DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT CLAIM TO OWN THE RIGHTS TO ANY CHARACTER NAMES, LOCATIONS, ETC. ALL CREDIT BELONGS TO R.A. SALVATORE. THIS CONTRIBUTION IS MY PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO SUCH AN INCREDIBLE AUTHOR.
Jozzlyn cringed as a large black spider crawled across her bare foot. She resisted the urge to crush its body with her scroll, only because doing so was strictly forbidden. To kill an arachnid meant to defy Lolth herself. Religion never meant much to her. Her mother never stressed the importance of anything other than rising above the other Houses, and using any means necessary. Appeasing Lolth was just an added bonus to her mother's conquest. The Spider Queen often aided those she favored.
She rose up from a sitting position on her bedroom floor. She had recently taken to guarding her chamber door at all hours. Not that it mattered, Bregan D'aerthe was paid handsomely by the Matron Mother herself; to spy on whomever she felt threatened her or house Baenre. Jarlaxle had already been to Jozzlyn's rooms twice within the last week. There could be only one reason she had not been taken to Triel for questioning yet: House Barrison Del'Armgo was still too powerful for the Matron Mother to openly attack without risking a unification of the other houses under Mez'Barris Armgo's banner. The only reason Jozzlyn was allowed sanctuary in House Baenre was because Triel had ceremoniously honored her as a Mistress of Torture.
Jozzlyn smirked. Her mother had jumped at the opportunity to put her youngest daughter in the Baenre House as her right hand spy. What Mez'Barris Armgo did not foresee was the fact that Triel had promoted Jozzlyn for that very same purpose. Jozzlyn was no more honored than the kobold that brought her meals daily. Jozzlyn was a vassal forced into a dangerous game of double-dealing with the two most powerful houses in Menzoberranzan. She lived in constant fear of her life while her mother sat in her fortress strategizing and only sending for her daughter when she desired new information.
Life in House Baenre was never boring. Jozzlyn's "talents" were used whenever Triel or the Matron Mother had found some unsuspecting traitor in their midst. Triel was slowly gaining power over her mother, who had been too busy worrying about the enemies outside her home. She underestimated her children. In Menzoberranzan, males were viewed as weak and powerless. They were seen as mere instruments; used only when a female needed an heir for her House or to complete a job deemed too insignificant to send a female. Jozzlyn was startled when she heard a sudden loud knock at her door. "Enter." She spoke, her voice shaking slightly. A short male stuck his head through her doorway.
"Pardon the intrusion Mistress Jozzlyn, but your expertise is needed in the dungeons," he said proudly. Jozzlyn reached for her shawl and wrapped it around her bare shoulders. The male watched her pensively, but said nothing.
"You are excused," Jozzlyn shouted at the male. As soon as his footsteps faded down the hall, Jozzlyn made her way to the lower staircase. Her ebony skin prickled, betraying the chill she felt in her bones as she traveled down the ice-cold stairway. She hated her duty as Mistress of Torture. Most females enjoyed humiliating their prisoners, but Jozzlyn had not the heart for it. She was just as much a prisoner as the men she questioned. As she was approaching the doorway to the dungeons, a male rushed past her murmuring to himself. She walked through the main doorway into the isolation chamber and scoffed at the guard who eyed her breasts hungrily. "Stupid bastard," she thought. "If I had been any other female you would have your eyes gauged out with a hot poker." This was not the first time she had shared the idea that men were foolish and expendable.
"Who is the prisoner, and to which House does he declare his loyalty?" Jozzlyn asked the guard.
"A dead house Mistress. That of Do 'Urden. He claims to be Drizzt Do' Urden himself, son of Zaknafein the famed Weapon's master and-"
"I KNOW WHO HE IS, YOU PATHETIC FOOL!" Jozzlyn screamed. "How did he end up here? I had no knowledge of this beforehand. Who captured him?"
"I do not know, Mistress. Jarlaxle is the one who brought him here. Single-handedly captured from what I hear." the guard replied with admiration in his voice.
