A.N - To new readers, this began as a project by a disenchanted fan girl craving embellishment on what was a severely lacking OC companion-wise. The story follows my very own feisty, Mary-Sue of a Knight-Captain through the plot of Neverwinter Nights 2, though on a much more personal level. As well as the usual tale of heroics and overcoming impossible odds to save the Sword Coast, Fortune is my attempt to dig a little deeper into the fairytale and find a more realistic response to a girl of 19 dealing (or not) with the challenges the KC is faced with. I guess you'll have to decide for yourself if I've done that by the end.
I'm a better artist than I am a writer. Have a look at my profile page for links to various portraits of Evelyn and one of Casavir that shows him as he is in this fic – i.e. 25. Having a 39-year-old hitting on an 18 year old (the default age for humans) is just creepy. So have a look at that face, and put a less deathly boring voice to it, and you have the Casavir in this story. I sincerely hope you like him better ;)
"-+-+-+-+-" denotes the passage of time or a change in perspective. If it isn't pretty obvious in the first paragraph or so who it is, then it probably isn't meant to be.
This is the first full-length story (let alone romance...) I've attempted, and the first real piece of writing I've done in a long while, so feedback of any kind is appreciated as I'm always looking to improve. Many, many thanks go out to my marvellous beta ChryseisLaurea.
"Get up! Wake up! The Flagon is under attack!" The urgency in Duncan's unmistakable accent was the first thing I noticed, even before I took in the message. It was like a gulp of my very own concentrated wormwood brew at four in the morning, and instantly my eyes flew open.
I jolted up and tumbled out of bed, trying to clear my head as fast as I could as I listened out for sounds of combat. Sure enough, the clatter of furniture and clash of weapons from downstairs told me I wasn't just having an unpleasant dream. And here I'd been thinking I'd have a nice, peaceful night for once.
'Why do these things always happen to me..?'
I grabbed a pair of trousers from somewhere on the floor and pulled them on and replaced my nightshirt with something a little more practical. Ignoring my bare feet for now I hoisted the sword belt that dangled unceremoniously on a bedpost over my head and ran out the door, still clearing the fog from my mind. The sounds of fighting were close.
Sure enough, I skidded around a corner to see Duncan, still shouting for help as he warded off two Githyanki with a torch pulled from the wall. Wasting no time I sprinted over and, with a cry, impaled one where he stood, ducking the swipe that followed from the other before whirling round and decapitating him. Or was it a her? I never could tell.
"Thank heavens you're here, lass. They came so suddenly, hundreds of the buggers! They're downstairs, mostly. Go help the others!" I nodded, barely hearing him as I hurried down the hall to the stairwell, letting the autopilot developed over years of fighting kick in. I leapt over the banister and tackled one that was attacking a woman running upstairs, twisting my blade in his ribs and spinning to parry the strike from behind me. Perhaps hundreds was an exaggeration, but it sure did look like we had ourselves something of an infestation. How did they get here so quickly? And from where? Come to think of it, why in the hells were they here?
I charged a small group of them and let flying a whirlwind of strikes, hearing the satisfying thump of bodies littering the ground.I gritted my teeth in annoyance as I hacked my way through the warriors and wizards alike, none of them a match for the adrenaline pumping in my blood. I probably should have stopped to put on some boots, came the errant consideration from the place in the back of my mind where I was still cosy in West Harbour and could take a long, luxurious bath whenever I could be bothered to flutter my eyelashes at a village lad and convince him to fetch the hot water. Here, though, life was a little less forgiving. I tried not to think about the events that brought me to where I was now, charging at a group of planar beings with my trusty Bastard Sword grasped in both hands.
Neeshka appeared beside me, a little dishevelled but still on form as she delivered an artful backstab to a creature that noticed her a split second too late, just as I heard the roar of Khelgar's battlecries above the clash of combat. I fought my way forward, and noted with relief that their numbers seemed thinned. Casavir had a small circle of Bladelings surrounding him but I didn't think of going to his aid. After all, he was the best fighter I had, and if anything I could rely on him not to do something utterly stupid and get himself killed mid-melee.
I heard a grunt of anger and turned to see a gith slumping to the floor, the short sword impaled in his ribs removed by the same man that never seemed to leave the bar. I had spoken with him but once there as he downed another drink, and that was enough to get an idea of his character. Didn't look like I was ever going to find out more, though. He was obviously very capable but had flat out refused to speak to anyone else, and had scoffed at any indication of an offer to join us. He scowled at the creatures that had intruded on the evening and wiped the innards smearing one blade on the leather guard on his leg even as he cut down another that approached, almost as an afterthought.
