Disclaimer: I do not, nor have I ever, owned Drizzt or this world. I'm not making profit out of this story; it's merely for my own pleasure…and possibly yours. I only own the OC's – mainly Ryza. You may borrow her if you want, just PM me if you do so. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy this one shot!


Not How She Appears

Drizzt just shook his head and laughed. She wasn't beautiful. No…no, Ryza Quarinyr was not beautiful, but he wouldn't trade her friendship for anything…

Perhaps though, it would be best though if I started this story at the beginning, for that is the way to tell a story isn't it? Let me take you back a few years to when this all began.

The sun was hidden behind thick clouds, so it didn't bother his eyes, eyes meant for the darkness of night not the brightness of day. Two years he'd spent on the surface already, and yet his eyes refused to grow any more accustomed to the sunlight. It burned his eyes when he stayed out too long and stung them until tears threatened to run on the brightest of days. It was his penance, his punishment for being born a dark elf he supposed. Drizzt Do'Urden shifted his cowl as he ran silent as a thought through the thinning forest. Coming ever closer was the small town of Yuthinkil, an obscure town made up of little farms and markets just on the other side of Icewind Dale. He was glad for the grey evening for two reasons. First, he'd made better time getting here than if he'd had to battle the blinding sunlight as well as the frigid winds. Second, it gave less chance of him being seen and recognized.

Being a dark elf Drizzt was subject to much distrust and open anger from almost everyone he encountered. It seemed as though very few were willing to look beyond his black skin and obvious heritage to see that he was different. He didn't blame them no that would be unfair. His people, the drows, had a reputation for being a cruel, heartless, and violent people. In the beginning of time his people had actually lived on the surface with their cousins the surface elves, but their evil, almost sadistic, ways had quickly lead to a war that had banished his people to below the earth. There they had made a city, Menzoberranzan, and soon come under the manipulation of Lolth, the demon spider goddess, who had encouraged and even fueled their evil ways. By some odd chance Drizzt had been able to see through his peoples lies and blood thirsty ways. He had escaped and after living centuries on his own in the Underdark, he' had made his way to the surface and lived there ever since.

Yet not many were willing to believe this story, so far fetch did it seem to them. They had either seen or heard of the dark elves. Either seen their bloody raids on the surface elves and their friends, or heard tell of them. Drizzt himself had been on one of those raids in his early years, but the horror of watching his fellow brothers take delight in murdering the men, women, and children in the group had, instead of inspiring him, caused him to detest what they'd become and firm his resolve to never become that. So, here he was, sneaking about in the shadows, silently watching over the very people who would be all too happy to kill him or run him out of town; yet Drizzt couldn't – wouldn't – fault them for the way they felt. True, he wished there would be more people like Bruenor, the dwarf, and Cattie-brie, his adoptive human daughter. More who would look beyond his appearance and let him prove his principles.

A sudden rustle to his left caught his attention. As a large group of farmers trudged out of the foliage Drizzt realized that he'd let his mind wander too far. He'd not paid attention to his surroundings and as such allowed the farmers to come upon him before he could disappear from sight. He unconsciously tugged at his cowl to make sure it still covered his face. There was no time to hide and so Drizzt prepared to greet the men as they drew nearer. He knew all too well that this could become a bad situation fast if any of them men found out who he really was.

"Hello, stranger!"

"Greetings to you as well."

"My name is Juil and this is Gen, Kerl, Firneral, Luth, Coner, and Mikuil."

"My friends call me, Xnier," Drizzt replied, hiding his true name which he'd found had caused him trouble in the past. It sounded too peculiar.

"What brings you to Yuthinkil, Xnier?"

"Merely passing through. I live farther up north, but had pressing business in Icewind Dale to attend to."

"You need a place to stay tonight?"

"Nay."

"Ye be sure? Tis sure ta get right cold afer the sun go down."

"Thank you, but I must get as far as I can."

"Up to you, though I must warn you that there has been tell of a monster prowling about these parts recently, a drow if the tales ring true."

Drizzt flinched at the open distaste in the man's voice. It was well they couldn't see him. "I'll be sure to keep my eyes open, good sir."

"Make sure ye do!"

"Those things are never up to any good!"

Drizzt merely nodded and turned away, anxious to leave the angry farmers and his guilty conscious. However, fate was not with him that evening. A sudden burst of icy wind whirled through just as he turned and snatched his cowl off his head, before he'd a chance to grab it. Not a sound was heard as Drizzt and the farmers stared at each other for what seemed like ages. Shock though quickly turned to hatred as the farmers recognized the creature before them as the dark elf they'd heard tell of.

