Halem sat silently in the midst of all the damage and chaos. He tried focusing all of his attention on his father. Others would probably find the idea that this human was actually his father confusing, but Halem had had spent a number of years getting used to the idea of being in a different body. His mind was already making the adjustment to seeing this body that once contained a hated enemy as his father returned from the dead.
A less easy adjustment was in dealing with what he had inadvertently done with his final wish.
It had seemed like a good idea, as so many disastrous mistakes do. He had thought he would grow into a dragon, pushing his friends out of the way as he did. He hadn’t thought that he would… hadn’t considered that he could kill…
“I’m so sorry, Alora,” he whispered. “I didn’t…”
He wanted to grumble, to point out that he had been against the plan of going in through the front doors. He wanted to say that his friends should bear some of the blame for being so stupid, but that was unfair to them and an obvious attempt to shift the blame from where it truly lay: on him.
He would not dishonor his fallen friend by shying away from his culpability in her death.
Alora was… she was special. Like a little sister he’d never had. During so many of their adventures, he’d tried to guide and protect her. She annoyed him and drove him crazy at times, but he didn’t hate it the way he pretended to. In some way, she was very much like Kevros, another friend that he had not protected as he ought to have.
“Halem,” Lila called softly from the doorway. “We need to go. Can Kren… I mean, can your dad, walk?”
Halem looked down at his father and shook his head. “No, I’ll have to carry him for now.”
Thurg walked around him and hefted the petrified form of the Abbot with barely a grunt of exertion and began carrying him towards the remains of the front door. Halem helped his father up and then lifted the almost completely unresponsive human into his arms. Krendon Maw’s body was heavier than an elf’s would have been, but nothing that Halem couldn’t handle with ease.
As they exited the ruins of the Temple of Ilmater, a building that had been a place of healing and rest and safety for much of his adult life, Halem couldn’t stop his eyes from settling onto the red stain on the ground near the door. That was his fault; his doing. He’d killed one of his best friends and had felt her die against his suddenly massive side. The corresponding spot on his body still seemed to burn, he could almost still feel her there.
In a different situation, at a different time, he might have given in to the desire to be sick all over the floor. He would certainly have allowed himself to curl up into a little ball of pain and misery and self-loathing. But this was not that time and he was no longer the sort to do such things, at least not when there was a job that needed completing. He would help save Waterdeep – and Kevros, if he could – and then he would devote himself to bringing Alora back. Her death was on his head and he would not let that stand.
He glanced down at his father and almost felt a smile tug at his lips. If he could bring his father back after all this time, bringing Alora back was possible. If not, then he would die trying and spend his afterlife apologizing to her…
Maybe he’d even let her in on his hair-care secrets.