Hey everyone! Welcome to Aegis of Candlekeep, the Realms' only extensive Xzar x CHARNAME romance XD
If you're reading this, you must have seen this story is big. I hope you like the beginning! But if you'd like to jump to Part II or III because you saw a character relationship you liked in them, I encourage you to do so! I tried to write all three parts so they could be understood on their own (and it's a very long story, with some relationships that don't develop until wayyy down the road)
Due to mental issues (She's Chaotic Good) Aegis ends up recruiting the majority of any and all BG1 characters into her party (To be fair, that tends to make for more epic battles...) I do hope you enjoy that- my goal was to try and figure out how to express every character with rich detail in characterization and relationships, and if you give me a chance I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!
There is also an extensive Xan/Branwen romance. And an Edwin romance, but that doesn't even kinda begin until Part II (what can I say; Edwin is not the most approachable person in the world).
Other than that, have fun and I hope you enjoy!
Aegis sighed from the confines of her bed at Candlekeep Inn.
Today is horrible.
Her head was pounding from a severe hangover, her knee felt like a stampede had gone over it, and her clothing had been sprayed with a nose full of someone else's blood. All in all, Imoen assessed, a splendid bar fight. Minus the ending where the Watchers had shown up, and Winthrop had hauled her off to box her ears...
"Old Mr. G.'s just got here here!" Imoen piped cheerily from where she was nursing a broken arm. She docked her head to the side and giggled. "I'd know them footsteps anywhere!"
Aegis grimaced miserably towards the door of her room. Why yes, papa, I did make another disaster, she contemplated telling him drearily. Almost as bad as collapsing the scaffolding for the new storehouse, and only half as accidental. There were times when Aegis wondered if Candlekeep weren't a little too... small and dainty for herself.
"Yikes," Imoen added with a sympathetic wince. "Ulraunt's coming...!"
Sure enough, Aegis could soon hear an argument: Ulraunt, Candlekeep's Keeper of Tomes, was snarling something bitterly. Gorion's softer voice was almost tightly eclipsed. Aegis moaned and squeezed her eyes together tightly. She tried to roll over, but her knee hurt too much. Of course. Of course Ultraunt would personally confront Gorion over this. When did Ulraunt ever let things go?
"Daww, cheer up!" Imoen laughed. "You know Mr. G. can't stay mad at you! Now Winthrop, he's going to be mad at me for weeks!"
"That's the worst part," Aegis mumbled. "Winthrop yells at you, you duck your head, you do some extra chores, and then you feel better. Gorion just stares at me, then I feel even more awful."
Imoen shrugged, not really understanding the concept of self-imposed guilt. She hopped off the bed and went up to the wall, and pressed an emptied mug to it that she might better listen. "Old sourpuss isn't pulling any punches," the thief confessed. "He says you're wild, unruly, and evidence a glaring disrespect for life!"
"Gee," Aegis mumbled, "he makes punching drunk people in the face sound so cunningly refined and deviously well-planned."
"Well we did overturn like every table and almost light the inn on fire. Took like four people to pull you and that old dwarf apart! You totally broke his nose."
Aegis tried to melt into a puddle of guilt, her face blushed with disappointment. The outside argument stopped; Then a gentle knock came at their door.
"Come in!" Imoen called as she whisked her mug back to its appropriate location and hopped deftly back onto her bed. Maybe I should be nice and help Aegy handle this one...
The door opened slowly and Gorion peered in. Imoen had always felt Gorion was made of equal parts elderly kindness and an oft-hidden youthful mischief. He had the face one might expect on a grandfather, but there was something wry and alert to his gaze. He'd always took her jokes, pranks, and 'borrowings' in good humor, that was for sure, and sometimes conducted return pranks of his own! His hair was long, gray, and neat, aside from a few rebellious wisps that hung in his face. He had it tied back as was usual in the summer. Always clean, but not in a stuffy way; that was Gorion. He always wore his beard short and kept it meticulously well-groomed.
Imoen thought Aegis was sort of exaggerating how horrible this latest hijinx had turned out. But, then again, Gorion was the man who had changed her diapers as a small child. Imoen had been 'Yes Sir!'ing her own Da all morning, and she wasn't even the one who'd started the bar fight!
Quiet blue eyes shifted first to Imoen, and then to the incapacitated Aegis (who was trying her best to evaporate). He watched them for a long moment and then glanced behind him as if making sure Ulraunt had truly left. Then he stepped fully into the room, and closed the door quietly behind him.
