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Just Another Day


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This is called Just Another Day, (JAD for short if you wish), and tells the story of the shy human ranger named Sarah, and how her life changes once she joins Elise, a human Bhaalspawn, and her band of friends in the BG2: SoA setting. You may also see someone you know! Hope you like it.


Note: This fanfic is not directly based on my mods. So...while there may be some references to things that happen in the mods themselves, the story itself is not an expanded version of the mods.


The story is best rated PG-13 or T for Teen. It contains violence, which can be graphic at times, and some sexual situations, specifically between two females. If this sort of stuff isn't for your tastes, well, then you know what to do. Then again if you know anything of Sarah, you've probably figured it out already. :)


Hope you like it.





Just Another Day 1



She ran.


She ran as fast as she could, jumping over logs, cutting through weak branches with her short sword; the deer was not too far ahead but its speed was consistent and after nearly two hours of hunting, she felt her own endurance wavering. The sun was setting and it wouldn't be long before darkness would prevent her from seeing her prey.


Then it stopped.


She hid behind a cluster of bushes and watched as the animal cocked its head to the left, then to the right. Its eyes darted in every direction, scanning the surrounding forest for the thread. She loaded her bow and waited for the perfect moment when her arrow would launch into the air and swiftly end the animal's life with one fatal pierce. She pulled the arrow back and was just about to release...


"Excuse me," a voice from behind startled her and she glanced at the ground for a moment. The tension on her bowstring was loosened and when she looked up again, the deer was gone. She sighed, stood up, and turned around, her expression one of frustration.


"What in the hells-," she began angrily but was stopped when she saw who had ruined her hunt.


The female in front of her could not have been more than a year apart in age. She was human, the hunter knew that for sure. She wore what appeared to be a heavily used suit of chainmail and the clothes underneath the armor were filthy and torn. More like rags than clothes, she thought. Although the female was not much taller than her, the hunter wondered where in the world she acquired the strength to wield the massive sword that was strapped to the female's back. Her face was slightly tanned, making her blue eyes stand out. She wore her dark brown hair back in a ponytail.


The woman made an effort to appear pleasant and smiled. The hunter rolled her eyes and sighed again.


"I'm...sorry. It's just that you caught me right in the middle of...getting dinner," she explained sullenly.


The woman's eyes widened in surprise as she began to fish through her pack. "I apologize," she said, though her tone was weary. "Here," she held out some gold coins to the hunter. "Let me compensate you for my mistake."


The hunter stared at the female, puzzled. "Oh...I couldn't," she said, shaking her head.


"No, please; I feel terrible-," the woman began, holding out her hand with the money in it to the hunter.


"It's fine," the hunter insisted. "I'll manage." She slipped her arrow back into her quiver and slung her bow over her shoulder. "Who are you that you wander these hills alone at dusk?"


"Elise," the female replied as she crossed her arms over her chest. "And I'm not alone. My friends are staying at the village inn."


"By your garb I'm guessing you are more adventurers investigating those disappearances?" the hunter inquired.


Elise nodded, though she looked slightly annoyed. "Yes...we are. I was hoping that you might have some information about that. You seem to be fairly handy with that bow of yours."


The hunter glanced at her weapon for a moment before turning back to Elise. "I'm Sarah, and yes, I am a ranger and I do have experience in combat. Merella is the protector of these woods, though. I'm afraid I can't help you much as I am not here very often. Perhaps you should pay her a visit."


"Merella's been taken. We think she's dead," Elise informed her. "We went to her cabin earlier and found this journal and...blood. It looked like there had been a fight. Here," she showed Sarah her map. "The journal spoke of some ruins not far from here."


Sarah bit her lip and nodded. "Merella is a friend. It is not normal for me to get involved in this town's business, but if you would allow it, I would like to help you find her, and perhaps stop whatever it is that is causing people to disappear."


Elise smiled. "Thanks." She looked around and shifted her feet. "Would you...like to come have a drink with my friends and me? I'm sure we could find a room for you...that is if you wanted to head out in the morning with us. It might be easier than going back to wherever you live."


Sarah considered. "I suppose that will be fine."


Elise grinned. "Great. Also, I could probably get the innkeeper to cook up something for you...since I sort of messed up your original dinner plans," she said sheepishly.


Sarah laughed quietly and said, "Don't worry about the deer, really. But I am getting hungry. Shall we go?"


"Yes, yes, let's go," Elise said hastily and the two began to walk back to the inn.

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Just Another Day 2



"My lady, you've returned!" the innkeeper exclaimed as soon as he noticed Elise and Sarah entering the small inn of Imesvale. Sarah was taken aback a little by the sudden wave of voices that followed the innkeepers, no doubt Elise's friends.


"And about time, too," a lower female voice said. Sarah looked over at one of the tables and saw a group of four people sitting down, each with their own mug of whatever it was they were having.


Elise sighed. "Jaheira, I said I'd be right back," she said.


The woman, Jaheira, smiled faintly. "That you did, and it looks like you've brought someone back with you."


Elise looked blank for a moment. "Hmm? Oh, yes...everyone this is Sarah," she said, pointing at Sarah. Sarah smiled and nodded to the group, which consisted of the woman, Jaheira -a half-elf with light brown hair and a stern expression that seemed to be set permanently on her face-as well as an enormous man with a tattoo on his shaved head and a hamster perched on his shoulder, a slender girl with brownish-red hair dressed in blue robes looking rather sullen and glaring at the same time at the final member of the group: an athletic dark haired girl who had the look of a fighter to her, as well as the look of a clown. She was grinning back at the girl while taking a long drink from her mug.


"Minsc and Boo are thrilled to meet little Elise's new friend!" the large man bellowed and to Sarah's surprise, was followed by a high pitched squeak.


"Not so loud, Minsc; everyone is staring at you," Jaheira scolded. Minsc nodded but beamed at Sarah.


"That's Jaheira, she's our resident healer," Elise explained and Sarah noticed the druid shake her head in dismay but smiled politely at the ranger.


"And that's Minsc, obviously you heard him just now," Elise continued. "He's a ranger, like you. And that's Nalia De'Arnise and Auren Aseph. Nalia is great with some of the sneakier elements of our travels but she's pretty decent with magic, too. Auren is a fighter from Beregost." She lowered her voice to a whisper. "Auren and Nalia don't really get along too great."


"Oh, okay," Sarah whispered back. Elise turned to the group.


"She's going to be traveling with us for bit to help with our investigation." She turned to Sarah. "I'll get you a room." She walked away to speak with the innkeeper. In the meantime, Sarah turned to face the group and tried to appear pleasant.


"Would you like to sit down....Sarah?" Nalia asked.


Sarah nodded. "Thank you," she said as she pulled up a chair to the table.


"So...where are you from?" Auren asked as she took another sip of her drink. Jaheira stood up and left the table.


"Well..." Sarah began, "I was born in Baldur's Gate, and I lived there until I was about thirteen or so. Then I went to the Cloakwood, where I learned how to be a ranger."


"Why did you move?" Nalia asked.


"Oh...um...my father died, and my uncle offered to take care of me," Sarah explained and looked down at the table.


"I'm sorry; I didn't mean to-," Nalia began.


"No, no, it's fine. It's in the past and I just don't think about it very often," Sarah admitted.


"I know what you mean. I just recently...lost my father," Nalia said.


Sarah nodded, though she was at a loss of words. This was the first time in months that she had been in an inn, let alone sat amongst a group of people.


"I am...sorry," was all she was able to come up with.


"Bloody trolls..." Auren muttered as she began to twirl one of her daggers on the table. Sarah noticed that Minsc was having a private conversation with his hamster...was it Bob? Boon...boob? Boo, perhaps?


"You see, my family has a keep outside of Athkatla, and it was invaded by trolls. My father refused to leave our home and was...killed as a result. I had gone back to the slums of Athkatla where I met Elise and...this one," she nodded towards Auren, who winked at Sarah. "Elise was nice enough to help me and she and Jaheira and Minsc were able to rid the keep of the trolls, but not before..."


"Hello? I was there, too, princess, putting my life on the line just like Elise and the others did," Auren exclaimed, obviously annoyed.


Nalia rolled her eyes. "Sure, Aseph, but at least Elise was kind enough to actually want to help me, unlike some people."


Auren slammed her dagger on the table, making both Nalia and Sarah jump. "Such an ungrateful and spoiled little brat," she sneered. "I'm going to bed. Nice meeting you, Sarah," and with that she stormed off.


Nalia sighed and covered her face with her hands. "I'm sorry about that...she's a good fighter, but she was very rude to me when we first met at the Copper Coronet."


Sarah raised an eyebrow. "Then why don't you tell her that?"


"Because she'll just throw it back in my face. When I asked her for her help originally, she told me that she wasn't about to get involved in a suicidal mission," Nalia explained.


"Did she know all the details? She ended up coming with you anyway, didn't she?" Sarah asked.


"Well...not really," Nalia said, looking a bit embarrassed. "I didn't really tell anyone about the trolls until....well, until we got there."


"Ah...I see," Sarah said. She saw Elise approaching the table.


"Sorry, Sarah, looks like the inn's full for the night. Auren has a room to herself though, I'm sure she won't mind sharing with you, that is if you don't mind," she explained. She lowered her voice again. "She and Nalia were sharing one but...it just wasn't working out, so Nalia got her own room."


Sarah nodded. "That's fine. I think I will actually get to bed right now then. We've a long day tomorrow if we're going to try and find Merella and whatever is causing these disturbances."


"Jaheira already went to her room...well she and I share one actually," Elise said. "I guess I'll see you in the morning then?"


"Yes," Sarah replied. "I will see you in the morning. I thank you for your hospitality."


"Well, you are helping us...and to be honest, we could really use the assistance," Elise said and smiled. The two stood there for a few seconds.


"Well...good night," Elise said.


"Good night," Sarah answered and walked to Auren's room. The door was closed so she knocked.


"Yeah? Who is it?" Auren called from the inside.


"It's Sarah; Elise said I should share a room with you," Sarah explained. A moment later, the door opened and Auren stood there smiling. "Come in," she said.


Sarah entered the room and removed her equipment near the spare bed.


"Thank you," she said. "I hope I didn't upset you at the table earlier."


Auren shook her head. "Not at all; it's just Nalia. She's always trying to get into it with me."


"Into what?"


"You know, a fight," Auren explained. "I mean, I understand that she lost her father and everything, but we all tried to save him, including me."


"I'm sure you did," Sarah replied. "I know when I lost my father, it was like the world had been taken from me, and I didn't know where I belonged anymore. I'm sure Nalia will come to terms with her grief eventually, and then maybe-,"


"We won't fight anymore? Hah, I doubt that. I think she enjoys getting angry at me as much as I love getting her angry," Auren said and grinned.


Sarah laughed quietly. "If you insist," she said. "Well, I'd better get some rest." She prepared to sleep and crawled into her bed.


"Same here. Good night," Auren said.


"Good night."


Auren blew the candles out, and the room was dark. Soon, all Sarah could hear was the sound of Auren's heavy breathing as she slept. She closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind, but could not help but wonder what the next day would bring.

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Just Another Day 3


Sarah awoke to find Auren gone. The fighter’s bed had been made and there was no sign that she had ever been in the room. She sure knows how to clean up, Sarah thought as she climbed out of bed, rubbed her green eyes sleepily, and headed for the mirror to brush out her shoulder-length brown hair. After pulling it back into a ponytail, she changed into some brown leather pants and a green shirt. After fastening her chainmail shirt over her clothes, she grabbed her bow, her long sword, and her pack and went to meet the others in front of the inn.




“Okay, so…according to the map, the temple should be…that way.” Elise glanced at the map for a while before pointing to the group’s right.


The sun was high and bright as they walked through the forest of Umar Hills, their hands on the hilts of their weapons. Sarah had advised them that she had not traveled this part of the forest in quite some time, but that they should be aware of their surroundings and stay cautious, just in case. Something deep within her told her that something was terribly wrong. The stench of pollution seemed to surround her, seemed to fill her. Whatever was causing trouble in this region was either a dark magic user of great power…or something that wasn’t alive at all.


Her expression betrayed her thoughts unknowingly to her, and Elise began to walk beside her as she asked with concern in her voice, “What is it?”

Her thoughts interrupted, Sarah looked up at her new companion. “This forest is corrupted,” she said flatly.


“I feel it, too,” Jaheira said from behind them. “Something powerful is at work here, and it is getting stronger the more we travel in this direction.”


“Boo is getting nervous just being with these trees,” Minsc declared. “The trees are not right, and neither is the grass or the small critters.”


“Well, I’m glad that we’ve established that something isn’t right here,” Auren muttered from behind. “I don’t hear anyone commenting on the fact that it’s actually a nice day today.”


“Don’t be deceived by the cloudless sky, Auren. Something is wrong with this forest and we must find out what it is and stop it if we hope to help this village,” Jaheira warned.


“I know, I know,” Auren sighed. “I was just remembering the lovely thunderstorms we had to endure on the way to this town.”


“Aw…afraid of a little thunder and lightning are we, Aseph?” Nalia said with a smirk.


Auren rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Probably not half as afraid as you are. Oh…I forgot! Being in a fancy manor for eighteen years will do that to you,” she shot back.


Nalia glared at the fighter. “You don’t know anything about the life I’ve lived, Aseph, so you can just keep quiet.”


“Both of you, enough,” Elise scolded. “We don’t have time for this right now. At least wait until we get back to the inn.” Auren and Nalia said nothing but continued to glare at each other in response.


