The idea behind this began as a writing exercise. I choose a video, scene or even just a screenshot from a video game and I try to “translate” it into prose; and then I add to it or modify whatever I think will make it better (background, more or less dialogue, etc). Like an “image really is worth 1000 words” exercise. Being a Baldur’s Gate fan the scene to choose is obvious: the intro. However, my interest wasn’t really just that, but to write the backstory to a –if you think about it- odd scene. What was that guy, armored (though apparently not battered) but without weapons, doing in the Iron Throne building, why is he fleeing up and not down? Does Sarevok sleepwalk in that thing or what? That’s what the story tries to describe and explain.
The title says it is a prequel because while thinking about it I began to think how to continue it. It is, after all, a crime scene and that demands a noir and hardboiled criminal investigation. I don’t think many people may be interested in a 1000 page walkthrough where I describe every tiny detail, but a bunch of short stories about what happened between the intro and the beginning of the game? That… perhaps. Also, it is called “Moonlight Murder” because “Murder in Baldur’s Gate” already exists as a D&D module, there is a moon, and I’m terrible with titles.
I’ve only changed one thing: the man doesn’t wear a helmet in my history. Everything that happens before the video is from my own imagination. The story is somewhat long (2700 words) so I’ve halved it so you don’t have to read it in one chunk. Criticism (better if they are about particular problems) about whatever you like, grammar, syntax, pacing, whatever, is encouraged.
Sidon of Darromar sat comfortably on the couch, sipping the thayan wine and leaning back, effortlessly posing as a man who had grown too fond of his reflection. He was fully armored except for a helmet, and his rough appearance stood out from the rest of the stylish candlelit room and its occupants. He was a warrior -had always been one-, a mercenary leader, and he delighted in showing it off.
The scion of a disgraced and once-mighty family, he’d had to endure as a child the humiliation and injustice of seeing his peers of a former lesser standing sneer at him. They had mocked and insulted him for the sins, treachery and failings of his progenitors as if they had been of his own doing. Even as a youngster his wrath had grown quickly (although in an unfocused and explosive way), directed to other children, to his family, and to himself. Years later, when he found a greater purpose, all that suffering only made the revelation of his true origins and birthright much sweeter.
By revealing the truth to him, the wandering old priest had liberated him from the shackles of his “father's" blood and its shame. The priest had not promised him empty illusions, phantoms and dreams of a long-lost past like the ones his mother had desperately embraced till his dying breath. No, he had only told him the truth, what he had always sensed as an unavoidable conviction. He had told him greatness was inside him, that it was destined for him. He didn't ask for anything in exchange, but he did want proof of his strength: a sacrifice.
Ten days after that, the body of the cruelest of his tormentors was found, his head dashed against the rocks of a waterfall. Nobody knew for certain, nobody could prove anything, but after that day Sidon wasn't mocked again.
"Candlekeep, you say?"
That had been asked by one of Rieltar's representatives and lieutenants. Diyab, if he remembered correctly, was his name. Sidon didn't actually care. They were all faceless and backstabbing bureaucrats from the Iron Throne mercantile guild.
"Yes, the fortress library," Sidon said. "it is isolated, the monks keep to themselves, and it should not be the source of any direct danger, but there lies the problem. By ignoring it now, it may grow into something more dangerous in the future, and then it could become an unassailable stronghold, a headquarter of sorts. The keep should be infiltrated before anyone realizes there is something amiss along The Coast Way."
The lieutenants showed a modicum of interest for the advice but didn't answer for a very long time.
"How do you propose to do that?" The same man asked at last. "You are a Tethyrian, you are far away from your kingdom and we are not sure you understand the difficulties involved in the plans you conceive so easely. In any event, we shall assume you want to be in charge of that hypothetical undertaking?"
"If that is what the Guild decides, yes. I'll be honored." Said Sidon. "My warriors and agents have been trained for this kind of operation. They are also more subtle in their methods than other more... unsavory mercenary groups."
His boast was met with amused interest though they knew he was right. However, it was not that difficult to be more subtle than The Chill or the Black Talons, one a gang of subhuman monsters, and the other a company of militarized highway robbers. The lieutenants then conversed a little among themselves.
