Ok, this was done after seeing a writing prompt on here. I originally did this as a one part piece, but was convinced to carry one and do a part two. I have done so abd in doing so, further developed the piece and had to add abd change things in the first part, meaning this chapter. So if you have already read this first chapter I do suggest that you reread it as it has evolved quite a bit.
Something magical goes awry and Artemis Entreri gets turned into a child and Jarlaxle has to care for him...
This is my vision of the prompt. I do not own any of the characters. R.A. Salvatore and Hasbro do. I do my best to simply honor the characters that I have grown up with and love dearly. If you have enjoyed this, please feel free to comment. If you didn't enjoy it, my apologies, I cannot please everyone. Do enjoy.
Grievous Miscalculations. (Version 2.0 - new and improved, no 3D glasses needed.)
What was supposed to be a stealth mission was fast failing. It was a simple 'grab and go and enjoy the spoils' endeavor. Sweet and familiar to an experienced adventurer such as Jarlaxle. But things were not going so sweetly. He glanced at his partner who was busy fending off four towering, seven foot, ugly, scale covered lizard folk, his superior swordsmanship as fine as ever. The charismatic drow thought about shouting out some words of encouragement to him, encouragement to finish them quickly so they could make a hasty exit, but was forced to pay attention to the surprisingly skilled pair of lizard folk fighting in tandem before him. Their hard scales acted as natural protection and all of them carried horribly mismatched weapons and pieces of armor. They weren't the brightest warriors but they made up with sheer muscle and ferocity.
The stone temple walls around them were dark, damp, vines and moss hiding much of the finely carved reliefs. The large, evenly worked paving stones beneath his feet were so slick with condensation from the high humidity that if it weren't for his naturally strong sense of balance and a good bit of luck, he would have found himself much harder pressed far earlier in his fight. He worked his duel swords confidently, picking off the aggressive attempts to get past his defenses, but the natural defenses of his opponents were nothing to laugh at, even if their swordsmanship lacked flare and finesse. Every attack he launched was quickly parried or defected, either by crude ill-suited weapons or their natural ones. They all had long, sharp looking claws and sharp teeth as well as sizable tails that they occasionally used in the battle to try and take their fast fighting opponents down with. Doing his best to keep the two fierce fighters from trying to flank him of either side, Jarlaxle had to keep his nimble feet moving. Amongst the clash of steel blades, the elf's sensitive ears caught the sound of a sharp grunt. He glanced over at the human assassin out to his left side and again found himself marveling at his skills. Skills that were honed to perfection over decades of diligent practice, however were still being sorely pressed. Jarlaxle flicked his eyes back to his own dance and decided that the time had indeed come to make a grand exit. No more stalling.
Jarlaxle suddenly pressed forward ferociously towards the scale covered humanoid on his right side, throwing the fighter and his strange looking pair of bastard swords off balance as he did. With a flick of his wrists, Jarlaxle's swords shrunk down to the size of daggers, which he threw at both his opponents as he launched himself into a sideways roll, aiming to distract the pair as he distanced himself from them. He came up out of the roll to his feet, not with another set of daggers to throw, but two wands. The first one he spoke the trigger word to and a glob of green goo flew out, landing on and entrapping two of his companion's reptilian attackers. In a matter of seconds afterwards, the human easily dispatched the remaining two lizard folk as they became distracted by their struggling allies. The two cold-blooded fighters that Jarlaxle had thrown the daggers at, were quickly coming back in line before the drow, one on his left side and the other on his right. He considered launching a volly of daggers at them, but an idea popped into his head. The second wand in his left hand, a recent acquirement from a previous job, had yet to be tested. He was promised the strange, but eager to please merchant that it was indeed quite powerful. The magical trigger word rolled of his tongue as he pointed the rippled wooden stick at the hideous looking lizard to his left. A bright light arched out of the wand tip and shot out straight out at the unfortunate creature. Jarlaxle didn't take the time to watch the blinding spectacle, trusting in it's effectiveness. Instead he turned his head and launched a dagger off to the right and into the forehead of the smaller lizard that was charging towards him. The dagger sunk deep, but the humanoid's momentum kept it coming at the mercenary, causing him to have to side step few feet to avoid the dying brute crashing into him. Turning back to check out the damage that his new wand had inflicted, he was shocked to see the blueish colored beast dead on the ground with no apparent damage done to it. Further back behind the vile thing however, laid a strange looking sight on the ground. Jarlaxle leaped over the large fallen lizard and went down to his knees before the smoking remains of his human accomplice, or what he thought were his remains.
