Like Real People Do - owlseeyoulaterpal (2024)

Chapter 1: Friendly Competition

Chapter Text

The gentle hum of the river. The quiet crackling of the nearby fire. The subtle rustling of the leaves as the wind gently blew.

Seraphina leaned into the ambiance around her in camp as she kneeled in the sand on the riverbank and did her nightly prayer to Tymora, her Lady Luck pendant clutched tightly between her hands. Her faith in Tymora had, admittedly, started to waver in the last few years, but the latest state-of-affairs that Seraphina had been thrust into truly made her feel as if the entire foundation that she had been raised on was crumbling.

Just three tendays ago, Seraphina had set out from her parents’ home in Baldur’s Gate for yet another contract with plenty of blessings and well wishes from her family — in fact, an overabundance of them since the last time she left home, she ended up in Avernus. A tenday ago, she had stopped in the city of Yartar for supplies when the nautiloid appeared above the city and began abducting people off of the streets. Now, every plan she had for her life had seemingly evaporated with the death sentence of a mind flayer tadpole in her skull. Her magic and her goddess couldn’t save her, or perhaps Tymora refused to intervene.

The tiefling wanted more than anything to turn tail and run back to the warmth of her family while she still had time left. But that wasn’t what a Hellwhisper was supposed to do. None of her siblings had ever abandoned one of their adventures, no matter how perilous it became.

But none of them had ever encountered a mind flayer or been infected with a tadpole, Seraphina thought bitterly.

Seraphina wasn’t quite sure what to make of the situation she had found herself in, much less of the people who had, for better or worse, become her traveling companions: the gith, the fellow tiefling who had fought on the frontlines of the Blood War, the mysterious cleric, the righteous warlock, the flirtatious pale elf that had recently revealed he was actually a vampire, and the gods damned egoistical wizard of all people.

Seraphina had encountered her fair share of wizards on her adventures and wasn’t a huge fan of them. They all thought they were better than Seraphina, a natural-born sorcerer. Gale honestly didn’t seem too different as he carefully and pointedly distinguished himself from Seraphina when it came to conversations about magic around camp. She had to fully bite her tongue to keep from snapping at him when he made a remark about her wild magic after fighting the goblins at the gate of the Emerald Grove, when mid-battle a wild magic surge enlarged everyone around Seraphina.

They have no idea who I used to be, Seraphina thought as she closed her eyes for longer, clasped her hands tighter, and prayed harder. My Lady Tymora, this trial has to be over now, surely? Have I not shown my perseverance and dedication in the face of the most bizarre odds and chances? Is this wild magic truly the best way to serve you, even now with a tadpole in my head?

Selfishly, a new reason she wanted her old magic back was to prove herself to Gale. Unfortunately, he had taken up a lot of her headspace since their first meeting.

“Hello! I’m Gale of Waterdeep,” The newly appeared man shook Seraphina’s hand as she looked, befuddled, from him to the portal in the rock that she had just pulled him from.

“Apologies, I’m usually better at this,” Gale scratched the back of his neck sheepishly.

“At introductions?” Seraphina joked, brushing dirt from her robes that had appeared after she and Gale fell to the ground.

“At magic,” He smiled. She felt her heart skip a beat.

“Well, I’m Seraphina…of Baldur’s Gate. Pleasure to meet you, Gale of Waterdeep,” She awkwardly replied. If she was telling the truth, she felt every usually charismatic bone in her body turn to mush as she took in the tall, handsome man standing in front of her. And she could feel the very essence of magic flowing around him? What a catch.

“I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” came a voice from behind Seraphina. She whipped her head around and saw Gale approaching with two quarterstaffs in hand.

“I was just finishing up,” she smiled.

“Praying for Tymora to send an overdue stroke of good luck our way, I hope,” Gale grinned.

“Fortune favors the bold, Gale. Lady Luck will help us find this Halsin and return him to his Grove, curing our tadpoles along the way. She’s never failed me before,” Seraphina replied as she rose to her feet and walked over to him, putting her Tymoran necklace back around her neck.

“Have you followed Tymora your whole life?” Gale asked.

“Yes. As my sisters and brothers did before me, as did my parents, grandparents, and their parents before them. We were all raised in the same temple to service Our Smiling Lady,” Seraphina said excitedly. “But I imagine you’re not here to listen to me babble on about my goddess. Is there something I can help you with?”

“I could listen to you talk for hours, Seraphina, but yes, there was something,” Gale replied, blissfully unaware that he was making Seraphina blush furiously with such a simple statement. “With your natural gift of magic and less of a talent for a blade, I was hoping that you might be in the mood to help me with a small task,” Gale grinned.

“And what would that be?”

“Would you be amenable to a little friendly sparring to cap off our night?”

Seraphina laughed. “I would be, but I’ll have you know my weapon of preference is a glaive.” She thought sadly of her favorite glaive that had slipped from her holster as she sprinted to try and escape the tentacles of the nautiloid. It had been a gift from someone she would rather forget, so maybe it wasn’t too much of a loss.

Gale turned and led Seraphina closer to an empty patch of land near the campfire.

“I will have to keep my eyes peeled for a glaive then, my dear sorcerer,” Gale continued. Seraphina felt her face grow hot and she tried to ignore it as he handed her one of the quarterstaffs.

Seraphina braced herself firmly on her feet, the quarterstaff diagonal to her body, and carefully lowered herself into a defensive stance. “Give me all you’ve got,” she curved her hands, beckoning him.

Gale started with a swing directly at Seraphina’s legs, which Seraphina smoothly dodged, dragging her feet along the dirt in a simple arch. She immediately retraced that arch and, with a thwack, hit Gale on the back before spinning and resuming her defensive stance a few feet behind him.

“I said ‘give me all you’ve got,’ wizard,” Seraphina teased. Gale winced as he stood and turned to face her. “I take it you don’t have too much combat experience?”

Gale chuckled. “Wizards have towers for a reason,” he replied, carefully dodging a direct answer as well as a swing from Seraphina. “I assume this isn’t your first perilous adventure?”

“Far from it. I’ve used magic and a blade or two to fight pirates,”

Gale swung and Seraphina blocked with her quarterstaff, immediately pushing back and swinging at his ankles. He jumped over it.

“Hags,” Seraphina curved her body in a crescent shape to avoid his next attack.

Seraphina swung upwards, knocking Gale’s staff out of his hands, and placing the butt of the staff against his chest. “And I was fighting for my life in Avernus not too long before the nautiloid,” Seraphina finished.

She was crouching down and looking up at him. They were both breathing heavily, having already been exhausted from today’s events of defeating the Harpies at the Grove. Gale looked down at her and Seraphina’s breath caught in her throat as she took in his features, illuminated by the campfire. The gray hairs that blended in almost seamlessly with his long, thick brown hair. The orange of the fire made his brown eyes look like they were blazing.

With Gale’s slightly lifted eyebrows and intense gaze, she could detect a swirl of emotions in his eyes. Admiration. A little fear?

“You like to live dangerously,” Gale said breathlessly.

“High risk, high reward,” Seraphina laughed.

She felt a singular bead of sweat drip down her neck and chest, disappearing behind the laces of her nightshirt, and she watched as Gale’s eyes followed it. Seraphina suddenly felt like her entire body was itching as she shifted. Gale’s eyes snapped up to meet hers and he instantly flushed , taking a step back and ending the moment that truthfully only lasted mere seconds. She turned, picked up his staff, and thrust it into his hands.

“Again. I want you to knock me down or disarm me before we finish,” She smirked.

It took 30 minutes and several tries, but as Seraphina’s eyelids grew heavier, finally, Gale did it. With a firm sweep to the back of her calves, she tumbled to the dirt and, as she fell, Gale knocked the staff from her hands. He mimicked her earlier movements, pressing the end of his staff against her chest.

Mragreshem,” She playfully cursed at him as he chuckled.

“Mission accomplished,” Gale proudly smirked. Seraphina nodded, panting. He reached out a hand to help her up. She took it and as he helped her up, she swayed backward.

Gale’s hand pressed against her lower back to steady her, and she leaned forward, Seraphina’s hands landing on his chest. With how close he was, she inhaled his intoxicating scent of parchment, books, and sandalwood. Her eyes caught his and he smiled at her when, suddenly, the markings on his chest, neck, and face began to glow a dull purple.

Just as quickly as he caught her, he stepped away, still smiling, but he looked like he was in pain, his eyes squinting as if he was holding back a wince. The glowing ceased. Seraphina’s eyes widened as she realized there was something magical in Gale’s chest.

“Gale, are you alright?” Seraphina stepped forward, a hand outstretched and Gale subtly leaned away.

“Perfectly fine. I believe I have kept both of us from sleep quite long enough. Thank you for helping me get a little bit sharper in my staff handling,” He smiled.

“You’re welcome. Good night, Gale,” She returned his smile. Gale nodded curtly and Seraphina could’ve sworn he nearly ran into his tent. She was no stranger to rendering people speechless, but Gale seemed positively terrified of her.

She stood there for a moment, processing before she turned to head to her own tent.

What if he’s not usually attracted to tieflings? Does he act nice with me and the other tieflings at the Emerald Grove just to turn around and call us foulbloods behind our back? Seraphina thought.

As she was about to enter her tent, she noticed Astarion out of the corner of her eye. He waved her over and Seraphina crossed the camp to stand before him.

“I thought the wizard might keep you occupied all night. You know, I’ve been thinking about you.” Astarion grinned. “And that delicious moment we shared the other night.” Seraphina felt her stomach flip. She had butterflies around Astarion, and she couldn’t quite tell if it was exclusively because of his flirtatious way of speaking, or the fact that he reminded her of someone she shouldn’t still allow to be occupying her thoughts.

“The moment you bit me?” She asked.

Astarion nodded. “The very same. I’ve had this condition for two centuries, but truth be told?” He broke their eye contact and fiddled with his fingers. He took a deep breath. “You were my first.”

“What an esteemed honor. I hope my blood was satisfying,” She smiled.

“You were delectable. And now I just can’t help but wonder how the others taste.”

Seraphina dramatically gasped and clutched at her heart. “You’re looking at other necks? I’m hurt,” She pouted.

Astarion, for how prickly he was at first, was truly quite silly beneath it all. It only endeared Seraphina more.

“Don’t worry, there’s enough of me to go around. I’m a man of tremendous appetites,” Astarion smoothly replied. The way that he looked at her from under his lashes made her feel like lightning was coursing just underneath her skin. As she held his gaze, Astarion’s eyes began to shift from their beautiful crimson to the bright blue ones that haunted her dreams. She blinked a few times to push the image away.

“In the spirit of theoretical questions - if you had to take a bite from one of our companions, who would it be?” Astarion mused.

“Ah, I love pondering hypotheticals with you in the dead of night,” Seraphina laughed, recalling when he asked how she would like to be killed. “Gale, no question.”

“A refined palate, but such an underwhelming answer coming from you, darling,”

“And what makes you say that?”

“I took you for someone who likes to take risks, live dangerously.”

“Would Lae’zel have been a more acceptable answer? Or you?”

Astarion smirked at her. “Darling, don’t expose all your lustful desires at once. Let’s try to leave room for a little suspense,” he winked.

Seraphina grinned wickedly. She hadn’t had fun like this in so long.

“Silly me. The buildup is the best part,” she whispered flirtatiously.

“If you think the buildup is the best, wait until you experience the conclusion I have in mind,” Astarion quipped. “But it’s late. I’d better go find something I can sink my teeth into. Sweet dreams,” Astarion brushed the back of his hand down Seraphina’s arm as he turned and headed into the woods.

“Good hunting!” She called out after him.

Sleep came easy. She knew that she couldn’t allow herself to develop feelings for anyone or get attached, not with the tadpole threatening all of their lives.

But wasn’t that all the more reason to have a little fun?

Chapter 2: Nightly Rituals


Seraphina is catching feelings for the wizard and the vampire, oops.


Chapter Text

It became a nightly ritual of sorts. Every night, just as Seraphina was finishing her prayer, Gale would approach her. Whether it was to spar again or to simply talk about books, the events of the day, or to exchange stories about their homes, Seraphina started to expect Gale’s company to finish off her night.

“You have several brothers and sisters? Ah. I guess that confirms my suspicions.”

Seraphina quirked an eyebrow. “What suspicions?”

Gale gazed out to the water and cleared his throat before turning to look into her orange eyes. “A little over a year ago, back home in Waterdeep, I had a few drinks with a set of tiefling twins at a tavern. They mentioned Tymora quite a few times as they regaled their tale of slaying fiends in Dis. I believe their names were – ”

Seraphina felt warmth fill her chest. “You met my older brothers, Kyakos and Mavus.” Seraphina distinctly remembered exactly what adventure would’ve contained the Waterdeep stop for her brothers.

They came back reeking of the Hells and with several treasures to share, including one they specifically picked up in Waterdeep to give to Seraphina for her approaching special day. The gold locket, engraved with a cursive ‘H’ on one side and the Hellwhisper family crest on the other, hung at the end of a long necklace, the chain nearly reaching her waist. They said it would be another reminder of who she is, no matter where she goes or who she shares her life with.

She frowned as she thought of how much she missed them and her entire family.

Gale grinned. “So, you are a Hellwhisper. A descendant of the infamous Zephyrus?”

She hesitated for a moment. So far, everyone had only exchanged their first names. Sharing her last name felt oddly intimate within this group. But she had nothing to hide.

“Yes, I am. We’ve been storm sorcerers and servants of Tymora for generations, but I guess you already learned that from whatever book you read about Zephyrus in,” Seraphina stated proudly, tilting up her chin. Being a Hellwhisper wasn’t something that she was ashamed of, but the family name could certainly cause a stir in some groups of people, namely the staunch Tymorans that had exiled her family for the assumptions they made about the actions of her ancestor, the first Hellwhisper.

Nevertheless, she carried the name with pride. As she gazed up at Gale through her bangs, she saw a flicker of mischief in his eyes.

“Except for you, I take it,” Gale replied. Seraphina blinked at him. “With your wild magic.” She instantly wilted.

“Um, yes and no. It’s a long story.”

“One you are not obligated to tell, but I do quite enjoy talking with you,” Gale said. “Though I can tell it’s a sensitive subject for you. I understand how hard it can be to discuss a condition that you may feel less than proud of. But I hope you know that you can talk to me about anything that your heart desires.”

Seraphina looked at him carefully. His big, brown eyes were welcoming, and he seemed genuinely interested in knowing more about her story. He had trusted her with the nature of his need to consume magical items. She might as well throw him a bone in return.

“It’s…it’s a condition that I should be happy to have,” Seraphina murmured. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the coin of Tymora that she always kept on her and began to idly play with it between her hands as she spoke. “I wasn’t always like this.”

Gale nodded, urging her to continue.

She sighed. “I was born a storm sorcerer. I was…normal my entire life until I received my trial from Tymora. She changed my magic. All of the priests at the temple I grew up in and my parents told me that it would test my faith in Tymora, my faith in luck, and proving that I’m unafraid to take risks. To receive a Trial from Tymora is an honor and rare. To pass it, is to become her Chosen. But, it’s been hell. I’ve been like this for two years and I don’t know what to do to prove myself to Tymora and end this test of hers. I used to know, understand, and control magic like it was one of my own limbs. Now…I’m tired of constantly being afraid of blowing up.”

Seraphina’s voice cracked and she cleared her throat, pushing back the tears that threatened to escape. She felt a hand, firm and warm, settle on her shoulder. She turned and saw Gale looking at her with pity and sympathy.

“It may sound ridiculous, but I can understand more than you think,” Gale responded. “Though, being a goddess’s Chosen comes with just as many drawbacks as it does blessings. For what it’s worth, I think you are handling all of this with extreme courage. Your fear has never been apparent in any of the conflicts we have encountered so far. At least, not to me. You’re the personification of bravery.”

Seraphina swooned, positive that blush would be flowering across her cheeks if it wasn’t for her red skin.

“Well, thank you. I do still have faith in Tymora. And in myself and the magic that flows through me. It may be less under my control now, but luck has to be on my side,” Seraphina flipped the coin she held.

“I think I had quite the stroke of good luck to have ended up by your side in this wild quest,” Gale laughed. Seraphina giggled in return and as their laughs died down, she became all too aware that Gale’s hand had drifted from her shoulder to her upper back, tickling the tips of her black and red hair. She drank in the gentleness of his face, the delicate curve of his lips and the wrinkles that surrounded his soft eyes.

She wondered if Gale would still taste of the firewire they had indulged in with dinner that night.

Seraphina snapped out of it and realized she was staring at Gale’s lips. She looked up at him and realized he was looking at hers as well. Just as a flood of courage came over her and she started lean closer, Gale sat back, pulling his hand away suddenly as if he’d been shocked.

“We should get some rest,” Gale said, standing up. “I wish you a good night.” He smiled and began heading to his tent.

“Good night,” Seraphina sweetly replied.

She sat there for a moment before rising and beginning to head to her own tent.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid, she thought. She wanted to smack herself in the face. But she had to smoothly recover because she knew who was going to approach her soon. It was as she was getting ready to go to bed that Astarion always appeared with a seductive gaze and honeyed words to ask to bite her.

Every time, she said yes.

Seraphina came back to reality and turned around, expecting to see Gale. She frowned as she saw that he wasn’t there. She pocketed her coin, saying another quick prayer to Tymora. She stood and walked towards the campfire, only to find Gale standing outside his tent. He was gazing at an illusion of a woman floating in his hand.

Seraphina walked closer and she hated the familiar tinge of jealousy she felt in the pit of her stomach. She wished that it was her face Gale was looking so intensely at, as if she was his central focus. But, as she continued looking, she realized two things – who the woman was, and that his look of reverence was too familiar for her to desire it.

“That’s the deity you wizards adore. Mystra, right?” Seraphina said. Gale jumped and the illusion vanished as Seraphina came around to stand in front of him.

“Oh! My, you startled me. I…I was miles away,” Gale blushed.

“I know that look,” Seraphina squinted at him. “You were praying to your goddess, weren’t you? I feel like an ass for interrupting with how respectful you’ve always been of my private time.”

“Not praying. Not quite. I was just…practicing an incantation,” Gale responded. He was positively squirming.

“No, there’s more to it than that,” Seraphina shook her head. “I know devotion when I see it.”

