Hi everyone! Remember me? Sorry it took me so long to get this done, but you know how school and work can be. Well with finals out of the way I was able to get at least one chapter done. Hopefully I will be able to finish the next one soon. Enjoy!
Jaheira paced back and forth. She was the first to awaken from the sleep Irenicus had put them in to discover that she was in the middle of what appeared to be a maze. She glanced around the room and was relieved to see everyone present. Everyone except for Menelanna, Imoen, and that traitor Yoshimo.
The druid had discovered that all their equipment was still with them, including Menelanna's things stacked in a corner. The proud druid felt somewhat insulted that their enemy did not see them as enough of a threat to take away all their weapons.
One by one the rest of her companions awoke. She helped Xan up as he came around. The enchanter scanned to room quickly and soon noticed the absence of the person he was seeking. He looked back to the druid.
"Where…" he began, but the look on her face halted his words.
The druid shook her head and sighed, "I do not know. I am worried about her too."
Xan buried his head in his hands. He had promised that he would not let harm come to her, but he had failed. He failed to protect her. He had no idea how long he sat there. The enchanter was vaguely aware of the rest of his companions awakening and finding their bearings, but it did not matter to him. The only person who truly did matter to him was most likely dead.
The enchanter finally looked up when he heard Anomen growl something about 'how dare you vampire scum show herself again.'
Bodhi was standing on some sort of platform looking over them. But it was not the vampress and her minions that caught Xan's eye. It was the limp form of a red hair elf being carried by one of the undead creatures that did. Imoen was there too.
With a wave of her hand, Bodhi signaled her followers forward. A moment later Menelanna and Imoen were both dropped into the room. Xan rush forward and caught Menelanna before she hit the floor. Her dead weight caused him to fall over, but at least she did not have to take the brunt of the fall.
Xan glanced over to see that Imoen had been caught by Ajantis and was slowly coming to. The enchanter then turned his gaze back to Menelanna. She was pale and her skin felt cold, but she was breathing, barely. She groaned as he stroked her cheek and opened her eyes. Xan let out a gasp as he looked into her eyes. No longer did they shine like flawless emeralds full of joy, but they were pale and empty.
Her now pale eyes looked up and Bodhi. With a great effort the ranger sat up and then brought herself to her feet. Xan was immediately supporting her, helping her. She seemed so weak that she could fall over at any second.
Bodhi gave a vile grin as she watched the girl's efforts, "And so your life does come to an end," she taunted. "A pity. You have proven resilient beyond all expectation. It is appealing to me."
"Spare…"she began but she was having a hard time speaking. "…Spare me your words and do as you have been ordered... like a good girl," she croaked, barely able to make her words audible.
"Irenicus does indeed wish you dead, but I am not his lapdog and you are now subject to my will," hissed Bodhi. "Your words will foster no resentment towards my brother, but I also need not obey him just yet. Your abilities have piqued my interest, and since you are to die, I would have you do it in an entertaining fashion."
"We won't do anything for you!" Jaheira barked.
"You will do it or die," sneered the vampire. "Irenicus can be so dour when he wishes. He is set upon revenge for his banishment, and can think of nothing else. A failing of his mind remaining flesh, I suspect. Undeath has given me focus, and an interest in the abilities of powerful creatures; an interest in you. I will make your death glorious, as well as entertaining."
"Do your worst, Bodhi. I do not fear you," Menelanna replied as strongly as she could. There was something different in her voice, Xan could feel it.
"You should," purred Bodhi in reply. "You must run my gauntlet to prolong your life. You must do so knowing you have but the slimmest chance to make a difference. Do you see these passages before you? They are the darkest part of the asylum and its history: a test of clarity for its prisoners, by a director that delighted in dissecting the mind. Now he is under my... influence, and this place is mine to control. It is a masterpiece of madness, one that you will come to know intimately. It has been some time since I have given chase to a worthy foe. Enter the maze of this place and seek an exit. I give you time to run, after which I will come to feed."
"We will not perform for you!" Jaheira shouted.
Bodhi laughed. "But you are not running solely for my benefit. I give you a reason as well, to make the hunt more desperate. You may yet foil Irenicus, though the chance is small. His plans will take time, just about as long as my hunt. Run my gauntlet and your life ends... or is freed. The hunt begins!"
Menelanna weakly broke away from Xan's grasp. She slowly made her way to her sister, Imoen.
"You came for me. You came so far, only to have this happen."
Menelanna returned the girl's hug. "Of course. There was no way I was going to let that monster keep you."
Imoen burst into tears and wrapped her arms around the elf. "Are you all right? I was so scared... you came all this way to get me and we were almost..."
"Shhhh," whispered the ranger, her arms going back around the young thief as they shared their own embrace. The elf's hold was enough to soothe the human's trembling. "Are you hurt? What did he do to you?"
Imoen shrugged slightly as they pulled apart. "I... I don't know, really," she admitted. "Same thing he did to you, I guess... since we're... the same?"
"Mene…" she said using her sister's nickname. "he showed me what you are and... what I am. And then he took it away." Imoen's voice was small. "I don't know who I am now. You may not feel it yet, but the spell for me made me feel hollow. He took something vital... he says it was my divine soul? I find out I'm a child of a god and now I'm empty and dying. You are too..."
Menelanna released Imoen from her embrace and looked into her eyes. "I know...and we will help each other thought this. Together."
"We should move on," the ranger said at last. It was obvious she was extremely tired and weak. She needed rest, knew she would get none while they were here.
Imoen gave her sister, for they truly were sisters now it seemed. "Let the way fearless leader," she said with an encouraging wink.
She nodded and began to lead the way down one of the corridors. Xan walked close behind her not desiring to let her out of his sight again. A few moments later he was thankful for being so close to her. Without warning a sever dizziness overtook the ranger and she lost control of her limbs and she began to fall to the ground. Xan quickly wrapped his arms around her caught her. He gently lower her down and cradled her in his embrace.
Her stroked her cheek and brushed a stray hair out of her face. "You need rest," he said needlessly. He let out a long sigh that was so common for him, "but you will get none here. Please lean on me and allow someone else to take the lead."
The normally suborn ranger just weakly nodded her head. She knew he was right, and was in no condition to fight. "Jaheria…" she began.
The druid knelt next to her. "Hush," she said softly. "I will gladly lead for you."
Xan helped Menelanna to her feet and put a supporting arm around her waist. The ranger leaned on him and laid her head on his shoulder. Even in this dire situation the enchanter's touch and presence was such a comfort to her. When Irenicus had taken her, she had believed she would never see her companions again. Being back with them, even if it were to die soon, was truly a blessing for her.
Slowly with Jaheira in the lead, the party made its way down the dark corridors of the maze they were trapped in, not knowing if they would ever find the exit.