Based on the bonded path. Beware!
Why do I even bother? My first journal perished in the hands of a mischievous Academy scholar, and its many successors' fate was even worse. But I need to get my thoughts in order, and which way could be better than this?
At least, Stacey does not look the sort who pries into her companions' private life, though it will be just my bad luck if I am mistaken. The woman is, after all, a mystery: so human in appearance and behavior that I failed to notice her elven heritage at first; an orphan, who had likely never been with her people, never seen an elven settlement in her life. How can this be possible?
I will be sure to ask her later. For now, my head hurts again.
She is reckless, as well. Or desperate. Or, rather - much rather - suicidal. I counted twenty-three bodies in our wake, Tazok's men and hobgoblins both. And I have likely missed some. Fortunately, nobody ambushed us on our way back: tired and wounded as we were, I am sure they would have succeeded.
She worries me more and more with each passing day, to be honest. I am used to seeing bounty notices everywhere in human lands; more than once, my missions demanded aiding humans in their pursuit. But travelling with a woman who collects bounty notices about herself like pretty trinkets is, I admit, a novel experience. She does seem troubled by it, however, which means she is not entirely devoid of reason.
Xan, what are you doing with this group?
I am becoming used to our evening talks. She has a sharp mind, and a quick tongue. (I could switch these around, I suppose: she's a sharp tongue, as well. Her constant teasing is about to grate on my nerves... except that it doesn't). It is a pity that it is about to end: the Iron Throne citadel in Cloakwood will claim her life, and mine, and very soon.
I started to dread my night watches. Not that they have become any worse - as if they could! No. But I dread sitting around the campfire and guessing whether she'll have a nightmare again, or not. Whether she'll wake up or not... no, Xan, let us not go there. She will, and she will tell you that she has mysteriously acquired yet another ability, you will spend another hour convincing her not to use it, and it will yet again be in vain. I sense a pattern here...
... I must do something about it. As I was writing, she screamed again, I darted to her side, and my robes caught fire. And I thought our enemies were numerous enough without having to bother about the other causes of death! Seldarine... we are surely doomed.
Finally, we are nearing the heart of the Cloakwood forest. It is peaceful. Or would have been peaceful, if not for the Shadow Druids, wyverns, bears, Iron Throne guards... no, I shouldn't continue, or I'll run out of paper. Stacey does not seem to be bothered by it, though; on the contrary, these days she smiles much more often than someone in her predicament should.
We shared a reverie yesterday. She is unattuned to the world within, but she is focused, and a quick learner. I felt some guilty pleasure in waking up several moments before she did, and spying a relaxed smile on her lips. Then, of course, I remembered that I had failed to memorize any spells for today...
Stacey. Why do all my journal entries start with her name, or descriptions of her smile, her hair - no, it has not come to this, has it? Not yet, in any case. But I suspect it may, if I let my emotions dictate their course, and bring disaster upon our heads. I should tell her about my moonblade, about the fate that awaits me. About my duty to my people. She will understand, I am sure she will. But... why a mere thought of losing her friendship makes me feel as if I am about to die?
... She listened, and I saw only concern and sympathy in her eyes. She understands - and yet she does not. What do I do?
We are still alive. I am surprised, to say the least. Davaeorn's traps and lightning bolts scared me to death, though through the past two centuries I have never thought of myself as a coward. Cautious, yes, but not a coward. She is the reason, I am sure. When I think of these louts harming her, hurting her, whereas my pathetic spells can do so little... no, writing it down doesn't help, either. Perhaps I should spend some time on my own, to think. Baldur's Gate is a big city, after all, and she will not be likely to miss me.
She asked me what was wrong, and I gave her an unbelievingly callous answer. Could I have been this cruel? I desperately want to apologise, to hold her, to... No. I may bite my lips until they bleed, but I will not approach her again.
Today was the best and the worst day of my life.
I am writing this as she is curled next to me in slumber, her head on my knees. It does not feel like a victory - more like a full-blown defeat. Why do you love me, Lady, why?
At times, I fear the sky will fall and bury us. Or the moon will explode, the sun will grow cold, and I will wake up, Mulahey's prisoner once again.
She just exited my room, having announced that tomorrow we will head for Candlekeep. It will be curious to visit her former home, I do not doubt, but I fear I will not pay attention. The way the light plays in her hair interests me much more. Oh. I did write about her hair, did I not? I am doomed. Doomed. Why do I smile while writing this?
Candlekeep. Koveras. Reiltar. Ulraunt. Gorion's letter. Alaundo's prophecies.
What amazes me most of all is how little I think of the many implications the taint places on her. Her supposedly evil nature, chaos and destruction she is bound to bring, people she will have to kill, the throne of her father - after the initial shock has worn off, these stopped to matter entirely. What matters is her doom. Her close, inevitable doom.
The centuries of separation I kept imagining are nothing when compared to an eternity. She will be gone within a year. Perhaps more, perhaps less. And then - nothing.
Our bond is growing. Her heartbeat, her emotions, even some of her memories slowly but surely weave themselves into my life. I hold my breath every time I think of it, trying not to think of the end. Let others build their bonds, meant to last centuries: they deserve it. But she... she deserves everything. My only regret is that my heart is worth so little.
