Moving on to the Next Life

Aegon’s Troupe has cleared out the Gnoll Stronghold, but they must return one last time. Aaron waits for a ring that was taken from him by his captors. After talking to one of the men who hurt Vienxay, the Troupe leaves Nashkel for another journey to the west.

29 Mirtul 1368

After we leave Nashkel Inn, Vienxay and I talk about what happened with Lacius the previous night.

Aegon: What’s wrong?

Vienxay: Why did you let him get away? He didn’t reveal the truth that could have got me saved back in Evermeet!

Aegon: Because he was repentant, and ultimately as used as yourself.

Vienxay: Fine. You have a point. I am just…angry. That stupid man got roped away from me with her seductive Sharran darkness!

We know where she is now. I expect you to make every preparation before we meet her, her magic will be fierce.

Aegon: I’ll do this right. We will get her, Vienxay.

Vienxay: I am just…concerned.

I remember sitting in shame, amongst the council, my family and sisters in attendance, as my sentence of being cast out was given.

And I remember that bitch and my ex just watching. I hated them both for it.

This is all I have, Aegon. Don’t let me lose this.

Aegon: I know what this means to you. They’re as good as dead.

Vienxay: Thank you, Aegon.

Let’s just move on. Her death won’t come with us chatting about it.

I can understand her need for revenge, but it needs to be focused.

We stop by the shop to restock on ammo. While we are here we get a better sling for Will.

We leave Nashkel again. Perhaps this will be the last time we seek the Gnoll Stronghold.

1 Kythorn 1368

After nearly two days travel, we find Aaron where we left him.

Aegon: We have found your ring.

Aaron: Do you have my ring? Great! Uh… may I have it, please?

Aegon: Of course, here. And what would delay us now?

Aaron: Nothing, sir, absolutely nothing! Let us be out of here, quick!

Aegon: All right, let’s go!

Aaron: Wonderful! Hooraaay, I’m coming home!

We escort him back to Nashkel where we meet with his mother.

Aaron: Yes, mother! This man has saved me from the danger of the Gnolls!

Mrs. Brunnstein: Let me embrace you, my son!

Aaron: Mother, tell me: is Marina alright? Where is she?

Mrs. Brunnstein: Oh, my boy…

Aaron: What? Are you saying that she… no! No!

Aaron falls to his feet and begins to cry uncontrollably.

Aaron: Why did the monsters not kill me instead?

Aegon: I’m afraid it’s even worse, Aaron. We have met Marina. Or, rather, her ghost.

Aaron: Her ghost? How can that be?

Aegon: She promised to stay awake, didn’t she?

Aaron: Well, she said she wanted to stay awake, until I… I…

The ring! I wanted to give her the ring!

Oh, Aegon! It is the ring!

I beg of you, take the ring and bring it to her. Give her freedom. I… I could not. I could not look at her, not like she is now.

Mrs. Brunnstein: Wait a minute, sir. You have done so much good for me and I can never pay you back. But please, take the silver necklace of my mother. It is the most valuable thing I have and still is not enough to express my thanks.

Aegon: Keep your necklace, good woman. Your thanks is reward enough.

Mrs. Brunnstein: Oh, you’re too kind! I will always praise your name!

Aaron: If you’re looking for me you will probably find me at the mill.

He sighs heavily and leaves with his mother. Our party agrees that we should return to the Dryad Falls and deliver the ring to Marina. On our way out of Nashkel we bump into an old friend. An annoying one.

Don’t tempt me. There are rocks nearby.

Imoen: ‘Nough already!!! Outta my way! Let me at him! He’s driving me insane!!!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Imoen lose it like this. We need to move quickly. For Noober’s safety rather than ours.

2 Kython 1368

We escape Noober and spend a day travelling to the Dryad Falls. When we arrive we find no ghost waiting for us.

I’ve read that ghosts only come out at night. We are getting tired anyway, so we decide to set up camp and wait here for a while. After some time a couple of gnolls come across our camp.

I put one of the gnolls to sleep.

The other engages us, and manages to hurt me. I should have had my mage armour equipped.

I retreat and heal myself while Cat keeps the gnoll occupied.

Imoen gets the kill.

We wake up the other gnoll with a few bullets. It manages to hurt Cat, but Vienxay strikes true with her poisoned arrows.

I heal Cat, and we return to waiting for Marina’s ghost. As night falls, Imoen and Vienxay discuss the stars.

Neera: No, I’m just looking up at the stars. Did the monks at Candlekeep teach you and Aegon about the night sky?

Imoen: Tethtoril took us out for a few lessons, but I didn’t pay much attention. It was bor-ring!

Neera: Haha. We had to learn the constellations as part of our Divination classes. I didn’t have much of a knack for divination, but I do love watching the stars. I spent many nights in High Forest gazing up at the stars as they moved across the sky. So peaceful.

Imoen: If ya say so. I’d rather be sittin’ by a warm fire in an inn than outside in the middle o’ the night starin’ at the stars.

Neera: Oooh, that sounds good too! …with a cup of mulled elvish wine?

Imoen: Now yer talkin’!

