EDIT January 2013: I am currently working on an alternate ending, which is being posted on
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
The things you can change
The three watched Tezan with wary expressions as he was finally freed from the restricting weight of Guenhwyvar's bulk, but he merely stood and brushed himself off, even though it did not make a difference with the state his clothes were in. The kid he had gotten them from must have had some really bad habits when it came to hygiene, he thought distractedly.
"Well," he said, "do you need more time to prepare or do you wish to depart right now?"
Tezan had been speaking to Drizzt, but he wasn't terribly surprised to see the two humans nod along with the lavender eyed drow. It looked as if he would have no choice but to take them too. At least they did not seem to want the cat along as well, because Drizzt sent her away with a strange look of regret on his face. Tezan only watched with interest as the compact, black furred body of Guenhwyvar dissolved into insubstantial mist and re-considered for a moment his chances of escape, but ultimately decided against fleeing. Now that Drizzt knew Dinin was here, he would be able to find him whether Tezan helped or not. Any third rate spellcaster could help him with that and the priest rather preferred to be able to control at least the moment of Drizzt's appearance in some way. He sighed.
"Fine. Just let me put on a small glamour then", the cleric said mostly to Robillard. "I don't want to upset my neighbours."
After a careful nod from the wizard Tezan spoke a few well chosen words and turned his skin back to the bright, milky hue he was by now almost used to. Out of the corner of his eyes he could see Drizzt grimacing slightly.
"What?" he snapped at the other drow, his voice sharp with sudden irritation. "Not all of us are protected by stories of valour and a reputation like yours. Would you rather that I cause a riot by merely walking down the street?"
"No", came the flat response, accompanied by something that looked a lot like resignation. After all these years of having to fight against ever present prejudice, well earned or not, Drizzt could hardly claim that people up here were an accepting lot when it came to having a drow living in their quarters. However much he resented this kind of charade, he couldn't rightly claim that it was unnecessary. He had once resorted to it himself after all.
"Very well, let's go then", Tezan said with a sudden, malicious grin, which looked very wrong on his now light skinned face and started walking briskly towards Waterdeep's less savoury parts. It seemed to Drizzt that he was now actually looking forward to witnessing this little family reunion, which about told him what to expect from Dinin. With a deep sigh he hurried after the cleric, wondering again, if this was such a good idea after all. He kept wondering as he followed Tezan ever deeper into the poorer quarters of Waterdeep and almost found himself regretting his impulsive decision.
The strange cleric stayed oddly silent during the whole trip, something Drizzt had not expected when witnessing the flashes of flamboyant behaviour the other had displayed before. It made him wonder uneasily if this could be a trap after all. He tried to reassure himself with the thought, that no Drow would think to use a family member as a reliable means to lure another into danger, but he couldn't quite keep the apprehensive frown from forming on his face. If Tezan had really been powerful enough to turn his brother back to his normal form after the transformation into a drider, then he should not be discounted as easily as his thoughtless attitude suggested at first sight.
Tezan on the other hand was growing steadily more excited with the way his day had turned out. Now that he had resigned himself to the discovery of Dinin's identity, he really wanted to see what would happen when the two volatile brothers came into contact for the first time in years. From the covert little glances the cleric managed to snatch of the three people trailing behind him, he could tell that they were beginning to have doubts about this. He was especially delighted with the small frown creasing Drizzt's forehead, but he turned his broad grin inside so he would not alarm the already reluctant drow any further. If he was lucky maybe he would get to see the famed Drizzt fight.
When they finally stopped in front of a misshapen, crumbly house that had seen its better days quite some time ago Drizzt could only frown. His brother was supposed to be living in this small, dingy building? The Dinin he remembered would have objected very strongly to that. Tezan seemed to read his expression quite well, because he grinned an almost vicious grin, which unsettled the warrior, because he could not quite make out the source of amusement.
"Dinin doesn't like it much either", Tezan told him, "but since he has so far only barely managed to provide his part of our upkeep he will have to put up with it for a while longer."
That gave Drizzt more information than he had wanted about the way Tezan had managed to get Dinin into his bed, but at least it was also useful in other ways. If Dinin was so hard pressed to come up with a way to survive here, maybe he could be convinced to return to the Underdark, far away from Drizzt and his conscience. All he had to do was to offer his assistance and hope that his brother was not too suspicious and paranoid to agree. He still clung to that slight hope as he asked Cattie-brie and Robillard to stay behind in the street, something which the woman clearly did not wish to do. She relented only after a short but tense discussion. Drizzt was glad that she did though. He wanted to keep her as far away from his past as possible. It would be better if Dinin never knew her face.
After all this building expectation Tezan was to be sorely disappointed, because when he carefully opened the door to peer inside their small room after he had led Drizzt up the stairs, he could only discover that Dinin was not home.
