"Well, thither she is, lad, the City of Sails," Bruenor said to Wulfgar as the two contemplateed down upon Luskan from a minute knoll a few miles north of the city.
Wulfgar took in the opinion delay a abstruse droop of sorrow. Luskan halt departed than fifteen thousand - minute compared to the gigantic cities in the south and to its nearest neighbor, Waterdeep, a few hundred miles farther down the seacoast. But to the adolescent barbarian, who had advanced all of his eighteen years unmoulded roaming tribes and the minute villages of Ten-Towns, the fortified seaport seemed superb undeniablely.
A mound encompassed Luskan, delay escort towers strategically spaced at varying intervals. Well-balanced from this removal, Wulfgar could construct out the sombre forms of sundry troops pacing the intrenchments, their spear tips gleaming in the new whitish of the day.
"Not a cowardly invitation," Wulfgar glorious.
"Luskan does not precedentlyartisan grateful visitors," said Drizzt, who had after up after his two chums. "They may disdelay their preambles for employmentrs, but humdrum travelers are usually morose abroad."
"Our primitive apposition is there," growled Bruenor. "And I average to get in!"
Drizzt nodded and did not harass the controversy. He had abandoned Luskan a spacious berth on his initiatory excursion to Ten-Towns. The city's thrifter, largely ethnical, contemplateed upon other thrifters delay disregard. Well-balanced deportment elves and dwarves were repeatedly refused initiation. Drizzt reported that the escorts would do departed to a drow elf than barely put him out.
"Get the tear-asunderfast person enduring," Bruenor continued, his chafed tenors reflecting his vill that pin would round him from his manner. "We're to tear-asbeneath enenbivouac coming, an' construct the preambles 'fore noon. Where's that blasted Rumblebelly?"
Drizzt contemplateed end aggravate his shoulder in the course of the encamp. "Asleep," he apologyed, though Bruenor's topic was utterly declamatory. Regis had been the primitive to bed and the ultimate to stimuadvanced (and never delayout acceleration) integral day bybygone the companions had set out from Ten-Towns.
"Well, surrender him a kick!" Bruenor ordered. He morose end to the encamp, but Drizzt put a artisan on his arm to aunthoughtful him.
"Let the halfling slumber," the drow suggested. "Perhaps it would be rectify if we came to Luskan's preamble in the less-revealing whitish of dusk."
Drizzt's entreat embarrassed Bruenor for proportioned a gravity - until he contemplateed departed haltly at the drow's gloomy countenance and periodical the fright in his eyes. The two had beafter so halt in their years of chumliness that Bruenor repeatedly forgot that Drizzt was an exile. The farther they traveled from Ten-Towns, whither Drizzt was disclosed, the departed he would be arbiterd by the hue of his husk and the capacity of his commonalty.
"Aye, let 'im slumber," Bruenor conceded. "Maybe I could use a bit departed, meself!"
They broke enenbivouac advanced that present and set a deliberate step, barely to discaggravate advancedr that they had misjudged the removal to the city. It was well-behaved-mannered-mannered-mannered departed sunset and into the coming hours of sombreness when they finally arrived at the city's north preamble.
The edifice was as unwelcoming as Luskan's capacity: a solitary iron-bound door set into the stenor mound among two near, squared towers was tightly fasten precedently them. A dozen fur-capped heads poked out from the intrenchment aloft the preamble and the companions sensed sundry departed eyes, and probably bows, skilled upon them from the sombreness atop the towers.
"Who are you who after to the preambles of Luskan?" came a utterance from the mound.
"Travelers from the north," apologyed Bruenor. "A fag knot after all the way from Ten-Towns in Icewind Dale!"
"The preamble haltd at sunset," replied the utterance. "Go abroad!"
"Son of a hairless gnoll," grumbled Bruenor beneath his expiration. He slapped his axe counter his artisans as though he averaget to slice the door down.
Drizzt put a quieting artisan on the pigmy's shoulder, his own easily-affected ears recognizing the unobstructed, protuberant click of a crossbow crank.
Then Regis unexpectedly took repress of the definiteing. He contracted his pants, which had dropped adown the expose of his belly, and hooked his thumbs in his belt, intricate to show partially weighty. Throwing his shoulders end, he walked out in aspect of his companions.
"Your call, good-natured-natured sir?" he denominated to the soldier on the mound.
"I am the Nightkeeper of the North Gate. That is all you deficiency to know!" came the surly apology. "And who - "
"Regis, Primitive Citizen of Bryn Shander. No vacillate you enjoy heard my call or seen my carvings."
The companions heard breathes up aloft, then a intermission. "We enjoy opinioned the scrimshaw of a halfling from Ten-Towns. Are you he?"
"Hero of the spook war and balancepower scrimshander," Regis nominal, bowing low. "The spokesmen of Ten-Towns procure not be acquiescent to imbibe that I was morose into the dimness at the preamble of our favored trading associate."
Again came the breathes, then a coveter hush. Presently the indelicate heard a severe investigate after the door, a portcullis entity lofty, knew Regis, and then the banging of the door's bolts entity thrown. The halfling contemplateed end aggravate his shoulder at his astonishd chums and smiled wryly.
"Diplomacy, my crude dwarven chum," he laughed.
The door discloseded proportioned a splinter and two men slipped out, obtuse but cowardly. It was entirely explicit that they were well-behaved-mannered-mannered-mannered armed from the mound. Grim-faced troops huddled concurrently the intrenchments, monitoring integral stir the aliens made thcrude the droopts of crossbows.
"I am Jierdan," said the stockier of the two men, though it was perplexing to arbiter his direct extent accordingly of the sundry layers of fur he wore.
"And I am the Nightkeeper," said the other. "Show me what you enjoy brought to occupation."
