So, I intended this to be a one-shot, but I couldn't resist writing the rest of the story that played out in my head. I'm not so great at writing combat, so I tried to focus on Entreri's assassination skills rather than his straight combat skills. Hopefully I did alright.
Once again, Artemis and Jarlaxle are Salvatore's characters, not mine.
Artemis's head strained as he looked up the sheer cliff. He unrolled the scroll and regarded the last passage again. It alluded to a passage halfway up the climb that acts as an entrance to a dead dragon's lair.
Artemis muttered under his breath, "I hope it stays dead."
He waited until sunset, and noticed the peculiar angle of the light illuminated an elaborate entryway. He quaffed the potion of spider climb and replaced the pouch and scroll on his belt. Walking to the wall, he put a foot and hand on the vertical wall and was mildly disconcerted by the affect of the potion. He looked straight up and lifted off, catching the wall with his opposite foot and leg he clung, surveying the situation. He was in complete control. His pulse was calm, his breath silent and easy, he felt no strain in his muscles from hanging. He half crouched, half crawled his way up the cliff, marveling at the effectiveness of the elf's magic. He stopped just below the entrance, holding silently against the wall. He heard a shuffle and a yawn, and carefully - silently - drew his dagger. He placed the shuffle on the right side of the ledge and carefully scurried across the rock face behind it.
He carefully rose up over the ledge, for a second only, to survey the situation and ducked back down with being seen. There were two human guards, wearing symbols of Meiliki, but they were bored. The one one the far side of the ledge was staring out over the land towards the city, and the one nearest him was leaning against the rock wall a foot behind the ledge, his eyes closed. Artemis Entreri grinned. A lesser man would have used the invisibility potion right there, but Entreri was no lesser man. He rolled over the ledge without a sound, flicking his wrist, his dagger flying into the vocal chords of the far guard. The one nearest noticed the flash and straightened. A crimson sword plunged into his chest, and a hand followed, jabbing his throat to prevent a dying scream. Entreri pulled out his sword and carefully guided the corpse silently to the ground. He stalked over to the remaining guard - still alive despite his wound - and grabbed the hilt of his jeweled dagger. A soft stream of energy flowed through the dagger from his victim into him, and the human opened his mouth in a silent scream as he felt his life being drained. Entreri ended it by rotating the dagger and with a twitch sent his dagger up. The magic dagger, with the assassin's strength behind it, easily slashed through the man's skull. He knelt down with the body as it fell, closing his hand around the unicorn symbol and snapping the chain.
What are Meiliki's worshippers doing guarding this cave, and why was I sent after them? Artemis shrugged, his only hesitance was the memory of purple eyes staring lifeless up at him as he tried to stem the tide of blood. His blood chilled as the memory lingered and he dropped the carved mithril unicorn.
The clatter jolted him, and he inwardly raged that the drow still had such an effect on him. The potion was still affecting him, and he decided to climb up the wall. He climbed onto the ceiling, hanging upside down, and once he adjusted to the angle, he crawled down the lightless corridor. He willed Claw to emit it's strange light that allowed him to see perfectly in the gloom without revealing him to prying eyes. He reached a large circular chamber, about 100 ft in diameter and 30 ft high. The room was dimly lit by a raised dais in the center, upon which burned a brazier. The dull orange glow of burning coal left the upper reaches of the room completely black. The brazier was surrounded by 5 humanoids wearing dark green robes that concealed every feature. Entreri paused on the ceiling above them to hear their conversation.
"She knows we're here, Keshor and she knows our purpose," rasped a female voice, edged with fear and frustration.
Another - Keshor apparently - replied with an arrogant tone that made Entreri want to kill him right there, "It doesn't matter, Avara. Our plans are underway and even she cannot stop us."
"You underestimate her," spat another man sourly, "She practically owns that city."
The first voice, Avara, spoke, "She does own the city, in every way except name. I think we should delay our plans or modify them until she no longer suspects us."
Another woman spoke, "No! To delay would cause our followers to lose faith that we follow Meiliki's will. We need to act while we can still bring the full power of divine intervention to bear."