Elise turned to Sarah. “I’m sorry about those two. They’ve been arguing nonstop ever since we left Nalia’s keep.”


“What do they have against each other?” Sarah asked.


“To be honest, I don’t know. Auren has done nothing but tease Nalia since they joined up with me back in Athkatla, and Nalia takes shots at Auren every chance she gets. Something about how Nalia asked Auren to help her save her home from those trolls and Auren had refused because she didn’t know all the details,” Elise explained.


“Ah, I see,” Sarah said. “Nalia seems to still be grieving with her father’s death. Perhaps Auren doesn’t see this.”


“I believe Auren knows more than she lets people think. To be honest, I really don’t know that much about her other than the fact that she is from Beregost and traveled with another group of adventurers not too long ago,” Elise said.


“Guys, look ahead!” Auren called out. Sarah stared forward and saw a most peculiar sight. Not too far from where they were, the sky had transitioned from a bright and clear blue to darkness, and had become covered with black, threatening clouds. A wolf’s howl could be heard in the distance.


“We’re getting close,” Sarah said as she drew her sword.


“Anything that lurks here is no match for Minsc and Boo!” Minsc boomed. “The butts of evil shall be swiftly kicked today!”


“Er…what?” Sarah asked, confused.


“Don’t mind Minsc,” Elise assured the ranger. “He’s usually very uh….eager about fighting.”


“Something foul lies beyond those trees,” Jaheira spoke. “We should not just blindly charge whatever moves in there.”


“Wow…if that wasn’t obvious, then I don’t know what is,” Auren muttered low enough so that Jaheira could not hear. Nalia did, however.


“Do you have to be consistently rude all the time?” she sighed.


Auren grinned. “Well, I don’t want to mess up my perfect record with you.”


Nalia rolled her eyes. “I don’t think you could possibly ruin your ‘record’ with me anymore than you already have, Aseph,” she said.


“Ah, but you are mistaken, Miss De’Arnise. My record is not to attempt to establish a lovely conversational foundation with you, but rather to see how much I can possibly piss you off. It appears I must try harder then,” Auren explained and pretended to look sad. Sarah couldn’t help but laugh quietly.


“See? Our Miss Sarah thinks I’m amusing,” Auren pointed out. “You should, too!”


“That’s because she’s only had to endure you for a day,” Nalia snapped.


“Shhh…everyone, listen!” Elise said.


The wolf’s howl sounded again, only this time it was accompanied by several other howls…but these howls sounded different. It was shriller, ragged, and…


“That wasn’t natural at all,” Sarah concluded. Elise took out the greatsword that had been strapped to her back. Jaheira began casting protection spells on the group and Auren drew her two swords. Nalia revealed her bow, her hand lingering over her quiver.


They entered the darkness of the new stretch of forest, each one of them scanning their surroundings constantly for anything that could possibly be the culprit behind the disappearances of Imesvale.


They had walked for a while when Jaheira held up her hand, signaling everyone to stop, and said, “Listen.”


A low growl quickly became a ferocious roar as a giant werewolf jumped from the thickness of the trees on the group’s left. After jumping back in surprise, the group began to attack. Elise dodged the wolf’s deadly swipe of its huge and powerful hand and put all her strength behind her weapon as she swung it at the creature’s head….and missed. The wolf took this opportunity to knock Elise down by hitting her in the ribs.


Sarah and Minsc both rushed at the werewolf, swinging their own blades down at it. Sarah’s longsword made a long gash in the creature’s side while Minsc’s greatsword was dodged by the wolf; but not completely as it grazed the creature’s back and left a shallow cut across its back. Nalia propelled one arrow after another at the creature but only a few of them struck it. The creature, once distracted by Sarah and Minsc, turned its attention on Nalia and began to rush towards her. She stopped firing arrows and stood frozen in fear.


“Nalia!” Elise shouted as she painfully climbed to her feet. “Move!”


But Nalia did not move – she couldn’t move as her legs suddenly felt like stone – and the creature continued to charge. Jaheira cast an entanglement spell on the creature that held it back for a few moments.


“Nalia, go! NOW!” she yelled.


Nalia still didn’t move.


“Oh, for crying out loud!” Auren said angrily and ran between Nalia and the werewolf, grabbing Nalia and lifting her off the ground and out of the way of the struggling creature.


The entanglement spell wore off and the creature was freed. Rather than charging, it stared at the group for a moment before taking off towards a cave several feet ahead of them and disappearing into it.


“Damn it!” Elise snapped as she picked up her sword. “Is everyone okay?”


Auren let go of Nalia and glared at her. “What in the hells were you thinking?! If Elise says to move, and Jaheira says to move, then you probably bloody well better move! You could have been killed and then we’d have an even bigger mess on our hands!”


Nalia pushed Auren back angrily. “Shut up, Aseph! You try having a giant werewolf charging you with the intent on tearing you apart in seconds!”


“I HAVE tried it and I didn’t stand there like a little idiot!” Auren yelled, pushing Nalia. “If anything, you should be thanking me for saving your life!”


“Oh, what do you want, a reward too?” Nalia sneered.


“Wouldn’t hurt-,” Auren tried to use her height advantage to intimidate Nalia.


“Both of you stop this right now!” Jaheira exclaimed and pushed the two of them apart.


“What she said,” Elise agreed. “Now, enough of this. We need to follow that thing.”


“Why?” Nalia asked.


“Werewolves don’t just run away,” Elise said.


“You think that might be the thing behind all the weird stuff that’s been going on?” Auren said, glancing in Sarah’s direction.


Sarah shrugged. “It could be. Not that werewolves are completely natural, but somehow I think there is something different about that one. It seemed…scared.”


“Well, then…let’s go find out why,” Elise said and began to head towards the cave. The rest of the group followed; Minsc with a determined look on his face, Jaheira looking back at Auren and Nalia, who both looked angry, and Sarah wondering what in the world she had gotten herself into.

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Just Another Day 4


As the six of them entered the cave, they weren’t given much time at all to adjust their eyes to the torchlight that lit up the large room. A mound of corpses, weapons, and bones was situated in the back of the cavern.


“Wow, it stinks in here!” Auren declared.


Ahead of them stood a tall but frail looking woman. Her clothes were torn and she was cut badly in many places.


“Fools! You know not what you are doing!” she spat.


Elise held her sword up threateningly. “I know that you attacked us and tried to kill us. Give me one good reason why we shouldn’t finish you off.”


“The evil wolf will pay for the deaths of the poor villagers; Minsc will see to it!” Minsc exclaimed.


The woman glared at Elise. “Villagers? You think I am the culprit?” She threw her head back and laughed hysterically.


Elise looked at her with a puzzled look. “Well, if you aren’t, then what is?”


The woman stopped laughing and became serious again. “He is a demon of the darkest sort. His darkness penetrated this wood and dominated the minds of my children. He held out his finger of death and killed them all with a single touch!”


The group just stared at her.


“So, um…what should we do now, Elise?” Nalia asked.


“Help me avenge their deaths,” the woman cried. “Help me, and perhaps your villagers may be helped as well. This Shade Lord must not be victorious.”


Elise looked back at the group, who exchanged looks of agreement. “I guess we’ll help you. Show any treachery though-,”


“No treachery today!” the woman hissed. “But we must hurry! The temple is not far from here. He has infected it with his essence…his minions…my children are but shadows now. Now…follow me. Quickly!” With that, the woman screamed as she transformed once again into a massive werewolf and took off running out of the cave.


“Let’s go!” Elise ordered and the group followed her out of the cave as well. They ran through the dark forest until they reached the temple…where they were immediately greeted by a horde of shadow wolves. The werewolf woman stood amongst her dead children.


“The light! Use the light!” she screamed before being cut down by her own kin.


Sarah looked around for something that could possibly be what the woman was talking about. She saw a mirror-like contraption with a handle on it and ran over to it, but not before being knocked down by one of the shadow wolves. She yelled out in pain as she was slammed down onto the stone. The wolf, now on top of her, snarled and lunged forward to bite her throat.


Suddenly, the shadow was gone, and Elise’s hand reached out and grabbed Sarah by her shirt collar and helped to pull her up.


“Are you okay?” Elise asked, looking very concerned.


“Yes…yes I’m fine,” Sarah panted. She turned her attention to the light reflecting contraption, which she had fallen next to.


“We need to turn that handle!” she said. Elise nodded and ran to the mirror and turned the handle. The mirror turned and light was suddenly reflected on it and shot out across the temple grounds. The shadows screamed and disappeared.


The group stood on the stone ground breathing heavily from the battle.

“This temple is not cleansed,” Jaheira informed them. “There are stairs that lead below. I suspect whatever is behind this lives down there.”


“The Shade Lord,” Nalia breathed. “What kind of creature would do this?”


“An evil one,” Elise answered. “Come on, let’s go.”




“Ugh…this place reeks of evil,” Auren said as they walked down the dark corridors of the temple interior.


“You can say that again,” Sarah muttered as she brushed a cobweb from her arm.


“Ugh…this place reeks of evil,” Auren repeated and grinned. Jaheira sighed.


“She wasn’t being serious, Auren,” Nalia groaned.


“Ugh….this place reeks of evil,” Auren said again and laughed quietly.


“Okay, that’s enough of- AHH!” Nalia screamed and jumped backwards in terror. The rest of the group stopped dead to see what the new threat was. Sarah loaded her bow with lightning speed, ready to fire.


Glances of surprise were exchanged by Elise and Sarah when they noticed that Nalia was clinging to Auren as if she had barely escaped certain death.




“EW!” Nalia and Auren pushed each other away.


“Get away from me!” Nalia squealed.


“Then keep your royal hands off me!” Auren retorted.


“Minsc does not see why the small spider is so frightening to little Nalia,” Minsc looked at the rather large black spider that clung to the stone wall. Elise sighed and Sarah lowered her bow.


Jaheira rolled her eyes. “We are not going to continue to stop every five seconds because you are scared of spiders are we, Nalia?”


“Erm…no…sorry about that,” Nalia said, her face turning slightly pink.


They continued onwards and entered a room, where they were attacked by more shadows as well as a gigantic bone golem. One of the shadows screamed out at Elise.


“Fools! You shall not release the Master’s prisoner!”


“Minsc! Get the right corner! Jaheira, try to hold these things so we can kill them. Nalia, try and use magic to blast these things! Sarah, Auren: you’re with me!” Elise barked out orders to the group as the creatures advanced on them.


Weapons were drawn and the fight was on. Minsc cut down one shadow after another while Jaheira cast several spells to distract and disorient the creatures while Auren and Sarah hammered away at the bone golem with their swords. Nalia launched a few fireballs and the room was like an oven momentarily as a few of the creatures cried out and died. Elise engaged in battle with what appeared to be the “lead” shade. It lunged at her but she stepped to the side and the blow barely missed her. She took this opportunity to bring her sword down on it and after three powerful hits, the shade was gone. Moments later, the other creatures had been slain.


Elise sensed another presence in the room nearest to where the shade fell. She held her sword up and took a deep breath before darting into the room, which turned out to be a prison cell.


“Come no closer!” a female said from within. Elise looked around and saw no one at first. Then, to her surprise, a halfling stepped into the light. She had bright red hair and was wearing what appeared to be a very strong metal armor.


“I mean you no harm; I’m Elise,” Elise said and sheathed her sword.


The halfling stared a Elise for a moment before nodding and saying, “I am Mazzy Fentan, a warrior. My companions and I traveled here to see what foul evil was behind the killings in the village.”


“Well…where are they?” Auren asked as she approached Elise and the halfling.


Mazzy looked at the ground. “They…they were all killed. Patrick! My dear Patrick…he was taken.”


“We understand that there is something called a Shade Lord behind this,” Elise said.


Mazzy nodded. “That there is. A terrible shade that has destroyed this temple of Amaunator. We must stop him!”


“We’re agreed there. Want to travel with us until we stop this thing?” Elise offered.


Mazzy considered. “I…accept. I see that you have an…” she inspected the group, which consisted of a panting half-elf, a young but grumpy looking girl who was rubbing her hands on her clothes, another girl holding two swords sporting a cut on her forehead, and a large but smiling man. “…interesting group of companions.”


“Hey! What’s that supposed to mean?” Auren huffed.


Elise narrowed her eyes at the halfling. “Interesting as they are, they are my friends and I trust them with my life.”


“And before you go making any judgments on us, remember who saved whose life,” Auren muttered.


Elise ignored her. “You’re welcome to travel with us, Mazzy. We can use another warrior.”


Mazzy nodded. “Thank you. Shall we go then?”




“Elise, GET DOWN!”


Elise ducked just in time after hearing Sarah’s yell. A ball of energy passed over her. She looked around to see how her friends were doing.

They had ventured through the ruined temple of Amaunator, passing several tests that allowed them entry into the Shade Lord’s dragon’s chamber, where they had been able to sneak past it using invisibility magics. Encountering the Shade Lord was interesting. Sarah had felt the darkness of evil passing through forests before, but had never encountered a creature that gave off such a feeling of….dirtiness, of pollutant. It had killed and turned the body of Patrick, Mazzy’s closest companion, into a shade, and Mazzy had trembled with anger and sorrow when she saw him.


Now, in the battle between the group and the Shade Lord along with his shadow creatures, Sarah had drawn her longsword and used it to slash into any enemy that approached her. She saw the Shade Lord lift his hands and whisper an incantation while staring at Elise, who was busy fighting a shade of her own. She yelled out at Elise, who ducked.


