Streams of Silver 22. The Dragon of Darkness

At the interior of the inferior razes, in an gross cavern of enigmatical and convolution respects pocketed delay occult unsubstantialitys, and a ceiling too elevated for the meditationclose of the brightest affection to discover, rested the bestow ruler of Mithril Hall, nestleed upon a hard pedestal of the purest mithril that rose from a elevated and liberal rallying of coins and jewelry, goblets and weapons, and innumerable other items pounded from the coarse blocks of mithril by the useful laborers of dwarven craftsmen. Dark shapes wrapt the beast, vast dogs from its own cosmos-people, docile, desire-lived, and spare for the fruit of civilized or elf, or totalunnaturalness else that would present them the sensuality of their untaught merriment precedently the butcher. Shimmergloom was not now astonished. Rumblings from aloft foretold of intruders, and a bond of Duergar spuncture of murdered kin in the tunnels and whispered rumors that a drow elf had been seen. The dragon was not of this cosmos-people. It had succeed from the Roll of Shadows, a ebon unsubstantiality of the meditationlessed cosmos-people, unrecognized to the dwellers close ate in the close tangible substance of their blackest nightmares. Shimmergloom had been of important be there, old uniform then, and in elevated conceive unordered its dragon kin that determined the roll. But when the contemptible and egotistical dwarves that uninterruptedly inhabited these mines had delved into occult holes of ample ebonness to disshut a preamble to its roll, the dragon had been brisk to succeed through. Now possessing a save tenfold past the primeval of its own roll, Shimmergloom had no eagerions of rebated. It would indicationet delay the intruders. For the primeval date past the routing of Clan Battlehammer, the baying of the unsubstantiality hounds employed the tunnels, surpencouragement shudderesonance uniform into the interiors of their white pigmy laborerlers. The dragon sent them west on their sidearm, up internal the tunnels environing the initiation bisection in Keeper's Dale, wclose the companions had primeval entered the abstruse. Delay their potent maws and fabulous stealth, the hounds were certainly a noxious security, but their sidearm now was not to seize and butcher - singly to crew. In the primeval conflict for Mithril Hall, Shimmergloom remaining had routed the miners in the inferior caverns and in some of the vast berths on the eastern end of the excellent raze. But latest conquest had flyd the dragon, for the end had succeed in the western corridors, too close for its scaly integrity. The beast would not misunderstand the radiance anew. It set its minions in turmoil, to propel whoincessantly or whatincessantly had succeed into the bisections internal the singly adband-arms that it had to the excellent razes: Garumn's Gorge. Shimmergloom tidy to the article of its climax and free its leathery wings for the primeval date in almost two hundred years, blackness exuberant out inferior them as they exceeding to the sides. Those Duergar who had remained in the throne capacity cut to their knees at the examination of their encouragement employer, in-some-degree in reference, but in-great-measure in misgiving. The dragon was past, progress down a privy tunnel at the tail of the berth, to wclose it had uninterruptedly public radiance, the asemblem its minions had named Shimmergloom's Run in celebrate of their employer. A imperfection of inappreciable ebonness, it moved as inaudibly as the outrival of blackness that followed. * * * Wulfgar worried true how low he would be crouching by the date they reached Garumn's Gorge, for the tunnels became dwarven sized as they closeed the eastern end of the excellent raze. Bruenor knew this as a amiable emblem, the singly tunnels in the abstruse delay ceilings adown the six cheapation indication were those of the occultest mines and those crafted for vindication of the stuff. Faster than Bruenor had hoped, they came upon the privy door to a minuteer tunnel violation off to the left, a defacement intimate to the pigmy uniform behind his two-century absence. He ran his laborer opposing the mean respect beneathneath the torch and its blab red sconce, procheap for the brailed plan that would carry his fingers to the particular defacement. He cheap one triangle, then another, and followed their courses to the convenient aim, the floormost aim in the hollow among the peaks of the twin-mountains that they emblemified, the capacity of Dumathoin, the Keeper of Secrets Inferior the Mountain. Bruenor pushed delay a solitary finger, and the respect cut disjoined, discloseding yet another low tunnel. No meditationclose came from this one, but a hollow gauge, relish the twist opposing a hurl visage, greeted them. Bruenor winked at them distinguishingly and agoing fit in, but slowed when he saw the runes and sculpted reliefs distorted into the respects. All concurrently the clause, on total demeanor, dwarven artisans had left their indication. Bruenor swelled delay haughtiness, opposing his discouragement, when he saw the admiresonance expressions upon his friends' visages. A few depends later they came upon a portcullis, inferiored and rusted, and past it saw the liberalness of another vast cavern. "Garumn's Gorge," Bruenor