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Nothing I've Become: Something More


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#1 Guest_Soris_*

Posted 19 October 2006 - 01:37 AM

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Nothing I’ve Become: Something More
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All this time I can’t believe I couldn’t see
Kept in the dark but you were there in front of me
I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems
Got to open my eyes to everything
Without a thought without a voice without a soul
Don’t let me die here there must be something more
Bring me to life

-Evanescence “Bring Me to Life”

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“Again. Viconia, you have to try and hit me.” Soris leveled his stance again.

“This is hardly challenging, jaluk. I do not see what you intend to accomplish.” She flicked an acorn through the air, striking the sorcerer squarely in the chest.

What am I doing wrong? This is impossible.

Let go. Feel the pattern that surrounds you. Then act. Let your instinct guide you. In time, you will learn to shape that instinct, to bend it to serve your will.


Soris frowned and focused. The world played itself out before him. What he had now, what Irenicus had shown him, was not sight. It is difficult to describe to those used to seeing, but it might be likened to a description in a book, a detailed description. All of the necessary information is present, but the description is not actual sight. Soris knew when Viconia threw the acorn. He stepped right. When the next one came, he stepped left.

Yes, child. Now you see. There are rules to this game. You may bend those rules. Indeed, bending the rules is the source of your power. Most mages fail to realize that. As such they are limited in their application of magic. They only cast what others have cast before. You, however, are different.

The sorcerer was puzzled. You aren’t making much sense. What rules are you talking about? How am I different?

Irenicus chuckled. You are different in many ways. There is a reason I chose your soul over Imoen’s. Imoen had strength. If my ‘tests’ did anything, they proved that.

Your tests were horrible, and I don’t want to hear about them. I will never be like you.

Again, the wizard laughed. We are not so different, you and I. In time, you will come to realize this. You would do no different if our positions were reversed. I merely strove to survive. You are nothing more than a man, even if you are a very interesting one. Tell me, what do you know about your mother?

Nothing. Soris was annoyed by how easily the other man turned aside his questions, and he knew he would learn nothing more until Irenicus was ready to tell him.

I see. The wizard went on. It is not my place to explicate these matters, so I will be brief and unfulfilling. Your father is not the only one who has left you a legacy of power.

So my sorcerer’s blood comes from my mother. I could have guessed that.

Must I spell everything out for you? There are other sorcerers. That gift is but a part of what you are capable of doing. I will say no more. I already bend the rules enough for you as it is.

So, my ‘sight’ is a part of this unnamed power? What else can this power do?
Soris felt a vague sense of unease growing within him.

For one so dense, you are inquisitive. To answer your question, anything you want, if you know how to use it. The wizard fell silent and would speak no more.

Soris was brought promptly back to the real world when an acorn stung his cheek. He slammed his network back into place and spent the rest of the afternoon drilling. Acorns changed to rocks, which Viconia gradually began slinging at him. Even then, however, it was as if he knew where the rock would end up before it was released. It was a simple manner for him to move out of the way.

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The final arrow hit its mark with a wet thunk. An elf fell.

“I don’t see why she brings us along. She never misses.” One of several armed figures complained.

The mage, Cassius, look up from his place beneath the shade of a large tree. His spell book was open, but he leafed through it indolently, content to let Illasera finish the battle. He closed the book and shrugged. “Not all battles are this easy. Illasera is talented, but not invulnerable.”

“Talented. Yeah, you would know, Cas.” The man gave the mage a smirk. “Still, I wish I could shoot like that.”

Cassius looked at him sadly. “Nothing comes without a price.” He shook his head. “You don’t know what I would trade to be able to take her somewhere safe and keep her satisfied. The endless hunts are empty, but they are all she has. There must be something better, but I don’t know what it is. Surely there is more to the life for a daughter of a god than to simply kill or be killed.”

The other man shrugged indifferently. “Perhaps she actually enjoys this. As long as I get my pay, I’ll follow her around and do whatever she says: within reason, of course. I know better than to step on anyone’s toes so to speak. He gave Cassius a sly wink.

