Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Categories

Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition has been announced! Visit nwn.beamdog.com to pre-order, apply for the Head Start and check for details. NWN:EE FAQ is available.
Soundtracks for BG:EE, SoD, BG2:EE, IWD:EE, PST:EE are now available in the Beamdog store.
Attention, new and old users! Please read the new rules of conduct for the forums, and we hope you enjoy your stay!

The Forgetful Bhaalspawn (coninuation of The Partridge Family)

Author's Note

Nobody will be more surprised than me that I am attempting to carry on with Ayla in Shadows of Amn. Unlike the first part, The Reluctant Bhaalspawn aka The Partridge Family, this isn't a playthrough though it is based on the way I playthrough the game and react to the characters I meet while playing. Also there's going to quite a few references and ongoing jokes from The Partridge Family. It's going to be a bit different to the conventional story, Ayla doesn't want to be and has no interest in being the hero. She just wants to go with the flow and enjoy that, there's always something to laugh about after all.

Here's a link to the first part if anybody is interested.
https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/65021/the-partridge-family#latest


The Forgetful Bhaalspawn

Prologue

It was quiet in the large room almost peaceful. If you ignored the sounds of laboured breathing, the intermittant clink of chains as the captives tried without success to ease their discomfort. Though it never lasted long before some new torment was visited upon them. To the captives the hours had long since stretched into days, then weeks until none of them had any hope of there being any other existance. Of course if any of them thought about it, they knew there was a different existance, a different life, but the contrast was too painful to consider. Better to focus on the here and now and survive. Eat the slop they were served however bad it tasted, tend to their wounds as best they could, answer the questions, appear subsevient, endure. What else was there to do? When every plan to escape had failed, every attempt to bargain with their captor had been met with derision, their threats and questions contemptuously ignored and the regular application or threat of whippings and torture.

The near silence was interrupted by the sound of the door being unlocked followed by heavy footsteps entering the room. In the early days (or was it weeks, none of them could be sure) those footsteps would circle the room, pausing before each cage as the man considered which of them to take away. And those not chosen would guiltily feel relief that this time it wasn't themselves. Two of them had never come back.

But for some time there had been only one cage that caught his focus, one captive. Separated from the others at the other end of this large room, they had long given up calling out in hope of a response. The only way they knew the captive was still alive was because the man always went to it and they could hear his mocking voice from out of sight.

"Ah the Bhaalspawn has awakened, time for more experiments"

If Ayla had been present she would have rolled her eyes at the innanity of this attempt at humour, and the sheer lack of originality considering he came out with it every bloody time. But she had long fled this reality and had withdrawn to where he couldn't reach her. It was somewhat ironic that his attempts to release the Bhaal taint had facilitated her ability to be nothing but the taint in her head. Had strengthened it to the point where it could protect her. The taint that he had purposely goaded had become her whole existance. She embraced it's anger, it's hatred and used it as a shield against him. This existance was meaningless, her real life was as part of Bhaal and soon it would end. There was no outward sign of resistance although the taint told her to attack and kill her tormentor for the insult afforded her as a Bhaalspawn. She knew he caused her pain but after, the anger would burn so fiercely she could see, hear or feel nothing else.

Chapter 1

Rudely Awakened

"Wake up, wake up"

Voices reached me as I lay in the cage, penetrating the comforting fury. Different to the guards or the man, female and male. Of course I tried to ignore them, what trick was being played now? What new torment had the man come up with to provoke a reaction?

"Ayla, wake up, it's me Imoen, we have to get out of here"

"She maybe too injured, we need to get her out of this cage so I can examine her" another voice addressed the first.

I didn't recognise the names, didn't recognise the voices and the idea of "out" was absurd. My world had shrunk to the size of the cage, it was safer here, just me and the comforting anger. I carried on ignoring them. I could hear the sounds of the lock being manipulated accompanied by the sound of exasperated breathing that occurs when you are trying to do something complicated too quickly.

"Finally, that's it, come on Ayla, I've got the door open".

A hand reached into my sanctury and gave a tentative shake of my shoulder. That was too much, how dare they disturb me like this? Hadn't the man done enough, weren't the spells he threw at me adequate without conjuring demons to taunt me? I turned and sunk my teeth in the offending hand, demons or not, there were limits.

"Ayla, it's me Imoen, ouch, you bit me, what the f..., I'm trying to get you out of this cage".

There was a quick movement backwards and a cry of surprise. The voice sounded hurt, offended. Something here was different. The man and his servants never showed any emotion, never any surprise.

"Be careful Imoen, she may have be under the influence of some spell or have been driven mad. Perhaps we should get Minsc to get hold of her so we can talk to her"

"Perhaps if I let Boo talk to her, sometimes I get very angry but I can still hear Boo"

So they wanted to talk, the man never wanted me to talk. Too fond of droning on himself to let anyone else get a word in edgeways. Another difference. Perhaps they would go away and leave me in peace if I spoke to them? I slowly sat up, and turned towards the voices. Three people, a young woman, an older severe looking woman and a large bald man. They were dressed in a motley collection of armour and carrying weapons, none of which looked very good. The women had pale faces and dirty hair, they looked thin, tired and worried. The man appeared in better shape though he shared the same look of one who had been captive for some time. Too thin in the face and neck compared to the impressive bulk of his torso. Not guards then, nor demons which was a relief.

