"Curse You, Jaheira" is the property of the author, Mark and is used with permission by Candlekeep. Email Mark with any comments and feedback on this story.
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A Note from the Author
This story is written about the episode in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, where Jaheira is cursed by an old nemesis. It is intended to be taken within the context of the whole romance plot, and not necessarily to be a standalone story. Depending on how you played the game, if you played out the Jaheira romance and came across this quest during late Chapter 2 or early Chapter 3, I envision this episode as having been a defining moment in the relationship. With all credit due to the writers at BioWare, I have attempted to fill in the pieces as I think they might have happened. I apologize for any plagiarizing, but I wanted to stay within the original story as best as possible, and embellish when the mood struck me. This episode is the sole property of the author, but is freely shared with the RPG community, and may be used by anyone for any purpose, so long as it is not modified, and profit is not gained from it.
There are some small spoilers in this story. It is written in the context of the game and there are some minor references to other sub-plots. The story itself is centered on a very minor sub-plot, and should not necessarily spoil anything, as there are different ways to play through it. If you have not finished the game, though, you might want to wait before continuing.
It was the end of a breezy day as we approached Athkatla. The sun was setting, and the city was thankfully fully visible on the horizon. The high from our victory over Firkraag now over, we were starting to feel the effects of our days march from the Windspear Hills. Mazzy, Valygar, Nalia, and Aerie were all looking a little tired and sun beaten. I knew we would need a good meal and rest soon. I looked over at Jaheira and noticed that her face was especially pained.
"No, I am fine. I was just thinking about our recent battle," Jaheira calmly replied, but something else was behind her voice. "I am glad we were able to restore the good name of the woodsman and help save his daughter. I am especially glad we avenged Gorion. Firkraag was evil, and making him pay for his past indiscretions was good."
Gorion. The name rang home like a hammer. My great ego had practically blocked out the fact that Firkraag was only after me because of his hate for Gorion. So many people had been coming after me lately, that the idea that there were others of greater interest was beginning to seem foreign.
"I am sorry. I did not mean to sadden you by mentioning Gorion. His end saddened us all."
"It's not that, Jaheira. I was just thinking how stupid I was to have forgotten that Firkraag was only after revenge on Gorion. Sometimes my self engrossment amazes me, in not so many a good way."
"That you can admit that to me shows growing signs of wisdom. You show great promise, Arelius, and I am proud that we travel together. Khalid would "
The name brought back the pained look on her face, and I could see that she had really been thinking of him before. Her nightmares over his death had subsided, and she seemed to be getting used to the idea of his passing. She was still in pain though, and it cracked through her voice from time to time. But this time, the pain I sensed in her brought a different feeling in me, a slight tug at my heart. I saw her vulnerability, and the sorrow that she was in. For all my strength, I could do nothing to bring back Khalid, and I knew for the first time what her commitment to Gorion to watch over me had cost her.
"I am sorry, once again. It seems my words have caused pain to myself this time. Could we please talk later?"
I nodded, saddened myself for my inability to make her pain go away. I looked up to see where we were. We were nearing the docks. Our goal in Athkatla was to follow up on the Shadow Thieves offer. We had plenty of money in our pockets now after raiding the dragon's hoard. If we chose to accept their offer, we could. But I was still a little concerned about our status. I was not going to go after Irenicus unprepared. I wanted to look out for my party and buy them the best equipment available, and we were still short of that goal. We had been contacted about a new offer, but had not had time to follow up on it.
"I think we should rest," I announced to the party. I could see they were all tired and in agreement. "There's an inn up a way, across from the Docks. If there are no objections, I think we should settle in for a meal and a good night's rest."
"Good plan," Mazzy responded. "I do feel somewhat tired. Valygar, would you help me polish my gear later on? The shine is just not there."
"What? Help you? You're not commanding me?" Valygar replied lightheartedly. "Have you lost confidence in my squireship, mistress Mazzy?"
"Not at all. I just think it is a good idea for a warrior to be at one with their gear. Polishing is as good as fighting. And besides, I enjoy your company."
"I would be honored. I'll see if I can find some polish at one of the local stores later."
