The Sentinels by R. A. Salvatore




  Also by R.A. Salvatore

  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

  Also by R.A. & Geno Salvatore

  The Stowaway

  Stone of Tymora, Book I

  The Shadowmask

  Stone of Tymora, Book II

  The Sentinels

  ©2010 Wizards of the Coast LLC

  All characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  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

  FORGOTTEN REALMS, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, WIZARDS OF THE COAST, and their respective logos are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC in the U.S.A. and other countries. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

  Map by Robert Lazzaretti

  eISBN: 978-0-7869-5809-2

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

  U.S., CANADA, EUROPEAN HEADQUARTERS

  ASIA, PACIFIC, & LATIN AMERICA Hasbro UK Ltd

  Wizards of the Coast LLC Caswell Way

  P.O. Box 707 Newport, Gwent NP9 0YH

  Renton, WA 98057-0707 GREAT BRITAIN

  +1-800-324-6496 Please keep this address for your records.

  Visit our Web site at dungeonsanddragons.com

  v3.1

  Contents

  Cover

  Other Books by This Author

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Map

  Part One - The Sentinels Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Part Two - The Sentinels Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Part Three - The Sentinels Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Epilogue: The Sentinels

  About the Authors

  Part One

  THE SENTINELS

  Thirteen thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight. Thirteen thousand eight hundred and sixty-nine.

  The darkness was absolute. My pirate captors had left me no torch, and the sun had set long ago.

  Thirteen thousand nine hundred twenty-four. Thirteen thousand nine hundred twenty-five.

  The flicker of their campfire had traced its way down the short, east-facing tunnel to the locked door to a tiny chamber, my cell. The light had been brighter this night than the previous few nights, and the uneven crack at the bottom of the door had allowed plenty of light in. But that light, too, had finally gone out.

  Fourteen thousand and seven. Heartbeats, that is, since the light had gone out.

  I kept my legs crossed, sitting as comfortably as I could in the cramped cave. I held my breathing steady, keeping count as precisely as I could. Of course my count would be inexact, but that was hardly the point.

  The pirates had been drinking heavily, like every night. Most or all of them had surely passed out. Still, I figured to play it safe I’d give them three hours so the last stragglers could drift off to sleep.

  Fourteen thousand eighty-eight.

  Three hours, fourteen thousand four hundred heartbeats. Soon.

  Neither my hands nor my feet were bound. I had gained the pirate captain’s trust. Or, more to the point, I had convinced him that he wouldn’t hear the rest of my story if he didn’t treat me better. And how he had wanted to hear my story!

  But I had no intention of letting him hear the rest of it. I had no intention of spending another day here at all.

  Fourteen thousand one hundred fifty-six.

  The door lock would pose little challenge. I’d been saving some bones from my meals, and as I mostly got scraps, bones were in plentiful supply. I selected two, thin enough to fit in the lock, firm but not rigid, less likely to snap. They would be my lock picks, my key.

  Fourteen thousand two hundred thirty-seven.

  There could be guards posted at the entrance. I might be able to sneak past them. Maybe I’d have to fight my way out. Either way, I figured I could handle it. I had to, after all.

  Fourteen thousand three hundred and five.

  My story would have come to an end eventually. And when that happens, the pirates would kill me, of that I had no doubt. So maybe they’d kill me as I tried to escape, but at least I’d die doing something. I had little dread left of the prospect of the end. It was the prospect of the end on someone else’s terms that really frightened me.

  And I would not let that happen.

  Fourteen thousand four hundred. Time to go.

  The door made hardly a sound, and my footsteps made even less. My assumption was correct: two guards sat at the end of the tunnel. But they’d been drinking and were snoring loudly. I took a cutlass from one of them, feeling much better with a sword in my hand, even that unwieldy piece of metal. Then I crept past onto the narrow, sandy beach.

  The moon was nearly full, the sky clear, and the view was better than I’d hoped it would be. I knew from observing the sunlight that the cave faced east. What I didn’t know was that the mainland was visible from the beach.

  Pirates lay strewn about wherever they’d passed out, empty bottles and half-eaten food lying next to many of them. It seemed they’d made no attempt whatsoever to find even a comfortable place to lie down. They were sprawled across rocks, flotsam, the various wreckage of and loot from ships.

  To my left, the beach extended out of sight. The debris, including the hulks of many wrecked ships, stretched far. A quick glance out to sea revealed the reason for the wrecks: not a quarter mile offshore, several huge rocks jutted out of the water. The tide was low, almost at its lowest point. At high tide, those rocks would be invisible, the strait treacherous to anyone not intimately familiar with those rocks.

  To my right, the beach wrapped around a rocky jut. The pirate ship would be there, I figured. A fine hiding place the island made for pirates.

  It also made it tough for me to get out of there. No boats rested along the beach. I would either have to take some of the flotsam and use it as a raft or head for the ship itself and try to steal a launch. And the ship would be better guarded than some desolate stretch of drunk- and debris-laden beach.

