Jump to content



Recommended Posts

I am now trying my hand at a serious BG fanfic.


What is this about? In the expansion, the Throne of Bhaal, the protagonist encounters his/hers former nemesis, Sarevok. Now, while I very much enjoyed this addition to the party, the dynamics, and Sarevok himself as an NPC, the more I thought about it, the choice itself made less and less sense to me – why would anyone choose to resurrect their father's murderer? And even if the protagonist shared no particular bond with Gorion, this is still the man who actively sought his/her death in the past. There is no guarantee that he will not do so again... One would have to have one hell of a reason to even contemplate such a decision.


Here, I tried to explore one such possible situation. Yes, I used the name of my protagonist from my other BG story, but that is as far as any similarities go. These are two separate stories (obviously, since the other is a parody :wink: ). This will be continued, and the next installment will be from Sarevok’s POV. This is still a draft form, so any and all opinions and suggestions are very much welcome.










Raesa twisted to the left, avoiding a fireball aimed at her chest. She spun back, facing her enemy – only to find her gone. Invisible. Alert, ready, Raesa circled the now empty clearing, shadowed by ancient, towering oaks, wary of any change - be it a shift in the wind, a soft rustle in the grass or a hesitation in the chirping of the birds, nestled in the branches above. The right hand closed on a sword hilt, the left reached towards her belt and unsheathed one of the daggers. She would wait. And watch.


Blades of grass, already heavy with the morning dew, bent beneath an unknown weight. Two footsteps formed, and then two more, mowing towards her. Pretending not to notice, Raesa turned half away. One step, two, three… now! …moving in a circular swing, the sword slashed through the air and met with resistance. She pulled the weapon back, angling the blade. It came back covered in blood and fragments of skin. Without a sound, Illasera slumped to the ground, dead, her spell broken.


Releasing a long breath, Raesa drew back, wincing at a minor cut. The blade dropped from her hand and hit the ground – she flexed her fingers, the knuckles making a popping sound, and rolled her shoulders. A frown formed on her face. Too easy. Wait. The wind changed, and a sharp scent lingered on the breeze. Spell components. The birds’ song ended… the body on the ground vanished.


A double! Raesa shifted, lightning quick, but too late. Pain erupted. Illasera’s – the real Illasera’s - dagger plunged into her lower back, the jagged blade ripping at the flesh and scraping against the base of her spine. Body twisting, hand gripping a narrow wrist, she forced the weapon from Illasera’s hand; it remained lodged within her, but out of her enemy’s reach. Facing the mage, Raesa smiled – and pushed her own dagger upwards, burying it in Illasera's throat to the hilt.


Making a gurgling sound, Illasera fell to her knees. Particles that were once flesh, blood and bone drifted in the wind.


Save me a place in the Abyss, sister. Shaken, Raesa chased the thought away.


Breathing raggedly, she reached for the dagger imbedded in her back. One of her fingers probed at the sharp blade, checking how deep it went – too deep. She couldn’t treat this wound alone. Leaning down, Raesa reached for her pack. Blood welled with the movement, wetting her fingers.


Like it or not, she was alone.


Sharp spikes of pain ran down her legs, the skin tingling before going numb. Where are the healing potions? At the thought, a light – sudden, unexpected – enveloped her, soothing her flesh, binding her injury. Her hand reached back – the dagger shimmered out of existence. No blood flowed from the open wound.

The strange illumination dissipated, gradually, and Raesa found herself hovering above the ground – no longer in the clearing – a radiant creature before her. Something held her upright, and pain became a distant memory. Fingers traced the outline of a rounded barrier, leaving a darker trail on the transparent surface.




“I greet you, god-child, you who are of divine blood. I have awaited you.â€Â






She tired of hearing that word. Leaning back, inside the healing cocoon, Raesa hissed at the sharp, unexpected sting of the wound.


“And if I don’t want these… ‘possibilities’?†she asked.


The creature, the Solar, looked at her. Was that pity in her gaze? “This is not a question of your will. When the time comes you will be ready... I will make certain.â€Â


Her legs trembled, suddenly weak. Brow furrowing, Raesa ran a hand along her thigh, giving the muscles there a brief squeeze.


The air shimmered. The Solar shook her head; short strands of fire-colored hair, too luminous, too delicate to be real, danced around her, settling on her neck and shoulders. “I doubt you will be given a choice. Power comes with knowledge, god-child.â€Â


As the physical discomfort grew, Raesa paid less and less attention to the words. The field loosened its hold, and lowered to ground-level. She stumbled within it, falling to one knee.


“It shall come to you in time, as your destiny unfolds. You shall see me soon.â€Â


Pain seeped back into her – Raesa clenched her teeth against it. What was happening?


“In the meantime, more knowledge and a choice both await you.†The Solar gave her a shallow bow and, on the rise, said, “Remember, look for a deeper truth in all things. You are not alone.â€Â


In a flash of light, the celestial being vanished, leaving Raesa in the middle of a vast cavern.


Raesa knew this place, the feel to it…


The soft, soothing energy dissolved into nothingness, and the pain returned, magnified tenfold. The wound reopened. Around it and above it, the flesh of her back pulsed in time with the beating of her heart; burned in a way she’d known, but not like this. Never like this. Poison. Below the wound… nothing. She felt nothing. Her knees buckled – when did they give out? - and she slumped to the floor, drained, lifeless.


I can't move.


Fear numbed her mind, as the wound robbed her of her flesh.


My legs.


Gone. Her hands tugged at the thighs, a fist hit just above her knee – she felt nothing. Blood seeped out of the wound, spurting, forming a slick pool of moisture beneath her. Raesa saw it – but couldn’t feel it. The warm liquid drenched her upper back, seeping downwards. Her palm reached down, under her hips, tracing upwards to her lower back. It came back soaked in her own blood, bright red. Healing potions. As if it belonged to someone else, her head rose scant inches from the ground. Puppet-like, it lolled to the left, listless – nothing there. Panic struck.


Another flash of pain pierced her when Raesa forced her head to the right – out of the corner of her eye, she saw it. The pack lay on the ground, a few paces away, opened. The supply of healing potions could be found in a padded side pocket, within easy reach at all times.


All times, except this one.


Gritting her teeth against the pain, Raesa lifted herself up on her elbows. No. There was no use. Her back touched the ground again, and, using her upper body strength - what was left of it – she rolled onto her stomach. Folding her arms in front of her, she pulled herself forward, dragging the weight of her hips and legs. Spikes of pain exploded at the movement. Her chest hit the ground, hard; arms sagged and gave out.


Oh, gods!


She couldn't feel anything. Lifting her head – the only part of her that would move – Raesa glanced towards the potions. She would not reach them, now. A desperate sob escaped her. Lightheaded and getting weaker by the moment – with time running out. So much for power and destiny. At least, the pain had gone along with her body. A small mercy.