"What do you want? Why are you bothering me?" I snapped and they all took a small step backwards looking shocked.

"Ayla, it's me Imoen, don't you recognise me?"

Blue eyes widened with concern looked back at me , dirty strawberry blond hair, pale skin, a little shorter and thinner than me. The names Ayla and Imoen meant nothing. I tried to think, to remember anything about the girl standing before me as she obviously expected me to. But there was nothing that sparked any recognition. I tried saying the names aloud in the hope that would trigger some memory to surface,

"Imoen...Ayla?"

"Yes, Ayla, that's your name, " she nodded encouragingly, "I'm Imoen, and this is Jaheira" indicating the woman next to her, "And that is Minsc. We were together, surely you have to remember?"

It was such a strange concept to be presented with. What was there to remember? There was a cage, there was a man, there was pain, there was anger, there was the knowledge that this existance wasn't at all real. Was anything or had anything ever been different? "Yes", whispered the taint in my head urgently, "you were a God and will be again but now you need to fight for it. Now you need to RUN". The last word was a scream rather than a whisper and my whole body jerked in response. So loud, surely the others must have heard it? Then I felt the taint slipping away, retreating, burying itself in my subconscious. Leaving me empty, lost, but more than that, afraid. The man would come back and I would be alone.

"We need to get away from here, we need to go before he comes back." I almost shouted at the trio still anxiously watching me. I didn't need to tell them who I was referring to, the look of fear from all of them told me that I was not the only one he had hurt. "I don't remember anything, it doesn't matter, we need to go" the urgency conveyed by the taint carried in my voice and Minsc hurriedly reached forward to help me out of the cage. "You can tell me more as we move".

Jaheira agreed immediately, "I need to find Khalid, I haven't seen him for some time. Can you remember how to fight, how to use a sword? We found some weapons and armour in a side room."

As we walked, Imoen and the others tried to tell me what they thought I should remember. It was all a blur of names and places. I was only half listening. None of it sounded familiar or even believable. And I only had their word that they were who they said they were or that I was who they said I was. I thought about my name, "Ayla", it would do I suppose, could have been more impressive, a few more syllables, perhaps a surname? When we reached the stash in the small room, I tried a few of the weapons in the hope that something would feel "right" if not familiar. And was suprised and gratified to find that whatever else I couldn't remember, wielding a sword or shooting a bow was not one of them. It was the Katana that I settled on, it felt better and was slightly better quality than the other swords. A suit of ill fitting splint mail and a battered helmet was the best on offer in the way of armour. And so, ill equipped as we were, we started along the passage that looked the most likely to lead to the outside.

"Sorry, what was that again? So if I press the button I die and somebody might live, if I don't press the button somebody might die and I live, and if nobody presses anything everybody dies and if everybody presses everything everybody dies? Doesn't really seem very good odds. Can you give me a hint? Best of three? Can I persuade somebody else to press the button?"

After fighting our way along the passage from the room where we were caged, we had come to a room full of pools of water and had been stopped by a genii who seemed to know my name. Which put him at an advantage compared to me but it did confirm that the three people I had been trying to escape with were telling the truth. Or at least a truth. I was much more interested in the pools of clean, warm water than answering questions. Not only was I able to wash some of the accumulated dirt off, when you gazed into them you could see things, pictures. After so long being deprived of seeing anything other than the bars of the cage I found then fascinating and curiously peaceful. The genii was growing impatient though, after posing his nonsensical riddle for the third time.

"I think I'll pass on doing anything, doesn't make much sense either way"

The collected gasp of disgust from the others signaled that somehow I had answered wrongly, well if they had understood what to do perhaps they should have volunteered for the whole button pressing exercise in the first place? The genii called me a coward and summoned some goblins to fight. That I could deal with as I had found out on the way to this room, I was good at fighting. The genii then told us to look for a "Rielev" as the reward for answering his riddle, (or not as was the case). I got the distinct impression that my companions were less than pleased with me. I heard Imoen telling Jaheira, "that it was what she expected considering I had left her on the road to Candlekeep after nicking her stuff". If I could have remembered what she was talking about, I might have felt guilty.

We found "Rielev" in a large glass vat of liquid, what it was was difficult to tell. The glass was dirty and the liquid cloudy but perhaps it was just as well because his tormented voice was enough to inform us of his suffering. The man had promised him eternal life but then had forgotten him and left him in this state of suspended animation. He begged us to end his life and in return gave us some directions and instructions to aid our escape. To get the doors open in this complex we had to activate the Golem that was used for cleaning and maintenance. Another room contained more glass vats, some of which had still living occupants, if you could call it living. We broke them all and killed the mishapen lumps of flesh that tumbled out with the liquid. It was a mercy. Imoen was badly affected, crying and asking why death was pretty, telling us that "he" had forced her to see things, do things. Jaheira comforted her as best she could but we didn't have the time to stop, we had to keep moving.

