Rush Of Blood To The Head, part 6.14.
The inns of Amnwater are once again filled with the caravan merchants and it takes a lot of effort from us to locate an inn that would have five free rooms… Luckily ‘The Lake Spirits’ is a huge mansion, old stone and wood building with excellent bathing facilities – exactly what we all require after almost a full day of non-stop walking. As on our way to Athkatla, there are no major interruptions from bandits and the like, but we are well aware that the last stint of the road to Esmeltaran will be a lot more dangerous.
As I am wallowing in the soft and comfortable bed in our room, eagerly awaiting Jaheira’s return from the bathing chambers, a knock on the door startles me – it is unexpected, as Jaheira would not have bothered with knocking, caring little for my modesty. I yell for whoever the disturber is, to enter and am quite surprised to see that it is Keldorn, but he doesn’t even manage to utter a single word as Jaheira returns and bumps into him as he still stands at the door, indecisive…
“What can I do for you, Keldorn?” I pull my tired limbs together and rise to sit in the bed.
“I wish to speak with you lad… and the matter is serious enough to…” he glances at Jaheira and I know what he means, as does Jaheira – and the scowl that appears on her face tells exactly what she thinks about all this.
“Speak your concern freely, Keldorn… Jaheira will stay – there are no secrets between the two of us,” I reply… and I could swear that the expression in Jaheira’s eyes changed for a moment, though I wonder if that was somehow connected to my less than truthful statement.
“Very well,” Keldorn replies. He remains standing in the middle of the room, waiting for Jaheira to cross the room and perch on the side of the bed, “Theodur… while I am still convinced that you and fair lady Jaheira are just and reputable persons, your choice of our traveling companions is concerning me… I am talking about the Drow and the Thayan.”
“Choice of companions is Theodur’s responsibility as a leader,” Jaheira answers for me and hearing her call me a leader is startlingly pleasant indeed, “it is not in your rights to question his decision.”
“I am not questioning his decision, as you chose to put it, Lady Jaheira,” Keldorn replies, “I am merely looking to establish his motives… after all, I may have been retired from the order, yet it was my report that convinced Prelate Vessalen that Theodur is not a threat to society… I would carry a part of the blame, if my report was to prove faulty…”
“Well… thank you for the vote of confidence, Keldorn… do you detect a big, bad aura of evil surrounding me or what? Have any of my actions been of evil intent?” I smile ironically.
“Not as such… I am deeply concerned about your approach towards solving the problem with that vampire, but I believe that Lady Jaheira has already expressed her disapproval in a very… demonstrative kind of way so I believe that you have understood what consequences toying with powers of Bhaal might bring,” Keldorn looks meaningfully at Jaheira, who just frowns in response.
“Not that I feel obliged to give an account to you, Keldorn, but I have made a promise never to use the powers of Bhaal again and I intend to keep it,” Keldorn’s brief smile indicates that he is satisfied at my reply.
“Still, I must bring up the issue of the companions,” Keldorn says as the smile from his face disappears, “Nalia and your sister Imoen are capable mages – I am sure this group would function much better without a person that holds an allegiance to an evil group of corrupt wizards. I am speaking about young Edwin.”
“Not that this has any relevance to the matter, but perhaps you will feel a bit more calm knowing that Edwin is a renegade Red Wizard,” I snort, “but even if he was an active member of that group or any other, I would not cast him out because of that… we have known each other for so long, more than a year. For all his shortcomings, he is not a bad person and is one that I would call a friend. Edwin stays, Keldorn – get used to it.”
“I agree with Theodur, it would be unwise to make any changes to the group now that we have grown used to each other… and Edwin has helped Imoen to become a formidable mage. And I must admit that while I sometimes have an urge to whack him on the head, he is also… amusing in a ‘what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you’ kind of way…” Jaheira snickers at her own joke and I can only roll my eyes at that.
“And before you can even make a point about Viconia, I want you to know that it is pointless. She stays as well, regardless of your concerns, for the same reasons as Eddie… she is a friend,” I add and Keldorn’s face expression becomes rather grim.