At the thought, a voice echoed through the empty space. “So, you have finally arrived... What an arrival at that. I’ve been waiting for you.â€Â




“I had imagined this moment – the possibilities – more often than I care to say.†Raesa’s throat constricted at the rich, familiar tones. Hope dwindled and died. “Reality has exceeded my fantasy, I see.†A gloating, marred smile carried in the voice. “If only I were able to enjoy it in full.â€Â


Sarevok. How? It couldn’t be.


Raesa closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Turning her focus inwards, she saw a glimmer of power remained in her, still. Cautious and wary, she reached for it, guiding, coaxing the pulsing globe of energy to open, to heal from within. In the mind’s eye, it grew, then cracked, releasing twin wisps of vapor. Warmth enveloped her as the drifting tendrils connected with the wound. Binding it, cleansing… they removed all traces of the poison. A smile tugged at her lips. The bleeding slowed to a mere trickle.


But no feeling returned. Behind her eyelids, the healing glow withered and died out. The knot in her stomach returned. Not enough – the effort bought her some time and no more.


Sarevok watched her – she could feel his eyes on her skin. “You cling to life, yet? I suppose I should not be surprised,†he said. “I would do no less, were I in your place.â€Â


Raesa would deny him the pleasure of seeing her fear, if she could. He had seen more than enough of it. Her eyes opened and searched the cavern. At the sight of him, the smile returned on her lips, despite the circumstance.


“Being no more than a specter does not agree with you, then? Shame, that.†Her voice cracked near the end.


Sarevok crouched, on her far right, one muscular arm folded over his knee, the palm of the other resting against the ground. He flickered before her. She could see right through him; the wall of the cavern blinked in and out of existence behind him. Then, he turned more solid - real again - but the outline of the wall remained, a shadow within.


He laughed at the jibe, undisturbed. The sound made her teeth clench. “Specter or not, I am still better off than you are right now. Am I not, sister?â€Â


Her insides froze, then boiled at the word; Raesa growled deep in her throat. “Don’t ever call me that.†If she could only move! “I am no sister of yours.â€Â


A sneer followed her words. “And how do you think to stop me?†Rising in one smooth motion, he kicked at the pack with his foot. Or tried to – the boot passed through it, no more solid than the air around it. “I have no physical form left for you to threaten, sister. And even if I had, do you believe I would fear you as you are now?†The last words dripped with contempt.


No. She was all too aware of that.


Crouching next to her, Sarevok cocked his head to the side – brown eyes met green, both tinged with the same faint golden glow. “You are dying.†Fact. “There is no one here to help you. No friends of old. No druid-healer to spring to your aid. No fool priest to petition his god on your behalf.†His fingers ghosted a rippling trail in the pool of blood – her blood. “No one.â€Â


Her friends. She’d left them… How did he know of them?


A brief smile showed on his face – gloating, no doubt – before he continued. “No one… but me.â€Â


“That’s a…†A coughing fit took her. “…a comfort.†Something warm and moist tickled down her chin.


A flash of... emotion lit his eyes. Triumph, perhaps, or something else? “Can you move at all?†The mockery in his voice proved too much to bear. “I’ll take that as a no.â€Â


Sparks twinkled in her field of vision as a ghostly hand brushed across her cheek – Raesa twisted, away from the touch. “Stop!â€Â


Sarevok drew in a startled breath and moved his hand away. “Yes, I feel it.â€Â


The excitement in the whisper would have made her shiver, were she able to. “Feel what?â€Â


“Your essence, fool. This place, it draws it out, near the surface.†A long, white scar on his left hand caught her attention. She’d put it there, in the Undercity. She had killed him there.


“What of it?†Tired, so tired…


“There,†he gestured to the pack. “Healing potions, yes? Death will claim you soon, if you prove unable to reach them… And that is a near certainty, now.â€Â


The matter-of-fact tone grated on Raesa’s nerves – no, more than that – her stomach dropped, then clenched in despair. Strange how she could feel that and nothing else. Words fell from her lips, hollow. “How perceptive of you.†She would not show fear. Not to him. For a moment, her eyelids drifted shut – she forced them open, with a light shake of the head. The blood-loss made her drowsy. It could only get worse from there.


Sarevok leaned in close, eyes glowing in the faint light. “I can help you.â€Â


That took her by surprise. “You? What game is this?†Her voice cracked again, and she swallowed - a metallic taste lingered in her mouth.


His right hand extended, palm reaching for her. “No game. Meet my price, and live.†Slowly, he drew back, hesitant for some reason. Why? She could do little – nothing! – to stop him.


“Of what use can you be to me, specter?†The words lacked the sting she hoped them to deliver – she had too little strength left for that. The pack remained within her line of sight, out of her grasp. Eyes drifted down her body, to the pool of blood beneath her. It had grown.


When Sarevok reached for the straps of the pack, the hand went through the leather - predictable, and it had made her point. He said, “A specter is of no use to you… You have the right of it, there.†He stilled, thoughtful. “You need a man of flesh and blood.â€Â


“Too bad none are present.†Keeping her eyes open proved a loosing battle. “What do you want? To torment me?†Raesa despised the weakness in her voice.


“What do you know of torment?†he snapped, whirling around to face her. "You, who..." His hands clenched into fists. "No. There is time for that, later." A smirk played on his lips. "If there is to be a later for you. But what do you think I would want? I wish to exist… to live again.â€Â


How? She was no cleric, and his body was long gone. “Go pray to Ilmater, then. I can’t help you there, nor would I wish to.â€Â


“But you can and you will.†Sarevok started to pace the room. “The Abyss beckons you, sister. That is a place of torment, not this,†a vague gesture in her direction, “…mere physical pain.†Her heartbeat quickened at the words. “Even the fear that eats away at you now – do not deny it, only a fool would not fear such a fate - cannot compare to the terror that awaits you there.†His voice dropped to a whisper. “Level after agonizing level, each one more of a curse than the one before. And I should know.â€Â


Beads of sweat blossomed on her brow.


“You are headed there as we speak,†he said.


Tell me something I don’t know. More and more of her life force drained away. In little time, the tentative tendrils of energy that held her whole – living, sentient, breathing – would crack under the pressure. The taint would break from under her control. Raesa felt the stirring even now. She would crumble into dust, burned from within by the very fire that sustained her.


Not yet. Not like this.


Circling her, the bastard continued. “A life for a life - mine for yours. A fair trade.â€Â


She tried to shake her head, to deny his claim; it only moved slightly to the left. “You are mad. Had I such power, would I be lying here?†Why did her voice shake so? “Peddle your delusions elsewhere and leave me be.†The smooth surface beneath her cheek radiated warmth. Why did she feel so cold? A shadow fell on her; light leather boots, with torn patches, paced before her – she lacked the will to look up.


