Rush Of Blood To The Head, part 6.8.
“Where to?” I ask, looking at my companions, “I would like to try some other inn than Mithrest… truth be told, I have grown rather bored of it.”
“I see. So the fact that it is located in the Promenade, quite close to the Circus tent, makes no difference whatsoever?” Jaheira inserts her well-aimed jab.
“Yes, you understand me perfectly – it makes no difference. Now, who has a suggestion? Keldorn, you know Athkatla well enough,” I look at the paladin.
“I would suggest the Silverale Hall in the Center district – it is close to both the Promenade and to the Graveyard. The service is of a high quality, but the prices are lower than in the Mithrest – so I have been told. Another reason for my suggestion is that the tavern is never crowded and seeing that we need many rooms to accommodate ourselves, it should be well suited for our needs,” Keldorn explains, before leading us to the huge, four-story stone building.
Without any hindrances, the lodgings are hired and soon enough we retire to our rooms, tired from the lengthy traveling. Any plans on how to tackle Bodhi and her vampires are left to devise for tomorrow…
I wake to a silent thud as if the doors of our room had been shut… my eyes remain closed for a moment or two as I vainly try to remember the dream that I just had… it had been very pleasant, for a change – that is all I can recall. Raising my head towards the source of the sound and opening my eyes, I see that Jaheira is up already, dressed in her green tunic and leggings, a cloak wrapped around her shoulders. It looks as she has already been outside and her best efforts to return to the room quietly have failed. She looks rather perplexed about something and the expression on her face does not change even as she notices my stare.
“What happened? Where were you?” I ask her quietly, as she gently props herself on the side of the bed, “Something unimportant that didn’t require my presence?”
“I didn’t have a heart to disturb your sleep, after all those nice things you did last night,” she smiles, leaning in to caress my cheek with her fingers, “besides, I thought you would not want to face Quayle…”
“You… you saw him? You went to tell him about Aerie? What… what did he say?” I ask, crawling out of the bed and starting to dress myself.
“Well… I… um, that is… not much,” Jaheira looks rather confused.
“What exactly happened? He got mad, didn’t he? No, wait… he already was raving mad,” I chuckle.
“I told him that his niece had died, but he…” Jaheira falls silent, before looking at me again, “I am unsure, but it seemed like he had already accepted her passing and was not surprised when I brought him the news. He did not say a thing, actually… just kept whistling and conversing with the circus animals. He just… ignored me. As if he had forgotten her already.”
“Well… she was quite annoying, wasn’t she?” I speak, pulling the tunic over my head, “And probably not too hard to forget either. I owe you my thanks for taking this unpleasant mission for me, I probably would have delayed it till the last moment.”
“I simply did not want to nag you into doing this, so I chose to do it myself,” she shrugs, “I expected a different reaction, but at least we have fulfilled our duty. And look at this…” she shows me a rather stuffed leather pouch, full of gold coins, “I cashed in almost ten thousands from Ribald…”
“I expected more,” I remark, “though, I trust that you did everything you could, it’s not like I am a better haggler than you are.”
“Do not be foolish, Theodur,” Jaheira snorts, “of course I did not sell the whole collection of gems, only a small part of it. Ribald would have knocked the price much lower, had I shown him the whole bag. I will sell the rest of it to other merchants, when we have time.”
“Ah… well, that makes sense. As I said, you know a lot more than I in these matters,” I smile, “my belly is growling and demanding to be filled – have you eaten yet?”
“No, I chose to wait for you,” she says, “but the others were all up and eating, downstairs… I just hope that Edwin does not overdo with his paladin mocking – Keldorn was already quite red in the face, when I returned to our room.”
“Ugh… in that case we better get going and hope that the worst has not happened,” I suggest and Jaheira quickly follows me downstairs. Our companions are sitting at the table in the corner of the main room, but Keldorn is the only one not amongst them, Jaheira and I quickly join them and soon enough a serving wench is here to take our orders for the breakfast.
“…understandably, he didn’t like it, that imbecile. Naturally, I didn’t hit him with a barrage of flame arrows and expected him to like it – though seeing him in the puddle of his own blood, now there was a sight that made this Red Wizard moderately content. Ah, those were the days…” Edwin finishes his tale and I see Nalia’s mouth gaping open in shock, while Imoen and Viconia are barely suppressing the laughter.