A couple of feet above them on the roof of the building opposite his home the same Dinin gritted his teeth and tried to sort through the stormy feelings welling up in him at seeing his younger brother after so many years. There was of course a prominent fear fed by old memories, but also deep resentment because of all the things he'd had to suffer on account of Drizzt's foolishness and even though he would never admit it, a tiny bit of wonder too. Drizzt had survived so long under such difficult circumstances, that is was hard to not be at least a tiny little bit impressed, especially after he had to find out himself how differently from their dark hometown this alien world under the sun worked. A world which Drizzt had mastered without the help of someone like Tezan, who seemed to know the most important answers to basic issues up here, before Dinin had even thought up the appropriate questions.
Dinin gripped the heavy crossbow in his hand tighter as he watched Tezan and his brother slowly and cautiously enter the building which housed their tiny room, leaving two uneasy humans out on the street. He had spent most of his newly earned money on the weapon this morning, but he considered it a very good investment. It would allow him to kill accurately from a great distance, something he had felt he desperately needed to be able to do, because of course he had fully expected Tezan to go and get himself into trouble, no matter what the other said and promised to him. And Drizzt was simply too good to miss it when someone was tailing him.
The warrior was not stupid. He knew after all these weeks of living with Tezan, that the priest was as curious as a cat and he had been sure that that curiosity simply would not allow the other to stay away from such a tempting spectacle for any length of time, especially after he had already expressed an interest in it. Dinin had been sure that the cleric would try to spy on Drizzt only to be discovered sooner or later and he had planned accordingly, as soon as he had noted Tezan's absence in the morning. Obviously he had been right to do so. Nonetheless it was a shock for him to see Drizzt now.
His brother didn't even look that dangerous or even aggressive from up here he thought, but Dinin had absolutely no desire to test that impression more closely. Cold shivers of apprehension and fear ran down his back at the mere thought of going any closer. No, better to get rid of the bane of his existence as quickly and cleanly as possible. Once they came back out, Drizzt would present his vulnerable front to him and he would have the one chance to end this threat once and for all. One clean shot and then: No more looking over his shoulder, no more fear. The last remaining part of his past as the noble son of house Do'Urden would finally be erased and maybe then he would be able to start something new, even if it had to be up here under that cursed, blinding ball of bright fire. At least the sun was also warming the clay coloured, mossy shingles he was currently resting on.
Dinin watched the street along the reassuringly solid body of his crossbow and considered dispatching the humans now, while Drizzt was still inside, but decided against it. He had practised earlier, but he was not wholly sure of his skill with this new, unfamiliar weapon and he did not want to lose the element of surprise until he could be sure that he had achieved his main aim. He was aware that he would be putting Tezan in a precarious situation by attacking while the cleric was still so close to the enemy, but the idiot did not deserve any better after what he had done. I could not be long now and they would come back out. His finger curled a little tighter around the trigger.
When the moment finally came Dinin felt a detached, cold calm spread inside his belly. He watched with a strange feeling almost like giddiness as he let the bolt fly. With a small click it speed away from him and he could only stare as it embedded itself deep into the exposed chest of his brother, who gasped with wide eyed surprise and clutched with ineffectually scrabbling fingers at the deadly piece of iron tipped wood which which had so suddenly struck out of nowhere.
Dinin was lucky that Drizzt was not wearing any armour heavier than hardened leather with a few metal enhancements, but since his brother had expected to be out on the open sea soon, he had not put on anything with a more substantial weight, which would have guarded his body better, but would also have dragged him down if he had ever fallen over board. Dinin could only imagine the strangled hiss which probably escaped Drizzt's mouth as he slowly collapsed on the dirty street, the read headed woman rushing to his side as if she was herself a bolt shot from another crossbow aimed at Drizzt.
Well, that was astonishingly easy, a small part of Dinin remarked with something that was half elation half disbelief. He would have liked to watch a bit longer until he could be absolutely sure that he had accomplished his aim, but one of the humans was already waving his arms, making a strange weaving motion in his direction. A wizard then, he decided and quickly moved backwards before he could become a target for some nasty spell. He would have to get off this roof and circle around to start another attack. Or maybe Tezan would actually do something useful for a change and kill the bothersome human himself.
The cleric was indeed preparing to do just that. As soon as he had heard the whistling of the small bolt and seen Drizzt convulse with the sudden impact, Tezan had jumped backwards into the entrance of their rickety house. With Dinin's absence it wasn't difficult for him to guess who the shooter was and he silently congratulated the warrior on seizing the opportunity, which had presented itself so unexpectedly. Or maybe not so unexpectedly for Dinin, he mused as he whispered a few well chosen words, wiggled his fingers and pointed one at the wizard who was stupidly disregarding his presence, searching instead for other foes on the rooftops.
