Streams of Silver 14. Star Light, Star Bright
Wulfgar set Regis and Bruenor bottomward on a mossy bed in a baby allowance added in the wood, afresh agitated over in pain. Drizzt angled up to him a few account later.
"We charge affected here," the drow was saying, "though I ambition we could put added distance..." He chock-full aback he saw his adolescent acquaintance askew on the arena and acquisitive at his afflicted leg, about affected by the pain. Drizzt rushed over to appraise the knee, his eyes addition in shock and disgust.
A troll's hand, apparently from one of those he had afraid afar aback Wulfgar rescued Bruenor, had latched on to the barbaric as he ran, award a alcove in the aback of his knee. One clawed feel had already active itself abysmal into the leg, and two others were alike now arid in.
"Do not look," Drizzt brash Wulfgar. He accomplished into his backpack for his tinderbox and set a baby stick burring, afresh acclimated it to crowd the abject hand. As anon as the affair began to smoke and convulse about, Drizzt slid it from the leg and threw it to the ground. It approved to barrel away, but Drizzt sprang aloft it, pinning it with one of his scimitars and lighting it absolutely with the afire stick.
He looked aback to Wulfgar, afraid at the arduous assurance that had accustomed the barbaric to abide with so abandoned a wound. But now their flight was ended, and Wulfgar had already succumbed to the affliction and the exhaustion. He lay sprawled benumbed on the arena beside Bruenor and Regis.
"Sleep well," Drizzt said cautiously to the three of them. "You acquire acceptable the right." He abashed to anniversary of them to accomplish abiding they were not too abominably hurt. Then, annoyed that they would all recover, he set to his acute watch.
Even the adventurous drow, though, had overstepped the bound of his backbone during the blitz through the Evermoors, and anon he too nodded his arch and abutting his accompany in slumber.
Late the abutting morning Bruenor's annoyed animate them. "Ye forgot me axe!" the dwarf shouted angrily. "I can't be acid stinkin' trolls afterwards me axe!"
Drizzt connected out comfortably, somewhat refreshed, but still far from recovered. "I told you to booty the axe," he said to Wulfgar, who was analogously afraid off his complete slumber.
"I said it clearly," Drizzt scolded mockingly. "Take the axe and leave the careless dwarf."
"'Twas the adenoids that abashed me," Wulfgar replied. "More affiliated to an axe-head than to any adenoids I acquire anytime seen!"
Bruenor aback looked bottomward his connected snout. "Bah!" he growled, "I'll acquisition me a club!" and he tromped off into the forest.
"Some quiet, if you will!" Regis airtight as the aftermost adumbration of his affable dreams flitted away. Disgusted at actuality animate so early, he formed aback over and covered his arch with his cloak.
They could acquire fabricated Silverymoon that actual day, but a distinct night's draft would not abolish the weariness of the canicule they had spent in the Evermoors, and on a boxy alley afore that. Wulfgar, for one, with his afflicted leg and back, had to use a walking stick, and the beddy-bye that Drizzt had activate the night afore had been his first, in about a week. Unlike the moors, this backwoods seemed absolutely wholesome. And admitting they knew that they were still in the agrarian lands, they acquainted safe abundant to amplitude out the alley to the burghal and enjoy, for the aboriginal time aback they had larboard Ten-Towns, a comfortable walk.
They bankrupt out of the backwoods by apex of the abutting day and covered the aftermost few afar to Silverymoon. Afore sunset, they came over the final climb, and looked bottomward aloft the River Rauvin and the endless spires of the bugged city.
They all acquainted the awareness of achievement and abatement aback they glanced bottomward aloft that arresting sight, but none acquainted it added actively than Drizzt Do'Urden. The drow had hoped from the age-old planning of their chance that its aisle would booty him through Silverymoon, admitting he had done annihilation to amplitude Bruenor's accommodation in allotment a course. Drizzt had heard of Silverymoon afterwards his accession in Ten-Towns, and were it not for the actuality that he had activate some admeasurement of altruism in the asperous borderland community, he would acquire set aback at already for the place. Reknowned for their accepting of all who came in chase of knowledge, behindhand of race, the bodies of Silverymoon offered the apostate atramentous elf a accurate befalling to acquisition a home.
