Let Me Recite Their Demise - Chapter 15 - BestSandwichEver (2024)

Chapter Text

It is said that the sense of smell is the sense most closely tied to memory, and because of the unmistakable combination of mildew, bile, and blood in the air, Gale knew exactly where he was before he opened his eyes. His joints, swollen and

throbbing, confirmed his suspicions. He felt as though he’d been dragged by his ankles down a winding flight of stone stairs, and whatever had actually happened to his body between saying goodbye to Calliope in the tabernacle and winding up in the dungeon beneath Astarion’s castle, he decided, was better left a mystery. In the pitch black darkness of his cell, Gale trained his eyes on a singular spot in his field of vision and focused on adjusting his eyes to the very dim light until he could just scarcely make out a defined perimeter. His hands drifted to his chest and waist to take inventory of what he managed to retain over the course of his journey, and was relieved to find his captor had allowed him the dignity of keeping his tunic. The effort it took to stand up, Gale immediately discovered, was going to take more motivation than he previously assumed; a jolt of searing pain shot up his side and under his shoulder, stretching halfway across his back. Surprised by the sensation, he gingerly patted himself where the pain originated - was that a bruise? - and found that yes, sure enough, an extremely tender and very wide bruise, about the shape of a boot, stretched from his hip to the middle of his ribs. He felt a similarly tender and sore sensation in his face, as well; his nose and sinuses throbbed painfully with every breath of dank dungeon air he managed to take in. Just as he found his footing and took a couple careful paces across the cell, Gale instinctively shielded his eyes from a sudden flash of magically bright light, followed by the dim concentrated flickers of the sconces that lined the walls.

”Sorry about the accommodations, my old friend,” a voice echoed from the other end of the hall. Gale scowled and did not respond, allowing for only the sound of the Master Vampire’s boots tapping against the stone floor to echo against the cold walls. “If I had known I’d be making use of Cazador’s old dungeons again so soon, I’d have put a bit more effort into my remodeling projects.”

Astarion came into view like a panther emerging from a copse of trees: shoulders hunched, head lowered, eyes glowing from underneath heavily furrowed brows. He looked different from the man Gale once shared so much of his time with. Back then, Astarion did not simply walk; he positively danced from one location to the next, propelled forward by newfound freedom and a zest for life he’d not been able to experience in centuries. Now, though it had only been a matter of months since his ascension to his higher form, Gale realized in an instant that his old friend was gone. He did not know this soulless creature stalking toward him, and he braced himself to make his acquaintance.

Gale carefully rose to his feet and studied Astarion, who planted himself an arm’s length away from the cell bars. His face was the same, as was his body, but his eyes betrayed him entirely. A black chill shot its way up Gale’s spine as he realized Astarion wasn’t looking at him; he felt Astarion’s acidic stare burn straight through him. Gathering his nerve, he cleared his throat and lifted his chin. “An interesting trick, Astarion,” he began, “and one I believe myself a fool for not having predicted. A portal connecting Stormshore Tabernacle to your home? A more pious man would consider himself jealous of this arrangement. Had I known you’d begun consorting with Mystra, I’d have thought to bring some of her old things for you to return for me.”

Astarion chuckled and took another step towards the bars, his eyes trained on his vulnerable target. “I assumed you’d be surprised by the company I keep now that I’ve elevated my status, Gale, but how does that old adage go? The enemy of my enemy is my friend? I never was once for deity worship in the past, but you shouldn’t be surprised that I am quite worth of friends in-“ he lifted a spider-like finger and pointed it upwards, “-higher places.”

Gale bit his lip. Without access to the Weave, and now knowing Astarion was consorting with he goddess of magic herself, any chance of recruiting Mystra’s assistance was long gone. In the span of a moment, a flare of pain shot up Gale’s ribs and he hissed a reaction, his hands darting to his side as he remembered how battered his mortal form had become while blacked out. “Surely an accomplished mage and chosen of Mystra wouldn’t need to resort to violence against an unconscious man under normal circ*mstances, right, Astarion?” Gale choked, stumbling backward slightly. He desperately needed to sit, even if it meant allowing his swollen knees to give out under him. Astarion clucked and rolled his eyes.