The mage glared at him. “You don’t understand.”

The armored man said nothing.

That evening, Illasera was in a foul mood. Cassius had hoped the day’s hunt would placate her, but he was out of luck.

“It was easy, Cas. Easy. The thrill is gone. I accepted that redheaded bitch’s offer because she promised excitement. I thought she would change things.” The archer paused before changing the subject. “Tell me about the next Bhaalspawn, the sorcerer. Perhaps he will prove to be a greater challenge.” She glared expectantly at Cassius.

Gods she’s beautiful when she’s angry. Cassius began his report. “For as powerful as he’s rumored to be, he’s maintained a surprisingly low profile. He is, as you know, a sorcerer, and he travels with a small band of adventurers including another Bhaalspawn.”

“Yes, a minor one. She does not concern me and will fall when he does. Go on.”

“Yes, Illasera. Both were raised behind the walls of Candlekeep, so their childhood is beyond the limit of my skill in scrying.”

“I thought you were the best.” She teased.

“One of the best.” Cassius corrected her and began to go on.

Illasera grinned at him. “My Cassius, always so modest, do go on, dear.”

“Once leaving the keep, they defeated another Bhaalspawn, Sarevok Anchev. Since then they have traveled about Amn, but the purpose of their travel as of yet alludes me.”

Illasera thought for a moment. “Sarevok was a worthy accomplishment. Perhaps this hunt will prove to be a more satisfying endeavor. Are any of the sorcerer’s companions worth noting?”

“Not in any way that would interest you. The party consists of a druid, a ranger, a drow cleric, and until recently a paladin in addition to our two Bhaalspawn.”

“Until recently?”

“Yes. It appears that the paladin has left the party. I can only guess that he must have fulfilled whatever obligation he was under and now returns home.”

Illasera smiled, and Cassius felt a surge of relief. “We’ll begin the hunt tomorrow, but as for tonight…”

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Sarevok finished his attack with a blood-curdling scream, and the demon in front of him vanished in a fountain of ichors. The warrior blinked, momentarily blinded by the fury of his own assault. When his vision returned, only the Nameless One remained, his head nodding slightly. Sarevok wondered if it was in approval or approbation.

They moved on, and Sarevok was once again given the opportunity to observe the Nameless One in action. He was truly a creature of power, and no motion was wasted. Might blended into magic and then back again, and his enemies melted before him. Sarevok found himself wondering what force could grant a man such power; if the creature before him was even a man. He arched an eyebrow.

“Are you certain you were once human?”

The nameless figure before him shrugged. “I was once human, or something close to it, but that time is forever lost to my memory.”

“An interesting answer. I have seen you fight, and I have seen that there are none capable of standing before you. What does it take to possess such power?” Sarevok’s eyes began to glow with a faint yellow gleam.

The grey man fixed him with a hollow stare. “So you wish to possess power? How far are you willing to go? Are you willing to give up your life? How about your death? Are you willing to exist without a name, adrift in a void of memory? Sarevok Anchev, can you accept this?” He swept his arms out, indicting the dry and lifeless plain around them. “Are you willing to choose this place, this fight, of your own free will? This,” He gestured again. “This is the price of my power, and I have paid for it in full with my own torment and the torment of others.”

Sarevok watched, eyes still glinting, but only faintly. He was unsure. Much of what the Nameless One made no sense. Who would he be without a name? The very point of power was to write one’s name across the pages of history, to insure that one would never be forgotten. Power had always come from his identity, but in the end, he had died alone in a forgotten city. All those he had known as ‘friends’ or lovers were dead. Heir to the Iron Throne. Son of Bhaal. He had fallen so far. In truth, he had little taste for the Blood War. The fighting was pointless, and death was not even possible. It was impossible to either gain or lose true power. No. He did not come here of his own free will. He shook his head and remained silent.

