Important Note: If you are new to my trilogy-based fanfics, I suggest you go back to story 1, "Progression of a Killer," and start there. However, if you choose to start here, do not proceed on the assumption that Entreri and Jarlaxle will behave as they do in PotWK or RotP. I built my fanfics on SotS, and I took these characters forward on one possible road they could have chosen. Some of what I did bears a resemblance to what RAS did, and the rest is AU as of 2005. So please enjoy these stories as an alternative fate for our beloved characters--a path they could have taken but one RAS didn't choose to explore. A dramatis personae has been included at the end of the chapter for those who want a refresher or those who wish to start with this story.
The Power of Prophecy: Premonition
Description: Story 7. While Nyx furthers her training, Entreri, Jarlaxle, and Tai have an unexpected brush with the paranormal.
Disclaimer: Artemis Entreri and all other recognizable characters belong to R.A. Salvatore and Wizards of the Coast. No challenge to the copyright is intended or should be inferred. The following story is just for the amusement of the fans and will never make any profit. A/N: This story almost qualifies as a stand-alone, and it acts as an entr'acte, or interlude, between Descent into Darkness and the bulk of Power of Prophecy. It sets up the themes of the Prophecy trilogy, however, so I'm counting it as the first part of the series. All quotes from Entreri and Jarlaxle at the beginning of chapters are the property of R.A. Salvatore and are quoted from his short stories or novels.
Disclaimer: Artemis Entreri and all other recognizable characters belong to R.A. Salvatore and Wizards of the Coast. No challenge to the copyright is intended or should be inferred. The following story is just for the amusement of the fans and will never make any profit.
A/N: This story almost qualifies as a stand-alone, and it acts as an entr'acte, or interlude, between Descent into Darkness and the bulk of Power of Prophecy. It sets up the themes of the Prophecy trilogy, however, so I'm counting it as the first part of the series.
All quotes from Entreri and Jarlaxle at the beginning of chapters are the property of R.A. Salvatore and are quoted from his short stories or novels.
20th of Mirtul, 1369 DR
"There will only be one last time."—A.E., PotWK
Graceful mountain peaks arched across the horizon like a pouncing leopard, with towering cumulus clouds breaking the golden morning light and creating the mountains' coat of dark spots. A forest of blue pines raced up the mountain sides, giving the peaks a bluish cast, and to Tai Vatoshie's recently recovered eyes, the sight was breathtaking. The entire morning was a symphony of life, with the cheerful calls of bobwhites and answering mixed songs of mockingbirds. The sweet scent of jasmine and honeysuckle perfumed the air, and recent rains had cleared the humidity, leaving a clean breeze to rush through Tai's shoulder-length hair.
Spring was now fading into summer, but even the heat could not dent Tai's joy: joy over his healed eyes, lingering satisfaction in Mordecai's defeat a month earlier, and most of all, happiness to be with his friends. And now that Tai was better, he and his friends were setting out on a new venture. Jarlaxle, Nyx, Entreri, and the priest had paid a wizard to teleport them to the Greypeak Mountains so that Nyx could spend several days at the secluded monastery there. Her objective was to finish her training in the art of self-healing before the group made their way down Dawn Pass Trail toward Waterdeep. And, as per Jarlaxle's personality, the process of separating from the monk had become a drama.
"How will we ever survive without your beauty to gaze upon!" the outrageous drow exclaimed, throwing one ring-laden hand up to his chest in mock horror.
Nyx Jassan, however, wasn't fooled by the drow's antics. Her brown eyes—so rare in hue when matched with her crown braid of auburn hair—sparkled with mirth. "I'm sure you'll survive. After all, you'll immerse yourself in a gaggle of barmaids in the next town you enter."
Jarlaxle laughed heartily at Nyx's double entendre, and Entreri also snorted with laughter, momentarily dispelling his characteristic scowl. With the amusement lighting his dark grey eyes, Entreri seemed to Tai even more robust than when the priest had first met him. His black hair, which was tied back into a ponytail, shone in the sunlight, setting off a kaleidoscope of colors. Even his skin's faint grey pallor had receded due to the tan he'd gained during their journey.
"Whatever your exploits may be," Nyx continued once Jarlaxle's laughter died down, "I'm more concerned about your looking after our troublesome priest than how you'll get along without me." The monk winked at Tai to show she was teasing.
"I assure you, we will keep Tai out of trouble," Jarlaxle said.
"Because you are so good at staying out of trouble yourself," Entreri quipped.
"Exactly," the monk said, fighting and failing to keep a stern frown on her face. "I better find a happy, healthy priest when I return!"
