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Friends or Lovers? Part 4

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#1 Guest_Silver_*

Posted 04 October 2003 - 10:59 AM

Friends or Lovers? Part 4

For a minute, neither of them said a word. Kane stepped forward and then paused, trying to think of the best thing to say. Wiping the blood from his mouth with the back of his hand, he slowly shook his head, not taking his eyes from the wizard.

“It’s always you, isn’t it?” he said finally. “If there’s trouble going in, it’s practically a given fact that you’ll be involved in some way.”

“I…” Edwin started; trying to think of something to say that could make the situation better. “It was like…”

Before he could finish, Kane’s hands were gripping his shoulders, firmly but not enough to really hurt. But Edwin still winced as his leader gave him a quick shake.

“Don’t you ever do that to me again!” he said sharply; anger, worry and tiredness evident in his voice. Despite himself, Edwin once again felt a pang of guilt. “If I hadn’t followed you…they would have killed you.”

“I had the situation completely in hand!” The wizard answered at once, pulling free of Kane’s grasp. Though he knew that his leader was right, that he probably would have been killed, he could not bring himself to actually admit it, at least not in words. “I didn’t need your help! I can take care of myself!”

“You didn’t appear to be doing a very good job of it from where I was standing,” Kane pointed out, both amused and slightly annoyed by Edwin’s stubbornness. “So much for gratitude, but then I never really expected any different from you.” He smirked briefly at his companion and then glanced round the clearing a final time. “We really should get moving you know, we don’t want to attract any more monsters and there’s at least one hunting pack of wolves on the move tonight. And besides, I could really use a drink.”

They travelled the short distance back to Beregost in silence, not wanting to make any unnecessary noise to alert anything else to their presence. When they arrived, Viconia had disappeared; much to Edwin’s relief, and Kagain was on the other side of the room, deep in conversation with the bartender. After ordering Edwin to take a seat, Kane went over and said a few words to the dwarf before returning with two glasses of ale. He sat opposite the wizard and pushed one glass across the table to him.

“Drink it!” he ordered, his voice surprisingly gentle, but still firm at the same time. “I know you aren’t a big drinker, but it might help you relax a bit. You’ve been too tense recently and it might even help you sleep better. You look as though you could do with a good night’s sleep.”

Aware that it wasn’t usually wise to argue with Kane, the wizard didn’t protest, putting the glass to his lips and allowing a little of the cool liquid to trickle down his throat. It was strong and he resisted the urge to spit it out; he rarely drunk alcohol and it tasted strange to him, but he persisted until the glass was empty.

“Feeling better?” Kane asked finally, and Edwin realised with a start that he did feel a little better. Not much, but a little. He pushed his glass away from him and nodded, wishing that his leader would just hurry up and shout at him. “Good,” the Bhaalspawn said at once. “Because I really need to talk to you.”


“I want to tell you that I’m not annoyed at you for the incident with the gnolls. It was stupid to go walking off like that, I know that and you know that, but you were upset and I can’t imagine that you were really thinking properly. There was no real harm done, so I’m going to forget it and I want you to do the same.” He paused briefly and continued to regard his companion thoughtfully. “I must say,” he continued finally. “I was quite surprised when you walked out earlier. I had expected you to come out with some sarcastic remark like you always do.”

“Sometimes they can be a little much,” Edwin muttered, feeling a little shocked as he realised that Kane really wasn’t angry with him. “Anyone can have a bad day, even them.”

“That’s true,” The warrior agreed, shrugging his broad shoulders. “Kagain and Viconia had no right to say those things…but that’s just the way they are. I would have told them to shut their mouths sooner if I’d known that it was bothering you so much.”

“I don’t like people insulting my teacher!” Edwin said, a hard edge creeping into his voice. “Master Dekaras is not an incompetent teacher, he is a very good one, not to mention a brilliant assassin and I will not have that drow insulting him like that!”

“Ah, loyalty to your teacher,” Kane smirked faintly. “That I can understand. I won’t have a bad word about my old teacher said in my presence either.” Suddenly his eyes widened slightly as the name of Edwin’s teacher registered in his head. “Did you just say your teacher’s name was Dekaras?” he asked. “Was his first name Vadrak by any chance?”

“Yes.” Edwin said, after a brief pause. “Why? Do you know him?”

“Heard of him. My own teacher was a well-known assassin too, powerful, skilled, worked for the Shadow Thieves, he was one of the best though he never would have admitted it. I seem to recall him speaking quite highly of your teacher. Mind you, I also seem to recall him speaking highly of Artemis Entreri…” he trailed off and shrugged. “What’s your teacher like?”

