I have been doing a course on Gothic literature: Waldpole, Lewis, Stevenson, Stoker, etc, and wanted to compose a piece using many of the common themes found in this genre. Now, normally, a story of this nature would contain a 'damsel in distress', but as this kinda already happened to Cattie-brie, what with being dragged from Icewind Dale to somewhere near Mithril Hall by Artemis Enteri, I figured I'd give the poor girl a break and plonk Drizzt down in this role instead. That, and it's just more fun this way. Now I know 'damsel in distress' isn't normally associated with 'macho super warriorness', but hey, I'll try my best ;) To aid in this endeavour I have based my characterisation more on the younger Drizzt from 'The Dark Elf Trilogy', who is far less worldly.

Also, I don't subscribe to the belief that there is sufficient evidence in canon for Drizzt remaining a virgin up until he gets with Cattie-brie at the end of 'The Two Swords', for reasons I have gone into elsewhere, so can't be bothered to do so again, but if we want to characterise him as a sweet lil innocent I think this would be a plausible way of explaining that.

WARNING: Violence, M/M relations and attempted rape in a later chapter. If any of those three things don't tickle your fancy, then please leave quietly through the exit located in your 'back button' before the story begins. Thank you.

Disclaimer: All characters and/or places copyrighted to Mr. Salvatore belong to him and not to me. Quite obviously. But I will accept responsibility for any OCs, just give me a yell if they're bothering you, and I'll come collect them.

Grey-black clouds swirled and scudded in a troubled sky; a chill, mournful wind rushing swiftly across the mountain landscape, rippling the dry and brittle knee-high grasses and rustling the leaves of the trees, sending no small few flying free, to swirl and caper maniacally across the mountainside. Drizzt Do'Urden hunched further down into the warmth of his fur-lined cloak as the first fat raindrops began to fall, one striking him sharply on his ebony cheek. Pulling his hood a little lower over his face the drow ranger moved on swiftly, bright, lavender-hued eyes seeking someplace he could find shelter from the imminent storm.

The goodly drow was returning to Mithril Hall from a fortnight spent in Silverymoon, with perhaps two days journeying still before him. Three, if he could go no further this day. With some relief he spotted a deepish- rocky overhang a little way up the path. More raindrops splashed down all about him, and a distant flash of thunder momentarily blinded Drizzt's Underdark-bred eyes as he trotted up the path, already becoming slick and dangerous, even for an agile drow, as the increasing rain turned the rich dust to mud.

The overhang hardly provided the perfect shelter, but at least it would keep the majority of the rain off. A small and not-quite-comfortable boulder provided a seat and the means to keep his feet out of the growing torrents of water streaming down the hillside as the sulking clouds let loose a storm the likes of which Drizzt had never seen before.

Rain was falling so hard and fast that it appeared almost as an opaque curtain; thunder boomed and lightning flared in the skies above, and seemingly all about the shivering drow. No matter how much he pressed himself into the shelter of the rocky overhang the driving curtains of rain still seemed to be finding ways to make him wet, and with the harsh mountain wind whipping past the dark elf was soon chilled to the bone, and utterly miserable.

The blowing clouds of water and dazzling bursts of lightning blinded sharp drow eyes; the roaring blasts of thunder, coming every few moments, deafened sharp drow ears; the over-powering scents of rain and wet earth overwhelmed a sharp drow nose. It didn't help that the downpour served as the first bath many of the orcs had had in quite some time, thereby lessening their usually overwhelming odour, for they were very nearly upon the soaking Drizzt before he became aware of them, creeping up on him from all directions.

Twin scimitars snapped out of their sheathes, and the drow ranger exploded into motion, coming out from under the overhang in a rush which buried the nearest orc- a large, spear-wielding brute- in a matter of seconds. Two more fell swiftly afterwards, and a fourth turned tail and fled back down the mountainside, slipping and sliding and more often tumbling head-over-heels than running when Drizzt's blades sheared cleanly through the haft of its crude axe. But Drizzt was a single elf, and there were at least a dozen foes closing with him, with more still materialising out of the fog-like curtains of rain.

