Three Little Pigs [Llar inlul rothe]

Three Little Pigs [Llar inlul rothe]

Disclaimer: The concept of this story is by no means original. Obviously, I took the idea from the sudden fashion in Rurouni Kenshin fanfiction of mangling the stories of the Brothers Grimm…though of course some are done brilliantly. Look at those in the fanfiction part of http://www.miburo.com for my favorites, especially the hilarious red riding hood one…. In any case, this insanity is due mostly to hours of frustration at trying to decipher King Lear in time for tomorrow's tutorial. I've decided I can't be bothered. It was tempting to write this Shakespeare-play style, along with all the curious histrionics and conventions, but I decided that I wouldn't inflict that on you yet. Enjoy.

Ah yes, a word of warning: The following fic is not for fanatical followers of Drizzt Do'Urden and his nefarious gang. It helps if you adore Zaknafein.

One more word, or apparently, sentence, of warning: There's a mild spoiler involving Servant of the Shard. Jarlaxle did it. I claim now responsibility. ;p Don't worry, it's only one line of dialogue somewhere deep inside the plot. (plot? What plot?)

Dramatis Personae:

Zaknafein Do'Urden, the Big Bad Wolf (but you guessed this, of course)

Drizzt Do'Urden, the first little pig (can you guess the others?)

Artemis Entreri, the second little pig (the last one yet, perhaps)

Jarlaxle, the last little pig (I like Jarlaxle, actually)

The Author as herself (author avatars seem an important part of these stories)

Drizzt's gang as stage crew. Wulfgar, Catti-Brie, Bruenor, Regis, the lot. (Very backstage stuff.)

Bregan D'aerthe as masons. (Did you think I was going to let those three try and build houses?)

The Story:

Drizzt glared down at the Author. Even with the not-considerable height of an elf he was taller than she was, so technically this device of intimidation should have worked, had she not been studiously scribbling away on a wad of paper on her clipboard and hence, not holding eye contact.

"Right," she shoved the clipboard in his direction, and clapped her hands loudly to draw attention. "That's the last script. Now, everyone into position, and please don't set anything on fire this time, Zaknafein. Jarlaxle, I saw that! Get away from the turpentine, or I'd pour the pink paint on your cloak! Oh shut up, Zaknafein. Drizzt, get your gangsters to the spotlights…"

"Gangsters?" Drizzt clutched at the clipboard tightly. He'd looked at the title of the script, and not for the first time in his life, had that slow, sickly, cold metal gut feeling that this was not going to be a good day. His suspicious were confirmed when Catti-Brie, trying without particular success to stifle her giggles, went round the main crew handing out their costumes. She shoved his into his arms, then burst into a gasping fit of unladylike laughter.

Drizzt looked down after managing to juggle clipboard and a complex costume rather dexterously. His eyes widened with instant dismay. "I am not wearing this."

The Author raised a significant eyebrow. "Oh, you're not, are you?"

"I'm not." Drizzt folded his arms and tried to fix her with another glare.

Silence. Even Entreri actually began to show some interest in the confrontation – the assassin was curious to see how a small, unarmed human girl would be able to viciously mutilate a fully trained dark elf as skilled as Drizzt. Catti-Brie's laughter stilled.

Finally Zaknafein decided that it was his parental obligation to try and rescue his son from inevitable disaster. He clapped a firm, gloved hand on Drizzt's shoulder, breaking the hypnotic spell, and carefully propelled him away, with a cocky grin at the Author. She snorted at him, made a face at the silently snickering Bregan D'aerthe mercenaries, and wandered off to bully Drizzt's gang into position.

Zaknafein prodded Drizzt until his son, with his usual stubborn obstinacy, finally moved into one of those dramatically conventional and convenient dark corners for private conversations. Convenient, impossible things appearing at the right moment were one of the keystones of any self-respecting childish fantasy dimension.

"Drizzt, sometimes I wonder if it was through some fault of mine that you grew up so…so…" Zaknafein groped for a proper word in the common tongue that the Author was forcing them to speak, and failed. He settled for the drow version, with its volumes of implications, double meanings and background history. "Waela."

