Title: Of Like Minds
Rating: PG-13 for violence, possible bad language, and possible (mild) slash implications.
Summary: Drizzt rescues a dark elf unlike any he's ever met before… Could he possibly have found another non-evil Drow? Enter Olath Drathir, Arcane Trickster!
Disclaimer: I do not own Drizzt Do'Urden or any of Salvatore's other characters. Wizards of the Coast owns them. The only things I lay claim to are Olath, any other original characters I come up with, and this story. ^_^
Chapter Four: Graebow
Graebow Youngston was ready to travel, as promised, at the end of the week. His band was packed up onto wagons and mules, all their precious cargo carefully wrapped and tied down for the journey. "Oy, Master Do'Urden," the blonde man greeted as he saw the two Drow coming over the ridge towards the road, "and… er, I never quite caught your name." He gave Olath an apologetic look.
"Olath Drathir," replied the sorcerer, not in the least offended. He inclined his head in a polite nod.
Surprisingly, Graebow frowned, as though this bothered him. "A pleasure," he said finally, though Drizzt sensed that he didn't really mean it. The ranger tensed and returned the frown.
"Is there a problem?" Drizzt asked, his tone mild but his gaze sharp.
Graebow waved dismissively. "No, not as such. It just occurred to me that I've never heard of your friend here. Is he… like you?"
Drizzt understood the question and relaxed a bit. "Yes. Olath, like me, is somewhat of an 'outcast'." He noticed with satisfaction that Graebow, too, relaxed. The ranger was used to this suspicion, of course, so he didn't hold it against the merchant. After all, he fully understood how treacherous most Drow elves could be, so it was only prudent for Graebow to question Olath's disposition. However, the merchant seemed to have realized that Olath was different through his actions and words when they'd first met, so Drizzt wondered what brought on this sudden change in attitude. The sorcerer wasn't exactly intimidating, magic or not, and he was very friendly and eager to please.
Speak of the devil… "Oh, what a nice animal!" Olath cooed, petting one of the mules on the nose, who seemed to enjoy the attention. Drizzt and Graebow exchanged bemused glances, and the ranger shrugged. Olath was obviously no threat. On the other hand, Drizzt wondered how effective a bodyguard the sorcerer would be. It doesn't really matter, the violet-eyed Drow decided confidently. Any trouble they might encounter on the way to Mithril Hall (actually Settlestone, as the Dwarves didn't generally entertain visitors in Mithril Hall itself) could be easily dispatched by Drizzt and several of the merchants that knew how to use the weapons they sold.
The merchants finished checking the supplies, Olath was dragged away from the mules, and they were on their way. Drizzt still had that unsettling feeling that Graebow was keeping something from him, but he let it slide. After all, the blonde merchant had shown them nothing but generosity since they'd met.
The journey started out calmly, uneventful, and—in Olath's opinion—extremely boring. The pink-eyed Drow turned to face Drizzt, propping himself up more comfortably on a stack of extra winter cloaks. He was wearing his new armor under his own cloak; indeed, he hadn't taken it off since buying it. "So, do you think that Cassius fellow will be able to deal with the frost giants on his own?" he asked, looking concerned.
"If Cassius prepares the rest of the citizens for the giants, I'm sure Ten Towns will be able to defend itself," Drizzt assured him, though he, too, was worried. He wondered briefly if he should have stayed behind and helped. Ten Towns had been his home for a decade, and he still felt a lingering loyalty to the place and its people, even though it had taken him a better part of that decade to earn their trust. However, he didn't want to stick around too long and miss the caravan. Graebow had been very openhanded towards him and Olath, and he wanted to repay that kindness by accompanying the traders on their journey. Cassius can handle things from here. I gave him ample forewarning. The man would not have remained the head of Ten Towns for this long if he didn't know how to protect his own people. This thought reassured him slightly. Drizzt trusted in the shrewd man to take care of his own.
Olath didn't seem so free from anxiety, however. "I just hope you're right," he sighed.
Graebow suddenly called for a halt. A large boulder was blocking the road, and the rocky hills on either side of the trail were far too steep to go around it. "Get some poles and wedge it out!" the blonde man ordered, getting his band into action. Within moments, five of the strongest men and two of the women were behind the boulder with sturdy wooden tent poles, grunting and trying to lever the boulder so it would roll far enough down the road to push it off to the side. It would be a long process, no doubt, so Drizzt offered to lend a hand. "No, you just sit tight, we'll handle this," the blonde man told him, unconcerned. "It shouldn't take more than an hour."
"I could help," Olath offered unexpectedly, pink eyes lighting up eagerly. Drizzt gave him a wondering look. Olath was rather well-built for a magic user, but he didn't seem to possess the same kind of strength as the humans that were already pushing the boulder. "Just stand back and let me give it a try."
Graebow shrugged and went along with Olath's request, telling the other traders to back off for a moment. "I'm curious to see what you can do, Master Drathir," he said, amusement twinkling in his eyes. "Have you a spell that can affect this stone?"
Olath just grinned. "Could be." He walked over to the boulder and rested his hands on its rough surface, muttering some arcane words under his breath and closing his eyes momentarily. Suddenly, he moved his hands together as though he planned to crush the rock with his own strength. A wave of low, chuckling murmurs ran through the traders as they watched the sorcerer, thinking this quite the show. They stopped laughing, however, when the rock began to shrink. When it was only a sixteenth of its original size, about the same size as a human skull, Olath hefted it into his arms and tottered off down the trail. Once he had found a large enough area off to the side of the main road, he dropped the shrunken boulder on the ground heavily. Instantly, it resumed its original size.
