By David Pontier
The Reality of Fear is the property of the author, David Pontier and is used with permission by Candlekeep. Email David with any comments and feedback on The Reality of Fear and visit his website at: http://www.geocities.com/piqsid/stories.html.
Chapter 2: A Warm Welcome
Entreri felt good as he walked down the street in the early morning. He had spent the winter cooped up in his small house, working to make the place seem as presentable as possible. Now that spring was returning to Garrilport, Entreri appreciated the chance to get out. It was not that warm, but the cool wind that blew off the mountains was very refreshing.
Whether on purpose or because his subconscious had some ulterior motives Entreri did not know about, he found himself walking toward the magic shop. He could tell from a distance that something was dreadfully wrong. A small group of civilians was gathered around the store's entrance, which was guarded by two of John's men. Entreri worked his way through the small crowd and up to the guards. They were about to refuse him entrance as well, but the assassin gave each one of them a look, and they decided to let him in.
"Just like home," Entreri said to himself. Given enough time, this city would learn to respect him just like Calimport. The main section of the store was empty, and Entreri continued to the back where he heard John's voce.
"Just when you think you have everything under control, it starts all over again."
Entreri walked into the back room and paused. They had not moved Kraygan's body. Cause of death was fairly obvious. There was no need for a closer inspection. "Captain," one of the guards said, when he saw Entreri enter.
John turned around and smiled at him. "Good morning Artemis. Is this your work?"
"No, I'm afraid it's not, Captain," Entreri replied. "But I'm sure that won't keep you from arresting me for it."
"If I can't find anyone else," he said. John turned back to the body and crouched down next to it. "Have you ever seen anything like this before?"
"I have seen many things like that before," Entreri answered. "And some things much worse."
John shook his head. "I don't get it. This guy just got into town. It's not like he could have made any enemies. Plus there is no sign of struggle and no sign of a forced entry."
Entreri looked around the room. There was quite a bit of destruction around the body, but John was right nothing else seemed to be disturbed. Then Entreri saw a broken vase in the corner. He moved over to examine it while John continued to look at the wounds.
"These cuts were not made by a normal blade. Either the attacker had a double-jointed wrist, or he was using a curved weapon. Plus the neck wound was made with left hand swipe while the chest wound has a right hand twist to it, again, unless the attacker was double-jointed."
One of the other guards spoke up. "Are you saying he used two blades at the same time?"
"It looks that way," John said.
"And one of them was curved," the guard continued, now looking at Cicle hanging from Entreri's side. The rapier had a slight curve to it.
"They both were," John said, looking up at his man. He saw that Entreri was being examined, but John shook his head. He knew what kind of wound the assassin's frost blade would leave. This was not it. Still he looked over at Entreri. "Do you know of any type of fighter or creature that wields two good-sized, curved blades?"
Entreri was standing up slowly, holding a chain from which a small unicorn figurine dangled. "Yes," he said very carefully, "I do." He pocketed the necklace and walked back to the body. He took a closer look at the wounds and knew what type of weapon had made them.
"You know who did-"
"What was he doing?" Entreri asked firmly, interrupting the captain.
"What was this clerk doing? It looks like he was in the middle of a spell. What was he doing?"
"I don't know."
"Think!" Entreri shouted, growing quickly frustrated with the situation.
"What's wrong?" John asked.
"Everything is wrong," Entreri replied. "This killer does not exist. He can't exist." Entreri's hands were opening and closing by his side, and he kept shaking his head. "This is not possible."
"What's wrong?" John asked. "I've never seen you this . . . scared," John finished quietly to himself, a light going on in his head. One of his men was going through a curious glass container filled with an awful smelling concoction. He beckoned for it, and his man handed it over. He lifted it up and could see a gold coin lying at the bottom.
"Oh, no," John said when he realized what was going on.
Entreri turned to him. "What?"
"I think I know what he was doing. I think he was trying to find something to scare you."
