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Order of the Sword & Rose
WARNING: Bad Language & Adult References are contained in this story! Along with awkward situations!((This story is open for RP if you wish, most of my scenes are translated from in game or Monday chats. Have fun and Play nice! Please let me know if you want to be included in an RP scene within the story, also... if I am online and RP-ing with one of these ladies and you DON'T want to be included, please tell me that too!)) Synopsis:(back story) Ginafae married Zoltando before the time of the devil invasion. Not long after, Ginafae found herself trapped for a while in the Shavarath at the mercy of a fallen angel who called himslef: "The Puppetmaster" The Puppetmaster was defeated and Ginafae escaped, but not before the Puppetmaster placed a "symbiant" inside Ginafae (a bug-like organism meant to help control her thoughts and actions). The symbiant remained dormant after she returned from the Shavarath. Or so she thought...(current story) Ginafae was hunting in the ruins of Gianthold and dissapeard, presumably she was attacked by a mind flayer. She was returned to Stormreach by a group of dwarven hunters who found her nearly dead. She had no memories when they found her, and named her Jhorikos. The name stuck. For a year, Jhori has tried with some success to regain her memories, but she has not been able to regain all of them and feels more lost than ever. Ginafay returned from her hunting trip in the Gianthold to find many many things amiss. She has no memories of what has occured over the last year while Jhorikos settled comfortably into her life. Now Ginafay must figure out which one of them is the real Ginafae and which is the fake before she is discovered and everything falls apart! Happy hunting! (Ginafay and her couterpart, Jhorikos)
The tavern was bustling with activity. Ginafay sat perched on a bench, sipping her traditional hot tea, made luke warm from the milk and sugar. There were several other patrons in the bar. A human male with dark hair and white roots sat next to her and ordered an ale. He made strange remarks to Ginafay. He acted as if he knew her, called her by a strange name even after she had introduced herself as the Lady Sevenmoons. She rolled he eyes as the man accused her of drinking almost an entire bottle of his finest wine. He was obviously mistaken.
"Not sure what you mean," Ginafay had remarked flippantly, "I only drink tea as alcohol has never agreed with me." She took the liberty of ordering another tea for the human and, after finishing her own drink, slipped off the barstool and wandered down the street toward House Jorasco. She smiled to herself. Zoltando would be waiting for her.
What a wonderful couple of days it had been!
*******What a strange couple of days it had been...
Jhorikos woke that morning in a strange place... Nklos' apartment, the details of how she came to be there were still sketchy in her mind. Her head was still pounding from her hangover.
"Ugh...." She moaned. She had stayed up very late in the guild hall, drinking Thrani wine with Ericnox and Nklos. What had happened? Jhori didn't know. What she did know is that it happened before. Two nights now she had not been home, had not gone to her husband’s bed, yet he acted as if everything were fine! He had not even reacted when he saw her! To Jhori, things were anything but fine.
Sadly, she walked into the tavern, sheathing her sword and hanging her cloak on a peg, her blue and silver armor looked shabby and neglected. Neglected too was Jhorikos’ appearance. She looked tired, and walked with her head down.
Ericnox looked over to Jhori and tilted his head. "I think I just saw your twin..."He said, sighing a bit.
"It happens.. I am drow after all!" Jhorikos managed a smile for the man, "what are we drinking!"
"Some kind of strong ale... want a sip?"
She smiled, taking the mug from his hands. Jhori sniffed hopefully at the dark, spicy-smelling brew and drank deeply. Just as fast, she took the drink away from her lips, contorting her face. "Gods that's bitter!" Jhorikos handed the mug back to Ericnox and ordered herself a wine.
Ericnox chuckled a bit and nodded at her. "Helps to drown out memories..." He said softly.
Jhorikos glanced at Ericnox, memories were exactly why she felt confused herself. "Memories?" She asked looking strangely at him.
Ericnox looked around and motioned them into the next room. "Upstairs and we will talk about it... Keep the ale coming." He said to her and then the bar keep.
Once upstairs, he remained quiet for a long moment. Jhori was quiet and patiently waited for him, glad to be rid of her own problems for a night. At last he spoke.
"'I went to jail, remember? For several months."
Jhorikos began sipping her wine and answered him, "I remember."
"Well, A lot of my old enemies are there... I think I had more attempts on my life in there then in the normal world." Ericnox explained.
Jhorikos nodded understanding, "I know what it's like to feel the world is against you."
Ericnox took a long drink of his ale and sighed deeply. "Beyond that... The things you learn and see in there... The way you figure out how to defend yourself..." He looked at his hands for a moment. "I killed in self defense... But... Never like that... I killed my own uncle like a dog."
For a moment, Jhori was stunned at what to say, "That's terrible Eric!," Jhori shook her head a little, lest he think her faulty as well, "I would not judge you though, you must know that."
Ericnox nodded a bit, taking a long drink of his ale. "Hence why I do not mind talking to you... You of all people must understand me some."
"I think I understand you better than most, yes." Jhori agreed.
Ericnox asked, "Have you ever done anything like that? Killed with your own hands?"
Jhorikos glanced at the floor. Had she? She had no idea really. Instead of searching through her mostly empty memory, she lifted her eyes and met his, "I am not sure," she whispered.
Ericnox sighed softly and shook his head. "Most would think me a monster... Killing a close blood relative like that... I should have been stripped of my powers as well."
"But you were not stripped of your power?"
"No I was not....," he replied. "That part was kept out of my trail... And I think the Silver Flame wishes to wait... But the damage is already done."
Jhori was leaning forward, caught up in his tale of woe, "May I ask what damage?
"To me... I've seen people die before... But not via choking them to death... Pinning them down and slowly draining the life out of them..." he continued his lament.
Jhori winced a little. After a long, silent moment she asked, "what did he do… to anger you so badly?"
Ericnox looks at her, a pained look on his face. "Stabbed me in the lung with a shiv. Trying to prevent an omen from being filled."
Her head tilted slightly, and a strand of silvery hair fell over her forehead, "an omen? What sort of omen?"
"My sister and I are supposed to bring about the end of the family line. Ending it forever save for the two of us," he shook his head slowly.
Jhori took a moment to digest the information. "I take it he was trying to kill the line by killing you then? It would make sense as the lung is a poor place to stab someone in order to make them sterile." She almost laughed at her own joke.
Ericnox smiled a bit and shook his head. "He would have gotten my heart if I had not reacted at the last moment. The medic said he missed my heart by less then an inch."
She smiled at him in spite of herself and the situation, "if you ask me, he deserved what he got."
He chuckled a bit and nodded. "In a way he did... But... It still stings to know that I am going to end an entire line. I don't want to kill them. I want to repay my mother for what she did to me... But she will never see me again."
Jhori tapped her chin thoughtfully. "So they were going to kill you and your sister to prevent you from producing children?" She shrugs, "that’s hypocritical, they should kill themselves as well thinking this way!"
"No no no. Not quite.." he explained. "The two of us were supposed to, according to the omen, being about the end of the family by killing everyone. Leaving us as the only two alive. And yes, I agree they should die... But not by my hand or hers."
Blushing, Jhori put her fingertips to her forehead, "forgive me Eric, I misunderstood you! I thought the end of the line meant… well… something else. It makes perfect sense to me now that you have explained it! Your uncle wanted to kill you before you could kill him!" She smiled hopefully revealing an even row of white teeth, "can you forgive my ignorance?"
He chuckled a bit and smiled at her, nodding his head and looking at her. "Yes. that is right. They were trying to kill me and her before we could get them... Thus far that is two that have died to my sister or my own hands. My aunt and my uncle now."
She winced, "that is terrible! It’s almost like… the prophecy was fulfilled by their own actions of malice towards you!"
"You, my sister, and myself seem to be the only ones who understand that thus far... I think my Great grandmother misread it..."
"Oh Eric, that is a horrible misunderstanding, and even more terrible burden to bear!" Her brow furrows a moment, "surely the options have not all been exhausted!"
Ericnox shook his head. "You would be surprised. Come here a moment. Or lean so I can see your hand."
Curiosity got the best of her and Jhorikos was happy to be so distracted from her own thoughts for once. She leaned forward and offered her hand, palm up for him.
He took her hand and slide it under the shoulder guard, the cloth do little to hide the scar hidden on his left arm. "I tried to talk to my father. For doing so, he tried to cut off my arm with an axe... This is one of about eight on my body."
Her facial expression changed several times, running through a myriad of horror and fascination as she glided her fingers as far as she could along the scar.
The scar ran the length of his shoulder, it almost did cut off his arm that was sure. "This one..." He moved her hand to his face, running the fingers down the scar there. "My mother hit me in the face with a meat cleaver..."
Jhori seems lost for words for a moment, it seemed inconceivable that a mother could harm her child in this way! "Eric," she finally says softly, "I am truly sorry."
'"It wasn't your fault. Well, eighteen years ago I doubt you would have given me a second look. Time makes people who they are. I like who I have become, and if I could change it... I wouldn't."
She cast a disbelieving look at him and allowed the remark to pass unchallenged, "very well then. There is a light I think in all this darkness for you. You know?" She smiled and reached out to place a comforting hand on his forearm, "Eric, you yourself said that the Flame did not take your power… that alone should give you hope. The gods do not reward the unjust."
He smiled a bit and took her hand, kissing her knuckles softly and smiling. "Thank you, your words are very kind to me. I enjoy talking to you. Very much. Someone I can open up to and talk freely too."
A slight shiver ran the length of Jhori’s spine and she withdrew her hand. "Thank you," she managed to say and stood quickly, "I should… get home. I will see you later, Ericnox," her smile was shyer somehow than before.
He nodded to her and smiled. "If you so desire. Thank you for the company... As well as letting me talk about my past. Its good to get it off my chest."
Jhorikos left the tavern looking strangely back over her shoulder at him. Humans were still a little perplexing to her… all the same she had been thankful for the conversation.
She walked briskly through the dark street towards House Jorasco and her fantastic home. She needed to hurry, Zoltando would be waiting.
((All open role play rules apply!)) In the Jorasco Province, near the Garden of Respite
Ginafay opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling. Zoltando had already been in a meditative sleep when she had crawled into bed. It was no matter… tomorrow she would ask him to join her on the hunt for big lions that dwelled in The Vale of Twilight. They would make a game out of it and bring home enough pelts for a new rug.
Ginafay laced her fingers behind her head remembering the day she first met him. He had held a knife to her throat and threatened to gut her on the spot. The memory of that day and how she hated him for weeks after made her smile. Zoltando was rough around the edges and he was stubborn to a fault, but he was a man and not afraid to have an opinion, speak his mind, or make decisions. He suited her just fine.
The sound of the front door swinging open made her sit up. Ginafay looked to her husband. Zoltando had not moved. He remained meditative and oblivious to the world around him.
She crept out of bed slowly and donned a large cloak. The drow pulled one of Zoltando’s daggers from his belt that had been thrown casually on the floor and crept slowly down the stairs. Ginafay pulled the dark hood of the cloak around her head to help conceal her silvery hair, lest she be spotted.
She would slit the intruder’s throat, toss the body in the alley for the garbage collectors, and be back in bed before a quarter of an hour had passed! The simplicity of it made her smile a little.
Jhorikos was weary. All she craved was her bed and good night’s rest. She prayed Zoltando would be asleep or, better yet, gone. She had been a fool to think that having him home more would help her situation. In spite of all his efforts, and the efforts of her family, her memories had not returned as they should have. Instead, she had built imagined memories out of the stories she had been told.
In spite of herself, she felt she was drifting further away from Zoltando with each passing day. He was irrational and impulsive, the kind of man who thought that the answer to every problem lie at the tip of his blade. At last Jhorikos decided not to risk going upstairs to bed. Facing him was not something she was looking forward to.
She sighed; tonight it would have to be the couch for her. Tomorrow she would face him. Tomorrow she would speak her mind. She would tell him in small words that he was not allowed to just stab things! To try and murder someone’s cat under suspicion that it was using psionics! She shook her head. What a notion that had been!
She would confess to him where she had been. Well… perhaps she would skip that part and tell him the truth about what had been troubling her. Would he believe her? Perhaps she should suggest he go out hunting and leave her alone for a few days. Gods she needed time to think! To sort out her head! She rubbed her forehead wondering to herself what she ever saw in such a brute. He was irrational and impulsive and recklessly violent at times. It made Jhori’s head hurt thinking about it. Jhori lay back on the couch and shut her eyes. "Tomorrow." She said to herself softly.
Ginafay held her breath, thankful that she had not acted on impulse and killed the female drow before realizing something was amiss. This is not what she had expected to see in her living room! She nearly dropped Zoltando’s knife from the shock of … herself walking across the room to lay on the couch! Something was clearly wrong!
She wavered a moment on what her next action should be. Should she wake herself? What a ridiculous notion, she was herself and she was right here! Wasn’t she? No… this did not feel right. There was movement upstairs then. Zoltando! Of course! He would be able to settle this matter. Perhaps this thing is a changeling whose come to kill them! She crouched and steadied her blade!
Gruff words cut the darkness from upstairs, "Jhorikos!" Zoltando called softly, "everything alright down there?"
"Not now…" a familiar female voice whispered from the couch, the drow woman put a hand over face and spoke louder, "everything’s fine."
"Bring up some water when you come back to bed." He answered from the darkness.
Ginafay felt confused. This woman looked every inch like Ginafay yet Zoltando had called her by another name. "Jhorikos." Her eyes went wide. This was the same name that the human knight at the bar had called her! He had accused her of drinking all of his wine!
Her heart raced. There had to be a logical explanation. Unsure of herself now, Ginafay crouched low behind the stairs and watched as her solemn-faced identical image walked slowly across the room and up the stairs to the bed that she had just vacated. A twinge of jealousy hit her then. That was her place! Wasn’t it? What in the nine hells was going on here! Had the portals to Shavarath brought something else with it?
As quietly as she could she crawled to the end table nearest the door where the Stormreach Chronicle lay, the devil invasion was not so long ago, perhaps there was something about… Ginafay stopped cold. The date on the paper was more than a year past the devil invasion! "No!" She whispered too loudly. It had been days since they were driven out… hadn’t it? The hairs on the back of her neck began to prickle. Ginafay knew she was no longer alone.
