Torn Loyalties: Part 1

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Torn Loyalties: Part 1

Postby Osheara » Thu Apr 27, 2006 6:23 pm

“Torn Loyalties”

Disclaimer: Before heading into this story, I just wanted to first say that it is rather dark. It touches on subject matter that, although brief, some people may not be comfortable reading. I tried not to be specific or graphic, but there is an instance of implied rape that occurs for the sake of the character’s development. I’ve had generally a good response on the story overall, so hopefully that won’t detour too many readers.


What is there to say about my life? Nothing all that interesting in it. My name is Rensi. If asked what my family name is, I tell them I have none. It is just Rensi.

I’ve lived in Waterdeep for as long as I can remember. My parents were from the countryside, somewhere, but they never talk about it. They don’t tend to talk about much in general.

If they had half-paid attention they would have noticed the sort that all other parents warned against. There were con’ers, pick-pockets, gamblers. Those who were just itching for fight. We drank a lot, partied more. Some made an art out of it. Nlorin I hear worked his way into one of the top rogue organizations in the city to train under. But, of course, I’m not technically supposed to know that.

I was 14 when I witnessed my first murder. The man wasn’t important as far as status goes. He had a bit of cash on him though, and some trinkets. I was given the shiny gold band he kept on his left hand ring finger. I didn’t do the job myself, only watched. It wasn’t the last time.

Like most young women, my interest in boys continued to grow. That interest reflected to most of them. There was the occasional bad apple. There was this one going through an extra pimply stage. He would have at lead had nice hair if he actually decided to wash it. Used to call himself the ‘Heart Crusher.’ Like he was hot stuff. I think he only ever crushed his own.

The first few I attempted to bring home my parents dismissed as quickly as possible. They claimed I was too young, too inexperienced. They never would talk with me about it otherwise. Not much of a surprise there. It was a bunch of bull. By the time I was 15, I was taken by my first boy. Names were never important to remember.

I learned enough from many of the older girls. How to please a man. How to keep myself from becoming pregnant. I gave myself willingly time and time again. My parents never once asked where I had gone when I returned after a few days at a time.

Now, I say my parents never took much interest in me, but they would say something from time to time. On a very rare chance, my father would comment about how I never showed any magical talent. He himself was a basic mage. His talent was more in the scholarly sense than practice however. I found it to be rather dull. My mama was the perfect home wife. She spent her days gossiping with neighbors in our building or cooking. She did cook well, although I rarely chose to stay home and enjoy it. I never got into that sort of thing. I never was interested in much, actually. I fooled around, played tricks with whoever was my friend at the time.

I did find I had a knack for patching things up. A few of us had gone into the local cemetery. Scared the groundskeeper a good bit before Nully tried to snatch some of his coins. Got a rake driven into his side as a consequence. Don’t know how I was able to do anything with it, but had seen a few healers at work. So, I figured, what the heck. Held his bloodied side and began to chant. Still don’t know who to, but someone heard me. Healed him enough to get him to a professional. After that we looked into keeping a healing potion around at all times. Took a bit of work to get them, but always worth it.

That’s when I started thinking of doing more in my life, I think. Didn’t last long. I was back to the same stuff a few days later.

Eventually started to realize I wanted to grow up a bit. Maybe realized I needed to get out of the mess I was in after an incident at a party, of course. Was happening a few streets from home, deeper in the Southern Side. One of our places off Murkey Alley. Didn’t know the guy myself, but him and his girl had just gotten back into town from a trip to Calimport. Always something to perk the ear. One of our bards was going to do some stuff for us, if he could stay sober at least. We still had a stash of ales from our Mithril Hall connection and the pair was bringing some rich liqueur from the southern coast. What made this trip even more popular was the specialty goods from a dealer he knew in the spice industry. Not sure the details on the variety he picked up, but we were rarely disappointed.

I had just turned 17 a few months back. Things were great. I couldn’t make out the floor from the ceiling for at least a few hours.

