My home is Icewind Dale. Or is it? I am not so sure anymore. Surely I have a warm feeling in my heart for the Dale, for the cold winds and harsh winters spent with the dwarves in Kelvin's Cairn, and for Regis, who has returned home to Lonelywood, and of course, for Catti-brie. But is it truly my home? I admit now that I know not. For what, truly, is home? It is something different to every person, as home is very much different between Wood Elves, who favor the whimsical forests, and the Dark Elves, the Drow, who thrive in the dangerous Underdark.

I have long ago decided that home was not a place, but a feeling. Home is where I am most comfortable, most at ease. Thus my home is not Menzoberranzan, nor is it Calimport, or aboard the Sea Sprite, nor, I think, even Icewind Dale.

But I have had an additional thought to add to that, for if home truly is a place of comfort and peace where all is safe and secure, then I know that I have no home.

Before my unfortunate sister, Vivinne, and her group of Drow and Artemis Entreri came to Mithril Hall to capture me and sacrifice me to the evil Spider Queen, I recognized that I thrive, am at ease, that I truly live, in battle and combat, a place of complete insecurity and, for most, unease. That when there is no enemy, I become restless and uneasy, that for me, a warrior, a time of peace is a place of stress and insecurity.

And yet, I am in a place of peace and comfort with my friends, my companions of the Hall, with Catti-brie. So is then combat my home? No, I cannot think so, though I am able to truly live while having such a direct and obvious goal, as when the Crystal Shard needed to be destoryed, or when we set off to find Wulfgar's lost warhammer, Aegis-fang.

But no, battle is not my home. What then is my home, if indeed I have one? If I am to hold to my deffinition of home, comforting and secure, then I must choose that which is most obvious to me, and yet the most disturbing, perhaps.

My home is with Catti-brie, wherever that may lead.

--Drizzt Do'Urden

Chapter 1 - The Plottings of Fate

The elf trotted swiftly down the dirt path, lavender eyes flicking quickly about the disturbed ground of the trail, following the large imprinted markings.

Drizzt Do'Urden held his head low, the hood of his green cloak tight against the slicing autum wind as he reached the bottom of the Spine of the World mountain range. His ebony skin was nearly impossible to see under the cowl, but any who knew of the defenders of Icewind Dale knew of the identifiable forest green cloak and black skin to recognize Drizzt Do'Urden when they saw them.

Most of the denizens of the surface were terrified of drow, the legendary and infamous dark elves who generally lived out their lives deep in the Underdark far below the surface world and were rarely seen, but not of Drizzt Do'Urden, hero of the North, victor over Akar Kessel, defeater of the Ice Dragon Icingdeath, friend and companion of Bruenor Battlehammer, Eighth and Tenth king of the legendary Mithril Hall (a very confusing tale indeed), friend to Wulfgar the barbarian, wielder of the enchanted scimitars Twinkle and Icingdeath, last of the Drow noble house of Do'Urden.

He had lived to see many battles, and proudly brandished many fine scars from each of them.

Swiftly, he squatted in the dirt and peered intently at the tracks before him.

His quarry was close.

* * *

The wizard shoved his half-elven slave before him, the slave loosing his feet and crumpling to the ground, groaning into the dirt, scrambling quickly, trying to rise again, to not give his terrible master another opportunity to use that horrible whip. But the slave was too weak, and instead of getting to his feet, merely writhed on the ground for a few moments.

Behind him, the wizard smiled nastily and reached to his belt, uncoiling a very strange whip indeed. It was black, with nine heads, all of the writhing and dancing through the air on their own, nine black snake heads hissing at the sight of a victim so prone upon the ground.

"Haven't learned your lesson yet, eh?" smiled the wizard, casually swinging the whip heads just out of striking range of the fallen man.

The slave rolled over onto his back, whimpering, covering his head with his arms.

"Ohh," sighed the wizard, a sparkle of anticipation in his red eyes, "what a perfect target."

He lashed out at his slave with it, three of the nine heads sinking their fangs into the pitiful slave's arms, tearing hunks of flesh from the bones, the venom seeping in, the slave's arms instantly going numb and limp.