"Father!" Drizzt protested, though not loud enough such that the others would be able to hear. He wasn't all that stupid, after all. "You heard her! Even if she did somehow contrive to get 'permission', which I doubt she did, she has no right to be such a…an…" Words failed him as well, Drizzt not being the kind who would - the gods forbid - stoop to ungentlemanly insults. Zaknafein stifled the impulse to call his son certain names.

"You heard me," Zaknafein glanced up at the Author, who was, to the surprise of Jarlaxle and Bregan D'aerthe, actually managing to make them cooperate. He grinned as she loudly gave Jarlaxle the choice to either go and change into his costume by himself, or let her personally rip off his clothes and help him into it. "Reality here is not the same as…true reality. In your reality, what's the first discrepancy?" He held his palms to his side in an obvious, eloquent hint.

Drizzt frowned. "The sky isn't that sort of uniform, glaring blue?"

Zaknafein sighed. "The second discrepancy then?"

"Um. Wild grass never grows to the exact same height?"

"Thirdly…?"

"Flowers do not grow to that sort of odd profusion under…"

"Any other?"

"Um…I don't see Guenhwyvar anywhere?"

"And…?"

"We're all talking in common?"

"Yeah…"

"This thing the Author calls the Studio, complete with the stone floor and all the heavy get up, is floating several metres in the air?"

"Yes, yes…"

"Oh, I know! Entreri's not in a homicidal, murderous rampage…"

"I'm alive, damnit!" Zaknafein rubbed a hand over his eyes, the soft leather sensuously soothing.

"You don't have to shout," Drizzt sounded hurt.

"Whatever! Right! What I'm trying so hard to tell you is, here the Author controls reality, so you'd better listen to her or you'd return to Faerun as a pink rabbit! Gods, I wonder why I bother sometimes."

Drizzt blinked. "A pink rabbit?"

"Yes! Understand? Now be a good boy and change into your costume. Now."

"Easy for you to say. You don't have to wear a padded pig suit. Thank Mielikki Crenshinibon wouldn't be able to see me, it'd explode laughing." Drizzt paused suspiciously. "Damn. It's in Jarlaxle's pocket, isn't it?"

"Be nice and the Author might just do something about that," Zaknafein dragged him out of the corner. Artemis Entreri was the first to see them return, and he bowed slightly to Zaknafein. "Don't forget," his hand absently went down to where his dagger hilt would have been. He too, like every other 'actor', with the exception of Zaknafein, held a script. Drizzt wondered sometimes if Zaknafein kept some extra dimension somewhere in his clothing, where he could pull out all sorts of vicious knives when a matter called for them…maybe that's where he secreted his script, which he only pulled out on occasion to emphasize something.

"I won't," Zaknafein replied, and was starting to try and inch away to allow Drizzt some privacy to change, but Catti-Brie caught up with the three of them. Sniggering, she handed Entreri his pig suit, and Zaknafein a rather finely tailored black wolfskin pelt.

"Now that is unfair," Drizzt complained, eyeing the pelt with undisguised envy. The head fitted over Zaknafein's mane of bone-white hair, its artificial eyes two fire opals that burned fitfully in many exquisite colors. Delicately tufted ears were slightly flattened to the wolf's head, adding to the weapon master's general aura of quiet menace. Even the thick black brush didn't seem to impede Zaknafein's dignity in any way – the coloration of the pelt was just about the same as that of Zaknafein's skin, and the general effect was that of primal, savage grace.

"I like it," Zaknafein fingered the paws of the wolf, hanging down over his chest and fixed in a silver clasp, turning the pelt into an outer cloak. "Can I keep it?"

Drizzt flinched – he hadn't noticed the Author sneaking up on them. Through the disquiet in Entreri's eyes, the human assassin hadn't either, a fact that disturbed him further – Entreri had spent quite a bit of his life in the dangerous streets of Calimport, and his senses should have been honed finer than Drizzt's for these particular circumstances. The Author, untrained in the covert arts, should have been detected a long time ago…

Zaknafein's lecture caught up with him again and hit him on the head with a metaphorically blunt instrument.

"If you're nice," the Author replied impishly, then raised an eyebrow at Drizzt and Entreri and gestured at the suits in their arms. "Hurry up. Or do you need my help in changing as well?"

