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Burrow-Warden

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Belwar is one of the Svirfnebli, a race of deep gnomes who dwell in the Underdark city of Blingenstone. He had served for many years as a burrow-warden, a mining expedition leader in the Blingenstone system of exploration and expansion. During one of these many expeditions, Belwar's group is set upon by a patrol of drow, and Belwar has his first encounter with Drizzt Do'urden.

Drizzt's patrol takes them just five miles outside of the city of Menzoberranzan, where they encounter Belwar's crew, deep gnomes on a mining expedition. Drow and deep gnomes were mortal enemies, and such an encounter could only end in bloodshed. Drizzt tries to dissuade his brother Dinin Do'urden from attacking, even to the point of suggesting parley, but he is rebuked in typical drow fashion. Dinin orders the attack, commanding them to go after Belwar Dissengulp first, stating, "He is the key to their strength with the stone." They rush into the gnomes, taking down the non-working scouts first, then heading for the crew leader. The drow are outnumbered but ruthless, giving out much more damage than they took. This prompts Belwar to grab a jewel and slam it to the ground, creating an earth elemental and commanding it to attack the drow. Drizzt races to the attack, but is struck down. Guenhwyvar, against his master Masoj Hun'ett's wishes, rushes in to defend Drizzt and is gravely injured, but buys him the time he needs to recover.

As Drizzt climbs up to the creature's head and is about to strike a killing blow, Masoj sends a bolt of lightning into them, hoping to kill both the elemental and Drizzt, making it appear to be an accident. Masoj is then clubbed in the back of the head by Belwar, who then moves on Drizzt. Drizzt tells him to go ahead and torture him, but the Belwar tells him that is not their way. They capture the Belwar, and Dinin orders him killed. As the priestess of Lolth moves forward to torture the him, Drizzt convinces them to allow him to live and go back home to tell the other Svirfnebli of the superiority of drow strength. Dinin likes the idea, but not before the take the gnome leader's hands first. Dinin says, "I want to hear his screams." Belwar loses his hands, and is sent back to Blingenstone in disgrace.


Most Honored Burrow-Warden

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After his treatment at the hands of the drow, Belwar is given the title of Most Honored Burrow-Warden, something he does not believe he deserves, and retires into a life of solitude. Some ten years later, his past comes back to change his future.

Drizzt Do'urden has rejected his people and their lifestyle, and has been living in the Underdark with Guenhwyvar as his only companion. After being discovered in his cavern home by his brother and sister, he decides he must take a new course.


Reunited with Drizzt

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Drizzt puts himself on the move again, knowing he cannot live in his beloved cavern is no longer secret, no longer safe. He runs through the tunnels, into twists and turns which he had never seen before until he ran directly into his past. At the end of his last stretch was a bright light (at least bright for the Underdark), he had come upon a gnome mining expedition. Drizzt follows them for days, hanging back in the shadows, listening to them longingly. They possessed something he himself had never experienced, camaraderie. He was drawn to their voices, their laughter, their smiles, believing he might go mad and totally loose himself in The Hunter if lost track of them. Eventually, their journey ended. He had come to Blingenstone, the great fortress city of the Svirfnebli.

Drizzt makes an on the spot decision, and pulls Guen's figurine from his pocket and calls her to him. He says goodbye to her, stating he can no longer live out in the Underdark alone, and turns himself in to the gnomes at the gates of Blingenstone. He knows they will most likely kill him, his people and the deep gnomes were natural enemies, and might attack him on sight. Drizzt was not afraid, the fate of death at the hands of goodly people was better than the horrible isolation of the Underdark. He kept walking toward their gates and hoped and trusted for the best.

Members of the Blingenstone city council investigate Drizzt. They are naturally suspicious of him and his reasons for being in the city. Incredulous, they cannot believe that he has not only given himself up, but also the figurine of Guenhwyvar—a very powerful magical item not to be given up lightly. All the while Drizzt sat before them in chains, the Hunter inside him railed to be free, every moment heightening the rage and hunger to be free. Drizzt remained in control, keeping his composure before these wizened souls who held his life in their hands. They believe him a spy, and though he claims to be a renegade, they do not believe him since his House not only still exists, but has risen in stature in recent days. He replies that he is "rogue by choice," and that he has nowhere else to go. Firble, the gnome king's chief counselor and head of their spy network warns, "Our king will rule upon your fate, dark elf. And though I believe you and shall ask for mercy, I suspect you will be executed."