Sidon wasn't only interested in the secrets Candlekeep hoarded. Alaundo's prophecies were there, but there was more to it than just that. They were, indeed, a necessary step to his vital ambition, but if he could also replace the Chill or Black Talons as Rieltar's principal enforcers... well, 'two dragons with one stone' as the halflings say. That influence would give him invaluable access to the Iron Throne's assets, leaders and to its imposing network of informers and agents. With all that at his disposal, he knew he would find his real family soon. But then, what would he do? The information he had discovered until then was, at best, flimsy and confusing, but he already suspected it had to end in bloodshed.
One of the lieutenants, a wiry old man, interrupted Sidon's musings."You know Candlekeep is not a place one can just enter and rob at one's pleasure." The man was Winski Perorate, a powerful gray eminence if the rumors Sidon had heard were true. Though exactly what was his function in the Iron Throne, nobody knew.
"I am aware of that." Said the offended mercenary leader. "Let me show you something."
With a haughty waving of his armored hand, Sidon called his secretary, Daan. The young and nervous man had been standing near the entrance, by the open door, holding the precious packet and trying to look as if he had not heard the whole conversation. He gave it to his master and then sat uncomfortably at his side. Sidon unwrapped the packed and showed its content, a brittle little book, to Winski. He read the curious title.
"<<Plants, herbs and mushrooms from the mysterious East. From Kara-Tur to Kozakura. A translation of the original oriental book>>? Ah, yes. Sarevok might like this one." Added the old man, mostly to himself.
For that commentary and for some reason Sidon didn't understand (nor cared), the other person in the room, a striking woman named Cythandria, glanced at Winski with patent and piercing hostility.
"It should work." Continued Winski, unaware or uninterested in the woman's reaction. "The sages and scholars of Candlekeep gather such odd books as if their lifes depended on it. From where did you get it? You know, I do not want to know." He said, realizing there were a few bloodstains on some pages. "We'd better clean this a bit. Now... you see, we may have a problem about your whole project."
Winski drummed on the table with his fingers and whispered something incomprehensible. Sidon felt a piercing and electrical pain behind his eyes, like a sudden and acute headache; he attributed it to that horrible wine and so many sleepless nights being haunted by nightmares. He repeatedly blinked, trying to dispel the foggy sensation in his mind.
He could not point it out, but something had changed in just an instant. For the first time, Sidon felt the darkness that surrounded him. He saw that only a lone candle lit the room, although he was sure there had been more when he had first entered. Behind him, rain pattered dolefully and rhythmically against the window panes, the sound only interrupted by the blinding light and thunder of a sudden storm.
Sidon put down the wine glass and, following old instincts, slowly drew his hand to his sword. His mind felt hazy and violent, as it had been in his younger days.
Winski squirmed in his chair. "We are sorry, but we can't approve this Candlekeep operation."
He heard those words, but they hardly made an impression on Sidon's dazed mind. His eyes were fixed beyond them, outside the room, at a figure visible through the open door. There, on a barely illuminated pedestal, stood an enormous suit of black armor; he did not remember having seen it before when he had entered the room that night or when he had called for Daan. It looked as though it had been crafted for a demon more than for men, and the firmness with which it stood hinted at some living presence inside it. He actually felt it. He felt a baleful thing gazing at him from inside the open jaw of its skull-like helmet.
He began to doubt his own senses. He closed his eyes and pressured his temples. To his dismay, the menacing armor suit was still there when he looked again, although less 'alive' and threatening than before. Sighing heavily, Sidon forced himself to look at Winski again and to resume the conversation.
"Why... why I'm not allowed to?" He managed to ask. "It will be a silent and precautionary operation. Spying, subversion, and disinformation will be the goal, that's..."
Winski raised one hand. "No, you do not understand. We would quickly accept your proposal if it had come from any other source. In fact, we'll probably put it into operation ourselves, but you will not enter Candlekeep. We are worried about your... ancestor and what you intend to do there. Also, you look very ill."
Sidon didn't even hear the last sentence. The realization they knew about his true family, and most likely about his intentions and why he had been trying to infiltrate the Iron Throne, awakened him from his stupor. Furious and desperate like a cornered animal, Sidon rose up from the couch and draw his sword, pointing aimlessly at them.
"What game are you playing?" Sidon screamed.
The three were all unfazed. Winsky smiled at him.