“Termonious, come on, wake up silly! We were going to play with Mercutio today, so you gotta wake up.”
He recognized that voice, he had heard it so many times throughout his life how could he not recognize it. It was her, with her short black hair and her bright green eyes. He had opened his eyes and let out a loud yawn as he sat up and stretched, almost hitting the girl who had been calling his name.
“Hey! Be careful Termonious, you almost hit me in the face with the top of your head.” He laughed at that and grinned at her, pushing himself up off of the ground.
“Then maybe you shouldn’t hover over me like that, Adonia.” She huffed at him in slight annoyance but couldn’t help but smile before grabbing his hand and pulling him along behind her.
“Well, come on then! Mercutio won’t wait for us if we take too long!”
He could feel someone rubbing circles into his chest, the sensation slowly bringing him back from the dream world and from a memory of days gone by. When he finally came to, he opened his eyes and blinked. Once, twice, three times before taking in his surroundings and the elven woman lying next to him, drawing circles on his chest with her finger. Right, Velaren was her name and what a beauty she was too. Her long, black hair was tousled from their activities from the night before and her alluring blue eyes were staring at him with a small smirk forming on her lips.
“Good morning, handsome. Do you want to stay the rest of the night here with me? We could go a few more rounds if you’re feeling up for more.” She let out a soft but seductive giggle, kissing at his neck a few times before looking back up at him.
He pushed himself back before sitting up in the bed, ignoring her for a moment to look out over the room groggily. Finally turning to look at her, he shook his head no and began to move his body to the opposite side of the bed. She merely shrugged and said that it was his loss before getting out of the bed herself and making her way towards the door. He got out of the bed and stretched his arms behind him then began the task of picking up his clothes from where they lay on the floor.
As he got dressed, he couldn’t help but ask himself why he kept coming here after everything that had happened. But he knew why, he was all too aware of his reasons why. He wanted to forget, even if it was only for a while, he wanted to forget the pain in his heart and the guilt that was eating him alive whenever he was alone.
Once he had finished dressing himself, he made his way out the door and towards the entrance of the building. Sparing a passing glance at the proprietress and owner of the high class building before opening the door to the outside and letting it close behind him. It was still dark out but he couldn’t see the moon through the tall buildings all around him. He wrapped his cloak tighter around himself to fend off the early morning chill then began making his way back to his home in the rich district of Waterdeep. He knew these streets and this area well, especially with how often he came down this way. He knew to tread lightly and swiftly so as not to get caught at knife point by the local thugs that ran through this city.
He didn’t know how long it took him to get to his home, but by the time he arrived the first signs of dawn were coloring the sky. He didn’t want to make a big scene of things so he slipped to the side of the villa and entered through the side door that led into the kitchen. When he walked in he was hit with the different smells of food being cooked and prepared for breakfast, and along with it he could hear the mumbling of the head cook, Marn, as she worked. He tried to shut the door as quietly as he possibly could before attempting to sneak past Marn while she was working. Just as he was about to creep up to the door leading to the dining room, a hand had grabbed him by the hood of his cloak and pulled him backwards.
“Termonious Alexander Maxwell Wilhelm the Fifth, you aren’t going anywhere.” Came the voice of Marn, motherly anger lacing every syllable. He knew that there was no talking his way out of the lecture he was about to receive from his former nursemaid, so quietly he followed. She had led him to an unopened barrell and told him to sit on top of it, letting go of his hood so that he could do just that. Once he had seated himself on top of the barrell, she moved in close and undid the buttons of his cloak and removed it from his shoulders. She saw the small bruises littering his neck and stepped back with a sigh, then pinned him with a harsh glare.
“How can you keep going back there, after all that has happened? You broke that woman’s heart and you still insist on going back to that infernal brothel. Answer me this, young master. What is going through that thick skull of yours?”
He couldn’t look her in the eyes and give her a straight answer. If he did, he wouldn’t be able to keep himself from breaking down right then and there. He knew that he broke her heart, he knew that what he was and is still doing, is wrong and that he needed to stop. But he couldn’t. He just wanted to forget the pain, the stress, everything. He just wanted to forget it all and if it meant going to that brothel will make him forget for even a small fraction of time, then he’d keep going.
“I don’t know, Marn, I wish I could give you an answer but I can’t.” He stared back at her with a somewhat pained and pleading look. “I wish to go to my study so please, let me leave Marn.”
She analyzed him for a moment, taking in his hunched shoulders and how he seemed to curl in on himself. He was already paying for what he was doing, that she could tell was certain. With a sigh, she relented and backed away from him with a nod. “Very well then. I shall have the maids bring your food to your study when it is ready.”
