Maestro by R. A. Salvatore


  Follow Drizzt and his companions on all of their adventures

  (in chronological order)

  The Dark Elf Trilogy

  Homeland (1)

  Exile (2)

  Sojourn (3)

  The Icewind Dale Trilogy

  The Crystal Shard (4)

  Streams of Silver (5)

  The Halfling’s Gem (6)

  Legacy of the Drow

  The Legacy (7)

  Starless Night (8)

  Siege of Darkness (9)

  Passage to Dawn (10)

  Paths of Darkness

  The Silent Blade (11)

  The Spine of the World (12)

  Sea of Swords (13)

  The Sellswords

  Servant of the Shard (14)

  Promise of the Witch-King (15)

  Road of the Patriarch (16)

  The Hunter’s Blades

  The Thousand Orcs (17)

  The Lone Drow (18)

  The Two Swords (19)


  The Orc King (20)

  The Pirate King (21)

  The Ghost King (22)

  The Neverwinter® Saga

  Gauntlgrym (23)

  Neverwinter (24)

  Charon’s Claw (25)

  The Last Threshold (26)

  The Sundering

  The Companions (27)

  (Book 1 of The Sundering)

  The Companions Codex

  Night of the Hunter (28)

  Rise of the King (29)

  Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf (30)


  Archmage (31)

  Maestro (32)

  Hero (33)


  Homecoming, Book II

  ©2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC.

  This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or unauthorized use of the material or artwork contained herein is prohibited without the express written permission of Wizards of the Coast LLC.

  Published by Wizards of the Coast LLC. Manufactured by: Hasbro SA, Rue Emile-Boéchat 31, 2800 Delémont, CH. Represented by Hasbro Europe, 2 Roundwood Ave, Stockley Park, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB11 1AZ, UK.

  FORGOTTEN REALMS, WIZARDS OF THE COAST, D&D, their respective logos, the dragon ampersand, Neverwinter, and The Legend of Drizzt are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC, in the U.S.A. and other countries.

  All characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. All Wizards of the Coast characters, character names, and the distinctive likenesses thereof are property of Wizards of the Coast LLC.

  Cover art by: Aleksi Briclot

  ISBN: 978-0-7869-6591-5

  ISBN: 978-0-7869-6602-8 (ebook)

  620B6518000001 EN

  Cataloging-in-Publication data is on file with the Library of Congress

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  Title Page



  Part 1: The Puppetmaster

  Chapter 1: Tidying

  Chapter 2: House Do’Urden

  Chapter 3: The Recruiter

  Chapter 4: Petty

  Chapter 5: The End Straightaway

  Chapter 6: Amber Eyes

  Part 2: Ghosts

  Chapter 7: Some Things We Knew

  Chapter 8: A House Devout

  Chapter 9: The Cycle of Life

  Chapter 10: Confusion

  Chapter 11: Eclectic Allies

  Chapter 12: The Great Pillar Cavern

  Part 3: Ghosts

  Chapter 13: Stone Heads and Agile Fingers

  Chapter 14: Pale Yellow Orbs That Rule the Night

  Chapter 15: The Power of Insanity

  Chapter 16: Upon the Unwilling

  Chapter 17: The Blasphemy

  Chapter 18: Fevered Dreams

  Chapter 19: Lolth’s Champion

  Chapter 20: Baubles

  Chapter 21: Secular Hubris

  Chapter 22: Of Every Arrow and Every Spell



  BY LOLTH’S FURRY LEGS!” BRAELIN JANQUAY EXCLAIMED, SHAKING his head in disbelief at the sheer slaughter unfolding in front of him.

  Hundreds of demons, thousands of demons, had swarmed into a circular cavern in the Masterways, the complex of large passageways that were the main entrance of Menzoberranzan. They were just outside the city.