As Firble and the others are making their way out of his holding cell, Drizzt recalls the burrow warden he had convinced his brother to let go all those years before. He tells the gnome that he was part of that hunting party, and that one did survive, losing his hands in the battle. Firble names the burrow warden as Belwar Dissengulp, stating that none of the citizens of Blingenstone would ever forget that dark day. Drizzt begs for Firble to bring Belwar Dissengulp, and he is left alone in the darkness.

Some time later, the burrow warden does come to see the captive drow, exclaiming, "Magga cammara it is you!" Belwar remembers Drizzt as the purple eyed drow that had bested his earth elemental and convinced his hunting party to take his hands rather than his life. Drizzt hangs his head in abject sorrow for what his people had done, but Belwar wants to hear nothing of it. "Bah!" the honored burrow warden exclaims, "Your words spared me that day, and I've not forgotten it. Besides, I have new hands now." Belwar lifts up his arms, showing Drizzt an exquisite set of stone mason's tools, a hammer and pick axe, in place of hands. Belwar informs Drizzt that it was the decision of King Schnicktick to have the drow put to death. Though the King believed that Drizzt meant no harm to the city of Blingenstone, he feared the danger of keeping a drow in the city was too great, an army from Menzoberranzan might come and attack the city, using Drizzt as an excuse to declare war. Drizzt agrees with the assessment, and is so willing to end his life that he says he will not offer any resistance. Belwar replies, "No, you won't, for you'll not die this day. Ten years ago you saved my life Drizzt Do'urden. Honor demands I do the same." Belwar accepts the responsibility of having Drizzt in the city, both for the drow’s safety and that of the city at large. "So I'm not to die?" Drizzt asks. "Not unless you bring death upon yourself," is the answer.

Drizzt is plunged into the world of the deep gnomes of Blingenstone, an experience unlike anything he had ever encountered before in his life. Belwar had not only offered hospitality to another being, he offered safety, if not companionship. A drow would never offer such things, not to a enemy, let alone even a brother, unless there was money or power to be gained. Belwar acted in kindness, and he was now surrounded by former enemies who rose no hand against him. His entire outlook was now permanently changed.

Belwar leads Drizzt to his home, where they are met by guards assigned to Belwar by the King. The King has ordered the guards to stay until the truth of Drizzt's intentions are fully known. Belwar responds in anger, "Be Gone! This one is in my care and I fear him not at all!" The guard gnomes depart, and Belwar leads Drizzt into his home. He asks Drizzt how long he's been alone in the Underdark, and prompts the drow to tell him his story. Drizzt does just that, of his years in the house of Malice Do'urden and the eventual murder of his father, Zaknafein. He tells of his decision to forsake his dark kind and their even darker goddess, and tells of the loneliness of the Underdark, and of the Hunter who threatened to overtake him, body and soul. His story ends finally, late in the night, with his arrival at Blingenstone.

After that night, they spoke not much at all except for passing conversation. Belwar was a quiet sort who kept to his sculpting and spoke little. Drizzt, for his part, was not yet fully comfortable with the Svirfnebli language, so did not trust himself to speak well. That didn't stop the local gnomish children from being intrigued by the dark elf, and drawing him into their daily adventures. One day, the neighborhood children are debating the existence of a basilisk. There is a huge, life-sized statue of the beast near Belwar's home, and some of the children don't believe such a fantastic monster could exist. They ask Drizzt if he knows if they exists, and he states that not only had he met one, but he fought one. In great curiosity, they drag the drow to the statue and get him to re-enact his battle with the basilisk. He begin to show them, using two wooden staves to serve as his scimitars, and he quickly looses himself in the bloodlust of the Hunter, not stopping until he has broken off the head of the statue and worn his wooden staves down to stumps.