She had seen it on the faces of her family as they prayed to Tymora. She knew she probably had the same face whenever she gazed upon the pendant of her Lady Luck.

Gale chuckled bitterly. “What can I say? She’s…she’s Mystra,” he said his goddess’ name with such loyalty, the awe and adoration absolutely dripped from his words.

“Mystra is all magic. And as far as I’m concerned, she is all creation.”

Seraphina shook her head again, laughing. Oh, wizards she thought.

“How narrow-minded. There are other gods, Gale, and magic goes far, far beyond Mystra,” She replied. Magic was not something she connected to a goddess. Magic simply was. It was in her blood and was expected of a Hellwhisper. It existed in the world and in people and was truly beautiful. She had obviously poked a nerve as Gale snapped back.

“Pish posh. One might as well deny one’s mother’s womb as the cradle of life. You just don’t understand,” Gale rolled his eyes before his face softened again, his eyes returning to her gaze as if he was checking to see if he had offended her.

“Of course. I, a simple sorcerer, have no appreciation for the art of magic because I didn’t have to spend years studying it to understand it. Educate me, Gale,” She hoped that he would see that she was merely teasing, and her heart lifted seeing the small smile cross Gale’s face.

“Seraphina, I’d be happy to teach you some of the finer details of magic. I’ve been in touch with the Weave for as long as I can remember. It’s like music, poetry, physical beauty all rolled into one and given expression through the senses. I assume it’s the same for you?” Gale asked.

Seraphina chuckled. “It’s less ‘music and poetry’, and more ‘I hope I don’t blow up’ as of late. But magic is interwoven within my very being. It comes to me as naturally as breathing. I worship it almost as much as I worship the Lady Who Smiles. I don’t know who I would be without it.”

“Perhaps we could reach into the Weave and experience what it feels like together, as one. Or maybe a sorcerer like yourself has already had this experience countless times,” Gale offered. Seraphina tilted her head.

“What do you mean?” She asked.

Gale smirked. “Let me show you.”

“By all means,” she smiled back.

“Then follow my lead,” Gale circled her, and she bit her lip as he walked over and stood right next to her. She felt small standing this close to him as he towered over her. His scent of parchment, books, and sandalwood overtook her senses and she had to shake her hands to ground herself.

As Gale walked her through the steps of what he had planned, Seraphina prayed that she wouldn’t have a surge of wild magic in the middle of such a nice moment.

Suddenly, they were surrounded by familiar purple strands – the Weave.

“You did it! You’re channeling the Weave. How does it feel?” Gale turned to her, his excitement evident in his grin.

“Incredible! Though of course, I could have managed it by myself,” she elbowed him.

“You’re hard to please, aren’t you?” Gale chuckled.

“Are you desperate to please me, Gale?” she whispered, raising an eyebrow.

“It’s started to become a priority of mine,” Gale smiled at her, and he leaned closer. Their hands brushed and Seraphina resisted the urge to take his hand in hers.

He was so close. All it would take was one step forward, standing on her toes with her chin tilted up, and she could close the rest of the distance between them. She pictured what it would be like to kiss him – tender and chaste. She would cup his ridiculously perfect face in her hands and deepen the kiss, opening her mouth to him. He would grab her hips and press their bodies together, his tongue swirling against hers as the Weave continued to glow around them.

What would it be like to connect with someone, another spellcaster, within the Weave like this? Surely, ethereal and otherworldly. Seraphina was desperate for the explosive nature of that kiss, finally releasing all the tension that had been building up over the time they’d been traveling together. By Tymora she was desperate for any kind of contact with Gale. She couldn’t bear any more of the fleeting touches to her back, the grazes against her hand.

She softly gasped as she realized that Gale could see everything that she was imagining, could feel the desire for him that had been occupying more and more of her thoughts lately.

No, she definitely hadn’t done this Weave trick before.

Gale’s smile fell. “I…I didn’t think…”

Seraphina’s fingers grasped onto her trousers, preparing herself for rejection. She could feel his embarrassment, his surprise, and then…joy.

“Sorry, I wasn’t expecting…” Gale blushed profusely, and his eyes darted everywhere before looking back into her orange ones. “But it is a pleasant image to be sure!”

He relaxed as he continued, his voice dropping an octave. “Most pleasant, in fact. Most welcome.”

Seraphina opened her mouth to speak, when suddenly the Weave around them evaporated. It was like a curtain had been lifted and they were no longer in their little slice of Heaven or each other’s emotions and thoughts, but back in this dirty camp, on this cold night, with a parasite hurtling them towards certain doom.

Gale smiled at her. “Good night, Seraphina. I enjoyed sharing a moment of magic with you.”

“G-good night, Gale,” Seraphina stammered. She clumsily made her way back to her tent, unable to feel her legs. It felt like all her blood had rushed to her head. She collapsed onto her bedroll.

Her mind was swirling. She hadn’t felt like this in so long, not since her early days of falling in love with the damned man who shattered her heart last summer.


Seraphina knew that it was past time for her to start mending her heart back together. The first step was to stop being afraid of even thinking of his name. The Seraphina from before Vadan would’ve already bedded a person or two in the party. That Seraphina would probably be flabbergasted that she hadn’t already slept with Astarion or Gale.

Then again, that old version of herself would also be shocked that she was both traveling with and becoming almost friendly with a follower of Shar, one of Tymora’s divine enemies. That old Seraphina hadn’t seen Elturel be ripped from the ground of Toril and straight into Avernus.

She had experienced raw attraction and crushes in the year since then, but no one had truly stirred her heart until now. Her growing crush on Astarion was easier to confront with his bold flirting, but Gale was an altogether different beast. A timid beast, but one she was eager to tame.

She didn’t have time to ponder that thought more because there was a soft tapping at her tent flap.

“Seraphina! I need your help!” Astarion hissed in a quiet tone, sounding frantic.

“Come in,” Seraphina sat up, suddenly alert instead of sleepy.

Astarion stepped into her tent as she re-lit a few candles with flames from her fingers. She turned and gasped, frozen completely as adrenaline rushing through her at the sight of how much blood Astarion was covered in. There was a huge cut in his white shirt that revealed a wide, gaping gash across his chest.

“If you can’t handle this, I will go wake Shadowheart, but I really need some help,” Astarion grunted as he collapsed onto his back. Seraphina came to her senses and rushed to his side, placing her hands just above his wound.

Te curo,” she chanted, a blue aura beginning to radiate from her hands. Astarion sighed in relief.

“What happened?” Seraphina asked, moving her hands slowly from side to side as the magic continued to heal him.

“I was hunting a bear, which typically isn’t that big of a problem. This one just happened to be a cub. Its mother wasn’t very pleased when she caught me,” Astarion winced. “Lucky for me, my favorite cleric is awake.”

Seraphina looked up from observing his wound to see him smiling at her. Even with blood covering his teeth and scattered throughout his hair, he was still devilishly good-looking.

“Your favorite cleric would appreciate it if you would communicate your hunger instead of running off to hunt bears,” she remarked.

“Are you just dying to hear me tell you how much I want you?” Astarion murmured.

“I’d rather not lose our best archer and source of comedy,” Seraphina replied. She pulled her hands away as the wound finally sealed itself. “So did you get your fill?”

Astarion glanced at his chest and pulled himself into a seated position, pulling off the rest of his shirt and pressing it into a ball. “I’m not famished anymore, but I wouldn’t say no to dessert, darling,” he quirked an eyebrow at her.

She rolled her eyes as she laid down on her bedroll, her chin high and her head tilted to the keep her horns out of the way. Astarion crawled towards her, placing both of his hands on either side of her head, and sliding his thigh between her legs. He pressed himself closer to her and, as his thigh pushed into the apex of her thighs, she felt heat begin to spread through her body. Her legs twitched and Astarion smirked as he finally leaned down and bit into her neck.

Seraphina winced as icy pain shot out from where his fangs pierced her. Astarion shifted, one hand coming to hold the back of her head, and the other gripping her thigh. A soft gasp left her lips as she felt him grip her leg harder, digging his fingertips in. She could feel each gulp of her blood leaving her body and entering Astarion’s body. Seraphina reached up, placing her hands on the backs of Astarion’s shoulders and pulling him closer.

The roof of the tent began to blur in her vision, and she heard Astarion moan, the vibrations making her body hum and shake as he began to grind against her leg.

“That’s enough,” she breathed. Astarion fangs left her neck and he gasped, but he didn’t pull away. He licked the wounds, lapping up the small trickles of blood. She moaned as she felt his lips press against the bite mark.

One kiss.

His lips ghost along her neck, moving up.

A second kiss.

Astarion leaned back, rising onto his knees. Seraphina bit back another moan as she watched him lick more blood off his now flushed and pink lips.

“Delicious as always, darling,” he purred.

“I try,” she gasped as she attempted to sit up. Astarion pressed his fingertips to her chest and lightly pushed her back down.

“Get your beauty sleep,” he smirked as he picked up the tatters of his shirt.

As quickly as he entered, Astarion slipped out of her tent and into the night. In the quiet aftermath, Seraphina could only hear the pounding of her heart and her own heavy breathing. With a wave of her hand, she attempted to send a gust of wind towards the lit candles. While the wind left her fingertips, she felt the all too familiar static of a wild magic surge flow through her body as vines exploded under her body, taking over the entire right side of her tent.

Seraphina groaned and flopped her head back onto her bedroll.

At least it wasn’t a mephit she thought as she finally lulled to sleep.

Chapter 3: Moving On


Seraphina is healing her broken heart in a completely healthy manner.

Chapter Text

“You do know how to make a damn good breakfast!”


“Well, thank you, Karlach! My mother would be glad to hear it.”


“Send along our thanks to your mother, Gale. Good meals are hard to come by on the road.”


Seraphina was trekking back to camp from washing up in the river that morning when the voices of her companions reached her ears. Karlach had only joined them three days ago and having another exceptionally positive individual – especially another tiefling – lifted Seraphina’s spirits.

A new companion, a balmy morning, and the mouthwatering scent of breakfast. She was convinced it was going to be a good day. Maybe good enough to find a solution to this tadpole in her head.

“Hey, soldier!” Karlach greeted.

“Good morning!” Seraphina chirped.

“What’s the plan for the day?” Karlach asked.

Gale smiled sweetly at Seraphina as he handed her a plate of sausage links, potatoes, and tomatoes.

“We have two main options. We need to investigate the rest of the village, which shouldn’t take long and it’s also on the way to Auntie Ethel’s house, or we can head towards the goblin camp,” Seraphina replied. She reached into her pocket and fished out her coin.

“Is that your lucky coin or something?” Karlach inquired around a mouthful of food.

“You haven’t seen our dear leader’s morning ritual yet?” Astarion asked as he sauntered over from his tent. He winked at Seraphina as he walked past her and settled across the fire from her.

“Heads for the goblin camp. Tails for the village and Auntie Ethel,” Seraphina said, taking a bite of potatoes before flipping her coin. The coin shot up, slightly past her head, and she caught it with her palm. “Tails it is!”

Chk. You are wasting precious time and leaving our fate up to the chance outcome of a coin flip. We should be making our way to a creche,” Lae’zel interjected.

“We haven’t had any symptoms so far, Lae’zel, and we don’t know how far away this creche is. Auntie Ethel has offered to help us and, if she can’t, at least we’ll be going to get the druid soon,” Seraphina smiled at Lae’zel, whose scowl was unwavering. “I promise we’ll head there.”

“So, what’s this little tradition of yours?” Karlach asked, smoothly changing the topic back.

“I worship Tymora, Lady Luck. Tymorans lean into luck and chance at every opportunity. The greater the risk, the greater the reward from the Smiling Lady,” Seraphina replied.

“Do you consider the tadpole a reward?” Shadowheart asked pointedly.

Seraphina bit her tongue to prevent herself from saying what she wanted to say, something along the lines of asking Shadowheart if she considered turning into a mind flayer and losing her soul a welcome loss in the name of Shar. She and Shadowheart had made some progress in…diplomacy. It was difficult traveling with someone who worshipped a goddess who Tymora did not like. Seraphina could feel the Bright Lady’s discontent occasionally when she and Shadowheart shared a moment that erred on the side of friendly.

“Unfortunate things happen to anyone, regardless of who they worship. That’s why we’re going to go see what Auntie Ethel can do to help us,” Seraphina replied evenly.

As the topic of breakfast chatter changed, Seraphina started going over her list in her head of what they needed for the day. After she finished eating, she hurried over to her tent, scooping some empty potion bottles and quickly beginning to craft.

She had crafted three healing potions when a pouch suddenly dropped in front of her. She looked up to see Astarion standing over her, his arms crossed with his signature smirk.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“I picked up a few ingredients for you while I was hunting last night. I would’ve given them to you earlier, but there were more pressing matters when I saw you last night,” Astarion replied.

“Oh!” Seraphina said, opening the pouch to see several bunches of balsam, rogue’s morsel, and wispweed. “Thank you, Astarion. That’s very sweet of you.”

He crouched down so that he was eye level with her.

“Not nearly as sweet as your blood tastes, darling. Your blood has made me curious if all of you tastes as enticing,” he murmured. Heat blossomed on her cheeks as she averted her gaze back to her mortar and pestle, but Astarion put a finger under her chin and, with the lightest pressure, lifted her face to continue looking at him.

“You know, Seraphina, I’ve been thinking –”

“Are we prepared to venture forth today?”

They both looked up to see Gale had approached, his hands clasped behind his back. Seraphina saw a flash of annoyance cross Astarion’s face as he opened his mouth to speak, but she jumped to her feet.

“Yes! Let’s go,” she smiled, putting the new potions, alchemy tools, and the new pouch from Astarion into her bag.

“Astarion, I hope you won’t mind me borrowing Seraphina’s attention for a few moments,” Gale said.

Astarion scowled. “I assure you that I do mind since we were already having a discussion before you interrupted.”

“We will be together all day. There’s plenty of time to chat with both of you,” Seraphina interjected as Karlach walked over. The group started their walk out of camp and began heading in the direction of the blighted village.

“I apologize for the intrusion,” Gale murmured as Astarion and Karlach trailed ahead. “I suppose it’s quite rude to demand your attention as frequently as I have.”

“I’ll tell you a secret,” Seraphina said, gesturing for Gale to lean in closer.

“You’re my favorite person here. You can take up as much of my time as you wish,” she whispered, brushing her hand along his shoulder.

Gale gave a short chuckle, his face reddening as he stood up straight again. “Don’t tell me that. I may never leave your side,” he replied.

“And I wouldn’t mind that at all. Now, was something on your mind?” Part of her hoped that he would finally tell her why he needed to ‘consume’ magical items. She wasn’t a fan of the complaints and grumbling from everyone else over the loss of powerful gear.

“Right! If it’s not too bothersome for you to recall it, I was quite interested in hearing your story of what you witnessed when Elturel was pulled into Avernus.”

“Oh! Well, I guess to begin, my presence as a Tymoran priestess was requested to assist some Hellriders with an investigation they were doing into some recent disappearances.”

* * *

Seraphina flopped onto a rock, chugging a healing potion, as she winced and breathed through the pain from her wounds. She, Astarion, Gale, and Karlach had just killed Gandrel, a monster hunter who was searching for Astarion. Seraphina was usually the first to suggest the peaceful or least aggressive route in any conflict, but when Astarion smirked at her and said, “We should do something about this threat,” she knew that he was, unfortunately, correct.

She had sighed as she replied, “All right, kill him if you must.” Karlach was less than happy about the choice, but Seraphina knew they couldn’t risk having a monster hunter lurking so close to their camp, not when Astarion was so valuable to their team. Taking a life wasn’t something that Seraphina did lightly. She could only pray that protecting Astarion was the right decision.

As Karlach and Gale went off to survey the rest of the swamp and ensure that Gandrel was alone, Astarion walked over and stood in front of her.

“Darling, I was thinking about you before we bumped into that filth,” Astarion said. He gestured at the rock. “May I?”

Seraphina looked at the rock, which truthfully was only fit for one person. She nodded and scooted over, her left leg hanging off. Astarion sat, so close that the sides of their bodies pressed together. She turned to look at him, slightly tilting her head back to avoid catching him with her ram horns.

“And pray tell, what were you thinking about in relation to me?” She replied as she began applying her healing magic on the scratches and wounds on his legs. She could feel his eyes staring at her as she worked.

“Remembering our time together, the things we’ve shared – and I don’t just mean that lovely neck of yours,” Astarion admitted. Seraphina shivered as she felt a finger graze her neck, passing over the bite marks where Astarion had fed from just last night. The finger continued moving up until Astarion softly grabbed her chin and turned her to look at him. She felt like her whole body was ablaze as she looked into his red eyes.

“I’m growing to like the whole package, honestly. And you clearly like me too, so…” Astarion murmured, a smirk on his face. He seemed absolutely smug at her wide-eyed expression.

“A lady never tells,” She replied coyly, attempting to gain some power back in this conversation.

“You don’t have to say a thing,” Astarion’s hand moved from her chin to cradling the back of her head. “I already know how you feel.” He looked at her lips and his gaze flicked back to her eyes. He slowly leaned forward, and Seraphina felt like she was being pulled on a string, closer and closer, until his soft, pink lips were pressed against her red-painted ones.

The kiss was surprisingly tender until she felt Astarion’s fingers tangle into her hair and pull, simultaneously pressing her even closer. She gasped and Astarion took the opportunity to slip his tongue into her mouth, carefully stroking her tongue with his own. Seraphina could feel the butterflies in her belly when she finally remembered that she had hands, and she gripped his shirt. She pressed her thighs together as she felt arousal surge through her. When was the last time she had kissed someone?

As quickly as the moment started, it ended as he pulled away, his hand trailing down her neck, shoulder, and arm. His smirk returned.

“We could take an evening to ourselves. Get away from camp – get some privacy,” He murmured seductively. “I know somewhere quiet. Somewhere intimate. Somewhere we can…indulge in each other.”

“You’re lucky that I trust you, but I can’t lie that this all sounds mildly suspicious,” She laughed breathlessly. The kiss hadn’t even lasted that long, but she felt like Astarion had sucked all the oxygen from her lungs as easily as he sucked her blood.

“On my honor,” Astarion started, his other hand creeping down to grip her thigh. “The only thing on my mind is depraved, carnal lust.”

