Reviews for The Zenith
AutumnFire28 chapter 83 . 3/20/2009
Hi Blackcross-Taylor! You've been quite the busy bee with all of these updates! I have to admit, I'm loving it :-)

First of all, I'd like to say that you're taking a very interesting approach to Fritha's character development. It seems as if she's slowly experiencing an alignment shift, and it doesn't seem as if the taint has much to do with it. She is, unfortunately, a victim of circumstances, and her 'dark side' is starting to overtake the 'good' in her. I wouldn't necessarily call her "evil" per say, but it will be interesting to see what happens to her character after the encounter with Irenicus. I have a feeling that we're going to see a very different Fritha in a few chapters. Hopefully the influence of her friends will be enough to pull her from the brink, but Fritha can be very strong-willed, and her ability to be influenced by others is (in my opinion) limited. She seems to live her life by the premise of 'If you're with me, I'm 100% loyal...but if you're not, I'll drop you like a sack of potatoes'.

Speaking of Irenicus, I really can't wait to see your portrayal of his character. He's been quite absent from your story thus far, and I'm eager for him to make his debut. I'm sure that he'll be spot-on, as all of your characters are!

Moving along...

Regarding the most recent chapter of the story, I'd like to register a comment about the vampire scene at the end. This may indicate that I have an "evil" streak, but I think that the way Fritha handled the situation was very smart and practical. Perhaps that's why Fritha makes such an excellent leader...someone who was purely "good" would be too morally inhibited to make the tough decisions that need to be made in order to achieve the greater good. One of the things that I do enjoy about your story is that it's not all butterflies and roses. You are very skilled at presenting situations that are streaked with shades of gray; everything is NOT black or white (If you've ever had to take philosophy, I'm going to bet that your teacher LOVED you!). When you really stop and think about it, the characters who exist on the extreme edges of alignment would never be able to succeed due to their rigidity...and it's unfortunate that Fritha considers herself to have been stripped of her honor due to her actions at the end of the story. Is it honorable to let a murderer go free in order to keep your word, knowing that he will kill innocents? In my opinion, Fritha chose the best course of action available to her...it may not have been "honorable", but circumstances in life do not always allow for moral purity.

And lastly, moving on to lighter subjects, I'm (of course) loving the blossoming relationship between Fritha and Anomen. I'm trying my best not to feel bitter about being robbed of the "first kiss" scene, as I'm sure that it will pop up eventually. :-) And, although we haven't seen a whole lot of Haer'Dalis since his return, I'm really enjoying his character much more. I'm very glad that he and Anomen seem to be getting along now...the girls always seem to band together, it's nice to see the guys forming a friendship. I'm also curious as to when you're planning on re-introducing Nalia. I'm assuming that Fritha didn't want to go see her because she was trying to protect Nalia's image and standing within the community, due to the precariousness of her situation. Personally, however, I really wouldn't care if we didn't see her much more. Although I did like Nalia quite a bit while she was a main character in the story, it seems as if she'd have a difficult time reintegrating herself back into Fritha's band of travelers, and could potentially drive a wedge between the relationship between Fritha and Anomen. After everything she's gone through to get her lands back, I'm sure that you won't have her traveling again, but I wonder what role she will play for the remainder of the story.

Anyway, I'm all typed out, so I'll end my review here! Thanks again for the updates, and, if you love us (your adoring readers), you will update again next Friday. If you do not update next week, we will be forced to assume that you do not love us. (just kidding) ;-)
Italian Empress 1985 chapter 83 . 3/20/2009
I have to say that though I’ve gotten pretty deep into my cups before I’ve rarely had too bad a hangover. Mostly it is just my embarrassment at doing something stupid the evening previous, or once I had a headache but that was because in my stupor I took a misstep off the edge of the curb and fell onto the pavement of the parking lot. :p

But I can just imagine what one is like when I read what Fritha is going through and it reminds me a bit of having a migraine, which unfortunately I’m more than familiar with.

That damn Meck! How does a kid like him manage to get up so early? I HATED getting out of bed when I was younger. Then again maybe he was raised to be more diligent than I was, spoiled brat that I had been. :p

Aww, the troupe rounded everyone up and called for their patron to give her GOOD news for a change, and Nalia is indeed in town and donated money. Then her employees all got together to give her a gift in appreciation. How lovely. I like Higgold more than I ever have before. Something nice for once. :D

“‘By Silvanus, you are not engaged, are you?”

LOL! Jaheira! First Erik, now Jaheira and then HaerDalis. They’ll have the girl married off in their imaginations long before she’s ever even considered such a thing!

“What if she was disturbed or traumatized or broken beyond any repair. What if Imoen was dead?”

Well, unless you drastically changed the story, Imoen isn’t dead, but traumatized? I’d put some money down on that and it is a understandable worry. As long as Fritha still had the task of collecting the coin she didn’t have to face the immediate concern of what was happening with her best friend all that while. I’ve gotten so accustomed to typing ‘sister’ instead that I had to correct myself there, lol, but no I can understand how now that the moment is upon her there is suddenly plenty of room for such worries to fester and I myself am realistically concerned that not all of those worries are empty ones.

