Another Lesson
By cade

Rating- PG13 for language

Author's Note- Once upon a time- in Oh, Sojourn or Exile, Drizzt Do'Urden was on his way to becoming a ranger and could at this time understand animals. Somehow between there and the later novels, this ability was never mentioned again. So I figured I'd do a little tweaking and tell a tale of the first time Drizzt really understood an animal. It's... pretty goofy, actually! Really, I wrote it for a young girl I was looking after at the time. So Kara B. if you ever read this, this is for you honey!

And apologies to Mr. Salvatore for character abuse.... ;)


Down deep in the lowest part of Melee Magthere, a 22 year old Drizzt Do'Urden found himself looking into the eyes of one of the slimiest, most disgusting creatures he'd ever seen.

And he was supposed to ride the damned thing

The great underdark lizards were the choice mounts of the drow. They were bred in a variety of colors and sizes most pleasing to the nobility. But Drizzt thought them disgusting. Their bulbous eyes and flat faces reminded him a bit too much of his older sister Briza. Unfortunately for the young drow, this, his second year at the school of fighters, patrol tactics and lizard riding were the foremost subjects.

So, here Drizzt was with his class in Lez'lazorl, the lizard stables. He walked along the stalls, trying to pick a mount, but all the creatures looked alike. None showing any remarkable intelligence. He stopped, trying just to choose and be done with it, when a whip cracked over his head.

"Move it, Do'Urden!" Came a shout from behind him, and Drizzt knew without turning that it was Master Ninoce, the riding master, doing the yelling.

The rest of the class was mounted up and ready to go, obviously Ninoce's patience was waning.

"Get a mount and get to it!" The old rider barked.

Ninoce was older than sin and meaner than all nine of the Hells put together. No one was sure how long he'd been teaching at the academy, but he was an excellent lizard-handler. Most thought it was because the old drow looked so similar to his reptilian charges.

Drizzt jumped at his teacher's command and hopped up on the first lizard he saw. The creature looked at him blandly and continued munching it's mushroom-feed.

Dismayed, Drizzt whispered, "come on!"

The lizard ignored him.

Ninoce watched, half amused, half-angry. A laugh came from one of Drizzt's classmates. Probably Berg'inyon Baenre who'd mastered lizard riding the second he'd ascended to the creature's back.

Drizzt felt his face grow hot and he shot the snickering Baenre an evil glare. "Come on!" He urged his mount again.

Becoming impatient, Master Ninoce growled, "put the whip to 'er ass!"

Reluctantly Drizzt raised his riding crop. As much as he disliked the over-grown reptiles, he didn't really want to hurt one. They were just animals after all.

Ninoce saw his student's hesitation and groaned. Every once in awhile a softhearted one would turn up. The Do'Urden boy's unparalleled battle record made him an unlikely candidate for such tenderness, but Ninoce wasn't the best judge of characters. Deciding a little assistance was needed; he uncurled his black whip and lashed out repeatedly, catching both Drizzt and the lizard.

The huge reptile was awakened from its lethargy. It gave a tremendous screech and rocketed out of its stall with Drizzt clinging on with all his might. His shocked classmates had to scramble out of his way and Drizzt was going so fast he missed the spectacle of Berg'inyon being thrown from his mount in the confusion.

Old Ninoce didn't bother giving chase; he was too busy doubling over with laughter. Damn kids, he thought, amused by the sudden chaos. He knew where the lizard would head anyway.

The lizard took Drizzt on a wild ride through Melee Magthere, through the halls and corridors they went. Dodging students and masters alike. In the blur of scenery, Drizzt thought he saw his older brother Dinin, and he knew if he lived through the lizard's rampage, he would be in for it.

The lizard charged up the hall that led to the kitchens and Drizzt panicked, foreseeing an incredible disaster. He tried everything he could think of to stop the beast, but it plowed on heedless of the young drow.

The kitchen staff never knew what hit them. Pots and pans went flying. Goblins and drow went flying. Then the lizard came to a sudden stop and Drizzt went flying headlong over a counter piled with choice rothe cuts. He crashed into a table and rolled to the floor, tucking up reflexively. It took him a stunned second to realize he had actually stopped. This realization came with the feeling of something wet and warm oozing down his head and back.

