Tai awakened, disoriented, to the sounds of laughter, a purring cat, and the chirping of birds. The priest felt sunlight upon his face, smelled daisies and lilacs, and sensed a nearby presence. However, he refused to open his eyes, afraid of what he would—or wouldn't—see.

"How long did I sleep?" the priest asked.

"A day and a half," the deep voice of Entreri answered.

Tai frowned, certain that the sheets he felt under his fingertips and the hubbub he heard in the distance meant that they were in an inn. "Where are we?"

"In Olostin's Hold."

Tai heard the sound of a chair scraping the floor, then felt the shadow fall across his face as Entreri leaned over him. "How did we get back so quickly?" the priest asked.

"Jarlaxle," Entreri replied, as if no further explanation were needed.

Tai considered the drow's possible resources and decided that further questions on the subject were, indeed, pointless. "How bad do I look?" he asked with a small smile.

"You could look worse," the assassin said. "Jarlaxle worked on you, and Nyx brought in some cleric she knew. She also bought healing potions and poured them down your throat. She's barely left your side. I had to knock her out in order to make her rest."

The priest's smile widened at the thought that Nyx had stayed by him. "You jest," he said.

A long pause. "No," came that serious voice. "I do not. I hit her square in the temple."

Tai shook his head, imaging a furious redhead. "She'll get you for that."

A small snort. "She'll try, but she'll fail." Another pause. "Aren't you going to open your eyes?"

Tai frowned, a pulse of fear rippling through his body. "Are they healed?"

"If not, they will be. The cleric said you were flash-blinded and your eyes will recover in time."

Encouraged by this information, Tai opened his eyes. The world about him was bright with color, but bleary. "It's a bit blurry."

A form leaned over Tai. "Give it time. The cleric will be back later to check on you."

Tai nodded and tried to take comfort in the words. He focused as best he could upon the dark shape by his bed. "You saved me. I know it was you. Thank you."

"No," the assassin said quietly. "My efforts alone would not have revived you. As for Mordecai, my attack would not have worked if you had not weakened the mirror."

So, Entreri had both stopped his attack and finished off Mordecai himself. "I might have been able to destroy the mirror alone," he said, pointing out the obvious.

"At the cost of your life," the assassin replied, as though that answer summed up everything. And, perhaps, it did.

Tai heard the shuffling of paper, and he could tell Entreri was moving. Suddenly, a bright blue blob was placed on Tai's chest. A royal blue blob.

"I ordered this at the same time as the other," Entreri said, "but it wasn't ready before we left."

With a shaking hand, Tai reached up and touched the blue blob. Fine, sleek material greeted his fingertips. "A blue cloak," the priest said, the words choked by the sudden surge of his emotions.

"Complete with symbol of Hoar," Entreri confirmed. "Hurry up and get better so I can find out if it fits properly."

Tai laughed, but it came out as more of a sob. "Thank you."

"Please don't."

Tai smiled and closed his tear-filled eyes. He could hear the chair scraping on the floor again, although he didn't hear Entreri cross the floor.

"Rest more," the assassin ordered, and Tai could tell that he was near the door. "Jarlaxle is no doubt deep into planning further trouble for us to get into. You'll need your strength."

Tai laughed again, and then the click of the door announced Entreri's departure. The priest snorted, amused by the assassin's unrelenting stoicism. "I love you, too," Tai replied to the absent man, and he fell asleep with a small, wry smile upon his lips.

Regardless of whether Entreri was his "uncle," "older brother," or friend, Tai knew that he had found a kindred spirit.

Jarlaxle awaited Entreri at the end of the hallway. "You're smiling. I take it that the boy regained consciousness."

The assassin immediately scowled. "No, I wasn't. And yes, he did."

The drow merely chuckled. "Nyx is awaiting us downstairs and has already ordered our food."

Entreri nodded and started down the hall with Jarlaxle.

"She also has some choice words for you over knocking her out," Jarlaxle continued, his eyes glittering with mirth.

"How can you say something so mundane and put a lewd undertone in it?" Entreri asked.

