Writer's comment : Another attempt at a story of a more serious nature. I like to do those sometimes. I'm quite satisfied with this one, and I claim the Viconia romance simply contiued after the rescue from Bodhi. The poem I opened with was one written bt William Shatner after the death of his wife Nerine Kidd. It seemed eerily appropriate...
She was Young and Innocent.
She Loved Me.
That, Too, Deepened and changed.
I Loved Her.
Because of That, I Changed.
Perhaps That, too, Will Change.
--- William Shatner
She saw the fury in his eyes, and the burning madness behind them. Imoen, sister of Karis, Daughter of Bhaal, followed her younger brother deeper into the lair of the murderous vampiress Bohdi...The one who had stolen her soul...and her brother's love...She walked into these dark halls, this damp place, with the horrific shadowplays reflecting from the walls. Her friends Minsc, Jan and Nalia, in turn followed her. Nalia was terrified, looking over her shoulder constantly. Jan and Minsc held their own in this dank crypt, or they simply hid their fears better. Trailing after the group, were no other than the legendary Drow ranger Drizzt, the Paladin Eric VanStraaten and the shadow-thief Arkanis, ready to strike a blow against the undead denizens of this foul tomb.
"Karis...We'll get her back..." She felt she had to say something, if only to encourage her half-elven brother. He in turn showed a tiny, yet nervous smile and nodded. Calm..Always he was calm...but this time...
His barely controlled fury was very unnerving...Suddenly, as Imoen appoached the door at the end of the hallway, she felt a familiar tingling sensation...Her soul...It had to be her soul...Bodhi was behind that door.
"Hold on, good folk..." Arkanis started to say. "...Let me check for traps."
Karis never stopped walking, as he shoved Arkanis aside and savagely kicked the door open. As the rest of the group followed him in, Imoen came eye to eye with the fallen elf and the remainder of her coven.
"And so it will end here..." She said in that sing-song voice of hers. "Welcome. You have been very resourceful in finding me..."
"Boo would have found her whatever she would have put her evil foot! That's what we do!" Minsc spoke up. Minsc bravery always impressed her. It gave her the courage to speak her own mind...To voice her own dire need.
"I've come for what you stole from me! I will not leave her empty! I... will have my soul!"
Bodhi smiled semi-innocently as she just barely gazed in her direction. "You may try, Imoen, but you will fail." Bohdi looked at her brother again..."We worked too hard to realize our revenge to be stopped by the likes of you...Those treacherous elves of Suldenesselar shall feel our wrath."
Karis actually snarled...She had never seen him snarl in anger before. "Damn Suldenesselar..." She cringed. Her brother would never let an entire city suffer, if he could do something about it. Something was very, very wrong with him.
"...You know why I'm here, bitch... You will return Imoen's soul and Viconia... NOW!!" He continued.
"Ah yes..." Bohdi pretended to have forgotten about Viconia. "I did warn you, you would suffer great loss if you continued to persue me..." She smiled wickedly. "I did not lie."
The Fallen Elf beckoned one of her servants to open the door behind her. Viconia entered the room and stood at Bohdi's side. Viconia looked rather sickly, her eyes were unfocused looking upon infinity. "And here she is...". For a moment Karis' anger completely vanished, replaced with pure joy. Then it returned with twice the fury he had before, as Bohdi ran her hand through Viconia's beautiful white hair. "...though I doubt your fumbling could have inspired the loyalty I have taken with a bite and a gaze." Bodhi paused for a moment, inspecting her fingernails. "Perhaps I should call her 'Fetch'. Hmmm. I like that."
"Yes mistress." Viconia's voice was without emotion and very monotonous.
"RELEASE..." Karis caught himself and continued. "Release her from your spell immediately..."
Bohdi laughed. Such a horrific sound it was, like a demon from the abyss, tearing apart a soul. "Now did you hear me say anything about a spell?" She turned to Viconia and whispered. "Fetch...show your former love the pretty gift I granted you."
Viconia obliged and snarled at her lover, displaying two sharp, shiny inch-long fangs. Imoen heard her friend Nalia gasp behind her.