The merchants stared in amazement for a moment longer, then erupted into laughter and applause. Several of the men thumped Olath heartily on the back when he returned, nearly knocking the slender dark elf over. Even Drizzt was grinning, shaking his head slowly.
"That was a handy spell," the ranger remarked when the embarrassed Olath rejoined him on the wagon.
"It's useful for when you need to carry a lot of large, heavy supplies," the sorcerer agreed modestly. "I sort of developed it out of necessity, you see. The giants always wanted me to carry their loot and camping gear, so I just learned to make it… smaller." He shrugged.
Just then, however, another boulder rolled into their path. Everybody jumped back, looking around nervously for the source. Huge rocks didn't usually just roll into roads out of nowhere. Booming laughter gave away their opponents: frost giants. Five of the huge creatures leered at the traders over the rocky hillsides, four of them holding more boulders. The fifth wielded a thick, gnarled club with sharp metal spikes driven through the wood. This one, apparently the leader, dropped down to the road in front of the boulder. The ground shook at the impact, and more than one of the merchants fell over. Drizzt stole a quick glance at Olath, and was not entirely surprised to find that the sorcerer's obsidian skin was turning gray. "You know him?" the ranger asked under his breath. Olath gave the tiniest of nods. Drizzt nodded too, mouth set in a grim line.
"ELF!" the frost giant roared, and Drizzt couldn't be sure if the giant was referring to Olath or himself. "You're mine! You'll come back without trouble, or I'll drag you back as a bag of pulp!" That clarified things a little. Drizzt assumed he meant Olath.
He was right. The sorcerer trembled visibly, then forced himself to stand up straight and lift his chin defiantly. "Come and take me, then!" he challenged, his voice a little higher than usual. Drizzt could see that his skin was almost the color of ash now, and he feared Olath would faint, he looked so pale. Somehow, though, he stayed standing, shoulders squared.
Drizzt noticed something strange, though. The traders weren't making any moves, either to run or to fight. They didn't even seem all that frightened. It was almost as though they were expecting this. The ranger's lavender eyes narrowed. Something wasn't right about this scene…
His train of thought was derailed momentarily as a small, glowing red bead zipped past his shoulder. Drizzt threw himself behind one of the carts, recognizing the spell with painful familiarity. He hadn't even heard Olath casting it! Sure enough, Drizzt's guess was confirmed as a fiery explosion knocked over several of the wagons, setting one of them on fire. Now the merchants were running… but they were heading for Olath! Graebow was closest, and he grabbed the paling sorcerer by the arm. His own gift came back to bite him, however, as Olath whipped Nip out of its sheath and slashed reflexively across the blonde man's forearm. Clutching the wound, the merchant fell back in horror as his blood spilled freely from the relatively shallow cut. Two other men grappled Olath in a vicious hold, causing the sorcerer to drop his deadly dagger and cry out feebly. It was too much for the already drained sorcerer to take, so he fell limply into a faint.
Twinkle and Icingdeath were in Drizzt's hands before he was conscious of drawing them. He set after the scorched frost giant at a dead run, taking the creature by surprise. It tried to bring its spiky club down on the dark elf's head, but Drizzt was far too quick, darting around behind the monster and leaping onto its back. He drove Twinkle into the giant's back between the ribs, puncturing a lung. Realizing that Icingdeath might not be effective on a frost giant (for it was a creature of the cold, and Icingdeath's powers relied on cold as well), he clubbed the giant on the back of the head with the pommel, but to little effect. The frost giant tried to scream, but it had no air in its chest, and only a gurgle of blood came out of its wide maw. Slowly, it sank to the ground, and Drizzt nimbly hopped off its back.
In the meantime, the other four giants had come down the hill, bearing their rocks high above their heads to smash the skinny Drow. One found itself staring at its own entrails as a curving blade opened its belly. It dropped the rock on its own head in surprise, then crumpled to the ground. The remaining three didn't seemed deterred by this, but they did lower their arms to defend their more vulnerable areas. Drizzt backed away slowly as they advanced, until his back was pressed up against the second boulder that had been dropped into the path. None of the traders were going to help him, obviously, and Olath was down for the count. Drizzt was on his own.
Or so it seemed. "Guenwhyvar!" he called, reaching into his belt pouch for the statuette. Gray mist swirled around him, momentarily distracting the giants, and the great panther appeared. With a deep roar, she launched herself at the middle giant's throat, causing it to stumble back in surprise. This gave Drizzt the opening he needed, and he sprang at the giant on the left with renewed fury. Blades danced and arced through the air in a blinding display of weapon mastery, and giant blood once again soaked the ground. This one managed to get a hit on Drizzt, though, clubbing him with one huge fist. Drizzt thought his head would be ripped off by the impact, as he flew free of the giant and landed in an untidy heap against the boulder once more. The dark elf's vision swam as he tried to regain his feet, for he could vaguely make out the wounded giant and his uninjured friend approaching him swiftly.
There was a blinding flash of light, screams of pain, and then nothing. Drizzt embraced the black void of unconsciousness, but only after he'd caught a glimpse of something that looked suspiciously like a pair of milky pink eyes in a dark face…
Author's Notes: Don't you just love cliffhangers? ^_^ Why did Graebow turn on Olath? Why did it seem like the traders were working with the giants? What happened to Drizzt? What happened to Olath, for that matter? So many questions, and I'm certainly going to have fun trying to answer them in the next chapter. ^_^ Stay tuned!
Oh, check out the revised first chapter if you haven't already. I fixed a few things, and I think it's a little bit better in terms of action and Olath's introduction. ^_^
Also, to answer one-and-many's remark: Yes, pink eyes. What about them? ;-P
By the way, sorry if I'm writing Drizzt a little blandly. I'm trying to keep him in character as much as I can, but I'm not Salvatore (obviously!). -_-0