"Sure he did," Jozzlyn thought. "Maybe that's why he was in such a good mood when he came to my chambers last night." She turned the corner and glanced into the room before walking inside. The room had been dimly lit, with extra guards lining the walls of the small enclosure. She looked to the far wall where the prisoners hung from manacles on the stone walls. He was there, obviously beaten and tortured, but the blood had been cleaned from his body. His head was hung and his breathing was labored. Jozzlyn slowly walked into the room toward the well-known traitor. She paused as he raised his head at the sound of her approach. His eyes were not red, but a beautiful lavender. Jozzlyn caught her breath. Despite the circumstances, she could see that he was very handsome. His hands were chained above his head, and the sweat glinted on his bare chest. His feet had been chained to the stone floor, and one guard was standing with his rapier pointed at the prisoner's chest.
"Surely they don't think he can escape so easily," thought Jozzlyn. "You are all dismissed," she said to the guards.
"With all respect Mistress, Jarlaxle has told us to stay. He will be here himself in a few minutes," one of the guards stated nervously.
Before Jozzlyn could retort, Jarlaxle slowly walked into the room. "My apologies for being late, Mistress. I was…ah…diverted for a moment," Jarlaxle said slyly. "You may all leave the room now that I am here to assist Mistress Jozzlyn."
Jozzlyn's anger flared as the guards begin to file out of the room at the male's command. "How dare you? I shall have you all whipped and tortured for this insubordination!"
"My apologies once more, Mistress; but upon pain of death the members of Bregan D'aerthe answer to no one but myself," Jarlaxle boldly stated as the last mercenary left the room. Before Jozzlyn could reply, Jarlaxle walked over to the prisoner who had been watching the confrontation attentively. Jozzlyn was speechless. No one had ever spoken to her that way before. Granted she was far from a Matron Mother, but she was still a female. Even Triel's favorite opportunistic mercenary knew his boundaries.
"Let's get to the point of your visit, shall we?" Jarlaxle turned to Jozzlyn once more. "I have a proposition for you, beautiful Mistress. You find out all you can from our new friend here, and I won't tell Triel about your little secret visits with your mother."
Jozzlyn sucked in her breath at the open threat. "Excuse me? You are mistaken if you think my loyalty lies anywhere other than House Baenre. You are also very foolish to make threats to me, Jarlaxle. In one second I could have you tortured and sacrificed to Lolth for your little charade here. Do not underestimate me, for I know you have paid the guards handsomely for their discretion of our prisoner here. When Triel finds out that you have captured Drizzt Do 'Urden and have been keeping him in her dungeons right under her nose she will be furious. The Spider Queen will have her blood sacrifice tonight!"
Jarlaxle's blood boiled and anger flashed across his face. He quickly replaced his scowl with a grin. "You think this is Drizzt Do' Urden?" He laughed aloud before striking the prisoner across the face hard enough to knock him unconscious. "Drizzt Do"Urden is dead. This is a member of an insignificant fifth house wanted for questioning by my faction. My pardon Mistress. I never meant to offend you; I only offer an exchange of services. Triel did not authorize this, uhm, interrogation as you have rightly guessed, but surely she would not be bothered by my small use of her dungeons for a short while."
He paused and tried to read Jozzlyn's facial expressions. She was careful not to give away anything she was thinking. Finally after a few more seconds of sizing each other up, Jozzlyn spoke. "So what you are proposing is this: If I interrogate your witness and keep your use of Triel's resources to myself, you will not tell Triel I have been unfaithful?"
"Precisely, Mistress. Because we both know that whether or not you are guilty of double crossing Triel, my word will be all she needs to plant the seed of doubt and gain loyalty from the other houses. That will be all she needs to utterly destroy your mother's house. Not to mention you're beautiful…" Jarlaxle looked Jozzlyn from head to toe; "face."
Jozzlyn carefully considered his words. "There will be another time to give up Jarlaxle she thought. I need whatever information his prisoner has first. Then I can approach Triel when I have more to offer her. I will never be safe while Jarlaxle lives."
"I accept your bargain." She stated simply.