The Three Kings
By LordOnisyr and Ariel D
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters are the property of R.A. Salvatore/Wizards of the Coast ©. We don't own them; we're just examining all their possibilities.
LordOnisyr: The idea for this was inspired by Ariel's awesome fics "Of Music and Men" and "A Bad Day for Ballads" which had such hilarious dialogue between Jarlaxle and Artemis Entreri. My mind eventually turned to my own Sellswords variation called the Rogue Kings. Starting in my story "The Lesser Evil," Entreri and Jarlaxle gain Drizzt Do'Urden as a third party member shortly before he becomes a homicidal maniac. I randomly suggested the idea of a bantering piece between the three possibly as a collaboration and she seemed to like the idea.
Pretty much the entire dialogue is the result of a series of IM conversations of us just tossing along banter and story ideas. I formed it into the story format, Ariel edited and added details, and the rest is history. There are still several more pages of dialogue that will be used in an upcoming chapter and the door is open for more insanity.
Ariel D: Lord Onisyr deserves the credit here, seeing as how she molded shared banter and ideas into a full story. Not to mention that only she can wield the acid tongue of the fallen ranger! But I had a great time trying to answer her endless quips with some of my own, and I hope the fans of Lord Onisyr's Lesser Evil series will enjoy their escapades here and get a laugh at their expense.
"The Three Kings" is rated M for strong language and coarse humor.
Chapter 1: Another Dragon
"Another blasted dragon!" Entreri said, his scared glare boring into the cragged stone wall. "I must be paying for my sins."
He slowly turned his body toward Jarlaxle, whose face was locked into an annoyed and disbelieving grimace as he looked down the cavern corridor and directly at the red dragon in front of them. For once he was speechless, caught up in awe and fear while trying to think up something useful to do.
Drizzt Do'Urden was standing close beside his fellow drow. His raised eyebrow and blank look spoke more of annoyance at the situation than fear.
The mission had gone badly enough already; three hours of wandering through this series of dank, limestone caverns under the Nether Mountains was hardly a paradise. The smell of mold was everywhere as all three exercised their various forms of infrared vision (natural for the two drow, magically enhanced for the human) to only be surrounded by thick, rock walls and twisting passage after twisting passage. All three pairs of boots were soaked with water from the various pools around the caverns while the humidity rendered all three bodies covered in sweat.
Then three of them turned another black corner into a small, red glowing light. The pervading smell of sulfur followed close behind. Just as the reality of this turn of events was beginning to set in, the realization was followed by the large yellow eyes and smoking red snout of the cave's dweller.
"It's you," Entreri growled, his tone rising as he pointed his finger at the mercenary with his gaze staying straight ahead. "You're a dragon magnet! You have dragons trying to kill you, dragons trying to lie with you, dragons trying to..."
"Ah, so you shall pin the blame upon me?" Jarlaxle said, chuckling in the face of Entreri's irritation. "Perhaps I was born to hurl dragons in your path!"
"Shut up, both of you!" Drizzt said in his own calm growl, his lavender eyes fixed down the stone hallway as well. His expression, however, still looked more annoyed at his companions than concerned about the situation. Entreri rolled his eyes, knowing exactly where this was going.
"You're not going to charge it head-on are you?" the assassin asked, giving his companion an annoyed glare. "I don't fancy cleaning up a puddle melted bones."
"Hate to disappoint you, but I know how to deal with these creatures. Now stand aside," Drizzt said, walking forward.
Entreri and Jarlaxle stood to the side looking at him incredulously.
"With his insanity, I shall never be bored," Jarlaxle said, shaking his head.
This was the usual turn their missions had been taking as of late. During their six years as partners, mendacity was usually the order of business with the occasional perilous mission (like one incident involving a dracolich in the Bloodstone Lands). Then Drizzt Do'Urden joined the group a year ago, bringing his own cloud of swirling chaos with him. The very presence of a hero who plummeted from grace into a perpetual state of homicidal rage was almost a cosmic magnate of peril.
There was little the two more seasoned mercenaries could put on him for this mission, though. The 10,000 gold pieces each of them were promised involved a pure blue diamond in the locked in a cave in the foothills of the Nether Mountains. The cave was a vast cavern under the red rocks resembling an average cavern in the Underdark and the ancient description of the vault had been familiar enough…though their employer said its guardian had been slain by a band of paladins five years ago.
