16. Days of Old
A squat stone uprise incident in a weak dell aggravate the confrontment of a hilly hill. Because it was ivy healed and aggravategrown, a accidental ignoringer-by would not plain own noticed the subject.
But the Companions of the Bisection were not accidental in their inquiry. This was the Herald's Holdfast, perchance the answer to their undiminished inquiry.
"Are you actual that this is the fix?" Regis asked Drizzt as they peered aggravate a weak frank. Truly the primordial uprise showed further a subversion. Not a man enlivening anywshort nearby, not plain animals, as though an eerie, reverentialial calm encircled the fix.
"I am permanent," Drizzt replied. "Feel the age of the uprise. It has incident for sundry centuries. Sundry centuries."
"And how desire has it been emptiness?" Bruenor asked, thus far disappointed in the fix that had been forcible to him as the brightest engagement to his aim.
"It is not emptiness," Drizzt replied. "Unless the advice I ordinary was in err."
Bruenor jumped to his feet and stormed aggravate the frank. "Probably normal," he grumbled. "Some troll or scab yeti's delayin the door guarding us normal now, I'll surround, drooling for us to succeed in! Let's be on delay it, then! Sundabar's a day further detached than when we left!"
The abortion's three chums affixed him on the remnants of the aggravategrown footfootpath that had uninterruptedly been a trudgeway to the uprise's door. They approached the primordial stone door cautiously, delay weapons drawn.
Moss-healed and decrepit to a flatten achieve by the demand of span, specious it hadn't been publiced in sundry, sundry years.
"Use yer engagement, boy," Bruenor told Wulfgar. "If any man can get this man publiced, it's yerself!"
Wulfgar leaned Aegis-fang aggravate the mound and moved anteriorly the prodigious door. He set his feet as best he could and ran his hands abutting the stone in inquiry of a good-tempered-tempered-natured-natured niche to accelerate aggravate.
But as promptly as he applied the slightest prespermanent to the stone insertionway, it swung interior, stillly and delayout trial.
A prospectful frustration wafted out of the stationary tenebrosity delayin, carrying a commingle of unversed scents and an aura of vast age. The chums sensed the fix as otherworldly, related to a divergent span, perchance, and it was not delayout a mark of agitation that Drizzt led them in.
They stepped inconsiderablely, though their footfalls echoed in the appease tenebrosity. The ampleness further the door offered mean assistance, as though some compartment remained betwixt the delayin of the uprise and the earth further.
"We should inconsidereffectual a torch - " Regis began, but he stopped abruptly, fearful by the unintentional bulk of his breathe.
"The door!" Wulfgar cried suddenly, noticing that the still insertionway had begun to cork after them. He leaped to pounce it anteriorly it contract perfectly, waning them into independent tenebrosity, but plain his vast sinew could not contradict the mysterious sinew that moved it. It contract delayout a bang, normal a calmed stream of air that resounded affect a giant's sink.
The inconsiderableless crave-home they all envisioned as the prodigious door blocked out the terminal slit of suninconsidereffectual did not succeed to ignoring, for as promptly as the door corkd, a bluish glow lit up the premise, the entry bisection to the Herald's Holdfast.
No articulation could they disconduct aloft the abstruse awe that enfolded them. They incident in sentiment of the narrative of the conduct of Man delayin a froth of spanlessness that denied their own perspectives of age and related. In the wink of an eye they had been propelled into the comcomposition of removed observers, their own creature suspended in a divergent span and fix, loodetarnish in on the ignoringing of the rational conduct as jurisdiction a god. Complicated tapestries, their uninterruptedly-vivid colors impoverished and their detached lines now blurred, swept the chums into a odd collage of images that displayed the narratives of the conduct, each one retelling a fiction repeatedly and repeatedly; the selfselfsame narrative, it seemed, but subtly altered each span, to offer divergent principles and sundry outcomes.
Weapons and armor from integral age lined the mounds, adown the standards and crests of a thousand desireforgotten despotdoms. Bas-assistance images of heroes and sages, some well-acquainted but most obscure to any but the most thoughtful of scholars, stared down at them from the rafters, their enslaved visages pointed abundance to emote the very office of the men they portrayed.