Drizzt, in speaking with Belwar later on, confesses his worry to his new friend. During his stay in Blingenstone among the gnomes, he believed he had freed himself from the Hunter, and was deathly scared with the ease the he slipped back into the psychosis. Belwar tells him not to worry overmuch, the Hunter was who he needed to become in order to survive in the wild Underdark. He is counseled to give the matter time, time and patience, and to relax since there were no enemies in the gnome city.

Outside the high stone walls of Blingenstone, the same could not be said. The zin-carla Zaknafein is slowly and surely gaining ground on his wayward son. He had found the cavern where Drizzt had lived for so long alongside the rothe and myconids, and slaughtered them all in his rage to destroy his target. Already the gnomes of Blingenstone are on high alert after finding the results of one such massacre of goblins by the former weapons master. The tention was building greatly each day, and soon the pressure would be too much for the key players in the drama to bear up under.

News of the goblin slaying quickly makes it back to King Schnicktick, and he and his counselors wonder what to make of it. They know for certain the attack was carried out by one or more drow because of the cleanness of the cuts they discover on the corpses. Schnicktick wonders if there is someone after "Belwar Dissengulp's drow," but Firble, at first, cautions against the line of reasoning, but then does admit they know little of Drizzt's background or why he left his home. What enemies had he made there that might have tracked him to their city. Schnicktick orders Firble to contact his spy network in Menzoberranzan and learn more about the Do'urden renegade.


Honor Regained

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The King and his councilors decide that Drizzt has proven his trustworthiness, and thus return his armor and scimitars. In additions to his arms, he is reunited with Guenhwyvar for the first time in many weeks. The councilor who had been given the task of examining the figurine did not wish to part with such a powerful and useful artifact, but they realized that Guen was much more of a friend and companion to Drizzt than she was a servant. Brickers, the burrow-warden who returns Guen, tries yet another time to entice Belwar on a mining expedition. In anger, Belwar refuses, and pushes the gnome out the door. When Drizzt asks, "You should go with them Belwar...or are you bound to stay here and watch over me?" Belwar indicates that it has nothing to do with that issue, and certainly nothing to do with his lack of hands. He could cut rock faster than anyone with his new hands. Belwar reveals that he cannot go because the last expedition he led ended in bloodshed, and he holds himself responsible. Drizzt argues in the converse, stating that it was his people and their evil intents that caused those deaths that day. Drizzt further baits Belwar by questioning his courage, a move which makes Belwar so angry he decides to go, saying, "Put on your swords, elf. If I'm to go, then so are you!"

Belwar, Drizzt and Guen join Brickers and his expedition. Brickers was happy to have the "most honored burrow-warden" along, as well as the extra blades and skill of the drow. They met no resistance on their way to the place where the mineral scout had identified as potentially owning a rich vein of ore. The scouts were correct, and the gnomes threw themselves into the work of excavation, not the least of which was Belwar who carved literal rings around the rest of the workers with his fantastic hammer and pickaxe hands. Belwar was truly happy for the first time in many, many years.

Drizzt spends his days during the expedition patrolling the surrounding caverns and tunnels with Guen, himself happy to be both free to roam, but able to return to friends and companions at the end of each day. When he ventured far from the expedition, he felt the Hunter try to rise up and overtake him, but he was stronger now, and able to push the beast back down and remain Drizzt Do'urden. Both Drizzt and Belwar returned from the expedition in great spirits, Belwar feeling he finally deserved the title of "most honored burrow-warden," and Drizzt finally at ease with himself and his place in the world.

Meanwhile in the caverns near Menzoberranzan, Firble meets with his contact, the infamous Jarlaxle. Firble asks about the increase of drow activity near Blingenstone, and Jarlaxle demands his usual exhorbitant payment, fifty finely cut agates. Jarlaxle assures Firble that no power in Menzoberranzan is moving against Blingenstone itself, but that one House is desperately searching for a renegade. After some more dealing, Jarlaxle names the renegade as Drizzt Do'urden, and warns him that if they know anything about Drizzt, then to keep him far away. The goddess Lolth herself wants the boy dead, and she stops at nothing to get her wishes. "Drizzt is doomed, and so doomed will be any foolish enough to stand beside him." Of course, Firble's reaction to the news confirms for Jarlaxle that the gnomes of Blingenstone indeed know of Drizzt and his whereabouts.

