A/N: This chapter is hopefully a bit better than the first. I know the first wasn't as great as it could have been. Enjoy!
Drizzt feared the possibilities of a future war. The dark elf did not believe Ten-Towns could survive through war, especially not when Icewind Dale was about to enter winter! Could the people of Ten-Towns succeed in defending their towns?
As much as the dark elf dreaded having to leave his mountainside cliff after having just arrived there, Drizzt knew he had to act immediately. He hastily picked his way down the mountain's steep slope, Guenhwyvar guiding him whenever possible with small growls. Drizzt, skilled and nimble even for a drow, easily but carefully maneuvered his way to the ground. By this time, the sun had nearly set.
He could not get the small and surely new settlement off his mind. Were they friend or were they foe?
The drow needed to learn more. "Guenhwyvar," he called softly. The cat sprang over to Drizzt effortlessly. "Go to them, my friend. Stall their progress, if need be, until I arrive there. I will be as closely to you as possible." The panther's intelligent eyes told him that she understood perfectly, and the great cat bounded across the barren landscape to fulfill her master's request.
Drizzt began to feel doubtful. Would Cassius, the spokesman of Bryn Shander of Ten-Towns, believe the dark elf if he warned them of the new danger? The dark elf knew that if the spokesman of Bryn Shander, the leading town of Ten-Towns, did not believe him, then none of the others would. Drizzt dearly hoped this new settlement would bring no threat to Ten-Towns.
Snow muffled Drizzt's footsteps as he trekked through the growing darkness. The dark elf preferred the night, as this was the time of the drow. Drizzt had, after all, grown up in the lightless underworld known as the Underdark. Many of the Underdark's inhabitants had adapted to its darkness by being able to switch their eyesight into the infrared spectrum, where one sees heat variations rather than light. The moonlight, however, prevented Drizzt from switching his eyesight over to the infrared spectrum.
Upon arrival, Guenhwyvar silently joined him. Drizzt gave the cat another grateful pat, then ordered her to hide. "If you find I am in need of your help," he told her, "do not hesitate to come to my aid! But come down only if you must."
After the six hundred pound panther stalked off to find a suitable hiding place overlooking the settlement, Drizzt again turned toward it. A bonfire flared to life in the center, and Drizzt wondered at these strange people. Barbarians often lit bonfires within their own respectable tribes, but never before had Drizzt seen the tribes of Icewind Dale build such permanent-looking homes.
From how well structured the buildings had been made, Drizzt assumed the visitors would stay for a few months. The drow crept closer, keenly searching for any who might spot him. As Drizzt drew nearer, he saw tall figures dancing around the bonfire. Drizzt's mind quickly thought of a theory where the barbarians had finally decided to settle down, trade with Ten-Towns, and live a life of luxury. The problem with his theory, he quickly understood, was that the figures dancing around the blazing fire were far too lean to be barbarians.
Drizzt crept ever closer. By the time he reached the settlement's perimeters, a half hour later, he hastily jumped into the shadows of a nearby house to prevent any sightings of him. Making sure his stark white hair was not falling from the hood of his cloak, he peered around the corner of the building. When he heard a resident of the settlement speak, he immediately relaxed.
Surface elves had come to Icewind Dale.
The drow backed away from the house corner and stalked off into the night to find Guenhwyvar and return home. Thoughts of housing temporarily in a cave nearby appealed to Drizzt, but he knew no caves would be found within miles. His cave was one of the closest to this spot.
He arrived home with high spirits, thinking to return to the settlement the next day to welcome the Surface elves. Drizzt placed the onyx figurine that resembled his panther friend on the ground. "Go home, Guenhwyvar," he told her softly, referring to the Astral Plane on which the cat lived.
The next day arrived slowly for Drizzt, but when it did, the drow could not contain his excitement. Though he was rejected from every town south of Ten-Towns, Drizzt had a small reputation among the Surface elves. Many an elf recognized the name Drizzt Do'Urden from past deeds, and he was confident that this band would be no different. And if they do not know his name like many of their peoples, Drizzt would show them he was different from other drow, that he had forsaken his people. He would tell them he is a ranger. He would gain their trust. And if he couldn't, the worst thing that could possibly happen is they leave. What could go wrong?