"I have to agree with Drizzt," Jarlaxle walked up to them, hard black boots clattering on the stone floor of the studio as he dragged his suit behind him with aristocratic distaste. "Why does Zaknafein get to wear that beautiful pelt and…"

"Because I like him," the Author interrupted firmly. Zaknafein grinned.

"Oh." Drizzt sighed with resignation.

"…" Entreri looked down at his leather boots.

"Don't you like me too, my dear?" Jarlaxle smiled charmingly at the Author, moving closer.

"You old shebali…" Zaknafein admonished, wagging his finger with mock severity. Jarlaxle winked at him. Evidently this was an old game.

The Author pretended to consider, but the proximity of Jarlaxle's twinkling eyes and his boyish, mischievous smile proved too much. "Then what do you suggest?" she gave in, albeit ungraciously.

"Why can't I be a wolf too?"

"Hey!" Drizzt had naively believed that the mercenary would suggest that they do away with the costume altogether, instead of proposing something that would only benefit himself. Then again, deep down, the drow ranger wasn't exactly surprised.

"Because," the Author said slowly and adamantly, "While Zaknafein resembles a wolf, you look like a peacock."

"A pig isn't exactly very much like a peacock either, my dear."

"The three of you are pigs."

"Why not we just forget about the costumes?" Entreri asked hopefully, before Jarlaxle could come up with a sally that might provoke the Author further. In any case, his reputation would never recover from this, if word ever got out.

"But they're so cute." The Author pouted.

Jarlaxle winked at Zaknafein again, then leant even closer and murmured something in a voice rather akin to a sly purr into the Author's ear that he could be 'cute' without such suits, thank you. Zaknafein rolled his eyes.

The Author raised an eyebrow, something she can't do in reality, but well, what's the use of subreality if you can't even do this? "Really."

"Cross my heart," Jarlaxle said with mock solemnity.

"Right. You can show me in private later," she grinned wickedly.

"As you wish, my dear," he replied, and chuckled at Drizzt's expression. The Author negligently waved a hand, and the suits disappeared. "Right. Just get into position." She walked off to the director's chair.

"That was so much easier, wasn't it?" Jarlaxle asked rhetorically.

"You…manipulated a…" Drizzt's eyes were wide, though in outrage and relief. "You're actually going to…"

"Oh, we're in the 'wild accusations' bit now, are we?" Jarlaxle adored using variations of that phrase. "Zaknafein, I thought you taught your son better sense."

Entreri snorted, and Drizzt spun on the assassin, fists clenching. Zaknafein cleared his throat, and stared at the both of them until they simultaneously decided that the scenery was more interesting than each other were. "I'd thought I had," he confided in a stage whisper to Jarlaxle.

"Beat some into him later." Jarlaxle glanced at Entreri. "After you finish with the assassin. Do leave him in one piece – the Author rather likes him." Entreri blinked. Zaknafein looked innocent.

"Wha?" Drizzt blinked, not unlike Entreri. "You challenged him?"

"Unsurprisingly, he missed our little exchange altogether," Entreri's smooth voice positively oozed sarcasm. "Zaknafein, this reflects badly on your…"

"Why you…" Drizzt threw a punch at Entreri, the Author having confiscated everyone's weapons except Zaknafein's and Bruenor's. The dwarf had complained so much that she'd given in to him. Entreri instinctively ducked the blow successfully, but Drizzt, since he cheats, moved faster and kicked him in the stomach. Entreri sat down abruptly; gasping for air as Jarlaxle and Zaknafein pounced on Drizzt, firmly restraining him.

"Do you really want…to be a pink…bunny rabbit?" Zaknafein growled quietly into his son's ear.

"Damn you, if she just decides…because of this…to make us wear those blasted suits…" Jarlaxle snarled softly into the other ear.

Drizzt calmed down, not having much choice. He wasn't sure he could defeat Jarlaxle unarmed, since the mercenary always had some other tricks up his sleeves, let alone an armed Zaknafein. Together, they could wipe him off the face of this reality without working up a sweat.

"Hey, you lot! It's time for scene one. Wulfgar, that's not a spotlight! Sheesh. Bruenor! Don't bring your stupid axe anywhere near the cables, or I'd use the hairs on your beard to stitch them back together after I re-confiscate it! Now start, or there'd be a sudden infestation of remarkably familiar bunny rabbits in your reality!"