3 Kythorn 1368

It is midnight. The stars are visible. Night has fallen. And our ghost has appeared.

Aegon: I’ve got something for you.

Ghost: What… is that… a ring? Oh, Aaron! A Ring!

Yes, dear, I do! I want to! I love you!

But now let us sleep. It is so dark… and I’m so tired… dark…

The ghost of Marina disappears in a flash of light.

Left behind in her place is a pearl.

We take the pearl and leave the Falls. On our way back to Nashkel we encounter an xvart.

And a gnoll.

After another 20 hours of travel we are back at Nashkel once more. Noober is persistent as always.

We find Aaron at the grain mill where he said he would be.

We can’t do any more for him, so we leave him be. We look for Barin in the temple, but he is nowhere to be seen.

We take some time to discuss our next move.

Imoen suggests we try and find the source of the constant assassination attempts on my life. Unfortunately we don’t have any information other than the bounty notices to go on.

Will suggests we try to make money. There is a reward for Commander Brage’s head, and there may be a nice reward for investigating the nearby mines.

Dynaheir seeks the journal taken from her by the gnolls. We couldn’t find it in the Stronghold, and we don’t know anywhere to look.

Vienxay is keen to get to the Cloakwood. Unfortunately,her thirst for revenge will have to wait: the path to the Cloakwood is riddled with bandits at the moment.

Neera suggests that we spend time in the nearby Carnival before we choose our next path. Imoen is excited by this idea, and the rest agree it’s about time we took a break from travelling. The carnival is just to the east of town, so we leave the temple and make our way over.

To the south of the carnival we find a rabbit breeder.

Aegon: Do you sell rabbits? Can we buy one?

Rabbit Breeder: Oh, I should warn you, sir. My rabbits are the noblest animals north of Amn and not exactly cheap.

The best costs up to 10 pieces of gold!

Aegon: I think I can still afford that. I’ll take one.

Rabbit Breeder: An excellent choice, Lord!

He gives us a white rabbit. I remember Ugh the Ogre wanted a new pet. Perhaps he would like this rabbit, even if it isn’t as fluffy as Jumper.

Night falls, and we enter a merchant’s tent. He is selling some strange potions.

Aegon: If it does what you say, I’ll gladly take it.

Merchant: Already you must feel stronger just holding it in your hand. Yes, your packs weigh lightly upon your shoulders. Will you convince me of your satisfaction by purchasing the red elixir?

Aegon: Your first potion seems genuine enough. I’ll take the second as well!

Merchant: Your eyes grow wide with the light of knowledge. Go forth now and I will enjoy the satisfaction of future great deeds done with my assistance. Ample compensation for practically giving merchandise away. Out, everyone out! You have picked me clean! I can afford no more good deeds this day!

We leave as he asks. I hand the potions to Will, and he tells us that while the potions technically do what the merchant claimed, they have some side effects.

We find another merchant selling from a caravan outside.

Aegon: Show us your wares.

He sells various magical weapons which we can’t afford right now. This must be the area for carnival merchants as we find even more nearby.

Aegon: Show us what you have to sell.

He sells various potions, some of them strange. We have no need for potions right now, but we make a note in case we need to stock up later.

The man next to the merchant is a carpentrer, pining for the days when he made art.

We meet a woman named Tina who is also browsing the merchants’ wares.

Aegon: Can I help you in any way?

Tina: Sure, you could give me 1000 gp or so. Haha! Little joke, sorry. But I *do* need money. Do you have a job for me? I mean a decent one. Don’t you even think about offering me something else! I am a lady of good honour, after all. I mean something like… like… buy you something… cook you a meal… wash your clothes – I mean your spare ones, not the ones you are wearing right now! Don’t you even think about taking them off! Or watch your children… You don’t have children, by any chance, no?

Aegon: There is a mother with two little children near the “Belching Dragon,” seeking a babysitter.

Tina: Oh, that’s, er, great. Listen, I’m not really looking for a *job* you know. You wouldn’t by any chance lend me some money, no?

Aegon: Lending you money? And what do I get as a deposit?

Tina: Deposit? How about… my… my scarf? Erm, maybe my necklace? Look, it’s nice, very nice, isn’t it?

Aegon: Your necklace will do. How much money do you need?

Tina: Oh, just what you want to spare… I don’t need it for long.

Aegon: How about 20gp?

Tina: Yes, that would be great! I just got gold! Hey, I got some go-old!

Ha! Did you see her face? I won. Here you go, your gold back. Thank you for lending it to me!

Aegon: What was that? You barely held it in your hands!

Tina: I don’t need it longer. I bet with my friend who is standing over *there*, that a complete stranger would give me money. We bet 2 gp that I would succeed. Now it’s mine! It’s mine!

Hey, last time we bet she won, so it’s only fair. This is a carnival, right? So enjoy yourself!

With that strange encounter over, Tina leaves to collect her winnings. Before we collect ourselves to move on, we are approached by a young looking elf.

Aegon: What’s wrong? Are you okay?

Aerie: It… it’s Bentha!

Aegon: Bentha?

Aerie: She’s an old witch who has been teaching and taking care of me while my Uncle’s gone.

