"Marry rich, Drizzt," Torrah said, exuding a surprising air of sage wisdom for a fifty-eight-year-old ex-nocturne-seller. He rested against the wall outside the house, having carried the last of his boxed up nocturne brewing equipment out to one of the wagons on the street. He'd found a buyer for it in Llangelier.

Six months had passed since Drizzt had gone to Neverwinter with Catti-Brie. Torrah was moving out of his little house on the edge of town. He said he was only retiring because Cerys had asked him to, but Drizzt didn't get the feeling that he was that upset about it.

"That's why you're marrying Cerys?" Drizzt said.

"Well don't go saying that too loud, or you'll ruin it."

Drizzt smirked. They both knew perfectly well that he would have proposed to her even if she were a vagabond without a penny to her name. They were completely enamored with each other, as they had been for years.

"I think I would prefer to marry for love, if at all," Drizzt said.

"Do both."

"I am courting a princess, you know."

Torrah shrugged. "Just because she has status doesn't mean she has money."

"So you don't think a beautiful princess is good enough for me? Should I be holding out for a better offer?"

He smiled. "No. You can't do better than Catti-Brie."

It was more deserved praise of Catti-Brie than an insult toward Drizzt. "Agreed."

Torrah's things were all in boxes. All that remained was the furniture that would stay in the house after it was sold. Drizzt paused to peer inside at the near-empty interior of the house. It looked familiar and unfamiliar in a strange way, like seeing a friend in a dream. It had been his home for much of his early life. It had felt so much larger back then. Now the faint verdant smell of the place had gone, and the path in front was overgrown, and the bushes in the back garden were all dead.

It was odd to think that someone else would be living there soon.

"I thought it might bother you," Torrah said. Drizzt looked over at him. He'd been watching Drizzt watch the house.

"It feels like the end of something," Drizzt admitted.

"No. It's a beginning."

"Aren't you going to miss it?"

"I've never been as sentimental as you are."

Drizzt gave him a skeptical look.

"Just because I'm leaving it doesn't mean I'm forgetting it," Torrah said. "Do you really think I'd be able to forget our years-decades-here?"

"That's not what I meant."

"Isn't it?"

Drizzt sat down on the porch, thinking about those first few months and years on the surface. He hadn't even spoken the common language. He'd been so helpless. Like a fish trying to swim on land. What a difficult situation he'd put Torrah in, showing up the way he had.

"Do you remember when I ate those mushrooms I found in the garden?" Drizzt said. "They looked exactly like mushrooms we ate in Menzoberranzan."

"And then you cried and called me wael iblith when I made you throw them back up."

Drizzt's face heated. He did still remember that detail just as clearly as the vomiting, because he'd regretted it so much afterwards.

"I was really a little bastard back then, wasn't I?" Drizzt said.

"All children are bastards."

"Especially drow children, maybe."

Torrah laughed. "Maybe. But you could hardly help that." He sighed, and looked out at the road instead of at Drizzt. "I suppose it wasn't the childhood you'd imagined for yourself."

"I suppose not," Drizzt said uncertainly, because of course it wasn't what he'd imagined, but it hadn't been all bad, either. Torrah was frowning a little, thinking about something. "What do you mean?" Drizzt asked, wondering if he'd misunderstood his comment.

Torrah looked up at him, looking uncharacteristically regretful. "I'm...not really the fatherly type," he said. "I never set out to be one. But then you showed up and…" He shrugged. "I did the best I could."

Drizzt laughed. "You're worried about that?"

"All parents are worried about that. But mostly I was worried about whether you would do alright here. I don't think anyone else has ever been in the situation we were in. I didn't know if you would ever find a place for yourself, if you would even like it here… For a long time, I worried that you would want to go back to the Underdark when you got older."

Drizzt shook his head. "I have never regretted coming to the surface. I belong here. I have always felt that way, even if other people didn't. And I wouldn't be who I am if things had happened differently. If I could go back, I would change nothing. I certainly wouldn't ask to replace you with someone else."

Torrah smiled faintly. He looked away, and nodded, reassured. "Thank you, Drizzt."

Drizzt thought, as he looked at him, that Torrah had changed even more than the house had. He seemed smaller now, just like the house did, even if he still towered over Drizzt. His hair was more grey than black, though it was more well-kept than it had been when it was all black, anyway. Drizzt guessed that was because he had a partner to impress, now.