The drow skipped a few steps then turned back to face Entreri. "You're both fine warriors and stubborn as old dwarves. I think you'd make a lovely pair."

Entreri glared. "If I decided to find myself a lover, I'd pick one on my own. I do not require the interference of an overly nosey drow."

Jarlaxle grinned. "Are you sure? Your pursuit of the fine lady is proceeding rather slowly."

"I am quite sure," the assassin continued, giving the elf such a pointed look that Jarlaxle could have been telekinetically pinned to the wall. "And you've 'helped' me far too much already."

The drow had the grace to look contrite. "Ah . . . yes, well."

Entreri had never seen Jarlaxle stumble over words, so he simply remained silent and watched him.

"Nyx and I share an unfortunate trait," the elf began, "of overstepping our bounds on occasion, especially as it concerns assassins and priests . . ."

The assassin lifted an eyebrow. "That would be the understatement of the millennium."

Jarlaxle smiled again and raised a finger. "Although I am unconvinced that one with as much willpower as you could actually be manipulated—unless, of course, you allowed it for your own purposes."

Entreri drew up parallel to the elf and matched his gaze. "You'd best reconsider your suicidal tendencies." He frowned. "Either way, one truth remains: Tai and I are perfectly able to take care of ourselves, and all decisions—both personal and business—will be run past the both of us in advance."

Jarlaxle tipped his hat, acknowledging both the blunt truth of that statement and the threat it contained. "As you say." He followed Entreri as the man headed for the stairs. "And while we're on the subject, after we return to the ruins to collect more gold, gems, and weapons, I have some delicious thoughts on a few excursions for us to consider."

Entreri glanced sideways at the mercenary. "May the gods preserve us."

"If Tai has anything to do with it, Hoar will," the elf said. "And what a promising development that is, considering Hoar has already preserved Tai's life!"

Entreri snorted. "So it would appear." He started down the stairs and glanced out over the dining hall, where Nyx sat waiting at a corner table. He looked from the red head back to the drow and gave Jarlaxle half a smile. "Which means that maintaining the aid of such a blessed priest is mutually beneficial."

"Indeed," the elf replied.

Entreri shook his head and turned away. "You're incorrigible."

"But you, my friend, are not—at least, not entirely."

The assassin kept his back to the elf, but his dry tone said all that needed to be said: "Don't make me hurt you."


Author's Notes:

If you enjoyed my story, please leave at least one review for me since I don't get paid for this. (smile)

To everyone who read and those who have already reviewed—thank you. You enable me to continue writing. Also, thank you to those who either faved this story or added me to your fav author's list.

Answers to Questions:
Yes, the poem in the story is mine.

No, I haven't forgotten Jarlaxle's promise to tell Tai about his mentor, Tebryn Pharn. The story will be told.

Thank yous:
A big hug to Darkhelmet, who not only betaread the story but helped by penning parts or wholes of three of the five fight scenes. Everyone should thank her for helping me because she put in a lot of effort and she totally saved my time-limited, exhausted butt. Then you should tell her how well she did.

Thank you to Rezuri and Euphorbic, who betaread parts and wholes of chapters as well.

My appreciation goes to the following, who gave me suggestions and ideas throughout the series: (in alphabetical order) Alzadea, Darkhelmet, Dr. L, Euphorbic, Matt, Rezuri, Silverwolf, and Zachee.

I also want to thank the following people for fanart: Rezuri, Rufio/Bloodyrazor, Drizzt-D, Delly, and Denden. The work of Rezuri, Bloodyrazor, and Drizzt-D can be found at Deviant Art, and Denden's can be found at Lavender Eyes.

Future stories:
No promises, but this is what I'm planning: a third installment of "Of Music and Men;" a shorter story involving Entreri's time spent in Menzoberranzan; and a third trilogy which has been tentatively entitled "The Power of Prophecy." Due to increasingly difficult school work, my future fanfics will come at a much slower rate, but Entreri, Jarlaxle, Tai and Nyx will return!