Eww! I forgot about Fritha’s ‘crush’ on Renal Bloodscalp. I guess he is charming in his own way and certainly more colorful than Aran Linvail. Renal is more like what you might expect the Shadowmaster to be like but then I have a feeling that is the idea. Who outside the guild would ever suspect the handsome and politely charming Aran could be the least bit dangerous and they certainly wouldn’t think him the Shadowmaster. But there is definitely a lot more than meets the eye to Aran. I’m rather fond of the Shadowmaster myself.

I’m going to have to side with Fritha in the ‘to torture a vamp or not to torture a vamp’ They are undead monsters who would just as soon tear your throat out as look at you, and the ‘innocent’ people they were before they were turned are long dead. Maybe I’m just not feeling very sympathetic with vampires in the media these days. :P

The main couple of this story had a little spat but it seemed to round well enough, but if they never argued that would mean they didn’t care, at least “I” think so, especially with those pairings of a . . . how did you put it? “tempestuous nature’ ;)

“She seemed quite unconcerned by her appearance; neither the fact her hair looked more like a bright copper briar than anything else, nor that she was only wearing her slip as far as he could tell, her shoulders quite bare save for the thin linen straps, giving her any cause for concern.”

Gods above have mercy! Had that been Lil the poor child would be positively scandalized and stricken with embarassment of the highest order. How different our protagonists are, but then Fritha was likely swamped in the midst of another hangover that morning and that tends to color ones modesty or lack there of. I’m surprised Anomen wasn’t that discomfited by that since he is quite clearly physically attracted to Fritha as well as drawn in by her personality. Though you got him to blush when the druid entered the scene.

“‘So, was Anomen just visiting or did he spend the night?’”

Oh Jaheira, leave off! The girl is sensitive enough that morning as is and with Anomen all dressed it hardly was if she walked in on them making like Harry and Aerie and smooching each other’s faces off or snuggling (notice I said the s-word not the c-word ;) ) under the blankets together. But still, it made me smirk anyway.

But poor Jaheira and Fritha too, both realizing that they are lost, in the true meaning of the word, but I hope for the best you know, in the end.

“Fritha giving a shriek of protest as the blankets were suddenly whipped back.”

Aye, I did the same when my mother would tear my blankets off and brutally turn my bedroom light on with a ‘Time for school!’ With a ‘I hate you.’ From me and my mother’s calm ‘Yes, yes, now get up.’ I like Jaheira when she’s being a little on the motherly side though.

The end had Fritha’s ability to think on the draw showcased wonderfully and it wasn’t as if she could have let him go. At least he died his ‘final death’ without being tortured. I can understand it seeming like Fritha lost her honor, but I don’t think so. There is honor in taking sympathy on your enemies. She could not let him go, her companions said as much themselves, but neither did she reconcile herself to the fact that the vamp would have to be tortured though she knew if that impromptu plan didn’t work that it would have to be done. She took the best course there and I don’t blame her for it. I only hope her companions can realise there was little choice in the matter as well, but I hate that Fritha is questioning her anger. Too bad Valygar wasn’t around to behead a certain teenage vampire that I’ve been seeing a lot of lately though. :P

Good chapter, and I got the review up right quick, how bout that hmm? ;) I’ve also been working on my own material today. I’m feeling very industrious, must be the coming of the equinox. :p I look forward to more and in fact am ready right now to read it, maybe you’ll take pity on me and send me a preview? No, oh fine, be that way. :p But know that I love this story and I’m going to keep right on reading it. You are a wonderful author and by far the BEST of the BG set here at FFnet (though there are other good authors about here as well). Brava!
Italian Empress 1985 chapter 82 . 3/20/2009
“The sky overhead as blue and clear as an ocean.”

Aye, the sky was like that here in New York yesterday when I took my sister’s dog for a walk. It was like a big blue bowl, no clouds even. I should say though that the dog took ME for a walk, ;) but the scenery was nice. I can well imagine the scenery in your tale because it is described so nicely.

“‘But think of Garren!”

Hah! All I can think of is “Think of the children!” A common excuse.

I like how you had Jaheira outmaneuver Fritha. The Harper is a natural leader and I think she works best when she is allowed to be in her element.

Fritha’s complaining that Jaheira wanted to leave her behind while a few others of the group were left to play nursemaid seems very familiar to me. :P Still, I wouldn’t mind having Anomen as ‘my’ nursemaid. ;) Though I wouldn’t want to have to watch the ‘newlyweds’ making out with each other. I know Aerie and Haerdalis aren’t really newlyweds but it feels like it. :P

“It felt as though if she stopped for too long now, she would just never manage to continue.”

I love that line, it is very simple but gets right to the point.

“That took them right back to their beginnings.”

“Little better off than when they had left.”

Anomen and Fritha can be so in sync sometimes. Despite what anyone else thinks I find them to be a well matched pair. It was not always so. Though it would be nice if they finally shared a kiss. ;) I thought we were going to get one when she was playing with his signet ring and he was leaning over her, but alas, it was not meant to be. Then Anomen did get a peck on the cheek towards the end so we are getting somewhere. :p

Reading some other fan fiction I have to say that I can appreciate you are taking your time and aren’t making things overly dramatic by having Fritha carrying along a trail of suitors. It was only just HaerDalis/Fritha/Anomen and that has cooled down. I don’t mind a little bit of a love triangle now and then but I have read about female PCs that seem to attract any potential love interest within a near radius of themselves. So I appreciate your restraint and the way that you have Fritha as a beautiful girl but you don’t remind us of that every paragraph. Good on you. I liked how they acted very marital with her pulling a ‘can you take the trash out dear?’ with Anomen’s gear on the table and his naturally going to help her with the water, the cooking and then the washing the next day. I enjoyed those moments a lot. Although this line was very romantic.

