Drizzt sighed as he leaned against a tree. Perhaps he should have tried to work things out with Catti-Brie. She, after all, had been the love of his life, and continued to love him. On the other hand, their path had taken them to fight the very things that their disagreement was about. Though perhaps disagreement wasn't strong enough a word. They didn't see eye to eye on one of his most basic and foundational principles. No life on Toril could be considered inherently evil.
Drizzt shook his head. He was still prejudiced against goblinkind, less likely to trust them than many other races, but then he had to think of Luskan. He would trust the orcs of Many-Arrows more than nearly anyone in the wretched city. Then again he didn't know of any living orcs in the kingdom of Many-Arrows.
Regardless, the point was moot. He had met a elf. A wild elf at that. She had left her tribe to become an adventurer of sorts. She wanted to see the world, though the world was darker than she had hoped it would be. Ellastryn now was what Cattie-Brie was before she died. She even reminded him a little bit of Guen. She had not been in complete agreement with her people. She didn't want to judge someone based on their race alone, though she was wary of certain races more than others. She certainly was caught off guard by him. She hadn't outright attacked him, however, she was even more caught off guard when she was knocked down by Guenhwyvar. Guenhwyvar had quickly relayed that Ella, as he had come to call her, had a heart that mirrored his own. She was a ranger, and though she wasn't in direct service to Mielikki, she found that the goddess was as close to her beliefs of any she had found.
Ella had been slow to trust him, but with Guenhwyvar by his side, and the fact that he had confronted her to stop her from walking into an ambush, she followed him when he beckoned her to. Guenhwyvar, in his opinion, played no small part in convincing the wild elf to trust him. She was a ranger, and like most, she could sense and feel what Guenhwyvar was. Soon, she found that Drizzt held an affinity to nature, just as she did. She wasn't sure of everything that had happened, as she generally avoided bigger cities and towns where such information would be easier to obtain. Her tribe had been relatively reclusive, and didn't know much of the goings-on of the surrounding world.
Drizzt currently found himself separated from her at the moment. Even having lived one-hundred and fifty years, she wasn't particularly fond of meeting new people. Currently she was in a cave with a hibernating bear. Drizzt had to admit that he was surprised when he realized that her skills as a ranger rivaled his own, perhaps even surpassed his own. When they had arrived at the cave and found a bear inside, he had told her the story of Bluster. Needless to say, she had been shocked. She had been trained her entire life in the ways of, what others called, a ranger. For someone with no training to take up residence with a brown bear was ridiculous. Even for someone such as her, she wouldn't generally do such a thing.
Now that everything had settled, Drizzt felt it was time to meet back up with his companions. He had told them when he departed, he would meet them near Mithral Hall. He had sent Guenhwyvar out to deliver a message. Likely she would return with some of his companions in tow. If not, he could always go search for them. Catti-Brie and him hadn't parted on the best of terms, but they were certainly more friendly than him and Dahlia.
After several minutes, Drizzt saw a black form come into view followed by two halfling's, a dwarf, and two humans. With a smile, he noted the extra form as Donnola Topolino.
"I have to admit I was surprised that you didn't visit any of us sooner. Traveling alone for so long doesn't seem like it would suit you." Regis commented.
"Ah, never alone, at least not for long." Drizzt replied with a smile. He didn't mind admitting that he wasn't fond of traveling alone.
"And by any chance do we get to meet this companion of possible questionable morals?" Wulfgar asked, poking fun at Drizzt's previous companions.
"Ah, worry not. This companion is a ranger like I, though more comfortable with the creatures of nature than people." Drizzt replied lightheartedly. "She isn't particularly fond of meeting new people."
Catti-Brie's eyes narrowed at the gender identifying pronoun. She was still irate at both herself and Drizzt. She knew she had pushed him away, and she knew she should have known better as Wulfgar had said. Pushing those feelings down, she smiled.
Drizzt motioned them to follow him. A few minutes of twists and turns and they had arrived at the cave. Drizzt gave a bird call from one of the birds that still sang in the winter to minimize the possibility of disturbing the bear within. With as much grace as any of them had seen, an elf skipped out of the cave silently.
Drizzt, having moved closer to the cave stopped his companions, was used as a shield from the prying eyes. "This is Ellastryn. Ellastryn, this is Bruenor, Wulfgar, Catti-Brie, Regis, and Donnola."
Ellastryn nodded towards them before slowing coming out from behind Drizzt. Her eyes eventually settled on Catti-Brie. She could see through the fake smile that Catti-Brie wore. Drizzt had told her of his previous relationship with Catti-Brie, but looking at the woman, it wasn't hard to tell that something had happened between the two. Even worse, for Catti-Brie, Ellastryn could see the pity in Drizzt eyes. She could tell he was trying to hide it, knowing that it wouldn't help in the least and likely make the woman angrier. Perhaps the others could see it as well, but she considered herself exceptionally perceptive. It was part of the reason she was so good around animals. The slight movements and expressions the animals made spoke volumes of what it was feeling. The same applied to people. She knew Drizzt picked up on the tiniest of movements because of his skill in fighting. They had learned them for different reasons, but the skill set was relatively similar.