"To scare me?" Entreri did not understand what he was hearing. He went over to the spell book, which lay on a table that had been cut in half. Half of the book had gone with the rest of the table, but the spell in question was still intact.
Entreri pulled the page out easily with the binding gone and skimmed over it. "This spell is supposed to summon the image of someone's worst fear."
"The image did this?" John motioned at the body.
"What did I tell you about magic?" Entreri asked rhetorically, tossing the page aside. "No, I assume the image was supposed to appear on that broken mirror on the floor. Undoubtedly broken by the weight of whatever was summoned."
"So the spell went bad?" John asked.
"They always do. That still does not explain what's going on here."
"You said you know what did this," John pushed.
"I know what it looks like," Entreri answered. "But he is dead."
"Are you sure?"
Entreri looked at him. "Yes I'm sure. I killed him. I punched my fist through his chest and crushed his heart with my hand. It's not exactly the type of wound you walk away from."
"Maybe Kraygan called him back from the dead," John said.
"It still does not make sense," Entreri said, turning around and pacing in the small room. "Drizzt is not a killer."
"But you were scared of him?" John asked, taking note of the name Entreri had used.
The assassin laughed. "No I was not. Drizzt fought for the good and the just. You know, someone who protects women and children and little puppies. That's why I hated him so much. He was just too self-righteous. He was as skilled as anyone I had ever met, yet would give his life without question to save any worthless wretch that might be in danger. If he really believed in what he was doing, he would guard his life with more respect. That's why I hated him so much. That's why I killed him."
"So you weren't sacred of him," John said, agreeing that this did not make sense.
"No." Entreri stopped pacing and looked at the body. When he had said he had seen an awful lot of things like that, it was because he had done most of them. "Now if Drizzt was more like he was supposed to be, a heartless drow, killing everything in sight for the sake of his beloved spider queen, then you and I would have something to be scared of."
"You mean if he was more like you," John said, very little humor in his voice.
"Something like that," Entreri agreed. "I still don't understand why this Kraygan fellow would summon something to scare me, though. I don't even know him."
"Uh," John started, "I might have asked him to do it."
"You might have asked him?" Entreri echoed. "What, is this some kind of sick birthday present?"
"It's your birthday?"
Entreri ignored the question. "You know, everyday I get to know you a little better, and each piece of knowledge reminds me that I should have killed you the first day we met."
The two city guards in the room looked concerned. Had their captain just been threatened? John ignored the comment and turned to give his guards orders. Working off a description Entreri gave him, he organized a few search teams that were to sweep the city. According to Entreri, Drizzt should stick out like a sore thumb. He also made sure that his men knew not to try to apprehend the drow by themselves. If he had turned into a killer when he had been brought back from the dead, the guards would not be able to handle him.
Entreri decided not to join the search party. If Drizzt and Kraygan had had a chance to talk much before Drizzt killed him, he would know Entreri was here. Entreri would not have to hunt down the drow. The ranger would find him.
* * *
Catti-brie and Wulfgar waited in Drizzt's room for an hour.
"Maybe he went on ahead without us," Wulfgar said.
Catti-brie shook her head. "He would have told us or left a note or something. It's not like him to run off."
"Something must have come up," Wulfgar tried again. "His life is more complicated than we realize. Maybe he had to go somewhere and did not have time to leave a note. He can take care of himself."
Catti-brie slowly shook her head. She understood what Wulfgar was saying, but it did not make sense to her. "If he had to go, why did he leave Guenhwyvar behind? And how did he lock his door from the inside?"
"Is he playing with us?"
"What?" Catti-brie asked.
"Is this his idea of a joke? Locking his door and then disappearing."
Catti-brie thought for a moment. "If it is, it's not very funny. Those tracks we are supposed to investigate are pretty real." An idea came to her. "If he is hiding, I know who can find him." Catti-brie reached over and picked up the panther figurine. A minute later Guenhwyvar was nuzzling her head into Catti-brie's hand.
