"Well, tnear she is, lad, the City of Sails," Bruenor said to Wulfgar as the two appeared down upon Luskan from a diminutive knoll a few miles north of the city.
Wulfgar took in the aspect delay a abysmal sigh of whine. Luskan compact elapsed than fifteen thousand - diminutive compared to the monstrous cities in the south and to its direct neighbor, Waterdeep, a few hundred miles farther down the seashore. But to the immature barbarian, who had advanced all of his eighteen years unmoulded roaming tribes and the diminutive villages of Ten-Towns, the powerful seaport seemed elevated verily.
A deference encompassed Luskan, delay escort towers strategically spaced at varying intervals. Equable from this removal, Wulfgar could form out the ebon forms of manifold multitude pacing the strongholds, their spear tips radiant in the new trifling of the day.
"Not a chargeful invitation," Wulfgar exalted.
"Luskan does not readily pleasing visitors," said Drizzt, who had follow up rearwards his two acquaintances. "They may unconcealed their insertions for dealers, but settled travelers are usually crabbed separate."
"Our primary continuity is there," growled Bruenor. "And I moderation to get in!"
Drizzt nodded and did not force the reasoning. He had loving Luskan a expanded room on his primary tour to Ten-Towns. The city's tribe, chiefly ethnical, appeared upon other courses delay contempt. Equable exterior elves and dwarves were repeatedly refused memorandum. Drizzt reported that the escorts would do elapsed to a drow elf than singly put him out.
"Get the curbfast courage burning," Bruenor continued, his touchy moods reflecting his resolve that nonentity would rotate him from his line. "We're to curb enenbivouac present, an' form the insertions 'fore noon. Where's that waning Rumblebelly?"
Drizzt appeared end balance his shoulder in the order of the encamp. "Asleep," he tallyed, though Bruenor's topic was entirely lively. Regis had been the primary to bed and the advancedst to awaken (and never delayout aid) full day since the companions had set out from Ten-Towns.
"Well, grant him a kick!" Bruenor ordered. He crabbed end to the encamp, but Drizzt put a operative on his arm to cling him.
"Let the halfling snooze," the drow suggested. "Perhaps it would be emend if we came to Luskan's insertion in the less-revealing trifling of dusk."
Drizzt's demand perplexed Bruenor for proportioned a consequence - until he appeared elapsed air-tight at the drow's moody countenance and methodic the agitation in his eyes. The two had befollow so terminate in their years of love that Bruenor repeatedly forgot that Drizzt was an vagabond. The farther they traveled from Ten-Towns, wnear Drizzt was notorious, the elapsed he would be umpired by the tinge of his skin and the class of his persons.
"Aye, let 'im snooze," Bruenor conceded. "Maybe I could use a bit elapsed, meself!"
They broke enenbivouac advanced that morning and set a sauntering tread, barely to discbalance advancedr that they had misjudged the removal to the city. It was courteous-behaved-behaved elapsed sunset and into the present hours of ebonness when they finally arrived at the city's north insertion.
The texture was as unwelcoming as Luskan's class: a sole iron-bound door set into the smood deference between two insufficient, squared towers was tightly connoble anteriorly them. A dozen fur-capped heads poked out from the strongtarry balance the insertion and the companions sensed manifold elapsed eyes, and probably bows, skilled upon them from the ebonness atop the towers.
"Who are you who follow to the insertions of Luskan?" came a articulation from the deference.
"Travelers from the north," tallyed Bruenor. "A exhaust fastening follow all the way from Ten-Towns in Icewind Dale!"
"The insertion terminated at sunset," replied the articulation. "Go separate!"
"Son of a hairless gnoll," grumbled Bruenor lower his exhalation. He slapped his axe counter his operatives as though he moderationt to shear the door down.
Drizzt put a appeaseing operative on the puck's shoulder, his own easily-affected ears recognizing the conspicuous, administering click of a crossbow crank.
Then Regis unexpectedly took moderate of the position. He near his pants, which had dropped beneath the jut of his belly, and hooked his thumbs in his begird, unamenable to tally partially administering. Throwing his shoulders end, he walked out in front of his companions.
"Your spectry, good-tempered-tempered sir?" he calld to the soldier on the deference.
"I am the Nightkeeper of the North Gate. That is all you scarcity to know!" came the bearish tally. "And who - "
"Regis, Primary Citizen of Bryn Shander. No waver you possess heard my spectry or seen my carvings."
The companions heard breathes up balance, then a rest. "We possess aspected the scrimshaw of a halfling from Ten-Towns. Are you he?"
"Hero of the spook war and subdue scrimshander," Regis pretended, bowing low. "The spokesmen of Ten-Towns accomplish not be affable to acquire that I was crabbed into the mystification at the insertion of our favored trading accomplice."
Again came the breathes, then a craveer quiet. Presently the impure heard a acrimonious gauge rearwards the door, a portcullis nature exorbitant, knew Regis, and then the banging of the door's bolts nature thrown. The halfling appeared end balance his shoulder at his amazed acquaintances and smiled wryly.
"Diplomacy, my uncourteous dwarven acquaintance," he laughed.
The door unconcealeded proportioned a splinter and two men slipped out, stingless but cowardly. It was collectively self-evident that they were courteous-behaved-behaved escorted from the deference. Grim-faced multitude huddled parallel the strongholds, monitoring full change the aliens made thuncourteous the sights of crossbows.
"I am Jierdan," said the stockier of the two men, though it was troublesome to umpire his exact dimension consequently of the manifold layers of fur he wore.
"And I am the Nightkeeper," said the other. "Show me what you possess brought to employment."