As he stood up from his spot on the barrell, he smiled wearily at Marn and nodded his thanks to her before making his way to the door leading into the dining room. Once he had exited the kitchen, he made his way through the large and expansive dining room to the foyer of the mansion. Looking up at the grand staircase that led to the upper floors of the house, he began to climb the stairs to the floor that his study was located on.
As he ascended the stairs, he could hear the sounds of several sets of footsteps dragging across the marble floor of the foyer. His servants were up and about and would soon be making their rounds. With this in mind, he quickened his pace and continued up the rug covered steps until he reached the third floor. He made his way down the familiar halls of his second home, eventually reaching the door to his study.
Turning the knob, he pushed the door open as gently as he could without making any noise and crept into his study, closing and locking the door behind him. With a sigh, he made his way towards his desk that sat at the far end of the room, with a 10 foot tall window behind it that had a good view of the rich district. Making his way to the chair that sat behind the desk, he took a seat and leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table while interlacing his fingers together and staring at the contents covering the surface of his desk.
Different types of documents sat in neat stacks upon his desk; trade agreements, political negotiations, several finished and unfinished maps of the Underdark, drawings of men and women that were wanted for crimes against a few cities and towns, and much more. But as important as all of those documents were, none of them mattered to him. No, what mattered to him was the singular envelope that sat beside the lamp on his desk. Inside that envelope held the letter and ring that had brought his world crashing down around him.
Reaching forward, he picked up the envelope and held it in front of him. He stared at it for a good few minutes, why he did that he wasn’t entirely sure. Perhaps he thought it would change the contents of the letter if he stared at it long enough? Taking in a deep breath, he pulled the letter out and unfolded it, ignoring the feeling of his stomach dropping as he read over the neat cursive.
To My Beloved Termonious,
I know what you've been doing these past few months Termonious. I gave you my heart and have been prepared to give all that I am and you threw it into the gutter. And for what? Elven prostitutes at a high-class brothel in a ten person orgy?
I have loved you for over seventeen years and I thought that you felt the same for me. But it seems that I was mistaken and played for a fool. I know that Mercutio gave you a piece of his mind when he saw you there and for that I'm grateful to him.
I wish to talk this over with you when I've come back from the journey that I'm currently on. Hopefully you won't be so occupied with other women to be able to talk to me.
For the time being, I'm sending you my former engagement ring for safe keeping until I return. We will have much to discuss and my family will have much to say on the matter once they receive my other letter.
You have been warned. You have broken my heart, Termonious, you have cleaved it in two and it hurts to write this letter to you. My eyes hurt from how much I've cried, my stomach has become coiled into knots; my mind is trying to get me to try and rationalize all of this mess.
My heart is throbbing with so much pain, my legs and arms feel like they're being held down by heavy weights. My hands won't stop shaking, the tears haven't stopped pouring out, and I can barely see through them.
Do you have any idea how much you’ve meant to me all these years? I am in so much pain right now, Termonious, and I can’t stand it. It hurts more than any wound that I’ve ever received in battle because it isn’t a physical wound but a wound to my heart. The very heart that you have had all this time.
Adonia E. G. Galahad
He could see where the paper had once been wet, the small dried spots evidence of her tears that had fallen as she wrote. It hurt to imagine her writing this letter every time he read it. Her body sitting up straight like a perfect lady as she began her letter, but as she continued to write her body would start to hunch over the desk that she was at. The quill in her hand gripped tight in between her fingers, her knuckles turning white as she ground her teeth together. Her eyes blinking rapidly as she’d try to stop the tears from falling, wanting to be strong. But they fell and he was the cause of her tears and pain.
He laid the letter back down on the desk, leaning back and covering his eyes with his hand as tears rolled down his cheeks. Where did it all go wrong? When did these visits to the brothel even begin? Why did he continue to go back? These were the questions that he asked himself every time he read that letter. After he had first received it and as the pain and guilt began to set in, he had thought of burning the letter to try and rid himself of what he was feeling. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it, no matter how many times he held it over the hearth of his study. Wiping the tears from his eyes and cheeks, he stared up at the ceiling and tried to remember how this whole mess started.
Right, ten years ago was when this mess all started and when he had set himself on this path. He had come to Waterdeep with his uncle along with his parents for a family trip. It was a humid day and the wind was growing ever so stronger as the hours passed by. His uncle had brought him out under the guise of a late night stroll through the city. They did stroll through the city but they ended up walking close to the docks of Waterdeep and to a building that had bright lights seeping from every window. There wasn’t a sign but there were quite a few people outside of the building with bottles of alcohol in hand, drinking their cares away.
