Disclaimer: The recognizable characters appearing in this story are © Wizards of the Coast, Inc., all rights reserved. They are used without permission and for entertainment purposes only. No profit is being made by the author for writing this story. No infringement upon nor challenge to the rights of the copyright holders is intended; nor should any be inferred.
Chapter 1: Perfection
Zak finished the sword dance for the fourth time in a row and lowered his blades, sweat stinging his eyes.
"Perfect. Now do it again."
Zak wiped his sweaty palms and cast his father a look of annoyance. Here he was, sweltering in the afternoon sun while his father stood in the shade at the edge of the clearing. What's more, the drow was casually resting against a tree with his arms crossed. So irritating. "You said it was perfect. Why should I do it again?"
Drizzt remembered back to the practice gym in dark Menzoberanzzen all those years ago. He'd asked his father that same question more than once, but the answer was always, merely, "Shall we make it twice more?" For a moment Drizzt considered giving the same response, but he decided an explanation would serve better purpose here. "It was perfect–" Zak grinned and looked like he was about to say something, but Drizzt carried on "–but if you want it to remain perfect, you must practice perfection. If you want your arms and legs to automatically perform the right attacks and blocks in a battle, if you want your subconscious mind to guide your every move, then it is not enough to merely practice until you reach perfection – you must practice perfection."
The nineteen-year-old looked thoughful. He regarded his own reflection in his right sword blade, long and straight. Then he nodded, almost imperceptibly. "Alright." He assumed the opening stance, but to his surprise Drizzt came out from the shade and drew his own blades, falling into position right beside him.
Four blades cut the air in perfect harmony, two long swords and two curving scimitars. A dance of perfect synchronization. Zak felt his father's scimitar rushing down a mere inch from his left shoulder as they both performed a downward chop with their right blade, but it did not concern him in the least. He knew who he was fighting beside. Their inner blades clashed in a metallic ring as both executed a left block and a right slash, still in perfect harmony.
"He has come a long ways," Drizzt thought as they continued the sequence. Zak's finely controlled moves were indeed becoming honed to a finer edge each day. With a final upper block and forward lunge, the sword dance ended. Drizzt nodded in approval and said once again, "Perfect."
Zak grinned at his father's praise, his breath coming hard after practicing the rountine five times. "Perfect enough to call it a day?"
Drizzt smiled. "That's up to you," he said, turning to walk away.
Zak hated that reply. Obviously he was tired, and sick of the sword dance already, but Drizzt's "It's-up-to-you" didn't really allow him to quit practicing – not if he wanted to appear dedicated anyway. Then again, maybe if he did call it a day he would appear confident and decisive. He wanted to be all three – dedicated, confident, and decisive – but sometimes he felt like he was none of those things. Who was he really? Was he just becoming another Drizzt Do'Urden? And if he didn't, what would people think? Nothing less than weapons master-like ability would be expected from the son of the legend. And yet...what did Zak want to do personally? What were his goals? He didn't know, and that left him with these irritating, nagging feelings of uncertainty. Zak sheathed his swords. He needed to think. He wiped his sweaty palms, picked up his discarded cloak, and headed into the quiet coolness of the forest.