Note: This will probably never be finished. Just saying. It's been languishing on my hard drive for a year or so, and I just wanted to toss it out there. Anyone else that wants to take it up and work with it is quite welcome to do so.
Disclaimer: I do not own Artemis Entreri. Though, it would be nice.
Artemis Entreri was less than pleased. In times gone by, his displeasure would have been evidenced by the death of the person that caused the feeling. There wasn't much point to killing the person in question, or even trying, this time. After all, killing a God in his own realm was a little on the ambitious side – even for him. "You're serious? You want me to return to life? Isn't that.. a little counter-productive for you?"
Kelemvor just nodded his head. "It is, nonetheless, important that you do so. The latest... issue... that has evolved has its roots in a problem that was created by your actions."
Artemis eyed him. "And, how exactly did I cause this? I'm not the one that developed this plague."
The God of Death nodded. "That is true. However, you caused enough of a distraction that the perpetrators were able to pass by unseen as they gathered the needed materials."
The assassin racked his brain, trying to remember having met any of the people in question. He came up blank. "When? I didn't exactly meet many Zhentarim when I was alive. And, I never met those particular fools."
Kelemvor gave a resigned sigh. "Are you saying that you'll turn down the chance to live your life for a second time, a chance to correct previous mistakes, just because you don't believe me when I say that it's a matter of saving the world? You truly are a perverse son of a bitch."
He couldn't help it, he gaped. Not much, just a little. Not many people get directly told by a God that they were perverse. Or a son of a bitch, for that matter. He could have pictured any – or all – of them telling Jarlaxle that. The drow had thumbed his nose at an entire city full of his own people. Usually, in Artemis' opinion, just for laughs. But, Artemis had thought himself fairly reasonable.
He couldn't help the resigned anger in his voice. "What would you have me do?"
Kelemvor smiled. "You're going to go back to a previous time. In your old body, you will remember everything that you now know. You'll have a few bonuses, as well. Your favored weapons, for instance, and your more... unusual traits. You will just have to act upon those events with what you know now."
He blinked at the deity. This was incontrovertible proof: the Gods were all insane. "You want me to go back and be myself? That's it?" He demanded, "And what about the 'me' of then?"
Kelemvor shrugged and ignored the first questions. "It's all the same soul. The two of you are one. Where you exist, the younger soul will merge and join with you. It will be a bit uncomfortable, but I imagine that you'll get past it readily enough." The deity paused as if just remembering something. "Oh, and you might want to forge some alliances with the heroes in the area. You might need them."
"What are - " He didn't get to finish the sentence. The world went gray, then multicolored, then he was falling through an undefined shadowed portal. Then there were more colors, it felt like someone had ripped him to shreds and put him back together with cello-tape and gum. His head was splitting, his stomach was heaving and he was collapsing to cold – nearly frozen – ground.
He was too out of it to even realize that the warm moisture his left arm was nestled in was the regurgitated remains of his own lunch.
Later, Artemis woke to a cold wind and a near-frozen arm. He listened carefully, but heard no one else nearby. He sat up as quickly as his headache would allow and examined the substance on his icy sleeve. He grimaced in disgust. Lovely.
He glanced around. Icewind Dale. Why in the Nine Hells was he in Icewind Dale? A quick inventory of his pack and the clothes he wore answered that question. He was here to chase down Regis – that damned halfling. Was this the first of the choices that he was going to change?
Wait... The 'heroes of the region'? He groaned. No. Please no. Not them.
He stood, then blinked as he felt something against his chest. He pulled on the chain around his neck and found it. A symbol of Kelemvor. The man hadn't even become a god, yet, and he was wearing his symbol? He shook his head. Next the self-righteous bastard would be expecting him to observe his holy days and proselytize his ways to the masses.
He shuffled through his pack and found a clean shirt to change into. This just keeps getting worse.
He readjusted his sword belt, noting the presence of his dagger. The saber he had used in this era was replaced with the sword he'd been accustomed to when he'd died – a thankfully non-sentient blade. He gathered his things, then headed into Ten Towns. If they were still there, he might be able to catch the thief before they left. After all, this time he didn't have to ask his whereabouts. If they weren't there... well, he had the decided advantage of knowing where they were going.
He ignored the chuckle he could feel coming from the soon-to-be deity.
Regis, the sneaky little halfling that he was, had persuaded Cassius to provide him a house. Not just any house, of course, but the very house that Cassius had built for himself. Artemis had no doubt that Regis would have failed in his persuasions if it weren't for the hypnotic ruby the thief had stolen from Pasha Pook back in Calimport.
Ostensibly... originally... that was why Entreri had trudged all the way up the Sword Coast. His mission had been to return both halfling and gem to their mutual employer. (Though, Pook would have Regis dead and, therefore, a former employee shortly thereafter.) It was not the most prestigious of jobs, and he'd long been convinced that Pook had only sent him as a show of just how well-controlled his pet assassin was.
Before he'd lived the extra time granted to him by his absorption of the shade, he would have simply obeyed. After all, not returning would only see others sent to retrieve him in addition to the pint-sized pest. He was now well-aware that there were more frightening things than a dozen ruffians yanked out of a gutter and trained to kill. Pissing off the combined might of the extended Clan Battlehammer didn't rate highly on the list, but it was still an annoyance he could do without.