"Guen," she said playfully, crouching down so she was at eye level with the great cat, "we think Drizzt might be hiding, see if you can find him." The panther smiled at the potential game and went to work. She knew her master better than anyone, but still refreshed her memory by sniffing around in his recently used bed. She found the trail easily enough and left the room.
Wulfgar and Catti-brie prepared to follow, but Guen came back into the room after only a few seconds. The playful bounce in the cat's step that was there at the beginning was gone. Catti-brie noticed. "What is it? Where did he go?"
Wulfgar had been away too long and his relationship with Guenhwyvar had never been anywhere near what Catti-brie had with the panther. He stood by and watched as the other two tried to figure out what was wrong.
"Can you smell him? Where did he go?"
Guen went back to the bed, followed the sent to the floor, and then started for the door. She paused again and returned. There was a point on the floor where it just disappeared. A small rug covered that area to protect against the cold stone floor. Guen began to scratch at it. Drizzt's scent was all over the room, but the other smells were much older. The more recent trail ended right here.
"What is the cat doing?" Wulfgar asked.
Catti-brie did not know either. She pulled the rug away from Guen before she scratched a hole in it. The panther wanted the rug back, but then took notice of the stone floor beneath. Her intelligent eyes went from the rug in Catti-brie's hand to the unyielding stone floor. She began to scratch at the floor.
"Is this how he got out?" Catti-brie asked. "But there is no door here. There is no way for him to get out through the floor."
"Not all doors are physical," Wulfgar said. It was not common for someone of his heritage to turn to a magical solution so quickly, but Wulfgar had experienced more magic in his short life than most mages would in 50 years.
"Are you saying he was transported out?" Catti-brie asked, though she too saw it as the only real explanation they had to work with. "By whom to where?" Wulfgar did not have the answers, and he did not waste words to say as much. Catti-brie thought best when she was talking things through.
"Maybe someone needed his help," Catti-brie said. "Someone like Cadderly or Alustriel or Deudermont or maybe the Harpells. Still, you'd think they would have let him leave a note or something to let us know where he went."
"You are assuming someone needed his help," Wulfgar said, starting a line of thought that Catti-brie had intentionally avoided. "Their reasons for calling might not have been honorable."
"We can't answer these questions," Catti-brie said. She noticed Guen was still trying to dig a hole through the floor to find her owner. Catti-brie gently told Guen to stop.
"How long do we wait until we take action?" Wulfgar asked. He already knew the answer the fiery woman would give. Wulfgar often liked to give the drow the benefit of the doubt, knowing there was no one else he knew that was more capable of handling himself no matter the situation. He would wait a day or two before becoming concerned. If Drizzt's disappearance was innocent or private, he did not want to intrude.
Catti-brie, on the other hand, could not stand by when one of her friends might be in trouble, even if she knew nothing or had nothing she could do. "I've waited too long already," she said. Drizzt can walk the distance to Silverymoon in three days. I say we can ride it in one. If he did not go to Lady Alustriel, she might at least be able to help us find out where he did go."
Wulfgar sighed. "In an hour, Drizzt might be back here wondering where we went. In a day, he might become concerned."
Catti-brie shook her head, already moving outside to where they kept the horses. "If he is not in trouble, then we will have over-reacted. If he is in trouble, in a day he might be beyond rescue, and we might be the only chance to help him. Given those choices, I see only one path open to us." Wulfgar had no way to argue with that logic.
Guenhwyvar reluctantly went back to her plane of existence. With Drizzt in potential danger, the panther did not want to leave, but Catti-brie convinced her that they might need her soon, and she needed to conserve her energy. Knowing that Silverymoon would be able to provide them with anything they might need in the way of provisions, they packed light and set off within the half-hour.
* * *
Drizzt walked down the corridor, following his sister. Vierna and he not only shared the same mother, but Zaknafein was their father as well. She was the closest relative he had. Instead of embracing her after their long time apart, Drizzt was going through how many different ways he could pull one of his scimitars and cut her head off.
