A small fire burned low just off the old Blackford Road, it's glow lost somewhere between Mirabar and Luskan. There, two faces were reflected in the wavering light, -one dark, one light- and their voices rose heatedly against the nights silence as they apparently argued over which direction they would travel, come morning.
"You may travel through the Dales if you like, but you will be viewing the sights alone." The man seemed extremely agitated by the drow, who had not stopped complaining about the insects, their lack of definite direction, and how the recent weather had made the feather of his ridiculous hat sag mournfully.
"Artemis,", the elf said in a soothing tone, " I don't see why you fight me so- you haven't seen the Dales in more than a decade, and while that isn't much time for my species, surely the humans there have not the memory to span that kind of absence." The dark elf wore a disarming grin, and was clearly trying to coax his partner into heading north. Or as north as the passes to Ten Towns run, anyway.
The man sighed and stood, and began dusting the crumbs of their meager supper off on the hips of his pants. "You know I don't like being called that." Ge grunted sourly. "Anyway, If they remember me or not is of no concern to me." He paused, seeming to seriously consider the answer. " I do not like the cold, and there is nothing for us there." His irritated posture resumed immediately. "The only place I am going right now, is to sleep. Do as you will." His grim look didn't fade as he slid into his bedroll, angrily yanked the thin coverlet over his head, and tried like the abyss to ignore the drow, who appeared to notice none of it.
The elf's voice took on a mocking tone and his innocent smile became a wry grin. "I wasn't aware you were so sensitive to the weather. Perhaps a nice fur-lined cloak would -" He was cut off by a vicious snarl, the ferocity of it somewhat lessened by the muffling from his blanket. "I am not sensitive to anything. I just don't enjoy it!" The elf sighed and decided to give up for the evening. Perhaps his partner would be in a better mood, perhaps more receptive, come daylight. Shaking his head, he spoke to himself as he took to his own covers, "I seriously doubt there has ever been a thing you truly enjoy."
"What did you say?". came the muffled question.
"Nothing, Artemis. Get some rest."
"Don't call me that, damn it."
If Entreri had seen the broad grin that the elf wore, he probably would have throttled him.
The two lay on opposite sides of their small fire for a long time, one staring at the sky, the other sleeping fitfully. The human rolled to face the tree line, his features dark and anxious, though his breathing even and slow. The buzzing of insects was simply too loud to find reverie -he had no idea how the assassin could sleep as he did!- and the drow decided he might as well check the perimeter, then try to sit guard. He crept away from his blankets and headed for the opposite tree line, so quiet that not even the perceptive human awoke.
Entreri's eyes snapped open in the darkness, though not a muscle moved, nor did his breathing change. So many years spent wondering when the knife would come had allowed him this particular insight- if your enemy believes you vulnerable, your enemy is then vulnerable. A slight sprinkle of rain had begun, and recently he thought, as the ground did not hold any puddles and he was still fairly dry. His hand closed over his signature dagger, which rested in the weapons belt he even now wore, and he shifted his eyes toward the sound of the noise that had awakened him. Perhaps it had been only the rain. Slowly, his eyes adjusting to the darkness, the slim outline of a humanoid form became visible just inside the tree line. But where was Jarlaxle? He would be awake, surely, and...
It dawned on him that the drow was not in the immediate area, else he would already have moved against the intruder. "Damn his wandering!", Entreri thought, though as he mentally cursed his companion, he watched as the figure in the trees began making it's way to the perimeter of their camp. It could be Jarlaxle, he mused, and he wouldn't be surprised at all to find the elf sneaking around the camp like a thief. The fire had long since expired, but a brief strike of lightning in the distance offered a better view of the intruder, if only for a moment,and the assassins mind registered that it was female only a split second before he shot out of his blankets like an arrow, and descended upon her.
Male, female, elf, or human- they were all dangerous. Sometimes women were the most dangerous, because they were constantly underestimated, or even completely ignored in a battle. He had seen it a hundred times; ferocious men, killed by a farm wife with a kitchen blade, because they hadn't the brains to consider the threat before them. Entreri reminded himself of this fact as he used every ounce of his strength and speed and slammed into her, dagger leading, and took her to the ground with a muffled thump. A surprised intake of breath was all that she had time for as she was pressed into the ground, face down, with her left arm tied up perfectly behind her, and a dagger point barely a quarter inch into the skin on the small of her back.
The woman struggled beneath him for a bare moment when a voice called out from the other side of the camp. "What have you got there? I leave for only a moment and already you've tackled a woman in the darkness! What charm!"
Artemis' head whipped around toward Jarlaxle, "Be silent! I've been set upon while you watered the scenery, and I've no intention of listening to your insinuations any further!." The elf had the decency to appear embarrassed, which satisfied Entreri, if only a little.