“Apparently she is more than a friend to your sister, lad,” he remarks, “surely, you at least have some objections to that matter? A Child of Bhaal under influence of a cleric of an evil deity? I find it very unreasonable for you to allow that, Theodur…”
I feel that Jaheira is watching me with an unmasked interest for I had previously refused to discuss the relationship of Imoen and Viconia with her. I gather that it would be unwise to burst out in anger, all though that is exactly what I want to do…
“What rights do I have to disallow that, Keldorn? You may think that Viconia’s plan is to shape Imoen as a tool to realize her evil plans… well, I don’t. I know Viconia that much better than you, to know that she really cares for my sister… and I will not interfere – and I seriously suggest you to stay out of it. Where feelings of two people are concerned, others have no rights to meddle in,” I feel that my voice has risen a few levels, but even if I have managed to offend Keldorn, the expression on his face remains calm as ever. However, the wide smile on Jaheira’s face relieves my heart greatly.
“Considering that you will leave the party tomorrow, your interest seems rather peculiar,” she inserts in a slightly mocking tone.
“That was another reason I came here to talk, Lady Jaheira,” Keldorn explains politely, “Nalia expressed her wish to continue adventuring with your group, at least until this… Jon Irenicus has been defeated. I feel a certain responsibility towards the young lady and hope to persuade her to abandon the career of adventuring. I have already offered her alternatives – I called off the sale of my estate in Athkatla and offered it to her. She has refused to use my ‘gifts of charity’, as she childishly named my gesture.”
“To tell you the truth, Keldorn, while Nalia is a pleasant companion, she is not crucial to the group… I would feel better if she would stay out of this business, it certainly isn’t pretty…” I say and Jaheira supports me with a nod of her head.
“I hope that I can convince her of that, before something unfortunate happens,” Keldorn sighs, “so if you would allow me to accompany you further, I would help you to defeat this fiendish creature called Irenicus… I think that recovering your soul will help to resist the evil taint inside you and for all that is righteous - there is no more worthy task than that.”
“Are you sure that Lady Maria will not mind, milord Keldorn?” Jaheira asks sweetly and I almost feel that she is being too sarcastic… Keldorn only chuckles at her comment, however.
“I will always appreciate help from a formidable warrior such as you, Keldorn. But I must insist that you learn to get along with my friends, despite what you might think of them. We are on a very important mission and the group has to function as a well-oiled mechanism,” I add.
“I understand, lad. And you will hear no further complaints from me,” Keldorn nods, “I have expressed my opinion and there is no need for me to repeat it. Unless I am being provoked, I will not raise this issue any further.”
Keldorn gives a slight bow before turning around and leaving the room. I slowly lean back into the pillows and Jaheira crawls over to sit beside me, looking positively enchanting, having refreshed herself after the long travels of the day… how can she walk for a whole day in that heavy plate mail, remains a mystery to me, with her lithe build, that is somewhat of a phenomenon… of course Viconia does exactly the same, though her armor is slightly lighter than Jaheira’s, to be honest. Not exactly the frail flowers of the weaker sex, those two, not by a longshot…
“I am… proud of you,” she speaks, smiling, and her words shock me, but in a pleasant way, “about what and how you said it to Keldorn. At long last your efforts in diplomacy do not make me go red in the face… it took some time, but you have learned in the end.”
“Well… I had a good teacher… in everything…” I snigger as one of my hands land on her thigh and slowly slide across her smooth, tanned skin.
“Is that so? I see that you have also learned to give credit where credit is due,” she laughs before bending down to kiss me softly, but as I reach out to hold her close, she leans back nimbly avoiding my grasp.
“Do you think we will have no further problems with Keldorn?” she asks, now fully serious.
“Unless Viconia or Edwin do something really stupid, there should be no problems… though I can only see problems with Eddie, he just loves to tease the old man. Viconia… has been unusually calm during the last few days…” I reach out to clasp my hands around her waist and pull her closer.
“I have noticed the same. This brings me to the topic that I think we can no longer avoid…” I know what will follow next and I see only one way to make her forget about Imoen and Viconia… ever so gently I kiss her neck and then slowly undo her shirt and direct my kisses downwards at the same time as my hands continue to glide over her thighs, but Jaheira continues to speak… “Theo, dearest, I am being serious here… mmmmph… oh… wha… what was I talking about… mmmh… never mind that…”
However, just before things get really interesting, the door to our room is yanked wide open in the most brutal fashion and we recoil from each other to look at the unwanted intruder… only to see a very furious looking drow female standing at the doorstep…
Rush Of Blood To The Head, part 6.14.
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