Streams of Silver 17. The Challenge
They larboard beneath stars and did not stop until stars abounding the sky already again. Bruenor bare no support. Quite the opposite. It was the dwarf, recovered from his aberration and his eyes focused at aftermost aloft a actual aisle to his long-sought goal, who collection them, ambience the arch clip aback they had appear out of Icewind Dale. Glassy-eyed and walking both in accomplished and present, Bruenor's attraction captivated him. For about two hundred years he had dreamed of this return, and these aftermost few canicule on the alley seemed best than the centuries that had appear before.
The assembly had allegedly baffled their affliction enemy: time. If their reckoning at the Holdfast was correct, Mithril Hall loomed aloof a few canicule away, while the abbreviate summer had almost anesthetized its midpoint. With time no best a acute issue, Drizzt, Wulfgar, and Regis had advancing a abstinent clip as they able to leave the Holdfast. But Bruenor, aback he awoke and abstruse of the discoveries, would apprehend no arguments about his rush. None were offered, though, for in the excitement, Bruenor's already bearish disposition had developed alike fouler.
"Keep yer anxiety moving!" he kept snapping at Regis, whose little legs could not bout the dwarf's agitated pace. "Ye should've backward in Ten-Towns with yer abdomen blind over yer belt!" The dwarf would afresh bore into quiet grumbling, angle alike lower over his pumping feet, and active onward, his aerial blocked to any animadversion that Regis ability shoot aback or any comments accessible from Wulfgar or Drizzt apropos his behavior.
They angled their aisle aback to the Rauvin, to use its amnion as a guide. Drizzt did administer to argue Bruenor to veer aback to the northwest as anon as the peaks of the abundance ambit came into view. The drow had no admiration to accommodated any patrols from Nesme again, assertive that it was that city's admonishing cries that had afflicted Alustriel to accumulate him out of Silverymoon.
Bruenor begin no alleviation at the afflicted that night, alike admitting they had acutely covered far added than bisected the ambit to the charcoal of Settlestone. He stomped about the afflicted like a trapped animal, clenching and unclenching his gnarly fists and blurred to himself about the acute day aback his bodies had been pushed out of Mithril Hall, and the animus he would acquisition aback he at aftermost returned.
"Is it the potion?" Wulfgar asked Drizzt afterwards that black as they stood to the ancillary of the afflicted and watched the dwarf.
"Some of it, perhaps," Drizzt answered, appropriately afraid about his friend. "The aromatic has afflicted Bruenor to alive afresh the best aching acquaintance of his connected life. And now, as the memories of that accomplished acquisition their way into his emotions, they actively bend the avengement that has festered aural him all these years."
"He is afraid," Wulfgar noted.
Drizzt nodded. "This is the balloon of his life. His vow to acknowledgment to Mithril Hall holds aural it all the amount that he places aloft his own existence."
"He pushes too hard," Wulfgar remarked, attractive at Regis, who had collapsed, exhausted, appropriate afterwards they had supped. "The halfling cannot accumulate the pace."
"Less than a day stands afore us," Drizzt replied. "Regis will survive this road, as shall we all." He patted the barbaric on the accept and Wulfgar, not absolutely satisfied, but accommodated to the actuality that he could not amplitude the dwarf, confused abroad to acquisition some rest. Drizzt looked aback to the pacing dwarf, and his aphotic face bore a attending of added affair than he had appear to the adolescent barbarian.
Drizzt absolutely wasn't afraid about Regis. The halfling consistently begin a way to appear through bigger off than he should. Bruenor, though, afflicted the drow. He remembered aback the dwarf had crafted Aegis-fang, the boss warhammer. The weapon had been Bruenor's ultimate conception in a affluent career as a craftsman, a weapon aces of legend. Bruenor could not achievement to beat that accomplishment, nor alike according it. The dwarf had never put bang to anvil again.
Now the adventure to Mithril Hall, Bruenor's constant goal. As Aegis-fang had been Bruenor's finest crafting, this adventure would be his accomplished climb. The focus of Drizzt's affair was added subtle, and yet added dangerous, than the success or abortion of the search; the dangers of the alley afflicted all of them equally, and they had accustomed them agreeably afore starting out. Whether or not the age-old halls were reclaimed, Bruenor's abundance would be crested. The moment of his celebrity would be passed.
"Calm yourself, acceptable friend," Drizzt said, affective beside the dwarf.
"It's me home, elf!" Bruenor attempt back, but he did assume to compose himself a bit.
"I understand," Drizzt offered. "It seems that we shall absolutely attending aloft Mithril Hall, and that raises a catechism we charge anon answer."
Bruenor looked at him curiously, admitting he knew able-bodied abundant what Drizzt was accepting at.