The warrior must have known that he would not keep the promise he had made, which was a little disconcerting. Tezan was not accustomed to be caught at any lie so easily. At least it had worked to their advantage this time he consoled himself and then cursed softly as the dark cloud of acid he had sent towards the human wizard did nothing more damaging than singe the others voluminous beard a little. Well, such things were to be expected with a veteran. For a moment the cleric wished fruitlessly that he hadn't wasted the moment of surprise on this particular enchantment, but he did not get much time to ponder his mistake, because just a moment afterwards Tezan had to throw up his own defences as Robillard attacked him with long, glittering shards of something which looked like fragile ice, but embedded itself cleanly and nearly a hand deep into the stones of the wall next to his head, missing him only narrowly.
Grinning the cheeky Drow twirled aside and countered with a very special prayer as he pulled his normally hidden, cleric's veil seemingly out of thin air and threw it in the direction of the human. The black fabric floated towards Robillard in an almost ambling fashion, but it went unerringly for his face as he tried to twist away and fastened itself over his mouth and nose, effectively cutting of his air supply. Tezan did not get to see whether his tactic would be effective though, because suddenly other things were demanding his full attention. Hastily the cleric ducked behind an abandoned cart as he heard the whistling of a sword behind himself. His red eyes widened in surprise as he watched the sword cut cleanly through the wood next to his head and he had to throw himself even further backwards to avoid being cut apart, which cost him his balance.
After completing a nimble backwards roll Tezan looked up to see the red headed woman head towards him, her bright, blue eyes filled with hateful grief, that promised nothing good for him should he let himself be defeated. Luckily for him he was still far from that point, nor did he expect to get there. With a too eager smile the cleric shook his wrists, letting two daggers fall into his hands. He had disliked her almost from first glance and now her grief would probably make her act rashly, maybe this would be more entertaining than expected.
"Smile as long as you still can!" The woman hissed venomously, swinging her dangerous sword in a wide arc towards him, lips pulled back into something almost like a snarl, baring all her white teeth. "I will kill you for this you traitorous dog!"
Tezan did not stop smiling and simply took a step backwards out of range, hoping she would overbalance, but she had obviously been trained well enough to foresee the danger and react accordingly.
"Well, it will certainly be entertaining to watch you try", he taunted with a condescending laugh and raised a single, challenging, white brow.
After a few more blows Tezan stopped laughing. He was too occupied with staying alive. Contrary to his expectations her turbulent emotions did not seem to hinder the woman at all. Her stance was smooth and controlled and her skills with a sword were quite challenging for someone like Tezan, who was more used to fighting his fights with magic and from a distance. She did not leave him enough time though to throw in a spell and had clearly been trained very well. Probably even by the recently deceased Do'Urden brother. The unnatural sharpness of her blade did not help things at all and soon cost Tezan one of his daggers, when he tried to block one of her attacks with his own blade only to have it sliced off after the brief contact. Cursing he arched his back away from her and stepped back even further, unable to avoid a shallow cut to his left biceps despite his quick reflexes. Tezan was beginning to get worried. He had left a lot of his usual equipment when he had donned this supposedly harmless disguise of a street urchin, items which he was now missing with an increasing urgency.
In fact the priest was relieved enough to say nothing at all when a soft click sounded to his right, heralding the flight of another bolt from Dinin's crossbow. A bolt which embedded itself accurately in the woman's neck, finally ending the brief but bloody fight.
"Hurry up and help me clean the mess away before someone comes along and starts to ask questions, because of all that noise you made", was all Dinin said to him, before the woman had even sunk fully to the ground, still making choked gurgling noises around the deadly obstruction lodged in her throat. And he did, cautiously stepping up to the annoying redhead to slip his remaining dagger between her ribs to finally end her life and then helping the warrior to drag the three limp bodies into the darker doorway of their home before he quickly called up black magical flames to burn away all evidence. Sadly that did not leave Tezan time to do more than strip the wizard of the most dangerous items, which would probably explode when touched with magical fire, but it was still better than having to explain this to anybody interested enough to trouble them. Not that there would be many people like that in their neighbourhood, but it never hurt to be careful.
Finally, when there was nothing left but some weapons, which were obviously too heavily enchanted to burn and a small wisp of curling smoke, Dinin sighed softly and looked up from where his eyes had been glued to the rapidly burning corpse of his brother, as if to make sure the other did not escape his fate at the last moment.
"If you are going to say anything that sounds remotely like: I told you so, I suggest you swallow your words", the warrior said, sounding relieved and annoyed in equal parts.
Tezan just shrugged and smiled enigmatically.
"Why ever would I say something so stupid?"
A/N: The end? Really? Yes! It has come. Finally. A little sudden, I will admit, but I honestly couldn't think of any other way for Dinin to react. At least not a logical one. After the setup I gave him it was kind of inevitable. It has taken me roughly five and a half years to finish this (comparatively short) story, but I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did during that very long time and had fun reading despite the long gaps between the individual chapters.
Now I'll have to think of something new to fill the next five years :) If anybody wants to make suggestions for the next project or to just unload their plotbunnies on my doorstep they're welcome by the way.
EDIT January 2013: I am currently working on an alternate ending, which is being posted on