"You heard her," Zaknafein pulled the wolf's head over his face, such that he resembled some sort of unearthly werewolf. "Your cues." With that, the Big Bad Wolf sneaked off to lurk in the shadows of the impossible forest.

Jarlaxle sighed as he stepped into a marked spot on the unrealistic grass, followed rather sullenly by Drizzt and Entreri. Deep breath. "Right. After the unfortunate demise of our parents, it appears we have to build our own…houses."

"Parents? How can there be brothers that are pureblood drow and pureblood human?" Entreri demonstrated that even the most efficient of assassins can have a stupid side.

"Cut!" The three of them winced as the Author gave them a stare worthy of a basilisk. "No more funny comments. Right. Action."

"So, I suggest we…travel through these…fine and beautiful woods in order to locate appropriate areas and materials." Jarlaxle looked as though he was beginning to enjoy himself. He was rather catlike in his ability to make the best of a bad job. "In the case of any…externalities, we may always seek aid from each other, which through blood and oath we are bound to give free aid to brothers. Let us three fine companions begin then, on this…"

"Yeah, whatever," Entreri interrupted, before Jarlaxle could, just to irritate the two of them, launch into a long and involved soliloquy.

They walked for a short while, Drizzt and Entreri trying not to look at each other, at the one shadow in the woods that seemed to be moving, and at the studio that was somehow hovering at a respectful distance in the air behind them all at once. This meant that they had to look more or less at Jarlaxle, who was admittedly enjoying the attention. However, his attempts at small talk had been cut short by the Author, who felt that the three little pigs suddenly killing each other before they even built the houses would be too much of a deviation from the plot.

They reached another pre-marked spot. There were lots of bales of straw tastefully hidden around the trees near it. Make a guess what's going to happen. Drizzt realized with a bit of panic that he had Lines to Say. Hastily he fumbled with the script.

"Er right. I'm going to build my house here." He looked at the straw with a critical eye, being an old veteran of having to sleep in the rough. "Though if I have to build the house out of that, small wonder that…"

"Cut!" The Author threw her pen at Drizzt. It bounced off his head, and he yelped, more in surprise than in pain. "No more funny business." She held out her hand, and the pen obediently returned. "Jarlaxle, the next lines are yours, if I remember."

Jarlaxle nodded rather happily. He had a rather perverse sense of humor, and the sight of Drizzt muttering darkly and rubbing his head was threatening to send him into gales of mirth. However, self-control and self-preservation in the face of a brassed-off armed Author prevailed. "Come then, Entreri. Let us leave our…esteemed brother…here to his construction of his noble dwelling. Peace be with him. We shall seek our abodes elsewhere."

Jarlaxle and Entreri continued to wander on through the suspiciously uniform forest. What sort of forest is made of one sunlit path cutting through dark trees, that occasionally opens up into large meadows conveniently littered with stupid things for building houses with, anyway? But we quibble.

They came to the next clearing. Entreri sighed when he saw the bundles of sticks unobtrusively placed under the trees. "Fine. I'd build my house here. See you later." He sat down and began to meditate.

Jarlaxle glanced up at the Author, no doubt hoping for another pen-throwing outburst, but she shrugged and waved him on.

"I take my leave of you then, my gallant brother," Jarlaxle said dramatically, "For I seek my fortunes elsewhere, forasmuch as straw and sticks are not to my requirements. May we meet again in a fairer place, for I would fain welcome you to my abode when I…ah…build it."

Entreri's response was a suitably fitting rejoinder for such flowery words – a terse "Get lost, drow."

Jarlaxle grinned mischievously, his objective of irritating Entreri attained for the moment, and he walked jauntily onwards, diatryma feathers bobbing merrily.

The next clearing had stacks of bricks under the trees, and no more paths leading from it. Jarlaxle recognized his cue, plainly. "Ah, this seems an eminently perfect place to…build…my home. I shall start anon."

"Cut." The Author nodded to the Bregan D'aerthe soldiers, who levitated down to the clearing. "Hey. Not all of you lot are supposed to help Jarlaxle. We agreed on the groups earlier. Now split up! Drizzt and Entreri's houses have to be finished first, and knowing those two, if left to their own devices we'd be here until the sun on your world burns out. Zaknafein, are you here somewhere?"

