Drizzt Do'Urden paced the length of the gym, hands clasped behind his back. It was a habit he had developed long ago, something he did before he met new students. He was ready for one; he needed the distraction.
Sighing heavily, he paused and looked to the door that led to his private chambers. It had taken a few nights, but he had finally managed to sleep in the bed he had once shared with Catti-brie. The blankets he had bought her were still there—where they had sat for nearly ten years before he had been able to unfold them and wrap them around his shoulders. They no longer retained her scent, but he could almost imagine her beside him.
He lowered himself to the floor, sitting in the middle of the gym. At the very least, she hadn't suffered. She had died immediately.
He hadn't taken a lover in the sixteen years since her death, and he doubted he ever would. He still grieved for her. A cold, empty hole filled his chest now. He felt emotionless, devoid of any real life. But he knew that Menzoberranzan demanded things of him that he knew would be easier to succumb to than fight.
The only reason he hadn't killed himself was that Maya had promised him a very painful afterlife, and he knew that she didn't make idle threats. He hadn't killed her, either, because he suspected she had placed a contingency spell on herself; he didn't fear death, but there was still his afterlife to think about. He hadn't returned to Mithral Hall, either. He had actually had a handful of chances to do so, but he knew that no one would want him there, as no one had wanted him there when he had been with Catti-brie. And now that Catti-brie was dead, he would likely be blamed for it—not that he could deny it. He couldn't face the dwarves, especially Bruenor, though he knew he owed it to them.
And not only had he lost his beloved Catti-brie, he had lost his child.
He stood when the knock came. That would be Maya with his new student. He had heard that the boy was of House Do'Urden, a drowling of no small talent. His father had been some commoner, his mother a minor priestess of the household who had died in childbirth, leaving him an orphan. Maya, seeing his potential, had been his weanmother—something unheard of for a Matron Mother.
He opened the door, bowing before his sister, ushering her and the boy in. He glanced up as they passed him, looking his student up and down. The boy was small, but still larger and stronger than Vrellin had been. Drizzt watched the boy as he turned, tilting his head back curiously to look up at the vaulted ceiling, his shaggy white hair falling over his shoulders. After a moment he lowered his head to regard the weapons-master, and Drizzt felt cold shock wash over him.
The boy gazed at him with odd, piercing blue eyes, eyes that were the color of sapphires—eyes that he had known only one other person to possess. He was frozen to the spot, unable to look away.
"Drizzt." Maya's voice broke through his whirling thoughts. "This is Amaltran Do'Urden. Train him well."