D&D: After the Tournament

Last week I was bored at work and felt like writing. Ever since our last session, I had been thinking about everything that took place after the tournament: specifically how Basile handled seeing his mentor and father again. So, I wrote a short story based on what happened! (At this rate, I might end up writing another novel…)

Enjoy!

 

Basile lay in the middle of Rhaegar’s home with his eyes closed. He was too exhausted to keep up his invisibility or to silence the internal and external voices of his friends as the slowly made their way to the house. Rhaegar was arguing with Dwayne about something unimportant, while Lorn watched him and jot down his thoughts about Ciaran’s performance in the tournament. He knew that he’d have to explain everything to the nosy druid soon. Meanwhile, Ciaran sat beside him on the floor, recounting every moment of his fight.

“I had to fight Roger Lord Mortimer, Neebs, and that new guy!”

“Yes, I know. I was there.”

“I kicked them all in the dick, like you told me to. It really got them all mad.”

“You did a good job.”

“I know I was protected by our bond, but I can’t believe my arms didn’t come off or that my eyes didn’t get gouged out!”

Basile grimaced. “Before a mark can be made on your skin, I’ll have to die first.”

“I’m sorry you had to get hurt for this to work,” Ciaran murmured, laying down to rest his head against Basile’s shoulder. The tiefling held in a whimper of pain. His shoulders still ached after having his arm ripped off and regenerated. “I wish I was stronger.”

“I can handle it. You’re very strong, and Lorn was there to protect me,” Basile assured his brother. “It will all be worth it in the end.”

“Basile! He’s in trouble!”

“Alkaid?” Basile frowned, stretching out his thoughts to the aasimar. “Who’s in trouble?”

“They’re looking for him! Neebs and Krom!”

Basile jolted to sit up, knocking Ciaran off him. “Lorn!” he shouted hoarsely, nearly losing his breath as his entire body protested against him. He forced himself to lay back down slowly with Ciaran’s assistance.

The elf looked up from his journal. “What is it?”

“Alkaid just told me that Neebs and Krom are looking for Ciaran. I think they’re going to try and fight him outside of the ring.”

“Can they do that?” Ciaran asked with worry.

“There aren’t any rules against it,” Basile said through gritted teeth. “Can you cast a spell to keep him hidden?”

“I believe that Dwayne can help you out there,” Lorn said as he looked over to the beguiler. He called out to him and ushered him over, pulling him away from whatever disagreement he and Rhaegar were having.

“I can cast Misdirection which will make it harder for them to track him down,” Dwayne said as he was informed on the situation.

“Yes, please do. We need to keep Ciaran safe.”

With a wave of his hand, Dwayne cast the spell over Ciaran. He then walked outside briefly and selected a random tree as the subject of the misdirection. The boy looked down at himself briefly, then back over to Basile.

“Do I look any different?”

Basile chuckled. “No, that’s not how that spell works.”

“Oh. It would have been cool to look like something else. Like a bear, or a bear with wings! A bear with wings with a laser gun!”

Basile closed his eyes again and let Ciaran tell him about the different things he wishes he could transform into. It was strangely comforting to forget about all the stress in the world and to play make believe.

“Eythan?”

Basile’s eyes snapped open as the familiar voice pushed its way to the front of his mind. For a moment, he didn’t believe it was real. Then he heard it again: “Ambrosio?”

“Pythos?”

A wispy chuckle. “In the flesh.”

Basile grinned to himself. “God, it’s good to hear you.”

“I’m in town. Where are you?”

“I’m at my friend’s place. Go to the house on the right shoulder of the mountain. It has a dragon skull on the front. Can’t miss it. And call me Basile.”

“I’ll be there soon.”

The moment the conversation ended, Ciaran nudged Basile to get his attention. “Who were you talking to?”

“An old friend of mine.”

“You have old friends?”

“Just because I didn’t have many friends while we were traveling doesn’t mean I never had friends before,” Basile corrected, his tone light – almost playful. Ciaran beamed in response.

The front door to Rhaegar’s house burst open as Alkaid ran inside, panting and trembling. His violet eyes were wide as he looked over to Ciaran and let out a deep sigh. “Thank Avandra you’re okay.”

