Drizzt DoUrden, the most beloved drow in Dungeons & Dragons, is back in R.A. Salvatores' latest novel, Glaciers Edge. It follows Catti-brie, Jarlaxle, Artemis Entreri, and Zaknafein's familiar journey into the Forgotten Realms.
On August 9, the novel began shipping from online retailers and independent bookstores across the country, including signed copies at Barnes & Noble.
Some were free-standing structures, others carved into stalagmites, and yet others were nothing more than fabric walls that barely shielded the movements within.
Dininae knew this place from the time he was called Dinin, at that time the Secondboy of House DoUrden. He had come here often to play, to gamble, and to fight anything to halt the monotony of his existence as the lowest noble of Matron Malices' court. At first, he assumed that recent events would bring the Braeryn to an end, but as he and Voselly continued to walk, he realized that this was not the case.
The tables were stocked, and racks of dirty glasses were stacked at the end of every bar.
Which meant that this was not a sign of depreciation. No, this day, this moment, the avenue was strangely empty.
He saw a few patrons and potential customers, some leaning on the bars, some standing with the prostitutes as if signing a contract, and a couple pitching bones in a small alley between two stalagmites that comprised a single tavern. He looked for insignia and noted from the subtle revelations of their armor and weapons that these were not Menzoberranzan's downtrodden.
Yet he saw no house markings, emblems, or crests.
And that only made things worse.
Are you ready? he whispered to his companion.
Of course. You see it, too?
I have six people on my list.
At least eight people.
Dininae replied, "Oh yes, my favorite number." Or so I was told from the moment I was born.
Voselly told him: "Take heart, weve friends around." We can only hold our ground for a short time.
Unless they have pals nearby.
Voselly smirked down at him, and she was about to say something, and Dininae was about to shout something, when she suddenly spun about, bringing her trident sweeping across and angled downward with great force, driving aside a sword stabbing for her back. Voselly overbalanced and fell forward just enough for Voselly to launch a devastating right cross that struck her attacker's face and snapped his head viciously.
Before he struck the ground, he was completely unconscious.
Dininae had a look at every movement, the sweep, and the wonderful way Voselly had dropped her left shoulder back, basically threw the right hand against her left shoulder, resulting in a huge punch.
He silently reminded himself never to enrage this woman, but that was all the time he had to think about anything other than the struggle, which now came at him swiftly in the form of two young men, or more pointedly, in a closing barrage of four waving and stabbing swords.
Dininaes swords appeared to just be in his hands, just as Zaknafein had taught him, drawing and stabbing in a single movement. His opponent to the right turned and slapped a sword across to deflect, but the other had not anticipated the sudden attack and caught Dininaes left-hand blade at the tip of his breastplate.
Dininae would have finished him and would have nearly decapitated him, except that the other attacker was already countering with a backhand sweep with his blocking blade, forcing Dininae to fall back and turn fast to bring his left-hand blade slashing across to intercept.
He had one enemy out of the fight, stumbling and gagging and falling off to the side, but another enemy leaped into the gap and pressed forward fiercely, forcing Dininae back on his heels, with his two swords fighting fiercely to keep the four stabbing blades at bay.
He urged himself to work for the rhythm.
Litany of Zaknafeins.
Dininae was quite content with himself as he held his ground, anticipating each move, parrying, riposting, even, or avoiding with a simple twist. After all of that time as a drider, he was still living up to Voselly's instructions.
When he saw something coming out of behind, his shock shook him from that rhythm and that confidence.
He just folded his legs under him and fell to his knees, tucking his chin as well, and bracing himself.
The missile, which was actually another enemy drow warrior, went over him, crashing over the two attackers, who tried to avoid stabging their poor flailing pal in the collision.
Dininae leapt up and forward, stabbing the thrown drow first in the kidney, then blew past him, over him, taking the lead, retaliating for both attackers. He then executed an inside-out maneuver with his left-hand stabs, forcing the drow to rise wider.
