Rise of the King by R. A. Salvatore


  ©2014 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, and their respective logos 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: Tyler Jacobson

  First Printing: September 2014

  ISBN: 978-0-7869-6515-1

  ISBN: 978-0-7869-6551-9 (ebook)

  620A6634000001 EN

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

  Contact Us at Wizards.com/CustomerService

  Wizards of the Coast LLC, PO Box 707, Renton, WA 98057-0707, USA

  USA & Canada: (800) 324-6496 or (425) 204-8069

  Europe: +32(0) 70 233 277

  Visit our web site at www.dungeonsanddragons.com




  Title Page



  Part One: Under Skies of Gloom Chapter 1: Summer of Discontent

  Chapter 2: The Line Between Life and Death

  Chapter 3: The Tears of Tarsakh

  Chapter 4: Matron Mother Darthiir

  Chapter 5: Crossings of the Redrun

  Chapter 6: The Belching Horn

  Part Two: Under the Darkened Sky Chapter 7: To the Edge of Gloom

  Chapter 8: Eyes to the East

  Chapter 9: Welcome Home

  Chapter 10: Inside Information

  Chapter 11: Traveling Companions

  Chapter 12: Trickster

  Chapter 13: The Long Game

  Chapter 14: The Lure

  Chapter 15: Field of Blood and Fire

  Part Three: Boil Chapter 16: Grim Tidings

  Chapter 17: The Mockery

  Chapter 18: A Dragon’s Roar

  Chapter 19: Undressed

  Chapter 20: Best of Bad Choices

  Chapter 21: The Ghost of Dwarf Kings Past

  Chapter 22: The Grin Behind the Executioner’s Hood

  Chapter 23: My Friend, the Torturer

  Chapter 24: On the Wings of Dragons


  YE E’ER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THAT?” KING CONNERAD BRAWNANVIL asked the emissary from Citadel Felbarr. They stood on a small guard tower along the rim of the valley called Keeper’s Dale, staring up at the dark sky. The sun barely penetrated the strange overcast. So little light came through the roiling and angry blackness above, in fact, that no one in the North had seen more than a wisp of a shadow in several days.

  “None’ve seen anything like that, good king,” the surly old veteran warrior named Ragged Dain answered. “But we ain’t thinkin’ it’s a good thing.”

  “It’s them orcs,” King Connerad remarked. “Obould’s ugly boys. It’s them orcs, or the world’s gone crazy and gnomes’re wearing beards long enough to tickle a tall man’s toes.”

  Ragged Dain nodded his agreement. That’s why he’d been dispatched by King Emerus Warcrown, after all, because certainly the Kingdom of Many-Arrows had to be the source of this unseemly event—or at least, the dwarves of the Silver Marches were all betting that the minions of King Obould knew the source, at least.

  “Ye heared from Citadel Adbar?” King Connerad asked, referring to the third of the dwarf communities in the Silver Marches. “Are they seein’ this?”

  “Aye, the Twin Kings are seein’ it and looking to the Underdark for answers.”

  “Ye think them boys’re ready for it, whatever it might be?” Connerad asked, for Citadel Adbar had only recently crowned a pair of kings, Bromm and Harnoth, the twin sons of old King Harbromm, who had ruled there for nearly two centuries until his recent—by dwarf accounting—death. The twins had been raised well, but they hadn’t seen much in the way of action or political intrigue in the quiet of the last decades.

  “Who’s for sayin’?” Ragged Dain replied, shaking his head solemnly. King Harbromm had been a dear friend to him and the others of Citadel Felbarr, almost as a brother to King Emerus Warcrown. The loss of that great leader, barely cold in the ground, could prove quite troublesome if this event, this darkening, turned as foul as it looked.

  Ragged Dain dropped a hand affectionately to the shoulder of Connerad Brawnanvil. “Was yerself ready?” he asked. “When King Banak passed on and ye took the bridle o’ Mithral Hall, did ye know what ye needed?”