“Hey! Knock before barging in!” Rhaegar said as he walked over to close the door behind Alkaid.

“Of course I’m okay. Basile is alive,” Ciaran replied happily as he sat up straighter.

At that moment, Alkaid seemed to notice that Basile was there. His expression darkened slightly. “I see that.”

Basile forced a smile. “Everything went according to plan. Now you can buy all the bows and arrows that you desire.”

Alkaid huffed and moved to sit down in one of the few chairs Rhaegar had decorating the empty room. “I’m just glad that Marven was able to distract Neebs and Krom long enough for me to slip away. They were going to drag me around town until I led them to Ciaran.”

“Sure sucks to be you,” Basile remarked, covering his eyes with his arm. The darkness helped with his ever-growing headache. “Where’s Marven at now?”

The aasimar shrugged. “No idea. I’m sure he’s fine.”

“I don’t doubt that for a moment.”

There were two quick knocks on the door. Rhaegar peeked out through the eyehole he had accidentally made with his dagger in a fit of rage. “What do you want?”

“I’m looking for Basile,” the stranger replied, his voice slightly muffled through the door.

“Pythos? Is that you?” Basile asked quietly.

“Yes.”

“Rhaegar,” Basile said tiredly, sitting up from his spot on the floor. “You can let him in. I told him to meet me here.”

Rhaegar nodded and opened the door. Before letting him in, Rhaegar held up his hand for the cloaked stranger. “Sorry, hood down before coming in.”

“Of course.” Pythos took off his velvet cloak completely, draping it over his arm. He turned slowly to prove that he had no weapons on his person, only fine clothing and jewelry. Basile was surprised to notice that his mentor hadn’t seemed to age a day since they last saw each other. It was a good sign.

“Everyone, this is my mentor, Pythos” Basile introduced with a warm smile. “Pythos, these are my friends.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you all,” Pythos said with a bow before turning back to the tiefling. “I’m very glad to see that you have made some friends while we were apart.”

Basile was glad that he was already red in the face. His embarrassed blush was harder to notice. “Yeah, yeah…”

His mentor grinned and held up his Bag of Holding. “Need a drink?”

Basile’s eyes lit up. “Please.”

Pythos rolled up his sleeves and reached into the bag, pulling out three vials of liquid and an empty flask. In a flurry of quick movements, he mixed the ingredients together until they were combined. Then, he paused for a moment as if remembering something, and snapped his fingers. There was a small puff as the smell of hot chocolate wafted out from the flask. He handed it over to Basile, who took it thankfully and downed it.

“Still your favorite?”

“Yes, thank you,” Basile said as he felt the drink take effect almost immediately. All of his pain washed away as his body went numb. His brain became fuzzy, with everyone’s thoughts slurring together into a manageable collective consciousness. He could still hear everyone, but it was like the volume was turned down. He leaned back on his hands and closed his eyes as the ground beneath him began to ebb and flow in waves. God this is good.

“What did you mix into his drink?” Rhaegar asked.

“Some strong health potion, alcohol…things to help soothe Basile’s pain and anxiety.” With that he looked at Ciaran and grinned. “Good job at the tournament today. You put on quite a good show.”

“Thanks! Did you like my costume?” Ciaran chimed in excitedly.

“Indeed. It was quite creative.”

Basile grinned as his body started to tingle and grow light. “If only you saw what was going on behind the scenes.”

“Believe me, I did,” Pythos added. Basile wasn’t surprised if he had a way to see past invisibility. After all, he would need it to keep track of Basile while in town.

“Nice tattoos, by the way,” Dwayne commented as he eyed the gold marks on Pythos’ dark skin. He crossed his arms over his chest to show off his own tattoos.

“They aren’t just tattoos. They are ritual marking we warlocks use to infuse magic into our blood so our connection to magic is stronger,” Pythos explained as he took a seat next to Basile and wiped imaginary dust off his white gloves.

“So, what brings you here?” Lorn asked, resting his journal on his lap. With his now heightened senses, Basile could practically hear Lorn’s finger toying with the edge of the paper.

“My, you’re all a curious bunch. I am a purveyor of information. I was contacted to come here and provide some information for a client in town.”

“You work for Regis, don’t you?” Rhaegar suggested as he pieced together what information he had.