I know magic is frowned upon in Amn, but she is a good person! She’s only ever used her powers to help others. But Zordral… he’s mad, and now he’s holding her hostage!

I didn’t want to leave her there, but she insisted I go. But I… I-I don’t know where to go for help…

Aegon: Then there is no time to lose – lead us to her at once!

Aerie: You… you’ll help? Oh, thank you! Please, follow me.

Wow. Wasn’t expecting to see Baldur’s Gate II characters this early on. It’s fun to have unexpected things like this happen.

We follow the elf, but it turns out she’s not the only one who wants a favour.

Aegon: Certainly, Neera. What do you need?

Neera: Even though I first ran away because I was scared, I’ve begun to think I should find a way to reduce the unfortunate side effects of my otherwise awesome spells.

Aegon: That sounds wise.

Neera: Casting wild magic is like… playing a flute by ear. I just kinda… picked it up as I went along, doing what felt natural. In magical terms, I can play a pretty mean tune. But when I miss a note, the note shoots fire at everyone.

Also, the flute sometimes turns me into a hamster.

Anyway, wild mages tend to keep to themselves for obvious reasons, but I’ve heard about one nearby. They say he’s very old and wise.

Aegon: And you think he can help you?

Neera: Hey, you’re smarter than you look. That’s exactly right. Someone who’s lived so long with wild magic must be able to teach me a thing or two.

Aegon: Who is this wild mage, and where can we find him?

Neera: His name is Adoy, and he was last spotted to the east of Firewine Bridge.

Aegon: Then we’ll look for him there at once.

Neera: Thanks, Aegon. You’re more than a convenient escape from vicious Red Wizards. You’re a real pal.

She isn’t done talking just yet.

Aegon: I’ve done plenty of awful things, but that’s in the past. I don’t like to dwell on things gone by.

Neera: I wish I could just magically stop thinking about it, but… I can’t. It just keeps playing over and over.

I couldn’t get to sleep last night. Kept thinking about what I did to the other kids back in High Forest.

Sometimes it’s all I can think about. The smell, the sound–the, the screaming, and…

I have to wonder, is this feeling ever going to go away?

Aegon: In order for that to happen, you’ll have to forgive yourself first.

Neera: Would you be able to? I don’t think I’ll *ever* forgive myself for what I did.

I know it wasn’t my fault, but… I ran away. I just ran away, and let them burn, and didn’t do anything.

I don’t think it will go away. I think I’ll be stuck like this forever, with the… guilt, and the shame sitting inside me like some enormous stone.

Aegon: Maybe, but that’s life. It’s what we deal with every day. Everyone has their own stones sitting inside them.

Neera: I just wish mine wasn’t so big.

I’m sorry. This was a stupid idea. I should never have brought it up. Excuse me, I… I don’t want to talk about this anymore.

I wish I had the answers. I ran away too. I failed to protect my father. That stone feels heavy to me.

Meanwhile Dynaheir takes some time to get to know Imoen.

Imoen: Huh, not much to tell there ma’am. I was orphaned early, and a good man Winthrop took me in. Heh, good but boring. I’d still be working in his inn, if we hadn’t run away. Heh, that was fun… Except of course for Gorion dying.

Dynaheir: Though wert a friend to Aegon?

Imoen: Yep. Funny sort he is, but I knew him for as long as I can remember myself and in the end he isn’t all that bad.

Dynaheir: Funny? What dost thou mean, funny?

Imoen: Oh, I mean that eight foot tail Aegon has.

Dynaheir: Tail? What kind of a tail?

Imoen: The blue one with purple stripes.

She giggles.

Imoen: C’mon Dynaheir, don’t you understand I’m joking?

Dynaheir: Thou wert joking? Nevertheless, what didst though mean by Aegon being funny?

Imoen: Uh… I dunno. I guess I meant that he is fun to be around. Hey, why are you even asking about me and Aegon?

Dynaheir: ‘Tis good to know thy companions, Imoen.

Imoen: Aha! Maybe you can tell me of yourself? How old are you? What does your name mean? And why they all call you a witch? And why did you come here to the Sword Coast?

Dynaheir: Time hath run short for talking now, Imoen. I shall tell thee more of myself some other time.

Time hath run short. We have a Bentha to save! We stop to talk to Aerie outside Zordral’s tent.

Aegon: Is that possible?

Aerie: It is quite possible, I’m afraid. I was in the middle of studying just such a spell trigger, when he… Well, it was beyond my ability right now, but his…

If you do go inside, then I think it would be best to try and get his attention away from her, b-but don’t just threaten him! He’ll likely just try to prove his power…

Just.. please be careful.

We promise her that we will. Before we can head inside the tent a man with glowing clothes accosts us.

Aegon: My name’s Aegon, what’s yours?

Lord Binky the Buffoon: Mon namen est Aegon, vott iss yorse?

Aegon: Are you mocking me?

Lord Binky the Buffoon: Dost thou mockest me? Away with you, beggar!

He’s worse than Noober. I thought this carnival was supposed to be relaxing.

We go inside Zordral’s tent…

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