Author Topic: The Eyes of a Basilisk  (Read 1889 times)


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The Eyes of a Basilisk
« on: May 27, 2004, 03:59:04 PM »
Yet another short story about the Eleven Four Company

the previous stories from this cycle are here:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~THE EYES OF A BASILISK~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Let us go,” Coran said, touching the hood of Minuwiel’s cloak. No, he was dragging her upright actually. How long was she crouching, her fingers wedged into the cold stone? Minuwiel licked her dried lips laboriously and looked up at the sky. The sun was low and taking on an orange tint...last time she saw it at the high noon. The priestess allowed Coran to make her stand and even managed a weak smile as he kissed her ear lightly. Then her gaze fell back at the white statue of a running girl. The movement of short, pumping legs was perfectly preserved in marble, those plump lips were stretched in a terrified cry for all eternity and her eyes were opened wide...
Minuwiel knew exactly what was the last thing the girl saw. It was a slow lizard, thrice bigger than herself, the heavy footfalls of its clawed feet, the wag of its spiked tail, the raising skin on its spine and finally - the green glow of its multifaceted eyes. Perhaps, they just killed the very basilisk, whose gaze turned the girl to stone. That was not enough for Minuwiel, but her delving failed to find a single spark of life in the marble child.

She sighed and stepped away from the comforting ring of Coran’s hands...and had to prop herself against the statue.
“We will set the camp now,” Kivan suggested matter-of-factly to Coran, and shouted: “Xan!” at the sorcerer who sat on the ground, turning his head wildly from one of basilisk’s victims to the next. He obviously found the doom he would fear the most for the next fortnight. “Xan, there is a stream nearby. Can you hear it? Let us carry the packs there and make a fire, while Coran takes care of Minuwiel.”

Minuwiel did not protest, when Coran gladly dropped his pack on the ground and lightly lifted her up. On the opposite, she sighed and let her head drop sleepily on Coran’s shoulder, cuddling herself against his chest. “Kivan,” Coran started quietly, but the ranger was already flanking them, a bared sword in hand and one eye on Xan who tried clumsily to unstring the Wishperer. At the sight of it, Coran cringed as in great pain and gave Kivan a pleading look. The ranger shrugged, but did nothing else. The rogue’s arms wrapped tighter around his precious cargo, and he whimpered.

“Oh, what’s the point?” Xan muttered under his nose, “we will no doubt have to fight thrice more today, that if we won’t get killed the very first time.” Suddenly, the string snapped through the air, and the mighty bow straightened in his hands with the sound that gave it the namesake. Xan’s hands flew to the Moonblade’s hilt, dropping the staff. Coran growled. Very quietly. Minuwiel’s breath was touching his cheek at even intervals, and her eyes were closed. He would not let Xan’s antiques to wake her up. Xan searched the ground for a while, before finally retrieving the string from the basilisk corpse. It must have got entangle on one of the creature’s horns, because the sorcerer spent an ungainly amount of time kneeling by the corpse. “Defender of Elvendom, by the Golden Rose!” Coran thought irritably, but Kivan stood silent, as if he was one of the statues himself, until Xan finally got up, and strapped both the shaft and the string to his pack.

The ranger finally started moving, with encumbered Coran and silent Xan in tow. The forest was all pines and fir-trees, so Coran moved slowly, pushing at the branches before they’d claw at Minuwiel with its needles. He was so engrossed in his task, that he payed little mind to the patch of white in the dark greenery. Surprisingly, so did Kivan.

It was Xan who attracted their attention by gasping:

“By Seldarine, it’s a white doe!”

Indeed, she was white, and she stepped on the trail right in front of them, watching the four elves with its moist red eyes.

Coran touched Minuwiel’s shoulder, waking up the maiden. It was a rare sight even for a wood elf, and Minuwiel had grown among the humans, whose best efforts at raising her true to her heritage resulted in the girl’s capability of reciting the historical manuscripts of the events no Elf cared any longer by heart, while worshiping a human god. Minuwiel slid out from his hands without a murmur of displeasure. She was born an elf after all, even if a snooty Golden. Though, he did hope for at least a tiny sigh.

The doe turned around, wiggled its short tail at them and started walking away. “Charming...” Coran commented, and then the doe stopped and turned its head back toward them.

“We...we should follow her,” Xan suddenly suggested in a strained voice.