Many times he had advised traveling to the place, but article aural him, conceivably the abhorrence of apocryphal achievement and annoyed expectations, kept him aural the aegis of Icewind Dale. Thus, aback the accommodation had been fabricated in Longsaddle that Silverymoon would be their abutting destination, Drizzt had activate himself absolutely adverse the fantasy he had never dared to dream. Attractive bottomward now on his one achievement for accurate accepting in the apparent world, he courageously affected his apprehensions away.
"The Moonbridge," Bruenor remarked aback a wagon beneath aloft the Rauvin, acutely amphibian in mid-air. Bruenor had heard of the airy anatomy as a boy, but had never apparent it firsthand.
Wulfgar and Regis watched the comedy of the aerial wagon in bare amazement. The barbaric had affected abounding of his fear's of abracadabra during his break in Longsaddle, and he was absolutely attractive advanced to exploring this allegorical city. Regis had been actuality already before, but his acquaintance with the abode did annihilation to abate his excitement.
They approached the bouncer column on the Rauvin eagerly, admitting their weariness, the aforementioned column that Entreri's affair had anesthetized four canicule before, with the aforementioned guards who had accustomed the affronted accumulation to access the city.
"Greetings," Bruenor offered in a accent that could be advised affable for the bleak dwarf. "And apperceive ye that the afterimage of yer fair burghal has bringed new activity into me weary heart!"
The guards hardly heard him, absorbed aloft the drow, who had pulled aback his cowl. They seemed curious, for they had never absolutely apparent a atramentous elf, but, they didn't arise too afraid by Drizzt's arrival.
"May we be escorted to the Moonbridge now?" Regis asked afterwards a aeon of blackout that grew added uncomfortable. "You cannot assumption how afraid we are to appearance Silverymoon. So abundant we acquire heard!"
Drizzt doubtable what was forthcoming. An affronted agglomeration welled in his throat.
"Go away," the bouncer said quietly. "You may not pass."
Bruenor's face atramentous in rage, but Regis cut off his explosion. "Surely we acquire done annihilation to account such a acrid judgement," the halfling protested calmly. "We are simple travelers, gluttonous no trouble." His duke went to his jacket, and to the anesthetic ruby, but a scowl from Drizzt apoplectic his plan.
"Your acceptability seems to outweigh your actions," Wulfgar remarked to the guards.
"I am sorry," replied one, "but I acquire my duties, and I see them through."
"Us, or the drow?" Bruenor demanded.
"The drow," answered the guard. "The draft of you may go to the city, but the drow may not pass."
Drizzt acquainted the walls of achievement crumbling about him. His easily trembled at his sides. Never afore had he accomplished such pain, for never afore had he appear to a abode afterwards the apprehension of rejection. Still, he managed to sublimate his actual acrimony and admonish himself that this was Bruenor's quest, not his own, for acceptable or for ill.
"Ye dogs!" Bruenor cried. "Th' elf's account a dozen of ye, and more! I owe him me activity a hundred times, and ye anticipate to say that he's not acceptable abundant for yer abhorrent city! How abounding trolls be layin' asleep for the assignment of yer sword?"
"Be calm, my friend," Drizzt interrupted, absolutely in ascendancy of himself. "I apprehend as much. They cannot apperceive Drizzt Do'Urden. Aloof the acceptability of my people. And they cannot be blamed. You go in, then. I will anticipate your return."
"No!" Bruenor declared in a accent that brooked no debate. "If ye can't go in, afresh none of us will!"
"Think of our goal, adamant dwarf," Drizzt scolded. "The Basement of Sages is in the city. Conceivably our abandoned hope."
"Bah!" Bruenor snorted. "To the Abyss with this accursed burghal and all who animate here! Sundabar sits beneath than a week's walking. Helm, the dwarf-friend, will be added inviting, or I'm a barbate gnome!"
"You should enter," Wulfgar said. "Let not our acrimony defeat our purpose. But I abide with Drizzt. Breadth he cannot go, Wulfgar, son of Beornegar, refuses to go!"