We passed through a library and then we were ambushed by Deurgars who must have been working for our captor. Considerably outnumbered, we fell back and Jaheira threw a spell of entanglement to halt their attack. As the sticky vines caught their arms and legs, we pelted them with arrows. I had the feeling that I had done this many, many times before because I fell into the rhythm without thought. Choosing my targets, picking them off one by one, aiming first to disable in case they escaped the trap and then arrows that would kill. Imoen followed Jaheira's lead and cast a sickly green fog over the entangled foe which caused some of them to fall unconscious and others to start retching. A few managed to fire the crossbows they were carrying but the mail myself and Minsc were wearing managed to deflect those that were on target. We waited for the fog to clear and the vines to disolve and then we searched the corpses for anything that we could use.

Returning to where we had activated the Golem, we followed the passage down to where it had opened the doors into the sewer that linked this part of the dungeon to the next. And once again found our way blocked, this time by a strange squat creature with long flapping tentacles. We immediately let fly with our bows and sling but were unable to inflict any damage on the creature. Whereupon Minsc, with a bellow about smiting evil that would surely have alerted any guard in a two mile radius, grabbed his sword and attacked it wildly. Seeing that the creature's attention was now firmly focused on Minsc, Jaheira and I followed and laid into it's backside. We needed to kill it fast in case anything had been alerted to our presence. Minsc was being hit with the tentacles and was moving slower and slower, some kind of poison effect. But instead of turning on us, it carried on laying into Minsc which gave us the advantage we needed. Imoen let fly a round of magic missiles and between the three of us, we brought it down. Jaheira managed to cure the poison and we dosed Minsc with some of the potions we had picked up. But all of us were feeling the effects of the constant fighting, we needed to rest a little, but somewhere better than this.

I suggested to the group we returned to the pools area where we had encountered the Genii, the way behind us was now clear and we would find water for drinking. The others weren't keen but did see the advantages, then Imoen spoke up,

"If we carry on down that corridor", she said indicating the one in front of us, "there is a bedroom which would be more comfortable"

"You've been here before? You know this area? I thought you were locked up with Jaheira and Minsc," I asked.

Jaheira answered for her, "No, Imoen wasn't with us, she was held somewhere else"

"Where, we've passed no other cells or cages? Imoen, where were you imprisoned? Are there any others we should be looking for? Was the one Jaheira is looking for with you?"

Imoen looked away. seemingly not able to meet our eyes, "It isn't what you think, He kept me close, showed me things, told me things, made me...made me do things...help him with his experiments".

My blood ran cold with those words and deep inside the taint stirred, I knew what he called 'experiments'. "Did he force you? Were you under some spell?" I asked, wondering what he had wanted with her.

She looked down, her voice came out as a whisper, "I don't know, perhaps, it's all mixed up in my head." She started crying and Jaheira moved to her side and tried to hug her, "It's all right, you'll see, we'll find Khalid and get out of here, just stay strong". The words didn't seem to quiet her, instead she roughly pushed Jaheira away and stepped back, "You don't understand, you don't know what I've done, none of you".

"So tell us, tell us what you know of this place before we stumble blindly into more trouble", I couldn't keep the anger I felt out of my voice. We had been walking and fighting for what seemed like hours and now I was hearing that one of us knew more than they had told us.

"I can't, you'll hate me more than I hate myself because I wasn't strong enough to refuse" she started to cry again.

Minsc struggled to his feet, he was still suffering from the effects of the poison the creature had infected him with, " Don't be sad little Imoen, you couldn't have done anything bad, we know you, we trust you" he said and gently patted her shoulder.

Unbidden the words rose to my tongue, "Jal khaless zhah waela", all trust is foolish. I didn't recognise the language I had spoken but they rang true to me at that moment.

"Jaheira whirled around angrily at the words, "You dare to speak Drow to me?"

Drow, how would I know Drow? "I didn't know it was Drow, it was just some words I remembered" I answered, surprised at her hostility.

"There was a Drow in your group when you were hunting Sarevok, and a Red Wizard. Khalid and myself were very disappointed with the choices you made, not at all what we expected from somebody raised by Gorion" she replied, "You wouldn't listen to us."

Minsc's attention left Imoen, I could see him frowning as if trying to remember something, "A Red Wizard? Why would you have anything to do with such evil? There was a wizard on a bridge...Minsc doesn't remember what happened next. Dynaheir helped him but then she went into a house... And then she was killed here by the evil man who hurt us" he stopped talking as if the effort of so many words had drained him and he couldn't continue.

Something was wrong here, none of the names meant anything and now these people had let it slip I didn't travel with them and disapproved of my actions. Why had they acted as if we knew each other? As if we were friends or comrades? What did I know about them anyway? Nothing other than the stories they had told me, how would I even know if any of it were true? Imoen had said I'd left her, why would I have done that without reason? And now she was saying she had helped the man who had tortured and kept us locked in cages. That she knew the way around this maze of passages when she had said nothing before. How had we ended up here together? My thoughts whirled, the phrase repeating in my head, all trust is foolish, all trust is foolish.