"Gods no!" she thought, Ginafay was not ready for such a confrontation! There was too much unknown to her!
"I assume you have found what you’re looking for." His voice had an edge to it that she heard him use only before a fight. She froze where she stood. He would be holding a dagger and any movement on her part would warrant him sinking the blade between her shoulders! She thought it strange that he had not done so already.
Her back was to him, and as she stood there, she thought she could hear a woman’s voice as well, pleading with him. Something about lot’s of poor and hungry people in the city.
"Leave the way you came in, the next time you choose this house I will flay you alive." Zoltando said finally. The whiz of a blade cut the air then and the woman he called Jhorikos gasped. The blade grazed Ginafay's ear and neatly pined the hood of the dark cloak to the side of the doorframe. Unsure of herself for the first time in a long time, she gathered her courage and slipped out of the front door and into the night. A shock of silvery hair and the silhouette of her naked body were visible only for a moment as she slipped through the door.
Ginafay was unsure about the situation, but she was sure that she needed to find out, and she needed clothes! Armed with nothing but Zoltando’s dagger, she picked her way in the darkness along the shadows and walls of the city back towards the Phoenix Tavern. Perhaps the human who mistook her for Jhorikos would still be there. Perhaps sense could be made of this situation yet!
((Thanks very much to Ericnox and Delrin for letting me include this!))Outside the Phoenix Tavern
Barrakas, Eberron’s brightest moon, was high in the night sky and shining like a beacon. Ginafay cursed all twelve of the moons in turn as she tried badly to make herself invisible. She had managed to steal a night shift that was hanging out to dry on a line, so she was not as much of a spectacle as she could have been. The hem of the off-white sleeping shirt hung down to the middle of her thighs. She was a spectacle to say the least. She tucked the dagger in a fold of the shirtsleeve and tried to behave as if this was a perfectly normal evening for her.
It was not, of course. She had been ousted from what she thought was her home after discovering that she was something of a stranger there. She seethed. Who was this ‘Jhorikos’? What made her think she was married to Zoltando? And why, in all the hells did she looks exactly like Ginafay? There was a man early on in the evening that had mistaken her for Jhorikos. It was this man whom Ginafay sought now.
She entered the tavern and looked around hastily, the human male was not in the same location that he had been previously. "Piss all!" Ginafay muttered beneath her breath. Where was he? After a fruitless search inside the bar, Ginafay thought she heard voices from the larger area above the tavern, she crept up quietly and peeked her head over the ledge. There was her quarry, the same man who had called her… ‘Jhorikos.’ The human man with dark hair and white roots was lighting a cigar. He seemed to be engaged in conversation with another human, a blonde and rugged-looking man.
"There we go." She heard the human say as he cut the end off his cigar. He lit it with practiced ease.
The other fellow announced that he had to retire for the evening. "I must be off to bed, goodnight Ericnox." She heard the blonde man say.
"Get some rest Vale," Ericnox, Ginafay’s quarry, replied taking a puff from his cigar. She pressed herself against the wall as the blonde man known as Vale passed her on the landing. The tavern was beginning to empty; she preferred it this way. She straightened her stolen night shift and approached the man.
Ericnox leaned back in his chair and sighed softly, taking a slow drag off his cigar. He looked over to woman and tilted his head some. "Jhori?" He asked
"Hello.... " She addressed Ericnox cautiously taking comfort in the hidden dagger in the folds of her shift.
'"Are you alright? What happened?" He asked, setting his cigar down and removing his cloak, offering it to her. "And put something more on."
Delrin, another human whom Ginafay could barely remember from her old days in the city approached them. "Evening all," he said casually. His hair was brown and brushed away from his face and he wore a turquoise-colored outfit that to Ginafay resembled lounging clothes.
Ginafay accepted the cloak and pulled it around her. It smelled of cigar smoke, but it was warm and soft and clean. Her eyes drifted once over to Delrin. Yes, she was sure she knew him. "May I sit down?" She asked looking back at Ericnox?
'"Of course. Please do. What happened?" Ericnox asked her as she put on the crimson cloak.
She spoke to Ericnox, not bothering to conceal her words from the curious Delrin. "Can I ask why you called me Jho... that name earlier?"
Ericnox looked down at Ginafay and tilted his head. "Because I swear up and down you look like her in every single way I can see." He said, nodding his head. "You look identical to her. But you are not, are you?"
She looked at the man next to her, "what is your name?"
"Ericnox Shattersoul." He said, looking at her and smiling a bit.
Delrin seemed to be looking for a name as he glanced over to Ginafay, "By the Host you look familiar." He muttered. "Not Jhorikos you say?"
She sighed swore under her breath another curse to the twelve moons, "I am not her. The cow is at this moment in the bed of my husband..." she struggled a moment to regain her composure.
Ericnox blinked a bit and shook his head. "Wait... Wait... You mean to tell me that you are Zolt's wife... But Jhori is... Wait... How?" He seemed confused.
Ginafay was even more irritated than she was before as she answered, "I do not know how. I know that my own memory has betrayed me, that another woman shares my husband's bed," she paused, resisting the urge to grip the dagger in her sleeve.
"Jhori is Zolt's wife." Ericnox explained, "Jhori said her memories were wiped thanks to a Mind flayer when the demons first hit."
Delrin spoke up again, snapping, "Ginafay, That's it! I knew I've seen you around, ages ago it seems! I'm Delrin!"
Ginafay nodded, "Delrin is a name I am vaguely familiar with. You were coming through the ranks of another guild. That is the last thing I remember of you." She considered him a moment. She was barely cognoscente of the words Ericnox had just spoken to her. Slowly they began to sink in. The devil invasion had been a full year in passing. Where had she been in all that time? Jhorikos had been here, in Stormreach.
Ericnox laced his handing together and rested his elbows on the table.
"I have all of my memories. All of them," Ginafay was speaking low and shaking her head, frustrated, "save... the last year."
She glanced suddenly from Delrin to Ericnox, "here and now... the two of you must swear that you will not reveal who I am to anyone! I know my husband, and I cannot bring him problems without answers. He can be …unstable when he wants to be," she almost chuckled in spite of her situation. "Do I have your word? Both of you?"
Ericnox spoke first, "you have my word as a paladin and a human," he said with a nod, his face stoic and showing little emotion. "Nothing of this will leave this table."
Delrin nodded, "If we are talking about Zoltando, I plan to keep very quiet."
She stifled another chuckle at Delrin's words. So her Zoltando still had the ability to strike fear in those around him. At least that much was comforting. "When all you have is a hammer Delrin, most problems begin to look like nails." She thought to herself a moment, "It has been a year since the devil invasion. Has it not?"
"A year at least. It seems like Stormreach has been burdened by these devils forever." Delrin remarked quietly.
"It has been.." Ericnox replied, "they started around the time I was taken back to Flamekeep for my trial..."
Ginafay pulled her bottom lip into her mouth to bite it as she thought, "It seems not so long ago to me. Not so long at all." She said finally, "To me, it is as if I were hunting in the Giant Hold and I simply came home. Ericnox.... you said that Jhorikos had no memories?"
Ericnox nodded, "that's right. She lost her memories to a Mind flayer. Some of them came back thanks to Zolt's efforts." Delrin looked puzzled.
"Zoltando thinks she is me." Whispered Ginafay, and another sting of jealousy ripped through her core. A year he had been with her. A Year! She fought for control of her faculties at this thought. There had to be logic in this! "Perhaps I am the one who is mistaken... how in the nine hells am I supposed to know!"
Ericnox replied, "I don't know much about that... I really don't. She told me that Zolt came to her and showed her what her life used to be. That she was a mother and a wife..." He said softly.
A familiar ache touched her at the mention of the children that she barely got to know. Her children who were grown nearly to adulthood on another plane. The puppet master had accelerated their growth by magical means. "God's I had almost forgotten them in all this Delrin... " She looked over Delrin’s strange outfit, "do you not use magic? Can't you people just magic up some answer to this riddle?"
Delrin looked up "I'm sorry, I don't, I leave it for the mages. Though" Delrin stops to think. "A Psion is what you need, if a Flayer did this to you its a different kind of magic."
Ericnox added, "both of these forms of magic are beyond me." I have never trusted people that can read minds. Something about it simply bothers me deeply." He said, shaking his head.
"Piss all," she said and rolled her eyes, "I am not overly fond of magic wielders and psionics? To me that is a paper I use to clean myself in the privy! I will not go near a flayer ever... I would rather spit on the grave of my father!" She continued speaking more to herself than to the two men. "There must be another way to solve who is the real Ginafay, and yes, I was always Ginafay!" She rubbed her back in the center remembering her time spent in the prison of the puppet master. Something was missing. "Delrin... have you ever heard of..." She pressed her lips together remembering what the Puppetmaster had done to keep her in line. "Delrin, have you ever heard of... a symbiant?"
Worry spreads across Delrin's face. "I have. You weren't, you don't have one do you?"
Ginafay shuffled uneasily, "I was... transported for a short while to the plane of Shavarath... it is a long story, but... yes, my captor placed some sort of bug-like thing in my back that could read my thoughts. It could not be removed I was told. Not without also killing me."
Delrin stood at this news. "Is it with you now?"
"Look for yourself!" She removed the crimson cloak that Ericnox had given her and the night shift with it. Without a thought she repositioned herself so that she stood in front of Delrin with the clothing in a bundle in front of her. "What do you see?" She asked uneasily.
Delrin pulled a dagger from his belt and began to inspect Ginafay's back. Her eyes wandered over towards Ericnox who simply lit a new cigar for himself, his eye focused on her lower back. "Well?" She asked impatiently, "are you going to be about this all day?"
Delrin placed a hand on her shoulder and ran the hand with the dagger along her back looking for the symbiant. "It looks like the creature was removed" Delrin said half relieved. "Though there are some remains under the skin it looks like. Scars mostly but perhaps…" Delrin cut gently to remove what looked like a sliver of a greenish-grey color "If removed with force. Perhaps the creature was designed to be removed by its master."
She slipped her cloak back on, "Well, that settles that then...." Ginafay found the dagger and gripped it tightly, "I shall have to kill her immediately. Good day to you both!".
"Wait!" Delrin exclaimed, "Here's what I found." He held out a gloved hand with something strange on it.
She stopped dead in her tracks. "That was in my back? But how? If it has been so long? That stinking cow has been here a bloody year!" Ginafay wondered if her counterpart had the same wound. If she did, would it have healed already? Why was Ginafay’s wound still open? "Will this wound even heal?" She asked angrily trying to grip her thoughts properly.
Delrin shook his head "I don't know."
Ericnox stood up and looked at the strange thing that Delrin held in his hand. "By the flame? What is that?" He asked, tilting his head a bit and leaning over. "As for killing Jhorikos, you might want to bide your time... If Zolt comes in and sees some woman has murdered the person he thinks is his wife," he paused, "the results could be bad for all."
Ginafay wavered a moment, flipping the dagger around in her hand. She felt strange about the thought of killing her other self. Was it that? Or could it be…the truth was something else entirely? "Let me ask you this..." She looked from one man to the other, "is there a chance that... I am not the real Ginafay? That somehow I was manufactured? That she…Jhorikos… is," she swallowed hard, "where she is supposed to be?" This alone was unsettling, and though she wanted to take her place back in her life, the thought occurred to her that it might not be her life to take back.
Ericnox pondered this idea a moment, "Being made... I heard rumors long ago a people being able to make clones... But... That was only a rumor..." He said with a shake of his head.
"Easy now. Why would the Daelkyr make a clone? To what end does this serve?" Delrin stopped a moment. "Though, the Daelkyr are the beginings of madness. So it’s anyone's guess"
"Piss and blood!" She swore and nearly spit on the ground. "No... I need more information before I go killing people I suppose." She was irritated by the notion that she might not be the real Ginafay, and even more irritated that she had to allow the situation to go on as it was. ‘Be calm,’ she told herself. ‘Have patience.’
She stood with a resolute expression, her decision had been made, "which one of you is willing to let me stay with him then?" Her question is blatant and her tone flippant. Ericnox agreed immediately and she thought, far to eagerly. Delrin resigned that he traveled far too much out of the city and would be of less use to her. Ginafay considered the paladin for a moment, wondering if she would have to gut him in his sleep.
At last she agreed to stay with Ericnox, and her eyebrows raised in a matter of fact manner, "Hmmmmm... you understand, Sir Ericnox, that we will not be having coitus?" She stopped and added a wink, unless I find out I am not who I think I am," her eyes roamed down his body and back up again, most humans looked so very much alike to her, "or not." She shrugged.
"I'm an exile here," Ericnox explained, "so no one will come looking. And I understand that. I expect nothing from you. Besides not to go though my stuff." He said with a chuckle.
Ginafay nodded, "I can pay you... well... after I get some clothes and armor and good blade." The dagger was still poised in her hand and she looked down at almost sadly, "Zolt is so overly fond of his daggers," she laughed once, "I use them to pick the bones out of my food! In any case, I can earn my way by my sword soon enough."
"Perhaps. And as for payment, don't worry about it. I can live without pay. And if push comes to shove, I can find some armor and weapons for you," Ericnox replied.
Delrin was still examining the strange thing in his hand, "I have friends at Morgrave, perhaps they know more about this thing" Delrin muttered, looking down at the object.
Her back ached a little where Delrin had prodded with his knife. Ginafay stifled a shiver, this was the time for courage and action, she reminded herself, not fear and debate. "Will you be able to find out within a few days Delrin?" She asked him pointedly.
"I just got back, but I can leave at once." Delrin agreed.
"You can find me here Delrin, or I shall find you." She smiled, "I appreciate your efforts."
No matter what happened, Ginafay knew that she needed to gather her strength. There were too many things she did NOT want to think about at the moment. She nodded at Ericnox, "I am very tired sir, where is this room of yours?"
Ericnox stood up and smiled, nodding his head. "Room nine. Second floor. Come on, you can have the bed. I'll sleep on the floor. My bedroll is nice."
"I'll find you here, or I'll find Ericnox." Delrin said as he watched Ginafay follow the paladin towards the Phoenix Tavern Lodging area.