Because that was what happened when one was struck with a Drow female's whip.

Drizzt rummaged through a pouch at his hip, pulling out the small onyx statue of a black panther. He set it reverently upon the ground and whispered to it.

"Guenhwyvar, come to me," the drow said softly to the extraplaner creature that was his beloved black panther friend.

A gray mist collected around the onyx statue, swiftly taking form in the shape of a huge black panther, nearly ten feet long and almost as tall as Drizzt when the panther was on all fours.

Drizzt smiled at his friend and nodded at the tracks.

"Our quarry is near at hand."

The panther growled happily in anticipation.

* * *

Kilster Dolonen was an influencial wizard in the Hosttower of the Arcane in Luskan. He and some companions had set off on a quest for a fabled magical ruby when they had been ambushed in the Spine of the World by a band of thieves and cutthroats, including two powerful but rare Frost Giants.

One companion had been crushed without warning, the wagon he had been in reduced to powdered kindling by one rock heaved by one of those cursed frost giants, the second throw mortally wounding another, effectively taking him out of the fight. It was then only Kilster and one other, against an entire band, including the two frost giants.

Concentrating on the giants, the wizards had managed to bring one down in a smoldering pile of charred flesh and twisted bone. They had managed to fend off the rest of the band-humans and orcs-fairly easily. With her last fireball, Kilster's friend had slain the second frost giant, only to get a dagger in the back for the trouble-from Kilster himself, not one for allies.

Only the unfortunate wretch before him had lived of the band of attackers. After looting the bandits' treasure-trove, among which Kilster had discovered the drow whip, Kilster had been taking out his anger upon the hapless thief, experimenting with the whip, which he was becoming quite prolific with in the recent tenday since the ambush.

His prisoner shrieked in agony, writhing pitifully on the ground, which only made Kilster lash at him all the harder, taking more fleshing, numbing more limbs.

He would have become even better with the whip had not a lone drow elf dropped lightly into the middle of the road a short way in front of them.

* * *

Drizzt eyed the wizard coldly, wondering how the human had gotten possession of a drow whip. The drow were an evil and secretive race and Drizzt refused to believe that a female drow had parted with the item willingly. The only way for one of them to release their prized whips was for them to be dead.

Of course, Drizzt did not care at all, really, how the wizard had gained the item, aside a dull curiousity, and warning himself that the enchanter had to be powerful indeed to defeat a female drow of high enough rank to have possession of such a whip.

His forearms rested comfortably on the handles of his twin scimitars, a relaxed posture until the drow decided to explode into motion, when hardly any could follow him and his dazzling skills with the blades, skill aided by enchanted bracers Drizzt had taken from the weapons master of the drow House Baenre after he had slain the weapons master in pitched combat.

"That is a curious weapon for a wizard," Drizzt remarked, perfectly calm.

The wizard sneered at the drow, apparently quite confident in his ablities to fend off even a dark elf.

"Drizzt Do'Urden I presume?" the wizard taunted, his voice a bit squeaky.

Drizzt fell back a that remark, surprised, though he tried to cover it. But the wizard saw it.

"Yes, I know you and your name, drow," the confident wizard continued, a wide smile on his face, clearly believing himself to hold the upper hand. "Who in all the northland does not?"

Drizzt bowed low at the compliment. Instantly the wizard came forward, hand outstreached, chanting an arcane phrase, deep in the throws of spellcasting.

Six hundred pounds of panther slammed into him from behind.

Five seconds later, it was over, with a rather bloodied Guenhwyvar bounding over to Drizzt's side.

Drizzt dismissed the slave, promising "if you ever are caught again acosting travelers upon the roads of Icewind Dale, I shall let my panther do to you what it did to the unfortunate wizard, only much slower."

After a fearful glace down at the corpse, and a severe paling of the face at the sight of Guenhwyvar growling at him, the man ran off into the wilderness.

"He could have stuck to the road," Drizzt remarked dryly to his companion.

Soon after, the elf dismissed his friend back to her home, the Astral Plane. He then approached the corpse, whip still writhing in the dead wizard's hand. In the blink of an eye, out flashed Twinkle, slashing at the prone heads of the whip. Two seconds later, nine heads lay still on the road. Sheathing the glowing blue blade, Drizzt looked at the body.

