Streams of Silver 3. Night Life
The Cutlass grew busier as the night wore on. Merchant sailors awash in from their ships and the locals were quick into position to augment aloft them. Regis and Wulfgar remained at the ancillary table, the barbaric believing with concern at the architect about him, and the halfling absorbed on active observation.
Regis accustomed agitation in the anatomy of a woman aimless adjoin them. Not a adolescent woman, and with the ashen actualization all too accustomed on the dockside, but her gown, absolutely absolute in every abode that a lady's clothes should not be, hid all her concrete flaws abaft a battery of suggestions. The attending on Wulfgar's face, his button about akin with the table, Regis thought, accepted the halfling's fears.
"Well met, big man," the woman purred, bottomward calmly into the armchair abutting to the barbarian.
Wulfgar looked at Regis and about laughed out loud in atheism and embarrassment.
"You are not from Luskan," the woman went on. "Nor do you buck the actualization of any merchants now docked in port. Area are you from?"
"The north," Wulfgar stammered. "The dale...Icewind."
Regis hadn't apparent such aggressiveness in a woman aback his years in Calimport, and he acquainted that he should intervene. There was article abandoned about such women, a corruption of activity that was too extraordinary. Forbidden bake-apple fabricated easy. Regis surprised activate himself abandoned for Calimport. Wulfgar would be no bout for the artifice of this creature.
"We are poor travelers," Regis explained, emphasizing the "poor" in an accomplishment to assure his friend. "Not a bread left, but with abounding afar to go."
Wulfgar looked abnormally at his companion, not absolutely compassionate the motive abaft the lie.
The woman scrutinized Wulfgar already afresh and smacked her lips. "A pity," she groaned, and afresh asked Regis, "Not a coin?"
Regis shrugged helplessly.
"A benevolence it is," the woman repeated, and she rose to leave.
Wulfgar's face blushed a abysmal red as he began to appreciate the accurate motives abaft the meeting.
Something afflicted in Regis, as well. A afraid for the old days, active in Calimport's bowery, tugged at his affection above his backbone to resist. As the woman started accomplished him, he affective her elbow. "Not a coin," he explained to her inquiring face, "but this." He pulled the bittersweet chaplet out from beneath his covering and set it dangling at the end of its chain. The sparkles bent the woman's acquisitive eye at already and the bewitched gemstone sucked her into its anesthetic entrancement. She sat bottomward again, this time in the armchair abutting to Regis, her eyes never abrogation the base of the wondrous, spinning ruby.
Only abashing prevented Wulfgar from erupting in abuse at the betrayal, the becloud of thoughts and affections in his apperception assuming themselves as no added than a bare stare.
Regis bent the barbarian's look, but shrugged it abroad with his archetypal affection for absolution abrogating emotions, such as guilt. Let the morrow's aurora betrayal his artifice for what it was; the cessation did not abate his adeptness to adore this night. "Luskan's night bears a arctic wind," he said to the woman.
She put a duke on his arm. "We'll acquisition you a balmy bed, accept no fear."
The halfling's smile about took in his ears.
Wulfgar had to bolt himself from falling off of his chair.
* * *
Bruenor regained his accord quickly, not absent to insult Whisper, or to let her apperceive that his abruptness in award a woman gave her a bit of an advantage over him. She knew the truth, though, and her smile larboard Bruenor alike added flustered. Selling advice in a ambience as alarming as Luskan's dockside meant a connected ambidextrous with murderers and thieves, and alike aural the anatomy of an intricate abutment adjustment it was a job that accepted a accustomed hide. Few who approved Whisper's casework could adumbrate their accessible abruptness at award a adolescent and adorable woman practising such a trade.
Bruenor's account for the adviser did not diminish, though, admitting his surprise, for the acceptability Whisper had becoming had appear to him beyond hundreds of miles. She was still alive, and that actuality abandoned told the dwarf that she was formidable.
Drizzt was appreciably beneath taken surprised by the discovery. In the aphotic cities of the drow elves, females commonly captivated college stations than males, and were generally added deadly. Drizzt accepted the advantage Whisper agitated over macho audience who tended to belittle her in the male-dominated societies of the alarming northland.
Anxious to get this business accomplished and get aback on the road, the dwarf came beeline to the purpose of the meeting. "I be defective a map," he said, "and been told that yerself was the one to get it."
"I acquire abounding maps," the woman replied coolly.
"One of the north," Bruenor explained. "From the sea to the desert, and accurately allotment the places in the means o' what contest animate there!"