But the angled stomps of Bruenor's chunky legs were already accustomed him bottomward the alley aback out from the city. Regis shrugged at the alternative two and started after, as loyal to the drow as any of them.
"Choose your affected as you wish, and afterwards fear," the bouncer offered, about apologetically. "The Knights of Argent will not afflict you, nor will they let any monsters abreast the borders of Silverymoon."
Drizzt nodded, for admitting the bite of the bounce had not diminished, he accustomed that the bouncer had been abandoned to change the adverse situation. He started boring away, the advancing questions that he had abhorred for so abounding years already alpha to columnist in aloft him.
Wulfgar was not so forgiving. "You acquire wronged him," he said to the bouncer aback Drizzt abashed away. "Never has he aloft brand adjoin any who did not deserve it, and this world, castigation and mine, is bigger off for accepting Drizzt Do'Urden about!"
The bouncer looked away, clumsy to acknowledgment the acceptable scolding.
"And I catechism the account of one who heeds to biased commands," Wulfgar declared.
The bouncer airtight an affronted blaze on the barbarian. "The Lady's affidavit are not asked," he answered, duke on brand hilt. He sympathized with the acrimony of the travelers, but would acquire no criticism of the Adult Alustriel, his admired leader. "Her commands chase a angelic course, and are aloft the acumen of me, or you!" he growled.
Wulfgar did not absolve the blackmail with any appearance of concern. He affronted abroad and started bottomward the alley afterwards his friends.
Bruenor advisedly positioned their affected aloof a few hundred yards bottomward the Rauvin, in bright afterimage of the bouncer post. He had sensed the guard's ache at axis them abroad and he capital to comedy aloft that answerability as acerb as he could.
"Sundabar'll appearance us the way," he kept adage afterwards they had supped, aggravating to argue himself as abundant as the others that their abortion at Silverymoon would not aching the quest. "And aloft that lies Citadel Adbar. If any in all the Realms apperceive of Mithril Hall, it be Harbromm and the dwarves of Adbar!"
"A connected way," Regis commented. "Summer may run out afore we anytime ability the breastwork of King Harbromm."
"Sundabar," Bruenor common stubbornly. "And Adbar if we must!"
The two went aback and alternating with the chat for a while. Wulfgar didn't accompany in, too absorbed on the drow, who had abashed a abbreviate ambit abroad from the affected appropriate afterwards the meal - which Drizzt had hardly affected and stood silently staring at the burghal up the Rauvin.
Presently, Bruenor and Regis acclimatized themselves off to sleep, affronted still, but defended abundant in the assurance of the affected to accede to their weariness. Wulfgar abashed to accompany the drow.
"We shall acquisition Mithril Hall," he offered in comfort, admitting he knew that Drizzt's complaining did not affair their accustomed objective.
Drizzt nodded, but did not reply.
"Their bounce aching you," Wulfgar observed. "I anticipation that you had accustomed your fate willingly. Why is this time so different?"
Again the drow fabricated no move to answer.
Wulfgar admired his privacy. "Take heart, Drizzt Do'Urden, blue-blooded forester and trusted friend. Acquire acceptance that those who apperceive you would die agreeably for you or beside you." He put a duke on Drizzt's accept as he affronted to leave.
Drizzt said nothing, admitting he absolutely accustomed Wulfgar's concern. Their accord had gone far aloft the charge for announced thanks, though, and Wulfgar abandoned hoped that he had accustomed his acquaintance some abundance as he alternate to the camp, abrogation Drizzt to his thoughts.
The stars came out and, activate the drow still continuing abandoned beside the Rauvin. Drizzt had fabricated himself accessible for the aboriginal time aback his antecedent canicule on the surface, and the disappointment he now acquainted triggered the aforementioned doubts that he had believed bound years ago, afore he had anytime larboard Menzoberranzan, the burghal of the atramentous elves. How could he anytime achievement to acquisition any advance in the aurora apple of the blanched elves? In Ten-Towns, breadth murderers and thieves generally rose to positions of account and leadership, he was almost tolerated. In Longsaddle, breadth ageism was accessory to the biased affair of the afloat Harpells, he had been placed on affectation like some mutated acreage animal, mentally poked and prodded. And admitting the wizards meant him no harm, they lacked any benevolence or account for him as annihilation alternative than an anomaly to be observed.
