Keep It Simple
The young man sighed as he looked over his list, a mixture of longing and frustration crossing his features. A shadow crossed the table in front of him, and he looked up in surprise to see the heavy-set bartender wiping the counter before him. The bartender arched one eyebrow, looking at the warring expressions on his face. "Hey there son... what'll it be for ya?"
"Ah... nothing right now. Maybe just water." he said with a sad smile.
"Eh. Not many folk come into the Coronet to order water." the bartender grinned. "Bernard's the name; no strangers here, least not while Hendak runs the place. There something else I can do for ya? Ye look a bit down on your luck."
"Thanks, I'm Tyriel... but no, not really." the black-haired man said with a sigh, running a hand over his face. "I'm just... well, I need to find a wizard who will train me. My old master died, and I never got to complete my training. There wasn't much left, just some recommendations of the spells I should focus on, but... I don't know what to do, and I'm afraid I'll choose wrong on my own!"
Bernard thought for a moment, then grinned and nodded as he stroked the folds under his chin. "Hey then... I might just be able to direct ye in the right direction. Y'see them armored sorts over at the big table, 'cross the room?"
Tyriel scanned the room, looking for anyone who would fit the description of the bartender... there were several groups, most with armor- his eyes widened as he saw just who Bernard was referring to. "Them?!"
"Yep. Tell 'em I sent ye, eh?" Bernard chuckled, returning to his monotonous duty of cleaning the ever-filthy counter.
"But... but I can't talk to them!" Tyriel whispered, his hands shaking. "That's the Bhaalspawn! The one who saved Baldur's Gate!"
"Ye've a keen eye, that much be true." Bernard yawned. "So go and talk with em. Say Bernard sent you... they'll fix you up, right and proper. Those two lasses, Miss Imoen and Miss Aerie? They're the best spell-throwers this side of the Marching Mountains. Ye'll not do better than them. So go and ask yer questions before they leave, eh? Always off on some adventure or other..."
Bernard left the counter, heading towards the stock room, leaving Tyriel to swallow in fear as he watched the six adventurers seated at the table. He tried to stop staring, but he couldn't take his eyes off them. The Heroes of Baldur's Gate. The Saviors of Suldenesselar. He'd read Volo's book about them. They were quite possibly the most powerful mortals walking Faerun... he saw the leader, the big paladin stand and say something to his companions; the druid that sat beside him stood as well, and the two of them left the table, heading upstairs.
A fit of panic struck him. Were they leaving? If he wanted to talk to them, he'd have to be quick-
He nearly jumped out of his skin as he whirled around, the pink-haired mage now suddenly behind him, a sweet grin on her face as she took delight in the simple joke she'd somehow managed to play on him. "How did... I didn't see you-"
"Yeah, I know. I'm good at sneaking, that's all." Imoen laughed, flipping her hair out of her face as she reclined against the bar. "Of course, with the way you were staring at us for the past few minutes, I figured you were either a creepy stalker, or needed our help with something. Or trying to kill us, but you don't look like an assassin. 'Course, I've been wrong before about that kind of thing..."
"No! No, I just..." he trailed off after the initial vehement denial. The last thing he wanted was to earn the ire of these powerful men and women. He had heard Imoen was a prankster, possibly the kindest of the group, but that didn't make her any less deadly if pushed. "I didn't mean to stare. Honest."
"Could've fooled me." Imoen shrugged, nodding at Bernard who grinned as he slid a drink across the bar to her, Imoen catching it with one hand and downing it in one go. He watched her in amazement as she chugged for a moment, then set it down contentedly. "So... what'cha want?"
"Um... well, I-" he stuttered, trying to figure out how to ask her- HER, Imoen, one of the only two Bhaalspawn still alive- if he could get her advice on what spells he should learn? "I was just, uh-"
"Imoen, you're not tormenting the boys around here again, are you?" a soft, gentler voice took away what nerve he'd gained, as Aerie strode over to the pair. "Hello there..."