Auren tried to go for the Shade Lord himself. She swung both swords at him with a fierce cry, but to her shock they had no effect on him at all.


“What the hells?” she gasped.




But the warning from Jaheira came too late and Auren was sent flying across the room, courtesy of the Shade Lord’s powerful magic. She slammed into the stone wall and slid to the ground, barely conscious. Her face was smeared with blood.


“You…you are ssstrong and ssshhalll do nicccely for my next…hosssst…” the Shade Lord laughed as he approached Auren, who looked up at him in a daze.


Sarah knew she wouldn’t make it to Auren in time. She looked around for something, anything, that could possibly help. Her eyes fixed upon a familiar site in the center of the room.


“Elise! The statue!” she shouted.


Elise turned to face the destroyed statue of Amaunator, which seemed to radiant dark energy. She ran towards it as fast as she could and lifted her sword.


“Sssstay away from that!” the Shade Lord, now distracted, hissed. But Elise paid him no attention and brought her sword down on the statue’s head with all her strength. The head shattered into several chunks and the screams of the Shade Lord and his shades filled the room.

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Just Another Day 5


"Bye!" Elise called out to Mazzy as she watched the halfling speed away on a pony; a gracious donation by the mayor of Imnesvale.


It had been two days since the incident with the Shade Lord. Destroying the statue had freed the temple and the surrounding forest of the evil shade's domination, and the woods were once again safe to travel...or as safe as they'd ever been. After the battle, they had found Merella, whose body had been used as a host for the Shade Lord's essence, on the brink of death. She had barely enough strength to thank the group for freeing her before she died. The group looked upon her lifeless body in silence, and Minsc had stepped forward and picked her up. They carried her all the way back to the village, where she received a special burial from the villagers, to honor the ranger protector of Imnesvale.


Mazzy Fentan, the warrior halfling, decided to return to her home in the city of Trademeet. Elise bid her farewell that morning and watched as Mazzy disappeared into the forest from outside the inn.


"That's got to be hard," Elise heard Auren say from behind her. The fighter had a long cut on the side of her face from her encounter with the Shade Lord.


"How are you feeling?" Elise asked. Auren had been sleeping on and off for the past two days.


"I'm good. A little dizzy."


"I would imagine so. You were hit pretty hard," Elise observed. Then she remembered what Auren has just said. "What has to be hard?"


"Going out to save a village and losing all your friends. It's hard," Auren said.


Elise raised an eyebrow. "You sound like you speak from experience."


Auren shrugged. "Maybe." She began to kick some dirt up with her boot. "I'm going to go see what's for breakfast. Hopefully the inn's morning food is as good as its dinner."


"Okay," Elise replied. Auren began to walk back inside the inn.


"Auren," Elise suddenly called after her. Auren turned.


"Is everything all right? With you and Nalia back in the forest and-,"


Auren held up her hand. "Ah, don't worry about that, Elise. I'm sorry I lost my temper with Nalia. It's just that I was....well she can be soooo....so stupid sometimes. It bothers me, I suppose, because I don't...I don't want to see anything bad happen to her, or any of us," she explained.


Elise nodded. "So you do care about her?"


Auren shrugged. "No more than I care about the rest of you. You're all my friends."


Elise smiled. "Thank you, Auren. Is...is Sarah still asleep?"


Auren nodded. "Yeah, she was getting ready last time I saw her. Is she leaving us?"


"I don't know," Elise admitted. "I was actually hoping she would remain with us. She proved....very useful in battle. It would be good to have another archer, especially one that's a ranger."


"That and she's cute," Auren said, her face completely serious.


"Well, yeah that too-," Elise started and stopped herself in shock. "Hey! You...you didn't hear that!"


Auren grinned. "Hah, whatever you say." She laughed at the look of fear on her leader's face. "Don't worry, I won't say anything!"


"B-but how did you-," Elise stammered.


"Oh, please, Elise. I knew you were into women the second you walked into the Coronet when we met," Auren explained.


Elise sighed. "Geez, am I that obvious?" She looked up at the sky and then back at Auren. "I guess I just want to get to know her better. I don't even know if she's like me in that sense."


"Well, the only way you're going to find out is if you try," Auren suggested.


Elise smirked. "Oh, like the way you're 'trying' with Nalia?"


Auren rolled her eyes. "There's nothing going on between Nalia and me."


Elise stared at her.


"There's not! But you should definitely ask Sarah to stick around. If anything, she'll be useful in helping us get the rest of the money to find your Imoen," Auren said.


"Hmm...well you're right about that at least," Elise said. "Come on, let's go get some breakfast."




Sarah was brushing out her hair when she heard a knock at her door.


"Sarah, it's Elise," she heard Elise call from outside. "Come in!" she answered. The door slowly opened and Elise entered the room.


"Hi," she said and took a small step forward.


"Hello," Sarah replied as she put her brush down on the dresser and began to pack her things.


"You don't have to do that!" Elise blurted.


Sarah stopped what she was doing and looked up at the fighter. "Do what?"


"Pack. You don't have to do that," Elise repeated. Sarah could sense nervousness in Elise's voice, but she could not figure out why in the world Elise would be nervous.


"Oh? Well, I figured I should be all ready to go if I am going to head home by tomorrow," she explained.


Elise looked at the ground.


"Is something the matter, Elise?" Sarah asked.


"What? Wrong? No!" Elise stammered. "I was just going to say...if you are willing...that is um...we would...I would very much like it if you went back to Nalia's keep with us."


"To Nalia's keep?"


"Yes...um...I would love for you to stay...with the group that is. You see, we're in kind of a mess, and could really use your help," Elise explained.


Sarah sat down on the bed. "Well, would you like to tell me what exactly is going on then?"


Elise nodded and sat down on the bed next to Sarah. "I'm from Candlekeep originally, Sarah. I never knew my parents; I was raised by my foster father, Gorion. I lived in Candlekeep until about a year ago."


Sarah nodded. "Okay..."


Elise continued. "One night, Gorion told me that we had to leave, but he wouldn't tell me why. We left in the middle of the night, but we were attacked by some strange man and his cohorts."


Sarah nodded again. "So you are Elise of Candlekeep. You're the Bhaalspawn."


Elise stared at Sarah in surprise. "You...you knew?"


"I had a suspicion but I didn't think it was true until I saw you fight. Don't worry though!" Sarah said quickly. "I hold nothing against you for being a Bhaalspawn. I know you have good intentions. You're the one who stopped the war between Baldur's Gate and Amn."


Elise smiled faintly and nodded. "Yes, I suppose I did. I didn't do it alone though."


"Of course...I understand. But...what are you doing here in Amn?" Sarah asked.


Elise took a deep breath. "A few months after we killed Sarevok, we were attacked during the night and kidnapped. When I woke up, I was in this dungeon...well, more like a laboratory. This...this mage; his name is Jon Irenicus, and he had captured us and killed two of my friends. One was Khalid, Jaheira's husband, and the other...Dynaheir, Minsc's charge. Irenicus...he took us into his lab, and pretty much tortured us."


Sarah's eyes widened and she put her hand on Elise's arm. "Gods, that's...that's horrible. What did he want?!"


Elise shrugged. "I'm not sure. Something about unlocking my power...whatever that means. There...there was another of us...Imoen. She's my oldest friend. We practically grew up together."


"Where is she?"


"She somehow got out of her cage when the lab was under attack, I had no idea by who. She freed me and then her, Jaheira, Minsc and I got out of there. But he....Irenicus....he was outside, waiting for us," Elise said, her voice becoming shaky.


"What happened?"


"Imoen had been experimenting with magic before we were kidnapped, and so she tried to use what she knew to hurt Irenicus. But, magic is illegal in Athkatla, and the Cowled Wizards came, and took both Irenicus and Imoen," Elise continued. "We met a man named Gaelen Bayle; he promised to lead us to someone who could get us to Imoen...for twenty thousand gold!"


"Is that why you saved Nalia's keep? And helped this village? For money?" Sarah asked, but her tone was not accusing.


Elise nodded. "Partially. I've never been one to turn down a challenge unfortunately," she smiled. "Nalia is betrothed to a rather unpleasant nobleman; not her choice of course. She gave me power over the keep in order to escape her marriage. It's nice though; we have a place to rest and restock if we need it."


"How close are you to having this twenty thousand gold?" Sarah asked.


"We're at around fourteen thousand right now. We were heading back to the keep to see if we've accumulated any in tax money. But anyway," Elise finished, "I would really like it if you joined with us."


Sarah considered for a moment. Traveling with Elise would mean leaving her nice, quiet home in the forest. Then again, she had left her uncle's home to become independent. Was a nice, quiet lifestyle really what she wanted?


"I'll join you," she said finally and nearly laughed out loud as she saw Elise breathe out a long sigh of relief.


"Great!" Elise said excitedly. "So...we should head out tomorrow then. Is that okay?"


Sarah smiled. "You're in charge, Elise."


Elise laughed nervously. "Oh...right. I am...yeah. Okay, well I'm going to tell the others to start packing their things so we can leave first thing in the morning."


"All right. You do that," Sarah said and watched Elise walk (more like skip) out of the room.


She sat alone on the bed for a few minutes. Traveling with a Bhaalspawn? What would Uncle Gurien say if he knew? What would her father think if he was still alive? Her mother? Yes, she thought bitterly, what would my cowardly mother think if the the daughter she abandoned all those years ago was traveling with a Bhaalspawn?


She forced out thoughts of her mother angrily and tried to focus on something else. Just then, Auren walked into the room.


"Heya," she said cheerfully as she headed for her pack.


"Hi," Sarah replied.


Auren rummaged through her pack for a few seconds before she looked at Sarah and stopped. "Hey, you okay? You're looking kinda upset."


"Hm? Oh, yes, I'm fine. I was just...spaced out I suppose," Sarah said and stood up.


Auren grinned. "Ah, that happens to me sometimes...usually when I'm faced with certain death and a horde of orcs are charging at me with flaming swords and poison arrows." She looked thoughtful for a moment.


"You're kidding right?" Sarah asked hopefully.


Auren nodded and winked. "Yeah, I am," to which Sarah laughed out loud at.


"You're very funny, Auren. I enjoy traveling with you very much," she said.


Auren bowed and said in a faux-serious manner. "Why thank you, Miss Sarah. You're quite lovely yourself." She proceeded to look through her pack some more.


Sarah felt her face become hot from blushing and she focused on the ground to prevent Auren from seeing her pink face.


Finally, Auren exclaimed, "Aha, found them!" and held up a deck of playing cards. "Minsc and I are engaging in some lovely recreation in the dining room. Want to join us?"


Sarah shook her head. "A little later, maybe. I've got a letter I need to write first."


Auren shrugged. "Okay, then. See you later!" She left, leaving Sarah alone again.


Sarah took out a piece of parchment from one of the dresser drawers and grabbed a quill. She tried to begin the letter to her uncle, but other thoughts kept interfering.

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Just Another Day 6


"Wow, nice shot, Sarah! Holy crap, where'd you learn to shoot?"


Sarah shook her head but couldn't help but giggle at Auren's comments. "My uncle taught me how." She retrieved her arrow from the target, where it had hit just outside the bullseye, and returned to her firing position.


Auren, Sarah, and Minsc were in the northern grounds of Nalia's keep in the late afternoon, testing out the training equipment. Elise, Nalia, and Jaheira were in the keep's library, searching for any information they could find regarding the Cowled Wizards or Irenicus.


"Miss Sarah is very good with her bow and arrows, even though there is no one to fight right now!" Minsc said happily. "I would ask you to teach Boo how to shoot as you do, but I have not been able to find a bow and arrow fit for a miniature giant space hamster."


Sarah smiled and tried to avoid the accusing gaze of the small hamster, which she was sure was just an ordinary hamster, and that Minsc had perhaps taken far too many blows to the head. "I'm sure Boo does just fine without the need for a bow and arrow, Minsc," she said.


"Just the same, we should still keep our eyes open in case we find one during our great adventures together! Minsc is sooo happy you have decided to come along!" the large ranger declared.


Sarah smiled again, her face turning pink, and she cursed inwardly at her inability to conceal how easily embarrassed she got.


After a few more rounds of archery, Auren suggested that they move on to sparring. Minsc announced that he was going to go inside but would return later.


"You like to use a longsword, right Sarah?" Auren asked.


Sarah put her bow down and looked at the fighter. "Yes," she replied.


"Okay well, let's see what you've got. But..." she grinned. "Don't expect me to take it easy on you. I always use two swords when I fight." She drew her swords.


Sarah nodded and drew her own blade. "Very well," she said playfully. "But that means that you must fight fairly and not expect me to let you win!"


"Hah! We'll see who let's who win!" Auren returned and twirled her blades smoothly and swiftly. Sarah found herself so distracted from watching Auren's swords that she didn't even notice that Auren had begun the spar, and a second later, she was lying on the ground, facedown and coughing up dirt.


Auren offered her hand to Sarah, who grabbed it and lifted herself up. "S-sorry," she said, still coughing. "I wasn't ready."


"Hehe, Sarah, I think you would know better than anyone that the enemy isn't going to wait for you to be ready," Auren said and winked. "You okay?"


Sarah wiped the sweat and dirt off her face with her shirt sleeve and held her sword up. "I'm fine; I was just....distracted," she said.


Auren held her swords up for a moment before sheathing them again. "Good gods, did your uncle teach you how to hold a sword, too?" she exclaimed as she walked over to the ranger.