“These are no delusions," Sarevok continued. "This place, it’s an extension of you. You have power here.†A voice drifted to her, impassioned, now from behind. “Whether you know it or not.â€Â


Her pulse rang in her ears, slow, weak. Cold sweat dripped down, lower, and she blinked – once, twice – to chase the sting away. “What power? How…†Her heart stilled – Raesa gasped for breath – then it contracted and relaxed; another slow beat. Gods… hear me. She’d never prayed before.


“Do you mean to ask what is needed of you?†Sarevok sounded… eager. Far too much so for her liking. “You need only consent – freely – I would do the rest.â€Â


Air. She fought to breathe in. “Consent…†Swallowing, she forced the words out. “Agree… to what?â€Â


Silent, Sarevok leaned towards her. A multitude of sparks flared in her mind’s eye, same as before - a touch, light and unsubstantial, brushed against her skin. This time, he did not draw back, and the touch lingered. A… connection formed. Unable to push him away, lacking even the strength to move her head, she allowed it. Endured it.


A moment, and it became more than a mere touch. The connection deepened – no more a physical sensation – through flesh, bone and muscle, until it struck at the very heart of her. Raesa felt him – him! – inside, burrowing next to her soul.


“Do you feel it?†Sarevok breathed out, voice tight.


Leave me be! With the last of her might, Raesa refused, severed the contact, pushing him back. She would suffer no claim on her soul. Never again.


The hand withdrew. “Do you see? Do you see now what I need from you?†he said, undisturbed, unsurprised. “And why I need your consent?†Raesa’s eyelids fluttered and closed. She had no strength left. “Listen to me!†Sarevok pressed on. “The smallest fraction of your soul, freely given, with the taint within, would recreate my flesh, restore my mortality.â€Â


And why would she want that? She’d never heard his voice so soft… Such deception.


“It does not have to end like this.†A fool’s promise carried in the whisper.


When Raesa tried to answer, her cracked lips refused to form the words. Sarevok drew in closer, his ear next to her mouth. “No,†she croaked out, in a barely audible whisper. Dizzy. The world around her contracted, folded in on itself; a hazy outline of shapes, dimmed colors and stifled sounds. If the word faded and died, would she?


Sarevok leaned back. “No?†An edge of anger sneaked back into this tone. “Then you will die, this plane will disappear, and we will both fall into the Abyss. Is that what you wish?" he asked. "An eternity there... an eternity with me?†He laughed; a terrible, hollow sound. “And were it only me. Demons have dominion there, and many uses for the hapless souls in their keeping. All your power, all your strength – none of it will matter there.â€Â


Raesa forced one eye half open.


“This ghostly form,†Sarevok gestured to himself, “it can feel pain, when the masters of the realm choose to inflict it, and little else. Even physical shape can return a moment, if it is a demon’s want; flesh and blood, sinew and bone. One such might – will – desire pain from you… or his pleasure.â€Â


He said so to alarm her, she knew – hoped – but he needn't bother. The depths of the Abyss frightened her enough, without his tales and lies.


“Give me what I desire, and I will help you. You need not die here, today.â€Â


And if he decided to kill her, or just watched her wither away, once his flesh was restored? I, dead, and Gorion’s murderer returned to life – by my hand. The thought pained her, too much so. She’d deny him. But…


I am afraid…

“I will keep my word, Raesa. I swear it.â€Â


Sarevok's word... How could she judge the worth of it? Her skin grew colder and colder; she stared ahead with eyes unseeing, all the world covered in mist. The roar of the Abyss thundered in her ears; loud, savage growls and muttered threats – the demons waited, claws extending, reaching… The vision ended.

Her cheeks were wet; Raesa tasted salt on her lips. Sweat, not tears. She nodded, once – Sarevok’s sharp intake of breath echoed through the cavern - and squeezed her eyes shut.


Gorion... father, forgive me.


Again, a touch that transcended the physical grazed her skin, feather like and brief. Spectral hands cupped her face, barely making contact, flickering in and out of existence, never solid or whole. She fought not to recoil as she felt him enter, seeking… and let him in. Mind carefully blank, she would let him take what he needed and distance herself from it. A fool’s hope. In the moment her essence merged with his, mercifully brief, Raesa felt all of him. Her shields went up, refusing him, refusing knowledge of him – oh… Sarevok felt her as well, and did not pull back. A memory surfaced, unbidden.




Take what you need and go, you blasted sack of kobold dung. A vibrant tendril of energy separated from her, escaped and flew to him… to a life-force that consumed it, hungry, ravenous. Raesa felt him withdraw, brighter, more there, than before. Sensation of the flesh, of body, returned with the parting, and it was her turn to draw in a startled breath. Skin touched skin, warm, living… Her eyes flew open, and met his. Sarevok cupped her face, still. In the drawn out silence, one of his hands drifted down, traced her cheek, her neck, and stopped at her pulse point.


The potions! Raesa could not speak.


“I... live.†Why did he sound so surprised? “Flesh and blood and bone!†His voice rose. “I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world and I have done it!â€Â


The potions!


Sarevok jumped to his feet, hands running over his arms, chest and face, frantic in their exploration. The material of his worn tunic rustled and bunched beneath the touch. She could smell him, now.


“I am alive!†he shouted.


The potions…


A sound escaped her - weak, pleading. Sarevok looked down and regarded her for a long moment, before turning away... walking away. Footsteps echoed; he’d left her.


No! Come back… What a fool to trust him. Her eyes drifted closed. It had all been for nothing. Raesa's mind rebelled at the thought. Not like this! Please…


Who were the words for? No god would listen, and no friend would hear the plea. The roar of the Abyss reached for her, and this time, she did not fight it.


Let it come.


Heavy footsteps approached. A feeling stirred in her chest, a tentative flutter of a bird’s wing – hope awoke. A finger brushed her lips, forcing them open... moisture… Raesa recognized the taste, and let her lips part further. The healing liquid poured down her throat.


Life called… and she answered.




Link to comment



Old debts





Sarevok lifted the blade up, over his head.




The blade cut a path to the left, a soft hiss of metal on the downward swing. A cut to the right followed, the blade at a sharper angle. Then, a sudden turn and a counter-swing, continued by a forward thrust. Muscles coiled and relaxed, again and again – after one more thrust and parry, Sarevok stopped, frozen mid-motion, and took a deep breath.


Eyes closed, he rolled his shoulders, his free hand giving his neck a brief squeeze. The hand lingered there, applying more pressure, when the sensation turned pleasant. Pleasure-pain… He’d forgotten. A bead of sweat tickled its way down his cheek, before it fell to the floor, next to a discarded shirt, worn and stained. Heated skin prickled at a cooler touch, a whisper of air. Goose-bumps rose on his arms – a smile tugged at his lips.