The Nameless One went on. “Whatever your crimes, they are nothing compared to my own, and I freely admit that. For what I have done, I deserve to be here. So you see, Sarevok Anchev, my power also comes from redemption, something few of the other souls here understand. When I first came here, I looked for others with my hope, those who hoped for redemption, but I found no one. You are the only other being I have ever seen here truly rise above the masses. You do not fight like one redeemed, however. I fail to understand your purpose here.”

“What exactly do you see in me?”

“I see a man who must find himself again. You will have to craft a new identity. A great man once said that there is power in knowing oneself. It is this power that I recognize now.”

Sarevok waited a moment, but it soon became clear that the conversation was over. The grey man remained silent, leaving the warrior with nothing better to do than brood and sharpen his sword.

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“Ow! Viconia, you don’t have to make it so tight. I can barely breath.” Imoen tugged at her bodice, trying to loosen it. Viconia pushed her hand away.

“The Darthiir have never seen the like.” She gave her ‘sister’ a wry grin. “Dalninil, you would do even a Drow house credit.”

“Which is precisely my concern. I don’t think it is really necessary for the child…”

Imoen interrupted. “Jaheira, we’ve been through this before. Besides, I’m hardly a little girl. I can take care of myself. And besides you said you like Darron.”

Jaheira tugged a brush through her tangled mass of hair. “I do like him, but I do not think running around half-dressed is the proper means to hold his attention.”

“If that is how you feel, then perhaps I should just lose the dress. That would hold his attention.” Imoen grinned at Viconia and watched as Jaheira scowled into her mirror, giving her hair another furious tug.

Viconia gave the laces one more tug. Imoen stood up and examined herself in the mirror. For a moment she hesitated. “Maybe Jaheira’s right. Vic, I never should have let you talk me into this dress.”

Viconia chuckled. “It fits you well. I doubt the Darthiir’s attention will wander tonight, but you should be going. It is good to let your male know his place, but you hardly wish to keep him waiting any longer than absolutely necessary. They can get themselves into a great deal of trouble when left unsupervised.”

A look of horror crossed Imoen’s face. “What time…Never mind.” She grabbed what she needed and rushed out the door.

Viconia shot an amused glance toward Jaheira, but the druid was busy preparing herself for the evening. She seemed to be taking special care, and the Drow wondered whom the male might be.

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What is keeping her? Jaheira left at least an hour ago?

Patience is a virtue…

That you, dear familiar, rarely display.

You know, they say familiars learn many of their character traits from their masters.


At that moment, a nearby door opened softly. Soris could hear the faint swish of silk. He quickly ran his hands down the lines of his tunic, smoothing non-existent wrinkles. Eric, how do I look?

You already asked me that. Nothing’s changed. I’m going now.

Wait.


The young tiger bounded off, letting a faint sense of amusement trickle back across the bond he shared with his master. Soris turned back to Viconia.

“Tell me, jaluk. Did you dress yourself for this evening?” She asked with a hint of amusement.

Soris jumped, startled. “Yes, well, I had Eric help”

“I thought as much. Your shirt is on inside out.” Viconia laughed as Soris turned bright red. “Perhaps some assistance…”

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Soris sighed. The party was going well, but his back and legs hurt from standing, and his hand felt as if it had been repeatedly smashed by a sledgehammer. Furthermore, his head felt as if it were about to explode from stretching and straining his senses. Irenicus’ new tricks didn’t help matters much either. Still, the headache was almost worth not being completely blind for the evening. He slowly worked his way out of the crowd of elves out onto a quiet balcony. He leaned over the edge slightly and massaged his temples. The throbbing ebbed a little.

“Soris.” A voice called softly, starting the young man. “Jaluk, you do not look well.”

Soris shook his head. “I’m fine, Viconia. I’m just a bit…overwhelmed.” He leaned on the rail and was surprised when she took his hand.

“Come with me.”