"Well, I guess that leaves you and me, Aerie," Nalia interjected. "I suppose Arelius and Jaheira will be discussing strategy, so what say we spend some time listening to the local bards?"
"Sounds wonderful. I so love music. Arelius, are you sure you wouldn't like to join us?" Aerie asked with a hopeful gleam in her eye. Jaheira looked away, her back stiffening up.
"I'm sorry, Aerie. I have some equipment polishing to do myself, and I need a good nights rest. You both enjoy yourselves."
"Oh, ok," Aeries eyes dropped to the ground, then quickly back at Nalia. "I guess it is just you and me tonight," she said somewhat under her breath to Nalia. I was glad they were becoming good friends.
"Alright," I resolved. "Sounds like everyone has plans for tonight. We'll meet in the morning in the lounge and continue." With that, I opened the door to the inn and we all entered.
* * * * *
The inn was quite dark and a little opposing. Being this close to the docks, it was full of sailing paraphernalia, and the sailors that frequented it seemed a little on the seedy side. The place had probably not been cleaned in years. Cobwebs were all over, and the flickering torchlight was far too sparse, providing dark hues and long shadows. Still, it was a scene we had grown all too accustomed to, and quickly settled in at a table near the far corner. After a few moments, the waitress came up.
"What'll it be?"
"A round of summer ale, and some of today's best catch," I replied.
She left without a word. I looked over at Jaheira and smiled. She responded in kind with a chuckle, and we both felt a little comforted by the moment. We were much too tired to notice the capped man approach, let alone care what his intentions might be.
"Jaheira, my darling. So good to see you again. I hope your life has been going as well as mine since last we met."
Somewhat startled, Jaheira looked up, her eyes glaring in recognition and loathing.
"Excuse me. I do not recall our meeting before. Do I know you?"
"Of course you do. Simeon Ployer. Remember." Jaheira held her gaze.
"Perhaps my title will help. Baron Ployer," he said emphasizing the word baron.
"No. No. I do not. Perhaps you have me mistaken for someone else, though how you know my name I could not explain." She turned and looked at me as if to lower the expectations of the man.
"You pompous Harper. You ruin my life, take all I have, and have not the decency to remember me!" We all readied ourselves.
"I'm sure you have me mistaken for someone else. Perhaps if you told me where we last met".
"In court, of course. As they were dragging me away to jail for being a slaver. Because you and that accursed Belgrade chased me halfway around Amn on some Harper crusade. NOW DO YOU REMEMBER!!!"
"Of course I do, and do not raise your voice with me! I wanted all to hear your indiscretions. You are lucky you still live, Ployer. I would have had you dead, and were it not for Belgrade, I would have killed you when we captured you."
"Still so defiant and self-righteous, Jaheira. You and your Harper friends make me sick with your balance babble. You would think you would see the balancing effects of slavery. We merely provided a service and a way for the less unfortunate to make a living."
"By selling them to fighting pits to be slaughtered! By selling them to brothels to be prostituted! Tell me how you think this is balance and justice."
"Do you think I care about your feelings about justice? All that matters is that you will soon be dead!"
I stood up and moved myself between him and Jaheira. "Speak your intent now, Baron, or you'll find your head rolling across the floor."
"Who are you? Jaheira's latest fling? I always knew you weren't the prude you appear to be, Jaheira. Your relationship with Khalid always seemed way to perfect. And were you doing Belgrade too while you chasing me?"
I sent him flying to other side of the bar with my backhand. He slowly got up, wiping the blood from his mouth. Jaheira was also up now, with weapon drawn.
"Belgrade is as good a friend as any. A man of honor who would never infringe on my commitments. Something you would know nothing about, filth. And do not speak Khalid's name again, ever. You dirty it."
"So are you a Harper as well, eh, strong one? And what was your name again?"
"My name is Arelius, and you will remember it with pain if you ever enter the slave trade again. I am not of the Harpers, though if they opposed your kind, then count me as one with them."
"So I shall," he said as he arrogantly walked back to us. "So I shall. But as I said, the only thing that matters is that you will soon be dead, Jaheira. Perhaps you will be too another day, Arelius. But I'll worry about that later. NOW IS YOUR TIME, JAHEIRA!"