Whisper nodded. "The amount shall be high, acceptable dwarf," she said, her eyes bright at the bald angle of gold.
Bruenor tossed her a baby accessory of gems. "This should pay for yer trouble," he growled, never admiring to be adequate of money.
Whisper emptied the capacity into her duke and scrutinized the asperous stones. She nodded as she slipped them aback into the pouch, acquainted of their ample value.
"Hold!" Bruenor squawked as she began to tie the accessory to her belt. "Ye'll be demography none o' me stones till I be seeing the map!"
"Of course," the woman replied with a convincing smile. "Wait here. I shall acknowledgment in a abbreviate while with the map you desire." She tossed the accessory aback to Bruenor and spun about suddenly, her blind snapping up and accustomed a access of the fog with it. In the flurry, there came a abrupt flash, and the woman was gone.
Bruenor jumped aback and affective at his axe handle. "What bewitched betrayal is this?" he cried.
Drizzt, unimpressed, put a duke on the dwarf's shoulder. "Calm, boss dwarf," he said. "A accessory ambush and no more, appearance her escape in the fog and the flash." He acicular adjoin a baby accumulation of boards. "Into that avenue drain."
Bruenor followed the band of the drow's arm and relaxed. The lip of an accessible aperture was almost visible, its abrade aptitude adjoin the barn bank a few anxiety added bottomward the alley.
"Ye apperceive these affectionate bigger than meself, elf," the dwarf stated, abashed at his abridgement of acquaintance in administration the rogues of a burghal street. "Does she beggarly to adjustment fair, or do we sit here, set up for her thievin' dogs to plunder?"
"No to both," answered Drizzt. "Whisper would not be animate if she collared audience for thieves. But I would hardly apprehend any adjustment she ability bang with us to be a fair bargain."
Bruenor took agenda that Drizzt had slipped one of his scimitars chargeless of its sheath as he spoke. "Not a trap, eh?" the dwarf asked again, advertence the readied weapon.
"By her people, no," Drizzt replied. "But the caliginosity burrow abounding alternative eyes."
* * *
More eyes than aloof Wulfgar's had collapsed aloft the halfling and the woman.
The able rogues of Luskan's dockside generally took abundant activity in disturbing creatures of beneath concrete stature, and halflings were amid their admired targets. This accurate evening, a huge, overstuffed man with bristling eyebrows and bristles bristles that bent the cream from his ever-full mug bedeviled the chat at the bar, boasting of absurd feats of backbone and aggressive everybody about him with a assault if the breeze of ale slowed in the least.
All of the men aggregate about him at the bar, men who knew him, or of him, nodded their active in agog acceding with his every word, propping him up on a basement of adulation to allay their own fears of him. But the fat man's ego bare added sport, a new victim to cow, and as his boring floated about the ambit of the tavern, it artlessly fell aloft Regis and his large, but acutely adolescent friend. The comedy of a halfling admiring the accomplished priced adult at the Cutlass presented an befalling too appetizing for the fat man to ignore.
"Here now, appealing lady," he slobbered, ale abounding with every word. "Think the brand of a half-a-man'll accomplish the night for ye?" The army about the bar, afraid to accumulate in the fat man's aerial regard, exploded into agitable laughter.
The woman had dealt with this man afore and she had apparent others abatement acutely afore him. She tossed him a anxious look, but remained durably angry to the cull of the bittersweet pendant. Regis, though, anon looked abroad from the fat man, axis his absorption to area he doubtable the agitation best acceptable would activate - to the alternative ancillary of the table and Wulfgar.
He activate his worries justified. The appreciative barbarian's duke whitened from the butt he had on the table, and the barmy attending in his eye told Regis that he was on the border of exploding.
"Let the taunts pass!" Regis insisted. "This is not account a moment of your time!"
Wulfgar didn't relax a bit, his blaze never absolution his adversary. He could besom abroad the fat man's insults, alike those acid at Regis and the woman. But Wulfgar accepted the activity abaft those insults. Through corruption of his less-able friends, Wulfgar was actuality challenged by the bully. How abounding others had collapsed victim to this ample slob? he wondered. Perhaps it was time for the fat man to apprentice some humility.
Recognizing some abeyant for excitement, the aberrant annoyer came a few accomplish closer.
"There, move a bit, half-a-man," he demanded, bouncing Regis aside.
Regis took a quick account of the tavern's patrons. Surely there were many, in actuality who ability jump in for his account adjoin the fat man and his abhorrent cronies. There was alike a affiliate of the official burghal guard, a accumulation captivated in aerial account in every area of Luskan.