Tomorrow we will enter the Ducal Palace, hand in hand. She has to look her brother in the eye, and I shall protect her however I can. It will be over very soon. I see the question in her eyes, but I cannot answer it, not until her brother lies dead. Yes, I will remain at her side, and yes, I shall return to Evereska - only to leave it again after my resignation is done, never to return. For if I return there, without her hand in mine... what will be the point?
Enough of this. I need to rest, and so does she. Tomorrow.
How many months have passed? I look at these notes, and I cannot recognize my own hand. Should I even continue? I see little point, but it is not as I am able to do anything else at the moment. My robes and spell components are gone, my legs are aching with tiredness - for how long have I been walking the streets of Athkatla? It must have been hours before I realized the chance to meet her during my random wandering was close to zero - and I cannot even be fully sure that she is here. But at least the pain has stopped, which means - must mean! - that she is no longer hurting. Does it mean she is safe? Is there anyone with her?
The sound of another explosion from somewhere nearby. These humans... They are hopeless. But any more or less significant occurrence has a chance to do with her, so I must investigate. And I will. In a moment. Was it... was it her face just now?!
These rooms in the inns tend to look so similar that I often forget where I am. In Athkatla? In Baldur's Gate? In Icewind Dale? But the rapidly fading scars on her face and arms remind me where I am all too well. Where she ended up, not the least because of me.
Could it have been different, if I stayed? Yes, it could, my inner voice whispers, the main reason being my immediate death in the madman's hands, and further pain for her. It sounds logical, as always. But why, then, does a single look at her brings tears of shame to my eyes?
At least she is resting peacefully. She will need her strength - gathering such an amount of gold in such a short time is no easy feat, and dealing with the dark side of this city will require even more of her. Of us. Corellon, how I missed her...
I find myself daydreaming more and more often. Yes, there is pain, and danger, and a very real chance of death. But somehow, when I look at her, it very conveniently slips my mind - until the next battle, of course. Then I see the ease with which she kills, and it takes all my strength of will not to cry out, but to keep casting my spells. Will the taint get hold on her? If it continues like this, one day it well might, and then what will you do, Xan? Yes, you know the answer: nothing. You are so irrevocably doomed it is not even funny.
She does not seem to mind, however. Her head is in the clouds, as always, and she is disturbingly sure that "everything will be all right". As if... Whose wounds did I have to tend yesterday, Stacey? Yours or your enemies'?
At first light tomorrow, we are to sail to Spellhold. A foreboding name. Does it mean that my magic will be of no use there? I dearly hope not: after all, with the danger that undoubtedly awaits her, she needs no dead weight on her hands. In any case, she is in reverie or asleep now: when the light shines through her eyelids like this, I can never tell. I would join her, but I know it will end up with me waking up drenched in cold sweat, having dreamt of her dying horribly yet again, and I feel no urge to hasten this moment.
What will be worse: to die in Irenicus' hands or to be drowned on a sinking ship? Stacey, do you know the answer? No, no, I know what you'll say: that we are not doomed, that it is not hopeless... But how can it not be, when it is? Sometimes I think I will never understand her.
Irenicus has kindly left me all my equipment. Very benevolent of him, I am sure, especially considering that I can make very little use of it. My body still feels... no, rather, I barely feel it at all. And what is worse, I have no idea about her condition. Where did he take her? What is he about to do? Will she remain alive - sane? For Imoen is raving mad, in mind and spirit, I could sense it clearly. Will she... will she?
... the pain... will I see?
Does the Slayer have a tail? A silly thing, I know, but I keep wondering. Does he.. or she? I mean, she must have been a female Slayer, not... otherwise. Then it must mean that -
Stop. Xan, you are hysterical. Again, and it does not help anyone, least of all her. Not that anything will help her, of course. For once, the word "doomed" is an understatement.
She looks so small and lonely in her bedroll. Almost like a child - if one forgets how this eight-foot child looked hours ago. But it is not exactly her fault, is it? And Bodhi is no longer here, so it is not as likely to happen again. And she needs me. She is about to wake up; I will go to her. Doomed or not, she is all I have.
I raise my eyes, and she smiles at me. And I am happy. There is so little I need, truly.
The Underdark! Positively, we are mad. Granted, we have had no other choice, and still we do not, but to enter the home of illithids and drow, and willingly, at that! Madness. She does not seem to mind, though: it is almost as if she does not care. Her eyes are duller, less focused... or is it only my inflamed imagination?
... no. I refuse to believe it. How could we have agreed to that , as well!
I refuse to write further. My own fingers do not look my own anymore.
I felt relief at being among kin once again. A momentarily relief, alas. Elhan's manner screamed of distrust, and she sensed it well; she is no fool. For a moment, I was afraid his sages - who, I must say, deserved her ire - would share the fate of the dark ones below, but thankfully, it did not come to this. She looks annoyed, however, and she is not the only one.
Soon, we will be in Athkatla. The Order of the Radiant Heart will help us, surely - these suicide-mongers have little else to do, in any case. I am only afraid that she will be determined to deal with Bodhi on her own. The matter has become intensely personal, and Stacey can be difficult. But so beautiful... now, in her true form...
I do not think we will have time for nightmares tonight.
She asked me to prepare my best spells, and I have. I should not be writing right now: she is waiting for me below, and the sky is darkening. If anything, I should be directing my voice in a prayer, instead. But what will be the point?
Stacey... she will return, I will make sure of it. For whatever the Fates have prepared for her. I wish I could say the same of myself. But perhaps we are not doomed, after all?