"Erm...not really. He mostly focused on archery, though we went over a few things about swordplay. I sort of just picked up some skills on my own," Sarah admitted, feeling extremely self-conscious.


"That's okay, then; it gives me room to work with," Auren said as she walked behind Sarah and began to fix the girl's hands on the sword hilt. "Let me show you the way that Dadrek taught me to hold a sword."


"Who is Dadrek?"


Auren smiled. "He was my mentor, and the leader of the group of adventures I used to travel with. Now, just move your hand like this...a little bit lower now or the sword is going to fly out of your hands when you swing it...good..." Auren put her arms around Sarah and carefully adjusted the girls's hands so that she could hold the sword more comfortably and so that she'd perhaps be more confident when she held it. Sarah tried to pay attention to what Auren was teaching her, but kept getting distracted by the fact that Auren was so close to her. She could feel the fighter's breath, smell her hair, felt her hands, which to her surprise, were actually soft. Then she recalled that Auren had worn gloves during their adventure in Umar Hills.


"....and then when you attack, you're going to put your left foot forward..." Auren's voice seemed far away now.


"....you move your body like this, and if they try to block you, just...."


It was very comforting to Sarah; having Auren this close to her made her feel secure. Was she attracted to the fighter? She had only known her for about a week. There was no doubt about it; she had never been intimate with anyone before, but she had been attracted to a select few throughout her later teen years and early adulthood, her preference being women for some reason. But Auren?


She had figured that there was actually something going on between Auren and Nalia. Perhaps the reason they started fights with each other so much was because they secretly felt attracted to one another? It was no wonder though...Auren was an athletic and beautiful girl in an almost rugged sort of way, with her long dark hair and dark eyes that seemed to hold a certain mystery about them. She was no dryad, but there was something about the fighter that Sarah couldn't put her finger on, but whatever it was, she liked it.


"...and then you can change it up for variety until...well, until it's over!" Auren finished happily. "Did you get all that or do you need me to go over it again?"


Sarah snapped out of her daydream. "Oh...um...what?" She shook her head. "I'm sorry..." she said and Auren looked at her with concern.


"Something wrong?"


"No, no! I'm fine...it's just that, I guess I was spacing out...again," Sarah admitted.


Auren laughed softly, but she did not let go of Sarah's hands to the ranger's surprise. "You seem to 'space out' a lot." But her tone was not one of mockery. "Something on your mind?"


Sarah shrugged and involuntarily moved closer to Auren. "Nothing too important. I was just...thinking is all. I'm sorry...I didn't mean to be rude. Sometimes I'll be completely here one minute and the next minute I'm-," she turned her head to face Auren and she froze when she saw that Auren's face was inches away from hers.


"Spacing out?" Auren asked, her expression dead serious.


"Y-y-yes..." Sarah stammered and found herself short of breath. She inched closer to Auren, who in turn did the same. Their lips nearly touched...


"Minsc and Boo are ready for action once again!" Minsc stomped onto the training grounds holding his greatsword up high.


The two women all but jumped away from each other, each pretending to inspect their weapons.


"I um..." Sarah sheathed her sword and struggled to regain her composure. "I think I should head inside....it's getting close to dinnertime."


"Yeah, um...me too!" Auren agreed quickly. "I think that....Jaheira! Yes, Jaheira wanted to speak to me about something. Catch you later, Minsc!" and with that she walked off briskly back into the manor. Sarah walked after her but tried not to walk too closely behind.


Minsc was left alone with Boo on his shoulder, feeling very confused. "Why did everyone leave, Boo?"

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A few notes:


1) Some scenes of the more mature sort. You've been advised.

2) Chapter 7 is on the longer side.






Just Another Day 7


"Minsc, could you pass the salt, please?" Jaheira asked wearily.


"Is something the matter with our druid friend?" Minsc asked as he handed her the salt. The group sat around the long table in the dining room of Nalia's mansion. A roast and vegetables was the meal tonight, skillfully prepared by one of the cooks that had survived the troll invasion. New servants had been hired by the majordomo of the house but it would be a week before they arrived from Athkatla.


"Nothing to be concerned about, Minsc," Jaheira replied as she sprinkled the salt on her food. "I am fine. Just a bit tired after reading books all day."


"I can't believe there was nothing in the library that mentioned anything about where the Cowled Wizards take their prisoners!" Nalia exclaimed and took a bite of her meat.


"We might just have to keep going with our Gaelen Bayle fund raiser then," Elise sighed and watched Minsc feed Boo a carrot. "We're not too far away from our goal."


"Still, how do we know that this Bayle man isn't out to just scam us? We really don't know anything about him," Auren pointed out.


Nalia scoffed at the fighter. "You have so little faith in people, Aseph; it's sad, really."


Auren shrugged. "Sorry, princess, but not everyone is as kind and giving as you are," she said, her voice full sarcasm.


Elise sighed again as she felt yet another argument between Auren and Nalia coming on and turned to Sarah, who was sitting between her and Jaheira.


"How was your day, Sarah? What did you end up doing?" she asked with a smile.


Sarah, who had been chewing on some vegetables, became extremely nervous and swallowed her food harder than she intended to, resulting in her coughing and reaching for her drink. Elise stared at her with a surprised look.


"Something I said?"


Sarah took a long drink and shook her head. "No, no...everything is fine," she said once she was able to speak again. "Auren...and Minsc and I just practiced in the training yard and erm...then I finished my letter to my uncle." She looked across the table and saw Auren staring at her with a small smile. Sarah cleared her throat nervously and turned to look at Elise. "I just needed to let him know what was going on with me."


Elise nodded. "Great! We'll have someone take it to him first thing in the morning," she offered.


"Thank you," Sarah said gratefully and continued to eat. The remainder of dinner consisted mostly of small talk and Elise going over a list of chores to be taken care of the following day.


"We need someone to go to Athkatla and sell some of the extra junk we picked up," she said.


Nalia groaned. "All that stuff? But Elise, can't we just send some of the servants to do it?"


Auren rolled her eyes. "Gods, Nalia...you're so-," she started


Nalia glared daggers at the fighter, daring her to continue. "'So' what?"


But Jaheira interfered. "No more, children," she warned with no sign of jest in her tone.


Auren sighed and said, "Fine. But I was about to say that it would be better if someone who knew the value of these items and treasures went instead of some servant. We're supposed to be gathering as much gold as possible, so we don't want to get ripped off by some sleazy merchant in Athkatla. It's what they do best after all."


"Are you saying that you'll go then, Auren?" Elise asked, wondering how much more of Auren and Nalia's arguing she could take.


Auren nodded. "Sure. I've been around enough dungeons and cities to know how much most of this stuff is worth, and how much people are willing to pay for it. Who wants to go with me?"


"I will!" Sarah piped a little too quickly. The others stared at her.


"Um..." the ranger stammered. "It's just that...I'd much prefer to be outside, traveling, then here in the keep. No offense of course," she said, looking at Nalia, who smiled faintly in return.


Elise looked at Sarah with concern. "Are you sure?"


Sarah nodded. "Yes, it's no problem at all. Really. I've traveled through this area a few times before, anyway."


Elise nodded. "I understand. You're probably not used to being cooped up in a house all day."


Auren sat back in her chair. "So it's settled then. We shouldn't be gone longer than a couple days. What are you guys going to do?"


Elise took out a piece of paper from her pants pocket as the servants began to clear the table. "Well," she said as she skimmed over the paper. "I was thinking maybe the rest of us could go check out that Lord Firkragg's monster problem in the Windspear Hills."


"Oh, yes, that noble from the Copper Coronet. I agree with Sarah...it would be nice to get out of the indoors again," Jaheira said.


"I don't know...I still stand by what I said about Firkragg before," Nalia warned. "There's something off about him."


"Money's money, Nalia," Elise said. "If this man is offering us ten thousand gold to kill some monsters, I say we take him up on that offer."


"New evil to vanquish? Did you hear that, Boo? There are creatures that require the boots of righteousness stomped down upon them!" Minsc exclaimed. He looked around, puzzled. "Where is Boo?"


"Erm...I think he just took off on your plate with one of the servants," Auren suggested. "Guess he likes leftovers."


Minsc stood up quickly, nearly flipping the table over. "Boo!" he cried and took off towards the kitchen.




"So...tell me why you wanted to come with again?"


Sarah adjusted her pack and tried to avoid Auren's gaze. "I just wanted to help you, and be out in the forest again."


Auren and Sarah had left early the following morning and it was now nearly midday. Along with their weapons and supplies, they carried a variety of gems, jewelry, and a few enchanted weapons that Elise had decided to sell. They had been mostly silent during their journey so far, until now.


Auren raised an eyebrow. "You wanted to lug around a bunch of crap all the way to the lousiest city in Faerun so that you could be outside?" she said skeptically.


Sarah nodded vigorously. "Yes," she said simply.


Auren shook her head. "You're weird."


Sarah laughed loudly and exclaimed, "What? Me? Weird?"


"Yes. You. Weird." Auren answered seriously. Sarah was intimidated by the fighter's stern expression and didn't reply. Suddenly, Auren burst into laughter. Sarah giggled nervously.


"I'm only joking, Sarah!" Auren explained, putting her hand on Sarah's shoulder. Sarah felt her body tense up at the fighter's touch.


"Joking! Right! Of course...I knew that, heh," Sarah said hesitantly. She thought about asking Auren about what had happened the day before. She probably thought nothing of it, she thought, she's probably been with tons of other women before. Still, better to ask now than never.


"Auren..." she began. Auren looked at Sarah and smiled. "Yeah?" she asked.


"Um...I wanted to know...about yesterday..." Sarah dragged on.


Auren stopped walking and the ranger did the same.


"You mean when we almost..." Auren started.


"Yes," Sarah finished. She felt her face turning red. "I...I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable, and if I did, I apologize."


Auren appeared to be in thought for a moment before she finally said, "You didn't make me uncomfortable, Sarah. Tell you what, why don't we talk about this later tonight when we're at the Mithrest, hm?"


Sarah nodded. "O-okay." But her nervousness and fear did not vanish as she had expected it to.


Auren grinned. "Good. Now...change of subject: I'm hungry. Mind if we break for a moment and eat something?"


Sarah forced a smiled. "Sure. That sounds fine," she said slowly.




"Boo would like to know, how much further until we reach the monsters?" Minsc asked.


"We won't reach Windspear Hills until early afternoon tomorrow," Jaheira said. She turned to Elise. "What are our plans for tonight?"


"We'll set up camp in a few hours," Elise answered as she glanced at the setting sun. She yawned.


"Tired?" Jaheira asked.


"Yeah. I don't think I got enough sleep," Elise replied.


"Was the bed all right?" Nalia asked, concerned.


"Oh, yes, it was fine," Elise assured her. "It's just...I keep having these dreams and-,"


"Dreams?" Jaheira interrupted. "You haven't mentioned any dreams before, child."


"I know, I know," Elise said. "I didn't want to worry you."


Jaheira nodded. "Well, I am worried now, so you might as well share these...dreams with the rest of us."


Elise took a deep breath and said, "Well, in my dreams, Irenicus is talking to me. Something about my power, my potential...something like that. Anyway, in every dream, people die, and the strangest part is that Imoen appears in every one of the dreams."


Jaheira bit her lip. "Odd."


"Does Imoen say anything to you?" Nalia asked.


"Nothing that makes sense. She mentioned that...that we would come too late. And at the end of each dream she...." Elise's voice trailed off.


"She...what?" Jaheira pressed. Elise took another deep breath.


"She dies."




"One room, two beds, please," Auren said to the innkeeper at the Mithrest in Waukeen's Promenade, the busy merchant's district of Athkatla.


The innkeeper, a friendly older man, looked at the girls apologetically and said, "I'm sorry, ladies, but we've been booked up the past week or so. Not sure why...perhaps trading in the city's been good lately."


Auren sighed. "So...there's absolutely nothing available?" she huffed.


The innkeeper shook his head. "I'm sorry, ladies."


"What about the place next door?" Sarah asked Auren, who shrugged and said, "Might as well try it."




"By every god in Toril, is there not a single vacant room available in this stupid town?" Auren complained. "It's dark, it's cold, and I could really use something to drink."


"What about the Copper Coronet?" Sarah suggested.


Auren stared at her. "Are you sure? I didn't suggest it because I didn't want you to have to stay at such a crappy place."


Sarah laughed. "Auren, I grew up in the slummiest parts of Baldur's Gate. I think I can handle a room at the Coronet."


Auren shrugged. "If you say so."




"OY! Move out of me way, ya cur!"


"Stop! He took my coinpurse!! Stop him!"


"WHO'S NEXT? I'm calling it at twenty gold! TWENTY GOLD! Who will bet twenty gold on their dog?!"


Yells like this and more were what greeted Auren and Sarah as they entered the Copper Coronet, situated in the center of the Slums District of Athkatla. Barfights ensued, dogs barking echoed across the dining room, and the smells of meat cooking, ale, sweat, and perfume all rushed at Sarah and nearly overwhelmed her.


Auren looked at her worriedly. "You'll be fine," she said and took Sarah's hand, who grabbed it gratefully as Auren led her up to the bar. A shady looking man stood silently behind the bartender, scowling at anyone who approached him. The bartender, a large greasy man, was dealing out ales to patrons. He saw Sarah and began to stare at her.


"Can I help ya?" he grunted.


Auren stepped in front of the anxious ranger. "Yeah, we need a room and some food and drink."


