Streams of Silver by R. A. Salvatore




  INTO THE

  UNFORGIVING DEPTHS!

  The solitude of the caverns weighed heavily on the dwarf, who had heard them ring out in the common cheering and chanting of ten thousand dwarves. Even if he were to return with all of the remaining members of the clan, they would fill only a tiny corner of one chamber.

  “Too many gone,” Bruenor said into the emptiness, his soft whisper louder than he had intended in the echoing stillness.

  Catti-brie and Wulfgar, concerned for the dwarf and scrutinizing his every action, noted the remark and could easily enough guess the memories and emotions that had prompted it. They looked to each other and Catti-brie could see that the edge of Wulfgar’s anger at the dwarf had dissipated in a rush of sympathy.

  Wulfgar doused the torch and Bruenor led them on under the protective dimness of the gloom.

  THE LEGEND OF DRIZZT

  Homeland

  Exile

  Sojourn

  The Crystal Shard

  Streams of Silver

  The Halfling’s Gem

  The Legacy

  Starless Night

  Siege of Darkness

  Passage to Dawn

  The Silent Blade

  The Spine of the World

  Sea of Swords

  A Reader’s Guide to

  R.A. Salvatore’s The Legend of Drizzt

  August 2008

  THE HUNTER’S BLADES TRILOGY

  The Thousand Orcs

  The Lone Drow

  The Two Swords

  TRANSITIONS

  The Or King

  October 2007

  The Pirate King

  October 2008

  The Ghost King

  October 2009

  AS WITH EVERYTHING I DO,

  TO MY WIFE, DIANE,

  AND TO THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE

  IN OUR LIVES,

  BRIAN, GENO, AND CAITLIN.

  Contents

  Cover

  Other Books By This Author

  Title Page

  Dedication

  Prelude

  Part 1 - Searches Chapter 1 - A Dagger at Their Backs

  Chapter 2 - City of Sails

  Chapter 3 - Night Life

  Chapter 4 - The Conjuring

  Chapter 5 - The Crags

  Chapter 6 - Sky Ponies

  Chapter 7 - Dagger and Staff

  Part 2 - Allies Chapter 8 - To the Peril Of Low-Flying Birds

  Chapter 9 - There Is No Honor

  Chapter 10 - Bonds of Reputation

  Chapter 11 - Silverymoon

  Chapter 12 - The Trollmoors

  Chapter 13 - The Last Run

  Chapter 14 - Star Light, Star Bright

  Chapter 15 - The Golem’s Eyes

  Part 3 - Trails Anew Chapter 16 - Days of Old

  Chapter 17 - The Challenge

  Chapter 18 - The Secret of Keeper’s Dale

  Chapter 19 - Shadows

  Chapter 20 - End of a Dream

  Chapter 21 - Silver in the Shadows

  Chapter 22 - The Dragon of Darkness

  Chapter 23 - The Broken Helm

  Chapter 24 - Eulogy for Mithral Hall

  Epilogue

  About the Author

  Copyright

  We’ve dug our holes and hallowed caves

  Put goblin foes in shallow graves

  This day our work is just begun

  In the mines where silver rivers run

  Beneath the stone the metal gleams

  Torches shine on silver streams

  Beyond the eyes of the spying sun

  In the mines where silver rivers run

  The hammers chime on mithral pure

  As dwarven mines in days of yore

  A craftsman’s work is never done

  In the mines where silver rivers run

  To dwarven gods we sing our praise

  Put another orc in a shallow grave

  We know our work has just begun

  In the land where silver rivers run

  PRELUDE

  n a dark throne in a dark place perched the dragon of shadow. Not a very large wyrm, but foulest of the foul, its mere presence, blackness; its talons, swords worn from a thousand thousand kills; its maw ever warm with the blood of victims; its black breath, despair.

  A raven’s coat was its tested scales, so rich in their blackness that they shimmered in colors, a scintillating facade of beauty for a soulless monster. Its minions named it Shimmergloom and paid it all honor.

  Gathering its strength over the course of centuries, as dragons do, Shimmergloom kept its wings folded back and moved not at all, except to swallow a sacrifice or to punish an insolent underling. It had done its part to secure this place, routing the bulk of the dwarven army that stood to face its allies.

  How well the dragon had eaten that day! The hides of dwarves were tough and muscled, but a razor-toothed maw was well suited to such a meal.

  And now the dragon’s many slaves did all the work, bringing it food and heeding to its every desire. The day would come when they would need the power of the dragon again, and Shimmergloom would be ready. The huge mound of plundered treasures beneath it fueled the dragon’s strength, and in this respect, Shimmergloom was surpassed by none of its kind, possessing a hoard beyond the imagination of the richest kings.

  And a host of loyal minions, willing slaves to the dragon of darkness.

  The chill wind that gave Icewind Dale its name whistled across their ears, its incessant groan eliminating the casual conversation the four friends usually enjoyed. They moved west across the barren tundra, and the wind, as always, came from the east, behind them, quickening their already strong pace.

  Their posture and the determined drive of their strides reflected the eagerness of a newly begun quest, but the set of each adventurer’s face revealed a different perspective of the journey.