“We need to camp,” Kivan replied, “Minuwiel needs rest. I can stalk it for you till morning.”

Xan shook his head negatively: “We should follow her.” And to Coran’s surprise, the sorcerer put two fingers on the hilt of the Moonblade, touching the pale blue stone with his long fingernails.

Kivan bowed his head and acknowledge the command with a formal: “You lead and I will follow, my Lord.”

Coran threw a doubtful look at exhausted Minuwiel, and for a split moment he wanted to ask Xan if he was sure that following the doe right now was really necessary, but when a Moonblade wielder calls upon you, you do not second-guess his decisions. You obey. So the rogue echoed the ranger, and after him - Minuwiel, who was watching them with shiny, excited eyes. It was turning into a much more profound lesson in elvenhood, than Coran initially thought.

As on a cue, the doe walked again, not pausing for another look. She led them directly to a clearing in the forest - a flood plane of the stream that Kivan heard earlier. Coran was about to comment on the redundancy of the white doe, when Kivan froze in his tracks. A few voices could now be heard from the distance and air smelled of smoke and cooking meat. “A hunting company?” the rogue suggested. The doe looked at him, with almost hurt expression and decisively walked into the underbrush away from the trail. “I am sorry...” Coran said sheepishly to the wiggling branches and doe’s behind, “did not mean... uhm... to scare you.”

Minuwiel giggled: “Stop courting wildlife!” and then added seriously: “Let us see who our neighbors are.”

Quietly (or as quietly as Xan’s flowing robes tangling on every branch would allow them), the four elves started for the camp. Through th e overhanging branches they saw three conical tents and a few makeshift covers done from blankets tied to the bushes and rocks, a couple of cooking fires... But Minuwiel barely saw it, her eyes drawn to the tall bulky figures pacing the camp or sitting around fires. Greenish skin, tusks and flat noses on human-like faces gave them out as half-orcs. Right by the fire, back to back sat five elven women, hands tied behind their backs and faces grey with fear, exhaustion and sorrow.

Kivan went pale. Minuwiel half-expected him to rush forward. She, herself, had to slap a hand against her own mouth to suppress an angry yell. But Kivan backpedaled, gave Coran a quick glance and notched an arrow. Coran followed his example and a split moment later two half-orcs fell to the ground, screaming and breaking off the long shafts. Dark blood splattered the ground.

The camp became a bee-hive, full of angry and ready to sting half-orcs. They jumped up and would have rushed to the archers and into the forest. “I will lead them on the chase,” Kivan started, “and you - “

“Stop ye, scatter-brained idiots!” roared a voice and a huge horned figure emerged from the biggest tent. “Get behind the bloody wenches!” However fast the archers were, they only had time to loose two more arrows, before the orcs obeyed the command.

“What now?” Coran asked.

Kivan unsheathed his sword.

“Get outta there,” the horned figure commanded. “Or I will kill one of the whores.”

“Try it, and I will be on your heels until I kill you,” Kivan replied calmly. “Let the women go and you will keep your measly life.”

The orc guffawed: “Now, now, you think me stupid? You squawk like all them, heroes, and that means you’d eat your guts out yerself if I finish off the wench.”

“Darn,” Minuwiel thought, “why did we have to run into the only intelligent orc on Faerun?”

“But,” the orc commander continued, “if you really want to free the stupid cows, I have a proposal. I figure by know you know that we are not some stupid mountain orcs. We fought with humans against Tunigians, and trust me, I have a full command of my unit. So you will not be able to sneak upon us, or cause panic or what else you hoped to do. So - let us do business.”

“Ye see, I am driving them wenches to Calimport, but so do many others. Was a good business once, but now the prices are collapsing... for women. But elven males, that’s another story -they grew in price recently and are a rare find unspoiled and unharmed. So, let me take a look at you and I see if I’d agree to trade the women for you, my brave fellows.“

“You hold five women,” Xan interfered calmly. “We are three men and a woman. Will you let six women go free if you get three men?” Minuwiel, Kivan and Coran turned toward Xan and stared. The sorcerer shrugged: “Have better ideas?”

“First I need to take a good look at ya, “ the half-orc said. “One wrong move, and that one -“ he pointed at a dark-haired girl, “gets it.” He motioned to one of his soldiers and he lifted the woman roughly on her feet, grabbed her by the hair and pulled her head down, exposing a throbbing throat. A long curvy dagger made a cruel teasing move across it leaving a dark line. “Just give me a shout, Urk,” the soldier said grinning. The woman shivered.

