A man inferior with the blade or with his thoughts can still so elevate himself, " Entreri explained curtly, "if he can impart the belief that some god or other speaks through him. It is the greatest deception in all the world and one embraced by kings and lords, while the minor lying thieves on the streets or Calimport and other cities lose their tongues for so attempting to coax the purses of others.
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Do we behave out of fear of punishment, or out of the demands of our heart? For me, it is the latter, as I would hope is true for all adults, thought I know from bitter experience that such is not often the case. To act in a manner designed to catapult you into heaven would seem transparent to a god, any god, for if ones heart is not in allignment with the creator of that heaven, then... what is the point?
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I pray that the world never runs out of dragons. I say that in all sincerity, though I have played a part in the death of one great wyrm. For the dragon is the quintessential enemy, the greatest foe, the unconquerable epitome of devastation. The dragon, above all other creatures, even the demons and the devils, evokes images of dark grandeur, of the greatest beast curled asleep on the greatest treasure hoard. They are the ultimate test of the hero and the ultimate fright of the child. They are older than the elves and more akin to the earth than the dwarves. The great dragons are the preternatural beast, the basic element of the beast, that darkest part of our imagination. The wizards cannot tell you of their origin, though they believe that a great wizard, a god of wizards, must have played some role in the first spawning of the beast. The elves, with their long fables explaining the creation of every aspect of the world, have many ancient tales concerning the origin of the dragons, but they admit, privately, that they really have no idea of how the dragons came to be. My own belief is more simple, and yet, more complicated by far. I believe that dragons appeared in the world immediately after the spawning of the first reasoning race. I do not credit any god of wizards with their creation, but rather, the most basic imagination wrought of unseen fears, of those first reasoning mortals. We make the dragons as we make the gods, because we need them, because, somewhere deep in our hearts, we recognize that a world without them is a world not worth living in. There are so many people in the land who want an answer, a definitive answer, for everything in life, and even for everything after life. They study and they test, and because those few find the answers for some simple questions, they assume that there are answers to be had for every question. What was the world like before there were people? Was there nothing but darkness before the sun and the stars? Was there anything at all? What were we, each of us, before we were born? And what, most importantly of all, shall we be after we die? Out of compassion, I hope that those questioners never find that which they seek. One self-proclaimed prophet came through Ten-Towns denying the possibility of an afterlife, claiming that those people who had died and were raised by priests, had, in fact, never died, and that their claims of experiences beyond the grave were an elaborate trick played on them by their own hearts, a ruse to ease the path to nothingness. For that is all there was, he said, an emptiness, a nothingness. Never in my life have I ever heard one begging so desperately for someone to prove him wrong. This is kind of what I believe right now... although, I do not want to be proved wrong... For what are we left with if there remains no mystery? What hope might we find if we know all of the answers? What is it within us, then, that so desperately wants to deny magic and to unravel mystery? Fear, I presume, based on the many uncertainties of life and the greatest uncertainty of death. Put those fears aside, I say, and live free of them, for if we just step back and watch the truth of the world, we will find that there is indeed magic all about us, unexplainable by numbers and formulas. What is the passion evoked by the stirring speech of the commander before the desperate battle, if not magic? What is the peace that an infant might know in its mother's arms, if not magic? What is love, if not magic? No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith. And that, I fear, for any reasoning, conscious being, would be the cruelest trick of all. -Drizzt Do'Urden
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We are all dying, every moment that passes of every day. That is the inescapable truth of this existence. It is a truth that can paralyze us with fear, or one that can energize us with impatience, with the desire to explore and experience, with the hope- nay, the iron-will!- to find a memory in every action. To be alive, under sunshine, or starlight, in weather fair or stormy. To dance with every step, be they through gardens of flowers or through deep snows.
