Massive Warning: This story sits upon 9 stories' worth of character development for Artemis and Jarlaxle; do not attempt to judge their behavior by RotP's standards or SotS's standards, for that matter. This is an AU, and I have taken these characters on a journey. Keep that in mind.
The Power of Prophecy: Revelation
Description: Story 9. Jarlaxle and Entreri are swarmed by monsters on all sides; the Stonar brothers and their newest ally, Darvin, are intent upon killing them and their allies. Everything that Jarlaxle and Entreri possess will be called upon in this final overwhelming confrontation, and nothing will be the same.
Disclaimer: Artemis Entreri, Jarlaxle, and all other recognizable characters belong to R.A. Salvatore and Wizards of the Coast. No challenge to the copyright is intended or should be inferred. The following story is just for the amusement of the fans and will never make any profit.
A/N: This is the final story of the Continuing Adventures series. I think I've taken the characters as far as they'll comfortably go—or I will have by the end of this story. I may still finish "Darkest Hour," but it will have to wait until I finish this story. Because I've had requests, let me say that interested writers may contact me via PM if they wish to use Tai or Nyx in their stories after I'm done with this one.
Chapter One: Conversion
Night had fallen upon the North, bringing a cool breeze and a sky of twinkling red or white stars. With the chirping crickets and croaking frogs, travelers would assume the area to be peaceful, even safe. However, appearances were deceiving.
Artemis Entreri crossed his arms and glared at his companions. From long experience, Tai Vatoshie and Nyx Jassan had looked to Jarlaxle to form a plan to defeat the Stonar twins and close the abysmal portal releasing monsters into Faerun, but in a show of peace, Jarlaxle had turned to Entreri.
"Well," Jarlaxle said with a small smile. "Ideas? Suggestions?"
Entreri smirked. "I always have liked a challenge." His gaze fell on the priest and monk of Hoar. "We have two problems, then. Closing that portal and breaching the castle without ending up in the maze again."
Tai glanced at the black monolith with its obsidian walls and six turrets. "Maze?"
Nyx patted her crown braid, sighed, then ran her hand through the auburn curls flowing down her back. "Yes, maze. When we first tried to breach the castle walls, we were teleported into a labyrinth filled with physical and psychological traps."
"And gorgons," Jarlaxle added, tossing up one hand in an offhand gesture.
"And flying books, hidden blades, and enchanted crystals," Entreri said. He drew his new sword, Black Widow, and let the moonlight reflect off the green-tinted blade. "I wounded Lander Stonar in combat, but by all indications, he's recovered." He sheathed the sword with a distinct snap.
Tai's brow furrowed, causing his slanted eyes to narrow further. "And I wounded Melcer Stonar with . . . an unusual spell granted to me by Hoar. But I, too, doubt he's dead." He glanced over the smooth walls. "No doors, no visible windows. It really is an effective fortress." He glanced back at the forest, from which a flock of birds suddenly evacuated with shrill calls. "But there is a portal opening to our west that will unleash gods-know-what on us."
"So perhaps the first question is how we close the portal," Jarlaxle said, rubbing his chin with his bandaged hand.
Nyx frowned at Tai. "Couldn't you just summon a devil and question it about the portal? They supposedly know a great deal about such things."
Tai shook his head, his silky black hair grazing his jaw as he did. "Definitely not. You can never use anything evil to accomplish something good: not evil means, and not evil creatures. Evil pollutes good by its mere presence. Devils may have knowledge, but you can't access it without endangering yourself or others. They might pretend to be cooperative or helpful at first, but they exist to harm others." He sighed. "The only sure way—the only safe way—to get such information is through Hoar. There is no need to call upon devils if you have a god."
"It's near midnight," Entreri said. "Is that not when you usually commune with Hoar?"
With a smile, Tai sat cross-legged on the ground. "It is."
"Ask for direction for both problems," Nyx said.
"I will." Tai closed his eyes and straightened his back. An expression of peace washed over his face, his brow smoothing.
"Damn," Nyx whispered. "I forgot to ask him what happened to Miri."
Entreri remained unmoved. "That's the least of our concerns, especially since the portal is now open. He said she's alive, so leave it at that for now." He turned to size up Jarlaxle. "How are your injuries? You may have to fight again soon."
