Disclaimer: This story is based on Forgotten Realms which I do not own, all persons, places or things are fictional, any similarity to real life events, or actual persons living or dead is coincidental and unintentional. Dinin, Jarlaxle, Drizzt and Vierna are not my property, they are not in any way my own creations.

Author's Note:This story uses a mix of the characters from R.A. Salvatore's works and from my own, the main focus for this is on Dinin Do'Urden. Jarlaxle is involved but again, Dinin is our protagonist. There are original characters as well, all of which are my own creations.

The Noble Mercenary

Chapter I
Bregan D'aerthe

The crowd cheered wildly as the bugbear champion tore through the pair of orcs with a single sweep of his Greatsword. He roared in triumph only to be taken from behind by a third pig faced challenger, his brief reign as champion now at it's end.

The bugbear's brothers charged into the remaining orcs, some of whom tried to flee.

They were slaughtered to the very last, and the spectators appreciated this greatly. The cheer was deafening. Some of the spectators threw hunks of meat to the victors, a reward that they had brought for the victorious slaves.

The bugbears eagerly accepted it and tried to shove as much of it as they could down their throats before the slave masters hurried them away.

Even armed and reasonably dangerous the slaves made nothing resembling an attempt at rebellion against their masters. They had long ago learned that if they resisted the drow would not simply kill them, but would instead torture them until death became a fantasy.

Pit fighting. Not at all uncommon in most drow cities, but something that most nobility would not be seen wasting their time on. Noble drow could, after all, have their own private fights between their own personal servants.

Offspring even, if the mood took them.

"Beautiful, no?" Jarlaxle chuckled, Dinin Do'Urden, or rather Dinin of no house worth mentioning, could not help but scoff.

"This throng of inbred commoners screaming over a bunch of slaves, you call beautiful?" The former elderboy of house Do'Urden asked.

Jarlaxle winked his right eye--he wore the patch over his left today--and said, "You see a throng of inbred commoners, I see a mass of paying customers, the gold they bring in is easily enough to replace the slaves lost and then some, and of course Bregan D'aerthe receives a share of the profits. Why did you think Elkantar held these pit fights?"

"Personal amusement." Dinin said distastefully as a pair of goblins scurried about the pit, trying to lift the carcass of the former champion and failing miserably. The crowd roared with laughter.

Jarlaxle smiled, "Money." He said, and Dinin of course had already known. "He runs these little events for the money. Occasionally, I suppose, for personal amusement." The mercenary chuckled. "Elkantar always was fond of watching battles, even if he never was any good at participating in them."

"Speaking of the baatezu . . ." Dinin trailed off, and pointed to a large drow approaching them and looking rather jolly.

Dark elves were very rarely obese; Elkantar was one of the more obvious exceptions. He was almost as tall as Dinin, and just about as wide as he was tall. His long braided hair was wrapped around his neck like so many white pearl necklaces, and Dinin could not help but think about how easy that might make it to strangle Elkantar if one could but sneak up behind him.

Flanking the fat noble were two rather attractive female guards which Dinin realized said a bit about Elkantar's station. Even being the brother of a matron mother, and house wizard did not usually afford one the difference of a pair of female body guards.

Dinin's elder brother Nalfein—thankfully—had not had such protection, and Do'Urden had been much higher in rank than Elkantar's house.

"Welcome! Welcome my Khal'abbil," Elkantar said to Jarlaxle, Dinin half expected the head of Bregan D'aerthe to order him to run the fat fool through for being so presumptuous.

But Jarlaxle just smiled as if he had not heard Elkantar refer to him in such a familiar manner. Certainly Dinin would never call Jarlaxle his "trusted friend", but for Elkantar to do so and not be punished suggested it was true.

Or that Elkantar was simply valuable enough not to be slaughtered quite yet.

"I see you've come as agreed." Elkantar grinned, he shot Dinin a glance that made him feel strangely uneasy.

Jarlaxle shrugged. "Well this promises to be . . . amusing." He said. "Who do I speak to about placing a bet?"

"Oh-ho!" Elkantar chuckled, "No need to talk to my servants! You, my esteemed guest, may speak directly to me of course!"

Jarlaxle nodded. "Very well." He reached into his piwafwi and materialized a bag of rare gems which he offered to Elkantar, only to pull it back before the fat drow could get his hands on it. "Well worth one hundred thousand gold." The mercenary said.

"Is that not too high a price to waste on such repugnant entertainment?" Dinin tried not to wrinkle his nose at the nonsense.

Jarlaxle said with a strange amusement in his eye, "It is wasted only if you lose."

It took a moment for Dinin to absorb the meaning behind that.

Elkantar practically levitated with glee, "One hundred thousand on him? I'll give you two to one odds he does not make it."

"Accepted." Jarlaxle nodded. One of the guards reached out to grab Dinin by the arm, he nearly removed hers, save for a warning glance from Jarlaxle.

And so into the pit went Dinin of no house worth mentioning.

Dinin cockily strolled into the center of the circular pit, the crowd grew very loud now, surely a fellow dark elf fighting for his life, even if it was just a male, would prove more entertaining than watching a trio of bugbear slaughtering orcs.

Dinin briefly wondered if he'd failed Jarlaxle in some fashion. But the mercenary leader had not expressed great displeasure with his work until now.

Or was this just for Jarlaxle's own amusement? Dinin was almost afraid to know what went on under that ridiculous hat.

There would of course be time to consider all that, if he survived. The noble Do'Urden--for Dinin would always consider himself a noble, regardless of his social situation--cracked his knuckles and drew his sword. The crowd cheered, Dinin ignored them.

Well . . . mostly he ignored them. He could not help making a show of looking around, then shrugging to the crowd. Where was his opponent?

He got his answer all too soon as he felt his legs knocked out from under him. He heard a loud grunt as a duergar seemed to materialize over him, hammer raised for a killing blow.

Dinin rolled to his feet and the hammer came down inches from where his head had been. The duergar roared and charged, the mercenary took a moment to take in his adversary.

The gray dwarf wielded a rather unimpressive war hammer. Considering that duergar weapons were almost as excellent in appearance as those built by the drow this looked as if it were forged by goblins. His armor too looked like so many scraps of leather. He wore no boots on his feet, and only a pair of cloth bracers on his arms.

The noble mercenary got to his feet quickly, and blocked another attack by the duergar's hammer, this time he followed up with a quick downward slash for the gray dwarf's bald, unprotected head.

As quickly as Dinin's sword moved, so did the duergar's arm, coming up to block the blade and protect his head.

Dinin's blade slammed into the duergar's bracer and . . . stopped.

Dinin looked at the spectacle in surprise, so the dwarf had a few tricks up his sleeve.

The duergar sneered at Dinin and began to chuckle, then Dinin felt his legs knocked out from under him again, and a second gray dwarf was revealed!