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Selfishly, perhaps, Catti-brie had determined that the assassin was her own business. He had unnerved her, had stripped away years of training and discipline and reduced her to the quivering semblance of a frightened child. But she was a young woman now, no more a girl. She had to personally respond to that emotional humiliation, or the scars from it would haunt her to her grave, forever paralyzing her along her path to discover her true potential in life.
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Damn you to Lolth's web!" he said. "Don't you dare pretend if doesn't matter to you!" "Why do you care?" Drizzt growled back at him. "No one who has ever made a diffence?" "Do you believe that?" "What do you want from me, son of Baenre?" "Just the truth-your truth. Yoy believe that you have never mae a difference?" "Perhaps there is no difference to be made, " Drizzt replied. "Do not ever say that, " Jarlaxle said to him. "Why do you care?" Drizzzt asked. "Because you were the one who escaped, " Jarlaxle replied. "Don't you understand? Jarlaxle went on. "I watched you-we all watched you. Whenever a matron mother, or almost any female of Menzoberranzan was about, we spoke your name with vitriol, promising to avenge Lolth and kill you." "But whenever they were not around, the name of Drizzt Do'Urden was spoken with jealousy, often reverence. You do not understand, do you? You don't even recognize the difference you've made to so many of us in Menzoberranzan." "How? Why?" "Because you were the one who escaped!" "You are here with me!" Drizzt argued. "Are you bound to the City of Spiders by anything more than your own designs? By Bregan D'Aerthe?" "I'm not talking about the city, you obstinate fool, " Jarlaxle replied, his vocie lowering. Again Drizzt looked at him, at a loss. "The hertiage, " Jarlaxle explained. "The fate.
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But in his years among the drow, Drizzt Do'Urden had learned to look beyond physical beauty and physical attraction. Drizzt did not separate the physical from the emotional. He was a superb fighter because he fought with his heart and would no sooner battle merely for the sake of battle than he would mate for the sake of the physical act.
He's not wanting to fight, " she assured the captain. "He is driven by curiosity?" Deudermont asked. "By loyalty, " Catti-brie answered. "And nothing more. Drizzt is bound by friendship to ye and to the crew, and if a simple contest against the man will make for an easier sail, then he's up to the fight. But there is no curiosity in Drizzt. No stupid pride. He's not for caring who's the better at swordplay." Deudermont nodded and his expression brightened. The young woman's words confirmed his belief in his friend.
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Catti-brie didn't blink, barely drew breath. She was thinking how noble this drow had been. So many other men would not have asked questions, would have taken advantage of the situation. And would that have been such a bad thing? the young woman had to ask herself now. Her feelings for Drizzt were deep and real, a bond of friendship and love. Would it have been such a bad thing if he had made love to her in that room? Yes, she decided, for both of them, because, while it was her body that had been offered, it was Khazid'hea that was in control. Things were awkward enough between them now, but if Drizzt had relented to the feelings that Catti-brie knew he held for her, if he had not been so noble in that strange situation and had given in to the offered temptation, likely neither of them would have been able to look the other in the eye afterward. Like they were doing now, on a quiet plateau high in the mountains, with a chill and crisp breeze and the stars glowing even more brightly above them. "Ye're a good man, Drizzt Do'Urden, " the grateful woman said with a heartfelt smile. "Hardly a man, " Drizzt replied, chuckling, and glad for the relief of the tension. Only a temporary relief, though. The chuckle and the smile died away almost immediately, leaving them in the same place, the same awkward moment, caught somewhere between romance and fear.
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Catti-brie continued to stare at the drow as the wizards walked up. The woman did not know what to make of Drizzt's cryptic answers. Drizzt had let Tarnheel win, she figured, or at least had allowed the man to fight to a draw. For some reason the young woman did not understand, she didn't want to think that Tarnheel had actually beaten Drizzt; she didn't want to think that anyone could beat Drizzt.
