asking, Vic?”
“I think that the time is right for us to carry out the deed, little one,” Viconia grins.
“Are… are you sure Vic? I’m pretty… jittery about the whole thing…”
“Nonsense! You will enjoy it, I promise that much. There is no reason to delay something that is bound to happen sooner or later,” Viconia tries to convince Imoen.
“What is bound to happen, Drow?” much to the chagrin of Viconia, Edwin arrives and takes his place at the table without asking for permission.
“Nothing that would concern you, wizard,” Viconia snaps, “ah, I sense an improvement in the odor that is emanating from you, Edwin. A cheap perfume is still quite offensive to my nostrils, but at least it is better than you smelled before. Is cow dung amongst your spell components, Edwin?”
Edwin is already engaged in a rather vocal conversation with one of the servants, explaining the finest details on how he wants his dinner served, thus he misses Viconia’s insult and the reason for the loud laughs of both women.
“It seems that we will have new companions – Vic, you know at least this Keldorn, what is he like?” Imoen asks, after having finished laughing.
“We met him when he was still active in the ranks of paladin,” Viconia sneers, “as you can imagine, his first reaction when seeing me was to draw his sword and take a swing at me… the fool. I hope that his manners have improved a bit, otherwise we might come to a… disagreement.”
“Well, I will be there to stand up for ya, Vic,” Imoen grins and squeezes Viconia’s hand.
“A paladin, you don’t say… it has been quite a long time since I played with one (I suppose a retired one does not really count, but it should suffice),” Edwin is thoughtful, but both women simply ignore his ramblings.
“I thought he looked like a man of good judgment, but I suppose I could be wrong… what about this Nalia, Theo didn’t tell me much about her – what do you think?” Imoen asks.
“She looks rather inexperienced to me. I doubt that she would be of much use against Bodhi or Irenicus… perhaps we could use her as a vampire fodder if she proves to be totally useless,” Viconia snorts.
“Pah! Yet another mageling… and I suppose that Theodur will want me to share my most guarded secrets with that pathetic girl as well – I will have none of it (I have to call on all my reserves of self-restraint just to be able and endure this pink menace),” Edwin sounds annoyed.
“Aw, Eddie… I really, really appreciate your support…” Imoen rises from her chair to walk around the table and hug the perplexed Red Wizard from behind. “And I think we should give Nalia a chance too… but come Vic, you wanted to… err… show me something?” As a response Viconia only takes the pink-haired mage by the hand and they both disappear upstairs, leaving Edwin sitting at the table in incomprehension.
“I hate it when I have no idea of what is going on,” he quietly mutters beneath his breath.
Rush Of Blood To The Head, part 6.6.
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