The bartender looked at Auren suspiciously for a moment before saying, "I'm pretty full this eve, but I gots one room with one bed in it, if that'll work for ya. Cost ya five gold...ten if ya want some food and ales with it."


Auren slapped ten gold on the counter. "We'll take it."


The bartender grinned, showing some very poorly maintained teeth. "Right in the back there," he said and pointed towards a hallway in the back of the dining room. "They'll put yar food an' drink outside the door in a bit."


"Fine," Auren said tersely. "Come on, Sarah." They made their way through the groups of people until they reached their room. Auren led Sarah inside before entering herself and locked the door behind them.


"Ugh...now I remember why I didn't like it here," she muttered.


Sarah looked around. The room was in surprisingly decent condition. The bed looked a bit worn, as did the rest of the furniture and the rug, but other than that, it was not too bad. Still, it was nothing like her quiet and comforting cabin in the forest of Umar Hills. She found herself feeling a little homesick.


"You tired?" Auren asked as she removed her armor, leaving only her long sleeved shirt and black pants on.


"A bit. I probably should get some rest," Sarah admitted.


"Good idea. You don't..." Auren gestured to the bed. "...mind sharing do you?"


Sarah shook her head. "No, it's fine," she said as calmly as possible, trying not to show that she was in fact very nervous about sharing a bed with a woman she had nearly kissed a day earlier.


Once the two of them had prepared for bed, they climbed under the blankets and Auren blew out the candles. Silence ensued between them for a few minutes. Only the distant sounds of still going fights and people laughing and shouting could be heard.


Sarah had nearly closed her eyes to attempt to fall asleep when Auren's quiet voice pierced the silence. "Sarah?"


Sarah cringed. Here it comes, she thought, how she hated confrontations. "Yes?" she said softly.


"Whatever you do, don't eat the food here for breakfast...especially the mushrooms. We can go somewhere else, okay?"


Sarah sighed with relief. Either the almost-kiss had meant nothing to Auren, or Auren was simply avoiding the topic. Either way, Sarah was content. But...what if the reason for that was because Auren didn't think highly of her at all? What if Auren was repulsed at the mere sight of her? What if-


"I hate that Minsc interrupted us yesterday," Auren said. Sarah stopped breathing for a moment and rolled over to face Auren.


"You....you do?" she whispered.


"Yeah. If he hadn't, I might have been able to finish what I started," Auren explained. She took Sarah's hand gently.


"A-and...and w-what was that?" Sarah breathed.


Auren didn't respond, but instead moved closer to Sarah and tilted her head downwards. The ranger began to tremble but Auren squeezed her hand and inched even closer, finally pressing her lips against Sarah's. After a moment, she pulled away slowly and the two gazed into each other's eyes.


"I...I'm sorry, Sarah. I didn't mean to-," Auren began but was interrupted as Sarah pulled her close again and began kissing her passionately. Sarah's nervousness did not fade, but she found courage she didn't know she had and began to run her fingers through Auren's long dark hair. Auren responded by moving her arms under Sarah's back and rolling on top of the still scared ranger and continuing to kiss her. Sarah immediately felt panicked and pushed Auren away.


"Stop...please," she whispered. Auren pulled away quickly and resumed her position next to Sarah, who was nearly hyperventilating.


"Are you all right?" the fighter asked, taking Sarah's hand again.


"Yeah....yes; I'm sorry...I just wasn't...I wasn't-," Sarah stuttered.


"You weren't ready for that sort of thing; I know. It's okay. I'm sorry if I scared you," Auren said calmly.


"No...no, I'm fine. But you're right; I...I wasn't ready for that," Sarah confessed.


"How about if we just get some sleep, then?" Auren suggested.


Sarah nodded. "Yes...I'd like that."




"Well, good night," Sarah said finally.


"Good night, Sarah," Auren replied.


Sarah rolled over so that she had her back facing Auren. She felt odd...like she had done something wrong...but risky...and strangely enough, she had enjoyed it!


Her thoughts were broken as she felt Auren move closer to her again. The fighter wrapped her arms around Sarah's waist, and Sarah couldn't help but grin. Things became peaceful in her mind as she settled down and sleep began to take over.




Whew! That one was longer.


Next: We see what's going on in Windspear Hills. Also, does what happen at the Coronet, stay at the Coronet? :)

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Some mature scenes in this, not too bad but still you've been warned.



Just Another Day 8


"Monsters! Your deaths come swiftly today!"


Elise, Jaheira, Nalia, and Minsc all stared at the orc in front of them, one of several. A party of two orcs, a gnoll, a wyvern, and a troll "greeted" the group as soon as they entered the domain of Lord Firkragg in the Windspear Hills.


"Erm...have you guys ever heard an orc talk so....eloquently?" Elise asked as she held her greatsword at the ready.


"Something is wrong here," Jaheira said tentatively.


"Minsc is no monster! We shall slay these evil creatures in the name of all that is good everywhere!" Minsc yelled and charged the orc who had spoken.


"Minsc, no!" Elise and Jaheira shouted in unison but the ranger's battlecry had already provoked the monsters to attack. Elise spun and cut down the nearest orc, but she was taken by surprise when she heard the sound of metal hitting metal as soon as her sword went down on the creature. Jaheira cast several holding spells on the monsters as Nalia propelled arrows at them. In minutes, six dead human men lay before them.


"What in all the hells...?" Elise gasped.


"These are not monsters! These are men! How is it that these monsters became men?!" Minsc cried, clearly grief-stricken at what had happened.


"Wha...what? How did this happen?" Nalia whispered and dropped her bow on the dirt.


Jaheira sighed. "I knew that something was not right. These aren't just any men," she said. Elise noticed that she looked extremely worried.


"Who are they?"


"They are knights of the Order of the Most Radiant Heart," the druid explained. "I can imagine that we will be amongst the most wanted in Amn."


"Damn!" Elise burst out and threw her sword on the ground angrily. "Well, what are we supposed to do now?!" she snapped at Jaheira.


"W-what is going on here?" A tall, blond man dressed in brown clothes was running towards them. He stopped to catch his breath for a moment after reaching them before panting, "You....you're not monsters!"


"Yeah, we know that," Elise snapped.


"I saw two groups of monsters fighting each other, and suddenly all that was left were you people, and these dead knights....oh...no! These are knights from the Order!" he cried.


"We know that....can you help us or not?" Elise said bitterly.


The man nodded and said, "Forgive me. I am Garren Windspear, once the proud ruler of these lands."


Nalia raised an eyebrow. "Once?"


Garren Windspear nodded. "Yes. But this is not the right place for this conversation. Follow me; we shall go to my cabin," and with that he took off running again.


The group exchanged glances of confusion.


"Well, I guess we have no choice," Elise sighed. "Come on," she said and began to follow after Windspear, and the rest of the group followed suit.




"For the last time....I'll give you two hundred for the sword and three hundred for the gems. That's my final offer and you can take it or leave it!" The merchant in Waukeen's Promenade glared at Auren challengingly.


"I could get four hundred easily off some black market guy in the Slums," Auren growled. "Those gems are worth more than that."


"Maybe we should just go somewhere else, Auren," Sarah suggested.


Auren glanced at Sarah for a moment and then glared at the merchant. "Good idea," she said, not taking her eyes off the merchant. "Let's go." They began to walk away when the merchant stopped them.


"Wait! All right, fine! Four hundred for the gems and 250 for the sword. My best and last offer!" he cried.


"Sold!" Auren practically threw the bag of gems at the man and dropped the sword on his selling table. The merchant took a moment to count out the gold and put it in a bag for her.


"See? That wasn't so hard, was it?" Auren said to Sarah as they walked towards a small cafe in the promenade.


"How did you get him to pay more?" Sarah asked.


Auren shrugged. "He didn't want us to go to someone...shifty, and have us sell our stuff there. Might give him a bad rep."


They arrived at the cafe and sat down at one of the tables. A waitress walked by and took their order.


"So, how did we do?" Sarah wondered.


Auren took out their bag of gold and began to count its contents. After a few minutes, she finally said, "1043."


Sarah nodded in approval. "Good," she said. "Elise should be happy with that."


The waitress returned with drinks for them. Auren took a sip of hers and said, "I hope so."


"I hope they're all right," Sarah said worriedly. "That whole monster hunting thing just seems a bit too...."


"Convenient?" Auren finished.


Sarah smiled. "I was going to say 'suspicious', but I guess convenient works, too."


"So," Auren began, "did you want to head back to the keep after this?"


Sarah looked puzzled. "Well...aren't we supposed to?"


Auren laughed. "Yes, I guess we are. But they're probably still in Windspear Hills, and I think we have a little time for some sightseeing before they get back."


Sarah looked at the fighter suspiciously. "If I recall correctly, you said that this was the 'lousiest city in Faerun', am I right?"


Auren's expression grew serious. "Yes...and I still think it is, but you being here makes it less lousy."


Sarah blushed and laughed nervously. "Um...so what did you want to do then?" she said hesitantly.


"Well," Auren said wistfully. "I think I know of a place that might be fun."




"I...really hate...this Firkraag...guy," Elise panted after the group had slashed their way through a band of hobgoblins.


Garren Windspear had been kind enough to speak with some acquaintances of his at the Order of the Most Radiant Heart. Shortly after he had left, minions of Firkraag, a "lord" who had taken over Windspear's lands, broke into the cabin and kidnapped Garren's teenage son. Elise had offered to stop Firkraag and save Garren's son as a token of the groups gratitude to Windspear for clearing their names.


Now they stood in Firkraag's dungeon, surrounded by the dead bodies of hobgoblins. Between the battles with the hobgoblins, orcs, and even a few vampires, as well as accidently springing a few traps, the group was worse for wear. Minsc had taken an arrow in his shoulder, Jaheira had been slammed against a stone wall and was now badly bruised all over, Nalia nursed a bloody nose and lip, and Elise sported a black eye and a cut on her forehead.


"You and everyone else!" Nalia agreed. "I hope his son is near...I don't know how much more of this I can take!"


"You'll take it until we have brought Garren's son back to the cabin safely," Jaheira said sternly. "We owe him this much for what we have done."


"Those poor good knights!" Minsc wailed. "Vengeance must be had!"


"It will, Minsc," Elise declared as they made their way down a long and dark corridor lined with cobwebs and bones. Her heart sunk as she thought of the knights she had murdered unknowingly. "It will."




"Auren! Where ya been, lassie?!"


"Heya everyone, look! It's Auren! Come to play today, Aseph?"


"Aye ya still owe me ten gold for the last time!"


"Who's the pretty lady, Auri?"


Sarah began to feel the familiar feeling of panic overwhelming her again as she was led by Auren into the Sea's Bounty, a rather seedy tavern in the Docks District. But the feeling began to fade when she saw Auren grinning happily at three people sitting at the table in the corner of the common room: one dwarf and two humans, all male. Several of the other patrons, mostly sailors and soldiers, nodded in greeting. The bartender nodded to them and smiled as he wiped down a mug.


"Can I get you ladies something?" he offered.


"I'll have an ale," Auren said and turned to Sarah. "What do you want?"


Sarah stared at her blankly. "Um...."


"I'll fix the lady something special, Auren, no worries," the bartender chuckled. "Why don't you two have a seat?"


"Aye, come over here with us!" one of the human men who recognized Auren called out. Two chairs were pulled up for the girls.


"So, how's it going there, Auri?" the other human asked as the girls sat down.


"It's going all right, guys. Just stopped in Athkatla to do some trading before heading out again," Auren said.


"Who's yer lady friend?" the dwarf demanded as he stared at Sarah, who felt extremely nervous and wanted to leave this tavern as soon as possible.


But Auren her arm around the ranger, lessening her anxiety somewhat, and said, "Boys, this is Sarah. She's a ranger from Baldur's Gate." Sarah couldn't tell for sure but she thought had heard a hint of pride in Auren's tone.


"Nice to meet you, milady. I'm Sammy," one of the humans said. "This is Jarne," he pointed to the dwarf, "and this idiot here," he pointed to the other human, "is Herbet, but we just call him 'idiot' for short." Herbert shot Sammy a dirty look and Auren and the dwarf laughed. Sarah forced a smile but was still very nervous. How much longer would they be here?


"I'll be right back," Auren said to her and went to get their drinks. She returned a minute later.


"You up for a round of cards tonight, Auren?" Sammy asked.


Auren grinned and shook her head. "Not today, Sammy. I'm showing Sarah around and I thought I'd swing by and say hi."


"Make sure ya show her the right places, girl," Jarne grunted. "I'll not have ye dragging the lady into some trash fightin' pit."


Auren laughed loudly and exclaimed, "Jarne, are you giving me advice or threatening me?!"


"Er..." Jarne considered. "Both, I guess!"


After a few minutes of conversation, Auren noticed that Sarah had not touched her drink.


"Not found of the Thumb's 'special drink'?" she whispered under the men's shouting.


"Not really," Sarah admitted. "It smells...odd."


Auren laughed. "Ready to go to our final destination?" she asked and Sarah nodded.


"Good," Auren said. They said their goodbyes and Auren took Sarah by the hand and led her out of the tavern.


"So, where are we going?" Sarah asked as they walked through the Docks.


"I was thinking we might go see a play, actually. There's an inn, the Five Flagons, in the Bridge District. They have a small theatre in the basement. Supposedly, the troupe there is pretty good," Auren said. "We could see them if you want."


"Actually," Sarah said slowly. "I was wondering if perhaps we could go someplace...quieter, and just talk? I would really like to know more about you, Auren." She tried to stare at the ground and avoid Auren's gaze as they walked.