Why couldn't I remember anything from before they had found me in that cage? What had the man done to me? Could they be part of this whole nightmare, part of some deception? It was too dangerous staying with them, at any moment they could turn on me. Or be leading me back to that cage. I'd heard and seen enough. I grabbed Imoen and drawing my sword backed towards the door leading back to the library.

"Stay away from me, I warn you or I'll hurt her".

Minsc lurched forward fumbling for his sword, if it came down to it in his weakened state I could probably deal with him. But not all three and two of them had magic. Jaheira grabbed his arm and pulled him back to her side.

"Ayla, you have to calm down, we don't want to fight you, where have you got this idea from?" Jaheira said holding out her hands in a placatory manner.

"You said I didn't listen to you before, but who are you? Who are any of you? I don't know, I can't remember, I can't...I can't trust you"

I pushed Imoen from the steps and she screamed as she fell. Jaheira jumped forward and managed to catch her as Minsc drew his sword and made towards me.

And then I turned and ran.


Notes

Well I hope that's provoked some interest. And of course I'd very much appreciate any feedback. The beginning of SOA is grim, no getting away from that so just have to grit my teeth and get through it. And of course if you have played Baldur's Gate without any of the "Canon Party" it's hard to reconcile. In game there is the option to say you can't remember anything. I don't think there are many stories that run with that so wanted to give it a try.

tbone1JuliusBorisov

Comments

  • tbone1tbone1 Member Posts: 1,366
    Are there any updates for this? You RP this game quite differently than I do, and I like your writing style, so pleeeeease any more on the way?

    JuliusBorisov
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,451
    @tbone1

    There will be an update but when.......
    Run into "too many possibilities to where to take the story and do any of them make sense anyway to anybody else except me".
    It's all Imoen's fault. ;)

    tbone1JuliusBorisov
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,451
    There have been some changes to the way I'm writing this. First off, big change, gone to third person perspective rather than first. The reason being it simply wasn't working well for me as I'm expanding the story from the base of being a playthrough. I was sick of me, me, me, I, I, I, let alone anybody else. Second, Irenicus dungeon doesn't fit well with comedy, it's simply not funny so any jokes feel very forced. So as I said before, just have to go with it as it is and get through this "serious like" and keep the lighthearted stuff for later. And I promise you it will get lighter, much lighter.

    Chapter Two

    Reflections

    "Minsc come back, stop", Jaheira barked an order at the confused and injured ranger, "it would be folly to follow her, I fear she has been driven mad by that man and we would endanger ourselves".

    "But we can't just leave her" Imoen made towards the passage as if to follow the fleeing woman and started to call her name.

    "But child, what can we do, we are in no fit state to confront her and we cannot risk her attacking us. We are in enough trouble as it is without trying to drag somebody with us who doesn't trust us". Jaheira paused seeing the distress her words were causing Imoen, "I know that you were friends, that you grew up together, but you haven't been with her for a long time, perhaps she is not the person you remember?"

    "No, she's exactly the person I remember, always causing trouble," Imoen turned back from the passage, "I had just forgotten." Imoen gave Jaheira a rueful smile, "She was never comfortable in Candlekeep, always believed there was something she wasn't being told. Turns out she was right, it could make a person paranoid don't you think? And now she doesn't have any memories which isn't going to help any."

    "Then we should move on," Jaheira answered, "we need to find somewhere safer than this for Minsc to recover and carry on looking for the way out. We saw the bodies of people from outside who seemed to have attacked this place, there must be an exit somewhere. You said there was a bedroom along that corridor?"

    Imoen again looked away before answering, "Just promise me you won't ask how I know, not now, not while we are still trapped here".

    Jaheira nodded her agreement, "I agree, nothing can be gained by discussing this now, let us just work on getting free and finding an exit. And then we can think about reporting this place and perhaps getting help to find Ayla. We need to find where he has been keeping Khalid as well, I will not leave without him."

    Between the two of them, they helped Minsc along the passage leading to the room Imoen had spoken about. Before they stepped over the threshold, Imoen pulled them back. "Wait", she ordered, "there are traps here, I need to disarm them." She quickly went to work, creeping carefully forward, studying the lay of the carpet for taletell signs of trip wires and pressure pads. The room was comfortably furnished with a large bed and various cupboards and shelves, nothing like the sparse utalitarian chambers they had passed so far. It was an incongruous sight, appearing as it did so relatively close to rooms of torture and torment. Once the traps were disarmed, they helped Minsc to the bed and in spite of his protests that he must be ready to fight, Jaheira insisted he lay down and got some rest. Pointing out that without his strength, their chances of escape were severely affected.