Now Silverymoon, a burghal founded and structured on credo of individuality and fairness, breadth peoples of all contest activate acceptable if they came in goodwill, had alone him. All races, it seemed, except for the aphotic elves.
The authoritativeness of Drizzt's activity as an outcast had never afore been so acutely laid out afore him. No alternative city, not alike a alien village, in all the Realms could action him a home, or an actuality anywhere but on the bound of its civilization. The astringent limitations of his options, and alike moreso, of his approaching hopes for change, afraid him.
He stood now beneath the stars, attractive up at them with the aforementioned abstruse affiliated of adulation and awe as any of his apparent cousins had anytime felt, but aboveboard reconsidering his accommodation to leave the underworld.
Had he gone adjoin a all-powerful plan, aloft the boundaries of some accustomed order? Conceivably he should acquire accustomed his lot in activity and remained in the aphotic city, amid his own kind.
A blink in the night sky brought him out of his introspection. A brilliant aloft him pulsed and grew, already aloft accustomed proportions. Its ablaze bathed the breadth about Drizzt in a bendable glow, and still the brilliant pulsed.
Then the alluring ablaze was gone, and continuing afore Drizzt was a woman, her beard animated argent and her sparkling eyes captivation years of acquaintance and acumen aural the afterglow of abiding youth. She was tall, taller than Drizzt, and straight, cutting a clothes of the finest cottony and a aerial acme of gold and gems.
She looked aloft him with aboveboard sympathy, as if she could apprehend his every anticipation and accustomed absolutely the assortment of affections that he himself had yet to array through.
"Peace, Drizzt Do'Urden," she said in a articulation that chimed like candied music. "I am Alustriel, Aerial Adult of Silverymoon."
Drizzt advised her added closely, admitting her address and adorableness larboard him no doubts as to her claim. "You apperceive of me?" he asked.
"Many by now acquire heard of the Companions of the Hall, for that is the name Harkle Harpell has put aloft your troupe. A dwarf in chase of his age-old home is not so attenuate in the Realms, but a drow elf walking beside him absolutely catches the apprehension of all those he passes."
She swallowed adamantine and looked acutely into his lavender eyes. "It was I who denied you access into the city," she admitted.
"Then why appear to me now?" Drizzt asked, added in affair than in anger, clumsy to accommodate that act of bounce with the actuality who now stood afore him. Alustriel's candor and altruism were able-bodied accepted throughout the northland, admitting Drizzt had amorphous to admiration how abstract the belief charge be afterwards his appointment at the bouncer post. But now that he saw the aerial lady, cutting her honest benevolence openly, he could not discount the tales.
"I acquainted I charge explain," she replied.
"You charge not absolve your decision."
"But I must," said Alustriel. "For myself and my home as abundant as for you. The bounce has aching you added than you admit." She abashed afterpiece to him.
"It afflicted me as well," she said softly.
"Then why?" Drizzt demanded, his acrimony bottomward through his calm facade. "If you apperceive of me, afresh you apperceive as able-bodied that I backpack no blackmail to your people."
She ran her air-conditioned duke beyond his cheek. "Perceptions," she explained. "There are elements at assignment in the arctic that accomplish perceptions basic at this time, sometimes alike abandoning what is just. A cede has been affected aloft you."
"A cede that has become all too accustomed to me."
"I know," Alustriel whispered. "We abstruse from Nesme that you had been affronted away, a book that you frequently face."
"I apprehend it," Drizzt said coldly.
"But not here," Alustriel retorted. "You did not apprehend it from Silverymoon, nor should you have."
Her acuteness affected Drizzt. His acrimony died abroad as he accessible her explanation, assertive now that the woman had acceptable account for her actions.
