Artemis Entreri groaned. More so than the pain, the wetness on the back of his thigh jolted him into wakefulness, and he was dismayed to see that the light of the false dawn had already breached the defenses of the shuttered window in his bedroom.
Another interruption, the tired man thought with a grimace. He gingerly felt the bandage and, despite exerting no pressure against the injury, the wound still produced trumpet flares of pain. More or less fortunately, Entreri was no stranger to pain, and he brushed away the signal as he examined the crimson stains on his fingers. It was warm. His wound was seeping again, and needed a change of bandages. Ever since being struck by the thrice-cursed weapon that nullified magical healing, it felt like his life revolved around tending the injury.
The assassin glanced at the space beside himself, hardly surprised that it was empty but feeling a pang of loneliness nonetheless. He knew that the mercenary needed less sleep than he did; in fact, the drow didn't need to sleep at all. Though Entreri understood that Jarlaxle already accommodated, even indulged, him by taking his reverie lying down as opposed to in his preferred sitting position, the human couldn't help but wish that the drow slept in the same way that he did.
Realizing his bout of sentimentality, the assassin shoved himself up, the sudden motion blaring pain from his leg up and down his body and drawing his countenance tight. Despite his wince however, Entreri was glad for the distraction as he dragged himself to the edge of the bed, whereupon he moved his injured leg with the assistance of both hands so that it could dangle with his foot barely touching the floor. A soft orange glow from the partially-open door told him that his companion was likely reading a chapbook again.
Entreri slipped off of the bed onto his good leg and took hold of the crutches leaning against the wall near the headboard. He poked the door open with the end of one and hobbled into the next room, whereupon he turned and headed for the final room in their residence without sparing a glance at Jarlaxle. Not a full glance anyway, for the ever-cautious assassin habitually took in his surroundings even without directly studying them, and he noted his companion was leaning back in his chair, the only visible hand holding the chapbook above his face, his head leaned back and resting against the top of his chair. Jarlaxle twitched almost imperceptibly, but Entreri managed to see the trace of motion, and knew that he'd startled the mercenary. He deliberately avoided considering exactly why though, as he was fairly sure he didn't want to think about it. He was already ashamed that he'd been needing his companion's assistance in tending to his wound, and even though it had been a custom for the past many tendays, still Entreri hated his forced lack of independence. To further inconvenience the one he was forced to rely upon was insult to quite literal injury.
Pointedly eliminating Jarlaxle from his peripheral vision, Entreri hobbled into the room where they'd stowed the medicinal herbs, bandages, tonics, and all manners of mundane treatments imaginable. There were potions and scrolls there too, for despite their lack of efficacy on the assassin's injury, Jarlaxle insisted that they kept them close by "just in case". With a pained sigh, Entreri lowered himself onto the pallet and guided his crutches to the floor. He sprawled unto his stomach, the vulnerability of his position increasing his chagrin, which was already mounting with each heartbeat that he waited for Jarlaxle to join him. The assassin closed his eyes and forced his focus away from his current predicament, to the virulent blade that had done this to him. One of the very few things about the predicament he found himself and his companion entangled with was that the sword in question had not actually been Charon's Claw. Both weapons were artifacts of ages long past, however the aptly named Sword of Suppuration was apparently less lethal than Claw's toxic touch, however it was proving to leave a wound that was utterly unimpressed by every form of magical healing available to two highly resourceful fellows. His musings about the weapon called its form to his unwilling mind, and he again saw the blade's sickly green-hued glow with his mind's eye, and recalled the hideously gelatinous ichor that perpetually oozed from its venomous edge. That the sword was a work of masterful beauty only made it more hideous given the verdant, undulant, and somehow serpentine luminosity that it allowed entry into the world of Toril. Entreri forced himself to relax, drawing his mind onto remembered cadences of motion, remembered motions that, in fact, had been anything but relaxing at the time. Even as he calmed, he felt a tingling sort of anticipatory arousal spread throughout his form, and he hoped that the damnable wound might finally be losing its grip on his vitality.
A ray of sunlight shone directly onto his closed eyes, and Entreri snapped them open with a jerk of his head. The room was bathed in morning light now, and the assassin realized with startlement and dismay that the wetness in his thigh had exacerbated to sticky clumping and itching. He didn't have to crane his neck to detect the putrid scent, and when he did look back at his leg, he ascertained with alarm that his wound was the source of it. The chair where Jarlaxle would sit in while tending to him was empty, and the implements in the room were exactly the same as when Entreri had entered the room.
