Exile: Dungeons & Dragons

Book 2 of The Dark Elf Trilogy

About the Book

Drizzt Do’Urden fights for survival in the labyrinthine Underdark in the second book of The Dark Elf Trilogy.

Ten years have passed since we last saw Drizzt Do’Urden and his magical feline companion, Guenhwyvar—and much has changed. Exiled from Menzoberranzan, the city of his childhood and the hub of drow society, Drizzt now wanders the subterranean maze of the Underdark in search of a new home.

But loneliness is not the only thing that preys on Drizzt: His drow enemies, including his own siblings, would like nothing more than to see him dead. With murder on their minds, they begin their own search of the Underdark tunnels, forcing Drizzt to watch his back at every turn.
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Exile: Dungeons & Dragons


Anniversary Present

Matron Malice Do’Urden shifted uneasily on the stone throne in the small and darkened anteroom to the great chapel of House Do’Urden. To the dark elves, who measured time’s passage in decades, this was a day to be marked in the annals of Malice’s house, the tenth anniversary of the ongoing covert conflict between the Do’Urden family and House Hun’ett. Matron Malice, never one to miss a celebration, had a special present prepared for her enemies.

Briza Do’Urden, Malice’s eldest daughter, a large and powerful drow female, paced about the anteroom anxiously, a not uncommon sight. “It should be finished by now,” she grumbled as she kicked a small three-­legged stool. It skidded and tumbled, chipping away a piece of mushroom-stem seat.

“Patience, my daughter,” Malice replied somewhat recriminatory, though she shared Briza’s sentiments. “Jarlaxle is a careful one.” Briza turned away at the mention of the outrageous mercenary and moved to the room’s ornately carved stone doors. Malice did not miss the significance of her daughter’s actions.

“You do not approve of Jarlaxle and his band,” the matron mother stated flatly.

“They are houseless rogues,” Briza spat in response, still not turning to face her mother. “There is no place in Menzoberranzan for houseless rogues. They disrupt the natural order of our society. And they are males!”

“They serve us well,” Malice reminded her. Briza wanted to argue about the extreme cost of hiring the mercenary band, but she wisely held her tongue. She and Malice had been at odds almost continually since the start of the Do’Urden-­Hun’ett war.

“Without Bregan D’aerthe, we could not take action against our enemies,” Malice continued. “Using the mercenaries, the houseless rogues, as you have named them, allows us to wage war without implicating our house as the perpetrator.”

“Then why not be done with it?” Briza demanded, spinning back toward the throne. “We kill a few of Hun’ett’s soldiers, they kill a few of ours. And all the while, both houses continue to recruit replacements! It will not end! The only winners in the conflict are the mercenaries of Bregan D’aerthe—­and whatever band Matron SiNafay Hun’ett has hired—­feeding off the coffers of both houses!”

“Watch your tone, my daughter,” Malice growled as an angry reminder. “You are addressing a matron mother.”

Briza turned away again. “We should have attacked House Hun’ett immediately, on the night Zaknafein was sacrificed,” she dared to grumble.

“You forget the actions of your youngest brother on that night,” Malice replied evenly.

But the matron mother was wrong. If she lived a thousand more years, Briza would not forget Drizzt’s actions on the night he had forsaken his family. Trained by Zaknafein, Malice’s favorite lover and reputably the finest weapon master in all of Menzoberranzan, Drizzt had achieved a level of fighting ability far beyond the drow norm. But Zak had also given Drizzt the troublesome and blasphemous attitudes that Lolth, the Spider Queen deity of the dark elves, would not tolerate. Finally, Drizzt’s sacrilegious ways had invoked Lolth’s wrath, and the Spider Queen, in turn, had demanded his death.

Matron Malice, impressed by Drizzt’s potential as a warrior, had acted boldly on Drizzt’s behalf and had given Zaknafein’s heart to Lolth to compensate for Drizzt’s sins. She forgave Drizzt in the hope that without Zaknafein’s influences he would amend his ways and replace the deposed weapon master.

In return, though, the ungrateful Drizzt had betrayed them all, had run off into the Underdark—­an act that had not only robbed House Do’Urden of its only potential remaining weapon master, but also had placed Matron Malice and the rest of the Do’Urden family out of Lolth’s favor. In the disastrous end of all their efforts, House Do’Urden had lost its premier weapon master, the favor of Lolth, and its would-­be weapon master. It had not been a good day.

Luckily, House Hun’ett had suffered similar woes on that same day, losing both its wizards in a botched attempt to assassinate Drizzt. With both houses weakened and in Lolth’s disfavor, the expected war had been turned into a calculated series of covert raids.

Briza would never forget.

A knock on the anteroom door startled Briza and her mother from their private memories of that fateful time. The door swung open, and Dinin, the elderboy of the house, walked in.