"There are abounding armament at assignment actuality that do not affair you, and should not," she began. "Threats of war and abstruse alliances; rumors and suspicions that acquire no base in fact, nor would accomplish any faculty to reasonable people. I am no abundant acquaintance to the merchants, admitting they advisedly canyon through Silverymoon. They abhorrence our account and ethics as a blackmail to their structures of power, as able-bodied they should. They are actual powerful, and would see Silverymoon added affiliated to their own views.
"But abundant of this talk. As I said, it does not affair you. All that I ask you to accept is that, as baton of my city, I am affected at times to act for the all-embracing good, whatever the bulk to an individual."
"You abhorrence the lies and suspicions that ability action you if a atramentous elf walks advisedly in Silverymoon?" Drizzt sighed incredulously. "Simply acceptance a drow to airing amid your bodies would accuse you in some aberrant accord with the underworld?"
"You are not aloof any drow elf," Alustriel explained. "You are Drizzt Do'Urden, a name that is destined to be heard throughout the Realms. For now, though, you are a drow who is fast acceptable arresting to the arctic rulers, and, initially at least, they will not accept that you acquire forsaken your people.
"And this account gets added complicated, it seems," Alustriel continued. "Know you that I acquire two sisters?"
Drizzt befuddled his head.
"Storm, a artist of reknown, and Dove Falconhand, a ranger. Both acquire taken an absorption in the name of Drizzt Do'Urden - Storm as a growing fable in charge of able song, and Dove...I acquire yet to anticipate her motives. You acquire become a hero to her, I think, the apotheosis of those qualities that she, as a adolescent ranger, strives to perfect. She came into the burghal aloof this morn, and knew of your approaching arrival.
"Dove is abounding years adolescent than I," Alustriel went on. "And not so astute in the backroom of the world."
"She ability acquire approved me out," Drizzt reasoned, seeing the implications that Alustriel feared.
"She will, eventually," the adult answered. "But I cannot acquiesce it now, not in Silverymoon." Alustriel stared at him intently, her boring hinting at added and added claimed emotions. "And moreso, I myself would acquire approved admirers with you, as I do now."
The implications of such a affair aural the burghal seemed accessible to Drizzt in ablaze of the political struggles that Alustriel had hinted at. "Another time, addition abode perhaps," he queried. "Would it bother you so much?"
She replied with a smile. "Not at all."
Satisfaction and agitation descended aloft Drizzt all at once. He looked aback to the stars, apprehensive if he would anytime absolutely ascertain the accuracy about his accommodation to appear to the apparent world, or if his activity would always abide a tumult of dangled achievement and burst expectations.
They stood in blackout for several moments afore Alustriel batten again.
"You came for the Basement of Sages," she said, "to ascertain if annihilation in there batten of Mithril Hall."
"I apprenticed the dwarf to go in," Drizzt answered. "But he is a adamant one."
"I affected as much," laughed Alustriel. "But I did not appetite my accomplishments to baffle with your best blue-blooded quest. I acquire perused the basement myself. You cannot brainstorm its size! You would not acquire accepted breadth to activate your chase of the bags of volumes that band the walls. But I apperceive the basement as able-bodied as anyone alive. I acquire abstruse things that would acquire taken you and your accompany weeks to find. But truthfully, actual little has been accounting about Mithril Hall, and annihilation at all that gives added than a casual adumbration about the accepted breadth breadth it lies."
"Then conceivably we are the bigger for actuality affronted away."
Alustriel blushed in embarrassment, admitting Drizzt meant no acrimony in his observation. "My guards acquire abreast me that you plan to move on to Sundabar," the adult said.
"True," answered Drizzt, "and from there to Citadel Adbar if charge be."
"I admonish you adjoin this course," said Alustriel. "From aggregate that I could acquisition in the vault, and from my own ability of the legends of the canicule aback treasures flowed from Mithril Hall, my assumption is that it lies in the west, not the east."
"We acquire appear from the west, and our trail, gluttonous those with ability of the ablaze halls, has led us always eastward," Drizzt countered. "Beyond Silverymoon, the abandoned hopes we acquire are Helm and Harbromm, both in the east."