"Your kind is not welcome in these parts, demon!"

Drizzt put his hands out palms up and out from his scimitars, trying to appear as harmless as possible. He tried to back away, but the farmers would have none of that. They tightened their grips on the only weapons they had available, their tools, which mainly consisted of a few scythes, some large knives, and a bull whip. All in all formidable weapons if used properly and though these were simple farmers, they were scared, and frightened men could be fearsome when pressed. And these men felt like they were being cornered. Hands tightened on the scythes and other weapons, and the men pushed in, forming a circle around the drow. A fight was eminent.

"Be gone, drow!"

"Ye'll get no sacrifices, here!"

As one, two of the men swung their scythes at the drow's head. He ducked swiftly while drawing both his scimitars out. He brandished them before him, their movements coming naturally to him. A knife came down; it's blade carving through the air, hungering for his blood. It never made its target. An expert hit to the head had the man flat on the ground unconscious. This only seemed to fuel the anger towards the drow. The blows came harder and swifter. Drizzt could have defeated them easily if he was aiming to kill, but he wasn't. He was trying to finish this fight without killing, or seriously harming any of the humans. The men held no such reservations. They wanted blood, his blood. Drizzt heard more footsteps coming up the hill. A quick glance confirmed his fears. The sounds of the fight had reached other men coming from their fields. They quickly joined in, more fuel to an already furious fire.

So distracted was he with the new and old fighters that he forgot about one in particular, but the human hadn't forgotten him.

Snap!

The sound shattered the cool night air as the man cracked his bull whip over the drow. White hot pain seared across Drizzt's back, momentarily diverting his attention. It was a moment he could ill afford. Half of the men swarmed in on the drow, fists and knives flying. Seeing his success with the whip, the man motioned them away and snapped the whip at the reeling drow. The whip caught the thin ankle of the dark elf and yanked him off his feet. Not to miss an opportunity, the humans thronged about the fallen drow, rational thought gone. Knives slashed into dark skin multiple times, drawing rivers of blood. The whip ripped into his back. As the mass drew back from the prone form, a figure stepped out and lifted a scythe high. His mind too preoccupied with his pain, Drizzt didn't have time to avoid the blow. The scythe fell in an arch and buried itself deep in the drow's back. The drow stiffened and then lay still.

Consciousness wrenched him back from the calming nothingness Drizzt had lain in. Pain unlike any he'd ever felt before seemed to course through every nerve and muscle in his body. Drizzt opened his eyes, only to find a blinding light that made tears run. His head spun dangerously and the room blurred. He quickly shut his eyes with a small moan. His sensitive ears caught the sound of feet scuffling across the floor. Drizzt relaxed his body, despite his ill feelings. He felt rather than saw the person lean over him and then cross the room again. The darkness claimed him shortly after.

The next time Drizzt awoke the pain wasn't as bad and his head felt less heavy. Cautiously, he peered through his eyes. The intense light from before had been dimmed enough that it wouldn't hurt his eyes anymore. He opened his eyes fully and examined his surroundings. He was in a standard room lit by a lone candle. A door was on his right, a chair and small stand were set on the left of the room. Herbs, linens, salves, and a basin of hot water lay on the wooden stand. Taking note of these Drizzt noted that he was lying on his side, his back propped up on soft pillows. His other wounds had also been attended to as well. Even his clothes, ragged with use and torn by the resent fight had been exchanged for much a newer and cleaner set. A shuffle to his right caused him to turn his eyes quickly to the doorway.

A young woman, barely in her second decade, stood there. She wore a simple forest green dress with long sleeves, tattered at the hem. Her black hair, although wavy, was cut to just below her ears and her dark eyes were solemn at the moment as they assessed the drow on her bed. On the whole, she wasn't a beautiful woman, very plain in looks. She'd brought a second candle with her, but paused as she stepped in, glancing at it and then at him.

"Will the extra light bother your eyes, sir?"

Drizzt shook his head, stunned by her polite tone. Had she not seen his skin? Did she not know what he was? The woman set the candle on the stand and set the stand closer to the bed, mere inches from him. The chair was quickly brought beside it. The woman sat down and turned to him once again. A tentative smile breezed across her face.