“Greetings, Matron Mother,” he said in appropriate manner and dipping into a low bow. Dinin wanted his news to be a surprise, but the grin that found its way onto his face revealed everything.

“Jarlaxle has returned!” Malice snarled in glee. Dinin turned toward the open door, and the mercenary, waiting patiently in the corridor, strode in. Briza, ever amazed at the rogue’s unusual mannerisms, shook her head as Jarlaxle walked past her. Nearly every dark elf in Menzoberranzan dressed in a quiet and practical manner, in robes adorned with the symbols of the Spider Queen or in supple chain-­link armor under the folds of a magical and camouflaging piwafwi cloak.

Jarlaxle, arrogant and brash, followed few of the customs of Menzoberranzan’s inhabitants. He was most certainly not the norm of drow society and he flaunted the differences openly, brazenly. He wore not a cloak nor a robe, but a shimmering cape that showed every color of the spectrum both in the glow of light and in the infrared spectrum of heat-­sensing eyes. The cape’s magic could only be guessed, but those closest to the mercenary leader indicated that it was very valuable indeed.

Jarlaxle’s vest was sleeveless and cut so high that his slender and tightly muscled stomach was open for all to view. He kept a patch over one eye, though careful observers would understand it as ornamental, for Jarlaxle often shifted it from one eye to the other.

“My dear Briza,” Jarlaxle said over his shoulder, noting the high priestess’s disdainful interest in his appearance. He spun about and bowed low, sweeping off the wide-­brimmed hat—­another oddity, and even more so since the hat was overly plumed in the monstrous feathers of a diatryma, a gigantic Underdark bird—­as he stooped.

Briza huffed and turned away at the sight of the mercenary’s dipping head. Drow elves wore their thick white hair as a mantle of their station, each cut designed to reveal rank and house affiliation. Jarlaxle the rogue wore no hair at all, and from Briza’s angle, his clean-­shaven head appeared as a ball of pressed onyx.

Jarlaxle laughed quietly at the continuing disapproval of the eldest Do’Urden daughter and turned back toward Matron Malice, his ample jewelry tinkling and his hard and shiny boots clumping with every step. Briza took note of this as well, for she knew that those boots, and that jewelry, only seemed to make noise when Jarlaxle wished them to do so.

“It is done?” Matron Malice asked before the mercenary could even begin to offer a proper greeting.

“My dear Matron Malice,” Jarlaxle replied with a pained sigh, knowing that he could get away with the informalities in light of his grand news. “Did you doubt me? Surely I am wounded to my heart.”

Malice leaped from her throne, her fist clenched in victory. “Dipree Hun’ett is dead!” she proclaimed. “The first noble victim of the war!”

“You forget Masoj Hun’ett,” remarked Briza, “slain by Drizzt ten years ago. And Zaknafein Do’Urden,” Briza had to add, against her better judgment, “killed by your own hand.”

“Zaknafein was not noble by birth,” Malice sneered at her impertinent daughter. Briza’s words stung Malice nonetheless. Malice had decided to sacrifice Zaknafein in Drizzt’s stead against Briza’s recommendations.

Jarlaxle cleared his throat to deflect the growing tension. The mercenary knew that he had to finish his business and be out of House Do’Urden as quickly as possible. Already he knew—­though the Do’Urdens did not—­that the appointed hour drew near. “There is the matter of my payment,” he reminded Malice.

“Dinin will see to it,” Malice replied with a wave of her hand, not turning her eyes from her daughter’s pernicious stare.

“I will take my leave,” Jarlaxle said, nodding to the elderboy.

Before the mercenary had taken his first step toward the door, Vierna, Malice’s second daughter, burst into the room, her face glowing brightly in the infrared spectrum, heated with obvious excitement.

“Damn,” Jarlaxle whispered under his breath.

“What is it?” Matron Malice demanded.

“House Hun’ett,” Vierna cried. “Soldiers in the compound! We are under attack!”

The Legend of Drizzt Series

The Legacy: Dungeons & Dragons
Starless Night: Dungeons & Dragons
Siege of Darkness: Dungeons & Dragons
Passage to Dawn: Dungeons & Dragons
The Crystal Shard: Dungeons & Dragons
Streams of Silver: Dungeons & Dragons
The Halfling's Gem: Dungeons & Dragons
Homeland: Dungeons & Dragons
Exile: Dungeons & Dragons
Sojourn: Dungeons & Dragons
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About the Author

R.A. Salvatore
R. A. Salvatore is a fantasy author best known for The DemonWars Saga, his Forgotten Realms novels, and Vector Prime, the first novel in the Star Wars: The New Jedi Order series. He has sold more than fifteen million copies of his books in the United States alone, and more than twenty of his titles have been New York Times bestsellers. R. A. Salvatore lives with his wife, Diane, in his native state of Massachusetts. More by R.A. Salvatore
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