Tai smiled at Nyx's sisterly concern, but he knew that he himself was looking much better than he had in two months or more. Nyx had trimmed the wild ends from his hair, causing it to fall easily about his shoulders, and he had regained some of his lost weight, which fortunately meant that his pants no longer tried to fall off his hips. With his tan and the royal blue cloak Entreri had given him, the priest felt more like himself than he had since Mordecai had first crossed his path.
Entreri had raised an eyebrow at Tai. "I would argue that our priest is capable of taking care of himself, given the damage he did to Mordecai, but then again, he did manage to kill himself in the process."
The gruff words, which would sound like an insult to most others, betrayed to Tai the friendship that was growing between him and the assassin. The priest felt an expansive grin spread across his face, one so big it revealed his teeth and hurt his cheeks. "Oh, I don't plan to kill myself again any time soon. Someone has to patch up your wounds the next time you shove a sword through a holy mirror."
Entreri smirked and glanced at the new sword hanging at his side, one he'd taken from the treasure room at the ruins of the saurian temple. "It is a bother to replace the sword," he muttered.
Tai laughed, suspecting Entreri hadn't finished bonding with his new weapon.
"I think Tai is more concerned about you than your blade," Jarlaxle said with a smile that suggested much Entreri-teasing was soon to come.
The assassin shot Jarlaxle a warning glare, but Nyx ignored them both and stepped up to Tai, giving him a big hug. Her arms felt strong around his shoulders, but Tai was shocked at how small she seemed as he returned her embrace. Also, he couldn't miss the way that her chest—
Tai firmly stomped the thought, but when Nyx released him, he still fought to keep the blush from his face. Since Nyx was eight years older than he—almost the same age as Tai's only sister—the priest rarely stopped to think about her womanly charms, but when they were pressed up against him, he couldn't exactly ignore them.
"I'm just glad you're better," Nyx said, smiling at him. "Now take care of these idiots," she added, winking at him once more. She said farewell to the mercenaries, then headed up the path that would take her to the monastery.
Entreri watched her leave, but Tai wasn't quite sure what his expression suggested. Jarlaxle, however, was grinning wickedly at Tai, and the priest braced himself.
The elf glided over to Tai and put his arm around his shoulders. Removing his floppy hat and holding it to his chest, Jarlaxle gave the priest one of his most innocent smiles. "So tell me, my friend. How would you feel about meeting a few women in the next town?"
The blush that Tai had fought away suddenly exploded across his face, burning his cheeks and racing across his nose. "If I decide to court someone, I'll approach her on my own," he quickly replied, stepping out from under the elf's embrace.
Entreri snorted. "That sounds hauntingly familiar."
With a quick snap of his wrist, Jarlaxle popped his hat back upon his head. "Well, I have been telling you that the boy should call himself Entreri Junior."
"And I told you that I'd soon be cutting out your tongue and using it for a tassel," Entreri replied.
The drow laughed. "Now, now. I'm merely suggesting that Tai take short time away from his holy mission to acquaint himself with a lovely woman."
The priest felt the heat of his blush all the way to his neck, but a second feeling joined his embarrassment—one that erupted in his stomach like black lava, burning through his abdomen and stealing his good-natured patience with Jarlaxle's teasing. He frowned at the dirt road beneath his feet as a thought stole into his mind: The anticipation I felt over my first relationship is gone now. Is this fear I feel? Tai shook his head, unsure what the tense knot of feelings suggested, but he did know that the rape was responsible for this new pain.
Entreri and Jarlaxle had been trading quips and had apparently failed to notice Tai's reaction, so the priest pulled himself together and forced a smile. "Are we going to stand in the road all day, or are we going to get Jarlaxle to a bar where he can . . . uh . . . refresh his thirst?"
The drow laughed.
"We'll get Jarlaxle to a bar," Entreri answered. "Sooner rather than later, in fact, so we may be spared some of his lecherous dialogue."
Tai's smile became a touch more heartfelt at the assassin's dry reply, but the drow in question looked even more energized than before.
"Let us go and find trouble, shall we?" Jarlaxle chirped.
Four hours later, the companions saw the first sign of civilization. Since the monastery was hidden away in the mountains, the group had traveled down a small dirt road—more of a footpath, really—for miles before intersecting with Dawn Pass Trail. They had hoped to stay in the town of Llorkh during Nyx's training, but to their relief they had found a small village situated closer to the mountains.
"What good fortune!" Jarlaxle exclaimed at the sight of the thatch roofs in the small valley below them. "A place to rest and dine, and perhaps a sip of wine and at least one comely woman." He grinned at Tai.
The priest shook his head, but the elf saw the trace of mirth in the boy's eyes. Even Jarlaxle had been quiet during Tai's recovery, offering Nyx reassurances and not teasing Entreri for his attention to the lad. The drow himself had been concerned over Tai's recuperation, equally for business and personal reasons, and he was pleased to see Tai healed. However, he suspected that some of the priest's emotional wounds would plague him for months, maybe even years, to come. At those thoughts, Jarlaxle glanced at Entreri, the silent presence at Tai's side.