Firble hurries back to King Schnicktick with the news, who then promptly calls Drizzt to his presence. Drizzt had been enjoying his time among the gnomes since his return with the expedition. He had become something of a celebrity among the members of the mining group and their families, and so the summons to see the King was no surprise. The subject of the summons, however, was shocking to say the least.


Leaving Blingenstone

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The King announces his decision to put Drizzt out for the good of the city, a move with fairly enrages Belwar. Schnicktick explains that the increase of drow activity on their eastern border has been directly caused by Drizzt's presence, and Drizzt admits that his mother is continuing her search for him. Belwar is angered enough to directly berate his King, but Schnicktick says he has no further choice. "To keep Drizzt here would invite war with Menzoberranzan, and I will not put Blingenstone in jeopardy for the sake of a dark elf, even if he has shown himself to be a friend." Drizzt says he will be gone within the hour, and he parts ways with nothing but gratitude in his heart. Drizzt walks the streets of Blingenstone with Guen at his side. The citizens bow their heads with heavy hearts, hating what has become necessary for them to do. The drow and the great cat walk out of the gates of the stone walled city, and they thud shut behind him. He wondered how long he would be able to survive in the Underdark alone again but for the sometime companionship of Guenhwyvar. His kind measured their lifespans in centuries, and he had nearly lost himself to the Hunter in only a decade. How could he make it alone for hundreds of years?

Strolling through the gate, the pair are met by Belwar, who has decided to leave his home behind and join Drizzt in the dangerous Underdark. Drizzt is loathe to let him come along, but Belwar will not take no for an answer, taking off from the city walls and into the deepening darkness before the drow could stop him. The first thing they do is set up a false camp about a day's march from Blingenstone's walls to create a diversion for whoever it was tracking them. They then set off in the opposite direction, into the caverns west of the Svirfnebli city. Traveling only to stop when hunger or weariness overtook them. Along the way, Belwar would point out places to which he had been before on mining expeditions, and Drizzt began to wonder how many ways a gnome could talk about mining and carving stone. The elf hung on every word, knowing that the alternative was silence, and then the Hunter would come. With Belwar at his side, they entered the more dangerous parts of the Underdark, fighting off the natural monsters of the deep places, but never losing himself to the Hunter again. Belwar's companionship was the cure to his aching loneliness.

After walking for weeks and weeks, they come upon a cavern that is glowing with a bright light, and so they move to investigate. They enter a vast cavern filled with a sea of acid—the source of the light—and find the greatest danger they had yet faced. Set upon by overwhelming numbers of bird-men, the trio back into a tight defensive circle. Belwar slams his new "hands" together, yelling the magical gnomish word "Bivrip!", filling his implements with glowing magic which gives huge weight and force to his blows as they fight against the creatures. They fight for quite a while, but are sorely outnumbered.

Drizzt is able to hold it together until Guenhwyvar is knocked off the bridges above the glowing sea and into the acid bath itself. When Guen roars in pain, Drizzt uses the figurine to will the panther back to her home on the astral plane. Though severely hurt, Guen will recover and be fine within a few day, but the pain would be remembered. Because of the pain, Drizzt called up the Hunter and allowed him to take over. Belwar is left to watch in both horror and amazment as he sees the greatest display of warrior skill and swordsmanship he would ever experience. Drizzt was too fast, too precise, too deadly and seemed unreal to Belwar. It was as if his best friend had become Death itself.

Finally, even with the help of the Hunter, they are forced to flee, and Belwar has to eventually call out for Drizzt to stop, otherwise he would have run himself to exhaustion. Drizzt is full of fear that he let himself give sway to the Hunter again. He confessess to Belwar that he felt possessed by rage, his only desire was to kill them all, not out of self-defense, but out of darkness. Belwar tells him he was not acting out of rage, but rather out of instinct. "You saved us this day, Drizzt Do'urden. Do not apologize to me, or to yourself."

