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Same rules as ever. I put my music on shuffle and write until the song ends. (I have gone back and edited a little of these, if only not to end in the middle of a sentence.) Lots of Wicked this time 'round, lots of Jarlaxle and Entreri.


1. Mordred's Lullaby - Heather Dale

"She didn't want you. She threw you off a cliff."

Effron had always viewed his rare visits from his father with a mixture of excitement and bitterness. He wanted to impress him and hated him for being so difficult to please.

All things considered, it seemed like he wished they weren't related.

He'd gotten the impression from the other apprentices lurking in Draygo Quick's fortress that most people had a mother. In the time he'd had to wonder, he'd considered many ideas of what may have happened to her. Maybe she was a hero. She'd died defending him from monsters. Or she was off adventuring and would return someday and be so proud of how much he'd grown. Perhaps she was fighting for the glory of the Netherese Empire, just as Effron's father did.

So one day he asked.

"It's her fault you're so--" his father sneered and quit talking, with a derisive glance at Effron's arm.

-

2. All I Care About Is Love - Chicago
(Pre-PotWK.)

Artemis Entreri scowled as the prospective client smiled at him from the other side of the door. She was blue-eyed and white-teethed. She blinked in confusion as she took in his appearance.

"I'm looking for Jarlaxle?"

Entreri raised an eyebrow.

"The two of you are bounty hunters? I'd like to hire you."

"Who do you want us to kill?" He'd found he could learn a lot about the potential employer by how they reacted to that question. This woman winced and tried to look past him into the room.

"Is Jarlaxle here? I was hoping to discuss it with him."

"You can't afford us."

Her eyelashes fluttered at him.

"I'm sure we could come to some sort of arrangement."

Somewhere, somehow, Jarlaxle had gotten a reputation for being vulnerable to feminine wiles. Entreri blamed his endless flirting. In any case, this woman was clearly hoping to exploit that in hopes of getting free work out of them.

Fortunately, this woman had no idea that Jarlaxle's weakness for wealth far outpaced any weakness he might have had for a pretty face. Entreri grinned and stepped aside.

"He's in the next room."

-

3. Popular - Wicked
(Post-SotS.)

"This seems unnecessary." Entreri scowled at the tailor, who kept looking to Jarlaxle for reassurance.

"Can you think of a more appropriate way to spend the profits of our first job together?" Jarlaxle tossed the bag of gold up in the air and caught it, jingling the contents. This, apparently, reassured the craftsman, because he regained his courage and held several pieces of fabric up next to Entreri's face.

"Several thousand. Like throwing it into the sea." He eyed the fabric with distaste. It was all far too colorful.

"Artemis, think of this as an investment." He'd recently started using Entreri's first name. He wasn't sure how to feel about this development. "Potential clients will trust our competence far more if we look the part. I like the red, personally."

"I do look the part. You, on the other hand, look like you were attacked by a rabid maypole."

Jarlaxle laughed. "Hardly." He paused a moment. "What is a maypole?"

-

4. The Crow - Dessa
(Starless Night era. Too many associations and I wasn't sure what to do with this one. "He took me to the workshop / showed me where they built the bodies.")

"What are you looking at?" Jarlaxle asked. Entreri glanced at him. He'd found a safe corner of Bregan D'aerthe's base to hide. He knew he could take any of these drow in a fight, but that wasn't an option. And their scorn was far more difficult to ignore than it had been a month ago.

He held up the piece of paper. An etching. It'd been in the marketplace and he'd stolen it easily enough. It portrayed the ocean, waves rippling under a sea of stars.

He wasn't sure why he was showing it to Jarlaxle, rather than hiding it. But if he couldn't trust Jarlaxle a little, he may as well surrender to death now. No one else in this city seemed to want him alive.

"Missing the surface?"

Entreri shrugged.

"It will get better, abbil."

-

5. No One Mourns the Wicked - Wicked
(Schrodinger's timeline. Sometime before the Neverwinter Saga.)

"I'm glad we're done with that one." Catti-brie leaned against Drizzt and looked into the fire. They'd begun discussion previous adventures to warm the long winter night and had been talking about their escape from Menzoberranzan with Artemis Entreri.

"I suppose."

"Where is he now, do you suppose?"

"Dead, probably." Drizzt frowned and tossed another log into the fire. Sparks flew up. "He was getting older and slowing down. I cannot imagine Artemis Entreri going quietly into retirement."

Catti-brie seemed to realize that he was less than pleased at this mental image.

"He may not be dead. He could've--" her voice guttered out as she realized how absurd the mental image of Entreri as a rich guild leader or an old town guard would be. "How do ye reckon he died?"

"Jarlaxle, probably." And what might have become of him, otherwise? Perhaps settling down with a family. He tried to imagine what that would look like and shuddered and the mental image of a line of smaller Entreris. Perhaps he would have another fight on his hands, a decade from now.

"Two untrustworthy sorts, yeah. They could've had a falling out, for sure."

"Perhaps." As Drizzt watched sparks fly into the air, he wondered if, as he had written years ago, this truly was an improvement on the world. It didn't feel like an improvement.

"Mayhap we'll run into Jarlaxle one of these days. We can ask him."

"I tried, when we met last year. He deflected." Drizzt shook his head and offered another stick to the flames.  "I did not notice until later. Then I tried to ask again. He changed the subject."

"Well." Catti-brie moved closer and wrapped an arm around Drizzt's shoulders. "Good riddance to bad rubbish."

-

6. Not That Girl - Wicked
(Post-Maestro. "Don't wish, don't start / wishing only ruins the heart.")

Jarlaxle sighed as Entreri vanished into the room where Dahlia had just woken up. He could see through the walls and, for a moment, chose to do so.

Artemis was leaning close, clutching her hand. She seemed better. Tired and pale, but her eyes focused on his face and she smiled.
In the past week that Kimmuriel had spent reconstructing Dahlia's mind, Artemis had been willing to speak to Jarlaxle, if only in short bursts.

He seemed to haunt the hallways outside Dahlia's room. If Jarlaxle stayed and listened long enough, he'd admit he was concerned. But if Jarlaxle tried to turn the conversation to anything else -- their friendship and a hope for the future -- Entreri would turn away from him and vanish into the city, only to return later.

-

7. Follow Me Down - Seanan McGuire
(Pre-Maestro. "I'll give in to you as I once did completely / if you'll follow me, follow me, follow me down")

"I need your help." Entreri spat out the words like they were poison. Perhaps they were.

Anything.
"With what?"

"I need to save Dahlia. Dahlia is in Menzoberranzan. Therefore..."

"No."

"Why not?"

"It's a suicide mission you're asking. We will die. And Dahlia will be as trapped as ever."

Entreri's lip curled in disdain.

"You owe me."

Debt seemed the only unbreakable rule of Calimport's enshadowed streets, Jarlaxle reflected. A concept which Entreri seemed to take to heart.

"I will not follow you into death."

Entreri's fists clenched and he seemed to be reconsidering his decision not to kill Jarlaxle.

"Fine. A map, then."

"I'll not send you to your own death, either."

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