Pythos laughed, but Basile could sense the disdain hidden underneath his smooth demeanor. “I work with Regis. We’re both informants for the same guild.”

“Who were you here to see?” Lorn questioned, his voice light and friendly. However, his thoughts were somewhat suspicious and eager for more information. Basile took another sip of his drink, trying to hide his smile. If he thinks he’ll be able to weasel anything out of Pythos, he’s sorely mistaken.

“Customer confidentiality. I don’t share who I’m contracted to assist, and I don’t share secrets unless there is payment in return.” Pythos turned to face Lorn, matching the elf’s disposition. “However, if you have any information that you would like to share, I’m open to making a deal.”

Lorn leaned forward in his seat, hooked in with Pythos’ offer. “I happen to know the location of a dragon lair not too far from town that may be intriguing to you.”

Pythos sucked in a sharp breath, his grin widening. “Ooh, sorry. I already happen to know about Torque’s lair. You’ll have to tell me something I don’t know.”

Basile began to snicker, the sound soft as he tried to hold it back. The unique elixir seemed to suck out all of his pain and worries, leaving nothing but joy to bubble up into his throat. He could hear – no, feel – Ciaran wondering if he was okay. He nodded and leaned against his brother. The boy was warm like a fire on a winter night. Basile needed the warmth.

“All right,” Lorn said as he opened his journal and skimmed through the pages. “Then how about this.” He tore out a page and began to warm the page up with a match. Slowly, the invisible ink began to heat and appear. Before Lorn handed the paper to Pythos, Basile knew exactly what it was: the sheet all about him. Normally Basile would be furious, but all he could do now was laugh.

Pythos took the paper and looked it over, briefly glancing at Basile beside him. “Good job keeping tabs on my apprentice, but none of this is new information for me, either.”

Basile could tell Lorn was frustrated as he tucked the torn sheet back into his journal, but he was a stubborn elf who would get what he wanted. So, he changed tactics for a third time.

“All right. How about the location of a rare artifact.”

“The Hook!” Dwayne’s thoughts shouted loudly through the ether, breaking through the gentle murmurs. Dwayne quickly cast Silence over Lorn, who noticed the spell and shook it off with ease.

“You are familiar with a Deck of Many things, correct?” Lorn said with frustration, casting a quick glance toward Dwayne. Basile didn’t blame Dwayne one bit.

Pythos’ eyebrows raised slightly. “I’ll admit, I’m intrigued. Where exactly would one find this artifact.”

“We have it,” Lorn said with a triumphant grin.

Basile’s mentor chuckled and shook his head. “Clever. All right, Lorn. What would you like to know?”

“I would like to know the whereabouts and condition of some people.”

“You’ll have to be a little less vague than that.”

“I want to know about the Thrax family.”

“That I can do.” Pythos closed his eyes and took a deep breath. After a moment, he let his head fall forward as he entered a deep meditative state. Some of the runes carved into his skin began to glow slightly as his internal stores of magic were tapped into.

“Huh, weird,” Rhaegar murmured as he walked over and waved his hand in front of Pythos’ face. “Hello? You still with us?”

“Don’t distract him,” Basile snapped, but his tone wasn’t nearly as harsh as it could have been. He was too happy to be mean.

“What is he doing?” Ciaran asked, his thoughts slurred together with everyone else’s.

“Meditating. Collecting information. I don’t really know,” Basile admitted, hoping that his thoughts were directed to the correct person. It was harder to focus when he was drunk.

He watched his mentor curiously, also intrigued by his skills. There was so much that he had never been taught, but there was now so much that Basile had leaned on his own. Did Pythos already know about it all? Was this deep meditation the reason why?

After a few moments, Pythos took a deep breath in and opened his eyes. His composure regained, he let his golden eyes focus on Lorn. “The Thrax family is safe in their hometown. I also pulled some information regarding additional people that I believe you are curious about, but their whereabouts are unknown.”

“The last time people saw them?” Lorn prodded.

“About the time you left home.”

There was another knock at the door, this one loud and off beat. Rhaegar groaned and stormed over to it, throwing it open. Outside stood Neebs and Krom. They both had a massive keg under one arm, and a sheet of paper in their free hand. They were clearly drunk from whatever tavern rampage they went on.