  Dark elf wizards and priestesses lined the cavern walls. The bombardment of magic raining down upon the Abyssal forces was beyond anything Braelin had ever imagined, let alone witnessed. A hundred lightning bolts slashed an equal torrent of fireballs. Magical storms pelted the intruding demons—zombie-like manes and simian balgura—pounding them down, tripping them on the icy floor where they were finished off in a haze of steam as fireballs exploded atop them.

  The drow trap had sprung to devastating effect, but the demons kept coming.

  “Can they kill them all?” the astounded Braelin said.

  “Be ready,” Tiago snapped at him. “Some will get through, and if you fail me on the flank, know that I will not be merciful.”

  Braelin stared at the upstart Baenre noble for a few moments, doing well to hide his utter contempt. Jarlaxle and Beniago had warned him of Tiago’s volatile temperament and haughty attitude. Jarlaxle knew the inner workings of the Baenre nobles better than anyone outside the immediate family, and Beniago was Tiago’s cousin. Still, Braelin had spent the last decades serving in Bregan D’aerthe. He had lived more than half his ninety-five years with Jarlaxle’s band, and most of those years had been outside the city. Now, back in the fold of Menzoberranzan, Tiago’s arrogance, the venom dripping from his every word—and those of many of the other drow, particularly those nobles in House Do’Urden, where Braelin now served—appalled him.

  Nothing had changed other than Braelin’s escape from, and perception of, the stilted reality that was Menzoberranzan. He had been so accustomed to it in his earlier days, so numb to it, but now every word jarred him, and it took all of his self-control to hide his true disgust at the nefarious ways of his own people.

  The cavern walls continued shaking from the magical barrage being poured upon the attacking demon hordes in the larger chamber to the west. One brilliant flash set Tiago and Braelin back on their heels.

  “Ravel and his lightning web,” Tiago remarked, managing a nod despite the sour look upon his face. Ravel, the former Xorlarrin House wizard now of House Do’Urden, was making quite a name for himself with that ritual addition to the common lightning bolt. Having witnessed it first-hand on several occasions, the two drow standing at the front of the corridor defense could only imagine the scores of demons now melting under its devastating effects.

  No sooner had Tiago finished the remark than there came a cacophony of stunning proportions, ground-shaking and with explosions echoing along the corridor walls likely all the way back to Menzoberranzan. Even out here, some hundred strides from the battle, Braelin could feel the heat of the magical conflagration. He loosened his grip on his swords just a bit, having a hard time imagining that any demons would come out this end of that slaughterhouse.

  “The magical confrontation nears its end, then,” Tiago added when the shaking at last abated. Like the wizardry displays in times of celebration, spellcasters always liked to end with a grand display.

  Braelin nodded. Ravel had told t
hem all that the lightning web would strike as the cavern slaughter was winding down, and the ensuing crescendo only confirmed that. Almost certainly, then, the demonic reinforcements had slowed to a trickle, and so the wizards and priestesses had pulled out their last great display.

  “The slaughter in the cavern nears its end!” Tiago shouted.

  His call carried back to all tendrils of the regiment with the weight of an undeniable command. As the weapons master assigned to this day’s primary war party, Tiago stood in full command of the warrior forces around him, including nearly a hundred foot soldiers and ten times that number of orc, goblin, bugbear, and kobold slaves.

  Braelin listened carefully as Tiago barked orders, setting groups in place, organizing teams to go forward and cover the retreat of any wizards or priestesses who could not magically escape the cavern. Certainly there were dimensional doors set up to get many back into the city, but those were to be used only by the extra spellcasters who had come out for the ambush. Many of the others, including those of House Do’Urden, had been assigned to the war party, and so would soon be returning to find their place among Tiago’s command.

  What struck Braelin most about Tiago’s stream of orders was the tone of the weapons master’s voice, one that showed him to be less than pleased by these events. Braelin had noted that combination of imperiousness and frustration from the beginning. His associate, Valas Hune, perhaps the greatest of Bregan D’aerthe’s scouts, had come to them hours earlier with word of the vast demonic force approaching. Such information had elevated today’s events above Tiago, had demanded magical communication with the city’s rulers. Sorcere had emptied herself of wizards, Arach-Tinilith had sent forth all her priestesses-in-training, and many of the major Houses, including Baenre and Barrison Del’Armgo, had sent forth a cadre of their greatest spellcasters.