Three shimmering lights suddenly appeared, surrounding us, and before we could react, three mages were standing there. Mazzy and Valygar each selected a mage and started swinging away, but their magic protected them from their blows. Aerie began to prepare a spell of dispelling to help, and Nalia readied a breech spell, but both would take time. Jaheira and I went after Ployer, as the third mage had stationed himself behind him.
My first blow sent Ployer again into the wall, and Jaheira dove after him. I left him to Jaheira and turned to face the third mage, who was just finishing his spell. Before I could swing to try to disrupt it, the spell left his hands, and headed straight for Jaheira.
"Jaheira. Look Out!" I warned, but nowhere near in time. The spell hit and engulfed her, her body glowing a dark green with it's effects, and I could see that though it wasn't harming her, it was affecting her in some strange way. Ployer got up and moved away from her.
"HaHa. Now the mighty Jaheira shall be brought low!" Ployer yelled.
"What have you done to me?!" Jaheira tried to yell, her voice clearly affected by the spell. She was wavering, but still in control.
"A little present from the past my dear. You shall rot the same way you left me to rot away. It took everything I had to buy this end for you, and I shall see that every penny was well spent. Away! This fight is over!"
And indeed it was. We had all become so engrossed with what was happening with Jaheira, that we barely noticed when Ployer and his mages teleported away. I ran up to steady Jaheira.
"Jaheira, are you alright?!" My words did not reflect the urgency of my concern.
She looked down at her hands and replied, "I'm I'm not sure. He's cursed me. Damn him. I will have my revenge. We must find him." She looked up at me. As our eyes met, I could see the fear in her, and felt it myself. Though we didn't know the nature of the curse, we both sensed it was not typical. No temple would be able to remove it, and I had no idea where to start looking for a cure. There was also something strange about her face. Lines, where none had ever been before. Wrinkles?
"We should start by hunting down Belgrade," Jaheira softly spoke, looking away. "He may know where to find Ployer. (Hmph.) We have a contact in the Copper Coronet. We should go there, Arelius."
I held her for a moment more, thankful that even now, she had some idea of how to progress. I did not want to let go, and felt quite helpless. When she looked at me again, I felt her need to be strong, and to not be alone.
"We will find him, and a cure. And he will pay." I reassured her, though this time, there were no smiles. We knew we had little time. There would be no rest tonight.
* * * * *
As we entered the Copper Coronet, the feeling of the party was quite harried. We had not had any sleep in quite a while, and our meal had been interrupted. Jaheira did not feel any worse, but she was looking pensive and worried. The small wrinkle lines I had noticed earlier were also beginning to deepen. I did my best to encourage her, but I knew there was little we could do but continue on and find the baron. We walked up to Temgrine, the contact Jaheira had spoken of.
"Temgrine. I need to speak with you." Jaheira said as she approached him.
"Of course, m'lady Jaheira? what what is the matter? You look like you've one foot in the grave." Temgrine replied.
"Thank you (cough) for the encouragement."
"Sorry Jaheira. Didn't mean no offense. But are these traveling companions running you down? If they be, we can deal with them."
"Temgrine, no. No. There is little time and I need to contact the network. I have to talk to Belgrade."
"Can't be doing that, Miss Jaheira. Can't get in contact with Belgrade any more "
"Temgrine, I have no time for (cough) games. I know you can contact them and I must speak with him. It is it is a matter of life and death. My life and death."
"Jaheira, I'm sorry, but Belgrade's dead. He passed away a few months ago."
"Temgrine " Jaheiras voice trailed off quietly. We all felt the weight of his words and saw the anguish in her face. With Belgrade dead, there would be few leads left.
"His body was found in the north eastern corner of the slums here, he was. All withered up and say, it seemed to be a little like what you may going through right now."
"Where exactly was it found, Temgrine?" I asked, not wanting Jaheira to waste her strength on any more conversation.
"It was found near the old slaver ship, you know, the one you cleared out a few days ago. In the alley way between it and that old condemned house."