  I moved down the beach, looking for a promising piece of driftwood, but nothing stood out. I decided I would have to risk the pirate ship, so I headed for the rocky spur.

  A cave dug into the side of it—perhaps a passage through? It was worth a look, so I crept closer.

  A light flared within, and I ducked out of sight. A figure emerged from the cave, carrying a torch. Another followed him, and another after that.

  “Impressive,” the third figure said. He didn’t look directly at me, but I knew he was addressing me. “Or, it woulda been impressive if it warn’t a setup.”

  I recog
nized the voice—it was the pirate captain. He couldn’t have seen me, I figured, so I stayed quiet.

  But the beach behind me was suddenly filled with light. Torches flared wherever I’d seen a pirate passed out.

  Soon, all those lights moved my way. They’d been watching me through their half-closed eyes. They knew where I was, so I stepped out into the light.

  “Fine, then,” I said. “Which of you should I kill first?”

  The pirate captain laughed. “None, I think,” he said. “I think ye should sit down an’ tell us more o’ yer story.”

  “And why would I do that when you’ll just kill me at the end?”

  “Aye, we might, a’ tha’,” he said. “But we’ll kill ye just th’ same if ye don’t speak as if ye do. An’ if ye speak, then at the least someone will know yer story.”

  The pirates gathered around, all holding torches, all but one brandishing a weapon. I held up my stolen cutlass to the unarmed pirate, and he laughed at me. His fellows soon joined him.

  “Why the setup?” I asked. “Why let me get past the guards at all?”

  “I wanted ter know if ye really were capable o’ what ye been saying,” he said. “Ye tell a fine tale, but tha’ don’ make it true. What we seen t’night, though, tha’ makes me think ye ain’t lying.”

  I thought for a moment. “Fine,” I said. “Where did we leave off?”

  “On a ship, leaving an island,” the captain replied. He motioned to the crew. Some of the pirates took seats on rocks. Others brought bits of flotsam and jetsam and made a pile nearby. One dropped a torch into the pile, and soon we had a roaring fire. “Ye’d found yer lost stone, watched that demon Asbeel plunge into the sea, and ye were sailing away.”

  “Sailing away on a ship, with no wind, and hoofbeats approaching,” I said. “Indeed …”

  CHAPTER ONE

  “Who goes there? And … how?” the sailor at the rail meekly called. He stared down from the rail into the dense fog and saw what I saw: the silhouette of a woman riding a horse at the center of a strange mist.

  “Permission to come aboard,” the woman’s voice rang out.

  From my high vantage point in the crow’s nest, I could almost see the murmur that rolled across Sea Sprite’s deck.

  “I … we … I don’t …,” the sailor stammered.

  “Permission granted,” Captain Deudermont called from the middeck.

  The captain approached the rail, his stern gaze forcing the sailors back to their posts. But those who had no immediate duties lined the rail, trying to get a glimpse of the mysterious rider. Joen, the girl beside me in the crow’s nest, stepped lightly onto the top peg of the ladder.

  “Wait,” I said to her. “I have something I need to ask you.”

  She smiled at me and dropped from view, descending rapidly to the deck. I rolled my eyes and followed her.

  The fog had cleared by the time I reached the deck, and even Deudermont’s pirate prisoners stood idly by, watching. He’d allowed them to move freely about the decks because we needed help with the ship—and there was nowhere they could run to in any case, given how far we were out to sea. The great mass of sailors and their pirate captives were united in their desire to know how someone had reached us this far out without a boat. I knew the horse was Haze, so I was more concerned with who was riding her. I had only ever seen one other person ride Haze, and he was dead.

  “I am an emissary from the Lady’s Hall, the temple of Tymora in Baldur’s Gate,” a voice said. It was a beautiful voice, high and strong at the same time, like music. It was a voice I knew well.

  It was Jaide, a beautiful elf, a priestess of Tymora, and friend of my mentor, Perrault.

  I sprinted to the rail, nearly losing my balance as my feet slipped on the wet deck. I grasped at the rail for support and slid hard into it. And it’s a good thing Sea Sprite still had some strength in her or I would have busted right through and gone for a swim. Under normal circumstances, the sailors would surely have laughed at my clumsiness—I was used to that—but all eyes were focused on the two forms standing calmly and casually on the surface of the water.

  I had not seen Haze since I left her in Baldur’s Gate after a long, fast run, trying desperately to save Perrault. A part of me had feared the horse dead—or rather, that she had left this plane of existence, for I doubted such a magical creature could truly die. But there she stood, tall and strong, her white coat sparkling with salt spray. She must have been tired. We were far out to sea, and walking on water quickly exhausted her, but she didn’t show it—nor did the figure seated on her bare back.