“Neebs?” Rhaegar asked. “What are you – ?”

“Dear Sir or Madam,” Neebs started, his voice slurred as he read off the paper in his hands. “We apologize for the behavior we have displayed this evening, and promise to never threaten random people again. Sincerely, Neebs and Krom.”

Marven pushed his way past Neebs and Krom to enter the house. “I stopped them from looking for you know who again. They shouldn’t cause any more problems. Oh, by the way, this isn’t Neebs. It’s some doppelganger that -” The dragon-gnome paused as he noticed Basile and Pythos sitting in the center of the room. “Oh, hey Pythos.”

“You two know each other?” Basile asked. He then noticed that among the myriad of voices there was…music? Annoying singing. He realized it was Neebs’ voice, but it was slightly distorted. What the hell?

“I didn’t realize that you were acquaintances with Basile!” Pythos said pleasantly.

“Marven was your client,” Lorn stated, quickly putting two and two together.

“If I had known he was a part of your group, I would have divulged that part sooner.”

“Don’t you know everything?” Basile mused, his eye slightly twitching from the irritating song in his head.

“Indeed I do.” Pythos stood back up and cracked his knuckles. “Gentlemen, can I offer you the best drinks you will ever have?”

As Pythos mixed powerful drinks for the two drunks, Basile let himself sink deeper into the high. It was starting to fade, the floating feeling vanishing and the aches and pains of battle sinking back into his bones. Worst of all, the voices picking up their volume and Basile knew that they would only get louder. He eyed the barrels of alcohol that Pythos was infusing with his magic, and his mouth began to feel dry like cotton.

I don’t need more.

Lorn crossed the room with his bag, heading for the door. He heard Xi-Long’s name flicker in his mind and knew that the elf was going to pick up some items. As he passed, Basile reached out and grabbed the sword hanging from the elf’s waist.

“Hey! Will you do me a favor?”

Lorn paused. “What do you need?”

“Can you pick up something from Xi-Long’s for me? I can give you the money.”

“Sure. It’s better than you running around before you’re fully healed.”

Basile smiled widely and dug out the gem Ciaran had found in Torque’s lair. He handed it to Lorn, followed by a sack of coins. “That should be 30,000 gold total. Keep the change. I need you to buy me a True Resurrection Scroll.”

Lorn raised his eyebrow, and Basile could clearly hear the curiosity and confusion rattling in his head. However, the elf didn’t question and took the money before leaving. As soon as he was gone, and Krom and Neebs were being taken to a back room to sleep off the effects of their overpowering drinks, Pythos sat back next to Basile.

“Who are you planning to bring back with a True Resurrection Scroll?”

Basile glanced over toward him. “Who do you think?”

Pythos frowned. “You need to let the past go.”

“I’ve made up my mind about this.”

“It’s dangerous to – “

“You don’t need to lecture me. I know the risks,” Basile argued, glaring at his mentor. He fully understood that his decision wasn’t only going to resurrect his dad, but it was also going to bring life to a part of his past that he has tried to keep dead.

Pythos sighed and nodded. “I know. You’re not a kid anymore. I just worry and want you to be safe. I’m glad to see that you’re happy with these people, and if bringing him back will make you happier…”

“Thank you for understanding.”

“Of course.” Pythos stood up and stretched. “It’s about time I head on out. Thank you all for your hospitality.” As he left, Basile heard his voice linger a bit longer: “When you’re ready, meet me at The Three Shepherds.”

***

When Lorn returned from Xi-Long’s shop, Basile’s eyes locked onto the scroll in the elf’s grip. He wanted to cast the spell immediately, but almost as soon as Lorn returned there was another soft knock at the door.

“Dammit, why does everyone want to come over here all of a sudden?!” Rhaegar shouted as he yanked open and the door and slammed it against the wall. Ashisa stood on the other side in her human form, her hand still up in the air from knocking. “Oh…Ashisa.”

“Is this a bad time?” she asked softly, her accent thick despite her disguise.

“No, not at all,” Marven interrupted, pushing past Rhaegar. “Come on in.”

Ashisa took a few tentative steps inside and lowered her hood. She smiled warmly at Marven, who smiled back. Basile shook his head and tried to block out any thoughts between the two of them.