  And that left Tiago sitting back in the peaceful corridor, clutching his unbloodied sword as a great victory was won in the ambush cavern in front of him. Braelin found himself truly amazed at how desperately this weapons master craved battle. And with demons, no less!

  His anger was unrelenting, and Braelin knew it all stemmed from Tiago’s failure to secure the head of Drizzt Do’Urden.

  Movement in the corridor ahead signaled the return of the spellcasters. The priestesses came first, showing little urgency, which confirmed that the slaughter in the cavern had been near-complete—and which only deepened the scowl on Tiago’s face. They, including Saribel Do’Urden, Tiago’s wife, moved past Tiago and Braelin and the other melee commanders to take up their positions in the third rank—near enough to offer healing to any who might be wounded.

  Then came the wizards, moving more swiftly, and with those in the rear of the procession glancing back somewhat nervously. Ravel led the way, along with Jaemas Xorlarrin, who was rumored to be the newest member of the Do’Urden House Court. Both stopped when they got to Tiago, Jaemas waving the others into position among the second rank of warriors.

  “I have never seen such a horde,” Ravel said to Tiago. “We obliterated them by the hundreds, but they simply kept coming.”

  “Kept coming without regard!” Jaemas exclaimed, seeming equally at a loss. “They marched without hesitation over the bodies of scores and hundreds of their Abyssal kin, and so they too were obliterated. The entire cavern is deep in the piled, empty husks of demons sent home.”

  Ravel started to add to that, but could only shake his head.

  “But there are more remaining?” Tiago asked, and it was obvious to Braelin and everyone else who heard him that he was hoping the answer would be yes.

  “Balgura were spotted in the Masterways beyond the chamber,” Ravel confirmed, “rushing to join their comrades in oblivion.”

  Braelin sighed, but tried to disguise it as a cough—unsuccessfully, he knew—when Tiago turned a glare over him. He had battled demons before, of course, as was true of every drow who had grown up in Menzoberranzan, but he counted balgura among his least favorite foes. They looked like some joke of the gods, resembling great apes with orange hair and massive limbs. Every balgura Braelin had ever seen stood as tall as the tip of his finger if he held his arm straight up over his head, and four times his weight. Yet, despite that imposing size and the sheer strength that accompanied it, balgura were surprisingly agile and quick, and while one alone could prove to be a dangerous adversary, these howling and scrambling beasts were pack hunters, fighting in frenzied coordination.

  Frenzied—Braelin thought that a fitting word for this particular type of demon.

  The drow was brought from his thoughts by screeching sounds echoing down the tunnel walls.

  “They’ve seen the carnage in the cavern,” Ravel remarked. “It’s amazing that they find no deterrence in climbing over piles of dead comrades.”

  “Perfect soldiers,” Tiago replied. “A pity we do not possess more of their ferocity in our own ranks.”

  “You had no more tricks to play on this group?” Braelin dared to ask. “Balgura are better dispatched with magic than the blade.”

  Tiago glared at him again.

  “Everything is better dispatched with magic,” Ravel replied flippantly, and he gave a dramatic sigh and walked away.

  Tiago turned to watch him go, letting his glare follow the wizard. “You are only next to me because of Jarlaxle’s assurances,” Tiago said to Braelin. “Are those assurances worthless, then? Would it serve us both better for me to assign you to stand second to some other warrior?”

  Braelin stared at the noble son of House Baenre for a long while. A big part of him wanted to take Tiago up on that offer, though he knew it wasn’t a sincere question and indeed, more of a threat. Still, to be away from Tiago would bring relief on so many levels …

  But the Bregan D’aerthe warrior could not ignore the truth. There was no finer warrior to be found at House Do’Urden—none even close—and indeed, few in all of Menzoberranzan could match Tiago’s prowess in battle. Malagdorl, perhaps, and Jarlaxle when he was in the city, which was not often. Beyond that, were there any warriors, weapons masters even, who would serve better in battle than this young upstart noble beside him?