An overhead swing, then a fast crouch, followed by a kick at an imaginary ankle - one that had broken through bone and armor in the past. Sarevok straightened, the blade in his hand sweeping down in a wide arch. Muscles exerted for long hours ached and groaned, but he would not stop. Not yet. Pain, he welcomed, this stretching of limbs, the feel of blood pumping through his veins. Life.




Another overhead swing, arms pausing mid-air, holding the weapon there. The strain on his shoulders and arms, feeling the muscles there bunch and bulge – he reveled in the sensation. Much lighter than his old sword, this new blade. The feel to it, the altered balance – it all took some getting used to, but he would master it in the end. Allowing the blade to cut down, sharply to the right, he stopped. Truly stopped, for the first time in hours.


Dropping into a crouch, he reached for the shirt, bunched it up and wiped at his face, chest and arms. Rough cloth scratched against skin, made it itch and tingle. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. Thirst – a need he could finally sate. Heated, sweaty…




Smiling still, he lifted a full water-skin to his lips and gulped down the lukewarm liquid, then emptied half of the remaining content over his head. Rivulets of water ran down his shoulders, over his back, forming a puddle on the floor beneath him. The chill did nothing to dampen his mood. Hah! As if anything could, now.


Idle a moment, fingers traced the swirling inscription on the blade’s hilt. Dark, old blood coated the sharp steel, where yet more symbols spiraled over the reflective surface. Kara-Turan. Sarevok would recognize the intricate letters anywhere. Raesa had used it in battle, before coming here – that much he could tell. The stains proved it. Just as well - that spatter of blood on the blade, the evidence of a kill, gave his exercise an added thrill.


As well as… Sarevok examined his hands, an expression neither a smile nor a frown on his face, and turned them over to catch the light. He hadn’t washed them yet. Brighter, dried stains covered them – his sweat intermixed with Raesa’s blood.


Sarevok darted a glance behind him. Next to a massive sculpture, she slept, wrapped in a blanket. A healing sleep, one he envied her for. He hadn’t slept yet – hadn’t slept in months. Sinking into the lulling darkness of dreams… The Tanaari hadn’t seen it fit to gift him with that.


Memories welled up, sharp and intense – a knife in the gut. All those never-ending months in the Abyss… Hunger, thirst, pain… ghosts of feelings, needs of the body that should have dissipated and faded into nothing – should have! – but remained sharp instead, urgent in their intensity.


A specter with a man’s desires – the Taanari’s idea of a joke. Made each day as long as a century.


And she sent me there.


All too familiar rage filled him at the thought. Teeth clenching, Sarevok’s hand reached towards the hilt of the Kara-Turan sword, only to pause mid-air.




He shook his head to clear it. This… place – it was one of her making, that will last as long as she draws breath, no more. The reminder set his teeth on edge. Killing her now, here, had never been an option. The rage left him, quicker and easier than ever before in his memory. No whispers in his ear, no promises of power, or visions of carnage. Just silence, and the stirring of his own temper, easily quenched. Sarevok let his hand fall, limp against his side, fingers spread. As much as he wished for the taint back, there were things he did not, could not miss.


Raesa groaned in her sleep and turned again. A flash of annoyance filled him. Fool. The wound would re-open. In five long strides Sarevok closed the distance between them and knelt down, next to the edge of the blanket. As he leaned in to wake her, Raesa’s eyelids fluttered open, her fevered gaze locking on his. A hand touched his arm, trailed down, fingers trying to clasp his – Sarevok frowned – her lips curled up in a gentle smile. She tried to raise herself up on her elbows.


“Anomen…†The warmth in her shaky voice made his insides clench. Tamoko… She used to say his name in much the same way.


Sarevok pushed her down, firmly. “Do not move. You will reopen the wound.†His gaze dropped down to his hands – her blood still stained them. Shifting into a crouch, he rested one hand against his knee. “And there are no more healing potions.†A lie, if ever there was one. But he would keep her weak, manageable, for as long as he could.


Raesa frowned, her face a mask of confusion. “Anomen?â€Â


The Helmite. Sarevok had seen him in his Tanaari gifted walking dreams; a choice they had given him, one that Sarevok grasped with both hands, greedy for even that second-hand taste of life. A brief window into her days, every now and then – escape and torment both, in equal measure.


A beat, then a whisper, “Not Anomen…†Her eyes cleared and focused. “Sarevok.†Steel carried in her voice, now. Contempt, he could hear it, underlined with a sweeter sprinkling of fear. Muscles visibly coiled, hands clenched and relaxed, grasping air.


Afraid and still too weak to move – that suited him just fine. A real smile stretched his lips. “Unlike your cleric friend,†he said, “I have no divine spells at my disposal. I suggest you move as little as possible.†Sarevok cocked his head to the side. “Unless you changed your mind and now wish to see the depths of the Abyss firsthand.â€Â


One eye still on him, Raesa looked down on herself. With an anxious expression, she moved her arms, one at a time, spread her fingers, and lifted one leg an inch from the ground. Heaving a sigh of relief, she breathed out, “I can move.â€Â


“How perceptive of you,†Sarevok said, pushing her back down again.


“You…†She coughed into her palm. “You healed me.†A fast glance followed, to the left, then to the right – searching for the nearest weapon, no doubt. As if he’d leave any within reach. Raesa turned back to him. “Why?â€Â


The uncertainty in her voice made him bite back another smile. “We are of the same blood, sister.†Her eyes narrowed. “Need I a reason to do right by family?†Laughter, something he thought long gone and buried, bubbled up inside him when her fist connected with his collarbone – the blow as weak as a kitten’s. Sarevok caught her hand and pressed down on her shoulder, holding her still. Such a thrill – to have her helpless like this, to see the darkness fill her eyes when his skin touched hers. Oh, how she hated him.


Raesa tried to bite his forearm, and, this time, Sarevok did laugh.




Leaning towards the ground, Sarevok held her pinned down. “I haven’t yet thanked you.â€Â


Suddenly still beneath him, Raesa interrupted him, “Don’t.†An edge of desperation sneaked into her voice. “Don’t dare thank me for this.â€Â


Still going on about her precious Gorion – sadly predictable. “You berate yourself, yet?†Her fevered skin burned against his palm. “If you had refused a chance at life for an old man’s memory, long dead, long avenged, I would have called you a fool not worthy of drawing breath.â€Â


"There is only one person not worthy of drawing breath here." Raesa's voice hitched. "And it's not me."


Bold words – Sarevok expected as much. But there was fear there; she would not meet his eyes. Her hand gripped his wrist in a weak hold, tried to pry it away – with little success.