The young Red facing them now looked old enough to be junior; a 10-foot-tall red dragon looking none too pleased to have uninvited guests in his layer (or excited to have three exotic snacks) The three had instinctively ducked into a rocky outcropping, though they could still the claws around the corner.
Drizzt moved away from the thick limestone wall that separated the three of them from the dragon 20 feet away. He walked closer to the unamused red, who was more likely to play with his food before eating it.
"Greetings my great and terrible master," the drow said in an authoritative tone, bowing low."
"What in the…" Entreri said.
"It's his funeral," Jarlaxle replied, taking another step back.
"I always knew he'd end up food."
"We come to you in friendship," Drizzt continued.
"Friendship?" Entreri mouthed.
"More like to steal your horde, but maybe we should keep that to ourselves," Jarlaxle said.
A wave of flames swept through the corridor in response. Entreri grabbed Jarlaxle's shoulders and jumped into a small cavern a few feet away, protecting them both. The fire was now gone, replaced by the sickening odor of sulfur.
Gradually, the two rose and saw that half the rock wall had been melted into nothing, though the other half of their "shelter" was still in tact, if blackened.
"Save your greedy comments before you find yourself either working alone or having an intimate conversation with the stone floor for all eternity," Entreri hissed, shoving Jarlaxle aside.
Jarlaxle barely noticed, gazing with a horrified look in the direction of where their third companion was. He didn't want to look beyond that crag of stone to see what was left of Drizzt.
"I think one of us knows that feeling now," Jarlaxle said, slowly walking forward.
Entreri sighed, slowly looking around the wall to have the answer at last.
"Ex-self-righteous would-be paladin burned into a crispy statue," the assassin said, though a huge part of him had yet to register the full reality of the situation.
"Sorry to disappoint you again," a familiar voice called from the hallway.
Entreri and Jarlaxle jumped in surprise, both looking around the wall and not even believing the fact that Drizzt stood at the end of the corridor. Not a hair was out of place, not one ounce of clothing was singed, though the scimitar at his hip gave off a bizarre white glow before fading.
"I'm going to kill you," Entreri gasped to Drizzt.
"While you puny drow argue, I will destroy you!" the Red roared through the cavern.
"I'm not drow!" Entreri yelled instinctively, every sense of reason taking a nap in light of the current situation.
"Well, not on the outside, at least" Jarlaxle muttered, his smirk betraying his relief that they still had their third companion.
"Pardon my foolish minions," Drizzt continued to the dragon, waving his hand dismissively at his companions. "As you see you cannot harm another dragon."
"I knew there was some reason I hated you so much," Entreri groaned.
"Alas I have found myself cursed into the form of a drow and am forced to travel with these idiots," the fallen ranger continued. "I do believe we can come to some meeting of the minds, my lord."
"Such audacity!" Jarlaxle whispered. "I've taught him well."
"Maybe too well," Entreri replied. "Or perhaps this would be a good time to admit you slept with his mother nine months before he was born."
"You think I would have risked my manhood in the toothy maw of that bitch?" Jarlaxle whispered. "You and his sire would have gotten along too well."
"Though considering your insatiable appetite and lack of discernment about women, I'd believe you've slept with most anyone."
"Shut up you humanoid idiots!" Drizzt called back. "As I was saying..."
"You stink too much, drow, for me to believe that you are even a cursed dragon," the dragon growled.
"That's because he never bathes," Entreri called to the dragon, missing Drizzt's profound eyeroll. "You should have smelled that furry green cloak of his before we burned it."
"As for you, human," the dragon said, "I believe you would make for a tasty snack."
The dragon opened its toothy maw, a forked tongue licking every razor-sharp fang.
"Him?" Jarlaxle called. "He's far too sour."
"Yes, eat the colorful drow instead," Entreri said. "He's far more spicy."
"I think I will eat all three of you," the dragon sneered, "You all look so nice and meaty."
"I think I could use some red dragon scale armor," Jarlaxle said with his own wicked grin.
The dragon gave out a roar that loosened several rocks from the cave ceiling, lunging forward with its mouth wide open.
