The sun woke me up the next morning, its rays distorting my vision as I opened my eyes and squinted tightly. I sat up and rubbed my eyes.
"Mmm...you awake, Auren?" I heard Nalia mumble. She was half asleep still, her bare back facing me. I could see a few small freckles on her upper back near her shoulder blades.
I yawned. "Yes...I'm awake," I said. "Are you?" I smiled at my own lame smart remark.
"...huh? No..." she mumbled and curled up into a ball, taking much of the blankets with her....and away from me.
"Hey!" I protested and attempted to get some of the comforter back. Nalia rolled over to face me and smiled at me.
"Sleep well?" she asked.
I felt my face turn pink. "Um...yeah...really well. You?"
Nalia stretched by reaching towards the top end of the bed with her hands, causing the comforter to slip down her chest a little, and revealing to me more than what I would have thought Nalia was comfortable with. I felt the heat rush to my face again.
To my surprise, though, Nalia looked at me and giggled. "You're cute. Besides, it's not like you haven't seen them before.
"I know that...I just...I-," I stammered, trying to think of an excuse but came up with none.
She sat up and kissed me on the mouth. "It's okay, silly. Let's go eat something; I'm starving," she said and with that, Nalia hopped out of bed and proceeded to put on some clothes. I slowly did the same.
We had been staying at Queen Ellisime's palace for a few weeks now and the night before, Jaheira and Ellisime had approached me with dire news.
"All the Bhaalspawn? Are you serious?" I asked.
"Yes, and there are five who speak of themselves as the greatest and most powerful of all the Bhaalspawn. Citizens all over Tethyr and soon the rest of Faerun fear anyone who is a Bhaalspawn and will not hesitate to throw anyone that they suspect of bringing death and destruction to their city out," Ellisime explained. "Even," she stared at the floor of the main hall of the palace, where the three of us were standing, "even several people of this city are starting to feel uneasy."
I blinked several times in disbelief. My friends and I had just saved this city, perhaps all of Amn, and the entire Sword Coast not too long before that, and these people show their gratitude by silently accusing me of being a criminal?
"I know what you are thinking, child, and I caution you not to do so," Jaheira said softly. "You must understand what fears are going through the people's minds. People fear those with power. It is natural for them to suspect that you would use yours for evil."
I nodded. "I understand." I turned to the Queen. "Any suggestions?"
Queen Ellisime told us that in the Forest of Tethir, some ancient structures that she described as 'stone heads' could help us. We decided that we would head out the following night, as soon as the rest of the group was ready.
Nalia and I sat down to have breakfast with the rest of the group. Minsc was feeding Boo small pieces of bread. Aerie was watching him do so intently while eating a piece of fruit. Imoen had finished her breakfast and had moved on to Jaheira's while Jaheira spoke with one of the Queen's servants about getting us supplies for the upcoming journey. As soon as Imoen finished eating, she began to tell Nalia wonderfully embarrassing stories about me growing up in Candlekeep.
"...and I said, 'Auri, you'd better not, Gorion will be ticked!' but did she listen to me? Nooo, so then somehow she ended up head first in the bottom of a barrel full of cow crap! And in her brand new clothes that Gorion had just gotten her too!"
I sighed. "Im, could you say anything else to make me look like more of an idiot than you've already made me out to be?"
Imoen appeared to be in thought for a moment before her face lit up and she said, "Actually, yes!" She turned to Nalia excitedly. "Want to hear?"
Nalia laughed. "Actually, Imoen, I should start packing if we're leaving tonight. Are you coming, Auren?"
I stood up. "Yes, let's go." I gave a quick playful glare to Imoen.
"Yeah, go ahead and leave me here. All alone," she said, pretending to sound depressed before saying quickly, "You guys are just going to go have sex again anyway."
By the time I turned around to tackle her, my half sister had bolted out of the room.
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