Jarlaxle pulled one golden hoop earring from his ear. "As I said, they're all minor. But I will take this opportunity to confer with Kimmuriel." He held the hoop before his lips and whispered to it in drow.
"Wonderful," Entreri said sarcastically. "Now my day has been officially made." Yet despite his hatred of the psionicist, he suspected they would need all the help they could marshal since, if the monsters headed their way, the battle would technically be on two fronts.
Miri awoke and stared in confusion at the flickering shadows. Shadows where? On a wall. What wall? "Oh!" she exclaimed, but the word came out as a groan. I'm in my bedroom. The warm mahogany crown molding running along the ceiling edge was suddenly familiar, as were the emerald green bed curtains tied to the bed posts. Around the room, covering her vanity table, desk, and dresser, lay countless familiar items that should have offered her comfort: herbs, spices, bowls, and books. Somehow, though, it seemed profane—elements of a nature perverted, a world her own blood had turned against her. The lamp light flickering across the dried herbs, casting them into shadows, mutated them into bulbous, grasping hands: hands that would drag her through the portal into hell.
"Miri?" whispered a halting voice. "Are you awake?"
The druid glanced at her lifelong friend and fellow half elf, Darvin. He was staring at his lap and biting his lip, looking much like a whipped puppy, but Miri felt no pity. He was the one who should have understood her best; the one who had shared their interracial world. The one who had betrayed her and nearly killed her.
Miri bolted upright in bed and dismissed the resulting dizziness. "Traitor! Why are you in my room!" She glanced around, checking for her aunt or father, or at least a servant. "Why are you in my room alone?"
Darvin's look of misery immediately vanished into one of fury. "It was an accident! I will not hurt you now." He ran both hands through his short, spiky brown hair in a show of frustration.
But once again, Darvin had failed to understand Miri's heart. "An accident! All is well and should be forgiven because you accidentally slit my throat? All is well because you accidentally opened that portal? Because you fulfilled my destiny for me—a destiny I've hated my whole life?" She stood, pulling her white robe tight around her. "Get out! Your raging jealousy made my worst fear come true. Your jealousy might destroy our entire region!"
Darvin stood and glared at her. "It's not like I meant to!"
"That doesn't change the fact you did." Miri crossed her arms over her stomach. "Will you be able to face the parents of a child killed by one of those monsters and say, 'Sorry, it was an accident'?" She shook her head. "If you are sorry, then go fix it!"
Darvin clenched his fists. "Me? Alone? It's your blood."
"It's . . . my . . ." Miri stared at this stranger wearing the face of her friend. All her childhood companions had accused her of an easy-come, easy-go attitude because she loved being around people—many people. Balls, parties, weddings. However, her decisions to befriend and her decisions to end a friendship were hardly offhand. "You said yourself you have been my friend longer than anyone. Knowing me as well as you claim to, how dare you say such a thing to me!"
Darvin flinched again. "I'm sorry. I just . . ." He stared at the ground. "This is not what I meant to do at all. Not at all."
"But you did." Miri grew sad. "Have we both damned the world together?" She shook her head and walked to her wardrobe. "I have to go now, and I think it's best if we part ways here." She opened the door and withdrew a white riding outfit. "Stormrider died trying to save me. I almost died. And none of this had to happen." She turned toward Darvin, and in her mind, he was just as dead as her beloved wolf companion. "I'm not sure I can forgive you for opening that portal, but if you want there to be a chance of it, you'd best do something." She stalked past him, heading for the bathroom. "Either way, I don't care to see your face for a long, long time."
With those words, she opened her bedroom door and exited, slamming the door behind her and closing a chapter of her life.
Darvin stared at the bed Miri had vacated. She was furious with him, and he'd nearly killed her—and it was all Tai's fault. If that country boy hadn't come into their lives, Darvin would have had no reason to be angry, and he wouldn't have lost his temper and accidentally struck out. Then Miri wouldn't have had a reason to be mad at him or leave him.
Darvin put his face into his hands and sighed. "Why don't people listen to me?" Why didn't they understand that he knew what was best for them? Why didn't she see the obvious," he muttered. "We were destined to marry." As for Tai's accusation that Darvin didn't understand his own god, well, that was ridiculous. Darvin had begun training as a priest when he was seven. Of course he knew his god best!