After another moment of quiet, Torrah got up and excused himself into the house. Their discussions on emotional topics were rare, and brief, and usually not acknowledged afterwards.

Drizzt got up to carry another box to the wagon in front of the house. It wasn't until he'd returned to the porch that he noticed their elderly neighbor frowning at them from her front step. He wondered how long she'd been standing there.

"Hello, Ms. Eastwood," Drizzt said flatly, giving a polite nod.

She glared at him for a moment longer, then picked up her walking stick and slowly hobbled toward him. Drizzt had gone back inside and brought another box out by the time she'd reached their porch.

"Mister Do'Urden," she said, sharply despite her slow, crackling voice. "Those kids have been gathering in the alley again, drinking and singing and shouting nonsense at all hours. When is someone going to do something about it?"

He began to sigh, then caught himself, and put on a patient smile instead. "The watch doesn't really deal with those kinds of issues, Ms. Eastwood. Have you spoken to the council about it?"

"Yes I've spoken to the council, those useless layabouts. And they keep telling me to talk to the watch about it. And the watch keeps telling me to talk to the council. So what am I to do? I can't get any help, not from anyone. There's no chivalry left in the world, these days. Things have changed here, you know. Forty, fifty years back, this was a nice town. People had manners."

Drizzt set down the box he'd been carrying, since Ms. Eastwood was blocking his path to the wagon and hadn't moved yet. He rested his hands on his hips. "I'll come by tonight and make sure everything's quiet. If they're out there again, I'll speak to them about it. How does that sound?"

She quieted for a moment, her lips still in a sullen pout. Drizzt guessed she was trying to think of some other reason to complain, and couldn't find any. "I suppose that will do," she said.

Drizzt gave her another nod, and picked up the box. She slowly shuffled aside, and he carried the box past her to the wagon. When he returned, she was still standing there by the steps.

"I've got something you'll want to see," she said cryptically.

He stopped, wondering if he'd heard her correctly. "Pardon?"

She gave a beckoning wave instead of answering, then started back toward her house, as if to lead him to something. Drizzt stared after her. She'd never gone out of her way to speak to him unless she had to. But her mind was slower and weaker than it used to be these days, and she was prone to occasional out of character moments. Wary, but not wanting to be rude, he followed.

She leaned her stick against the wall outside her door, then went inside while Drizzt waited. She paused inside, looking around as if lost inside her own home.

"Where did I put those darn…" She began muttering as she slowly-very slowly-cast around the house for something.

Finally, she returned with a crate in her arms. As she came closer, Drizzt was surprised to hear the soft cries of something very small-something alive-from inside. She set the crate down on the porch in front of him.

There were two black kittens inside the crate.

"Oh, gods," he gasped softly, falling to his knees in front of the crate. "They're so cute!" He reached out, then paused and looked up at her. "May I?"

She gave a short nod, sitting down in an old wooden chair by her door.

He reached inside the crate and rested his hand in front of the cats. They watched it warily for a moment, then sniffed at him, then lost interest again, with the miniscule attention spans that all young creatures seemed to share. He reached up to stroke their ears. Their fur was so soft it was hardly there, like down.

"Ah!" he breathed, too happy for words. "I can't believe how small they are!"

Ms. Eastwood made a huffing sound, and Drizzt realized that she was laughing. He looked up at her, surprised. He'd never witnessed her do such a thing.

She shook her head. "I've never seen a grown man so excited about a pair of cats."

"I like animals."

"Yes. Luna always liked you, too." She looked away as she said it, bitter. Drizzt felt a pang of guilt. He dared to think that Ms. Eastwood's old cat had liked him more than she'd liked her owner. She'd certainly spent more time at his house than hers.

"Are they from Luna's family?" Drizzt asked, nodding to the kittens. "Grandchildren?"

"Hmm? Oh, I don't know," she said, waving a hand. "I got these two from the same woman who gave me little Luna, so I suppose they could be related."

Drizzt looked up at her, saddened. "I missed Luna when she stopped coming over."

Ms. Eastwood nodded slowly, leaning back in her chair. "She was a good cat."

She watched him play with the kittens, saying nothing. The cats stumbled around the crate on unsteady legs, alternating between chasing Drizzt's fingers and chasing each other's tails.