"Um... hi." he managed, not able to say much more.
"Ah, the boy just wants to ask you about some spellcastin or other!" Bernard called from the other side of the bar. "See now lad, was that too hard?"
He gulped, even as Aerie and Imoen exchanged glances before meeting his gaze. "Really? Well... sure. Why not? What do ya want to know? I assume yer a wizard or a mage or something like that..."
"I... well, I'm ready to start adventuring soon." he explained, clearing his throat as he finally began feeling himself settle down. "I just need to know what kinds of spells I'll need. You know..."
"Of course." Aerie smiled and nodded. "Let us read your list here, and we'll give you our opinion, okay?"
"Really?" Tyriel's face brightened, excitement filling his eyes as he handed the parchment over to the two girls. "Thanks! I just hope one day I'll be good enough to learn these spells. I did a lot of research into the powerful ones..."
He trailed off as he watched the two girls frown, going down his list. He felt even more nervous as Imoen chewed her lip, shaking her head as her eyes traveled down the list. It seemed like an eternity before they had finished, as they looked at each other again, sighing. "Um... Tyriel? Yeah... this needs some work. There's a lot of spells on here you're not going to want. You had a few good ones, but you have a lot to learn about spellcasting." Aerie said as gently and apologetically as possible.
"Oh... okay." he nodded, gathering himself. "D-do you have any advice? I mean, like specifics?"
"Well... I suppose we could cover some of these." Imoen shrugged. "Okay... first, you had down Disintegrate. Turns a monster to dust, no questions asked, no going back. And... useless. Why kill a monster if you can't take his stuff?"
"Flesh to Stone. Same problem." Aerie let her eyes drift down the list. "Wail of the Banshee... by the time you get where you can use it, no enemy will be weak enough to be killed by it. Useless."
"Er... really?" Tyriel said, surprise leaking into his voice. "I thought those were all really powerful-"
"Meh." Imoen shook her head. "What else... Imprisonment? Again... no loot. Why bother? And these Symbol Spells... no. Nothing you meet will have less than 60 hit points, and by the time you get them below that, you won't need it. Energy Drain? When you could have Time Stop? Don't even get me started."
Tyriel blinked. "H-hit points? I don't understand..."
"Er... forget it." Aerie shook her head. "Maybe we should stop focusing on your aspirations and look at some of the things you could actually cast soon. Hmm... okay. Chill Touch, Shocking Grasp, Color Spray... they all have one thing in common, right?"
"Yeah. You have to let yourself be cut to little pieces if you want to use them." Imoen snorted. "Trust us... nothing that makes you get within a few feet of your opponent... which cuts most of these low level spells."
Tyriel simply nodded as they kept going. "Grease, Sleep, Deafness... all useless."
"Vocalize? Handy... if not for the fact you have to speak to cast it." Imoen chuckled as she tossed that one out as well. "Know Alignment... as if you'll ever need that... Luck, Hold Undead... Any and all Monster Summonings... not unless you like having tons of useless fodder running around like chickens with their heads cut off. You know what, we'll make this easier on you. Here's a list of all the spells you'll ever actually need."
Tyriel frowned as they handed him a small scrap of paper, then waved as they headed back toward their own table. "Are... are you sure?!"
They simple nodded as he watched them leave, then looked down at his paper, reading what had been inscribed there.
Aerie glanced at Imoen as they headed upstairs, following the rest of their companions. "Amazing, isn't it... one hundred ninety-four spells..."
"And most of them are absolute crap."
Author's Note: Well, when you go 4 months without posting a new chapter, I think it's safe to retire a story like this one. Pretty sure there won't be a Volume 3... but I hope you enjoyed it while it lasted. My thanks for reading, reviewing, and if you have any other Screen Breaches you think would be funny to write about... well, give them a go for yourself! As for me… well, my days of Breaching the Screen are done, and this time it's sticking. Regards-