He had asked his uncle why they came to this place and his uncle merely smiled at him and said that he thought it would be a good experience for him. Reluctantly, he followed his uncle inside and the sight that he was met with nearly made him run right back out. A gnomish woman sat at a desk, a large book in front of her and a quill and ink well to her right with a coin purse to her left. And behind her he could see a few half naked men and women walking to and from several rooms. He had turned to his uncle and demanded a straight answer from him. Why did he bring him to a brothel of all places when he knew that he was engaged?! Once again, his uncle smiled at him and began to justify why he brought him to the brothel. Saying that it would relieve him of his stress and worries, along with gaining experience for when he and Adonia were finally wed.
He didn’t know what to do at that moment. Sure, he could have left but then he’d have to come up with an excuse for his uncle’s absence when he returned to the villa. However, it was an option, a better one than sticking around at the brothel. His uncle spoke up again and offered him an alternative to being serviced. There was a bar at the back of the building, just past the gnome woman, that he could sit down at while his uncle had his fun. So he did just that, making a beeline for the bar and taking a seat at the countertop. The orc behind the counter was pleasant enough, making small talk with him while pouring a drink for him.
After paying for the drink, he began his long wait through the night. He remembered that he kept ordering drinks over the course of a few hours. He had lost count of how many drinks he had when an elven woman had come up to the bar next to him and began talking to him. After that it was a hazy blur, the feeling of her skin against his as she pulled him into a room. Her hands guiding his on where to touch her, where she would feel good. The kisses they had shared were sloppy and at a level of intimacy that he should have been sharing with his fiance. The rest of his memories from that night were filled with nothing but sex and the sounds that filled the room. When the next morning came, he woke up in an unfamiliar bed with a splitting headache and as naked as the day he was born. He looked to his left and found the elven woman from the night before asleep beside him.
He had begun to think back on what he had done the night before, burying his face in his hands from shame. He had sex with another woman, before he had even had sex with Adonia, his own fiance. But as he thought about it more, he couldn’t deny to himself that it had felt incredible, better than anything he had felt before. At those thoughts, he shook his head free of them. What was he thinking? If word got out about this, if Adonia or his parents found out, he would be ruined. He wouldn’t be able to become governor of Canterbury and he’d lose the love of his life and the inheritance from his family’s fortune. He’d be nothing if anyone knew even a word about what had happened here. And so, when he left the room and met up with his uncle in the lobby, they agreed to keep it between them.
After that day, whenever he’d be in Waterdeep for a small amount of time, he’d make his way to the brothel. He had become addicted to what he felt during sex with these other women. Soon, he began to notice things about them and started comparing them to Adonia. They each held more beauty than her, their bodies weren’t littered with scars from combat, they weren’t shy or meek about what they wanted; they were adventurous and exciting, and more than anything, they knew how to make him feel good.
A knock on the door to his study brought him back to reality. Ah, it was one of the maids there to bring his breakfast to him. Pushing himself away from his desk, he stood from his chair and made his way to the door and unlocked it. He let the maid in with the trolley filled with covered trays of delicious food being pushed in front of her. She pushed the trolley to the side of his desk and uncovered the trays before placing a napkin and silverware down beside them. With a smile and he thanked her with a soft voice then dismissed her. Once she had left the room, he moved the documents that were stacked upon his desk to the side. He picked up one of the trays, along with the silverware, and placed them on the desk in front of him.
As he sat down at the desk, he began to think back to how his body has been reacting to the stress over the last six months. Cutting a piece of the sausage that lay on his plate, he remembered how he was the first week after receiving the letter from Adonia. He had locked himself in his room, the mental and emotional stress causing him to become ill. The stress made him vomit his heart out whenever he would eat anything. For days he couldn’t keep his food down, but as time went on he managed to work through that illness and he was able to eat again. However, he still does have his days where the stress comes back with a vengeance and causes him to experience that all over again. He had lost a significant amount of weight due to the stress, all at once to the point of where it was unnatural and left parts of his body scarred from it. He did gain some of that weight back, but the scars never faded. With a sigh, he continued to eat his breakfast in silence, consumed by his own thoughts.
Another week had passed and when he was leaving the brothel again, he stopped and asked the gnomish owner if she had received any word about Adonia and her companions. With a shake of her head and a disinterested no, she turned back to counting the gold in her coin purse. He sighed and stepped out the door and into the chilly late night air. For months he had been paying the gnome woman an extra 50 gold for any information that she had on where Adonia and her companions had gone. Had they come back? Did she know of anyone that could provide him with more information? At his second question, she told him that the group had met with a halfling woman named Jenna. For an extra 15 gold, she gave him a description of the woman. Once she had given him the description, he began his arduous hunt for the halfling. A month had passed before he finally found her roaming the outdoor shops of the city. He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into a side alley. She had fought against him and he had to cover her mouth to keep her from shouting for the guard. When he explained why he had pulled her to the side, she had stopped and glared at him.
