A/N: No promises on regular updates, but here's a reward for the long wait you've endured. Also, my lack of a beta attributes to any weirdness in the English.

14. Pulse

A jeweled dagger clashed against a sword before swiftly retreating and losing its target to the impenetrable darkness. The sound of a cloak whooshing almost inaudibly caught his attention, and Artemis Entreri took a quick step to the right and swung his weapon again expertly, hearing another satisfying clink of metal striking against metal. He struck out with his sword while he still had his opponent within his reach but predictably the attack was countered, and the two of them were separated again.

"You're getting sloppy. I could hear your cloak", Entreri said while readying himself for another attack. Then he felt a sudden sting on the back of his neck and whirled around, only for his target to be gone again, if he had ever even been close enough to be hit. He cursed inaudibly and reached for his neck, finding a small dart in it. Then he started feeling light-headed.

"You're getting sloppy. I could hear your voice", said his opponent, but it felt like the sound was coming from far away as Entreri's senses betrayed him. His sword dropped from his limp grip and clanked against the floor, and his dagger threatened to do the same. The dazed assassin used the last of his strength and sense to lift the weapon up and throw it in the direction the voice had came from. Then he blacked out, unaware of whether or not he had even hit.


The first thing Entreri registered was the floor under his cheek. And the fact that his arm was underneath his body and felt uncomfortable like that.

Next he heard quiet breathing nearby, but didn't react to it in any manner, not wanting to let whoever it was know he was coming to. Then he remembered what had happened and knew who the breathing had to belong to.

"... that was unsporting", he muttered, and was rewarded with the sound of his companion shifting, presumably to look at him.

"What can I say, I was getting tired but I didn't want to lose", Jarlaxle's voice said cheerfully and completely free of any kind of guilt. Entreri heard him shift again and then felt hands upon him, turning him to a more comfortable position. He opened his eyes and looked at the dark elf hovering above him, all smiles and ridiculous hats.

"Was the sound of your cloak part of the plan?" the assassin asked sourly.

"Even if it wasn't, do you think I'd admit it? So I'm saying yes, it was", Jarlaxle answered with a chuckle.

Entreri felt the hilt of his dagger being pressed into his palm, and wrapped his fingers around it protectively.

"Nice shot, by the way. You almost took my ear with it. That's really impressive, given the state you were in", the drow continued and beamed at his companion, seemingly genuinely happy about almost losing an ear.

Entreri huffed and closed his eyes, concentrating on ridding the after-effects of the poison from his numb limbs.

"Next time you pull a trick like that during our sparring you will wish it was your ear you lost", he deadpanned.

Jarlaxle laughed long enough for the assassin to begin to suspect that he would die from suffocation from the act.

"My dearest friend, that is precisely why I didn't approach you until after you awoke and I could be certain the sleeping agent in the poison had actually affected you!"