Dragon's LibraryPoetic Challenges
by Anya

This is the result of a challenge on the drowfic list: Write a poem that praises the Spider Queen, and include the word 'Effulgent'.

***

Zaknafein stared at his companion rather owlishly across the table. "You? Want to challenge me?" He considered this novel idea for a moment, transferring his attention to the rather dirty tankard in front of him, and more importantly, the dark wine in it. The wine wasn't particularly good - rather watery, with a cardboard aftertaste, but it served their purpose on the Melee-Magthere leave-days. "I think," he said slowly, voice slurred a little (it had been a cup or two. Maybe three. Or four, or five. He'd lost count), "that you've drunk a little too much for your own good, Jarlaxle."

"I can never drink too much for my own good, abbil," Jarlaxle retorted with a great show of indignation. A floppy part of his fringe fell over one of his eyes, something that females seemed to find extremely adorable. Zaknafein never understood that, even when sober, and the machinations of females were something that interested him - but it did make them somewhat noticeable. "Do you want to accept or not? I'd bet you can't do what I ask you to do."

Zaknafein pulled absently at his long ponytail, liking the way it bobbed when his head moved. The wine was such that he was beginning to like most of the things he saw around him - his hair, the pretty female a few tables away, Jarlaxle's challenge, that sort of thing. "If it's within reason. I don't think I can handle House Baenre, if you want to acquire something in the treasury."

Jarlaxle squinted at him through the floppy fringe to try and see if he was joking. The wine made them both find the remark boisterously funny. Other patrons didn't even look at them - this was Manyfolk, and there weren't that many drow elves around. When he recovered, he opened his mouth again.

Zaknafein cut in before he could speak. "You give me a challenge, I give you a challenge. Within reason. If you ask me to go sneak into House Oblodra, I'd tell you to go mount an assault on Sshamath."

"A House as compared to a city?"

"Or, we could just go outside and fight," Zaknafein said hopefully. "Or we could fight right here."

"I'm not going to fight you when I've just come up with something fun to do," Jarlaxle said stubbornly. Some traits breed true, even in odd families.

"Fine. What do you challenge me to do?"

"I think we can discuss this outside," Jarlaxle rose to his feet unsteadily. "This tavern's beginning to bore me, and creatures might start joining in. I hate it when they start taking sides."

With some bottles to comfort them, they managed to stagger without hitting any walls down an alley in Manyfolk.

"We're outside now," Zaknafein stated the obvious, glancing up at the cavern ceiling that soared high above them. "We're inside the Underdark's outside," he added, then frowned. "Then again, we're outside the inside of the."

"Whatever," Jarlaxle said diplomatically, and got down to business before he could continue. "Okay. I challenge you to compose a poem in praise of the most revered Spider Queen."

"What?" Zaknafein blinked.

"You know, our Quarval-sharess."

"What the hell for? Have you taken leave of what little sense you possessed?"

"Fun, and partly to see if you do more thinking with your sword or your brain."

"Fine," Zaknafein's brow furrowed a little as he thought about his own challenge. "My challenge for you is to get me a bottle of surfacer wine."

Jarlaxle poked him in the ribs, barely. He was beginning to see two of everything. "That's not fair! Those things are terribly expensive and difficult to locate..."

"Exactly my point," Zaknafein grinned triumphantly, narrowly missing banging his head on an outcrop from the wall. Construction tended to become a little quaint in certain parts of Manyfolk. It was probably because most of the slave gangs tended to be scattered by the occasional noble and escort passing by looking for entertainment in a place less protected than Narbondellyn but cleaner than Eastmyr.

"Fine," Jarlaxle sighed theatrically. "But you compose your poem on the spot."

"What, now?" Zaknafein complained. "I can't do that."

"Why?"

"The wine's interfering."

"Good. Then you can forget about surfacer wine."

"It doesn't have to rhyme, does it?" Zaknafein asked plaintively.

"Tell you what. If you don't rhyme, and you don't even need to use the higher form of the drow tongue, you let me substitute another brand of wine for you," Jarlaxle said, taking another swig of the bottle and glancing critically at the level. "We could get it after this thing runs dry. There's still a long time before we have to report back to Magthere."

"You drive a hard bargain," Zaknafein sulked. "I think we should fight. It's a lot simpler. Then we could buy a drink. Then we could fight again, then buy a drink, and then fight again. And then for a change we could go look for female company."

"No. Poem. It's much more fun than listen to you get drunk enough to sing."

"Speak for yourself - you're tone deaf, did you know?"

"Really? My word - you were actually lucid enough to notice that?"

Zaknafein muttered a curse at him. "You're going to regret this," he threatened.

"I've regretted lots of things before, like getting born," Jarlaxle smirked lopsidedly.

"Fine. I hope no one's eavesdropping on us, because."

"It's a poem of praise, Zaknafein. Don't get creative."

"I don't think it's in accord with my religion."

"You're getting creative. Stop procrastinating."

"Vith you, shebali. Right." Zaknafein leant against the wall, rubbing his eyes, and then he spoke in a sardonic voice.

"All honor to the Queen of Eternal Night, for she will watch the darkness,
All glory to the ultrine Spider, for she will aid thy battle,
All beauty to the effulgent Majesty, for she is wrought of grace,
All power to the puissant Goddess, may her dominion never sway.

There's your vithin poem. Now, about that wine."

"Your vocabulary seems more extensive than I'd thought," Jarlaxle grinned. "Have you been reading?"

"There's going to be a fight if you're going to start flapping your damned mouth." For some reason, Jarlaxle's teasing about this rather mortified the top student in Melee-Magthere.

"You know, Zaknafein, I think you're really rather poetic."

"Shut up!"

***

References (God, I love this)

Jarlaxle having hair: I speculated that Jarlaxle had hair sometime in his life. ;p And kept it through Melee-Magthere, then for some obscure reason decided to shave it off. My reasons for believing this I cannot remember at this point of time, because it's 12.30 a.m.

Abbil: friend.

Quarval-sharess: Goddess

Shebali: rogue

Ultrine: supreme. This adjective can only be used in Lloth's case.

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