“Summer came in your smile.”

And I liked that a lot as well.

“Otherwise, it’s just your tongue in someone else’s mouth.”

Hah! Only if it is that kind of a kiss, it IS possible to kiss someone without slobbering on them. ;) That was a cute line though. You have a way with dry humor that I envy.

I enjoyed the brief heart to heart Fritha had with Jaheira, and it reminds me of how Gorion must have felt, betrayed by his own kind, but Jaheira should take heart that she is not the only Harper to have found the members in that organization did not share her values. Why, Khelben Arunsun is a celebrated mage, famous and a goodly sort and he defected from the Harpers and formed his own establishment. Maybe later after this is all over Jaheira can find company with Moonstars as well or maybe she’ll go off and be with Cernd.

I LOVE it when it rains. It puts me in a grand writing mood, unless it is the middle of summer and it gets all muggy afterwards. But I can see how it sets a depressing mood as well, especially in the winter when everything looks all bleak anyway. I love your imagery however and it never ceases to amaze me the ease with which you paint the scene vividly with the words without overdoing it.

I wonder why Fritha doesn’t want to see Nalia? They were very good friends. Is she afraid that she has changed or that Nalia has changed and they won’t have a nice reunion?

I’m also trying to think of what other task they could go out on to earn some money . . .I honestly don’t know. Isn’t about time the Shadow Thieves lowered the interest rate by now?

I do have to say that Fritha keeps thinking she can’t become in invested in her feelings for Anomen because he’ll be gone as soon as she gets Imoen, but considering the game storyline, I am more than sure that isn’t so. So what is going to happen when she realizes he hasn’t left her after that? ;) Or even what is Anomen going to think when they don’t split ways quite as soon as he is expecting?

Not normally one to comment on the chapters titles (other than the fact that I think it is a good idea to give them their own titles when there are so many) I have to say that this one was fitting, not simply for the weather but the coldness in Fritha as well, she started out alright but then got colder and then at the end had thawed nicely.

A good chapter and I liked it and am now off to read the next one. What was it you said about my reviews? That as soon as I’ve one ready you’ve another chapter posted? :p

Keep up the good work, dear Blackcross Taylor.
mibsleigh chapter 82 . 3/13/2009
I've been following this fic for a while now with great interest. There's something very compelling in the way you write; you bring the characters to life in a realistic way. Mad props, yo.
Ariquelle chapter 81 . 3/8/2009
This chapter was nothing short of brilliant. I like how you made Frikraag, well, likable.

You do an excellent job of keeping close enough to the events of the game as to maintain its flavor, and yet break away at certain points to keep things interesting. I also like how the digressions from the plot of the original Baldur's Gate 2, tend to be caused by the main characters, particularly Fritha, and how it helps to make the characters seem like real people.

I look forward to your next update.
Italian Empress 1985 chapter 81 . 3/6/2009
You are making the rest of us writers look bad with your quick updates! Not that I’m complaining much, I rather enjoy it, in fact I find that I am ready for the new chapters before they are up, though the wait isn’t nearly as long as it used to be. I hope your creative streak keeps going for awhile, though I don’t want you to burn yourself out.

I couldn’t recall if you’d had Ajantis in the party in ‘Sunrise’ or not, but it becomes clear in the chapter that you did not, but boy am I happy that he didn’t die! I don’t think I can bring myself to kill all of them off either, when I get to that point, and in the game when they all died and you had Anomen screeching about how the companions would be labeled murderers . . . Game or not, I felt pretty damn horrible. It is strange to see Anomen reflecting on himself and seeing Ajantis as a shade of what ‘he’ used to be, but a clever bit of storytelling nonetheless. I love evolving characters.

I did note that you increased the size of Garren’s wee little cabin. ;) But then you had to if you were to turn it into an impromptu infirmary. I cringed at Jaheira taking the splinters out of Fritha’s gut. I remember my Mother taking a pair of tweezers to pluck a multitude of splinters out of my feet after my brother and I leaped onto a rather rickety dock to jump into the lake near our home. Kids don’t think before they jump . . . Literally. That of course was nothing compared to a lance to the gut. I loved how Ajantis managed to cradle her down to the ground. I can’t help myself, I’m a sucker for those gallant knightly noble types.

“”Anomen was staring at her, a strange light to his eyes as though he was very far away; the complete reverse to his face, which seemed to be growing closer by the moment. Fritha felt her heart begin to quicken, seemingly frozen by her own indecision as he closed in, and she could feel his warm breath against her face when a shout split the air.””

I KNEW it! What did I say? That knowing you when ‘that’ moment came it would probably be an almost-kiss instead of an outright one. Still, you sprang this one on me, but I liked it anyway.

You seem to have skipped over a great deal of the Firkraag quest. I remember there being a lot of adventure to be had in the temple ruins, but it is understandable when writing a fiction. A lot of that was unnecessary to the plot. I do remember those annoying orc archers though, and the hallways were so narrow that you had to bring your companions in one by one to fit them in to kill anyone. Then of course there was an adamantine golem waiting for you in the hallway beyond. What tough bastards ‘they’ were huh?

