Imoen was asleep again, laying under an amazingly sturdy lean-to the elves had woven of vines, sticks, and leaves. Jaheira sat over her, one hand holding her holy symbol and the other on Imoen's forehead. The prayer came to an end, but where there should have been a surge of healing power there was nothing.
Imoen's strength was fading fast. Her skin was pale and cool, and she slept most of the time. This was the third healing prayer Jaheira had attempted, and nothing had helped. The evil in Imoen's veins seemed to be drowning her soul, thanks to Irenicus's ritual. Mielikki was withholding her grace. It didn't seem fair, but Jaheira tried to understand.
"Phaere..." Imoen mumbled in her sleep.
"She's dying," Yoshimo said from behind her, startling Jaheira.
"Yes," Jaheira said, not looking back at him.
Yoshimo stepped forward, squatting just behind and next to Jaheira. "What people will do..." the Kozakuran mused.
"For immortality?" Jaheira asked wetting a rag and wringing it out.
"For immortality," Yoshimo said, "for coin, for loyalty to a crown, a flag, or a man."
Jaheira placed the wet rag on Imoen's forehead--knowing it was a silly, futile gesture but feeling she should do it anyway--and said, "Would they kill?"
Yoshimo laughed at Jaheira's obvious stab. "Where I come from," he said, "assassin is an honorable profession."
"It's murder," Jaheira said flatly, "wherever you are."
"A difference of view," the Kozakuran said. "People have killed for less, yes?"
Jaheira gently pulled the rag off Imoen's head.
"Abdel will save her?" Yoshimo asked. He seemed happy enough to change the subject.
"Abdel?" Imoen murmured in her sleep.
Jaheira gently touched her shoulder, and Imoen's eyes popped open.
"Abdel!" she said, her voice clear and loud in the quiet of the elf camp.
"He'll be here," Jaheira told her. "He'll--"
"Silence!" Imoen growled, her voice deeper now and coarse. Her eyes flashed yellow, and Jaheira gasped. Imoen sat up in a burst of motion, and Jaheira felt a hand grab her and pull her back. Imoen's jaws snapped in the air in front of Jaheira's face as if the girl was trying to bite her.
"Imoen--" Jaheira said.
"She's not herself," Yoshimo whispered.
Imoen laughed, and it wasn't her usual pleasant giggle. "Who am I, Kozakuran?"
"Bhaal..." Jaheira answered for him.
As if in response Imoen fell back onto the bed of leaves and was asleep.