He knew nothing good would come of this wizard's death.

* * *

The human stalked in, feet making not even a whisper on the normally creaky florboards of the plush bedroom. It was huge and spacious, with a huge double-bed and curtain frame in the center, with several mirrors and desks and even several large potted plants resting upon pedistals scattered about the room.

The human snorted in disgust. There were a thousand different spots around this room that begged to hide assassins. The human shook his head, silently wondering why rich pashas who were always at risk for assassinations were living in rooms where hundreds of murderers may lurk. He was almost ashamed of the stupidity of humans, and rich humans in particular.

Of course, he remined himself, it did make his job a bit easier.

He whispered his way to the window curtains, slipping behind them so perfectly that ever if someone were watching, it would appear to merely be a gust of wind.

And there he waited.

Soon after, he heard the door opening and the heavy breathing of an extremely overweight man as he lumbered to his bed (which creaked and groaned loudly as he sat), and undressed. Then the lamp was extinguished and all was plunged into blackness.

Softly, two glowing orbs appeared, as the human shifted his eyes from normal to infrade vision. He glided from behind the curtain and drew his magnificently jeweled dagger from it's sheath from the folds of his cloak.

Before the fat Pasha knew what was happening, there was a jeweled dagger pressed to his ample, meaty throat.

"Don't kill me!" whimpered the cowardly Pasha, too afraid to move, beginning to sweat.

"Generally I torture men who beg," the cold voice answered back, and the pasha knew that no bargaining would spare him, for that voice told him in no uncertain terms, that he was dead already.

"I'm rich!" pleaded the pasha, taking a wild stab, praying to whatever god was listening that the man with the knife had a weakness for gold.

"Oh yes," said the cold voice, it's tone deadly, "and your bounty says dead or alive."

The pasha felt the man lean in closer to him, and in the dim starlight, the pasha saw the man's face, and the blood drained from his own. Of course, that could have also been partial to the fact that his thoat had just been neatly cut open.

"The living just slow the whole process down terribly," said the deadly voice, as Artemis Entreri wiped his blade clean on the pasha's bedclothes, and quietly slipped out of the Guild House, into the streets of Calimport.

By the time the body had been discovered the next morning, Artemis Entreri had already passed through the city gates and was long gone, to collect his bounty from the Hosttower in Luskan.

* * *

The sun was setting in a blazing fireball of glory behind the Spine of the World as Drizzt returned to his camp set away in a small alcove of rock that shielded him somewhat from the strong icewind from which the Dale derived it's name a day after the attack on the road.

The alcove was deserted and the blackened firepit smoldering from a recent blaze. Drizzt paused. It was empty, yet it shouldn't have been. Hands on his scimitars, Drizzt tensed, his gut telling him that something was wrong, that there was an attack waiting for him. He skirted the camp, skittering close to the rock wall that made up the wall of the circular alcove, eyes scanning for signs of trouble.

He did not have long to wait.

There were many tracks, and signs of a struggle in the camp. The drow noted with concern several large droplets of red blood staining the ground near the firepit.

He recognized the tracks and his blood ran cold in horror.


His mind blured and he staggered and fell to his knees, noting also the unmistakable marks as if a body had been attacked and dragged away. He felt a cold emptiness settle deep in his heart and his skin seemed numb.

Not for himself, never that. But for his companion.

Drizzt Do'Urden muttered a single word, his voice trembling, as he tripped over a recognizable bow lying on the ground, splashed in blood.


A intense fire came to Drizzt Do'Urden's lavender eyes then, as a red wall of rage swelled in him to replace the emptiness as he drew his scimitars and charged out of the alcove, not caring if all the Dale heard him coming, and pursued the trail.

He was the hunter again, and woe be to his prey.

* * *

Artemis Entreri eyed the wizard coldly, sizing him up, fingers itching to plunge his dagger into the baby-faced fool's chest. Entreri had to force down a smile at the thought of watching the life-force be pulled out of that one, forced himself to remember that there was no worth in killing the idiot. Not at this time.