Catti-brie was an orphan, her parents killed in a goblin raid when she was very young. Wulfgar's immediate family had been killed in the raid against Ten Towns. All of Bruenor's many forefathers were dead. Drizzt did not know about Regis' family, but assumed he had some, at least at one time. If any of his friends had the chance to be reunited with their family, the occasion would be most joyous. When Gandalug Battlehammer had returned to Mithril Hall after being freed from Matron Baenre's imprisonment, Bruenor had thrown a tremendous celebration, and that was for a relative he had never even known.
Drizzt had now been given the chance that all is other friends dreamed of, and he hated every second of it. The fact that he had no family had never bothered him before because none of his friends did either and they had each other. But now he realized that even with all of his relatives alive, he still had no family, at least not as he had come to understand the word.
His understanding of what a family should be was so warped after 30 years in the underdark that during the first few weeks of watching the Thistledown children outside of Maldabar, he swore they would end up killing each other. Their playful antics had not made sense. The youngest got dunked into the water trough so often, Drizzt swore the child would take a knife late at night and put an end to his tormentors. That was what Drizzt understood family to be.
Zaknafein had been a friend. Only after many years on the surface was Drizzt able to look back on his time with his father and see why he had been a friend. That was the only family Drizzt had. There was the only joy he might be able to hope for in a situation like this. But it was not to be so. He had killed his father.
When Vierna had summoned him from his room, Drizzt had seen the hatred in her eyes. None of his sisters had ever liked him, but Drizzt had assumed it was because of his blasphemous statements and sacrilegious beliefs. By what he had seen thus far, this version of him was as close a follower of Lloth as any in the city. Yet still Vierna despised him. Ah, there's no place like home.
In the hours he had just spent in his room, Drizzt had thought through his situation as well as he could. He had not been able to imagine how any version of him could kill Zaknafein, but then he remembered the last time he had seen his father alive. They had been fighting to the death then. They had been fighting over the life of an elf child that Drizzt had supposedly butchered. One of them would have surely died in that fight if Drizzt had not cried out that the child still lived. Drizzt had not needed to think too long to know why the fight in this reality had not ended that way.
He also did not have Guenhwyvar. And why should he? This Drizzt would not see the panther as any more special than Masoj had, the mage who had owned it. Guen had fought by his side, but he had probably asked her to hunt down and kill gnomes just like a good drow would. There would have never come a time for the panther to chose a master beside the one who held her statue. Drizzt had not fought for it because this Drizzt did not desire friends.
Drizzt also figured out what his standing in the city must be. Drizzt had fought against the best this city had to offer both in his own reality and apparently in this one. As he walked down the hall now, his muscles rippling and his step quick and light, he knew that there was not one drow in the city that could last ten seconds against him. He must be invaluable to this house. That was probably why he was being called with his sisters to meet in Matron Malice's audience chamber.
The rest of his family was there waiting for him - at least, the rest of the females in his family. Malice was there with Briza and Maya. Each looked at him with contempt except his mother. She actually smiled at him. "Glad you could join us," she said, a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
Apparently this was a scheduled meeting that Drizzt had not remembered. "My sincerest apologies," Drizzt responded, bowing low. "My mind was on other things."
"And what could be more important than the matters of this house?" she asked, intrigued at what the response would be.
"The matters of those houses that rank above us," Drizzt responded, thinking quickly.
Matron Malice laughed. She had not thought there would be a correct answer to that question. She had been wrong. "Then you are in the right frame of mind for this meeting." She turned to the rest of her children in attendance. "House Baenre is growing restless. They know they are not the only power in this city anymore. We are sixth, but they know we are stronger than all between us."
Drizzt's head picked up at this. They were sixth. To move up two places in only 30 years was very impressive. Drizzt had a good idea he had a lot to do with it.
