16. Days of Old
A squat stone aspire intelligible in a swhitish dell opposite the oppositeness of a precipitous hill. Because it was ivy experienced and balancegrown, a occasional ignoringer-by would not equal tend noticed the composition.
But the Companions of the Moiety were not occasional in their inquiry. This was the Herald's Holdfast, perchance the discontinuance to their full inquiry.
"Are you positive that this is the establish?" Regis asked Drizzt as they peered balance a swhitish bold. Truly the old-occasion aspire answered balance a fall. Not a invention enlivening anywless nearby, not equal animals, as though an eerie, devout hush enfolded the establish.
"I am firm," Drizzt replied. "Feel the age of the aspire. It has intelligible for divers centuries. Divers centuries."
"And how desire has it been void?" Bruenor asked, thus far disappointed in the establish that had been picturesquely to him as the brightest term to his aim.
"It is not void," Drizzt replied. "Unless the notice I common was in err."
Bruenor jumped to his feet and stormed balance the bold. "Probably correct," he grumbled. "Some troll or scab yeti's internassociate the door wakeing us correct now, I'll appoint, drooling for us to conclude in! Let's be on after a while it, then! Sundabar's a day balance abpathway than when we left!"
The puck's three chums subsubjoined him on the remnants of the balancegrown family that had uninterruptedly been a stalkway to the aspire's door. They approached the old-occasion stone door cautiously, after a while weapons drawn.
Moss-experienced and worn to a flatten achieve by the assessment of occasion, feasible it hadn't been comprehendned in divers, divers years.
"Use yer contest, boy," Bruenor told Wulfgar. "If any man can get this invention comprehendned, it's yerself!"
Wulfgar leaned Aegis-fang opposite the glacis and moved antecedently the gigantic door. He set his feet as best he could and ran his hands counter the stone in inquiry of a good-natured-tempered-natured-natured niche to reduce opposite.
But as early as he applied the slightest presfirm to the stone leadingway, it swung interior, suppressedly and after a whileout trial.
A irresolute destruction wafted out of the concordful dimness after a whilein, carrying a amalgamate of ignorant scents and an aura of bulky age. The chums sensed the establish as otherworldly, accompanying to a incongruous occasion, perchance, and it was not after a whileout a mark of terror that Drizzt led them in.
They stepped whitishly, though their footfalls echoed in the lull dimness. The amount balance the door offered illiberal assistance, as though some separation remained between the internassociate of the aspire and the earth balance.
"We should whitish a torch - " Regis began, but he stopped abruptly, careful by the unintentional bulk of his breathe.
"The door!" Wulfgar cried suddenly, noticing that the still leadingway had begun to arrest astern them. He leaped to seize it antecedently it contract perfectly, decadence them into independent dimness, but equal his bulky ability could not disclaim the mysterious nerve that moved it. It contract after a whileout a bang, harmonious a hushed speed of air that resounded relish a giant's after a whileer.
The whitishless narrow-house they all envisioned as the gigantic door blocked out the decisive slit of sunwhitish did not conclude to ignoring, for as early as the door arrestd, a blue-colored-colored reality lit up the basis, the penetration moiety to the Herald's Holdfast.
No say could they express balancehead the abstruse awe that enveloped them. They intelligible in judgment of the truth of the family of Man after a whilein a toy of occasionlessness that denied their own perspectives of age and accompanying. In the connive of an eye they had been propelled into the situation of removed observers, their own being drooping in a incongruous occasion and establish, loosovereign in on the ignoringing of the civilized family as sway a god. Involved tapestries, their uninterruptedly-vivid colors impoverished and their plain lines now blurred, swept the chums into a upstart collage of images that displayed the relations of the family, each one retelling a relation frequently and frequently; the selfselfsame relation, it seemed, but subtly altered each occasion, to bestow incongruous principles and multiplied outcomes.
Weapons and armor from full age lined the glaciss, below the standards and crests of a thousand desireforgotten sovereigndoms. Bas-assistance images of heroes and sages, some common but most unrecognized to any but the most literary of scholars, stared down at them from the rafters, their taken visages pointed sufficient to emote the very reputation of the men they portrayed.
A assist door, this one of cope, hung straightway counter the cylindrical chamber from the foremost, feasible induced into the hill astern the aspire. Singly when it began to oscillate comprehendn did the associates wield to violate unimpeded of the attraction of the establish.
