So it's been a long time since I've posted an update on my playthrough of Baldur's Gate II. A large part of that is that I've been really busy, of late, with the end of school coming together alongside some new jobs I've been working at and some activity in my personal life as well. However, I'm back and ready to post another update in the chronicles of my half-orc cleric's journeys through Faerûn, including the long-awaited rescue of Imoen...
Actually, having worked on the Forgotten Realms Wiki for a couple of years, I already knew that, but I can appreciate the development as a pretty sneaky plot twist all the same. Perhaps not as dramatic as the revelation in the first game, but plenty interesting all the same. What's perhaps more surprising is the revelation that Bodhi and Irenicus are siblings as well, although that at least verifies my own suspicions that she wasn't on the level.
Let's rewind a bit. Last time I checked in with a report from Athkatla I was busy hiring myself and my party out for gold, hoping to raise the requisite 20,000 gold pieces needed to pay Gaelan Bayle for passage to the Cowled Wizards' fortress of Spellhold, where Imoen was being held. I eventually did raise the money, although in a strange turn of events Gaelan offered to lower the price from 20,000 gold pieces to 16,000... at about the same time that Bodhi approached me with an identical proposal. Choosing to go with the devil I knew, I stuck with Gaelan's deal and found - to no real surprise - that he was an agent of the Shadow Thieves.
To my consternation, however, it seemed that the deal I'd brokered with Gaelan was only the first step in securing my trip to Spellhold. The Shadow Thieves' leader, Aran Linvail, assured me that my "investment" would not go to waste but that before he could send me on my way he needed my party's assistance in his war against Bodhi and her vampires. Although I wasn't particularly to eager to help out the Shadow Thieves, especially after they'd tricked me into funding their war, I knew there wasn't really anyone else to turn to for aid and so gave my grudging consent. The next several days were spent on various missions for Arlan, which culminated eventually in a frontal assault on Bodhi's lair, slaying the vampires that lay within.
Convinced that he had at last won his war with Bodhi, Aran revealed that he had commissioned a ship for my purposes, captained by one Saemon Havarian. Knowing that it may be some time before I return to Athkatla, I selected my party carefully. Minsc, Jaheira, and Viconia, all friends of Imoen from our earlier travels, I took with me. Additionally, I took on Nalia, who'd made it clear to me her desire to assist in Imoen's rescue when first I recruited her and whose thieving abilities would likely prove useful. Lastly, I considered who to take with me as a mage. Although I would have very much liked to bring Neera, I knew that Spellhold would be traumatic for her, considering her past experiences with the Red Wizards and I chose to leave her behind. Instead, I brought Haer'Dalis, a recent recruit.
Although it later turned out that Saemon was secretly working for Bodhi and Irenicus, Aran's efforts were not wasted: my party and I did make it to the island of Brynnlaw and, after a few extra shenanigans, the Asylum itself. To our surprise (though not mine really, since previous cutscenes had made the situation clear) Irenicus was no longer a prisoner of the Asylum but instead had taken over as its warden, transforming it into his own personal laboratory. Seizing his opportunity, Irenicus took me prisoner once more, again subjecting me to his experiments as he tried to wrest the divine spark of Bhaal from my body. This time, he succeeded, leaving me, in his words, "barely sentient."
Convinced I was no longer of any consequence, Irenicus told his sister Bodhi to "remove" my companions and I (as well as Imoen). Bodhi's predatory nature as a vampire, however, got the better of her and she could not help but toy with us. Instead of killing as swiftly as Irenicus undoubtedly intended, Bodhi instead put us inside of a vast and dangerous maze, daring us to escape. This gave us the opportunity we needed, allowing us to eventually overtake Bodhi's traps and assault her directly, an attack she barely escaped. Eventually, we made our way back to Irenicus' laboratory, where, with the help of the Aslyum's inmates, we forced him to retreat, allowing us to escape.
Looking forward, it seems plenty of difficult challenges lay ahead. Although I did survive my torture at the hands of Irenicus, despite his best efforts, i did not survive unscathed. With my very soul ripped from me, I appear to be in a state of decay, my will gradually fading as my life essence leaks out of me. Unless I find a way to reclaim my soul from Irenicus, I will eventually deteriorate and die. More immediately, my soulless state seems to have laid me vulnerable to the shadow of Bhaal himself, whose bloodlust and savage cruelty had been made manifest in my body as "the Slayer," an avatar of the dead god that once inspired terror in mortal beings. As the days go by, it seems I may lose myself to this Slayer more and more, until my soul is reclaimed.
It reminds me a little of the Spirit-Eater curse from Mask of the Betrayer, which makes me wonder if that plot device was an intentional callback or reference to Baldur's Gate II. I have no way of knowing at this point, though considering several people were involved in the development of both it doesn't seem unlikely. In any case, I look forward to confronting Irenicus and reclaiming my soul, even if it shall be a long journey towards that fateful day.