“Sounds like a good time to me,” She replied. She could hear Karlach’s roaring laughter and Gale’s measured footsteps growing nearer.

“Once we can get away, I promise you a night you’ll never forget,” Astarion purred, squeezing her thigh once, before rising to his feet. Seraphina slowly stood with him as Karlach and Gale appeared below.

“Oi! We’ve got an appointment with Auntie Ethel, you slowpokes!” Karlach yelled.

“Lead on, my friend!” Astarion hopped down to join them as Seraphina trailed behind, her lips tingling as she tried to throw water on the inferno that was raging between her legs.

Astarion and Karlach walked on, but Gale waited for Seraphina, sweetly smiling at her as she joined him on the path towards the teahouse. She almost felt guilty for what had just occurred with Astarion, but she quickly buried it. If Gale was taking his time with courting her – if that’s even what was happening between them – what was the issue with her indulging in the very direct attention that Astarion was offering?

She felt like she deserved to languish in the attention and desire of someone else after what happened with Vadan. In the last few days, she’d been able to think about him without feeling a pain in her chest. Moving on was possible. She could see the light. She needed to keep pushing through this fog.

Chapter 4: To Be Tasted


Seraphina and Astarion find a quiet night to sneak away together.

Chapter Text

The party that went out for the day returned to camp battered and bruised after encountering much more than they planned for – giant spiders, a monster hunter, and a hag – and receiving no cure for the tadpole. Their only lead now was the druid who had disappeared at the goblin camp.

There was little conversation at dinner on account of the mouthiest individuals, except for Wyll, being completely exhausted. Seraphina had to remind herself not to take it personally when Gale turned in for the night without telling her goodnight. He had sustained the most injuries that day, so it made sense that he wasn’t in the mood for too many pleasantries.

As everyone else began to head to their tents, Seraphina put out the campfire and walked to the river to wash their bowls and utensils. Except for crickets and the quiet splashing and gurgling of the water, it was a serenely quiet night.

Seraphina tried to focus on that beauty – the way that the moonlight dappled off the gorgeous blue of the water, the gentle breeze cooling the sweat that made her night clothes cling to her skin, and the brilliance of the stars. Anything to keep from remembering that it was a night like this, next to a river like this, that Vadan had asked her to marry him.

The only difference was the weather. The light snow melted as it reached the ground, but Seraphina could hardly feel the cold from how hot her blood was running as she was anticipating something entirely different when Vadan whispered in her ear that he wanted to take her away from the party for some privacy.

He kissed her forehead and her lips, as gently as he had the first time he kissed her, and, while clutching her hand, dropped to one knee. His blue eyes glistened as he –

“Hello, darling,”

Seraphina jumped, dropping a bowl into the river. She quickly snatched it up and turned to see Astarion leaning against a tree. The upper half of his body was concealed by the shadow of the tree, making only his bright red eyes visible. He looked every bit the predator that he was, and Seraphina shivered under his gaze. He slowly sauntered away from the tree, revealing a smirk.

“Out hunting?” she asked. She could feel the rush of butterflies filling her stomach as he stalked closer to her.

“Hmm. Not anymore,” he said, his eyes falling from her eyes to her lips, to her chest, and trailing back up to her eyes. “I was looking for my little treat and it seems I found her.”

Astarion extended a hand to Seraphina. She put her hand in his and she yelped as he yanked her to her feet, his other hand snaking around her waist and holding her close to him. She could feel the contours of his abs pressing against her soft stomach through their thin shirts.

“Don’t scream for me quite yet, darling. We’re still so close to camp. We don’t need anyone interrupting us tonight,” he whispered.

“You’re not too tired? We don’t have to do this tonight.”

“Truthfully, I didn’t do my best work today. I’ve been saving my energy for you.”

“Where will we go?” she murmured as she looked up at him. Gods, he was handsome.

“I know just the place. Come with me, lover.”

Astarion led her away from the river and past the camp, his ice-cold hand gripping her heated ones. Seraphina was sure that he could hear the thumping of her heart as it rapidly beat in her chest. Eventually, they arrived at a small clearing in the woods. Patches of wildflowers interrupted the lush greenery, and it looked ethereal under the light of the moon.

Astarion turned and raised one hand to caress her face. She closed her eyes and leaned towards him, expecting to feel his lips against hers. She gasped as she felt him lift her head, his lips instead pressing just beneath her ear. He placed hot, wet kisses down the side of her neck, softly nipping but never piercing her skin.

She quietly moaned as his other hand made a slow trail from her waist to her hips and around her body to squeeze her ass. She could feel her body coming alive under his touch.

“I have been waiting to have you from the moment I first saw you,” Astarion purred as he lifted his head to finally kiss her. As he pressed his lips to hers, the thought popped into her head.

Hmm. That doesn’t seem right.

She pulled away. “When you put a knife to my throat?” she asked, a mix of humor and genuine curiosity in her voice.

“Imagine how conflicted I felt to be in such a terrifying situation and then meeting such a beautiful flower,” Astarion responded, his thumb rubbing her cheek. “And I didn’t hurt you, so now we’re here and I can touch you the way you deserve. I won’t hurt you…unless you ask me to.”

He kissed her before she could reply and any other thoughts she was having ceased immediately. She moaned as his tongue brushed the seam of her lips and she welcomed him in, becoming intoxicated with each movement he made. He began to stroke his tongue against hers, his hands dropping to backs of her thighs and lifting her. She wrapped her legs tightly around him, clinging to him to keep from falling and out of pure desperation to be as close as possible to him.

Seraphina could feel her body humming with each second as he pushed her against a tree and his hands explored her body, searching for each spot that made her twitch, gasp, or moan. His right hand brushed over her breast before he cupped it and squeezed, smirking into their kiss as she rolled her hips.

“Tell me, darling. Do you want to be tasted?”

“Please. Gods, I need it, Astarion,” she gasped as he squeezed her nipple, rolling it between his fingers.

“Already singing so beautifully for me.”

Astarion turned Seraphina from the tree and set her down on the grass. He crawled over her, parting her thighs with his own and grinding his hips against her. She moaned as she felt his hard co*ck rub against her cl*t through their pants, arching into his touch as his hands stroked down her body, rubbing from her neck, over her breasts, and down her stomach. He grabbed her shirt, pulling it from her trousers and the fabric was almost over her head when it suddenly caught on one of Seraphina’s horns.

Astarion tugged lightly and the shirt didn’t budge. A beat passed as he pulled again, trying to twist the shirt, and Seraphina giggled.

“It’s alright,” Seraphina said, her voice muffled as she reached up. She could hear him chuckle and when she pulled her shirt off her horn and took it off, she saw him smiling. No seduction in his gaze or on his lips and Seraphina felt warm inside in that instant. Almost as quickly as she saw the grin, it vanished, his smirk returning as he pulled down her trousers. He pulled back onto his knees, quickly removed his own shirt, and tossed it aside next to her own clothes.

Seraphina’s eyes trailed down his porcelain neck, over his pectorals, and his well-defined abs, landing on the outline of his hard shaft in his leather pants. While she tried to stay in the moment, the memory snuck its way to the front of her mind, and she suddenly was beneath Vadan, beneath the stars during one of the countless times they sought out each other’s flesh while they traveled, gasping ‘I love you’ between kisses.

“Have you imagined this before?” Astarion asked, interrupting her staring and unwilling reminiscing, making her eyes snap up to his. No, she was going to be here, in the now, with him.

“Yes,” she answered breathlessly as his hands began to slowly rub from the inside of her knees towards her thighs.

“Show me.”

Seraphina felt his tadpole reach out for hers. She opened her mind for him immediately, letting him see how her desire for him had consumed her thoughts even in her sleep last night.

They were back in her tent after she had healed him. When he finished feeding, he didn’t pull away from her body. He didn’t leave her tent. Instead, he stripped her bare and lowered his mouth to her dripping c*nt and licked her until she was a whimpering mess. She reached the peak of pleasure thrice before he finally f*cked her, his co*ck stretching her as he held her down and gave her every inch. As he stroked into her, he leaned into the crook of her neck and sunk his fangs into her flesh, filling her while he took from her.

“Such a filthy imagination,” Astarion gasped, his hips rolling at the image. His lips curled into a wicked smile as he sunk to his stomach and pressed a feather light kiss to her cl*t. While she whimpered, he continued to lick her folds through her underclothes, gripping her hips and forcing her to still her squirming.

“Astarion,” Seraphina moaned. “Please.”

She sat up on her elbows to look down at Astarion and he pulled down her underwear, tossing the fabric aside before immediately returning his mouth to her c*nt. His name and a string of curses became a mantra on her lips. Though Seraphina’s eyes were closed, she still could see stars exploding behind her lids as Astarion devoured her.

When he crawled his way up her body and kissed her again as he pushed his co*ck inside her, Seraphina clutched onto him, begging for more, more, more. She felt like she was in the Heavens and Astarion’s motion seemed to reply the same, but it also looked like he was staring straight through her. She could feel scars on his back. Maybe he didn’t like where her hands were and didn’t want to say it?

“Astarion,” she murmured, placing her hands instead on his shoulders, and pushing him closer. His eyes focused on her again and he smiled.

“Do you have a request, lover?”

He snapped his hips harder, deeper, and she let out a sinful whimper. For a moment, what she wanted to say next left her head. She bit back a moan and tilted her neck.

“Feed. Take what you need.”

Astarion’s grin softened as his eyebrows rose.

“You spoil me.”

As his fangs pierced her neck, never ceasing stroking inside her, Seraphina thought to herself that she didn’t want this to be the only time they came to the woods for this. She would let him lead her away from camp as many times as he wanted.

x x x

Seraphina started to stir when she heard the crunch of leaves and grass. Frankly, she didn’t want to open her eyes when she had been sleeping so well after her body had been taken to its limit the night before. Still, she blinked awake and sat up. A few feet away, the culprit of her body aches stood.

Astarion’s arms were outstretched, and his head tilted back as he bathed in the orange glow of the early morning sun. Seraphina took a deep breath, truly blown away by how beautiful he was. She also could finally see the scars she’d felt on him. She felt a tingle of fear as she made out the shapes as infernal. What the hells was he doing walking around with scars like that?

As she stared, she suddenly felt like she was intruding on him, reading his scars while he was having such a private moment. She couldn’t fathom what it must be like to simply exist in the warmth of sunlight after 200 years of not even seeing it.

“I guess you’re not a fan of cuddling?” she finally spoke up, her voice hoarse.

Astarion chuckled but didn’t turn around. “I expected you to be more tired.”

“You exhausted me. It was incredible.”

Her next words came out before she could stop herself.

“Were you enjoying yourself? It seemed like…like you weren’t fully there.”

He glanced over his shoulder.

“I admit that I was holding back. You’re delicious, darling, and I didn’t want to lose control. Now, we should head back.”

Seraphina began putting her clothes back on. She was pulling on her trousers when another question that had been on the tip of her tongue finally forced itself out of her mouth.

“Where’d you get your scars?’ she asked.

“It’s a poem. A gift from Cazador,” he answered evenly. “He carved this one over the course of a night.” He turned away from her and slipped on his shirt.

Seraphina felt a pit in her stomach. Astarion had told her of his master and the torture he’d been put through. He was a despicable monster which made him writing in infernal more terrifying.

“Did he always write in infernal?”

Astarion froze and whipped his head to look at her incredulously.

“Infernal? Who…who knows? The bastard was insane.”

He doesn’t know what it says she thought.

“Let’s go,” Astarion grumbled, already making his way back to camp. She wanted to rush and keep up with him, but she felt ashamed for mentioning his scars and upsetting him. She was back in camp and about to slip into her tent to sleep for a little while longer when her elbow was grabbed. Seraphina turned to see Astarion.

He didn’t say anything. He smiled softly as he cupped her cheek and leaned closer to her. She could feel her heart racing as the space between them decreased by the second.

“I hope you won’t be too distracted today, the way that I surely will be. I don’t know how I’ll function when all I can think of now is how beautiful you look when you take me,” he whispered, his lips brushing hers.

She let out a blissful sigh as she pushed up onto her toes and kissed him. He groaned as his fingers reached into her hair at the nape of neck and lightly tugged. When he pulled away, Astarion smirked at her. She promised herself that she was going to figure out what she needed to do get another genuine smile out of him.

Chapter 5: Feels Like Magic


Gale is captivated by the wild mage that saved his life. He knows he's falling in love even though he's living on borrowed time and that's not fair to anyone.


OooOOhhHH, it's a chapter from Gale's perspective. Definitely not required for the full narrative, but also definitely an itch my brain wanted to scratch.

Chapter Text

As Gale blinked awake that morning, he knew two things – it was early, and his body was still incredibly sore from the previous day’s conflicts. With it being so early, he was positive that he would be able to indulge in a soak in the river before anyone else woke up with questions about food for the day.

Slowly, wincing and huffing in pain all the while, Gale gathered his bathing oils into a small pouch and prepared to leave his tent. He nudged his head through his tent flap and blinked to adjust to the soft yellows and harsh oranges of the sun’s first rays. His shoulders had just crossed the threshold when Gale noticed the mortifying sight on the opposite side of camp.

There, past the ash of the long-dead campfire, was Seraphina, her crimson and onyx hair tousled, while Astarion had an alabaster hand delicately holding her cheek. Gale felt a blanket of dread cover him from head to toe as he watched Seraphina dreamily blink up at the vampire, like she was completely entranced. When he saw her push up and their lips touched, he wished the ground would swallow him whole as he quickly turned back into his tent.

Gale was wise enough to admit to himself that he had undeniably developed feelings for Seraphina and that it was an objectively quite foolish thing for him to have allowed this attraction to take root and consume his heart.

When that generous individual grabbed Gale’s hand from the other side of the portal, he could feel the Weave flowing beneath their skin, sharp and powerful as if he’d been shocked – unmistakably the arcane power of a caster. He wasn’t sure who he would see on the other side, but he wasn’t prepared for who he had to thank for saving his life in the slightest. The source of the powerful magic he’d felt was a petite tiefling woman with scarlet skin, hypnotizing bright orange eyes, and plump cherry-red painted lips surrounding a wide smile that made him blush.

If he was being honest with himself, Gale was enchanted by Seraphina from the moment he saw her. He took in her features as she scrambled to her feet after the force of pulling him out of the portal sent her tumbling. Instead of looking confused, disturbed, or angry, she just looked curious and amazed.

“Hello! I’m Gale of Waterdeep,” he proclaimed as he reached for Seraphina’s hand. He could feel magic crackling in the air around her and, as his hands closed around hers, it felt like he was holding a strand of the Weave itself – warm, familiar, safe

“Apologies, I’m usually better at this,” Gale pulled back, scratching his neck with one hand to try and replace the sensation that was flowing under his skin after touching her.

“At introductions?” the woman laughed, brushing dirt from her robes.

“At magic,” he smiled. It was only now that he noticed the black-haired half-elf standing behind her.

“Well, I’m Seraphina…of Baldur’s Gate. Pleasure to meet you, Gale of Waterdeep,” the tiefling gave a little bow and seemed confident, but Gale knew from what he’d read of tiefling tail body language that she was nervous from how her red appendage curled inwards and nearly wrapped around her leg.

As startled as Gale was by being kidnapped by a mind flayer ship and being infected with a tadpole, it was somewhat comforting to now be taking on the task of finding a healer with other survivors. As they walked, Seraphina focused in on his use of portals, asking questions as quickly as an arrow loosed from an expert archer’s bow.

“How did you make that portal?”

“How were you able to cast that while falling?”

“Did it require any material components?”

Finally, he interrupted. “You’re not versed in magic, are you?”

Seraphina paused and let out a sharp laugh as if she couldn’t believe he was asking it. “Magic runs in my very veins.”

Oh. Of course. She was a sorcerer.

“Ah, well, my apologies. I should have asked if you’re studied in magic. Which you are not.”

Seraphina’s smile dropped into a scowl, and she rolled her eyes.

“What you wizards lack in social skills, survival capabilities, and pure arcane power, you make up for by being as insufferable as possible.” Seraphina picked up her pace and spoke again before Gale could reply. “Let’s look for more survivors of the crash.”

It hardly mattered that she wasn’t formally trained in magic as Gale quickly learned when they stumbled upon goblins attacking adventurers outside the Emerald Grove. The raw power that Gale felt was on full display as Seraphina eviscerated their foes. As if that wasn’t enough, this new ally continued to impress him over and over again.

She showed remarkable bravery and diplomacy as she connected with Zevlor, urging him to ignore Aradin’s taunting, as she stepped between a crossbow and a goblin prisoner, and when she talked Kagha into releasing Arabella. She even reacted to Nettie’s poison attempt with almost odd patience, leaning into empathy and being understanding of Nettie’s stream of thought.

Seeing how level-headed and kind she was made it easy for Gale to tell a nugget of the truth about his condition. Of course, kind soul that she was, she jumped to offer her healing magic. Part of him expected an adventured traveler like her to be more upset at having to part with magical items, but she agreed to help him without needing convincing. Of course, naturally, she had a million questions, but Gale was grateful that she was able to control her curiosity.

He didn’t have it in him yet to admit how dangerous he was. Gale knew his odds of removing the tadpole were higher with this group and, as long as the orb remained stabilized, he’d be able to keep himself from becoming a threat. At least, until the tadpole was removed and then he could find somewhere isolated to await his fate.

There was also the very selfish desire to want to spend time with Seraphina. He was quite enjoying getting to spend every night deep in conversation with her, with only the moon and the stars as witnesses. After all, with how much she was sacrificing to keep him alive, the least he could offer her was good company, right?

As they traveled together and grew closer, Gale struggled to swallow a seed of insecurity as Seraphina shared anecdotes about her past, specifically past lovers whenever a random circ*mstance, place, or item reminded her of them.

A statue in the Grove reminded Seraphina of a druid lover from Amn who kept a similar fox statue in her tent.

A Selûnite necklace in a destroyed village made her recall a lover who followed the Moonmaiden so passionately that she refused to make love during the day.

Alfira reminded her of a bard she used to travel with that wrote a new song for her every morning.

Seraphina was an adventuring cleric by trade and wandered the Sword Coast and occasionally across Faerûn, accompanying parties on their journeys to bestow blessings from Tymora for safety and success. She had had dozens of loves in her travels, and she didn’t shy away from flirtation, which only made it harder to sidestep outright rejecting or accepting her advances.

