"Stalking Shadows"

Author: Radiant Sea Serpent

Disclaimer: Everyone except Lynara and Vaitrue belongs to R.A.S.

Authors Note: The first Fanfic I ever wrote, before I even knew it was called fanfiction, this is also one I managed to only recently save from my laptop.

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The ride had been hard. Two weeks they had been wandering without contact. They had run out of provisions days ago and now simply wished to locate some sign of civilization. Drizzt sighed and shifted in his saddle looking to the side at Catti-Brie. Her face showed signs of strain but she put none of her discomforts into voice, He was glad for that. This had after all been his idea. He shook his head and redirected his eyes back to the road ahead and frowned. They would have to set up camp soon.

"Camp soon?" Catti said as if reading his thoughts, pulling her muscular chestnut mare to a stop.

He nodded, pulling his own slender black stallion to a halt, but unwilling to look her in the eye. He instead looked around for a good place to set up camp. A moment later he pointed to a small clearing a little ways off the road, "There."

Catti nodded and slowly dismounted attempting to stretch away the ache in her lower back and leg muscles as she took the packs off of the horse and moved towards the clearing. Drizzt followed suite and by dark had a fire going in the middle of the clearing.

"Where do ye be thinking we are?" Catti asked after they had set up and the sun had set.

Drizzt shook his head staring into the flames, "I'm not sure."

"Well, where ever we be there must be a town somewhere." She muttered tossing pieces of bark into the fire. Drizzt nodded but wasn't convinced.

"I'll take first watch." She declared after a moment, standing and walking over to lean on a tree at the edge of the firelight. Drizzt watched her go thoughtfully then deciding that they weren't in such a dangerous place lay down and drifted into sleep intierly trusting in his friend.

Catti watched him then turned her gaze to the forest around them. It was some hours later when a sharp crack of twigs alerted her of something nearby. She bolted upright looking around wildly. She thought she saw something out of the corner of her eye and turned to see. Next thing she knew it was daytime and she was slumped against the tree. She sat up looking around in confusion. Had she fallen asleep? Memory rushed back and she looked around suddenly fearful. Wouldn't Drizzt have awakened her when his watch came? She hurridly made her way to his side and shook him gently. When he didn't respond she shook him harder, terrified, she called his name loudly into his ear. He jerked and shaught upright looking around startled. He groaned shading his sensitive nocturnal eyes from the unexpected burage of sunlight, then confused he shifted his gaze to Catti who was still clinging to his arm and looking terribly afraid.

"What is it?! What's wrong?" He asked alarmed.

"Oh thank the gods! I thought ye were dead!" She blurted.

"What would make you think that?" He asked.

"During me watch I thought I heard something in the woods then I'm to guessing I fell asleep. Then when I tried to wake ye up ye wouldn't...I thought maybe we was attacked..." She said sounding almost hysterical with the fear she had felt.

Drizzt blinked a few times before answering, "Well, we weren't attacked and I'm not dead and if I was tired enough to have slept through my watch and you through yours then we probably needed it. Calm down."

She took a couple of deep breaths to slow her wildly beating heart then stood and began to pack away her unused sleeping role. Drizzt sighed and did the same glad that she had calmed down but slightly worried himself. Something had definitely happened that night. Catti-Brie would never have fallen asleep if she had thought there was danger nearby and he hadn't been that tired. Coupled with that he felt horrible. Every movement seemed to drag and his throat felt raw as if he had been coughing. The pain made it hard to swallow and oddly enough didn't seem to affect his voice or vise versa. Not wanting to worry her, he told Catti none of this.

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By the middle of the day Drizzt was no better and Catti was swearing that she would never ride another horse as long as she lived and that her buttox was probably purple by now. Drizzt smiled glad that she seemed unperturbed by the night's events. It was nearing sunset when they came across a wagon. The man driving it stopped the wagon and eyed them suspiciously. Drizzt immediately hiked up the hood of his cloak hiding his drowish features from view.

"Who are you?" The man asked fear and suspicion evident in his voice.

"Travelers is all, new about these parts. Who might ye be?" Catti asked smiling, an innocent almost girlish smile that often gave her an advantage in bad situations.

"A farmer and merchant on my way home that's all you need to know. New around here you obviously are otherwise you wouldn't be out this late so far from a home or town." He said with a smile that seemed, Drizzt noted, almost sympathetic?

"Where be the nearest town?" Catti asked casually.

He turned slightly in his seat and pointed back the way he had come, "DaggerDale. About two to three miles back that way," regaining his seat he snapped the rains and started the wagon again moving around the couple, "You'd best hurry though, you'll want to get there before dark."