“Worthy or not,†he said, “you’ve made your choice.†Anger rolled off her in heated waves – the fact that she could muster up enough energy for it earned her some of his grudging respect. Sarevok lowered his voice. “A choice you may yet live with. Be thankful for that.â€Â


Her eyes lit up with golden sparks, the irises black and dilated – the taint surfaced. He recognized it, with a sinking feeling in his gut. For a moment, the grip on his wrist turned iron. New strength, he knew, taint-borrowed – a remembered fire that drew him in. Fingers reached out to touch, to connect. Some things, Sarevok would always miss.


He felt her stop breathing when he touched her cheek, traced a slow path down her jaw. Warm, soft skin… with the taint coiled underneath it. A serpent ready to strike, as tightly wound as she was, just now, underneath his fingertips. Over her collarbone, to the hollow of her throat, his thumb painted that shadowy outline – an imagined manifestation of the divine. If only he could draw it out, and into himself.


A muttered curse later, Raesa shifted away, stiff and slow.


Coming to his senses, Sarevok pulled back, straightening. The taint had left him, long ago; gone – there could be no changing that. The sooner he’d face that, the better.


Raesa bit out another curse, pulling the blanket up over her naked skin. Amused despite himself, Sarevok set his mouth in a firm line. A seasoned wh*re would have blushed and gawked at the spat line. She swore like a sailor, this woman – a particularly foul-mouthed sailor at that.


Raesa drew the blanked around her, tighter. “You…†Hesitation. “You dressed the wound.†A cautious question hid behind the matter-of-fact tone.


You undressed me, she meant to say. How much would that unnerve her?


“It had to be cleaned and stitched.†A statement of fact, not an excuse.


She shook her head, once. Interrupted him. “I know that.†Oh, but it did rattle her. Her hand moved under the blanket, then over it. Raesa looked at the crusted blood beneath her nails, the spatter of dried patches on her palm. The sight seemed to bring her some measure of relief. “Just the wound, then.†Her eyes flashed with something that could have been humor. “I suppose I should be thankful for small mercies.†She regained her balance; outwardly, at least.


His eyes narrowed. Dried blood still covered her back, stomach and legs – Sarevok had seen it, when he dressed the wound. He had only cleaned the area around it, to ward of infection. “Do you take me for a man-servant?†he said. “You can bathe yourself when you regain your strength.â€Â


She nodded and tried raising herself up on her elbows. “That’s something we can agree on.†Her arms shook.


What was the fool girl trying to prove? “Lie back, woman.†His patience started running out. “You are no good to me dead.†Sarevok glanced back, over his shoulder. An unnervingly lifelike statue of a Tanaari stood there, claws fused with the wall, wings spread. His first impulse had been to shatter the thrice-damned thing into a thousand pieces. Instead, he used a hole at the base of the right wing to hide the remaining potion bottles. This new restraint… it was something he could get used to.


The blanked rustled and bunched as her back touched the ground. “Is that so? And why is that, exactly?†Raesa kept her eyes on him, sharp and intense.


Because I do not know how to leave this place. But he couldn’t very well tell her so. “You did bring me back.†There was truth in that.


Her mouth set itself in a firm, unkind line. “You are not here by my will.†Fingers gripped the edge of the blanket, knuckles turning white. “You can be sure of that.â€Â


Back to that discussion again – predictable. Sarevok shrugged. “Death was also an option, woman.†A muscle in her cheek twitched. “And if you hated me as much as you say, you would have grasped it with both hands.â€Â


Raesa turned half-away. “Coward…†she muttered.


She’d dare call him that to his face? “What did you say?†He saw her swallow, her hand reaching up to rest at the base of her throat. The expression she wore made his anger dull and shift. It wasn’t him she’d just called a coward.


The words came unbidden. “Only a fool would have done othervise.†Why he spoke, Sarevok did not know himself.


She shook her head and refused to look at him. His hands curled into fists. Let her drown in her self-pity, then. It was no concern of his.


Minutes passed in silence, and, gradually, Raesa’s breathing evened out – lulled back to sleep. Sarevok hovered over her, undecided. Should he feel insulted by the implied lack of fear or grateful for the respite? A moment’s thought, and he opted for gratitude. Trading words with her had exhausted him more than all those hours of sword play. Shaking off a cramp in his leg, he pushed away from the ground, straightening. Curious, he walked towards the statues.


The statues… How many of them were there? The assembly seemed to stretch on, forever – row after grotesque row.


A few steps amidst the stone, and Sarevok turned right, behind a likeness of a sneering orc, maw wide open, sharp teeth showing. A wooden statue of an elf-woman caught his eye, some distance away; the lines of it, the delicate carving, all stood in stark contrast with the rest of the vast mausoleum. The ugliness around it heightened its beauty. He lengthened his stride, without thinking.


By the Abyss! He jumped back, naked steel in hand. That elf-woman – he had seen her before! A mongrel druid that trailed on Reasa’s heals, from the beginning. Jaheira, they called her. Relentless b*tch was more like it. Her likeness stood before him, scant steps away, right hand gripping a hilt of a blade, the left holding up a shield in defense. But that gleam in her eyes… far too lifelike for any artist to achieve. Careful, quiet, Sarevok eased forward, blade still in hand. When his fingers touched its cold shoulder, it remained motionless. A lifeless carving or the bark-skin of a druid?


Only one way to tell.


The blade cut into the wood, deeper than he’d intended. Sarevok shifted, still watching for that tell-tell glint of steel.


Nothing. He relaxed. If that didn’t earn him a fast knife in the gut, nothing would. Just a statue, then, magnificently carved. But what was it doing there, alone among all the denizens of the lower planes?


Not alone. A quick search revealed yet more statues like it, more faces lost in the crowded halls, some familiar, others not. An elf with a bow almost as tall as he was, an easy smile on his face, hand extended, inviting. A dwarf stood in the shadows, fifty paces later, counting gold coins, axe within reach. Then stone statues of two mages emerged, seated on large marble chairs, leaning towards one another, as if frozen in the midst of a discussion. A reddish hue colored the first statue, while a gleam of purple adorned the other. He found a dozen more besides.


Raesa’s many companions, throughout her journeys. That much he could tell. Sarevok leaned against the wall, narrowed eyes trained on the nearest figure – an armored knight he recognized. He took a deep breath and allowed his eyes to drift shut. This place… From the air that filled his lungs, to the ground beneath his feet – all existed because Raesa willed it so, to serve a purpose, to fulfill a need, conscious or not. Sarevok knew it to be so, even if she was blind to it.


The hellish statues that cluttered the place… he could guess at their purpose – a reminder from whence her power came. To caution against its use. And she would be tempted, yes. Everything he learned about her told him that. His fingers absently trailed a path over the wall, following carved lines. That glimpse into her soul…


A voice resonated, “Greetings, child.†The vibration seeped out of the stone and into his bones.


Sarevok pushed away from the wall suddenly come to life, heart-beat thundering in his ears, and fell into a fighting stance. Hells! What was that?


