Friends or Lovers? Part 1
It was growing late but although darkness was beginning to cover the Sword Coast, service was still going on as usual in the Burning Wizard. Patrons sat and drank, laughing, talking, arguing and a bard was singing a song in the background, about a group of knights slaying a dragon, though few people were really listening to him. Around a table in the corner, as far away from the other people as possible for they liked none other than their own company, sat four adventurers. They were the party of Kane Theaza, a Bhaalspawn well known across the land. There were many stories about him, most of them labelling him a murderer, a thief, a dangerous man, and not without reason. He had once been in the service of the Shadow Thieves and had learnt how to harness and control the dark power within him when he was little more than a boy. He was powerful indeed; none yet had ever been able to beat him and very few who had fought him had lived to tell the tale. Kane Theaza was not best known for his mercy.
The warrior himself sat at the head of the table, the hood of his black cloak lowered to reveal a thin face, masked by his raven hair that fell to his shoulders. His skin was naturally pale, whiter than that of most people and occasionally the word “undead” lingered on the lips of those he passed. His eyes were dark and cold and he although he smirked a lot, he rarely smiled, not a genuine smile. There were those who said that the warrior was already half dead, and not without reason. But despite all his faults and evil ways, Kane was not devoid of emotion, not yet, and there were those too who believed that there was still hope for him.
His party consisted of Kagain, a strong and fierce dwarf he had picked up right there in Beregost, Edwin, a red wizard of Thay who had been wandering around Nashkell on some assignment to find and destroy a Rasheman witch, although he had no idea where to look and Viconia, a drow female and his lover, who he had saved from a Flaming Fist soldier. The three of them had been with Kane when he had fought his brother, Sarevok, in the Undercity below Baldur’s Gate, a little over a tenday before.
Kane had gotten involved with Sarevok after returning from a long trip to the north and the now dead Bhaalspawn had quickly taken advantage of his skills. Kane had patrolled the Sword Coast, checking on the Nashkel mines, Tazok’s bandits and killing those who made a nuisance of themselves by asking too many questions. And it was while doing this that he had pulled together his party. First he had saved Viconia, then met Kagain in Beregost and finally picked up Edwin while in Nashkel. Now that Sarevok was dead, the four of them were aimlessly wandering the Sword Coast, listening for rumours of the whereabouts of Edwin’s witch and willing to take any quest that promised them fortune and a challenge.
The warrior took a large bite from his piece of bread and glanced around at his companions. As usual, Kagain was shovelling his food down as fast as he could, Viconia was eating more slowly, occasionally looking up and smiling seductively as she felt her leader’s eyes on her, and Edwin was just pushing his food round and round his plate, keeping his eyes focused on it all the time. Apart from Kagain’s noisy chewing, there was silence. They had barely spoken since the vicious and bloody battle they had fought against four assassins just an hour or so before.
Despite Viconia’s healing, they still bore some wounds. Kane’s left hand and wrist were tightly bandaged, the ragged material covered in dry blood, he carried a smaller dagger wound on his right side, just below his ribcage, and the bruise on his jaw was beginning to turn a deep purple. Kagain had a deep gash just above his eye, received when his helmet had been knocked off, and a second on his right forearm. Viconia’s tunic and leather armour were cut at the shoulder and the half-healed cut was still visible. Edwin was the only one who had not suffered bad injuries, as the wizard of the group; he generally stayed back out of close combat and brought up spells to protect himself. He had one or two bruises, but that was all.
“What is wrong with you tonight, wizard?” Viconia said at last. “Your miserable face is beginning to put me off my food. In any case, I really don’t see what you have to be so upset about.”
“Aye, she be havin’ a point,” Kagain agreed. “We be getting’ ourselves hurt and bashed up and ye be getting of with barely a scratch on ye and yet ye still not happy!”
“I am not miserable!” Edwin snapped, looking up at last. “I am just tired. I do not expect any of you to understand, but casting spells drains a lot of energy.”
