Disclaimer: I don't own any recognizable characters. However, Vrellin Do'Urden and various other characters whose names I can't recall at the moment belong to me, including those in future chapters.
Yupp, this one got the rewrite treatment too. It still follows the same basic idea as the old version, but with the grammer fix-ups and everything. For those of you who haven't read the older version, this is an alternate story for Drizzt. It basically describes what could have happened had he stayed in Menzoberranzan after Zak died and he never made it to the surface.
"What did you do with Zak?" Drizzt asked. He could hear the desperation rising in his voice, but couldn't quell it. His mother looked at him with a sly smile, seeming to know his fears. "Where is he?"
"He has proven useful to House Do'Urden. You should be proud of him."
Drizzt suspected what had truly happened, but he didn't say anything.
"You are the weapons-master now, my son," Malice said with a quiet grin. "You will be a great asset in the coming war."
Drizzt's mind was racing. Zak was undoubtedly dead, a war was coming, and he had no place in Menzoberranzan anymore. He had to leave. But where was there to go? The wilds of the Underdark were anything but a home to him. He would die the moment he stepped foot outside the city....
Drizzt Do'Urden paced the length of his House's gym, hands clasped behind his back, unpleasant memories running through his mind. However, he couldn't dwell upon them for long, for it was his duty as weapons-master to meet with the Matron Mother every few years to discuss prospective students.
His fame as a warrior had grown steadily, until even Matron Mothers from lesser Houses came to House Do'Urden, begging Matron Briza to let her renowned brother train their own children; he had even trained a precocious young priestess who had come all the way from Eryndlyn.
But though he was famous and though he had trained countless warriors, he was unhappy. He hated himself for staying. He knew he should have left—it was something he regretted every moment of every day. Every night, thoughts of what could have been haunted him, forcing him to face his own cowardice. But he knew that he no longer had the strength to leave; years of living under the harsh matriarchy of the drow had eroded his morals, leaving them mere wisps of what they once had been.
A knock came at the door, startling him. A moment later Briza entered, a disconcerting smile on her face.
Drizzt stood. "Greetings, Matron," he offered with a curt bow.
"Greetings, brother," she returned. "I trust you've heard of your new charge by now?"
"Yes. Vierna told me this morning."
"Good. I will bring him tomorrow. His name is Vrellin Do'Urden—your brother."
Drizzt stared at her. He had thought his mother unable to have any more children. He nodded, masking his surprise.
When House Do'Urden had marched on House Fey-Branche ten years ago, Drizzt had killed his older brother. He had had no aim, no tangible reason for doing so. It was just something he had done in the heat of battle, perhaps in retaliation for years of abuse at Dinin's hands. Or perhaps, though he hadn't realized it at the time, it had been to up his position in the family, to become both elderboy and weapons-master, the only son in the family.
Now that position seemed threatened. He knew he couldn't do anything about it, not in cold blood, not even as a drow. But a vague panic reached up and took hold of him. He swallowed it and directed Briza out the door.
When the knock came the next day, he was practicing. Pushing his sweat-drenched hair from his face and tugging on his shirt, he went to the double doors of the gym. When he opened them, he was surprised to see an exceptionally small drow standing beside Matron Briza. Barely topping four feet in height, the secondboy of House Do'Urden was a twig of a drow. Drizzt was sure he could snap him in half without even trying.
He stood aside and let them in, keeping his eyes on his brother, taking him in. The boy walked with a haughty confidence, and as he turned his head this way and that to take in the entirety of the gym, his narrowed crimson eyes glanced furtively towards his elder brother, sizing him up.
Just try it, Drizzt thought, coolly meeting the baleful gaze.
"This is our brother, Drizzt," Briza said then, turning to him. "Vrellin. I will leave you now," she announced. But as she stepped through the door, she called back, "Train him well, brother."
Drizzt wasn't sure if she was speaking to him or to Vrellin.
Drizzt turned to the boy. "Welcome to the gym of House Do'Urden. This will be your home for the next four years. I will train you to become the best warrior you can possibly be. Your skills will be a great help to our House in the coming years. Now, choose your weapons over there." He pointed, indicating the massive rack that contained every sort of weapon imaginable. "You will have the day to pick, and tomorrow your training begins."
He watched for a moment as Vrellin moved to investigate the weapons, hefting a small hand axe and giving it an experimental swing.
Drizzt knew already that he would have to watch out for his younger brother. He would have to spend less time at night in Reverie and more time keeping an eye out for a dagger in his back—or his front, he considered, recalling the old adage. Sighing, he entered his chambers. Vrellin would be occupied for the rest of the evening; maybe he could get in one last night of rest.
Early the next morning he roused Vrellin. The boy followed him out to the center of the gym, stopping to pick up his chosen weapons. Drizzt stood in one corner, his back to his brother as he belted his scimitars around his waist.
As it was only the first day of training, he figured he would start off teaching him basic moves and test his skill with a blade. He had to admit that he was curious as to what his brother had finally chosen; he had heard him testing weapons far into the night, the clanging echoing through his dreams. He turned to find Vrellin standing before him, his small form slumped slightly with his shocking red eyes narrowing in Drizzt's direction, jaw clenched. He drew two weapons; the elderboy cocked his head curiously. They were oddly mismatched weapons—a long rapier and a smaller hand axe.
"Tell me, Vrellin. Why did you choose those particular...blades?"
"They sit well in my hands," Vrellin replied simply. His voice simmered with hidden malice. "The rapier is meant to thrust at enemies—it belongs in my dominant hand. The axe will allow me to slash and cause more damage, and as such, it belongs in my non-dominant hand."
"And you don't want to choose more...corresponding weapons?"