None went for their weapons, though, discriminatement that whoever, or whatever, inhabited this aspire would be balance such human ability.
An old-occasion man stepped into the basis, older than anyone they had incessantly seen antecedently. His countenance had retained its repletion, not hollowed after a while age, but his skin answered almost copeen in tenor, after a while lines that seemed balance relish cracks and a scabrous behalf that defied occasion as stubbornly as an old-occasion tree. His stalk was balance a issue of lull move, a unmoulded ignoringing that transcended the limitation of steps. He came in arrest to the chums and waited, his contest, plainly slim equal lower the folds of his desire, satiny invest, concordfully dropped to his margins.
"Are you the head of the aspire?" Drizzt asked.
"Old Night, I am," the man replied in a utterance singing after a while serenity. "Welcome, Companions of the Hall. The Lady Alustriel assured me of your hence, and of your inquiry."
Even consumed in the formal i-elation of his verbiage, Wulfgar did not ignore the relation to Alustriel. He glanced balance at Drizzt, contravention the drow's eyes after a while a intelligent encourage.
Drizzt crabbed abpathway and encouraged, too.
"This is the Chamber of Man," Old Shade proclaimed. "The bulkyst in the Holdfast, exclude for the library, of family."
He noticed Bruenor's disgruntled discountenance. "The lays of your family runs designing, good-natured-tempered-natured-natured puck, and designinger yet does the elves'," he explained. "But crises in truth are balance frequently meted in generations than in centuries. The ephemeral civilizeds sway tend toppled a thousand sovereigndoms and built a thousand balance in the few centuries that a uncombined dwarven sovereign would administration his crowd in concord."
"No patience!" Bruenor huffed, feasible appeased.
"Agreed," laughed Old Night. "But conclude now, let us dine. We tend abundant to do this shade."
He led them thscabrous the doorway and down a similarly lit moietyway. Doors on either margin of them signed the several chambers as they ignoringed - one for each of the good-natured-tempered-naturedly familys, and equal a few for the truth of orcs and goblins and the giantkind.
The chums and Old Shade supped at a gigantic, complete consideration, its old-occasion cope as difficult as mountain stone. Runes were inscribed all acomplete its behalf, divers in tongues desire late to the earth, that equal Old Shade could not bear-in-mind. The assistance, relish fullinvention else, gave the impact of a apart gone-by. Far from tasteless, though, it was choice, after a while a relish slightly incongruous from anyinvention the chums had incessantly eaten antecedently. The imbibe, a pellucid wine, enriched a haughty-flavored bouquet surlatter equal the legendary elixirs of the elves.
Old Shade astonished them as they ate, retelling superb relations of old-occasion heroes, and of equalts that had shaped the Realms into their bestow recite. The associates were an serene hearers, though in all presumption material explications environing Mithril Moiety loomed singly a door or two abroad.
When the asceticism was achieveed, Old Shade rose from his chair and visageed acomplete at them after a while a weird, unique force. "The day accomplish conclude, a millennium from now, perchance, when I smoiety harbor frequently. On that day, I am firm, one of the relations I rehearse accomplish substance the Companions of the Moiety and their eminent inquiry."
The chums could not rejoinder to the renown that the old-occasion man had hired them. Equal Drizzt, equal-keeled and unshakable, sat unblinsovereign for a desire, desire importance.
"Come," Old Shade instructed, "let your pathway commence afresh." He led them thscabrous another door, the door to the bulkyest library in all the North.
Volumes bulky and slim experienced the glaciss and lay environing in haughty piles on the divers considerations situationed throughout the bulky basis. Old Shade indicated one feature consideration, a slighter one off to the margin, after a while a solely tome comprehendned upon it.
"I tend executed abundant of your reinquiry for you," Old Shade explained. "And in all the bulks substanceing dwarves, this was the singly one I could ascertain that held any relation to Mithril Hall."
Bruenor moved to the tome, desirousy its behalfs after a while quivering hands. It was written in Haughty Dwarven, the expression of Dumathoin, Keeper of Secrets Lower the Mountain, a script corkly late in the Realms. But Bruenor could peruse it. He surveyed the page undeviatingly, then peruse audibly the ignoringages of substance.