His eyes opened wide and his heart started racing as fear laced adrenaline replaced what was lingering from the fight. It took his brain a moment to process what his eyes were seeing. Head, arms and legs all appeared to have been eviscerated so completely that there wasn't even any blood left behind. All that remained was the smoking clothing and what appeared to be his limbless torso inside it all. His red bladed sword had been thrown off to the side on the ground. The drow fought against the onset of stinging tears as he stood up and turned back to the dead hulking creature. He kicked at it angrily, lifting it's shoulder off the ground just enough to check. Sure enough, there was the assassin's jeweled dagger, embedded to it's hilt, in the beast's back, right in the spine. He must have thrown it just before Jarlaxle had fired off the spell, the the big lizard person falling dead to the ground and avoiding the magic all together.
Numbness started to set in quickly as the normally fast thinking elf took in a deep breath, one meant to help steady him, yet it did nothing of the sort. A scraping noise and a groan behind him caught his attention. He spun around, dagger already summoned from his magical bracer and ready to fly, only to see not an injured reptile, but a disorentated looking child, about the size of a six or seven year old, getting up off the floor and untangling himself from the garments that rose up with him. The child and the drow locked eyes. Grey eyes, black hair, and even in the dim light of the temple room, Jarlaxle could see tan skin tinged with grey shadow. The elf felt as if his eyes had doubled in size as the puzzle clicked, complete, in his mind.
"Artemis!" His voiced cracked as he flew at the boy and wrapped his arms around the confused assassin, crushing him in a tight hug. "You are alive my abbil! I thought you cruelly taken from me!" Jarlaxle could feel his now much smaller friend attempt to break loose from his hold. He lifted the boy and spun him around once for good measure, so grateful was he inside that he hadn't accidentally destroyed his partner in crime. He sat the human back down on his feet and took a step away to give the normally volatile man, suddenly turned child, some space.
Artemis shot a hard glare at the drow before looking down at himself. The road stained and heat singed gray linen shirt he wore, that once fit him comfortably, hung off of him like an over-sized nightgown, the bottom hem far down past his knees. His breeches were waded up on ground behind him. He lifted his hands up before him and stared at his smooth, small, child-like fingers in alarm. He looked back up at the purple hatted drow, his face an open mix of confusion and slowly growing rage.
"What in the nine hell's did you do Jarlaxle?!" What would have normally been a cold, gravelly voice personifying death itself, came out the almost nasally pitch of a child. Jarlaxle stared at him for a moment.
"I wasn't aiming the spell at you, abbil. It was aimed at that particular lizard creature, which you took out with your dagger at the same time it would seem." The drow tried not to let a grin make its way to his face. The sight of an angry child-like Artemis was far more entertaining than his friend would like it to be, coupled with the sheer relief that washed through him, it was enough to make him and to laugh.
"Then don't just stand there, undo this!" Jarlaxle blinked several times as he watched Entreri go about gathering his clothing and gear off of the ground, frustration evident in every move the assassin made. The drow turned his sight over to where the two lizard folk he had trapped in the goo lay stuck to the temple floor, both still twitching and alive would soon be definitely dead from asphyxiation as the goo had covered most of their heads as well as their upper bodies. 'Fix it?' Jarlaxle didn't even know what it was that the wand really did. How could he fix it? Suddenly a gut feeling told him to turn back around, just as Artemis was reaching down to pick up Charon's Claw.
"Wait! Don't touch that!" Jarlaxle pulled a large handkerchief out of a pocket in his breeches and quickly moved in front of Artemis to pick up the sentient weapon himself.