"My name is Ryza, healer in this region. With your permission I would like to see to your wounds once again."

"You didn't seem to have any such reservations before," Drizzt replied curtly, his self pity getting the better of him, but the woman seemed unaffected.

"You were badly injured before and in danger of dying at any moment from loss of blood. If you'd been any less injured I would have asked for your consent. May I have such permission now, sir? Your wounds are grave and I wish to tend to them."

"Do what you will."

"Thank you, sir."

The woman, Ryza, reached forward slowly, making sure that Drizzt could see all her movements and intentions. She soaked a cloth in the steamy water before applying it to the bandages on his arms. All the while Ryza explained her actions in a calm, clear voice.

"I'm going to soak your bandages before I remove them. You had much blood and it has more than likely dried to the dressings. The water will loosen the hold and make the process of changing them less painful."

True to her words, as soon as the bandages were completely wet Ryza un-wrapped them and then redid them with the clean ones, taking care to go slowly. The cloths on his hands, sides, and legs followed in quick concession with the same less-than-painful experience. Drizzt watched her with a mixture of caution and awe. Awe that someone was treating him well; caution that it was merely a trick to get him to let down his guard. He felt naked without his weapons. His scimitars and the knife hidden in his boot were gone, as well as… – Drizzt tightened –…the magical onyx statuette of a panther, Guenhwyvar, his silent companion was gone! Lavender eyes burned in anger at the mere thought of any injustice to Guenhwyvar.

What had happened to his friend while he'd been unconscious? Had the woman figured out how to use the magical item? Had she abused its use? Or had she simply thrown it away as worthless?

Ryza stopped as she noticed the anger and quickly drew her hands away from his back. She'd seen anger before, but never in such intensity, and never towards her. Puzzled, Ryza thought back. What could she have done to garner such anger?Caring for the wounds had been a kindness, so it couldn't be that. She'd even asked one of her male companions to change the drow's clothes, to avoid any embarrassment on his part later on. Mayhap that was it, but she doubted it, he seemed far above such petty concerns.

"I know not what I've done to garner your anger, sir, but I assure you that it was unintentional."

"Where are my things?"

His things? Was that it? "Safe, I assure you, sir."

"Where. Are. They?"

"They're in the back room safely out of sight from prying eyes, sir."

She thought he'd relax after that, but the tenseness in his muscles didn't lessen. Her brow furrowed in thought. What else could he mean? She went over his things. His clothes had had to be discarded, for they were rags. She was making him new ones, ones specifically designed for the winter chills. Couldn't be that. His weapons?She knew men became attached to their weaponry; it almost became a part of them. Mayhap that was his concern.

"Your weapons have been carefully taken care of, sir."

No response or lessening of his anger. Not the weapons then. Then what? What could…Ryza's eyes widened. The magical statuette, of course, how stupid of her! He was worried about that she'd done something to it.

"The statuette has also been seen to, sir."

"Has it?" If anything has happened to Guenhwyvar, I'll make them pay! Ryza seemed to understand his thoughts.

"I have no idea what it is, though I know it's magical, but nothing harmful has been done to it. I swear, sir."

"Good," Drizzt breathed, the anger finally leaving his eyes, he could see she told the truth. Ryza gave another tentative smile.

"May I see to your back now, sir?"

"Yes."

"My thanks."

She moved the stand and chair around to his back, out of his sight, and drew the pillows away. Soaking the large cloth again she gently became to sponge the bloody strips. An involuntary hiss escaped his lips when the first of the hot water pressed against his injured back.

"I am sorry."

"It is not your fault."

"I am still sorry though. My help causes you pain."

"You did not do this."

"I know."

"Why are you helping me?"

"I help people, it is what I do."

"I'm drow."

"I know."

"Then –"

"I do not care."

Ryza re-soaked the cloth and continued to sponge. Soon the bandage was wet enough for her and she peeled it away cautiously. She grimaced at the sight that was laid bare to her. Though she'd been the one to clean and wrap it before, it still horrified her that men could be this cruel to a fellow creature. The whip had not been kind to his back and torn skin crisscrossed along the spine and shoulders. A large gaping wound from a scythe could be seen on the lower back. When her friends had reported the violent actions of the farmers, Ryza had hurried to the drow. The drow she'd found there had resembled a corpse more than a living being and Ryza had feared she'd come too late to help the dark elf, but true to her profession she'd tried anyway, and had been rewarded for her diligence, the drow would live, of that she was sure.