Also though it has been some time since I’ve played SoA, I clearly recall Firkraag’s snooty voice. That tone of his came back to me while I was reading this, because the dialogue you used in the chapter was very akin to the actual in-game dialogue. “He and his HARPER friends” I remember that angry hiss very well indeed. If you were not of higher levels trying to kill him was just about suicide, which was immensely annoying since he was such an egotistical monster that he hardly even considered you worth a flick from one of his claws.

He doesn’t even care that Ajantis is coming back with a battalion of knights. Though he is so ancient and powerful, that probably seems like an annoyance more than anything. I was surprised to see Fritha go back alone as she was, and was further reminded that the temple in your story must be smaller than that of the game and less full of dangers. It was an interesting conversation, as even though Firkgraag is a bastard, he is a wise one.

““Fritha laughed lightly. ‘Betray me? How can he when he doesn’t owe me anything? We are destined to part just as soon as Imoen is back with me; Anomen knows this as well as I.’

But Firkraag just smiled, broad and slow, leaving her with the distinct impression he knew different.””

Yes, and though ‘I’ don’t know different, I have a pretty good idea that Fritha is wrong as well. Obviously because getting Imoen back with her is but the beginning of further troubles as anyone that has played the games well knows, though I’ll restrain myself to keep from spoiling too much for those readers that have not played. So I hardly think everything is going to be ‘back to normal’ when she finds Imoen. But even past that I have a feeling that the knight will be with his lady for quite some time. Though I certainly hope the dragon is wrong in that there is no massive betrayal. However what fun would it be if it was all smooth sailing? ;) I do wonder what will happen in ToB, if that romance is still going, as in the games there is a certain proposal brought up and I just don’t know if that will be the case with ‘your’ Anomen and Fritha. Time will tell.

It was strange but Fritha seemed to bond with Firkraag at the end, in an odd way of course, but I could almost understand. As much as he irks me with his attitude and actions, he is very ancient, and as I said before, wise. Almost a pity for him to be dead . . . Almost. It was nice to see at least of glimpse of Gorion’s battle with Firkraag. There is a bit of that mentioned in my current chapter as well . . . Though not quite the same, in fact pretty different actually. ;)

As a side mention, with Fritha likening the dragon’s lair to entering the Underdark (anvil much?), I think I’d rather like some Sola/Fritha interaction quite a bit. I have no idea how you are planning to write that character, but I’d really enjoy it. Especially after finding that you and I are of the same mind when it comes to a certain ‘poetic’ mod that is out there. ;)

As always, great work, and I look forward to the next chapter.
Italian Empress 1985 chapter 80 . 3/1/2009
Next! Hehehe. :P So here we go with the latest chapter. I do want you to know that I read it as soon as I got the update notice, so again I should apologize for taking so long on the review.

The birds and bees talk is it? I remember a great deal of stories where it was the Harpers that in turn tried to explain that to both Imoen and the PC (though typically in those stories the PC was a girl) because they thought Gorion wouldn’t have discussed those things with his ‘child’ and they didn’t know WHAT anyone had told Imoen. Let’s see here . . . I like this little bit with the motherly cook and it isn’t it funny how these types of characters are usually plump and cuddly in that motherly fashion as well? My own mother has gotten more teddy-bearish as she’s gotten older though I’ll always think of her as a debutante.

I like how young-Fritha was prevalent in the early part of the day-dream but then she suddenly realized it was, in-fact, a dream and grew up real fast, so to speak. It was cute how she was defending Anomen in her sleep, and he IS very gentlemanly, but then I don’t think he is immune to his hormones anymore than Fritha is, though I certainly think she is far more shy in that department than the knight.

“He likes me even though I’m a Bhaalspawn.”

Or he likes her BECAUSE she’s a Bhaalspawn. :P In a much older story I remember another reviewer of said-story made a wise crack about Anomen’s taste in women. The writer had introduced an original character that was apart from the PC and the readers were wondering if this character (who was female) might also be a Bhaalspawn and someone said ‘Better hope not, or the PC is gonna have some competition, given Anomen’s taste in women.” :P LOL

But he called her ‘dearest’ when she was all sleepy! Aw! And so begins the pet-names stage of the relationship. Though if you follow the game storyline in regards to who they face off against next . . . Well I think some complications, more than what are already there, will arise and it makes me sad, with Fritha thinking the relationship more a ‘winter’ than a ‘summer’ I personally think that Fritha X Anomen could very well be a ‘spring’ but then I’m optimistic. Maybe they ARE more late season in-so-far as how the relationship developed, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Lil is a ‘winter‘, late bloomer and all. ;) I don’t want to say this chapter was relationship heavy, but it did seem to have more focus on Fritha’s feelings about the relationship instead of Anomen’s. Which was nice, because her part in it doesn’t seem as certain as his.

Her thinking of how her ‘family’ would approve of him was a very cute bit, which is a lot like younger girls nowadays wondering and worrying about how their mom and dad are going to receive their new boyfriend.

“‘He is kind and he cares for me, really cares for my well-being –it can be intoxicating. And more than that, he makes me feel safe; something I could not truly appreciate until everyone wanted me dead. I sit next to him and I feel as though there is nothing in all Toril that can touch me.’”

That was some very nice introspection right there and good job as well.

