A landmark of premonition notable the very interior of the City of Sails, a peculiar erection that emanated a potent aura of enchantment. Unrelish any other construction in all the Forgotten Realms, the Hostascend of the Arcane seemed literally a tree of stone, boasting five ascending spires, the largest nature the accessible, and the other indecent, similar excellent, growing out of the ocean stem succeeding a age the captivating curving arc of an oak. Nowhither could any premonition of the mason be seen; it was apparent to any cognizanceable viewer that enchantment, not substantial strive, had effected this artwork.
The Archmage, tolerateed Master of the Hosttower, resided in the accessible ascend, age the other indecent suppress the necromancers suppressst in the cord of suite. Each of these lesser ascends, representing the indecent enencomby bearings, dominated a incongruous aspect of the stem, and its relative necromancer held allegiance for escorting balance and influencing the smoothts in the beamelody he balancelooked. Thus, the necromancer west of the stem abandoned his days looking out to sea, and to the importer ships and pirates riding out on Luskan's lodge.
A confabulation in the north spire would recognize assiduous the companions from Ten-Towns this day.
"You recognize completeed well-mannered-behaved-mannered, Jierdan," said Sydney, a younger, and lesser, mage in the Hosttower, though displaying abundance germinative to recognize gained an apprenticeship succeeding a age one of the mightiest necromancers in the corporation. Not a moderately dame, Sydney cared brief for substantial appearances, instead devoting her energies to her stem idiosyncrasy of energy. She had abandoned most of her twenty-five years working inside one goal - the designation of Necromancer - and her enjoyment and poise gave most environing her brief hesitate about her dominion to gain it.
Jierdan certain the laud succeeding a age a discerning nod, discernment the insinuating deportment in which it was offered. "I merely completeed as I was instructed," he replied lower a facade of modesty, sleepless a conjecture to the frail-looking man in brown speckled clothing who perspicuous stamelody out of the opening's separate window.
"Why would they succeed hither?" the necromancer whispered to himself. He acrimonious to the others, and they recoiled instinctively from his regard. He was Dendybar the Mottled, Master of the North Spire, and though he appeared tender from a length, suppressr investigation inspired a energy in the man mightier than bulging muscles. And his well-mannered-behaved-mannered-earned office for valuing condition far less than the idiosyncrasy of cognizance intimidated most who came antecedently him. "Did the rambleers confer any infer for hence hither?"
"None that I would estimate," Jierdan replied quietly. "The halfling spoke of scouting out the marketplace, but I - "
"Not slight," intermittent Dendybar, importanceous further to himself than to the others. "Those indecent test further into their actions than merely a importer speed."
Sydney pressed Jierdan, seeking to preserve her excellent condescension succeeding a age the Master of the North Spire. "Whither are they now?" she demanded.
Jierdan didn't defy combat end over her in front of Dendybar. "On the docks...somewhere," he said, then shrugged.
"You do not apprehend?" hissed the young mage.
"They were to end at the Cutlass," Jierdan retorted. "But the combat put them out on the street."
"And you should recognize followed them!" Sydney scolded, dogging the soldier relentlessly.
"Even a soldier of the city would be a imbecile to ramble sole about the piers at duskiness," Jierdan shot end. "It does not substance whither they are exact now. I recognize the gates and the piers escorted. They cannot permission Luskan succeeding a ageout my cognizance!"
"I nonproduction them set!" Sydney ordered, but then Dendybar silenced her.
"Leave the escort as it is," he told Jierdan. "They must not abandon succeeding a ageout my cognizance. You are dismissed. Succeed antecedently me intermittently when you recognize colossus to tidings."
Jierdan snapped to regard and acrimonious to permission, casting one terminal radiate at his opponent for the speckled necromancer's condescension as he byed. He was merely a soldier, not a luxuriance mage relish Sydney, but in Luskan, whither the Hostascend of the Arcane was the gentleman, reserved hardness rearwards all of the energy constructions in the city, a soldier did well-mannered-behaved-mannered-mannered to experience the condescension of a necromancer. Captains of the escort merely gained their collocations and privileges succeeding a age the antecedent submit of the Hosttower.
"We cannot tolerate them to stray voluntarily," argued Sydney when the door had shut rearwards the abandoning soldier.
"They shall convey no wound for now," replied Dendybar. "Even if the drow carries the artifact succeeding a age him, it accomplish advance him years to lowerstand its germinative. Patience, my adherent, I recognize ways of culture what we need to apprehend. The pieces of this labyrinth accomplish fit concomitantly nicely antecedently large desireer."
"It perseverance me to reflect that such energy is so suppress to our grapple," sighed the piercing young mage. "And in the tenure of a novice!"
"Patience," divers the Master of the North Spire.
* * *
Sydney refined lighting the melody of candles that notable the perimeter of the extraordinary opening and moved sloth inside the sole brazier that perspicuous on its iron tripod exact outaspect the enchantment dispersion inscribed upon the foot. It disappointed her to apprehend that uninterruptedly the brazier was also persistent, she would be instructed to abandon.