Instead, Entreri feigned deafness and leaned in slightly, aiming his right ear more directly in line with the wizard.

"Say again?" he asked coldly.

The wizard exchanged a nervous glance with his friend, another wizard, taller than the first, and had a greying beard and long white hair. Clearing his throat, the first wizard reiterated his words.

"We are declining your payment..." the younger wizard stuttered, trailing off with the dangerous glint in Entreri's eyes.

The older wizard piped up, deffinately not wanting to get entirely on Artemis Entreri's bad side. You just didn't go around getting on Artemis Entreri's bad side, it just wasn't very intelligent. Not many people were on Entreri's bad side-mostly because everyone who got on the assassin's bad side was dead.

Many had made the mistake of getting on his bad side, and now only a few were living to talk about it. There were two exceptions to that rule-of course, everyone knew about that. Regis the Halfling and his drow companion Drizzt Do'Urden had angered Artemis Entreri on many occations-not something one did to maintain an active lifestyle-and had managed to elude death at the hands of the cold-blooded assassin-no, the older wizard, Rambaret, corrected, no, Entreri was a bounty hunter now, bringing in criminals to justice-several times.

"We are withholding payment until another job is completed for us," the older wizard said quickly into the dead silence.

Entreri stepped closer to them, eyes flashing dangerously. He came right up to Rambaret's face. The younger wizard flinched back at his approach, but Rambaret forced himself not to show any fear.

"I promised to do this one job. I elliminated that baffoon Pasha Kilik for you. My deal with you mettlesome wizards is terminated," Rambaret didn't know how it was possible, but Entreri put his face even closer, until their noses were nearly touching. "You will deliver to me my fee or I will kill you and then help myself to my fee and more."

Entreri was bluffing, and Rambaret knew it.

"That would bring the full wrath of the Hosttower down upon your head, Artemis Entreri. Can Artemis Entreri move fast enough to dodge fifty fireballs? Or run far enough to escape our scrying eyes and teleport doorways? Can Artemis Entreri fend off the full power of the wizards of the Hosttower of the Arcane?" Rambaret snapped, and for a moment the wizard thought he had pushed Entreri too far, that he would simple kill him and his apprentice then and there, wrath of the Hosttower be damned. But then Entreri stepped away, still eyeing them dangerously. He said nothing, refusing to openly acknowlege that he feared the wizards.

It was as good a victory as Rambaret was ever likely to get over the likes of the ruthless bounty hunter. "We want you to elliminate Drizzt Do'Urden," Rambaret said bluntly, figuring pandering around the point only to frustrate and anger Entreri.

There was a flash of surprise and suspision that flickered through Entreri's eyes, before he fought them down and forced himself to speak calmly.

"Then I have already accomplished the task. I killed Drizzt Do'Urden with my own hands," Entreri said, a blatant lead, waiting for the wizards to drop some hint about this foolish and petty game they played with him.

But the look on Rambaret's face was genuine surprise.

"When? How?" stuttered the wizard.

"Some months ago," Entreri replied casually, "now about my fee..."

"Months? Impossible!" stumbled Rambaret, honestly shocked.

"And yet that is the truth."

"But he passed through here merely a tenday ago, heading home to Icewind Dale after apparently visiting with his barbarian friend in Waterdeep," said Rambaret. "And he cut down a promanent wizard of the Hosttower only yesterday while traveling back to the Spine of the World!"

Artemis Entreri could have been knocked over with a feather. He swayed on his feet. His emotions were awhirl in his heart.

Drizzt Do'Urden, his enemy, his nemesis, his fighting equal, alive? He felt rage mingling with, curiously, relief, frustration, and a bitter emptiness within himself that he knew was what truly was the life of Artemis Entreri. That bitter reminder that his life was nothing but a lie. He didn't like facing that. And he hated Drizzt the more for forcing that unforgiving and uncompromising mirror upon him once again.