"Why's that?" Drizzt asked

"Bad things come out at night about these parts." The man called back to them before he went over a hill and was out of sight. Catti and Drizzt exchanged looks. Neither, Catti, being an expert marksman and able warrior and Drizzt one of the finest swordsman in all the realms, were overly concerned about the dangers. Indeed after the long uneventful journey both actually looked forward to the challenges of the night. These thoughts in mind they continued on their way neither hurried or worried.

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They traveled long into the night before stopping in a small copse to set up camp. Taking the mans warnings to heart Drizzt, more attuned to the night than his human friend, took first watch as Catti gratefully stretched out for a much needed rest. Drizzt moved far out of the fire light's range so that the glare from the fire wouldn't cause him to miss details that could mean life or death for his slumbering friend. Not long after this Drizzt began to feel like there was something that just wasn't quite right. It was a feeling that struck him from deep within and made him shiver. Looking around his eyes locked onto a shadowy elf shaped figure whose eyes reflected the firelight and made them glow red. He gasped and started to call out an alarm when the creature looked up at him. Their eyes met and Drizzt felt like the world had been entirely enveloped in dark swirling mists that seemed to cloud his senses, The last thing he felt before his senses failed him completely was what seemed to be a pair of pinpricks on the side of his throat.

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Catti awoke shortly after midnight prepared to take the second watch. She stood and looked around for Drizzt and froze when she saw him sprawled face down quite a ways from the firelight. In a half shock she ran to his side and gently rolled him over noting with great concern the fact that his dark black skin had turned into more of a dusky grey and that his breathing seemed slightly labored. Her eyes roamed over his body noting with some puzzlement the lack of wounds. If he wasn't suffering from wounds than what? Confused and scared she began to shake Drizzt and call his name trying to wake him.

"Oh gods! Drizzt please, please wake up..."Her words cut off in a sob. Bowing her head she began to cry almost uncontrollably. So deep in grief and fear was she that she didn't notice Drizzt's groan or see his eyelids flutter.

Drizzt awoke to the sensation of being shaken and something wet dripping on his face. After a few moments he also realized that someone was crying. He opened his eyes and almost immediately shut them again. He was extremely dizzy and everything seemed to be spinning. His throat burned and seemed to have swelled so that not only was swallowing difficult but breathing as well. His limbs were lead weights that refused to move. He lay there trying to make the world stop spinning when he suddenly realized who was crying. Catti? Why was she crying? The last thing he remembered was feeling strange and looking around. He thought he remembered seeing something but everything after that was a complete blank. Slowly opening his eyes he saw Catti, head bowed and eyes closed, tears streaming down her face. The wetness he had felt when he had awakened had been her tears falling on his face. His eyes blurred suddenly and became unfocused causing him to blink and shake his head which in turn caused his dizziness to return.

The act of him shaking his head seemed to snap Catti back to the present. Seeing him awake she gasped with relief, "Gods ye gave me quite a scare...are ye alright...how do ye feel?"

"I feel horrible...what happened?" He asked as he struggled to sit up.

Catti rapped her arm around his back helping him sit upright, concerned when he began to lean against her weakly, "I'm not knowing...I woke up and just found ye here...how do ye feel exactly?"

"My throat burns...and it's hard to breath... "His voice faded as his thoughts suddenly began to drift, gods he was tired. He felt Catti's hand on his forehead.

"Well, ye're not sick." She mumbled more to herself than Drizzt. He didn't have a fever, far from it, his skin was cold almost icy to the touch. Suddenly truly worried for her friend she slowly lowered him back to the ground, stood and gave a shrill whistle. A soft nicker came as a response as the horses trotted to her side. She quickly tied the reigns of the stallion to the mare's saddle then turned back to kneel at Drizzt's side. She maneuvered herself under his arm and wrapped her own about his back, gently lifting him off the ground. He swayed slightly but with her aid managed to stay on his feet. She took a deep breath and began to make her way to the mare's side then groaned in dismay. There was no way she'd be able to get him onto the horse on her own.

"Drizzt, ye're going to have to help me out here, ok? Ye have to get on the horse. Ye have to try. Drizzt?" She said glancing at his face anxiously. He nodded slightly reaching out to grab the saddle horn and then the mane when his other arm was freed. He stopped for a moment trembling with exhaustion and not quite sure how to proceed. Catti noting his hesitation and the fact that his hands were shaking came forward and helped put his foot in the stirrup. Smiling his thanks he slowly swung himself up into the saddle and promptly slumping over the saddle horn, attempting to keep himself from falling off. Then Catti was up behind him wrapping her arm about him to keep him in place as she forced the horses into a smooth canter.

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Sitting in a tree overhead the shadowy figure watched all this with a twisted smile. He cared little if the drow actually managed to escape him, he did so love a challenge, but he seriously doubted that he would. No one ever escaped him. He sighed as the two left riding fast in the direction of DaggerDale. It was only a matter of time.


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