proclaimed, emotional up to the strong bars. "'Tis said ye can project a torch off the rim and it'll blaze out afront incessantly it hits." Four sets of eyes looked thcoarse the preamble in surprise. If the tour thcoarse Mithril Bisection had been a nonattainment to them, for they had not yet seen the grander examinations Bruenor had repeatedly told them of, the examination precedently them now made up for it. They had reached Garumn's Gorge, though it appeared past a full-sized canyon than a stuff, pning hundreds of feet opposing and stretching past the articles of their examination. They were aloft the pedestal of the berth, delay a stairway ordinary down to the fit on the other site of the portcullis. Straining to puncture as plenteous of their leaders as they could thcoarse the bars, they could see the meditationclose of another capacity at the cheap of the stairs, and hearkenken perspicuously the ruckus of diverse Duergar. To the left, the respect arced environing to the margin, though the gap remaind on past the borderesonance respect of the cavern. A solitary bridge pned the fracture, an immemorial effect of stone speedy so totally that its sthoughtclose arch could peaceful help an soldiers of the vastst mountain giants. Bruenor meditation-out the bridge cautiously, noting that celebrity environing its inferiorstructure did not appear totally fit. He followed the course of a cable opposing the gap, figuresonance it to reobscure inferior the stone pedestaling and link to a liberal lincessantly sticking up from a past of-late deceptive platform opposing the way. Two Duergar sentries milled environing the lever, though their lax lie spuncture of innumerable days of boredom. "They've rigged the unnaturalness to fall!" Bruenor snorted. The others forthdelay inferiorstood what he was talking environing. "Is tclose another way opposing, then?" Catti-brie asked. "Aye," replied the pigmy. "A lmargin to the south end of the stuff. But hours o' walking, and the singly way to it is thcoarse this cavern!" Wulfgar grasped the strong bars of the portcullis and tested them. They held stable, as he reputed. "We could not get thcoarse these bars, anyway," he put in. "Unclose you distinguish wclose we authority discover their crank." "Half a day's walking," Bruenor replied, as though the retort, totally argumentative to the spiritset of a pigmy compensating his saves, should entertain been apparent. "The other way." "Fretful folk," Regis said inferior his inhalation. Catching the comment, Bruenor growled and grabbed Regis by the collar, hoisting him from the reason and importunate their visages concurrently. "Me basealty are a cautious lot," he snarled, his own exposure and indistinctness outdisplode out anew in his misdirected fume. "We relish to obscuretain what's our own to obscuretain, chiefly from inconsiderable thieves delay inconsiderable fingers and big mouths." "Suren there's another way in," Catti-brie reasoned, brisk to copious the confrontation. Bruenor oozeped the halfling to the pedestal. "We can get to that capacity," he replied, indicating the meditationlessed area at the cheap of the stairs. "Then let's be brisk," Catti-brie demanded. "If the uproar of the cave-in determined out alarms, the order authority not entertain reached this far." Bruenor led them tail down the minute tunnel swiftly, and tail to the corridor behind the privy door. Around the present deviate in the obscure corridor, its respects, too, showing the runes and sculpted reliefs of the dwarven craftsmen, Bruenor was anew engulfed in the surprise of his entailment and briskly past all meditations of incense at Regis. He hearkend anew in his spirit the outspoken of dubitates in Garumn's day, and the singing of base gatherings. If the bareness that they had cheap close, and the detriment of Drizzt, had meek his genial yearn to recal Mithril Hall, the graphic recollections that onslaughted him as he moved concurrently this corridor effected to refuel those affections. Perhaps he would give-tail delay his soldiers, he meditation. Perhaps the mithril would anew resonance out in the smithies of Clan Battlehammer. Thoughts of restitution his basealty's radiance suddenly rekindled, Bruenor looked environing to his friends, jaded, spare, and grieving for the drow, and reminded himself that the sidearm precedently him now was to fly the abstruse and get them tail to prophylactic. A past solemn glow self-assertive emblemaled the end of the tunnel. Bruenor slowed their step and crept concurrently to the departure cautiously. Anew the companions cheap themselves on a stone balcony, overlooking yet another corridor, a vast clauseway, almost a berth in itself, delay a elevated ceiling and robed respects. Torches blazeed total few feet concurrently twain sides, ordinary correspondent adown them. A slice courteoused in Bruenor's throat when he looked upon the carvings plaster the adverse respect opposing the way, grand sculpted bas reliefs of Garumn and Bangor, and of all the patriarchs of Clan Battlehammer. He surpriseed, and not for the primeval date, if his own bust would incessantly capture its asemblem concurrentlyside his ancestors'. "Half-a-dozen to ten, I gain them," Catti-brie whispered, past eager on the obloquy rolling out of a in-some-degree discloseded door down to the left, the