"There will come a time in the next year when we will challenge them directly for rule over this city. No one will stand in our way. House Baenre has sat atop this city for too long. Our numbers and strength grow with each month and theirs diminishes. They will need to settle this quickly before the scales tip decidedly in our favor."
"Then we should seek Lloth and find her will in this," Briza said. "Our success has shown that we are in her favor and House Baenre's decent shows that they are not, but Lloth might have other designs for their collapse."
"No," Drizzt said. "Lloth demands destruction and chaos. We must attack first."
"You are mad," Maya responded. She and the rest of his sisters glared at him, but Drizzt noticed that they did not reach for their whips.
If he had made that bold a statement in the past, he would have been beaten severely. Drizzt wanted to know where he stood in the house, now he knew. In front of their mother, Drizzt was an equal. He wondered how far it went.
"We must attack first and cripple them. Then, before they have even finished counting their wounds, we will strike them down."
Briza laughed. "You have gone mad. To eliminate a house you must do it swiftly and silently. There can be no phases of the attack. The war must consist of only one battle. There is no other way."
Drizzt stood and glared at his sister. "This is not a normal war. I am not talking about eliminating a house, I am talking about taking over a city. If we attack in silence and secrecy, keeping our identity unknown, then we will move into the fifth place in the city, and we will have made the second house stronger by our actions. This attack must be made public to the rest of the city. Everyone must know that we have arrived."
Briza did start to reach for her whip now, and Drizzt thought he might have over done it. Malice stepped in before it got ugly. "How?" she asked, motioning to her eldest daughter to stand down for the moment. "How do we defeat House Baenre?" she asked her son.
"I have a plan," he lied.
"What?" Malice persisted, indicating from her tone that she did not like having to ask.
"I can not tell you," Drizzt spoke the truth. "If you know then Lloth will know. If Lloth knows, House Baenre can find out. I must keep it to myself. You must trust me."
"Mother!" Briza screamed. "You can not allow this to go on."
"If I told you now," Drizzt continued, staring down his oldest sister, "you would go to Lloth as you said before and consult our glorious spider queen as to the outcome of my plan. Regardless of the response you would not be happy."
"Lloth would not betray us to House Baenre," Briza argued.
"Wouldn't she?" Drizzt replied. "Is she not the goddess of chaos? She does not choose favorites. She wants the strongest to survive, what better way to see if we are worthy than to stack the deck against us."
"You would remove her presence from this fight?" Vierna asked. "You would fight without Lloth's blessing."
Drizzt shook his head. "I will create chaos. I will show this city something they have never seen before. I will create death and destruction and Lloth will smile upon us."
"This is suici--" Briza started.
"Shut up!" Malice cried. Drizzt grinned. He had been wrong. He was not equal with his sisters. He was above them. "Can you do this?" she asked sincerely.
"Have I ever failed you before, Matron Mother?" he replied, bowing deeply.
"When is this attack to take place?"
"Soon," Drizzt replied. "Very soon."
Back in his room, Drizzt's mind was spinning. He wanted so desperately to destroy this city. In the life he had already lived, his presence had ripped apart Menzoberranzan. The city had lost many valuable resources chasing after the renegade drow and was much weaker than it had been. Drizzt was not content to weaken this city. He wanted to destroy it. He wanted to turn it upside-down. Then he wanted to leave.
He had already contemplated returning to the surface, but he was not sure who would be waiting for him. If he had never been to Icewind Dale, who had fought against Akar Kessel and Crenshinibon? Even before that, who had warned Ten Towns of the barbarian attack? Bruenor's threat to lock the dwarves in their caves and let the humans fight it out had probably taken place. This meant that Wulfgar was not the same person he knew. Catti-brie and Bruenor may or may not be alive depending on the human's success against the crystal shard. And what of Regis? Entreri would have easily found him, and the halfing would have been tortured to death many years ago.