“I have come with news that the tree has born fruit: one to boost your strength, and one to boost your wisdom,” she explained. “As promised, Duarph will have the first fruit. Which of you will like to have the second?”

“I’ll take the fruit for strength,” Rhaegar offered.

“Duarph will probably want that one,” Lorn added. “We should probably take wisdom.”

“I could use it, but you should probably take it,” Dwayne said. “A lot of my spells are spontaneous, but yours require preparation. It will help you the most.”

After everyone agreed, Lorn told Ashisa to save the fruits until they could collect them in the morning. Before she left, Marven whispered something to her and she smiled in response. Their thoughts became clearer in the fog of Basile’s mind.

He shook his head and tried to ignore it. God, get a room already…

With all strangers gone or asleep, Lorn walked up to Basile and handed him the scroll. “I don’t think you wanted to do this until all of the commotion died down.”

Basile took the scroll and nearly dropped it as it made contact with his fingertips. He trembled, but he couldn’t tell if it was from adrenaline, fear, or the lingering effects of Pythos’ world-spinning elixir.

“Maybe you should do this,” he said, his voice thick with worry. “You’re used to scrolls. You won’t mess it up.”

“I don’t know who you’re trying to resurrect.”

“It’s Levi Addler,” he murmured quickly, spitting the name out before he could think twice. “I can tell you everything about him, give you articles of clothing he used to wear. Anything you need.” He hated how desperate he sounded.

“If he’s someone close to you, you’ll be more likely to convince him to come back.”

Basile pursed his lips. Would his dad even want to come back? He looked down at the scroll again and ran his thumb over the wax seal.

“Will I be able to read this?”

Lorn rested his hands on his hips. “I don’t see why not. You’ve been studying a lot.”

There was no uncertainty in the druid’s voice; if he believed that Basile wouldn’t misread the scroll, then Basile had no reason to worry. But he couldn’t help it. He had let himself get pummelled and torn apart at the tournament so he could earn enough money to buy this scroll. He only had one shot.

Basile unrolled it and looked at the incantation. It wasn’t entirely unfamiliar. H’rathen had read the same scroll a few months earlier when Lorn had to be resurrected after their battle with the wight dragon. Ever since then, Basile had been memorizing the words for this moment.

He was aware of everyone’s eyes on him, aware of their curiosity buzzing like hornets in his head. They all had the similar thought: who did Basile want to resurrect?

“Well, here goes nothing.”

Reading a scroll was much different that using a wand or summoning an invocation. He could feel the magic bubbling up from within the ink, as if the paper was infused with the miracle of life. The air around him crackled with electricity as a bright white light formed in the center of Rhaegar’s house. The light seemed to suck the energy out from the scroll, as well as the life from each individual in the room; like the resurrection couldn’t be complete if there was no matter to form a new body. It required a sacrifice from the living to save someone from death. Basile was ready to sacrifice everything.

Dad, please come back.

For a moment the light seemed to flicker, and then with a pop it solidified into a person of average height and build. Then, the layers started to peel away to reveal the details: pale skin, messy auburn hair, a full beard, green eyes, no clothes.

Basile felt the breath get knocked out of him. His Dad was back. He was alive, and healthy, and –

“Where am I, eh?”

Everyone was quiet, waiting for Basile to speak up. He felt his face flush, and for the first time he was glad his skin had taken on a red hue from his tiefling roots.

“Do you remember who you are, or where you’re from?” he asked, stumbling over a few words. Although he was sobering up quickly, he was still dizzy. Get it together.

“Yes,” his dad replied slowly, looking over to Basile as Rhaegar handed him a pair of pants to wear. “I’m Levi Addler from Modelheim. I’m a Cleric of Ioun, and I have a wife and three sons. Oh, I can show you!” He reached for his waist, and then paused. “I used to carry drawings of my family with me at all times, but it seems I don’t have those anymore…” He frowned and looked around the room. “But, who are all of you? Where am I?”

Basile froze.

I should tell him.

I can’t tell him.

“I’m Basile Graywing,” he sputtered before introducing the rest of the group. Ciaran was noticeably quiet during the exchange, his one visible eye locked on Levi. “You’re in Neebenshire. We – I resurrected you. Do you remember dying?”