Aegis winced. "Father, I-" she began, and then trailed off, unable to think of suitable words to explain her misbehavior. "I-I'm sorry," she finished lamely, and valiantly resisted the urge to hide under her covers.
The old wizard said nothing at first, contemplating her. After a long moment he came up and sat down on the side of her bed, and lifted a hand to smooth unruly curled and matted hair from her face. "I know," he told her. His quiet acceptance made Aegis feel all the worse, just as she'd predicted.
"I didn't mean for any of that to happen," she mumbled. "I sort of remember the dwarf touched me."
"He did!" Imoen seconded, there to defend her 'sister' in her time of need. "I watched! The guy he was traveling with put him up to it for fifty gold, and he leaned over and grabbed her butt! Aegis turned around and nearly punched his beard off- and the other guy's beard, too! It was hilarious and totally justly deserved, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!"
Gorion actually smiled lightly. "Be that as it may," he told them both warmly (he shot Imoen an inclusive glance, lest she think he'd forgotten her), "you didn't need to hit anyone. Violence was not the proper solution to employ here."
"They deserved it," Aegis grumbled, even as she knew it was no excuse. "It's not like I did anything worse than break a nose."
"I believe you," he told her. "But that doesn't change the proper way to behave."
"I didn't mean to really hurt him-" she protested, looking up at the wizard's gentle face. "I wouldn't have!"
"Quite a number of people, you and Imoen included, ended up in an infirmary last night. And despite your best intentions, you had consumed far too much alcohol," he countered, his voice still soft but suddenly sterner. "What you did while inebriated may not have been wholly voluntarily, but you made the choice to drink. And I know you are more mature than that."
Aegis grimaced and nodded quietly. She'd heard this lecture before, and she knew he was right. Candlekeep was too filled with twiggy wizards for Aegises to be throwing punches about.
Gorion chuckled at the face she made. "You don't think I understand, my child? I may not approve of your habits, but I'm an old man and I've seen and done much in my time. There's nothing inherently wrong with alcohol, or enjoying its taste. I just wish you understood your own limitations." He gently tapped her nose. "I wish you didn't put yourself into situations where things like this can happen. Next time you want to go for that extra pint, think about how much I worry for you, mm?"
She nodded miserably. "I'm sorry," she repeated, and truly she was. Aegis had many flaws; but one thing she could never be accused of was a lack of love for her foster father. She hated nothing in the world quite so much as disappointing him. Whenever he spoke, she was utterly cowed.
Maybe that's why Ultraunt had started talking to Gorion instead of speaking with them, Imoen reflected. He might have figured that Gorion was the only person Aegis would listen to.
"Now," Gorion said gently, patting Aegis's arm and looking to incorporate Imoen in his next statements as well. "The two of you are in terrible trouble. First you'll need to help Winthrop clean up the inn again, and then there are some particularly unpleasant cattle related chores for you to complete." Both girls groaned. "As for the visiting dwarf," he looked back to Aegis, who winced, "Ulraunt is still deciding how to handle the situation. The priests were able to heal him and no lasting harm was done, but such violence is not permitted in Candlekeep. Were you not my daughter, he would have already thrown you out of the keep."
Aegis closed her eyes and tried to fall unconscious. It didn't work, of course. Gorion smiled at the expression on her face, and recalled the dwarf calling this the best tavern brawl he'd had in years.
Gorion understood his daughter, and her excess of energy. Aegis was getting too old to stay anywhere as quiet as Candlekeep. She was a tall, broad-shouldered youth; restless and better with her hands and footwork than she'd ever be with books. They would have to leave and, Gorion feared, it would be sooner rather than later.
"Get some rest," he told her. "Around noon Winthrop will come and retrieve the both of you for your chores. I will fetch the priests to have a second look at your knee, Aegis. And Imoen, try not to use your arm for at least a day..."
Aegis was young still, only three years of age, but already rambunctious. Gorion found her antics endearing; she was filled with so much life. He would sit on the steps to their home and watch her waddle after animals and play-fight imaginary dragons in the grass. He'd read as she played, or write letters as he was doing now: 'T - I'm looking to find good homes for both a collection of dolls and a miniature tea set, courtesy of Aegis' utter disinterest in them. - G." He glanced wryly after his daughter. She was trying to catch a butterfly.