They began to walk through the city, which was mostly still and quiet. Soris headache began to fade, and he thought back over the events of the night. The celebration was thrown in the honor of the heroes who saved the elven city, and Soris thought that he must have shook the hand of every elf in Suldanessalar. He was also pleased to find that his friends were treated with respect, even Viconia. He had to smile at the collective gasp that had gone through the crown when the two of them had entered the hall. His only real regrets for the evening were that he could not see his companions. He could remember the days in Candlekeep when Imoen would try her luck with every boy that passed their way. Most had rejected, some quite brutally, but now the tables had turned, and Soris hoped Darron knew how lucky he was. Soris felt a pain of regret as he reminded himself that it would be best if his sister didn’t get too comfortable. The party would need to leave the city soon.

He felt the hard planking of the city streets give way to the softer crunch of the forest path, and he wondered where exactly Viconia was leading him. His thoughts drifted to her. When they had first met, back before Baldur’s Gate, he had hardly been able to stand her. And now he tried to form a vision of her as she stood tonight in his mind. He couldn’t. He smiled and shook his head.

“Do you find something amusing, jaluk?”

“I was just trying to imagine how you look tonight.”

“And were you successful, jaluk?”

“As always, your presence defies mere thought.”

“Empty flattery will get you nowhere. Still, I am pleased to see that you know your place. Perhaps if you are good I will describe the dress for you.”

Soris laughed as she teased him. It made him realize just how much things had changed between the two of them in the little over a year they had known each other. He spoke his thoughts out loud. “Do you ever wonder how we got here? I mean, back when we first met. I could hardly stand to speak two words to you. You seriously had me convinced I was some sort of lower form of life.”

“You didn’t need much convincing after the way you allowed that mongrel druid to dominate you. It is pleasing to see that some things have changed.”

“I was young and very scared. I had never even seen outside the wall of Candlekeep before. After Gorion died, the world seemed to be a very strange and terrifying place.”

“It was much the same when I first reached the surface. Much has change since then, but I still find the open sky and harsh sun of the surface world to be daunting.”

“We have changed.” Soris spoke quietly. “There were days when I looked in the mirror, and I didn’t even recognize the face that was staring back at me. I’ve seen and done some pretty horrible things, but then again, there are some things I am quite pleased with.” He squeezed her hand and was rewarded when she squeezed his in return, if a little tentatively.

Viconia spoke again, hesitantly. “I have learned much since I came to the surface, and despite the fact the I have survived, I always feel as if I do not belong, do not deserve to belong here. My world is a very different one, and I doubt that will ever change. So much remains foreign to me.”

“Join the club.” Soris tried to lighten her mood. “You probably know as much about all of this as I do. I grew up in a library.”

“But all you know is this world. You have grown up with the concepts of love and friendships, concepts that are completely foreign to Drow society. Now that I am on the surface, I am surrounded by them: sister, lover, friend. It is all very strange.”

“I don’t think the Drow are as foreign to these things as you think… but wait a minute. Did you say sister?”

“Yes, Imoen said that she always wanted a big sister, and she insisted upon adopting me. We’ve kept it quiet enough, but I confess that I have little idea as to how ‘sisters’ on the surface behave.”

Soris chuckled softly. “You’re doing well enough, and I think this explains a number of things. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Imoen seemed to wish it kept quiet. I do not know why.”

The sorcerer shrugged and decided he could talk to Imoen about it later. It really wasn’t a big deal.

“It is our relationship that causes the most difficulty.” Viconia went on. “Drow understand physical pleasures, but I find the other forms of intimacy expressed by surfacers bewildering.”

“So do most surfacers.”

“Yes, but at least you know what you are supposed to think; what you are supposed to feel.”

Soris wanted to tell her that he thought he was as confused as she was, but he didn’t know how to express the idea in a way she would understand. He wracked his brains for an explanation. “It isn’t exactly clear for anyone, Viconia. Take this evening for instance. I’ve been planning all week. I wanted to surprise you and to have everything go absolutely perfectly. I even went shopping with Jaheira for the suit. How’s that for determination?”

“You were desperate, but the mongrel does have good taste, even if it is a little conservative.”

