Imoen had been tortured, Jaheira was devastated by the death of her husband Khalid, and I was in a very bad mood. This blasted dungeon was getting on my nerves and I wanted to get out of there. We fought our way through more goblins and mephits, and finally came to a walkway between two towering buildings. We were not outside, not yet, but we must be getting closer.
"Wait a moment," I said. "The walkway's rigged to collapse. This Irenicus is one paranoid bastard." I disarmed the trap, and we moved forwards a little more cautiously.
We found a large hall filled with men fighting duergar. The area was littered with traps. Both the men and duergar keep tripping the traps. Idiots. I knew I should explore the area, and try to find out more about my captor, but I desperately wanted to see the sky. I could come back here later; preferably with an army. We left the combatants behind us, and pressed on. There was one corridor we could reach without going through the trapped hall, and we headed that way. I could see sunlight streaming through an open doorway, but the path ahead was blocked by a grey-cloaked fool.
"Get out of my way," I growled as soon as I saw him.
"You'll not escape without a battle here. Your master dies above and you shall join him!" he shouted, and started casting a spell.
Evidently, I had been mistaken for one of Irenicus' people. I shrugged, and attacked the idiot who was blocking my way to freedom. Minsc and Jaheira came to join me, but we were ambushed by two assassins who had been hiding in the shadows. The fight was hard, and, even though our foes were destroyed, everyone was now wounded, and our path was marked with our own blood. I could not bear to stay below any longer, and stumbled forwards up a steep corridor littered with bodies. We staggered on, and then heard a rumble behind us, and I almost fell when the floor shook violently. I looked back, and the way was blocked with rubble now. The whole place had collapsed.
"We're not getting back in there. Even with an army," I said.
"Why would you want to?" Imoen asked.
"Never mind Imoen, let's move on."
We reached the surface, only to see Irenicus battling a group of thieves. I shouted out in rage, and moved to attack him, but found my way blocked by a force field. Irenicus had locked himself and his opponents behind a yellow shimmering sphere, and I hammered my fists against it in anger. Jaheira pulled me back, but I shook her off, and tried to find some way to get at Irenicus. Irenicus destroyed his attackers with chilling ease, and then he turned to regard us.
"So you've escaped God-child, you're more resourceful than I expected," Irenicus said in the voice that had haunted my waking and sleeping hours for weeks.
"You're not gonna torture us anymore!" Imoen screamed before launching a magic missile that went straight through the force field. I wished I had offensive magic memorized. I wanted to hurt him too.
Suddenly there were flashes of light sparkling within Irenicus' sphere, and several robed figures materialized around Irenicus. Teleportation? Very few wizards could afford the spell components needed to use teleportation spells. The robed mages said something about the unsanctioned use of magic energy before Irenicus destroyed them all. Gods, how strong is he? More robed figures teleported in; this time Imoen attacked Irenicus at the same time the newcomers assaulted him.
"Enough!" Irenicus shouted. "I will go with you, but you will take the girl as well!"
"What! No! I've done nothing wrong!" Imoen protested.
"You have been involved in the illegal use of magics. You will come with us," a robed one answered, and before any of us could react, they were all gone; teleported away. The robed ones, Irenicus, and Imoen. It happened so fast. I did not know where we were, or what had happened to Imoen. I will find her, I will. Jaheira and Minsc looked as shocked as I was, but Jaheira recovered first.
"I find it odd that this Irenicus would leave of his own volition," Jaheira stated. "And why take Imoen, when it is Shann he is so obviously interested in?"
"I didn't have any magic left to cast, only Imoen cast any spells. I can only guess those wizards ignore people who don't use magic." I answered. I did not tell Jaheira the disturbing thought that had just entered my mind. Irenicus was interested in me because of my Bhaal blood, and he was also interested in Imoen. Imoen who was raised in Candlekeep like my Bhaalspawn brother Tiswash. Imoen who was of an age with me. Could Imoen be a Bhaalspawn herself? But I never sensed the Bhaal taint in Imoen like I had in both Sarevok and Ti. Then I realized it was not the taint itself I had sensed in my brothers, it was the voice of our father whispering in their minds. If father had ignored Imoen, never spoken to her, I would not sense our kinship. Oh Imoen, gods, I hope I'm wrong.
