You are here

A Storm at Candlekeep

Author: 
Nigel Harris
Old Vault Category: 
fanfiction
Old Vault ID: 
141

Meddwynn hurried up the stone steps of the tower towards his master's chamber. Lightening flashed in the storm riven night sky, illuminating the steps through a narrow slit window. Meddwynn caught a brief glimpse of the rooftops and towers of Candlekeep as he passed the window and reached the door he was seeking.

"Master Gorion" he called softly as he knocked. There was no reply.

He knocked louder and called again until he was rewarded with a gruff reply from within. A minute passed and the door creaked open and Gorion appeared, fastening a cloak over his nightshirt as protection from the winter cold.

"What is it ?" he asked sharply. "Ah, Meddwynn, it's you. What do you want at this hour ?"

"I am sorry to wake you, master, but could you come with me, please. We have a visitor, someone in need of your healing skills" stammered Meddwynn in reply.

"Slow down a bit, young man" said Gorion as they hurried down the steps and please tell me what is going on". Another lightening flash lit up the steps and saved Gorion from missing his footing in the darkness.

"A young woman came to the gates about an hour ago, begging for sanctuary." explained Meddwynn breathlessly. "At first the guards refused to let her in, well, you know the rules, if we opened the gates to everyone .."

"All right, all right" interrupted Gorion. "Just tell me what is going on".

"Well, the captain of the guard agreed to let her in, just temporary like, being as the state she was in and all that. But he'll be reporting to Master Ulraunt in the morning and someone will have to make a decision. Anyway, she's in a terrible state; cold, wet, exhausted and it looks as though she's not eaten in days"

Meddwynn reached the bottom of the stairwell and pushed open the door which led into the main dining hall.

"And that's not the half of it" he continued as he hurried through the door. "She's with child. That's why I decided to fetch you, master".

They crossed the stone flagged dining hall and through a door into the kitchen, where a stern looking guard was putting more wood onto the fire. "I know it's against the rules, my lord" he said when he saw Gorion. "but the captain took pity on the state of her. His lordship will have to be told in the morning."

"All right, I'll take care of all that" replied Gorion. "My main concern right now is to see to the girl's health. You can return to your post."

"Thank you, my lord" muttered the guard, obviously relieved that his responsibility for the girl had been taken away.

The girl was sitting on a chair facing the fire, wrapped in a green cloak of elven fashion, her hands cupped around a large steaming mug.

"I warmed up some of the soup we had left over from supper" explained Meddwynn. "Good man". Gorion strode over to the fire and warmed his hands. The girl's face was hidden by the hood of the cloak and her long blond hair, which fell forward to where her unmoving hands clutched the mug of soup.

"Now then, young lady, let's take a look at you" he said kindly. The girl turned and lifted her head, revealing deep blue eyes and pointed ears; she was clearly elven, possibly half-elven. She was very beautiful, Gorion thought, despite her disheveled appearance.

"What is you name ?" asked Gorion. "Ikara" replied the girl, so softly he could barely hear. "My name is Ikara". "Are you warm enough, Ikara ?" The girl nodded.

Gorion continued "If you've finished your soup, I need to examine you for a few minutes so I can decide on the best medicine to give you. Then you can rest." Ikara nodded and held out the empty mug.

"Meddwynn ?" called Gorion. "Yes, master ?" "Could you check out the guest room in the east tower, near my quarters ? See that a fire is burning and that fresh bedding is laid." "At once, master". Meddwynn departed and left Gorion alone with the girl.

He checked her pulse and temperature, then felt the bulge where her unborn child lay. "Did you feel him kick, just then ?" he asked. "I think so" she smiled back at him.

"Young fellow seems stronger than you, at the moment. I think a draught of Yavethalion should do the trick, followed by a good night's rest and a change out of those wet clothes. Would you like some more soup ?"