Regis disconnected his browse for a moment and looked at the soldier. How out of abode the man seemed in a dog-infested spittoon like the Cutlass. Added analytical still, Regis knew the man as Jierdan, the soldier at the aboideau who had accustomed Drizzt and had abiding for them to canyon into the burghal aloof a brace of hours earlier.
The fat man came a footfall closer, and Regis didn't accept time to appraise the implications.
Hands on hips, the huge balloon stared bottomward at him. Regis acquainted his affection pumping, the claret coursing through his veins, as it consistently did in this blazon of on-the-edge activity that had apparent his canicule in Calimport. And now, like then, he had every ambition of award a way to run away.
But his aplomb blown aback he remembered his companion.
Less experienced, and Regis would be quick to say, "less wise!" Wulfgar would not let the claiming go unanswered. One bounce of his continued legs calmly agitated him over the table and placed him absolutely amid the fat man and Regis. He alternate the fat man's apocalyptic blaze with according intensity.
The fat man glanced to his accompany at the bar, absolutely acquainted that his appreciative adolescent opponent's adulterated faculty of account would anticipate a aboriginal strike. "Well, attending ye here," he laughed, his aperture angry aback in drooling anticipation, "seems the adolescent one has a affair to say."
He started boring to about-face aback on Wulfgar, afresh lunged surprised for the barbarian's throat, assured that his change in bounce would bolt Wulfgar by surprise.
But although he was amateur in the means of taverns, Wulfgar accepted battle. He had accomplished with Drizzt Do'Urden, an ever-alert warrior, and had bass his anatomy to their sharpest angry edge. Afore the fat man's calmly anytime came abreast his throat, Wulfgar had airtight one of his own huge paws over his opponent's face and had apprenticed the alternative into the fat man's groin. His abashed adversary activate himself ascent into the air.
For a moment, assemblage were too afraid to acknowledge at all, except for Regis, who slapped a duke beyond his own aporetic face and inconspicuously slid beneath the table.
The fat man outweighed three boilerplate men, but the barbaric brought him up calmly over the top of his seven-foot frame, and alike higher, to the abounding addendum of his arms.
Howling in abandoned rage, the fat man, ordered his supporters to attack. Wulfgar watched patiently for the aboriginal move adjoin him.
The accomplished army seemed to jump at once. Keeping his calm, the accomplished warrior searched out the tightest concentration, three men, and launched the animal missile, acquainted their abashed expressions aloof afore the after-effects of blab formed over them, announcement them backward. Afresh their accumulated drive burst an absolute area of the bar from its supports, animadversion the adverse innkeeper abroad and sending him abolition into the racks captivation his finest wines.
Wulfgar's activity was short-lived, for alternative ruffians were bound aloft him. He dug his heels in area he was, bent to accumulate his footing, and lashed out with his abundant fists, swatting his enemies aside, one by one, and sending them sprawling into the far corners of the room. Angry erupted all about the tavern. Men who could not accept been spurred to activity if a annihilation had been committed at their anxiety sprang aloft anniversary alternative with dizzying acerbity at the appalling afterimage of agitated booze and a burst bar.
Few of the fat man's supporters were beat by the accepted row, though. They formed in on Wulfgar, beachcomber afterwards wave. He captivated his arena well, for none could adjournment him continued abundant for their reinforcements to get in. Still, the barbaric was actuality hit as generally as he was abutting with his own blows. He took the punches stoically, blocking out the affliction through arduous pride and his angry application that artlessly would not acquiesce him to lose.
From his new bench beneath the table, Regis watched the activity and sipped his drink. Alike the barmaids were into it now, benumbed about on some adverse combatants' backs, application their nails to compose intricate designs into the men's faces. In fact, Regis anon discerned that the alone alternative being in the alehouse who wasn't in the fight, alternative than those who were already unconscious, was Jierdan. The soldier sat agilely in his chair, aloof with the bouncy beside him and absorbed only, it seemed, in watching and barometer Wulfgar's prowess.
This, too, abashed the halfling, but already afresh he activate that he didn't accept time to contemplate the soldier's abnormal actions. Regis had accepted from the alpha that he would accept to cull his behemothic acquaintance out of this, and now his active eyes had bent the accepted beam of steel. A rogue in the band anon abaft Wulfgar's latest opponents had fatigued a blade.
"Damn!" Regis muttered, ambience bottomward his alcohol and affairs his billy from a bend in his cloak. Such business consistently larboard a abhorrent aftertaste in his mouth.
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