The pair continues on their journey. Drizzt calls Guen back to him after three days, here fur is singed, but otherwise she was fine and glad to see her friend. A few days later, they stumbled over exactly what they had been looking for, even though they had not exactly known they were searching. They come to a cavern with an underground lake fed by a fresh-running stream. It is small enough for the two of them to defend, and the lake would provide them with ample fish and crab for their sustenence. They were home.

Across the wilds of the Underdark, on the other side of Blingenstone, Zaknafein has found their fake encampment, and is in a rage over his continued failure to find his prey. It takes all of Malice's strength of will to reign him in and send him back on his way. Malice, though growing slightly weaker each day, warns her daughters to test her rule. Malice vows that she will remain strong, and that she will one day soon hold Drizzt heart in her hand, "No matter what the cost, we will triumph."


Clacker

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One day later, Drizzt and Belwar hear curious sounds outside their cavern. Drizzt remembers those sounds, and races out of the cavern yelling "Hook Horror!"Outside, he finds exactly what he thought it was, and gets his scimitars on the creatures neck, about to strike the killing blow. Just then, the monster speaks, something he believed a hook horror incapable of doing."No...not...monster..please..no..kill..me!" the thing manages to squawk. Drizzt stays his hand, and the creature says it is not a hook horror, but rather a thing called a "pech". Belwar knows of the pech by the name rock children, creatures whose only reason for being seems to be rock carving, and their numbers are very small. The pech tells that it was turned into a hook horror by an evil wizard, and does not know how long it has been that way, having lost all sence of time because it is no longer connected to the stone in its present form.

When Belwar asks the creature its name, it either does not have one, or it has forgotten, so Belwar names it "Clacker," a name which the pech approves. Belwar then intends to say goodbye to the creature and send it on its way, but Drizzt says they must allow it to be with them. Drizzt has pity on the creature, feeling akin to the creature being adrift and apart from itself, something similar to what he feels when he is overtaken by the Hunter. Belwar still thinks it is a bad idea, because a spell such as the one Clacker has undergone changes not only the body, but the mind as well, and in time he will cease to be a pech even in mind, but just a hook horror, and then he will be a great danger. Drizzt insists that they track down the wizard who did it, and then force him to unmake the spell.

So, the next day, they followed as Clacker tried to retrace his step to where the wizards was. The creature was easily confused, his memory clouded because of his transformation, and so he got them lost numerous time. Just as they were about to become too tired to go on, the entered a great tavern that was dominated by a huge tower made of pure adamantite. Belwar stands in awe at the sight, for adamantite is the toughest substance known in Faerun, and just a small amount is worth a king's ransom, and extrememly hard to work with. "How did he build such a thing?" the gnome asks. "Magic," is Drizzt's reply, with more than a hint of disdain in his voice. Drizzt's plan is to hide until the wizard appears, and then take him by surprise, but Clacker in his rage chooses otherwise. He rushes the tower and begins striking it with his claws, calling on the wizard to show himself. Drizzt and Belwar rush to the pech's aid, just as a bolt of lightning comes from above, forcing Drizzt to shove the pitiful creature out of the way. From inside the tower, the wizard rages, "Damnation! You ist going to pay dearly for that one. I vill keell you all!" (a german wizard?) Drizzt pulls out Guenhwyvar's figurine and holds it up near one of the bolt-holes carved in the adamantite tower's surface. When he calls on her, he will her to appear inside the walls, and the smoke that comes from the figurine that marks her appearance wafts through the crack and into the tower. Drizzt calls on the wizard to open the tower, to which he momentarily refuses, but then Guen's roar behind him persuades him otherwise.

Inside the tower, they see an empty octaganal chamber with only a wooden ladder leading up to the higher levels. Drizzt is somewhat taken aback to find a human living alone in the vastness of the underdark. Though he is a wizard, he is very nervous around Guen, perhaps not possessing the magical might necessary to hold her off if she chose to attack. Drizzt insists that the wizard, Brister Fendlestick, change Clacker back. He seems to be amenable to the deal, if for no other reason than to be rid of his unwanted visitors. As Brister retrieves his spellbook, the quips "Pech, useless little things," which sets Clacker off. Before either of his new friends can stop him, Clacker rushes the wizard, cutting him apart before he can defend himself. His only hope of restoration is now dead at his own hands.

