Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: The Road to Neverwinter

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February 28, 2023 | ISBN 9780593683347

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About the Book

Discover the thrilling origin stories of the bard Edgin, the barbarian Holga, and their whole adventuring party in this official prequel to Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.
 
Edgin Darvis’s life is a mess. All that he has left are his lute, his dashing good looks, and his daughter, Kira. After a chance encounter with badass bruiser Holga, Edgin is forced to take a hard look at his bad choices. But the road to redemption is long and paved with unforeseen expenses. Fortunately, the world is full of rich fools begging to be parted from their money.

And so Edgin and Holga do what any sensible entrepreneurs would do—they form a crew.

Joined by the charming rogue Forge Fitzwilliam and Simon, a sorcerer with an intense inferiority complex, the team sets out to line their pockets with both well-earned and ill-gotten gold. Together, Edgin’s crew battles monsters across the realms: gnoll raiders, fey witches, and more fall beneath their sharp weapons and sharper wit. But when they encounter a new, more sophisticated villain, keen blades and piercing blue eyes may not be enough.

Their target? Torlinn Shrake, a wealthy eccentric known for abusing his servants and hosting lavish parties.

The plan? Play dress-up, sneak into the Shrake estate, and fill their pockets with as much loot as they can carry.

The catch? Shrake is hiding a terrible secret: one that could endanger the lives of everyone Edgin has come to care for—even if the loot is too good to pass up.
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Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: The Road to Neverwinter

Chapter 1

Ten Years Ago

Edgin tried to remember the last time he’d slept. Sleep, that capricious, lovely siren—­he knew he’d been acquainted with her once. He’d even had a bed, a comfortable bed if he remembered correctly. Lately, though, his world had shrunk to the small, scarred kitchen table by the fire, and everything, from the dried herb bundles hanging from the ceiling, to the pot of something cooking—­or burning—­in a pot on the stove, was just a little hazy around the edges, and it was all because of—­

A screech shattered the air in the small cottage, traveling right down Edgin’s ear canal and rattling his heart inside his chest. He jumped, jostling the small bundle in his arms and causing it to let out another ear-­piercing shriek that he swore was worse than a banshee’s wail. And he should know—­he’d been up close and personal with one, a long time ago.

This was no banshee. He looked down at his baby daughter. Kira’s small face was scrunched up in an expression of misery that Edgin felt, if he was being honest, had no place on a newborn baby whose only concerns in life were eating, sleeping, and defecating in alarmingly large quantities.

Whereas Edgin’s concerns were many and varied.

He no longer had a job, for one. He’d left the Harpers, the do-gooder group to which he’d sworn an oath and dedicated his life, because that blind devotion had resulted in his wife’s death at the hands of the Harpers’ enemies. The grief and guilt of that had opened up a hole inside of Edgin, a hole that probably would have swallowed him—­or he would have jumped in willingly—­were it not for the squirming child in his arms.

Kira. The only family he had left. He would die for her. He would walk through fire, face down a horde of kobolds, kill anyone who tried to harm her.

He also occasionally wished he could toss her out a window to get some peace and quiet and sleep, which was a strange thought to have alongside the fierce love and protectiveness swirling in his chest.

Was this what being a parent was supposed to be like?

There was no one around to ask, so Edgin had just been muddling through these last few months.

He poured himself his fifteenth or sixteenth cup of tea from the dented kettle in the center of the table, trying to keep himself alert while Kira continued to wail in infant misery.

“I’m sorry, sweetie,” he crooned, rocking her in his arms. “I don’t know what you want.”

Getting his daughter to stop crying was just one of the things he’d been failing at. Another was the fact that they were out of firewood, and their pantry, already meagerly stocked to begin with, was now almost completely empty. Whatever he’d been cooking over the fire was giving off a distinctive burnt stench that filled the cottage and made his eyes water, but he didn’t want to put Kira down long enough to deal with that, and when was he supposed to go out and get supplies while she was crying and with what money would he buy them since he no longer had a place among the Harpers . . .

Edgin shook himself out of that downward spiral and took a big swig of tea with his free hand. He grimaced. It was hot and bitter and doing nothing to ease the fog that swamped his brain. He needed a hot meal, some fresh air, and a change of scenery. If he stayed in this cottage for another minute, he thought he might start howling right alongside Kira, and then where would they be?

He reached into the pouch tied onto his belt and felt around inside for some coins. He came up with a couple of silver from his emergency funds. It would be enough for a small meal at the local tavern and some milk for Kira, and maybe the trip outside would be enough to distract Kira from her misery.

Too much to hope for that it would distract him from his, but at least it would keep him awake.