The woman gave a heavy sigh. "It's a shame. I don't think I can afford to feed both of them, living on my retirement savings. I hope I can find a good home for the extra one..." She stared off into space sadly, and seemed to think she was being quite subtle. Drizzt's eyebrows went up.

"Well, Ms. Eastwood," he said carefully, "if you approve, I would gladly take one of them off of your hands."

She studied him for a moment, as if considering it. As if she hadn't brought him over for specifically this purpose. "Yes...I suppose that will do. Since Luna liked you so much. But you must take good care of her."

"Of course."

She pointed to the smaller of the two. "Take her, then. Thank you, Mister Do'Urden. Now you've done me two favors today."

Reverently, he picked up the cat under its front legs and held it out in front of him. It stared at him, wide-eyed. Drizzt grinned. He had the sudden urge to hug it to his chest, but resisted for the sake of maintaining some minimum level of composure.

"You've grown into a decent young man," Ms. Eastwood commented, nodding to herself. "You used to be such a troublemaker, when you were small."

He looked sideways at her. He was quite sure that he hadn't been any worse than any of the other children in town.

"I wasn't," he corrected her lightly.

"Yes, there was something off about you," she went on, as if she hadn't heard him. "I'm glad you grew out of it."

"Glad you did, too," Drizzt said, and again she only nodded blankly, like she hadn't quite understood him.

He looked down at the remaining cat, now alone in the crate, and felt a little regretful. "They're siblings, aren't they? I hate to separate them…"

"Ah, they won't really be separated. They'll find each other again, if you let her roam sometimes." She smiled up at Drizzt. He smiled back, still intrigued by her almost-friendliness. She must have been growing more lonely in her old age. Just like Luna had.

He didn't exactly know what to do with a cat. He'd figure it out, he supposed. He was far too delighted to be worried about it. He carefully dropped the cat into his pocket. It squirmed for a bit, then curled comfortably into a ball, resting its head on the lip of the fabric.

"Thank you, Ms. Eastwood," he said with as much heartfelt gratitude as he could muster.

"You come back this evening and deal with those kids," she said, her voice growing sharp again. "Don't forget."

He'd waited until he'd turned away from her to shake his head to himself. "Yes, Ms. Eastwood."

Catti-Brie arrived later that day, a day earlier than she'd estimated. These days, she very carefully arranged her schedule, selecting jobs that would allow her to come back to Crosswell every few weeks. Drizzt was, frankly, flattered that she went to so much effort to return so often.

This time, she seemed more excited to see the cat than she was to see him, which he could hardly blame her for.

"Does she have a name?" she asked.


She gently plucked the kitten from Drizzt's hand and held her in her hands. Drizzt could see tiny claws digging into her skin, but Catti-Brie didn't seem to mind.

"You're so lucky," she said wistfully. "I always wanted a pet. The dwarves are only really interested in animals when it comes to eating them."

"You can visit her any time you like."

"Are you trying to bribe me to come see you more often?"


"Well, it might work at this rate."

Before night came, they set out into the woods west of town.

Vierna's little camp had grown over time. She and her companion, Jhalarra, now led a small but close-knit community of refugee drow-an idea which, a year ago, Drizzt would have dismissed as not just unlikely but impossible.

They were up to seven now. Most of them were young. Most of them males. Their reasons for having ended up on the surface were varied but all revolved around either dissatisfaction with their station in the Underdark, or with a physical threat that had forced them to seek refuge above ground. He noticed that they were still mostly quite happy to let Vierna, who was both older and female, lead them. Perhaps it was more comfortable that way.

Vierna spoke with disdain about living outdoors under trees-like faeries, she'd said-but Drizzt suspected that she had not only gotten used to her current way of life but actually enjoyed it.

Tuomas, who had recently been promoted to watch captain, had nearly fainted when Drizzt had mentioned that there was a group of drow living so close to the city. Drizzt feared that had he not been present to serve as a liaison between the two groups, the proximity of the settlements would have eventually resulted in violence. As a member of the watch, his visits served a double purpose.

Most of the drow kept nocturnal schedules. As he and Catti-Brie approached the camp, they were gathered around a cooking fire, preparing breakfast.

"The pale one is back," one of them said quietly. All of them looked up.

They always had mixed feelings about her presence. Only about half of them were interested in interacting with humans whatsoever-but all of them were slowly being won over by her habit of bringing gifts with her. Drizzt hadn't told her to do it, hadn't even thought of it, but was glad she had. For most of them, Catti-Brie was the first human they'd met. Without her, their first encounters with humans would likely have been far less pleasant.

