Author's Note: Not much to say about this one...except that I just couldn't help it.
They had done it.
Amelyssan's body had crumbled to dust, the forms of the creatures that she had summoned against them shimmering and vanishing, leaving the six companions alone with the Solar before the Throne of Bhaal.
Galen glanced around at them, his eyes going first to Imoen, reassuring himself that she had, indeed, recovered from her first – and last – transformation into the Slayer. She remained pale, but gave him a shaky smile. Jaheira knelt beside Nalia, tending the last of her wounds. Minsc still held Lilarcor firmly, his expression half puzzled, half suspicious, as though he could not quite grasp that their battle was finally over. Keldorn stood, as calm as always, giving Galen an encouraging nod as the young warrior turned back to the Solar.
The otherworldly eyes moved first to Imoen. You are the last but one of the Bhaalspawn, child. Will you surrender the essence of your sire to your brother?
"With pleasure!" Imoen replied fervently. An instant later, a shadow seemed to seep from her skin itself, hovering over her like a shroud before crossing the distance to Galen and surrounding him. He heard Nalia gasp, but his vision was temporarily obscured. He could feel it seeping into him, joining gladly with the Taint that raged in his own blood. His vision cleared and he looked down. No trace of the shadow remained; it was inside him.
Not for long.
Your journey is completed, godchild, the Solar addressed him now, the glow of her approval as warm as the summer sun. Only one choice remains before you: will you ascend to the Throne to replace your sire, or send the last of his essence into the Void, never to be reborn?
The question hardly needed asking. "I-"
"Not so fast."
Galen blinked, looking around in confusion. The voice was a new one, high pitched and odd sounding. The others looked around, similarly puzzled, until one by one, their eyes settled on Minsc, who sheathed his sword and reached into the pouch at his hip to pull out –
"Boo?" Galen stared in disbelief at the tiny rodent sitting up on its haunches in the ranger's palm, its beady black eyes glittering malevolently.
"That's right, my dear brother," the hamster replied with a chittering laugh that Galen supposed was intended to sound threatening. "Fortunately, I got my looks from my mother's side of the family; you bipeds are all utterly hideous!"
"Boo?" Minsc raised the creature to eye level, smiling in delight. "Finally, you let others hear you speak! Now none can doubt that you are truly a miniature giant space –"
"Put a sock in it, you pinheaded barbarian!" the rodent snarled. "And put me down! Now!"
The ranger looked wounded, but complied, bending to place the creature gently on the ground. It promptly turned its back on him, looking up at Galen with a sneer of disgust.
"You have no idea how hard it's been putting up with that dolt all this time," it informed him coldly. "It was a necessary deception, but I never want to see another damn cracker as long as I live!" He glared at the Solar. "Got that? When I'm the new God of Murder, I want nothing but meat. Raw, bloody meat! And beer," he added after a moment's thought. "Lots and lots of beer. My faithful 'guardian' never thought I could handle it."
Before you claim the Throne of Bhaal, you must first defeat the last of your siblings, the Solar told the hamster, trying to maintain her omniscient demeanor and failing badly. How is it that I was unable to sense your existence? She asked, curiosity overcoming pride at last.
Boo chortled, sounding like a rat experiencing an attack of asthma. "Size, my dear Solar! My size kept me from the notice of all those seeking the Bhaalspawn, and my proximity to this overmuscled fool," he nodded toward Galen, "ensured both my safety and my presence at the Throne at this most crucial time! And now, my brother," he said, turning his diminutive head to regard Galen, "now that you are weakened by your battle with Amelyssan, it is time for me to take my rightful place! Behold!" The last word would probably technically qualify as a shout, in hamster terms, though it was actually the only word that Galen did not have to strain to hear.
Boo felt the change beginning, the Taint of Bhaal, suppressed for so long, surging unfettered through his veins. He felt himself growing, his soft brown fur being replaced with scales, deadly claws sprouting on his paws and razor-sharp fangs replacing those ridiculous incisors. Looking down in satisfaction at the deadly killing machine that he had become, he threw his head back for a triumphant laugh.
And froze, looking up into the disbelieving faces of the giants that surrounded him.
He was still only six inches tall.
"DAMN YOU, FATHER!! YOU IDIO-"
Galen lifted his boot, staring bemusedly at the small – very small – pile of dust that immediately began to disperse into the air. "Ummm…sorry about that, Minsc. We'll find you another hamster when we get back." He turned back to the Solar. "Now, where were we?"