In a flash, Icingdeath and WraithKiss were in Drizzt's hands as he charged forward with his own roar.
"I knew he'd do that," Entreri said, drawing Charon's Claw and his jeweled dagger. "Fool!"
"Ah well, the Abyss is so lovely this time of year," Jarlaxle said with a smirk, drawing his daggers and saying a command word to elongate them into two longswords before taking to the side.
"You should have seen the look on your face when you sliced that thing's claw off," Drizzt said to Entreri with a laugh, dipping down into the stream and pouring a little more water over the deep scratch on his bare shoulder. "Gods, the epitome of control looks like a fucking constipated demon when cutting bits off his victims."
Drizzt received pebbles flung hard at his injured shoulder in return, but managed to duck at the right time for it to bounce off the fieldstones and plop into the water. The drow looked back to see Entreri was as unamused and irritable as he always was. The purplish ring around his eye from when the tip of a wing smacked against his face was still very colorful and doing nothing to help his mood any.
The assassin was already reaching into his bag for a new tunic to cover his skin after his other one briefly caught aflame during the final stage of the fight. The fiery breath had been the dragon's final resort against the three humanoids he had underestimated. His efforts were far from futile; at the very least his flailing had inflicted a few cuts, singes, and nasty bruises that slowed down the charging humanoids for the kill shot, though he did not count on them being that nimble with the rocks nor ducking when he blasted.
Regardless, damage was done as evidenced by the marks still left on their bodies and how Jarlaxle was cradling his broken wrist over his knee and balancing his healing orb in the other hand. The pain melted away as the bones slowly knit, though he never lost his grin.
The blue diamond they all had been appointed to find was now in the mercenary's bag and the dragon was still curled up in his cave licking his dripping wounds.
"This one's a complete beast in the passion of battle," the older drow said grandly, finishing his healing and rising to his feet while flexing his newly healed wrist.
"That's when you're the most interesting," Drizzt said to his human companion, "or at least less boring."
Entreri muttered something under his breath that was a sound akin to a growling curse.
"See! Calm as a constipated demon," Jarlaxle said with a snicker.
Drizzt gave a loud laugh, ducking down again and spreading water over his hair, though he knew the soot would be hard to get out with water alone. Another pebble flew in his direction, though it met its mark this time. Drizzt winced for a second in response; though another laugh soon followed as he looked back to see Entreri's sour mood had not improved.
"Now that's the Artemis I like," Drizzt said. "I actually want to spend some time with you now."
"We'll see how happy you are after I've sliced open your gut, pulled out your intestines, and threaded them through your nose and out through your ears," the human growled with a grin as he tried to shake out some of the residual rock slivers from his long hair.
"That sounds charming," Jarlaxle said with a chuckle.
"And also impossible, believe me," the younger drow added.
"Fine. I'll put the sword through your belly button, pull out your intestines through there, and then use them to hang you," Entreri said, walking swiftly toward Drizzt.
"Also a fallacy," he replied, "intestines break too, too easily."
"While I am not arguing with that statement, it was still something I really did not wish to hear," Jarlaxle said, feeling the healing orb doing its full work.
Entreri didn't deign to glance at Jarlaxle and kept his eyes on Drizzt. "Very well, I'll simplify things greatly by ramming Charon's Claw straight through the black void that used to be your heart. Then I'll leave it there until your skin peels back and shows us your forever smiling bare skull."
"Now that's more like it," Drizzt said, patting his shoulder and getting a smack in return.
"Including the black void part," the older drow muttered.
"While I'm at it, I'll stick my dagger into your heart, Jarlaxle," Entreri said, looking at his other companion, who merely gave him an amused glance. "No, never mind. If I sucked in your lifeforce, I'd turn into an annoying, babbling idiot who can't dress himself properly."
"Now we're talking about true character improvement," the mercenary said, throwing his arms wide. "I would say I would sacrifice my life for such a worthy cause."
"But it would be a waste of a perfectly good soul," Drizzt added.
"So let me get this straight, Drizzt. You wouldn't mind seeing me dressed in a purple hat and a red eye patch? You'd like to see me wear a vest that shows my midriff, and you want to listen to my nonsensical babble about women, wealth, and magical items 20 hours a day?" the assassin asked, his mood noticeably lightening with a little more rest after the last battle. "You're much further into madness than I'd thought."