There was a deep chuckle from the trees, then a rather feral and disturbingly wolf-like howl. The Author winced. "Right. I think he might be taking this too seriously, like you are." She raised an eyebrow at Jarlaxle. He bowed from where he was lounging against a tree watching his soldiers do all the work. Some of them, grumbling, detached from the group to help Drizzt and Entreri, for fear of turning into rabbits. A rather hare-y situation, one might say, if one was embroiled in a certain Mood…

Entreri wandered up to the clearing. "Hey. You control reality on this world, right?"

The Author nodded, still floating in the air.

"So why don't you just wave your hand and cause the houses to appear? And just control the lighting by yourself? That damned Regis nearly brained me with a spotlight. I doubt it was an accident…" the assassin glared balefully into space. The halfling's squeak of fear could be heard emanating from nowhere in particular.

"Well," the Author rubbed her nose thoughtfully; "This way's more fun. And besides, some purists think that a good dark elf story should have Drizzt and company, Jarlaxle and Bregan D'aerthe, Zaknafein and last but not least, you. There you go. Besides, I'm sure that Jarlaxle appreciates the fact that his soldiers are doing honest work for once in their lives."

The mercenary raised his wide-brimmed hat in a mock salute. "Ah, the prodigy arrives." This was addressed to Drizzt, who was loping up the path towards them.

"What's the problem now?" the Author asked curiously. Drizzt had a distinctly wild look in his eyes. "Someone said something blasphemous to your set of ironclad morals?"

"Can you tell Father to stop growling into my ears every time I go near the tree line?" Drizzt pleaded, "He's frightened me out of decades of life. The worst thing is, I still can't see him."

"You're not supposed to, until he decides to appear," the Author said dryly, "It's plot convention."

"Damn plot convention," Entreri complained, "Did you see how the past few books fleshed out my character? Only that 'Servant of the Shard' suggested that I was actually a three dimensional character, not a cardboard cutout."

"Don't you complain," Zaknafein's voice floated in from the trees, "At least you didn't have to die painfully. Twice. And then reappear for an embarrassing, out of character and frustratingly insipid visitation, conveniently at the end of a certain book due to a certain priest whose name still reminds me of tadpoles."

"I thought that visitation was remarkably inspiring and beautiful," Drizzt remonstrated.

"Exactly my point! It's something that I wouldn't be caught dead doing, though it appears that I have been."

There was a strained pause.

"Zaknafein, that stank worse than one of your practice suits after a training session," Jarlaxle finally commented.

"I try," Zaknafein could be heard chuckling.

"And, I have cause for complaint as well," Jarlaxle patted the pouch on his belt, which, out of kindness, the Author had placed a spell on so Crenshinibon couldn't feel or see what was happening, nor could it pry it out of its master's mind. "In that new book, I lost control of myself and this beauty and Bregan D'aerthe! How in the Nine Hells…"

"Hush!" the Author snapped. "Spoiler. Bad spoiler. Bad Jarlaxle."

"Don't you like me being bad?" Jarlaxle winked suggestively. Zaknafein snorted.

"Not in this way," the Author retorted, then glanced at the soldiers. With the combined efforts of mages and warriors, the house was actually nearing completion…the Author decided to cheat a little. She made a complicated gesture, nearly spraining her wrist, and the houses were finished, along with little details like tiles, furniture, and that all-important cauldron in the brick house. Everyone was shooed back into position, the soldiers hopped back onto the floating Studio, and it drifted quickly back to the first scene – Drizzt's straw house.

Drizzt, muttering, got inside and closed the door. He was dreading his next lines, and hoped that his friends would never repeat this to anyone in the other world…he'd never be able to live it down…

"Right, you lot. Get on with it." The Author settled back into the Director chair.

Zaknafein strode unhurriedly up toward the straw house. It was a very impressive stride – add a pinch of arrogance, some wicked glee, a generous helping of natural grace, a sprinkling of the unconscious confidence that comes with a mastery of weapons, and season with the knowledge that he has the best part in this show, and by the gods, was he going to rub that in.

