Sojourn: Dungeons & Dragons

Book 3 of The Dark Elf Trilogy

About the Book

Lone drow Drizzt Do’Urden emerges from the Underdark into the blinding light of day in this epic final chapter of The Dark Elf Trilogy.

After years spent in the ruthless confines of the Underdark, Drizzt Do’Urden has emerged from the subterranean society of his youth to start a new life. Accompanied by his loyal panther, Drizzt begins exploring the surface of Faerûn, a world unlike any he has ever known. From skunks to shapeshifters, Faerûn is full of unfamiliar creatures and fresh dangers, which Drizzt must learn to navigate if he is to survive.

But while Drizzt acts with the best intentions, many of the surface dwellers regard him with fear and mistrust. Can he find faithful allies in this foreign land—or is he doomed to be a lonely outsider, just as he was in the Underdark?
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Sojourn: Dungeons & Dragons


Poignant Lessons

Drizzt crept past the shielding shrubs and over the flat and bare stone that led to the cave now serving as his home. He knew that something had crossed this way recently—­very recently. There were no tracks to be seen, but the scent was strong.

Guenhwyvar circled on the rocks up above the hillside cave. Sight of the panther gave the drow a measure of comfort. Drizzt had come to trust Guenhwyvar implicitly and knew that the cat would flush out any enemies hiding in ambush. Drizzt disappeared into the dark opening and smiled as he heard the panther come down behind, watching over him.

Drizzt paused behind a stone just inside the entrance, letting his eyes adjust to the gloom. The sun was still bright, though it was fast dipping into the western sky, but the cave was much darker—­dark enough for Drizzt to let his vision slip into the infrared spectrum. As soon as the adjustment was completed, Drizzt located the intruder. The clear glow of a heat source, a living creature, emanated from behind another rock deeper in the one-­chambered cave. Drizzt relaxed considerably. Guenhwyvar was only a few steps away now, and considering the size of the rock, the intruder could not be a large beast.

Still, Drizzt had been raised in the Underdark, where every living creature, regardless of its size, was respected and considered dangerous. He signaled for Guenhwyvar to remain in position near the exit and crept around to get a better angle on the intruder.

Drizzt had never seen such an animal before. It appeared almost catlike, but its head was much smaller and more sharply pointed. The whole of it could not have weighed more than a few pounds. This fact, and the creature’s bushy tail and thick fur, indicated that it was more a forager than a predator. It rummaged now through a pack of food, apparently oblivious to the drow’s presence.

“Take ease, Guenhwyvar,” Drizzt called softly, slipping his scimitars into their sheaths. He took a step toward the intruder for a better look, though he kept a cautious distance so as not to startle it, thinking that he might have found another companion. If he could only gain the animal’s trust . . . 

The small animal turned abruptly at Drizzt’s call, its short front legs quickly backing it against the wall.

“Take ease,” Drizzt said quietly, this time to the intruder. “I’ll not harm you.” Drizzt took another step in and the creature hissed and spun about, its small hind feet stamping down on the stone floor.

Drizzt nearly laughed aloud, thinking that the creature meant to push itself straight through the cave’s back wall. Guenhwyvar bounded over then, and the panther’s immediate distress stole the mirth from the drow’s face.

The animal’s tail came up high; Drizzt noticed in the faint light that the beast had distinctive stripes running down its back. Guenhwyvar whimpered and turned to flee, but it was too late.

About an hour later Drizzt and Guenhwyvar walked along the lower trails of the mountain in search of a new home. They had salvaged what they could, though that wasn’t very much. Guenhwyvar kept a good distance to the side of Drizzt. Proximity made the stink only worse.

Drizzt took it all in stride, though the stench of his own body made the lesson a bit more poignant than he would have liked. He didn’t know the little animal’s name, of course, but he had marked its appearance keenly. He would know better the next time he encountered a skunk.

“What of my other companions in this strange world?” Drizzt whispered to himself. It was not the first time the drow had voiced such concerns. He knew very little of the surface and even less of the creatures that lived here. His months had been spent in and about the cave, with only occasional forays down to the lower, more populated regions. There, in his foraging, he had seen some animals, usually at a distance, and had even observed some humans. He had not yet found the courage to come out of hiding, though, to greet his neighbors, fearing potential rejection and knowing that he had nowhere left to run.