She demanded to know why he wanted to know about the group of adventurers and their quest. He then told her who he was and what he planned to do with the information if she divulged it to him. She had stared at him for a good while before sighing and letting him in on what she knew. What she told him made him step away from her, his eyes wide and mouth agape in shock and fear. They were chasing down the cult of the dragon queen? Why would they take on such a suicidal endeavor? Why would she just throw her life away like that, again? Honestly, he had an idea as to why she would do it, to protect innocent people from harm. Jenna told him of the group’s last known location, close to a swamp that was a good 8 hour journey on horseback. This urged him to round up a group of mercenaries to go with him as he tried to chase after them. But after three weeks of trying to find clues as to where they went from that area near the swamp, the mercenaries had become fed up with this otherwise foolish attempt. Demanding to be paid in full, he gave in to their demands and returned to Waterdeep to pay each of them. Once he had finished paying the mercs, he went to the city guards and asked for them to send word to him immediately if the group returned to the city.
Alas, he had to leave Waterdeep and make his way to Silverymoon for a trade negotiation with a well-known merchants guild. When he arrived at Silverymoon, he went to the city guards and asked for them to also alert him immediately if the group came to the city. Days passed and he sat in the study of his villa in the city, it was the middle of the day but the storm outside blotted out the sunlight. The rain hit the window panes in large droplets at a fast pace as the wind and thunder roared outside, filling in the silence of the room. A warm fire roared in the hearth of his study, the wood popping from the flames. He was reading over the details of the trade negotiation when one of the city guards burst into the room. The man was out of the breath and soaked to the bone. Seeing the state that the man was in, Termonious stood from his desk and quickly made his way towards the guard.
“Breathe good sir, what news do you bring in this miserable storm?” He asked with a worried but kind voice, helping the man to one of the chairs close to the fireplace. The man shivered but spoke to him through clattering teeth to the best of his abilities.
“A-A-Adonia, sir. She and a group of others with her h-have been s-spotted outside… Outside of the city.” The man took a deep breath then continued on with his report. Termonious’ eyes grew wide as he looked at him with surprise and expectancy.
“They were… T-they were fighting hill giants s-sir.”
“Soldier, have you rallied up a group to send them assistance?”
“Yes sir, they’re on route to the northwest, just outside the city.” With that last statement, Termonious ran from his study at breakneck speed.
He ran to his armory, quickly throwing on his armor and grabbing his bow and quiver. Sprinting down the grand staircase, he headed straight for the stables. Saddling up his mount and climbing into the saddle, he veered the horse out of the stables and galloping through the streets of Silverymoon. The rain pelted him and his horse as thunder and lightning clashed in the sky above them. The wind blew harsh against them as they made their way towards to the outside of the city. Soon enough, they had made it outside of the city and farther up ahead of them he could see a group of city guards galloping further out. Urging his mount onward with a kick to the side, he began to catch up with them. Eventually he caught up to them, even going so far as to passing them. He was desperate, he needed to get to her. He needed to help her, protect her.
Climbing up a small hill and reaching the top, he could see out several yards in front of him and there they were. He could see a group of people fighting four hill giants, however, only one of them stood out to him the most. Her short black hair, her armor wet and her shield on her back with a great axe wielded in both of her hands. It was her, Adonia. He had to get closer, he had to help her! Urging his horse onward, he began to close the gap between himself, the group of adventurers, and the giants. Once he was within range, he reined in his mount then pulled out his bow and an arrow from his quiver. Notching his bow and aiming for the giant that was closest to Adonia, he drew the string back then let it fly straight and true. The arrow hit its’ mark in the shoulder of the hill giant that was battling against Adonia. The giant cried out in pain then looked over in his direction, Adonia following his gaze. He could see her eyes grow wide then narrow as she turned her attention back to her opponent.
With the help of him and the city guards that had caught up to him, they all took down the giants with ease. Her group began making their way towards Termonious and the guards, sheathing their weapons along the way. When they were close enough, he dismounted and handed the reins to one of the guards. Before he could make his way over to her, one of the other guards went running up to the group, removing and throwing his helmet to the ground. The face behind the helmet was red skinned with horns, dark blue hair and yellow eyes. A Tiefling? Why was he running towards their group? Did he know one of the other members of her group? But all of those questions were answered when he ran up to Adonia with a big grin that matched her own and picked her up, hugging her and spinning her around in joy. His heart felt a sharp pain from the sight, seeing the love that the Tiefling held for his- No, for Adonia. Averting his eyes from the spectacle, he waited for her to finally notice him standing there. And she did, for when she was put down she made her way over to him. She held a small smile on her face as she pulled him into a tight hug and whispered a thank you for coming to meet them. He hugged her back, pressing a kiss to her cheek. When they let go, she decked him right in the stomach and sent him hurling to the ground. Okay, he deserved that after what he has done.
It would seem that the next few days are going to be very taxing on him mentally and emotionally.