Blood! Drizzt thought, reaching up to his head. He glared at the lizard as it came trundling toward him, appearing as docile as a whipped male now. It stopped and snuffled at Drizzt, then licked wetly at his head.

"Get away!" Drizzt yelled, bringing his hand down to smack the reptile away. It was then Drizzt understood that the wet stuff trickling down his head and back was not blood.

It was rothe gravy

Relieved, angry, and just beyond any sane reaction, Drizzt laughed while the lizard continued cleaning his hair of the mess.

Ninoce appeared in the doorway along with Dinin, who looked as if he was on the verge of having a fit. Drizzt knew his brother would probably kill him, but all he could do was look at Dinin and grin.

Drizzt did get a mighty earful from Dinin. But the chewing out didn't last very long. Within the hour he and his mount where cleaned up and returned to the gymnasium. There were a lot of snickers at the young drow's expense, but Drizzt bore it all calmly. His lizard was more cooperative too, it was still a bit jumpy, but Drizzt was learning to keep a tight hold on the reigns

As much as he hated Berg'inyon Baenre's attitude, Drizzt had to admire the way the Baenre son handled his lizard mount, coaxing it up walls, even across the ceiling. Drizzt could hardly feel too jealous though. In every grand melee he'd always bested the cocky Baenre, so there was no need for envy.

The lesson would have concluded on a less eventful note than it had begun, if not for Berg'inyon's lizard giving out under him. It lurched and toppled onto its side, nearly crushing the Baenre. Berg'inyon leapt up, furious, and began beating the fallen beast mercilessly, demanding that it rise and obey him.

Sickness rose in Drizzt, he knew he couldn't stand by and watch an innocent and ignorant animal be beaten to death. He knew his mentor, Zaknafein, wouldn't have. Drizzt ran at Berg'inyon, hands out and yelling, "stop, stop!"

Ignoring Berg'inyon and the rest of the onlookers, Drizzt dropped to his knees beside the lizard. He remembered something Zaknafein had told him a long time ago when a bat had been trapped in the Do'Urden compound:

"There is no need for traps or nets when all you have to do is think like the animal."

Focusing only on the beast Drizzt forgot his revulsion and grabbed the lizard's huge head, forcing its eyes to meet his. He concentrated, opening his mind to the creature's almost tangible emotional distress.

"Poison." Came the empathetic whisper, so clear it stunned the young drow. "Jakarn Or'leche... Knew Berg'inyon would choose me. He... Poisoned the feed.

Dazed by the intensity of the connection and the intelligence revealed by the lizard's thoughts, Drizzt looked up at Master Ninoce and announced, "this one's been poisoned. Jakarn Or'Leche spiked the feed."

Master Ninoce gave Drizzt an amazed look, but was nodding in agreement. He raised a black summoning stone and in an instant, a team of lizard handlers came to take the beast to the veterinary infirmary.

As they lifted the lizard with a spell, the guilty Jakarn was hauled out of the gymnasium. Of the two, Drizzt was willing to lay bets that only the reptile would return alive to Melee Magthere.

Drizzt stood alone, feeling oddly removed from everything. He'd touched another living creature's mind, felt its thoughts and pains as clearly as he could ever feel his own. He wondered what might happen if every drow could experience the same thing. Would they understand the pain they caused? Would they renounce their vile, self-serving ways? Drizzt couldn't even begin to answer such questions.

A hand tapped his shoulder and he saw Master Ninoce standing beside him. The old drow studied the younger one intently, brow furrowed in thought. "How did you know it was poison?" He asked, strangely subdued.

Drizzt just shrugged, knowing his answer, "the lizard told me", would seem ridiculous to the old handler.

Ninoce might have been a cantankerous old elf, but he understood more than most ever would. He chuckled quietly at his young student, but there was a slight look of respect in his cloudy eyes. "Told you herself did she?"

Unable to lie, Drizzt nodded. He opened his mouth to speak, but Ninoce silenced him with a look.

"Those that can speak their language are rare." The old drow said. "You might not be able to ride for iblith, Do'Urden, but I suppose that's going to change now."

He gave a rusty laugh then walked away, and Drizzt couldn't help but smile. The prospect of lizard riding had just become easier to bear