Drizzt spun and parried the heavy downwards chop of an orc-blade, snow-white hair and storm-grey cloak flying wide behind him. His other blade flashed in, as swift as a darting fish in the shallows, to poke a wicked hole in the orc's shoulder, but when the drow made to disengage with his foe and deftly avoid the clumsy spear-thrust of another orc behind him his foot skidded in the mud, and he went down on one knee. Worse still, he didn't entirely evade the deadly spear, his voice hauntingly beautiful even as he cried out in pain as the sharp blade sliced his hip. He felt the warmth of his own blood start to trickle over his chilled flesh even as he awkwardly parried the blows raining down on him from the orcs standing uphill.

With no opportunity to regain his feet the drow was unable to prevent half-a-dozen other small wounds, none of which would prove overly dangerous individually, but collectively were already making him feel weak and woozy. The mud about him was showing definite puddles of red, washing down the hill in little rivulets.

Drizzt managed a great slash which opened the belly of one orc from hip-to-hip, and as the wretched creature fell back, trying desperately to hold in the guts already tumbling forth- the smell was appalling- the drow beheld a most glorious sight : a fellow elven warrior hastening to his rescue.

The elven warriror- no midnight skinned drow such as Drizzt, but a blond-haired, blue-eyed surface elf- crashed into the orcs uphill of the imperilled ranger, his razor-sharp rapier leading the way. Within moments he had cut a wide swathe of orc-free space through to stand at Drizzt's side, holding back the hail of blows while the dark elf struggled to his feet. Together they were a machine of un-parallelled slaughter; orcan fingers, limbs, heads and assorted pieces of weaponry went splashing into the mud all around the pair.

It didn't take the orcs long to decide discretion was the better part of valour, and the handful of survivors- some really very badly mangled- scattered like the leaves caught in the fearsome wind. A few lay writhing pitifully on the ground, clutching at horrific mortal wounds, but the golden-haired elven warrior ignored them, sheathing his weapon and wrapping a strong arm about Drizzt's waist.

Were it not for his surface cousin Drizzt likely would have swooned and fallen, the pain of his wounds, largely unnoticed in the adrenalin rush of battle, now hit him full-force. As well as the cut on his hip was a nasty gash on his right arm, another on his thigh, a blow (which would cause a near-egg-sized lump which would last for days) on the back of his head, where he'd actually been brained by the shaft of a spear whose blade he had successfully ducked, crushed and likely broken fingers, and to top it all off he had injured his ankle somehow when he had slipped in the mud.

He wasn't fully aware of where the elf was taking him, all Drizzt knew was that it hurt to walk, he was frightfully cold, and the body beside him was warm and offered his only chance at comfort.

After half an hour or so of agonisingly slowly scrambling up the mountainside, Drizzt was half-led, half-dragged into a cave mouth by his still anonymous rescuer. The cave was angled down the slope, so that, although they had to pass beneath a veritable waterfall cascading over the top of the entranceway, no water had come inside. The ground inside was perfectly dry.

Drizzt didn't ever remember being manouvered onto a soft pile of sleeping-furs at one side of the cave, or covered over with a blanket. He had perhaps the faintest recollection of the elf kindling a fire near the mouth of the cave- apparently there was a store of dry firewood- and the orange flickering which began to dance with the shadows on the walls as the elf carefully built up the flame. Long before the nameless elf had heated water, in which he steeped fragrant and soothing healing herbs, and returned to bathe and dress Drizzt's wounds, the goodly ranger and sunk into a dreamless sleep brought on by sheer exhaustion and blood loss.

oOo

It was the smell of cooking food which eventually roused Drizzt from his slumbers. Cracking open bleary eyes the drow beheld his surface cousin sitting, back to him, near the mouth of the cave, clearly occupied with his fire. Whatever he was doing, it smelt good…and turned out to be bread of a sort, baked in the hot embers of the fire. (Covered, of course. No one likes ash in their bread)

The elf's expression and manners were gentle as he propped the wounded drow against his chest and attentively fed him soft mouthfuls of bread, followed by a small amount of warm, weak tea. Drizzt murmured a thank you as the elf lay him back down, tenderly, almost lovingly, smoothing mussed tendrils of his snowy hair from his ebony forehead. Lips pressed chastely to that sable-hued temple and Drizzt fell swiftly back into reverie, cuddled warmly against the chest of the blond-haired elf, amidst a nest of soft, luxurious furs and blankets.