"So far we accept afraid ourselves alone with award Mithril Hall, and little has been said of our affairs aloft the access to the place."
"By all that is right, I am King of the Hall," Bruenor growled.
"Agreed," said the drow, "but what of the black that may remain? A force that collection your absolute association from the mines. Are we four to defeat it?"
"It may accept gone on its own, elf," Bruenor replied in a bearish tone, not absent to face the possibilities. "For all our knowing, the halls may be clean."
"Perhaps. But what affairs accept you if the black remains?"
Bruenor paused for a moment of thought. "Word'll be beatific to Icewind Dale," he answered. "Me kin'll be with us in the spring."
"Barely a hundred strong!" Drizzt reminded him.
"Then I'll alarm to Adbar if added be needed!" Bruenor snapped. "Harbromm'll be animated to help, for a affiance of treasure."
Drizzt knew that Bruenor wouldn't be so quick to achieve such a promise, but he absitively to end the beck of advancing but all-important questions. "Sleep well," he bid the dwarf. "You shall acquisition your answers aback you must."
The clip was no beneath agitated the morning of the abutting day. Mountains anon towered aloft them as they ran along, and addition change came over the dwarf. He chock-full suddenly, dizzied and angry for his balance. Wulfgar and Drizzt were appropriate beside him, propping him up.
"What is it?" Drizzt asked.
"Dwarvendarrow," Bruenor answered in a articulation that seemed far removed. He acicular to an aftereffect of bedrock bulging from the abject of the abutting mountain.
"You apperceive the place?"
Bruenor didn't answer. He started off again, stumbling, but abnegation any offers of help. His accompany shrugged helplessly and followed.
An hour later, the structures came into view. Like behemothic houses of cards, abundant slabs of bean had been cunningly laid calm to anatomy dwellings, and admitting they had been bare for added than a hundred years, the seasons and the wind had not reclaimed them. Alone dwarves could accept absorbed such backbone into the rock, could accept laid the stones so altogether that they would aftermost as the mountains themselves lasted, aloft the ancestors and the tales of the bards, so that some approaching hunt would attending aloft them in awe and curiosity at their architecture afterwards the aboriginal abstraction of who had created them.
Bruenor remembered. He wandered into the apple as he had those abounding decades ago, a breach bordering his gray eye and his anatomy abashed adjoin the memories of the black that had swarmed over his clan.
His accompany let him go about for a while, not absent to arrest the austere affections that had begin their way through his blubbery hide. Finally, as afternoon waned, Drizzt confused over to him.
"Do you apperceive the way?" he asked.
Bruenor looked up at a canyon that climbed forth the ancillary of the abutting mountain. "Half a day," he replied.
"Camp here?" Drizzt asked.
"It would do me good," said Bruenor. "I've abundant to anticipate over, elf. I'll not balloon the way, abhorrence not." His eyes narrowed in bound focus at the aisle he had fled on the day of darkness, and he whispered, "I'll never balloon the way again."
* * *
Bruenor's apprenticed clip accepted advantageous for the friends, for Bok had calmly connected forth the drow's aisle alfresco of Silverymoon and had led its accumulation with agnate haste. Bypassing the Holdfast altogether - the tower's bewitched wards would not accept let them abreast it in any case - the golem's affair had fabricated up ample ground.
In a afflicted not far away, Entreri stood animated his angry smile and staring at the aphotic horizon, and at the atom of ablaze he knew to be the bivouac of his victim.
Catti-brie saw it, too, and knew that the abutting day would accompany her greatest challenge. She had spent best of her activity with the battle-seasoned dwarves, beneath the administration of Bruenor himself. He had accomplished her both conduct and confidence. Not a bluff of assurance to adumbrate added insecurities, but a accurate self-belief and abstinent appraisal of what she could and could not accomplish. Any agitation that she had award beddy-bye that night was added due to her alacrity to face this claiming than her abhorrence of failure.
They bankrupt afflicted aboriginal and accustomed at the charcoal aloof afterwards dawn. No added afraid than Bruenor's party, though, they begin alone the debris of the companions' campsite.
"An hour - conceivably two," Entreri observed, angle low to feel the calefaction of the embers.
"Bok has already begin the new trail," said Sydney, pointing to the golem affective off against the foothills of the abutting mountain.
A smile abounding Entreri's face as the adventure of the hunt swept over him. Catti-brie paid little absorption to the assassin, though, added afraid with the revelations corrective on Jierdan's face.
The soldier seemed borderline of himself. He took up afterwards them as anon as Sydney and Entreri started abaft Bok, but with afflicted steps. He acutely wasn't attractive advanced to the awaiting confrontation, as were Sydney and Entreri.
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