The trio left the tower in silence. What Clacker had done was something no rational being would have perpetrated, but rather the act of a wild animal. Drizzt was beginning to believe that Belwar spoke the truth, that Clacker was slowly becoming more and more the monster each day. He hoped that when they reached the safety of their cavern home, they might find some other way to help the poor creature.

When they reached their home, they foudn it in total disarray. Belwar wondered if the bird-men had tracked them down, but Drizzt recognized the fine cuts in the belongings, the mark of a drow blade. Drizzt believes that his mother's assassins have tracked him down again, and so they abandon the only home Drizzt had ever felt he could completely call his own. The three of them pick up what few belongings remain intact, and run all the way through the day and long into the night without stopping, putting as much distance as possible between themselves and the evil drow. Eventually, they come to a cavern that is wide open, and seemingly a good place for habitation, but it is emply. Not only is it empty, but it seems totally devoid of any signs of life. "This isn't right," Belwar says warily. "It's too quiet." Suddenly, the three of them are hit by an unseen psionic force, and knocked unconscious. From the shadows, a group of illithids float into the cavern and hover over their fallen victims.


Slaves of the Illithids

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The illithids, creatures who rightly claimed the title of "mind flayers," using their inborn psionic abilities to twist the minds and desires of any creature that comes into their clutches. Creatures with enough skill were sent down into the mines to dig for jewels and precious metals. The more bestial creatures were sent to the areana to fight for sport, the illithids betting on each match. When such servants grew old, or outlived their usefulness, they became dinner as a final service to their master. Illithids could turn violent being docile, and the wildest animal into a domesticated pet. In turn, they could change a peace-loving individual into a violent and warlike barbarian. Such was the case with Belwar.

Belwar brought the highest price ever paid for a slave because he was well suited for the two most popular uses of slaves, the mines and the arena. The six illithids who had captured the three wanderers had made a great deal of profit on their catch, and were able to keep a magic item back from being auctioned off, the onyx figurine of Guenhwyvar. They were determined to learn its secrets. Meanwhile, Drizzt found himself in the center of the illithid castle as a servant to the Central Brain.

In the gladiatorial arena, Belwar is set to fight an ogre by his master, being told telepathically that beast had threatened the master, and that he should kill it. Belwar attacks with a ferocity not seen since the day he and his mining expedition had been attacked by Drizz't patrol group. He was severely outmuscled though, and was quickly in danger of losing his life. His illithid master frantically searched his new servant's mind to find an advantage, and locked onto the trigger word that activated the magic of Belwar's hands. Once this was done, the battle's outcome was a forgone conclusion, the Svirfnebli killing the huge ogre. So glad was Belwar to have "rescued" his master, he beamed a smile through his gore covered face.

While all this is going on, Guenhwyvar has been trapped on the astral plane. She remained unworried, it was not the first time Drizzt had not summoned her immdiately after her rest period, and she was busying herself hunting the entity of the Elk.

Hidden in the astral shadows were the remaining two illithid slavers, having finally deduced what the onyx figurines purpose was. They were observing Guen on her hunt, evaluting her worth and salivating at the weath she would bring her in the arena. Though they thought themselves hidden, Guen sensed the two and immediately recognized them as an enemy. She attacks, killing the astral presence of one, causing its death on the material plane. Then she does the extraordinary. Using the still living illithid as a portal, she jumps through its astral presence into the material plane, ripping it to shreds in the process. Scenting out Drizzt, she runs off into the hallways of the castle. During her flight, she launches herself from high above and lands in the Central Brain, killing it instantly and severing the control of most of the slaves held in thrall. All over the castle, illithids were driven down to their knees, wailing horribly in pain. Already in confusion from both Zak's arrival and Guen's romp through the castle the illithids were not equipped to deal with the fallout of the death of their god. As soon as the connections between masters and slaves were broken, slaves began revolting all over the castle, Belwar among them. Without thinking twice, he rose up against his former master and slew him with a stroke. Down in the bowels of the castle, Clacker was released from his bondage, and the hook horror aspect of his transformation took full control. Guen and Drizzt are reunited, and are immediately thrust into battle against Drizzt's overseer, a fight ended quickly by a sharp scimitar. After a brief encounter with the zin-carla spirit-wraith of Zaknafein, they escape the illithid castle and run for a day and a night.