    Imoen took a seat near the bed and started looking through the various magical scrolls they had found in the library. She wouldn't be able to learn them, not in the limited time they had, but she could cast them from the scrolls directly should they need them. She traced the runes gently with her finger and quietly murmered the words she would need to speak, familiarising herself with the patterns she would need. Jaheira sat and watched, trying to relax, knowing she needed to rest. But she felt a growing impatience, it was one thing to know one had to take rest when it was possible, another to act on it. After trying for some time to relax, to reach within herself and find some inner calm, she shook herself and stood up abruptly, startling Imoen.

    "It's no good, I can't just sit here waiting. I need to be doing something."

    Imoen objected, pointing out that it would be safer to stay together until Minsc had recovered enough to carry on. But Jaheira was adamant, assuring her that she wouldn't be long and just wanted to check the next room and that she wouldn't go beyond earshot. She tried to mask her growing unease that was being made worse by sitting still and doing nothing but Imoen had known her for a long time now and understood her impatience and need to be doing something. With a firm promise that she would go no further than the next room, she left Imoen watching Minsc and practising the spells.

    Jaheira walked quietly down the short passage opposite to where they had entered the bedroom. As she walked she had the strangest sensation that up ahead she could see daylight and smell fresh air. She quickly dismissed the idea as being wishful thinking, but as she approached the end it became clear that there were trees ahead. Her heart leapt, could they have found the way out so easily? Three large trees, their branches arcing overhead, their roots buried in uncovered earth and amongst them growing flowers and plants occupied the large space she found herself stepping into. Overwhelmed at the sight and staring up at the canopy of leaves overhead she didn't notice the three figures who appeared from the trunks of the trees. Their voices reached her, soft and musical, the three of them talking as one, the words over lapping,

    "Stranger, different to the other, but lost, no fear from us, we will not hurt you, help us, yes, please help us, we need your help."

    Jaheira stared at the three women, Dryads, Dryads here, was she dreaming?

    "Who are you? What are you doing here? And these trees, how do they grow here? How can I help you?"

    the questions spilled out and the dryads recoiled at the quick demanding tone. Jaheira calmed herself knowing how flighty these woodland beings could be and tried again in a softer tone. She didn't want to scare them off, though where they could run? With some patience she slowly asked them what they knew of this place and of their captor. She learned that his name was Irenicus and that he had been using them in an attempt to replace lost feelings and emotions that he was incapable of producing himself. She could well believe them after seeing the horrors they had passed let alone the treatment he had dealt her and the others. A man without emotion, without feelings, that explained a lot. Though not why he had captured a Bhaalspawn, what would he have wanted with Ayla? She asked how she could help them and they asked her to deliever the acorns from the trees to their Grove where they could be replanted and so set them free. Of course she had the acorns already, what Druid finding acorns on a dead body wouldn't have picked them up? The very idea.

    After talking to the Dryads and still reeling from the shock of finding such an unexpected room, (though was it a room? Magically open to the sky which allowed sunlight to stream down through the branches of the huge trees yet sealed off from the outside) she asked if she could stay a little and sit under the trees. The thought of feeling the earth again underneath her and being closer to nature was almost intoxicating after so long in this dungeon. She sat down with her back against one of the tree trunks and buried her fingers into the earth. Leaning back and closing her eyes she breathed in deeply, savouring the scent of the trees and the soil. She felt the peace that had eluded her earlier settle around her, enveloping her. This was where she gained her strength, through her connection with nature. But how much time had she spent with Khalid following a path which always took them away from where they were happiest? Too long, too many years believing they could make a difference when sometimes it seemed the only change was to themselves. Perhaps it was time to leave the Harpers and concentrate on what they both wanted? Khalid had been saying for some time that he would like to settle and had suggested (though timidly and without any pressure of course. she smiled inwardly at the memory) that they think about a family. If, (no, not if,) "when" they finally got away from here perhaps they should consider it seriously. Almost dozing under the calming influence of the feel of the treetrunk at her back, she sent a prayer to Silvanus in the hope that he would hear her through this connection.

    Ayla ran along the passage back to the library where they had been attacked and ducked down behind one of the bookshelves. She melded into the shadows and tried to bring her breathing under control while she listened for footsteps that would signal that she was being followed. She heard them calling her name but heard nothing to indicate any approach along the corridor. It was a relief to her when it became clear that they had decided to leave. She hadn't wanted to hurt them and still didn't. As the flood of adrenaline that had caused her flight began to ebb, she tried to think rationally about her situation. It was bad whichever way it was looked at, still trapped, alone and unable to remember anything about her life beyond the previous few hours. She buckled down hard on the wave of panic that threatened to overwhelm her when she considered the enormity of it and pushed away any thoughts of her captivity. She needed to concentrate on the now, on what she had rather than what she didn't. What her next action would be and from that, what her next action would be, a step at a time, stay alive, rely on her instinct. And that was something she had in abundance. She didn't know what a "Bhaalspawn" was, the name her captor had always used when referring to her. But she knew that there was something buried deep inside her that he had wanted and that made her a "something". Not dismissable, not nothing and that could be built on even when all the other foundations had been stripped away.

