By David Pontier
The Art of Being Entreri is the property of the author, David Pontier and is used with permission by Candlekeep. Email David with any comments and feedback on The Art of Being Entreri and visit his website at: http://www.geocities.com/piqsid/stories.html.
20 Years Later.
"Uncle Art, Uncle Art!"
Entreri paused in his work and leaned on his shovel as he watched the young child run toward him. The child's name was William Irenum, son of John and Ellen Irenum. His mother was the mayor of Garrilport.
Entreri really hated that name. The kid was the youngest of four, and at the age of seven, he still had a hard time saying the name Artemis. It was his parent's idea to shorten the name to Art, and Entreri had never forgiven them. He preferred Artremus, as William would say, to Art any day.
Uncle Art was a side of Entreri that he had not known existed. Art was not a killer or an assassin. He was a respected member of the community. Art had never drawn a weapon in his life. Most of all, Art was an honorary uncle.
In Calimport, as Entreri had climbed his way to prominence, many people had talked about him. They had said there was a special skill that went along with being Entreri, a skill that went beyond his use of weapons and applied more to the way he lived his life. There had been the loneliness of being Entreri also, for the young man made no friends and had made it clear he did not want any. There was also the fear of being Entreri, for as the most powerful man in Calimport, he was also the most often targeted.
In the end, his peers had summed it up by saying there was an "Art" to being Entreri. Little did they know how right they were.
"Uncle Art," the boy called for the forth time as he finally ran up to Entreri.
"What is it Billy?" Entreri could not help notice how much different this Billy was from the first one he had met in Garrilport.
"Mom said that a really important person is in town today and they are going to have a celebration in their honor."
"Really," Entreri responded, already able to tell where this was going to go.
"Yea, it's a really famous ranger from the north."
Entreri paused in thought. Had Elliorn finally caught up with him after all these years? He had had several close calls over the past two decades, but he had managed to elude the determined woman so far. "Does this ranger have a name?"
"He does, but it is a really weird one," Billy responded.
Entreri let out a sigh of relief at the male pronoun and went back to work with the shovel. "Well what is it?" Billy had trouble with most names he had not heard before. If he had not thought this ranger's name weird, Entreri would have had cause to worry.
"It's Drizzit, or something."
Entreri froze. He suddenly ceased being Art, and quickly changed back to Entreri, the deadly assassin. His right hand went for his dagger, but it was, of course, not there. Then common sense set in. Drizzt was dead. Entreri had killed him. Kimmuriel, one of Jarlaxle's lieutenants, had given Entreri momentary psionic powers to defeat him. His last image of the drow ranger was his torn and bloody body lying on the floor inside one of Crenshinibon's towers. Kimmuriel had dragged him away from the scene with a psionic leash, while Jarlaxle and Rai-guy, a drow priest, had stood over the fallen Drizzt.
A thought entered Entreri's mind then, but he dismissed it just as quickly. Jarlaxle would have no reason to resurrect Drizzt. Sure, Rai-guy had the capability, but Entreri knew that the priest hated Drizzt almost as much as he did. No, this ranger named Drizzit was just a victim of one of Billy's verbal massacres.
"And Mom says he's an elf too."
Entreri almost cried.
"Have you ever seen an elf, Uncle Art?"
Entreri nodded. "How's your father feeling?"
Billy shook his head. "He's not doing so well."
Ever since Draick had broken his leg, John had had his good days and his bad days. As the years took their toll, the latter out numbered the former by a considerable amount. When the goblin-kind uprising had occurred over fifteen years ago, it had killed John that he was not able to participate in the fight.
Entreri had, though, and in the following years, he had fought alongside John's two eldest sons. They were fine men now, and either one of them would make a fine captain one day. Entreri had kept busy over the years.
He had taken particular interest in the news from the north. Garrilport had suffered through several raids from goblin-kind, but up around Karenstoch, they had it ten times worse. Entreri found it amusing when he heard of the reports that Elliorn was leading yet another goblin purge into the north woods. If Drizzt really was here, he had probably come as a result of the problems up north. He had always been a quick one to offer aid.
"Mom says I can't go into the city alone," Billy started, hoping his uncle would not make him finish the request.
"So you want me to take you to this celebration so you can meet the famous Drizzit?"
"Will you? Oh, thank-you, thank-you. You're the best Uncle Art."
"Just shut up and get in the wagon," he said, fighting back the color that was rising in his cheek. There were times when he hated that kid.
Entreri set his shovel aside for now and climbed up easily into the tall wagon. He snapped his reigns once, and the two horses pulled the wagon away from his home. The shack from twenty years ago had undergone some radical changes in the time Entreri had lived there, and so had the rest of the neighborhood. This was now one of the nicer sections of the city. In fact, the mayor's house was right next to his.