At any rate, I was surprised when their ‘attackers’ turned out to be the Harpers, instead of you-know-who (don’t want to spoil it for any readers that haven’t played SoA or don’t remember that little bit) And of course since I know all about Jierdan Firkraag there is a feeling of pity for poor Fritha . . . It hasn’t been a pleasant trip to the Windspears and it isn’t likely to get much better.

This chapter itself was very well done and apart from the merriment of the one proceeding it. I half suspect you gave them that bit of fun before this so that there’d be something nice to remember. That reminds me of Peter Jackson talking about why he wanted all that merriment at the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring, because the story got quite a bit darker after that.

I like how you explain how tired a person’s legs can get trying to sludge through the snow and muck. I used to have to walk to school in the snow, and I can sympathize.

“That men are easily led and, if you are fair of face, or even just all right and good at flirting, you can pretty much get whatever you want from them. I don’t think Gorion would have approved of that stance either,”

Heh, cute, and no I dare say Gorion would NOT have agreed with that. :P

“At least it’s not snow,’ she muttered to the clouded sky, unable to help a smile at the man stood next to her, the hail bouncing off his breastplate. ‘You’re rattling like an alms box.’”

“‘Here,’ Anomen instructed quietly, tugging her sleeve to encourage her a step closer as he brought his shield over them both. Fritha let her eyes drift over his shoulder, suddenly unable to look at him as the warmth in her stomach rushed up to her face, and she gazed up the wooded hillside next to them, the murky wall of trunks not quite hiding the stealthily approaching silhouettes. It was as though the icy breeze had taken a knife’s edge, splitting cloak and cloak to just blow straight through to her soul.”

Cute, cute, cute. I just hope he stays this nice and cuddly though the days to come.

Jaheira’s staunch defense of Fritha was touching and yet again I think back on what Gorion must have said when he left the Harpers because of Fritha and I have an inkling he was in much the same mind as Jaheira. Hurt by feeling betrayed by those he had once called friend and trusted, but knowing that his goals and theirs could never be the same, because he loved the child and they were intent of seeing the PC to be a monster. It was very well done and I’m hoping that it is at least a bit settled for now, though I’m sure that problem can’t stay gone forever.

The end is more than a bit melancholy though, with Harry thinking that she was accepting of a grim fate like a Doomguard might be, but Fritha corrected that she was not reveling in it. Aww :*(

Lovely work as always and I of course look forward to the next chapter, and to any fool who is not yet reading this story and checking reviews for its worth . . . Get off your butt and hop to it! It is a great story and you’ll be glad you started reading it. :)
Italian Empress 1985 chapter 79 . 2/26/2009
I’ll review the second-to-latest chapter first and then I’ll get on with the latest chapter, since I’ve read once and once more for both pleasure and to make sure I spoke on everything I wanted to.

Aerie and Harry almost seem not themselves, not in a bad way mind you. I’ve made my feelings (which aren’t pleasant) on static characters (I.e. characters that are bound by a few lines of their ‘official’ biography and in-game dialogue and never grow as characters in the stories they are placed in) more than clear. I say that they seem not themselves in that they have both grown beyond the constraints that the in-game information gave you and you’ve built on that to give them a very well rounded sense of self, and in their relationship. Which I must say, at the beginning of this chapter had all the dialogue of a couple long married, though one could say that fits since they are married to their own awareness of one another . . . In a way.

I’m trying to get interested in Valygar, but I can’t manage it most of the time. Which is not to impugn your work, and I can tell you are trying to infuse the character with some . . . Well . . . Character :P But he is so dour that I have a hard time really connecting to him. That probably seems odd, being that I’m a big fan of Viconia and Anomen who have both been accused in canon and in fiction of being very ‘dour’ among other less pleasant things :P But there was always something extra there that give them that . . . Oh, how should I say it? That extra ‘oomph’ You know what I mean? Probably not, since I myself realize I am now babbling on like a drunk, or an idiot . . . Or both. I do want to say that I liked Valygar a bit more than I did in previous chapters and despite all things I think you are doing very well trying to characterize a character that in the game felt almost . . . Unfinished. The bits in here about his past were excellent and it was almost bittersweet that he was surrounded by people that had not a care for the things that weighed down on him, the commoners reveling in the streets and such. I liked hearing more about his lady-love (at least that is what I assume she was) Suna and wouldn’t mind having more introspection on that in particular.

As far as introspection goes, I also enjoyed the small bit with Hendak and Jaheira in the inn, where it felt like just for a moment, that Khalid was still with us in spirit. He was always the warmer and softer of the two, and it would be easy to categorize Jaheira as very harsh without her husband to balance her out, but it is almost as if she’s taken part of his spirit into hers, where his warmth has become her own, as in the later chapters of this story she certainly seems softer. Not to say that she isn’t still a hard ss, because she is. :P

I enjoyed the bonding with Fritha and Jaheira, and the slight teasing that the druid was giving the girl over Anomen, which though indeed slight, gave a hint that she cares a lot for Fritha, or she wouldn’t be comfortable enough to tease her so. Jaheira is a sort of lady that makes barbed comments, but I feel like friendlier gentle teasing is something she’d only do with someone she loved. This line in particular from Fritha, I REALLY enjoyed.