There was a guy visiting from Luskan. Good looking, if a bit older. I wasn’t interested quite yet, was having too much fun. Flirted some, drank some. Sex was always good, but it would wait for my terms. It was always my terms.

I don’t remember the trip into the closed room, but I do remember trying to get away.

The room was otherwise vacant when I came to consciousness. My body ached. I could smell the repulsive consequence of the previous night. I tasted dried blood on my cracked lips. My eyes were sore and I could remember the tears. I moved to find the dark blotches on my skin hurt as much as I had feared they would. I could feel myself still moist on my thighs. I prayed it was only from him. I cried inwardly, laying back down to where I had been. What happened replayed in my mind. I knew that there were others. I knew that it was a possibility with the life I had continued down, but somehow, I never really expected it to happen to me.

I just lay there, for minutes perhaps, for hours it felt like. The drapes were closed. Someone eventually wandered in and found me. Brought a healer of sorts. Never did learn what specialty, or even a name.

She was calming and gentle, making sure there were no men in the room. I barely noticed her efforts in that attempt. The day passed in a blur. There were many more tears that would come. She never once left my side. Cooing, like a mother ought to. She asked if I wanted her help and I absently nodded.

It was night when we left. The party had long since dissipated. I took nothing with me but some borrowed clothes. The woman had a horse at the stables, a deep shade of brown that seemed to turn black in the shadows.

Neither of us rode. She walked at my side, but I refused any help.

We left the city, left everything I was familiar with. I can’t say it was home. We were both silent. She kept her dark colored hair hidden under her hooded cloak. She seemed to like the secrecy. I needed a drink.

We spent a number of days traveling. Sometimes on a widely worn path, sometimes not. There were a few times we passed by some lands I recognized from tales. The dangerous ones. But most paid us no mind. I think she found a way to cloak us. I couldn’t imagine any other reason.

We never paused but to sleep. Some little rutty inn off to the side of the road, or a blanket on the ground. I smelled terrible. I stumbled here and there. Scraped my leg on the pebbled track. Nothing the little healing spells I could manage wouldn’t fix. I think the woman saw me utter them, but she never mentioned it. When I couldn’t walk anymore, she had me use the horse. By then it was on my terms. The physical pains of that night were gone, if only the memories with it.

We had gone off the last main road almost two days before we came to a dark little village, if it could be called that. The structures were not tall. Most appeared to be temporary. Four tents in all and three stone buildings. Strange since the ground seemed to be made of a solid stone that traveled beneath the extent of the site. A single stone-built structure stood slightly taller than the rest. Set more in the center, not exactly, but the nearest. It was not elaborate. If anything there was hardly anything special about the surroundings at all. It was a basic design, crude. Chipped corners and mildewed crevices. There didn’t appear to be any sort of place for a brew around. I couldn’t help but wonder what I had gotten myself into.

The few people who walked in the open remained quiet. All cloaked in a similar fashion. One or two passed a glance at us. Nothing more.

We reached the main structure. My toe nicked on a cleft in the stoned floor and I cursed under my breath. It was a chiseled symbol of what appeared to be a circle. A sun-like image encasing a skull. I couldn’t remember what it meant. I shrugged inwardly in dismissal and focused on the entranceway once more.

The woman shifted the blockading heavy curtains to the side, revealing a darkened hall lit by a flicker of candlelight. Cute. At the end a set of stairs led downwards in a gradual spiral. I did love the unknown.

I was amazed at how much more there was to this seemingly rank little hideaway from civilization. I never claimed to be a druid, and the wilderness was driving me mad. Even they would go to a river from time to time. We had stopped for nothing. I could hear the steady rush of water getting closer and a longing came over me.

The stairway opened up to a large hall which separated into a variety of turns. We took one of them. I was never good with directions. Always kept telling myself I ought to pay attention more when traveling, but I still seem to get switched around. I do remember there was a chipped corner in the stone doorframe.

The welcoming sound of water seemed to vanish the further we walked. Gods, how I was tired of walking. I had never done that much in most my life. Running short distances, fine. Running from a guard or three, fine. Walking to the nearest tavern…easy. Of course walking out did always prove difficult.