Gale saw and felt her desire that night in the Weave and he was nearly ready to sacrifice the lives of everyone in camp, nearby in the Grove, and all the souls around them for just a few moments of kissing her and feeling her lips against his own.

But Seraphina didn’t know the truth of him, his failure. If she did, she wouldn’t want him. Even if they miraculously removed the mind flayer tadpoles from their brains, with the orb, he wouldn’t be alive much longer. Why would she waste her time with and risk her safety for someone whose death was on the horizon?

Despite his best attempts to stay focused, Seraphina very quickly became a distraction. As they took their walks together, he often found himself unable to look away from the sway of her wide hips beneath her blue and silver robes. Or he would face the embarrassment of being caught staring at her red painted lips as she spoke. Or he would do something stupid in the name of keeping her from harm.

When they were battling Auntie Ethel in her lair, Seraphina experienced a wild magic surge that polymorphed her into a sheep, making her unable to see the mine directly in front of her snout.

Gale’s arm was raised, prepared to send several magic missiles at Auntie Ethel and finish the fight until he saw sheep Seraphina stumbling in the direction of the mine. He felt as if someone was squeezing his heart from inside his chest as time slowed down. He turned and ran towards her, pushing her away from the explosive. In that second, Auntie Ethel, with a cackle, duplicated herself once again, her clones surrounding them in the lair.

“What were you thinking, Gale? Aren’t you the super smart one here?” Karlach scolded later as they stood over the hag’s corpse, the entire group exhausted and nearly beaten after the day they’d had. “Seraphina would’ve been fine. A soldier taking a hit happens, but it doesn’t mean we have to abandon our course.”

“We’re all okay, aren’t we? And Ethel is dead, so it’s fine,” Seraphina spoke up. “I’m quite glad Gale was thinking of me. Now, let’s go check on those people she had trapped here.”

She had saved Gale from needing to explain his actions. What would he have even said? What battle strategy pushed him to not take aim at the enemy? As they made their way back to the top of the hag’s lair, even with Seraphina safe in front of him, he could still feel the fear that had gripped him when he saw her nearly step onto that mine. He wanted to take her into his arms, but, while his body had been spurred to action on its own earlier, it froze now.

He was unable to speak to her for the rest of the day. As he handed her dinner that night, he avoided her eyes, but then she did the worst and best possible thing. As Gale kept his eyes on the bowl, she, with her hands that could eliminate as easily as they could heal, touched his hand, her fingers sliding up his wrist and under his sleeve.

Gale could feel his heart thumping wildly in his chest.

“Gale,” she said, and he wanted to hear her voice say his name a hundred more times.

He looked up and her amber eyes pulled him in, trapped in them as if it was a sweet honey trap that he fell for.


“Thank you for keeping me from blowing myself up today. Polymorph is really the most frustrating wild magic effect of all of them,” she laughed.

“Of course. I am quite glad that you are alright.”

“Do you think we could talk tonight after everyone else goes to sleep? I would really enjoy some alone time with you,” she whispered. Gale could see every detail of her face – the way she blinked up at him through her lashes, the seductive smirk of her full lips, and the way her nails lightly ran along his skin as she grabbed the bowl and pulled her hand away.

“Perhaps,” he smiled, knowing full well that he couldn’t talk to her tonight because if they were alone, surely the orb would erupt. He turned and ate his dinner on the other side of the campfire. He couldn’t keep talking to her, not until he got himself under control. He felt like he wouldn’t be able to speak to her without all the words he wanted to say pouring out of him.

You are becoming so very dear to me.

I want to spend nearly all my time with you.

If we were not at risk of turning into mind flayers, if I was not already destined for destruction, if we had more time, I would show you every wonder all the planes have to offer.

You occupy my thoughts from the moment that I open my eyes to when they close for the night, only for my dreams to be filled with images of you. All that to say that you never leave my mind. You have enthralled me.

Gale was all too aware before he had even witnessed that intimate moment between Astarion and Seraphina that he wasn’t the only one in their little band of tadpoled misfits who was interested in their leader. It was hard not to notice that Astarion had been spending more time with her. He didn’t trust a single thing that the vampire said, but it was obvious his honeyed words had lured the wild mage straight into the predator’s jaws.

“So, Gale, how is your hopeless pining going?”

Gale’s head snapped to look at Astarion, his smirk looking even more smug than usual. They were standing in the goblin camp, surrounded by filth and debauchery. Seraphina, Shadowheart, and Karlach were giving their rapt attention to the performance of that poor kidnapped bard. Lae’zel and Wyll had wandered to bargain with a goblin trader.

Gale thought once again of the kiss he’d seen that morning. Did Astarion know that Gale had seen it?

“I’m not sure what you mean. It’s been more than a year since Mystra cast me out,” Gale replied.

Astarion chuckled.

“My dear wizard, I wasn’t talking about Mystra. Though the person I’m referring to is still quite magical.” The vampire wasn’t looking at him anymore. Gale followed his gaze, fully knowing where it was going, and he felt his breath hitch anyway as he looked at Seraphina. She was applauding the bard, a big smile on her face.

“She is magical. I think many of us see that, but it seems you wasted no time in pursuing your quarry.”

“There really wasn’t much pursuit required. She enjoys pleasure, a good time, and embraces her desires. She’s a priestess, not a wizard after all.”

Seraphina turned on her heel and Gale’s retort died in his throat. Her face was that of sharp determination, her jaw set as she leaned forward and whispered to them.

“We have a bard, an owlbear cub, and a druid to save,” she declared.

Astarion scoffed and rolled his eyes. “You really insist on creating more unnecessary labor for us at every turn,” he complained.

Gale simply smiled at her.

“Lead on, my friend.”

Chapter 6: Fragments of the Past


Discussions of the past help Seraphina grow closer to Gale and Astarion.

Chapter Text

After a raid of the jail at the goblin camp, the party returned to camp with three bottles of firewine to end their night, a deserved reprieve after learning that Halsin wouldn’t be able to remove their tadpoles and a nice, if not slightly unwise, prelude to defending the Grove the next day.

Seraphina couldn’t tell anyone how much she was panicking. Everyone was looking to her for leadership and so far, she had only led them on a chase for a cure for the tadpole that just kept getting longer and longer all while everyone had their different requests for their party’s direction. She knew that Astarion and Shadowheart wanted to immediately start on the path to Moonrise, the location that Halsin had mentioned that the cultists were traveling to. Lae’zel wanted to get to the crèche. All three of them were upset that they were ‘wasting time’ at the Grove, but Seraphina wasn’t about to abandon her people, especially not tieflings from Elturel.

She had only spoken with Gale about her journey into Avernus and the group of heroes she traveled with to rescue Elturel. The nightmares of Avernus had become less frequent since the stress of the tadpole had taken over Seraphina’s psyche. However, she would never forget what that was like. She wasn’t going to turn her back on the innocent civilians who had survived that place, and she was grateful for Gale, Karlach, and Wyll’s support in staying to clear the road to Baldur’s Gate for the tieflings.

“Okay, okay. How about this one then?” Karlach bellowed. “Seraphina, my good luck charm, my friend,” she continued.

Seraphina turned away from her discussion with Gale on the last book he’d gifted her. She held up her goblet. “Go on, my friend,” she beamed.

“Soldier, when was the last time you were in love?” Karlach asked.

“This should be good,” Shadowheart teased.

Seraphina felt her chest get tighter. Everyone was looking at her and she felt like her skin was crawling. She looked at Astarion, who lifted his eyebrows and nodded for her to get on with it. It wasn’t until she looked at Gale, sitting right next to her, that she felt the confidence she needed to answer flow through her veins. His face looked so soft, so open, and intrigued. She held his gaze, letting it calm her, as she took a deep breath before she averted her gaze to look at the others.

“The last time was last summer,” Seraphina said wistfully. When she blinked, she was suddenly back in the temple, sobbing and tripping over her dress as she paced back-and-forth, staring at the clock as the minutes ticked by. She blinked again, suddenly back at the fire surrounded by her newfound friends, and she surprised herself when a laugh burst its way forward from deep in her belly.

“I was supposed to get married, actually.”

Gasps and shocked shouts quickly followed.

Married?” Gale balked.

“Who in the world managed to convince you that was a good idea?” Shadowheart asked.

“Tying yourself to another for life?Chk,” Lae’zel scoffed as she took a swig of her drink.

Seraphina giggled. It all seemed so ridiculous now. Or it could just be the wine.

“Well, go on. Tell all, darling,” Astarion said. “I’m sure this is a love story the bards of the Sword Coast will sing about for ages.”

Seraphina rolled her eyes.

“The abbreviated version of the story is that we met on a contract in Neverwinter two years ago in the summer. We were protecting some people and their cargo, and it was a long trek. We spent a lot of time together and, once the contract was done, we just kept traveling together,” she began. “He asked me to marry him on the winter solstice. We had to go our separate ways for a while, but we wrote each other letters constantly.”

She shifted slightly, trying to keep up her usual bright demeanor as she tried to wrap up the story as quickly as possible.

“Anyway, he came to stay with my family in Baldur’s Gate and we planned the wedding. The wedding day came that summer and he didn’t show up at the temple. He wrote me a letter apologizing, but I haven’t seen him since,” Seraphina finished, grabbing a bottle of firewine, and filling her goblet.

“Seraphina, I’m so sorry,” Gale said in a hushed tone. “Such heartbreak must’ve been…well, nothing short of devastating.”

“That’s truly horrible, but it seems like he was a coward. He obviously wasn’t worth your time, though few long-term romances are,” Shadowheart said sympathetically.

“It is funny that you say that. He’s aHarper,” Seraphina added. The entire circle began to laugh. “Truly a vision of the bravery of those who’ve assigned themselves to defend the Realms.”

“Soldier, if we ever see his face, say the word and Mama K will take care of it,” Karlach said.

“Did you at least keep the ring?” Astarion joked.

“I sold it, and I gave the gold as an offering to Lady Luck. But enough about me. Wyll!” Seraphina shouted. “Tell us about the least threatening monster you’ve had to kill.”

As Wyll instantly began his tale and attention shifted, Seraphina stood, walking over to her tent, and gulping down her wine. Her thoughts started to swim with memories of all the times she thought she would die in Avernus and how her thoughts swam with visions of Vadan amongst all the flashes of the faces of her family.

“Seraphina,” Gale called out. She turned and he was rising from the campfire. As he walked up to her, she watched his features as they transitioned from being under the orange glow of the fire to the ethereal light from the moon. She felt her knees go weak. He was devastatingly handsome, and she thought she might whine from how desperate she was to kiss him. Maybe it would silence her churning thoughts.

She probably shouldn’t have refilled her goblet.

“Hello,” she murmured with a gentle smile and only a slight slur. She sat down on the rug outside her tent, and he joined her, grunting as he bent down.

“Hello,” Gale returned her smile. “We don’t have to dwell on it, but I just wanted to tell you that your former beloved sounds like he was nothing short of a fool.”

“I don’t disagree.”

“The only thing he did right, clearly, was win over your affections. Though he obviously wasn’t deserving of them.” His intense gaze gave Seraphina butterflies.

“Thank you, Gale. I really appreciate that,” she elbowed him gently, and he smiled as he leaned into her, resting his arm against hers.

“To have captured your heart so completely and then to hurt you in such a way. I could never imagine doing such a thing to you.”

Gale’s lips suddenly clapped shut. Seraphina watched pink flood across Gale’s nose and cheeks, and she couldn’t help but grin.

“I’ve clearly had too much wine. I beg you to forget I said that. My verbosity can make me blabber far too much. We don’t have to continue discussing him,” Gale murmured, turning to avoid looking at her.

“It’s okay, Gale. I honestly haven’t had or taken the time to talk about what happened between us and that’s been hard because I…I associate him with a lot, unfortunately. When we met, my trial from Tymora had just begun. I fumbled with a sword more than I used my magic because I was so scared. He –” Seraphina cut herself off to clear her throat.

“It’s alright,” Gale whispered, his hand reaching up and rubbing soothing circles on her arm.

“When I was too scared to use my magic, he taught me how to use a glaive. He eventually helped me stop being afraid of my magic and I never felt so alive as when I started practicing again with him by my side. He was so kind in the beginning that I never could’ve been prepared for how we ended.”

“Take comfort in knowing you aren’t alone when it comes to having a former lover who struggled with tact,” he responded as he looked up at the moon.

It was only earlier that day that Gale had admitted the truth about the nature of the orb in his chest and his former relationship with Mystra. She couldn’t fathom defying her own goddess as he did, but Seraphina’s heart broke listening to his story and it broke again because of how long he had hidden this danger from her and their party.

“I care too much about you to abandon you now, Gale.”

It slipped out in front of everyone and once she said it, she couldn’t take it back.

“May Tymora bless our futures with virtuous and tactful lovers,” Seraphina replied, raising her goblet.

“May the Smiling Lady shine on us,” Gale laughed as he clinked his goblet with hers and they both finished their wine. He stood and Seraphina rose with him. She wasn’t even sure why she did that. She was drawn to him as if the damned wizard had charmed her. She awkwardly took a step back.

“I see I was successful at putting you in a better mood before bed.” He pointed behind her and Seraphina became aware of how hard her tail was wagging back and forth.

“Well, yes, you did do that,” Seraphina admitted sheepishly, her tail curling in to wrap around her leg. “Goodnight, Gale” she said as she opened her arms. He hesitated for a moment, and she considered curling into a ball and requesting Karlach to launch her into the river.

Her catastrophizing ended as Gale smiled and leaned closer to her, slightly bending down to wrap his arms around her waist and pull her in. She tilted her head to avoid her horns harming him, wrapping her arms around his neck. They stayed like that, swaying. She could feel his heartbeat hammering against her chest, the warmth of his arms and the strength in his grip as he pressed their bodies together, and his scent overwhelmed her senses. It was as if she was surrounded byGale.

He squeezed her and sighed happily as he pulled away, a dim purple glow peeking out from under the collar of his nightshirt.

“Goodnight, Seraphina,” He smiled one last time and turned to go his tent. As he walked away, Seraphina saw that everyone was also heading inside of their tent.

She walked over to the sandy shore near the river and kneeled, clutching her Tymoran pendant in her hands as she bowed her head in prayer.

Lady Luck, I thank you for your guidance today. It was your light that helped us –

“Can you make a request to your goddess for me, my dear?”

She snapped her head up to see that Astarion had silently approached and fully sat down next to her without her even hearing a thing.

“She listens to all who call out to her. I can pray with you if you wou –”

“Oh, there’s no need for all that,” he waved his hand dismissively. “I prayed to every god in the pantheon while in Cazador’s kennels. None ever answered. I doubt they’ll do so now.”

“I’m so sorry, Astarion.”

“But at least one clearly listens to you. I just think it would be nice to stumble upon some good fortune and find someone who can read bloody infernal. I don’t understand how anyone reads that garbage,” Astarion said. “If Tymora can send anyone like that my way, I could consider viewing the Goddess of Luck in a different light.”

“For some people, infernal is in our blood. If…if you want to know what your scars say, I can tell you. I just thought you weren’t interested in knowing what the poem said,” Seraphina replied slowly, carefully choosing her words to avoid offending Astarion and sending him scurrying away, his mask and walls back up again.

His eyes widened at first, his eyebrows lifting. He must’ve forgotten or didn’t know that tieflings could read infernal. He narrowed his eyes at her, and she could feel him observing her face closely.

“Hmm. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt,” Astarion finally replied. He turned his back to her, and she swore she saw his fingers tremble as he removed his shirt with one hand in a singular fluid motion.

Seraphina held back a gasp as she looked at the scars on his back. They looked even more grotesque from this closer view. She felt her skin crawl as she imagined how torturous it must’ve been to endure and she felt rage for his former master bubbling inside her. She scooted a little bit away from him and began to draw out the infernal in the sand.

“If you want to see it, here it is. But it’s all infernal legalese. It’s just a small part of a bigger text,” she explained as he turned around. His eyes widened again in horror.

“Thatbastard. What in the hells did he do to me? What was he up to?” Astarion shook his head in disbelief.

“You never saw him write in infernal before?”

“No. But…” he hesitated and, as he put his shirt back on, he looked at the drawing again before looking up to meet her gaze. “Thank you. This is…well…it’s something.”

“You’re welcome,” she smiled. “We’ll figure it out. I promise.”

“Aren’t you sweet?”

“I try to be.”

Astarion chuckled as he reached for her, gripping her waist and pushing her into the sand, forcing a giggle out of her. He hovered over her, caging her in with his arms before slotting his hips between her legs.

“You deserve a reward for being so kind,” he murmured, his words dripping with seduction as he leaned down and began to kiss along her jaw and neck.

“You don’t have to reward me for being nice to you,” she gasped as he began to softly nip, never breaking her skin.

His responding laugh rumbled through her body as he continued pressing wet kisses to her neck, his cold lips making her shiver.

“We both know you want something, so let me give it to you. Now, shall we go somewhere more private than this beach?”

“Maybe I just wanted to talk to you.”

Astarion laughed again, lifting his head to look at her. “You would rather talk?” All mirth left his face as his smile dropped. “Do you need to be enticed out to that clearing with me, darling? Surely, I haven’t fallen out of your favor.” His body stiffened.

“No, you haven’t,” she hummed as she reached up and tucked a few stray white curls behind his ear. She let her fingers trail down his high cheekbones and down his jaw. He was still tense, and she cursed herself as she started to pull her hand away. If this was all just a fling, she was getting too affectionate.

“So why deprive me of the sweetness between your legs, lover?” Astarion asked, taking one of her fingers between his lips and gently sucking, his tongue flicking over the pad of her finger. She let out a breathy sigh, nearly a moan, as he slowly grinded his hips against hers.

Truthfully, a romp with him would distract her from her growing anxiety. However, she still needed energy for the morning.

“You have an infernal pact on your back that I think is more pressing to discuss,” she gasped as a fang nicked her finger. Astarion’s tongue swirled around her finger, sucking up the blood before he released it with an audible ‘pop.’

“That doesn’t concern you, you know,” he murmured.

“I know. Now let’s try and figure this out.”