    She became aware that she had been sitting in the quiet and the dark for some time and that she needed to move on. One leg had fallen asleep and she dragged herself to her feet, quietly cursing at the onslaught of a massive attack of pins and needles. She couldn't help but appreciate the irony of being incapacitated by pins and needles after what she had previously endured and strangley it helped to lighten her mood. Something normal and mundane, it was somewhat welcome. Realising that she was hungry and thirsty she remembered they had seen evidence of living quarters where they had killed the Duergars. Perhaps there would be supplies there. And anyway it would be as good a place as any to start and so made her way towards their quarters. The smell hit her before she reached the room, she had momentarily forgotten that the stinking cloud had made many of them retch before they died, as well as the smell of voided bowels and ruptured guts. It had been a vicious battle, death really wasn't pretty at all she mused, thinking of Imoen's earlier strange turn of phrase. Swallowing hard and trying not to gag herself, she abandoned her plan to search the room and instead decided to return to the pools where they had been confronted by the Genie, at least she would find water there.

    The largest pool was being fed by a trickle of water emerging from the rocks that formed the walls of the cavern. And taking the view that water filtered through rock was likely to be reasonably untainted, Ayla drank greedily from the small stream. It's not like she had much of a choice anyway and it tasted wonderful to her parched throat. Finally sated she once again considered her next move as she idly watched the images in the pool. They seemed to be depicting a history of some sort, creatures changing, or evolving, from one form to another over an immense span of time. Adaptations being made to cope with the changing enviroment, those unable to adapt disappearing from the chain. Eventually becoming recognisable to her as the animals and people of the world she was familiar with. Perhaps there was some hidden knowledge being conveyed here that was tantalisingly just out of her reach? She shook herself and told herself off for such flights of fancy, that kind of thinking was surely the preserve of madmen. Where were the Gods?

    Refreshed and rested Ayla set off again, she had decided to explore the various rooms and passages they had previously passed through in case they had missed any exits they had overlooked in their hurry. But before she had gone far, she heard the noise of a distant alarm ringing urgently through the quiet complex. Ahead of her, the sewage Golem accompanied by two others emerged from rooms off the corridor. They moved purposly and fast away from her towards the sewer and grunted the words "intruders, intruders in the complex". Hurrying after them and holding out the command stone she had used previously she called out to them to halt. The leading Golem slowed and turned towards her but the other two pushed past it mindlessly following some previous orders.

    "Where are you going" she demanded of the Golem.

    "Intruders, intruders they must be stopped"

    "intruders here...from outside?" she thought of the bodies she had seen as she had transversed the passages. Had somebody come from outside to attack this place?

    "Where are they, is there an entrance nearby?"

    The golem looked through her, incapable of answering and repeating the words, "intruders, intruders they must be stopped".

    She realised she would get no further information from the Golem but the word "intruders" was clue enough. If somebody or something was attacking from outside then this was her chance to get out while they were distracted. She would even be prepared to help if it could lead to her escaping. Leaving the Golem standing there unable to move as she had the command stone, she ran after the other two who appeared to be unaffected. She caught up with them easily, they moved fast but not as fast as a person running, and followed at a safe distance. Forming the plan to hang back until she could see what they were facing and to look for a chance to get out herself.

    Imoen turned quickly from where she had stepped into the room with a note of panic in her voice,

    "Can you hear that? I think I've triggered something, but there wasn't any sign of a trap across the doorway. I can see there are other traps but not that one."

    The three of them listened to the the sound of alarm bells ringing in the distance. The Dryads had told them not to enter the room but they had no choice because they had also told them the key needed to activate the portal to the upper floors was hidden somewhere in this room. Seeing no way past the obstacle, Imoen had volunteered to enter the room. She was the only one of the three who could disarm traps anyway. Jaheira had been tempted to let Minsc simply trigger them and hope she could deal with any injuries. Her feelings of protectiveness towards Imoen had grown since she had overheard her talking to the Dryads about Irenicus and what he had subjected her to. Her blood had run cold at the knowledge and she had vowed to exact revenge on him for the girl alone. But she couldn't let Imoen know what she had heard, it was something she would need time to deal with. Jaheira had suspected when it became clear that Imoen knew her way round these rooms but that didn't make it any easier to hear.

    "Can you disarm the other traps?" Jaheira asked, "if that alarm is triggering some response we would be better able to hold them off from within."

    Imoen nodded and turned back to her task, carefully removing the trip wires that weaved across the rest of the floor. As she finished the last of them they heard the rumble of fast footsteps approaching from the direction of the sewer. They crowded into the room and prepared to be attacked.

