Part 5

The Nine Hells, time unknown, still one of those days...

"He is still limping." Rima thought. She felt it even though Sarevok was half a step behind her. The left side of his body was badly burned by the fire Abazigal had spat at the warrior a few months ago. It never healed fully, despite the potions and time.

It was a punishment for their arrogance, Rima concluded. She had survived the fight only because of Sarevok's perseverance. The dragon's wing had clipped Rima, dropping her to the floor and sweeping her towards the massive clawed legs, when Sarevok, or a burning torch that once was him, brought his greatsword down on the dragon's head with the strength which only a desperate man could master. The dragon had fallen and terrified Rima was buried underneath the leathery folds of the dark wing. She could not move under the weight and she could not breathe.

"It is all over," she thought and wake up to the sight of the two bleeding hands pulling her head and shoulders through the cut in the wing. It was as thick as her thigh in places and the bones making up the wing's skeleton were massive and dark. Sarevok managed to free her hands before his wounds overwhelmed his spirit. Unconscious, Sarevok was so heavy that she could not move him. She took off his helmet, wondering if she would be able to undo the plate. He smelt of burned meat and melting iron, and his face looked dull and pale when his eyelids closed. There was a moment of madness when she considered leaving him mercy, he said. No mercy for anyone. Gorion picked her over him, even if he was the firstborn of Alianna. Maybe Gorion did it because he was the firstborn and Bhaal's blood coursed undiluted through his veins? How strong was the taint in him before, she wondered, if even reduced to nothingness it sometimes seemed to be stronger than in her? Rima's chest tightened when she thought that it was Tamoko who loved him when he was whole. She uncorked the biggest potion bottle, put a few droplets into his ear and sighed with relief when he trembled and opened his eyes. " I will not kill you," she said softly. Sarevok's hand found hers and he rasped out: "Sister."

The memory was still sharp, and Rima clenched her teeth. They won. They were but a step away from fulfilling the prophecy of Alaundo. She was ready to do it - with him and for him.

The assassin was sure that no danger awaited them, not any more, but Sarevok insisted on guarding the rear. After two years of reckless adventuring, after her friend turned out to be a spy and her brothers and sisters became her mortal enemies, she finally dismissed the notion of danger. Sarevok was still suspicious of every shadow. Rima turned to look at him. He was fully armored. His only concession to her continuous teasing was the lifted visor. Through the narrow cut, she could see his eyes, aglow and empty. In the darkness of the narrow hall his helmet looked like a lamp floating in the air. "Sarevok." Rima said tentatively and stopped. He tried to embrace her, and for a moment she was pressed against the cold plate. "We won," she murmured, and he nodded. Rima went ahead again, towards the chamber at the end of the corridor.

Rima did not expect particular grandeur, but apart from its size, the Throne would have passed unnoticed by a fireplace in a moderately priced inn. She even noticed a couple of cracks on the handles and on the side. Rima shook her head to chase away the vision of a fat tabby cat sleeping soundly in the middle of this Throne on a long winter night.

Sarevok touched her shoulder and Rima turned her attention toward the Solar. The Solar's face and voice was serene as ever.

"Here is the ancient seat of your Sire, child," the Solar announced. "What is your choice? Will you leave the mortal life behind and claim the godhood for yourself, or will you surrender the divine essence that fills you? Or do you wish to follow the path foreseen for the Blood of One Soul?"

Rima smiled listlessly. Suddenly it was not so easy. "I, Rima, the true Blood of Bhaal, want to follow the path to one power."

Rima bowed to the Solar and then she walked up what seemed to be an endless stair.but was no more than ten steps. Her knees shook.

"One soul I share with the one of my blood. My hand murdered him, but my heart brought him back to life. I took a life but another life sprouted in my womb that day. I offer it to return my Sire back to this world."

Rima's hand appeared from under the cloak that draped her figure and undid the clasp at her throat. The fabric fell, revealing Rima's slender figure and a bundle she held by her chest. Carefully Rima placed her burden on the Throne. She kneeled in front of the Throne to take a good look at the tiny pink face of the newborn babe and soft dark fluffy curls covering the top of his head. The child was sleeping.

"He is the One Blood," she said tenderly, "The Blood of my Father, the Blood of my Brother and mine own Blood. In him the Prophecy is fulfilled."

The Solar confirmed her words with a nod: "In him the Prophecy is fulfilled." The voice was outwardly serene when the Solar asked the next question: "Bhaalchild, you are now barren and you will be barren till the world lasts. Are you prepared to give up your firstborn for Bhaal to be resurrected?"

Rima looked from the father to the child. She made this choice so long ago... "Yes," she said loudly.

Without another word the Solar inclined her head, acknowledging the pledge. The swirling, luminescent streams of air broke into the chamber. Rima felt that it lifted her, burnt her and carried her away. In what could have been a second or a year, she was standing by the foot of the throne, side by side with her brother. Far above a great muscular man sat atop of the Throne. How stupid she was, to wish to sit in it herself, she thought. Bhaal's Throne was his and only his. She made a move to kneel in front of her Sire, but Sarevok caught her and held her upright.

"He is our father and our son, Rima. We do not kneel."

Bhaal laughed. "Well said. My spawn was numerous. None survived except for you. You have seen what the others have missed. You have fought when the others have given up. You have stayed loyal when others became traitorous. For that I grant you the power you were seeking. You are my Chosen. The domain I have lost we shall re-conquer. Go back to Material Plane, my Children, seek out those who are devoted and herd them. Make the unbelievers cower before us! May Murder follow in your footsteps. Go, my Children, we have no time to waste"

Again Rima was lifted in the embrace of hot air and fire, but her flesh did not burn this time. It was over soon.

Sarevok and Rima stood on the high ridge covered by the ankle-high grass. Below spread a busy port town. There was a small puddle by her feet and Rima kneeled by it and looked at her reflection. The softness and roundness given to her features and her figure by the pregnancy disappeared. There was nothing else in her appearance that changed. But Rima felt differently, she felt all-powerful and cold. She looked at Sarevok. Underneath the visor was only darkness. Her brother slowly removed the helmet. She saw the face she remembered so well. A face of a man who died in Baldur's Gate. A face, which was so much alike her own. Sarevok shook his head and the wind sent the long black strands of his hair flying.

"Immortality suits you, brother," Rima said and started walking towards the city down below.

The End