Soris laughed again. “Perhaps you can imagine how I felt when I learned from you that my shirt was on inside out. Still, as horrified as I was, it was better to hear it from you than from an entire assembly of elves or from Jaheira and Imoen. So which was I supposed to feel, mortified or grateful?”

Viconia stood in silence for a moment.

“That didn’t make much sense, did it?”

“Perhaps, but I still fail to see how this helps to sort out my feelings.”

Soris turned his head towards her. “You’ll get used to it. You really are doing fine, and I love you for who and what you are. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t change to be more comfortable with this world. It just means that I’m here along side you. I know Imoen would say the same. I can’t tell you how excited she has been for this party, and she is very grateful for your help. She’s never been one for formalities. As for the others, you have both Jaheira and Keldorn’s respect. That is not something to be taken lightly.”

“It would help to have something I am at least familiar with and feel competent with to ease me along.” Soris caught a sultry tone in her voice.

“I think I might be ready for something like that, if. If we can proceed slowly.”

“What exactly do you mean by slowly?” She enquired.

“I don’t think I am ready to…” He stumbled around the words.

“Couple.” She finished for him. “I do not understand why surfacers have such trouble speaking about sex.”

“That is a discussion for another time. Like I said, I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. After Phaere…” He stopped and then began again. “I want us to do things right. When we are together, I want it to be the right thing to do. I don’t want just a night of pleasure. I suppose I could get that from any number of women, if I had a mind to. I want there to be something special between us, something more that I have with anyone else.”

“Do we not already have that, jaluk?” Viconia was puzzled. “I do not see how waiting will make the coupling any more special. I realize that surfacers tend to associate more emotion with the act, but the same is not true of Drow.”

I know that it isn’t, and that is the problem. I just don’t know how to tell you that. “I’m not expressing myself very well.”

“It doesn’t matter. I will not force the act upon you. If you wish to sleep alone, then you may do so. I’m sure that there are plenty of other males who would be willing to placate me…”

“Stop, Viconia. You can’t mean that.”

“But I will wait, for now.” She finished with just the hint of a threat. “Since you do not wish to couple, what exactly do you have in mind?”

“I thought we could start with this. He allowed his fingers to wander up her arm. Her dress was sleeveless and his hand soon found her face. He gently brushed back a stray lock and caressed her cheek. He pulled her closer and felt a brief pang of anxiety. He tried to push it aside, to enjoy the moment. Images and memories assailed him as his lips touched hers.

What is her name, male?

Whom?

The female that has so captivated you.

No one you would know.

Ahhh, so a handmaiden has collared you. This should prove entertaining. Tell me: Who is she?

No.

What did you say, male?

I said no.

That is what I thought, fool.


The pain seared through him again. His muscles clenched.

Viconia pulled away as his caress became painful. “Soris, jaluk that hurts!” Something was wrong. He didn’t hear her. She shook and then slapped him. Hard. He came out of the daze looking pale and disoriented.

“What happened?” She rubbed her arm where a small bruise was already developing.

He felt horrified by what he had done. “Viconia, I’m sorry. I thought if I just…if I just made myself do it just once then it would get easier. I thought I could make myself forget what happened. Forget Phaere. I was wrong, and I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“Oh, this?” She shook her arm. “This is nothing compared to what I have received at the hands of more skilled lovers. You have much to learn, but you were correct. We should go slowly, and we begin by you telling me everything about your encounter with Phaere. Your body has healed, but the mind is not so resilient. I will not allow the elg’caress to ruin you. She is dead.”

He took his time and described the incident in great detail and with great difficulty. The tale itself brought back memories of the pain that had been blocked. He had to stop several times to recompose himself. In the end, however, he felt better.

“Do you still dream about it?” She asked after he had finished the tale.

“Yes, nightmares, but they have been becoming less frequent.”

“Did you tell anyone?”

“No, I didn’t want to burden the rest of you. We have been rather busy.”
“You fool.” She spat. “One of these days you will kill yourself. However, I think I know how to combat this problem, but it will take time.” She sighed. “Nothing with you, jaluk, is ever easy.”

