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Right Place, Wrong Bhaalspawn 6-10:Athkatla

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#1 Guest_Wyvern_*

Posted 23 October 2005 - 03:47 AM


Athkatla One

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 aren’t 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,"
he jeered.

"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.

#2 Guest_Wyvern_*

Posted 23 October 2005 - 03:53 AM


Athkatla Two

Minsc was dead because of my recklessness. "Can he be raised?" I asked Jaheira.

"Not by me, Silvanus has not granted me that power. Perhaps a temple could help." Jaheira's words seemed to admonish me, but perhaps it was my own guilt I sensed.

"Wait a minute," I said. "Let me seal off this room first, we can come back later and loot the bodies," I noticed Jaheira's scowl. "Don't look at me like that, Jaheira, we're in a strange city with enemies all around, and we're going to need all the cash and equipment we can scrounge up. Now help me lift Minsc."

Minsc was a large man and even after we removed his armour he was still very heavy. I really missed Imoen and her strength spells. Jaheira and I managed to carry Minsc's body to a nearby temple of Ilmater, ignoring the stares we attracted.

"Can he be resurrected?" I asked the priest curtly.

"Yes my child. Though it will be expensive."

"Of course, we will pay whatever is necessary." Greedy bloody gods, all of them. Ah well, as long as the spell works.

"Minsc will stomp you flat with the boot of goodness!" Minsc roared as he came back to life, and almost bowled over the shaking priest. He shook his head and looked around. "Minsc is confused. Where is the evil dwarf?"

I was so relieved I threw my arms around the berserker and grinned. "Come on Minsc; let's go back to the inn. I think there's a set of full plate armour upstairs that will fit you after a little magical alteration."

We started off for the slums much richer than before. There is a definite upside to taking on well-equipped mercenaries, even after paying for Minsc's resurrection, we were a couple thousand gold pieces ahead. I watched Minsc closely, but he seemed to be completely unaffected by his brush with death.

That's strange, I thought as we approached a lavish circus. Why are there city guards outside a circus tent? I was curious, but had no desire to investigate. Minsc thought differently when he saw a small boy crying outside the entrance, and he went over to speak to him. Minsc talked to the boy for a moment, and then suddenly rushed into the tent.

"Minsc!" I exclaimed, far too late. We had no choice but to follow him. The guards warned me that something strange was happening inside the circus tent, no one who entered had come out again. Wonderful. Who ever heard of an evil, enchanted circus?

Jaheira and I plunged into the tent, and I felt a moment of vertigo before finding myself in what looked to be another plane of existence. We stood on a stone bridge looking ahead at what appeared to be a monstrously enlarged version of the circus tent we had just entered. Minsc was in front of us, waving his sword at a genie.

"Minsc wait for us!" I yelled, and Jaheira and I came up beside him. Minsc was angry because the genie would not let him cross the bridge without answering a riddle. It seemed the boy Minsc spoke with had escaped from the circus, but his mother was still trapped inside. Just like we were now trapped. We had no choice but to go forwards. I provided the answer to the genie's riddle, and all three of us crossed the bridge and entered the circus.

The first thing I saw was a large ogre brandishing a club. Before we could do anything the ogre started speaking to us in a childish voice. I asked it who it was.

"I..I'm not a monster! I'm an elf, a winged elf … or at least I was … This form is only an illusion. Kalah, he's a gnome illusionist, I don't know what he's done, exactly, or how … But everything here is illusion. But it's magic that can hurt you, if you believe in it …"

"Minsc has never heard of elves with wings," Minsc interrupted.

"I have," I answered. "The Avariel. My old tutor, Arborel, had an entire mattress filled with Avariel feathers, he thought it would boost his magic." The ogre gave a little shriek and stepped back. Interesting, I had never seen an ogre's face blanch with horror before. "He was a disgusting old man," I admitted. "Alright, how can we dispel the illusion you're under?"

Following the ogre's directions, we dispatched a couple of real ogres disguised as peasants, and found a magic sword that dispelled the Avariel's spell and revealed ... a rather strange looking elf woman. Blond, petite, wide blue eyes and with a perpetual look of fear etched on her features. She said her name was Aerie, and that she was a cleric and a mage. Good, I thought, a mage is always useful to have around.