Levi’s eyes widened slightly as Basile rambled, but then his brow furrowed and he nodded. “Ah…yes, I do.”

“What do you remember about that morning?”

“I remember waking up and getting ready for the day…and being in the temple with my son, Eythan. He was trying to save me, but I was dying too quickly. I kept praying that Ioun would protect him and the others.” Levi frowned as he recalled his final moments.

“Eythan Addler?” Alkaid asked, his violet eyes grazing over toward Basile. The tiefling shrunk under his cloak.

“Yes! You know my son?”

“He was found guilty for your murder, and the town tried to feed him to the Frigid Death as punishment, but he managed to escape,” Basile interrupted, uncertain how the aasimar knew of his identity. “Word has probably spread.”

“You’re sure he didn’t do it?” Alkaid asked sharply.

“Yes, I’m certain!” Basile barked back, bristling from the accusation. He could feel his anxiety creeping back up his neck.

Levi sighed deeply, shaking his head. “I’m glad that he managed to get away. I never did agree with that method of capital punishment.”

“Do you know why they may have thought Eythan would do such a thing?” Lorn asked curiously. Basile prayed that he didn’t reach for his notebook.

“Eythan was such a good kid. He would watch over his younger brothers and play capture the flag with them, walk them to school and protect them from any danger. I was teaching him how to be a Cleric of Ioun so he could help me run the temple. He never let the fact that he was a tie-” he paused, his voice catching as if he realized he almost said too much. “Was adopted, but he never let them bother him.” Levi looked back over to Basile. “Do you know if he’s okay?”

Basile felt a lump form in his throat. He nodded.

“As a follower of Ioun myself, I can assure you that your prayers were answered,” Lorn interrupted, giving Basile a knowing glance. “I’m sure that Ioun has put people in your son’s path to keep him safe.”

Rhaegar and Alkaid moved closer to Basile, and the tiefling could hear their questions bubbling up to the surface.

“Are you…?”

“Is Levi your…?”

“I’ll explain later,” Basile replied in their minds, hoping to keep them quiet.

“That’s good to hear,” Levi said with a relieved sigh. “Do you know anything about the rest of my family?”

“I’ve been in touch with Tomas via letter. He says that he and the others are fine.” Basile suddenly remembered his cloak, and took it off to hand to Levi. “Tomas gave this to me to…to hold onto. You can have it back now.”

Levi took the worn cloak and held it in his hands, as if feeling it for the first time. The fur lining was dingy and thin, and the edges were tattered and ripped. He slipped it over his shoulders and clasped it. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Despite the weight of his father’s cloak off his shoulders, he felt heavier – burdened by his own presence. He was exposed and visible to everyone. He felt like a monster, but Levi didn’t seem to flinch away as his skin and horns were revealed. “So, you don’t remember if anything else about that morning? If there was someone with you before you went to the temple?”

“No. Everything else is blank.”

“If you don’t mind, I would like permission to read your surface thoughts and memories, to see if they have been tampered in any way,” Lorn offered.

“You can do that?” Basile asked silently, stretching his thoughts out to Lorn, but the elf didn’t respond. Instead, he could only hear everyone else’s thoughts growing louder – especially Rhaegar and Alkaid’s.

“You’ve got to tell him!”

“Explain what’s going on.”

Basile squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head, wishing that he could tune them out; but Pythos’ drink was strong, and always had this unfortunate side effect.

“Not now.”

After Levi’s permission, Lorn walked over and began to murmur a spell. Basile tuned into Lorn’s thoughts, hijacking the stream of consciousness to listen to his father’s fragmented memories. His eyes welled as his own memories of that day surfaced and tangled together with Levi’s. He hoped no one noticed.

After a few minutes, Lorn broke the connection and Basile felt weighed down with dread.

“It seems like parts of your memory were erased somehow,” Lorn confirmed. “I’m not sure who or what caused it.”

“I see…how long has it been?” Levi asked, looking over to Basile again. The tiefling blinked the tears away quickly.

“Eleven years.”

“My god…I need to go back to Modelheim.” Levi stood up slowly, getting used to his own weight again. “I have to let me family know I’m okay.”