After wrapping his back, Ryza scooted the chair back and gathered the bowl and blood-spattered cloths in her arms before leaving to put them in the kitchen. Coming back, Drizzt watched her put the chair back and take the second candle out again. She peered in again after a few moments.

"Would you like me to remove the light altogether, sir? I know it hurts you eyes."

She does, does she? How does this woman know so much about me? "That would be fine, thank you."

"You are welcome," Ryza replied lightly, smiling as she picked up the candle and walked back out of the room. Soon the weariness of his body betrayed Drizzt and he fell back into unconsciousness. Ryza checked in on him a few hours later and her eyes twinkled as she watched the slow rise and fall of his breathing. She was glad he would recover.

The next few days found Drizzt able to sit up in bed and to move about the room with some help given by Ryza. Though his kind healed quickly, the wounds he'd sustained should have killed him. The scythe alone would have seen to that. He marveled at the speed of his recovery.

"You're responding well to my treatments, sir," Ryza's soft voice cut through his thoughts. He glanced at her over his shoulder. He was sitting up in bed, his legs over the side. She was positioned in her normal spot behind him, changing the dressings on his back. The pain was less now when she cleaned it.

"Indeed I am."

Ryza, with her uncanny ability, seemed to sense his questioning thoughts. "The herbs and salves I use have some innate magical abilities in them. I found that certain ones combined together hasten the healing."

"I thank you, then."

"There is no need, sir."

"Drizzt."

"Pardon?"

"My name," he explained, surprised that he trusted her enough to tell her, "My name is Drizzt Do'Urden."

A true smile graced her face now, and her eyes sparkled. She shyly went back to cleaning his back and wrapping it. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"For trusting me enough to tell me your true name."

"It is merely a name."

"A name holds power, a power not easily handed over to just anyone."

"Indeed," Drizzt whispered to himself. As she finished wrapping his back, Ryza hummed a soft tune under her breath. Drizzt remained through rigid the pain, but made no sound, stoically taking it all. As he felt Ryza do the finishing touches, Drizzt chanced a glance back at the woman. Her dark head was slightly bowed and her mouth was set in a thin line of concentration. More investigation was interrupted though as a larger than normal human head stuck itself through the doorway. Drizzt started in surprise at seeing the giant. The left side of the visage was melted almost to the point of grotesque, the eye barely visible beneath the mottled flesh. His hand automatically reached for the twin scimitars that normally hung from his sides. Ryza glanced around the dark elf at the new comer. She placed a calming hand on Drizzt's shoulder.

"Peace, Drizzt, he is a friend. Yes, Kernin?"

"Pardon, Lady Ryza, but a man is demanding to see you right away."

"Is he now?" a smile played on her face for an instant.

"Yes, I tried to tell him that you were busy, but he'll have none of it."

"I take it Lord Herein has sent him."

"Yes…I tried, Lady Ryza –"

"Hush Kernin, it is alright. I know you tried, but there are few who can sway Lord Herein and his men once they set their minds to something. I find no fault in you."

"Thank you, Lady Ryza."

"Please excuse me, Drizzt, I must see to this promptly. I will return as soon as is possible to finish the wrappings."

Drizzt nodded slowly and Ryza swept out of the room quickly followed by the giant. The door closed and he heard Ryza's light step walking away, followed by the heavier one of Kernin. A few minutes passed in silence. Then slowly raised voices could be heard, rising in pitch with each second. Drizzt slowly and painfully made his way to the closed door. His feet lagged and he wavered slightly, but somehow made it to the door, leaning heavily on it for support. Putting his ear to the door, Drizzt listened.

"My lord," Ryza could be heard saying. She seemed to be trying to placate the man, or men, on the other side.

"Silence! I will hear no more of your lies."

"Lies, sir?"

"Don't play innocent with me, I know you have him."

"Sir, I apologize, but you have me at a loss. Who do you seek?"

"Do not hide it!"

"It, sir?"

"Will you just cooperate!"

"Of course sir, you merely have to mention what it is you seek, and I will help you in any way possible."

There was a humph and a sarcastic, "I highly doubt that."

"Have you ever known me to lie, sir?"

"On occasion, yes."

"What do you seek?"

"The filthy, pointy eared, demon, of course!"

"There was a demon?"

"Don't!" The man was seething by now, his voice livid with anger and hatred, "I know you have your spies everywhere, reporting back to you everything that goes on here. Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about!"