Auren laughed quietly and said, "Okay, we could do that. Want to see if the Mithrest is open tonight?"


Sarah nodded. "Okay."




Elise and the others had decided to take a short break in Firkraag's dungeons. Jaheira tended to Minsc's wound and Elise sat down and leaned against the wall of the corridor next to Nalia, who was reading through her spell book.


"Hey, Nalia, may I ask you something?" Elise asked.


Nalia looked up at the fighter. "Of course, Elise, what is it?"


"How come you and Auren argue so much? What do you have against her?"


Nalia smiled faintly. "Sarah asked me something similar recently." She sighed. "I have nothing against Auren. She is a good fighter and she seems to be a big help to you, which is what matters."




Nalia shrugged. "She's got this air about her where she believes she is the most charming girl in Faerun."


Elise nodded. "I can't say that I've seen this...'air', but she is very confident."


Nalia shook her head. "Oh...she just frustrates me is all."


Elise stared at the girl. "If I didn't know better, Nalia, I would say you sound like you're taken with her."


Nalia blinked a few times and then shook her head again, as though snapping out of a trance. "Erm...but I suppose you do know better."


Elise shrugged. "Perhaps."


"I thought as much," Nalia said. She was quiet for a moment and said in a low voice, "You...you won't say anything, will you?"


Elise smiled. "My lips are sealed."


Nalia sighed with relief. "Good. Should...should we get moving soon?"


Elise nodded. "Yeah, we should. Let's make sure Minsc and Jaheira are ready and then we can get going. I'm tired of hunting down this wimpy noble who keeps hiding from me every chance he gets."




"...so then the gnolls started to charge and it was just one great big mess at the end of it. Luckily, none of us were injured too badly."


"Well, that's good," Sarah said. She and Auren sat at a table in the dining room of the Mithrest Inn, where surprisingly enough, they were able to get a room with two beds.


"Heh, yeah. Traveling with Dadrek was always fun. He was a tough leader, but he always knew what he was doing," Auren said.


"How did you meet him anyway?"


"Well," Auren began, "I grew up in Beregost, you see. When I was younger, I use to go to the smithy's all the time to watch him make all the different sorts of weapons, and I was fascinated by them."




"Yeah," Auren grinned. "And so, when I was thirteen, some adventurers came into town and stayed at one of the inns. I absolutely had to see them for myself so I would go to the inn whenever I got the chance to eavesdrop on their conversations. The leader, Dadrek, saw what I was doing, and he let me sit at the table with them and ask them questions. After a few days of seeing them, I asked Dadrek to teach me everything he knew about fighting."


"What did he say?" Sarah asked.


"He didn't want to at first, but finally I convinced him to teach me some stuff. I guess he saw that I had potential after a while, and so he taught me more. They stayed in Beregost for nearly a year, until the day when I was fourteen and I asked if I could go with them," Auren continued.


"What happened?"


"My parents would not allow it, but I went anyway," Auren said, her tone somewhat sad.


"But I mean, now that you're older now, they know that it was the life you wanted, right?" Sarah asked.


Auren sighed and looked away. "Yeah....they know."


Sarah looked at the fighter with a concerned face. "Did I say something wrong?"


Auren turned to face her and smiled again. "No, no....guess I just miss them is all. Being...away from home for a while does that to you."


Sarah nodded. "I think I understand."


Auren stood up. "Well, it's getting late. We should get some sleep, no?"


Sarah stood up as well. "Yes, that would be a good idea."


They went upstairs and got situated in their room. After getting ready to sleep, Sarah climbed into bed and took out a piece of parchment.


"Writing another letter to your uncle?" Auren asked as she sat down on her bed and blew out her candle.


"Yes, I thought I would update him regularly on what I'm doing," Sarah replied and began searching through the dresser drawer next to her bed for a quill.


"You would think a nice place like this would have a qu-," she muttered and sat up, only to find herself face to face with Auren, who to Sarah's surprise, actually looked nervous.


"Um....yes?" Sarah stammered.


"I wanted to know if I could kiss you again," Auren said hesitantly.


"Oh! Um...I...I s-suppose...if you like," Sarah stuttered.


"Do you want me to?"


Sarah considered quickly and nodded.


"Good," Auren whispered and leaned forward on the bed and pressed her lips against Sarah's. The ranger put the piece of parchment down on the dresser and wrapped her arms around Auren, who slowly pushed her down onto the pillow. Sarah's nervousness from the night before surfaced again. She wasn't sure what Auren expected of her, what she was supposed to do? She had never done this before, what if she did it all wrong? She thought Auren was too kind, too wonderful to let down simply because Sarah was inexperienced. I should just tell her that it's not a good idea, she thought. Her thoughts must have been conveyed through her facial expressions because Auren stopped kissing her.


"Are you okay? You can be honest if you're not," Auren said softly. "I won't hurt you, Sarah. I don't want to pull you into something you' don't think you're ready for."


The nervousness that had been pulling her away from Auren faded at these words. Auren did care about her comfort, her well-being, and recognized the fact that she was nervous. She tightened her embrace with the fighter.


"I'm...okay, Auren. I want...I want to be with you right now," she whispered.


Auren smiled and nodded. "All right, then," she said before kissing Sarah again.


The last candle was extinguished soon after.



Yikes! That went longer than expected.


Next: Who can resist a battle with a dragon? :)

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Just Another Day 9


"RARRRRGH!!! BUTT-KICKING FOR GOODNESS!" Minsc shouted as he did battle with two orcs. The group was in the lower reaches of the dungeon, and they could now see Garren Windspear’s teenage son locked in a cage, looking out at them.


"ENOUGH!" Jaheira yelled as she narrowly dodged an orog's greatsword. "ACK! Must....you..." she panted as she swung her club at the towering creature. "....say that...." Another blow, another dodge. "....every...time...we...FIGHT?" she finished and slammed her club into the orog's knee, bringing it down far enough so that she could finish it off with a blow to the head.


"Well, well look what we have here!" a deep but familiar voice to Elise growled.


She turned. Tazok, the ogre who had fought beside Sarevok, Elise's evil half-brother, now stood before them, an arrogant smile on his mangled face.


"Tazok?! What in the hells....?! Aren't you dead?" Elise gasped.


"Tazok? Who's that?" Nalia wondered.


"You're supposed to be dead, fiend!" Minsc exclaimed after taking care of the orcs by grabbing them both and slamming their heads into one another.


"HAH! I wasn’t for long! You’ll find that my new master is far stronger and smarter than my last one, and me much harder to kill!” Tazok laughed.


Elise rolled her eyes. “I’m really going to take pleasure in killing you again, Tazok,” she sneered.


Tazok grinned and held up his sword as the group prepared for yet another battle.



Sarah awoke feeling extremely claustrophobic. She rubbed her eyes and was surprised to find that the blankets felt lighter than blankets typically would.


She quickly remembered why when she saw that the blankets only reached her waist. From there up there was nothing covering her, as she had no clothes on…


Auren, still fast asleep, had her arms wrapped around the ranger’s middle.


Still groggy from just waking up, Sarah tried to recount the events of the night before, and in a few moments, the familiar panic began to take over again. I need to get out of here, she thought. She felt cold, sick, and something else that seemed to be eating away at her but she couldn’t figure it out. Not now. She needed to get out there.


Being careful not to wake Auren, she freed herself from the fighter’s grip and quickly pulled on her clothes and boots. She grabbed her pack and hastily left the room.




“There you are! I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” Auren panted as she stood in front of Sarah, who had been sitting at the bar at the Sea’s Bounty.


Sarah looked up at the fighter and shrugged.


Auren put her hands on her hips. “Um…hello? Sarah? What’s going on?” she demanded. “First I wake up and you’re nowhere to be found, and I end up searching for you all over Athkatla and when I finally do find you, you’re in some rundown bar in the Docks and now you’re not speaking to me?” She noticed Sarah had a mug in front of her.


“I thought you didn’t like the Thumb’s drink,” she said.


Sarah rolled her eyes. “It’s just ale.”


“It’s kind of early in the day to start downing ales, isn’t it?”


Another shrug from Sarah. “I can drink whenever I want to.”


Auren sighed and sat in a stool next to the ranger. “You want to tell me what’s going on?”




“Is…this about last night?” the fighter asked and put her hand on Sarah’s arm. Sarah pulled away quickly.


“Don’t….touch me,” she said coldly.


Auren looked hurt for a moment but her expression quickly transformed into a glare. “Fine. But at least tell me what’s going on. Did I say something last night…or do something I shouldn’t have?”


“No,” Sarah muttered. “You did quite enough.”


Finally Auren grew impatient. “Sarah…look! Whatever’s bothering you, whatever happened to get you all upset; I’m sorry, okay? But don’t take it out on me if it’s not my fault. I asked you, and you said ‘yes’.”


“I know,” was Sarah reply.


“Exactly! You know!” Auren exclaimed. “I asked you, you said yes, and it happened. That’s it. Nothing more to it.”


Sarah stared at Auren angrily. “Oh, is that right? Nothing more to it?”


Auren lowered her voice. “Okay, yeah, I realized that it was kind of your first time doing any of that but you shouldn’t act like it’s the end of the world. I mean….” She looked down. “You seemed like you were….enjoying it and-,”


“We’re not going to talk about this anymore,” Sarah said between her teeth. “You…I…what we did was a mistake. My mistake. And I’m not going to deny that what we shared last night was…nice…”


“So, you did like it!” Auren exclaimed.


Sarah shook her head. “That’s irrelevant. What did you think would happen, Auren? That I would suddenly fall madly in love with you because we had sex? That all my insecurities and doubts would suddenly fade away because I wasn’t a virgin anymore?”


Auren shrugged. “You seemed like that’s what had happened last night,” she muttered.


“Well it’s not!” Sarah snapped. “We’re still the same people, Auren.”


They sat in silence for a moment.


“Here’s what’s going to happen,” Sarah began. “We’re going to go back to Nalia’s keep. We’re not going to speak a word of what happened. We’re going to give the money to Elise and then we’re going to help her find Imoen. And once I’ve done my part, I’m leaving, and I’m going back to the Cloakwood where I hopefully won’t see any of you again.”


Auren sighed. “That’s…pretty harsh, Sarah.”


“Well, it’s what’s going to happen so deal with it!” the ranger spat.



“So…here you are.”


Elise and the others stared up in awe at Firkraag, the massive red dragon that was now speaking to them. “Um…yes?” she stammered.


“I have been watching you very carefully, but I must confess….I grow bored with you, now,” the dragon sighed.


“Uh…yeah, sorry about that,” Elise said. “But you’ve sent paladins to their deaths, you’ve framed me, and you’ve taken the only thing Garren Windspear has left. I think you have a lot to answer for.”


“And we’re here to stop you now with fists of fury!!” Minsc bellowed.


“Hush, Minsc,” Jaheira silenced the large ranger as she mentally tried to decide which spells would be most effective for attacking the dragon.


“You all tired me,” the dragon said. “You may go. And take Windspear’s son with you. I assume he will not try to bother me anymore by sending pesky adventurers.”


“Go?” Elise wondered aloud. “But…what about me? You obviously have something against me. That was why you sent me here, isn’t it?”


“Yes, yes. Very well…an ‘in-depth’ response. Your divine lineage is not what interests me, but rather, your relation to a certain man…” Firkraag began.


“What do you know of Gorion?” Elise spat.


“I had the unfortunate experience of running into him long ago you showed up. Him and his Harper friends,” the dragon sneered. “I bear the scars of that meeting. But you…fooling you into coming here and slaying those ‘good’ men…it was the perfect way to get back at the old man for his deeds.” He chuckled. “Wherever he is…he is seething.”


“All this over a man that’s dead?!” Elise exclaimd.


“Well…yes,” the dragon replied. “But…I’ve watched you perform and now it’s finished. You may go.”


“No, Elise! We must strike down this evil beast!” Minsc cried and held up his sword. “We cannot allow injustices done to good men to go unpunished!”


“Elise…this guy’s really powerful. If we fight him-,” Nalia began worriedly.


“He will win,” Jaheira finished. “Don’t make this mistake, Elise. Let us just take the boy and go.”


Elise looked at her group and then back at the dragon. She sighed and sheathed her sword.


“Give us Garren’s son and we’ll go,” she said, clenching her fists.


“Very well,” the dragon said. “Farewell, then.”


A mage of Firkraag who had been standing in the room the entire time handed Elise the key to the prison cells. As the group exited the large cavern that they had entered only minutes early, Elise called out to Firkraag.


“Mark my words, though, Firkraag; I WILL be back for you,” she said.


“And I shall be waiting,” the dragon laughed. “Goodbye.”



Next: The group goes back to Athkatla where they receive some interesting offers.

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Okay, I lied, the group will go back NEXT chapter. For now, apologies for waiting so long for this chapter. It's not as long as the others but I hope you enjoy it just the same.



Just Another Day 10


“Hello friends. Might I have a word with you, away from the ears of others?”


Auren and Sarah had been walking back to the inn when a small woman wearing a hood and dark clothing approached them. Sarah thought she appeared rather shady.


“What’s this about?” Auren asked.


“Perhaps it would be better to speak someplace more…private?” the woman suggested.


Auren crossed her arms. “You can talk here, or you can go away. How’s that sound?” she said flatly.


The woman sighed. “It is not I who has business with you, but my mistress. She can offer solutions to certain…problems of yours.”


Sarah could see the woman’s half-smile beneath the hood.