"We can do this the easy way or the hard way…" he began.

"Zaknafein…" the Author growled from above.

Without changing stride, he amended his speech. "Either you come out and get beaten up, or you stay in there and…"

"Zaknafein! 'Beaten up' is definitely not in the script."

"Better than 'eaten up', which is just a letter away from my correction," Zaknafein pointed at the script in emphasis.

"'Eaten up' isn't in your lines either."

Zaknafein carried on as if he hadn't heard. "From what I've found so far, Drizzt hasn't discovered the concept of soap yet. You'd never know what you may catch if you eat contaminated prey."

"Hey!" Drizzt protested from inside the House.

Catti-Brie sniggered from somewhere Behind the Scenes, a superimposed alternate dimension stitched onto this one. It's a little complex (ah, the Author's explanation for anything too illogical to explain without laughing). "Aye, tha' may be the case true enough."

Drizzt muttered something about everyone ganging up on him, and decided that silence was better.

"Whatever. Everyone who's not supposed to speak now, shut up! Right. Zaknafein. The real lines."

"Okay, okay. This is, in my opinion, stupid. Little pig, little pig, let me come in!" Zaknafein wondered how he was going to 'blow the house away', since even if it were made out of straw, it seemed pretty heavy to him. Then he remembered something he kept in his extra dimension for such emergencies (aha! He does have a private dimension!).

There was a groan from the house, which meant that Drizzt had looked at his lines. "Mielikki. Do I have to say this?"

"Yes you do," the Author said sharply. "What species of rabbit do you want to be?"

"Fine…No, no, by the hairs…argh! By the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin. Who in the Nine Hells wrote such idiotic verse?"

"Shut up, Drizzt. Zaknafein, your go."

"Then I'd huff and I'd puff and I'd blow your house in!" Zaknafein retrieved something that looked like a tightly corked and sealed red glass bottle from under his cloak. He carefully removed the seal, and then tossed it through one of the straw windows.

There was a horrified yelp as Drizzt recognized the bottle for what it was, and immediately dove out of the window and rolled away to the safety of the trees.

A dramatic pause, then with an unearthly, crackling roar, the house burst violently into flames, blowing off the roof, then with ponderous purpose, the walls caved. Drizzt winced and folded his arms over his head, flattening himself into the ground under the trees as it began to rain burning straw. Zaknafein pragmatically took shelter underneath the floating Studio, which was shielded magically.

When it was over, the Bregan D'aerthe soldiers looked at Zaknafein with a new degree of fascinated respect. The Author cleared her throat. "Zaknafein, you were supposed to blow the house in, not blow it up. And I told you not to burn down anything else! Ah, hell. Who let you in on that Roald Dahl version of the story?"

Zaknafein shrugged. "I don't know who Roald Dahl is. However, if you wish to quibble, I blew it up and burned it down at the same time, so… "

"Whatever. Get on with it."

Zaknafein approached Drizzt, who cautiously got to his feet. "Says here I either eat you or let you run away. I think I'd let you run. You have a head start before I come after you with swords." Zaknafein wandered off to admire the burned remnants of the house. He was an arsonist at heart.

Drizzt sighed, and decided to run before his father got any funny ideas involving darts.

After a while, Zaknafein continued prowling up to the house made of sticks. A muttered argument could be heard from inside. Entreri hadn't been too happy about lending Drizzt 'sanctuary', even if it was in the script.

"Okay," he barked. "The wolf's here. Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in."

The groan was from Entreri this time. "No, no, by the hairs of…ah hell with it. If I don't say it, he won't be able to throw in the bottle, right?"

"Nice try," Zaknafein called, and threw in his second bottle. Drizzt and Entreri barely made it out in time before the house of sticks before that too became a charred wreckage and it began raining burning brands.

"Head start," Zaknafein said, emerging from underneath the Studio. "I'd guess that Jarlaxle, true to form, installed traps around his brick house, so I'd give you a bit longer this time."

With an evil smile, he watched the two stumble off in the direction of Jarlaxle's house. The Author raised an eyebrow at the Bregan D'aerthe soldiers, all of whom avoided her eyes. "Traps?"