Ryza made no reply and Drizzt waited to see how this would play out. He held no hope that the woman would continue to hide him. Humans mistrusted him. They never stopped to give him the chance to prove himself. This woman, for all her kindness, would be no different.

"Where are you hiding him? Tell me!"

"I am not hiding anyone."

Smack!The sound broke the discussion like a knife to the throat. For a moment no one said anything, as if the people in the other room were too shocked to speak. Drizzt unconsciously gripped the door handle tightly, his eyes narrowing.

"How dare you!" Drizzt heard Kernin erupt, "I shou––"

"Kernin, peace."

"But, Lady Ryza, he ––"

"Peace."

A deep breath, then: "Yes, milady."

"My lord, I think you should leave now."

"I refuse to leave without the demon."

A scuffle of feet and the opening of a box was heard. "Do you see this, my lord?"

"I'm not blind, girl!"

"Good. I swear to you, on this sacred relic, no one by your description is here."

"No one?"

"I do not hide, nor do I harbor, evil."

"Very well. Come men, we shall leave this place."

Drizzt backed away from the door, his eyes wide with shock. No one, no oneever defended him. He couldn't believe this woman, Ryza, had risked so much in keeping him hidden. Why?He moved away from the door, trying to get back to the bed before she came back, but his body, still weak, wobbled and he fell to the floor with a crash. Pain erupted from his back and he squeezed his eyes shut. Suddenly a hand was placed soothingly on his shoulder. Drizzt opened his eyes to find Ryza bending over him, a mixture of worry and amusement on her face.

"Some would think it rude to listen to another's conversation."

"I…" he coughed roughly and his body wrenched in pain from the action. Unconsciously, he closed his eyes again, but opened them quickly when he realized he had. Ryza gently turned him on his side and glanced over him at his back. A small sigh escaped her pale lips.

"You've opened the wound again. I'll have to change the bandages."

"I -"

"Hush," Ryza soothed, placing a finger on his lips, "There is no need to apologize Drizzt. I understand your mistrust of us. Jul?"

A thin man appeared at the door. He looked normal in all aspects and like Ryza he was plain in appearance. His brown hair was shoulder length and his body un-toned. The man named Jul quirked his head at Ryza in question. Drizzt wondered why he didn't just ask her why she'd asked for him. Ryza shrugged.

"He fell."

The man raised eyebrow at this and pointed his finger to the bed. Ryza chuckled at the implied question.

"He was, but curiosity got the better of him."

A snort and shake of the head.

"Can you help me? He's reopened the wound."

Jul nodded, a slight smile hovering on his mouth as he bent down. He slipped his right arm under Drizzt and at Ryza's nod they both lifted him to the bed. Though the bed was soft Drizzt couldn't help but wince in pain as his back made contact with the mattress and sheets. Ryza instantly turned him gently on his side, for which Drizzt was thankful for.

"Can you bring more bandages and salves, please, Jul?"

Jul nodded and left silently.

"…He does not…speak?"

"No, he was born like that. His people treated him badly, so I took him in, and helped him."

"Just as you did with me?" Drizzt asked, trying to hide a cringe as a particularly painful spasm coursed through his body. Ryza, an accomplished healer, noticed the carefully concealed grimace of pain.

"Jul should be back soon and I'll attempt to ease the pain. In answer to your question, yes."

Drizzt was silent as he absorbed this little bit of information. No one, other than Bruenor and Cattie-brie, had ever given him a chance. They only saw a dark elf, an elf from a race of killers, and attacked. No had ever seen different and he'd accepted that as his lot in life, his trial. Yet here was this woman who obviously knew much about him and his people and still wanted to help him, even hide him from those who would kill him. It was a hard concept to accept for the injured drow. Jul came back in, as silent as he'd left, and placed the requested items on the stand.

"Thank you, Jul."

A silent nod and then Jul was gone. Ryza then turned to the drow and smiled ruefully as she began to sponge the bloodied bandages.

"This is going to hurt you I'm afraid, Drizzt."

Drizzt tried to answer her, but could only manage to look up at her through pain-filled eyes. Ryza continued to sponge for a few more minutes before she peeled the bandages away. Once that was done she opened the container with the healing salve. A sharp minty scent glided through the room, quickly filling it with it pungent, yet soothing, aroma. That didn't stop Drizzt from stiffening quickly as the salve came into contact with his wound. Ryza worked the salve in, her hands gentle. After a while a numbing sensation around the wound came and Drizzt's body was able to relax.

