An excerpt from R.A. Salvatore’s latest novel, “Neverwinter: The Neverwinter Saga, Book II.’’
They had hoped to make Port Llast that night, but the weather turned foul and it was not to be. They set their camp under an overhang of rock on a high bluff some distance from the road, but in sight of it. Chill rain poured down, and an occasional streak of lightning split the sky. Drizzt managed to get a campfire burning, though it stayed low and sputtering. Whenever the wind swirled, both he and Dahlia found themselves coughing in the smoke.
But still, it was not so bad for Drizzt. How could it be? He was on the road again, and with the promise of adventure awaiting him at every turn. The road was filled with danger, the forests full of wild things, and the land untamed. Even the cities ahead, first Port Llast then Luskan, would keep him on his edge, would keep his hands in easy reach of his blades.
He sat with his back against the stone and stole glances at Dahlia as she ate, as she paced, as she stretched her road-weary muscles. . . . . She was out near the front edge of the overhang, her back to him, the swirls of rain catching her just a bit. She stood on her toes and peered into the distance, her diagonally-cut skirt riding up high and affording Drizzt a long look at her shapely legs.
The drow smiled and shook his head. She knew he was watching her. Dahlia played a game, like the kiss when she sat behind him on Andahar, or the way in which she’d wrapped her arms around him for the hard ride.
“Douse the fire.’’ Dahlia glanced at him over her shoulder.
Drizzt’s smile disappeared and he stared at her curiously.
“We’re not alone.’’
With a single slide of his boot, Drizzt pushed a mound of dirt that had been strategically placed for just this purpose and killed the flames. He scrambled to his feet and stared into the rain, but saw nothing. Dahlia reached her arm out in front of him and guided his gaze.
A torch’s glow flickered from behind distant trees, down along the road.
“They’re moving,’’ Dahlia said.
“Along the road, at night, in this deluge?’’
“Highwaymen . . . or soldiers of some warlord or another,’’ Dahlia reasoned. “Or some monstrous group, perhaps.’’
“Perhaps it’s only a merchant caravan seeking shelter?’’
Dahlia shook her head. “What merchant would so imperil his wagon or his team by moving along a muddy and unstable road in the dark? If he broke a wheel or hobbled his horse, it would likely prove fatal.’’
“Unless they’re fleeing from trouble already found,’’ said Drizzt, and he scooped up his weapon belt.
“You intend to go out to them?’’ Dahlia asked in an almost mocking tone.
Drizzt looked at her as if the answer was, or should be, obvious.