Catti-Brie, noticing the gaze, locked eyes with Ellastryn. "How are you in a fight? Catti-Brie asked. All of them, except for possibly Regis had a bit of wanderlust. Even with Regis, it was more because he enjoyed being with Donnola than he did traveling. Donnola had her duties and couldn't travel as freely as she may have wanted to.
Ellastryn shrugged. She found herself to be more than capable, but boasting wasn't something she enjoyed doing.
"She is quite capable." Drizzt assured. "How about a spar, no magic." he suggested.
Both Catti-Brie and Ellastryn nodded. Catti-Brie summoned a practice sword, and offered to do the same for Ellastryn who denied the offer.
Facing off against each other, Drizzt started the match. Ellastryn paused, noting Catti-Brie's posture. She was obviously a practiced swordsman, even if she didn't use it anymore. Ellastryn charged, much to Bruenor's amusement. He even gave Wulfgar a nudge saying that he liked the girl. Of course it was quiet enough so Catti-Brie couldn't hear.
Catti-Brie slashed diagonally, which Ellastryn ducked under, as Catti-Brie thought she might. Catti-Brie kicked out, which to her amazement, Ellastryn dodged slightly to the side then sprung over Catti-Brie's leg landing on her exposed side. Kicking out against the back of Catti-Brie's planted leg causing it to start to collapse, but Catti-Brie managed to get her other leg down, and pivoted on that foot. Bringing her sword out in front of her, Catti-Brie was caught by surprise again when Ellastryn slipped inside her guard, grabbed her sword arm, and flipped her. Ellastryn kept one had on Catti-Brie's wrist to keep the sword from hitting her.
Bruenor whispered to Wulfgar, retracting his previous comment.
Ellastryn reached a hand out to help Catti-Brie up. Accepting the help, Catti-Brie rubbed her wrist once she was standing. The elf had a surprisingly strong grip.
Drizzt noticed the hurt look on Catti-Brie's face. "I didn't ask for the fight to embarrass you. I asked because I thought you the best opponent for her."
"And now?" Catti-Brie snapped.
"The reasoning does not change. I find it no easy task defeating her either."
Ellastryn stepped between them. Do both of your thoughts still stand as they did before?" she asked.
Both Drizzt and Catti-Brie nodded.
"Goblinkind is inherently evil." Catti-Brie reaffirmed.
"Many would say the same of the drow." Ellastryn countered back. She knew the argument they had previously.
"I was told this by Mielikki, and that drow were different from this, not inherently evil, but in worship to a goddess."
"You have never lived in a drow city."
"I have been to Menzoberranzan."
"But you didn't live there. You merely visited, and tell me how that visit was."
Catti-Brie glared. "It was unpleasant, however there was another drow that helped me."
"Jaraxle." Ellastryn stated.
"And is he supposed to be your baseline of non-evil drow, excluding Drizzt here."
Catti-Brie nodded again.
"You know he has committed what most races would deem atrocities, correct?"
Catti-Brie nodded again, only this time less sure of herself.
"So, you time in Menzoberranzan was met with nothing but essentially evil drow except the one you rescued. Jaraxle no doubt had his own plans in motion, from what I understand."
Catti-Brie nodded again, realizing she was losing this argument.
"So what do you truly know of the drow? Truly what is the difference between them and orcs? They are more refined. They are deadlier. Is that what constitutes a race to not be inherently evil?"
"Mielikki says so, and—"
"And what. Because the god he follows because his principles aligned with hers, he should bend the ones that don't to fit her? I can only count one wholly good drow I have met, but I can count two goblinkind that I know of."
"Nojheim." Catti-Brie stated.
"And Jessa. A Gruumsh priestess that traveled with Bruenor and Drizzt. Better she was killed as a newborn though, right? I see nothing that indicates that goblinkind is inherently evil and drow are not. Unless you think Drizzt should have been killed at birth as well."
Catti-Brie attempted to slap Ellastryn, but missed as the elf leaned back.
"Drizzt fights for a race's life, and you fight for their death. I know who I would rather be fighting alongside. I'm not saying dealing with the Many-Arrows kingdom was a mistake, however you wish to view the world in black and white while it's beauty lies in it's color."
Catti-Brie stormed away, knowing she had lost the argument.
"Perhaps it is best I visit at another time. I know where to find everyone." Drizzt said.
Everyone else nodded.
Drizzt truly was sad about his relationship with Catti-Brie. However, when he looked at Ellastryn, his worries melted away.