Mirror Mirror, Blurred reflections, part1
In the Restless Isles
"Hmmm, two paths," remarked Zoltando.
Jhorikos had no opinion as to which they should go, unless he were about to suggest they go home. Zoltando had convinced Jhorikos to come hunting with him in the Restless Isles. Reluctantly she had agreed. At this moment, she was regretting that decision. "You choose," she said finally with a smirk, "you are the man in this family after all."
"Straight ahead I say," Zoltando replied, oblivious to her irritation.
The two of them jogged along the underground path until they came to a group of sinister-looking ogres accompanied by an Orc Mage. Zoltando sneered at them and the ogres did not immediately attack. Jhorikos watched as her husband whispered something strange to them.
The next thing she knew, she was surrounded on all sides by five hulking ogres and she was scrambling to defend herself. Jhorikos felt the sting in her chest from a bolt of lightning. She screamed a curse and braced herself behind her shield. She could hardly see for the spiked clubs savagely swinging down at her.
A shrill war cry carried over the ogrish grunting and Jhorikos smelled fresh blood… ogre blood. She crouched low and swept out with her leg, tripping one opponent and challenging another. She could see Zoltando now, clearly enjoying himself as he hacked the head off of the orc mage. In the next instant, he was next to her, and the battle was won. Was he laughing?
Jhorikos rubbed her shoulder. She had been hit hard by an ogre’s club. She would need to rest and heal. "That was close," Jhori said narrowing angry eyes at Zoltando. She had not been expecting him to pick a fight with the entire group! "We could have died! I blame YOU for this!"
Zoltando seemed amused, "Why blame me?"
"You nearly killed us both!" She shouted at him, "What did you say to those ogres to make them so angry!"
"I insulted their mothers." He grinned, "ogres are so easy. Nobody was permanently hurt; it seemed fun." Jhorikos gave a noticeable sigh at this. "What’s wrong?" He asked.
Her tone was dangerously low as she spoke. "What am I going to DO with you?"
Zoltando answered her as if he had not read her exasperated sigh, "Nothing."
Her eyes rolled and she looked to the heavens for some sort of divine inspiration, "you never listen to anyone else opinion save your own!" She seethed.
"I listen to other opinions but in the end I trust myself, and you trust my decisions." He replied calmly.
There was no use arguing with him, so she dropped the matter altogether. Jhorikos insisted they rest for the night, and Zoltando agreed. During the night, when it was her turn at watch, Jhori crept away. She left Zoltando alone in the middle of the restless isles and returned home. She did not even leave him a note.
"Bugger me!" She breathed as she returned home. The prowler had come back while they were hunting! Jhori looked around the house quickly, whoever was there, had left already, and not empty handed! Her red and black practice armor was missing, along with a few weapons. A prized sword that Zoltando had taken care to mount on the wall for display was gone! He had claimed that the weapon was special, magically infused with chaotic energy. It had been some sort of gift from him. Zoltando claimed it had been a favorite weapon of hers. It was gone now!
Jhorikos shuddered when she thought about how angry Zoltando would be if he found that the prowler had come back. Especially as it was she who insisted he let the thief escape! She envisioned Zoltando slitting the throat of every beggar in the city in order to reclaim his wife’s precious sword! That simply would not do!
She worked quickly, rummaging around and righting the house, cleaning, tidying. With any luck, he would not notice. He would be angry enough as it was, she thought, that she left him alone in the dead of night, unguarded.
"How am I ever going to face him?" She asked herself aloud.
Zoltando fumed with rage as he stepped off the airship that took him from the restless isles to Stormreach, nearly throwing the crew out of his way as he disembarked. "How could she! Leaving a hunt is one thing but to sneak away like a coward during her watch shift, to leave a comrade defenseless if the ogres decided they wanted to attack!" Zolt muttered to himself as he blindly walked through the city, his gaze hot enough to melt adamantium. He wandered to the bank and stepped into the Phoenix tavern, hoping to drown his anger in battle in the pit. Seeing nobody in the pit Zoltando's rage only grew as he moved to talk to Cog. "This should cover what I'm about to do" Zoltando angrily told cog and he dumped a small mound of platinum coins on the bar. Having taken care of the matter of finances Zolt proceeded to the nearest table, heaved it up, and dashed it into splinters against one of the stone support columns, proceeding to do the same to the chairs at the now splintered table. Rage persisting, Zolt gave up on breaking furniture and slumped into nearby undestroyed chair. Zolt muttered to himself, "This, I will not accept. Jhorikos will regret doing something so foolish." Zolt began to pass the time thinking of ways he could make his wife understand just how angry and disappointed with her he was.
Mirror Mirror, Blurred Reflections, Part2In the Phoenix Tavern Ginafay flexed her well-worn sword arm. She smiled a satisfied smile. Her favorite red armor and the fantastic sword she had nicknamed, "Chaos" were with her again. To hell with everything!’ She thought. The devils in all the hells be damned if she cared who found out that she has stolen her favorite things from the Jorasco villa!
"That cow has no right to have my armor and sword," Ginafay whispered under her breath. She strolled through the Phoenix Tavern Quietly with the cowl of her cloak pulled over her head. She had made a small amount of coin as hired sword with the House Denith and hoped to pay Ericnox for his kindness to her. Perhaps soon enough she could afford her own lodging.
The sight of broken chairs and tables caught her eye. What had happened? Perhaps a sparring match in the brawling pit got out of hand. She was about to lament on how she had missed out on all the fun when she stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of… Zoltando! His head hung low and his back was to her, but she knew it was him! He looked beaten… sad.
Without thinking, Ginafay walked to him, as if in a trance. She needed him. She was his wife, wasn’t she? Breathlessly, she stood behind him, not touching him. Something told her he wanted space from others at this moment. Ginafay told herself that she should not be doing this, even as she began speaking to him in very soft tones.
"Do you remember how we first met?" She asked. Ginafay did not wait for a reply. She continued, "We were patrolling the desert for packs of gnolls and scorrow. Our party was split in half by an ambush. You and I were left alone."
She inched closer to him, her voice was low and her breath gently brushed the back of his ear, "You came up behind me and drew one of your daggers," she smiled, drawing the dagger she stole from the villa and handing it to him. "You called me a princess. You threatened to gut me and leave me behind in the sand."
Her hand came up then to rest lightly on his shoulder, "I was as wet as the Phiarlin Marshes for you in that moment," she whispered and closed her eyes, lost in her own memory of him. She wondered if he would understand the situation if she told him what was really going on.
Zoltando spoke to her over his shoulder, "I remember, but I do wonder exactly when you regained that memory." He spun around angrily, "Was it when you left me in the middle of a hunt on your watch when I could have been killed by any ogre that happened to wander bye!? How can you betray me as such and simply spout a memory you may have regained and think my anger will abate instantly! He slammed his fist on the table. "What exactly do you have to explain your actions?!" He screamed at her.
Her head shook slightly and she seemed confused. ‘The witch has poisoned his mind!’ She thought angrily. "My actions…" she whispered. What the hell had happened to make him so angry? For a moment she wondered if he knew the truth. ‘No… that’s impossible.’ She thought. ‘Or is it?’
"Zoltando…. Whatever has happened, we can overcome. You and I. I am your Gina. Am I not?" Her lips pushed together tightly, "I would never have left you by my own choice. I tried that once. Before your terrible trial, you remember... I couldn’t do it."
All of his anger seemed to drain away. "You called yourself Gina, you remember the trial. What exactly is happening here, do you remember our past but nothing of the present? Please, explain to me exactly what is happening here because you have no idea how confused I am right now about who you are, Jhorikos or Ginafae.
"I am Lady Sevenmoons," she spoke calmly. "Wife of Zoltando Sevenmoons. Mother to Xoltanda and Vesklar." Gina moved around the chair to reposition herself, kneeling in front of him. Her face was bright and peaceful. "My love," she whispered, "how many nights have I been away from you?" She offered her hand up to stroke the side of his face, "I promise you we will be together. I swear it." She smiled sadly and her eyes never left his as she spoke. She could feel him relaxing, watched his glare soften.
He gazed deeply into her eyes. "Thank you my love. Looking at you now I see the truth, you are my wife and love, that is all that matters." He moved to embrace her.
Her arms wrapped beneath his and she felt herself letting go of her surroundings. ‘No… he may not be mine.’ she told herself as she ran her finger diagonally down the front of his armor. The long scar on his chest was there, she knew. She jumped a little inwardly thinking of the point on his skin where the magically infused scar would shock her fingertip. She had missed this. Ginafay looked up at him, half expecting another embrace but he offered none. He seemed fixated on her, and confused. Ginafay found it impossible to read his expression. "What’s wrong love?"
Zoltando moved away and sat back at the table, content in being near to her and enjoying the unique fragrance that he associated with her. "Now, to take care of this." He said with an air of finality, "You seem to have two separate personalities, one that has all your memories, and one that has only the memories of that personality. I have no idea how this happened but I do plan to fix this." He scratched his head; "I don’t have a clue how to do that though."
She almost broke down completely and told him the entire story then and there. How she wanted to share it with him! The fear of him rejecting her as the false Ginafay made her hold her tongue however. She would not be able to bear it if he turned her away. ‘But what if he didn’t? Perhaps he would understand? No.. no… better to wait. Or to kill Jhorikos.’ She thought, and silently, she began plotting the death of her counterpart. ‘Kill Jhorikos… Ginafay…. Herself…’ The thought unnerved her and her eyes popped open. Would she not be killing herself?
"I have to go," she said suddenly jarring herself back into her present reality. Ginafay stood quickly and took a step back. "Please know that whatever happens. I am always Your Gina." She looked as if she needed to say more, but no words escaped her. She turned and darted as quickly as she could out of the tavern. Surely Delrin would be back from Sharn by now! He had to Know something!
Zoltando sat in silence a moment, becoming incredibly confused and placed his face in his palms. "Why is nothing simple in this city, why can't one thing just make sense without extensive investigation?"
In the Guild's Hall
<zolt> *enters the guildhall through the front door and looks around for any familiar faces*
<Jhorikos> *hides her wines glass quickly*
<Ericnox> *He laughs a bit and smiles* I like it when a woman can be confident in her skills. Though I am hardly a slouch. *He takes a sip of the wine and smiles a bit*
<Jeatra> *Smiles, draining more of the wine* Oh? Then perhaps we just will have to test our steel against each other. *grins, eyes glinting with the prospect*
<zolt> *turns to Jhorikos* Alright, why did you just dart out of the phoenix, how did you change your armor so quickly, and where did you put your blade?
<Jeatra> *Turns to Zolt* She's been with us the whole time...
<Ericnox> *He looks at Zolt* She has... Been here with us for almost an hour now.
<zolt> That’s not possible, I was just talking to her not five minutes ago in the...Oh, well, I suppose this makes slightly more sense then.
<Jhorikos> *her face goes slightly pale,* I'm so sorry... I know I can never be forgiven for what I have done. I was angry at you. I left and.. you didn't deserve that. I owe you an apology, and I don't want to talk about it ok?
<Ericnox> *He looks around in confusion, blinking a bit and sinking into his chair some, taking a swig off his wine*
<JnL> *looks confused but simply shrugs and goes back to cleaning her armor*
<zolt> *waves the apology away* I just realized that there is a far greater issue than that.
<Jeatra> *raises her eyebrow, clearly not understanding what's going on*
<Jhorikos> *freezes and nestles her wineglass further beside her*
<zolt> I just met in the Phoenix, one who looked exactly as you and claimed to be my wife. There was however one important difference, she had all of Ginafae's memories. So, I have to wonder which of you is the real lady Sevenmoons.
<Jhorikos> *She forgets her wineglass for the moment and stares at him incredulously* What are you talking about?
<Ericnox> *Eric sits up and sets his wine glass to one side* Well... That could be more complex then one thinks. Sir Zolt, Lady Jhori, could you sit down and talk with me?
<Jeatra> *Gives a beckoning motion to the kitty, who promptly leaps into her lap. Jeatra holds him there tight, giving Zolt a wary eye*
<Jhorikos> *looks confused, She sits down after a moments hesitation*
* Sereyne enters and moves to a seat at an empty table and brings out her notes.. glancing at those she recognizes and nods. Her white eyes empty of any unusual sparks at the moment.::
<zolt> From what I can tell, the only way that you can be in two places at once, with two sets of memories, is if there are actually two of you...or her as the case may be.
<Jeatra> *Ponders for a few seconds* Umm..what if...*looks about the room with hesitation* That murderer didn't really die...
<Jhorikos> *She stiffens and her facial expression changes to one of exasperation,* I TRIED to remember for you. I swear to you! *she rolls her eyes at Zoltando* It's obvious you are not listening to me!
<Ericnox> I encountered a woman a few days ago, who happily introduced herself as Lady Sevenmoons. I offered her a drink, thinking she was you Jhori...
<zolt> I am listening, I'm just telling you what I saw.
<Ericnox> A day or two ago, she reappeared, ready to kill you, the imposter, the woman known as Jhori. She lacks something you might have Jhori... On your spine.
<Jhorikos> *Stares wide-eyed at Ericnox* Kill me?
<zolt> That seems like something I would do.
<Jhorikos> *stiffens again* You would kill me? Why am I married to you? You are such a brute! *she lets out a frustrated sigh*
<Ericnox> Yes... I know about that. She had someone check. She showed up in rags, and I gave her my cloak and spoke with her.
<zolt> *sighs* I mean that if I was in a situation where I thought I had an imposter I would kill him.
<JnL> Jaggie: Zoltando....
<Ericnox> I... Talked with some of my friends... And between us we might have an idea...
<Jhorikos> *her tone is laced with sarcasm, she is not listening to anyone else, instead she is fuming at Zoltando* and I suppose you would come rushing to my aid when this woman tried to kill ME!
<zolt> I would stop her from killing you, yes.
<Jhorikos> *She has been so caught up in being angry with Zolt, it is as if she has not heard Ericnox* "What was that Eric?"
<Jeatra> *Sighs, wondering why noone even considered her proposal. In attempt to just ignore the yelling, she turns to speak to her kitty in whispers*
<Ericnox> *He pointed to Jhori* You are the original body... And the Mind Flayer didn't use it's power right. Swapping your memories with a blank...