She nodded, and Gorion refilled the mug from the pan which Meddwynn had placed over the fire previously. He replaced the pan with a smaller one filled with cold water, then crossed the room to a locked cupboard which he opened using a key from a bunch of keys attached to his belt. He found the ingredients he required and began measuring out a mix of herbs, roots and powders into a bowl.

Yavethalion for it's healing properties, with a pinch of Kathkusa to raise the girl's strength. When he was satisfied with the mixture, he took the bowl over to the fire and tipped it into the pan of water, then dipped a finger in to check the temperature. Satisfied, he poured the medicine into a clean mug and passed it to the girl who accepted it wordlessly. Nothing more was said until Meddwynn returned from his errand; the girl was clearly exhausted and there would be a time for questions later.

"All prepared, master" said Meddwynn as he closed the door behind him. Gorion nodded his thanks and between them they half helped, half carried the girl to the guest room. The storm seemed to increase in intensity; almost, thought Gorion, as if it felt cheated by the girl's escape to sanctuary and it were trying to break down the walls of the tower in order to claim it's victim.

*****

"I agree that we can't exactly turn her out into the wilderness, especially in her condition". Master Ulraunt, Keeper of the Tomes at Candlekeep, was clearly agitated by the dilemma in which he found himself. "But if word of this gets out then our fair seat of learning will fast become a gathering place for every runaway wastrel on the Sword Coast".

Gorion was pacing the room, trying to keep his temper in check. He was angry that his superior seemed more concerned for the reputation of Candlekeep than for the girl's welfare, but then he had expected no less. "You can keep her at your own expense and take full responsibility, of course" Ulraunt continued, impatiently. "Then after the child is born you can make the necessary arrangements. Perhaps a convent might be persuaded to take the wench as a servant, or something".

Ulraunt waved his hand in dismissal and Gorion swallowed his anger at his superior's complete lack of concern; it was sufficient that, for now, he had won a minor victory in persuading the master that the girl could stay at Candlekeep.

As he returned along the twisting, stone floored corridors, Gorion wondered what he could do to help the girl in the long term. The baby was due any day now and he certainly didn't like Ulraunt's idea of handing the girl and her newborn child over to the dubious charity of a convent. Ikara was a mystery; despite several attempts to find out about the girl and her background, Gorion had been unable to obtain any information beyond a few vague phrases. She had grown up in the Forest of Tethyr but had left for reasons unknown. At some point she had been captured by bandits and handed over to a powerful mage or warlord, who had kept her imprisoned for a while before releasing her for no apparent reason.

Or at least, no reason that the girl would give. Gorion had the impression that things had happened during her captivity that she would rather forget and he did not press the point. Ikara was clearly afraid of something, but of what she would not reveal.

*****

"It's a boy !" the midwife declared, joyfully, slapping the newborn baby's bottom in time honoured fashion. "But the mother has lost a lot of blood. Best get Master Gorion as fast as you can, girl" she said to one of the serving girls. "Go on! We need a healer."

A storm was raging in the night sky, just as it had on the night the girl had arrived at Candlekeep. By the time Gorion arrived the young mother's face was deathly white and her breath came in small gasps. Gorion knelt at her side and took her wrist in his hand, desperately searching for a pulse. The girl was trying to talk.

"What is it, Ikara ?" asked Gorion, putting his ear close to her mouth.

"Kill him, you must kill the boy !" the girl whispered, desperately.

"But why ?" asked Gorion. "He is a fine, healthy child."

"You must kill him !" Ikara repeated. "His father, his father is .." Her voice faltered.

"Who ?" asked Gorion. "What are you trying to tell me, girl ?"

"His father" Ikara paused, and drew her last breath. "His father is .. Bhaal !"

As the girl died, Gorion turned to the window as a clap of thunder rent the skies and the storm seemed to redouble it's strength, as though it was taking her soul to the depths of the nine hells.





A Storm at Candlekeep © Nigel Harris

Migrate Wizard: 
First Release: 
  • up
    50%
  • down
    50%