looked around the room uneasily, playing with the dragon dagger. Zaknafein, on the other hand, was sprawled
over the only couch in the room, petting Zaire, his cheetah. Ti'vienr Teken'duis, the oldest of the
Masters of Melee-Magthere, was pacing around in a tight circle.
if..." Ti'vienr began again.
gave him a bored look. Ti'vienr
swallowed what he was going to say and continued to pace in agitation.
looked miserably at the dagger and carefully traced the design on the scabbard
of the dagger. They'd only told him
what they were going to do five minutes ago – he had already been considerably
surprised at being summoned to Melee-Magthere in the first place, away from his
were in the adjoining room to the Meeting Hall of Melee-Magthere, as the
Masters of Melee-Magthere gathered inside.
The Mistress of Melee-Magthere had died three days ago, under unforeseen
noticed that Zaknafein and all the mage Masters he had seen had been wearing
smug expressions ever since the formal announcement. Oh, they did have befittingly somber expressions during the grand
funeral, but Drizzt had expected them to smirk any minute throughout it.
new mistress was officially to be selected, but Melee-Magthere's Masters had
delayed sending in their formal assent to the candidate under protests that
there were several matters that needed doing due to the Mistress' 'untimely
death' that needed sorting first.
glanced at Zaknafein. Mages were,
through unspoken agreement not allowed in Melee-Magthere grounds, and the mage
looked like he was secretly enjoying the barely concealed scandalized glances
from some of the Masters. But the
Master of Sorcere had to be here – custom dictated it for what they were about
was with them for the sole reason of 'balancing out' Zaknafein. If Melee-Magthere tried to put another
Master to wait with them, it was possible Sorcere would add another Master...and
so on. So one Master – to the
ArchMage. Drizzt was sure the odds
weren't fair, if anything was to happen.
had explained the dagger to him partly in the past days during the mourning of
the ex-Mistress. Apparently it 'took'
his blood whenever he cut himself on it – and that would release the dragon
into the world. On the other hand, the
dragon was bound to his command.
the Masters of both schools had been adamant that he keep the dagger safely and
not use it until the ceremony, so he hadn't managed to 'find' the dragon's
thought again to 'ask' it what it used the blood for. Drizzt doubted it was for drinking, then shivered at the thought.
was a sudden stop in movement in front of him, and he looked up. Ti'vienr had stopped again. This time, Zak did not bother to look up,
but Zaire turned her delicate head to regard the old Master with gold-flecked
eyes, and bared her fangs for an instant.
Ti'vienr held the cheetah's unblinking stare for several seconds then
looked away with a grunt.
seemed moved to take pity on the old elf for a moment, and opened his mouth to
utter what Drizzt thought would be a comforting remark. However, it was a curt snap. "Quit worrying, Ti'vienr."
spun at the ArchMage, and Zaire snarled softly in warning, but Zak lay a
restraining hand lightly on her shoulder and she subsided ungraciously. "Worry? What we're doing is going to anger...Them, and the Goddess, for sakes!" his whisper was sharp, "I never really
a flash Zaknafein had somehow sprung up from a reclining position and crossed
the two meters to the old Master, hands gripping the front part of his Master's
cloak. Drizzt's hands had moved
automatically for his scimitars, but Zaire turned her stare to his eyes, and he
stopped. The message was simple – I've
known you for some time and I don't mind you and I know you are his cub, but
touch those swords and you die.
never wanted?" Zak said quietly, his voice low menace, filled with such steel
that Ti'vienr tried to shrink back. "You
never wanted? You and your council of Masters,
who came to us for help and you never,
wanted? Sorcere only wishes to work with those who keep to their goal, and not deviate at
the slightest risk. Give me the word,
and I'd take Drizzt back to his patrol.
Give me the word, and I'd transport that dagger of his to the deepest
pit in the Nine Hells such that such a chance will never come again. Go on.
Give me the word."
nearly whimpered at the hint of a barely held rage, but Zak pushed him away and
slumped back onto the sofa as if nothing had happened. The old Master attempted to regain a vestige
of dignity by dusting off and straightening his cloak, but Drizzt could see he
was very frightened of Zaknafein.
swallowed. The silence that followed
was nearly unbearable, but Zak seemed unconcerned. Zaire appeared to be lazily basking in the ArchMage's attention, but
Drizzt knew that she was focusing on him, and on Ti'vienr.
there was a respectful knock on the door, and Ti'vienr nearly jumped to get it
in his relief. A student looked in and
said in respectful tones, "The Ceremony is beginning."
nodded to Drizzt, and followed Ti'vienr out of the room. Drizzt trailed behind him, but kept a
prudent three paces behind Zaire. The
cheetah had been skittish lately.