Unless our cold, stoic assassin intervenes, Jarlaxle mused. And perhaps he will. He's more human by the month.
Yet the drow set all those observations aside as they entered the village, which bustled with noontime activity. Contrary to the imposing wall that protected the settlement, the interior presented such quaint sights as potted roses and creeping ivy to decorate the storefronts along the town's main thoroughfare. However, the people who strolled from store to store, carrying baskets and laughing together, began to stop and stare as they noticed Jarlaxle. A rush of whispers and gasps soon filled the air, with some villagers going so far as to drop their hands to their weapons' belts. No one approached, though, so Jarlaxle ignored them and focused on the aroma of baking bread and stew. His nose more than anything led him to the village inn, which announced itself as The Crow's Nest via a newly painted red and black sign.
"A nice little town," Tai commented absently, "although we seem to have caused a stir."
"The tavern looks promising," Entreri replied in a more practical vein. "And no one's tried to draw a sword on Jarlaxle yet."
Grinning over the assassin's unrelenting no-nonsense attitude, the drow in question opened the tavern door. "But the real entertainment will be getting them to serve us dinner."
Entering the dim coolness of the room, Jarlaxle glanced around at the rough hewn tables and the dark walnut floors and walls. The establishment seemed a fine reprieve from the midday heat, and the drow smiled as he and his companions walked toward the bar. However, when the patrons realized a drow stood in their midst, the tranquil atmosphere evaporated into shrieks and yells.
"Get out!" screamed one of the barmaids. "Get out, now!"
Expecting the reaction, Jarlaxle raised both arms slowly, showing his hands were empty and revealing his apparent lack of weapons. "Do not be alarmed, good people. I am no evil drow come to your village seeking destruction and pillage; I only wish a drink and a meal."
Entreri and Tai had taken subtle defensive positions at Jarlaxle's sides, although neither drew any weapons.
The barkeep was shaking his head frantically. "No, no. You don't understand! Your intentions are irrelevant. The prophecy says that the drow who enters our village in broad daylight will be the one to release The Seal. Please, sir, leave immediately! We have a peaceful life here and don't wish to lose it."
The prophecy? The seal? Jarlaxle frowned, unsure what to make of the unusual request. "I assure you, I have no desire to break any magical seals."
"You don't have to do so intentionally," the barkeep insisted in a pleading voice. "Please, sir. If the seal is broken, a horde of allips will be released to terrorize the land. If you are not evil, as you claim, leave the area at once."
Tai grasped Jarlaxle's arm and squeezed it in a half-warning, half-comforting way. "Let's leave. We won't find a meal here today."
Entreri scowled, but the drow agreed with Tai, for he truly did not wish a fight. With a tip of his hat and a smile, Jarlaxle turned and left the tavern, his human companions quick to follow.
"What foolishness," Entreri spat as they returned to the road and made their way out of the village.
"Perhaps," Tai said, "but there might indeed be a prophecy in this area."
"A prophecy concerning a horde of allips?" Jarlaxle shook his head. "Allips are solitary monsters. A horde is unlikely."
"Allips?" Entreri repeated dryly. "Doesn't sound particularly scary."
Jarlaxle wagged one finger at him. "Don't prejudge. Allips are undead creatures who were driven mad in life, and they single-mindedly seek vengeance for their pain. Those who are assaulted by allips are often driven mad as well, or they succumb to confusion or lose their will to fight."
Entreri narrowed his eyes. "Sounds terrifying," he amended, his voice equally dry.
Jarlaxle chuckled. "Glad to see you will be ready for the challenge—being incorporeal, they are difficult to defeat."
The assassin merely smirked.
"You speak as though you will release the allips," Tai said, not sharing his friends' amusement. "Don't do that—it's bad luck. Besides, I feel a sense of foreboding."
"Foreboding like the villagers felt? You both assume much. After all, for all the villagers know, I have already released this magical seal," Jarlaxle pointed out. "Or I might as I leave. What, then, would their fear accomplish?"
"Nothing," the priest replied. "But even if their prophecy is merely an old tale and has no truth to it, they would still not be safe."
Jarlaxle raised an eyebrow, prompting Tai to continue.
"Many prophecies are self-fulfilling," the priest explained. "Our—your—presence alone might spark some violence that would raze the town as surely as any monster."
Entreri snorted, but Jarlaxle nodded, seeing the wisdom of the claim. "Indeed," the drow said. "Well, I believe Lorkh is not too far from here. We should arrive there in two hours and have our fill of food. The only thing we must do is ensure I do not break any seals!"