The slow pulsing continued. He could feel it, even from a distance. The voice turned thoughtful. “You are not the one that called me.†Teeth clenched at the words. A Child no longer… He needed no reminder. “But you carry a piece of her within.†A carving inside the wall, a woman with flowing hair… its mouth moved, forming slow words. “Bring her to me. She will have need of the threads, soon.â€Â


“The threads?†One more cautious step away.


“Life-threads.†As if that explained anything. “Bonds are forged in a course of a mortal life. Whether by chance need, whether for companionship or love – it matters not. She has gathered all such bonds here, intertwined the threads with hers. They await her call.â€Â


The statues. “You can bring her companions here?†Ice flowed through his veins at the thought. “Wherever they are now?â€Â


A shake of the head, inside the wall. “I am the Keeper. The conduit.†The lines blurred, then sharpened when the movement stopped. “I can do nothing on my own.â€Â


Good. Relieved, Sarevok lowered the Kara-Turan blade. “I will bring her here when time permits.†Lying to a wall decoration. His hands tightened on the hilt.


A nod blurred the carving again. “I will wait.†A moment, and the lines withdrew, softened, and the wall returned to motionless stone.


Sarevok started back to the small clearing, casting a glance behind him. Raesa’s companions, here! No, he hadn’t clawed his way out of the grave to return there so soon. For once, the odds were in his favor. He’d keep them that way. He maneuvered between rows of stone demons on his left and rows of devils on his right, both snarling, poised for a fight. The sight did not bring back fond memories. With a violent shake of his head, he walked on.


In the clearing, Raesa slept still, concealed by the blankets. Good. He was in no mood to deal with her, now. After a few more steps, he froze. Those blankets… Wait.


He registered movement from the corner of his eye, but too late. Pain exploded from the backs of his knees, forcing him down. His hand flew to grasp a blade, but a knife pressed against his throat before he could reach the hilt.


A growl sounded out. “Have a nice stroll?†Raesa. He’d underestimated her yet again – a mistake he’d sworn not to repeat. “I thought you’d never get back.†The strain in her voice sang to him; there was weakness there yet. With all his weight, Sarevok rammed back into her, hand grabbing a hold of her wrist. Off balance, he pulled the knife away from his throat easily enough, but not before it cut a thin line across the skin. Few warm drops of blood seeped out, no more. A moment, and he held her down, breathless, at knife point.


Sarevok concentrated on slowing down his heart-beat, one at a time. He looked down on her. She’d put on his oversized shirt – better than confronting him naked, he supposed. “You could have killed me, just now.†She could have, at that. The thought gave him pause. “Why stay your hand?â€Â


Her breath came in short, violent bursts. “Rotten, stinking luck.†Pain contorted her features, but she didn’t cry out. “That knife is dull, you know,†she choked out.


It was sharp enough. More pressure, and it would have opened his throat, just like any other blade. No. She’d chosen not to kill him – a weakness he could explore at a later date. Right now, he said, “A warrior’s duty is to keep his weapons sharp.â€Â


“Gods,†she said. “You just sounded like Anomen.†Her head lolled to the side.


He didn’t appreciate the comparison. “We can test the blade, if you’d like.†They stared at each other for a long moment before he looked away. Too much feverish challenge in her eyes for his comfort.


A quick glance revealed that blood had spread onto the sides of her… his oversized shirt. The stitches had given out. “Do not move, “he said and rose, tucking the knife into his belt. He needed her, still.


Her answer trailed behind him, pain in her voice thinly disguised. “The thought never crossed my mind.â€Â









Sarevok leaned towards the small fire, palms forward, and rubbed his hands together. Warmth, instead of the burning, blistering heat of the Abyss. He had missed it, this feeling of sleepy, misty comfort.


The feeling left him when he turned his head sideways to face the woman beside him. After having drained two potion bottles, color had returned to her cheeks. She had nearly died on him again. Irritation welled up. “Tell me, was there any point to this exercise in futility?â€Â


“Besides ending your miserable life?†Raesa pulled the blanket up. “No.â€Â


Who was she trying to fool? But he’d allow her the comfort of the lie, for now. “We can sit here and trade barbs until we both wither and die of old age.†The words trailed off. “But that does not change the fact that you do not how to leave this place.â€Â


She didn’t bother denying it. Her hands fisted the blanket, then relaxed. “This place… It’s Hell, isn’t it?†Her eyes bore into him. “Or a hell of my making.â€Â


So, not as ignorant as he’d assumed. That surprised him a little. “This is an Abyssal plane you created for yourself, a pocket plane of sorts inside of a larger realm.â€Â


She bit out a curse. Charming. “Bhaal’s realm.†A frown settled on her face. “How do I leave?â€Â


If he only knew. “We leave once you are ready.†Did she sense his hesitation?


Her eyes narrowed. “Aren’t you a well of knowledge.†The sarcasm in her tone was hard to miss.


Hands twitched, eager to wrap around her insolent throat. What she knew couldn’t fill a used chamber pot. A door, previously locked, had swung open, right after she’d breathed life into him. As if caused by it. So, he could venture a guess. “I suspect you will have knowledge enough once we defeat whatever lies inside that room.†A finger pointed to a gateway to the right.


“Defeat?†She turned back, to glance at the door. “You know what’s inside?â€Â


“No.†Truth be told, he didn’t care much. A smile tugged at his lips. “But I think it safe to say a measure of carnage will be involved.†Something he looked forward to.


Before she could answer, a sound caught both their attention. Something moved amidst the statues, then stepped out, into the clearing. Sarevok felt his brow wrinkle. An… imp?


It gave them a little wave. “Um… Hello.â€Â


By the Abyss. He’d seen everything now. Jumping to his feet, with long strides Sarevok closed the distance between them. The creature made an pitiful noise when he came at it with naked steel. Sarevok barred his teeth in feral smile – his very first kill in this new life – a pathetic kill, but one that would bleed just as well.


Before he could thrust the blade home, Raesa’s voice sounded out. “Don’t kill it!†He almost laughed – as if her will alone would stay his hand. But the next words stopped him in his tracks. “It may know something.â€Â


True. Sarevok cursed himself for not remembering it first. He dragged the imp across the clearing by a wing, and dropped it to next to the fire. The creature yelped and squealed, all the way there.


Raesa straightened. “How did it get here?â€Â


The imp hesitated too long for Sarevok’s liking – he kicked him in the stomach, fast and sharp.


That got a reaction. “Ow! Don’t hurt Cespenar. Me here to help.†Leathery wings flattened against the imp’s hunched back. “Master called me. Little butler for the Master, is I.â€Â


Sarevok raised an eyebrow, but reconsidered when he saw Raesa do the same. “The Master?†A vague suspicion formed in his mind.


“Little butler for the great Bhaal, yes?†It peeked up, an uncertain grin starting on its face.