"Do you think we might find Ployer there, Arelius?" Mazzy asked. "He did say that he had spent all his money. Perhaps he hasn't the means to stay at an inn. An abandoned building might be just the place to hatch such a scheme."
"It's all we've got. Thank you, Temgrine. You may have just provided us with our answer."
"No problem, m'lord. And rest assured Jaheira, if you run afoul, the Harpers will be notified of this, and Ployer will be run up the proverbial flagpole."
"Thank you Temgrine. Let's hope we can exact our revenge first." Jaheira answered back.
"Aye, m'lady. Aye. Good Luck to you all."
* * * * *
The abandoned building was not far, and our steps were quickening as we all felt the urgency of our actions. I occasionally had to steady Jaheira, and was becoming quite worried about her. It had only been a short hour since she was cursed, but her face and body were withering and seemed to age before my eyes. Where was once a beautiful, strong, young, woman, now appeared a feeble, middle-aged maiden. And on top of it all, I was slowly becoming aware of feelings I had not known existed in me. Jaheira and Khalid were always a couple in my eyes. That they were deeply in love was not to be questioned. I always looked at Jaheira in a different light because of that. Now that Khalid was gone, I was beginning to see her as the woman she was, or at least as I remembered her to be. Our friendship was growing daily, as was our closeness. The thought of losing that to a slow, painful, death was scaring me, and I knew I could not let that happen. We could now see the ship, and the abandoned building beside it.
We entered the building and began searching. There was clearly evidence of the building being used by many of the town's poorer people for residency. Walls had been stripped clean of their coverings, as they were needed for firewood. Broken bottles and empty food packs littered the floor. Dust and dirt was everywhere. It was beginning to look like a dead end when we noticed an old beggar in the corner. We approached.
"Sir, I must ask you some questions, and will pay well for the answers," I said. He perked up a bit at that.
"Eh, you want me to tell you something? What could I possibly offer you?"
"I am looking for man, somewhat smaller than myself. He has dark hair and a beard. The last we saw him, he was wearing a cape. This man is also very angry. He would be speaking about how his career was ruined, and about his hatred for Harpers."
"Well, you just described a lot of people. Perhaps a little coin to refresh my memory, eh, first, you know, like you said," he said as he kicked at the dirt.
"Of course." I opened my sack handed him twenty gold and a smile appeared. It appeared he had not seen that much in quite a while. "And there will be much more if you provide good information."
"HeHe. It sounds like you be talkin' 'bout ol'Packer "
"Ployer?!" Jaheira excitedly interjected.
"Maybe. Nobody here much cares for names. Anyway, I see's him ranting every now and again. He stays in the basement a lot. Came in and kicked a couple people out'a there. No one around here much cares for him, so if yous kills him, no skin off me."
"Thank you, old man. You have helped us greatly." I dropped another eighty gold in his lap. No amount was too much to express my need to cure Jaheira.
"By Helm!!! Thank you, Sir. May the gods smile on you!"
"Come on. If were going to catch him, now is our chance. I just hope he's down there."
"Word is there's some noise coming from below. Some laughing and stuff. I think e's down there," the old man said. I looked at him and smiled.
"No more gold, but thank you." The mood of the party greatly lifted, and we headed for the stairs. As we descended, we could indeed hear the noise the old man spoke of. It was the Baron. We could hear him singing to himself and dancing in his sick, drunken, joy. Apparently, he had kept a little coin back to pay for a bottle of spirits to celebrate his supposed victory. I intended to spoil the party.
We readied ourselves at the door while Nalia looked for traps and Aerie prepared a chant spell for the party. I gave a glance at Jaheira and noticed her anxiously looking my way. She was doing her best to hold in her coughing so as not to expose us. Even in her aged form, she was still quite beautiful, her inner beauty shinning through. She cracked the slightest smile and I responded in kind, adding a nod. We both knew this was her last chance at a cure, and we had to make it count.
"All clear," Nalia whispered, and once the chant finished, I quickly kicked in the door. All six of us rushed into the room. Ployer stood before us and as he noticed us, began to laugh even louder.