-*-‘And perhaps a little empty? I’m the same after a good cry, it’s like all the worry has leaked out and just left a hole. But it passes. To be filled with joy -or other worries, depending what is to hand.’-*-

Sometimes also it is filled with peace, like all that unrest you tossed out and then you raise your head high and you’re fine and dandy, which is really cathartic no? And there are some men out there that think us women just cry in order to get our own way! Pfft! The gall! :P But this was a nice moment of dialogue for Fritha, and that it was proffered to Jaheira was equally nice.

And then this of course was pure unadulterated Jaheira . . .

-*-‘I see, and how much of this apparent nonchalance is genuine and how much is mere bravado?’-*-

You can’t pull the wool over a druid’s eyes. No siree. :P

Anomen was really genuinely happy in this chapter, and I enjoyed seeing that. It feels like he has earned a bit of respite from all the gloom and doom. Though I see Cadril (frequently an ss in most fictions, including mine, as well as canon I believe, at least where Anomen is concerned), his mortal enemy :P, brought a little of the gloom in, but in the end our knight realized he didn’t and shouldn’t give a flying fig what Cadril thought anymore. Probably helped by Fritha’s purposely flirtatious words to Anomen that shut the other knight up. That was quite cute and it was nice to see it didn’t overly fluster Anomen as he knows Fritha well enough to realize what she meant to accomplish in saying such a thing. There was a bit of trouble in paradise there for a moment, which would have been a terrible thing to have Fritha_x_Anomen ended before it really began, at least for me anyway. So it was nice to see it was smoothed over eventually.

I must also mention the bit-players, as one might call them. I have to say that you always manage these little characters well. You give us just enough information to set the scene and give the atmosphere some life, without dolling out too much information, which wouldn’t be necessary if they are just indeed bit-players. Such as in this chapter, young Allid the love-lorn. It also set for a very cute story from Fritha, with everyone expecting her tale of ‘love lost’ to be about a boy and instead turned out to be about a hat! LOL That was brilliantly adorable.

Fritha was her usual buzzy self in this chapter, but also had a moment of heroic bravado, though I imagine she would deny it as being such. It was sweet that she couldn’t bear to have that boy cry at the terror of stage-fright, so she took the reins . . . Well the lute rather. :p I think though that it didn’t just help the boy, but her as well. Now that she’s gone and played in front of so many people, though hardly in kind with the packed pews of a theater, it will be that less difficult the next time, which I hope isn’t TOO far down the road.

-*- Next to him, Cadril’s brow was low with the disgruntled frown that Anomen himself was more than used to wearing in his company.-*-

That line probably wasn’t meant to be particularly funny, but it had me laughing anyway, as I imagine Anomen might have been laughing inside as well.

-*-‘Oh, Aerie, I think oblivion has come for this poor sparrow.’-*-

-*-‘Oblivion, really!’ the girl laughed, already moving to pour an extra cup as she noticed Jaheira’s arrival, ‘It’s just a hangover.’-*-

Hee! :D This was cute and it was nice to see the dove pleasantly scolding her woe-be-tide little sparrow.

Aerie might actually have been the most humorous character this go-round, in so far as lines go.

-*-‘Indeed,’ agreed Aerie, ‘we had quite enough singing last night. All the way from the Promenade with you no less than wailing some song about your absconded love –I had every sympathy for her by the third verse.’-*-

That was also great and I would say the funniest dialogue in the chapter.

And of course the end of the chapter was just lovely with Anomen’s purchase of the sunhat which pleased Fritha so and got a favorable response from Harry of all people. The knight is not such a fool in the courting game after all it would seem. Or perhaps he just was lucky, but I prefer to think he is developing some SMALL talent at it. He is a nobleman after all, so there should be at least SOME noble charm there.

It was also a bit of a turnaround for Fritha to show a protective streak for Anomen towards the end, which didn’t just surprise him, I can tell you, but I liked it nonetheless.

I’d say I’m looking forward to the next chapter, except I’ve already read it and need to get my butt in gear to review that one as well, but in closing . . . Good work, as always. :)
Pirate Jenny chapter 80 . 2/25/2009
I don't leave reviews very often because english is not my first language, but I've been following your story for a long time and just wanted you to know how much I enjoy it. One of the best fictions I've read within all the categories and definitely the best BG one...

Fritha is just the perfect Bhaalspawn, a combination of strenght and weakness that totally works. You completely nailed the others too, and even managed to make the Fritha/Anomen relationship enjoyable... I found myself rooting for poor Ano!

I can't wait for the next chapter!
Italian Empress 1985 chapter 78 . 1/26/2009
“”the ranger making some comment that sent Aerie a fierce red as Haer’Dalis looked suddenly uneasy and the rest of them laughed””

Ahh, the birds and bees do flitter through the trees. :P

“”‘Indeed…’ he agreed, adding quietly, ‘You will remember my offer, will you not? It still stands for when your current brood has managed to fly the nest.’

Jaheira dipped her face in a slow nod. ‘I will bear it in mind. Safe journey, little one. You too,’ she smiled, clapping the druid on the arm. He nodded once and then as an afterthought leaned in and kissed her cheek.””

Ahh, Cernd and Jaheira. I actually like that pairing. Perhaps in the future when all this is said and done.

With Harry and Aerie I wonder why Fritha didn’t tell them to get a room, except for the fact that they were leaving. :p It was interesting though that it was Haerdalis that Fritha wanted to get away from (and Aerie) and that it was Anomen that went along with her. Earlier on in the story it would’ve been the other way around. Her and Anomen leaving the inn to the street where they would no longer be subjected did lead to a nice scene with Luss’ wooden pig. That was very sweet of Fritha and Anomen as well for playing along.