"It's my sword! I am it's master! What is all this for?" Jarlaxle ignored his companion and wrapped the cloth around the handle, making sure none of his skin touched the dangerous item.
"Forgive me, but it is a simple precaution. You have to body of a child now. Perhaps that would not sit well with Charon's Claw and it would see fit to destroy you. I'd rather not have to worry about your death twice in one day abbil." The drow reached over and snagged the human's weapons belt from the pile beside his friend and carefully sheathed the sword, leaving the cloth wrapped around the handle. He took a step back and swept his large hat from his black bald head, whispering a command word into it's depths and sliding the dangerous item into an magical holding compartment.
"I have the body of a child because of you! Now fix this and return my sword so we can be out of this monster infested cess pit and on our way back to Manapurang!"
Jarlaxle ignored the child's demands and decided to inspect the area where Artemis had fallen to make sure that nothing was left behind. Sure enough, a black sock, damp from the slick floor and rank with sweat, was left behind, as well as Entreri's onyx Nightmare summoning statuette. As he stood back up, the magical trinket in hand and the sock stuffed in a random pocket, he turned to offer the statue back to his pint sized friend, only to see the youth staring intently at the tunnel that they had just come out of prior to their most recent fight. Jarlaxle listened and then caught it. They were being followed. Knowing that they were heading in the right direction and would be free of the intact portion of the jungle temple soon enough, Jarlaxle summoned Entreri's hellish steed and scooped up his friend and his belongings, tossing him up into the saddle as soon as it materialized, pulling himself up over it's back as well.
"We will see about getting you returned to size as soon as we make it out of here alive good friend!" He shouted before spurring the nightmare onwards towards the exit, hunching low protectively over the now miniature assassin. Heartbeats later, two hands full of the strange humanoids emerged from the hallway and into the large room behind them, cursing the fleeing intruders in their strange draconian language.
Jarlaxle walked into the sitting area of the flat he shared with the ever deadly Artemis Entreri. He glanced around the room, scanning for his companion, before stepping back out the door to the apartment and bringing in a sack containing several parcels. He stashed the bag of goods behind the floor length curtains covering the lone window in the room and then walked over and tapped on the closed door that opened to his friend's bedroom. No answer. Bravely, the drow reached for the door handle and slowly turned it, gently pushing the door open. It remained unlocked with no traps, just as it had been when he left. Silently, Jarlaxle stepped inside and looked down at his friend, sleeping heavily in his elaborately carved bed, his blanket kicked down around his feet. He looked so endearing, so innocent in his slumber, but something tugged at the mercenary as he stood over the man that had suddenly become a youth. His current form put him at about the size of a five year old human.
A week had passed since the fight in the temple. A week since Artemis Entreri had been given the body of a child. And Jarlaxle was beginning to realize that that wasn't the only issue they were dealing with. Artemis's mind was being affected as well. Why the mind was regressing slower than the body was beyond Jarlaxle's knowledge. His best guess had to do with the human's cognitive strength. But slowly, Artemis was reverting to the mindset of a child, and it was not a peaceful process for the man or the drow.
Jarlaxle had failed to notice any change the first three days as he was busy trying to track down any information that he could about the wand and it's strange effects. He had contacted Kimmeriel first, far away in Menzoberranzan, then set about haunting the seedier underbelly of Manapurang, the jungle city they were calling home whilst adventuring in Kuong, a kingdom in Malatra on the continent of Kara-tur. He found little information, other than the wand was old, very old and had been created a wizard from around the Sword Coast which while familiar to the much traveled drow, was over a full continent away. The creator had been a female wizard by the name of Margo Harpell. Jarlaxle had put Kimmeriel to work trying to summon the spirit of the long dead wizard, however, it seemed that the spirit could not be found.