<Jhorikos> ((doh! sorry jeatra!))
<Jeatra> ((No worries
<Jhorikos> *stiffens again, her face a blur of lines and worry* Does this WOMAN have a name? Other than Lady Sevenmoons?
<zolt> She called herself Ginafae.
<Jhorikos> *she frowns deeply and looks as if she will say something, but cannot find her voice, she begins to cry instead*
<zolt> *moves over to her and puts an arm around her*
<Jhorikos> *cries harder*
<Jeatra> *Speaks to her kitty in a whisper* I can't make head or tails of this, can you?
<Ericnox> I hate being the bringer of bad news. *he says softly, taking a drink of his wine and putting out his cigar* If this is all true... It puts you all in a bind. Ginafay, Jhori, and Zolt. I can't be of any help beyond this. I'm sorry. I wanted to get more information before bringing this up...
<JnL> Jag: umm... *remains confused*
<Jhorikos> *She composes herself and looks up, not to Zoltando, but to Ericnox,* What should I do?
<zolt> Thank you anyway Eric, I appreciate it.
<Ericnox> *He looks down to Jhori and sighs softly* I don't know. That is something beyond me... A peaceful meeting might not be possible if there anger on any side...
<zolt> *feels vaguely insulted that she turned to Eric instead of him for advice*
<Ericnox> Step one might be to talk between you and Zolt to figure what you want, then for Zolt and Ginafay to speak... then an agreement made.
<Jhorikos> *rises as if in a daze, mumbling that she cannot believe any of this and wanders out into the alley*
<zolt> Well, this is an absolutely insane situation.
<Ericnox> *He watches her stand and looks at the floor* I wish I had I gotten to you before she did...
<Jeatra> *Jeatra gives a small sigh* Should someone go with her?
<Ericnox> To gather more information. And I dare not chase her...
<Jeatra> *Looks to the two men, as if one of them should step up*
<zolt> If I chase her she’ll just push me away and feel helpless. She needs time to work things out for herself.
<Jeatra> *Jeatra gives an exasperated breath, something about men, and downs the rest of her wine, giving a following out to the alleyway to see if she can catch Jhori*
<zolt> Why can't anything in this city be simple?
<Ericnox> If life was easy... It would be boring.
<zolt> I don't mean easy, I just mean not incredibly complex.
<Ericnox> Then it would be boring as well... give it time... Soon things will be taken care of and we can calm down. I might even be able to start a family.
<zolt> I'm going to let that go because you don't know me too well, suffice it to say I do not drink.
<Ericnox> All I know of you is that you are Zoltando Sevenmoons, father of two I think, a drow, and you well known in the tavern for your fighting style.
<zolt> So, what do you suggest we do?
<Ericnox> Think it over, Talk to Jhori then you talk to Ginafay and decide what to do... Really, this is way outta my class, beyond me. I kinda lack people skills.
<zolt> I get them both together and decide which one is the real one, or the one who is more like the woman I married. As for the other...I have absolutely no idea. Maybe I should try to keep both of them as my wife.
<Ericnox> See you would run into three risks I would think... One, the risk of them stabbing each other to death and leaving you with out either one. Two, you have the woman who has been sleeping in your bed for the last year, against the woman with all the memories but a years worth... And three, that trap you just mentioned. Wanting them both. It might cause friction between you all.
<zolt> Perhaps, but I don't want to lose either of them.
<Ericnox> I could give you the total heartless option as well.
<zolt> What option is that?
<Ericnox> *He reaches into his pocket and offers him a coin, a blank look on his face* Pick a woman for the side and flip the coin...
<zolt> I don't plan to solve problems by chance.
<Ericnox> See. Its the totally heartless option. Not many pick it.
<Jeatra> *Jeatra comes back in the front door, gritting her teeth* I should have followed her quicker. Lost her in the crowd...
<zolt> Perhaps I could make the two of them work. Or I could try finding a magic to combine them into one again...though I'm not favoring that option very highly. *sighs* I'll figure something out.
<Jag> Have the girls decide.....
<zolt> What if they both choose me and fight to the death?
<Jag> *Staring at the ground* Maybe you'll be surprised.. I was...
<zolt> What do you mean?
<Jag> Lilly... She gave Deriaz up...
<Ericnox> *He takes a long drink from his wine and looks to Jeatra* I'm going to get something stronger... Want some?
<zolt> Wait, but aren't you lilly?
<Jag> *shakes head*
<Jag> No. She's her own person now.
<zolt> Wait...so there are two of you?
<Jag> Yeah.. I guess. *rubs her head*
<zolt> So, she gave up deriaz? why would she do that?
<Jag> *shrugs* I don't know...
<Jag> But maybe your problem can be solved similarly.
<zolt> Perhaps she didn't give him up but thought there was no way to compete with a warforged.
<Jag> Todays our aniversary. If she was going to do anything, she hasn't yet.
<zolt> Well, you might be surprised.
<Jag> maybe, but I dought it.
<Jag> Put the two in a room and remove all weapons. *shrugs* Do your children know?
<zolt> Well, if they really hate each other I highly doubt that will stop them. Nope, the children have no idea, I just realized it myself.
<zolt> I need to think this through *leaves the hall to take a walk*
Mirror Mirror, Shattered Mirror The Sevenmoon’s residence in the House Jorasco Jhorikos sat on the back patio of her spacious villa that overlooked a portion of the garden of respite. They were truly awe-inspiring in the brightest moonlight. The drow took no comfort in the serenity tonight, however. Too much weighed on her thoughts. There was an identical twin of sorts out there who wanted to kill her. Apparently she had all of Jhorikos’ memories. But where was she? The slightest rustle disturbed the rose bushes that lined the garden. Jhori sat bolt upright on the bench. "Who is there?" She demanded looking around. She stood, cursing herself for leaving her blade inside the house. "Show yourself!" She demanded, an edge of fear creeping into her voice. Something large and heavy made contact with the back of her head. Jhorikos heard a sickening thud that echoed throughout her entire skull and knocked her teeth heavily together. She could hardly draw breath to gasp in surprise. She felt herself fall, involuntarily to the ground. Jhori looked up to see a face… her own face, staring down at her with contempt. The world went blurry, and the last words she heard in her mind echoed and lingered there until she drifted out of consciousness. "Stinking Cow! Now we will see which one of us is the better!" Ginafay said as she relentlessly dragged her helpless counterpart off the patio. Small amounts of blood trailed after them as they went. ******** *********
The Sevenmoon’s residence in the House Jorasco
Jhorikos sat on the back patio of her spacious villa that overlooked a portion of the garden of respite. They were truly awe-inspiring in the brightest moonlight. The drow took no comfort in the serenity tonight, however. Too much weighed on her thoughts.
There was an identical twin of sorts out there who wanted to kill her. Apparently she had all of Jhorikos’ memories. But where was she?
The slightest rustle disturbed the rose bushes that lined the garden. Jhori sat bolt upright on the bench. "Who is there?" She demanded looking around. She stood, cursing herself for leaving her blade inside the house. "Show yourself!" She demanded, an edge of fear creeping into her voice.
Something large and heavy made contact with the back of her head. Jhorikos heard a sickening thud that echoed throughout her entire skull and knocked her teeth heavily together. She could hardly draw breath to gasp in surprise. She felt herself fall, involuntarily to the ground.
Jhori looked up to see a face… her own face, staring down at her with contempt. The world went blurry, and the last words she heard in her mind echoed and lingered there until she drifted out of consciousness.
"Stinking Cow! Now we will see which one of us is the better!" Ginafay said as she relentlessly dragged her helpless counterpart off the patio. Small amounts of blood trailed after them as they went.
The realization that she was lying on a cold floor came to her slowly. Jhorikos opened her eyes and blinked several times. The vaulted ceiling of the practice room within her home came into view. Weapons of every kind, armor, and targets lined the walls. There was another sight too. It took a moment for Jhorikos to realize that she was staring at… herself. Her own sour reflection sat casually backwards over a chair.
"Who are you?" Jhori whispered. Her head pounded and her mouth felt dry.
"I should think you would know that already." Came her mirror image’s easy reply. She held one of Zoltando’s daggers deftly in her hand.
"You are Ginafay then. The one who thinks she is married to my husband." Jhori replied as she sat up and tried to smooth her blood-matted hair.
Ginafay snorted with contempt. "YOUR husband? You don’t deserve him!" She scoffed at the drow mirror image of herself. "You have practically neutered him from what I’ve heard!"
Jhorikos rolled her eyes in response. Her head throbbed again, "Why did you hit me?" She asked irritably. "You could have knocked on the door!"
"I was going to kill you." Ginafay responded matter of factly. Her face was a stony mask, devoid of emotion.
Jhorikios was stunned for a moment. Clearly she was alive. Ginafay had ample opportunity to do so while she was unconscious. "Why didn’t you?" She asked softly. "You could have killed me and taken Zoltando for yourself. You didn’t."
For a long moment, Ginafay did not answer. "I don’t know." She said finally. "I have been missing for a year and I did not know it. I have no idea where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing. You have no memory, but at least you have had… him and the children."
"Is that why you spared my life?" Jhorikos asked tilting her head. "The children are away for a while. I confess I hardly know them, and Zoltando… gods don’t get me started on him!"
"Be still!" Ginafay snapped, "if I killed you… I would be ripping out my own heart. He loves you, they love you! I will not willingly hurt the ones who mean the most to me, Zoltando, Xolt, and Vesk."
"I have no real memories. Images, stories, things people have told me. But no concrete things from the past. I have struggled for over a year now. I have tried my best to be the person I am expected to be." Jhori touched her head again. "Things have not worked out as planned."
Ginafay considered her mirror self carefully, "what do you mean by that?" She asked. "Do you not love your family? Do you not love Zoltando?"
Jhorikos hesitated too long and Ginafay became frustrated. "Well do you?"
"I… things are complicated for me right now," Jhorikos tried to say.
"You are a damed mouse!" Ginafay leapt behind Jhorikos and wrapped a savage arm around her neck to hold her in place. She was impossibly fast! Jhori could clearly see one of Zoltando’s dagger’s leveled at her throat. "Complicated? You know nothing!" Ginafay wrestled the woman to the ground and pinned her there. Zoltando’s dagger came back again aimed at Jhori’s throat. "When the entire world is against you, there is only one person you count on to take your side! Even if you are wrong! I would stand behind Zoltando because he is fearless and he makes no apologies for himself!" She spoke furiously, "now, the cards are down and knife is at your throat! You must choose a side! I’ll ask again, DO YOU LOVE HIM!?"
"YES!" Jhorikos screamed to the top of her lungs. "I do! He is strange and things are often awkward between us, and I am not always happy, but I cannot leave him." She turned her head away from Ginafay’s penetrating gaze. "I do love him."
Ginafay retreated and sat across the floor from her counterpart, lost in thought. "I love him too," she whispered. "I always have."
"You have all our memories," Jhorikos shrugged, "you know more about the family than I ever will."
"One of us is not real though," Ginafay admitted solemnly. "I have a scar in my back that has not healed completely." Ginafay explained.
"Yes, Ericnox told me."
"Ericnox told you?" Ginafay replied with irritation. ‘I will speak with him later about his word as a paladin’, she thought irritably. "Right then. So you know that one of us may have been manufactured by a mind flayer?"
Jhorikos nodded slightly, "he did say as much. He seems to think that I am the original, and you are the clone."
Ginafay cringed and said nothing. "Do you also have the scar on your back? It aches for me, a dull ache, as if I am missing something."
Jhorikos shrugged, her anger forgotten, "I don’t really know. A fighter’s life is wrought with pain and scars and aches of all kinds. Mayhap I just ignored it and it healed."
"Will you allow me to look?" Ginafay asked standing. Jhorikos agreed and turned her back to Ginafay. Neither woman heard the latch or the front door swinging open.
Zoltando stood still as he spied a trail of blood leading to his practice room. Quickly drawing his blade he followed the trail to the door. Pausing a moment, he moved in front of the door, kicked it into splinters, and entered the room with his blade poised to kill.
Two women, looking exactly the same stood in the middle of the room, one woman was behind the other with a dagger leveled at her back. This was enough to unnerve Zoltando. He froze and held his blade ready to strike, "Drop...my...dagger...now!" he shouted in a commanding tone.
Ginafay stopped and slowly placed the dagger on the floor, "They say there are two kinds of people," she said softly, "those who fear Zoltando Sevenmoons and those who are dead. " She turned to face him. How could she not smile?
"Hello Husband," came two voices in near unison. The women exchanged awkward glances and Zoltando slowly lowered his blade.
"I see both of you are here, that is good. You forgot one kind of person," he said and Ginafay did not miss the glint in his eye. "Those that love Zoltando Sevenmoons."
Ginafay laughed and Jhorikos rolled her eyes, the women tilted their shoulders away from one another. "I was about to see if Jhorikos has a scar like mine," Ginafay replied.
"What do you mean a scar like yours? " Zoltando asked.
The women exchanged glances and Ginafay spoke first, "when I was held prisoner by the Puppetmaster, he placed a simbiant inside my back... to read my thoughts and keep me tame."
"You mean when I was held," Jhorikos added irritably.
"I have the scar!" Ginafay retorted, casting a sidelong glance at the dagger.
"So similar and yet so different." She heard Zoltando mutter to himself.
Ginafay felt her heart inside her chest beating like a trollish war drum. She had missed Zoltando acutely the last several days, and now she felt the loss of him over the last year. Ginafay's face turned suddenly serious, "Jhorikos, may I speak with him alone?"
Jhorikos looked confused for a moment, as if she has been slapped across the face, but walked towards the door, stopping momentarily to exchange glances with Zoltando. She walked out without a word to the common room of the house.
Ginafay waited for Jhori to leave before she spoke, "You cannot imagine..." she smiled sadly, "what this is like."
Zoltando sighed, "No, I cannot."
Her expression was wistful, as she looked him over, "there are so many things I wanted to say to you. I am afraid, though." She chuckled at this, "and I fear nothing."
"You know you never have to fear when you speak to me."
