Disclaimer: Jarlaxle and Artemis are not my characters, they belong to R.A. Salvatore and Wizards of the Coast. I am not profiting from them in any way. I am merely using them for my amusement, and hopefully that of my readers.

Carahaniel is a my own creation, that I thought up on a whim.

The nameless elf looked up from her hand of cards with spry smile, "It would appear I'm out of money."

Jarlaxle eyed her thick, shoulder length golden hair, bright emerald eyes, and smooth bronze skin, his eye dipping down noticeably to take in craftily covered curves, he smiled lasciviously, "Then perhaps we can bet on something else," he trailed off, leaving the implications to her imagination.

What did he have to lose? His cards were good. The probability that she had a better hand was almost inconceivable to him.

The sun elf eyed him likewise, she had reservations about the drow, but he certainly did not seem to uphold the reputations of his kin, she licked her lips inviting, "That is certainly an intriguing proposition. Very well. I say we take our money of the table altogether. If you win, I spend the night with you," her spine quivered slightly at the notion of bedding a drow, but she continued, "If I win …" her lips gathered into a mischievous smirk as she considered her next words, "you give me your hat."

Jarlaxle recoiled, genuinely surprised by the elf's terms, he reached up and folded his hand around the hat protectively, "My hat?"

The elf nodded impishly, "Those are my terms. My body, your hat. That's the bet." She shook her head lightly, with practised precision, flipping her hair over her shoulder and revealing just a hint of her slender neckline.

Jarlaxle couldn't help but watch. He knew he was being played, but she was gorgeous, and his hand was nigh unbeatable.

He nodded, "Very well. Your body, my hat."

He held out his hand, she clasped it softly, her warm smooth skin shone strikingly against his charcoal black - a shock ran through Jarlaxle and his breath became shallow. He cleared his throat, using the distraction to regain control of his libido. He held her gaze, smiling as they revealed their cards.

Jarlaxle's eyes widened as he saw her cards - the only hand that could best his, and his eyes flashed, "How? … You cheated."

She snorted, "I don't cheat. I just got lucky. Now, your hat?" She held her hand out expectantly, "Or, drow that you are, do you intend to refuse because the outcome was not in your favor?" She accused with sarcastic sweetness.

Jarlaxle stared at the elf, his mouth opened slightly, a look of sincere loss on his face, "My hat." He whispered - half mournful, half horrified - but still he reached up, slowly, and reluctantly took his hat off, placing it into the hands of the gorgeous elf.

She plucked it from him, twirled it skillfully and dropped it on her head. Jarlaxle's sorrow only heightened as he realized just how perfectly it suited her. He replayed the game in his head, content that she indeed had played fairly. He was stunned to have lost, but he accepted it as gracefully as any drow ever could. He stood, bowed shallowly, and turned to leave.

"Aren't you even going to ask my name, charming drow?" The elf was leaning back in her chair, fancy boots - emerald green with bronze detail - resting brazenly on the table.

He almost chuckled, seeing her in the pose he had so favored in his Bregan D'aerthe office. It made his loss somewhat less humiliating to know it had been to someone so like himself.

"What then, my lady, is the name of she who bested me?" He asked charmingly.

"Carahaniel Birtauré," she removed the hat, sweeping it to the side and bowing her head feigned deference, "It is a pleasure to meet you, Jarlaxle of Bregan D'aerthe. A pleasure I shall never forget."

Jarlaxle raised an eyebrow, "You know of me?"

Carahaniel re-donned the hat and rolled gracefully onto her feet, "I know everything that happens in my city, Jarlaxle. I also take personal interest when a drow deigns to show himself. I'll instruct my contacts to offer any assistance that you require."

Jarlaxle's head dipped shallowly in gratitude, "I hope your assistance is worth it's cost," he waived at his hat.

Green eyes rolled in annoyance, "It will be, drow. It will be."

Jarlaxle shrugged and walked out of the tavern. He didn't see her nod to an elf in the corner of the bar, who hopped up and rolled out the window of the tavern. He did notice a movement in the shadows, but when he turned to investigate he saw nothing suspicious. The drow was no fool, and the emptiness of the shadows unnerved him more than it comforted him. He suddenly realized that his every move was being watched. He hurried back to the inn where Artemis was waiting for him. He climbed the wall, entering the room they shared through the window.

Artemis was sitting up in his bed, reading a scroll the two had liberated the day before. Liberated, wondered the drow suddenly, or were allowed to take? The human nodded slightly to acknowledge the drow's presence, and Jarlaxle closed the shutters over the window in hopes of some privacy. He glanced nervously around the room, the move bringing Artemis out of his thoughtful perusing of the scroll with an eyebrow raised in concern.

Artemis gasped softly, noticing the drow's bald head, "Where is that ungodly hat?"

The sorrow, almost shame, in the drow's eye was genuine when he answered in a whisper, "I lost it in a card game."

Artemis sat up at the surprising turn of events, "You lost your hat?"

A nod was the only answered.

"Why on earth would you bet your hat in the first place?"

Jarlaxle groaned pitifully, "Because the odds of my hand losing were so minuscule, and the prize I'd have gained was well-worth the risk - or so I was manipulated into believing."

Artemis smirked, finding it hard to find sympathy for the person who seemed to manipulate the entire world - including the assassin, "Outcharmed, Jarlaxle? Inconceivable. Ah well, it was a charity though, a kindness to rid you of that loathsome accessory."

Jarlaxle pinned him with a look of pained incredulity, "Why do you mock me?"

Artemis quieted, his smile stolen by the sheer weight of the drow's uncharacteristic emotion, "Apologies. Is there more?"