"Don't blame them," Zaknafein sat down and stretched luxuriously. "It's Jarlaxle's training. Poor sods have been brainwashed, every single one of them. They'd probably be able to set up traps in their sleep."

"If Drizzt and Entreri hit the traps…"

"I wouldn't worry about Entreri," Zaknafein stroked the pelt affectionately. "And Drizzt, strange as this may sound, is intelligent enough to take care of himself in this case." He paused. "Hopefully," he amended.

"Do you think this has been enough of a head start?" the Author inquired.

"Definitely." Zaknafein uncoiled to his feet.

Jarlaxle's House looked pretty normal from a first glance. Rather idyllic, too, with that wisp of steam emerging from the chimney.

Zaknafein spent the next half an hour happily disarming all the traps that Entreri had left untouched in the garden, even if they weren't in his way. After he had finished, he bowed to the Studio, and the soldiers clapped.

"Show off," the Author accused.

"My pleasure," Zaknafein grinned wickedly. "Wolf's here, Jarlaxle. Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. I don't want to climb up that bloody roof."

"Zaknafein…" the Author cautioned.

"Okay, okay…"

"No, no, by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin. And I don't have any, come to think of it," Jarlaxle mused. "In any case, you'd not get us. The windows have glass and netting on them constructed such that any dragon's breath potion you throw at us would bounce back to you. Enjoy."

Zaknafein walked in a circle around the house, then came back to the front door. "In that case…"

"If you're thinking of smashing the glass, you might find that just a little difficult," Jarlaxle continued to expound happily on his subject. "Besides, they're warded. So are the doors. If you try to chase us out by throwing the potions at the house, in the hopes that the brick will heat up and cook us, it's been warded against that too. The house has a compacted foundation, so you can't dig up into it. In the case that you have wands, it's warded against spells and teleportations. Checkmate, Zaknafein?"

"Hardly." Zaknafein looked speculatively at the roof. "My turn, Jarlaxle."

Carefully, watching for traps, Zaknafein approached the roof at the section of wall where no windows were near where he could be spied on. He levitated upwards, earning an ill-tempered grunt from the Author about breaking rules, but no further consequences, so he floated over to the chimney and peered in. As he'd suspected, there was that cauldron and the boiling soup. If he had really been a mindless storybook Big Bad Wolf, he'd had jumped in, even though the most mindless of wolves should have noticed the steam and the smell of spices and burning wood…

As it was, he noted, to his satisfaction, that Jarlaxle hadn't netted up the chimney, no doubt expecting him to go down it, as the script instructed. Jarlaxle could be so predictable. Zaknafein pulled out his last bottle of dragon's breath potion, winked at the silently laughing Author, and hurled it down the chimney.

He dropped to the tiles and used the momentum to leap off, propelling himself with levitation down under the Studio before the brick house exploded. The three 'pigs', having the adaptability and agility of master warriors, had already lunged out of the door when the cauldron began to bubble suspiciously, and were underneath the cover of the Studio in time to watch the last house go up in flames.

Jarlaxle sighed, sitting down next to Zaknafein. "I was beginning to like that house, too."

Zaknafein snickered. Red-hot bricks showered down on the landscape, then proceeded to cool with a 'plink-plink' noise. When it was safe they moved out from the cover of the Studio.

"Is there a last scene?" Zaknafein asked curiously. "This script's ending isn't applicable any longer."

The Author pretended to consider. "Do you want to eat those three?"

Zaknafein made a show of thinking it over. "No. Knowing what sort of activities they go through regularly, I'd rather not even entertain the idea of eating them. Disgusting."

The Author shrugged. "Right then. So this is the ending: since the Wolf proved his superiority over the construction of mere swine, everyone lived happily ever after. Everyone can stay here to watch Zaknafein fight Entreri. It probably won't take very long. Entreri, your weapons are…there. After you lot finish, you'd automatically return to wherever you were in the other world." She paused, then winked at Jarlaxle. "Now, weren't you supposed to show me something?"

"Of course," Jarlaxle smiled and levitated up to the Author. Before opening a portal to a more private place, she turned back to the circling contestants and their audience of Bregan D'aerthe and Drizzt's gang that had returned from the Back Stage. "Hmm. I wonder if I should do a sequel…"

The screams of horror and outrage may just have been audible in the other world.