"But Love," Ginafay explained with a pained expression, "what if I am not... what if..." Her words failed her a moment, before she found the strength to explain. "I asked Jhorikos and she admitted to me that she loves you." If she is the real Lady Sevenmoons," ‘Piss and Blood!’ Ginafay thought to herself and fought angrily for her words. Could she do this? Could she really let him go if she is not the one? Her fists balled at her sides, "I am prepared..." she becomes frustrated, "I would be willing…" ‘Just tell him!’ She thought. ‘Tell him you will walk out of his life if you are not the real Lady Sevenmoons!’ No matter how hard she tried, Ginafay could not make the words pass her lips. She could not finish. Zoltando stared at her in confusion. "Ahhh! Fuck Arawai in her ass!" She swore in exasperation.
Zoltando burst out laughing at her curse to the goddess. "Zolt, this is serious!" She said as she laughed with him.
"I know how serious it is but that is the most humorous thing I have heard in months," he was still trying to stifle his laughter.
Ginafay thought to herself how much she craved those stolen moments of peace with him over the years. "I have missed you..." she smiled at him and felt his arms come up around her. It was the most natural feeling in the world.
"And I have missed you," Zoltando said with love in his voice. He looked down at her and she felt herself being pulled up to meet his lips.
A knock came from the door then. It jarred Ginafay back into her present reality. The sound of the door opening was clearly audible from the practice room.
Ginafay looked up and cast a questioning glance at Zoltando. "Seems we have a visitor." He said and Ginafay felt the cold absence of his arms around her as he let her go and walked from the practice room.
"Yes?" Jhorikos had automatically gone to the door. To her surprise it was Delrin. "Hello Delrin." She smiled, "What brings you here?"
Delrin was slightly surprised to see Jhori, "Oh, hello Jhori, I have something of interest you might want to see." As he came in, his cloak dripped cold water as if he got caught in a great storm, though it was not raining outside. "I just got back in town" he glanced past Jhori, "looks like we got a full house."
Zoltando entered the room, "Hello Delrin."
"Delrin!" Ginafay said as she walked into the common room and smiled the same, white smile that Jhori had just used.
"I'm still," Delrin paused as Ginafay stepped into the room, "trying to figure it out."
Jhorikos lifted her hand to make introductions, but Ginafay cut her off before, "I know him!" GInafay insisted, "Delrin... please tell me you have news!"
"Ginafay I do have news. I think it would be best if we all sat down somewhere we can talk."
Zoltando agreed and led them into the villa’s sitting room, Ginafay automatically followed him. Jhorikos sighed and offered to take Delrin’s dripping cloak with a gesture, "Let me hang that up for you."
"Sorry about the floor Jhori," Delrin said as he handed her the soaked cloak.
Jhorikos was the last to enter the room, and Ginafay was already planted on the sofa, brazenly close to Zoltando. She tried to tell herself that this did not irritate her and remained standing. Delrin was standing as well. She faced him.
Delrin sensed the tension in the room, "Looks like we got quite the situation here." All nodded in agreement. "It's remarkable."
"I'd say so," Zoltando agreed. He seemed almost proud and Jhori cringed inwardly as Ginafay slipped a comfortable hand on his knee.
Ginafay shrugged, no one seemed to know how to begin. "We are waiting to find what you have learned about... that thing... you found in my back." She explained. "This is not what we were discussing before you arrived, but we would have gotten around to it sooner or later."
Jhorikos glanced at Ginafay next to Zoltando and the corners of her mouth turned down. "You said you had a scar. You never mentioned a thing. What thing?"
Delrin began to pace slowly, glancing between all three. "Alright then," Delrin produced a small vial with a dark substance held within. He held it up so the light could show its strange shifting color. "This symbiant is a implant Mind Flayers use to keep their victims alive as they probe their minds."
Jhorikos made a face, "that is disgusting."
"I want to kill it," remarked Zolt automatically.
"It gives them strength while the Flayer sifts through its victim's mind. Normally one falls unconscious or worse" Delrin explained. "What ever flayer that put this in you wanted to get as much information out of you as they could." Delrin continued as Zoltando’s face darkened to a murderous rage.
Ginafay glanced at Zoltdando and then to Delrin, "if Flayers use these to control their victims, it's possible I might be... the original then."
Jhorikos leveled a gaze at Ginafay, "It is not also possible that I am the original and my memory was taken first?" The women exchanged eerily similar disdainful glances.
"Either one seems to be possible," Delrin spoke slowly, mulling over the information.
Jhorikos threw exasperated hands into the air and paced slowly, "then we stand at an impasse!" she said, "what are we supposed to do!"
"I'm sorry I couldn't have been more helpful. The sage I spoke to said it may have been damaged, a forced removal. That would cause some memory loss" Delrin admitted.
"Like a years worth," Ginafay chimed in.
"Its possible," he agreed.
"Or a lifetimes worth," Jhorikos retorted irritably. Who was this woman! More and more it bothered her that she sat so close to Zoltando! He seemed oblivious!
"Is there any way to test which?" Zoltando asked curious.
"Daelkyr craft leaves an imprint." Delrin nodded, "But I'm not sure if that will prove anything." Delrin looked over to Ginafay "Where I removed the creature, you will have a strange scar, one that doesn't look anything like a cut or scrape."
"Well, if it doesn't prove anything I can't see any option but to keep both of you near me until I figure it out." Zoltando said so matter of factly that both women looked at him in utter disbelief.
Jhorikos dropped her arms and stared at Zoltando, the women said "No," almost in unison.
Ginafay seethed, "I don't want to be around her."
At the same time Jhori was spouting, "she is not sleeping in my bed or anywhere near you!"
"Well, I can't very well throw one of you out into the street!" Zoltando replied almost helplessly.
"No," Jhori retorted, "I'd rather go and kill this flayer, and make him pay for ruining my life!"
"At last you say something I agree with!" Ginafay fumed.
"I plan to kill the flayer myself," Zoltando said, "but I think who is who is the larger issue right now."
"Zoltando, this woman is no more Lady Sevenmoons than Delrin is!" Jhorikos made a gesture towards Delrin as she spoke. The Human was busy trying to make himself unseen against the wall.
This was enough to make Ginafay stand and draw her chaotic blade, "perhaps we can find out which of us bleeds the easiest!" She seethed at the unarmed Jhorikos who took a step back. GInafay smirked at the dried blood in her counterpart's hair. "Oh wait... it's you."
Delrin stepped between the two women. "Lets all calm down."
"Lower your blade!" Zoltando barked at Ginafay. She hesitated only a moment before sheathing the weapon.
Zoltando approached Jhorikos and spoke to her in a low voice, a soothing voice that made Ginafay’s blood boil with jealousy, "I told you, Jhorikos, I would prevent Ginafay from killing you, I intend to make good on that promise. I promise the same to Ginafay if you are thinking of anything," he added.
Delrin looked at Jhori with concern. "She really wants you dead, huh?"
Ginafay felt her heart sinking down in her chest. It was as good as if Zoltando had already made his choice and rejected her. She did not think she could live with this. She pushed the thought away gently and spoke after a long, uncomfortable silence, "so what happens now?"
Delrin looked at both women, "I believe each of you will have the scar. If memories were taken and transplanted then both of you would have one. That is, of course, if the flayer used the same sort of symbiant."
Ginafay hesitated a moment before speaking, "Delrin, is it possible, that the flayer will know which of us is the real Ginafay?"
"I'm sure it could tell, but would it?" Delrin rubbed his brow "I still don't understand why it would create a double? To what end does it serve?"
Ginafay shrugged, "there are a ton of reasons to keep slaves, I am sure this flayer has his."
Zoltando sighed, "Nobody knows why psionics do anything, it could have done it just to see if it could. "
"If the Flayer can pick the real Ginafay and tell us why it did what it did before Zoltando slits it's throat," Jhorikos nods, "then we will plan a journey, we can leave when the traveling weather takes an upward turn."
"Slaves I understand, Why duplicate and share or transfer memories though? A memory free slave would be more ideal then one that remembers its past." Delrin reasoned.
Ginafay looked at Delrin, "will you come with us as well?"
He nodded, "Gladly, this is far too interesting."
"I’m glad," Ginafay said smiling at him. "You have been a true friend to me," she smiled at him, "I will not forget it." She sighed inwardly. She might need every friend she could muster for the trying days ahead.
Delrin was gone soon after, leaving an uncomfortable trio in the Jorasco Villa. Jhorikos became increasingly irritated that Ginafay seemed to know where everything was in the kitchen and not only made a special kind of tea for herself, but for Zoltando as well. Watching them exchange glances cut her like a knife.
"We can’t all stay here." Jhorikos admitted finally. "I know we have extra rooms, but I can’t face this. Not like this."
Ginafay agreed and suggested that they alternate days in the house. One would be out while the other was in and so forth. "I have been staying in a room with Ericnox in the Phoenix Tavern," Ginafay explained and searched Zoltando’s face carefully for a reaction. "We could impose on him. Or rent a room in the Phoenix if one is available."
"You should stay here," Zoltando tried to argue, "it would be safer for both of you."
The women seemed to be ignoring his protests, however.
"There is something more that bothers me," Jhorikos admitted and she looked directly at Ginafay, "I don’t want you coupling with him. Not until we know who is really his wife."
Ginafay shrugged a shoulder and nodded once, "agreed." She consoled herself in the knowledge that Jhorikos would not be sleeping with him either.
An audible sigh came from Zoltando’s direction, it was clear he would not be getting his way, or anything else for that matter. He remained silent for fear of further animosity coming from both women.
Mirror Mirror, Broken Glass
The Phoenix Tavern
Jhorikos stumbled bleary-eyed through the Phoenix. That strange elf, Quezan had been right! After Jhori had kissed the strange elf, he had mentioned that Zoltando would love her twice as much if he were forced to compete with a rival! Why hadn’t she thought of this before!
Quezan had volunteered for the position, she thought, but he did not seem as if he would evoke the necessary reaction she wanted out of Zoltando. Jhorikos had never seen the sleeping quarters within the Phoenix before. The hall was dark and long; she could barely make out the number on the door. Cog had pointed her to room nine. She knocked. Would he be expecting her? ‘No, he hardly knows me?’ She laughed to herself. She liked Ericnox anyway, it made what she was about to do all the sweeter! She leaned against the door and waited for him to answer.
Ericnox looked up from his book. He sat up and shook his head, wondering what tricks people were trying to play on him once more. He was dressed in simple garb, a white, loose tunic and a pair of blue silk pants. He opened the door and saw the woman before him.
"Jhori, what are you doing here?" He asked, blinking a bit. He was confused by her presence, but welcomed the company none the less.
"Eric!" She smiled and leaned in towards him for a hug, "gods I have missed you!" She sighed at him, "Ginafay… you know her… she told me she was staying in your room here." Jhori offers a tight smile, "she won’t be with you tonight." Jhori neglected to fill him in on the details of her new, precarious living arrangement. She fixed a mischievous grin on her face. "Do you have any more of the Thrane wine? It’s the best wine in the known world!"
"Ginafay? No, she is out and said she won't be returning for some time. And yes. I have some wine left. A few bottles if I remember right." He said, hugging her back and pulling her inside his room.
Her focus suddenly shifted to his hair, "what have you done to yourself?" She smiled at him, and her honey-colored eyes seemed brighter.
"I stopped dyeing my hair. This is its natural color. And I have missed you too. Please, have a seat, you look uneasy on your feet." He said, pulling out a chair and closed the book that was on his bed.
Jhorikos ignored the chair and sat down on Ericnox’s bed. "Pour us some wine, or water, or whatever you like I don’t care! Tonight I don’t care!" She waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. Her shoulder dropped to one side and she considered him a moment. Jhori realized that she had no idea how to seduce a man! She asked herself, ‘how Ginafay might handle this.’
"Do you mind if I take off this mithral plating?" She asked, but she was already loosening the complicated straps and ties that held it all together. She wore a simple leather jerkin beneath and a long sleeved cotton shirt.
He inclined his head to her and smiled a bit, pouring them both a glass of wine from a fresh bottle. "There we go. And please feel free. If you need to, I have a changing area in the back of the room." He smiled again and sat in the chair near her.
She took the wine and smelled it then sipped it slowly, "that is marvelous!" Jhori studied him and licked wine from her lips in what she hoped was a sensual way. "I like your hair this way. It suits you." She folded her legs beneath her, "Don’t you every get lonely up here all by yourself?"
"It can be lonely at times up here. Do you plan on keeping me company more often?" He asked with a chuckle, pulling his hair back for a moment. "I'm glad you like it."
Her head tilted slightly to the side and her silvery hair fell outward over her shoulder, "come sit next to me Ericnox?" She said as she patted the space next to her.
He took a sip of his wine and nodded, standing up and sitting down next to her. "Is something on your mind milady?" He asked her with a smile, thinking she might have already had too much to drink.
Jhorikos smiled broadly at him, watching him sit next to her. "indeed," she said and she lifted her glass, "toast with me eh? To Thrane wine! The best wine!"
He raised up his glass and gently tapped it to hers. "I'll drink to that!" He said with a smile on his face.
She sipped her wine and held it back up again, "once more," she said, "to paladins of the Silver Flame, who have never kissed an elf." She made sure to keep his eye contact as she drank. With a wicked grin she added, "but somehow managed to bed a dwarf!" The drow laughed and nearly spit wine, "you are diabolical Ericnox!"
He blushed a bit and nodded his head. "I have never kissed an elf but laid with a dwarf. Strange aren't I? And diabolical? How so? Do I taunt and tease you knowing that you could kiss a human paladin and break two of our never have yous?" He said referring to the tavern game where they had first gotten to know one another.
A pain shot through her heart. Could she really do this? What if she ruined him? Jhorikos tried to strengthen her resolve. She would allow him to choose her in return. The glass went again to her lips and she drank, "would if I could. My life is complicated." Her eyes seemed to grow sad. "You deserve better than that" ‘Better than me,’ she wanted to say but didn’t.
"Your life is no more complicated than mine. We simply have different complications. Yours would be with a twin... And some of mine is with a twin... And your lover and family... And wait... Mine is some family issues as well. Looks like we are more alike then we figured before huh?" He looked to her. "And how do I deserve better?"
