Entreri, Zaknafein, and Jarlaxle are all R.A. Salvatore's characters and I (unfortunately) hold absolutely no claim to them. Also, I know the following would/could never ever happen, and Entreri is quite out of character. I don't care. I got this idea in my head and it would not go away! So I wrote it out to placate the plot pirates that had commandeered my brain.
"You are quite impressive," the words startled Entreri out his meditation, and he spun around to face a formidable looking drow warrior.
His weapons were instantly in his hands, "How did you get in here?" Entreri demanded, and then he noticed the slight translucence in the drow's form, "An apparition?"
"A ghost," corrected the drow, walking through the assassins bed to emphasize the point, "The spirit of a long dead warrior."
Entreri furrowed his brow, noting something familiar about the warrior, "Zaknafein? Is that who you are?"
The drow nodded, "Zaknafein Do'Urden, the father of Drizzt Do'Urden."
Entreri grimaced at the name, "Jarlaxle did mentioned you briefly. He never talks about his past, so I did not learn much. Why are you here?"
Zaknefein smiled sadly, knowing the lie Jarlaxle kept about his son, "I have been watching you for some time now. I've heard tell that you are the equal - or near enough - to my son, whose skills even outmatched my own."
Entreri shook his head, not seeing the point in lying to a dead man, "I hate to admit it, but your son bested me. It was through the trickery of Jarlaxle and the unwanted interference of his psionist lieutenant that allowed me my … victory."
Zaknafein laughed heartily, "And did you expect anything less from that one?"
Entreri couldn't believe his mirth, "His actions made me kill your son."
Zaknafein closed his eyes, feigning pain to avoid revealing Jarlaxle's lie, "Indeed. Be sure when his time finally comes, I'll be waiting to torment him for eternity."
"You and me both," Entreri muttered.
Zaknafein's smile was slight, but seemed sincere, "Drizzt Do'Urden does not hate you, Entreri. He wonders if he should have struck you down, to save innocent lives. But always, in the end of his wondering, he concludes that never could he have driven that blade home. Not seeing what he saw in your eyes, the chance that you could change."
Entreri snorted, "I have already changed, but I can't say it is for the better."
Zak laughed kindly at Entreri, "The fact that you bother to question is evidence enough that is the better."
Entreri sheathed his blades, sitting on his bed, "So, why are you here?"
"I came to tell you that Drizzt isn't more skilled than you," Zak knelt in front of Entreri, red eyes burning with passion stared into the cold, lifeless gray eyes of the human.
Entreri raised an eyebrow, "He defeated me. More than once, if I'm honest with myself."
"Oh, no doubt. He's defeated you in every even remotely fair contest the two of you have had," Zak agreed bluntly, "but he's still not better than you."
"Because he had me," Zak explained, "I spent 4 years privately training him, after which he received a decade of formal fighter schooling. What did you have, Entreri? Did you have a master instructing you?"
Entreri chuckled at the notion, "Not at all."
"Beyond that you are human, naturally less agile than a drow and yet you are physically his equal. Imagine then, Artemis Entreri, what you could have been? To what heights of perfection and glory could you have risen if I had tutored you? Imagine still, if you had 80 years of experience behind you, instead of 40, and were not slowed by the human aging process? He defeated you, but only because he had every advantage."
Entreri smiled appreciatively, "I suppose you have a point, but it does not change the fact that I lost."
"You didn't lose."
"I did. My continued life is no evidence to the contrary. If not for Jarlaxle I would have died long ago, and I'm not sure I'm grateful for his interference. I would never even have gone after Drizzt again, had he not kept talking about it. Always I would have wondered, but I was never going to go looking for the answers."
Zaknafein's presence began to fade, "I've already outstayed my welcome in this world, but know this. You could never have escaped from my son, assassin. You are linked to him, and he to you. Whatever you do with the rest of your life, never forget that Drizzt Do'Urden shaped that future. Farewell."
Entreri frowned at the empty air where the ghost had stood and looked back on his last battle with Drizzt Do'Urden in a different light. He didn't forgive himself, but when Jarlaxle returned to the room that night the weight on his shoulders was considerably lighter.
"What happened? You look positively content, which is entirely out of character for you," Jarlaxle rambled, hoping to provoke a response.
Entreri turned to him slowly, a thoughtful smile lighting his eyes, "Can you imagine, Jarlaxle, what skill I might possess had I been trained by a weapon master and schooled in Melee Magthere?"
Jarlaxle considered the thought, "The thought of Artemis Entreri who is even more skilled fills me with dread, I assure you."
Entreri shook his head, "It doesn't matter. I am human, past my prime, and still I can leave a trail of your kin dead in my wake. I am content with that, for now."
Jarlaxle placed a hand on his friend's shoulder, touched by the assassin's rare openness, "I am glad that you have found some measure of peace, my friend."
Entreri didn't pull away from Jarlaxle like usual, instead he brought his own hand up to rest on the Drow's, "Thank you for saving my life," he whispered, "I might hate you from time to time, but I wouldn't have bothered saving you from Kimmuriel and Rai'guy if I wasn't grateful."
Jarlaxle snorted, trying to place his companion's attitude, "Thank you for saving me. What's this about?"
Entreri pulled away and his expression turned towards it's usual grimness, "Doesn't matter. I'm going out for a bit, I'll be back before dawn."
Jarlaxle waved him off and sat down on his bed, contemplating the momentary change in his surly friend. Perhaps there was a way to open him up further.