“Theodur, I am not sure if I like this… he is not nice at all,” Nalia complains, “not only was he telling us countless anecdotes about paladins, trying to offend Keldorn’s feelings, but now he boasts about killing a paladin…”
“Ah, that’s why Keldorn left the table,” I conclude, “Really, Edwin, what are you trying to achieve? Do not provoke him - have I made it clear? Though, I have to admit, the story about him killing a paladin is true. Actually, Jaheira and I helped him in doing this. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we are really proud of it.”
“You… you killed a paladin? Why?” Nalia is shocked.
“It happened way back in Baldur’s Gate. He attacked us without any warning, we were simply standing at a counter in one of the inns – he started screeching something about purging the land from evil and then tried to kill both Vicky and Edwin… he almost succeeded with Viconia.”
“Do not remind me,” Viconia snorts, “the champion of goodness, stabbing an unsuspecting drow in the back, how pathetic…”
“Well… I don’t know a thing about that kind of paladins… Keldorn would never do such thing, he… he saved me,” Nalia finishes, “now, excuse me, but I will go and try to find him.”
Just as Nalia leaves, the serving wench brings a couple of plates with deliciously looking pancakes with plum jelly and a pair of pitchers with fresh milk and Jaheira and I set to our task of filling our stomachs.
“Perhaps… just perhaps, you could be a bit more nicer to Keldy,” Imoen suggests, “I would like you much better, if you would at least try to…”
“Pah! Why should I care if some annoying little brat likes me better or not, you are supposed to fear me, not to like me, little simian,” Edwin retorts.
“Leave him be, Imoen,” Viconia interjects, “there is no need to shatter his foolish delusion of him being intimidating, almighty and dangerous. Theodur, have you given any thought on when are we going to strike against Bodhi and her lackeys?”
“Well, there is nothing else left to do here than sell the rest of the gems, so… I suppose as soon as we are finished here, we might as well-” however, I am rudely interrupted in the middle of sentence.
“Ah, Jaheira,” a voice behind Jaheira speaks and as I lift my eyes from the plate, I see a tall, blonde, middle-aged human male, “forgive my intrusion, but I come with an important message,” he says.
Jaheira slowly turns around to face the stranger, no doubt that she knows the man and she seems to be very surprised to see him here… a Harper, I conclude. She rises from the chair to stand before the stranger, unsure of what to do… I come over and take a place at her side, more due to my distrust towards her former kin.
“Dermin? It has been some time since we have seen each other,” Jaheira recovers her ability to speak.
“Indeed, it has been a very long time. Much has changed since then,” he glances at me and I realize the not-so-subtle hint.
“Who is this man?” I ask Jaheira quietly.
“I will explain it to you later,” she whispers back before addressing Dermin again, “what kind of news do you bring Dermin? What have the Master Harpers decided – am I to be forgiven or to be hunted for the rest of my days as a traitor?”
“Reviane spoke very convincingly, Jaheira. Proof of Galvarey’s treachery has been found – Bernard made a confession before his… untimely death. I am to tell you to carry on with your current mission without any worries of hindrance from your kin. You are welcome back amongst Those Who Harp.”
“I am glad to hear that, Dermin,” Jaheira replies, before sharing a brief hug with the man, much to my dislike, “I know we have never seen eye to eye, but I want you to know that I have always respected you and the lessons you taught me were invaluable… I am sorry that I put you in the position where your own competence as my sponsor was questioned.”
“Worry not, child, you have done me no shame at all,” Dermin’s words make me alert, “but you have ensured that I am being hunted myself and that is what I will never forgive you, Jaheira.”
“Thank y… wha-what?” Jaheira stands like thunderstruck.
“Galvarey was such a solid source of income, but of course you just had to spoil it all,” Dermin says and seeing that Jaheira has gone completely numb I push her aside, noticing that Dermin has quickly drawn a dagger hidden in his sleeve…
Unfortunately, the dagger is the last thing I see as it comes down to stab Jaheira’s chest, only to pierce mine instead…
Rush Of Blood To The Head, part 6.8.
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