For while Drizzt and Entreri were fighting equals, they were also complete opposites. For years Entreri was the greatest assassin in Calimport, perhaps all of Faerun. He killed efficiently and quickly for the prominent Thieves Guild under the late Pasha Pook, a victim of Drizzt's pet panther. And then, when pursuing Regis the Halfling, Entreri had met the renagade drow, who had changed the assassin's life forever, putting up a moral mirror to Entreri's pitiable mere existence. For while Entreri opted to work alone and have no close, trusted friends who could, and would so he believed, betray him, Drizzt Do'Urden had a close relationship with five trusted friends, who knew love, compassion, and, Entreri winced to remember it, a true life, one that brought the ultimate satisfaction of the heart.

And only a few months prior, Entreri's "friend" Jarlaxle, another drow, once the leader of a renagade band of male dark elves, had arranged for a final battle, a battle that would not end until one or the other had won. And Drizzt had won, clearly, and then turned away, refusing to fight any longer, and Entreri had rushed him. A drow psionic had given an unknowing Entreri a spell of protection. The energy of Drizzt's every strike had been absorbed into Entreri's body until he charged, when he had only hit Drizzt with his hand flat on the chest.

Entreri remembered all of that pent up energy flowing into Drizzt's body, driving the assassin's hand through the flesh, killing the renagade drow, without meaning to. He shuddered at the unwanted memory.

Steadying himself, drawing in a deep breath, Entreri uttered a single word, a word that shuddered with barely controled emotions.

"What?" he growled.

* * *

There was more blood splattered across the tracks of the yetis, which only caused Drizzt to run full out in pursuit.

He crested a slight rise in the plains of the Dale, and below him in the shallow basin were four huge yetis, surrounding an extremely still body. The ground was seeped in blood, the light dusting of snow a dark redish stain.

Drizzt charged in.

He did not prepare the battlefield, did not send for Guenhwavar, he simply tore down the slight slope towards them, his mind a solid red wall of unstoppable fury.

The nearest yeti turned, saw the drow charging, snarled, and readied itself.

As he got within striking distance, the yeti launched a furious left-right manuver with it's arms, claws raking the air. Drizzt easily dodged the expected attacks, bending his whole body at the knees, clawed arms slicing harmlessly past above his head.

His back touched the ground, with the soles of his feet still planted firmly upon the ground. He kicked them out, smashing the yeti in the kneecaps, feeling bone crunch under his boots, and rolled to the right, up to his feet again.

The yeti howled in pain, clutching at it's crushed knees, falling over on it's side. It's three companions rose as one and leaped over their friend's prone form, howling in fury.

Drizzt waded in, scimitars flashing.

The second yeti roared and leaped forward, swiping at the elf, clearly hoping to rip half the skin from his chest and open his belly from left to right. And it would have, had Drizzt still been there. He dodged easily out of the clumsy assult's path, and slapped the blades of his scimitars across the yeti's belly, in an X pattern. It roared in pain and rage, going into a furious left-right-left-left combination move. Drizzt picked them off faster than the yeti had thought possible, and the first sign it had that Drizzt had even touched it was the sight of its hand hitting the ground in a red mist.

It stared at the severed limb dumbly, too stunned to move. Cold metal sliced between the beast's ribs and punctured it's right lung. Wheezing, lung filling with blood, the yeti fell away to die.

The two remaining yetis spread out, one circling behind, the other rushing in from the front. Exploding into motion, Drizzt spun fast, scimitars whipping around his body in a stunningly complext twirl, Twinkle extended in front of him, and IcingDeath straight out behind. The two yetis were faced with a veritable wall of sharp metal. The one charging Drizzt's front stopped short, but the one coming in from behind sudden fell back with two dozen deep gashes in it's arms and chest as Drizzt continued to spin.

The elf whirled, his forest green cloak practically floating out behind him, and he skidded to a halt perfectly facing the remaining unwounded yeti. It eyed him with anger and some trepidation.

Drizzt's eyes flared dangerously with that familiar lavender fire.

The wounded yeti behind Drizzt snarled and charged, screaming in primal rage and pain. Still eying the unwounded one, Drizzt waited until the very last moment, then flipped Twinkle down, slipped it under his arm, pointing straight back and stabbed the yeti in the chest.