"How did you…?"

"An herb I found in the mountains of Icewind Dale. It numbs the area it comes in contact with," Ryza chuckled softly, "I found that out the hard way when I ate some of it."

Drizzt smiled thinly, his body too exhausted to do more. Ryza wrapped the new bandages without further delay. Having finished she washed her hands and drew the warm bed covers over the drow. The warmth felt good, but Drizzt felt odd, the kindness exuded from the woman was foreign to him.

"The herb should give you a few hours respite from the pain."

"Thank you."

"No thanks is needed, Drizzt."

"Not many would help a drow."

"Well then it's a good thing I do not wish to be like those many," Ryza replied, waving off the compliment, "If you stay put for a few days the wound should heal enough for you to get about again."

She pushed off the bed to leave when Drizzt's hand caught her wrist. Surprised Ryza sat back down and lifted an eyebrow at the drow. A dark hand came up and softly touched her right cheek, brushing against the newly acquired bruise there. Ryza winced and the hand drew away instantly.

"He hurt you."

"It matters not."

"He hurt you because of me," Drizzt persisted, his voice leaden with guilt. Yet another person hurt because of him, because of what he was. Why did he seem to always bring trouble to those that helped him? Was he to be eternally bereft of true acceptance, of friendship?Ryza's voice brought him out of his dark thoughts.

"Drizzt, please, listen to me," Ryza grasped his arm, "None of this was your fault."

"How can you say that?" Drizzt snapped, angry with himself, half angry with her for not seeing it, "He did this because of me, because of what I am. It would have been better if you'd left me, then none of this would have happened. People always get hurt becau ––"

"Stop this!"

"You do not –"

"Understand? I understand more than you know."

Drizzt was silent, but his eyes spoke volumes. Understand? What could she understand? She was human; she hadn't been through what he had. She hadn't been thrown out of every town, city, and farm village because of her heritage. She hadn't nearly died because someone was more willing to put a knife through your heart than listen to you. Understand?Drizzt scoffed silently to himself.

"Drizzt," Ryza cut through his thoughts, "Did you know my family threw me out of my home when I was but a girl?"

Drizzt's eyes widened without him realizing it.

"You see this scar?" she pulled the collar of her dress down a bit and Drizzt could see a dark scare on her collarbone. The drow saw the scar formed a figure, looking closer Drizzt was able to see it formed what seemed to be a long claw, the kind only witch–. Drizzt looked at Ryza in shock. She smiled sadly and pulled the dress back up.

"Yes, it looks like a witch's mark. I accidentally burned myself when I was thirteen while making soup. My family was out and had no knowledge of the incident. As it was a small burn, I thought nothing of it and didn't feel the need to tell them. I was young I had no idea what the burn signified," Ryza sighed, her eyes dim, her mind reliving the events of the past.

"When my mother finally discovered the burn a few months later she immediately told my father, who asked the town council what he should do. Somehow during this meeting, the villagers found out and I was run out of the town for meddling with the dark arts. All I knew was my family and the village I had grown up in was against me, was trying to kill me."

Drizzt could think of nothing a thing to say.

"So, you see, Drizzt, I do know something of what you are feeling right now, what you've had to endure since you came here. I know what it's like to be alone, to feel that the world is against you. That's why I help people like Jul and Kernin."

"I'm sorry, I…" Drizzt couldn't finish. He'd done exactly what everyone else had done to him, he'd presumed. He'd presumed that because she was human she would be like the others. He'd presumed that because she was human she wouldn't know what he felt, what he desired most. Drizzt felt both humbled and ashamed at her story; humbled because she'd trusted him enough to tell him it, ashamed because she'd seen the need to prove herself to him.

"I should not have presumed."

"No, but you learned from it, did you not? That is what separates us from those such as Lord Herein. We learn from our mistakes and use them to better ourselves. People like Lord Herein will live all their life never being able to see past physical appearances and thus miss the friendships they would otherwise enjoy."

"Yes."

"Please, do not believe you are alone in this world, Drizzt. There are those up here who would gladly give you their friendship if only you would let them give it."

"I…I will remember."

Ryza smiled: "Good. Now get some sleep."

"You are sure you have everything you need?"

"I'm as sure as I was the last three times you asked me," Drizzt chuckled softly and smiled at the woman next to him. Ryza laughed with him and shrugged.

"Can you blame a friend?"