I used my innate powers of invisibility and scouted the area ahead. There were werewolves in the next room. Up a flight of stairs, I found more werewolves, shadows, and a large barbarian type sitting on a throne. That must be Kalah. A gnome with an inferiority complex; it figures that the first thing he'd change would be his own appearance. I heard something else whispering on the edges of my mind. So that's what set Kalah off, I thought, and turned around to return to the others.

I immediately told the group my plan of attack. "We don’t want to waste time battling illusions. I say we just ignore everything, and push our way straight through to Kalah. Once he's disabled, all the illusions should fade away. It should only take a few minutes once Aerie hastes us."

"I …" Aerie said, and then stopped and looked down at her feet.

"What's wrong Aerie, don't you have a haste spell memorized?"

"No, I..I don't know that spell."

"But you cast a stoneskin spell, that's more complicated than haste. What kind of a mage are you? A combat mage should always have a haste spell handy."

Aerie blushed red. "S..sorry."

Right. A little trickier without haste, but the plan should still work. We set out and moved through the first group of werewolves. I headed up the stairs, and then heard Aerie shriek, apparently one of the shadows in the room was not an illusion. Minsc swept Aerie up and away from the shadow, and the two of them followed us up the stairs.

Kalah looked up with a smile when we entered his throne room. "Ah, my beast, you have led them here nicely …" he said, looking at Aerie.

"What?" Aerie said. "I'm not …"

"Save it Kalah, I'm not going to fall for that," I interrupted. "He's lying to you, he's promised you power but he only wants you dead."

Kalah reared back with a look of surprise. "I don't know what you're talking about. I am Kalah, and I am powerful in my own right."

"Father," I said and I knew Kalah had finally seen me for what I am. "I've heard him too and all he spouts is lies. Let go of your delusions Kalah."

He snarled, and brought his arm down; signalling the monsters to attack us. Aerie let loose with a magic missile that stopped Kalah in the act of casting a spell. Before he could recover, Minsc, Jaheira and I reached him and quickly cut him down. The walls and creatures around us began to dissolve and reform as something else. Kalah was almost dead.

"No!" he rasped. "This isn't what was supposed to happen! This …" his voice faded away, and soon after there was nothing left but his clothes and a pile of dust.

"He was a Bhaalspawn then," Jaheira stated.

"Driven mad by Bhaal. Father will allow none of us to live peacefully," I said sadly.

#3 Guest_Wyvern_*

Posted 23 October 2005 - 03:57 AM


Athkatla Three

The circus people were grateful we saved them, and after they treated us to a lavish feast, we were ready to move on. I let Aerie join our party after a long talk with her guardian, the gnome Quayle. Jaheira was not pleased, and took me aside to express her dislike of recruiting the elf.

"We do need a mage," I argued. "How many mages not affiliated with the Cowled Wizards do you think there are in this magic-hating city?"

"She seems so young Shann," Jaheira said, and I smiled since Jaheira still persists in thinking of me and Imoen as children.

"Quayle says she's older than she acts. She plays helpless in an attempt to get people to pity and protect her."

"It may not be an act. The child could prove to be more of a hindrance than a help. We face dangerous enemies."

"Yes, I know," I said, and paused a moment. "Aerie was a prisoner, and that's how she survived, by getting sympathy from some of her captors. Quayle said the girl is stronger than she acts, but if she doesn't get out from his protective care she may truly become as helpless as she pretends to be. She did react well during the battle with Kalah. Not everyone can cast spells in the heat of battle."

"I would not like the child to be hurt learning these lessons," Jaheira said with a scowl.

"We'll keep her in the back lines. If it's too dangerous we can always send her on her way. A few days away from her circus may be all Aerie needs," I remarked. Jaheira seemed satisfied, and took it upon herself to start teaching Aerie basic battle strategies.

We took a moment to look through the items on sale at the Adventurer's Mart. There was a woman in the back selling spell scrolls, and I bought a haste and strength scroll for Aerie to memorize. I also purchased a stoneskin for myself; very useful for a spellsword like myself. I didn't have the skill yet to cast stoneskin, but with a little more study I would be able to use the spell.