”Darling,” he began, searching his fingernails for remnants of blood, “you expect me to ignore the joy I knew would come from beating you within an inch of your life before locking you in this cage? Please.”

With a snap of his fingers, Astarion transported himself and Gale to a much more comfortable, if not much more welcoming, environment. Gale sunk into the burgundy cushions of an antique settee, and his joints groaned in relief. Astarion perched himself on a high-backed wooden chair across from him and folded his legs before tenting his fingertips on the table between them. “I am not a monster, however.”

Gale squinted and co*cked his head. He’s showing off, he observed silently, watching carefully as an anonymous servant fluttered into the room and presented a bottle of wine and two copper goblets. Astarion gestured his approval and passed a glass to Gale, who eyed it suspiciously.

”Oh, Gale, please. As if I’d bring you into my home just to poison you,” Astarion scoffed, rolling his eyes. When Gale still did not accept the drink and instead furrowed his eyebrows at him, Astarion tutted at him and banished the goblet away into another dimension with a practiced, yet impatient flick of his wrist.

“Tell me, Astarion,” Gale finally managed to say as he gingerly straightened himself on the settee, “if you are not a monster, why are you so hells-bent on destroying Calliope? You must know how much pain she is in with that curse you’ve so generously bestowed on her.”

A corner of Astarion’s mouth lifted into a wry smirk as he placed his goblet back onto the table, and he traced its rim with an icy fingertip as he considered his response.

”It pains me to think you believe it a curse, Gale. A curse implies that Calliope is a victim, when you and I both know she is anything but. We all suffer the consequences of our actions when we pursue what we believe to be the greater good. I must begrudgingly endure a life of solitude in return for my almighty powers. You were stripped of your magic when you foolishly chose to leave godhood behind, and Calliope- or, rather, Cal, as I know you are fond of calling her- must simply endure the same kind of pain she inflicted on me when she left me here alone. I only meant to protect her- from you, no less- and I would have done so for eternity. But, as it would seem, she considers her affection for you and the others is worth the cost of leaving the eternal sanctuary I would have created for her, and so I am simply tipping the scales in an effort to make her reconsider the path she’s chosen for her future.”

Gale swallowed the lump in his throat as Astarion rose from his seat and bent over the table. His lithe frame resembled a snake poised to strike, and his exposed fangs did little to dissuade him from seeing him as anything but a venomous predator. Astarion pointed a crooked finger to his guest and glowered at him, lowering his voice to a blackened baritone as he continued, “And she will reconsider, Gale. Now that she and you have solved that little puzzle and found that my expert control of the Weave and my rather inconvenient despondency over her leaving are the source of her infernal torture, why, thinking of me every time she sees as much as a flickering candle will be a weightier curse than any flame she could deign to endure.”

Gale returned Astarion’s intense glare and felt his lips pull back in an rather primitive snarl. His fingers curled into his palms, leaving crescent-shaped marks in his skin. “What makes you so sure she will come back to you so quickly, Astarion? She’s so much stronger than you. She can overcome this on her own, and even more quickly with me at her side.” Those words had barely left Gale’s mouth before he realized the trap he’d walked right into, and Astarion heard it at the same time he did. Victoriously, the vampire leaned back into his chair and finished his wine.

“Oh, don’t worry, Gale. I have no plans to kill you. I need you alive and viable, darling. After all, who else will I use as bait to lure Calliope home?”

Even if Gale wanted to lunge across the table and wrap his hands around Astarion’s swan-like throat, he didn’t think he had the capability. He felt every scrap of energy drain from his limbs as Astarion’s words set in. Astarion had woven a web to ensnare Calliope, his prey, and he intended for Gale to be the spider.

Of f*cking course, Gale thought to himself. With a heavy sigh, he motioned for Astarion’s servant to bring the wine back to the table. Pawn to Cleric Four.

Let Me Recite Their Demise - Chapter 15 - BestSandwichEver (2024)


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