Alarmed, the injured man hoisted himself up enough to stretch his arm and grab a few pieces of clean cloth. Setting them on the cot, he pushed himself up to his knees, his injured leg protesting against the pressure placed upon it. His gray-tinged pallor lost more of its dusky brown undertones as he unraveled the bandage, for each time that he neared the seeping wound he had to tug at the material. He continued unwinding until he could no longer, with still some layers to go, the bandages had fused with his wound from the secretion drying, and Entreri feared that he would rip his wound open should he force it.
Gritting his teeth, the distressed man moved his injured leg off the edge of the pallet in the same manner that he'd risen from his bed earlier. However, unlike earlier, when he lifted himself onto his good leg, excruciating pain shot through his damaged leg, and it was all he could do to control how he toppled forward. While he managed to not hurt himself further, Entreri could not avoid bumping into the table upon which the various treatment materials were piled. The assassin managed to stop his crumple with the chair, however it wasn't without a flurry of clattering and shattering about him.
His pain excruciating, his dismay maximum, Entreri cried out before he could stop himself, "Why haven't you come yet?'
"I've been trying to!" The voice that answered him was filled with anguish, albeit of a different sort, the sort that brought a flush to the austere killer's face.
The sun was halfway to its zenith. Outside, bakers packed up their unsold pieces of morning bread. Entreri focused on those distant indistinct pieces of conversation while Jarlaxle removed the final bits of bandage that'd fused to his festering wound. Next came the stinging poultices, each bite painting a new star in the assassin's vision.
"There!" the drow finally announced. "Now to re-bandage… oh, would you please lift your leg, Artemis?"
Entreri didn't budge. It'd taken the last of his strength to get back onto the pallet, and he simply didn't have it in him.
Jarlaxle sighed and climbed onto the pallet, whereupon he sat cross-legged and used his own protruding knee to leverage his companion's leg off the cot.
"Didn't you relieve yourself just earlier today–yesterday– twice?" the assassin voiced groggily.
The mercenary nodded, then realizing that Entreri couldn't see him do so, answered softly, "Yes, but, I'm accustomed to more sport."
Despite his exhaustion, Entreri managed to snort. "I do believe that Ilnezhara was counting on that."
The assassin felt his companion shift unnecessarily, and guessed him to be uncomfortable. Jarlaxle's uncharacteristically abashed response confirmed his suspicions.
"She doesn't understand. Dragons are not monogamous, not to mention that they hold themselves in such high regard that they fail to consider the worth of other races."
Entreri snorted again. "Sounds just like drow."
The assassin felt the deft fingers dancing about his leg pause. He felt a pang of guilt in his chest, but it was as effective a dam against his bitterness as a stick wall against a flood.
"It must be very flattering, that a dragon would desire you so as to brandish an item of ages past in order to force you back into her bed." Even as the words left his lips, Entreri felt shame.
"It must be very flattering, that a dragon would be so threatened by a mere human that she would brandish an item of ages past to render him unable to fulfill his partner's needs," Jarlaxle shot back, but fell into silence as quickly as had Entreri.
"So go to her bed then," the assassin quietly said.
Jarlaxle didn't respond. Only the occasional neigh and creak of passing carriages broke the silence in the room. The drow stared hard at his companion's dark locks, matted to the human's head by sweat, then allowed his gaze to drift to the oozing wound that magic couldn't heal, that recovered so inexorably slowly despite his companion's exceptional health. The ruby eyes flashed angrily.
"She has flattered me so much that I've realized that I am too good for her bed," the mercenary growled.
Despite his exhaustion, Entreri's eyes snapped open, and he reflexively began to turn to study his companion. However, a delicate but strong hand on his lower back stopped him. The assassin smiled into the cot.
"Unable to fulfill his partner's needs?" he echoed, the corners of his lips curling up into a smirk.
That night, passerbys gave the mostly-abandoned house a wide berth. It was already rumored to be haunted, but what they heard that night chased away any doubts to the matter. Foreign tones rang out from within, dark but alluringly melodic, more chilling than the winds of Icewind Dale but simultaneously hotter than the Calishite sun, with flowing vowels and clipped consonants, intensity, ardor and passion in every syllable.
The final lights of the city snuffed out when the assassin pulled himself up beside his companion, who was snoring inelegantly, legs still spread as they were moments before he'd lost consciousness. Entreri wiped the back of a hand across his mouth, the motion failing to remove the triumphant grin adorning his angular features. His smile grew more satisfied as he reasoned that he wouldn't be waking up alone the next morning.