"Well at least the dour, perpetually sullen human would be transformed into a little more interesting form," Drizzt replied.
"And nonsensical babble distracts him from slaughter at least for a few minutes," Jarlaxle called.
Jarlaxle chuckled in response, his snicker becoming dirtier. "Wait, you want to see Entreri with a bare midriff?"
"By all the..." Entreri said, kicking aside a stone on the ground and giving Drizzt a dirty look after his sudden chortle. "I should have left out that part." With a dirty smirk, he idly looked down at his own stomach before looking at Jarlaxle. "Although even Jarlaxle would have to admit that my stomach muscles are more nicely defined than his," he said, mimicking the mercenary's grand oration to the point where he had an exaggerated lisp. He completed the effect by raising his tunic partway and stroking his toned abdominal muscles with one finger.
Drizzt doubled over with laughter, while Jarlaxle raised an eyebrow. He would not be outdone.
"Maybe," Jarlaxle said with a grin, opening the lower buttons of his own tunic and exposing his own muscles, "but ebony flesh outlines muscles better than pale, human flesh."
"Pale?" Entreri replied in a tone of mock hurt. "I have brown skin. It's but a few shades lighter than your own."
"Why don't you two just find a patch of grass and get your frustrations out," Drizzt said, being greeted with two more pebbles.
"Actually, you look faintly grey," Jarlaxle said, running a finger down his own cheek and motioning to Entreri.
Entreri's smile evaporated in an instant and Jarlaxle knew he had hit a sore spot.
"A fine result of your own blood-lust, Artemis," Jarlaxle chided, receiving an eyeroll from the human who started walking away.
"Although I shall not be outdone," Drizzt said, bending down and getting another handful of water to bath his bare shoulders.
"I wouldn't want the title of outdoing you," Entreri said, walking beside Drizzt and crouching down over the stream.
"Why not," the ranger said with a pout, "you have enjoyed competing with me on everything else. Though I doubt you have the stomach to even try."
"You slaughter like a mad wolf," the assassin said, scooping up a handful of water and bathing it over his grimy, wounded face. "There is no art to it; I wouldn't lower myself to such substandard swordsmanship."
"Now I'd hardly call it substandard," Drizzt said. "Did you see how many cuts I left on that orc near Myth Drannor before he finally keeled? Call it practice!"
"Jarlaxle, he's your monster," Entreri called back. "You explain to the poor baby what the difference in being a warrior and being a mad animal is."
"Now, now," Jarlaxle said, reclining against the small hill on the stream bank and facing both of them. "The poor baby only now noticed he has black skin and white hair. That can be very traumatic on such a sprout. He needs to grow and bloom."
"Yes, I'm a big dark elf flower," Drizzt said, flicking water at the human, who gave a small flinch in return.
"Well, I always knew you were a flower, but I figured you'd spend the rest of your life claiming to be a lily," Entreri said, looking up at his companion. "At least you finally admit you're dark instead of white."
"I am just enjoying my sharp, bloody petals now," Drizzt said, flicking more water into his companion's face. "Wait...you always knew I was a 'flower?'"
"Yes. As in pansy," the human said matter-of-factly before dipping his hair in the water.
"Ooh, he throws a barb," Drizzt said, putting a hand to his chest in mock shock. "How witty."
"How true," Jarlaxle said.
"How not your place it is to speak, wildflower," Drizzt said, turning his head back.
The mercenary laughed, sitting up against the grass. "You do have to admit you were pretty soft."
"Yes. Maybe all the wild-animal like slaughtering is his attempt at wearing adult men's clothes," Entreri added, squeezing the water from his hair and dampening his tunic. "He's overcompensating for his lily-liver."
"A lily liver I enjoyed ripping out and eating," Drizzt said, looking back at Entreri with a smile. "This from a man who wields a huge, scary sword and scary dagger to overcompensate for his lack of...never mind."
"Oh, were you insulting his manhood?" Jarlaxle said, sitting a little straighter.
"You don't wish to go there with me, child," Entreri said, coming to his feet directly in front of the drow. "I'm not the one who has to drink his courage."