  Connerad snorted. “Still don’t,” he admitted. “Kinging looks easy from afar.”

  “Not so much from the throne, then,” Ragged Dain agreed, and Connerad nodded. “Well, then, young King o’ Mithral Hall, what’re ye knowin’ now after all?”

  “I’m knowin’ that I ain’t knowin’,” King Connerad said resolutely. “And not knowing’s likely to get me boys in trouble.”

  “Scouts, then.”

  “Aye, a bunch, and yerself’s to go with ’em, that ye’ll be going back to Felbarr with what ye seen with yer own eyes.”

  Ragged Dain considered the words for a few moments, then offered a salute to the young King of Mithral Hall. “Ye’re ready now,” he said, and clapped Connerad hard on the shoulder once more. “Here’s to hoping that the twins o’ Harbromm catch on as quick.”

  “Bah, but there’s two o’ them,” said Connerad. “Sure to be.”

  He looked back up at the sky, at the roiling clouds of smoke or some other foul substance that turned daylight into something less than moonlight and hid the stars entirely.

  “Sure to be,” he said again, more to himself than to his guest.

  “I am a priest of Gruumsh One-Eye,” the tall orc protested.

  “Yes, and I was hoping that your standing would indicate some intelligence, at least,” Tiago Baenre replied with a derisive chortle, and he walked off to the side.

  “We have come to offer a great opportunity,” Tos’un Armgo retorted. “Would not your Gruumsh be pleased?”

  “Gruumsh …” the orc started, but Tos’un cut him short.

  “Would not the god of orcs swim in the blood of humans, elves, and dwarves?”

  The tall orc gave a crooked smile as he looked over Tos’un, head to toe. “Uryuga knows you,” the shaman said, and Tiago snorted again at the typically orc habit of referring to himself by his own name.

  “You speak of elves,” Uryuga went on. “You know elves. You live with elves!”

  “Lived,” Tos’un corrected. “I was chased out, and by the same female who killed many of your kin by the holy cave.”

  “That is not the tale my people tell.”

  Tos’un started to respond, but just blew a sigh. His actions in that instance, with his wife Sinnafein by his side, certainly would work against him. He had abandoned her to the pursuing orcs in his quest to catch up to Doum’wielle and led her into the Underdark, but any of the orc survivors from that skirmish surely knew that he had not been fleeing from Sinnafein but traveling with her.

  Uryuga chuckled and started to continue, but now it was Tiago who cut him short. “Enough,” the son of House Baenre demanded. “Look above you, fool. Do you see that? We have blocked out the sun itself. Do you underst
and the power that has come upon these lands? If you or your stubborn King Obould will not heed our call, then we will simply replace you both and find another king—and another priest—who will.”

  The orc priest straightened his shoulders and stood up tall, towering over Tiago, but if the drow was intimidated, he certainly didn’t show any signs of it.

  “Ravel!” Tiago called, and turned to the side, guiding Uryuga’s gaze that way, to see Uryuga—another Uryuga—approaching.

  “What is this?” the orc demanded.

  “Do you really believe we need you?” Tiago scoffed. “Do you hold yourself tall enough to believe that a plan to conquer the Silver Marches rests on the choices of a simple orc priest?”

  “High shaman,” Uryuga corrected.

  “Dead shaman,” Tiago corrected, his fine sword, a sliver of the starlit sky it seemed, flashing from its scabbard and rushing tip-in to rest against Uryuga’s throat.

  “I serve Gruumsh!”

  “Want to meet him? Now?” Tiago flicked his wrist a tiny bit and a spot of blood appeared on Uryuga’s throat.

  “Answer me,” the vicious drow prompted. “But before you do, think of the glorious sights you will miss when a sea of orcs swarm the mounds and dales and roll over the great cities of Luruar. Think of the slaughter of thousands of dwarves, and all without a swing of Uryuga’s heavy mace. Because that is what we will do, with you alive or with you dead. It matters not.”

  “If it matters not, then why am I alive?”