The Trip and Shuffle Tavern was an aging single-­story building with simple fare and a loyal local crowd, in addition to the travelers that wandered in to shake the road dust off their boots and have a pint or two. A large, white stone fireplace dominated the back corner of the room near the bar, and there was even a small stage on the opposite side of the room for bards and other entertainers to try their luck with the crowd. Once upon a time, Edgin might have been one of those entertainers.

In another life.

Tonight, he bypassed the stage and the bar and headed for a table near the crackling fire. He settled Kira in her bassinet, and whether it was the warm fire, the faces of the people to look at, or just the change in scenery from the dreary cottage, Kira’s crying gradually tapered off. She drank half a bottle of milk, then shoved two pudgy fingers into her mouth and stared around the tavern in bleary wonder.

Edgin slumped on his stool and enjoyed the relative quiet.

A few minutes later, someone put a bowl of thick stew with large chunks of potato, carrots, and meat in front of him, along with a tall tankard of ale and a wooden platter of bread. Had he ordered that? Or did someone take one look at his face and think, New father starving, get that man some meat! At that moment, Edgin didn’t particularly care. He tore into the hot bread and used it to mop up every bit of stew he could from the large bowl. It tasted like bliss. Rich, meaty bliss. And the ale—­Edgin let out a moan of pleasure as the cold, sharp drink slid down his throat.

Why had he waited so long to do this?

Kira had fallen asleep, mouth slack, arms above her head, and for the first time in what felt like years, Edgin had a hot meal in his belly and ale ready at hand. The fire was warm, flushing his skin and making his eyelids droop. He was going to sleep so good tonight.

So good.

Edgin snapped awake to a sharp pain in the side of his face and a puddle of drool around his chin. What in the Nine Hells had hit him?

He was lying on the floor of the tavern. Through his swimming vision, Edgin could see the place was still packed, and people milled about the room, talking and laughing and not paying him any attention whatsoever.

He supposed that was fair. People passed out in taverns all the time, and it certainly wasn’t the first time he’d woken up like this—­facedown on a flagstone floor with his head throbbing and no idea how he’d gotten there. Most of the time it was after a night of drinking, but sometimes it was because he’d taken a punch that put him on the ground.

Had someone attacked him from behind? Oh Gods. Edgin’s groggy senses finally started functioning again.

Kira. Where was Kira?

In one fluid movement, he pushed himself up off the floor. Or, at least, that’s what he’d intended to do. In reality, he flopped around like a fish in a net until he got his arms underneath him and levered himself to a sitting position.

He’d fallen next to his table. His tankard and bowl of stew were still at his place waiting for him. But Kira . . .

Again, it took Edgin’s rattled senses a moment to process what he was seeing.

Kira, his baby daughter, the center of his existence, the only thing in his life he had left that was worth a damn, was currently dangling from the outstretched arm of a grim, muscled woman with long dark hair and tattoos on both arms, wearing fur-­lined, travel-­stained clothing, with the biggest axe he’d ever seen strapped across her back. Seriously, he had no idea axes even came in that size.

“Let her go!” The words ripped out of him, and he lunged for the woman, intending to tackle her and grab Kira, shielding her with his own body if necessary.

Again, that was the plan.

Instead, the woman calmly stepped out of the path of his charge, and Edgin skidded across the stained tavern floor on his belly. His body felt like it’d been weighted down with stones. This, after one ale? What was wrong with him?

He sprang to his feet. The room tilted crazily around him, but he shook off the feeling and went for the woman again.

“I said, let her—­”

He never got to finish. This time, the woman shot him an exasperated look and grabbed him by the throat with her free hand when he got close enough. And Edgin just sort of . . . stopped, dangling like a doll from her steady grip. She wasn’t hurting him—­much—­but it wasn’t at all pleasant to be held by the throat. At least she had a much gentler grip on Kira, holding her by the collar of her nightgown.

In fact, now that he looked, Kira seemed strangely . . . happy? She swatted the air in front of the stranger’s face with her tiny hands. Edgin recognized the game she was trying for—­it was Got Yer Nose. Everyone in the baby business knew that game.

Except this woman. Eyebrows lifted, she seemed to be trying to figure out what it was Kira wanted. Edgin couldn’t tell her either, because of the whole being held by the throat situation, so he just stood there and gasped. It was pretty humiliating.

Finally, the woman seemed to translate Kira’s squeals and coos, and she leaned forward. Kira’s pudgy fingers closed on the woman’s nose, and she let out a triumphant baby giggle.

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About the Author

Jaleigh Johnson
Jaleigh Johnson is a lifelong reader, gamer, and moviegoer. She loves nothing better than to escape into fictional worlds and take part in fantastic adventures. She lives and writes in the wilds of the Midwest, but you can visit her online at jaleighjohnson.com or on Twitter @JaleighJohnson. More by Jaleigh Johnson
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