I looked around, there was a large crowd gathering, gawking at the spectacle. I never expected to emerge into a thriving market place. I did not recognize the city, and the people were dressed in different styles than I was used to. Most of the spectators pretended not to see us. We must have looked quite unpleasant dressed as we were in tattered rags and cheap armour. Although it was probably the bloodstains and weapons we still held making people steer clear of us. I sheathed my weapons, and started to approach a richly dressed woman, but she turned aside. My mistake, never try talking to a noble when you're in distress. I spotted a more amiable man, a labourer by the looks of him, and asked him where we were.
"Ye don't know where ye are man? By Helm, ye're in Athkatla, jewel of Amn"
"Also known as the city of coin," Jaheira remarked. "I know this place, I have been here before."
"Who were those wizards who stole Imoen from us?" I asked.
"That was the girl? Maybe 'twas the cowled ones," the native said, looking about furtively when he mentioned the wizards.
"Who are the cowled ones?"
"Ye are new here arent ye sir? Magic be forbidden to all but the Cowled Wizards and th' ones that buy a licence t' practice magic from them. Any other magic users get themsel's arrested. Ye don't want to cross th' cowlies man."
I was beginning to be annoyed. "Sir! Man!" I said angrily. "So I have a beard, I'm part dwarf if you must know, and it's not as though I'm built like a man," I said, grabbing my chest in a very vulgar manner. "What's the matter with you? Are you blind or something? You think a male would have a pair of these?"
"My apologies my, uh, lady," he stammered as his face turned red. "Um, was there anything else?"
"No, there is not, thank you for your time," Jaheira said as she placed a hand on my arm. "Shann, you are getting hysterical, we should find an inn and rest. And you can let go of yourself now."
"But I have to find Imoen. I promised Ti I'd look after her, she was practically his little sister. Imoen's the closest thing to family I have," I stopped talking, and looked at Jaheira guiltily. She was the one who just lost her husband. "I'm sorry Jaheira, at least Imoen is still alive."
Jaheira seemed to guess my meaning, for her face darkened for an instant before she shook it off. "If Imoen has been arrested, we can find where she is being held in the morning. There is an inn nearby called the Den of Seven Vales; it is not fancy, but it is clean enough," she guided Minsc and me along the road as she talked. "For now, we all need rest, baths, and food."
"And a shave," I muttered. "I don't mind people mistaking my race, but my gender is another story. Maybe I should start wearing nothing but a furry loincloth."
I felt better in the morning. It was good to be clean, even if my clothes were still little more than rags. I noticed a few extra scars on my body, but nothing worse than what was there before. Jaheira suggested we head for the poorer sections of town, where information would be more readily available. Unfortunately, before we could leave an arrogant dwarf accosted Jaheira in the upstairs common area.
"Hah! If it daren't be a freak o' nature walkin' around like it ain't unnatural,"
"What do you mean, cur?" Jaheira said, laying her hand on her scimitar.
"Ye gots the look of a half-elf to ye. Ain't right for th' races to mix girlie."
"Is that so?" I said. I wondered if he had noticed my own pointed ears, or taken me for human.
"Yar, that's what Mencar Pebblecrusher says. Get you on your way and take yon freak wi' ye."
"Leave it be, Shann. We should be on our way," Jaheira said, but I paid no attention to her words.
"I'm not going to stand for your insults, you short-bearded pansy," I growled at the loudmouth.
"Ye'll take whate'er I have to give ye! Come, my friends " he shouted, and it was only now that I noticed Mencar's friends, a mage, fighter, and thief. All of them looked very competent. Maybe I should not have insulted the racist twit.
"Let's teach the whelp what it be to cross Mencar and his band, eh! HAVE AT YE!"
The fight was a blur and I lost myself to battle rage. Somehow, I ended up standing over the bodies of Mencar's little band. I breathed a sigh of relief; that was easier than I expected. I looked over at Jaheira; she was badly wounded and barely able to stand. Minsc was leaning against the wall, half sitting.
"Fool child," Jaheira scolded, her eyes flashing. "Can you not swallow a few insults? Your recklessness will get us all killed."
"I am not reckless! I would have been dead years ago if I was not cautious."
"No Shann, you were not reckless in the past. You are now. And your actions have cost Minsc his life."
"What!" I noticed for the first time that Minsc was not moving. I moved towards him, and Boo snarled at me. My fault, I knew. I should have just walked away from the fight.