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He saw tears rimming her blue eyes, tears that washed away Drizzt's anger, that told him that what had happened between himself and Catti-brie had apparently not been so deeply buried. The last time they had met, on this very spot, they had hidden the questions they both wanted to ask behind the energy of a sparring match. Catti-brie's concentration had to be complete on that occasion, and in the days before it, as she had fought to master her sword, but now that task was completed. Now, like Drizzt, she had time to think, and in that time, Catti-brie had remembered. "Ye're knowing it was the sword?" she asked, almost pleaded. Drizzt smiled, trying to comfort her. Of course it had been the sentient sword that had inspired her to throw herself at him. Fully the sword, only the sword. But a large part of Drizzt - and possibly of Catti-brie, he thought in looking at her - wished differently. There had been an undeniable tension between them for some time, a complicated situation, and even more so now, after the possession incident with Khazid'hea.
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do you love her" Wulfgar asked suddenly, and the drow was off his guard. "Of course I do, " Drizzt responded truthfully. "As I love you, and Bruenor, and Regis." "I would not interfere-" Wulfgar started to say, but he was stopped by Drizzt's chuckle. "The choice is neither mine nor yours, " the drow explained, "but Catti-brie's. Remember, what you had, my friend, and remember what you, in your foolishness, nearly lost." Wulfgar looked long and hard at his dear friend, determined to heed that wise advice. Catti-brie's life was Catti-brie's to decide and whatever, or whomever, she chose, Wulfgar would always be among friends. The winter would be long and cold, thick with snow and mercifully uneventful. Things would not be the same between the friends, could never be after all they had experienced, but they would be together again, in heart and in soul. Let no man, and no fiend, ever try to separate them again!
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We are the center. In each of our minds - some may call it arrogance, or selfishness - we are the center, and all the world moves about us, and for us, and because of us. This is the paradox of community, the one and the whole, the desires of the one often in direct conflict with the needs of the whole. Who among us has not wondered if all the world is no more than a personal dream? I do not believe that such thoughts are arrogant or selfish. It is simply a matter of perception; we can empathize with someone else, but we cannot truly see the world as another person sees it, or judge events as they affect the mind and the heart of another, even a friend. But we must try. For the sake of all the world, we must try. This is the test of altruism, the most basic and undeniable ingredient for society. Therein lies the paradox, for ultimately, logically, we each must care more about ourselves than about others, and yet, if, as rational beings we follow that logical course, we place our needs and desires above the needs of our society, and then there is no community. I come from Menzoberranzan, city of drow, city of self. I have seen that way of selfishness. I have seen it fail miserably. When self-indulgence rules, then all the community loses, and in the end, those striving for personal gains are left with nothing of any real value. Because everything of value that we will know in this life comes from our relationships with those around us. Because there is nothing material that measures against the intangibles of love and friendship. Thus, we must overcome that selfishness and we must try, we must care. I saw this truth plainly following the attack on Captain Deudermont in Watership. My first inclination was to believe that my past had precipitated the trouble, that my life course had again brought pain to a friend. I could not bear this thought. I felt old and I felt tired. Subsequently learning that the trouble was possibly brought on by Deudermont's old enemies, not my own, gave me more heart for the fight. Why is that? The danger to me was no less, nor was the danger to Deudermont, or to Catti-brie or any of the others about us. Yet my emotions were real, very real, and I recognized and understood them, if not their source. Now, in reflection, I recognize that source, and take pride in it. I have seen the failure of self-indulgence; I have run from such a world. I would rather die because of Deudermont's past than have him die because of my own. I would suffer the physical pains, even the end of my life. Better that than watch one I love suffer and die because of me. I would rather have my physical heart torn from my chest, than have my heart of hearts, the essence of love, the empathy and the need to belong to something bigger than my corporeal form, destroyed. They are a curious thing, these emotions. How they fly in the face of logic, how they overrule the most basic instincts. Because, in the measure of time, in the measure of humanity, we sense those self-indulgent instincts to be a weakness, we sense that the needs of the community must outweigh the desires of the one. Only when we admit to our failures and recognize our weaknesses can we rise above them. Together.