We also learned more about the practice of magic in this city. It seemed that for a price a license to cast magic could be bought in the government district. Of course this meant that I had to save the money I had, and couldn't buy any of the great equipment the mart had on display. I could have really used some of the items too.

We managed to leave the promenade without any more distractions, and made our way to the slums. Once there, we were approached by a rogue named Gaelan Bayle who knew who I was, and offered to link us with a group that could help us find Imoen. For a price of course. I was beginning to understand just why Athkatla was called the city of coin.

"Twenty thousand gold pieces is a little steep. Can't your employers lower the amount? A bit of a discount for a fellow thief. Professional courtesy perhaps?"

"Coo, I never said a word about who my employers are," he said, stubbornly maintaining his weak facade.

"I know about the Shadow Thieves the same way you know about me. The Thieves Guilds in different cities gossip shamelessly about each other. I can't be sure, but it may have been your own friends fighting Irenicus. I'll pay the fee if I have to, but you had better deliver." I thought of something. "In the meantime, you can see that a letter is delivered to the Southgate Thieves Guild in Baldur's Gate for me."

"I cannot promise you anything …"

"Professional courtesy," I said as I scribbled a quick note. "What do you think of this, Jaheira? Dear Jarond: Thought I'd let you know I'm not dead. Was kidnapped by an insane mage and am now in Athkatla. Have to stay a while and find Imoen. I suppose all my goods have been 'redistributed' by now, but that's alright. I don't see myself returning to Baldur's Gate anytime soon. Hope you have a nice life. Shann Lightfoot"

"It's a little, um, brief."

"It will do; It's not like were engaged or anything. Jarond's probably already found another woman," I handed the letter to Gaelan along with a minor threat to his well being if I found out it was not delivered properly.

Now I only had to acquire the fee to find Imoen. Gaelan suggested I try to find mercenary work in the local tavern, or perhaps see if the Thieves Guild in the docks would employ me. It did make sense, the Shadow Thieves would employ me, and then pay me with coin I had to give right back to them. Before looking for work though, I decided to see about purchasing that license to practice magic.

We had just entered the government district when I heard the sounds of a mob. Through the shouts I heard the words "Burn the Drow". Curious, I wandered over to see what was going on. Tied to a stake was a female Drow elf, and it was obvious that she was about to be burnt to death. I do not like Drow, but saw no reason to watch the execution and turned to leave. As I moved away, I was startled to hear the Drow call my name.

"Shann!" she cried. "It is I! Viconia DeVir! You must remember! My life depends on it!" Her voice sounded desperate. "Please, Shann, I beg of you! Save me from these madmen!"

I did know her. Viconia DeVir had wormed her way into Ti's group for a short time. What I did not understand was why she expected me to save her. In the time we travelled together she had only spoken with me once.

I left the group after we stopped for the night and walked a little ways to a small creek. Sometimes I needed to be alone. Unfortunately, the Drow had followed me. I could almost understand why Tiswash saved her from the Flaming Fist idiot, but I could not see why she was still with us. By her own admission she served an evil god. She may have left behind the ways of Lloth, but the evil of her people still clung to her.

"Leave me Drow," I warned as Viconia sat down beside me on the bank.

"I have been watching you as we travel. You have a pleasing strength about you." She ran a hand down my arm as she said this.

I jumped away from her in shock. "Are you coming on to me? Are you insane?"

Viconia leaned forward and smiled. "Come now surfacer, the men in this party are all worthless weaklings."

"I do not like you Viconia. I named myself Drowkiller, I worship Shevaras and you dare to think I would ever touch you!"

"Oh yes, Shevaras, the elven god that hates all things drow." Viconia made a dismissive gesture. "You don't worship him anymore; I remember what you said to Tiswash: 'Even if I no longer follow Shevaras, I still advise you to send the drow away if you will not destroy her.'"

"That statement alone should tell you that I absolutely despise you Viconia."

"Such passion, hate can lend a most pleasing vigour to the erotic arts."