"You've come quicker than I expected," he brashly proclaimed. "And my, aren't you looking quite lovely, my dear old Jaheira?"
We all hesitated, knowing that if he expected us, he may have traps set. I looked at Nalia, who was scanning the room. She quickly finished and looked at me puzzled, indicating she found nothing.
"(Cough.) Why were you (cough) expecting us, slaver!? (cough) Speak!" Jaheira howled as best she could, but the curse had taken its hold quite deeply. She could now barely talk.
"You don't think Belgrade just happened to die close to here do you. I made sure he could find me, and killed him when he came for his salvation. A fitting end, I think. Rotted away to the same end he planned for me. I dumped his body close by so you would find me latter. It has all been planned, my despicable Harper friend. You will now beg for your cure, or you will die." He said remarkably calmly.
"What?! (Cough) I will never beg (cough) to one such as you," Jaheira said as best she could. She was now getting into battle stance.
"Pitty. Belgrade wouldn't either. I suppose I shouldn't have tried to go for it. Your kind never beg. Watching you grovel would have sweetened the whole thing. Not that I would have cured you anyway. And since you won't, I think I would have liked to think of you wasting away, too, dying a most horrible death." He was babbling, drunkenly, to himself, though still calmly, and looking to and fro around the room. He then focused on Jaheira and the rage began building again. "But ripping your final breath from your chest will be just as fulfilling, just as it was with him! GUARDS!!!"
Ployer shouted to call in his buddies, and sure enough, all three mages began to appear. This time, though, we were ready. Nalia and Aerie were already preparing the breach spells for two of them, and as soon as they appeared, the spells slammed into them, dropping their defenses. Valygar and Mazzy quickly pounced on them, hacking away to make sure no more spells would be cast. They would soon fall. I engaged the third mage, my newly acquired Holy Avenger sword making quick work of his defenses. I would soon reach his body.
This time I left Ployer to Jaheira, knowing she would want her revenge herself. I was counting on the belt of hill giant strength she wore to keep her upright through this battle, in spite of the growing effects of the curse. Ployer was really not much of fighter, and even though severely weakened, Jaheira's skill was still formidable, and she was gaining the upper hand. But my handiwork was not making the progress I had hoped for, and the third mage was able to cast a summoning spell. A great earth elemental warped in and slammed his fist into Jaheira. She flew across the room and slumped to the floor, the little wind she had knocked from her unnaturally aged body.
"JAHEIRA!!" I shouted. I left my mage to position myself between her and harm. The elemental moved to continue to attack her, but found me instead. Blow after blow I parried, occasionally landing a strike against it. Mazzy, Nalia, and Valygar had vanquished the first two mages and were now engaging the third in my stead. Aerie rushed over to try to heal Jaheira, but Ployer knocked her aside and began choking Jaheira. Aerie was even less of a fighter than the baron, and was now hurt and unconscious.
I could sense Jaheira loosing her battle. Under normal conditions, Ployer would be dog meet by now, but in her weakened condition from the curse, and the blow from the elemental, she was not fairing too well. I was slowly gaining the upper hand in my battle with the elemental, but would not be able to kill it in time to save her outright.
I knew I had to act quickly, or Ployer would choke the life out of Jaheira long before the curse would. I devised a plan of action to engage both the elemental and Ployer at once. It would have to be perfectly timed as I would be turning my back to the elemental.
"So Jaheira, how does it feel to look into the eyes of your destruction!" Ployer shouted, but she could only gasp.
The elemental brought his huge hands up, and as they came down on me, I quickly moved aside, spinning, and leveling my sword. The massive blade caught Ployer just below the neck, severing his twisted mind from his body. His now useless body collapsed to the floor, and his hands fell from Jaheiras neck. I could hear her cough as I returned my attention to the elemental. She would be ok, for the moment, and I was quietly pleased with myself for making my first threat against him come true.
The third mage now fallen, Mazzy and Valygar joined me in attacking the elemental. Nalia was helping Aerie. As the last blow sent the elemental to his end, I was rushing over to Jaheira.
"Jaheira, are you ok," and I bent down to help her sit up.
"I, I think so. Though I am still cursed. We'll have to look around to see if there is a cure here."