Dininae turned fully on the drow to the right, blades rolling now as if to simply overpower the fellow.
Except, no, for Dininae broke almost immediately, reverting to the left, where that drow was charging, evidently believing that Dininae was fully involved with the other. The attacker came in with an offensive stance, one blade too high, the other too far forward.
Dininae pushed through the tip of the drows raised sword with his left arm raising high, and his blade horizontal to steal the chop.
These were not rogues who lived in rented houses. They wore fine armor.
Dininae wrested Baenre swords, and with the momentum of both fighters bringing them fast together, that fine breastplate barely slowed the thrust of Dininaes right-hand blade.
The drow slowed down abruptly, and began to sway strangely.
Dininae stepped back, dropping his left shoulder to send his free sword cutting out hard behind him to keep him from rushing into the rest of the pack, while his right foot fell to the impaled drows' chest and pushed off hard, sending Dininae out and into a roll and toppling over the first attacker Dininae had dispatched.
Dininae snatched his sword up just in time to deflect a handcrossbow dispute.
He looked around, seeing drow streaming into the street, and at first believing an army had been launched against him and Voselly.
Those were the Blaspheme warriors, not the former driders, he realized. He turned to Voselly, who smiled.
Did you know that they've been watching us?
She replied that I told you that we had friends.
You said they were not watching us.
The warrior shrugged. Perhaps I wanted to confirm something that was given to me and that I believed to be true.
Is there any way I can slap a hole in my head?
Yes, and perhaps you will soon trust me to tell me the truth about Dininae. You are no commoner. You were never self-taught in martial arts. You attended the Academy and were trained by a weapon master.
Another large drow woman rose up, another of the Blaspheme force who had spent millennia with Lolth and her fellow torturers.
Aleandra, what do you know? Voselly asked.
Your ambushers are fleeing.
Let them go.
She nodded. Yes, I gave the order already. But there is another, a priestess of House Hunzrin. She wishes to retrieve these enemies who have died, to tend them so that they will not die.
Why is she interested in this? Are these the murderers of House Hunzrin?
Would you rather be a millionaire?
She did not respond, but my guess is House Melarn, of course.
House Hunzrin is attempting to play a mediation role in avoiding a conflict, according to Voselly. She looked around at the five fallen ambushers, one of whom, skewered by Dininae, appeared to be in mortal danger.
Voselly decided to have her come and heal that one. Do as she will. The others return to House Baenre. I would not violate my authority here. Let the Matron Mother Quenthel Baenre decide their fate.
Aleandra ran away and began barking orders, while Voselly led Dininae back to the place they had gone.
As they walked away, he said to her it was my death. You did not think the disposition of the fallen warrior should be my choice?
No, she answered simply. I was once the weapon master of Menzoberranzan's First House. You are only a commoner, so you say. Why would I care what you desired?
Dininae stopped and let her go a few steps ahead of him, and stood there with hands on her hips until she turned back.
Do you mean to play the same games that ruled our shared fates in the past? He asked.
Your statements have consequences. When I can trust you, I will respect you.
You are correct that I am a noble person.
Because you will no longer be lying to me. Do not misunderstand me, warrior. I am as apprehensive as you concerning our standing in this struggle and our future, if we ever have one. We are Matron Mother Baenres shock soldiers, her fodder. She will throw us against her foes, no doubt, and will not shed tears when we are broken.
Dininae replied, admitting his deepest fear that Lolth would reveal her sarcastic remarks and send us to a state of abomination.
If we are fortunate, I'll bring the Blaspheme tightly together beneath my command. Here or back in the Abyss, we stand together or we'll suffer torment and actual death only if we're fortunate. But I like people who tell me the truth, Dininae.
She spat out his sobriquet.
He did not want to be a pawn in the plot of the Demon Queen of Spiders. He did not want to be a matron Mother Baenre.
In the end, he was a DoUrden, Elderboy Dinin DoUrden, and in this most frustrating and dangerous time, he simply couldnt discern how this truth would play out.
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