I could not believe the nerve of this psychotic creature. "No Viconia, go away."

Viconia got up slowly, still smiling, and turned to leave, but found her way blocked by Odesseiron, who had evidently been watching us.

"I absolutely despise you too, dark one," Odesseiron said huskily. "If you are lonely, perhaps I could demonstrate the Thayvian mastery of the erotic arts."

Viconia stalked past Odesseiron. She paused only to shove him towards the creek. He floundered a bit off balance, but soon recovered. He then looked at me, and rubbed his hands together.

"Um, I do not entirely despise you little one. (What matter height when you are lying down?) Since Viconia is not your type I would be pleased to …"

I could not believe any of this. "No! You spying son of a slaver race!" I copied Viconia, and shoved Odesseiron towards the creek. This time he lost his balance, and slid into the muddy water. What was this? The most obnoxious members of the party were hitting on me. What was that drow up to anyway?

I shook my head to clear my thoughts, and return to the present. If Ti were here I knew he would try to save the drow as he had in the past. But Ti was dead, and I was not him.

#4 Guest_Wyvern_*

Posted 23 October 2005 - 04:01 AM


Disclaimer: character death (NPC, but not a party member)

Athkatla Four

Viconia expected me to save her from being burned alive. Aerie showed no sympathy for the drow, but both Minsc and Jaheira thought that I should intervene.

"They … they will not burn the pretty elf?" Minsc said. "There must be no burning if she has committed no crime! Shann, we stop this travesty!"

"I have no love for drow, nor for this drow in particular … but it seems that she has done nothing to deserve this fate other than simply be a drow," Jaheira said, despite her dislike of Viconia being nearly as strong as my own. "This is not justice."

"Alright," I reluctantly agreed. "I will find out what crimes she has been accused of. Wait here and I will speak to the leader of this mob."

I approached the man preparing to light the oil-soaked wood Viconia stood upon. "Pardon me," I said. "My friends and I were wondering what crime the drow committed to warrant being torched."

"What crime? The crime of being dark and evil, of course!" He stated with conviction. "She is a drow, and all the drow deserve no mercy! We found her in the market, attempting to hide her identity! Now stand aside and I will destroy the drow."

For a moment I thought to stop him. When we had travelled together Viconia had never really seemed evil. I scowled, she was drow, if she had not yet done evil she would if she survived, and I would not let myself be fooled by her. Drow are an evil race and better off dead. Viconia was drow, and therefore deserved to die. I stood aside as he lit the pyre and then walked away. I heard Viconia curse me before she started screaming. Minsc stood with tears running down his face, and even Aerie had turned away from the sight of the dying drow.

"A horrible death," Jaheira said calmly. "What crime had Viconia committed?"

I wanted to lie to Jaheira, but found that I could not. "She was drow," I answered.

"What crime?" Jaheira asked again, sharply.

"She was drow, is that not enough?" I said.

"We did not rescue her?" Minsc said pulling on my arm. "Maybe darker elves are not all good, but surely not all are totally evil? I am … confused?"

"She was evil, she deserved to die," I said, trying to convince both Minsc and myself.

Jaheira brought her hand up and slapped me hard. I could taste blood where my lower lip had split and stood in shock looking at Jaheira. "Is that what you see as justice, Shann? I sensed great sadness behind her darkness. With balance, she might have been … well, who knows?"

"She might have committed great evil, like her race is noted for," I spat out while averting my gaze from hers.

"She died because she was born drow," Jaheira said as she gripped the front of my shirt and forced me to look at her. "She died because of who her mother was, who her father was, BHAALSPAWN."

Jaheira released me and I stumbled backwards with my thoughts a blur in my mind. Who was I to condemn another for her heritage? What of my own bastard of a grandfather? But Viconia was not only born drow, I berated myself, she was raised drow. The drow teach their people to be evil. Fool, I told myself, there were those who said the same things about the duergar. They called the duergar an evil race. I thought of my grandmother Bareth; she lived for decades among the duergar before her rejection of their ways led her family to sell her into slavery. Viconia was not responsible for the actions of any drow but herself. And I had let her burn as a proxy for her entire race. Bhaal, I thought, it was his influence that twisted my thoughts and made me leave Viconia to die an agonizing death.