Urk walked slowly towards the forest edge, his bulky figure teasing the marksmen. Minuwiel saw Kivan lifting a bow and lowering it again, mouthing a curse.

“Steady, Kivan,” Xan said quietly, “she is not Deheriana.” Surprisingly, his wife’s name sobered the ranger up, instead of throwing him into a frenzy. He nodded to the sorcerer. Minuwiel noticed Coran fingering knives tacked into his sleeves.

Urk stopped a few paces away from them and commanded to exit from the forest. One by one, with their hands up...

They obeyed.

Xan was first to come out. He was a rather pitiful sight, Minuwiel thought, slender, bejeweled arms up in the air, wide sleeves covering his shoulders in puffy layers of fabric, his face pensive and gloomy. Urk rolled his eyes at the sight of him, but he watched Coran and Kivan wearily; he had a good eye for fighters, that half-orc. “Weapons,” he barked out shortly. Meekly Coran and Kivan placed their longbows on the ground, the two-handed sword from Coran’s back followed, and finally Kivan’s spear.

“Urk,” Xan said, “It is not that I mistrust you, but I wish to see that we are getting a fare deal. I am a mage and not a man of battle. If I start casting the spell, your men will cut me asunder before I get half-way through the enchantment. Allow me to walk towards women, untie them and they will walk here , where they will be under Minuwiel’s protection, while you walk Kivan and Coran to your camp.”

“A great warrior, your Minuwiel, ei?” Urk snorted giving her a condescending look. “But no tricks from you two,” he addressed Kivan and Coran thoughtfully. “Undress,” he commanded to the fighters briefly.

A grin went off Coran’s face... Kivan licked his upper lip. “Undress,” Xan repeated softly.

“Oh, undress?” in a flash the good mood returned to Coran, “for you - any time, ei, Kivan?”

“Yes... “ Kivan managed what a half-orc could take for a smile, “any time at all, “ and to Minuwile’s horror made a enticing move with his hip. Coran started pulling a boot off, smiling from ear to ear, and *ogling* Kivan, who undid a fistula with a silver eagle and dropped his cloak onto the ground with a showy gesture.

“Imagine, Kivan,” Coran spoke up, “we are going to be bed-slaves. It’s like a dream come true for me... “ Knives spilled from his sleeves on the ground. Kivan pulled his shirt over his head, his voice muted somewhat by the leather, and agreed: “Yes, a good deed and the life-changing experience to boot. How grand.”

Minuwiel for a second forgot about everything else, but Urk’s voice broke her reverie.

“My clients are women mostly,” Urk said, “ye won’t be per chance spoiled goods?”

“Oh,” Coran laughed, jumping on one foot, to pull the second of his high boots off, “No-no. Women, men, oak trees... Anything that moves. We are elves, you know, the prancy pointy-eared sort.”

Kivan emerged from his shirt and nodded. Urk frowned at the wide scars covering Kivan’s torso, but Coran’s far smoother body put him at ease. Urk’s beady eyes lightened as he glanced from Kivan to Coran and back. “Counting coins,” Minuwiel thought with disgust and anger, at the same time relieved that the half-orc barely noticed her. Female beauty was cheap. As the fighters got rid off their breeches, Minuwiel took a sip of water out of her waterskin, watching the slavers intently from under her golden tresses. All twenty of them.

And Xan waddling his way towards the tied up women, like a huge purple and grey butterfly. The half-orcs towered over him, like column of some wicked temple, making no effort to move out of his way, watching the two undressing elves. One of them however found time to trip Xan over his boot. Xan’s blade showed from under his clothes... Minuwiel stopped breathing. “This one has a sword!” One of the orcs cried out, “Good thing that Urk made a bargain! I am so scared!” The comment prompted even more mirth than the sight of Xan lifting himself off the ground, his cheeks red with embarrassment. But seeing the Moonblade made the women lift their head up and their eyes glued to Xan.

He remained silent and pulled out a small dagger - creating a new wave of rude comments regarding his supposed low value as a slave if his masculinity was to be judged from the size of his weapons. The sorcerer ignored it all, cutting the ropes. One by one, women ran toward Minuwiel.

Never she had seen an elf more lonely and clumsy than Xan standing amidst half-orcs in his bright robes.