“I don’t think we’re the ones to talk to about that,” Auren replied.


“Oh, she knows that your leader is off on a…quest right now. If you feel you are worthy of her attention, come to the Graveyard District after nightfall,” the woman explained.

“How will she know it’s us?” Sarah demanded.


“Trust me…she will know,” and with that the woman was gone, leaving the two women exchanging looks of confusion.


“So…what do we do?” Sarah asked.


Auren bit her lip and appeared in thought for a moment. She took a deep breath. “We meet her, I guess.”


“Shouldn’t we tell Elise first?”


Auren rolled her eyes. “You just asked me what we should do! What’s the point of asking if you already have the answer?”


“Well, sorry,” Sarah snapped. “I was just thinking of possible solutions. We don’t even know who this person is.”


Auren sighed. “You’re right. Let’s head back to the keep and talk to Elise about it. It’s not too far.” She put her hand on Sarah’s shoulder. To her surprise, the ranger didn’t move or push her away. Instead she looked up at her.


“Auren…” she said softly.


“Yes?” the fighter said hopefully.


“I…I apologize for the way I spoke to you in the tavern. It was…unnecessary,” Sarah said slowly.


Auren smiled. “That’s okay. But…what happened, Sarah?” She turned the ranger so that they faced each other. “You seemed…fine last night.”


Sarah looked at the ground nervously. “I…I just…it *was* fine, Auren. It was more than fine. It’s just…well…” she trailed off.


“Maybe we moved a bit too fast?” Auren said while cringing. “I’m sorry, Sarah. I was not trying to take advantage of you or anything of that sort. “


Sarah nodded solemnly. “Yes, I think that’s what it was. I’ve…never been with anyone, and I’m afraid I allowed myself to move too quickly for my own good.” She continued to stare at the ground.


Auren nodded and took Sarah’s hand, causing the ranger to look up at her. “So…maybe we could just…start over?”


“Yes, I think that would be…nice,” Sarah said with a small smile.


“Good,” Auren grinned. “Now, let’s get back to the keep. Elise and the others are probably there already.”




They stood there for a moment, not moving.


“Um…maybe we should get going sometime today,” Sarah suggested. Auren blinked a few times as though snapping out of a trance.


“Hm? Oh, yes…let’s go,” she said quickly and the two of them started walking to the inn again.




“Do you have everything?” Sarah asked as she stuffed the last of the food they had purchased into her pack.


“I think so,” Auren replied. “I feel like I’m forgetting something though.”


“I always feel that way when I’m leaving someplace.”


Auren looked around the small room for several seconds before shrugging and saying, “Ah, was probably nothing. Ready?” She slung her pack over her shoulder.


“Wait,” Sarah exclaimed. She put her own pack down on the floor and walked up to Auren. Putting her arms around the fighter’s neck, she kissed Auren deeply. When the kiss finally ended, Sarah took a step back, her face a bright pink.


“I…um…maybe you were forgetting that,” she stammered.


Auren grinned and picked up Sarah’s pack and handed it to the ranger. “Let’s get out of here, silly.”




“This is stupid; we should have fought that bastard!” Elise fumed. The group had left Windspear Hills and were heading back to the keep. The sky was clear although it was quite hot today.


“Nonsense, child, we would have all been slaughtered and you know it,” Jaheira countered.


“Jaheira’s right, Elise. That was a dragon in there. A huge red dragon,” Nalia pointed out.


“Minsc is not afraid of huge red dragons! But ah…maybe it was better that we spared its life today! Have no fear, though! We shall be back and ready to send its evil dragon hide to the abyss!” Minsc declared.


“Erm…right,” Nalia said while exchanging a puzzled look with Jaheira. “Do you think Sarah and Auren are back already?”


Elise shrugged. “Maybe. I hope everything went okay for them.” She waited until Jaheira had walked ahead of them to turn to Nalia and said quietly, “Hey, Nalia…was it just me, or did Sarah seem kind of weird at dinner the other night?”


“When?” Nalia asked.


“When Auren asked who wanted to go with her to Athkatla. Remember?”


Nalia’s eyes widened in realization. “Oh…yes! I remember, now. That was…odd.”


“Agreed. You don’t think-,”


Nalia scoffed. “Sarah and Aseph? Hardly. Sarah seems far too…er…civil to get involved with a woman like Auren.”


“But ah…you’re not?”


Nalia sighed. “I thought it was agreed that the topic would not be brought up again.”


Elise winked and said, “I never agreed to anything of the sort.”


“You said you wouldn’t say anything!”


“Not to others,” Elise clarified. “I can bring it up with you all I like.” When she saw the horrified look on Nalia’s face she laughed and said, “I’m kidding, Nalia. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.”


“Thank you,” Nalia said gratefully, though she noticed that Elise still appeared as though something was bothering her. She let the matter drop for now as the group continued on the road to Keep De’Arnise.



Okay, for real...next chapter...the *interesting* offer. And some more drama. Wee!

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Just Another Day 11


“Ah…home sweet…erm, well at least it’s not the Coronet,” Auren remarked as she and Sarah shuffled into the main hall of the keep.


Sarah dropped her pack on the floor and set her bow up against the wall. “I’m starving. Do you think Elise and the others are here?”


Auren scanned the room and shrugged. “I didn’t see them in the front or in the training grounds. Maybe they’re sleeping?”


The two of them left the bags downstairs and ventured to the second floor, where they found all the rooms to be empty save the servants going about their daily duties.


“I guess they’re not back yet,” Sarah concluded and yawned.


“Tired?” Auren asked.


“A bit,” Sarah replied. “I think I’m going to take a short nap, okay?” She walked into the bedroom that she had chosen after returning to the keep with the group days ago. Auren followed her.


“I was going to go out to the training grounds for a bit,” she said.


“All right,” Sarah answered as she struggled to undo the straps on her armor.


“Yeah…so um…I’m going to go, now,” Auren said slowly.


“Ouch…dammit!” Sarah cursed while she combated the stubborn buckle that held the armor in place on her sides. “Sure, Auren…stupid thing…go ahead!”



“My feet hurt!”


“The more you walk, the better off you’ll be,” Jaheira advised.


“I know,” Nalia panted. “I’m just not…used to walking this much…this quickly!”


“I thought you used to sneak off to Athkatla all the time,” Elise said.


“I did, but I suppose I would walk at a much…slower pace than we are now,” Nalia said and held her side.


“By Silvanus, do you mean to tell us that not all of us walk at the speed of Minsc?” Jaheira exclaimed and nodded towards the large ranger a few yards ahead of them.


Elise laughed. “It would seem that way.” Then to Nalia, “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. We’ll probably get there in the early morning if we keep this pace and rest in a bit.”


“Sounds…good to me,” the exhausted noblewoman said.



Imoen awoke to the sounds of yelling and explosions. She got off her small cot and tried to look through the bars of her cell door to see what was going on. After a minute or so of the battle sounds, all was quiet again, and she was startled when she heard footsteps approaching.


In a moment, the man in the mask, Irenicus, her torturer, stood in front of her cell in Spellhold.


“There…it is done. Come now, girl, you and I have a great deal to do,” he said in a emotionless tone. With a wave of his hand, the cell door swung open.


The small, pink-haired mage, now more frightened than she had been the past few weeks, took a chance in speaking to the monster. “What…what did you do? What are you planning?” she stammered.


Irenicus smiled and shook his head. “Not to worry. It’s nothing worse than what I will do to your…friend.”


From a distance, an intense white light could be seen shining through all the openings and windows of Spellhold.




“Hey, did you want a hand with that?” Auren asked the swearing ranger.


Sarah attempted one last time to undo the buckle on her armor before she threw up her hands in frustration and sighed. “Yes, please.”


Auren grinned and walked up to Sarah and stood behind her. She then proceeded to undo the buckles on Sarah’s armor.


“Geez, you’ve got these on tight today!” she exclaimed.


“I know, I know,” Sarah sighed again. “I guess I just fastened everything with a bit too much strength than I normally do.”


“I can see that. There we go!” Auren said as she finally undid the buckles and the straps came loose.


“Thank you,” Sarah breathed. “Now I can finally get this…stupid….armor off!” She quickly pulled off the chainmail as though it were carrying a contagious disease and tossed it on the floor.


Auren stared at the armor on the floor and then at Sarah. “Wow…you were really tired of wearing it, huh?”


“I’m afraid so. Now, I’m going to take a short nap…for real this time,” Sarah said. She was about to kneel down to pick up the armor and store it when she felt Auren wrap her arms around the ranger’s waist.


“Heh…um…Auren, I really should put this armor away,” Sarah stammered but she was smiling as well.


“Yeah, but isn’t this better?” Auren asked.


Still smiling, Sarah shook her head and took Auren’s hands as she fell back into the embrace.


“Yes, it is.”




“Hello? Auren? Sarah? Are you here?” Elise called out.


“They are not back yet?” Jaheira wondered. Suddenly they heard heavy footsteps and Auren emerged from the staircase.


“Hi everyone,” she announced.


“Hi. When did you get back? Where’s Sarah?” Elise asked as a servant took her pack.


“Yesterday. Sarah’s upstairs in her room. We just ate,” Auren explained. Then with a small grin, “I think I may have spilled some breadcrumbs on the floor though, so I should probably go and clean that up. Sorry about that, Nalia.”


“You ate upstairs?” Nalia asked with a raised eyebrow.


“Yeah. We sort of got into swapping stories so we had breakfast upstairs,” Auren said.


“I see,” Elise said slowly. “Well, how did everything in Athkatla go?”


Auren shrugged. “The money is with the rest of the gold. We did pretty well. Oh, and um…we kind of got a rather…interesting offer.” She proceeded to tell them about the strange woman they had met in the city.


“Well,” Elise said, looking thoughtful, “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to pay this ‘mistress’ of hers a visit.




“Okay, we’ve been standing here forever. Where the hells is this lady?”


“Perhaps if you are so eager to find this woman you should go on ahead and let us know if you find anything, Auren,” Jaheira said with a smirk.


Auren rolled her eyes. “Right, and when I return in pieces after being dismembered by some irritated zombie-,”


“Then we’ll all be happier,” Nalia finished.


“Guys, it’s a graveyard. We should be respecting the dead, so the least we could do is not talk about zombies that dismember people,” Elise warned.


“Oh, you’re no fun,” Auren pouted.


Sarah smiled and tried not to laugh but the smile soon vanished when she saw a dark figure quickly approaching them in the night.


“Everyone…look!” she exclaimed. The group was silent and in a few seconds, a short but muscular woman stood before them. Her hair was black and pulled back tightly, almost as though it was clinging to her scalp a bit too much to look natural. Her skin was so pale it seemed to glow, even in the darkness.


“Boo says that something is weird here,” Minsc stated.


“Silence, Minsc!” Jaheira hissed.


The woman raised an eyebrow at Jaheira and smiled faintly at Elise.


“Welcome. I apologize if I have kept you waiting too long,” she said in a low but still somewhat pleasant voice.


“Erm…that’s all right,” Elise said slowly. “Your um…assistant told us that you wanted to speak to us about something.”


“Yes, so she did. And it’s a good thing you showed up. Come, follow me. There are better places to hold conversations such as this,” she replied and began to walk into the graveyard.


“I guess we follow her then,” Elise said.


Sarah shook her head. “Elise, something is very off about that…woman. I think she might be a vampire.”


“How can you tell?” Nalia asked.


“Didn’t you see her? Didn’t you feel it?” Sarah demanded.


“Look, everyone, right now there is only one of her and six of us. Even if she is one, there’s no way she’d try anything. Let’s go,” Elise said.


Sarah put her hands on her hips. “You’ve obviously never seen a vampire before,” she said, sounding clearly annoyed.


“Sarah, it’ll be fine. Now, please, let’s go. She’s waiting for us,” Elise countered.




Auren put her hand on Sarah’s shoulder. “It’ll be okay. If she is a vampire, we can just give Nalia to her,” she said with a grin.


“By the gods….Auren *shut up* already!” Nalia retorted.


“Everyone, enough!” Elise exclaimed. “We don’t have time for this. Now, let’s *go*.” She began to go after the strange woman.




“Allow me to introduce myself. I am Bodhi, and I have been watching you very closely for quite some time now.”


“Watching us? You mean spying on us, right?” Elise said.


“Take care with this one, Elise. Something isn’t right here,” Jaheira whispered.


“You work for the Shadow Thieves,” Bodhi spat. “Yes, they are Shadow Thieves, whether you have realized it or not, and you should not be surprised to hear that they have been watching you just as closely as I have.”


“Our working together is convenient. We know very little about each other and it’s better that way, I think,” Elise explained.


Bodhi laughed quietly. “My dear, they know more about you than you would care to share. However, while they have not revealed their intentions to you, I shall reveal mine.”


Elise looked at the woman doubtfully. “Which are…?”


“I offer you a way to find the one you seek for 15,000 gold. It is quite a bit less than what they have told you, is it not?” the woman said.


“Well…yes, but what could you possibly gain from helping us?” Elise asked.

Bodhi smiled. “Power, my dear. The Shadow Thieves are a dying breed in this vile city, and I intend to speed up that process with my own guild…and your help of course.”


“Elise, I don’t like this,” Sarah said.


“She’s right Elise, something is definitely off here,” Auren agreed.


Elise glanced at her friends and then back at Bodhi. “I regret that I must decline your offer, Bodhi. While I do not trust the Shadow Thieves or you, they are the devil that I know. Thank for your um…offer though.”


