Disclaimer – I do not own Bladur's Gate, nor any of its characters, settings, or plots. The ones who do own them know who they are, and probably do not mind me borrowing them to write a non-profit fanfiction. That being said, they probably also will not care if I state this at the beginning of every chapter, so I will not, unless otherwise asked.
I apologize for my abruptness and offer a few insights into the story that may or may not enhance your reading experience. Feel free to skip ahead at any time as I doubt this will be interesting to many people.
Spoilers – If you haven't played the game in its entirety, you may not want to read this story as it contains some of the more notable twists in plot. Also, this author feels that there are many different kinds of love and it is possible to have a deep emotional connection with more than one person at a time. If you disagree with this opinion, please, I encourage you to challenge it in a polite, thoughtfully phrased review.
Other Exposition – It will never be explicitly stated, but in this story, the main character never traveled through Baldur's Gate with Jaheira or Minsc. That being said, they do not appear in this story.
"Do you think we can trust him, Rem?" The girlish voice spoke from the shadows somewhere on my right.
'Imoen,' my mind supplied, though the name carried no feelings of familiarity with it. My past was still as uncomfortably blank as it had been the moment I'd woken up to a pair of cold, empty sapphire eyes. I mentally retreated from the thought of my captor, not wanting to recall the torment I had suffered at his hands.
Those beautiful, long-fingered hands had reached into my cage on more than one occasion, though I had always been on the edge of consciousness when it happened. For what reason, I still did not know. Unsurprising really, as I barely knew my own name.
"Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I think I'd rather have him here where I can keep my eye on him," I answered, speaking in a barely audible whisper that the younger girl had to strain closer to hear.
Her unkempt and violently pink hair was badly in need of a wash. The color was just as shocking to me now, in the faint torchlight of this underground prison, as it had been when she had picked the lock of my cage and made her somewhat rushed introduction. She had called herself my friend and childhood companion, blue eyes misting with unshed tears when I confessed I did not know her face.
Her pale, round face, with its slightly dimpled chin and limp cheeks – as if they had very recently been full and rosy – stirred an inkling of recognition in me... But my memory banks seemed so far out of reach that, try as I might, the warmth of old friendship just didn't come to me.
The subject of her query was currently busying himself with looting the bodies of the assassins we had just dispatched. Watching his slim silhouette as he moved, I realized it was nothing short of a miracle we had come across him when we did.
Tired and poorly armed, Imoen and I had survived the first level of the dungeon nearly on stealth alone. Making liberal use of invisibility spells and the shadows, we succeeded in avoiding several confrontations that very likely would have resulted in our deaths.
As it was, I had nearly bled to death following an encounter with a diseased otyugh. The oozing creature had managed to catch me in the back with one of its barbed tentacles and my lightly enchanted sword, already too heavy for me to wield comfortably in one hand, suddenly seemed to weigh twice as much. A lucky arrow from Imoen pierced the beast's eye, and I had summoned my last reserves of strength to deliver the finishing blow.
Yoshimo had been a welcome sight. With his ready grin and roguish demeanor, I hadn't known what to make of him at first, though he had certainly proven himself to be, at the very least, a competent fighter in the room with the mephit generators. There was little doubt in my mind that Imoen and I would surely have been killed had we attempted to clear the room on our own.
After the fight, Yoshimo had approached me, battered and bruised, and gallantly offered the remaining contents of his last healing potion. Unsure what to make of the gesture, I had scanned the room for Imoen and seen the girl bent over a corpse on a table, muttering quietly to herself.
"...looks so familiar."
"Who is he?" I asked, after swigging the potion and handing the empty bottle back to Yoshimo. He withdrew slightly and busied himself about the room, examining cabinets and shelves.
"I'm not sure," she answered, looking as if she were queasy. I didn't blame her. "I think we met him around Baldur's Gate."
The body had been somewhat raggedly dissected, as if the knife that had been used lacked a sufficiently sharp edge. Several organs had been removed and lay in bowls of bloody water beside the body. Strangely, there was no excess blood surrounding it. Hopefully that meant the man had been dead long before the dissector had begun his grisly task.