It halted forcefully as it suddenly noted the sharp metal peircing through it's flesh. Drizzt spun, IcingDeath slashing low, at the back of the yeti's knees. The yeti tumbled forward to it's knees, its head now even with Drizzt's.

But Drizzt's attention was riveted on the bloody corpse of Catti-brie. Bolstered with newfound rage, Drizzt spun back at the yeti and brought the blades of his scimitars together. With ease they diced through flesh and bone.

The yeti's head splattered to the ground with a dull thud and rolled to the feet of its unwounded and clearly stunned companion. The yeti looked from Drizzt to the head to the body and back to Drizzt. Then the creature turned and fled away from the carnage as fast as it could.

Dispassionately, Drizzt hurled Twinkle through the air. It caught the yeti just under the shoulder-blade, driving into the unfortuntate monster's lower left lung.

The yeti stumbled and flopped to the ground, where it slowly expired. Feeling empty, Drizzt walked to the beast, tore his scimitar from its body, curtly turned, and with mechanical precision, coldly slit the throat of the yeti with the broken kneekaps.

Then, dreading every move, the dark elf turned and slowly staggered down farther into the basin. To the body of Catti-brie.

He was standing over her then, staring down at her unmoving form. He felt his knees going weak, and the next thing he knew he was on his knees beside her. He threw his scimitars to the ground and felt hot tears flooding his eyes. He tried to force them back, but back they would not go, and so he embraced them. He rocked back and forth on his knees, trying to regain some semblence of calm, running his shaking hands through his long, white hair.

Her auburn hair was stained with blood, and there was a large gash on her forehead, her features dark with rivulets of dark red. Her right arm lay at an extremely awkward angle, and Drizzt knew that it was shattered. There were claw marks on her face, neck, and a few large lacerations on her chest and legs.

He leaned down and hugged her close. He buried his face in the crook of her neck and let the tears come. It was his fault. He should have told her about the wizard and not simpy run off to take care of the problem.

And then he felt her pulse against his cheek, though extremely faint. His eyes popped open wide, and he found that pulse again with his fingers. He nearly choked with relief. She was alive, if barely.

Quickly he tore off his cloak and wrapped it about her battered form, giving her some warmth against the sharp winds of the dale. Then he gently lifted her in his arms, and struck out across the plains of Icewind Dale for the dwarven valley near Kelvin's Cairn.

He prayed that his strength would not give out before then.

* * *

Artemis Entreri sat on the side of the small bed in his borrowed quarters, given to him by the wizards of the Hosttower while he decided what his next move was.

His was a heart divided, half of him wanting to rush out for his sweet revenge, to confront the blasted drow for the final time and determine once and for all who was the better swordsman. Every time before their duel had been interupted by an outside force, whether they had been forced to work together by circumstance in order to survive, or one or the other of the two had been aided in some way by a third party, they had never been allowed to finish what they had begun.

That side of himself told him that he was obviously the better swordsman and that he should find the drow and prove to the meddlsome dark elf who was stronger and that Artemis Entreri's life was not a lie.

It was a tantilizing fantasy.

But Artemis Entreri knew the truth. The other side of his heart told him that Drizzt Do'Urden was an unstoppable force with no complete equal in all the Realms. Artemis Entreri would always be second best. He would grow older and his body would degrade, the finely honed skills would deteriorate. Entreri could feel the weight of mortality pressing down on him even now. He would die, Entreri knew, long before his drow competitor even began to lose his skills and speed.

The truth that the last time Entreri and Drizzt had fought, Drizzt had won.

He looked up, his thoughts interupted, as the door opened and the drow Jarlaxle entered, his wide-brimmed hat looking outragous as usual.

Once the leader of a powerful drow renegade band, Jarlaxle had been deposed when he had been taken by the coercive powers of Crenshinibon, the Crystal Shard, and with Entreri had come to the surface to see the world. A deadly adversary with more weapons and tricks on his person than all the wizards of the Hosttower and all the thieves in Calimport combined, Jarlaxle considered no one a threat to him, in fact, he would face down Drizzt Do'Urden without a fear in the world. Sometimes Entreri thought nothing could shake the blasted elf.

Entreri scowled darkly at Jarlaxle.