Bodhi rolled her eyes. “Very well, then. You may go. But I warn you now, the next time we meet, it will be as enemies. Goodbye.” She entered through the door of one of the nearby crypts and disappeared.


“Well, that was weird,” Nalia said.


“You made the right choice, Elise,” Jaheira said. “Sarah is right; there is something very wrong with that woman.”


“I’m telling you, she’s a vampire!” Sarah exclaimed.


“Maybe you’re right. I for one don’t really care to find out, and I certainly don’t care to see her again. We should get to an inn. Tomorrow we can figure out how to get some more gold,” Elise said.


“Good choice. I’m hungry,” Auren declared.


“Aha! Boo was right all along. He thinks that the lovely ladies should listen to him more often so that we do not have to talk to strange women anymore!” Minsc said.


“What did she mean ‘the next time we meet’?” Sarah asked.


“Beats me. Let’s get going,” Elise said with a shrug. “Copper Coronet?”


“No!” Sarah and Auren exclaimed in unison. The group stared at them.


“Way too many people,” Sarah said quickly.


“Yeah, *way* too many,” Auren agreed. “And the food sucks,” she added.


“Um…okay. Five Flagons?” Elise suggested and everyone agreed.

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Just Another Day 12


“Another ale, miss?”


“Definitely,” Auren replied to the bartender. She turned to Sarah, who was sitting in a stool next to her. “Want another?”


“Er…no; I’m fine, Auren,” the ranger uneasily responded to the obviously intoxicated girl. She looked around the crowded dining area of the Five Flagons Inn-the dwarves in the corner arguing loudly, one of the barmaids yelling out an order that had just been finished, people laughing, talking, and some even singing (though in terribly off-key voices)-and then at the members of the party that had not retired to their rooms just yet: Auren, Jaheira, and Minsc. The noise bothered her, and her general dislike of being around too many people in a small space increased her discomfort.


“I actually, um…going to go upstairs. I’ll see you all later,” she announced and got off the stool. Auren nodded as a barmaid brought her another drink and proceeded to tell Minsc (loudly) about some of her past adventures.


Sarah walked up the stairs and had barely arrived at the room she and Auren were sharing when she was startled by a hand on her shoulder. She spun around quickly.


“Jaheira?” she somewhat gasped with relief. “Um…can I help you with something?”


“I would like to speak to you if that is all right, Sarah,” the druid said calmly.


“Oh,” Sarah said, the surprise in her tone apparent. “Sure. What about?”


“Let’s talk in your room,” Jaheira suggested with a faint smile. She led Sarah into the room and closed the door behind them.


“Sit down, please,” she said. Sarah sat on the bed and Jaheira took the chair by the desk.


“What’s going on, Jaheira?” the ranger asked.


“I would like to…I would like to speak to you about your friendship with Auren,” Jaheira explained, though to Sarah she sounded almost…unsure.




“Yes, Auren. I could not help but notice your discomfort downstairs, and your awkwardness whenever Auren is either in the room or if the subject of her comes up in conversation,” Jaheira said.


“Nothing is going on between us,” Sarah said, though perhaps a little too quickly.


Jaheira raised an eyebrow. “Judging by how fast you just said that, and also the fact that you said it at all, I doubt that, Sarah. I am not here to judge you or tell you how you should live your life. However, my first priority is to help Elise, which means finding this Irenicus and getting Imoen back. I know that you told Elise you would help her, and I just want to make sure that this…relationship between you and Auren will not be a problem.”


Sarah felt her face flush. “I always keep my word, Jaheira, so don’t worry. This thing…this thing that Auren and I have…I’m not sure what to call it.” She looked at the ground and then at Jaheira.


“Could I…confide in you about something?” she asked slowly.


Jaheira nodded solemnly. “Of course, though I cannot promise any advice.”


“I’m not sure where Auren and I are going with this. She is very kind, sure…and…she’s very likeable as well,” the ranger began.


“Yes…she does bring her own...er…uniqueness to the group,” Jaheira said, wincing a bit. “But go on.”


“Yes, well, I have to admit: I’m not sure where this is going or if it is going anywhere at all. We’re very different people, you see,” Sarah said.


“I’m not sure whether Elise has told you or not, but there were others in our group, Sarah,” Jaheira said sadly. “Others who did not make it this far.”


“Elise told me, and I am deeply sorry for your loss, Jaheira.”


The sadness quickly faded from the druid’s expression as she said, “I am no stranger to emotion, Sarah. Caring for another, loving another, it is something that cannot be predicted, and I know that from experience.” She stopped, and looked as though she was considering her next words carefully.


“All I am saying is to be careful, Sarah. Auren is a good fighter, and she seems loyal to the end. But…hmm, nevermind.” She stood up.


“I am sorry if I took up too much of your time, Sarah. I will see you in the morning.” She began to leave the room.


“Jaheira, wait!” Sarah exclaimed. The druid stopped and turned around.


“I understand what you mean, Jaheira. And don’t worry: I would never do anything that would jeopardize our efforts to get to Irenicus. I’m here to help Elise, too, and I would never let my personal feelings with another member of the group interfere with that,” Sarah explained. “Really.”


Jaheira was quiet for a moment, but then nodded and said, “Good night, Sarah,” and left.



“Sarah, wake up! Let’s go!”


Auren’s familiar voice woke the sleeping ranger as she opened one eye and grumbled, “What?”


“That guy, Gaelen Bayle or whatever his name is…he just offered Elise passage to Irenicus for 15,000 gold,” Auren told her. She was already dressed and ready to go. She didn’t appear to be suffering from the side effects of intoxication at all.


Sarah sat up and rubbed her eyes. “She went without us?”


“No, she took Jaheira with her. We’re to go to the Shadow Thieves building in the Docks, where I guess we’re going to meet the Shadowmaster himself!” Auren said excitedly.


Sarah sighed and climbed out of bed and proceeded to get dressed. “Who is that?”


“Aran Linvail. I guess he’s the big guy in Amn. Anyway, Elise said that meeting him was important, so we’d better hurry,” Auren pressed.


“What does it look like I’m doing, Auren?” Sarah sighed as she fastened her belt.


“Oh, right…sorry, heh,” Auren grinned. “I’ll meet you downstairs.” She moved towards the door, but then hesitated for a moment. She walked up to the ranger and kissed her on the cheek quickly before leaving the room.


Sarah was smiling at her own awkwardness as she pulled her boots on when a knock on the open door startled her. Elise stood in the doorway, wearing her usual chainmail over the new traveling clothes she had purchased while in town.


“Hey, just wanted to see if you were up. I’m guessing Auren told you what was going on?” she asked.


Sarah nodded and grabbed her sword, which was in its sheath, and tied it to her belt. “Yes, she told me.”


“Good,” Elise said and smiled. “Hopefully, this Linvail will get us somewhere.”


“I’d say you’ve come a long way already, Elise,” Sarah said. “It’s been quite an experience for me anyway. But I like traveling with you.”


Elise suddenly became serious, and the ranger thought she even looked a bit nervous. “Thank you. I really enjoy your company as well…and so does the rest of the group.”


“Thank you,” Sarah said gratefully. She looked around the room, making sure that she hadn’t forgotten anything. “I guess I’m ready to go, then,” she finally said. “Should we-,”


“Would you like to have dinner tonight, Sarah?” Elise said quickly.


Sarah froze and stared in surprise at Elise. “Ex-excuse me?”


“I…thought maybe you’d like to um…have dinner with me, you know…just me and you. We could go anywhere you like! Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m forcing you to pick or anything, but I didn’t want to make it seem like I didn’t care what you think…not that I would force you to do anything at all, after all, you *are* your own person and everyone needs to be their own person don’t you think, Sarah?” Elise rambled, her voice becoming less and less steady with every word spoken.


“Well…I…don’t know. I think I need to think about it, Elise. I’ll let you know by tonight, though. Is that okay?” Sarah asked.


Elise nodded vigorously. “Oh, yeah! That’s fine! Completely fine. Just um…let me know! Heh,” she laughed nervously. “Well I’d…better get downstairs. Meet you there?”


“Of course. I’ll be down in a minute,” the ranger replied, trying to ignore the extremely awkward atmosphere that now surrounded them.


“Okay, then,” and with that Elise disappeared.


Sarah took a moment to sit on her bed. She sighed. This was not what she had expected at all when she joined the group.


“I didn’t like that guy.”


“Me neither, Auren, but we have no choice but to do his little errands if we want to get to Imoen,” Elise said as the group made their way from the Docks back to the inn.


“Yeah, but I don’t have to like him do I?” Auren asked.


“No, that would require liking someone other than yourself, Aseph, and we all know how incredibly difficult that is for you,” Nalia muttered. Elise smiled and Jaheira murmured something under her breath.


“What? Hey, I heard that princess!” Auren exclaimed. “That guy may be able to get us to Imoen, but I still think it’s lame that he’s making do all his dirty work for him on top of all that gold we just paid him.”


“So…how should we do this Mook thing? Tomorrow night?” Elise asked.


“Tomorrow night sounds fine, Elise,” Jaheira said.


“I don’t mean to sound like the doubtful one again, but I can’t help but wonder if there is something more to this “meeting” than what Aran told us,” Sarah said.


“Well if there is something more, then we’ll take care of it. If it’s a fight, we’ll win. We really don’t have any other option,” Elise told her.


From then on, little was spoken until they reached the Five Flagons, where the group retired to their rooms for a few hours.




“Maybe you should consider staying back at the inn, Sarah, while Elise and I go tomorrow night,” Auren suggested as she polished the blade on her longsword.


“And why is that?” an amused Sarah asked from the desk she was sitting at while writing another letter to her uncle.


“Well,” Auren said, “This city is kind of weird at night, and it’s certainly not the safest place, especially down at the docks. In case something weird does happen with this Mook person, we don’t need the street thugs of Athkatla bothering us too.”


“Auren, you’ve seen me in battle. I can certainly hold my own,” Sarah laughed a little as she continued to write.


“Well, yeah…but this is different. Athkatla isn’t the same as the forests in Umar Hills or the Cloakwood. It’s pretty dangerous,” Auren explained.


Sarah couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She put down her quill and turned to face Auren.


“Auren, I grew up in a rat infested trash hole in Baldur’s Gate. I think I can handle a few street thugs,” she said flatly.


Auren shrugged and put down her sword. “If you say so. All I’m saying, Sarah, is that some Shade Lord or a couple of mean bears in the wilderness doesn’t really give much of an idea of how cruel and brutal people can be. I mean, you spent your *childhood* in the city, so you were always protected by someone weren’t you?”


Sarah shook her head and stood up. “What in the hells are you talking about? You…you make it sound like I had some pampered upbringing!” she exclaimed.


Auren stood up as well. “Sarah, you grew up around a bunch of trees! Did your uncle ever take you into battle? No. Did your father? No!”


“You will not speak of my father again,” Sarah said between her teeth. She clenched her fists angrily. “You…you don’t know what you speak of, Auren. I know you grew up in a perfectly good home in Beregost. I know you threw away a perfectly safe life to go ‘see the world’!” she said, waving her hand. “I’m sure you’ve seen a lot, Auren, but your experience does *not* justify your arrogance right now.”


“Arrogance?! You’re starting to sound like Nalia!”


“Well then, perhaps she’s right,” Sarah snapped. “I may have spent a good deal of my life in a forest, Auren, but I’ve seen enough that I know the extents of evil that you so called ‘civilized’ people can do! I *know* because I’ve seen it! I saw my father lying next to a sewer gutter with a knife sticking out of his back when I was twelve, Auren. Twelve! I know what it’s like to work nonstop all day and not have a meal at the end of it all. I know the cruelty of civilized people, Auren. I *know* because I’ve *been there*!”


“And I’ve fought you before, and let me tell you Sarah, you’re not nearly as ready as you should be for someone who’s been training as long as you have!” Auren shot back. “You could have the most tragic life but in the end it doesn’t matter if you can’t fight for your own survival.”


“I can fight just fine. Without me, you would have died in Umar Hills-,” Sarah started.


“Yeah? Tell that to Bodhi when she rips your throat out and drinks it all up, Sarah. I don’t know what the hells that woman is, but I have a feeling that if we’re working with Linvail that we’re gonna meet her again soon, and I can tell you that it’s not going to be for tea!” Auren was yelling now.


Sarah stared at the girl in front of her, wanting to scream at her, perhaps even strike her. She took a deep breath.


“This…this was a mistake. I can’t…I can’t be with someone who can’t respect me and treat me as an equal. I’m sorry,” she said while trying to fight back tears.


“Sarah…what? Look, I didn’t mean to-,” Auren gasped and tried to get closer to the ranger, who put up a hand to stop Auren.


“I’m sorry,” Sarah repeated. She shook her head sadly and left the room, leaving Auren alone. The fighter looked at the sword she was polishing. She suddenly grabbed it and threw it against the wall angrily.




Elise was on the bed updating her journal when she heard a knock at the door. “Come in!” she called. She was surprised when she saw Sarah emerge from behind the opening door.


“Sarah,” she said and stood up quickly. She noticed that Sarah’s eyes were red and watery.


“What’s wrong?” she asked.


Sarah sniffed and smiled a little. “It’s…nothing; I’m fine, Elise.”


“Oh, um…okay,” Elise said slowly. “Is there something I can do for you?”


The ranger shrugged. “Did you still want to have dinner?”


Elise nodded and closed the journal before grabbing a small pouch of her own gold.


“Let’s go,” she said.



Thanks for reading. 13 shouldn't be far away. :)

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