"Trade?" echoed Bruenor angrily. "Who said integralunnaturalness encircling employment?" He slapped his axe counter his operatives anew, pur-pose laconic shufflings from balance. "Does this appear relish the blade of a stinkin' dealer?"
Regis and Drizzt twain changed to appease the puck, though Wulfgar, as compact as Bruenor, clinged off to the margin, his monstrous engagement crossed anteriorly him and his unrelenting stare boring into the shameless insertionkeeper.
The two multitude ended separate defensively and the Nightkeeper spoke anew, this opportunity on the aspect of frenzy. "First Citizen," he demanded of Regis, "why do you follow to our door?"
Regis stepped in front of Bruenor and steadied himself squarely anteriorly the soldier. "Er...a previous scouting of the negotiateplace," he blurted out, unamenable to establish a story as he went parallel. "I possess some specially noble carvings for negotiate this conjuncture and I shortnessed to be real that fullunnaturalness on this end, including the paying metaphor for scrimshaw, shall be in attribute to operativele the sale."
The two multitude exchanged familiar smiles. "You possess follow a crave way for such a resolve," the Nightkeeper breatheed harshly. "Would you not possess been emend profitable to singly follow down delay the caravan aspect the good-tempereds?"
Regis squirmed uncomfortably, realizing that these multitude were far too familiar to drop for his ploy. Fighting his emend umpirement, he reached lower his shirt for the ruby pendant, familiar that its lenient powers could inoculate the Nightkeeper to let them through, but dreading showing the smood at all and elevate unconcealeding the transcript for the assassin that he knew wasn't far rearwards.
Jierdan worsovereign unanticipatedly, so-far, as he noticed the metaphor be bemargin Bruenor. Drizzt Do'Urden's conceal had shifted slightly, revealing the ebon skin of his aspect.
As if on cue, the Nightkeeper compactd as courteous-behaved-behaved and, forthcoming his companion's administer, straightly discerned the account of Jierdan's unanticipated reaction. Reluctantly, the impure adventurers dropped their operatives to their weapons, cheerful for a encounter they didn't shortness.
But Jierdan ended the strain as straightly as he had begun it, by bringing his arm counter the chest of the Nightkeeper and addressing the drow unconcealedly. "Drizzt Do'Urden?" he asked appeasely, seeing permission of the sameness he had alcheerful guessed.
The drow nodded, amazed at the avowal.
"Your spectry, too, has follow down to Luskan delay the tales prohibition Icewind Dale," Jierdan explained. "Pardon our, amaze." He bent low. "We do not see manifold of your course at our insertions."
Drizzt nodded anew, but did not tally, dissatisfied delay this singular notice. Never anteriorly had a insertionkeeper twainered to ask him his spectry or his matter. And the drow had straightly follow to lowerstand the practice of avoiding insertions collectively, silently slipping balance a city's deference in the ebonness and seesovereign the seedier margin, wnear he government at conclusive possess a accident of be unnoticed in the ebon corners delay the other sharpers. Had his spectry and heroics brought him a gauge of regard equable this far from Ten-Towns?
Bruenor crabbed to Drizzt and winked, his own vex wild by the occurrence that his acquaintance had finally been loving his due from a alien.
But Drizzt wasn't inoculated. He didn't face charge for such a unnaturalness - it left him too exposed to feelings that he had fought unyielding to disguise. He preferred to protect his suspicions and his escort as terminate to him as the ebon cowl of his conceal. He cocked a rare ear as the two multitude ended separate to tarry a secret conference.
"I trouble not of his spectry," he heard the Nightkeeper breathe at Jierdan. "No drow elf shall by my insertion!"
"You err," Jierdan retorted. "These are the heroes of Ten-Towns. The halfling is really Primary Citizen of Bryn Shander, the drow a rvex delay a malignant, but undeniably upright, class, and the puck - silence the foaming mug model on his surrender - is Bruenor Battlehammer, administerer of his clan in the dale."
"And what of the monster barbarian?" asked the Nightkeeper, using a severe mood in an seek to gauge unimpressed, though he was self-evidently a bit laconic. "What sharper government he be?"
Jierdan shrugged. "His noticeable dimension, his immaturester, and a gauge of moderate more his years. It seems incredible to me that he should be near, but he government be the immature sovereign of the tribes that the tale-tellers possess verbal of. We should not rotate these travelers separate; the consequences may be pressing."
"What could Luskan perhaps terror from the petty settlements in Icewind Dale?" the Nightkeeper balked.
"Tnear are other trading ports," Jierdan retorted. "Not full engagement is fought delay a sword. The waste of Ten-Towns' scrimshaw would not be aspected favorably by our dealers, nor by the trading ships that put in each conjuncture."
The Nightkeeper scrutinized the impure aliens anew. He didn't charge them at all, notwithstanding his companion's elevated claims, and he didn't shortness them in his city. But he knew, too, that if his suspicions were evil-doing and he did someunnaturalness to shake the scrimshaw employment, his own forthcoming would be blank. The multitude of Luskan tallyed to the dealers, who were not fleet to forgrant errors that thinned their purses.
The Nightkeeper threw up his operatives in beat. "Go in, then," he told the companions. "Keep to the deference and form your way down to the docks. The advancedst lane tarrys the Cutlass, and you'll be fervent abundance there!"
Drizzt thought-out the elated strides of his acquaintances as they marched thuncourteous the door, and he guessed that they had also balanceheard pieces of the conference. Bruenor developed his suspicions when they had changed separate from the escort towers, down the route parallel the deference.
"Here, elf," the puck snorted, nudging Drizzt and nature self-evidently affable. "So the word's past more the dale and we're heared of equable this far south. What possess ye to say o' that?"