Bhodi was feeling old again.
The battle against the water elementals had been middling difficult, but not impossible. Her wound was almost entirely healed, but still she felt sore.
After the water weirds had been dealt with, all that was left was a Kuo-Toa guarding a prisoner, one of Balthazaar's monks. He had given them the rope they needed for some of the other, longer water tunnels, and then died quietly, without fuss. The torments he had been subjected to, Viconia said, made ressurection impossible. Both Bhodi and Sarevok cursed this; Sarevok because it meant he was unable to interrogate the prisoner, Bhodi because she rather thought he would've made a fine new child. Also once he had been turned he would've been most pliable to Sarevok's questions anyway, without pressure.
But now all was quiet, and Giovanni had agreed readily enough to camp there. Imoen was snuggled in Bhodi's arms, asleep, and Giovanni was cuddled to her backside. But nothing sexual was occuring this night; all of them were tired. Bhodi particularly still felt the ghost of the wound she had suffered from the Bone Golem earlier. She knew a full night--or day--of rest would be required to ease that suffering.
For perhaps the first time since she had bonded with Giovanni, she felt the weight of her years. Vampires did not become bored, per se; or more accurately, those that did kill themselves early. Those that survived, like Bhodi, did sometimes feel the roll of years pressing on them. It was not depression or ennui, it was just the occasional realization of how truly old they were.
As an Elf before her transformation, Bhodi had the luxury of an Elven perspective on time; as a vampire she had not yet passed the end of what would have been her Elven lifespan. But even so, she felt the pasasge of time, and it wearied her. She would not give up--she would never give up--but at times she felt the weight of it.
She closed her eyes and listened to the strange echoes and resonances of the caverns. All slept save Anishai, who had the watch.
After a short time Bhodi opened her eyes and said, "How does the Banshee rest within your frame, Anishai?"
The monk turned, mildly surprised, and raised an eyebrow. "Well enough. It is strange, feeling what is effectively another soul within me."
"But not unpleasant?"
The Banshee had evidently heard the conversation, for the spirit took that moment to stick her head out and say, "I never dared hope for such a willing host."
"You'd be surprised," Bhodi said. "There as many willing mortals for that as there are those who enjoy being fed upon."
Both Anishai and the Banshee laughed at that. But there was sadness in Anishai's eyes; she was still mourning Vorious. Bhodi nodded her understanding, and the Banshee started whispering something to the monk about death and the afterlife as Bhodi closed her eyes. Slowly she drifted off to the dreamless yet utterly peaceful sleep that only the undead can know.
When the party woke and roused themselves to move on, Bhodi sat back to do something she had not done in years; watch the living. Not as prey or enemies, but simply as beings going about their business.
Even Giovanni and Imoen, whose souls were bonded to the black empty pit inside herself and whose minds she was linked to, were in some ways strange to her. She remembered what it was like, being alive, of course. But it was like any other irreversible decision; once you've lost it, you cannot go back. For a sensualist like Bhodi, she compared it to losing her virginity--and that was truly long ago. Or perhaps her first murder. It was a strange and beautiful thing, long lost to her. She did not regret it, but it fascinated her to see it still in others.
The priest Anomen, solemnly praying to Helm to preserve him amongst the monsters he found himself with; Quinn the Jester Gnome prancing about; Edwin the Red Wizard brooding over his spellbook; Viconia beside him, fingering her unholy symbol of Shar absently. Each of them still so vibrantly alive. It had been so long, it had become strange to her. She made a note to speak to her own vampire chilren about it later.
But now for buisness. The pain of her wound had finally faded, and there was still a Dragon Bhaalspawn to deal with.
The next chamber was full of animated eyeballs, mostly from Beholders. Anomen was personally offended by the eyes, and Edwin particularly was put in a foul mood, especialy when they confronted the creator of that ocular menagerie....
Bhodi and the Bhaalspawn 57
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