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The sun is warm on the south coast. The air crisp with a sea breeze. The noxious smell of the city wafts beneath the nose, but if you are fastidious, as I am, about staying out of the slums, one can forget the squalor and rampant poverty. The city is prosperous on its surface, its streets clean and well maintained. It’s only when one delves below the surface that the cesspool, concealed so artfully, comes violently to the fore.

A familiar battle cry echoing of the buildings, rings out: “Butt-kicking! For goodness!“. An involuntary smile courses through me. Axe drawn, a stout and earthy dwarf hurries to the aid of his berserker companion, the remainder of this thoroughly dysfunctional sextet apply their talents to ensuring continued longevity. Even if it’s rather unwillingly, their desire to live trumps their ill humors.

It’s good to be back in Faerun. I didn’t think I would be returning after the frustration of the frigid north. Even if that is dwarf country, it wasn’t pleasant. Those times were frustrating, and I found myself not caring about the wooden characters nor where they were heading or what doom awaited them there. They could go cause a yeti indigestion for all I cared. James’ kind intervention let me see more of that land then I would have ever done off my own will.

I journied further, into the deepest darkest hours of Neverwinter and faired better. It was truly a dangerous time to be alive, with many narrow calls and only divine providence ensuring I stayed that way. Twists and turns abounded throughout. But I missed my companions. Their solidity, faithfulness and ability was barely compensated by the vexatious imbecile that Neverwinter passed off as an lackey. I missed their companionship, their rambling stories and troubled past lives, narrow escapes and heroic deeds.

Far better to be on the Sword Coast. Best of all to be back in Baldurs Gate II.

It’s been a while since I’ve been here. I’ve wondered these same paths from so many different perspectives, but with the judicious addition of another world of content, it feels nearly as fresh and vivid as it felt the first time. A truly epic world of discovery, change and challenge, every bit as immersive and demanding as could ever be asked for. Let the adventure begin.