"This cannot be..." Minsc said softly.
"Oh, Vicky." Jan lamented.
Imoen, however, was more concerned with her brother at the moment. He was visably shaking with rage. Imoen was getting very worried now.
"Very docile now, isn't she?" Bohdi sing-songed again. "The transformation isn't yet complete, of course, but she will obey when I send her to you now." Imoen noticed Bodhi and her lackeys were taking up attack positions. A small group of grimwarders entered the chamber. "So let it end here, your life crushed by your vampiric love." Bohdi extended her brother's torture. "You won't even be reunited in death...She's mine as long as I live...And that will be...forever..."
Imoen saw tears run from her brother's eyes...Karis snarled again, and this time roared in fury. Imoen knew what was coming..."EVERYBODY, GET OUT OF THIS ROOM NOW!!" She started to push her friends and the rest of their back-up towards the door.
Karis had told Imoen about what happened at the Asylum. The first time he became the Slayer, it was because his soul could no longer hold back the taint of Murder. He almost killed his friends...and Viconia. He could not allow that to happen again. He could not live with himself, if he ended her life. It was then that his love for Viconia became the force that would hold back the taint. And now...she was gone. And he was slipping.
"DEMON!" the paladin Eric VanStraaten shouted. As Imoen looked over her shoulder she saw with sadness that Karis had become the Slayer again. "MOVE!!...MOVE!!..." she shouted as she guided the rest of the party to the door. Eric and Minsc barricaded the door behind them with a heavy beam as the rest of the group ran up the stairs. Then the waiting began.
Waiting. How she hated this. A few minutes felt like an eternity to her. Imoen, always a busybody, had hated waiting since she was a child. Waiting for supper, waiting for play-time, waiting for Karis to finish his studies so they could play in the courtyard. Karis was still alive...She knew it...He was...
Suddenly, she felt a force stronger than anything she had ever felt before. He whole body was energized. Imoen became very dizzy and would have fallen to the floor, if Minsc wouldn't have caught her. "Is Imoen okay? Minsc and Boo stand ready to help!" Then she realized it. "Minsc...I am whole again." It was her soul...it had been returned to her! For the first time in months, she didn't feel tired or sad...She was herself again. She realized what had happened downstairs and ran towards the chamber.
The group came upon a horrific scene. The walls were covered in dark blood. On the floor were bits and pieces of grimwarder and vampire flesh. In between the carnage, beside Bohdi's coffin, sat Karis, sobbing quietly while cradling Viconia's body.
"...So beautiful...So beautiful..." Most of his words were unintelligable, yet these words he repeated over and over.
"Alas..." Drizzt said. "A kindred spirit lost. I remember my own difficulties when I first came to the surfacelands. Though, I never was as bitter as she."
As Karis noticed the others he snarled. When Imoen tried to approach Karis, she was stopped by Eric.
"Halt milady, he could still be dangerous."
"Don't worry...He won't hurt me..." She told him. Eric was hardly convinced, but trusted her judgment. Imoen carefully walked over to Karis. She knelt beside him and put her hand on his shoulder.
"Im..Imoen?" He asked.
"Yes...little brother. It's me."
"She's dead, little brother, I have my soul back." She smiled at her brother. "You did it..." She added sadly.
"I know, little brother...I know." She put her arms around him and let him cry on her shoulder.
"Let's get outta here, little brother. Let sun warm our skins again...And..." She added. "Maybe the priests can do something for her."
Karis nodded softly.
The Copper Coronet was filled around this time of night. Filled with people in need of drinks and entertainment. Boisterous laughing sounded through the inn. Yet three sad people sat at a lonely table in the corner, anxiously awaiting news.
Eric VanStraaten and Imoen entered the Inn, wearing grim expressions.
"I'm sorry the priests of Ilmater were unable to help your companion."
"So am I..." Imoen said sadly. She decided to tentatively ask Eric about his report to the Order. "What are you going to tell prelate Wessalen? About Karis, I mean..."