He sighed, moved off her, and sat up, looking towards the water. Seraphina moved into a seated position, her body humming from his touch, but she wasn’t going to let him use seduction to weasel his way out of this discussion.

Suddenly, Seraphina felt the skin on her neck quiver. At the same moment, she saw Astarion’s ears twitch, and his head quickly spun towards the forest.

A beat of silence.

“Someone’s watching us,” she whispered.

“Stay here,” he commanded. He leapt to his feet and in a flash, he had disappeared into the trees. Seraphina slowly rose to her feet, straining her ears. She couldn’t see anything moving, even with her ability to see into darkness a great distance. ‘Ardere’ danced on the tip of her tongue as she prepared her hands to cast the spell, creeping closer and closer to the tree line.

As the minutes kept passing, she considered waking the others and going in after Astarion. She saw a shadow move and then, in a flash of white, Astarion leapt in front of her. She jumped and a small bolt of fire flew towards his feet.

“Nothing,” Astarion said.

“That…was strange,” Seraphina replied, her heart racing. “I know what I felt.”

“I heard something too. Go rest. I’ll keep watch,” Astarion said, looking over his shoulder into the woods once more.

“Let me stay with you for a little while,” Seraphina said, a little too quickly. “We aren’t done talking.”

Astarion scoffed. “Fine.”

He led her closer to the dying campfire and they sat facing the woods. Seraphina cleared her throat.

“So, what’s on your back is just one piece of a contract. Can you guess where the rest would be?” she asked.

“I wasn’t Cazador’s only spawn. He tortured all of us, so I don’t think it would be outrageous to assume that the rest are also carrying a piece of this…contract,” Astarion mused.

“How many others were there?”

“Six. He considered us ‘brothers and sisters.’”

“That’s a lot of text,” Seraphina sighed. “Alright. We’ll find someone who knows something. I swear that to you.”

“Maybe,” Astarion sighed.

The silence hung in the air for a moment. Astarion was staring into the forest, his head slightly moving as he carefully analyzed the perimeter, his eyebrows furrowed. His fingers tapped the log they sat on. Seraphina hadn’t seen him so deep in thought before.

“Your… ‘brothers and sisters’…did you all act like siblings?”

“I don’t exactly know what that’s like, but I doubt it includes torturing each other.”

Seraphina winced.

“Did you have siblings before…”

“Before Cazador turned me?” Astarion let out a sharp, bitter laugh. “Darling, I don’t even remember what color my eyes used to be before they turned red. If I had siblings, I don’t remember them.”

“It’s one of the most unique relationships you can have with someone, I think.”

“Ha! Well, we all certainly had auniquedynamic. I assume you have them?”

Seraphina grinned. “I have six siblings as well. I’m the youngest.”

“What are their names?”

“You first.”

Astarion hesitated.

“Aureila, Yousen, Violet, Leon, Dalyria, and Petras,” he said, the tension in his jaw slowly leaving. He nodded at her.

“There’s Draven, the twins Kyakos and Maven, Sylvera, Kalista, Malachor, and then me. Draven is the oldest and I’m not as close as him as I am with the others, but he went with me on my first adventure. He did that for all of us. It was kind of his ‘big brother duty,’” Seraphina started. “I’m closest with Malachor. I actually think you two would get along quite well.”

“And what makes you say that?”

“I could see you two getting up to mischief together. In fact, he taught me how to pick a lock.”

“Well, you’re notthatgood at it, so he probably needs some pointers. I have him to thank for how many tools you’ve broken trying to open chests and doors without me.”

“On second thought, maybe it would be a bad idea to put you two egotistical bastards in the same room.”

The sky turned from black to gentles hues of purple and orange as they talked. They didn’t hear anything else from the woods. Eventually, Astarion directed her to sleep, reminding her that she needed far more rest than he did. She didn’t want to tell him the truth that talking with him was a pleasant distraction from the terror that was starting to eat her alive.

Tymora did not look highly upon cowardice. Fortune favors the bold.

She would show no fear.

Chapter 7: Celebrations & Confessions


Wine is flowing and lips are loose when the party celebrates defending the Emerald Grove.


Oooh-weee. I thought I had a focus for this chapter and then in editing, it kept getting longer so I had to split it into two chapters!

Chapter Text

“Keep resisting! We’ve almost got them!” Zevlor shouted.

Sweat ran into Seraphina’s eyes, and she blinked through the burning sensation as she dodged another goblin arrow. As soon as she pushed herself to her feet, another projectile came her way – a barrel. She yelped as she jumped to the left. As the barrel fell apart on impact, a goblin emerged, scimitar held high.

Astarion suddenly appeared behind him, quickly slitting the goblin’s throat and spraying Seraphina with the blood. He winked at Seraphina, and she gave him a weak smile in thanks as he disappeared. She rushed behind cover and blessed Zevlor, Lae’zel, and Karlach. She panted, her fingers twitching, and she knew she was reaching the end of her magical supply.

She stood and channeled her divine connection with Tymora as she sent a witch bolt at the ogre that was throwing goblins over the gate. He roared as the lightning burnt him to a crisp and his body crumpled to the ground.

“Slaughter them all!” came a voice from among the crowd at the gate.

Seraphina turned and saw Minthara below on the field, desperately trying to keep the remaining goblins and bugbears alive, weak and stumbling all the way. Seraphina smirked as she launched a guiding bolt at the drow, knocking her down. She didn’t get back up. Panic instantly began to spread through the remaining attackers as they scrambled to try and continue the assault.

“Good work, sorcerer.”

Seraphina jumped and saw Astarion running past her. He smirked at her before turning and sending an arrow into the chest of a bugbear below.

“Seraphina!” Shadowheart shouted.

She turned and saw the cleric standing over Wyll, who had an arrow piercing his right shoulder.

“I need a potion!” The half-elf yelled. Seraphina scrambled over, leaped over a puddle of acid, and kneeled next to the two of them.

“Get the damned thing out and let me stand with you all to finish this!” Wyll hissed, gritting his teeth through the pain.

“Drink this before you get yourself killed,” Seraphina reprimanded. Shadowheart took hold of the arrow and pulled it out as Seraphina poured the healing potion into Wyll’s mouth.

“None of us are dying today,” Wyll smiled as he stood, awkwardly holding his right arm close to his body, and ran to Karlach’s side, launching an eldritch blast at a goblin with an explosive strapped to his back.


Seraphina felt blood rush to her head, her ears ringing, as she instantly recognized who the screech of agony came from. Gale was a few feet away, his arm and shoulder covered in blood with a battle axe lying nearby.

“Go to him,” Shadowheart said, tapping Seraphina’s shoulder. Seraphina nodded and she kicked up dirt with the speed that she sprinted to Gale’s side.

“Fancy seeing you here,” Seraphina joked. She only had one spell left in her, but she couldn’t imagine a better use for it. “Te curo,” she chanted, setting her glowing hands against his wound. She cursed as she felt the familiar hum of wild magic, but continued with healing when she didn’t see anything bizarre happen.

“You look like an angel,” Gale grinned at her, his eyes unfocused and glazed over as she looked down at him, her head blocking out the sun. “Surrounded in this golden light. You’re a divine vision, even with pink hair.”

That one hasn’t happened in a while she thought.

“Does blood loss and battle make you more poetic? You can tell me how beautiful I am when there’s not a soul alive down there,” she said, handing him a healing potion and quickly wrapping a bandage around a different wound on his arm. She hated seeing any injury on Gale and would gladly use any number of spells or supplies to ensure he was okay. If only her magic was enough to extract the orb from his chest…

“You deserve to be reminded of your beauty at every moment of the day,” he replied. Seraphina blushed. Was he really choosing right now to finally be transparent with her? She saw Gale’s eyes widen, and he slid himself in front of her, casting a shield as a vial of acid hurtled towards them. Seraphina leapt to her feet and pulled out her bow.

At that moment, with a roar, Karlach threw down an axe, the weapon lodging itself in the face of the final foe. They all stood in the silence for a moment, the only sound their panting and the slight rustling of trees in the breeze. Then – shouts. Screams of joy and victory.

Seraphina held her hands over her heart and turned her face to the sky, bathing in the glow of the sunlight

“My lady smiles on us today.”

x x x

Tonight, camp was much louder than usual, and Seraphina was grateful for it. Music and song filled the air, courtesy of drunken playing from Alfira and the endless requests from Lakrissa and Asharak, just as the refugees filled the space, dancing and drinking without a care in the world. Seraphina had been pulled into a dance circle with a few children when she heard Karlach’s boisterous laugh from across the fire.

“Please stay! Just one more!” Arabella said, pulling on Seraphina’s hand when she saw the sorcerer look away from the children and towards Karlach, who was sharing a bottle with Shadowheart. Being around the kids had truly lifted Seraphina’s soul. They reminded her of the nieces and nephews that she hadn’t seen in months, since before she took the job that ultimately dragged her into Avernus.

“I’ll come join you all again in a few,” Seraphina promised, turning and going over to the cleric and her fellow tiefling.

“Ah, gods. Would you look at this? We did this!” Karlach smiled as Seraphina sat. Shadowheart smiled as well, but she seemed tense.

“Please don’t tell me you’re also unhappy with the wine, Shadowheart. Astarion’s already given his sour review,” Seraphina said as she took a swig from the bottle Karlach handed to her.

“No. I don’t always have something negative to say. I’m actually quite…contemplative,” Shadowheart replied.

“Why’s that?” Karlach asked.

“I never could’ve imagined myself caring about these people or doing something like this,” the half-elf said, her eyes looking over the refugees that crowded their camp. “But here I am. Here we all are and it’s because of you.” She turned to look at Seraphina.

“Do you think that Shar wouldn’t approve?” Seraphina asked.

Karlach’s eyes widened as she looked to Shadowheart. The cleric’s face twisted, and her eyebrows scrunched.

“She certainly wouldn’t approve of me following the directions of a Tymoran. But there will be time for penance later,” Shadowheart mused.

“Let’s just enjoy this celebration! No need to get bogged down in anything,” Karlach interjected.

“Why’re you over here with us anyway? You know, there’s plenty of people dying to spend time with you. Gale’s certainly been sending a glance or three your way,” Shadowheart smirked as she sipped her wine.

“I was just going to ask about what I’ve heard about you and Astarion, but maybe I was reading too far into things,” Karlach added.

“Or Seraphina just has options,” Shadowheart laughed.

“Gale’s a little scholarly for my tastes but Astarion? I’d ride him to the hells and back if I could,” Karlach said dreamily.

“Oh, hush, both of you,” Seraphina said, swatting Shadowheart’s arm as she refilled her goblet and took a gulp.

“Well, who is going to your bed tonight?” Shadowheart elbowed Seraphina. The tiefling looked away for a second and, just as Shadowheart said, she saw Gale already looking at her, and he blushed furiously, smiling at her before quickly turning and continuing his conversation with Rolan. Her eyes swept across the camp to finally see Astarion, who looked positively miserable as Alfira and Lakrissa chattered at him, the bard drunkenly strumming on her lute.

“I would make Gale see stars if he didn’t squirm whenever we got too close,” Seraphina sighed. “One minute, I think he’s ready to tear my clothes off. The next, he’s acting like he took a vow of celibacy.”

“Maybe he likes courting you. Odd, but not a surprise from him,” Shadowheart commented.

“Wizards can be weird like that,” Karlach nodded.

“You know, he has bedded a goddess. Maybe tonight’s your chance to see if his talk matches his talent,” the half-elf said.

Seraphina looked over at Gale again. He laughed at something Rolan said, and she felt her face go hot. That stupid wizard had her wrapped around his finger.

“You know, he called me an angel today. Mid-battle,” Seraphina said.

“Well, go for it, sister!” Karlach patted Seraphina on the shoulder and the sorcerer choked on the wine that she hadn’t swallowed from the force of the contact.

Seraphina nodded at Karlach and Shadowheart and she darted straight for Gale. He immediately met her eyes. Rolan noticed Gale’s sudden distraction and looked for the source, smiling at Seraphina.

“Well, if it isn’t the hero,” Rolan said. Everything he said felt like it was being said with condescension and she couldn’t tell if he was saying this positively or not.

“Hello Seraphina,” Gale sighed happily. She could tell he had drunk quite a bit of wine.

“How is the night going for you two?” Seraphina asked merrily, her heart already racing as she grinned at Gale.

“Just discussing the art of illusory magic. I take you aren’t well-practiced in it since you prefer…more brutish magic,” Rolan commented.

Seraphina arched an eyebrow. “What purpose does it serve?” she asked.

“Whatever your mind can think of. Illusory magic is all about your imagination,” Gale added. “That’s the beauty of it. To make real, no matter how briefly, the deepest and wildest images that’ve only existed in our imaginations.”

Seraphina nodded eagerly. She looked at the ground between all their feet. She narrowed her eyes, breathed in, and held her breath. The sounds of the party faded, and she could only hear and feel the quiet, familiar hum of the Weave. She pulled at the strands of the Weave and commanded them to her will and – a puppy materialized.

The small brown puppy barked.

“I don’t dabble in illusions too often, but I think I can start appreciating them,” Seraphina smiled at the dog.

“Oh, Rolan, you’re getting better at that!” came Lia’s voice from behind them.

Rolan attempted to hide a scowl.

“Yes, I forget sometimes how easily magic comes to you sorcerers. It must be nice that your ancestor secured that for your bloodline,” he sneered.

Seraphina bristled. Had Rolan learned of her family name or was this typical sorcerer disdain from a wizard?

“Yes, it is quite nice. The power one gets from magic flowing through their very veins cannot be understated,” she replied.

“Rolan, I’d love to continue this discussion, but I will need to step away with our new illusionist,” Gale interjected. Rolan nodded at them, and the puppy vanished as Seraphina turned her focus to Gale as the tiefling wizard joined his siblings.

“I was hoping you’d come over,” Gale smiled.

“I had to. How could I resist spending tonight with you?” she hooked her arm around his and she felt a surge of pride as she watched him blush. She slowly started walking away from the crowd and towards his tent.

“Yes, well, it’s quite a beautiful night. I used to spend many nights like these with Tara,” Gale sighed wistfully. “Oh, I know she’d be quite proud of what we did today.”

“Your tressym? Tell me more about her.”

Gale moved to sit at the entrance of his tent and Seraphina joined him. The party was a few feet away now and they were the only ones on this side of camp.

“No, not my tressym. She’s a tressym and she’s been quite the companion. She helped me find treatment for the orb and went out to find magical items for me. She saved my life,” Gale replied, his voice soft.

“I would love to meet her. I must share my appreciation for her efforts to keep you alive,” Seraphina said, nudging his knee with her own.

“You remind me of her somewhat. There’s a steeliness to you. You show such bravery and perseverance in the face of such dire odds. I suppose that’s only natural after what you all that you survived and accomplished in Avernus.”

“Believe it or not, this doesn’t feel too different,” Seraphina laughed. “Danger lurking around every corner. Deception and playing with espionage. Infighting and trying to play nice over whatever dinner we threw together. And oh gods, we smelt horrible.”

They both chuckled.

“You’re quite right that there’s not much difference there. You, my friend, haven’t been near a fresh spring in a tenday or more. Not that I don’t appreciate your musk. I actually rather like it,” Gale said. Seraphina’s eyebrows lifted and she blushed as he quickly averted his eyes towards the party.

“Once again, we’ve reached a point where it would be wiser for me to stop babbling,” Gale uttered as he took a sip from his goblet. Seraphina reached out and set her hand on top of his other one that was laying on the rug. She leaned in closer to him and he turned back to look at her, his gaze going from her eyes and falling to her lips.

“I like hearing you talk. Go on. What else do you like about me?” Seraphina smirked.

Gale sighed, his brown eyes trailing up to return to her own orange ones.

“Were I to recite that list, I fear we’d still be here at dusk tomorrow,” he whispered.

“Being with you ‘til dusk sounds like an incredible way to spend my night,” she replied.

Seraphina once again felt the surge of confidence that had become familiar to her in moments like this with Gale. Moments when they were alone, and she thought that this awkward dance could finally end, and they could be honest with each other. Moments like this when their connection made her heart feel alive and real again. Unless she had it all wrong and he didn’t feel the same way.

“Seraphina…” Gale murmured.

He was so close.

She closed her eyes, and she leaned in. Each half-second felt like it lasted hours as she waited to feel his lips against hers. But then, she felt a pressure on her shoulder. She opened her eyes and Gale had halted her with his hand.

She wanted to be sucked into Avernus. Anything other than being here, right now, after trying to kiss him and being rejected.

“I’m sorry!” she exclaimed, quickly scooting away. “Oh gods, I’m so sorry.”

“Please, don’t apologize,” Gale said quickly. “You only did what I’ve spent the last few tendays wishing I could.”

She set down her goblet and covered her face with her hands.

“Seraphina, no,” Gale put down his own wine and grabbed her hands. She gulped as she looked up at him.

“I don’t want you to feel any guilt or sadness on my account. Please believe me when I say that…that you have enchanted me. Just being close to you is nearly enough to drive me to madness. I wish that circ*mstances could be different, but…my condition is volatile. I can’t risk the lives of thousands of people, no matter how much I want you,” Gale babbled, squeezing her hands. “Even holding your hands like this is a risk, but I’m taking what I can get.”

Seraphina looked at the lines that the orb had left on his face. She was angry at the pure unfairness of it all, like a child, but who was there for her to be angry at? Gale had admitted that going after the magic that resulted in the orb was his own folly, but she couldn’t harden her heart to him.

“I understand,” she whispered.

What a sick twist of fate. Was this the bidding of Lady Luck? That, after having her heart shattered, while in the midst of yet another dangerous journey, she should meet someone as fantastic as Gale only for it to be impossible for them to be together? What kind of luck was that?

“This is a night of celebration. Please, go indulge – dance, sing, drink. My heart will be lighter to see you enjoying yourself,” Gale smiled, but it did not reach his eyes. “Even if it’s in the company of someone else.”

Seraphina raised an eyebrow. He sighed as he pulled his hands away to his lap.

“I know that Astarion makes you happy and I’m quite sure he would make for much better company tonight.”

He knew. So Karlach wasn’t the only who had noticed a change in her dynamic with Astarion. sh*t. Maybe they all knew. Maybe they heard the two of them that night in the woods.

