Chapter Two Jarlaxle

The normally raucous hubbub of the inn's common room died down to a deadened whisper when Artemis appeared at the doorway, then faded away into silence when he continued to glare at the patrons.

"Where is the dark elf?" he softly inquired, keeping an easy hand on Charon's Claw.

"The Drizzit?" one drunkard dared to venture. Artemis' eye twitched involuntarily at the name. He nodded. "Upstairs, last I heared," the man said, jerking a thumb toward the ceiling. "Damned drow is taking all the good ones."

Artemis didn't ask what the man was talking about—there was no need. He pivoted where he stood and stormed off with a swish of his cloak. He grimaced; Jarlaxle had taught him how to swish his cloak just so. It was second nature now.

He groaned quietly when he noticed a certain ridiculously broad-rimmed hat (bereft of any magical components for the time being) hanging haphazardly on the doorknob. He paused, debating with himself whether or not to go in. He decided to the hells with it and barged into the room, almost forgetting to mutter, "Black" to the little dragon statuette resting menacingly upon the doorframe.

Two small forms, one the color of ash, the other the shade of cream, were entwined halfway on a bed, halfway on the cold wooden floor, partially covered by a blanket.

Artemis made a mental note to avoid that particular section of the floor until it had come into some serious contact with a mop.

The white form, a human woman, a naked human woman to be precise, surfaced just long enough to glance at Artemis before returning to her partner. "Friend of yours, Drizzt?" she whispered, and then bit his lip with all the vigor of a wildcat.

Her bedmate (relatively speaking,) however, did not look pleased to see Artemis. "Artemis, my friend," said Jarlaxle calmly (which was quite astonishing since the woman had taken to biting things considerably lower than his lips,) "I ask forgiveness if I had not made it perfectly clear what the hat on the door means." He switched his trademark eye patch from one eye to the other.

"You made it clear, Jarlaxle," growled Artemis, "but I am in no mood for your dalliances tonight."

"Drizzt," hissed Jarlaxle. "Remember that, for now, my name is Drizzt." He smiled down at his woman. "That will be quite enough for now, Madeline. I'm afraid my friend is a bit out-of-sorts."

Madeline flashed him a lusty smile, and then went to stretch out luxuriously and totally revealingly on the bed. "Perhaps your friend would like to join us?" she purred. She thrust her chest out to ensure her ample breasts could not be missed. "He looks fine enough; I won't even charge extra."

"I should think not," said Jarlaxle sourly. He stood, allowing the scraps of blanket to slide off him. He was wearing only his eye patch. Artemis tasted bile. "Since you have ruined my night, Artemis, you may pay the girl."

Artemis held out a gold coin between two fingers. The whore leapt out of bed faster than a dwarf dying of thirst would run to a mug of ale and snatched the piece out of his hand. She smiled brilliantly and pressed her bare body against him. "My offer still stands," she said, running a hand along his well-defined muscles. "Free of charge."

Artemis smiled charmingly at her and booted her through the door. Cries of alarm (and delight) sounded from outside in the hall. Jarlaxle sighed, "That's yet another girl that will never quite as warm to me as she used to because of Artemis Entreri. Being around you is not only expensive, it's making me unpopular with the females."

"However will you make it through the night?" snapped Artemis sardonically.

"Beware, human. If the females of your species run at the sight of me, and I am without company for many nights, I may well, in my madness, turn my more affectionate side loose on you."

Artemis shivered at the thought and turned to regard the still nude dark elf. "Just shut up, Jarlaxle, and put that…that thing away. I feel like it's staring at me."

Jarlaxle glanced down. "It's probably just angry with you for interrupting its business before it was done. It generally likes to finish what it starts."

Artemis just shook his head and blew out the candle. Two little points of red light appeared where Jarlaxle's eyes were, a telltale sign that the drow was watching him in the infrared spectrum. Artemis pointedly ignored them as he stripped down and climbed into his own bed, taking care not to tread where Jarlaxle and his harlot had been fornicating. He heard a creak as the drow got into his own bed.

"So, where were you tonight?" asked Jarlaxle after a moment of silence.

"What are you, my mother?"

"Answer the question, Artemis."

"Doing what I do best."

A long silence ensued. Artemis could practically feel the drow's anger rising. "I thought I told you that we don't need a trail of bodies leading through every city we go, assassin."

"Your pardon, your majesty. This one deserved it."

A long, drawn out, highly theatrical sigh erupted from Jarlaxle's bed. "Humans are the most thickheaded creatures I have ever met."

"Wait until you meet a troll."

"I have."