The sound of rushing water led the reeking drow and panther to a fast-­running brook. Drizzt immediately found some protective shade and began stripping away his armor and clothing, while Guenhwyvar moved downstream to do some fishing. The sound of the panther fumbling around in the water brought a smile to the drow’s severe features. They would eat well this night.

Drizzt gingerly flipped the clasp of his belt and laid his crafted weapons beside his mesh chain mail. Truly, he felt vulnerable without the armor and weapons—­he never would have put them so far from his reach in the Underdark—­but many months had passed since Drizzt had found any need for them. He looked to his scimitars and was flooded by the bittersweet memories of the last time he had put them to use.

He had battled Zaknafein then, his father and mentor and dearest friend. Only Drizzt had survived the encounter. The legendary weapon master was gone now, but the triumph in that fight belonged as much to Zak as it did to Drizzt, for it was not really Zaknafein who had come after Drizzt on the bridges of an acid-­filled cavern. Rather, it was Zaknafein’s wraith, under the control of Drizzt’s evil mother, Matron Malice. She had sought revenge upon her son for his denouncement of Lolth and of the chaotic drow society in general. Drizzt had spent more than thirty years in Menzoberranzan but had never accepted the malicious and cruel ways that were the norm in the drow city. He had been a constant embarrassment to House Do’Urden despite his considerable skill with weapons. When he ran from the city to live a life of exile in the wilds of the Underdark, he had placed his high priestess mother out of Lolth’s favor.

Thus, Matron Malice Do’Urden had raised the spirit of Zaknafein, the weapon master she had sacrificed to Lolth, and sent the undead thing after her son. Malice had miscalculated, though, for there remained enough of Zak’s soul within the body to deny the attack on Drizzt. In the instant that Zak managed to wrest control from Malice, he had cried out in triumph and leaped into the lake of acid.

“My father,” Drizzt whispered, drawing strength from the simple words. He had succeeded where Zaknafein had failed; he had forsaken the evil ways of the drow where Zak had been trapped for centuries, acting as a pawn in Matron Malice’s power games. From Zaknafein’s failure and ultimate demise, young Drizzt had found strength; from Zak’s victory in the acid cavern, Drizzt had found determination. Drizzt had ignored the web of lies his former teachers at the Academy in Menzoberranzan had tried to spin, and he had come to the surface to begin a new life.

Drizzt shuddered as he stepped into the icy stream. In the Underdark he had known fairly constant temperatures and unvarying darkness. Here, though, the world surprised him at every turn. Already he had noticed that the periods of daylight and darkness were not constant; the sun set earlier every day and the temperature—­changing from hour to hour, it seemed—­had steadily dipped during the last few tendays. Even within those periods of light and dark loomed inconsistencies. Some nights were visited by a silver-­glowing orb and some days held a pall of gray instead of a dome of shining blue.

In spite of it all, Drizzt most often felt comfortable with his decision to come to this unknown world. Looking at his weapons and armor now, lying in the shadows a dozen feet from where he bathed, Drizzt had to admit that the surface, for all of its strangeness, offered more peace than anywhere in the Underdark ever could.

Drizzt was in the wilds now, despite his calm. He had spent four months on the surface and was still alone, except when he was able to summon his magical feline companion. Now, stripped bare except for his ragged pants, with his eyes stinging from the skunk spray, his sense of smell lost within the cloud of his own pungent aroma, and his keen sense of hearing dulled by the din of rushing water, the drow was indeed vulnerable.

“What a mess I must appear,” Drizzt mused, roughly running his slender fingers through the mat of his thick, white hair. When he glanced back to his equipment, though, the thought was washed quickly from Drizzt’s mind. Five hulking forms straddled his belongings and undoubtedly cared little for the dark elf’s ragged appearance.

Drizzt considered the grayish skin and dark muzzles of the dog-­faced, seven-­foot-­tall humanoids, but more particularly, he watched the spears and swords that they now leveled his way. He knew this type of monster, for he had seen similar creatures serving as slaves back in Menzoberranzan. In this situation, however, the gnolls appeared much different, more ominous, than Drizzt remembered them.

He briefly considered a rush to his scimitars but dismissed the notion, knowing that a spear would skewer him before he ever got close. The largest of the gnoll band, an eight-­foot giant with striking red hair, looked at Drizzt for a long moment, eyed the drow’s equipment, then looked back to him.

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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