“He is the best!” Edwin said at once. “The greatest assassin in all of the realms, you know, but he doesn’t like admitting it either. I can’t think why, if I were as great as him, I would want everyone to know. He doesn’t like his name being well known either…”

“Understandable,” Kane interrupted. “If you are an assassin and everyone knows who you are, it makes it difficult to do your job properly. My teacher, he had a scar on his face, a big one, and people often recognised him because of it. But he never really made an effort to draw attention to himself or brag about whom he was; he’d let people draw their own conclusions. And he always went under the name of Scarface when he travelled; never let his real name slip. Only the Shadow Thieves and a few of his old friends know that. Made quite a name for himself though, in Athkatla, Calimport and the north, and not just as a skilled assassin either.” Seeing that he had captured Edwin’s interest now, he continued. “He had demon blood in him,” he explained. “Allowed him to shapeshift into various different animal forms, a useful skill to have and a rather unique one. A shapeshifting assassin in a rare thing in the Realms.”

“I wonder if Master Dekaras has ever heard of him…”

“I’d be surprised if he hadn’t,” Kane shrugged and pushed his now-empty glass away. “Good assassins tend to know of each other and I do know that there are various stories about him right across the land. When you see your teacher again, ask him about Scarface, the shapeshifting assassin.”

“You miss him, don’t you?” Edwin couldn’t help but notice the sadness in his leader’s voice while he was speaking of his old friend. He was curious about what had happened, why the two had parted ways and where the assassin was now, but he understood that now was not the time to ask. Kane hesitated for a moment and then nodded.

“I miss him,” he said simply. “He really meant a lot to me.”

“I miss Master Dekaras a lot,” Edwin admitted. “And my parents too, of course, but my teacher was the one I spent most of my time with when I was growing up. He wanted to come with me, but my superiors would not allow it. They said that I had to prove myself by going alone. He was really angry about that and my mother was angry and upset…I think she thought that I would end up getting myself killed if I had to travel outside Thay by myself.”

“I wonder,” Kane raised an eyebrow, “where she got that idea?”

They both fell silent for several moments, Edwin got the strong impression that his leader had no wish to discuss the subject of family any further and so he asked no more questions. He was intrigued of course, and he hoped that Kane would eventually reveal more about his past, but he didn’t intend to push it just then.

“Anyway,” Kane finally broke the silence. “Like I said earlier, I wanted to talk to you about…about how you’ve been acting these last few days. You haven’t really been yourself, you haven’t been concentrating at all well in battle, your appetite seems to have disappeared completely and I keep hearing you moving about your room late at night. And you don’t seem very happy, is something troubling you?”

If only he knew. Despite the seriousness of the situation, part of Edwin just wanted to laugh at the warrior’s question. If only he knew…

“I’m fine!” he said quickly, a little too quickly. “It’s just…just the weather. That’s it! The weather and…and the stress of our companions always trying to get at me. I just need a good night’s sleep or two and I will be fine.”

“Right,” Kane wasn’t convinced that Edwin was telling the truth, but he decided not to press the matter just then. “Try and get a good night’s sleep then and hopefully you’ll feel better tomorrow.” He paused again, studying the wizard through narrowed eyes. “We are both very much alike, you and I,” he said thoughtfully. “Both good at hiding our feelings, pushing them away because at sometime in our lives we have learnt, or been led to believe, that it is weak to express them or that it is easier to pretend they don’t exist than to actually deal with them.”

“Yes.” Edwin nodded his agreement, his heart pounding in his chest. “Yes, I do believe you might be right.” Does he know? He could not possibly have guessed…could he?

“I think that what I’m trying to say,” the warrior went on. “Is that although I can’t always bring myself to express it, I do care about my companions, I do see them as my friends. I know that you feel that you don’t belong in this group and I’m sorry about that, but I can tell you honestly that there is no other wizard I would rather have behind me in battle, even if you have been having bad days recently. We may not be good, we may hide our feelings and pretend they don’t exist, but even we need someone to talk to occasionally when things get too difficult to deal with on our own and I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of. And I want you to know that I do care about you, I like and respect you, even if you are sarcastic and irritating and arrogant most of the time.” He smiled faintly. “Everyone needs a friend, Edwin, and I consider you one of mine.”

Although he felt pretty stunned by his leader’s speech, Edwin managed to nod his head, his emotions in turmoil. He had never really had any friends, not proper ones who actually liked him for who he was. Kane’s words made him happy, but they also made him feel scared.

He may want to be your friend, he told himself. He may think that he likes you, but if he ever learnt about these feelings I seem to have been cursed with of late, he won’t want anything more to do with me. He’ll throw me out of his party, leave me to feud for myself, never speak to me again. And I would not blame him, not at all. And my family, what would they think if they knew about this? What about my superiors, my fellow wizards back in Thay?

Just thinking of them made Edwin realise that he had no choice. He would just have to try even harder to bury his feelings and hope that they would eventually go away. It was the only thing he could do…

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