"Drizzt is dead, you say?" asked Entreri bluntly.

Jarlaxle stopped short, the expression on his face showing Entreri the truth.

"What?" Jarlaxle asked, taken aback. "Of course he is. You killed him with your own hands."

Entreri stood and glared at Jarlaxle.

"Liar," he whispered coldly, his eyes flashing and promising death.

He pushed his face close to Jarlaxle's ebony one, the glare still fixed upon his features.

"What game do you play with me, drow!" shouted Entreri, practically trembling with rage. "You lure him into Crenshinibon, allow us to fight- allow me to thimk him dead...and then what? You heal him and set him loose again?"

Entreri's face was flushed, and he was trembling uncontrolably with rage. He was concerned that he would loose control and kill his only friend on Faerun. That thought gave him pause. Friend? Was this the Artemis Entreri of Calimport who had not friends who could betray him? No, he decided, this was not that Entreri. That Entreri had died when he had accidentally killed Drizzt Do'Urden.

Or so he had thought.

He did not like that part of himself anymore, he admitted to himself. That cold, friendless, unloving, unforgiving, ruthless assassin he was no longer.

Jarlaxle roughly pushed him away, and Entreri knew then that the old Entreri would not have allowed that, would not have allowed such an insult to go unrecompenced. He let it go, and felt good for doing so.

"Why?" Entreri whispered. "Why decieve me?"

Jarlaxle relaxed, noting Entreri's calmer countenance.

"I allowed you to see who was better because you had lost your nerve. You lost it and I aided you in regaining it. You won! What does anything else matter?"

"I did not win," shouted Entreri, as out of control as he had ever been in his life. "I lost! I failed! For the first time in my life, I could not best one in battle."

"What is it about Drizzt Do'Urden that so offends you, my friend?" Jarlaxle asked.

That stopped Entreri in his rant. What indeed? He was not the heartless killer he once was. He was changing, undergoing a great change. He could feel it in his heart.

He did not want to be alone.

* * *

"Now ye lis'en here! I want ye to stop th' racket! I'm sick 'n tired o' hearin' ye trainin' that blasted brigade o' yours! I'll not be havin' it!" bellowed Bruenor Battlehammer, in his gruff and oft violent mannor.

Pwent, leader of the famous "Gutbuster" Brigade, a brigade of insanely brave and, in even Bruenor Battlehammer's opinion, foolish (not to mention smelly) dwarves, was busy instructing his recruits to slam into the walls in order to "toughen them up."

Pwent halted in midcharge at the wall, where he had been training a new batch of potential gutbusters for the past hour, his spikey and sharp armor scrapping and grating as he moved (as always) and setting Bruenor's teeth on edge (also as always).

The Eighth and soon-to-be Tenth (long story) king of Mithril Hall winced at the horrible sound (though it could also have been from the smell, Bruenor was undecided).

Pwent hopped about in blustery rage at being interupted in the midst of his demonstration.

"But me king, ye'll be needing a good Gutbuster Brigade for ye're long march home to Mithril Hall!" the excitable and annoyingly energetic dwarf protested.

"I'll be needin' no such thing!" shouted the still-frustrated Bruenor. "An' even if I may, I ain't leavin' fer another tenday, so ye can just be stoppin' the racket! I cann't even hear meself think!"

He turned around and stormed away, down the corridor and made the long climb to what was reverently known among the people of Tentowns as Bruenor's Climb.

Pwent waited a long moment, hopped around the corridor to get himself up to speed, winked at his recruits, and slammed into the wall, shaking and trembling, the jagged edges of his armor carving away huge hunks of the side of the tunnel. There were many "ooooo"s from the crowd of stinky dwarves.

Burenor stood looking out toward tentowns lost in thought when there came a groan from behind him. He turned quickly, and paled at the sight of a very weak Drizzt Do'Urden holding a body draped in his cloak. It didn't take the red hair hanging out from under the cloak for Bruenor Battlehammer to know that his adopted human daughter was seriously injured.

"Me girl," the dwarf breathed.

"She lives," whispered Drizzt, as his legs gave way and he fell forward, into darkness.