Avara threw up her hands in exasperation, "Meiliki be damned. Carahaniel will not let us destroy her city. She will throw everything she has at us."
The last person, who had not yet spoken, turned away from the group, "Careful now, Avara. Our lord would not be pleased to have our ruse exposed by such careless talk. I've heard your council, but I say we continue. The elf is dangerous, but delay will only make her more so. Go back to the city, gather the faithful and carry out the plan."
Avara slumped over, Keshor sneering contemptuously, "Yes, sir. I will do as the lord commands."
Entreri had heard enough. He waited for the leader to leave, and dropped, landing on the raised dais, dagger down the neck of Keshor. Claw ripped through the unnamed woman, trailing ash as the assassin tore it out as he rolled to avoid injury from the fall. Avara's eyes were wide as her comrades bodies crumpled to the floor. Entreri straightened from the roll, releasing the dagger from his left hand. It flew with precision into the back of her fleeing co-conspirator.
Entreri met her gaze, his glare promising death, but did not advance on the terrified cultist, "Calm down and tell me what you're planning?"
"Will you let me live?"
Entreri walked to retrieve his dagger, "What are you planning?
Avara shuffled nervously, "Let me live, and I'll tell you anything you want to know."
Entreri closed the distance between them, his glare silencing the scream as it formed, and pricked her once with his dagger, "What are you planning?" he growled a third time, drawing quickly on the dagger's vampiric ability.
Avara felt her life draining away, the horror clear on her face, she whispered, "We're trying to destroy the city and make the forest overgrow the area."
He stopped the torture, "Why?"
"This forest used to be one of Mieliki's groves, guarded by a unicorn long ago. When the settler's began to destroy the forest to build their city, the unicorn disappeared. We want to bring it back."
"You do not serve Meiliki," the assassin glowered, don't lie to me written clearly.
Avara reeled, "No, we don't. I don't know what my master wants with the unicorn, but it is not for Meiliki's glory."
"You're using the faith of your followers - who truly believe to follow Meiliki's will - to orchestrate this farce?"
Avara nodded, "Yes."
"One more thing," Entreri removed the dagger from Avara's arm, "And if you answer it satisfactorily I will indeed spare you."
"Tell me everything you know about the elf who sent me here."
Avara blanched, "Cara sent you? Then she really is acting against us," she cursed silently, "I told them."
"Tell me about her," Entreri flashed his dagger closer to her.
"She's a sun elf - Ar-tel-quessir she calls them. No one knows for sure, but the story goes she was sold to a local landlord by slavers. She was used - raped and beaten - for years. She fought, but wasn't strong enough. She ran, but he always hired someone who found her and returned her. After over a decade of torment, something snapped and she killed him. Smashed his nose into his brain, stole weapons from his armory, and ran out into the wilderness."
Entreri was watching the hall where their leader had exited by, "And then?"
"No one knows really. The authorities searched for her, but they never found her. Those that did never came back to tell of it," Avara's voice was still nervous, but even and quiet, "No one heard from her for 50 years and then she just walked back into the town. Intelligent, full of charm, and carrying enough enchanted trinkets to make a dragon proud. She walked boldly through the streets and ghosted through the shadows, buying slaves and freeing them, training them to work for her. Giving the impoverished and indentured a chance to raise their lot in the world. She formed alliances with small merchants and businesses, and worked her way up. Now she has people in every corner of the city. People either work for her, or desperately try to stay out of her way. Even the local lord, a viscount with a lot of influence in the kingdom, bends to her will. He has outlawed sexual slavery and made the terms of indentured servitude much less vague. It makes it easier for people to work their way out of debt. The common people consider her their champion - though she doesn't much care for them. She has a deep, personal hatred for slavery but aside from that all her goals revolve around maintaining her power and profit."
Entreri considered the tale, "Is she a danger to me?"