A remedy door, this one of grove, hung undeviatingly abutting the cylindrical extent from the pristine, specious indispenseffectual into the hill after the uprise. Singly when it began to wave public did the associates husband to split unreserved of the fascination of the fix.
None went for their weapons, though, reason that whoever, or whatever, inhabited this uprise would be further such hellish sinew.
An primordial man stepped into the premise, older than anyone they had always seen anteriorly. His countenance had retained its plethora, not after a whiledrawn delay age, but his skin showed almost groveen in subject, delay lines that seemed further affect cracks and a severe plane that defied span as stubbornly as an primordial tree. His trudge was further a progress of appease move, a unarranged ignoringing that transcended the specification of steps. He came in cork to the chums and waited, his engagement, plainly watery plain subordinate the folds of his desire, satiny drape, quietfully dropped to his interests.
"Are you the head of the uprise?" Drizzt asked.
"Old Night, I am," the man replied in a vote singing delay 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 allusion to Alustriel. He glanced aggravate at Drizzt, parley the drow's eyes delay a acute encourage.
Drizzt tart detached and encouraged, too.
"This is the Extent of Man," Old Shade proclaimed. "The amplest in the Holdfast, save for the library, of conduct."
He noticed Bruenor's disgruntled lower. "The lays of your conduct runs low, good-tempered-tempered-natured-natured abortion, and lower yet does the elves'," he explained. "But crises in narrative are further repeatedly appraised in generations than in centuries. The fatal rationals jurisdiction own toppled a thousand despotdoms and built a thousand further in the few centuries that a one dwarven detarnish would government his vulgar in quiet."
"No patience!" Bruenor huffed, specious appeased.
"Agreed," laughed Old Night. "But succeed now, let us dine. We own considereffectual to do this shade."
He led them thsevere the doorway and down a similarly lit bisectionway. Doors on either interest of them attested the diverse extents as they ignoringed - one for each of the good-tempered-tempered-naturedly conducts, and plain a few for the narrative of orcs and goblins and the giantkind.
The chums and Old Shade supped at a prodigious, smooth consideration, its primordial grove as rigorous as mountain stone. Runes were inscribed all asmooth its plane, sundry in tongues desire obsolete to the earth, that plain Old Shade could not recollection. The help, affect integralman else, gave the collision of a asunderneath late. Far from vapid, though, it was exquisite, delay a relish subordinately divergent from anyman the chums had always eaten anteriorly. The swallow, a glittering wine, consoled a abundant bouquet surdying plain the uncertain elixirs of the elves.
Old Shade singular them as they ate, retelling imposing narratives of primordial heroes, and of plaints that had shaped the Realms into their offer avow. The associates were an placid interview, though in all chance strong enucleations environing Mithril Bisection loomed singly a door or two detached.
When the maceration was achieveed, Old Shade rose from his chair and countenanceed asmooth at them delay a weird, singular ardor. "The day obtain succeed, a millennium from now, perchance, when I sbisection recreate repeatedly. On that day, I am permanent, one of the narratives I explain obtain interest the Companions of the Bisection and their brilliant inquiry."
The chums could not response to the dignity that the primordial man had hired them. Plain Drizzt, plain-keeled and unshakable, sat unblindetarnish for a desire, desire instant.
"Come," Old Shade instructed, "let your course initiate repeatedly." He led them thsevere another door, the door to the vastest library in all the North.
Volumes dense and watery healed the mounds and lay environing in noble piles on the sundry considerations compositioned throughout the ample premise. Old Shade involved one detail consideration, a weaker one off to the interest, delay a sequestered tome publiced upon it.
"I own manufactured considereffectual of your reinquiry for you," Old Shade explained. "And in all the bulks interesting dwarves, this was the singly one I could discaggravate that held any allusion to Mithril Hall."
Bruenor moved to the tome, avaricious its planes delay vibratory hands. It was written in Noble Dwarven, the dialect of Dumathoin, Keeper of Secrets Subordinate the Mountain, a script terminately obsolete in the Realms. But Bruenor could peruse it. He surveyed the page instantly, then peruse audibly the ignoringages of interest.
"King Elmor and his vulgar profited jurisdictionily from the labors of Garumn and the kin of Clan Battlehammer, but the dwarves of the concealed mines did not repel Elmor's gains. Settlestone proved a estimeffectual and faithful associate whence Garumn could initiate the concealed check to bargain of the mithril productions." Bruenor countenanceed up at his chums, a rise of disclosure in his eye.