“You can’t!” Basile said as he jumped to his feet, feeling the world spin under him. Ciaran grabbed his leg to help him stay steady. “I mean, I can send a message to Tomas to let them know you’re back. But it might be smart to wait a few days to make sure you’re okay.”

“I can’t make my family wait longer,” Levi argued. “They need me. My town needs me.”

I need you. Basile reached forward, but stopped short of grabbing his Dad’s arm. “I promise, I’ll take you back home, but I need just a few days to finish up things in town.”

“How soon?”

“Well, we’re hundreds of miles south from Modelheim, and easily several years travel on foot. We will need to gather supplies -”

“We can leave whenever we want,” Lorn interjected. “We can use a teleportation spell.”

“Yes, yes, let’s go now!”

Basile whipped around to stare at Lorn with dismay, his vision blurring. No, not yet…I can’t let him go just yet.

“Tell him who you are!” Rhaegar pressured, his voice mingling with Alkaid telling him to admit the truth.

“Later. He needs time. I need time!”

Basile struggled to come up with a reason why his dad couldn’t leave Neebsenshire back. He could form the words to explain that he wasn’t strong enough to defeat the dragon that enslaved the town, that he wasn’t strong enough to say goodbye to the father he lost, that he wasn’t strong enough to tell the truth.

“Excuse me, Levi, right?” Marven said, speaking up for the first time. Basile looked over at the dragon-gnome with confusion. “My name is Marven, I’m a friend of Basile’s.” He reached out to shake Levi’s hand, catching him slightly off guard.

“Marven, what are you doing?”

“Trust me.”

“I completely understand why you’d want to rush home to see your family,” Marven continued. “But it may be smart to take some time to get your bearings and to think about what you’re going to say to your family. It will be quite an overwhelming moment, and it might be best to prepare yourself for your return.”

Levi furrowed his brow. “Yes, I suppose that’s true. I’m sure they aren’t expecting me to come back after so long.”

Marven smiled, his teeth glistening. “Exactly. Now, you should probably get some rest. It’s been a long day, and I know that Basile certainly needs to recover before taking you home. We can figure out a plan in the morning.”

Basile smiled, thanking Marven privately in his mind. “I’ll let Tomas know I’ll be bringing you home, and we can talk more in private tomorrow.”

Levi looked back at Basile, staring at him as though he were trying to get a better look. Then slowly, a spark of recognition lit up in his eyes, and a small smile pulled at his lips. “I would like that…Basile.”

“I’ll show you one of the spare rooms,” Rhaegar offered, guiding Levi toward the back. Once he was gone, Basile managed to stay standing as the world seemed to pick up speed again. He noticed that Neebs and Krom had awoken from their slumber and were going back out to get more alcohol. Dwayne was trying to sneak back inside – when did he get kicked out? Meanwhile, Marven was heading out to visit Ashisa, and Alkaid was glaring at him from across the room. His ears were ringing.

“Are you okay?” Ciaran was almost unnoticeable among the deafening white noise.

Basile nodded and looked over toward Lorn, who was jotting notes down in his journal. “I’ll be right back.”

“Should you be walking?”

“I’m not going far.” Basile strode over to the druid, trying to keep his composure and balance. “Hey, you wanted to talk.”

Lorn looked up and closed his journal. “Are you okay to talk now? You seem a bit…inebriated.”

“I’m fine.”

“All right. Let’s go somewhere private.”

The two headed into Rhegar’s room and closed the door behind them. Back in the dark, Basile felt more at peace, but he knew that Lorn was eyeing him carefully, and ready to make note of every work Basile said. The tiefling steeled himself for rapid fire questioning.

“You need to explain what happened back at the tournament.”

“I know.”

“Why did Ciaran call himself The Spawn of Asmodeous?”

“I told him to pick a name that would make people dislike his wrestling persona. He took it too far.”

“And the symbol in his eye?”

“It’s a side affect of our bond.”

“Why did you bond yourself to him?”

Basile frowned. Of all people, the last person he wanted to tell was Lorn. He had already broken his trust and given up information on him twice: first when he revealed he was a tiefling when they were going to see Byloth, and when he tried to sell information about him to Pythos. But for some reason, Basile still trusted Lorn. He wasn’t sure if it was because Lorn protected Ciaran, or was always there to heal Basile and support his decision, or because he was genuinely a good person at heart – someone Eythan would have looked up to.