"You are a bit like me!" Her head went back and she laughed, an honest laugh, "oh gods! Thankyou, I have not laughed this way in a very long time." She sighed, her head felt fuzzy and she leaned her head over onto Ericnox’s shoulder. "You smell like leather," she said softly. Her eyes went slightly heavy and her cheek rested comfortably on his shoulder. He felt good, comfortable.
He smiled at her and dipped his head. "You're welcome. And it might be me. That is where the leather strap for my armor normally rests." He smiled at her once more and gently petted her hair. "Why did you wander up here Jhori?"
A sting of guilt, dulled by Thrane wine washed through her. She answered him honestly. "I need a friend Ericnox." Her face turned upward to him, and her hand followed, gliding slender fingers along his cheek. Again she was distracted, "your face is rougher than I thought it would be," she remarked casually.
"We all need friends some times." He smiled and closed his eyes, the slate gray of them hiding under the skin of his eyelids as he leaned into her hand. "I will admit, I am happy you are here. I am happy to have company."
She finished her wine and set her glass aside. Jhorikos turned to him, smiling in a shy and girlish way; "can I sleep here… with you? Please?" She blushed and looked down quickly. If he were going to accept or reject her, it would be now.
He nodded to her and smiled, setting his empty glass down as well. "Of course you can. And I'm sure you have the same rule as Ginafay. No funny business." He chuckled and stood up, carrying the glasses into a side room.
Jhorikos watched him, her mind reeling. Ginafay had laid rules down for him? She almost laughed. Could it be that she could make more than one person upset by her actions tonight? The thought renewed her strength. She smiled to herself. Perhaps.
He walked back in, a black bag on his shoulders. He opened it up and unrolled it, smiling a bit as he did. It seemed like he done this hundreds of times. "I'm sure the bed is comfortable. Seeing as you are a guest, you can stay there for the night."
Jhori felt confused as she watched him. She sat bolt upright and stared at him, incredulous. "Ericnox… am I not? Are you not attracted to me?"
"You're very attractive. It takes a lot of will power to not pin you to that bed and ravage your body. Something I have not done in far too long. But you have not given me permission, nor have you even made a move... Plus... You are married and it would be wrong of me to take advantage of you." He said with a deep, almost mournful sigh.
Another sting of guilt hit her. He had to admit. She liked him. Jhori sighed, a satisfied sigh, "Ericnox, I did not just ask you to sleep WITH me. If you have the will power to resist my charms from over there, you can do the same with me lying next to you." She argued. Jhorikos held out her hand to him. "Come."
He took her hand and stood up, pushing aside the bed roll and then pulled off his wool tunic. She could see the scars he told her about. Each one deep but short. They looked like something a meat cleaver could well do. He sat down next to her and smiled and smiled a bit. "Thank you Lady Jhori. I do hate sleeping on the floor."
"It’s your bed after all," she remarked. With a twisted little grin, she leaned forward and kissed him lightly and withdrew before she could see his reaction. She simply could not help herself. Her lips tasted of Thrane wine and her eyes were slightly bloodshot.
He blinked for her kiss, a look of bewilderment on his face. He gently touched his lips and then withdrew his hand. This woman was so confusing, perhaps that is what drew him to her, the unknown side of her. He licked his lips and nodded. "Yes... this is my bed after all..." He said slowly, laying down next to her, but over the covers.
In spite of her current predicament, she found herself slightly spellbound. Was it the wine? "You are a gentlemen Ericnox." She smiled happily and nuzzled her way onto his shoulder with a satisfied smile. "I like you," she whispered, her breath bouncing off of his skin.
He curled up with her and smiled a bit, gently petting her hair with his left hand and smiling. She could see his skin getting goosebumps from her breath. "I try to be." He said softly. "And... I like you as well. Very much."
Jhorikos’ eyes were heavy and she found it hard to keep them open. She felt happy. She did not have to lie to him. She could be herself with him. It felt comfortable. She would not even have to be dishonest about where she spent her night!
Broken Glass, Part two
The next day in the Phoenix Tavern
Jhorikos entered the Phoenix, straightening her newly purchased white dress. She had looked for a long time in the shop mirror before buying it, making sure it complemented her curves. ‘Would he even notice?’ She asked herself. Her thoughts were interrupted by the sight of Jeatra, the charming little halfling with sandy hair and bright eyes. She seemed so happy now that she was with someone. Jhorikos smiled at her and suggested that they get a bottle of wine and go upstairs.
"Sounds fine by me!" Jeatra replied.
"You like my new dress?" Asked Jhori hopefully? "I picked it up special today"
Jeatra eyed the gown, "Oh? What's the occasion?"
"Nothing" Jhori’s voice cracked and betrayed her as she spoke. "Let's have some wine!" She made a beeline for the balcony, hoping to be able to see and be seen from the upper level of the tavern, but someone was already in that perch. "Oh! Hello Deriaz." The forged did not immediately answer, "He must be recharging," she said to Jeatra.
Deriaz answered then, "Hm?" The warforged looked a bit out-of-it. "Er. Hi. Need me to move?"
"No," Jhori felt she answered too quickly again, "Certainly not! Stay." She felt a prickle on the back of neck, as if someone were watching her. She turned around and saw Ericnox waving to her. Jhorikos blushed and straightened her dress and Deriaz nodded to Ericnox.
Jeatra raised an eyebrow to Jhori, catching her blush. She shrugged, "Hiya Eric."
He approached them then, "Hello to you all as well. Mind if I join you?" Ericnox asked. "And Lady Jhori, that is a lovely outfit."
Jhorikos felt her cheeks grow hot, "oh, this old thing," she remarked setting the bottle of wine down along with a couple of glasses.
Jeatra grinned, "Old thing? You said you just picked it up, isn't that right...Jhori?" She winked. "And, I must say...a girl could easily fall for her in that dress." She smiled brighter between the two.
The remark made Jhori blush again and she cast a determined glance toward Jeatra and tried to change the topic of conversation. "Um... Ericnox, I did not know you would be here!" She lied, she knew damned well he would be there. "I brought glasses for myself and Jeatra. Why don't you share with me?"
"Yeah, we can share if you want to. I don't mind." Ericnox answered.
"What shall we drink to?" Jhori asked after pouring a round for them. She smiled. She felt glad to be among friends.
"Hope and Love!" Jeatra remarked happily. She took her glass, and sipped down a little bit of the wine, smiling so bright that her eyes reflected the shine of teeth."
"Hope and love." Repeated Jhori before drinking and handing the glass to Ericnox.
"Happiness and peace as well!" Added Ericnox.
Deriaz nodded in agreement to the toasts, even though he was not drinking.
Jeatra looked to Deriaz. "Here Deriaz, at least join us in the toast." She offered her glass over to the warforged.
"No thanks." Deriaz shook his head. "I don't drink."
Jeatra shrugged, and took back her drink and sipped. "More for me then." She smiled, and leaned onto one hand, looking to Jhori and Eric...a plotting smile on her face.
"No cigars tonight then?" Jhori asked looking over Ericnox curiously. His hair was white now, and she thought to herself that she liked it with way.
Ericnox picked at an exposed bolt on the center of his chestplate, he blinked and smiled. "I have them. Anyone want one?"
Deriaz nodded towards Jeatra, "More for you. Heh. And no thanks, Ericnox." He shook his head.
Ericnox opened a side pouch and pulls out a cigar, smiling at Jhori. "Want to share one as well? I don't get another box in until Friday."
Jhori tried her best not to make a face. The first cigar he had given her made her feel ill afterward. She had not wanted to insult him though. "No thanks Eric. I really think I'd like to just drink the wine."
Jeatra listened lightly to noises of the tavern, and continued sipping on her wine. After a while, she started humming a small tune. Stopping, she looked to Eric. "Please...no smoking. I really can't stand...the smell of it..."
"What does it smell like?" Deriaz asked curiously.
"It smells like burning leaves that have been soaked in linseed oil." Jhori replied before she could stop herself. "'Fanatically old and yet, charming at the same time," she cautioned a glance at Ericnox, fearing she might have offended him.
Jeatra considered the question carefully while humming that same melody, "Think how tar can feel, all sluggish, and combine that with the murkiness of the sewer water. Make that a smell...."
"Alright then. And this batch was mint. I think." Ericnox shrugged a bit and put away the cigar. His hand wandered back the exposed bolt.
"It's suffocating...no matter what smell it's supposed to have..." Jeatra shivered.
Deriaz looked confused, "And what do burning leaves smell like. . .?" He took a minute to try to visualize Jeatra's explanation . . . I think I get it? Maybe not entirely."
Ericnox chuckled a bit and nodded. "I shall honor your request and not smoke here." He bows his head softly.
Jeatra tilted her head, grinning. "Thank you!" Jeatra hummed as she sipped another bit of wine, bringing her glass to just 1/4 full.
Deriaz continued trying to visualize what Jeatra described. "Maybe I don't get it, after all."
Jeatra giggled lightly at Deriaz. "Don't worry. I get enough for you."
"Get enough for me?" Deriaz asked, "I don't stink again, do I? Jaggie just cleaned my top layer. . ."
"This is annoying... Damn it all..." Ericnox grumbled a bit and flicked the bolt on his chestplate. He picked up the wineglass and took another sip, offering it to Jhori once more.
Deriaz looked at him, "What's annoying, Ericnox?"
"My sigil broke and crumbled to dust a while ago..." He replied.
"How did it do that? I don't think I've seen metal crumble." Remarked Deriaz.
"Rust, maybe?" Jeatra shuddered, "I've seen a rust monster take a perfectly good dagger, and disintegrate it before my very eyes..." she stifled back another shudder. "I really liked that dagger."
Ericnox looked to his glass and shook his head. "No... It cracked after a Storm Giant grazed it with his sword... And broke fully in the tavern... When I picked it up, it fell apart." Ericnox explained, "but when someone else picked it up, she stated it was simply cold. When it touched my hand, it fell to dust once more."
Jhorikos poured Jeatra a second glass and filled her own, "we will empty the bottle at this rate," she muttered. "Here you are Jeatra."
"Well, you'll just have to get a new one, won't you?" Jeatra said to Ericnox and quickly retrieved her glass with a nod. "Thanks!"
Deriaz nodded in agreement to Jeatra. "Well, unless it was one of a kind?"
Jeatra gave a big shrug to the warforged, "Well, yeah, but they could make something close, right?"
"It was Flametouched Iron, blessed by the Keeper of the Flame herself... It's not easily replaced." Ericnox explained.
Deriaz said, "Not easily just means it still can be. I don't know anything about flames and iron, other than that makes it hot, but maybe ask for another? Even if it takes awhile."
Ericnox took a sip of the wine after accepting the offer of the glass from Jhorikos, "The iron it was made of is rare, and is only found in Thrane. The rest of the process takes a long time to make..." he explained.
Jeatra looks pretty disinterested in the conversation, and took to humming her tune in between long sips of wine.
The thought that Ericnox was loosing his divine-granted abilities bothered Jhorikos. "Eric... does this mean that, the Flame has left you?" She asked cautiously.
Ericnox shrugged. "I don't know. I still have my powers... But... I think the Keeper was right... My powers aren't growing any more."
A sting of guilt hit her. Could it be that his diety did not approve of his actions with her? She whispered to him worried, "it is not because of... anything you have you have done recently is it?"
He shook his head, "No. It isn't."
Jhorikos she draws her knees up close to her chest for a moment, not really believing that.
Jeatra grinned, "Your powers aren't...growing..?" She broke into a fit of giggles. "Another reason I like women…"
Deriaz looks confused again.
"I can still focus my powers." Remarked Ericnox, "And I'm sorry I didn't use better words. Not my fault your mind is dirty Lady Jeatra."
Jeatra grinned again, "Did I ever blame anyone for my mind Eric? I like it just the way it is!"
Ericnox clenched his fist, the normal white glow of a smite forming around it. "See."
"Eric, leave Jeatra be…" Jhori teased, "she is on the fringes of love!" The drow realized that she may have spoken out of turn and given away information that Jeatra might want hidden. She covered her mouth and then said, "or.. wait,… was I did I say anything wrong?"
Jeatra blushes, but stays her ground. "Fringes of love?" She giggled, "Give us some more time Jhori!"
Ericnox blinked a bit and then chuckled, looking to Jhori. "Well now, what do you know that I don't?"
Jhorikos blushed, "It's just... I have seen you looking so happy lately, and your face is always lighting up at the mention of... a certain person."
Jeatra blushed brighter, twirling her hands around her ponytail, but kept up her words. "I like Lyrica...she's beautiful and lovely. I have hope. And with hope, I can wait for love..."
"Ahh. Well then. A toast." Ericnox picked up his glass and offered it up. "To those we love. May they return our love just as much."
Jeatra picked up her glass, and drank to the toast and Deriaz nodded quietly.
"To the return of love" Jhori whispered softly and waited for Ericnox to pass the glass to her. She began repeating Jeatra’s last words over and over in her mind. "I like what you just said Jeatra... it is such a simple statement, yet holds a very great meaning," she smiled. Ericnox handed her the wineglass.
Jeatra raised her eyebrow to Jhori. "What did I say? Lyrica is the one for words..."
Jhori took the glass and drank deeply, before handing it back to Ericnox again. "Well... you said with hope, you could wait for love. I think it is one of the best things I have heard in a long time." She smiled at the honesty of such a profound and sweet statement.
Jeatra blushed brighter, if that were possible. "It's..it's just the truth..." Her voice turned meeker, her emotions overriding her for the moment.
"Waiting to know if someone loves you has always worried me... Very much so. But you have the look of you know who loves you, and you love her back. I wish you the very best." Ericnox added.
Jeatra looked up, a bright smile softening to one that truly showed a genuine grin on her face. "Thank you..."
Jhorikos she blushes again at the newness of it all, "How will you know when it happens Jeatra? The moment of Love's realization?" She offered a shy smile, '"this is something I have no recollection of. I'd like to know."
Jeatra shrugged, and reached again for the wine glass, draining it before setting it back down. "When I know...I will tell you..."