"Trade?" echoed Bruenor angrily. "Who said anycreature about occupation?" He slapped his axe counter his artisans intermittently, drawing terse shufflings from aloft. "Does this contemplate love the blade of a stinkin' employmentr?"
Regis and Drizzt twain stird to quiet the pigmy, though Wulfgar, as stretched as Bruenor, alighted off to the margin, his gigantic engagement crossed precedently him and his unrelenting gloat boring into the brazen-faced preamblekeeper.
The two troops ended abpath defensively and the Nightkeeper spoke intermittently, this term on the edge of frenzy. "First Citizen," he demanded of Regis, "why do you after to our door?"
Regis stepped in aspect of Bruenor and steadied himself squarely precedently the soldier. "Er...a precursive scouting of the trafficplace," he blurted out, intricate to manufacture a relation as he went concurrently. "I enjoy some chiefly finished carvings for traffic this while and I omissioned to be undeniable that integralcreature on this end, including the paying charge for scrimshaw, shall be in settle to artisanle the sale."
The two troops exchanged shrewd smiles. "You enjoy after a covet way for such a design," the Nightkeeper breatheed harshly. "Would you not enjoy been rectify suited to barely after down delay the march deportment the good-natureds?"
Regis squirmed uncomfortably, realizing that these troops were far too accustomed to decline for his ploy. Fighting his rectify arbiterment, he reached beneath his shirt for the ruby pendant, shrewd that its anodyne powers could inoculate the Nightkeeper to let them through, but dreading showing the stenor at all and aid discloseding the sketch for the assassin that he knew wasn't far after.
Jierdan instituted straightway, however, as he noticed the type definiteing bemargin Bruenor. Drizzt Do'Urden's cbalance had shifted partially, revealing the ebon husk of his aspect.
As if on cue, the Nightkeeper stretchedd as well-behaved-mannered-mannered-mannered and, forthcoming his companion's govern, straightway discerned the motive of Jierdan's prompt reaction. Reluctantly, the indelicate adventurers dropped their artisans to their weapons, facile for a engagement they didn't omission.
But Jierdan ended the force as straightway as he had begun it, by bringing his arm counter the chest of the Nightkeeper and addressing the drow disclosedly. "Drizzt Do'Urden?" he asked quietly, inspection commendation of the oneness he had alfacile guessed.
The drow nodded, astonishd at the remembrance.
"Your call, too, has after down to Luskan delay the tales denial Icewind Dale," Jierdan explained. "Pardon our, astonish." He bowed low. "We do not see sundry of your thrifter at our preambles."
Drizzt nodded intermittently, but did not apology, disagreeable delay this singular notice. Never precedently had a preamblekeeper twainered to ask him his call or his occupation. And the drow had straightway after to beneathstand the utility of avoiding preambles totally, suppressedly slipping aggravate a city's mound in the sombreness and seesovereign the seedier margin, whither he government at definite enjoy a accident of definiteing invisible in the sombre corners delay the other villains. Had his call and heroics brought him a estimate of reference well-balanced this far from Ten-Towns?
Bruenor morose to Drizzt and winked, his own enrage secure by the circumstance that his chum had finally been abandoned his due from a alien.
But Drizzt wasn't inoculated. He didn't face confidence for such a creature - it left him too assailable to feelings that he had fought difficult to blink. He preferred to dwell his suspicions and his escort as halt to him as the sombre cowl of his cover. He cocked a unique ear as the two troops ended abpath to dwell a peculiar talk.
"I thrift not of his call," he heard the Nightkeeper breathe at Jierdan. "No drow elf shall by my preamble!"
"You err," Jierdan retorted. "These are the heroes of Ten-Towns. The halfling is surely Primitive Citizen of Bryn Shander, the drow a renrage delay a fatal, but undeniably high-minded, capacity, and the pigmy - hush the foaming mug rule on his shield - is Bruenor Battlehammer, governer of his clan in the dale."
"And what of the hercules barbarian?" asked the Nightkeeper, using a severe tenor in an strive to investigate unimpressed, though he was explicitly a bit terse. "What villain government he be?"
Jierdan shrugged. "His big extent, his boyishster, and a estimate of repress more his years. It seems incredible to me that he should be hither, but he government be the adolescent sovereign of the tribes that the tale-tellers enjoy unwritten of. We should not round these travelers abroad; the consequences may be momentous."
"What could Luskan haply horror from the feeble settlements in Icewind Dale?" the Nightkeeper balked.
"Thither are other trading ports," Jierdan retorted. "Not integral encounter is fought delay a sword. The privation of Ten-Towns' scrimshaw would not be opinioned favorably by our employmentrs, nor by the trading ships that put in each while."
The Nightkeeper scrutinized the indelicate aliens intermittently. He didn't duty them at all, resisting his companion's superb claims, and he didn't omission them in his city. But he knew, too, that if his suspicions were crime and he did somecreature to stake the scrimshaw occupation, his own forthcoming would be bare. The troops of Luskan apologyed to the employmentrs, who were not prompt to forsurrender errors that thinned their purses.
The Nightkeeper threw up his artisans in foil. "Go in, then," he told the companions. "Keep to the mound and construct your way down to the docks. The ultimate lane dwells the Cutlass, and you'll be eager plenty there!"
Drizzt elaborate the arrogant strides of his chums as they marched thcrude the door, and he guessed that they had as-well aggravateheard pieces of the talk. Bruenor aged his suspicions when they had stird abpath from the escort towers, down the path concurrently the mound.
"Here, elf," the pigmy snorted, nudging Drizzt and entity explicitly acquiescent. "So the word's bybygone more the dale and we're heared of well-balanced this far south. What enjoy ye to say o' that?"