Avara shrugged, "She sent you in here alone. She must have known what you are capable of. I doubt she would risk such a confrontation. I would be careful of your conduct though. She has a friend, a wizard by the name of Rairal who reckons himself her guardian. He's only been in the city a few years, but he quickly made himself her second in command. He's the one who enchants her if she expects conflict, makes her potions, and gathers information from anywhere her scouts cannot enter. If he feels you threaten her, he'll come after you."
Entreri took a few steps away from her, "You've earned your life, for now." The warning was clear, he exited the chamber following the conspirator's leader.
Avara sank to her knees, sighing in relief as he faded from view. She stared at the three dead cultists and knew if she warned her master that she would follow them. She didn't move.
Entreri stayed on the ground, not trusting the duration of the potion. He stalked slowly, deliberately down the corridor, quickly passing from shadow to shadow. A brightly lit chamber slowly came into view, and Entreri took out the invisibility potion. There was a faint 'pop' as he removed the stopper and he threw back the liquid - grimacing at it's foul taste. He kept walking, taking out the other potion, not knowing if he would need it.
When he entered the brightly lit chamber, it took a considerable effort not to gasp in awe at the mountains of treasure, atop which lay an enormous partially decayed corpse of a gold dragon. He would have expected the stench of rotten flesh, but instead was nearly overwhelmed by the saffron scent that saturated the air. He breathed steadily, silently, surveying the room further. He noticed several cultists preparing some sort of ritual around the dragon's corpse. They wore the same robes at the others, but held a different symbol - one he didn't recognize. He walked past them, out the other side of the large chamber, not wanting to disrupt the potion by initiating combat. He passed elaborately crafted kitchens, banquet halls, guest rooms, and two rooms that were magically sealed. He debated trying to open them, but kept moving, wanting to get to the back of the lair. He walked for minutes, passing rooms that suggested this dragon had once liked to have company - not as surprising for Gold dragon as it would be for it's chromatic cousins. At last he came across a gold archway, carved with curves and angular lines. It had no distinct shape, and yet it reminded him of the brilliant magnificence of the dead beast in the hoard room. He inspected it, and instinctively felt as though it were enchanted somehow. He quaffed the last remaining potion and crossed the thresh-hold. The room beyond - hidden from view by the shielding magic of the arch - was almost as large as chamber in which its owners body lay, and it was blistering hot! The assassin could feel the sweat beginning to form and his mouth was drying out. The great, ever-burning fires before him held a heat greater than he had ever felt - greater even than the breath of the might red he had once faced. It was still a good 100 ft in front of him, so he was in no real danger, but his discomfort was mounting. He noticed another cultist, wearing the unknown symbol, but with a mithral carved unicorn hanging partway out of his pocket.
He must be their leader, Entreri moved towards the man, drawing his dagger carefully, Should I kill him or question him? What exactly did the elf want from me?
The man was speaking to himself, whispering frustratedly, "But what to do with the children? Do we turn them now or wait for them to grow? I've never encountered an intact clutch before. What to do?"
Entreri's dagger twitched as he walked boldly towards the man, fully trusting in the magic of the invisibility potion and in his own skill should the magic fail. When he was within arms reach, he plunged his dagger into the man's chest. Entreri savored the shock and terror in the man's eyes when he felt the blade in his heart and saw the assassin reappear.
"No," he gasped in denial with his last breath, "Aurinthanal must rise! You cannot-"
Entreri never found out what he could not do, he pulled out his dagger and thrust it into the man's neck.
He growled softly as the corpse collapsed, "That was too easy, elf. What's your game?"
He turned and walked out, turning around before he passed the arch. Even he had to admit that the sight of a Gold Dragon's clutch was impressive.
He closed his eyes, "I can't say I believe you any more worthy than human gods and goddesses, Bahamut. But if you're worth anything at all, please protect this place."
He walked through the portal without looking back, annoyed at himself for offering the foolish prayer. The last thing he needed was to draw the attention of a god. He ran back through the corridor to the two locked doors, inspecting them carefully while keeping a look out for more cultists. He wanted to know what had been so carefully sealed away, and whether it was the dragon or the humans that did the sealing. Besides, he couldn't escape the nagging feeling that all of this had been far too easy.