I twisted out my sword from a fallen gith's back and took a quick tally of my companions. Khelgar still looked around furiously for any more enemies, while Neeshka was already eyeing up the bags at their sides. Grobnar was looking over the scene with a brow crinkled in either aversion or amusement as he held his bow uncertainly in one hand. At least he wasn't humming that thrice-damned tune that was forever running circles in my head since the first time he'd played it. Duncan I could hear running around upstairs, though there were no more creatures to be seen, and Sal's head peaked up from his position behind the bar, a serving girl's appearing shortly after. Casavir turned to me as I glanced at him and nodded as if to confirm he wasn't mortally wounded. There was a wry curve to his lips and I figured it was probably due to my hastily-donned attire and mad, uncombed hair that frizzed around my head like a messy halo. Without my boots my trousers only just reached my calves, and my toes looked a little blacker from the inn floor than last night when I'd had my first decent wash in days. I pulled the cuffs of my top up in an attempt to look dignified. There was blood splattered on my stomach that certainly wasn't mine. I scowled, having learnt the hard way how difficult gith blood was to scrub out of cotton.
I watched as Elanee shifted back from her Badger form and went over to tend to a cowering patron's wounds. I had never understood that. Dire or not a badger was still small enough to send flying with a swift kick. And how did her clothes always manage to stay so clean, or, for that manner, in existence as she morphed from one form to the next?
I was sure there was someone missing, though…
I turned to the door and saw Qara wander in, still in the sort of stiff, woollen nightgown favoured by nobility and yawning expansively, glancing around indignantly to the others as if blaming them for the interruption of her sleep. But it wasn't her I had been thinking of…
"That girl! Shandra! She's been taken!" Duncan burst in past the sorceress and cried out, visibly flustered. I let out a loud, frustrated curse, drawing a disapproving glance from Elanee but hardly caring.
"How in the Hells did they get into the city? How did they know where she was?" I didn't know who I was asking, I just wanted answers. It was definitely either far too early or far too late for this nonsense. We just had her…
"Does it matter how?" I heard a snide voice from the back. I turned and saw him there, kneeling over a dead Githyanki with its head sawn almost clean off. Its swamp-coloured, leathery skin was already starting to pale. He rose and looked at me, a mirthless half-smile on his face.. "You know, you'd better hurry if you want her back. Giths aren't that friendly to their prisoners." He kicked at one of them like a sack of flour, turning it over in the process. "A sprig of Duskwood. That's Luskan territory in case you're wondering. Start there," he said, as if speaking to a group of very small, very stupid children. He inspected us dismissively and began to walk back to his usual spot but Duncan grabbed his attention.
"That's your territory, Bishop..." There was a desperate quality to his voice I didn't like, but he ignored my questioning look. The ranger stopped mid-stride and turned his head to one side, not meeting Duncan's forceful gaze.
"But not my problem. You couldn't pay me enough to go to Luskan, especially not for some farm girl and especially not with any kin of yours," he replied coldly. A scout...now that was someone we needed. I thought back to the piles of gold I had yet to spend...
"You sure about that?" I asked quickly before he got away. His eyes fixed on me in a slow, appraising once-over "Listen, we need her. I'm going after her whether you're with us or not but I've never even set foot anywhere near Luskan, so looks like we need you too," I shrugged, "Hells, even if we don't find her, it'll be fun." He shamelessly raked his eyes down my body but ignored whatever more sordid reply formed in his head. I didn't much care. I had nothing to do with the fact that I was beautiful; it was just something I'd inherited, something to be used to my advantage. Daeghun would be mortified if he knew just how often that was...
"Is your whole damn family deaf, Duncan? Not my problem. Now run along, half-breed." I scowled at what he took to be an insult, as, regardless of my appearance, I liked to think of myself as human. Well, mostly, anyway. Where my ears should have rounded there was a slight point, and, without much of a family tree to trace, my genetics were a bit of a mystery. Perhaps my mother had been elven? Or half-elven like Duncan? Daeghun refused to speak of it, citing old, painful memories as the reason for his silences. I knew he'd lost his wife, so I did try to be understanding, but patience had never been one of my greatest virtues. After years and years of my father shutting off his past and my family completely, I couldn't help but think that maybe, just maybe he could have gotten over it already and at least tell me something.
Maybe Elves dealt with these things differently. Either way, I had a lot more in common with what I supposed was my half-elf half-uncle, Duncan.
I saw him move forward forcefully.
"It will be your problem, Bishop. You'll help them. Whether you like it or not," He added, sounding rather more sinister than I'd have thought possible of the perpetually drunk innkeeper. Bishop snorted.
