As much as I hate him, I do see the importance of taking the relic from Karinn. If things are as bad as they sound, based on Jeremiah and Briall’s information, I shouldn’t take any chances.
“Fine,” I say, trying to remain still in Jeremiah’s grasp, despite the disgust I feel. “Now let go of me.”
“I don’t like this,” Sylas mutters, glaring at Jeremiah over my shoulder.
“We don’t have much of a choice,” Caleb says, sounding indifferent. I can see the white-knuckled grip he has on his bow, though, and I know he doesn’t like the idea of working with Jeremiah any more than I do.
Jeremiah carefully releases me, and Sylas and Caleb put away their weapons.
Shoving myself away from him, I give him a solid elbow to the abdomen for good measure.
“Ugh!” Jeremiah doubles over, clutching his middle, but holds a hand up to stop his men from rushing to his defense. He gives me a cold smile as he grabs his staff and straightens.
“Guess I deserve that much,” he says.
“More than that,” I say, still gripping his pendant tightly. “Do I have time to bathe in acid before we go?”
“I remember a time when you didn’t mind at all,” he says with a disgusting smirk. Signaling his men, he brushes past me and heads for the stairs. “Karinn’s waiting.”
How did I ever find him attractive?
“Are you sure about this?” Sylas asks, scowling at Jeremiah as he disappears around the corner, expecting us to follow along.
“Even I don’t feel good about working with that sorry piece of shit,” Caleb says, in rare agreement with Sylas for once.
“Don’t worry,” I mutter, feeling the bite of the pendant in my fist. “I’m still going to kill him.”
We sneak into Karinn’s estate late at night, with Jeremiah and a small group of his men, hoping to catch her by surprise.
The place is eerily deserted, but we see a light coming from a room at towards the back of the house. Jeremiah takes the lead as we creep closer to the door, listening for any sounds from inside the room.
I don’t know how many times I have to talk myself out of shoving one of my swords through his back.
At Jeremiah’s signal, we burst into the room, weapons ready.
“Jeremiah,” Karinn says, standing by a desk at the opposite end of the long room. “Why are you here?”
She almost looks like a pleasant older woman, with smile lines, and shoulder-length gray hair, streaked with white. It’s the coldness in her hazel eyes that gives her away though. She’s sizing us all up as we surround her.
“You know why,” he answers, grinning at her. “That relic is too much for you.”
Karinn laughs, waving her staff in a small circle. “We’ll see.”
Demons start materializing out of the shadows around us, and I hear Caleb cursing beside me. Sylas and I go for the closest one, while Caleb starts firing arrows at our target. I hear the metallic sound of weapons being drawn, and shouts all around me, but I keep my focus.
I dodge and slash with my swords, leaping in and out of reach of the demon, and at some point I lose track of Jeremiah in the confusion.
Not knowing where he is gives me this sinking feeling that I have a target on my back.
One of Caleb’s arrows pushes the demon back, and Sylas slices it’s head off cleanly. Weapons ready, we turn to see Jeremiah battling Karinn.
With a sweep of her staff, she sends shards of some kind of red crystal shooting through the air, and I have to leap away again. Another demon charges us, and I bury my swords in its chest. Sylas fights off another one, coming up behind us. More of Caleb’s arrows fly by me, most of them missing Karinn by a hair as she deflects them or dodges.
One finally finds her shoulder, however, and she stumbles. Jeremiah takes advantage of it, impaling her with a pillar of ice.
A look of shock on her face, Karinn falls to the floor. Panting with exertion, Jeremiah stares down at her with a grim smile.
I look around warily, as the rest of the demons are defeated by Jeremiah’s men. Keeping my swords out, just in case, I still don’t feel entirely safe. Sylas and Caleb stay close, their weapons drawn as well.
“I’ll meet you back at the inn tomorrow,” Jeremiah says, glancing back at me.
“We should find the relic first,” Sylas pushes, not trusting him for a second.
I can’t say I blame him.
Jeremiah reaches down to Karinn’s body, and grabs the pendant around her neck. He tugs it off, and then tosses it to us.
Caleb catches it easily, and frowns at it. “This is it?”