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Another week of emptiness, of solitude, though the schooner was fully crewed and there were few places where someone could be out of sight of everyone else. That was the thing about the open ocean, you were never physically alone, yet all the world seemed removed. Catti-brie and Drizzt had spent hours together, just standing and watching, each lost, drifting on the rolls of the azure blanket, together and yet so alone.
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Catti-brie had to believe that now, recalling the scene in light of the drow's words. She had to believe that her love for Wulfgar had been real, very real, and not misplaced, that he was all she had thought him to be. Now she could. For the first time since Wulfgar's death, Cattie-brie could remember him without pangs of guilt, without the fears that, had he lived, she would not have married him. Because Drizzt was right; Wulfgar would have admitted the error despite his pride, and he would have grown, as he always had before. That was the finest quality of the man, an almost childlike quality, that viewed the world and his own life as getting better, as moving toward a better way in a better place. What followed was the most sincere smile on Cattie-brie's face in many, many months. She felt suddenly free, suddenly complete with her past, reconciled and able to move forward with her life. She looked at the drow, wide-eyed, with a curiosity that seemed to surprise Drizzt. She could go on, but what exactly did that mean? Slowly, Cattie-brie began shaking her head, and Drizzt came to understand that the movement had something to do with him. He lifted a slender hand and brushed some stray hair back from her cheek, his ebony skin contrasting starkly with her light skin, even in the quiet light of night. "I do love you, " the drow admitted. The blunt statement did not catch Catti-brie by surprise, not at all. "As you love me, " Drizzt went on, easily, confident that his words were on the mark. "And I, too, must look ahead now, must find my place among my friends, beside you, without Wulfgar." "Perhaps in the future, " Catti-brie said, her voice barely a whisper. "Perhaps, " Drizzt agreed. "But for now... " "Friends, " Catti-brie finished. Drizzt moved his hand back from her cheek, held it in the air before her face, and she reached up and clasped it firmly. Friends
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Station is the paradox of the world of my people, the limitation of our power within the hunger for power. It is gained through treachery and invites treachery against those who gain it. Those most powerful in Menzoberranzan spend their days watching over their shoulders, defending against the daggers that would find their backs. Their deaths usually come from the front." -Drizzt Do'Urden
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You view the gods as entities without, " Montolio tried to explain. "You see them as physical beings trying to control our actions for their own ends, and thus you, in your stubborn independance, reject them. The gods are within, I say, whether one has named his own or not. You have followed Mielikki all your life, Drizzt. You merely never had a name to put on your heart.
Drizzt looked long and hard at the young woman, tje dedicated warrior, and he understood that Danica, too, had been forced into a great sacrifice because of Cadderly's choice. He sensed an anger within her, but it was buried deep. overwhelmed by her love for this man and her admiration for his sacrifice. Catti-brie didn't miss any of it. She, who had lost her love, surely empathized with Danica, and yet, she knew that the woman was undeserving of any sympathy. In those few sentences of explanation, in the presence of Cadderly and of Danica, and within the halls of this most reverent of structures, Catti-broe understood that to give sympathy to Danica would belittle the sacrifice, would diminish what Cadderly had accomplished in exchange for his years.
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Arrogance convinced me that by sheer determination, I could conquer helplessness itself. Stubborn and foolish youth, I must admit, for when I look back on those years now, I see quite clearly that rarely did I stand alone. Always there were friends, true and dear, lending me support even when I believed I did not want it, and even when I did not realize they were doing it... These were the companions who justified my principles, who gave me strength to continue against any foe, real or imagined. These were the companions who fought the helplessness, the rage, and frustration. These were the friends who gave me my life.
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Nostalgia is a necessary thing, I believe, and a way for all of us to find peace in that which we have accomplished, or even failed to accomplish. At the same time, if nostalgia precipitates actions to return to that fabled, rosy-painted time, particularly in one who believes his life to be a failure, then it is an empty thing, doomed to produce nothing but frustration and an even greater sense of failure.