There was no surface for him to return to. The only surface he had left to return to was his own. He needed to go back the same way he had come. He needed the help of a wizard. House Do'Urden had several that were probably powerful enough to set things right, but could he trust them? He doubted it. Besides, they would not understand his dilemma. Who would want to abandon this life to go back to the surface?
Was there anyone he could go to? Drizzt sighed in frustration and just lay on his bed. It was the only thing he dared do.
* * *
Drizzt sat in the corner of a seedy tavern in the northern section of Garrilport sipping at the establishment's finest wine. At least they said it was their finest wine. Drizzt had liked to visit taverns back in Menzoberranzan. It was not a common thing for a noble male of a ranked house to visit the unprotected slums of the drow city, but Drizzt did not care. No one would ever attack him. It was suicide. It was safer to take on the entire Do'Urden house than to engage Drizzt by himself.
Drizzt had figured that he would have to get into a few fights before the ambitious drow of the city learned to leave him alone, but it had not even taken that. Drizzt was a walking legend, or at least he had been back in Menzoberranzan, and no one dared confront him. He had three or four taverns he liked to visit regularly, and they gave him preferential treatment. Each of these taverns had wine for Drizzt - and perhaps Lloth herself if she ever cared to visit - and then they had wine for everyone else. Drizzt had never had to pay for his drinks.
If anyone had ever set before him what he now drank, heads would literally roll. Drizzt restrained himself here, though, and casually sipped at the drink. He could not expect these humans to know who he was . . . yet. The poor quality of the drink prevented the need for caution on Drizzt's part. He no longer had his golden earrings that not only protect his mind from unwanted psionic and magical invasion, but also kept his head clear from inebriation no matter how much he drank. Getting drunk on this wine, however, would take willpower he did not posses.
His missing earrings were only a minor inconvenience. Without his other magical items, he felt naked and exposed. If this Artemis Entreri wanted him for something, why not summon him with all his equipment? Of course, no matter how naked Drizzt felt, he realized that at the time he was transported out of Dianka's room, he really had been naked. He should be thankful for the clothes and equipment he had.
He had also realized last night that this was not his body. Not exactly anyway. He had wandered until he had come to this section of the city. This was the section that never slept. He had never been in a human settlement before, but with the help of the orb he had taken from the dead sorcerer, he was able to read the signs above each building and found a hotel. He had some money on him, but the innkeeper had refused to give him a room. So Drizzt had killed him and stayed the night for free.
His room had a mirror, and he was able to see that it was him, but some perverted version of him. He was smaller, but quicker and more flexible. That was important because besides the bracers, he had nothing to improve his agility. He had no idea why he still had the bracers, but he was glad he did. Everything about this new identity he had inherited spoke of being acclimated to the surface.
Neither of his weapons was of drow make. They were both fine scimitars, and the blue one was better than either of his old weapons, but they were definitely designed for the surface. He did not have a piwafwi, and even the lowest males of the lowest houses in Menzoberranzan had that. They might not be magical, but they at least had them. Drizzt had also found out that he no longer had the ability to levitate. He did not know if that was because of prolonged exposure to the surface lights, or because he no longer had his Do'Urden emblem.
There was also the light. The candles in the magic shop had startled Drizzt because it had been a long time since he had used natural light. Once he had changed his vision back into the normal spectrum, he was amazed by how soft the light was. Even the sunlight outside this morning, though brighter than anything he could remember, did not sting his eyes like it should. This version of him had been on the surface for a long time.
If there was a version of him that lived in this reality, Drizzt wondered why he was not good enough for this Artemis Entreri. Surely, the Drizzt of Menzoberranzan was better equipped to handle any task imaginable than this inadequately equipped version of him, but that was only because of his physical condition. It appeared that the only thing about him that had remained from his other self was his memory and mindset. Was this version of him mentally inept? He had obviously left the underdark, so there had to be something wrong with him.