"You worry too much."

"Well someone has to look out for your wellbeing, as you certainly do not."

"I will miss you."

"And I you," Ryza replied, "Remember though, you have a place here for you if ever you need it."

"I will," Drizzt hugged her.

"Besides, I think Jul has taken quite an interest in your scimitars. He might ask you to train him."

Drizzt chuckled and then started walking north towards Iceland Dale. He turned once he reached the hill a mile away and waved at Ryza's small figure. She waved back. He turned around and trudged forward, making sure his cowl was covering his face completely.

(2 yrs. later.)

"What's wrong elf?" Bruenor asked gruffly. Drizzt looked up in surprise from his seat at the table, his fork halfway to his mouth. A thin eyebrow rose up.

"Wrong?"

"Don't give me that, elf! You've been moping since a week ago."

Drizzt was silent. He had gone out on a hunting expedition a week ago and had accidentally run into some hunters from Ten Towns. To say that the situation had been unpleasant was like saying it was dangerous to come out alone in the wilds. Harsh and bitter words had been hurled at him, as had several sharp objects. This wasn't the only occasion this had happened too. Over the last two years Drizzt had had the misfortune of running into more than a few of these groups. Some had even sought him out. He sighed.

"That bad?" Cattie-brie asked, leaning over to lay a comforting hand on his arm. Drizzt forced a smile on his face and shrugged. Cattie-brie looked as though she was about to say something, but Drizzt never got the chance to know what it was as a dwarf came running to Bruenor, interrupting the conversation.

"Yes?" Bruenor asked his voice rumbling like a cart of rocks.

"A human is at the west side tunnel. He insists on speaking with the drow."

Bruenor's eyes narrow considerably. He'd never admit it, but he was very protective of his elven friend. Too many times had he seen the elf get hurt by stupid and ignorant humans. He'd be darned if he'd let it happen again.

"What town's he from?"

"He says he's not from Ten Towns."

"Then where's he from?"

"He says he's from the southern town of Yuthinkil."

Drizzt started at the name: "Did you say Yuthinkil?"

"Aye…"

"Can you describe this man?"

"Huge, a giant really, but ugly as an orc."

"Kernin, "Drizzt murmured softly.

"You know him?" Bruenor asked.

"Yes, he's safe."

"Then let us go to him."

Shortly after the three friends and some dwarven soldiers arrived at the west tunnel. Drizzt recognized Kernin at once. The giant smiled, his grotesque face twisting even more, but Drizzt cared not. Kernin was a friend and he was glad to see him.

"Glad I am to have found you, elf."

"As am I, but why are you here?"

"Ryza sent me with a message for you," Kernin answered, pulling a small letter out of his shirt and handing to the drow. Drizzt hastily opened the letter and read the contents.

Drizzt, my friend,

I hope this letter finds you well both physically and spiritually.

Nothing much has happened since the time you left. The town is quiet, there have been no attacks lately, your room is getting dusty from waiting for you, and Jul has been asking for you to come and train him for some time now. Please come and rescue me from this boredom.

Ryza

Drizzt read the letter twice to make sure he'd read it correctly. Slowly a genuine smile worked its way to his face and stayed there. She knew. Somehow Ryza knew that these two years had been taking their toll on him and knew that he needed to get away. She knew, she always knew. She was reaching out and offering her friendship to him again. Drizzt's smile widened. He turned to the dwarf and woman beside him.

Ryza wasn't beautiful, but she had a quality about her that drew people to her; a wisdom beyond her years. She had shown him that not everyone was judging, shown that there were others like Bruenor and Cattie-brie who could see past his skin.

"I am going to see a friend."

Cattie-brie smiled and nodded.

"About time, elf," Bruenor growled. Drizzt just shook his head and laughed. She wasn't beautiful. No…no, Ryza Quarinyr was not beautiful, but he wouldn't trade her friendship for anything. Besides, he could not disappoint Jul.

Finis.


Well, that's all folks. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. It's my first try at a one-shot story. I hope I conveyed Drizzt's character well. I'm still new to the Drizzt series, but I'm loving them anyway. So, drop me a review and tell me how well...or how badly...I did. Flames are encouraged, as well as compliments, so long as they are constructive criticism. I really want to know how I did, folks.

(Oh, and to those who are reading my LOTR story, don't worry I haven't forgotten you. I am working on it diligently. I promise! Just please be patient with me and I'll try and get it to you soon.)