  “Of course not,” he answered, and bowed politely. “I will show you my worth when the blood stains the stones.”

  He meant it, and he knew that he had to mean it. Tiago wasn’t keeping him close out of any favors to Jarlaxle—as far as Braelin could tell, Tiago didn’t think much of Jarlaxle at all. Tiago had accepted Braelin as his second because Jarlaxle had told him that he’d not find a more worthy battle companion. Now it was incumbent upon Braelin to live up to that billing.

  Or perhaps, Braelin reminded himself, Tiago wanted him as second because Tiago wanted to keep Jarlaxle’s eyes and ears in House Do’Urden very, very close.

  With that unsettling possibility in mind, Braelin pointedly reminded himself that if he did not acquit himself well in battle, Tiago would find a way to get him killed in battle. Perhaps Tiago would even do the deed himself if a balgura could not.

  Braelin knew that beyond doubt once he looked again at Tiago’s expression.

  The shrieks of the approaching beasts increased, and Braelin tossed that unsettling thought away. He had no room for such doubts now that battle was upon them, and his life was dependent upon the coordination between he and Tiago.

  “Wife!” Tiago called, turning back and motioning Saribel forward. He swung back around just in time to duck behind his shield and catch a leaping balgura with it. The weight of the blow sent him skidding backward, the demon sliding, too, past Braelin’s right flank.

  Braelin stabbed with his right-hand sword, his left blade going forward to fend off the rush of another wild, orange-furred demon.

  The balgura to his right hissed and spat in protest, and the sword sank in deeply indeed. That seemingly mortal strike didn’t fell the creature, though, and it apparently did not even notice as it swung around at Braelin.

  But then came Tiago, out from behind that
strange and beautiful shield, with his magnificent sword sweeping down from on high to split the wounded demon’s head in half.

  Braelin somehow managed to fend off the clawed hands of the demon in front of him and extract his sword from the falling balgura’s ribs. With both weapons in hand, the skilled drow warrior fast turned the flow of battle back against the ferocious beast.

  Tiago came by him, yelling, “Forward!”

  Braelin was about to argue—he didn’t really have anywhere to go—but Tiago’s deadly sword flashed out from under his shield, stabbing Braelin’s foe in the side. So fine was that blade, Vidrinath by name, that a mere sweep of Tiago’s arm had it slicing through the thick demon’s torso, nearly cutting the thing in half.

  Braelin tried unsuccessfully not to gasp, then to keep up as Tiago leaped at the incoming swarm of demons, even as they leaped at him.

  He kicked aside the dying beast’s last clawing strikes and went down to one knee, his swords in a double-thrust to stab up at a balgura that had leaped at him. The demon landed and stumbled, skidding on torn feet, easy prey for the drow warriors in the next rank.

  Feeling quite pleased with his clever maneuver, Braelin started ahead once more. And then he wasn’t so pleased with himself, and nearly forgot that battle was upon him as he noted the movements of Tiago Baenre Do’Urden. The drow noble more than matched the ferocity of his wild opponents. He leaped every which way, batting at clawing hands and biting maws with his fabulous shield, taking the life from one demon after another with that magnificent sword.

  Engaged once more with a demon, Braelin lost track of Tiago’s battles. After his balgura was finally dead, it took Braelin some time to locate and watch the leaping, scrambling blur that was Tiago. He shook his head in disbelief as he realized that for every attack Tiago blocked, one or more was getting through.

  A gash opened on Tiago’s arm—he nearly lost his grip on Vidrinath—but the wound closed almost as it appeared.

  Braelin glanced back at Tiago’s wife, High Priestess Saribel, to see her in a constant stream of spellcasting. With Tiago as her singular focus, waves of Lolth-given healing magic flowed at the noble son of House Baenre.

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