It was in those arms that he awoke once more some hours later, feeling infinitely better. Eyes of a sparkling, pale blue hue gazed down at him, and the elf's handsome mouth curved in a gentle smile when he noticed Drizzt stirring.

"How do you feel, cousin?" the elf asked, smiling widely at the drow's yawn. "I beg you will forgive me for not being at your side sooner…I was not eager to aid a drow, until I saw the colour of your eyes, and realised who you were." Drizzt blushed furiously (though his dark skin mostly hid the fact) as the elf continued, an almost awe-struck expression on his face. "The tales of Drizzt Do'Urden's prowess with the blade do not do you justice, my friend. If you had been a lesser fighter I'm sure I should not have been in time to aid you."

"I owe you my life," the goodly ranger replied, a little faintly. Though his pain was greatly decreased he still felt as weak as a kitten, and suspected he would be bed-bound for a number of days. The elf soon confirmed it, tutting and fussing as he gently and tenderly changed the various neatly-applied dressings.

The elf introduced himself as Elhand Joysword (this name came up in the D&D Name Generator as I was going through random elf names /snigger/) a happy-go-lucky traveller and adventurer, who had recently wandered into the region. He claimed to have first heard of Drizzt in Waterdeep, and to have recognised him from the descriptions given in the tales he had heard there. That night and the day following he carefully nursed the bedridden Drizzt, cuddling and crooning over the injured drow, who found he quite enjoyed all the attention.

The next evening Drizzt felt well enough to crawl from his comfortable tangle of furs and blankets and aid Elhand in preparing their supper. All this while the rain had not abated, and the two sat watching the storm continue to unleash its fury on the mountains from the shelter of the cave-mouth as they dined on more fresh-baked bread and fried mushrooms.

Drizzt, sleepy and just a little groggy from his exertions, would have liked to do nothing more than lie back and listen to an anecdote of Elhand's adventures- the elf had a charming, witty sense of humour, and pleasing manner, and the drow was sure he'd have made a wonderful storyteller- but somehow he found himself persuaded to recount his own life story, beginning with his earliest days in Menzoberranzan. The dark elven ranger was weary, and the story barely begun- he had briefly sketched in the details of his childhood and days at the academy, ever somewhat uncomfortable about discussing his origins- when it became clear that he had had enough for one night, and Elhand helped him back into bed.

The surface elf banked the fire then slid into bed behind Drizzt, spooning up behind him. Initially Drizzt was uneasy about this arrangement, but it was undeniably comfortable to have that big (Elhand was an inch or two above Drizzt's five and a half feet), warm body sort of sprawled over him, one arm protectively encircling his waist. It had been years since the drow had felt that there was someone watching over him, protecting him, as he was normally the guardian, the stoic ranger to whom all his friends could look up to.

It was nice to feel Elhand lay his milk-white cheek against Drizzt's midnight-dark one, and to just lay quietly in the warmth and safety offered with his embrace. A small, contented smile touched the drow ranger's lips as his eyelids fluttered closed and he drifted off into peaceful reverie.

oOo

"It was only then Zaknafein admitted something I'd begun to suspect some time before- that he, and not Rizzen, was my father-" Drizzt had to pause in his story as, sitting across the fire, Elhand had choked on his tea. "Really?" the blond elf spluttered. "Zaknafein was your sire?"

Drizzt regarded his saviour curiously. At that look, the elf offered an explanation of having read something about Zaknafein somewhere, but of not having made the connection between he and Drizzt. The drow thought it odd that anything should have been written about Zaknafein- drow, as a general rule, were not much inclined towards histories and recording, and it seemed highly unlikely that anything should have been written by a surface scholar about the former House Do'Urden Weapons Master, but if Elhand said he had read something, than Drizzt was sure he must have.