A few words of comfort, a handful of gold, and two mysterious spell-scrolls later, we made our way northward through a door and pressed on. I guessed that a full day had elapsed since then, and wanted nothing more than to see blue skies again.
"Shall we press on, my young lovely?" I had been looking around, brooding on our grisly surroundings, when his accented voice reached my ear.
I thought wildly for a moment that the thief was addressing someone else, never mind that it was only me and Imoen down here. Blinking in surprise at his ill-timed jest, I reflexively met his gaze. He had a slightly dark complexion, though it was difficult to tell in the gloom of our dank prison. Almost like mine, I thought, curiously taking in his slanted black eyes, and lean build.
"Uhm. I don't know if I mentioned it earlier, but my name's Rem... and to answer your question, not yet. It's safe to say we have no idea how far we are from the exit, or what we'll even find when we get there. I think we should try to take rest where we can get it..."
"Right here, though?" Imoen asked, her voice sounding strained. I immediately dropped my gaze from Yoshimo's to find her in the dark. The girl was seriously beginning to worry me.
For all I knew, she had always behaved like this, and I might even say her unhinged attitude was justified under these circumstances... but intuitively perhaps, I knew that her fundamental personality was different – less paranoid. The expression on her face as she eyed one of the immobile bodies at her feet only enhanced my sense of wrongness.
She looked as if she were torn between disgust and fascination.
"Are you okay, Immy?" The nickname came forth, unbidden from the recesses of my mind and had the desired effect. It seemed to snap her out of the strange, trance-like state she had fallen into. She summoned a brave smile that didn't quite chase the shadows from her eyes, but succeeded in closing the unseen gap between us.
I returned it shyly, but genuinely, and motioned her forward.
"Here's about as good a place to rest as anywhere. Yoshimo, could you scout ahead and see if we can't just get around the bodies?"
He chuckled. "Certainly. I could dance on the head of a pin as well." Thrown by the random response, but at the same time, amused by it, I almost laughed.
"A strange one, that guy," Imoen quipped. I felt inclined to agree.
'Just going around the bodies' turned out to be a considerable ways further into the labyrinth of tunnels that made up this madman's lair. Everywhere we turned, we seemed to be faced with yet another corpse. The frightening part was the fact that none of them appeared to have any sort of markings on them. For all intents and purposes, they had simply dropped dead.
It was enough to chase the smile from even Yoshimo's merry face. Although he had initially been scouting forward, I called him back when the darkness had thickened to the point I could barely see two feet in front of me. I hated the thought of him being caught alone if he stumbled across anything in the shadows.
He suddenly stiffened, grabbing ahold of my arm tightly. I stifled the urge to cry out as his grip stretched the healing wound on my back. We didn't have the luxury of being careless in such a dangerous setting.
"What is it?" I asked, barely moving my lips.
"Light. I believe I see daylight up ahead," he sounded as jubilant as I felt. Following my example, however, he did not speak above a whisper. I squinted ahead and could only barely see a glimmer in the distance. My eyesight wasn't the best. Imoen's, unfortunately, was much better.
"What are we waiting for?" she demanded breathlessly, breaking the relative quiet. She was already making a dash for it before I could grab at her. I was tired; slow, and no match for her desperation when it had been fueled for so many days by the tortures she had likely been subject to; tortures that I had the fortune of not remembering.
"Imoen! Wait!" Deliberating for only a moment, I broke into a run after the young mage. Later, I would regret my hesitation.
A few seconds later, I heard Yoshimo also throw caution to the winds and give chase, though he did not give away his location to potential threats by screaming, as I had.
The distance to the exit seemed to stretch into an eternity. An eternity of corpses in our path that I, at first, leaped over or attempted to go around. This soon became impossible as the sheer number of them grew until, a few hundred feet from the exit, they were practically piled atop each other... like the grisly trail of some conquering warlord. Their glassy, unseeing eyes stared at me in silent accusation as I trod upon them in a frantic effort to reach my friend.
The irony was lost on me at the time.
Confusion. Explosion. A dazzlingly bright light. Exhausted legs giving way before the tremors that only ceased at a disturbingly familiar arcane command.
I struggled to my feet, greeted by the sounds of combat. The fight, it seemed, was still going strong.