So, he walked calmly up to the door – ignoring that it was well past the hour for civilized house calls – and rapped sharply. It didn't take long for him to hear noises from within. Nor did it take long for the door to open. "I'm sorry, but it's terribly late. Could you come back – urk!"
Regis was cut off as Artemis grabbed the back of his shirt, turned him and propelled him back into his foyer. A twitch of a booted foot had the door closing behind him after he stepped through. He let go of the thief once his entry was assured and casually leaned against a wall. "Hello, thief."
The halfling backed away in terror. "E-entreri..."
Artemis let the annoying pest babble for a few extra minutes while he analyzed his own response to the situation. He'd thought himself beyond enjoying the terror he used to evoke in others. Apparently, he was wrong. Still, the whimpering did get annoying. "One more noise out of you, and I'll have your tongue for a tassel.*"
With the way Regis' mouth clicked shut, Artemis was a bit amazed that he didn't bite the offending organ off. Jarlaxle would have laughed and deflected the threat into some other game. He gave a small frown, ignoring how the halfling lost a few more shades of color at the sight of his expression. He didn't miss the flamboyant drow, dammit!
He noticed a rattling and rolled his eyes when he saw the halfling was quaking hard enough to shake the contents of the side table he was pressed against. "Will you stop that? It's pathetic."
"A-are you g-going to k-kill me? Or t-take m-me back to P-pook?"
The assassin had to give Regis credit for actually managing semi-effective sentences through all the shaking. "I wasn't planning on doing either."
His lips twitched. He was fairly certain that he could knock the would-be hero over with a feather. Not that he wasn't normally easy to defeat, but the expression on his face was...was...
Regis' legs gave out and he collapsed to the floor in terror at the sight of the most feared assassin in the Calim desert laughing.
Finally, he managed to compose himself. One look at the terrified halfling nearly set him off again. He reached out and pulled him to his feet. "Get up. Grow a spine." Artemis shoved him towards a seat. "If you must sit, that's a better spot than the floor."
Regis pulled himself into a chair and swallowed. Hard. "W-why are you h-here?"
Artemis tossed his hat onto a couch and settled next to it. "Pook wants me to drag you back. Or kill you. He wasn't terribly particular on the topic, though alive was mostly preferred." He ignored the squeak from the coward in front of him. "I, on the other hand, have no desire to return to Calimport."
He flashed Regis a smirk, enjoying just how much being friendly was unnerving his 'host.' "If you decide to go back, feel free to tell them I pointed you in the right direction."
"Y-you're leaving the g-guild?"
"Mm-hmm." Artemis picked up a random piece of clutter – a scrimshaw carving – off the nearest table to examine. "They seem to be of the opinion that I'm going to continue as an assassin. Since our opinions on the topic differ, it seems best to part ways."
He contained the mental shock, having realized that he was channeling Jarlaxle's mannerisms. It was an interesting way to put his opponent off his game. And, it did seem to be working. The halfling was actually starting to calm down a bit. "I don't suppose you have a spare room for an old business associate? I understand that Ten Towns is supposed to be a good place to start over and – perhaps – pick up a bit of adventure."
Regis blinked. Artemis could almost see him re-writing his schedule in order to get as far away as possible. "I... was planning on taking a trip with some friends, but I suppose you could use the house...?"
"Do you think they'll need another sword along?" Artemis waved a hand. "Never mind. I'll just tag along with you and make the offer myself."
He could actually hear the halfling's gulp.
The next morning, he allowed himself to be led to Regis' friends. He spotted the barbarian first, Wulfgar was just as much of a mountain of a human as he'd remembered. Drizzt Do'Urden, drow ranger, was almost casually standing nearby. His arms were crossed in a way that Entreri knew meant that he was ready to draw his scimitars. The dwarf, with his dented helm and axe, was too busy expressing shock that Regis had decided to come along.
An expressed sentiment that had the halfling eying Artemis nervously. The smile he sent in return was supposed to be reassuring. It apparently wasn't, as he started fidgeting. The others noticed.
The dwarf narrowed his eyes. "An who're ye?"
Artemis quirked an eyebrow. "Artemis Entreri. Former assassin of Pasha Pook's Thieves' Guild in Calimport. Currently, I'm considering myself more of a bounty hunter and sword for hire."
It was, he readily admitted, not the best way to introduce himself. How many introduced themselves as an assassin? Much less to a bunch of 'heroes'? He could have stopped the advance of the scimitar, but he knew the way the drow's mind worked. He hadn't bared a blade, so he wasn't going to die. He simply smirked. "I already shaved this morning, but thank you for the offer."
Amazingly, it was Regis that spoke up. "Drizzt... It's all right. I... I think he really is trying to change his ways."
Artemis met the dark elf's gaze. Some part of him still hated him. The rest of him... How long had it been since he'd met someone that could challenge him? How long since I realized that I actually missed the son of a spider-kissing bitch? Three hundred years? Five? "If you're not going to use it, then put it away. You could poke someone's eye out."
*Threat stolen from the delightful works of Ariel D on FFN. It's a good threat. I couldn't resist.