"Bhaal," I choked out.

Jaheira's eyes narrowed. "Do you blame Bhaal for your hatred?"

Yes! I wanted it to be true. But I knew it was only an excuse. "No," I said softly. "No, I no longer hear him. My hatred is my own. I wanted Viconia to die because she was drow. Leave me alone, please."

They left me sitting by the side of an ornamental fountain. I sat for a long time watching the play of shadows in the water. I knew I should feel guilty for allowing the drow to die, but something within me felt relieved that she was dead. I should not be here, I thought. Ti was the one who had always known the right path to take. If he had lived instead of me, none of this would have happened. I could not help but feel that Ti would never have let Irenicus' men take him by surprise. I knew he would never have allowed the drow to burn. I sighed and tried to stop thinking of what might have been. Eventually I looked up and saw my companions coming back to me.

"Are you feeling better?" Jaheira asked.

"Not really, no." I answered.

"Good," Jaheira said. "Now, for Imoen's sake, let us continue with our planned tasks."

We found no help in the government offices. No one knew how to contact the Cowled Wizards or where they kept their prisoners. It seemed the Cowled Wizards were a law unto themselves. Yet a mage named Tolgerias introduced himself as a Cowled Wizard and had the nerve to offer me a job.

"You people abducted my friend and you expect me to work for you!" I shouted, wishing I could attack the fool.

"As you wish, though you should think twice before angering us. If you change your mind I will be here for some time yet," Tolgerias stated haughtily.

"Watch your back," I threatened, but Tolgerias only laughed.

"Be careful Shann," Jaheira admonished. "The Cowled Wizards may arrest you if you provoke them."

"That would probably be the fastest way to find Imoen," I said, but Jaheira only scowled more.

Even after I insulted Tolgerias the man selling licenses to practice magic had no qualms about issuing me one. It was expensive, but I paid the price. Mercenary work would soon fill my pockets with gold. Irenicus had displayed a frightening level of power and I had no intention of finding him until after my companions and I had the best equipment available in this cursed city. I was worried about Imoen, but saw no reason to rush to her rescue and die in the process.

#5 Guest_Wyvern_*

Posted 23 October 2005 - 04:05 AM

RP,WB 10

Athkatla Five

We returned to the slums to rest. Jaheira knew of an inn, the Copper Coronet, that served as a meeting place for high and low alike. A good place to find both information and work. The main floor was noisy and crowded, just perfect to lose oneself in. Maybe a little too perfect, I thought I saw Yoshimo at a corner table, but by the time I got close enough to make a proper identification he had disappeared. I hoped I was wrong, I really didn't need another person stalking me. I returned to the group only to be confronted by a thug with an attitude.

"Oy!" He said with a sneer. "Look at th' dolly girl, all sacked up like an 'adventurer'. Are ye supposed to be tough or something, aye?"

"I've had a lousy day," I snarled at him. "Back off and I won't hurt you."

"Oy! Oy! That sounds like a bleedin' challenge it does," He said with excitement.

"Does it really?" I said coldly.

"Ya hears 'at boys? Looks like she wants t' fight!"

"Oh, is..is this really necessary?" Aerie interrupted, earning herself a series of boos from the onlookers.

Jaheira just looked resigned and waved me on. The Copper Coronet had a circular pit designed for duels such as I had just gotten myself into. As I stepped into the ring, the crowd started calling out bets on the winner. It seemed my opponent, Amalas, was a well known fighter and definitely the crowd's favourite. I barely had time to cast a mirror image before he was upon me. I moved quickly to defend myself and cursed because he was much stronger and faster than I had expected. I really should stop acting so impulsively.