Pythos has once told him to keep his past a secret to ensure others won’t use it against him. But his father’s old teachings whispered in the corners of his mind: “To earn trust, you must first trust others.”

Fuck.

“It was an accident…a reaction to everything that had happened to me,” Basile choked out, and he felt like he was being strangled to death in the tournament again. “I had just been convicted of murdering my father. They were going to feed me to a dragon. But I escaped,and Pythos found me and taught me how to be a warlock. He saved my life,and when the oracle told me I was going to die like my father, he said he knew a way to make me immortal so I could escape my fate. But the spell failed and I was instead bound to Ciaran.”

Lorn made a small hum, taking in everything Basile was saying. “Getting involved with Asmodeous is dangerous.”

“Well, I was desperate and he was the only one who listened,” Basile replied bitterly, tired of everyone lecturing him. “I have prayed to every god for help and got nothing in return. They didn’t listen when my dad was dying in front of me. They didn’t listen when I was walking to my execution. Not Ioun, not Kord…only Asmodeous.”

Lorn reached out to grab Basile’s shoulder. “You can hear my thoughts, right?”

Basile knit his brow, not quite understanding his point. “Yes.”

“You can hear everyone else’s, too?”

“I tune them all out or else I get a headache.”

“Then believe me when I say that none of the gods listen, not even Asmodeous. Thousands of people ask them for help. I’m sure they tune us all out.”

“Kord listens to H’rathen.”

“And look at his life. He lives only for Kord. I follow Ioun for his teachings on wisdom, but I don’t bother to worship him. I know that he won’t listen, and I don’t want to waste a life waiting for an answer.”

Basile sighed harshly and sat on the edge of the bed, holding his head in his hands. Every part of him ached: his body, his mind, his soul. He felt like he was drowning.

He felt Lorn sit on the bed next to him, could hear his thoughts reaching out to soothe him: “You’re not alone.”

Then why have I always felt so alone?

“You know, I see Ciaran like a son. Which means you’re like my family.”

The tiefling scowled, hating how much his heart ached at the idea of someone wanting to be his family after losing his own. He rubbed at his eyes.

“I’ll do everything in my power to keep you both safe,” Lorn continued. “I’ll help you break the bond.”

“We can’t.”

“Sure we can. It might take some time, but – ”

“No, I mean, I don’t want you to break it.”

Lorn knit his brow. “Why not?”

Basile sighed and ran his hands through his hair, feeling the edge of his fingers brush against his horns. He wanted Ciaran to be released from this curse, but he also knew that Ciaran was safe as long as they were bound. “As long as I’m alive, Ciaran can’t get hurt. He can’t die. If I become immortal…”

“Safe or not, Ciaran will be a prisoner,” Lorn said, confirming the fears that Basile had been harboring for years. “His soul shouldn’t be tied down to yours, and yours shouldn’t be tied down to his.”

“I at least need to become immortal first, to ensure that if the spell backfires it won’t kill us,” Basile said stubbornly.

“As someone who has a prophecy of their own, and who had to break free from the things holding me back, I know that the only way he’ll be free is if he is no longer bound to you.”

Basile looked at Lorn curiously, the druid’s face clear in the darkness. Lorn has a prophecy? His gaze fell back to the floor. “Prophecy?”

“An oracle once told me that I was to be a Cleric of Bahamut.”

“Bahamut?”

Lorn nodded. “But I knew that wasn’t the destiny I wanted. So I changed my fate, and you can change yours, too. And to do that, you need to stop keeping secrets. We can’t help you face whatever you’re up against if we don’t know the truth.”

Basile let out a long sigh. “I know…”

“And you need to tell your dad the truth.”

“I didn’t want to overwhelm him. I needed some time.”

“That’s fine, but you’ll feel better the sooner you let it go. We’ve got your back.”

Basile’s fists dug into the blankets on the bed. He knew he had to trust his friends in order to survive. He had to let them know who he was and where he came from.

But he still feared that letting the past catch up would destroy him.

“Basile?”

“I’ll explain everything tomorrow.”

“No more secrets?”

The tiefling nodded. “No more secrets.”

It was a promise he would try to keep, but one he knew that he would eventually break.

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