The halfling’s logic was so pure and undoubting that Jhorikos tossed her head back and laughed a rich and deep laugh, "Well that is something then!"
Ericnox picked up the glass and looked into the wine. He smiled a bit and looked to Jhori. "I'm sure when it happens, you will know. It's a feeling in your heart. Something warm and comforting."
Jhorikos smiled and her eyes closed a moment, "Like good wine... warm and comforting."
"Like good wine and the company of a very close friend," Ericnox added.
Jeatra gazed across the table, looking between Jhori, and Eric, then her eyes fluttered over to Deriaz. "Deriaz...you love Jaggie...don't you?"
Deriaz Stared for a moment, and then snapped to attention. "Hm? Uh. . . Yeah." He nodded, "I do."
Jhorikos leaned a little closer at the mention of Jaggie's name. Was Jaggie not in a similar predicament not long before? Jhori could not remember. "How did you know Deriaz?" Jhori asked.
The warforged seemed to be acutely aware of the focussed attention of the others. "I, um. . . Well, there was another couple. I don't know if any of you would know the names, but Uxor and Varro. Uxor described how she felt about Varro, and I realized that I kinda felt like that with Jaggie.'" Deriaz explained, "Maybe it's because I don't have the same background as you all, but I "knew" when I realized that I was good at defending people. And if there was one person I wanted to defend to the best of my ability, it was her." He continued, "It wasn't anything warm or comforting, though. . . It was raining. And I was nervous. And she wasn't completely herself. It was bad timing . . ."
Jeatra nodded lightly to the comment. "Wanting to protect someone to the exclusion of all else?"
"I can understand that." Jhori remarked under her breath, "feeling protective, wanting to be close." Did she feel this way about Zoltando? It seemed to her she had spent the last year trying to keep him from stabbing people.
"Well, not exclusion of everything else." Deriaz answered Jeatra, "Just. . . Number one priority, maybe? It's hard to explain."
Jeatra nodded again. "Maybe love is just different for everyone?"
"Try..." Jhori aid to Deriaz, leaning forward.
"Eh. . . I don't know if I could try. It wouldn't make much sense." Deriaz said.
Jhorikos sighed, "maybe it does not exist, like the end of the world, you never really get there... do you?
Ericnox took a sip of the wine once more, offering it to Jhori's but not making eye contact this time. Instead he looked at the floor, a smile on his face.
"Hope Jhori! Hope!" Jeatra grinned and reached over to place a hand at the drow’s shoulder.
Jhorikos took the wine and drank deeply again, she sighed and poured more, "thanks Jeatra. Would you like some more wine as well?"
Deriaz turned his attention back to the floor, staring again.
Jeatra settles back down into her chair and turns back to Deriaz. "Maybe love just doesn't make any sense at all. That's why no one can explain how it feels."
"That works for me. Heh. Saves me the problem of stumbling over words." Deriaz added.
Jeatra grinned, "I sure can't explain just why I turn so bright red just..."and on cue, she flushed with color. "Think about Lyrica..."
"You Milady, are in love." Ericnox said to the halfling.
Jhorikos giggled at Jeatra, "and I cannot explain why I enjoy your blushing! It's envy I think."
"Nonsense! Jeatra said still blushing, and squirmed in her chair. "We've only know each a couple weeks!"
"Love at first sight!" Ericnox remarked.
Deriaz tugged at his mask again, making sure his face was still properly hidden.
Jeatra grinned and turned to her wine to cover up her face and think.
"Jeatra!" Jhori said to her, "You don't have to know someone a lifetime to know... you are," she stopped speaking and picked up her wine glass, afraid to finish her own sentence. ‘Impossible,’ she thought.
Ericnox smiled a bit. "You would be surprised at how quickly one can fall for another. I might be in love, I just am not sure yet."
Deriaz seemed to stare into his own little world as he continued thinking.
The words Ericnox had just uttered hit Jhori like a brick in the face. She looked stricken for a moment. ‘So he already has a lady,’ she thought. Jhori composed herself quickly and lifted her glass. "Oh? Well, to your lucky lady then!" She drained the glass, berating herself for thinking the way she had been thinking and poured another.
Ericnox smiled a bit and shook his head. "No one can know until I am sure about her and she is sure about me."
Jeatra placed her wine glass back down, smiling over to Jhori. "I would be quite the fool if I went declaring love. I love her voice and smile...but..." she flushed, realizing she used the word love in her speech, "I have my hope. I will not rush to love either!" Jeatra tried her best to put on a determined look, but kept failing with a tinge of red in her cheeks, a sparkle in her eye, a fidget of her hands, and a soft smile on her lips.
In spite of herself, Jhorikos smiled at Jeatra, enjoying her moment. She drank more of her wine, a glint of loss in her eyes, she offered the glass to Ericnox.
Jeatra sipped some more wine, and then slumped back into her chair with a breathless sigh. "One thing though...is I do wish she were here now."
Ericnox took the glass and nodded to her, taking a long sip out of it and smiling. "What do you think would be the best way to go about asking if someone cares for you?"
Deriaz snapped to, "Not how I did it, for sure."
Jeatra smirked slightly looking to Ericnox, "Best way...just blurt it out. At least than you'll know."
"Which was my way. Heh." Deriaz added.
Jeatra grinned over to Deriaz. "And it worked quite well, didn't it?"
"I got lucky, I think. I started with a, "Will you marry me?", and she had no emotions at the time. . . So. . . " Deriaz shrugged.
Jeatra shrugged her shoulders herself, realizing she never really asked how Jaggie and Deriaz were married to begin with.
Ericnox laughed a bit and shook his head. "No no. I can't be that blunt. But I might have to simply come out and ask her directly won't I?"
Jhorikos looked down and noticed that she has spilled a small amount of red wine on her newly purchased white dress. "Damn," she whispered. Her head turned and she caught Ericnox’s gaze, she looked back down again with a small smile on one side of her mouth. He looked back at her and smiled softly, his eyes catching hers and the small shift following.
Jeatra smiled, "At the very least...a strong hint." She fiddled back with her braid. "Though...Lyrica had me, before I realized I had her..."
"Maybe try a gift? I know I gave Jaggie a paintbrush, once. She liked that." Deriaz added helpfully.
"Perhaps a gift then..." Ericnox replied, "Yes. But what to get? Hmmm... I know a few things that might work."
"What in the world did Jaggie do with a paintbrush?" Jhorikos asked.
"Paint, I hope." Deriaz replied. "But she liked it. . . I know it wasn't a good gift, but. . . She liked it." He felt a bit awkward at the paintbrush being pointed out, and shifted a bit where he sat.
"As long as she liked it, that is all that matters. Though I am sure she would like almost anything you gave to her." Ericnox added helpfully.
Jeatra smiled, "I...keep trying to think of a gift for Lyrica. I want to get her some new pipes...but..." she frowned slightly, "I know nothing about instruments."
Deriaz said, "I bought her some paint for our, um. . . "Anniversary", I think she called it. But I can't seem to find her to give it to her." He mumbled something about not being able to afford all the colors.
Jeatra tapped her foot, "maybe…maybe I should ask Lilly if she knows about pipes?"
Deriaz nodded, "Ja-- Lilly would know about that kind of stuff, I think."
"Good chance of it I would imagine." Ericnox agreed.
Jeatra nodded, "If I run into Jags first, I'll ask her too!"
Jhorikos stiffened. She did not get a chance to witness the Lily transition, but she was sure of one thing, "Lilly and Jaggie used to be...one didn't they?" She asked hopefully.
"Yeah. I'm still trying to get used to that." Deriaz answered.
Jeatra gave a small shrug to Jhori. "Yes...though..." she twisted a toe into the ground, "I think Lilly is a bit cuter these days..."
Ericnox looked to Jhori then to the others, stopping the wine glass before taking a sip.
"Strange how magic works." Muttered Jhori to herself.
"It is strange how magic works. I will agree there." Ericnox added.
"I haven't seen Lilly since I saw her last. . ." Deriaz lowered his gaze and stared at his knees. "That was a month ago, I think. . . " He mumbled something under his mask, and stayed quiet.
Jhorikos was still thinking, "But… Lilly is her own person now... right?"
Jatra nodded to Jhori, "Yep. And a complete human too."
The drow looked at her wineglass with renewed interest, "well then, to being your own person!" Jhorikos said and sipped.
Ericnox chuckled and took the glass, taking a sip before offering it to Jhori's lips. "To being able to know what is going on around you as well." He said cryptically. Startled, she accepted the glass and tried not to spill any of the wine as she sipped,
Jeatra looked to her own wineglass and frowned at the near emptiness of it and then her eyes unfocussed. "Umm…how many glasses have I had..."
"Well, this is NOT Thrane wine, but it is not bad." Jhori remarked noting that her head did not feel the least bit cloudy. "I should think another bottle is in order."
"Should I go to my room and get the good stuff then?" Ericnox offered helpfully.
Jhori jerked upward suddenly, ready to offer to go with him and then sat back down. ‘What would I say to him that would not sound idiotic?’ She thought bitterly. "Please," she said at last.
Ericnox stood up and offered his hand to Jhori. "Come with me? So I don't forget and don't light a cigar."
She looked up surprised for a moment, "Oh... alright, I suppose I can."
Jeatra spun the rest of the wine in her glass, and shrugged before draining it. She watched them disappear to the rooms in the rear of the tavern.
"Jhori... Did you mean what you said last night? About liking me?" He asks her as they walked.
Jhori stopped walking and looked at him dumfounded. She took a deep breath, not really ready to confront the situation, "yes... I may have been drunk last night, but I cannot deny... I have feelings for you." She stepped closer to him. "Ericnox, I ... my life is not something one would willingly get involved in."
The paladin bit his lip a moment and shook his head. "I understand the risks... I know things are... Strange for you right now. But I can only deny myself for so long." He said with a sigh. He closed his eyes and took a breath. "Forgive me..." He said softly, leaning in and kissing her lips tenderly. He could feel her stiffen, struggling internally. After a moment she subsided and relinquished herself to his embrace. He broke the kiss after a moment and rested his forehead against hers. "Forgive me if I over stepped myself." He whispered.
Jhori felt her knees weaken and her cheeks growing hot, "we should get back... " she said breathlessly. She offered him a shy smile and asked, "can I stay with you again tonight?"
"Of course." Ericnox nodded to her. Jhori turned around in the darkened hallway and returned to the loft of the Phoenix Tavern, leaving Ericnox to retrieve the wine on his own.
Deriaz glanced up, and then did a double take. "When did those two leave?"
Jeatra smiled over to Deriaz. "You're fine Deriaz. Though, really, how long can it take to get some wine..." Jeatra grinned, "or maybe the got lost inside it?" The halfling shook her head to Deriaz. "I've been distracted as well. If your mind is anything like mine, then I don't blame you one bit!"
"Sorry about that," Jhori returned breathless and crimson beneath her pale gray skin. "I had wine on my dress." She explained and sat down hoping that the others would not ask questions.
"Hello again, and hullo again to you too, Ericnox." Deriaz said as the paladin appeared not long after Jhorikos. There was unmistakable blush on the drow’s cheeks now.
"Hello to you as well! Two bottles of wine, right from the best shop in all of Thrane."
Jeatra grinned at the wine, but shook her head, "If we get through both of those, we'll all be very drunk."
"We will be drunk, but at least I will be happy for another night," Jhorikos remarked with a hint of sadness. "Open it," she said to Ericnox.
Jeatra looked over to Deriaz. "You'll walk me back to the guildhall, won't you Deriaz?"
Deriaz nodded, "Can carry you as well, if you need it."
Jeatra grinned, flashing her smile brighter. "Then let's have it! I haven't been drunk in a good long while, and for once, I want it to be while I'm happy!"
Jhorikos laughed, "I’ll drink to that!"
Ericnox took one of the bottles and popped the top off it, the cork bouncing once before he caught it. He then poured a round of drinks.
Jeatra offered her glass back across the table, bringing it back as soon as she could, and immediately downed half of it.
"There is plenty to be had Jeatra!" Jhorikos remarked taking her own glass and doing the same. It made her laugh.
Deriaz watched the group pour drinks.
"Slow down ladies. Jhori, you know this is a lot stronger then most wine." Ericnox warned her.
Jeatra grinned, though her features were overall much softer, less practiced. "I know, so we must drink quick before Eric gets it all!"
Jhorikos laughed again, "no, Ericnox is right, It is stronger than the flavored water we were just drinking, and..." she tried not to smile too much, "I want to have my faculties in tact tonight." She glanced down at the swirling liquid in the glass.
Ericnox laughed and shook his head. He took the wineglass and then sipped off it, handing it back to Jhori. "As do I. But I'm sure this wine bottle will a make a good gift to your love won't it lady Jeatra?"
Jeatra made a small frown at her glass, but still took another sip. "Ah, and here I was hoping we might get to the point where I'd get another kiss..." She looked up from her lashes, trying to do her best to look as wistful at Jhori as she could before realizing that Ericnox had just offered a bottle of Thrane wine. She glanced over to Eric, and the bottle of wine. "You..mean I can have that bottle...for Lyrica?"
Deriaz began drifting off to his own thoughts again.
Ericnox sets the second bottle in front of Jeatra and nodded. "Of course."
Jeatra grinned bright, making a sound of pleasure, and leapt up from her chair, throwing herself quickly across the table to pounce/hug Eric. "Thank you!!"
Jhori smiled at Ericnox, a look of approval on her face, "That was really kind of you!" She said giggling at the scene.
Deriaz snapped back to reality at the sight of a Halfling flying across the table. "--Huh?"
Ericnox hugged the woman back and smiled. "You're welcome. Quite welcome. If you ever need any more, please tell me. This bottle is red wine, but I have white as well."
Jeatra was still fighting back a few squeals of glee, as she hugged the large man. "Thank you! Lyrica will love it! And red is just fine!!" Jeatra reached herself quickly to place a quick kiss at Eric's cheek and then made to release him from the hug.
"I hope Lyrica enjoys it!" Jhorikos agreed and sipped her wine slowly.
Ericnox blushed a bit and blinked, smiling at her and nodding. "Well then I am happy. Please let me know if you need more." He smiled and helped Jeatra across the table, taking a quick sip of wine from the shared glass.