But what to do? Darvin dropped his hands and sighed. "How do I get her back?" He knew what she planned to do. She'd grabbed her favorite riding outfit, which meant she was going to team up with that cursed brat priest again. But that path would only ensure her death. "How do I stop her from getting herself killed?"
"By controlling the monsters," answered a baritone voice from behind him.
Darvin whirled around. Before him stood two men, identical in appearance except for their clothes. One wore a red silk tunic with black dragons arching down the sleeves and black leather armor; the other wore a navy wizard's robe with silken swirls racing through it. They stood with their arms interlocked and leaning into each other slightly, both of them smiling at him.
For a moment Darvin was disgusted—not because of their open affection, because they were obviously twins, but because they had the same swallow complexion and slightly slanted eyes as Tai. "Who are you?"
The one in red spoke. "Lander and Melcer Stonar."
Darvin clenched his fists, desperately wanting to call down Hoar's wrath upon them. "How dare you show yourselves before me! You tried to kill Miri."
Lander smiled. "We weren't out to kill her, dear priest. We just needed a drop of her blood, as you saw when the portal opened. We had little time, though, so when you all fled, we had to use force to try to reach her."
Darvin blinked. The man's tone, body language, and even amount of eye contact all suggested he told the truth. Was the man really that accomplished of a liar, or was there a partial truth in the words? "Don't play me for a fool. Besides, your goal is still evil. You want to destroy this town with monsters."
Lander grew serious. "Not destroy it, for then there would be nothing to rule. We wanted to attain control of it through terror."
Darvin threw his arms wide. "Well, there you have it."
"Not entirely." Lander held up one hand in a sign for patience. "We aren't the bloodthirsty power-mongers you probably assume."
Darving snorted. "Sure."
"This is about family." Lander's eyes seemed to glow from within. "Our grandfather's ambition, our parents' ambition—a goal, a family legacy, a birthright. When our parents died, Melcer and I inherited that sacred dream: to rule within the Zhentarim. To build the Stonar family name."
"And I should care about your twisted legacy?" Darvin stared at them with hooded eyes.
"No," Melcer replied before his brother could continue. He dropped Lander's arm and stepped forward. "Our legacy is why we acted, but that is no longer the issue. We aren't asking you to trust us—you have no reason to. What we are asking you is to call a temporary truce with us so that we can stop the widespread destruction of this entire region. The one who opens the portal controls the monsters, and that's you. If you really want to stop the slaughter and save your girlfriend, you need to come with us."
Darvin straightened momentarily at having Miri named his girlfriend. "As it would seem. But what assurance do I have that you won't lock me up in your dungeon and torture me into controlling the monsters as you wish?"
"We entered both the house and this room without your knowledge," Lander said. "If we planned to use force and violence, we could have abducted you before you even knew what was happening."
Darvin supposed that was true, but it didn't mean he wasn't in danger. He crossed his arms and frowned at the brothers.
Melcer held out his hand. "Think about it. If we don't stop this onslaught, our home will be destroyed, too, and perhaps us with it."
"Your own faults in the end for seeking the portal." Darvin smirked.
"True," Melcer said, seemingly with all sincerity. "But you, like us, have much to lose if this is not put to a stop."
Darvin ultimately couldn't argue with that, and maybe after he learned to control the monsters he could kill the Stonars for starting this whole mess. "All right. What do I have to do?"
Lander stepped forward and clasped Darvin's shoulders. "Dear priest, it's really quite simple. Before your girlfriend reaches the others, you must set the monsters against them and kill them all. With their appetites momentarily sated, the monsters will be easier to control, and well . . ." He trailed off and smiled.
"Your rival in love won't be an issue any longer," the wizard said from behind his brother.
Darvin cringed. Murder? But the monsters and Miri and . . . He closed his eyes and sighed deeply. "I . . . don't really see any other way to handle the issue."
And deep inside his soul, in a blackness he didn't want to acknowledge, Darvin also couldn't help feeling relieved at the concept of Tai's death.
A/N: So, that was the longest hiatus of my fanfic writing life. My apologies. Thank you to anyone who returns to me and reviews/faves after such a long time.
Forgive me if the chapters are shorter or the writing isn't as tight as usual. I'm not sure how long my inspiration will hold out, and I know for sure I'm pressed for time. I'm going to proceed as quickly as possible. As a result, I will not be sending out PMs to thank all the reviewers, but please know I appreciate every review and fave I get. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't care.