Vierna nodded to him (but not to Catti-Brie) as they stopped at the edge of the firelight.

"Vendui," Catti-Brie said to them. There was a smattering of snickers at her poor accent, which she paid no mind.

"Vendui," Drizzt repeated, with a marginally better accent.

"I brought some things," she continued in the common tongue, even though only a few of them could understand any of it. She knelt and dug through her pack, carefully taking out items and setting them on the ground in front of her. The group watched her with veiled interest.

One of the ones who'd been with the group the longest, Rilszar, picked up a jar she'd placed in front of them, removed the lid, and stared at its contents.

"What is it?" asked one of the others, using the drow language.

"Yellow slime," Rilszar replied, sounding unimpressed.

"It's called honey," Drizzt said. "It's sweet. Kind of like the jam she brought last time."

There was a murmur of reluctant appreciation. If there was one thing that they all agreed upon, it was that the food on the surface was leagues better than anything available in the Underdark.

Catti-Brie also produced two bottles of wine-made of grapes, not mushrooms—and a few packets of seeds for vegetable plants, which Drizzt had to explain.

One of them gave an insulted huff. "Do we look like farmers to her? I was a member of the twelfth house back in Menzoberranzan."

"I was a farmer," snapped Kiaran, the only female among them aside from Vierna and Jhalarra. "Anyway, who gives a shit about any of that now? We're all the same, up here. None of us is too good to do what we have to do to survive."

"Correct," Vierna said. "You can help me plant them, Kiaran."

After they had all spent several minutes examining the items and asking questions about them, Rilszar stood and held up a hand to Catti-Brie, indicating she should wait. He disappeared into a tent across the clearing and returned with a handful of arrows, which he held out to her. A gift. It was the first time any of them had offered her anything in return.

"Oh. Thank you," she said, taken aback. She took the arrows from his hand. She was probably thinking that she didn't need them as much as he did. But she correctly surmised that it would have been insulting to reject the offer.

Rilszar held up a hand again. He took one of her old arrows from her quiver, and held it up beside one of the ones he'd given her. His arrows had obsidian heads that were not rhombus-shaped, like Catti-Brie's, but had barbs that thrust backward on either edge. They were designed to prevent them from being cleanly removed from their target once embedded in flesh. He pointed to the barbs, then mimed stabbing himself with the arrow and struggling to pull it back out. He handed the arrow back to her, giving her a knowing nod and smile.

Catti-Brie gave a tiny sigh. "Yes. Wonderful." It undoubtedly hadn't occurred to him that she had chosen the less cruel variety intentionally.

At Rilszar's invitation, Catti-Brie went for an impromptu shooting contest, using a tree in the distance as a target-though Drizzt suspected he was just watching her to learn from her more than really competing. Archery, the way it existed in the wide expanses of the surface, was an unfamiliar art for most folk from the cramped tunnels of the Underdark.

The rest of the group quickly became occupied with opening the wine and playing with Guen. Drizzt watched them until he sensed a presence at his side. Vierna was there, looking down at him.

"Come," she said. She was carrying one sword on her belt, and two more under her arm. She turned without waiting for a response, and retreated into the woods. Drizzt eagerly followed.

She walked ahead of him, ducking under low branches and around ferns. It wasn't until they'd been walking for several minutes that he spotted her hand resting at her side. Her fingers were moving in quick, sharp motions. She gave no other indication that she was trying to communicate with him. Drizzt watched her fingers closely. Perhaps she'd been signing some other phrase before, but by then she was angrily signing, open your eyes, fool, over and over.

It was part of his training in the language of finger code. Keeping aware enough to catch the subtle signs when they were offered was as much a part of the language as the signs themselves.

"They're open," he said quickly.

She glanced back at him over her shoulder, disapproving. "Not enough so, apparently."

He shrugged. He was happy enough with his progress both in this and in his swordplay, despite her frequent comments about what a slow study he was.

She came to a stop once they'd reached an open clearing in the woods. She paused and looked up at the clear evening sky, dotted with stars. There was appreciation in her gaze. Drizzt wondered how often she came here on her own. Clearly it was a place she liked, if she had recalled its location and taken the time to bring him all the way there.

Finally, she turned to him. "The surface has its charms," she said.

"It does."