Entreri sighed and gestured toward the trees which once again surrounded them. "How would you? Everywhere we've been for the last several months has had nothing but endless trees. Forests and more forests! Winding deer trails, overgrown brush—for once I can say I'll be honestly glad to see the ocean. At any rate, unless the magical seal is in a tree, I'd say we are safe."
Jarlaxle laughed and skipped a few feet further down the road before turning back to face his companions. "Artemis Entreri manages to give commentary on nature! Surely the world shall now end."
"I wonder if your skin would make a decent rug," the assassin said darkly.
Tai, who still appeared troubled over the prophecy, interrupted their daily sparing match. "If Lorkh is really two hours from here, we should stop and at least have a small snack. We have enough rations for that, and it is already past time for us to dine."
Jarlaxle wrinkled his nose. "I am truly weary of our hard, tasteless food."
Entreri ignored him and led the companions off the road and into a clearing. Tai followed close behind, already rummaging through his belt pack for his rations, and the drow took up the rear, wandering over to a small boulder and sitting with a yawn.
The elf dramatically threw wide one hand, his mood still mischievous despite the earlier set back. "Why whatever can we do to—" He stopped abruptly, jerking his other hand up to examine it. "What an unfriendly rock," he said, growing at once serious as he noted the cut. "All I did was—"
Again, Jarlaxle was interrupted, this time by a loud cracking sound that scared all the birds from the trees. Like the snap of a bow, the rock split in two, unceremoniously dumping the drow onto the ground.
"Apparently I should choose my boulders with more care," Jarlaxle said dryly.
Entreri laughed at him. "It couldn't bear the weight of your oversized ego."
Tai, however, was not laughing. He leaned over the broken pieces and pointed to the weather-worn engraving which was now clearly exposed on one side. "I think this was a monument of some sort."
Jarlaxle felt a brick plummet into his gut, all vestiges of his good mood killed. Perhaps he should have taken the prophecy more seriously. Wiping the remaining blood off his hand, he focused on the inscription:
"With this monument, we, the citizens of Withey Township, seal the souls of the 26 sons and daughters, wives and husbands driven mad during Turrin's Seige. While their tortured spirits forever hath our love, we beseech thy holy power, Helm, to contain their wrath forevermore.—20th of Mirtul, 873 DR"
Jarlaxle grimaced. "Lovely."
Jarlaxle just wouldn't be Jarlaxle if he wasn't getting himself in trouble. Anyway, thank you to any who read and review. I apologize in advance for any long pauses between updates.
For those of you who need a refresher or are joining us for the first time, here's the character development from the first 6 stories.
Artemis Entreri: in the two series prior to this one, our beloved assassin has developed a friendship with Jarlaxle, Tai, and Nyx. He realizes his former life was empty, and he has recognized that having friends helps fill the void, although he's not particularly overt about it. His friendship with Jarlaxle is evening out, and he feels protective of Tai. He admires Nyx's spirit and realizes she's attracted to him. Entreri remains a basically stoic man with sharp wit; he also still works as a mercenary.
Jarlaxle: over the course of the past six stories, Jarlaxle has realized his care for Entreri is real and has begun to understand the human concept of friendship, which means he's slowly lessened his manipulation of others. He wants to build a surface empire that is completely separate from Menzoberranzan, effectively leaving behind his prior life, and he sees his new friends as part of that process. Jarlaxle remains a free-spirited, witty, clever, and dangerous dark elf with overdramatic tendencies and wild taste in clothing.
Tai Vatoshie: an original character who entered in story three, Tai is a seventeen-year-old cleric of Hoar, the god of poetic justice and retribution. Having defeated the angry and bitter attitude of his childhood, Tai became a kind, wise youth who seeks to help the downtrodden find justice. In the previous series, Tai was raped by a drow named Mordecai, who vented his anger at Entreri by hurting Tai instead. Tai struggled with his religious faith and a second bout of anger, but he didn't give into bitterness. With the help of Nyx and Entreri, not to mention Hoar, Tai overcame his anger and returned to his faith, though he's a touch more cynical and distrusting than before. His relationship with Entreri is defined by brotherly love, and he looks up to Entreri as a strong person. His relationship with Jarlaxle is defined by the slow rebuilding of trust, which was shattered on the night Tai was raped.
Nyx Jassan: an OC who entered in story four, Nyx is a twenty-five-year-old monk who also follows Hoar. Drawn to Hoar's creed because of her father's murder by bandits, Nyx seeks to help the weak and victimized. Defined by her wish to help and protect others, Nyx finds herself drawn to people even though her training as a monk prepared her to live alone. She's furiously protective of Tai and is attracted to Entreri practically against her will. She finds Jarlaxle an enigma and doesn't entirely trust him, but she (mostly) enjoys his sense of humor and has begun to trade jokes with him.