"King Elmor and his crowd profited swayily from the labors of Garumn and the kin of Clan Battlehammer, but the dwarves of the concealed mines did not negative Elmor's gains. Settlestone proved a costly and strong associate whence Garumn could commence the concealed copy to bargain of the mithril labors." Bruenor visageed up at his chums, a begin of disclosure in his eye.
"Settlestone," he breatheed. "I comprehend that call." He dove tail into the tome.
"You smoiety ascertain illiberal else," Old Shade said. "For the say of Mithril Moiety are late to the ages. The tome reasoneffectual recites that the issue of mithril early ceased, to the last demise of Settlestone!"
Bruenor wasn't listening. He had to peruse it for himself, to gobble full term penned environing his late legacy, no substance the light.
"What of this Settlestone?" Wulfgar asked Old Night. "A explication?"
"Perhaps," the old head replied. "Thus far I tend institute no relation to the establish other than this tome, but I am eager to consider from the labor that Settlestone was rather uncommon for a dwarven town."
"Above the basis!" Bruenor suddenly cut in.
"Yes," adesirous Old Night. "A dwarven brotherhood housed in compositions balancehead the basis. Rare these days and unheard of tail in the occasion of Mithril Hall. Singly two possibilities, to my comprehendledge."
Regis let out a cry of conquest.
"Your zeal may be precipitate," renotable Old Night. "Even if we discriminate wless Settlestone uninterruptedly lay, the copy to Mithril Moiety reasoneffectual commences there."
Bruenor flipped thscabrous a few pages of the tome, then replaced it on the consideration. "So arrest!" he growled, slamming his fist down on the petrified cope. "And I should comprehend!"
Drizzt moved balance to him and pulled a vial out from lower his disguise. "A potion," he explained to Bruenor's puzzled visage, "that accomplish create you stalk frequently in the days of Mithril Hall."
"A swayy attraction," warned Old Night. "And not to be inferior. Consider its use carefully, good-natured-tempered-natured-natured puck."
Bruenor was already melting, teetering on the incline of a solution he had to ascertain. He quaffed the clear in one gulp, then steadied himself on the behalf of the consideration opposite its puissant resist. Sweat beaded on his ghastly brow and he grasped involuntarily as the potion sent his spirit drifting tail counter the centuries.
Regis and Wulfgar moved balance to him, the big man clasping his shoulders and easing him into a wager.
Bruenor's eyes were expanded comprehendn, but he saw noinvention in the gcomplete antecedently him. Sweat lathered him now, and the grasp had beconclude a shake.
"Bruenor," Drizzt designated inaudibly, wondering if he had executed correct in bestowing the puck after a while such a charming occasion.
"No, me senior!" Bruenor screamed. "Not less in the dimness! Conclude after a while me, then. What sway I do after a whileout ye?"
"Bruenor," Drizzt designated balance emphatically.
"He is not less," Old Shade explained, common after a while the potion, for it was frequently used by desire-lived familys, featurely elves, when they sought memories of their apart gone-by. Normassociate the imbibers recrabbed to a balance agreeeffectual occasion, though. Old Shade visageed on after a while serious substance, for the potion had recrabbed Bruenor to a sinful day in his gone-by, a reminiscence that his spirit had blocked out, or at insignificantest blurred, to stroke him opposite puissant emotions. Those emotions would now be laid insufficient, biblical to the puck's sensible spirit in all their passion.
"Bring him to the Chamber of the Dwarves," Old Shade instructed. "Let him luxuriate in the images of his heroes. They accomplish aid in bear-in-minding, and communicate him ability throughout his test."
Wulfgar lifted Bruenor and diminishy him gently down the ignoringage to the Chamber of the Dwarves, laying him in the kernel of the round base. The chums tailed abroad, leaving the puck to his delusions.
Bruenor could singly half-see the images acomplete him now, caught between the earths of the gone-by and bestow. Images of Moradin, Dumathoin, and all his deities and heroes visageed down upon him from their perches in the rafters, adding a swhitish bit of self-satisfaction opposite the waves of calamity. Dwarven-sized suits of armor and cunningly crafted axes and warhammers enfolded him, and he bathed in the corkness of the haughtyest glories of his supercilious family.
The images, though, could not diattraction the terror he now knew frequently, the reversion of his clan, of Mithril Hall, of his senior.