“”The child had said this all very quickly, her tale ending to find her pink in breathless indignation.””

This reminds me of Imoen in my own writing, well anyway it does if I EVER publish the next chapter.

It has been some time since I played SoA but I recall that it was frustrating how you couldn’t bring Saerk to justice. Here you changed the story for the better I think, with the Order and the law catching the assassin. Without compromising the drama with Anomen, which was all written very well.

I also noted that Anomen wasn’t the only one grinning like an idiot after that talk in the garden, with Fritha dancing along the streets and all pink in the face. You sure are taking your time with this romance though, of that I assure you. J

And how very . . . noble . . . indeed of Fritha and Imoen to take it upon themselves to honor Day of the Dead by giving all the monks in Candlekeep a brush with a heart attack.

I thought Day of the Dead was more around the Festival of Samhain though in the Autumn than in the winter, but I don’t really care that much and it gave the group a reason for celebration. It will be nice to see them all having a good time before they go to the Windspear Hills where maybe they won’t have such a nice time. Believe or not, the last time I played the game, that was where I was when Anomen’s father died. I had to leave and beat feat back to Athkatla and hope the trip didn’t take too long.

I look forward to the next chapter, since I myself cannot write lately I at least have your lovely writing to enjoy.
Baldur's Fan chapter 78 . 1/22/2009
I'm so glad to get back to my favorite story on this entire site! I feel badly for not leaving reivews, but my computer actually broke, so I couldn't really read the story or review. It was nice to get back to it now!

Unlike AutumnFire28, I was a dope and didn't read the chapter name (I just jumped right into it because I was so excited!) so I didn't see the whole Anomen/Fritha thing coming. It was a neat surprise though. The world must be ending, I feel happy for Anomen and I might actually like him? I don't know what to do with myself, haha! It's a testament to your talents as a writer _

It will be interesting to see how it all develops, as we know Anomen is completely in love with Fritha, but she only pledged to try. And once the honeymoon period is over, I wonder how their reactions towards each other in stressful situations will change.

Always love Haer Dalis! I'm so glad you brought him back! You score major points for that _. Now you only need to bring back Nalia...I wonder what she would think of everything that's happened with Fritha and Anomen. Aerie and Haer Dalis too. It would be nice to hear them talk about it all because she's someone Fritha is so close to, it might give a different side of things.

Oh I almost forgot, I feel so sorry that Fritha can't have kids. She would be such a great mother. If there isn't something they can do to reverse it, at least she knows someone with an orphanage _.

And I'm with AutumnFire28 too, everyone needs to post reviews. Blackcross-Taylor deserves them people!

Eagerly awaiting the next incredible chapter!
AutumnFire28 chapter 78 . 1/21/2009
Ah, lovely. Lovely, lovely, lovely. I have breathed a sigh of relief Blackcross-Taylor. This is a pair that's been two years in the making, and it's fabulous to see that they are finally together. When I read the title of the chapter, I have to admit...I "squed!".

I liked the way that you approached the Saerk scene. I seem to remember that in the game, Anomen pretty much slaughtered all of the house guards in order to get to Saerk. Since he was still allowed to be in the order afterwards was a little confusing...I suppose that house guards don't actually count as people in video games... But anyway, it was well-done. I haven't reviewed in a couple of chapters, so I'm going to make a few other comments not related to this chapter.

I'm actually very glad that Haer'Dalis is back with the party. I was hoping that he'd return, and it's nice to see that the relationship between him and Aerie is all the better for it. I'd like to see him and Anomen become better friends since Anomen is really not the pompous ass that he was in the first couple of chapters. The ending scene between Aerie and Haer'Dalis at the end of the last chapter had me clapping my hands! All it needed was some sappy and peppy love song playing in the background for it to be movie-perfect!

And going way back, many chapters ago...Higgold? Really? I was so sure that Fritha was going to take Anomen, but you again pulled a bait and switch, lol. Although I must say...it was well worth it. Higgold was absolutely hilarious with some of the comments that he made at the dance. His likeability factor jumped ten points for me in that chapter.

Ah, what else...oh! Maybe I'm forgetting something, since you've posted so many chapters since Sunrise, but I don't remember you mentioning that Fritha couldn't have children...is it because she's a Bhaalspawn? And how did she find out about it? I found that surprising. I hope something will change that situation by the end of the story, since Fritha is prime Mama material. I could completely see her settling down to have a family and lots of babies after her trials...but being barren would put a little snick in that plan. Unless she adopted.

Anyway, I'm going to make an effort to review more often...your updates, as always, have been fantastic, and you certainly deserve to be reviewed by everyone enjoying this story. You hear that people! Tell Blackcross-Taylor what a good job she's doing! Thanks again, and I can't wait for the next update...I want to see some smoochies!
Italian Empress 1985 chapter 77 . 1/12/2009
“”She glanced down at him and beamed and Anomen felt his stomach lurch. It was no good; even like this, half-drunk and being carried around the streets of Athkatla singing like an idiot, she was still utterly enchanting.”

I love these two sentences because I think they very accurately describe what it is to really love someone, like the vows at a wedding ‘for better or for worse’ Good job with this by the way, I think you’ve made me an Anomen/Fritha fan because I’m starting to see the ground work for Fritha’s feelings to emerge and I’m waiting for that inevitable moment, which knowing you, will probably be an almost-kiss instead of an outright one.

