Artemis Entreri sat on his bed, staring absentmindedly at his hands. They were hard and callused from years of carrying a sword and dagger. They were scarred from duels and battles. They had been covered in the warm, slick blood of countless enemies and victims.
He had killed so many—out of anger, hatred, pain, pity, sadness. He had even been paid to do it. So many dead at his hands… He had taken away lives, and had watched as the last remnants of life left their terrified eyes. And through it all, he had been as hard and unyielding as the steel of his sword. Unfeeling. His victims had deserved to die.
He had been taken into the Guild at an early age, so long ago he almost couldn't remember. He couldn't remember his training, or the boys with whom he had trained. He couldn't remember his first dagger. He couldn't even remember his first kill.
So many things he had forgotten…and those forgotten memories made up him. He didn't know who he was. What had he become, exactly, if he couldn't remember anything? With no memories, he was a soulless, lifeless creature with no reason to keep existing.
How had he come to this pathetic, indifferent life? How had he become so cruel and coldhearted? He had been born the same way as everyone else, after all. He had had a mother who loved him, who gave him everything when she herself had nothing. But he had grown up among cruel and coldhearted men. That was where he had learned the mantra: live or die. Live by any means possible.
He was an assassin.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Live by any means possible.
He was nothing but an instrument to those he served. Those people hired him for their own ends. He did his job as expected, and he took their money.
Artemis Entreri had always taken pride in never following the flighty whims of aging guildmasters. At least, that was how he had thought of it. Not anymore. Now he knew that he was no better than a common slave, catering to the needs and wants of those better than him.
He hated himself.
He wasn't an old man—not by any means. But he had lived the equivalent of a long, hard life, and he suffered. His joints, muscles, and bones ached from his weary road. His body was wearing down. His mind was barely clinging to the frayed edges of his sanity.
What was there to live for anymore?
Drizzt Do'Urden had been that reason. Jarlaxle had been that reason. Now that there was no one left to care for, be it hatred or love, what was that reason?
He hated seeing what he truly was—a blackened husk of a human with a silent, empty hole where his heart should have been. He was nothing. He wanted to die.
He drew his dagger from its sheath, examining the fine edges. It would do.
Without thinking, he let the blade bite deep into his wrist and slid it slowly across.