"Helm may acquire article to acquaint you," Alustriel agreed. "But you will apprentice little from King Harbromm and the dwarves of Adbar. They themselves undertook the chance to acquisition the age-old citizenry of Bruenor's kin aloof a few years ago, and they anesthetized through Silverymoon on their chance - branch west. But they never activate the place, and alternate home assertive that it was either destroyed and active abysmal in some bare mountain, or that it had never existed and was artlessly the angle of southern merchants ambidextrous their appurtenances in the northland."
"You do not action abundant hope," Drizzt remarked.
"But I do," Alustriel countered. "To the west of here, beneath than a day's march, forth an bare aisle active arctic from the Rauvin, lies the Herald's Holdfast, an age-old breastwork of accumulated knowledge. The herald, Old Night, can adviser you, if anyone can in this day. I acquire abreast him of your advancing and he has agreed to sit with you, admitting he has not entertained visitors for decades, alternative than myself and a few baddest scholars."
"We are in your debt," said Drizzt, accedence low.
"Do not achievement for too much," Alustriel warned. "Mithril Hall came and went in the ability of this apple in the beam of an eye. Almost three ancestors of dwarves anytime mined the place, admitting I admission you that a dwarven bearing is a ample bulk of time, and they were not so accessible with their trade. Abandoned rarely did they acquiesce anyone to their mines, if the tales are true. They brought out their works in the aphotic of night and fed them through a abstruse and intricate alternation of dwarven agents to be brought to market."
"They adequate themselves able-bodied from the acquisitiveness of the alfresco world," Drizzt observed.
"But their annihilation came from aural the mines," said Alustriel. "An alien crisis that may lurk there still, you are aware."
"And still you accept to go?"
"I affliction not for the treasures, admitting if they are absolutely as baroque as Bruenor describes, afresh I would ambition to attending aloft them. But this is the dwarf's search, his abundant adventure, and I would be a apologetic acquaintance absolutely if I did not advice him to see it through."
"Hardly could that characterization be mantled aloft your neck, Drizzt Do'Urden," Alustriel said. She pulled a baby canteen from a bend in her gown. "Take this with you," she instructed.
"What is it?"
"A aromatic of remembrance," Alustriel explained. "Give it to the dwarf aback the answers to your chase assume abreast at hand. But beware, its admiral are strong! Bruenor will airing for a time in the memories of his abroad accomplished as able-bodied as the adventures of his present.
"And these," she said, bearing a baby accessory from the aforementioned bend and handing it to Drizzt, "are for all of you. Unguent to advice wounds to heal, and biscuits that brace a weary traveler."
"My acknowledgment and the acknowledgment of my friends," said Drizzt.
"In ablaze of the abhorrent abuse that I acquire affected aloft you, they are little recompense."
"But the affair of their giver was no baby gift," Drizzt replied. He looked beeline into her eyes, captivation her with his intensity. "You acquire renewed my hope, Adult of Silverymoon. You acquire reminded me that there is absolutely accolade for those who chase the aisle of conscience, a abundance far greater than the actual baubles that too generally appear to biased men."
"There is, indeed," she agreed. "And your approaching will appearance you abounding more, appreciative ranger. But now the night is bisected gone and you charge rest. Abhorrence not, for you are watched this night. Farewell, Drizzt Do'Urden, and may the alley afore you be abrupt and clear."
With a beachcomber of her hand, she achromatic into the starlight, abrogation Drizzt to admiration if he had dreamed the accomplished encounter. But afresh her final words drifted bottomward to him on the affable breeze. "Farewell, and accumulate heart, Drizzt Do'Urden. Your account and adventuresomeness do not go unnoticed!"
Drizzt stood silently for a connected while. He angled low and best a wildflower from the riverbank, rolling it over amid his fingers and apprehensive if he and the Adult of Silverymoon ability absolutely accommodated afresh on added all-around terms. And breadth such a affair ability lead.
Then he tossed the annual into the Rauvin.
"Let contest booty their own course," he said resolutely, attractive aback to the affected and his abutting friends. "I charge no fantasies to belittle the abundant treasures that I already possess." He took a abysmal animation to draft abroad the debris of his self-pity.
And with his acceptance restored, the aloof forester went to sleep.
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