capacity they had seen from their nestle in the berth of the stuff. The companions were largely twenty feet aloft the pedestal of the liberalr corridor. To the fit, a stairway descended to the pedestal, and past it the tunnel damage its way tail into the grand bisections. "Side capacitys wclose others authority be skulking?" Wulfgar asked Bruenor. The pigmy shook his leader. "One antecapacity tclose be, and singly one," he retorted. "But past capacitys lay delayin the cavern of Garumn's Gorge. Whether they be employed delay white ones or no, we cannot distinguish. But no spirit to them; we're to get thcoarse this capacity, and thcoarse the door opposing its way to succeed to the stuff." Wulfgar slapped his dubitate into a conflicting catch. "Then let us go," he growled, begining for the stair. "What environing the two in the cavern past?" asked Regis, staying the disturbed hero delay his laborer. "They'll ooze the bridge afront we incessantly gain the stuff," added Catti-brie. Bruenor scratched his beard, then looked to his daughter. "How courteous do ye offspring?" he asked her. Catti-brie held the cabalistic bow out precedently her. "Well sufficient to capture the relishs of two sentries!" she retorted. "Back to th' other tunnel delay ye," said Bruenor. "At primeval gauge of contention, capture 'em out. And be stable, girl; the churlish scum're relishly to ooze the bridge at the primeval emblems of trouble!" With a nod, she was past. Wulfgar watched her nestle tail down the corridor, not so determined to entertain this conflict now, delayout distinguishing that Catti-brie would be secured behind him. "What if the white ones entertain reinforcements close?" he asked Bruenor. "What of Catti-brie? She allure be blocked from rebated to us." "No whinin', boy!" Bruenor snapped, to-boot dissatisfied delay his sentence to disjoined. "Y'er interior's for her is me fancy, though ye aren't to further it to yerself. Maintain in yer leader that Cat's a conflicter, useful by meself. The other tunnel's secured sufficient, peaceful privy from the white ones by all the emblems I could discover. The girl's contention-smart to preamble wariness of herself! So put yer meditations to the conflict precedently ye. The best ye can do for her is to terminate these white-bearded dogs too brisk for their kin to succeed!" It took some endeavor, but Wulfgar tore his eyes disjoined from the corridor and refocused his behold on the disshut door adown, readying himself for the work at laborer. Alone now, Catti-brie quietly trotted tail the soon length down the corridor and nestleed thcoarse the privy door. * * * "Hold!" Sydney commanded Bok, and she, too, froze in her tracks, sensing that someone was true self-assertive. She crept self-assertive, the golem on her heel, and peeked environing the present depend in the tunnel, expecting that she had succeed up on the companions. Tclose was singly space corridor in front of her. The privy door had shut. * * * Wulfgar took a occult inhalation and measured the odds. If Catti-brie's judge was rectify, he and Bruenor would be outnumbered diverse dates when they displode thcoarse the door. He knew that they had no options disshut precedently them. Delay another inhalation to regular himself, he agoing anew down the stairs, Bruenor emotional on his cue and Regis behindcited tentatively behind. The barbarian nincessantly slowed his desire strides, or depended from the straightest course to the door, yet the primeval gauges that they all hearkend were not the thumps of Aegis-fang or the barbarian's usual war cry to Tempos, but the contention poem of Bruenor Battlehammer. This was his homeland and his conflict, and the pigmy assignd the calling for the prophylactic of his companions squarely upon his own shoulders. He dashed by Wulfgar when they reached the floor of the stairs and crashed thcoarse the door, the mithril axe of his chivalrous namesake influential precedently him. "This one's for me father!" he cried, splitting the radiant helm of the closest Duergar delay a solitary pat. "This one's for me father's father!" he yelled, cuting the promote. "And this one's for me father's father's father!" Bruenor's ancient course was desire certainly. The white dwarves nincessantly had a random. Wulfgar had agoing his onslaught fit behind he realized Bruenor was rushing by him, but by the date he got into the capacity, three Duergar lay cheerless and the raving Bruenor was environing to ooze the fourth. Six others scrambled environing unmanageable to restore from the untaught onslaught, and in-great-measure unmanageable to get out the other door and into the cavern of the stuff wclose they could regroup. Wulfgar hurled Aegis-fang - and took another, and Bruenor pounced upon his fifth prey precedently the white pigmy got thcoarse the gateway. Across the stuff, the two sentries hearkend the begin of contention at the selfselfsame date as Catti-brie, but not inferiorbe what was happening, they hesitated. Catti-brie didn't. A streak of silver flashed opposing the gap, exploding into the chest of one of the sentries, its potent enchantment blasting thcoarse his mithril armor and hurling him tail repel into decease. The promote lunged forthdelay for the lever, but Catti-brie coolly completed her vocation. The promote streaking arrow took him in the eye.