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There is a fine line between friendship and parenting, and when that line is crossed, the result is often disastrous. A parent who strives to make a true friend of his or her child may well sacrifice authority, and though the parent may be comfortable with surrendering the dominant position, the unintentional result will be to steal from that child the necessary guidance and, more importantly, the sense of security the parent is supposed to impart. On the opposite side, a friend who takes a role as parents forgets the most important ingredient of friendship: respect. For respect is the guiding principle of friendship, the lighthouse beacon that directs the course of any true friendship. And respect demands trust.
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Hindsight, I think, is a useless tool. We, each of us, are at a place in our lives because of innumerable circumstances, and we, each of us, have a responsibility (if we do not like where we are) to move along life's road, to find a better path if this one does not suit, or to walk happily along this one if it is indeed our life's way. Changing even the bad things that have gone before would fundamentally change who we are, and whether or not that would be a good thing, I believe, it is impossible to predict. So I take my past experiences... and try to regret nothing. -Drizzt Do'urden
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Drizzt Do'Urden had followed a line of precepts based upon discipline and ultimate optimism. He fought for a better world because he believed that a better world could and would be made. He had never held any illusions that he would change the world, of course, or even a substantial portion of it, but he always held strongly that fighting to better just his own little pocket of the world was a worthwhile cause.
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Who knows what adventure we might find here?" Drizzt said excitedly. "Who knows what secrets might be unveiled to us?" "Adventure?" Dunkin asked incredulously, looking to the carnage along the beach, and to the zombies still frozen in the water. "Reward?" he added with a chuckle. "Punishment, more likely, though I have done nothing to harm you, any of you!" "We are here to unveil a mystery, " Drizzt said, as though that fact should have piqued the man's curiosity, "To learn and to grow. To live as we discover the secrets of the world about us.
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Cook another feast, ' Bruenor grumbled. 'Suren the elf has his eye fixed on another wedding." Drizzt let it go at that. Maybe there was a ring of truth in Bruenor's words for some distant date. No longer did Drizzt limit his hopes and desires. He would see the world as he could and draw his choices from his wishes, not from limitations he might impose upon himself. For now, though, Drizzt had found something too personal to be shared. For the first time in his life, the drow had found peace.
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A sense of accomplishment. It is the most important ingredient in any rational being's formula of happiness. It is the element that builds confidence and allows us to go on to other, greater tasks. It is the item that promotes a sense of self-worth, that allows any person to believe there is value in life itself, that gives a sense of purpose to bolster us as we face life's unanswerable questions.
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All my life, I have been searching for a home, " the drow said quietly. "All my life, I have been wanting more than that which was offered to me, more than Menzoberranzan, more than friends who stood beside me out of personal gain. I always thought home would be a place, and indeed it is, but not in any physical sense. It is a place in here, " Drizzt said, putting a hand to his heart and turning back to look upon his companions. "It is a feeling given by true friends. I know this now, and know that I am home." "But ye're off to Carradoon, " Cattie-brie said softly. "And so're we!" Bruenor bellowed. Drizzt smiled at them, laughed aloud. "If circumstances will not allow me to remain at home, " the ranger said firmly, "then I will simply take my home with me!
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Loss of empathy might well be the most enduring and deep-cutting scar of all, the silent blade of an unseen enemy, tearing at our hearts and stealing more than our strength. Stealing our will, for what are we without empathy? What manner of joy might we find in our live if we cannot understand the joys and pains of those around us, if we cannot share in a greater community.
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But love, honest love, requires empathy. It is a sharing-of joy, of pain, of laughter, and of tears. Honest love makes one's soul a reflection of the partner's moods. And as a room seems larger when it is lined with mirrors, so do the joys become amplified. And as the individual items within the mirrored room seem less acute, so does pain diminish and fade, stretched thin by the sharing. That is the beauty of love, whether in passion or friendship. A sharing that multiplies the joys and thins the pains.
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