Section II: Impressions

Sparring

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Artemis decides that he's going to win this sparring match. A small grin slips onto his face right before he delivers the final strike, other hand shoving Jarlaxle's arm out wide.

But he never gets to. Fear hits the assassin in the stomach, buckling him more effectively than a sudden onset of food poisoning. Jarlaxle easily throws him off and then hits him in the stomach with a dagger that bounces harmlessly off thanks to the stoneskin enchantment.

Artemis doesn't even notice. His vision is going fuzzy, and he can't see where he's going. He feels as though he's slipping. Wait – he wants to yell, call out for Jarlaxle, of all people, to call the drow mercenary to stop – but he can't.

Lying on the floor, body sore and heavy, unresponsive. A gag stretched tight across his mouth, held down by two strong hands. He shakes his head, slowly, from side to side, and feels a hot, burning lump moving up from his stomach, up his throat. He hears words, and he thinks he's remembering them. He mouths them wordlessly: As…aspirate…Aspirated, intohisgag. It sounds like nonsense, the last part. He says it again, but before he can finish moving his lips to it, he's choking. He's trying to get away, but he can barely move. Tears of pain are gathering at the corners of his eyes, his vision is starting to burn out.

He feels the rough snap of the gag being removed, and he turns over quicker than he thought possible, throwing up. The hot, thick acid gushes out, and keeps on coming. He's throwing up…throwing up…throwing up. "You said it wouldn't hurt!" It's his own voice, shouted. It's too loud. He cringes away from it, trying to scramble away, but he can't escape. He hears his own voice speaking again. "You said it wouldn't hurt!"

Then his vision clears and he finds himself in a corner, curled up into a shaking ball, one hundred forty pounds of tanned and weathered muscle, clutching a drow sword to his chest. Artemis stares across the room at Jarlaxle, who stands there looking satisfied that he won the fight.

I'm going to kill him, Artemis thought. I'm going to kill him for using Rai-guy on me when he's supposed to be sparring with me. It's supposed to be one-on-one. Then, realizing that Jarlaxle never deceives him when it comes to sparring together, the assassin shakily stands up, waiting for Jarlaxle to explain what just happened to him. He narrows his eyes. It was Crenshinibon, wasn't it.

But that didn't explain Artemis' vision.