  Jaide seemed to radiate white light, like a beacon through the thick fog. Her head was turned to the stern of the ship, showing me only her profile: her sharp elf features and her long raven hair. I couldn’t see her eyes, but I knew from past experience that they would be the brightest, most brilliant of orbs.

  Joen’s hand, petite but strong and callused from long days of work, grasped the rail, resting beside my hand. She let out a gasp of disbelief.

  Tonnid, a sailor and my friend, chuckled and turned to Joen. “Amazin’, ain’t it? A horse all th’ way out ’ere! Some mighty magic, I s’pose,” he said.

  Joen nodded, but I knew she didn’t share his wonder. She had been on the first ship I’d ridden Haze to, so she knew well the horse’s power. And she must have known the source of the commotion before she even got to the rail, as I had. What, then, had surprised her so?

  And there was something else in Joen’s look, something more than simple shock. Her eyes were narrowed, her gaze fixed and intent. She looked angry.

  “What’s wrong?” I asked her, and she turned a cold gaze my way.

  “Your ride is here,” she said, her lips twisting, her eyes strangely wet.

  “My—?” I started, but was interrupted when Captain Deudermont’s kingly voice split the silent air.

  “Well met, priestess,” said the captain. “But what can we do for you out here?”

  If Deudermont was surprised at all by the presence of horse and rider on the rolling waves, he showed it not at all. Then again, he had listened to my whole tale to that point, so he knew of Haze already, and I’d guess that a man such as Deudermont had seen stranger things in his life.

  “What do you mean, my ‘ride’?” I whispered to Joen, who looked back at me as though I’d done something wrong.

  “I have come to speak with you, Captain Deudermont,” Jaide said, and the fact that she knew the captain’s name got the attention of the sailors around her. “I have come with a warning.”

  I’m pretty sure she glanced at me just then, but I couldn’t be sure—the priestess seemed to be ignoring me, though she must have seen me there at the rail. I was just about to call her name when Captain Deudermont said to her, “Bring your horse to our stern, and my men will hoist you both up on the launch. Unless there’s something terrible descending on us in the next few moments, we’ll get you warm and get you fed. Then we can speak at length of this dire warning.”

  “Haze will find her way to the deck,” the elf said, patting the mare’s muscled neck. “But I would speak with you sooner.”

  “My men will throw you a rope, then,” he said, turning away from the rail.

  “That won’t be necessary,” she replied, and the light that was Jaide disappeared in an instant then reappeared on the deck.

  If Deudermont was fazed at all, he didn’t show it. He extended his arm, which she took, and he led her to his cabin.

  “Joen?” I asked, but all she could do was stare after Jaide and the captain. If I didn’t know any better, I would have said she was jealous.

  “I don’t know why she’s here,” I told Joen.

  She looked at me funny and stalked off to her duties.

  I moved toward the ladder to the crow’s nest and my post. The sailors were lowering a gangplank to help Haze aboard. I wasn’t strong enough, and only so many hands could fit around the platform, so I left that for burlier men. But t
he chill north wind was blowing again. Freezing up in the crow’s nest for no good purpose seemed a bad idea, and I was a little confused still by Joen’s reaction to the appearance of Jaide, so I stayed on deck. That, and I was curious about the elf woman’s warning—I couldn’t help feeling I had something to do with it. Or more accurately, that the Stone of Tymora had something to do with it.

  Excitement still rippled through the crew. The sailors seemed to be pay little attention to anything but their own tasks and their hushed conversations with the men standing next to them. Not a soul even looked at me.

  Jaide hadn’t seemed to notice me, and I have to admit I was feeling more than a bit left out. But with the crew distracted, it wasn’t too hard for me to pretend to work a little here, make like I was tying a knot there, and check the rigging a few steps farther until I found an out-of-the-way place right next to the door to the captain’s quarters. I pressed my ear against the door and listened.

  I heard only Captain Deudermont’s voice inside, laying out the events of the past couple tendays. He told her about how his ship had been commissioned a pirate hunter by the Lords of Waterdeep. In Waterdeep, I’d overheard the pirate Chrysaor plotting to locate the Stone of Tymora—my stone. I, along with the crew, convinced Deudermont to sail his ship to catch the pirate, only to find out we’d been led into a trap. A group called the Circle had used Chrysaor to lure our ship onto the island where they’d hidden the stone, and where they planned to hold me along with it. With the help of Joen, I managed to scuttle their plans and recover the stone, and we’d made a hasty escape aboard Sea Sprite. He told the story so well, I found myself lost in his voice. It took me a long while to pull out of that trance, to remember that I had, in fact, been along for that adventure, that the story included me, often even focused on me. I had never heard Deudermont spin a yarn before, and hadn’t realized he was possessed of such a talent, so much like Perrault. He even had me holding my breath when he spoke of Sea Sprite’s collision with Chrysaor’s ship, Lady Luck, with the tumbling mast and all, as if I were afraid he’d rewrite the story to say we’d all sank and drowned, and as if his saying it would have made it come true.

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