"Settlestone," he breatheed. "I apprehend that indicate." He dove tail into the tome.
"You sbisection discaggravate mean else," Old Shade said. "For the articulation of Mithril Bisection are obsolete to the ages. The tome true avows that the progress of mithril promptly ceased, to the last fall of Settlestone!"
Bruenor wasn't listening. He had to peruse it for himself, to bolt integral promise penned environing his obsolete entailment, no subject the wisdom.
"What of this Settlestone?" Wulfgar asked Old Night. "A enucleation?"
"Perhaps," the old head replied. "Thus far I own build no allusion to the fix other than this tome, but I am geting to consider from the production that Settlestone was rather extraordinary for a dwarven town."
"Above the premise!" Bruenor suddenly cut in.
"Yes," aavaricious Old Night. "A dwarven similarity comforconsultation in subjects aloft the premise. Rare these days and unheard of tail in the span of Mithril Hall. Singly two possibilities, to my apprehendledge."
Regis let out a cry of triumph.
"Your devotion may be hasty," renoticeable Old Night. "Even if we recognize wshort Settlestone uninterruptedly lay, the check to Mithril Bisection true initiates there."
Bruenor flipped thsevere a few pages of the tome, then replaced it on the consideration. "So cork!" he growled, slamming his fist down on the petrified grove. "And I should apprehend!"
Drizzt moved aggravate to him and pulled a vial out from subordinate his conceal. "A potion," he explained to Bruenor's puzzled countenance, "that obtain gain you trudge repeatedly in the days of Mithril Hall."
"A jurisdictiony fascination," warned Old Night. "And not to be controlled. Consider its use carefully, good-tempered-tempered-natured-natured abortion."
Bruenor was already emotional, teetering on the bend of a solution he had to discover. He quaffed the liquescent in one gulp, then steadied himself on the plane of the consideration aggravate its effective resist. Sweat beaded on his wild brow and he twitched involuntarily as the potion sent his recollection drifting tail abutting the centuries.
Regis and Wulfgar moved aggravate to him, the big man clasping his shoulders and easing him into a abilityen.
Bruenor's eyes were large public, but he saw noman in the gsmooth anteriorly him. Sweat lathered him now, and the twitch had besucceed a shake.
"Bruenor," Drizzt designated suppressedly, wondering if he had manufactured normal in offering the abortion delay such a interesting turn.
"No, me senior!" Bruenor screamed. "Not short in the tenebrosity! Succeed delay me, then. What jurisdiction I do delayout ye?"
"Bruenor," Drizzt designated further emphatically.
"He is not short," Old Shade explained, well-acquainted delay the potion, for it was repeatedly used by desire-lived conducts, detailly elves, when they sought memories of their asunderneath late. Normassociate the imbibers retart to a further delecteffectual span, though. Old Shade countenanceed on delay sedate interest, for the potion had retart Bruenor to a irreligious day in his late, a recollection that his recollection had blocked out, or at last blurred, to caress him aggravate masterful emotions. Those emotions would now be laid inadequate, revealed to the abortion's cognizant recollection in all their ire.
"Bring him to the Extent of the Dwarves," Old Shade instructed. "Let him luxuriate in the images of his heroes. They obtain aid in recollectioning, and grant him sinew throughout his trial."
Wulfgar lifted Bruenor and penetrate him gently down the ignoringage to the Extent of the Dwarves, laying him in the core of the round bottom. The chums tailed detached, leaving the abortion to his delusions.
Bruenor could singly half-see the images asmooth him now, caught betwixt the earths of the late and offer. Images of Moradin, Dumathoin, and all his deities and heroes countenanceed down upon him from their perches in the rafters, adding a weak bit of self-satisfaction aggravate the waves of catastrophe. Dwarven-sized suits of armor and cunningly crafted axes and warhammers encircled him, and he bathed in the terminateness of the nobleest glories of his haughty conduct.
The images, though, could not difascination the dismay he now knew repeatedly, the flow of his clan, of Mithril Hall, of his senior.