“”‘No, you’re not. You were, and you’ve come far. But now you’re just using your beliefs as an excuse, another thing to hide behind because you’re too much of a coward to risk getting hurt for the thing you really want.’

‘I’m not,’ Aerie cried, flushed and flustered, ‘I just-’

‘Rubbish!’ Fritha snapped, ‘Do you love him?’

‘It is not so simple as that-‘

‘No, Aerie, it is that simple.’”

That bit made me think of Fritha using her own fears as an excuse, and it isn’t just about Anomen getting hurt, but herself as well I think and she says it is only because she is lonely but I sincerely doubt that is the reason. She thinks about him when she doesn’t need to, and she seems quite happy to have him about, even looking around for him at the theatre when she hadn’t seen him yet.

And the return of Haer’Dalis wasn’t entirely unexpected but it did surprise me the way you just introduced him, or rather re-introduced him. I actually like the subdued Harry a bit more. I didn’t like all his overt aloofness before and you’ve grounded him a bit while keeping him in character, so good job and I’m quite happy to see him and Aerie seemingly mended. All’s well that end’s well.

The scenes with the baby were cute and I think you must have a way with children yourself to be able to write such scenes so. I also liked the bit of Cernd/Jaheira in there with him offering her to come to the Druid Grove and help with Ahsdale.

I know that in the ‘official’ books that there was a Bhaalspawn farmer that had a child, and in the game if you are male and are romancing Aerie that she can wind up pregnant, and then there is the dragon Bhaalspawn that has the son, Abazigal and Draconis I think? But other than that it is never mentioned that Bhaalspawn can have children, and while it may not be canon, I think it has become fanon (fan created/accepted canon) that Bhaalspawn can’t, as a rule, reproduce, because Bhaal never intended for them to have true lives but to only live in a way that would bring about his resurrection. Vessels of life not death. I fully intend to continue the tradition myself, but I was glad (and sad of course) to see that you did so as well.

“”it’s not as if I can just pull an understudy from my… bag,’ she finished slowly, her jaw clenched, and Anomen had the feeling she had just wrestled herself away from something a lot more robust.”

“”‘I bet he’s fit to drop by the time he’s carried her up to the second floor –be careful not to step on him where he’s collapsed in the corridor,’ “”

Funniest lines in the chapter, I enjoyed them greatly.

“”‘Then we are well met. My name is Jierdan; I am lord to lands east of here . . .”

I’ll just BET you are, you rotten red scaled fetcher! Ya know, it has to be more than a glamour that their kind does. I don’t want to say what he is incase there are readers that don’t know. But I will say that if it was just a glamour he wouldn’t be able to fit inside the building. It must be a shape shift as well.

Oh OH! But does this mean we will be meeting Sir Ajantis? Alive I hope? Don’t be cruel! Hmm, I don’t recall if the Waterhavian was a part of your group in the first story or not.

Very good chapter, though knowing what I know about what happens at the Windspear Hills I feel badly for the cheerful Fritha . . Ah well. Onward ho!
Lee chapter 77 . 1/7/2009
Another great chapter to an incredibly well-written story. Love your work to bits - getting notified of a new chapter is the highlight of my day.

Glad to see Aerie patch things up with the bard - hopefully Fritha will also find some measure of happiness soon. Speaking of which; I really miss Nalia in this story. Any plans to bring her back in the future?

Looking forward to see how you handle the Firkraag quest.

Keep em coming! And soon :)
Red Haired Stranger chapter 75 . 11/23/2008
I concur with Autumn. Someone knows their Jane Austen...

"...the girls talking politely about the dances and the number of couples."

I saw that and almost shrieked with joy, if you must know. But it was very nicely put in, and not blatant in any sense.

Also, Italian, I feel for your suffering of Twilight. No one should have to unwillingly be put through that. Stay strong!

Now that that is out of my system, onto the review!

Hmm, I never did play with Valygar that much, but from the sound of others it didn't seem that he had much of a character in any case, other than what was needed for the story in the game. I'm still not entirely fond of him, but I'm warming up since he started to ponder his actions, giving more insight to his character in general.

Jaheira's not-so-subtle inquiries about Anomen made me grin. She sure can be crafty when she wants to. It's clear that she approves of Anomen for Fritha than she ever did Haer’Dalis, and Fritha is probably horrified at the thought. At the moment, that is :D But I won't say any more about that, I'll just have to wait and see how it all turns out.

Is it disturbing that I felt the tinniest bit sorry for Stefan and Rowid? I dunno, it just seems that they were being used and had no idea, thinking they were achieving their dream, in a way. Oh well, that's the way it goes, I guess. Sticky dealings have sticky ends.

Anomen looks like he's learning how to deal with Fritha's insane trysts better in the fact that he didn't bellow the whole inn down when he saw that she was going to break into the bookstore. His worries about his past behavior is also pleasing to see, knowing that his leniency is not done wholly without thought. This is ANOMEN we're talking about, after all, still so full of worries and self-doubt even with his Knighting. But he is closer to finding his center and closer to being happy with who he is, and that will serve well, I should think.

Now there's only two weeks until the ball! *squeals embarrassingly* Gee, I wonder which noble Fritha will take along...

Until then, be awesome!

Cheers.
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