Zaknafein had often spoken fondly of the surface, but his father had been a fool. His only ambition lay in killing priestesses. He was good at it, but he never sought to reap the potential benefits. His constant bickering with Matron Malice and his unwillingness to embrace the ways of his people had weakened House Do'Urden considerably. Drizzt had enjoyed killing him. After that, his rise to power was quick and unhindered.
Drizzt laughed to himself. If only this Drizzt knew what he had left behind by going to the surface. He paused. If he had been sent here, did that mean this version was taking his place back in Menzoberranzan? Would he ruin his standing within that city? He needed to find Artemis quickly. But where was he to look?
Artemis had to be someone important in the city to have need of him. Drizzt would start looking at the bigger houses he had seen near the center of the city. After his encounter with the innkeeper, he had kept his identity hidden within his cowl. There were thin gloves in the pockets of his cloak and he was able to keep all of his skin covered. He had a feeling if he uncovered himself he might find Artemis a little quicker.
The streets of the northern section of Garrilport were crowded and noisy. The smell in this part of the city was very unpleasant. As crowded as it normally was, Drizzt was given a very wide berth as he walked down the street with his hood down. There was a large, well-protected building in the center of the city. Guards surrounded it. Drizzt decided to start his search there.
A collection of guards noticed him right away, and they moved over to intercept, weapons drawn. Drizzt decided to keep his weapons in their sheaths, but he reached into his pocket to make sure his orb was activated. "Are you Drizzt?" one of them asked.
Drizzt smiled. This was going to be easy. "Good, you are expecting me. Please, take me to see Artemis."
The men looked curiously amongst themselves. Some of them did not like the assassin and already harbored ideas that he might not be as harmless as their captain professed. If this killer had a relationship with Entreri, it would be interesting to hear him explain himself. "We have instructions to take you to our captain," the spokesman for the group said.
"Very well," he agreed with a grin, "take me to your leader."
Two of the men put their swords away and walked up to Drizzt. "Your weapons?" they asked.
Drizzt burst out laughing. "You want me to give you my weapons?" he asked for clarification. "I don't think so."
"We are not moving from this spot until you give us your weapons," the spokesman said firmly.
Drizzt shrugged. "Have it your way." His weapons leaped into his hands, and he killed the two guards standing next to him. His blue scimitar was powerful enough to penetrate directly through the cheap plate of the guard on Drizzt's right, but he sent the second weapon in search of the other man's neck.
The remaining guards charged. Drizzt batted the first two attacks away easily and dropped low to duck under the other two. He swiped out two pairs of legs, and then moved with a speed the guards could not follow. Two of the four fell to the ground screaming in pain, clutching at their torn legs, while the other two spun around looking for this lightening fast elf.
They found him as pain seared up their backs. They dropped their weapons, and Drizzt drew bloody patterns in their necks. He then stepped lightly to the second two men he had dropped and quieted their annoying cries. He pushed his scimitars back into the sheaths and looked at his work. "Now," he said to the six dead men, "don't go back on your promise. I don't want to see you moving from this spot after I've gone."
With a skip in his step, he continued to the guardhouse. The few witnesses to the deed did not hang around long enough to see what Drizzt was going to do next. The door to the four-story building was no longer guarded and Drizzt walked in. The foyer was empty, but the next room held several guards maintaining the weapon room. Drizzt did not call attention to himself, and continued up, pretty sure where he would find the captain.
Drizzt met no resistance on his way to the top floor. A few men saw him and called out, but Drizzt ignored them and continued up. John was on the top floor waiting for news of the search for this murdering drow. He did not expect that news to come in the form of the drow himself.
Drizzt walked into the room, and John stood suddenly from his chair beside the main table. Behind Drizzt, several guards came huffing and puffing from having to chase the unnaturally quick elf up the steps. John misinterpreted the men behind Drizzt as escorts. "Why is this man, uh, drow still armed?"