“I care about you, Gale. More than I’ve cared about anyone in a long time. I really hope you know that,” Seraphina said as she grabbed her goblet.

“The feeling is mutual,” Gale replied as he stood. He reached down and held his hand out to her. She took it and as he pulled her to her feet, over her shoulder, she saw Astarion looking at them. His eyes were narrowed, and she swore she saw him smirk before he turned to look at Alfira and Lakrissa, who were still standing with him.

“Have a good night,” Gale said. He squeezed her hand once more before he walked away, back towards Rolan, Lia, and Cal. Seraphina sighed watching him walk away. She didn’t want to give up hope on what she felt with Gale. Halsin had said that, with their lack of symptoms, they likely weren’t going to transform soon. The mysterious dream visitor was allegedly preventing them from turning into mind flayers. There was time for them to figure something out.

There had to be.

Chapter 8: Eyes Always Seeking


Seraphina spends the night of the party with Astarion and does some introspection.

Chapter Text


The sorcerer turned her head. Alfira was hopping and waving her hand at her.

Oh gods she thought as she sipped her wine and walked over towards her, Lakrissa, and Astarion. She enjoyed Alfira, but being summoned over near Astarion’s tent right after speaking with Gale so honestly made her stomach churn. She didn’t know if it would be possible to have such an open conversation with Astarion and get a sense of how he felt about what this was between them.

“Hello, loves. Do you mind if I steal him for a bit?” Seraphina asked.

“Go ahead but promise me you’ll help me with the song I’m writing about you!” Alfira exclaimed.

“Write a song about our people, Alfira. But yes, I’ll come help you soon,” Seraphina smiled, squeezing Alfira’s arm as Lakrissa dragged her away.

“My savior,” Astarion sighed dramatically, looping an arm around her waist and yanking her close, their bodies pressed against each other. “I thought you were going to let me perish under the weight of all this praise and adoration.”

“Could never let that happen.”

He took a sip of his wine and leaned in close, his lips brushing her ear.

“It would be such an unsatisfying way to die. I’d much prefer a little death with you tonight,” he whispered.

“Is that right?”

“Yes. Isn’t that what you want? Or am I the delusional one for thinking of our last night together ceaselessly?” His hand on her waist began to stroke up and down her torso, his fingers brushing against the side of her breast.

Seraphina giggled and pressed her forehead to his chest.

“No. I’ve thought about it too,” she confessed. For a moment, he didn’t respond. She heard a quiet clink as he sat down his glass and his other hand pushed up against her chin, forcing her eyes up. He was smirking down at her.

“Then let’s get out of our heads and experience each other’s full portfolio of talents again,” he purred. “Though honestly, I was beginning to get worried the wizard had swooped in and stolen your affections for the night.”

“Worried? And why would that be?”

“I’d prefer for him to continue sticking his nose in books rather than between your legs. I quite like that spot,” Astarion said, his thumb gliding along the edges of her lips.

“Do you now?” she teased.

“Yes. Now, you will come to my bed tonight, won’t you?” Astarion asked directly.

“Hmm…maybe. I don’t think I’ve made my mind up yet about where I’ll spend my night,” Seraphina hummed, twisting her lips as if she was in deep in thought.

“Ah, you need to be seduced. Let me see,” Astarion pulled away from her and straightened his posture, pushing his shoulders back. “All these accolades from the refugees are nothing compared to the sound of my name cried from your lips.”

Seraphina sputtered and placed a hand over her mouth to stifle her giggles.

“You can do better than that,” she said, raising an eyebrow and straightening her lips in mock disapproval. Astarion smirked at the challenge.

“Your perfect body is the embodiment of temptation. Tymora herself must have made you just to ruin me,” he orated dramatically.

“You’re actually quite silly, Astarion,” she laughed.

“Still not good enough? Then how about three words? Everyone’s favorite,” Astarion’s smirk slowly fell.

“I love you.”

Seraphina’s chest tightened. The world was spinning, but not from the wine. She hadn’t heard those words from someone who wasn’t her family in months. What was she doing? In all the lovers she’d had, she’d never been with someone like Astarion. He was brash, selfish, and morally bankrupt. Her attempts to temper his urges towards power and bloodlust and his efforts to pull her away from altruism and modesty had become a tug-of-war.

How was she supposed to reconcile that harsh reality with how he made her laugh and the ways he made her heart race, like right now? Or with all the instances so far that he’d saved her life in combat? Or the connection she felt when they talked and he let her in, even the smallest bit? He reminded somewhat her of Awe, the ice mage who had been a whirlwind of a distraction from Vadan a few months ago. Maybe it was time to admit she had a type – people she definitely shouldn’t be with.

She snapped out of it and met Astarion’s concerned gaze, probably wondering if he’d taken it too far.

Seraphina smiled to hide her unease.

“Having fun, are you?”

A gentle smile spread on his face.

“It’s hard not to with you,” Astarion said softly.

Her heart soared.

“I’ll find you later,” Seraphina whispered. She turned on her heel before he could respond and let her feet carry her over to Alfira, Lakrissa, Cal, and Zevlor. She let the children swing around her in dance. She let Alfira sing, sing, and sing.

Anything to keep from hearing Astarion’s beautiful lie over and over again in her head.

x x x

When the chatter died down, the bottles of wine ran dry, and the campfire began to turn to embers, Seraphina felt anything but tired. Their guests in camp laid out their bedrolls and the members of their party began to retreat to their tents. The cleric was idly kneeling by her tent, as if she was soon going to retire to bed soon, when she made eye contact with Astarion. He winked at her and crooked his finger, urging her to come over, as he crawled inside of his own tent.

She quickly did a scan of camp and all the tired eyes around her had a singular focus that was not at all where she was going to spend her night. Gale had turned in some time ago.

Seraphina quickly and, as discreetly as possible, scrambled across camp and slipped into Astarion’s tent. Save for two candles providing a small halo of light, it was incredibly dark inside. The earthy, musky scent of camp was replaced by the subtle perfume of bergamot and brandy – Astarion’s scent that she had come to enjoy.

The one that she sought out was lying on his bedroll, propped up on his elbows, his back surrounded by a semicircle of plush pillows, only wearing his pants with the pearlescent skin of his sculpted torso and defined arms bathed in dim golden light. Her eyes traced the muscles of his abdomen up to his wide chest, to his pouty lips, and finally landing on his crimson eyes, half-lidded and unabashedly hungry – in more ways than one.

“There you are,” Astarion said. Seraphina smiled at him as she clasped the tent flaps shut.

“Get over here. I’ve been waiting all night,” he continued, sitting up and grabbing her hips. He pulled the tiefling into his lap, squeezing her ass as she straddled him.

“You think I haven’t been?” she said as her hands traced a path from his neck, over his chest, and down his front. One of his hands grabbed her hair and pulled her lips down to his, Astarion grunting in satisfaction as Seraphina rolled her hips.

“You seemed content with spending the rest of the night singing songs around the campfire. You could’ve been in here hours ago singing my name instead,” Astarion breathed as he began to kiss down her neck. He stopped in the crook of her neck and inhaled deeply, letting out a sigh as he exhaled.

“Feed,” Seraphina said, one hand cupping the back of his head and the other beginning to unlace his trousers. He wiggled slightly while she pulled down his pants just enough to free his half-hard length. Once he settled, Astarion licked over Seraphina’s pulse point before he bit down.

Seraphina moaned as the familiar mix of pain and pleasure filled her as he began to drink. She spit into her hand before reaching down and beginning to slowly stroke his co*ck, forcing a gurgled moan out of Astarion as he continued to feed. Hearing the sweet sound from him was enough to make her clench around nothing, desperation for him to be inside her already starting to sink in.

She moved her hand faster, and his hips began to rock, pumping into her hand. He pulled away from her neck with a gasp, licking and kissing over the bite marks.

“I can smell you, you know,” Astarion whispered, his hand moving from her ass to cup her sex. Seraphina whined as the ball of his hand rubbed her cl*t through her pants.

“I can smell how badly you want it,” he went on, his head dipping down to her chest. His tongue licked over the ridges and bumps that went across her collarbone and between her breasts. He hissed and his hips jerked as she continued stroking him. Astarion grabbed her hand, forcing her to stop, before he pulled her shirt from her trousers, peeling it off her skin, and tossing it somewhere in the tent before diving back to her chest, his lips now firmly suckling one of her nipples while one hand groped at her other breast.

“I don’t want it. I want you,” Seraphina moaned, throwing her head back.

“They’re one in the same, darling.”

She leaned away from him and Astarion continued sucking at her breast, arching his back until he finally let go with a ‘pop.’ She smiled devilishly at him as she crawled backwards on her knees before settling on her stomach between his legs. He quirked an eyebrow at her.

Seraphina said nothing as she reached out and gently gripped the base of his co*ck. He let out a small breath and his eyes followed her every movement. She leaned forward, her eyes fixed on his, as she slowly licked the underside of his shaft from base to tip, a hiss escaping from his lips again.

Her tongue swirled around his tip, licking through the slit, before going down the side and licking another long stripe. Astarion’s breaths turned into pants as Seraphina’s teasing went on, licking and swirling her tongue but never closing her lips around his co*ck.

“Seraphina, you beautiful minx,” Astarion panted, his hands tangling in her hair. She smirked at him before she opened her mouth wide and took his co*ck into her mouth. He moaned as she began to move, but then she saw a flash of mischief in his eyes. He smirked at her now as he flipped his hands, palms up, and his fingers wrapped around the base of her horns.

Carefully, Astarion began to move her head up and down his co*ck, his eyes trained on hers. She let out a moan as he pulled her all the way down, the tip of him nearly reaching the back of her throat. She let her neck go limp, fully giving him control.

“Darling, your mouth…ah,” Astarion’s eyebrows furrowed, and his face twisted in pleasure, his mouth falling open as he continued to move her head, now thrusting into her mouth to meet her halfway.

Seraphina whined, all the sounds from him making her wetter. He thrusted one final time, making her gag. Slowly, he pulled out of her mouth, his hands falling from her horns to grab her waist, pulling her up into his lap.

“You sweet thing,” Astarion breathed, cupping her face and kissing her. His passion and fervor left her panting and moaning into his mouth, as he moved her legs to remove her pants and smallclothes, leaving her bare in his lap. A finger dipped into her folds, making Seraphina gasp as he carefully stroked around her hole and cl*t.

“Astarion,” Seraphina moaned.

“What is it, darling?”

“Please put it in. Give me something, anything.”


“There are people sleeping ou –”

“I don’t care.”

One finger slid in. His thumb started circling her cl*t. The finger, agonizingly slowly, pumping in and out.

“If you want more, say it louder,” Astarion growled, kissing and sucking at her neck.

Seraphina’s head was fuzzy, her panting and whining already too loud as she desperately grasped at Astarion’s shoulders. She was too far gone with her inhibitions lowered, courtesy of the wine. She tilted her head back and moaned loudly.


A second finger entered her. She looked at him, only to see a wicked grin. He wound her up as easily as he picked a lock.

“I didn’t expect you to do it, but you keep surprising me,” Astarion nuzzled her neck as she started to ride his hand. “May I?”


His teeth sunk into her. His fingers moved faster; the rhythm set by her moans. Whenever she bit back a moan or a whine, his movements would cease. When she cried out his name, surely loud enough that people sleeping close to Astarion’s tent would hear, he would reward her with quicker, deeper strokes.

In this moment, pleasure hummed through Seraphina’s body as much as magic did. When she came undone on Astarion’s fingers, he unlatched his mouth from her, licked her blood from his lips, and kissed her. She could taste the iron of her blood, but all she could think of was how she never wanted this to end.

He flipped them over, putting her head into the pile of pillows, before turning her pliant body over onto her stomach, his hands pulling her onto her knees and elbows. She was still whining from reaching her peak as he removed his pants and she felt his hands return to her hips, stroking and squeezing at the skin, still bruised and battered from the battle.

Seraphina gasped as Astarion’s cold, wet tongue licked from her cl*t to her hole. She arched her back and pushed back onto his face as he continued to lap, suck, and kiss at her core. His tongue f*cked her in a cycle that made her see stars – circling her cl*t until she was close to her climax, only to flit away to stroke at her walls and then back again.

His reciprocal moans sent vibrations through her core that finally tipped her over the edge. She grinded against his face as she rode out her climax, Astarion’s grip on her hips keeping her up in the air as her legs weakened.

“Please f*ck me. Gods, I need it,” Seraphina moaned. She felt Astarion pull away and she could hear the smug grin on his face when he spoke.

“Since you asked so nicely.”

He pushed himself inside her and the sounds of their skin and moans filled the tent. Seraphina clutched at the pillows, holding on to anything to keep herself up against the force of Astarion’s thrusts. She tilted her head slightly to look back at him and her whining paused.

She saw it again. The look on Astarion’s face that she had only glimpsed last time. His eyes were glazed over and unfocused, as if he was looking at her without really seeing or thinking about her or this moment at all.

“Astarion,” Seraphina whispered breathlessly.

He blinked and it was like he came back to himself as his thrusts slowed.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Astarion panted.

Seraphina gently pushed him away and turned onto her back. She spread her legs and reached for him, pulling him on top of her. His sweat-slick chest pressed against hers, the undead cold of his body cooling the heat radiating off her. He looked perplexed as she wrapped her legs around his hips, not pushing him inside quite yet, while her hands softly carded through his hair. It took a few moments, but eventually he sighed, closing his eyes, as her fingers massaged his scalp, traced over the points of his ears, and settled on his cheeks.

Seraphina gazed into his eyes, trying to decipher what secrets he held in that beautiful head of his. She looked at the creases that framed his crimson eyes, the pinkness of his lips courtesy of her blood coursing through him.

She felt her heart flutter and then, she knew for sure.

She was falling.

This vampire had her wrapped around his finger. Just as the wizard did. What a curse it was to have a heart that sought love as freely and carelessly as hers did.

“Do you want this?” Astarion murmured.

“Yes. Do you –”

Astarion covered her mouth with his hand, thrusting back inside her and dipping his face to her neck. His thrusts were merciless and determined. Each one pushed a wanton moan out of her, making her clench around his co*ck, and with each clench, he responded with a groan, creating a sinful symphony. When a wave of pleasure washed over both of them, Seraphina didn’t leave his tent. He didn’t ask her to. Instead, he put out the candles and laid down next to her.

Their skin wasn’t touching, but she could still feel the ghost of his hands all over her. She wanted to be close to him. She could touch him if she reached out her hand, but it was like Astarion was leagues away. She wanted to open her heart to him.

But she could already tell that he wasn’t ready to do the same.

Chapter 9: Faith


Danger forces Seraphina to have a difficult discussion about her faith with Gale.

Chapter Text

After speaking with Halsin about their options for getting to Moonrise Towers, the party began making its way to the mountain pass. Much to the chagrin of Shadowheart and Astarion, Seraphina intended to stick by her promise to Lae’zel to seek the other githyanki in the area to locate the crèche and, if the cure for their tadpoles couldn’t be found there, at least they would already be en route to Moonrise.

“So, Wyll, you truly can’t think of any nobility in Baldur’s Gate who may know of a way to remove mind flayer tadpoles? Astarion asked.

He was baiting Wyll and Seraphina hoped that the warlock would realize this and ignore the question, but that would be far too much to ask for.

“No, Astarion. I haven’t even stepped foot inside of the city I call home in seven years,” Wyll said.

“What a shame. I’d hoped a high birth would bring some kind of useful, powerful connections,” Astarion pouted. “Perhaps your father knows someone.”

“Astarion,” Gale said pointedly. “Wyll just found out a mere sunrise ago that his father is in extreme danger. Is sensitivity during this time too difficult of an ask?”

“I’m simply asking the questions we should all be curious about!” Astarion pleaded, his voice pitched higher.

Seraphina groaned. She stared at the ground as she walked at the back of the group. Yesterday had been tiring attempting to cross the Risen Road. After fighting an overwhelming number of gnolls and saving people from burning buildings, Wyll was unable to keep traveling after learning that his father had been kidnapped.

Putting on his bravest face, Wyll said that morning that they could waste no more time and had to keep traveling, no matter how he was feeling. The typical bickering, combined with the pure exhaustion from combat yesterday, was making Seraphina’s patience run thin.

“Do you know of any powerful vampire lords who could remove an illithid tadpole, Astarion?” Shadowheart chimed in. Seraphina chose to ignore the rest of the conversation.

“I am beginning to appreciate the remarkable patience that you possess,” Halsin said, slowing his pace to walk next to her.

“I grew up with an overflowing home, so I’m used to it,” she shrugged.

Seraphina halted in her tracks as a gigantic shadow entered her peripheral vision. The huge shape soon covered her entirely. Halsin followed her gaze, and he looked up.

“Oak Father preserve us,” he gasped.

Tas’ki. This petty arguing is a wasteful use of breath. Astarion, you could make yourself useful and scout –” Lae’zel suddenly stopped speaking.

The shadow and the loud blasts of wind from flapping wings made Seraphina’s blood run cold as she looked up to see the underbelly of a red dragon.

“That thing is huge. We better try to stay out of its way,” Karlach said.

“We cannot! That’s a kith’rak. My people are near!” Lae’zel exclaimed. She turned and looked at Seraphina, her eyes blazing.

“Will the dragon be…friendly?” Seraphina asked.

“Red dragons follow the will of the githyanki. No harm will come to any of you,” Lae’zel said firmly.

Seraphina looked up at the dragon and watched as it slowed, landing somewhere beyond the curve in the road.

“Lead on, Lae’zel,” Seraphina nodded. The warrior quickly ran up the road, leaving the rest of the group behind.

“Seraphina, this is absurd. The gith will slaughter us,” Shadowheart hissed.

“Or we could kill them first,” Astarion commented.

“Only if that’s necessary,” Seraphina glared at Astarion. “The githyanki could be our only hope of removing these tadpoles. Let’s at least try and see if they can be helpful. No aggression.”

Astarion groaned.

“What’s the worst that could happen?” Seraphina said with a smile.

The worst that could happen quickly unfolded. Kith’rak Voss condemned Lae’zel to death before flying off on his red dragon. The githyanki patrol had the party at the end of its rope.

Gale was downed almost immediately, dragged behind a rock by Karlach to control his bleeding alone.