Jarlaxle strolled over to the limp form beneath his partner and looked her over briefly. The assassin was holding her with a his knee firmly planted on the back of her legs, her long thick braid of reddish hair pulled tight around her own arm, and her face pressed into the grass. The drow's keen eyes noted the blood beginning to pool on her back beneath her leather vest. ."She's not exactly lovely, but I don't think she is your type, nor do I think she is a threat. Maybe you should remove your knee from her backside and see what she has to say about sneaking about our camp in the night, hmm?" The assassin looked up at Jarlaxle, made a sour face, and began backing himself off of the woman. She held very still, but the moment she was able to move, she tried to surge forward and away from the pair, and almost immediately, Artemis had her eating dirt once again. However, the wretched woman had actually swung back with her other arm once it was freed from under her, and managed to swat Artemis across his face with her fingertips. He wasn't injured in any way of course, though he was terrible angry that she'd managed it, even if accidental. Entreri was livid, and he growled low as he pressed her into the ground, his dagger digging deeper.
This time, a stifled curse was issued towards the man with the death grip on her, and a muttered, "Have it your way, then." Before Artemis knew what she had done, the woman suddenly felt slippery, as though greased, and had pulled her arm from his grip and turned onto her side, where she rolled her hips upward and bucked him off of her like a bull. The assassin didn't stay surprised for long, though, and he caught himself before an embarrassing crash to the ground.
Lightning flashes became more frequent as the storm rolled in , and were the only source of light by which Entreri and the woman could see one another. In between the sky lights, both simply guessed, and often, each guessed correctly. Jarlaxke had the advantage of his infra-vision, and watched the entire episode with amusement, completely unwilling to intervene. He sat down on a log that was dragged to the fire earlier, placed his face in his hands and watched with fascination.
Artemis was back on her faster than most men could think, and yet the infuriating wench slipped away from him every time. She felt like she was covered in oil, and though her fighting skills were admirable, there were nothing compared to the assassins- he just simply couldn't get a grip on her long enough to do any real damage without killing her outright. "I don't want to hurt you, damn it!", the woman yelled in his face, and Entreri's lip curled into a sneer. "Hurt me?", he replied, as he wrapped that lovely braid around his forearm, around her neck, then yanked backwards, pulling her right off of her feet. Her hair was the only part of her that Entreri seemed able to hold onto, and so he took his advantages where he could. She hit the ground, landing on her back, and Entreri planted a booted foot in her short ribs, hard, before bringing her face up to his using the braid he still held.
The assassin was thoroughly enraged at this point, his expression going completely blank. The woman must have realized the danger, for she tried to break his hold yet again and roll away. He body twisted away from him and she readied herself to run for the tree line. The assassin had no intentions of letting her a step further, and as she pivoted away from him, he slid up behind her, wrapped an arm around her neck, and poked a tiny hole into the first place his dagger touched- her forearm. The woman suddenly jerked forward, sliding Entreri up and over her back, but just as he began clearing her shoulders, her legs buckled as Entreri's dagger did it's dark work, and they both collapsed in a heap. As the assassin flattened her with his landing, he realized the slick feel of her that he noticed before was gone. She was coated in mud, but that most certainly didn't account for what had just happened.
Entreri untangled himself and stood, looking completely startled and a little confused. Jarlaxle wanted to laugh, though was concerned for the look on the assassins face. Entreri was covered in mud, and the rain had picked up during his scuffle with the now unconscious woman. Artemis growled quietly and stalked toward the elf, and the drow stepped back quickly, making a soothing gesture with his hands. "I don't think that is necessary..."
The assassin's dagger fell out of his hand, and he looked down at it sticking from the ground with near shock. Entreri stopped his advance and shook his head slightly, then ran a hand moodily through his hair. "I have no idea what just happened."
"You got into a fight."
"I know that part!", he snapped back. With effort, he calmed himself. " I mean , I think my dagger pulled something from her. It was like being hit with a wizards bolt. I can't explain it." The assassin looked tired, which made perfect sense to the elf, seeing as how a few hours of rest was all he'd had. Jarlaxle began patting his own pockets down, looking for the dimensional 'tent' as he called it. He produced the item and gestured toward Entreri. "Get dry and get some rest. I will follow shortly."
"What of her?"
"Why, we can't leave a lady to die alone on a rainy night, can we?"
Artemis pulled his now soaked and muddy linen shirt over head and walked toward Jarlaxle's tent. His left arm and both shoulder blades were an ugly red and Jarlaxle wondered if there was any discomfort, but the man made no mention of it and so he didn't bring it up. Jarlaxle's mind began to wander as he considered the assassins claims about his dagger, and he was surprised slightly when Entreri's words brought him back to the moment.
With that, the man stepped out of view. The elf turned to regard the empty space his friend had left, realizing with only a hint of regret that Entreri was not the type to jest about such things.