At that moment, the nearby underbrush rustled. Viconia jerked to attention, and the sorcerer attempted to scan the area with his power. He found nothing. “Soris get down!” She screamed and shoved him to the ground as figures in dark garb appeared on the path. Bowstrings twanged, and the Drow felt the arrows lace into her flesh. As she crumpled to the ground she found herself thinking: Not like this. Not like this.

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The impact with the ground jarred him and disrupted his concentration, and for a moment, Soris panicked, scanning the world with sightless eyes. “Viconia!” He called. He received no response.

“She can’t hear you.” A woman’s voice spoke. “She’s dead.”

Soris felt his blood grow cold. “Who are you?”

“That doesn’t matter much. All you need to know is that you are going to die.” The voice replied.

She means what she says, boy, but there is a way out. Use your power. Soris knew with a sinking feeling that Irenicus was right. He felt dead inside as he concentrated, making the world swim and blur as lines of power appeared before him. He began to seek for heartbeats, but the sounds of the forest drowned them out. Instead, he looked for disturbances in the powers that flowed and swirled about him. The pattern was complicated, but with a great deal of difficulty he thought he was able to pick out a number of disturbances. One of them warped the patterns in such a manner that was impossible not to notice.

A mage? He silently queried.

Good. Irenicus intoned. You learn quickly. You may yet make a good apprentice.

Several lesser disturbances were scattered throughout the clearing, but only one was anywhere close to him. He turned his attention to that one and sought for a weakness.

“Illasera, he’s working magic.” A male voice, the mage, called from some distance away.

“It doesn’t matter. He’ll soon be dead.” The woman responded, her voice cold and focused. “Boys, relax. I’ll take care of this one. Nice shot back there, Terrik. I really didn’t think you could hit her.

“I don’t know what he is doing. I’ve never seen anything like it before.” The mage continued, concern obviously working its way into his voice.

Twigs crunched underfoot as Illasera stepped closer. She spoke to the sorcerer as he knelt on the ground. “You were supposed to be a great Bhaalspawn; a challenge to hunt. She never bothered to tell me that you were blind.”

Soris felt air rush by as she waved her hand in front of his face.

“Pity, you won’t even see the knife that kills you. Just as you didn’t see the arrows that killed your pretty little girlfriend.” Her dagger made a faint scraping sound as it left its sheath.

Soris felt his anger rise as she grasped his head with one hand, jerking his head back to expose his throat. Irenicus took that moment to provide his assessment of the situation. Fool. She would have been wiser to have her archers fill you with arrows.

Soris pushed the wizard back into silence and began to concentrate. With Illasera so close, he could hear her heartbeat, and could see the lines of power that connected to her. Each beat delivered a pulse of electricity, and the beats aligned in a steady rhythm. The solution was so simple he didn’t know why he didn’t see it earlier. It is all too easy. With a swift motion he reached forward, one hand connecting with the woman’s chest. He didn’t bother chanting words as he magnified that spark of electricity that pulsed in time with her heart.

Lightning coursed from his hand through Illasera’s body, burning tissues and disrupting the regular pattern of her heart. Soris felt it sputter and die. As she collapsed, chaos rang out around the clearing. A familiar roar echoed through the trees, followed shortly by a scream as a man fell. Faintly, the sorcerer could hear the voice of his sister chanting in a strange counterpoint to the male mage who had spoken earlier.

Quickly, however, he succumbed to the effects of exhaustion, and the last thing he heard before blacking out was Minsc’s favorite battle cry.

“Go for the eyes, Boo! Go for the eyes!”

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Sarevok crouched beside the Nameless One and looked down into the blackness of the fissure before them. The grey man stood up, a small glint showing in his dark eyes. A smile slowly wound its way across his grey and scarred face.

“I have no knowledge of the time that has passed while I lingered here, but I pray that it has not been too long. Today, I am a free man. Can you not feel it?” His eyes glowed with newfound power.