I began to search Ployers body. In one of the pockets, I found a lock of hair, pulled it out, and handed it to Jaheira.
"This this is my hair. So that is how he was able to fabricate the spell in advance to target me. I know of this magic, and with this, should be able to dispel the curse." Jaheira could barely speak now, and was coughing between nearly every word. We had come just in time, and her words lifted my spirits beyond measure. I could see the relief in everyone's eyes as I helped her to her feet.
"Notcho, bosha, eerialish," Jaheira exclaimed, holding the lock of hair in her hands close to her chest. As she finished the incantation, her body glowed a slight bluish, hue, then slowly faded. Almost before our eyes, the wrinkles in her skin vanished, and her youthful glow was back.
Nalia had since revived Aerie, and was helping her up. "Jaheira? I know we've had our differences, but I want you to know that I was very scared for you. I'm glad you're ok." Aerie said.
"Thank you, Aerie. You are very kind to say so. And I appreciated the way you rushed to my aid. I hope you are alright as well." Jaheira's voice was clearly steadier now, though not fully restored.
"I'm ok. Just more of a pride thing, I guess."
"Good. And thank you Arelius. That was quite a move you displayed, though I must admit my eyes were somewhat strained at the time."
"I couldn't think of anything else to do. It was more out of desperation than anything else."
"Whatever the motivation, I am grateful for your actions. I hate to be a further burden on the party, but I will need a day to recover from this. The wrinkles may have faded quickly, but the effects are deep within me, and will take some time heal. I would ask that we head to the Copper Coronet and settle in. If you want, you may leave me there, and continue on without me. I do not wish to slow your progress."
"Nonsense, Jaheira," I said. "I didn't fight this battle to abandon you as soon as it's over. No, this sounds like a good opportunity for some much needed rest. We've been pressing really hard and I can see it in all your faces. We'll rent a couple of rooms. I'll stay with you, Jaheira, and help get you back on your feet. The rest of you can relax as you see fit. We'll continue on in a day or two, once Jaheira is able."
Nalia turned to Aerie and Mazzy and whispered wryly, "You think there's something going on between those two."
"Such a compelling story. The noble Paladin. The lady warrior. I do so enjoy when love blossoms," Mazzy said below her breath.
"It would explain a lot," Aerie said quietly as she turned away.
* * * * *
We settled in to our room and Jaheira crawled into bed. I laid out a blanket on the ground, my bed for the duration of the stay. I was relieved that we had finally eaten, and a good night's rest, even on the floor, would feel like a godsend. The thought of some time with Jaheira alone was also a pleasant one. Jaheira was still awake and resting comfortably, staring off into space.
"Arelius?" she called.
"My pleasure. Now will you tell me what for."
She was quiet for a moment, choosing her words carefully.
"For staying with me through this curse. I I do not know how I would feel right now had you decided to continue on without me."
"Jaheira," I said, "that was not an option I could have chosen."
I was not expecting that. I looked at her, not knowing what to say now. Once again, her directness had caught me unprepared. She was apprehensive, yet eager for my answer. Why wasn't my leaving her a choice? I'm not sure I had even thought about that till she spoke it. I walked up to the bed and sat down beside her. I couldn't help but think she looked more beautiful at that moment than at any other moment before. I felt myself becoming lost in her, and quickly pulled back.
"Because you are my most trusted companion, my best friend, and I care for you deeply." These were the words she wanted spoken, or she wouldn't have asked. I wanted them spoken as well, and indeed, her face relaxed at them. I wasn't finished though. "But maybe because I also feel responsible for your loss of Khalid. And maybe because of the sorrow and difficulties I have caused you. It hurts me greatly to think I have caused you pain."
"Oh my most omnipotent one," she said more warmly than she had ever spoken that phrase before. "You are not responsible for Khalid. I do not blame you for what has happened. We knew the choices before us. Khalid would not want you to think that way. I do not want you to think that way."
We both fell silent for a moment, looking at each other, neither one knowing what the next step would be, and both aware that the next words could be critical in our relationship.