Sitting snugly warm with a thick, soft fur wrapped about his shoulders, his bare toes practically in the fire, and a mug of steaming tea cradled in both hands, Drizzt was quite content, even close to feeling well, and as he continued with his story he forgot all about Elhand's strange interruption.

oOo

By the next morning the pouring rain eased off to a mere drizzle. Drizzt was hopeful he could set out tomorrow for Mithril Hall, though his elven companion was sceptical. "That ankle was badly twisted, mayhap even sprained," the blond elf warned. "I don't think you should be walking anywhere much on it just yet."

Drizzt tried not to pout. He was deeply enjoying Elhand's company- in many ways the older elf reminded him of his father, Zaknafein. They had a similar cheeky sense of humour, were both deadly warriors, and Drizzt had only experienced that wonderful safe feeling, the sense of being watched over, in their company. A part of him knew that he was overlaying his desire to have Zaknafein back on his newly-formed relationship with Elhand, but he could not help but compare the blond elven warrior to his father.

The fact that he was enjoying Elhand's company and attentions didn't mean he wasn't anxious to be seeing his other friend's though. They would have expected him back at Mithril Hall by now, and must be starting to worry. Bruenor would pace and grumble, and become cranky; Regis would watch him, and try to keep him calm, all the while hiding his own worried frowns; Wulfgar would likewise bang about, anxious to be off, yet would remind the others to trust in Drizzt and his abilities, and Cattie-brie…come to think of it, Drizzt wasn't sure what Cattie-brie would do. She was the calm one of the party, the level-headed voice of reason, and the drow found it hard to remember a time when he had seen her pacing, or chewing her nails, or anything like that.

At first a hot feeling of disappointment swept over the drow ranger. There was a part of him- a quite substantial part- which wanted to think Cattie-brie would be worried for him, and the thought that maybe she wouldn't be brought a lump to his throat (to match the one on the back of his head). But then he soothed, remembering the young woman whom he loved, even if he had never yet told her so. Cattie-brie would fret over his absence, she would just take greater pains to keep that fretfulness to herself, her kindly nature not permitting her to wish to cause anyone else alarm. Rather than wearing holes in the carpet with anxious pacing she would likely sit outside in Keepers Dale (providing it wasn't too wet) and stare at the path leading down from the cliffs, waiting and silently willing for Drizzt to come bounding down those steps.

Inspiration struck. Reaching into a pocket the goodly drow pulled forth the figurine of his first and most loyal friend, Gwenhwyvar, the magical panther who had aided him through so many perils in the past. Elhand watched curiously as Drizzt placed the figurine on the ground, then began rummaging through his bags, finally emerging with paper and charcoal clenched triumphantly in his fist.

"What are you doing?" the blond elf asked him, as Drizzt sat scribbling off a hasty letter to his friends. "Writing to my companions, so that they might know where I am and not worry," the drow replied, not looking up. Once the letter was finished he carefully rolled it up and tied it with one of the lacings from his jerkin, then he called to his panther friend.

Mist swirled 'round the figurine, roiling and increasing and finally solidifying into the form of Gwenhwyvar. The great cat shook herself absently, pacing over to butt her head gently against Drizzt's side. Then she turned her large, glowing green eyes to Elhand.

Gwen's reaction to the elf took Drizzt totally by surprise. Her ears went flat back against her skull, gleaming fangs bared, and she crouched, tamping down her back legs ready for a spring. Her tail lashed, snake-like, against her flanks.

The elf blanched, his already pale skin going ghost-white, as he scooted backwards away from the great cat, on all fours, his rump skidding in the dust. Drizzt surged forward and caught an arm about Gwen's neck, holding her back. "Stop it, Gwen!" he scolded, forcing the cat to look at him. "Elhand is a friend, you silly girl. Let him alone. I have a task for you."

Reluctantly the cat turned from the cowering elf, and allowed Drizzt to give her the letter, and instructions to take it to Mithril Hall. "Go home and rest once you've delivered the message, my shadow," he told her, affectionately ruffling her ears. Gwen seemed reluctant to leave the cave, her green eyes fixed imploringly on Drizzt, but her master's gentle command was hard to obey, and so, finally, she left. The two elves watched the great cat spring away through the mud and drizzling rain, loping gracefully up the steep slope, before finally disappearing from view.