The trip to the center of town was brief, and Entreri found he could not park as close to the city square as he had wanted. The two left the wagon at a hitching post and went the rest of the way on foot. There was a large pavilion set up in the square, and about a hundred people had gathered to meet this strange celebrity. The pair waded into the crowd, trying to get a good view of the stage up front.
"I can't see," Billy complained, futilely jumping up and down a few inches trying to get his head above the much taller crowd.
Neither can I, Entreri thought. He reached down and picked Billy up in his strong hands and set him up on his shoulders. Entreri could feel an obvious change go through the young boy. "Can you see him?"
"Uncle Art," he said in a serious whisper, "he's black."
Entreri had to chuckle at this. He had already convinced himself that it was Drizzt, and this pretty much sealed it. There could not be too many more dark elf rangers running around whose name sounded like "Drizzit." Why Jarlaxle had saved him would remain a mystery.
Drizzt was not the only one Billy could see, for his mother was up there also. She quickly returned Billy's look, for up on his "uncle's" shoulders, he was easily the tallest head in the crowd. Not only did Ellen see her son, but she had a pretty good guess who he might be sitting on. She motioned for Billy to come to the front of the stage, thinking it might be a good idea to introduce one of the heroes of the north to the hero of Garrilport.
"Mom wants us to go up there," Billy said, leaning over and looking Entreri in the face.
"I thought she might." The meeting was inevitable now, and Entreri gritted his teeth.
"Coming through! Excuse us! I'm going to see my mom!" Billy exclaimed from his high perch, directing traffic as Entreri tried to work his way through the crowd. Finally the pair made it all the way to the front, and Entreri was standing before the stage.
It was Drizzt, all right, and he did not look a day older than the last time Entreri had seen him. Entreri was sixty years old, but he still prided himself has being the best fighter in the city. He had lost a step or two, and his blades were not quite as quick, but he had had a lot to loose to begin with, and still no one could match his skill. Yet as he looked at Drizzt, who must be nearing a century in age, he knew he could not last five seconds against the drow now.
"Hello, Drizzt Do'Urden."
Drizzt was slightly less prepared for this meeting than was Entreri. Drizzt had never expected to see the assassin again. The years had not been kind to Wulfgar and Catti-brie, and Drizzt had just assumed that Entreri, who had been ten years their senior to begin with, had faired little better. Especially since his last information had Jarlaxle and Entreri teamed together. The drow mercenary leader had a good 300 years left in him, and Drizzt knew he would not tolerate an aging assassin.
"Hello Artemis Entreri," Drizzt replied. "Elliorn had told me about someone she had been chasing for the past two decades, but I just did not want to believe it."
Ellen looked at the two fighters with sincere confusion. "Do you two know each other?" They both turned to the mayor and nodded. With all the good Entreri had done for the city, she had all but forgotten his checkered past and instantly assumed that both Drizzt and Entreri had fought side by side, pushing back evil in the land across the great sea.
"Well this is indeed a joyous occasion. Not only have two old friends reunited, but they do so as heroes in their own right."
Drizzt's ears picked up at this, and he cast the assassin a curious glance. Entreri just shook his head.
"I'm sure you two have a lot you want to talk about," Ellen continued, adding fuel to the fire. "Art, why don't you join us at the head table during the banquet. I'm sure your exploits might even impress our guest of honor."
"Yea, Uncle Art," Billy chimed in. "I'm sure Ranger Drizzit will love to hear about how you killed all those goblins by yourself, especially their giant leader."
Entreri could not look Drizzt in the eyes. "I don't know. I'm sure Drizzt here won't be impressed by my humble accomplishments. You have to remember that Drizzt grew up in the Underdark and has battled demons and all kinds of-"
"Nonsense, Art," Drizzt interrupted, barely restraining his laughter at the assassin's obvious discomfort. He had even missed Billy's mispronunciation of his name. "I would love to hear of your tales of valor."
"I bet you would," Entreri said under his breath, but Drizzt's sharp ears picked it up.
"Then it is settled," Ellen said, a large smile spreading across her face. "And I believe it is probably time that we head over to the tables now, for the feast is about to begin. This will be a very interesting evening."
As a pair of City Guards led Drizzt off the stage, Ellen fell in next to Entreri, who had removed Billy from his shoulders and was now leading the child by the hand.
"How do you know him?" she asked quietly.
"Actually," Entreri said, stopping to look Ellen in the face, "I killed him once."
"Oh?" Ellen said, not getting the joke. Then she remembered what Entreri had been before he had arrived in Garrilport. "Oh," she repeated with realization slapping her in the face. "This will be an interesting evening."
Entreri could only nod.
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