Weapon Master's Child
By cade

Rating: PG13 for some language
Disclaimer: Master Salvatore owns 'em.

Note-this was my first attempt at Drizzt fiction and I wrote it at the request of a friend after we had both finished reading 'Fires of Narbondel' by Mark Anthony. We were both pretty disappointed and she asked me to write something along the same lines, but focusing on the father-son relationship between Zak and Drizzt. So here it is, enjoy!

* - means drow hand speaking
// - means thoughts
*****************************************************

The page prince of House Do'Urden knelt on the floor of the hall, keeping close to the protective shadows. Just in case Briza would come back. Not that it would do him much good. It had been her latest tirade that destroyed the yochlol sculpture, and Drizzt knew if marble was no match for his oldest sister, then he, small, thin and barely 11, could not withstand another round of her punishments.

Drizzt hadn't gone near the sculpture hadn't even wanted to. Yet it was still his fault. His disobedience had provoked Briza into bringing out her whip. That damned whip. Drizzt never thought he could hate something as much as he hated Briza's whip.

No, Drizzt hadn't even looked at the hideous sculpture, but he had looked at Briza. And there was his mistake. A page prince must never raise his eyes from the floor.

His left arm had stopped bleeding, but the hands that held the sharps of the sculpture were still numb. Drizzt struggled to push aside his hateful thoughts of Briza. If he hurried and cleaned up the scattered bits of marble, he'd still have time to slip off to the balcony and watch Narbondel's glow, or creep into the cool, unused gallery, or...

A sudden noise caused the drow boy to drop his work and spin about reflexively. The sound came from above and Drizzt strain his eyes in both infrared and light vision to see the source. A shadow swooped down and Drizzt realized it was a bat. Not one of the huge, vicious deep bats, but a smaller, shyer breed. The winged creature had somehow gotten into the Do'Urden compound and was using the opportunity to feast on the numerous spiders within.

Sacrilege! Drizzt's instincts yelled. He had a notion to run and shoo the bat away or go and alert someone to the intruder. But the more he watched the bat, the less inclined he felt to doom it to a death at Briza's whip. It really was beautiful to watch, fluttering down to grab a bite, then drifting back up to the ceiling. And after all, the bat was trapped there. Just like he was. A tiny smile touched Drizzt's lips, and he was so engrossed in the bat's flight that he didn't notice another presence join him in the hall.

Zaknafein Do'Urden watched the boy's eyes follow the bat, and smiled. The page prince was not doing a very good job of keeping his gaze down. For years, 11 of them, Zaknafein had never paid Drizzt much attention. The weapon master had always thought the boy to be one of weak-willed Rizzen's snotlings. But in the last month, Zak had noticed Drizzt's features were losing their baby softness and appearing more and more like his own. It was in the eyes Zaknafein saw the most likeness. Even though the colors were different -Drizzt's amethyst to his ruby- the shape was the same as were the expressions within.

"Strange creatures, aren't they?" Came a voice from behind. Drizzt turned sharply and was relieved to see the weapon master standing there. Much of the older male was an enigma to Drizzt, but he knew Zaknafein was no friend of Briza's. Or Malice's either. And further more, he was no fan of Lloth's.

"Where did it come from?" Drizzt dared to ask Zak, or more accurately, Zak's boots.

The weapon master made a small, disgusted sound. Directed more at their collective race than at Drizzt. He wondered when the drow had decided that not only should children neither be seen nor heard, but possess no life at all.

"It may have come in through the balcony." Zaknafein answered. "It's a small one- an insect eater. It was probably lured in here by the promise of all these tasty spiders."

Before he could stop it, a tiny giggle escaped Drizzt. He glanced up at the weapon master, knowing his laughter was blasphemous. But all Zak's face showed was curiosity.

"Why did you laugh?" He asked quietly, and Drizzt couldn't tell what that tone conveyed.

"I- I don't know sir, it's just that I thought all those legs...would really tickle going down."

Zak forced himself to clamp down on his mirth or they would both be in line for Briza's whip. His intent was not to cause more suffering for Drizzt, quite the opposite. Spending just these few moments alone with the youngster had awakened a hope within Zaknafein. A hope he had cherished when his first child, Vierna had been born. But that hope had been crushed under the very society they lived in. Now Zak wondered if he could dare foster such hopes for Drizzt, that he might be different, that he might be free of the venom that tainted all drow blood.

With more gentleness than he was ever accustomed to showing, Zak rested his hand on Drizzt's shoulder, "come, we should rescue your winged friend before Briza returns."

"How?" the page prince asked. "Perhaps a net- "

Zaknafein waved the idea away. "A net would be pointless when all you have to do is think like a bat."

Drizzt looked at the weapon master incredulously. Think like a bat? That had to be the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard.

"But how?" Drizzt asked again.

"Look around this room." Zak instructed. "There are no ledges, the walls are smooth. Your friend is tiring and needs a perch." He smiled and nodded to the winged shadow that was circling about them in slower and slower loops. "Perhaps you could oblige her."

Drizzt was about to ask how a third time when he suddenly understood. Slowly he raised his arms straight out before him and looked at Zaknafein for approval. The weapon master nodded, still smiling.

