Running on Empty - Chapter 6 - AssassinPyro13, TitanLevi (2024)

Chapter Text

As the group left the Inner Sanctum, Kaius silently watched the way the male gith and elf interacted with each other. His whole survival depended upon his skill to read the intentions of others around him, but those two were a bit harder to read. They seemed very straight-forward as individuals, but Kaius suspected they would definitely be the most dangerous as he felt it was all a facade.

He knew he needed to find out what made his new group tick if he wanted to get and stay on their good sides. Decades of strife and fighting for ones life came with a cost, and for Kaius that cost was being genuine and open with those around him. He didn't make meaningful connections with others, just a faked bond that kept valuable people close and dangerous people even closer. It's important to always know where your enemies are, and he still had to figure out if there were any among the group.

The wizard definitely seemed to be a good ally, which wouldn't be hard for Kaius to gain his trust as the "good boy" type were typically his specialty, and he could tell Gale was a sincere person. He no longer felt any twinge of guilt for manipulating people around him as he'd accepted long ago that he was a sh*tty person.

Lae'zel was harder to read, but she definitely was straight forward in her personality. She said what she thought, but he detected something else behind her bravado... fear, maybe? Fear was a dicey thing to try to manipulate to your own benefit; it could drive the person either way and can get very messy, so he knew she wouldn't be easy to direct.

As he led the others down a dirt path, they'd come across a dead boar. Kaius could see the fang marks in the carcass, but as Astarion and Draklin began talking about it, his mind drifted back to the more important topic at hand: his companions.

By any other rights, Shadowheart definitely should have and would be the leader of their rag-tag group. He did like her confidence and somewhat bossy nature. Trying to hide a small smile at the thought, he knew deep down she had a princess complex while seeming to always prove herself. A bit of validation and "blind" trust thrown her way would definitely get her on his side.

A frown tugged at the corner of his lips as he realized a lot of his newfound companions' traits mirrored his own, and he would have to be careful not to get in too deep. He wasn't staying with them any longer than necessary, just to get back to Baldur's Gate, then he'd be gone like a dream at the first daylight breaking along the horizon.

He turned his thoughts now to the last person in their group; Wyll. He was new to the rest of them, just as he was, but Kaius had seen him around the Grove since his arrival weeks before present company came. He'd heard mentions of the Blade, but he steered clear of the man because he knew nothing good came from mingling with those that have a strong sense of justice.

The tiefling felt confident that he'd mostly deciphered the people around him, but now his head hurt and he was starting to feel the effects of the day. He heard the gith and elf still bantering back and forth, so he turned his attention to Gale, reaching out a hand to tap the wizard's forearm gently.

"There's a clearing over there that would be perfect for camp," Kaius said, holding back a groan when he realized how much his legs ached. "You might want to let the others know we're stopping there for the night."

Before Gale could say anything in response, Lae'zel turned on her heel to let the others that had just joined them know, seemingly irritated that they'd all been standing there instead of making forward progress. The wizard gave a slight shrug in Kaius' direction before the group headed toward the clearing.

Though it didn't take them long to set up camp, Lae'zel had already come back with the bounty of her hunt, dropping it beside the boar the party had dragged back to the fire, to be skinned and cooked. Shadowheart regarded it with a grimace before turning her head up at Lae'zel.

"Perhaps you could've gotten something a bit easier to clean," Shadowheart sniffed, looking daggers at the other.

"Chk," the fighter growled back, her annoyance was glaringly obvious. "At least I did something useful while the rest of you wasted precious time doing nothing."

Wyll intervened, trying to snuff out the flaring tempers between the two. As he started talking about the importance of teamwork and other such nonsense, Kaius tuned him out. It wasn't anything personal against the Blade, he just wasn't a fan of everyone being a big, happy family. He also would be lying if he said he didn't want to see the two have a good ol' sparring match, as he'd usually settle minor disputes in the same fashion.

The tiefling sat next to Gale by the fire, watching him dig in his pack for something. He pulled out a well-loved tome and began flicking through the pages, looking for a suitable recipe for a stew. Gale noticed his audience and smiled sheepishly, holding the book up for Kaius to see.

"My dear Mother sent me a recipe book," Gale explained, continuing his search through the pages.

"A man who holds love for his mother is a man worth keeping around," Kaius smiled at him, hoping that the compliment might earn him an extra serving or two of the stew. He frequently made use of his charm to gain things in life he required as to not have to work too hard for them, which wasn't a quality people appreciated when they became aware of it, but he felt rather confident that the wizard wouldn't realize.