Vrellin's eyes narrowed further until only blood-red slits could be seen. "I'm sure, brother."
"Very well..." Drizzt sighed. This was going to be more difficult than he had imagined. "Let us begin, then."
Over the next few days, Drizzt trained Vrellin, going through various sparring routines and offensive and defensive maneuvers with him, teaching him the way to handle his new—and strange—weapons. The secondboy was a fierce once, and stubborn. Every time Drizzt pointed out flaws in his brother's movements and openings in his defenses, he was rewarded with tantrums and vehement protests. Although he had only just begun training, he seemed to be under the impression that he was the better fighter, forgetting that Drizzt was perhaps the greatest weapons-master Menzoberranzan had ever known.
A week or two after Vrellin had arrived at the gym, Drizzt decided to introduce a new lesson—one that needed to be taught. It might be a little late, but Drizzt had found a certain childish delight in finding fault with Vrellin, pointing out the slightest mistakes. It was the only way he could get out his frustrations.
"Today's lesson?" the smaller drow asked as he warmed up.
"When you told me you chose the rapier for your non-dominant hand, you misspoke. Am I to assume that Matron Briza told you the drow favor a two-handed fighting style?"
"Do you think me stupid?"
"A simple 'yes' would have sufficed. Secondboys should learn their place."
"You're a male. I don't have to listen to you."
Drizzt rolled his eyes. "Astute observation. If you paid a little more attention, you would realize that you are a male as well. I rule in this gym. Here, you will answer to me, and only me."
Vrellin's shoulders tightened as he fought back a scathing reply.
"So then I am to assume you know what sort of fighting style the drow favor?" Drizzt repeated.
"Yes." The word was full of hatred, but it brought a twitch of a smile to Drizzt's stern face.
"Then you cannot use an axe in your left hand because it's your non-dominant hand. You should use it in such a way that it will be as effective as your rapier."
"I know that," Vrellin replied, rolling his eyes. "I know everything that you have tried to teach me."
"You can't possibly," Drizzt replied coolly, stepping back and watching his brother.
"Ask me anything, then."
The weapons-master smirked. Vrellin had played right into his hands.
"Very well, then. Do you know how to create a globe of impenetrable darkness? Or faerie-fire? These are both skills unique to the drow, and most learn how to do it by the age of sixteen. Surely you know how to utilize these skills?"
Vrellin was glaring at him, anger emanating from him. Drizzt kept his gaze cool, waiting for the secondboy's answer. At last he slumped back, but his violent eyes remained on the weapons-master and his tiny frame fairly quivered with fury.
"As I thought." Drizzt turned his back. "Shall I give you a few moments to regain control of your raging temper? Or will you use it to help fuel your training today? Will you let your anger help you, or hurt you?"
Again, he received no answer. Slowly, Vrellin moved to return his weapons to the rack and just as slowly walked past Drizzt and into his room. As he turned to shut the door, he gave the elderboy a look that clearly stated he wanted nothing more than to kill him.
That night Drizzt sat in his chambers, staring into the mirror that was placed across from the bed. He really had no need for it; he was anything but vain—but it had belonged to his father. For that reason alone, he kept it. Any time he gazed into it, he wondered: What had Zaknafein Do'Urden felt whenever he had received another young drow to train? How had he felt when Drizzt had first arrived?
He sighed. He hated this existence; it went against everything he was made of. He lived only to serve his sister, training and killing young drow—killing their innocence, ridding them of any scrap of conscience and any semblance of kindness retained from hard childhoods.
How had Vrellin taken to his job as page prince of House Do'Urden? he wondered. Had he learned so easily to keep his gaze down and to never look a female in the eye unless told to do so? And, because he had been forced to do so, had that been what made him so angry now?
Drizzt fell back on his hard, cot-like bed. Nothing was worse than Menzoberranzan. He sighed. Nothing was worse than the nights when he regretted never leaving. Often he could push those thoughts away, but on particularly frustrating days, days like today, they inevitably bubbled up to the surface of his mind. Even the wilds of the Underdark would be better than this cursed city. He pressed his fists to his eyes, not knowing what could be done to remedy any part of this awful situation.
He was so immersed in his own misery that he didn't see the secondboy standing in the doorway with his weapons in hand.
Drizzt, still with his hands over his eyes, caught the faint, almost imperceptible sound of leather boots scraping over the stone floor. He sat up and turned toward the door; Vrellin was already beside the bed, his axe raised for a quick, death-dealing blow. The weapons-master rolled out of the way and off the small bed, throwing himself toward the sheaths that contained his scimitars. He managed to draw only one before Vrellin was on him again.
He quickly brought it up, just in time to parry a hard blow. He kicked up at Vrellin's unprotected crotch, but his brother seemed to have been expecting that and he jumped away. He swung his rapier around and thrust it out. It bit deep into Drizzt's arm.
Drizzt screamed in agony but wrenched away, blood dripping, and rolled back to draw his second blade. He parried a weak strike and brought a scimitar around to parry both the hand axe and rapier as they were brought down towards his neck.
Vrellin, though he hadn't been Drizzt's pupil for more than two months, was already an able fighter, but there were key openings in his defenses he hadn't yet learned how to close up. The weapons-master knew he would easily be able to exploit them.
He parried Vrellin until they were backed into the gym, where Drizzt knew he would have a wider range of space to keep his brother at bay. He didn't want to kill him, but perhaps he could be subdued.
"What are you doing?" he called over the clang of steel, trying to distract the secondboy.
"What do you think I'm doing, brother?" Vrellin snarled, swinging the hand axe in wide, uncontrolled movements. "This is the reality of Menzoberranzan. You are weak, and you must die."