Jeatra was still smiling brightly and fiddled anxiously with her hair, then made to sip some wine. "If I need more, you'll be the first I ask!"
Ericnox nodded his head and popped his shoulder, then he undid the shoulder harness for his armor and sighed softly. "I think... It is about time for me to crawl into a bath and then bed.
Jeatra smiled, and drained the rest of her glass. "Then maybe we stop while we're ahead!"
Jhorikos nodded quickly, "I am very tired as well. Perhaps we can finish the bottle tommorrow?" She asked hopefully, "will it keep?"
"Yeah," Ericnox said, "The bottle will keep over night if we ice it."
Deriaz remarked, "I've got a wife to find, though. . . I may just leave a note, maybe. That'd work better."
Jeatra made to get up, and then staggered over into Deriaz. "I..think I still need that walk.."
"Sure. Can you walk, or do you need a ride?" Deriaz asked.
Ericnox popped his back and smiled a bit. "There we go." He leaned over to Jhori and spoke softly. , "Will you help me out of my armor when we reach my room?"
She glanced at him hopefully with excited breath, "I would stand in a wall of fire right now if you asked me to." She looked over to the halfling and the warforged to make sure they were not overheard. They weren’t.
Jeatra picked up her bottle of wine, and tucked it tight in her arms. Then she looked up to the warforged. "I'd LOVE a ride."
"Alright, then. Up you go." Deriaz bent down to picked up the Halfling carefully, placing her on his shoulders. "Good?"
Jeatra swayed just slightly then braces her legs, and nestled onto Deriaz's head. "Great!" Jeatra punched a fist playfully into Deriaz's head. "Not well at all if you keep moving like that!"
"Er. Sorry." Deriaz remarked, trying to stand still.
Ericnox chuckled at the sight. "Now all she needs is a crossbow and you are ready for battle!"
"A halfling riding a warforged down the street... no one will notice!" Teased Jhori.
"Hmm. . . Never tried carrying a Halfling to battle. Wonder how that would work. . ." said Deriaz.
"Get a backpack and do like an ogre I once saw." Ericnox explained, "he had someone in the back pack with a crossbow, making sure no one tried to sneak behind him."
"Just be careful not to tug the mask off. . ." Deriaz said up to Jeatra.
Jeatra grinned, "I wouldn't dream of it. You look so mysteriously handsome with that mask!"
"Handsome isn't what I'd call it. . . But if you say so." Deriaz remarked to her before turning to Ericnox and Jhori. "See you around town?"
"Aye. Be safe you two." Ericnox remarked and turned to go. He did not have to look back to know that Jhori was following him. Jeatra and Deriaz were such a spectacle in the tavern that no one noticed!
Jeatra waved lightly from her perch to Eric and Jhori. "Goodbye Eric. Bye Jhori. Don't do anything I wouldn't do!"
Jhori felt her insides twitch and her shoulders cringe involuntarily, she continued walking and did not look back.
*********** WARNING: This section of story contains foul language and overt religious and sexual references. If you are easily offended, see the summary!
((A quick summary of the Story Thus far:
Ginafay and Jhorikos are the same person with very different personalities. The women are the result of experiments that were conducted on them by a mind flayer. Jhorikos has little to no memories of her life save the last year, where she has desperately been trying to fit in. Ginafay showed up with all of her memories save the last year.
Both women are presumably married to Zoltando Sevenmoons; neither woman is very fond of the other. All three drow had previously agreed to go and hunt down the mind flayer responsible for splitting the women in two. Jhorikos has been asserting her independence, and has managed to complicate the situation by initiating a relationship with the human paladin known as Ericnox. ))
The Phoenix Tavern
A strange kind of peace had settled over Jhorikos. She found she was exactly where she wanted to be in that moment. She ate her breakfast and smiled across the table towards Ericnox. She tore at bits of bread and looked down shyly. He had admitted to caring for her. A thousand questions of where her life was headed replayed themselves over and over in her mind. She ignored them for the moment. She had wanted to forget her problems, if only for a day and be her own person. That day was over, and Jhorikos felt the heavy weight of sadness creeping over her like a shadow.
"You alright?" Ericnox asked her.
"I have to go back today," she explained watching his face for a reaction. The fact that he seemed saddened pleased her somehow. She wanted to be missed. "There's more I should tell you," she began slowly, "Zoltando and Ginafay want to hunt the Flayer that did this to us." She blushed, "I am not sure I care any more."
"Then simply don't go." Ericnox replied easily, "you have grown into your own person. Tell them they can ride off into the sunset and kill mind flayers until their ears fall off. I won't let them merge you and erase a person." He said defiantly. She could tell he was serious in his words. He made it sound so simple! His attitude gave her courage, hope. Could she really free herself of Zoltando and Ginafay? Was it this easy? Jhorikos found herself more and more excited at the prospect of staring her life anew. She nodded once, "I will go and tell them both to sod off!" She giggled, "Ericnox, I don’t even have a change of clothes that belongs to me! Or… any real belongings!" She waved a hand to silence his helpful offerings of getting her whatever she needed. "Ginafay and Zoltando have scads of money between them. That villa they live in cost them 6 million gold!" Jhorikos explained, "surely they would not allow me to leave with nothing!" She smiled an excited smile at him; "I will come right back as soon as I have told them. We won’t have to keep our secret long," her hand covered his on the table.
"I will be waiting here for you." Ericnox agreed, "And perhaps I shall have some wine ready for us." He said with a nod, and smile on his face.
********** House Jorasco, The Villa
Ginafay turned the deadly-looking necklace over in her hands. "Death's Locket" was its name. She wanted to wear it, but refrained from doing so. It had been a wedding gift from her husband and she had cherished it. She ran her thumb over the ornately carved skull in the middle. Ginafay remembered having to rip the necklace in half so that Zoltando would recognize his own children. The Puppetmaster had transformed them from babies into adolescents in a matter of weeks. ‘That was such a long time ago,’ she thought.
The latch to the front door turned, and Ginafay heard the door swing open. She thought Zoltando must be back and went downstairs to greet him. Gianfay stopped halfway down the staircase, "where the piss have you been?" She asked glaring at the figure below her. She pressed on, raising a suspicious eyebrow. "New dress? What’s the occasion?"
"Is Zoltando here?" Jhorikos asked timidly.
"He’s out getting some of his favorite weapons repaired, but he will be back." Ginafay nodded.
"Good," Jhorikos said, "I need to speak with you."
"Where have you been for the last two days?" Ginafay asked irritably walking into the kitchen. Jhori was behind her. Ginafay began making tea.
"I went to stay with Ericnox," Jhori explained in a low voice, "as you did."
"Hmmm… that place stinks of human sweat, rat poison, and horseshit" Ginafay said flippantly. "I won’t need to go back there." She stirred her tea. "Neither should you. Human males have the strangest notions about drow women and their sexual appetites." She blew the steam off the surface of the liquid and glanced up at her counterpart. Jhori had turned scarlet. "Piss all...." she whispered, "but you already know that… don’t you?" Ginafay asked staring hard at Jhorikos. "Your'e a whore! After all this time! You still have no self respect!"
"I… no," Jhori looked down, pretending to try and brush away the purple wine stain on her dress, "nothing happened." She managed to say. Ginafay had set her teacup down.
"I slept in his arms," Jhori admitted, "nothing more."
"If you’re telling the truth, I’ll swallow Khyber’s thorny cock whole," Ginafay hissed.
"He cares for me." Jhorikos protested.
Ginafay made a detestable clicking sound with her tongue. "How many times have I heard that line before! I can respect a slut Jhori, but not a fool. All humans are alike, once you’ve mounted them, they can’t get out the door fast enough! You don't remember, but I know very well what's it like to give over to lust too quickly." She stifled Jhori’s further protest. "What in the bloody hell were you thinking?! You realize that your impropriety could mean trouble for Zoltando? Are you trying to start a war? You can never tell him this Jhori! Never! Zoltando has killed men for far less in a jealous rage!" Ginafay shook her head with disapproval, "You can’t see this man again. We are leaving soon anyway."
"I don’t want to go," Jhorikos said softly. "I don’t care if you and Zoltando go, but I want to be free… of both of you." She said uneasily.
"So you give up then little mouse?" Ginafay asked arching an eyebrow. "Can you honestly look at me and tell me you do not care for Zoltando? That you will not feel his loss when he is out of your life?"
"You could have him for yourself." Jhori retorted.
"I could have had him already," she winked, "many times, but I recognize that something is missing in me. A part of ME is missing. I spent much of my life being my own worst enemy." She explained. "I was never sure of myself. I remember always questioning every move I ever made, and all my actions seemed to lead me into disaster." Ginafay blinked. "I no longer feel that way." She explained, "I have had time to think this through, and I think the reality of which of us is the original Ginafae lies somewhere in the middle. What if the damge can be undone? What if... what if… it’s possible for us to become one again?"
She was shaking her head fast, rejecting the notion. "What if I don't want that anymore?" She asked. "How do you think I feel?" Jhorikos pleaded. "I don’t even know who I am! What if… what if we were to come back together? You may not love him if that happens. Are you ready to accept that?"
Ginafay smiled with a hint of sadness on her lips toward her counterpart. "You know so little. I will never stop loving Zoltando. You have no idea how hard I had to fight for him. You have no idea what I had to go through. I'll tell you the story some day.... I doubt you could stomach it." She remained silent for a moment, staring again at the death locket on the table. "Losing Zoltando is not something I had ever imagined." Ginafay admitted. "If he were to choose you I cannot say that I would yield either, but I need to know the truth Jhori. I need to know what happened to me. What I have done over the last year?" She bit her lip and sighed; "And yes... I am ready to accept the truth, no matter what that might be, even if it means I might lose the man who owns my heart." Her eyes shifted towards Jhorikos, "if you have any respect at all for me and for the woman we once were, you will come with me and learn for yourself. We can decide on a course of action later…. Whatever that might be."
Jhori sat at the table with her hands folded in her lap, she sat quietly, not really knowing what else to do, but it was clear that Ginafay was not about to allow her to leave the house again.
What goes around…
Ginafay and Jhorikos were once the same woman, only Jhorikos is missing all her memories and Ginafay has hers in tact. Jhorikos has been steadily distancing herself from the Sevenmoon household and has expressed interest not only in leaving to be on her own for good, but has expressed romantic interest in a human male named Ericnox.
The Phoenix Tavern:
The low rumble from the brawling pit drifted up to the loft where Ginafay and Zoltando were resting. There was an explosion, followed by the faint smell of smoke.
"Sounds like they are having a good time down there," Zoltando remarked.
Ginafay nodded once in agreement, but she was far too tired for more sparring. The couple had done nothing but spar for two days straight, keeping a careful, respectful distance seemed important to both of them. She was about to ask Zoltando some of the finer points of fighting with more than one large weapon again when Quezan came up to them and declared himself to Ginafay.
Ginafay was dumfounded. Zoltando laughed at first… then things got confusing. Quezan seemed ruffled, insulted even that he was not being taken seriously.
"Quezan," Zoltando asked, "you’re actually serious about trying to take Ginafay from me?" Ginafay remained silent. She had only just met Quezan a day or so before under what she deemed, strange circumstances.
"Zol buddy," Quezan began, "I’ll have you know that I .. um.. kissed your woman."
She knew very well that she had never kissed Quezan. Ginafay was dumfounded, frozen in place. Zoltando, however, stood up from his chair. The fires of anger were begining to burn in his eyes. He spoke slowly. "Quezan, I am giving you one chance to stop this foolishness…"
Other patrons had heard the parts of the conversation. The trio had garnered an audience. Ginafay stood still. She hardly noticed. "I never…" She started to say, but stopped. It dawned on the drow that if she had not kissed Quezan…. "oh piss it!" She whispered low under her breath.
"I can still remember how Jhorikos tasted when she kissed me." Quezan was saying, confirming what Ginafay already knew. "It was a sweet, fruity taste that still makes me…. What was I talking about?" He paused a moment and picked up as if he had never stopped speaking. "Oh, hey Zol buddy, I was curious, when you kissed your woman… were you able to taste the little bit of Quezan on her lips? Oh wait, silly me. How could you possibly know what I taste like?"
Quezan turned his head and let out a reverberating belch. He then took a hand and wafted the fumes back into his face while sniffing repeatedly. "Were you able to faintly taste grilled turkey leg?"
Zoltando had begun to shake in anger. "Say one more word and I will kill you paint this upstairs with your blood as a warning to the others."
Quezan seemed almost relieved at this. "One more word… okokok.. let me think of a good one!" Quezan leaned forward so Zoltando could kill him saying "for love!" The atmosphere became intense and confusing, Quezan was trying to throw himself in front of Zoltando’s blade. Suddenly Ginafay remembered the last time Zoltando had gotten angry with another man for flirting. She cringed inwardly. ‘We are not going through that again.’ She thought.
At last Zoltando realized that Quezan, in his strange way, was trying to help repair Zoltando’s relationship with Jhorikos by offering the drow a rival.
Ginafay stood to face Quezan. "Did you really kiss Jhorikos?" She asked appalled. "You know… that Jhorikos and I are not the same woman… don’t you?" She shook her head dismayed. She whispered too loudly, "I knew Jhorikos had a lover, but I never imagined… she would… with you," she motioned to Quezan, studying his face. Could the two really have engaged in coitus? "I liked you Quezan, How could you sleep with Jhori?" She covered her mouth to stop her words… too late.
"What!?" She could feel Zoltando’s breathing picking up steadily with real anger.
"Sleep?" Quezan asked, "with a woman? When did that happen? Did a woman sneak in one night and sleep with me? How could I have missed that?"
Ginafay felt Zoltando’s fingers curling around her upper arm. He turned her purposefully toward him. "Explain." He said, his face livid.
Her cheeks felt hot and her face flushed to a pale gray. "I am sorry," Ginafay whispered. "She has betrayed you. I am sure of it." Not knowing what else to say and not wanting to answer any more questions, "I had better go," she said to the stunned Zoltando. Ginafay turned on her heel and strode out of the tavern in search of Jhorikos. She could hear Quezan asking Zoltando about his two wives as she left.