"Oh really? What makes you think..." He'd turned around fully now and trailed off as something wordless passed between the two men. "You sure?" he said through clenched teeth framed with a vicious smile that was entirely devoid of any good nature towards the man in front of him. I stood back and watched the exchange. It sounded more like the ranger was confirming Duncan's death warrant, and I was instantly wary of what was being arranged on my behalf.
"Yes, if that's what it takes to make you do the right thing." I admired Duncan's conviction, particularly in regards to the girl we'd only brought back the night before. Perhaps there was more to him than I had thought...
"Fine," Bishop bit out, "Anything's worth it to be rid of you."
"You'll answer to her now," he nodded in my direction. Under his glower I got the distinct sense of impending doom. But there was something I still found fascinating about him that I couldn't quite place. Grimly, I thought it was probably because the only words he'd said to me were either violent or just plain vulgar. I never did know how to stay away from dangerous things...
"So be it," he said, strangely deadpan as he stared at me, "get dressed and we'll be going. Follow my lead, do what I say and we'll get in and out alive. Well, I will anyway." I was too tired for this. I nodded wordlessly and turned to head back to my room, noticing that most of my companions had already done so. Duncan grabbed my arm and glanced back at the man with thinly veiled fear in his eyes.
"Watch out for him, Evie," he hissed, using the nauseatingly cute pet name he had apparently invented when I was too young to beat it out of him. The depressing thing was, the others had caught on and used it when they thought they were being affectionate. "He don't care about anyone but himself, and his loyalty's easily bought. He won't treat you good, neither, but...well...he's the best."
"Anything else?" I asked, the lack of sleep making me feel even more sarcastic than usual.
"Just...be careful." I rolled my eyes.
"If you think he's such scum then why did you enlist him like that? Come to think of it, what the hell was that, anyway?" I raised my eyebrows expectantly. I knew he had hundreds of secrets, some of them involving me, and I'd let him get away with it so far, but I wasn't about to hike through Luskan without knowing who with.
"Doesn't matter now. All you need to know is that he's a damn good tracker, and a survivor. Few know Luskan territory better."
"Really? How's that?" Duncan was starting to look uncomfortable, but I figured between him and Daeghun I was owed more than a few secrets.
"He's...just a smuggler. Makes regular runs across the border and, well, it's enough to say he's clashed with them enough times."
"Just a smuggler?" I stared intensely at the man before me. He was lying, as he had lied about a great many things since I'd been here. But now wasn't the time to sort it out.
"Aye, and much more than that isn't important right now. If he...uh...gets too rude for you, Evelyn, just let me know and I'll club him a good one," he winked in a depressingly cheery manner considering the time and subject matter, "won't have him insulting one of my kin." We quite clearly weren't related, and I was still wondering where the resemblance between him and Daeghun was, but was tired enough to let it go. It was hardly past midnight and it felt like I hadn't slept in days but there was no time for that now. Now, I was deathly concerned for someone I barely knew and for a reason I didn't yet understand. But I would, soon enough. I couldn't run back home no matter how much I wanted to. Not now. I'd see this through no matter what, if not for myself then for the people that counted on me. For once, I didn't ask why.
"Never mind. I'll be careful, uncle." I brushed past him, stalking to my room. Qara's door was closed and the bizarrely loud sounds of her slumber echoed through. I hadn't yet thought of a polite enough way to ask her to leave that wouldn't result in her torching the whole bloody building.
Casavir emerged from the room before mine, weapon and armour ready for travel, and inclined his head in a greeting just as he stifled a yawn I could hardly blame him for. He was right to assume I'd take him, I always had done, ever since he'd joined with us. I still remembered that unfathomable look in his eyes as I spoke to him at the Well, firelight illuminating his chiselled face that seemed so much younger than his years. But there was something uneasy in his gaze as I nodded back at him now. I thought back to the faint shift in his expression as it was decided Bishop would travel with us. I sighed as I entered my room. The two of them would never get on. His head had shot up in anger as the ranger had greeted me for the first time. What was it he had said? 'Stick, around, darling. A few more drinks and you'll start looking good to me.' Damn chivalry. Whatever honour I had left was hardly worth defending in the first place. I strapped on my breastplate and pulled up my thick leather boots as I thought of more important things. Shandra...we needed her back, and soon. I didn't know what they wanted from her, and just hoped it wasn't the same thing I did. Whatever that was. She was certainly proving to be an interesting if not troublesome one. Pretty, too, as Qara had been quick to point out acidly. He had jumped to her aid as well. 'A little Paladin charm sure softened her up,' Neeshka had jokingly observed. That had annoyed me for some reason. I was probably just selfish.
I sheathed a foot-long blade in my belt and glanced in the long mirror adorning the wall, pulling my impractically long hair back and securing it in a tight bun with more resolve than I felt. It was serious, now, and time was of the essence.
'I won't come back without you, Shandra.'