It was a calm night in the elven city of Suldanessalar. Quite a contrast to the events of the past couple of weeks as Irenicus wrought his wrath on the fair city. Many houses were empty now; their occupants slaughtered in the wake of his destruction, an occasional candlelit window the only telltale signs of life. Arelius and Jaheira were standing on the railing of the balcony, starring off into the night sky.
“You were right, Jaheira. There is beauty here in Amn.”
“Yes. I am glad we are here to share it. So many are not. It will take a long time for the city to heal itself.” We stood quiet, Jaheira hanging onto my arm, her head resting on my shoulder. It felt so good to not be in battle armor any more, to just be a normal couple, sharing a quiet moment together.
I was finally at peace. I had not known a moment of it since long before my capture by Irenicus. I wanted the moment to go on forever, but as usual, other events kept invading my thoughts, and eventually I broke the silence. “Imoen wants to go back to Candlekeep.”
“She needs to put closure on that episode in her life. If you want, we could escort her. I know how much she means to you.”
“I don’t know. So much has changed, and I feel so removed from that time. All these new powers that keep coming to me. I am not the same person who grew up there. I’m not sure going back is the right answer.”
“But she needs it. Will you leave her to fend for herself, after all we have been through?”
“I suppose your right. It won’t be a bad experience. I owe it to her, and I guess I owe it to whoever survived that mess. It was because of me and Imoen that the changelings came. Funny, I wonder why didn’t try to grab her.”
“Here you are. I have been looking for you.”
“Your highness.” I said turning around to meet Queen Ellesime, giving a slight bow to her.
“Please, you need not stand on formality here. I owe the health of the entire city to you. Please call me Ellesime.”
“Thank you,” I said. Jaheira was mimicking my actions, but the stiffness of her motion betrayed her thoughts. She did not like the interruption.
“I have been meaning to talk to you. You and I are very similar, being both children of gods. I know you have been dragged into many situations that were not of your choosing, and I was wondering how you were faring with the choices before you.”
“She means whether you will continue to be a force for good, or whether you slip into the evilness of your lineage,” Jaheira interjected.
“Something like that, though not as abrupt. The effects of your actions around here were most decidedly good, but I do wonder of your true motivations. You see, I made the mistakes that brought about Irenicus. I made them for what I thought was the good of all. We do not take banishment lightly, especially one from our very race. Those actions caused great pain in me and my people, and they must be borne on my shoulders alone.”
“I too, take great pain at the events that seem to revolve around my heritage. I did not choose to be a child of a god, and I do not wish to partake in his godhood.”
“But you must always remember that you do have choices. You are not bound to be the lord of murder any more than I am bound to be lord of the forest. Rillifane will survive for centuries to come. I could never replace one such as he.”
“An interesting point. I had not thought of that. So what do you think your destiny is? You have inherited the city and are the lifeblood of its people. As you said, you jeopardized that with your decisions. How will you make amends?”
“The tree will forgive my actions, the limbs will regenerate, and the land will heal. My people will once again grow to great numbers, and our god has shown that his anger was directed towards Irenicus for his sacrilege. Such is the way of our people. I will find the correct choice of godhood when it comes. I cannot predict what that will be like, but I know it will be for the good of the land, and those who live in it.”
“But I am not of your people, and my father was not one of goodness. Truth told, he would have reveled in the slaughter that took place here. You would choose to walk in the footsteps of your father, an easy decision to make. I would choose to leave my heritage, and abandon my father to his death. It is not quite the same.”
“I know. I can only say to you that there is choice. You can choose to kill, or not. I offer to help you in anyway I can.”
“We are doing quite fine, thank you,” Jaheira sharply spoke at Ellesime, accentuating the ‘We’.
“Your tone is not called for, Jaheira. I know you were involved in saving our city, and the gratitude I offer extends to you as well. I am not trying to interfere with your relationship. I am simply trying to help him understand his lineage.”
“Then tell me how, how will you help him? Have you ever killed anyone? Have you waded through body after body of fallen comrades to reach someone you care for? Someone you love?”
“I did not mean to suggest…”
“No, I’m sure you did not. Come, Arelius. We can do without the prattling of a sheltered diplomat.” She headed for the door. I could see her point, but she was missing mine. Her hot-blooded emotions were getting in the way.
“No?” she quickly turned and looked at me. We stood staring at each other for what seemed an eternity. We had not truly disagreed on anything up to this point, and I would have sooner faced a thousand ogres, than to confront her on this.
“I see I have caused enough trouble for the night. I am sorry. I will take my leave.” Ellesime turned and left the two of us standing in silence. It was Jaheira who broke it this time.
“So, have I stepped outside of my boundaries?” her sharp tone radiating at me.
“You have none with me, you know that. But this jealous streak you have…”
“Jealous! I am not jealous. I have told you the same thing over and over again, yet because she now says it, it all of a sudden means something. I’m so glad you respect me so.”
“I know you have, but she is…” I stopped short, now knowing why she feared Ellesime so.
“She is what? Like yourself? A godchild? And what am I but a simple mortal, a foolish half breed who can’t even claim one race as her own.” She turned away and headed back to the railing, leaning up against it, staring out into the night sky. I walked up and stood next to her.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize what you were going through. You don’t have anything to worry about, Jaheira.” Reaching out, I clasped both shoulders in my hands, and turned her towards me. I raised her chin to bring her face to mine.
“I love you.” The first time I had spoken it to her, and my heart was full of apprehension about it. She looked at me for yet another eternity, her eyes softening, and the tears burst forth from her as she dove into my arms.
“Oh you, I have waited so long for you to say that.” She hugged me tightly and then rose up and kissed me. “I love you, too,” her exclamation.
It was a fitting end for the night that started out so perfect.
Chapter 11 - A Sharing of Lineage
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