    Following the two remaining Golems, Ayla found herself back in the sewer where they had killed the monster that had poisoned Minsc. And then they were passing into the passage where she was sure the others had gone. Had they managed to find a way out or meet the intruders that the Golems were intent on stopping? The thought encouraged her to move closer to the Golems who seemed to have no interest in her at all. The finely furnished, comfortable bedroom was as distracting and surprising to her as it had been for the others and she paused before carrying on. The golems made so much noise it wasn't likely that she would lose them. A quick survey of the room revealed a few locked cabinets that she didn't have time to deal with now if she wanted to keep up with the hunt. But on a shelf tucked away she espied a helmet and a jolt of recognition sparked through her. That was hers, she knew it without doubt. It was old, that much she could tell partly because of it's battered appearence, and had powerful enchantments as well. She picked it up and the name and a memory came to her, the Helm of Balduran and a fight in a city street at night with armour suited opponents carrying flaming swords. But which city? And who was fighting alongside her? It was more like a vision than memory, just a scene and she shook her head in frustration. But she reasoned, at least it was something rather than the total absense trying to remember anything had produced so far. It felt entirely right as she donned it, eventhough the enchantments meant that it would fit anyone, and she felt a little of herself returning.

    As she left the room to catch up with the golems another sound came to her from ahead, over the insistant ringing of the alarm and the noise the golems themselves made. Voices in the distance and fighting. She sped up, she needed to make her escape, she was so sure it was near. That conviction was strengthened when she saw trees appearing at the end of the corridor. This was it, the outside, she'd made it. Now she needed to think how to get past the fighting without being seen or to convince those fighting that she was not a threat. Emerging into the sunlit chamber, she saw the golems at the far end trying to fight their way through an entrance. But not to the outside, merely into another room. And as she ran towards them she realised that the trees were somehow growing inside as well. This being the outside was an illusion and she pulled up, disorientated and confused and bitterly disppointed. The golems were fighting people inside, and as she watched trying to make sense of what she was seeing she recognised who they were fighting.

    tbone1JuliusBorisov
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,451
    edited October 20
    Just a short chapter, I desperately need to get out of this lower level for my own sanity. let alone the characters. Also I have a new short story I want to write with Ayla and Co. set before BG2 and time is running out, big hint "Halloween is Coming To Baldur's Gate" for anybody interested.

    Chapter Three

    Golems

    Ayla watched as the golems tried to force their way into the room. A makeshift barrier had been erected from various pieces of furniture across the doorway. Behind it she saw Minsc beating whatever part of the golems he could reach in an attempt to destroy them whilst Jaheira tried to shield him. Further back Imoen was firing arrows but they were doing no damage. The golems mindless struggle to force their way into the room meant they were hampering each other. But the barrier was flimsy and it was clear that eventually brute force would win through. What on earth had they done to provoke this attack was her first thought and it was not without a certain amount of exhasperation. Of course she could just leave them to it, but she knew that she wouldn't even as she considered it. Drawing her sword she cautiously approached the golems from behind, fully ready to run if they turned on her. At least that would draw their attention and give the others a chance.

    Instead the golems ignored her, just as they had done when she had been following them. Whatever misdeeds the golems had been programed to react to, she was obviously not included. Even after a few experimental hits of her sword on their backs they were still focused on attacking the people in the room. Realising that gave her (all of them in fact) a massive advantage, she laid into them in earnest, aiming for the more vulnerable spots of necks and arms. But the constructs were made of hard baked clay and her sword skittered off of them doing no damage. They would need to be cracked or shattered, much like an earthenware pot. She carried on hitting the golem about the head regardless, simply to try and distract it from it's intended target. Desperately she shouted past them to Minsc who was using his long two handed sword with as little success as she had had,

    "You need to use the hammer, the one you used to break the glass jars and Imoen, stop shooting arrows and cast haste."

    The three of them hadn't seen her approach from behind the golems and they reacted with surprise, Jaheira taking a step back and inadvertantly allowing her guard to drop.

    "Not use my sword? Then how can we kill them?"

    "The hammer, use the hammer," Ayla repeated, "don't argue, just do it."

    Thankfully Minsc was used to taking orders and grabbed the hammer from where it hung at his belt though he didn't look particularly convinced.

    Then one of the golems took advantage and landed a heavy blow on Jaheira, knocking her to the floor, leaving Minsc without the meagre protection she had been providing. Imoen dropped her bow and ran to help her instead of doing what she had been told, frustrated, Ayla yelled again,

    "Leave her, if Minsc goes down you're all dead."

    The words seemed to get through and she saw Imoen begin to cast though it seemed agonisingly slow, finally she felt the familiar feeling of time slowing down around her and the golems appearing to be moving in slow motion. That gave Minsc the chance he needed. But he wouldn't be able to hold them off on his own nor damage them enough to stop them. She needed to find something heavy to use so she could inflict some damage herself. Looking around she saw some floor stones that had been forced loose by the roots of the trees and she darted to pick up a good sized one. Holding the stone in both hands she attacked the back of the head of one the golems. It wasn't easy, the angle was awkward as she was hitting something slightly taller than herself, but the haste allowed her to hit again and again even if not so hard. Small cracks began to appear, spreading out as she pounded away. Her arms were aching and she was running out of breath but she could see Minsc was struggling himself, at least she wasn't being attacked she thought. Imoen cast some magic missiles to help Minsc but Ayla knew they wouldn't have any effect but she couldn't spare the breath to call out. A dark fluid began oozing from the fractures and running down the neck of the golem and it's movements became less coordinated. Eventually the hard surface cracked completely open and it crashed headlong into it's companion, the fluid now gushing out as it fell. One down, one to go she thought. But the other golem, between being crashed into by it's pair and Minsc's hammer was already lying motionless on the floor. Bent double trying to get her breath back Ayla surveyed the room and the three occupants, Jaheira was still lying on the floor with her back to her with Imoen leaning over her.