"You mean, about his demonic transformation?" He asked. "Nothing...They will not understand, and Karis has done to much for this city to be hunted down lika an animal. You have explained why this is happening and I DO understand, but you must get his soul back before he falls into a darkness from which he can't recover. Then... He will be hunted down." He said grimly.
"You're a good man, Eric."
"I try to be, milady. I wish luck to you and yours." That said, he left the copper coronet.
Imoen walked over to her friends, preparing to tell them the bad news.
"Imoen..." Nalia started. "Can she be...?"
"The priest said..." She felt tears welling up. "...that though her transformation wasn't complete, the vampiric infection was still to severe for her to be...resurrected. There's just nothing that can be done."
"NO!" Minsc shouted. "Another comrade lost forever. Not even an enemy left to fight, to avenge her!" Then more softly. "Minsc and Boo have failed again." A sorrowful squeek came from his pocket.
Jan nodded to himself sadly. This was not a time for jesting, or even a story.
Nalia was initially to shocked to speak. "I...I didn't think it could happen...That one of us could be...gone permanently...Is there no magic...no spell...that can help her? There must be."
"I'm...I'm afraid there isn't..." Imoen said. "Viconia is still undead. The priest of Ilmater has put spells on her body to keep her from rising again, so the transformation doesn't complete on its own." She sighed. "It seems...we have to make arrangements for...Viconia's funeral." She choked.
"I'll give the undertaker..." Nalia said quietly. "...permission to have her body placed...in my family crypt. She...deserves a final resting place."
"Imoen, dearrie..." Jan said. "Who's going to break the news to Karis?"
"Little brother?" Imoen asked as she entered the small cell at the back of the Copper Coronet. Karis had voluntarily locked himself in the cell, as he was unsure of the control over his taint. Hendak was none too pleased when his savior had asked to be locked up, but when Imoen explained the situation to him, he was only to glad to help.
"Karis?" She whispered again.
Karis was laying on a cot, shivering in cold sweat, barely able to control his insticts. This wasn't good.
"The...priests..." She began carefully. "...they can't help her...She...She's not coming back, little brother." She prepared for the worst of reactions. She knew her brother, and she knew her brother had a thing for Viconia ever since they first met in Peldvale so long ago. She remembered teasing him back in Baldur's Gate..."Come on Karis, she's a Drow. She thinks all men are nothing. How can you even think you have a future together?" When Imoen was rescued from the Asylum, she was shocked to find out just how far his relationship with Viconia had gone. It wasn't something she would have expected in a million years.
Karis got a wild look in his eyes, when he heard Imoen's words. Imoen told him what the priests had said, about the wards placed on her body.
"Little brother... Karis... Maybe she's at peace. It's something she's always been looking for..." She tried.
"HOW CAN SHE BE AT PEACE!!!" He shouted, his fury and rage evident. "Her spirit is trapped in her own body, slowly being infected with vampirism from within!" He continued. He suddenly jumped to his feet, grabbed Imoen by her arms and savagely pushed her in the wall. "And here you tell me she might be at peace?! YOU HEARD BOHDI...WE WON'T EVEN BE REUNITED IN DEATH." The pure fury, the pure murder in his eyes...For the first time in her life...Imoen was afraid of him.
"You're...you're hurting me..." She croaked. Seeing the fear in her eyes, he immediately released her and slammed his fists in the wall. "I'm...I'm so sorry. I..I didn't want..." He said sadly.
"I know you didn't, Karis... I know..." She said softly.
"Leave the cel, Imoen, and lock the door, before I lose control again."
Imoen complied and walked back to her friends into the front of the Copper Coronet.
"He didn't take it well, did he, Immy?" Jan asked. He understood Karis' pain better than anyone.
"No, he didn't. He couldn't control himself when I told him." She sighed. "He'll not be stable enough to accompany us to Suldenesselar...We might have to take on Irenicus ourselves, without him."
"That's not going to be easy." Nalia said.
"MINSC AND BOO WILL BRING BLADE AND BOOT TO WIZARD IRENICUS, TO AVENGE OUR FRIENDS!"