We sparred for some time, just getting each other's measure and I saw him smile. He drew first blood when one of his strokes managed to glance off my arm. Not a bad wound, but enough to slow me down. I had to do something fast before my magic shields wore off. I danced back out of his range and called on Bhaal's powers to drain his life force. He faltered and stumbled as my worst wounds closed over and renewed strength came to me. Acting quickly I lunged forwards, and surprised him by rolling and coming up to hamstring him with my dagger. I could now outpace him and take him down at my leisure. I almost killed him but had already caused one death today and settled for just knocking him unconscious. The murmers of the crowd were mostly unhappy, but the few who had bet on me were cheering exuberantly.

I stumbled over to Jaheira who briefly scolded me, and then turned away, leaving Aerie to heal me. She was just finishing when I looked up to see Jaheira talking to a burly man wearing shiny armour.

"Fair lady," he was saying, "what brings you to this cesspool of corruption?"

Jahaeira didn't care for this kind of flowery speech anymore than I do. "That is none of your affair," She answered shortly.

Not that he noticed her state of mind, for he continued in the same vein. "In truth it is. I am honour-bound to protect all persons from corruption and evil."

"What about people who are already corrupt and evil? Are you honour-bound to protect them from themselves?" I asked, amused.

"Pardon me, my lady?" He said, turning around and looking down at me.

"Never mind," I sighed. "Do you want something?"

"Actually, I was talking to your leader," he said as he turned back to Jaheira.

"I'm not the leader of our group," Jaheira said, and then pointed at me, "Shann is."

He blushed and turned back to me, "You have the look of adventurers about you. I am Anomen, warrior priest of Helm," he said, managing to stand even straighter. "I seek to be knighted in the Most Noble Order of the Radiant Heart and must prove my worth, first. Have you need of a strong sword my lady?"

I wondered if he actually expected me to believe we met by chance. "Can the order not spare a full knight to spy on me?"

"I beg your pardon, my lady?" He said, sounding offended.

"Do you mean to tell me that the Order is not aware of my presence here?" I asked, but Anomen showed no sign of comprehension. "Shann Lightfoot?"

He looked befuddled, rather cute actually. "I'm sorry my lady, if the Order knows of you they have not seen fit to grace me with that knowledge. My offer of my sword arm still stands, er, that is, if you serve the cause of righteousness."

I looked at him again, perhaps the Order had not sent him my way. He did have the look of an experienced fighter. Even wearing armour I could tell he had a fine, muscular build. And he was a priest as well. He looked a little young but he was rather handsome, plus he had a cute little beard, and I do like men with beards. I'm not looking for a mate, I scolded myself, the question was whether or not he would be useful in my quest to find Imoen. I looked over at my current companions, counting Jaheira twice, there were already two fighters and two healers.

"Regretfully," I said sincerely, "I must decline your offer."

I left Anomen behind us after promising to find him if ever I needed another companion.

The next morning we rose early and left for the docks after eating a quick meal. Jaheira seemed to know the bartender, Bernard, but would not confirm if he was a harper or not. Funny, I've met harper agents in all levels of society but have never seen them actually do anything. Outside of Jaheira, who didn't seem like a harper at all, I had never been aided the harper network.

I noticed Minsc talking to Aerie as we walked towards the dock district. Soon afterwards Aerie came up to talk to me.

"Minsc said he wants me to be his witch, w..what does that mean?" She asked softly.

"Well," I said, pausing for a moment to think. "Basically, he will devote his life to guarding you. Judging by Minsc's relationship with Dynaheir, he will essentially become your slave. He will die to protect you."

Aerie's face practically glowed, "He'll protect me? That sounds lovely."

"You're supposed to protect him too, Aerie. While Minsc is fighting his witch is supposed to be casting spells."

"Oh I c..can do that," she said carelessly. "I..I think I'll like being Minsc's w..witch." She dropped her voice and whispered as she continued, "don't you think he's a sweetie-pie?"

I looked at her for a moment. "Aerie," I said, "you do realize Minsc is somewhat, well, he's a little, um, simple-minded."

Aerie looked back at the ranger with a dreamy look on her face. "Oh I know, he's just perfect." She then bounced back to Minsc and spoke to him as she took his arm.

"Hear that evil?!" Minsc shouted as he flourished his sword. "Minsc has a new witch! Woe is you!"

"He seems happy enough," I observed.

"Yes," Jaheira said. She did not look happy at all.

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