Sarevok rubbed the bridge of his nose, feeling his very first headache coming on. This was one of Bhaal’s minions?


It pointed, straight ahead. “Me see her, right there.†A frown followed. “Master is smaller, now. Err… That is…†Eyes wide, the imp tried to back up a step. “Master huge, that’s what me meant. Bigger than rude demon Lord, bigger than Cyric and Bane combined!†A sigh escaped it. “Me stupid.â€Â


Raesa sank back into the blankets with a smile. The first he’d seen on her. “So, in essence, you’re saying I’m fat?â€Â


Could the woman ever be serious? This… thing disrespected her, by its words, by its very presence, and all she could do was crack jokes. He’d have its head by now.


The creature looked even more panicked. “Noooo!†“The Master is…†The wheels in the thing’s head practically creaked and groaned from disuse. Cobwebs flew from all the internal dusting. “Um… slim? Very… err… pretty?â€Â


How much of this idiocy would he have to bear? Sarevok’s grip on the blade’s hilt tightened. One swing and he could be rid of its annoying presence once and for all.


Its face fell. “Groveling hard with Master being girl, now.†One claw scratched behind its ear. “Me is confused.â€Â


Was that laughter coming from her? “Oh, I’m not that hard to please.†She cocked her head to the side. “So, you’re here to serve me, right?â€Â


That made the cretin perk right up. “Little butler am I. Oh, yes.†Energetic nodding followed.


“Wonderful.†Something about her tone made Sarevok’s eyebrows knit closer together. “Can you kill this man for me?†A gesture his way followed.


A growl escaped him – his patience for her particular brand of humor had run out. He took a step forward.


The imp seemed to shrink before his eyes. “Err… me don’t think so.â€Â


"Shame, that."


The blade cut through air -- the thing shimmered and dissapeared from sight. Words trailed behind, “Me come back when Master’s friend in better mood.â€Â


Raesa raised an eyebrow at him. “This is all an elaborate nightmare, right?†A tired sigh escaped her. â€ÂNow what?â€Â


The thought of knocking her unconscious crossed his mind. Sarevok quenched the stirring of his temper and crouched beside her. “Sleep.†A command, not a request.


She didn’t take orders well – he should have remembered that. “Just like that?†Palpable distrust hung in the air. One deep breath, and he could suck it in, right into his lungs. He’d give her something to distrust.


A knife pressed at the base of her throat before she could draw her next breath. “If I wanted you dead, fool,†he kept his tone even, “you would have been dead and rotting by now.†Their faces were inches apart. “Whether you were awake or asleep would matter little.â€Â


She held his gaze, unflinching. Her lips stretched into a slow smile. “My, my… You do know how to sweet-talk a girl.†A hand touched his wrist, lightly, and led the knife away.


Sarevok allowed it, and drew back. “Sleep,†he repeated. He would need an able, rested fighter by his side on the morrow. She would not turn on him until they left this prison plane – he was sure of that.


Warry eyes watched him in the darkness for a long time, before they drifted shut.


Once asleep, Sarevok watched her instead. Saw her roll over in her fitful sleep, blanket falling down to reveal one pale, muscled arm and the curve of a shoulder. Dark hair spread over a pillow.... long limbs tangled beneeth the wool.




Feeling an unwanted stirring down below, he looked away, angry and uncomfortable… angry to be uncomfortable. His hands curled into fists. The needs of the body -- the Tanaari's idea of a joke.


She sent me there.


There and back again... But a score unsettled remained, yet.


And Sarevok always settled his debts.





Link to comment



Gaining ground









“You are unwell.†The words came out in a growl.


Not well in the head, he meant. Raesa shifted, rolled her shoulders, wondered if he was right, then dropped into a crouch to retrieve her bracer. “Your concern for my well being is touching.â€Â


When she straightened, a sharp spike of pain ran down her spine. Her back to him, Raesa bit down on her lip to keep from crying out. By Mask’s hanging sack! Far from well, he had the right of it there, but one did not show weakness with a rabid devil in tow. A devil that stood not a foot away, ready to sniff out pain and blood.


Turning back, Raesa forced herself to grin wide – she’d offer no weakness.


Sarevok’s hands clenched into fists, knuckles on his long fingers turning white; wishing he could wrap them around her throat and squeeze, no doubt. The feeling was entirely mutual.


“Touching indeed,†he said, ice in his voice. It seeped into her bones. â€ÂDo not be deliberately obtuse, fool. My continued existence depends on you… for the moment.†The words lingered, soaked the air between them. “You know that well enough. I will not enter that room with you trailing half-dead behind me.â€Â


Half-dead – one way of putting it. Though half-alive had a better ring to it. And they had yet to see, who’d trail in behind whom.


Skin touched skin, suddenly – Sarevok’s bruising fingers on her wrist. Raesa’s stomach dropped, and, behind her eyelids, a black, swirling mist took shape. Fear. Yanking her hand away, Raesa snatched the left bracer from the ground and sheathed a dagger on her hip.


“No one asked you to,†she said.


His eyes radiated contempt. “Were you born this daft, or is this the consequence of one to many blows to the head?†Disappointment, almost, in his tone.


Daft indeed – the lingering fever must be running higher than she thought. Raesa shook her head, blinked once, twice – her vision sharpened then blurred again. Only a fool would have said that; a fool or a child. Two warriors facing an unknown foe stood a better chance than one alone. Basic facts of the Life.


A hand rose up in a warding gesture before Sarevok could speak again. “Pretend I didn’t say that.†As if he would.


And as if she could trust him to watch her back. Raesa rarely had to worry before, if an ally would slit her throat, after the battle was done. Not even Korgan – if the gold tickled his fancy enough. She’d always made sure it did. But Sarevok… she had no currency to offer him, and what he wanted from her, he’d taken already.


In her mind’s eye, the swirling mist took form – that of a raven with bright yellow eyes. Raesa blinked and shook her head. Blasted fever. If only he’d give her the remaining healing potions. There were none left, he’d said – lying through his teeth.


A tense silence followed. Sarevok turned half away and sat on a stone bench next to the fire. Raesa's eyebrows rose. When had that appeared? The embers still glowed a soft red.


“Drive yourself into an early grave, woman, if you are bent on it,†he shifted on the stone, “but do not think to take me with you.†Sarevok fed a piece of dried wood to the dying flames – his shadow lengthened and crept up, across the stone, to mingle with hers. “Use your head. What does a day more matter?â€Â


One more day with him? When the shadow-formed-dark slid beneath her bare feet, Raesa shivered and took a fast step back. There are twenty and four hours in a day. Her throat dried, and the mist formed raven flapped its wings. Just the fever.