  The dwarf, Bruenor Battlehammer, leaned forward from his waist, his stocky legs pumping mightily beneath him, and his pointed nose, poking out above the shag of his wagging red beard, led the way. He seemed set in stone, apart from his legs and beard, with his many-notched axe held firmly before him in his gnarled hands, his shield, emblazoned with the standard of the foaming mug, strapped tightly on the back of his overstuffed pack, and his head, adorned in a many-dented horned helm, never turning to either side. Neither did his eyes deviate from the path and rarely did they blink. Bruenor had initiated this journey to find the ancient homeland of Clan Battlehammer, and though he fully realized that the silvery halls of his childhood were hundreds of miles away, he stomped along with the fervor of one whose long-awaited goal is clearly in sight.

  Beside Bruenor, the huge barbarian, too, was anxious. Wulfgar loped along smoothly, the great strides of his long legs easily matching the dwarf’s rolling pace. There was a sense of urgency about him, like a spirited horse on a short rein. Fires hungry for adventure burned in his pale eyes as clearly as in Bruenor’s, but unlike the dwarf, Wulfgar’s gaze was not fixed upon the straight road before them. He was a young man out to view the wide world for the first time and he continually looked about, soaking up every sight and sensation that the landscape had to offer.

  He had come along to aid his friends on their adventure, but he had come, as well, to expand the horizons of his own world. The entirety of his young life had been spent within the isolating natural boundaries of Icewind Dale, limiting his experiences to the ancient ways of his fellow barbarian tribesmen and the frontier people of Ten-Towns.

  There was more out there, Wulfgar knew, and he was determined to grasp as much of it as he possibly could.

  Less interested was Drizzt Do’Urden, the cloaked figure trotting easily beside Wulfgar. His floating gait showed him to be of el
f heritage, but the shadows of his low-pulled cowl suggested something else. Drizzt was a drow, a black elf, denizen of the lightless underworld. He had spent several years on the surface, denying his heritage, yet had found that he could not escape the aversion to the sun inherent in his people.

  And so he sunk low within the shadow of his cowl, his stride nonchalant, even resigned, this trip being merely a continuation of his existence, another adventure in a life-long string of adventures. Forsaking his people in the dark city of Menzoberranzan, Drizzt Do’Urden had willingly embarked upon the road of the nomad. He knew that he would never be truly accepted anywhere on the surface; perceptions of his people were too vile (and rightly so) for even the most tolerant of communities to take him in. The road was his home now; he was always traveling to avoid the inevitable heartache of being forced from a place that he might have come to love.

  Ten-Towns had been a temporary sanctuary. The forlorn wilderness settlement housed a large proportion of rogues and outcasts and though Drizzt wasn’t openly welcomed, his hard-earned reputation as a guardian of the towns’ borders had granted him a small measure of respect and tolerance from many of the settlers. Bruenor named him a true friend, though, and Drizzt had willingly set out beside the dwarf on the trek, despite his apprehension that once he moved out beyond the influence of his reputation, the treatment he received would be less than civil.

  Every so often, Drizzt dropped back the dozen yards or so to check on the fourth member of the party. Huffing and puffing, Regis the halfling brought up the rear of the troupe (and not by choice) with a belly too round for the road and legs too short to match the pumping strides of the dwarf. Paying now for the months of luxury he had enjoyed in the palatial house in Bryn Shander, Regis cursed the turn of luck that had forced him to the road. His greatest love was comfort and he worked at perfecting the arts of eating and sleeping as diligently as a young lad with dreams of heroic deeds swung his first sword. His friends were truly surprised when he joined them on the road, but they were happy to have him along, and even Bruenor, so desperate to see his ancient homeland again, took care not to set the pace too far beyond Regis’s ability to keep up.

  Certainly Regis pushed himself to his physical limits, and without his customary complaining. Unlike his companions, though, whose eyes looked to the road up ahead, he kept glancing back over his shoulder, back toward Ten-Towns and the home he had so mysteriously abandoned to join in the journey.

  Drizzt noted this with some concern.

  Regis was running away from something.

  The companions kept their westerly course for several days. To their south, the snowcapped peaks of the jagged mountains, the Spine of the World, paralleled their journey. This range marked the southern boundary to Icewind Dale and the companions kept an eye out for its end. When the westernmost peaks died away to flat ground, they would turn south, down the pass between the mountains and the sea, running out of the dale altogether and down the last hundred mile stretch to the coastal city of Luskan.

  Out on the trail each morning before the sun rose at their backs, they continued running into the last pink lines of sunset, stopping to make camp at the very last opportunity before the chill wind took on its icy nighttime demeanor.

  Then they were back on the trail again before dawn, each running within the solitude of his own perspectives and fears.

  A silent journey, save the endless murmur of the eastern wind.

  SEARCHES

  pray that the world never runs out of dragons. I say that in all sincerity, though I have played a part in the death of one great wyrm. For the dragon is the quintessential enemy, the greatest foe, the unconquerable epitome of devastation. The dragon, above all other creatures, even the demons and the devils, evokes images of dark grandeur, of the greatest beast curled asleep on the greatest treasure hoard. They are the ultimate test of the hero and the ultimate fright of the child. They are older than the elves and more akin to the earth than the dwarves. The great dragons are the preternatural beast, the basic element of the beast, that darkest part of our imagination.