Wyll had been disarmed and quickly scrambled to higher ground, relying solely on eldritch blasts while back-to-back with Astarion as the vampire attempted to pick off a few of the githyanki warriors with his bow. The pale elf had been hit with an arrow that prevented him from healing and he was going to collapse soon.

Lae’zel was holding out well enough, but she was taking serious injuries as Halsin, as a bear, tried to support her. Shadowheart and Karlach had been pinned against a wall.

Seraphina fell to the ground as another githyanki struck her in the head with the pommel of his sword. Her head swam as she quickly scrambled back on her elbows while the gith sneered at her, raising his sword high above his head.

Fulgor!” Seraphina chanted desperately, reaching out and grabbing the gith’s leg. The shocking grasp electrocuted the warrior, and he yelped in shock. While the lightning coursed through him, she swung her quarterstaff at his head, a resounding crack signaling his death.

Seraphina whimpered in pain as she clutched at the gash across her chest. She looked across the scene and her mind churned, trying to find the best way to get her people out of this. All the githyanki were relatively close to each other. The party was in a semi-circle as the gith patrol pushed out towards them…

She could do this.

“Lae’zel, Halsin, get back!” Seraphina screamed. Lae’zel took another swing at one of her kin before jumping backwards. Halsin roared as he ran away from the gith. The sorcerer quickly scanned the field again.

The spacing was right. Karlach and Shadowheart would survive some mild singeing. This was the best option.

Ardē!” Seraphina shouted.

Too many things happened at once. The fireball rained down on the githyanki, the heat from the inferno nearly overwhelming. Seraphina felt the familiar hum of a wild magic surge. She could hear the agonizing screams of the githyanki being burnt alive.

And then she felt the flames. The fire danced across her body, and she could feel it melting her skin. Her vision became consumed by the golden and orange light of blazing fire. Her ears filled with the sounds of her own screams.


x x x

For a few moments, that’s all there was – nothing. No flames. No screams. No unlikely friends. No tadpoles.

She had encountered this darkness once before.

To describe it as the most intense darkness and the quietest silence she’d ever experienced felt like an understatement. She didn’t feel anything. She could not feel her fingers or toes or even her magic. She did not feel confusion, happiness, or sadness. She simply was.

And then came a voice, gentle and melodic.

It is not your time.

My lady?

Rise, my child.

Tymora, I’m ready to join you.

Not yet, my child. Go forth and become my Chosen.

Seraphina suddenly felt an overwhelming wave of peace and the familiar divine radiance of her goddess. Then, a pulling sensation, as if a rope was tied around her middle and her essence was being tugged somewhere.

“I strike thy name from the archives.”

The pulling turned into a sharp yank and the nothingness became everything again.

Seraphina gasped and she was back in her body. Her senses became overwhelmed – the scent of the campfire, the feeling of the dirt beneath her, the sounds of Scratch barking and the hooting of the owlbear cub, the earthy taste of a healing potion on her tongue.

Her eyes opened and she winced at the blinding sunlight. She rapidly blinked and the worried faces of her companions swam into focus.

“Withers, you talented bag of bones! You’re incredible!” Karlach.

“The Oak Father preserves her spirit today.” Halsin.

“Oh, thank the gods.” Wyll.

“Get her out of the dirt! Let’s get her onto a bedroll.” Gale.

“She’s still hurt. I’ll get a few more potions.” Shadowheart.

“Grab her legs, Astarion.” Lae’zel.

“I don’t need assistance carrying her.” Astarion.

Seraphina experimentally wiggled her fingers. She felt like she was floating, as if her spirit was still returning to her body, altogether separate from the feeling of being tucked into Astarion’s chest, his arms encasing her and carrying her across camp. Astarion shuffled into her tent, setting her down on her bedroll.

“What happened?” she asked hoarsely.

Astarion kneeled over her. He smirked, but his eyes were wide and round in concern. He reached down, his cold fingertips gently pushing strands of hair out of her face. He sighed and she saw his shoulders relax.

“You did another one of your typical hero acts. You killed those barbaric gith with that fireball of yours, but you also cast it on yourself,” Astarion replied slowly, his typical confidence and swagger fading as he spoke. “It was…quite a sight.” He frowned, as if he could no longer continue to hide behind his faux nonchalance.

The tent flaps opened and Shadowheart and Gale entered, the wizard holding various scrolls, potions, and ingredients. Gale’s concerned face softened as soon as he looked at the sorcerer.

“Seraphina. Gods, it’s good to see your eyes again,” he breathed.

“Set those down and get out. Both of you,” Shadowheart commanded. Gale glared at Shadowheart as he put down everything that he was carrying. One of his hands cupped Seraphina’s face, gently stroking her cheekbone.

“I’ll be back. I promise,” Gale whispered. Astarion rolled his eyes and, after more shooing from Shadowheart, both men left.

Shadowheart immediately went to work, casting lesser restoration.

“Is everyone okay?” Seraphina asked weakly.

“Yes. Physically at least.”


“Well, I think we all thought Gale and Astarion were going to go mad,” Shadowheart huffed, shaking her head. “We’ve never seen them like that.”

Seraphina froze.

“They actually didn’t bicker for once because they were so focused on getting you to Withers as soon as possible,” Shadowheart continued.

“Maybe I should die more often if it gets them to work together peacefully,” Seraphina laughed weakly. The half-elf chuckled in response.

“Please don’t. I don’t think those two would survive another incident like this,” Shadowheart placed a waterskin to the tiefling’s lips and urged her to drink. “I’m not sure what spell you’ve cast on them, but they seem properly enthralled.”

Seraphina shook her head. She let Shadowheart continue working in silence.

“You saved us out there,” the half-elf murmured.

“I did what I had to,” Seraphina responded.

Shadowheart nodded, lifting her hands away.

“Please let me know if you need anything. We…we can’t afford to lose you,” Shadowheart said, her voice soft. She opened her mouth as if she wanted to say more, but then she quickly closed it, gave Seraphina a thin smile, and left the tent.

Rest called to her. At some point, she lazily blinked awake for a few moments. In her half-awake state, she heard someone hiss.

“Let her rest! The last thing she needs is fangs at her neck.”

“Do you really think me that monstrous, Shadowheart? Really – wait, you’re not stopping him!”

“He’s taking her food, not using her as food.”

A tanned hand parted the flaps of the tent, followed by Gale’s upper half.

“Seraphina?” he whispered.

She smiled as her eyes struggled to focus on him. She surely looked drunk.

“Hi,” Seraphina said. Gale finally smiled and fully entered the tent, a lightly steaming bowl in hand.

“Hi,” Gale replied, sitting next to her bedroll. “Shadowheart was gracious enough to allow me to personally bring you dinner.”

“I will have to think of a way to thank her,” Seraphina said as she attempted to sit up. Gale quickly assembled her pillows into a small pile behind her and she propped herself up against it. He handed her the bowl and she nearly moaned at the satisfying scent of beef, potatoes, and carrots in the stew.

“You two seem to be on much better terms,” Gale commented.

Seraphina thought back to yesterday. As they settled in for the night, Shadowheart had called Seraphina over to her tent. The half-elf awkwardly said that she needed to share something with her. She wanted to explain why she was afraid of wolves. Shadowheart had shared a childhood memory, one of the few memories she had, of being alone in the woods and saved from a wolf by Sharrans who took her in.

Despite their profound differences in morals and faith, the moment of vulnerability had brought the two clerics closer.

“Yes. I think we are.”

She quickly ate several bites of the food.

“You gave us all quite a fright,” Gale said.

“I haven’t had a surge like that in quite a while. I’m sorry for setting us back on our travel progress.”

Gale huffed an empty laugh.

“That is what you choose to focus on?” he asked incredulously. “You died. I don’t know what progress would even look like for this group without you.”

Gale shook his head.

“I…should’ve been there to support you. I forgot to cast my armor this morning and – ”

“Gale, you can’t blame yourself,”

“Then who should bear the blame? Tymora?”

Seraphina dropped her spoon and set down her bowl immediately.

“In my presence, to my face, you will do no such thing,” she said, her jaw tight.

“Are you not afraid of death?”

“Every spell I cast could be my last. I no longer fear death, Gale,”

“And whose fault is that?” Gale asked. “Why do you persist in your trial, Seraphina?”

“Gale, you know how important this is to me,”

“To what end will you pursue this? You would die in service of a goddess who has tainted the magic that you hold dear and determines your fate as if it’s a simple as the flip of a coin?”

“It is because of Tymora that we’ve survived this long. It is nothing but luck, good fortune, my lady’s grace that all of us don’t have tentacles sprouting from our face,” Seraphina spat. “It was her will that we didn’t all perish in that first battle against the cult that means to enthrall us.”

“It is unfair to you to claim that,” Gale said quickly. “We are all here because of you –your dedication to doing the right thing, your strategic mind, your strong will, your power. We are surviving because of you – you and this…strange artefact.”

“I don’t want to listen to this anymore.”

“You have a choice in this. You could always say no to this test.”

Seraphina’s head snapped up.

“What do you mean?”

“You chose to do this trial, yes?”

Seraphina shifted uncomfortably.

“I was selected by the Smiling Lady for this trial.”

“But you had to accept this trial, yes?”

She nodded slowly.

“And what would happen if you told Tymora that you no longer wish to continue this test?”

Seraphina balked.


Gale’s intense gaze searched her face as she hesitated.

“My lady would turn me away. I would never be accepted in a Tymoran place of worship again,” she answered.

“What would happen to your magic?”

It was as if her mouth and throat was filled with sand.

“I would be connected with the power of the storm again.”

“You would no longer be at the mercy of wild magic,” Gale said.

Seraphina’s vision clouded as tears welled up in her eyes.

“I can’t believe you would suggest this! I am a Hellwhisper, Gale. I have walked in my lady’s light for my entire life. If I stop this trial, I could never return to my family. My soul will wander the Fugue Plane when I die,” her voice cracked.

“Seraphina, you are a remarkable and powerful individual. Any god should be honored if you choose to serve them and act in their name.”

“You talk as if switching faiths is as easy as changing clothes,” Seraphina scoffed. The tears finally came, and her first sob wracked her entire body. She felt Gale’s hand on her shoulder, and she snatched it away from him.

“Gale, completing this trial could redeem my family’s name. This isn’t just about me,” she cried.

“Seraphina, I apologize. I…I’m simply scared for you,” he whispered. “My heart was quite ripped apart today. I know that we have only shared each other’s company for a short time, but…I don’t want to fathom what this journey looks like without you in it.”

“You defied your goddess and look at what happened. I’m horrified that you would suggest I do the same.”

He didn’t respond. She knew that was a low blow and she wanted to stuff the words back into her mouth, but all she saw was red and it was too late to take any of it back.

“Please go,” Seraphina murmured, her hoarse whisper barely audible.

Gale paused, his face crumpling.

“If that is what you wish,” he choked. He stood and left without a word.

Seraphina forced herself to finish eating the stew, all the while bile kept trying to crawl its way up her throat. As she set down the empty bowl, the tent suddenly felt too small. Tiny. Cramped.


With several winces and groans, Seraphina crawled out of her tent, gasping and gulping for air as the cool night blanketed her. The campfire had dulled to embers. Scratch and the owlbear cub were curled up nearly on top of each other next to the to the dying fire. She looked over at Gale’s tent. There wasn’t any light peeking out from the flaps, as there usually was when he stayed up reading.

Camp was quiet.

She looked up at the stars and fell to her knees, slowly breathing.

In. Out. In. Out.

“Does Shadowheart know you’ve left your tent?”

Astarion now stood over her.

“I forgot to ask for permission,” Seraphina shrugged.

“How rebellious of you,” Astarion replied as he sat down next to her.

“I can’t feed you tonight,” she said sharply. She lifted her eyes to look at him and his eyes were narrowed.

“Everyone seems to think that I’m only interested in you for your blood, including you,” he said lowly.

“Astarion –”

“No, you’re absolutely right. You can’t expect anything else from a monster, can you?”

“I’m sorry. I…I have a lot on my mind, but that was rude. I’m sorry.”

Astarion looked at her for a moment, opened his mouth, and shut it again.

“Thank you,” he replied.

She shifted from her knees to her bottom and scooted closer to him.

“Why aren’t you resting?” Seraphina asked.

Astarion averted his gaze to Scratch and the cub. He looked back at her.

“I was waiting for your company to leave so that I could see you,” Astarion finally responded.

Seraphina nodded.

“Well…you can see me,” Seraphina awkwardly looked away from him.

“Yes. I can.”

The silence hung in the air for a moment. She gasped as she felt the chill of Astarion’s touch on her chin. He slowly moved her face to look at him. His gaze had softened, but it was still so intense that it made her shiver. She could feel the heat of his eyes as he stared at her eyes, her scars, her nose, and her lips.

Astarion’s eyes returned to hers and he leaned in. Seraphina sighed as he kissed her. It was soft, unhurried. He didn’t deepen the kiss or push her onto her back or pull her onto his lap. He pulled away and, for once, she didn’t chase after him.

His fingers caressed her cheek before he suddenly pulled away as if he’d been burned.

“I would tell you to try and stay alive, but you don’t have much control over what happens when you cast your magic,” he smirked.

“Please, I can’t discuss this again,” Seraphina groaned.

“Did Gale upset you?” he spat out the wizard’s name as if it pained him to even say it.

“He insulted my goddess. He told me that I should abandon my Trial and ask Tymora to return my storm sorcery,” she replied.

“Is that what you want?” he asked.

Seraphina paused and bit her lip. She didn’t want to die. She didn’t like putting her life and the lives of the people around her at risk with her wild magic.

“It would be an honor to become Tymora’s Chosen. It would restore my family’s legacy in the Tymoran church,” she breathed.

“Yes, that’s all well and good. But is this, this risk, is that what you want?”

She hesitated again.

“I’ve never felt more powerful in my life than these last two years,” she started. She looked at the stars again as she felt Astarion’s eyes on her.

“Yes. That’s what I want.”

“So go after it, darling.”

Chapter 10: Misfortune


Unexpected foes lurk in the Underdark.

Chapter Text


It was everywhere. All around.

The screams were blood-curdling and piercing.

There was as much blood as there was fire.

She remembered how quickly she had to make it across the field to get her downed companions, uttering healing spells as quickly as she sent a sphere of thunder at their enemies. As the only healer they had, the panic and anxiety of trying to keep everyone alive in this Hell ate her alive.

The fire kept raging, only growing larger and larger.



The heat ceased being an aura and she could feel it in her bones. She could smell her skin, hair, and armor melting. All she could hear was her own screams.


Her eyes flew open, and she gasped for air, clutching at her own throat. In the darkness of her tent, she could make out Astarion kneeling over her. She sat up and looked all around.

“Are you…alright?” Astarion asked. His hands awkwardly hovered around her shoulders.

“I…y-yes,” she stammered.

“Darling, I could hear your heartbeat from my tent,” he said.

“I’m fine,” Seraphina said, wrapping her arms around herself. “Thank you for coming to check on me.”

“This isn’t the first time, you know,” Astarion commented. “That I’ve heard you across camp.”

She didn’t respond. She didn’t know what to say.

“I quite prefer it when I’m the cause of your heart racing like that,” Astarion joked. She could see the slightest wilt of his ears when she failed to smile.

“I’m sorry,” Seraphina whispered, wiping at her face that she now realized was wet with tears. “I need to go back to sleep. That’s all.”

Astarion didn’t budge, still staring at her. Her skin was already crawling from her dream, but she could feel it even more so under his scrutiny.

“I’m fine,” she insisted.

“Of course, my sweet. I’ll be in my tent if you want a distraction,” Astarion said.

He left with a nod. She didn’t want him to leave, but she also didn’t know how or if she could ask him to just lay with her and hold her. Asking Astarion to do that would mean making it clear that she had started to have deeper feelings about Astarion than their current unspoken arrangement allowed for.

He’s not interested in that, she thought.

She didn’t go back to sleep either. Her exhaustion made her fumble through the necessary discussion the party had to have the following morning.

Seraphina knew that telling Lae’zel of her decision that the group would be traveling through the Underdark to get to Moonrise Towers wouldn’t go over well. She didn’t feel great about it either. She wasn’t one to break promises, but the incident with the patrol made it clear that going to the githyanki for a cure was far too risky.

They took another day to rest. When the morning came to pack up camp and search what remained of the goblin camp for the entrance to the Underdark, Lae’zel and her tent were gone. Seraphina and the warrior weren’t close on account of Lae’zel’s disgust at Seraphina’s ‘bleeding heart’ and Seraphina’s shock at Lae’zel’s brutal view of the world, but it still saddened the cleric to see that the warrior had actually chosen to leave their party. She had to resist the urge to snap at Shadowheart, who seemed all too pleased about the development.

After spending their morning killing the remaining goblins at the goblin camp, it was a relief to encounter the friendly myconid colony once the party arrived in the Underdark.

While Gale and Wyll traded with the hobgoblin, Karlach and Shadowheart bartered with a halfling woman. Seraphina skipped over to Astarion’s side.

“Hi there,” she grinned.

“Hello, my sweet,” he replied coolly. Seraphina frowned. His greeting lacked any levity and his lips had barely lifted at the corners.

“You seem like you’re in a bad mood. What can I do to help you have a fangtastic day?” she said, elbowing him lightly.

He rolled his eyes.

“You could try never making such a bad joke again,” he said.

“I hope this conversation isn’t draining you too much,” she smirked.

“Thank the gods you’re not a bard.”

Seraphina grunted as she lightly stomped her foot.

“You’re not being very fun today,” she pouted. “What’s going on?”

Astarion looked at her as if she had grown a second head.

“Darling, look around us,” Astarion gestured his hands around them. Seraphina did a spin, taking in the glowing mushrooms, the multicolored and intriguing myconids, and the ginormous space that was the Underdark.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” she said dreamily.

“I’d prefer to be basking in the sun rather than scrambling in the shadows again,” he sniffed. “And we’ve barely been here but for a few moments and you’ve already signed us up to risk our necks in the name of helping a few mushrooms.” Seraphina gnawed at her lip as she tried think of something that could cheer up the sullen vampire when Gale started walking in their direction.

He smiled and waved bashfully at Seraphina, one hand behind his back. Their friendship had been strained since their argument two days ago. Truthfully, they had barely said a word to each other.