“So reluctant to part with me, Sarevok?†she asked instead. The jibe sounded forced, even to her ears. “I had no idea you valued my company so.â€Â


One more night, with him a step away? And her too weak to fight him? She’d rather take her chances with whatever awaited behind those doors. Come on, you bastard. Give me those potions and have done with it. Sweat dampened her brow, even as she shivered from the cold.


Sarevok leaned forward, his hands on his knees. “That humor of yours could earn you a messy death one of these days, sister.â€Â


Sister! Temper flared, and Raesa grasped the heat of it with both hands, grateful for the distraction. “As could your name calling, Sarevok.†If Bhaal’s offsprings would claim family ties, a thousand of such ‘bothers’ and ‘sisters’ would walk the land. And she’d rather call any one of them family, instead of him.


A smirk stretched his lips. “It bothers you, doesn’t it?†Sarevok rose and took a step towards her – a hound on a trail. He’d sniffed out blood. “To know that we share a bond. To be that close to me.†He stopped, an inch away – a deep breath, and they would be touching.


“Close?†Raesa stood her ground, putting the chill out of her mind. “Is that what you call this?†A dull pulse throbbed in her temple. “You killed the only father I’ve ever known. That makes us close?†She gave him a shallow nod. “Have it your way. Sending assassins after me, then. Framing me for murder?†Her hand rose and reached out towards him. “That would be closer.â€Â


Sarevok kept his eyes on her, muscles coiled. Afraid? She could only hope. “When you tried to cut me down in the Undercity? Closer, still.†The words lingered. “Your blood on my hands. Closest.â€Â


Fingers, lacking bloodstains now, touched his shirt, just bellow the ribs, on the right – he had a long, jagged scar there. One she’d carved into the skin. She traced its outline. “You’d call this family?†Sarevok frowned, twitching back. “I pity you, then.†A crooked smile curved her lips, before he pushed her away.


Off balance – so, the devil had a dent in his armor – Raesa pressed on, out for her own taste of blood. “The taint.†His expression changed – storm clouds gathered. “It left you, didn’t it?†A stab in the dark, but as the words rang out she knew it to be true. “It tucked tail and ran back to Bhaal.†Fulfilled its purpose. “Left you alone in the Abyss.â€Â


“Enough!†Sarevok pushed back, took a deep breath and straightened. “You walk a dangerous line, woman.†A threat crept into his voice. “Careful, lest you do not live to regret crossing it.â€Â


Her back pulsed; pain seeped back into her bones. “Two can play at the bating game, Sarevok.†Raesa kept the tiredness at bay, hanging on with the tips of her fingers. “Best you remember that.â€Â


After a long, tense pause, Sarevok set his mouth in a firm line and nodded “You want all cards placed on the table, then?â€Â


Never show your hand, young warrior. The remembered line rang out, in that oh, too familiar voice, before Raesa could drown the memory. Make them show you theirs, instead. If the bait is enticing enough, nine times out of ten, they will take it. Men are ever fools.


Advice to take to heart. The gods knew she’d watched Yoshimo dangle that proverbial bait often enough, grew to depend on him for it. Before it became her turn to play the fool.


Nine times out of ten, indeed.


Raesa nodded back and lowered herself to the floor, fingers drawn to the warmth of the fire. “It would be best to dispense with the pretences, yes.†Her muscles protested when she leaned forward – her teeth clenched in turn.


“Pretences?†Sarevok said. “Very well.†The palms of his hands rested on the stone bench. “You cannot lift a sword right now, let alone wield it.â€Â


Raesa closed her eyes and leaned back, against the wall. “Not yet, no.†The confession cost her nothing – the truth was obvious enough. As much as it pained her to face it.


“This farce was about forcing my hand, then.†Not a question. “Dragging me into a position where I would have no choice but to give you the healing potions.†Sarevok leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees, now. “That, or face a battle with no one to watch my back.â€Â


The timber of his voice seeped under her skin – the soothing dark behind her eyelids turned oppressing. Her eyes snapped open. “Would it have worked?â€Â


“Does it matter?†Sarevok’s shoulders moved in a dismissive gesture. “There are no potions. None. If there were, I would have forced them down your throat hours ago.†His eyes fixed on hers. “I am as eager to be rid of you, as you are of me.†A pause. “Believe that if you believe nothing else.â€Â


A lie. Raesa could feel it in her bones. He was buying time. For what?


The warmth of the fire made her drowsy. My turn. “The taint left you.†That wasn’t a question either.


A muscle in his cheek twitched. “There is no point in denying it.†Oh, but he wanted to. Anger flickered behind his eyes, only to be replaced by something else. “But a piece of your soul now fills its place.†A twinge of amusement. “A fitting replacement, don’t you think?â€Â


She didn’t. Her heartbeat quickened at the thought. Gorion had to be turning in his grave.


“I find it flattering, that you used to fear me so.â€Â


The words made Raesa's head snap up, every muscle in her body tense.


Sarevok watched her, through half-lidded eyes. “That you used to wake, drenched in cold sweat, and peer at the shadows in fear of finding me there.â€Â


Echoes of another time, that seemed a lifetime ago, now, rang out in her mind. Raesa swallowed. A bluff. It had to be.


“You saw me as a demon, in those dreams, rather than a man. A beast from the depths of the Abyss.†Such satisfaction in his tone. “And I killed you every time.â€Â


Tore me to pieces. Her throat dried, her blood ran cold. Bane’s balls! He’d seen her memories. The thought made her heart skip a beat. “In dreams only,†she said. What else had he seen? “In the waking world, I killed you.†How much had he stolen from her? “Never forget that.â€Â


“How could I?†His shadow fell on her, covered her in a shroud. “Ask, then, what else I have learned about you.â€Â


Raesa forced herself to sit still. “I doubt you’d tell me.†Her stomach dropped. “And give up the advantage.â€Â


Sarevok’s lips stretched into a smile. “I can almost hear you, woman.†The shadow withdrew when he rose from the bench and stepped to her right. “The questions, the uncertainty. How much has he seen? Or how little?†A slow, precise nod. “I’ll let you stew on that for a while, before we continue this discussion.â€Â


Oh, how she yearned to beat the answers out of him. Nausea welled up in the pit of her stomach. “ I grow weary of words.â€Â


“Sleep, then.†Sarevok threw a blanket at her. “Regain your strength. Then we will se if we can bandy more than words.â€Â


Irritation welled up. How long did he think she could sleep? Days? A week? Without herbs or a healer to aid her, that’s how long it would take for the wound to heal on its own. Raesa opened her mouth to speak…


A day. She remembered – what does a day more matter, he’d said. Her back touched the wall again, and she pulled the blanket up, over her shoulder.


Tomorrow, then. Sarevok intended to set foot in that room tomorrow. That meant she would have those potions then. He wouldn't risk her slowing him down. But why tomorrow?


He was biding his time, waiting for something – Raesa knew not what.


But she would be ready for it.



Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...