  The wizards cannot tell you of their origin, though they believe that a great wizard, a god of wizards, must have played some role in the first spawning of the beast. The elves, with their long fables explaining the creation of every aspect of the world, have many ancient tales concerning the origin of the dragons, but they admit, privately, that they really have no idea of how the dragons came to be.

  My own belief is more simple, and yet, more complicated by far. I believe that dragons appeared in the world immediately after the spawning of the first reasoning race. I do not credit any god of wizards with their creation, but rather, the most basic imagination, wrought of unseen fears, of those first reasoning mortals.

  We make the dragons as we make the gods, because we need them, because, somewhere deep in our hearts, we recognize that a world without them is a world not worth living in.

  There are so many people in the land who want an answer, a definitive answer, for everything in life, and even for everything after life. They study and they test, and because those few find the answers for some simple questions, they assume that there are answers to be had for every question. What was the world like before there were people? Was there nothing but darkness before the sun and the stars? Was there anything at all? What were we, each of us, before we were born? And what, most importantly of all, shall we be after we die?

  Out of compassion, I hope that those questioners never find that which they seek.

  One self-proclaimed prophet came through Ten-Towns denying the possibility of an afterlife, claiming that those people who had died and were raised by priests, had, in fact, never died, and that their claims of experiences beyond the grave were an elaborate trick played on them by their own hearts, a ruse to ease the path to nothingness. For that is all there was, he said, an emptiness, a nothingness.

  Never in my life have I ever heard one begging so desperately for someone to prove him wrong.

  For what are we left with if there remains no mystery? What hope might we find if we know all of the answers?

  What is it within us, then, that so desperately wants to deny magic and to unravel mystery? Fear, I presume, based on the many uncertainties of life and the greatest uncertainty of death. Put those fears aside, I say, and live free of them, for if we just step back and watch the truth of the world, we will find that there is indeed magic all about us, unexplainable by numbers and formulas. What is the passion evoked by the stirring speech of the commander before the desperate battle, if not magic? What is the peace that an infant might know in its mother’s arms, if not magic? What is love, if not magic?

  No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith.

  And that, I fear, for any reasoning, conscious being, would be the cruelest trick of all.

  —Drizzt Do’Urden

  e kept his cloak pulled tightly about him, though little light seeped in through the curtained windows, for this was his existence, secretive and alone. The way of the assassin.

  While other people went about their lives basking in the pleasures of the sunlight and the welcomed visibility of their neighbors, Artemis Entreri kept to the shadows, the dilated orbs of his eyes focused on the narrow path he must take to accomplish his latest mission.

  He truly was a professional, possibly the finest in the entire realms at his dark craft, and when he sniffed out the trail of his prey, the victim never escaped. So the assassin was unbothered by the empty house that he found in Bryn Shander, the principal city of the ten settlements in the wasteland of Icewind Dale. Entreri had suspected that the halfling had slipped out of Ten-Towns. But no matter; if this was indeed the same half-ling that he had sought all the way from Calimport, a thousand miles and more to the south, he had made better progress than he ever could have hoped. His mark had no more than a twotenday head
start and the trail would be fresh indeed.

  Entreri moved through the house silently and calmly, seeking hints of the halfling’s life here that would give him the edge in their inevitable confrontation. Clutter greeted him in every room—the halfling had left in a hurry, probably aware that the assassin was closing in. Entreri considered this a good sign, further heightening his suspicions that this halfling, Regis, was the same Regis who had served the Pasha Pook those years ago in the distant southern city.

  The assassin smiled evilly at the thought that the halfling knew he was being stalked, adding to the challenge of the hunt as Entreri pitted his stalking prowess against his intended victim’s hiding ability. But the end result was predictable, Entreri knew, for a frightened person invariably made a fatal mistake.

  The assassin found what he was looking for in a desk drawer in the master bedroom. Fleeing in haste, Regis had neglected to take precautions to conceal his true identity. Entreri held the small ring up before his gleaming eyes, studying the inscription that clearly identified Regis as a member of Pasha Pook’s thieves’ guild in Calimport. Entreri closed his fist about the signet, the evil smile widening across his face.

  “I have found you, little thief,” he laughed into the emptiness of the room. “Your fate is sealed. There is nowhere for you to run!”

  His expression changed abruptly to one of alertness as the sound of a key in the palatial house’s front door echoed up the hallway of the grand staircase. He dropped the ring into his bell pouch and slipped, as silent as death, to the shadows of the top posts of the stairway’s heavy banister.

  The large double doors swung open, and a man and a young woman stepped in from the porch ahead of two dwarves. Entreri knew the man, Cassius, the spokesman of Bryn Shander. This had been his home once, but he had relinquished it several months earlier to Regis, after the halfling’s heroic actions in the town’s battle against the evil wizard, Akar Kessell, and his goblin minions.

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