Jarlaxle nodded, rubbing his bald head thoughtfully, "She claims that this is her city."

"She?" Artemis sighed in frustration at his friend's obvious mistake, "Now I know what prize led you to such a foolish bet."

Jarlaxle snorted, "Indeed. She's exquisite and audacious. Roguishly charming, on top of the world. Reveling in the chaos."

"She sounds like you."

"You think I'm exquisite?" Jarlaxle quickly returned, raising an inquiring eyebrow.

Artemis cleared his throat in embarrassment, "There's significant evidence to suggest that women find you so. I've no idea what they all see in you."

Jarlaxle dismissed the insult, "Regardless, she's good, Artemis. She knew who I was, she knew about Bregan D'aerthe. She's watching us."

Artemis's hand felt onto his dagger, "Are we in danger?"
"I don't know," Jarlaxle's bluntness unnerved the assassin, "I feel out of place in this situation. These things usually happen the other way. She offered assistance, should we need it, but that's no comfort. Often have I rendered assistance merely as a way to manipulate my enemy into showing his hand."

"Were you followed?" Artemis asked, suddenly glancing around the room.

Jarlaxle scowled uncertainly, "I didn't see anyone, but I believe so."

Artemis sprung off the bed, shrinking into a defensive crouch he surveyed the closed window and the door, "There's someone here."

Jarlaxle scoffed, "Don't be ridiculous. Unless someone snuck past you while you read, the room is clear."

Artemis shook his head, "The room is clear, but not safe. Check the window."

Jarlaxle rolled his eyes, but pulled a dagger out of his bracer and lengthened it, moving silently to the window. Artemis padded to the door, kneeling behind it. His jeweled dagger was resting lightly in his left hand, Charon's Claw partially drawn from it's sheath. Jarlaxle opening the left shutter, bringing his weapon up to block any possible missile. He looked out, seeing nothing at first. In his peripheral, he saw Artemis open the door, duck around it and survey the corridor. Jarlaxle noticed something resting on the roof of the adjacent building. He peered intently as he heard the door close behind him. He decided the shape was nothing immediately worrisome and turned to face Entreri.

~In the Hall~

Once into the hall, a hand came out of the shadows. Entreri nearly managed to cut it off, but his sword couldn't make a mark on the perfect, bronze skin. The hand closed around his throat, firmly but not painfully, preventing him from speaking. A lithe form pressed up against his back, and Entreri once again tried to plunged his dagger into her.

"Relax, Artemis Entreri, I have no intention of harming you, or your friend," A large coin purse and a brass key dropped into the assassin's lap, "All I want is for you to disappear for an hour or two," her throaty voice told Entreri why, "The scroll is a description of a map, as you no doubt have deciphered. Follow it, with my blessing. You won't be disappointed. By the time you've made it back, I'll be gone."

She let him go, sliding around him. He tried a third time to kill her, but when he failed he gave up, cursing magic users. The door closed, and Entreri sighed, picking up his gifts and walked to the stairs exiting the inn. He pocketed the key, and opened the pouch. He stopped on the stairs, staring at it's contents. Three potions, a small note, and a large, bright emerald. He didn't have jeweler's eye, but he was willing to bet it was worth several thousand gold. He picked up the note and read it as he started walking again. It was a list of the potions - invisibility, non-detection, and spider climbing - and a description indicating which was which. At the bottom of the note was a single sentence, "Use them wisely." A curious smirk found its way onto the assassin's face. Apparently, the drow wasn't the only one in for a good time tonight.

~In the Room~

It wasn't Entreri! Jarlaxle closed the window, turning to face the elf squarely.

The elf smirked, taking the drow's hat in her hands and twirling it, "Good evening."

Jarlaxle looked past her to the closed door, "Entreri" he began but she laughed.

"Your assassin is perfectly fine, I assure you. Flustered perhaps, by the inability of his blade to pierce me, but he will soon forgive me."

"Artemis Entreri does not forgive."

"I've offered him a challenging adventure with the promise of great treasure at the end," she said, "He will forgive me."

Jarlaxle furrowed his brow, "The scroll?"

"Was for his benefit alone. We would never have let you accompany him," Carahaniel enlightened him, leaning on one hip, still playing artfully with the hat, "You have a different adventure ahead of you, if you drop your weapon."

The sword dropped to the ground with resounding clatter, and Jarlaxle took a tentative step forward, "But I lost the game, Carahaniel."

She danced forward playfully, putting the hat back onto Jarlaxle's head as if it were a crown, "The game was never about the cards, handsome drow," she breathed softly, trailing her hand down his face to hold his chin.

Jarlaxle chuckled, replaying the game in his mind, and brought himself inside her reach. Wrapping an arm around the gorgeous elf's frame, he pulled her down ever so slightly, so that she matched his shorter build. He could see the desire, the lust, in her eyes, clouded by a noticeable hesitation.

Jarlaxle leaned in, kissing her ear tenderly, "Relax, dear Cara. I am drow in skin only. I hold no hatred for my surface kin."

Cara smiled, throwing caution aside, throwing her arms around the drow's neck and letting him lead. He kissed her eagerly the moment he felt her fear subside, walking her to his bed and gently laying her upon it. He took in the entirety of her form, he smiled as he stood there, beginning to remove his brazen attire. It is well worth it, he thought to himself, his hand roamed up to his hat and paused. It was less than a second before his hand let it go, and he climbed onto the bed. The hat stayed on.

I have no basis for this opinion, but I truly do believe that Jarlaxle would be pitiably horrified and mournful if he ever lost that hat, especially if he ever lost it to a pretty girl in a game of chance.