Sarevok himself was unsure. He did feel different. The lust that had consumed his life was gone, but he did not know as of yet what replaced it. Was Sarevok Anchev any different? “Where will you go now?” He questioned the grey man.

“To Sigil and to my life, if the fates are willing. In any case, this is the end.”

The man spoke with finality, as if he expected Sarevok to understand, but the warrior did not. Instead, he asked another question. “What awaits you there?”

The Nameless One shook his head. “In truth I do not know. I hope I will return to friends, or perhaps to more, but then again, time may not have been so kind.”

Sarevok looked at him. “But you have hope. You have your redemption.”

The grey man nodded knowingly. “I do. I do not understand why you had to come here, but your redemption is not to be found among these demons. I am no seer, but my guess is that you have some part to play in another life. Perhaps this one will prove more favorable to you than your last.”

With those words, the Nameless One stepped into the fissure and was swallowed up by the darkness, leaving Sarevok alone to contemplate his fate. He did not think long.

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When he awoke, Soris felt as if he had spent several rounds boxing with Minsc. He briefly attempted to reach out with his sight and was rewarded with a stabbing pain in his head. The world went black again as he winced. Nearby, he heard a familiar squeak followed by a booming voice.

“Soris is awake. Hurry Boo, we must tell Jaheira at once!” Armor creaked as Minsc stood up.

“Minsc.” The name came out as an almost inaudible croak, but the big ranger was already gone.

It wasn’t long before Jaheira bustled into the room. She uncorked a healing potion with an audible pop and pressed the potion into the sorcerer’s hand.

“Drink this.”

Soris brought the potion to his lips and cringed. He knew it would taste terrible. It did, but as usual it made him feel better. He suppressed his reflex to gag. “I’ve never understood why you don’t make this taste a little better.”

“It lasts longer this way.”

Soris hoped she was joking, but he got the distinct impression that the opposite was true. “Jaheira, what is going on? Is Viconia?” He stopped. He didn’t dare hope that she’d survived the attack.

Jaheira sighed. “It has been a long night, but you can relax. You are back in Suldanessalar, and both you and Viconia are alive. I don’t know how, but you are. I pulled three arrows out of Viconia tonight. Two of them should have killed here outright. The other was coated with a poison strong enough to make this entire city sick.”

“But she is alive.”

“Yes, did you not believe me the first time?”

“I did, but you aren’t telling me something.”

Jaheira went on. “I couldn’t stop the poison, and neither could the elven healers. We all thought she would die, but she didn’t. She looks as if she hasn’t had a decent meal in months, but we can find no trace of the poison.”

“What kind of poison can resist magic like that?” Soris felt an ominous feeling coming.

Jaheira hesitated for a moment before answering. “I only know of a few, and none of them are common, nor cheap. Without a sample, I can’t be certain, but every poison like this that I know of comes from the Underdark.” She stopped, and then quickly added. “That doesn’t mean your assailants were sent by the Drow, just that they acquired merchandise from them.

Soris understood and nodded. “Has Viconia said anything?”

“No, but she is very weak, and I thought it best not to press the matter, for now. However, I am now quite certain that there is more to our resident Drow than meets the eye.”

Soris read between the lines. “I don’t know anything more than you do, Jaheira.”

Jaheira gave him a suspicious look for a moment. “I suppose you do not. Knowing Viconia, we’ll find out when she decides to tell us. In any case, I should probably get back to her. She still needs a fair amount of care, and I don’t know who is more uncomfortable with the other: Viconia or the elven healers. Minsc has volunteered to watch you, and I’ll let the healers know that you are awake. You should try to eat and drink something before getting more rest. You need it.”

Soris smiled sheepishly. He didn’t really feel like he could do much anyway. “I suppose you’re right. Thank you, Jaheira.”

Jaheira left, and an elven healer soon arrived with a plate of fruit and a glass of water. Soris found himself to be hungry as well as thirsty and quickly finished both. Once done, he lay back down and tried to puzzle through the events, but he was still too tired. Instead of thinking, he quickly slipped back into a quiet slumber.

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