“Nuut eleelle!” Xan cried out frantically, throwing his hands up. Minuwiel shut her eyes, following the command, unsure of what folly came over Xan. She knew that he knew not a single spell at the moment.

Heavy thumps followed Xan’s announcement and curses and then the sound of fighting.

“Ele!” Xan muttered, and Minuwiel opened her eyes to see a dozen of stone orcs and a half-dozen of living orcs. Naked Kivan dived under Urk’s huge hands and caught the Moonblade. A huge fist connected on Xan’s face, throwing him back... caving his face in. He fell, his palms opening and dropping something glistening into the tall grass. Coran rolled and managed to get hold of one of his knives. A huge blade crashed down onto him. It ought to have separated his head from his body...

Minuwiel opened herself to gods... Not to Lathander, but to any god that would listen. She never knew who answered her call, but she thought it was Corellion himself. Warm waves of magic flooded her, but she pushed it aside, towards her three companions.

There was no time for a proper prayer. “Give us victory,” she cried to the far away heavens, “give us victory!”


“Did you know that Xan had basilisk’s eyes?” Minuwiel asked Coran the next morning examining the healing gash on his neck critically.

Coran shook his head weakly and moaned out of pain. She felt guilty for having slept this night, and hurriedly placed her hands on the wound, soothing the pain, and channeling the healing flows. The red angry colors receded and a thin layer of pale skin grew under her fingers, contrasting oddly with the tanned and bruised skin around it. Bruises could wait. She checked the lump on his head... no worst than Xan’s really. But he was taken care of by all five saved ladies. A very tender care.

“So you just rushed ahead at the four to one odds?” she asked Coran finally satisfied with the wound’s condition.

“They are just like basilisks,” Coran replied lightly, “they look at you and see but a stone.” He hugged Minuwiel tightly by the waist and pulled the kneeling maid onto his cloak. “I really liked the set-up last night, my sweet healer.”

Minuwiel sighed and stretched carefully by Coran’s side. There was no escaping his arms, and frankly, she was a willing captive. “Life is adventure, or nothing, “ she thought, smiling and ran her fingers through the ringlets of Coran’s hair, gently breaking apart the tangles, dried blood crumbling under her touch. She puzzled over the fact that the deep peaceful breaths and the bravura escaped the same soft lips. She kissed his brow then and he smiled in his sleep.

Kivan wrapped himself tighter into his cloak and pulled the hood lower. Not a scratch on that one, who knows how.

“You should undress for us more often, Kivan” Minuwiel grinned. Kivan rolled his eyes and looked at the marble statues scattered throughout the camp. Very life-like statues.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2005, 10:12:39 AM by jcompton »


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Re: The Eyes of a Basilisk
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2004, 04:03:17 PM »
DISCLAIMER: It's mushy and there is no helping it.  :-\

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Virga~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Minsc - human ranger who carries a hamster called Boo and serves  a witch, Dynaheir, who is imprisoned in Gnoll’s Stronghold
Coran - an elven rogue of happy disposition
Xan - an elven sorcerer of pessimistic disposition
Kivan - an elven range, whose true love is dead
Minuwiel - an elven cleric, who due to her upbringing venerates a human god, Lathander.
A group of pissed off gnolls guarding their Keep

The clouds lingered above, gray and wispy; the warm and soggy air clung to Minuwiel’s bare skin. By all rights it should have rained, but it did not. Minuwiel pushed the clammy blanket off her with a sigh and cringed at curly smoke blackened on its edges. Coran tried to prove to their miserable camp fire that life was worth living. Sleepily, Minuwiel picked up the discarded coverlet and wrapped the gray wool around her shoulders. Then she crouched by Coran. The rogue did not miss the opportunity to touch her hand, which was sticking at an awkward angle from under the thick fabric.

“Do you know how we call rain that starts high above, but never reaches the ground?” he asked quietly, and his sensual voice thickened by the tepid fog turned the simple question into a veiled caress. It was so vague, that Minuwiel might have imagined it.