  “Because we prefer the priests of Gruumsh to partake of the war. The Spider Queen is no enemy to the great and glorious One-Eye and would welcome him in this great victory. But now I grow weary of this. Will you join or will you die?”

  Put that way, and with a sword against his throat, Uryuga gave a slight but definitive nod.

  “I’m not certain,” Tiago said anyway, glancing back over his shoulder at the illusion of Uryuga worn by Ravel. “I think you look ugly enough to handle this task.” As he spoke, he drove his sword forward, just a tiny bit, the fine blade easily cutting the orc’s skin.

  “Grab for it,” Tiago said, turning back to face the shaman. “I would so enjoy watching your fingers fall to the ground.”

  Ravel began to laugh, but Tos’un shifted uncomfortably.

  Tiago snapped his sword away in the blink of an eye, but came forward and grabbed the orc by the collar, yanking him low. “We offer you all you ever wanted,” he growled in Uryuga’s ugly face. “The blood of your enemies will stain the mountainsides, the dwarven halls will be filled with your people. The great cities of Luruar will grovel and tremble before the stamp of orc boots. And you dare to hesitate? You should be on your knees, bowing to us in gratitude.”

  “You speak as if this war you hunger for is already won.”

  “Do you doubt us?”

  “It was drow elves who prompted the first King Obould to march upon Mithral Hall,” Uryuga replied. “A small band with big promises.”

  Tos’un shifted uncomfortably. He had been among that quartet of troublemakers, though, of course, Uryuga, who was no older than thirty winters, could hardly know that distant truth.

  “Gruumsh was displeased with that war?” Tiago asked skeptically. “Truly? Your god was displeased with the outcome, which offered your people a kingdom among the Silver Marches?”

  “A kingdom we hold strong, but one that will be destroyed if we fail in our march.”

  “So you are a coward.”

  “Uryuga is no coward,” the orc said with a snarl.

  “Then let us proceed.”

  “They are seven kingdoms, we are one,” Uryuga reminded him.

  “You will not be alone,” Tiago promised. He pointed back over Uryuga’s shoulder, and the orc turned slowly, casting another suspicious glance the Baenre’s way before daring to take his eyes off the dangerous drow. As he turned, though, his legs obviously went weak beneath him, for there in the distance beyond this high, windswept bluff circled a pair of beasts to take his breath away.

  A pair of white dragons, ridden by frost giants.

  They only remained in sight for a few heartbeats, then swooped away along a mountain valley between a pair of distant peaks.

  Uryuga swung around, jaw hanging open.

  “You will not be alone,” Tiago promised. “This is no small band of dark elves stirring trouble. I am Tiago Baenre, noble son of the First House of Menzoberranzan and weapons master of House Do’Urden. The daylight is stolen by our power, to facilitate our march, and we have already spread our tendrils far and wide, a net to catch and enlist the battle-hungry. Dragons are always hungry, and the frost giants of Shining White are eager to finish what their Dame Gerti began a hundred years ago.”

  Uryuga shook his head, not catching the specifics of that century-old reference, apparently. But it didn’t matter. He wasn’t so stupid as to miss the implications of the reference: The giants would help in the war, and with a pair of dragons, it seemed.


  “Go to King Obould,” Tiago ordered. “Tell him that the time has come to find glory for Gruumsh One-Eye.”

  Uryuga paused for a few heartbeats, but then nodded and started away.

  “A convincing illusion,” Tiago congratulated Ravel when the trio of drow were alone.

  Ravel reverted to his proper drow form and nodded.

  “I meant the dragons,” Tiago explained. “And with frost giants riding them. Well done.”

  “It will need to be more than an illusion if we intend to conquer Luruar,” Tos’un put in. “This is no minor enemy, with three dwarf citadels, a forest full of elves, and three mighty cities.”

  “My sister will not fail in this, nor will Archmage Gromph,” Ravel assured him, the wizard’s tone showing great disdain.