"Jaheira, I "
"Please, Arelius. Do not bear this burden alone on your shoulders. Allow me to share this with you." She reached out to touch my hand. "I am willing."
I paused a moment. "If I knew how to share it with you, I would. But the weight of being a godchild, the god of murder no less, is beyond what I am prepared to let you share. How would I? I barely know what it means. I am a Paladin for god's sake. I have sworn my life to the cause of righteousness. And simply because of who my father was, people have died. People close to me. Strangers. Many have fallen by my hand. My father must be so proud of me."
"Gorion was your true father, Arelius, and you should not so quickly forget that. You may have Bhaal's blood, but you have Gorion's upbringing, and he was indeed proud of you. We have stood with you through nearly all of it because we " She paused a moment, then firmly sat up and continued. "I believed in who you are. Who Gorion thought you are. You were never told this, but he thought you would be the key to everything. That's why he had us stay close to you. He wanted the Harpers to see that you would be a force for good. A balance to the great evil that may one day come."
"And now we have made enemies with the Harpers. How is that going to affect you? Have you thought about that? Your involvement with me may end up costing you that as well. I know that I cannot leave your friendship behind. Why you don't run from me, however, is beyond me." I stood up and turned away, apprehensive about the words I just spoke.
"I I do not know," she posed an answer to what I hoped was my first question. "I know we did right in challenging them, that you are good." She hesitantly paused. "But they might not think as such. Time will tell, Arelius. Forgive me. This is not how I wanted this conversation to go, and I am feeling quite weak. We will talk again soon."
She rolled over and all I could do was look her back at her. It wasn't how I wanted the conversation to go either, and I felt guilty about the way I spoke to her. She didn't deserve to be put aside, but I still did not know my feelings for her. And I didn't believe she knew her feelings for me, either. There were just too many conflicting aspects of our adventure together. I needed time to think and walked over to my bed and lay down. I could hear her sleeping after only a few moments. She was really drained. It's amazing she was able to converse at all. I was tired beyond measure as well, but sleep was not forthcoming.
I continued to think on her words. Why did Gorion think me the key? His death came much too early. He should have told me more. Something, anything, about who I was would have been nice.
I thought of Aerie, who was obviously attracted to me as well. She was so sweet and pretty, almost like Imoen. Imoen. Sweet Imoen. At one time, I considered a relationship with her. I wondered how she was, what evil the Cowled Wizards were putting her through. The effects of our first encounter with Irenicus had left her bruised in ways I couldn't imagine. We needed to rescue her, but I realized I felt no more than friendship for her.
I thought of Aerie again. No, I did not see the toughness in her that one would need to walk with me to the end. I would help her in any way I could, but I could give her no more than that.
Finally, my thought's returned to Jaheira and my feelings for her. I had just come so close to losing her, and it made me realize I was falling in love with her. But to what end? I was the child of an evil god. Bhaalspawn. The word made my stomach revolt. Should thoughts of love be entering my head? Could I afford to love, with so much riding on my success of failure? I wanted badly to share my burden with her, as she asked. I could think of no other who might carry it with me. Her strength of will was astounding sometimes, only to be equaled by her beauty. But I did not think she was done with her relationship with Khalid. No, Jaheira would need time, as well as myself, before these issues would be resolved. It just could not be rushed. I was starting to drift off when
"No, no what where... where are you " Jaheira's nightmares had returned. Once again, Khalid was coming back to haunt her, and now possibly me. I got up and walked over to her.
"It's ok, Jaheira. Shhh." I tried to reassure her.
"NO! Don't, don't leave me Arelius! Arelius Arelius?" as she began to wake up and notice me. I held her in my arms and did my best to comfort her. She was crying and embarrassed, but I don't think she knew this was really happening, and she quickly fell back to sleep. I kissed her on the forehead, and lay with her in my arms for quite some time afterwards. This episode had given me insight into her feelings beyond her words. I now knew the direction my heart would lead me, and where hers had already gone. I had replaced Khalid in her dreams. Though they were nightmares, she was not dreaming of Khalid anymore, she was dreaming of me. It was an insight I would not take unfair advantage of, but one that gave me hope for the future. Our future.
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