“Enjoy whatever lecture the wizard is about to give you. I think my fingers have pockets to empty,” Astarion said, his gaze focusing in on the halfling trader.

“I would prefer it if you didn’t do that,” Seraphina replied.

“Maybe I’ll find something pretty for you,” Astarion winked and stalked away. Seraphina took a deep breath to prepare herself for talking to Gale.

“Seraphina, could I show you something?” Gale asked, stepping closer. She gave him a tight-lipped smile.

“Go for it.”

“Close your eyes.”

She arched an eyebrow.

“Humor me,” he said, the hand of his that she could see slightly trembling.

She sighed and closed her eyes. She felt the familiar warmth of Gale’s hand taking hers and he slightly lifted it. A cold metallic object entered her hand.


Seraphina opened her eyes and looked down to see a gorgeous, pale blue circlet in her hands. A beautiful deep purple gem sat in the middle, surrounded by smaller, pointed pieces of metal in a sunburst pattern.

“Gale, this is beautiful,” she said breathlessly. As she turned it in her hands, she could feel the hum of lightning coursing through the headwear.

Gale exhaled with a chuckle, his face flushing red.

“It’s for you,” he grinned. “If you would like it that is. I know that you’re quite fond of lightning, even though the storm isn’t quite the crux of your magic anymore, and I believe this will pair greatly with your armor. The trader told me this was another invention of Yrre the Sparkstruck, so I immediately thought of you. Of course, I hope you don’t feel obligated to use it if it doesn’t suit your purposes or – ”

“Gale,” Seraphina laughed as she put on the circlet, letting it sit just under her horns. “I love it. Thank you.”

Gale reached up and carefully tucked away a few pieces of her hair. His fingers grazed across her brow and, as his eyes fell to hers, she felt her heart skip a beat. She could see the yearning and adoration in his eyes. She looked down at his slightly parted lips and imagined what it would be like if she could kiss him to get him to stop rambling when he was overthinking.

Gale suddenly snatched his hand away, clearing his throat as he took a half-step back.

“I think your gear will be quite ready to overflow with lightning soon enough,” he said.

“It’s working already. I think I feel a spark between us right now,” she whispered.

Gale’s entire body seemed to relax, though his smile seemed sad.

“Yes. You’re quite right. I feel that too,” he murmured.

“I’m sorry. About what I said the other night,” she blurted. “I shouldn’t have said that to you. It was thoughtless and cruel.”

Gale paused.

“It is nice to hear your apology. Though, you weren’t exactly wrong. I, more than anyone, should be wiser about telling someone to go against the will of their god,” he said. “I simply hope you understand what all comes with being a Chosen. I…I hope that it is your own ambition and not something you seek at the behest of others.”

Seraphina felt her mouth go dry. Of course, this what she wanted. She had already lived a life dedicated to Tymora. Being her Chosen would be the greatest honor she could ever receive. It would mean the world to her family, as a Hellwhisper no less, to serve her goddess in such a way. She had to do it.

“Immortality, power beyond my wildest dreams, and it’s all in service of the Smiling Lady. Why wouldn’t it be what I want?” she asked with a nervous laugh.

Gale gave her a pitiful look.

“The gods demand more than vows when calling followers to the altar, Seraphina. I speak from experience and not from a place of doubt in you or your abilities.”

His words sounded so familiar. He deserved to know why she snapped at him the other day.

“Gale, you should know that you’re not the first person to – ”

“Let’s scram,” Karlach suddenly appeared next to them. “I think Astarion just took that lady’s entire gold pouch.”

“Oh Gods,” Seraphina groaned.

She would tell Gale. Soon.

x x x

Seraphina stood off at the edge of camp as everyone finished eating dinner. She stood shoulder width apart, her arms lifted. With a deep exhale, she sliced through the air.


She took a step forward with her left leg, shifting her weight onto it. She lowered one arm, lifted the other, and took a deep breath. She exhaled as she quickly dragged her right foot to her left, stood up straight, and moved her arms in an upward diagonal arc.


She continued practicing different motions, occasionally getting a result, but not exactly the one she wanted. Spike growth, a stray fire bolt, an acid splash. Nothing new and not what she wanted to see.

She let out a frustrated huff as she stared at the smoldering, acid-covered patch of spikes in the area she was focusing on.

“So, are you actually trying to accomplish something or are you anticipating becoming a dancer if we survive all of this?”

“Yes, Astarion. I’m practicing magic.” She glanced over her shoulder to see that Astarion had seated himself on top of a sturdy mushroom behind her.

“I thought you sorcerers had no need for that.”

“It’s more complicated than that,” Seraphina started. “To learn a new spell, Gale has to read a tome. If I want to learn a new spell, I have to practice until I find the exact movement and focus that casts the spell I want. Gale asks the Weave to do things for him, while I tell it what to do. It’s like when Lae’zel…” Seraphina’s voice faded, and she quickly shook her head. She wasn’t going to let Lae’zel’s absence weigh on her. “It’s like when Lae’zel used to practice a new fighting technique.”

“Hmm,” Astarion said thoughtfully. “So, all that innate magic transfers into…this?” he asked, gesturing at Seraphina as she continued making different, erratic movements with her arms and hands.

“If this is so stupid to you, you’re more than welcome to leave. I would focus better.”

“You look ridiculous and its quite entertaining, so this seems like fine way to spend my evening,” Astarion said with a sip from his goblet.

“Are you still upset because we’re helping the myconids?”

“Why shouldn’t I be? It’s a waste of our time, which, as I should remind you, is extremely precious on account of the cult that has put alien tadpoles in our heads.”

She turned to face him, putting her hands on her hips.

“We help people because we can, and we should. It’s horrifying how selfish you can be.”

“Looking after yourself keeps you alive.”

“Connecting with the beings and world around you keeps you alive.”

“I haven’t had much time for that the last two hundred years in case you’ve forgotten.”

“Astarion – ”

“No one helped me any time when Cazador decided that a fun way to spend the night was torturing me. The oh-so-brave Hellwhisper family has been going on their adventures, being heroes, spreading the good word of Lady Luck, for how many centuries now? Three?”

Seraphina stepped forward, reaching out for him, but Astarion stood and took a step back. He continued speaking.

“I probably saw quite a few of your ancestors when I had to find victims for Cazador. None of them ever took the time to investigate the gothic estate in the Lower City that people disappear into,”

“If I’d known what I know now years ago, I would’ve killed Cazador the first chance I had.”

“You naïve, silly thing. You actually think you stand a chance against Cazador.”

Seraphina nodded her head without pause.

“Of course,” she started.

At the same time as she said her next words, Astarion mockingly mouthed the same ones.

“Luck is on my side.”

“Of course. Hells, you’re almost as bad as Wyll,” he said with a scoff, rolling his eyes.

“Astarion, I can’t change the past. What I can do is help you kill Cazador and figure out your future.”

He paused. He stared at her with the same apprehension of a starving animal being offered food.

“Help me kill Cazador?”

“I mean, that’s why you’re reading that book, right? You want to kill him. And I’ll help you. I’ll go with you to the city to kill him. I swear that before my goddess, on my life,” Seraphina continued. She could feel her heartbeat pulsing in her ears. She meant every word and she was desperate for him to believe her.

Astarion stared at her for a moment longer.

“You don’t have to believe me, but I’ve, uh, I’ve handled quite worse,” Seraphina said. She hadn’t told him yet but, in truth, the prospect of a vampire lord was much less daunting after her experience a few months ago.

“You’re…sweet,” he replied. “Have fun with your magic. I’ll be searching for a meal.”

“Thanks. Be careful,” Seraphina replied. Astarion walked away from camp, disappearing into the darkness beyond the illuminated mushrooms. This wasn’t the last time they would have this conversation, so she was fine with him leaving.

Someone cleared their throat.

“I hope this seat isn’t taken,” Gale said shyly, gesturing at the now empty mushroom. She wasn’t sure whether it was Gale’s blush, his endearing smile, or his eyes that looked at her as if she was the best thing he’d ever seen, but Gale’s very presence gave her butterflies.

“It’s open if you can be less of a nuisance than my last audience,” she teased.

“I swear to be the most respectful spectator,” Gale smiled as he sat on the mushroom.

Seraphina turned back to her work area. Anxiety made her hands shake. Gods, she didn’t want to make a fool of herself in front of him. She took another deep breath and closed her eyes, holding her hands together in front of her. She repeated her process, creating plant growth on top of the spike growth, healed herself and Gale, summoned a magma mephit that Gale swiftly eliminated, but still not a result she wanted.

“Seraphina, I hope it’s not rude for me to ask you a question,” Gale spoke up. “I haven’t witnessed a sorcerer practice magic before, so my curiosity is quite peaked.”

“Ask away,” she said as gently as possible, trying to mask her growing frustration.

“Is there a certain result you are hoping for?” he asked.

“Yes. I used to be able to call lightning to any place I desired. Before my trial, I mean. I think I can do it again if I keep trying.”

“Would you be amenable to assistance?”

“You are a good teacher. I would be,” she said as she brought her hands back together.

She heard Gale stand, followed by the crunch of the ground, before she felt the warmth of his body as he stopped next to her. Her breath caught in her lungs.

“Close your eyes,” he instructed. His tone, authoritative and direct, sent a hot shiver down her spine that settled in her core.

Seraphina closed her eyes, choosing to lean into Gale’s voice rather than make a snarky comment about how she already does that.

“Listen to the world around you.”

Wyll was calling to Scratch, praising the dog as they played fetch. Karlach and Shadowheart were asking Halsin dozens of questions, all three seated round the campfire. There were creaks and bangs and other sounds that echoed around the chasm they had set up camp, but other than that, nothing.

“Do you remember what it felt like to connect with a tempest?” Gale asked.

Seraphina opened her mouth to answer.

“Don’t speak,” Gale said.

She closed her mouth immediately and tried to ignore how heated her body was becoming listening to him. She could remember. How could she forget? Harnessing the power of a howling gale at her fingers was what she knew best. She used to command lightning and control the weather around her. She was born to manipulate the storm. She could never forget it.

“Connect to it. Call to it.”

The sharp shock of lightning connecting with her as she forced it to strike. The pleasant relationship as it traveled through her fingertips. She could almost feel it even though it was far away from where she was in the Underdark. She could feel that hum just beneath her skin.

With a grunt, she opened her eyes, her arms flew open in a straight line, and she felt the power surge through her as a long, wide bolt of lightning left her hands in a straight line. Seraphina huffed out a laugh before beginning to fully chuckle as Gale beamed at her.

He clapped. “I take it that’s what you were hoping for?”

“Yes! Exactly!” Seraphina gushed. “Gods, that was – ”


Gale and Seraphina quickly tuned on their heels at the sound of Shadowheart’s yelp and gasps escaped from both as instinct kicked in. Three figures in black cloaks were at the campfire. Shadowheart was stumbling away, blood trailing from a gash in her arm. Another had his dagger raised above Wyll, whose hands were already sparking red with the beginning of an eldritch blast.

Flagra!” Shadowheart shouted, launching a guiding bolt at the cloaked person standing closer to her. Halsin wild shaped into a bear, launching himself at the person attacking Shadowheart. Karlach dodged the stab of the figure who pointed his dagger at her.

As quickly as time seemed to go faster, it suddenly slowed as Seraphina felt a hand wrap around one of her horns and yank.

“In Beshaba’s name,” hissed a voice into her ear.

As the dagger began to slice into the side of her neck, she felt an overwhelming tide of energy flow through her right along with the hot pain. She could feel it – her body calling to the storm.

The person behind her screeched, their hands falling away from her as lightning struck them.


Seraphina felt the blast of thunderous force all around her, but she was unmoved. Gale’s hands clutched her arms and yanked her body forward as she struggled to move her trembling legs.

Think. She commanded herself. Seraphina straightened and looked at the figure that had been thrown by Gale’s thunderwave, whose cloak had fallen, revealing a bald elven man. She watched her blood drip off his dagger.

He stood, snarling, and began to run towards Seraphina and Gale. As soon as his sprint began, Seraphina prepared a sacred flame, only for an arrow to emerge from his chest, a small grunt pushed out from his lips as his body fell forward. Astarion stood a few feet away, his eyes blazing as he headed towards another man running at Shadowheart.

A sharp pain exploded in Seraphina’s shoulder, and she screamed. She looked and saw the tip of a dagger sticking through her body. Gale launched a ray of frost as she turned, only to see the thrower of the dagger swiftly dodge the spell.

Tormentum!” Seraphina shouted. As the first missile shot from her fingertip, the vibration of a wild magic surge filled her bones. While her target fell over, dead, thunder rolled, blue light exploded in her vision, and she heard Gale scream. Dread came over her as she realized lightning had struck all around her.

No. No.

Not again.

Her heart dropped as she looked for her companion.

“Gale!” Seraphina screeched. He had fallen to the ground, burns marking his skin, his hair singed, and his clothes scorched. He was still breathing, but unconscious. She quickly looked around to see if there were any more assailants.

There was a sickening crunch as Karlach’s axe pierced the face of the man beneath her. Shadowheart stood over a body that had been mutilated with necrotic magic. Astarion was going through the pockets of a body. Wyll emerged from the shadows, covered in blood.

“Halsin?” Seraphina shouted.

“Right here.”

Halsin appeared from the other side of his tent, dragging a body.

“This one still breathes. For now,” the druid said as he tossed the unconscious man near the campfire.

“Maybe he’ll tell us what the hells this was about,” Karlach huffed.

Seraphina had stopped paying attention after hearing Halsin calmly reply. The threat was gone, but Gale was in danger. She lowered her hands to him and then immediately snatched them back. She stared at her palms.

“Shadowheart! Help!” Seraphina screamed.

Shadowheart staggered over.

“Gods! What happened?” Shadowheart asked, blue magic emanating from her hands as she began to heal Gale’s wounds. “Are you out of spells?”

Seraphina shook her head.

“It doesn’t matter. Please, just take care of him. I’ll…I’ll go get some scrolls,” she hauled herself up and she tried to run, but the world spun around her, and she collapsed to the ground. She did this. Her magic did this to him.

Tymora allowed this to happen.

No, she thought. This was Beshaba’s doing.

Her body shook as she tried to stand. Her blood had been running cold, her fingers and feet numb, her mind reeling, ever since the man whispered in her ear. But none of that mattered right now. If Gale died…

Gods, she didn’t want to think of it. The first time he died, days after they met, it had been scary, but that was before Gale dared to enthrall her and make her hang on every word he said. It felt nothing like this. This was a terror that threatened to make her heart stop.

Seraphina yanked her bag of scrolls out of her tent, emptying all the contents onto the ground. She frantically searched for the scroll of restoration. She didn’t cease when she felt cold hands grasp her shoulders.

“Seraphina, you’re bleeding horribly,” Astarion said.

“I’ll live,” she replied, blinking to try and clear her quickly blurring vision.

“Here, you fool,” Astarion pushed a healing potion into Seraphina’s hands and snatched up a scroll, sprinting over to Shadowheart and Gale. As the tiefling looked down, she could see that the entire left side of her shirt was soaked with her own blood. She reached up and felt the gaping wound that nearly sliced her throat open.

Oh. That’s why she was lightheaded.

Seraphina uncorked the bottle and drained it. As she got to her feet again, ready to return to Gale’s side, she saw Halsin standing over the unconscious man, rope in his hand. Seraphina’s stomach turned as she recognized the black antlers tattooed on his head.

I truly am a risk to all of them.

“My lady, guide my hand,” she uttered to herself.

x x x

As Shadowheart expended all her healing spells on Gale, Seraphina kneeled next to him, clutching his hand between hers. She muttered prayers over and over. With each one, instead of her spirits becoming bolstered and hopeful, she felt herself sinking further and further into an abyss.

“Seraphina,” Shadowheart said, placing a hand on the tiefling’s shoulder. “All we can do is let him rest now. I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?” Seraphina asked quickly. Shadowheart pursed her lips.

“He’s stabilized.”

Seraphina looked back at Gale, and she choked back a sob at the slowly disappearing burn on his face.

“Seraphina, you need to talk to the others. We have to discuss this. I know you care for him, but sitting here won’t help us prepare if another attack is imminent,” Shadowheart urged.

“I know,” Seraphina murmured. She pressed a long kiss to the back of Gale’s hand, slowly lowering it to his side. She squeezed his hand, and she considered telling Shadowheart to just leave, but she couldn’t. She would be back.

Both the clerics slipped out of Gale’s tent. Halsin and Wyll sat around the fire. Astarion was kneeled in front of the man that Halsin tied up, staring at the tattoos on his head.

“Wyll, with all your infernal knowledge, do you have any idea who would get this monstrosity as a tattoo?” Astarion asked.

“I’ve never seen it before,” Wyll admitted. “But perhaps someone else has.” Astarion turned and his face softened as his eyes met Seraphina’s. But he wasn’t the only one staring at her. The pressure of everyone’s gaze made her want to disappear.

Seraphina swallowed.

“He…they’re assassins of the Black Fingers,” she said.

“Black Fingers?” Wyll asked. “What in the hells is that?”

“The Black Fingers are assassins that serve Beshaba, the goddess of misfortune. Lady Luck’s divine enemy,” Seraphina replied.

She sighed and clenched her fists.

“They came to kill me – ”

“More will come.”

Everyone’s head spun to look at the awake assassin. He tilted his head back to glare at Seraphina.

“All Tymora’s Chosen will fall. Everyone who is trying to become her Chosen will fall. Every worshipper will fall,” he spat. “Every single one a sacrifice in the Maid of Misfortune’s name.”

Astarion suddenly slipped out his dagger, held back the man’s head by his scalp, and slit his throat. Seraphina watched as blood gurgled from his lips and spilled from the deep cut. She could hear everyone arguing over whether it would’ve been more advantageous to leave the man alive. But none of their voices mattered.

The ‘gift’ from Seraphina’s goddess had once again nearly claimed the life of someone dear to her. Assassins threatened her life and the life of her companions. The trial was always going to be a test of luck, a gamble. Seraphina knew that and she still went all in. She took her losses and kept betting anyway, determined to prove her trust in her own luck in this game of chance.

But now, and not for the first time, Seraphina wasn’t so sure if she wanted to keep playing.

Like Real People Do - owlseeyoulaterpal (2024)


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