We finally came to a closed wooden door. The floor around it was damp. I could practically taste the mold.

“Come in.”

The deep voice spoke clearly from the other side and we did as commanded. The door made no sound as it was opened, allowing the woman to enter first. She motioned for me to stay still. Who was I to object? They exchanged some words, keeping voices barely a whisper which I wasn’t meant to hear. Moments later I was called.

The room appeared to be a study. Books lined the walls. Occupied desks were set on a nearby wall as a pair of robed figures wrote determinedly in thickly bound tomes.

“The priestess tells me that you have potential. You have the ability to heal, do you not?”

The voice was skeptical, bored. His face remained placid. The room was well lit compared to the halls we had just left, allowing me to note his features. He was elderly, hair speckled grey pulled in a tie in the back, but I wasn’t sure if his physical appearance was from age. He held a strong posture. Blue eyes coldly stared at me before scanning my form in evaluation.

“I do what is necessary. Turns out I have that talent to offer.”

“It is not just a talent.” His voice spit the words with firmness. “It is a gift. People do not just wake up one morning and have the ability to heal. No…there is always a god who has chosen them. A god who decides that this person is worthy of his efforts and safekeeping. Have you ever before, offered your loyalties to such a god? To taste the power that is obtainable through one?”

My ears suddenly focused at the mention of power. I tilted my head just slightly in curiosity, willing to hear more.

“So what is my purpose for coming all the way here? Why should I be speaking with you? I was living quite well back in Waterdeep.”

A rumble of a chuckle erupted from the priest.

“Ah yes…weren’t you though. Living practically on the streets. A family you turned away from. Spending your days in the taverns and any putrid building that was available at the moment. You might as well have gone to work at the brothels. It was any wonder someone didn’t snatch you up and sell you down in Calimport or Havenport. Would fetch a decent enough price for one so young.”

I could feel the anger quickly cover up any embarrassment that had started.

“Now now…I don’t mean at all to condemn you or your lifestyle. That I will leave to your own hands. The Lady has brought you to my attention in hopes that you might find something in your life that will help keep you from a situation similar to the last night you spent in the city.”

I couldn’t help the outwardly wince.

“I am offering you a place to sleep, and eat if you so wish it. Training…we have highly skilled healers or otherwise if you wish it. If you desire to continue with us, once you are skilled enough, we will send you out with others to do our Lord’s will. There will always be a reward waiting for you when you return, so long as you are successful.”

“A reward?”

Yet again he had caught my interest.

“Of course.”

I didn’t like his smile. He reached into his outer robe and retrieved a small glass vial. The symbol I had seen in the stone outside was displayed prominently etched into the glass.

“This will always be one…the others will vary from time to time. This I will let you try and see if it holds your curiosity.”

Usually I took what people handed me. They could have given me poison for all I cared, but this one had me second guessing. I looked to the woman who had brought me in and received a quiet smile and nod. Not as though I had much to lose. I took the substance in my hand, fiddling with the container as I examined it. One might think I was debating. With a quick, skilled movement, the top was removed and I had swallowed.

The liquid was sweet as it flowed down, tingling just slightly in a pleasing way. My tongue instinctively reached for any remaining drop. The affect was almost instant as the floor began to sway beneath me. I reached out for the nearest wall, finding a shelf to balance myself. It didn’t work, but at least I had support. Warmth spread over my body. I could have purred. My thoughts cleared and my awareness was filled with the comforting sensations that followed.

“You were right, she holds much potential for the Lord Cyric. Please show her to a room.”

The woman began to lead me to the doorway once more.

“Oh,” he continued as an afterthought. “Please reaffirm the girl when she is more…alert, that no one will touch her in that sense so long as she is under our guidance.”

The voices echoed at a distanced as my surroundings faded in and out of focus. I heard the words, though sense seemed to escape me. Everything I touched felt extraordinary. Whatever he gave me was good stuff. Never saw myself as one who would end up studying under priests of Cyric. Life is funny that way.

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