"That's the spirit, Minsc..." Jan said. "We'll be facing impossible odds, just like uncle Bopper, when he went up against this big green dragon ravishing the turnip-fields..."
Just then a muffled crash was heard in the back of the Copper Coronet. Just as the adventurers were about to check up on Karis, Hendak came up the group and spoke in a heavy accented voice. "Imoen! Thank the gods I found you. Karis has run away through the sewers!"
The group went over to the Jansen house to prepare for their search. While Jan had mobilized all the available Jansens for the search, Imoen and Minsc went to visit the temple where Viconia's body was being kept. When she returned, Nalia asked what she had found.
"Karis has been to the temple about half-an-hour ago and has taken her body from the altar. The priests were unable to stop him from taking her." She said grimly.
"I think he's still in the city." Jan said. "Minsc is watching the gates and hasn't seen him."
"Yes, but where do we look?"
The young gnome Tat Jansen ran into the family home and whispered something into Jan's ears.
"Well...What'd she say..." Imoen asked impatiently.
"Tat overheard two guards talking about a half-elf fitting Karis' description that tore up the temple of Oghma..."
"It was a terrible ordeal, dear girl. He came into the temple, carrying the body of a Drow woman, demanding a cure for her condition..." The frightened Priest of Oghma told her. "I told him I knew of some books on the subject that might help...But when I left to look for them, he suddenly went berserk and...did THIS..." He waved around his temple. Bookcases were thrown across the room, books, scrolls and containers were scattered all over the floor.
Minsc entered the temple. "Imoen...Tot wanted me to tell you, he has seen our friend Karis briefly in the graveyard."
"MINSC?!..." Imoen cried exasperated. "You're supposed to watch the gate!"
"Ah..." Minsc said. A sad squeek came from his pocket. "Boo apologizes for his oversight."
She sighed. "Well, what's done is done. Priest, did he take the books with him? Can you tell us anything to help us find my brother?"
The priest thought for a moment. "Yes...yes. He took three books. The Dea Vampir Becomos, the Conjur Ota Servata and the Vampiricus Omnibus. They were all sold to us by a bookseller from Imnesvale, I believe."
Imoen was happy to finally find a clue. "Come on, Minsc. Let's get the others...We're leaving for Imnesvale."
The trip to Imnesvale was a very fruitful one. The group was proceding to the ruined temple of Amaunator, hoping to find their friend amongst the forests. The bookseller had told Imoen about the ritual of Amaunator to restore a body, infected with vampirism back to life. Karis needed Bohdi's heart for the ritual, which explained his brief visit to the graveyard before leaving Athkatla. To be honest, Imoen was sceptical about this, but hopeful.
"There's the temple..." Nalia said. "Do you think he's been here already?"
"I don't know..." Imoen said. "Maybe if we find the altar, we'll find out..."
Suddenly, two figures emerged from the ruined temple.
"I don't believe it!!" Nalia cried.
And there they were...Karis was apparently telling an amusing story, as Viconia, who was VERY much alife, was smiling at him.
"OH JOYIOUS, SPLENDIFEROUS DAY!!!"Minsc shouted at Viconia and ran up to her. Viconia yelped in surprise as Minsc took her into crushing bearhug. "Our lost companion is returned to us! A wonderful thing, right Boo!" A happy squeek sounded from his pocket.
Viconia, however, was working hard trying to escape the huge ranger's crushing hold.
"Put me down, you addled fool!" She shouted. "Am I freed from vampirism, only to be crushed by your hulking paws!" Minsc sheepishly put her down. "I apologize, we are simply happy to see you!" As Viconia noticed Nalia running up to her, she held up her hand. "Don't even think about it, Nalia...I've got a 'Slay Living'-spell with your name on it!". Nalia giggled. "Oh, cut it out you! We're just happy to see you."
"Well, you'd be about the only rivvin happy to see me." Viconia said sarcastically.
"Well, Vicky." Jan said. "What was it like being a vampire?"
"I don't remember much of it." She said pensively. "What I do remember feeling, is a darkness much stronger than I've even felt before."
"That reminds me of my cousin Jacob. He was turned into a vampire as well, you see. Also started to talk in this annoying accent..."