She handed him two of the swords-because he always used two now, even if Catti-Brie still found it ridiculous. But instead of raising her own sword, she paused, looking thoughtful.

"We were meant to be here. On the surface," she said, idly turning her the sword over in her hand. "Not just you and I. All of us. Our people lived here for millennia before our cousins drove us underground. Did you know that?"

Drizzt raised his eyebrows at her.

"We never should have let it be taken from us," she said, and looked away. "Maybe we were fooling ourselves, convincing each other that we were content in the Underdark. We distracted ourselves with petty house rivalries and wars that gained us nothing of consequence, when we should have instead been warring for our rightful place on the surface, for our piece of this wide world the gods gave us. We should have been fighting for something that mattered."

She turned to him, her expression flat. "Life below ground was an unending cycle of meaningless squabbles. What was the point of it all?"

"For chaos?" Drizzt guessed dryly. "For the glory of Lolth?"

She made a scornful sound, with the kind of anger and bitterness only the betrayed faithful had. "What did Lolth ever do for us?"

"You followed her because she granted you power."

"Yes. We were her slaves, stupidly praising her over every meager crumb she offered us. She has fooled everyone into believing they have no other choice-that she is the only true source of power. But there are many paths to power. The real truth is that we do not need Lolth. She needs us. She is the weak link among drow. She is the one holding us back."

A small, superstitious part of Drizzt stiffened, wondering if the lady of chaos might be listening in from someplace beyond the mortal realm.

"I still regret that I cannot liberate the rest of our brothers and sisters along with us," Vierna said. "I do not think our people will ever be as great as they once were. Even our grandest cities will never be free of the taint left by her footsteps."

Her voice was soft and melancholy. It wasn't often that Drizzt saw her express sadness. It was a weak emotion. She did not like to appear weak.

"You can't do it for them," Drizzt said quietly. "They will have to free themselves. But you will be waiting here to help them after they do."

She nodded absently. "That will have to be enough."

There was a quiet, contemplative moment, and then Vierna scowled. "Are you really going to stay with that human?"

"Yes, Vierna," Drizzt sighed. He could already see where this was going-again.

"Drizzt, if we are going to make a place for ourselves on the surface, we must grow our numbers, and that means someone will have to start having children. It would be a shameful thing to waste Do'Urden blood on half-breeds. Perhaps you should try speaking to Kiaran. You would be a good match. She is clever and strong, despite being of low birth. You would have powerful children."

"Have you asked Kiaran her thoughts on that idea?"

"Of course. She is amenable."

He nearly dropped his swords. He hadn't expected that.

"Well-what about you?" he sputtered. "Are you going to do your part and start having children soon? Which of those males will you choose as a patron?"

Vierna made a disgusted sound. "I already raised one damned baby and it wasn't even mine." She shook her head, as if to clear her mind of the idea. Usually they had an unstated agreement not to bring up such matters, because they each knew how the other felt about it.

"Let's fight," she said impatiently. "Keep your movements tighter this time."

The fire was dying down when Drizzt returned. Most of the drow had left to do whatever it was they did during the night. Vierna had departed to meet with Jhalarra. Catti-Brie was sitting next to the fire, chin in her hand, her eyelids drooping. Guen was in her lap, napping.

"I'm sorry," Drizzt said, and Catti-Brie looked up. "I didn't realize I'd been gone so long. You must be exhausted." He offered her a hand. She took it, and climbed to her feet.

"You know I don't mind."

He didn't quite believe that. "Still, thank you for coming with me. It means more to me than you know."

She tilted her head at him. "Does it?"



Guen wriggled in Catti-Brie's light grasp. She handed her over to Drizzt, who placed the cat back in his pocket.

"I don't know," Drizzt said hesitantly. "I don't get to share these things with many people. My heritage is something people overlook, not something they want to know more about. I'm grateful you're willing to give it a chance."

A bemused, sad smile graced Catti-Brie's lips. She glanced over her shoulder, then quickly took his hands and squeezed them. "I like coming here. It's not a chore."

"I'm sure."

She gave him a light push in the chest, offended. "Do ye think I'd come if I didn't want to? And why wouldn't I want to? How many people can say they've spent time among a colony of drow refugees?"

Drizzt almost laughed. It was just another adventure to her. Another story to tell when she was old. He hadn't thought of it that way.