Fleeing Zaknafein

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After Drizzt and the others put some distance between themselves and the illithid castle, he tells them that their attacker had been his father whom he thought had been sacrificed to the Spider Goddess. Drizzt then thanks Belwar for creating the wall and allowing them to escape. Belwar is confused, and states that such magic is beyond his skill, whereupon Clacker admits it was his doing. He tells of the pech and their connection to the earth, speaking of it as if it were a living, breathing thing. "It is, for those who can hear it," he says. "Yes, pech know that stone best of all. Better than even dwarves or gnomes. For and instant I was not this monster, I was pech—more pech than ever before. But now, I am falling" Drizzt determines they must help Clacker before it is too late, so he turns their direction back toward Menzoberranzan. When Belwar protest, Drizzt says that his former home is full of wizards who can undo the polymorph spell. When Belwar points out the danger to Drizzt, and asks what they could possibly offer a drow wizard in exchange for such a service. "The wizard's life," is Drizzt's baleful reply.

Drizzt leads his three friends as fast as he can back toward the hated drow city. In time, they came back to the familiar sight of the acid sea, home of the dreaded bird-men. Realistically, they should go around the dangerous cavern, but Drizzt was concerned that every spare moment would count, and every second lost would hasten Clacker being lost to the monster inside. When they enter the cavern, they find it completely empty, no sign of the bird-men remains. They wonder if they cleared them out the last time they passed through, or is someone else had. Clacker reaches the end of the cavern and exits, letting out a blood-curdling scream. Clacker comes back into the cavern with a gaping chest wound and falls over dead. He finally reverts back to his original form, finding the peace in death that his life had cheated from him.
From the shadows springs Zaknafein, his blades flying. "You're not my father," Drizzt yells. Another voice comes through Zak's mouth, "No. I am... your mother." Malice presses the attack, slashing Drizzt across the cheek, a move which makes Drizzt finally give in to the Hunter. Even with the added advantage of fighting purely on skill and instinct, Zak fought his son to a standstill. This makes Drizzt think that Zak is still inside the undead body somewhere, so he lowers his scimitars and refuses to fight. Malice takes the advantage, and moves Zak for a killing blow, but the old weapons-master pulls his blades just short of his son's neck. Malice screams at him over their connection, and Zak is able to strike back and momentarily overcome the control. Zak, the real Zak is now back in control, but he warns Drizzt back. Drizzt thinks they can be together again, but Zak explains that he is still dead, and would rather return to death than cause harm to his son. He tells Drizzt how proud he is of him for not only his fighting skill, but even more so for his courage to do what he had never done and leave Menzoberranzan.


Saying Goodbye

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Drizzt and Belwar bury Clacker, and also raise a beir for Zaknafein, believing he deserved a proper grave to mark his passing from the world. Belwar prayed to his gods for the soul of Clacker, while Drizzt, having forsaken his people's evil goddess, hoped that his father was finally at peace. Their trials over, they head to Blingenstone, Belwar believing they can go back and live in the city in peace now that Drizzt was no longer hunted. When they come to the city gates, Drizzt tells Belwar he cannot stay, and means to depart to yet another place in an effort to get further away from his evil kind, and take their vengeance toward him as far as possible from the only people he had ever met and truly come to care for. Belwar insists he come with Drizzt, but Drizzt will not allow it and bids a final farewell and thank you. Calling Guenhwyvar from her astral home, the two of them travel for weeks, Drizzt retracing his steps along a path he had travels well over a decade before. He could no longer stay in the Underdark. Even though his mother was dead and his House fallen, Lolth and Baenre would not rest until they had tracked him down and slain him. He also could not stay lest the madness of the Hunter claim him forever, so there was only one place left to go.

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