"Whenever he'd spot a vicitim, he used to jump out of the shadows shouting 'I vant to suck yor Blud!'. But then he was mostly laughed at, so he was always starving. A 4 foot vampire isn't all that scary, I guess. Bet a Drow vampiress would have been more scary, eh?" He said with a wink.
"Hah...You'd be the first person I would come looking for, Jansen!" Viconia said, while grinning evilly.
"You know, Jacob was eventually slain by a very young Undead-Hunter named Bunny. Strange girl that was."
Imoen, on the other hand, was more interested in her brother. He was himself again. He's was his calm...patient...smiling self again. He was once again in control of the taint. Imoen walked up to him and hugged her brother tightly.
"Hey, sis..." He said, while hugging her back. "What is this for? I've been horrible to you the past couple of days."
"Forgiven...I'm just glad you're back." She released him.
"Well, my friends..." Karis said. "I hate to cut short our reunion, but we still have a job to do. An entire elven city is depending on us." Getting nods from all, his companions, he turned to Viconia.
"Viconia...Are you coming with us?" He asked carefully.
"I welcome the invitation." She looked around at her companions and grinned. "No doubt you have missed my discipline. Thank you...I...missed your company." She said. "Well...Shall we go?"
Imoen saw Karis was looking very happy. "Welcome back, Viconia."
Viconia approached him, and spoke softly. "I do not often express such feelings, but I must say that...I would not wish to be parted from you again." Imoen noticed a odd gleam in Viconia's eyes. She realized what it was...It was love...
"Hey, Vic..." Imoen said to Viconia, on the long way back to Athkatla. "Can I talk to you for a moment?"
Viconia sighed. "If you must." She said, while avoiding Imoen's gaze. "What do you want to talk about?"
"You still love him..."
"What?" She stopped and faced Imoen. "What are you prattling about, girl?"
"You still love him...It's not something you can turn off with a switch!" Imoen said angrily.
"You don't know what you are talking about...Lolth will not allow...."
"Excuses! When you really want something, you have to fight for it!" Imoen said.
"I will not be lectured by you... child!" Viconia spat.
"Well...I..." Suddenly it dawned onto Imoen. "That's why you left Baldur's Gate so suddenly...The people there would have let you stay in the city." She stood a little closer to the Drow and looked her in the eyes. "You were falling in love with him...and you left because you didn't understand what was happening to you. Broke his heart, you know...you leaving the city, I mean." Imoen saw a pang of regret cross Viconia's dark eyes. Imoen had found a weak spot in Viconia's armor. "Well, Vic...You didn't understand then, and you don't understand now."
"I...I...What do you know about matters of the heart, GIRL!" Viconia spat.
"Apparently..." Imoen said, while walking away from Viconia. "...I know more about it than YOU do."
Nighttime in Athkatla. Karis lay on the bed in his room at the Copper Coronet, watching the ceiling, thinking. They would leave for Suldenesselar tomorrow, and perhaps he would have his soul returned to him. The taint, which took over his mind, scared him. He hoped he could be free of this taint, someday. Karis had apologized to the priests of Oghma. They were surprisingly understanding after he had explained what had happened to him. Of course, the 7000 gold donation far more than made up for all the damages. Suddenly, he heard someone sneak into his room. It was Viconia...she was dressed in a night-shift. She walked over to the bed and lay down beside him. She bent over to press her lips on his. A brief yet passionate kiss followed..."What about Lol..." Karis started to say, but he was silenced when Viconia put two of her fingers on his lips. It had apparently taken her a lot of soul-searching to come to her decision. 'What changed her mind?', he wondered. He embraced her and held her close to him, glad to hold her in his arms. He felt her soft skin on his and, for a moment, was he afraid to move or breathe, in fear of breaking a precious dream. She fell asleep in his arms shorty afterwards. Karis knew what had happened just now. They were together again. Damn Lolth. Damn Bhaal. Damn Irenicus. Damn everybody who would stand in the way of their happiness. Whatever was to come, they would face it together.
5. Everything Changes
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