"Anyway, that Rilszar is quite entertaining. He has a good sense of humor, you know. I think he was making a joke about Dhunryl's bed head earlier, though it was a little hard to understand nonverbally."

"Oh?" Drizzt said, his voice a little tight. Rilszar had a sort of natural confidence and charm that Drizzt guessed served him well among women. He wondered if Catti-Brie had noticed.

She gave a thoughtful look. "He's quite handsome, too, don't you think?"

"Now you're just teasing me."

"That's right," she said with a cruel smile.

He took a step closer to her. "Is there something you're trying to bait me into?" he asked. She grinned. He paused there for a moment to look at her appreciatively. He never got tired of looking at her. He was fairly sure he could do it all day and never tire of it.

He leaned in to kiss her. She spoke a moment before his lips reached hers.

"I received a letter last night," she said.

He pulled back to look at her. Her smile was gone, suddenly. "A letter?"

"A courier came yesterday. Said she'd been looking for me for weeks, the poor girl. It was...from me dad."

Drizzt raised his eyebrows, questioning. He was always a little afraid that she would eventually decide to return to the clan for good. Her father frequently encouraged her to do so, though he always seemed to accept Catti-Brie's choices with grace, whatever they were.

Drizzt had never made the assumption that what they had would last forever, but the more time he spent with her, the more he hoped it would.

"He wants me to come back," she said. There was a solemness in her voice that said, unspoken, that this time was different. She was leaving. Not the way she left on jobs, with the assurance that she'd return in a week or two or three. Really leaving.

He took a step back, still watching her. He said nothing.

"Don't look so upset about it," she pleaded.

"Are you going to go?" he asked, trying to sound indifferent, which he doubted was fooling anyone.

She paused, then nodded.

It hit him even harder than he'd expected it would. If he'd had some warning, maybe it would have been easier-but coming so suddenly like this, the news instantly settled like a stone in his stomach, painful and heavy. He tried to imagine going on with his life without her. He hadn't planned on that.

He sat down on a fallen log beside the fire.

"Me dad-He's after this place called Mithral Hall," Catti-Brie went on. "Have you heard of it?"

Drizzt shook his head.

She gave a tiny, tired roll of her eyes. "It's a long story. It's an ancient dwarven stronghold, supposedly, hidden away and lost for ages. Probably doesn't actually exist, if we're all being honest, but he's been wanting to try to get to it all his life and he says he can't put it off any longer and..." She shook her head. "None of that matters. The point is, I'm going with him, and it'll be a very long journey there and back, with lots of possibility for danger along the way, and…"

"It's alright. I understand," Drizzt said dully, not wanting to have to hear her officially end things.

She fidgeted with her hands. "The thing is-I hoped that you might want to come along with me."

He looked up at her, frowning. "What?"

"I know it's too much to ask. It will be a few months' trek, at least, and I don't know exactly where we're going, and you have your work and your family and friends here in Crosswell. It's not so easy to just leave all that, not when you don't know when you'll be coming back-believe me, I know. But I've been away from my family for a long time. It's time for me to go back." She turned to him, her expression solemn. "But I know I wouldn't be completely happy there if you weren't with me."

It was the third time since he'd met her that she'd asked him to go on an adventure with her. But this time, she was nervous when she asked. Because she was afraid he'd say no.

"You want to bring me?" Drizzt asked, laughing a little. "To your clan?"

"You don't have to answer yet. I've got one more job here before I leave for the dale. If you—"

"I want to go."

She raised her eyebrows. There was a pause before she asked, "Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure." She looked so surprised that Drizzt began to second guess himself. "Was I...not supposed to say that?"

She laughed, pulled him to his feet, and wrapped her arms around him. "Of course you were supposed to. I just-I didn't think-" She trailed off, and hugged him tighter. Drizzt smiled into her hair, and hugged her back.

"What will your clan have to say about this? We've met before, if you remember. It didn't go well."

"Come on, Drizzt. You're not going to let some grumpy old dwarves scare you off, are you?"

"No, I'm not."

"Good. I'm telling you, they're all bark and no bite. And I know they'll love you, once they get to know you. Oh! You'll get to meet all our friends from Icewind Dale! I can't wait. This is going to be amazing."

He thought of the near future, and of the future beyond-a future with her.

"Yes," he said. "It is."

A/N: Big thank you to everyone who kudos'd/commented/etc. Your support means a lot. Thank you for reading.