The drow was drawn from his thoughts as the smallish sleeping form before him turned over, his innocent face scrunching up as if he was afraid of something. Another nightmare was starting so it seemed. Artemis seemed to be plagued by them. Jarlaxle stepped up to the elaborate and heavily cushioned bed. Artemis hated the thing, had thrown the closest thing to a tantrum Jarlaxle had ever seen from the grown man when the elf had hired porters to bring it and it's sister bed to the flat. He allowed his hand to smooth the unruly black hair from his charge's face.
"Fight them my small friend. Don't let them win." With a quiet sigh, he turned around and went back to the sitting room and the hidden sack of packages.
Some time later, Artemis woke up in his bed, the sun shining through a crack in the curtain and across his face. He rubbed his fists over his eyes and the stretched his arms out wide. Still wearing one of his adult sized shirts, with a belt around his waist, the youth dropped down to the floor and went over to the chamber pot in the corner to relieve himself before shuffling to his door and starting the lengthy process of undoing the various traps and locks, only to realize that he had never set them the night before. He scratched his head and rather than question why he hadn't stuck to his routine, he accepted it at face value and pushed through the doorway, making his way to the round table in center of the sitting room.
There was food set out on a bamboo tray at the edge of the table, sliced fruits, a clay bowl of sweet curry and some flat bread, and a mug of local small ale. Next to it was a note from Jarlaxle. Artemis went to read it but realized after a moment of staring at the familiar handwriting that he couldn't decipher it. This crushing realization shook him to his core. So aware was he that he had suddenly lost a valuable and important skill that the slowly vanishing adult in him wanted to scream out in denial. He looked around the room in growing panic. It was obvious that the drow was not in, as what point would there be in leaving a note? Artemis looked around the room and saw new clothing draped over one of the wooden chairs. He walked over them, inspecting them with an uncharacteristic shyness and sure enough, they were child sized, for him. Two long, short sleeved tunics and two pairs of wide legged trousers of the local style, in an intense dark blue. They were not to his tastes, but the color wasn't horrible. There was also a halfling sized sword and dagger, both sheathed onto a weapons belt whose leather was dyed red and tooled with the same exotic motifs as were the sheaths. Of course Jarlaxle would choose something like that. He grabbed the garments up in his short arms and again looked around the room, paying close attention to the still curtains, not wanting to be seen vulnerable and undressed.
There was not a sound, nor any movement. Still dealing with the lingering wave of uncomfortably growing fear, Artemis took his armful of clothing and his new weapons and dashed back into his room, this time, doing what he could to lock his door securely behind him.
Once the room as secure, his breathing was fast and his heart was still racing. Everything suddenly seemed too overwhelming. He stood by his bed and looked at the clothes. They looked just like those that adults in the region wore. He thought of the many times he would randomly watch children in the streets, picking out the various gangs. For some reason, this made him feel heavy and sad. His eyes were beginning to tear up. Artemis suddenly fought back against the strange feelings with a growl of anger and started the process of shedding his over-sized gray linen shirt for the new dark blue tunic.
Artemis had just finished tightening his weapons belt over his new breeches, his tunic tucked into them instead of hanging over, when he heard someone enter the flat. He ran quietly to the door and listened with his ear pressed against the wood. The intruder was whistling a familiar bawdy tune and boot heels clicked hard on the wooden floor. Artemis's eyes grew wide and he scrambled to undo the few locks he had been able to reset. Jarlaxle was back! Why that mattered so much to him, he didn't stop to think about. He was simply happy not to be alone with his disturbing thoughts and feelings anymore.
Jarlaxle spun about when he heard the locks on his companion's door being undone. He opened his mouth to call out a greeting whilst unbuttoning his shirt but was instead shocked into silence as his young friend came running towards him at top speed, calling out his name and plowing into him. Small arms wrapped around the surprised drow in a tight hug.
"Where did you?! I missed you! Please don't leave me alone again!" Jarlaxle took note of the last two comments first, but chose to address the first question, finding it the less disturbing of the three.
"Abbil, I left you a note on the table by your meal, surely you saw it." Jarlaxle locked eyes with the assassin as he looked up at him, his gray eyes, round and strangely expressive, clouding with fear.