The human ranger who came among them a few days ago, and who was leading the elven group to save his country woman from gnolls, had a strange effect on all of them. They were all speaking Common now, laughing uncomfortably when a Quenya word slipped from their lips. Coran never teased Xan any more and did not court her with single-minded bravura. Xan never complained any more, and to think on that he rarely even  spoke, perhaps at a loss of what he can talk about to a robust and loud man with a heavy and plain sword.  Kivan on the opposite was as long-winded as she ever heard him, thinking perhaps that his custom brevity would offend their human companion. Or, maybe since human were generally regarded as an outspoken nation he tried to be the same with Minsc? Be it as it may, she learned more about Kivan in these three days than in the past three months, listening to his exchanges with Minsc.

Minuwiel pulled her blanket tighter. “No, I do not know, Coran. What is the name?”

“Virga,” Coran replied softly.

Minuwiel nodded. Coran had a childish like for beautiful things, even if they were mere words. “I wish,” Minuwiel looked up at the sky, “I wish for a downpour. I cannot stand this feeling of being on an eve of something... “ “You are not alone in that, sweetling.” Coran never made his desires a secret, but it surprised Minuwiel, that he would wish her so intently. If that what was he meant.  She noticed that the rogue still eyed women in taverns, but her pride did not allow her to find out if that was all that happened when they turned in for the night. Indeed, she did not even know what she was waiting for. Refusing Coran’s advances simply became a part of her nature, and she did as automatically as she lifted a shield when a weapon was swung at her in combat.

But an adventurer who stops his quest when uneasiness descents upon him is bound to end up a drunk in a tavern’s corner telling an incoherent and endless story of forgotten or unaccomplished deeds. The large Rashemi’s witch had to be delivered, despite Minuwiel’s heartaches and the rain that had never fallen.

They packed the camp and walked across a flimsy bridge, which swung lazily in resonance with their steps. In the ravine underneath them, once a small creek was now raging swelled with recent rains. It tore into the shores, undercutting roots of dark fir-trees and washing away sands and pebbles from the red stone of the valley bottom. Minuwiel can see layering in the glistening rock with narrow strips of grey or brown, angled oddly just like the gnarled trees on the slopes. The opposite shore was higher than the one they started at; a well-trodden road curved upward from the bluff climbing to a fortress made of the native red stone, its low turrets and wall cut out and shaped in the hill itself. It was a primitive keep, with no bulwark, ramparts, crenelation or other adornments, military or eye-pleasing. But Minuwiel doubted that it was made by yapping, quarrelsome gnolls. Someone who had patience and persistence far greater than the present occupants must have created the fortress... and they had done it in the centuries long past.  Minuwiel could not say why she was so sure that the fortress was ancient; she just knew it.

The elves grew somber, standing by the bridge and viewing it from a distance, except for Coran who was still in the middle of the flimsy structure, jumping and throwing himself at the sides, to produce the most quivering. The human ranger was not disheartened by the rogues antiques, advancing steadily, clutching to the hemp ropes and rusted chains. He squinted at the hold up on the hill with his untroubled blue eyes. Minuwiel guessed that be it Castle Neverwinter that stood in front of them or elegant towers of Evereska, Minsc’s mind would not have wandered from his purpose, from his witch. In fact, she saw a strange similarity between him and the hold that he was about to assail. Both were sturdy, single-minded and radiated a dignified strength. Either that finally occurred to Coran as well, or he simply got bored, but he ran after Minsc and the whole company now was assembled. Kivan strung his bow, and Xan shufled his bundle from his left shoulder to his right. Minuwiel tightened the laces of her tall boots.

“Boo wants to know what little Minuwiel is waiting for?” Minsc asked, puzzled by the passivity  of his elven companions.

A first heavy drop of rain fell on Minuwiel’s cheek. The elf smiled at Minsc: “The rain. Now we are ready to go.”  She started walking uphill, confident that the rest would follow.

They made a slow circle around the fortress, and offended Minsc by a refusal to storm the front gate. Instead, Coran scaled the slick wall, carrying a coil of rope on his back. His ascent looked almost effortless off the ground, but Minuwiel’s keen eyes saw whiteness where skin tightened against his finger and toe bones, when he gripped to near invisible cavities left by the wind on the red stone. First time he fell, he was almost half-way, and almost run up the wall, embarrassed... only to loose his hold once again, when he was no more than two meters above the ground. This time he sat in silence for long minutes, his eyes closed and when he restarted, his lips where stubbornly pinched. This time his open palm hit the top of the wall, and he pulled himself up and sat there for a moment pretending that he enjoyed the view. But his feet and hands trembled from the relieved strain.