Winthrop often sent Imoen ought to play with them. Her magical potential was obvious, and she'd usually gravitate towards Gorion, and ask him about whatever he was reading. If he was looking at a scroll, she'd spend hours staring at the magical runes, her big eyes wide in awe.
But as for Aegis, Gorion felt that her spirit was more suited towards the great outdoors.
Today was a particularly pleasant fall afternoon. The sun was setting far in the west, and the shadows it cast were long. The leaves were just starting to turn from green to yellow and the day was pleasantly warm. He was placing his letter into an envelope when an unpleasant yowling assaulted his ears.
He'd looked up to see Aegis straddling a large house cat, her hands wrapped around it's throat, slowly squeezing the life out of it. The cat was writhing frantically, and its sharp claws were tearing up her arms, but Aegis just smiled, staring down at it as if in a daze.
"Aegis!" he cried, jumping to his feet and sprinting for her. He grabbed her arms and tried to pull her free. "Aegis! No! Bad! Let go!"
She didn't listen. And what was the point of forcibly compelling her? Had all of his efforts already been in vain? She was but three! Was the blood of Bhaal still so strong in her that she could fall victim to such temptations on the spur of a moment? What had he missed that had led to this-!?
Her hands loosened. She looked up at him hazily. Color drained from his face because she was smiling "Aegis!" he pleaded with her. "Why would you do such a thing?" He already knew the answer: She didn't have a choice, and he had somehow failed to give her one.
"Fun!" she answered brightly, but her face fell as she noticed the curves of his mouth. She had yet to learn the meaning of mental anguish or disappointment. Perhaps all she knew was that her father was upset.
"Please let go," he begged her. "You are hurting her! Please, for me Ae, let go!"
Aegis blinked and then dropped the writhing animal. It bolted off, staggering slightly. She lifted her hands to his face, seeming heedless of the cuts that laced up and down her arms, of the blood she smeared on his robes, and her brows furrowed in concentration.
He grimaced and held her tightly to him, this beautiful and horrible child that he would always adore and always protect; The babe he had raised thus far as his own, his little Aegis, once more covered in blood.
She touched his face, the curves of his mouth, the pained wrinkles about his eyes."Wrong?" she asked in bafflement. "Daddy, what's wrong?"
"Aegis," he mumbled depressedly, rocking her. "You hurt that cat. You love cats."
"That's cause they're the best!" she agreed. "Cats are the best!"
"Yet you've hurt her," he tried to make her understand, but her brow merely wrinkled in confusion. "You should always take care of the things you love, and ensure never to hurt them," he murmured, repressing stress and the urge to weep. "That way, they will always be there for you. I think you are the best, my Aegis. How would you feel if I hurt you?"
She frowned. Perhaps she could not see the connection between herself and the cat, or recognize that she had harmed something she cared for.
"Would you want to hurt me?" he asked, trying to find something, anything, she'd understand.
This connection he'd drawn didn't seem to make any sense to her, but immediately her face scrunched up in alarm. "No! No, no, no!" she told him, very disturbed by whatever her failing had been. "No! I say that I'm sorry...! And- and then not do again. Daddy? Daddy! You can't be sad, cause- cause I said I was sorry!"
He shivered and bundled her in a tight hug, and she hugged him back, worried and unhappy. She buried her face in his shoulder and hair.
"I love you Daddy," she mumbled. "I'm sorry. Sorry really big. Big like the library, only bigger."
Gorion's eyes opened and he sighed, sitting up in bed and rubbing his temples. That dream again. It wasn't his favorite in the world he had to admit, but he supposed he'd had far worse. Light filtered slowly through the windows of his room, and he surmised it was about time that he woke up anyway. He stretched and meditated for awhile, and then lit his nightstand candelabra.
He took his time in dressing himself, grateful for the cool slate from which most of Candlekeep had been constructed. A gentle breeze filtered through his room. The blue light of morning stood out brightly on his floor.
He left his room in robes and sandals, and peered in to Aegis'. The girl was sleeping like a baby, her arms wrapped around one of her pillows and her blankets in quite the state of disarray. The girl's bed was a veritable nest of feline mousers. A cat was perched on nearly ever part of her, and each and every one of them was sleeping. He smiled gently and paused to watch her for a moment, admiring her despite all her flaws, despite the bar fight, despite the injured dwarf, despite the terrible nightmare that lingered on the edge of his consciousness. Admired her as only a parent could.
"Oh my beautiful child," he murmured softly. "What a handful you are."