    "Is she dead?" Ayla finally managed to gasp out as her breathing returned to normal and the haste spell wore off. Imoen shook her head, "no, but her shoulder is broken I think and she's unconscious."

    "What about you Minsc? You took some heavy blows there, anything important broken?" she could see he had a black eye and couldn't surpress the thought that if it was only his head that had been hit that wouldn't classify as important.

    He answered slowly, still breathing heavily, "No, just bruises, some fight eh? Minsc doesn't like evil that can't be fought with a sword, Boo says it was lucky you came to your senses and came back to help".

    Of course, Ayla thought, Boo that rodent he carried around. Perhaps she should get one, might help with the memory loss. I mean if she going to be a crazy might as well go the whole hog.

    "Why did you come back?" Imoen suddenly asked, "You said you didn't trust us and ran, so why now, why did you help? You could have just left us and got away."

    It was a good question and one that Ayla didn't truly know the answer to. It had seemed so obvious at the time that she couldn't just leave them to be crushed to death by those constructs and she had acted without really considering doing anything else. But then it had seemed obvious that she needed to get away from them earlier. She remembered her earlier thoughts, trust to instinct, a step at a time, live in the now because there wasn't anything else. And in some ways it had worked in their favour, the golems had ignored her which allowed them to be defeated. She didn't have an answer and indicated as much with a shrug.

    "So will you stay with us?" Imoen persisted, "we need your help, can we depend on you to stay with us now"

    Another question but this one she could answer,

    "No, I don't think you should depend on me. How can you when I don't know who I am?"

    Imoen nodded her acceptance and then turned back to Jaheira but she couldn't hide how much that had upset her and Ayla felt both guilt and relief. At least now there was a clearer understanding of the situation and no expectations would be placed on her. She would stay with them and help get all of them out of here unless it got to the point where her own survival became compromised. It was the most she could offer when she currently had so little of herself. And anyway, they didn't have time to worry about anything other than reviving Jaheira right now, she doubted they would be prepared to leave her behind. If she could use her limited healing powers to help her regain consciousness, Jaheira would then be able to use her much more powerful powers to heal herself. With that thought, Ayla moved to Jaheira's side and applied herself to the task. The healing energy flowed easily and naturally and it didn't occur to her to question where it came from or how she knew how to use it. Consequently it was something of a surprise when Imoen expressed her surprise at the ability. She would have assumed it was something anybody could do had she thought about it at all. It was another piece of the puzzle of what and who she was.

    Waiting for Jaheira to recover enough to apply her own healing to her wounds, Ayla decided it was about time she found out as much as she could about the past from Imoen. Although they had spoken previously, at the time, fighting their way through the dungeon, it had gone in one ear and out the other. Already so confused, she had been unwilling to listen to anything that added to it. But now she sat quietly with Imoen and Jaheira and listened to the recounting of her life up to this point, or at least the pieces they knew, including what they had learnt from the Dryads. It was a strange experience, she found herself wondering if she wanted to be this person who had apparently saved the region from war, killed her evil brother and was the offspring of the God of Murder. So that's what a Bhaalspawn was, as was the man she killed who was trying to start the war. And it was probably why this 'Irenicus' had captured them, she already knew he had been after something inside her, it must have been that God taint. Though what on earth he thought he was going to do with it she couldn't even begin to guess. It was all too much to process now, best to put it away and consider the implications later. They needed to be moving. Between the potions they had found and the healing, Jaheira and Minsc were patched up enough to carry on.

    It didn't take long to find the portal key, once the traps were disarmed it was quite straightforward for Ayla and Imoen to open the cupboards and chests. They took what they could carry, a few gems, potions and scrolls that could come in useful. The Dryads came to speak to them before they left, reminding and begging them to take their acorns to their grove in the Windspear Hills, though where that was was still a mystery. As they passed through the bedroom where Minsc had rested, Imoen once again became agitated and distressed telling them that this room and the other were a sort of shrine to some woman that Irenicus had known, an attempt to recreate his emotions. A link to his past love. Ayla blurted out her first reaction without thinking,

    "So this whole place is about some woman who dumped him? What a loser, must be an Elf"


    Notes

    I hate fighting Golems, it's the one fight I dread in BG2 so usually use the very cheesy option of hitting them from range if poss. with the missile weapons that affect them. Thankfully the game designers recognised my fears and considerately created the various scenarios where a big, lumbering Iron or Adamantine Golem blocks a doorway. But not here obviously. I wasn't sure if Clay Golems were considered hard baked or squishy, so went with hard baked as it makes more sense I think.

    As usual, any feedback most appreciated.

    tbone1JuliusBorisov
Sign In or Register to comment.