“Maybe it would have saved you some energy if you had cast the right ones.” Viconia said nastily and Kane shook his head in despair. He had been wondering how long it be before that subject came up…
Although Edwin had been useful in the battle against the assassins at first, after a few moments he had begun to falter. Twice he had lost his concentration midway through the spell, first casting a fireball spell at his own companions when he was supposed to be summoning monsters to help them and then casting web, which had led to the battle taking a very nasty turn as both sides found themselves tangled in the sticky stuff. And after that he seemed to lose his confidence and was practically useless as one spell after another failed, usually because he forgot the words at the critical point, leaving the other three warriors to take down the assassins alone. That was the reason they had come away so badly injured and, although Kane did not blame Edwin, he also knew that Viconia and Kagain would not let it drop easily. The rage had been building inside the drow and the dwarf ever since and they had obviously decided that now was the time to release it.
“Ye nearly burned us all to death with that stupid misplaced fireball!” Kagain growled. “And what happened to ye after that? All that forgetting…some wizard ye are.”
“How dare you talk to me like that?” Edwin said at once. “Sometimes spells fail, sometimes things go wrong, it happens to the best wizards! I would like to see either of you trying to cast a simple spell. It would be a miracle if either of you were able to understand half of the words necessary!”
“What I cannot understand, wizard!” Viconia answered angrily. “Is that despite all your bragging about what a great and powerful Red Wizard you are, you certainly didn’t act like on today. You were the one who messed everything up and nearly got us killed! And all you can do is sit there and look miserable, the less you could do is apologise and show a little concern for people other than yourself!”
“Yeah!” the dwarf agreed, still chewing noisily. As he spoke, breadcrumbs flew from his mouth across the table, a few of them landing in Edwin’s lap. The wizard gave him a look of disgust. “Though I be supposin’ that concern fer others isn’t somethin’ they be used to hearing over in Thay!”
“All right!” The wizard snapped in frustration. “I made a mistake and I am sorry! Is that good enough for you? (I swear that one day, when I’m even more powerful than this, I will make them pay).”
“That’s a little better.” Viconia said grudgingly. “I’ll assume that being a Red Wizard, you don’t know much about apologising so it is a start at least.”
“A Red Wizard apologises only on the very rare occasions he actually is in the wrong,” Edwin shot back. “But I am willing to bet that I still know more about apologising than a drow.”
“Perhaps,” Viconia agreed, much to his astonishment. “But then that worries me not for I have nothing to apologise for, whereas you are in the wrong now.” She turned back to her food and the table briefly fell silent again. “Now that I think of it,” she started again a moment later, “this would not be the first time you have messed up while casting a spell, would it now? Only a few days ago, you ended up teleported yourself into the middle of a hobgoblin camp.”
“Anyone can make a mistake,” Edwin repeated through gritted teeth.
“Viconia…” Kane said warningly. He had made no attempt to interfere before now, knowing that his companions were capable of fighting their own battles, but he could see that Edwin was beginning to get upset. “That’s enough!”
“And when you tried to blind that mad mage we met and ended up blinding Kagain instead,” she sneered, taking no notice of Kane. “I don’t know where you got the illusion that you were a good wizard, Edwin. Perhaps you should go back to Thay and tell your teacher that you need a few extra lessons. Or maybe you should go back and tell your parents that you need a new teacher because the one they gave you was obviously completely incompetent!”
“How dare you…?” For a moment, Edwin seemed completely lost for words. Seeing that her words had hit deep, Viconia and Kagain sat and smirked at the fuming wizard, waiting for the next stream of insults. However, much to their surprise, instead he stood up, knocking his chair to the floor with a loud crash, and then half walked and half ran to the main door. As they watched, he disappeared through it and slammed it shut with another bang.
“Nice work, Vic.” Kane said sarcastically. “So he made a few mistakes today, that’s no reason to be quite so hard on him. There was no permanent damage done after all, and what are we going to do for a wizard if he decides to leave us?”
“Good riddance,” Kagain muttered into his drink. “If he leaves, we just be finding another wizard. A better one.”
“You two are impossible,” Kane shook his head and stood up, reaching for his two long swords. “I’m going to go and see if he’s all right.”
Without waiting for a reply, he went over to the door, sliding his blades back into their scabbards and shrugging off the pain in his hand. Feeling a suddenly burst of anger towards Viconia and Kagain, he pulled open it open and stepped out into the cold night, only one thought on his mind.
It’s dangerous for a wizard to walk alone in these times and Edwin hasn’t exactly been on top form lately. I have to find him and quickly…before he ends up getting himself killed.
Friends or Lovers? Part 1
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