"I'm not the one who has to drink his personality, old man," Drizzt said, folding his arms over his chest, "nor do I require a dagger to pump some actual power into me while I cannot do it on my own."
"You well know that the power I have is my own," Entreri said walking closer to Drizzt to the point where his breath was against the dark elf's face, his patience at this turn of the conversation waning. "The dagger simply ensures I don't need to carry healing potions with me. On the other hand, I perhaps don't need the dagger's healing properties--I'm not the one getting my body ripped to shreds in order to deny my inner turmoil."
The assassin could tell by Drizzt's stiff smile that he had just waltzed into very dangerous territory. Jarlaxle knew exactly where this was going…and wanted to see how much further it would while preparing a dagger in case things became too ugly.
"No, you just pretend you don't have inner turmoil," the drow mercenary said to Entreri, scraping the point under the nail of his index finger.
"Better than slapping a grin on my face and stuffing my fear into the dark recesses of my soul so a magical item can turn it against me," Entreri said, walking back over to his bag and flashing a vindictive glare on the drow. "Or do I need to remind you that you succumbed to the Shard and I didn't?
Jarlaxle kept his calm smile, though Drizzt stole a glance at him for a second.
"I think I saw him shudder on that one. Well done," the ranger said, clapping, "though I still have to agree with him. Remember that whole not-resting-until-a-certain-drow-was-dead period? Yes, you were the picture of self control there."
Jarlaxle put his hands beside his head, wondering where this would go.
"A drow that shreds others like a wild animal due to grief can't lecture me on self-control," the assassin replied looking directly at Drizzt and in between eyeing his weapon belt. "If you were my superior in such matters, you wouldn't be standing having this conversation with me."
Drizzt glared at him, ignoring the small snicker that escaped Jarlaxle's throat. His lips then curled into a stiff smile. "If I were your superior in such matters, knowing now what I didn't know in my greener days, you would be the one not here right now," he replied.
Entreri raised his eyebrows at the unexpected display of not only control but maturity in his companion.
"Indeed," he replied, mussing Drizzt's mid-length white hair and seeing a smirk in return as he placed a hand on his shoulder. "Yes, yes, my child. Can't say I don't enjoy watching you forego your hypocrisy, however. And perhaps one of us can teach the other a little more self-control so you can actually be a man instead of a little boy."
"So I guess you are my mentors?" Drizzt said with a raised eyebrow.
Jarlaxle jumped to his feet in one motion.
"That's right! That's exactly why we're here, little drowling," he said, throwing his arm around Entreri's shoulders. "Uncle Artemis teaching you the finer points of stealth and other such tactics of the underworld, and me having my nephew realizing the finer points of wealth and ..." he gave a sly wink "…other things. Such a pleasure to have all of us here. Isn't that right, Uncle Artemis?"
Entreri flashed Jarlaxle an annoyed glare while Drizzt snickered.
"Uncle Arty and Uncle Jarl?" he said. "My you two make a cute pair."
Entreri snorted and threw Jarlaxle's arm off him.
"You know you love us!" Jarlaxle said.
"Oh yes, I adore both you asses," Drizzt replied, his toe idly digging a hole in the rocky sand. "This makes me want to just give you a huge fucking hug."
Drizzt walked toward Entreri, his arms open wide. The assassin stayed still until Drizzt was an inch away, then shoved him back so hard he almost tripped.
"You either have had too much to drink, or you haven't had enough," he said.
"Ha! I've caught you!" Jarlaxle said dramatically, pointing a finger at the human. "You've adopted the poor little drow, or you would've hit him harder!"
"I feel so godsdamned loved right now," Drizzt said with a fabricated sob.
"It will pass," Entreri said, squeezing some of the residual water from the bottom of his tunic.
"What can we say?" Jarlaxle said, coming to the brook. "Apparently Artemis and I have soft spots of our own--for totally mad drow children who love slicing others up!"
"Never mind the violence," Entreri said, "we need to punish him for smoking."
"And drinking," Jarlaxle added, crossing his arms and looking at Drizzt scoldingly.
"Dear gods..." Drizzt groaned, rolling his eyes.
"Love means discipline!" Jarlaxle said, waving his finger at Drizzt, who bit at it.
"I told you it would pass," Entreri said.