It took their joint effort to pull the huge human up, but there was no need to lower him. With a crazed and long repressed fury he dove off the wall and engaged the closest gnoll. The yells, the bunging of weapons and the sound of warhorns filled the air. Coran and Kivan loosed arrows from their vantage point on the wall, keeping the ravaging gnolls at bay to allow Xan and Minuwiel to descend in a less dramatic manner than Minsc.

Cursing his luck, Xan wriggled free of his cloak, which had already soaked through and was now so heavy that it was obstructing the movements of his slender arms. In his silken robe alone and a score of amulets the wet mage leaned against the wall and prepared to chant.
“Do not sneeze!” Coran cried sliding down the rope. Xan sighed and closed his eyes.

“Oh, Nine Hells!” Minuwiel parried a halberd’s blow and called for Coran desperately. She could not hold her own against three tall muscular creatures with canine heads, and her mace had too short of a reach. Coran popped up by her side and pushed his long blade into a gnoll’s gut. It took him a significant effort to pull it back, now that he was not aided by the momentum. He jerked his head to get rid off the wet hood, echoing Xan’s curses, moved his palms on the handle of his sword, to get a better grip and swung dangerously again. Thin glowing purplish streak appeared in the air connecting Xan and one of the attackers around Minsc; the gnoll wailed stupidly, turned around and thrust his halberd into his kinsman.
Kivan’s arrows fell from above as persistent and near as thick as the raindrops.

Then arrows stopped and a bulky form slummed into the muddy puddle on the ground, showering the elves with red water. Minuwiel looked upward and yelled on top of her lungs: “Jump, Kivan! JUMP!”

Despite the lack of discipline, the gnolls apparently did patrol the outer wall. Now they come upon the ranger five strong and he was hacking at the cruel half-moon blades of halberds with with sword frantically. Couple more corpses landed in the mud before Minuwiel finally saw Kivan.

“He did not jump,” Coran muttered through clenched teeth. “Too proud.” And then shouted: “Xan! There is no time for spells. Min needs cover!”

Minuwiel slipped in the mud, half-falling half-jumping the distance that separated her from Kivan. She stayed kneeled, while Coran and Xan shielded her and Kivan. “Get up if he is dead,” Coran commanded curtly.

“I will. Give me a minute.”

The halberd that ripped the archer’s boiled leather jacket and wrecked his abdomen fell with him, and the rain was washing the blood off it making the mud to take a richer red shade. In contrast, the color went out of  Kivan’s tanned face; only his hair was still as black as Minuwiel remembered it. The wound was mortal. It was beyond her power to recall the dead to the Material plane, so she had to keep him alive and bring him back one breath at a time. Minuwiel slipped into a trance as hastily as she dared and the world seized to exist.

When the bloodless, pale face came into her view again, Minuwiel had expanded the grace bestowed on her by Lathander. She trembled, and leaned over Kivan, expecting her cheek to be more sensitive than her blood covered palms. Warm air touched her skin coming from the fallen. Relieved, Minuwiel allowed herself another moment looking at the man whose spirit was turning back... and for a brief moment, just before it realized that it was bound to the Material Plane, just after it settled again in the unyielding sorrow for the lost love, the man’s lips curved in an unshaded smile.

“At least his dreams were good,” Minuwiel got up from her aching knees and extended her hand to the now fully aware grim man. He gripped to it and got up. He swayed, and put one hand on the cleric’s shoulder; and in another second he was walking on his own, with uneven steps of a dizzy man. Not trusting himself with the weight of a spear, he took a short sword of his hip and went to relieve Minsc. Minuwiel joined Coran and a couple of other gnolls that Xan managed to put under his spell and turn against their own kind.


The world was wet after the rain, but cleansed and glad as well. The humans set their fire few meters apart from theirs; tomorrow Minsc and Dynaheir would be on their way. Tomorrow the four of them will again speak Quenya; Coran will court her and tease Xan, the sorcerer will complain at every turn of the road, and Kivan will be quiet. Minuwiel wondered if there was something that her companions would think she’d resume doing after they will be alone again. She sighed and for a moment she did not want the humans to leave. Who knows, maybe their openness would have rubbed off on the elves after a while?

“Do you know how we call love that is born in one’s heart but never reaches another?” Minuwiel asked thoughtfully of Coran. “We call it love, sweetling,” Coran responded with certainty.


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