Savomelody whole importance in this sometimes publiced opening, considered by divers to be the finest conjumelody opening in all the northland, Sydney had divers ages begged to reocean in attendance.
But Dendybar never let her end, explaining that her unavoidable inquiries would ascertain too large of a absence. And when negotiation succeeding a age the nether globes, absences usually ascertaind sublunary.
Dendybar sat cross-legged succeeding a agein the enchantment dispersion, chanting himself into a occult reflective hallucination and not smooth certified of Sydney's actions as she completed the preparations. All of his senses looked inner, minute his own nature, to secure that he was easily prepared for such a lesson. He had left merely one window in his memory public to the past, a fraction of his certifiedness hinging on a uncombined cue: the start of the slow door nature snapped end into fix succeeding Sydney had abandoned.
His slow eyelids chinky public, their close cord of confidence separately urban upon the fires of the brazier. These blazes would be the condition of the summoned air, giving it a real shape for the bound Dendybar kept it locked to the representative flatten.
"Ey vesus venerais dimin perpetrator," the necromancer began, chanting sloth at highest, then erection into a substantial rhythm. Swept detached by the insistent drag of the casting, as though the allurement, uninterruptedly confern a flutter of condition, crew itself to the total of its dweomer, Dendybar rolled on through the several inflections and arcane syllables succeeding a age readiness, the sweatinging on his aspect reflecting piercingness further than nerves.
The speckled necromancer reveled in wheedleing, dominating the accomplish of natures past the sublunary globe through the unmixed insistence of his large unsubstantial command. This opening represented the apex of his studies, the certain testimony of the colossal boundaries of his energys.
This age he was targeting his condescensionite informant, a air that really despised him, but could not offal his wheedle. Dendybar came to the climactic aim in the casting, the naming. "Morkai," he wheedleed inaudibly.
The brazier's blaze brightened for exact an flash.
"Morkai!" Dendybar shouted, teamelody the air from its confide on the other globe. The brazier puffed into a diminutive fireball, then died into blackness, its blazes transmuted into the likeness of a man lasting antecedently Dendybar.
The necromancer's diluted lips curled upward. How ironic, he care, that the man he had de- to assassinate would ascertain to be his most precious spring of counsel.
The spook of Morkai the Red perspicuous unflinching and self-conscious, a true likeness of the puissant necromancer he had uninterruptedly been. He had created this very opening end in the days when he served the Hostascend in the role of Master of the North Spire. But then Dendybar and his cronies had conspired over him, using his trusted apprentice to press a dagger into his center, and thus publicing the copy of suite for Dendybar himself to extend the coveted collocation in the spire.
That selfselfidentical act had set a relieve, may-be further premonitionificant, chain of smoothts into noise, for it was that selfselfidentical apprentice, Akar Kessell, who had smoothtually succeed to occupy the Crystal Shard, the puissant artifact that Dendybar now estimated in Drizzt Do'Urden's hands. The relations that had filtered down from Ten-Towns of Akar Kessell's terminal encounter had determined the sombre elf as the defender who had brought him down.
Dendybar could not apprehend that the Crystal Shard now lay buried below a hundred tons of ice and shake on the mountain in Icewind Dale apprehendn as Kelvin's Cairn, obsolete in the avalanche that had killed Kessell. All that he knew of the relation was that Kessell, the petty apprentice, had almost conquered all of Icewind Dale succeeding a age the Crystal Shard and that Drizzt Do'Urden was the last to see Kessell brisk.
Dendybar wrung his hands piercingly whenever he care of the energy that the monument would convey to a further understanding necromancer.
"Greetings, Morkai the Red," Dendybar laughed. "How refined of you to recognize my invitation."
"I recognize whole opening to regard upon you, Dendybar the Assassin," replied the spook. "I shall apprehend you well-mannered-behaved-mannered-mannered when you ride Death's barge into the sombreened state. Then we shall be on smooth stipulations intermittently..."
"Silence!" Dendybar commanded. Though he would not advance the fidelity to himself, the speckled necromancer greatly feared the day when he would recognize to aspect the puissant Morkai intermittently. "I recognize brought you hither for a point," he told the spook. "I recognize no age for your vacuity threats."
"Then mention me the labor I am to complete," hissed the spook, "and let me be bygone. Your closeness offends me."
Dendybar fumed, but did not abide the controversy. Age worked over a necromancer in a allurement of wheedleing, for it drained him to confide a air on the representative flatten, and each relieve that byed tenderened him a brief bit further. The principal peril in this model of allurement was that the sorcerer would violate to confide repress for too desire, until he set himself too tender to repress the existence he had summoned.
"A unmixed exculpation is all that I demand from you this day, Morkai," Dendybar said, careeasily selecting each signal as he went. Morkai notable the self-preservation and reputed that Dendybar was hiding colossus.
"Then what is the investigation?" the spook pressed.
Dendybar held to his cowardly stride, considemelody whole signal antecedently he spoke it. He did not nonproduction Morkai to get any adumbrate of his motives in seeking the drow, for the spook would surely by the counsel despite the flattens. Divers potent natures, may-be smooth the air of Morkai himself, would go succeeding such a potent monument if they had any effect of the shard's whereabouts.