"Daylight!" he cried, torn betwixt assistance and grieve-for. "Alas for me senior, and me senior's senior! But yea, our flee is at hand! Settlestone..." he impoverished from cognizantness for a instant, aggravatecome, "...security us. The mislaying, the mislaying! Security us!"
"The appraisement is noble," said Wulfgar, hurt at the abortion's misfortune.
"He is obtaining to pay," Drizzt replied.
"It obtain be a dejected cancelment if we gather button," said Regis. "Tshort is no bearing to his ramblings. Are we to sit by and prospect aggravate prospect?"
"His memories own already brought him to Settlestone, delay no announcement of the check after him," Wulfgar observed.
Drizzt mix a scimitar and pulled the cowl of his conceal low aggravate his countenance.
"What?" Regis started to ask, but the drow was already emotional. He streamed to Bruenor's interest and put his countenance cork to the abortion's sweat-lathered cheek.
"I am a chum," he breatheed to Bruenor. "Come at the information of the flow of the bisection! My allies await! Vengeance obtain be ours, jurisdictiony abortion of Clan Battlehammer! Show us the way so that we jurisdiction re-establish the glories of the bisection!"
"Secret," Bruenor gasped, on the plane of cognizantness.
Drizzt pressed rigorouser. "Time is short! The tenebrosity is flow!" he shouted. "The way, abortion, we must apprehend the way!"
Bruenor mumbled some stifled sounds and all the chums gasped in the apprehendlplane that the drow had flat thsevere the terminal intangible compartment that hindered Bruenor from discovering the bisection.
"Louder!" Drizzt insisted.
"Fourthpeak!" Bruenor screamed tail. "Up the noble run and into Keeper's Dale!"
Drizzt countenanceed aggravate to Old Night, who was vacillating in acknowledgment, then tart tail to Bruenor. "Rest, jurisdictiony abortion," he said self-satisfactioningly. "Your clan sbisection be avenged!"
"With the style the tome grants of Settlestone, Fourthpeak can illustrate singly one fix," Old Shade explained to Drizzt and Wulfgar when they got tail to the library. Regis remained in the Extent of the Dwarves to guard aggravate Bruenor's petulant doze.
The head pulled a scroll tube down from a noble oblution, and unrolled the primordial parchment it held: a map of the mediate northland, betwixt Silverymoon and Mirabar.
"The singly dwarven subsidence in the span of Mithril Bisection aloft premise, and cork abundance to a mountain order to grant a allusion to a numbered peak, would be short," he said, mardetarnish the southernmost peak on the southernmost instiinsertion of the Spine of the World, normal north of Nesme and the Evermoors. "The uninhabited city of stone is barely designated "the Ruins" now, and it was commsingly apprehendn as Dwarvendarrows when the bearded conduct lived there. But the ramblings of your associate own actual me that this is in-truth the Settlestone that the tome discourses of."
"Why, then, would the tome not allude to it as Dwarvendarrow?" asked Wulfgar.
"Dwarves are a concealedive conduct," Old Shade explained delay a acute grin, "especiassociate wshort treapermanent is interested. Garumn of Mithril Bisection was established to practise the subsidence of his trove obscure from the avaricious of the outinterest earth. He and Elmor of Settlestone no waver productioned out an course that intervening complicated codes and conjectured indicates to allusion their verbiage. Anyman to fling peering mercenaries off the check. Names that now show in unintelligible fixs throughout the tomes of dwarven narrative. Sundry scholars own probably plain peruse of Mithril Hall, designated by some other indicate that the peruseers conjectured alludered to another of the sundry primordial dwarven homelands now obsolete to the earth."
The head paused for a instant to tabulate integralman that had occurred. "You should be detached at uninterruptedly," he advised. "Carry the abortion if you must, but get him to Settlestone anteriorly the proceeds of the potion sport detached. Waldetarnish in his memories, Bruenor jurisdiction be effectual to retconduct his steps of two hundred years ago tail up the mountains to Keeper's Dale, and to the insertion of Mithril Hall."
Drizzt premeditated the map and the tarnish that Old Shade had noticeable as the subsidence of Settlestone. "Back to the west." he muttered, obedient Alustriel's suspicions. "Barely two days saunter from short."
Wulfgar moved in cork to sentiment the parchment and external, in a vote that held twain pregustation and a meapermanent of soberness, "Our course nears its end."