Remain Mortal

A/N : I've been working on this one off and on since April, not sure where it really came from, but I just went with it. A little Baldur's Gate 2 : Throne of Bhaal oneshot which takes place in the Pocket Plane immediately after the final showdown with Amelyssan. Anomen is anxious to discover what the Bhaalspawn's decision will be...

"The time that was mentioned has come, godchild. There is a choice before you… you have prevailed against all that have assailed you, and now you must decide your fate."

Anomen watched, his stomach in ropes as his beloved Gwen took a single step forward and resolutely asked the Solar :

"What are my options ?"

The knight didn't hear the answer as he drank every detail in. This was the moment he had been dreading for weeks now, he was going to lose it all.

He never would've imagined how important this woman would become to him when they first met that fateful evening in the Copper Coronet. She had been no more than the means to an end, the opportunity to gain more fame and fortune on the path to knighthood.

But living, traveling, fighting, bleeding with someone can change a person.

And he'd certainly changed. He barely recognized that pompous, arrogant fool she'd met in the Copper Coronet. That young woman had been – was – wise beyond her years and he still was unsure if it was entirely due to her training as a monk. Even now, she had that incredibly solemn look as she listened to the Solar.

She had become an invaluable comrade in arms, and by the time he discovered she was a Bhaalspawn, he had seen too much of her gentle nature and kind deeds to let himself be prejudiced. Even the grizzled, seasoned Keldorn approved of her. Not to mention that Gwen had been a steady beacon of hope and good advice when Moira had been killed, the rage within threatening to consume him. His father's rejection still stung, but Anomen had come a long way since then. And he shivered to think where he would be without Gwen's cool head.

He turned back to the now as the Solar finished.

"You, Bhaalspawn, would be made a mortal... free to continue your life with a destiny of your own choosing. The manipulations of gods will no longer be your concern and your soul will be untainted."

The priest's throat tightened reflexively this was his most cherished wish, something he had not dared hope for. But his lady looked down, her short, dark tresses bouncing. Her left hand flew to her neck and fingered the leather strip he knew held Moira's ring. That was the only clue that she thought of him.

"And my other choice ?" she asked.

His stomach churned and he genuinely thought he was going to be sick. It took every shred of strength he had left to remain impassive. The battle with Amelyssan had severely taxed him – all of them ! – but listening to the Solar explain that Gwen would have "great power among the planes"… That was the killing blow. He could only watch as she toyed with the leather strip and his frayed nerves.

"The choice is difficult, but these are your two options, Bhaalspawn. This is where your destiny is realized, and your future begins."

As if on cue, her friends and companions rushed towards her, surrounding her. Anomen, however, remained rooted in place, completely paralyzed by the pervading fear. He watched, powerless.

"To become a power that would walk the planes at will..." ventured Keldorn. "I cannot imagine facing such a choice myself, and I do not envy you the task."

"No! Say it is not so! We will no longer fight evil together? Boo will miss you, Gwen. Forever shall we hang our heads in sadness in remembrance of our great butt-kicking friend." The large Rasheman ranger clapped her on the shoulder with enthusiasm and she tried not to stumble.

Then Imoen stepped forward, embracing her sister. "So...it's finally come down to this, has it? After all we've been through, right from Candlekeep and Baldur's Gate, through Irenicus and Bodhi and their plans... I wonder what Gorion would say now?" The pink-haired girl stepped back, brushing away a few tears. "I'll miss you." Gwen just smiled, which Anomen found infuriating.

Finally, it was Sarevok's turn, but his reaction was a rather unexpected one. "I urge you not to accept the taint. There is too much folly in such power, as you yourself have taught me." rumbled the somber warrior.

They were all looking at him now, and rather expectantly so. As if she would not give her answer until he too had spoken his goodbye. Dropping flail and shield, Anomen stepped forward, closing the distance that separated them, ignoring their companions, and took both her hands in his.

"What I have always feared is now coming to pass. Your birthright catches up with you, my lady, and I'm going to lose you forever as a result." At first, he simply stared at their clasped hands, completely unable to look her in the eye. "Please, I ask only one thing of you, that you keep my ring at your heart, and remember the love a mere mortal once showed you." The knight finally found the strength to look at the monk, and her face was inscrutable, impassive, her features utterly neutral. Anomen deposed a light kiss on her forehead. "I shall remember you fondly, Gwendolyn."

The priest of Helm was about to release his lady's hands and take a step back when she tightened her own hold on his. The ghost of a smirk made a fleeting appearance, but he caught it nonetheless. "I told you not to call me that" she whispered conspiratorially before raising her voice. "Solar, I have made my decision." Her piercing gaze bore into Anomen and he found he could not look away. "Take it. I never wanted it. Take the essence of Bhaal and do what you will with it." As her face drew closer to Anomen's, Gwen's voice dropped to a murmur once more. "I wish to remain mortal."

Their companions erupted in cheers, but neither heard them. "My lady… I… you…" he spluttered as she kissed him briefly then embraced him fiercely.

"Anomen, you fool… You know very well I cannot imagine walking the Planes without you. Not as a goddess, not as a mortal."

The Solar was still there, formal and all business. "Then you shall begin anew, mortal, without the taint of your sire upon your soul, and the essence of Bhaal shall forever behind. You have done well, and freedom shall be your reward."

The words echoed in Anomen Delryn's mind. Mortal… Freedom… She would remain mortal… The arms that had been limp in shock flew up to return her embrace, nearly crushing her slender frame against him. His eyes squeezed shut against the tears of joy which started flowing. And behind his eyelids, he saw her.

He saw her enter the Copper Coronet, ragged and haggard. The patience she'd shown as he's prattled on, in youthful exuberance, about past exploits. Her soft and wistful expression as Anomen had asked her about her foster father Gorion. How she'd stayed his hand and saved him from himself after Moira's death. Her cry of anguish when they'd been reunited with a battered Imoen beneath Spellhold. The look of abject terror after the Slayer transformation. The relative peace they'd known in Suldanessellar after Irenicus' defeat.

A subtle shift, and he turned to what could be. Gwen standing in Athkatla's temple to Helm, in a flowing white dress, as High Watcher Oisig looks on benevolently. Her soft breathing as she sleeps beside him. The cozy home they buy for themselves with the wealth they've amassed. Gwen's musical laughter as she insists they "try out" every room in the house. Her tired smile and face slick with sweat as he holds their first child.

Anomen thought his heart would burst from too much happiness. "I love you, Gwen" he whispers in her dark locks.

She would remain mortal.