Jeremiah nods. “Go back to the inn, and we’ll discuss my side of the bargain tomorrow.”
His insistence that I leave makes me think I really shouldn’t, but I don’t have much of a choice in the matter for the time being.
As I look at the red crystal of the pendant, I feel this faint kind of pull. It’s hard to tear my eyes away from it, and it makes me extremely uneasy. Whatever this crystal is, it isn’t normal.
The next morning, Jeremiah shows up to our room alone.
“I wasn’t sure you’d come,” I say, crossing my arms over my chest. “I thought I’d have to hunt you down again.”
“You still have something I want, don’t you?” he says, studying me from across the room.
Sylas and Caleb are tense beside me, but they don’t say anything. They’re silent support makes me feel better though.
Something is different about Jeremiah today, and it makes me nervous. He seems even more confident than usual, holding his staff in a relaxed grip.
“As promised, I’ve cleared things up with the Silent Blades,” he says, giving me a knowing smile.
“How?” I demand, not trusting him at all.
“Does it matter?” He tilts his head at me, lazily shifting his staff from one hand to the other as if he’s already bored.
“Yes,” Sylas says coldly.
“I think you should join me,” Jeremiah says, ignoring him.
I stare at him, completely dumbfounded.
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Caleb says beside me.
“We worked well together,” he continues, moving slowly closer.
With each step he takes, I’m counting the ways I’d like to kill him.
“You want the relic,” I say, trying to read his intentions.
“I already have it,” he says.
“Lying bastard,” I grumble, but I’m not surprised. I hold out the red pendant. “What’s this then?”
“A smaller, much weaker version.”
I drop it, and crush it beneath my boot. I don’t like the way it feels like it gets inside my head anyway.
There’s something about him… Something about the faint red glow I see around his staff…
“What have you done?” I demand, eyeing him warily.
He laughs then, and it sends a shiver of warning through me. “I used the relic to absorb more power,” he says easily, as if this is no big deal. He rests a hand on a dagger sheathed at his belt, and I see a faint glow of red there for a just a moment. “The man who used to wield this power was unworthy. Weak. He didn’t deserve his power as a dreamer. And now it’s mine.”
“What does that even mean?” I say, tempted to take a step away from him suddenly. My instincts are screaming at me.
“Join me, Ilara,” he coaxes, ignoring my question, and I can hear that low tone in his voice that used to charm me so easily. His gaze is locked on me, and he’s looking at me with a kind of greed that would have had my heart racing so long ago. “We can have everything. Power. Influence. You can still be an adorable little do-gooder, but you can finally start getting paid better for it.”
“And the people that don’t deserve to die?” I say, trying to keep my tone neutral, despite how badly I want to vomit right now. “The ones I won’t be doing good for?”
“We’ll charge extra for those,” he said with a laugh, brushing aside my hesitation like it’s nothing.
“Like hell,” Sylas growls, unsheathing his sword.
“I don’t even know what I think of this,” Caleb mutters, scowling.
The idea of being under Jeremiah’s thumb again only serves to piss me off. I hate him with a passion that I’ve never felt before.
But the power he wields now…
My eyes dart to the dagger at his waist, and even though I can’t see it, I can feel the pull of it. Maybe those ideals I’ve been clinging to all this time have only dragged me down. Made my life harder.
What would it be like to carve my own path for once? To be in control? How would it feel to have the strength, and the means, to take what I want in life?
I consider my options, as my former lover stops just a few short feet away from me. He’s too damn confident for his own good.
(What do you choose?)
~ Working beside him again would be a small price to pay to learn more about the relic, and this power he’s gained. Join him. (5f: A Blade for Hire)
~ How have I denied myself the pleasure of feeding his teeth to him for this long? Kill him, and take the relic for my own. (5g: Red Crystal)
For easy navigation, and do-overs. ~ DA FF: Blades (Chapter Master Post)
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, lore, etc. are the property of BioWare, and their respective writers. The only things that are mine are the original characters and plot of this story – DA FF: Blades. I am in no way associated with BioWare. No copyright infringement is intended. This is for entertainment purposes only.