He leaned in a bit closer to take a look at the recipe to see what they'd need for the stew, hoping if he did a few "extra" things for his newfound group, they might buy into his act. He decided it was better to get close individually with each member of the party, but he wasn't sure if he could get past the steel defenses of Lae'zel, so he decided to start with whom he deemed the weakest link in the chain.

"Solaurous, chapter 59 if I remember correctly." Glancing upward at Kaius, Gale winked. "A fellow book reader, I take it." He finishes his sentence before glancing back down at his book; missing Astarion's brows furrowing before the elf just belts out with a cackle.

"You mean that smutty novel that everyone and their grandmother was raving about? You read that?! Haha! Darling, that is just too precious!!" The lively shine returns to Astarion's eyes, stepping past the boar and wandering to the edge of the woods. "We learn more and more about you every day, Gale."

"It was highly recommended!!" Gale sputtered, his face turning red as he glanced away.

"Oh I'm sure." With the flick of his hand, Astarion stepped into the woods. "I heard a stream. I'm going to bathe. Ta, darlings."

Setting strips of boar to the side, Draklin could only snort in amusem*nt. "Fruity bitch. This party would be boring without him."

During the banter, Kaius had realized a little too late what Astarion had said. He'd never read the book that Gale had referenced, he just knew the quote from an odd man he'd met in his travels who'd said a lot of things that sounded almost like romantic riddles, but he never knew the origins of it. Come to think of it, he wondered then how Astarion knew what Gale was talking about...

He remembered he was going to find some of the ingredients Gale needed, especially if he was going to win over his new companions. Without a word to the others, he wandered in the opposite direction the pale elf had gone, into the trees surrounding their camp. As much as he'd love a sneak peek of the sexy elf's naked body, he was a lot hungrier than he'd anticipated.

Though he had perfect night vision, Kaius wasn't a big fan of the dark. It brought back vivid memories that he'd be better off forgetting. He shook his head, hurrying to grab some wild potatoes and rosemary. He dropped a few as he tried to cradle them in his arms like a basket when he walked back to camp, but he didn't pay attention as he'd heard the wizard mention something about Draklin.

"Will you two stop bickering?" Gale gave an exasperated sigh, glaring over at Lae'zel and Shadowheart, who were both still arguing quite audibly. He lowered his voice before continuing, "besides, Draklin's headaches are back. We don't need our dear leader starving himself in his tent for three days again."

An eerie silence fell over the camp while Kaius made his way back into the clearing. He barely suppressed a jump when Wyll suddenly appeared behind him, following him into camp.

"You mentioned headaches," Wyll said, approaching Gale. "Does this leader of yours have them often?"

Shadowheart, who'd been eyeing Kaius as soon as he returned to camp, turned her focus to Wyll. "Yes. He gets migraines often and doesn't eat for days."

Wyll hummed in thought, rubbing his chin. "I see.. Nothing to dull it, then? I know of some teas that might help."

"Unfortunately, we'll never know. Astarion forces him to eat if it takes too long for him to snap out of it," Shadowheart said, shaking her head. She glanced over to the potatoes still in Kaius' arms before speaking again. "The spud on the right is poisonous. You might want to toss that one."

As soon as she said "poisonous," Kaius quickly tossed it over his shoulder. He gave the rest of the potatoes and herbs to Gale as he changed the subject. "Ah, so the migraines aren't related to the... you know," he taps his temple, indicating the tadpoles. He hadn't felt much movement from his, but he'd considered using it to his advantage if he got too deep into trouble.

He glanced out towards the treeline surrounding the camp, eyes searching for signs of their leader that he didn't see by the fire. He didn't know how long Draklin had been gone, but he was sure he'd be wandering back soon.

"We're not sure what exactly causes it," Gale sighs, cutting the potatoes. "It might be partially the tadpole, but he claims that he's had them since he was a kid."

The shuffling of grass alerts them to Draklin's reappearance. Holding the side of his hip, close to his groin, he hobbles back. He made it to his tent only to flop on his rolled out bedroll with a wince.

"Whoever invented ovaries can go talk to my manager....." Draklin whined, earning a look from Wyll.

"You'll get used to it." Shadowheart stated in amusem*nt, "As soon as you get that changed, then you don't have to worry about them anymore." She was immediately silenced by a glare from Draklin.

Gale, hoping to break the tension, let the party know he was almost done preparing the stew and to start lining up for some grub.

Kaius looked back out into the trees, realizing that even though Draklin had returned, Astarion had not. He figured it couldn't hurt to check on him, even though he wasn't sure how far the elf had gone. He called over to Shadowheart that he was going to see if Astarion was heading back to camp before slipping through the trees.

Running on Empty - Chapter 6 - AssassinPyro13, TitanLevi (2024)


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Mar 28, 2023

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