Robert Salvatore: The Pirate King

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Robert Salvatore The Pirate King
  • Название:
    The Pirate King
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  • Жанр:
    Фэнтези / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2008
  • Язык:
    Английский
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The Pirate King: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Drizzt returns to Luskan, and the Realms will never be the same! The Arcane Brotherhood has long held the city of Luskan in their power, but when corruption eats away at their ranks, Captain Deudermont comes to the rescue of a city that has become a safe haven for the Sword Coast's most dangerous pirates. But rescuing a city from itself may not be as easy as Deudermont thinks, and when Drizzt can't talk him out of it, he'll be forced to help. Drizzt is back in action again, and bringing more changes to the Forgotten Realms setting. This all new hardcover adventure will keep Drizzt fans guessing the whole way, with edge-of-your-seat action and plot twists that even the most casual reader of the Forgotten Realms novel line can't afford to miss!

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The Pirate King

The second book in the Forgotten Realms: Transitions series

R A Salvatore

PRELUDE

S uljack, one of the five high captains ruling Luskan and a former commander of one of the most successful pirate crews ever to terrorize the Sword Coast, was not easily intimidated. An extrovert who typically bellowed before he considered his roar, his voice often rang loudest among the ruling council. Even the Arcane Brotherhood, who many knew to be the true power in the city, were hard-pressed to cow him. He ruled Ship Suljack, and commanded a solid collection of merchants and thugs from Suljack Lodge, in the south central section of Luskan. It was not a showy or grand place, certainly nothing to match the strength of High Captain Taerl’s four-spired castle, or High Captain Kurth’s mighty tower, but it was well-defended and situated comfortably near the residence of Rethnor, Suljack’s closest ally among the captains.

Still, Suljack found himself on unsteady ground as he walked into the room in Ten Oaks, the palace of Ship Rethnor. The old man Rethnor wasn’t there, and wasn’t supposed to be. He spoke through what seemed to be the least intimidating man in the room, the youngest of his three sons.

But Suljack knew that appearances could be deceiving.

Kensidan, a small man, well-dressed in dull gray and black tones, and well-groomed, with his hair cut short in all the appropriate angles and clips, sat with a leg crossed over one knee in a comfortable chair in the center-back of the plain room. He was sometimes called “The Crow,” as he always wore a high-collared black cape, and high black shoes that tied tightly halfway up his calf. He walked with an awkward gait, stiff-legged like a bird. Put that together with his long, hooked nose, and any who saw him would immediately understand the nick-name, even a year ago, before he’d first donned the high-collared cape. Any minor wizard could easily discern that there was magic in that garment, powerful magic, and such items were often reputed to affect changes on their bearer. As with the renowned girdle of dwarvenkind, which gradually imparted the characteristics of a dwarf to its wearer, so too Kensidan’s cloak seemed to be acting upon him. His gait grew a bit more awkward, and his nose a bit longer and more hooked.

His muscles were not taut, and his hands were not calloused. Unlike many of Rethnor’s men, Kensidan didn’t decorate his dark brown hair. He carried nothing flashy at all on his person. Furthermore, the cushions of the seat made him appear even smaller, but somehow, inexplicably, all of it seemed to work for him.

Kensidan was the center of the room, with everyone leaning in to hear his every soft-spoken word. And whenever he happened to twitch or shift in his seat, those nearest him inevitably jumped and glanced nervously around.

Except, of course, for the dwarf who stood behind and to the right of Kensidan’s chair. The dwarf’s burly arms were crossed over his barrel chest, their flowing lines of corded muscles broken by the black, beaded braids of his thick beard. His weapons stabbed up diagonally behind him, spiked heads dangling at the end of glassteel chains. No one wanted a piece of that one, not even Suljack. Kensidan’s “friend,” recently imported muscle from the east, had waged a series of fights along the docks that had left any and all opposing him dead or wishing they were.

“How fares your father?” Suljack asked Kensidan, though he hadn’t yet pried his eyes from the dangerous dwarf. He took his seat before and to the side of Kensidan.

“Rethnor is well,” Kensidan answered.

“For an old man?” Suljack dared remark, and Kensidan merely nodded.

“There is a rumor that he wishes to retire, or that he already has,” Suljack went on.

Kensidan put his elbows on the arms of his chair, finger-locked his hands together, and rested his chin upon them in a pensive pose.

“Will he announce you as his replacement?” Suljack pressed.

The younger man, barely past his mid-twenties, chuckled a bit at that, and Suljack cleared his throat.

“Would that eventuality displease you?” asked the Crow.

“You know me better than that,” Suljack protested.

“And what of the other three?”

Suljack paused to consider that for a moment then shrugged. “It’s not unexpected. Welcomed? Perhaps, but with a wary eye turned your way. The high captains live well, and don’t wish to upset the balance.”

“Their ambition falls victim to success, you mean.”

Again Suljack shrugged and said lightheartedly, “Isn’t enough ever enough?”

“No,” Kensidan answered simply, with blunt and brutal honesty, and once again Suljack found himself on shifting sands.

Suljack glanced around at the many attendants then dismissed his own. Kensidan did likewise—except for his dwarf bodyguard. Suljack looked past the seated man sourly.

“Speak freely,” Kensidan said.

Suljack nodded toward the dwarf.

“He’s deaf,” Kensidan explained.

“Can’t hear a thing,” the dwarf confirmed.

Suljack shook his head. What he meant to say needed saying, he told himself, and so he started, “You are serious about going after the brotherhood?”

Kensidan sat expressionless, emotionless.

“There are more than a hundred wizards who call the Hosttower home,” Suljack announced.

No response, not a whit.

“Many of them archmages.”

“You presume that they speak and act with a singular mind,” said Kensidan finally.

“Arklem Greeth holds them fast.”

“No one holds a wizard fast,” Kensidan replied. “Theirs is the most selfish and self-serving of professions.”

“Some say that Greeth has cheated death itself.”

“Death is a patient opponent.”

Suljack blew out a frustrated sigh. “He consorts with devils!” he blurted. “Greeth is not to be taken lightly.”

“I take no one lightly,” Kensidan assured him, a clear edge to his words.

Suljack sighed again and managed to calm himself. “I’m wary of them, is all,” he explained more quietly. “Even the people of Luskan know it now, that we five high captains, your father among us, are puppets to the master Arklem Greeth. I’ve been so long under his thumb I’ve forgotten the feel of wind breaking over the prow of my own ship. Might be that it’s time to take back the wheel.”

“Past time. And all we need is for Arklem Greeth to continue to feel secure in his superiority. He weaves too many threads, and only a few need unravel to unwind his tapestry of power.”

Suljack shook his head, clearly less than confident.

“Thrice Lucky is secured?” Kensidan asked.

“Maimun sailed this morning, yes. Is he to meet with Lord Brambleberry of Waterdeep?”

“He knows what he is to do,” Kensidan replied.

Suljack scowled, understanding that to mean that Suljack need not know. Secrecy was power, he understood, though he was far too emotional a thug to ever keep a secret for long.

It hit Suljack then, and he looked at Kensidan with even more respect, if that was possible. Secrecy was the weight of the man, the pull that had everyone constantly leaning toward him. Kensidan had many pieces in play, and no one saw more than a few of them.

That was Kensidan’s strength. Everyone around him stood on shifting sand, while he was rooted in bedrock.

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