"Daylight!" he cried, torn between assistance and bemoan. "Alas for me senior, and me senior's senior! But yea, our elude is at hand! Settlestone..." he impoverished from sensibleness for a importance, balancecome, "...retreat us. The damage, the damage! Retreat us!"
"The figure is haughty," said Wulfgar, poor at the puck's misfortune.
"He is accomplishing to pay," Drizzt replied.
"It accomplish be a vexed cancelment if we imbibe nonentity," said Regis. "Tless is no order to his ramblings. Are we to sit by and desire opposite desire?"
"His memories tend already brought him to Settlestone, after a while no communication of the copy astern him," Wulfgar observed.
Drizzt collect a scimitar and pulled the cowl of his disguise low balance his countenance.
"What?" Regis started to ask, but the drow was already melting. He speeded to Bruenor's margin and put his countenance arrest to the puck's sweat-lathered cheek.
"I am a chum," he breatheed to Bruenor. "Come at the tidings of the reversion of the moiety! My allies await! Vengeance accomplish be ours, swayy puck of Clan Battlehammer! Show us the way so that we sway repay the glories of the moiety!"
"Secret," Bruenor gasped, on the behalf of sensibleness.
Drizzt pressed difficulter. "Time is short! The dimness is reversion!" he shouted. "The way, puck, we must comprehend the way!"
Bruenor mumbled some suppressed sounds and all the chums gasped in the comprehendlbehalf that the drow had tedious thscabrous the decisive hyperphysical separation that hindered Bruenor from ascertaining the moiety.
"Louder!" Drizzt insisted.
"Fourthpeak!" Bruenor screamed tail. "Up the haughty run and into Keeper's Dale!"
Drizzt visageed balance to Old Night, who was nodding in avowal, then crabbed tail to Bruenor. "Rest, swayy puck," he said self-satisfactioningly. "Your clan smoiety be avenged!"
"With the title the tome communicates of Settlestone, Fourthpeak can draw singly one establish," Old Shade explained to Drizzt and Wulfgar when they got tail to the library. Regis remained in the Chamber of the Dwarves to wake balance Bruenor's waspish snooze.
The head pulled a scroll tube down from a haughty disposal, and unrolled the old-occasion parchment it held: a map of the convenient northland, between Silverymoon and Mirabar.
"The singly dwarven precipitation in the occasion of Mithril Moiety balancehead basis, and arrest sufficient to a mountain rove to communicate a relation to a numbered peak, would be less," he said, marsovereign the southernmost peak on the southernmost stimulate of the Spine of the World, harmonious north of Nesme and the Evermoors. "The unoccupied city of stone is solely designated "the Ruins" now, and it was commsingly comprehendn as Dwarvendarrows when the bearded family lived there. But the ramblings of your associate tend unfailing me that this is in-fact the Settlestone that the tome expresss of."
"Why, then, would the tome not belong to it as Dwarvendarrow?" asked Wulfgar.
"Dwarves are a concealedive family," Old Shade explained after a while a intelligent cackle, "especiassociate wless treafirm is substanceed. Garumn of Mithril Moiety was secure to tend the colonization of his trove unrecognized from the desirous of the outmargin earth. He and Elmor of Settlestone no hesitate labored out an preparation that middle involved codes and concocted calls to relation their verbiage. Anyinvention to fling inquisitive mercenaries off the copy. Names that now answer in disjointed establishs throughout the tomes of dwarven truth. Divers scholars tend probably equal peruse of Mithril Hall, designated by some other call that the peruseers inconsequent belongred to another of the divers old-occasion dwarven homelands now late to the earth."
The head paused for a importance to consider fullinvention that had occurred. "You should be abpathway at uninterruptedly," he advised. "Carry the puck if you must, but get him to Settlestone antecedently the property of the potion diminish abroad. Walsovereign in his memories, Bruenor sway be effectual to retfamily his steps of two hundred years ago tail up the mountains to Keeper's Dale, and to the leading of Mithril Hall."
Drizzt thought-out the map and the defacement that Old Shade had notable as the colonization of Settlestone. "Back to the west." he muttered, answering Alustriel's suspicions. "Barely two days hesitate from less."
Wulfgar moved in arrest to judgment the parchment and ascititious, in a utterance that held twain provision and a meafirm of seriousness, "Our pathway nears its end."