Before the men behind him could answer, Drizzt spoke up. "Please, Captain," he started, guessing at John's identity, "don't punish your men. They did as they were told, but I took their second option in which I got to keep my weapons and they stayed outside."
One of the guards who was with John in the room moved over to a window. "Captain we have six guards on the street down."
"Down?" John asked for clarification.
"Permanently," the guard answered. The blood was very clear even from this distance.
This was the first the guards had heard that this drow had killed some of them, and they drew their weapons. "Hold!" John called. He could easily see that though they outnumbered this drow ten to one, if they attacked, he would just have more dead guards on his hand.
Drizzt had been thinking the same thing. "Smart choice, Captain," he congratulated.
"Who are you?" John demanded, trying to sound in control of the situation.
Drizzt drew himself up to full height, which still made him the shortest one in the room by at least five inches and answered the question. "I am Drizzt Do'Urden of Daermon N'a'shezbaernon, House Do'Urden, Sixth House of Menzoberranzan, a city I would very much like to get back to. So, unless we have other business to attend to, I would like you to take me to Artemis."
"You know Artemis Entreri?" John did not like how this sounded for his "friend."
"I've never met him actually, but I am dying to, figuratively speaking of course. You do know where he is?"
John nodded. "Why do you want to see him?"
"I am told he is the reason I am here. I hope he has the means to send me home."
"Who told you this?" John asked.
"I think he said his name was Kraygan. He said that he had summoned me for Artemis Entreri. I suppose he has some task he wants me to perform or something. Whatever the case, Artemis better not have called me without a way to send me back."
John shook his head. He did not bother asking if Drizzt had killed the sorcerer. With the dead guards outside, it was not like John needed another murder charge to tack on to the drow. "Artemis did not ask for you to be summoned. I did."
"You did?" Drizzt said, startled at this revelation. He walked quickly toward the captain. It was not a wise move with all of John's men on edge. Of course, attacking Drizzt was even less wise.
Four men came from behind, making far too much noise for Drizzt to miss them. The drow stopped his approach to the captain, dropped into a crouch, and spun about. His blades went in search of the guards' groins. The two in front stopped short and hopped back, crashing into the two guards behind them. Drizzt leaped up and expertly disarmed the crowd of four, leaving the guards grabbing at bloody arms and wrists.
The drow spun around and dropped into a forward roll just as two crossbow bolts flew over his head. The bolts instead sank into the side of one of the already injured guards. Somehow Drizzt managed to sheath his swords during his roll and came out of it on one knee with a dagger in each hand. The two crossbowmen stood on opposite sides of John, and Drizzt let fly with both daggers at once. They each sank into the gut of one of the marksmen, effectively preventing them from firing another shot.
More men came at the drow, but John cried out again. "Stop, everyone stop! Please!" This last word was aimed more directly at Drizzt. "Please stop," he continued. It looked like all of his men should survive their injuries, but the fact they could had obviously been the intent of this murderer. "Please, this has all been a big mistake."
That was the wrong thing to say. Drizzt popped up from his knee, his angrily glowing blue scimitar in hand. "A mistake?" he repeated. "That is what Kraygan said right before I cut his throat open. I do not like mistakes, especially when they strand me on the Lloth forsaken surface far from my home. I don't like mistakes, and I don't like the people who make them. I would ask you to undue the mistake and send me home, but I have a feeling you will not have the answer I want, and I will be forced to kill you. To give you a better chance at survival, I will return at nightfall. By then you will have secured means for my return, or I will kill everyone in this city. Is that understood?"
John could do nothing but nod. "Good," Drizzt said. He turned about, and no one tried to stop him from leaving. John and his men quickly attended to the wounded. They kept a good supply of medical equipment in the guardhouse and soon had all the wounds treated and wrapped.
"What are we going to do?" one of the men asked John.
"I'm going to talk to Artemis," he replied. "If anyone knows how to deal with this Drizzt Do'Urden it will be him." John only wished he could speak with more confidence.
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