  “You have been here too long, son of Armgo,” Tiago said dismissively to Tos’un. “You forget the power and reach of Menzoberranzan.”

  Tos’un nodded and let it go at that. But Tiago was wrong in one thing, he knew. Tos’un hadn’t forgotten anything, not from the war between Many-Arrows and Mithral Hall and not from the war before that, when the legendary and godlike Matron Mother Yvonnel Baenre, the great-grandmother of this impudent peacock, had gotten her head cleaved in half by the dwarf king of Mithral Hall.

  Saribel glanced nervously at Gromph Baenre. The priestess felt small indeed, surrounded as she was by a trio of blue-skinned behemoths.

  Certainly the archmage didn’t seem intimidated, and Saribel drew some confidence from that—until she reminded herself that Gromph wasn’t her friend. Her ally, perhaps, but she’d never trust this old one enough to think of him as anyone she could rely upon.

  The priestess pulled her furred cloak tighter as the mountain winds howled, chilling her even through the magical wards against cold she had placed upon herself.

  She glanced at Gromph once more.

  He didn’t even seem to notice the wind or the cold. He walked at ease—he always walked at ease, she thought, supremely confident, never the slightest hesitation or self-doubt.

  She hated him.

  “Do you remember their names?” Gromph said then, unexpectedly, shattering Saribel’s contemplations.

  He had done that on purpose, she knew, as if he was reading her every thought.

  “Well?” Gromph added impatiently as the flustered priestess tried to collect herself.

  The archmage snickered derisively and shook his head.

  “They are the brothers of Thrym, so we are to tell Jarl Fimmel Orelson,” Saribel blurted.

  “Three of the ten brothers of the frost giant god,” Gromph said.


  “Do you remember their names?”

  “Does it matter?”

  Gromph stopped short and turned to stare hard at Saribel. “For tendays now, I have been trying to figure out why Matron Mother Baenre decided to bless Tiago’s choice of wife and thus bring you into the House proper. I have tried to justify it as an act to stre
ngthen our ties to the new city of Q’Xorlarrin, to serve as yet another reminder to Matron Mother Zeerith that her world survives at the suffrage of House Baenre.” He paused and gave a look and a nod as if that should suffice, but then added, “Truly, young priestess, even that pleasing reality does not seem worth the price of having to suffer your dim-wittedness.”

  Saribel swallowed hard and worked to keep her lip from quivering, all too keenly aware that Gromph could destroy her with just a thought, at any time.

  “Beorjan, Rugmark, and Rolloki,” she recited.

  “Which is Beorjan?” Gromph asked and Saribel felt her fear rising once more. The giants were all the same size, fully twenty feet tall and with equally impressive girth and musculature. They all wore their hair the same, long and blond, all dressed in similar furs of the same cut, and all carried a gigantic double-bladed axe.

  “Well?” Gromph prodded impatiently.

  “I cannot tell them apart,” a flustered Saribel blurted, and she thought she was uttering her last words with that admission.

  And indeed, Gromph stared at her threateningly for a long heartbeat, until one of the giants began to laugh.

  “Neither can I,” Gromph admitted. “And I grew them.” He, too, began to laugh—something Saribel had never thought possible. He clapped her on the shoulder and started them on their way once more.

  “I am Rugmark, Fourth Brother of Thrym,” the first in line recited.

  “I am Beorjan, Seventh Brother of Thrym,” said the one on the left behind the two dark elves.

  “I am Rolloki, Eldest Brother of Thrym,” said the one beside Beorjan.

  And they believed their own words. The claims weren’t true, of course. These were three giants Gromph had coerced to their cause at Matron Mother Baenre’s request. A few spells of growth and permanency, a few sessions with Methil, the illithid imparting new identities to the trio that the slow-minded creatures couldn’t help but believe, and the result: three living and walking doppelgangers of the fabled ten brothers of the frost giant deity, Thrym.

  And three supremely powerful tools for Matron Mother Baenre to utilize.

No Previous Page Next Page
Should you have any enquiry, please contact us via [email protected]