"I couldn't understand it. I couldn't… none of it made any sense." Those words, and the implications behind them hit the drow like a punch to the gut. He placed his hands on the youth's shoulders to try and comfort him, but it seemed to have the opposite effect. "What if I forget more? What if I grow smaller, like a baby?! What if I die?! Jarlaxle! You said you would fix this?!" Artemis stood there, hugging Jarlaxle as if his life depended on it, tears rolling unchecked down his cheeks as he pressed his face into the elf's thin torso. "You said you could fix it!"
Jarlaxle sighed aloud as he lay awake in his elaborately craved bed, the small, curled up, sleeping form of his companion beside him. For almost an hour, the young Artemis had cried and carried on, inconsolable it seemed and what about, he wasn't even sure. Weeks had gone by and Jarlaxle couldn't get much headway made in finding a cure to their situation. Some minor information was indeed found, but not much. He tried several spells to stop the reversed aging. He tried potions, salves, anything he could possibly find or think of. Nothing seemed to help, but constant reminders of who he used to be, and that only helped for so long. Now the human that Jarlaxle had dragged into his inner sanctum, the gifted warrior and surprisingly loyal comrade, was reduced to the mind and body of a toddler.
He looked out in the darkness of the bedroom, his eyes able to see as clear as day, the toys the drow had collected for his friend in hopes that they would offer him comfort and distraction. A stick horse and a rudimentary carved wooden boat lay out in the middle of the floor. By the window, sat a trio of finely carved and enameled dragons, a red, a copper and a blue. There was even a rag doll, with a plain forest green dress on. Jarlaxle had caught Artemis pretending to rescue the doll from the dragons, complete with pretend sword, earlier in the day. His heart was at complete odds as he took in that moment. He found it intriguing to watch a child, unhindered by adults, at play, but also mourned the systematic loss of the fierce warrior that he used to be.
He worried about his partner and had several times during the increasingly intense crying fits considered just removing himself from the situation completely, dropping the child off at some temple or church and returning to Menzobarranzan. But guilt ate away at him each time he thought of abandoning the helpless assassin. Jarlaxle wasn't really the parenting type and he was one of the last to know what human children needed. The toys he bought partly out of desperation, to help redirect the bouts of curiosity based destruction his pint sized pal unleashed on their flat when left alone for even a minute. It seemed that no matter where Jarlaxle hid the more dangerous items kept in their flat, the small and determined explorer always seemed to find them. However, another part of him simply enjoyed seeing the excited look on his friend's face when he was given the trinkets for the first time. His friend's joy was too innocent and too pure to ignore.
Jarlaxle tried to be understanding with the small terrorist that had replaced his often pessimistic cohort. He tried to play the role of a loving uncle the best he could. However he knew that if he didn't find the cure soon, he would lose his dearest friend altogether. And that thought, as much as he tried to ignore it, tore at him the most. His eyes flicked over to the three dragons by the window and suddenly an idea clicked to life in his head.
The dragon sisters Ilnezhara and Tazmikella. Those two would be able to help if anyone could. Yet they resided on a completely different continent. Jarlaxle sighed as the wheels in his head started turning. Even with the aid of magic, the journey would be a long and trying one with his tiny charge coming along for the ride. He thought about possibly leaving him with a nursemaid for a brief second, but then looked down at the sleeping would-be knight, hearing his calls for 'Jaxle' when he was frightened or hungry. No. He would have to take him with. For the first time since he had spied the tottering Artemis bravely fending off the evil dragons to save the ragdoll maiden, a genuine smile came to his face, one laced with hope. Even if the wise draconian sisters, both purveyors of magical items, couldn't help the drow with this particular endeavor, he would give his friend one last big adventure before what he feared would be the end. He carefully removed himself from the bed and silently left his bedroom to go sit at the writing desk in the living areas. It was time to make plans.
Ok, so I totally wrote this as a one and done bit with the idea of possibly doing a second part. And I did manage to get some requests for a second part. So, after a stupid amount of research, I wrote a part two. Posting it on here as a second chapter. I hope you enjoy it.