Gradually, so very slowly, the bat fluttered downward. Drizzt held perfectly still, hardly breathing, even when the wings brushed past an inch from his face. Then the small creature hovered over his right arm and landed. Drizzt winced as tiny razor sharp claws brushed his skin then found a hold on his sleeve. The bat twisted into the usual up-side-down position and folded its leathery wings, preparing for sleep.

Drizzt grinned broadly, never had he seen such a creature so close and so unafraid. He looked back at Zaknafein for further instructions.

"Hold her softly." Zak said as he approached silently. Drizzt watched the weapon masters long hands reach out and very gently grasp the dozing bat. To his surprise, it didn't make a peep or even try to resist Zak's hold. As if somehow it understood the drow's intentions of releasing it.

Zaknafein held it out so Drizzt could get a better look at it's mouse-like face.
"You see it's teeth?" He asked Drizzt. "You can tell it's an insect eater by it's small and blunt teeth. A blood drinker has fangs to open veins with."

Drizzt nodded solemnly, hanging on the weapon master's words.

"You are very wise." Drizzt ventured to say. His violet eyes were cast to the floor again, but if Zaknafein could have seen them, he would have seen the shine of admiration within.

He laughed dryly. "I am old, young prince!" Nearly four centuries teaches one more than their letters. Be sure of that! Now let's go to the balcony where we can release her."

Drizzt followed a few steps behind Zak, glad to have the monotony of his day broken by this small adventure. And glad to be in the company of someone who was not whipping or berating him. Life as a page prince was dull and lonely. He probably would have continued smiling the whole way, but then Briza stepped out into their path.

"What are you doing out here?" She demanded. "You're supposed to be in he hallway cleaning up that sculpture!" Her hand went down to her whip and Drizzt involuntarily recoiled a few steps. "You stupid male! Do you need another lesson?"

Zaknafein's hand was suddenly resting on his shoulder again. Strong and oddly... Protective? Drizzt stole a glance up at Zak's face and was surprised by the murderous shadow there. Males just did not look at females like that!

"He's with me, Briza." The weapon master said, the menace in his voice matching his expression. "Your lucky the page prince has such keen eyes and fast hands. He caught a bat in the hall. Now we're going to go do away with it."
Drizzt wanted to protest. Zak said they were going to release the bat, not kill it. Then he saw the weapon master cock his head slightly out of Briza's view and wink.

The oldest daughter was not so easily bluffed. She didn't trust Zaknafein for an instant. Never could she understand her mother's infatuation with that one. And Drizzt! Drizzt was a problem all by himself! She inched her whip out of her belt and snarled.

"You stupid males. There are no bats in the Do'Urden hall. Nothing gets in or out, you lying little iblith!"

"'Ware who you call iblith Briza." Zaknafein growled back. He took a step forward, feigned a trip and threw his hands up, releasing the bat. It sped straight for Briza's homely face, screeching for freedom. The big priestess screamed and flailed about with her whip, hitting nothing. Drizzt and Zak both watched the spectacle open-mouthed.

Neither of them had ever heard Briza squeal so loudly!

Finally, she managed to get the squirming, biting creature untangled from her hair. The bat took of for the balcony and the open air of Menzoberranzan. Briza glared evilly at the two males, her eyes glowing red hell-fire.

"I told you there was a bat." Zaknafein said mildly.

Briza just gaped for a moment then she pointed a shaky finger at Drizzt. "You keep an eye on that one, weapon master," she growled. "Be sure Matron Malice will hear of this!"

Zak met the priestesses gaze calmly. "Of course," he replied. "And I'm sure she'll love hearing how her prize priestess and precious daughter was so frightened of a winged mouse."

Briza's lips drew back from her teeth in an ugly and ultimately threatening way. Drizzt worried that she would come over and try to tear Zaknafein's calm expression from his face. But all she said was, "you can be replaced Zaknafein." With that, she turned on her heel and stalked down the corridor, in search of someone else to torment.

Zaknafein looked down at Drizzt and gave a silent code. *Never have I heard her yelp like that!* The weapon master's fingers said. Drizzt tried in vain to hide the grin that blossomed across his face, knowing that Briza might try to take it out on him later. *Let's see if our friend truly escaped,* Zak's fingers continued.

Drizzt followed Zaknafein out to the empty balcony and looked out over the dark sprawl of Menzoberranzan. Narbondel's fading glow told the time as a little after nightfall. Drizzt leaned against the railing, wholly absorbed in the city below. It seemed like the entire world to his young eyes.

Zaknafein was less interested in the view of their evil city. He was focused on Drizzt, pondering the humor and gentle nature he'd seen in the boy. And how in the coming years it all might be burned away. Drizzt was the last child Zaknafein would ever have, the weapon master knew this, and he wanted to protect him. To wrap him in a sheltering embrace that Malice, Briza, or any of their dark race could never break through. Few dark elves would have understood such a concept, and Zaknafein knew the reality of their world. He was at the twilight of his life, and the most he could do, or would be allowed to do, was teach Drizzt how to survive and defend himself. That would have to be enough.

"Where do you think she went?" Drizzt asked suddenly.

"The bat? Probably back to the wild underdark where she'll be free."

The boy nodded, a wistful look in his violet eyes. "I wish I had wings." He said quietly.

"So do I." Zak agreed.

//But it will be different for you.// Zak continued in his mind. //I promise, even if it kills me, someday you'll be free too.//

END