By midday he was already halfway to the settlement. He was beginning to grow nervous. He was used to and accepted rejection from others, but the thought always stung him. Would the elves, like so many others, turn him away with swords bared and arrows flying?
Drizzt made himself clearly visible to the elves by walking boldly toward them in his black traveling cloak. The elves, with their eyesight as keen as his, became wary and defensive. Still, he strode forward, showing no signs of threat.
"Stop where you are, drow!" called an elf standing in the front among many other elves, apparently the leader. As Drizzt had anticipated, swords were being drawn and arrows notched on bows.
"I come in peace," he said calmly. "I am Drizzt Do'Urden."
The elf raised his own bow. "I care not who you are. Stay where you are, do not advance and do not retreat. If you do, a shower of arrows will cross your path."
Drizzt, stunned by this attitude of the elf, froze. He had not expected this sort of welcome.
"Why have you walked so boldly into our midst, drow?" the elf demanded to know.
The dark elf did not answer immediately. These Surface elves did not recognize him, therefore he had to prove himself to them. "I am not like other drow," he began clearly.
"I do not care if you are or not!" the elf spat. "You are drow, are you not? A drow is a drow, full of trickery and murderous thoughts, no matter what they say! Bind him!"
A large group of Surface elves ran out with ropes and bound Drizzt with think ropes. He did not resist, trying to show that he was truly different. But the elves all glared at him. They escorted him into the settlement, then led him to an empty building. Roughly, they pushed him inside, then slammed the door shut. Drizzt sat there for a while in confusion. He had never been treated so brutally by Surface elves before, even before he'd made himself known among the elves.
After a while, the door opened, and the elf that had stood at the front of the group entered. "Now," he began with an almost cruel edge to his voice, "are you going to tell me why you have invaded our home? Or are you planning on telling us, yet again, how you're different from the others of your people?"
Drizzt fearlessly stared into the elves eyes. "I am no threat to you, if that is your worry. You can ask the people of Ten-Towns that." The elf began to look annoyed. "I came to ask why you and your Surface elf friends have come to Icewind Dale. I have never heard of Surface elves coming here before. Did something terrible happen to your original home?"
The Surface elf cocked his head, apparently becoming interested in the dark elf. In a slightly, more friendlier tone, he said, "Yes, yes something awful did happen to us. But before I say anything more, I must take the time to introduce myself. I am Liom, currently leading this small settlement of elves." He paused, then began his story. "We are all that is left of our forest home." Drizzt noted with uncertainty that there was a gleam in the elf's eye, something that made him feel suspicious of Liom's story. "Some people from a cold, barren place came to us. They were humans. They said that they could help us all live better lives, and, foolishly, some elves agreed to it. The humans lit our forest on fire, and we all struggled to get out before we succumbed to its flames. Now, we seek vengeance. You see, just before they set fire to our forest, we heard them yell something about Icewind Dale. And so we are here to destroy Ten-Towns, and all that live there!"
The drow knew there was something wrong. For one thing, he knew Surface elves were not so vengeful. Another problem he noted from that story was that he knew that no large group of humans had left Ten-Towns at all that year. But why would the Surface elves lie to him?
"So, drow, you say you are not like others of your race? How so?"
Drizzt hesitated, unsure how honestly he should answer. "I have no thirst for murder," he admitted slowly. "I have forsaken my people and created my home in Icewind Dale. I protect the people of Ten-Towns from as much harm as one drow can prevent."
The Surface elf did not seem too happy about this. "I see," he murmured. "Well, Drizzt, it was a pleasure to meet you. I look forward to meeting you continually throughout the next few months. Please do feel free to visit us. I'm quite sure you've matters at your home to deal with, so please do not let us stop you from completing them."
The elf cut the bindings from Drizzt's wrists, and he did not know how to react. The question he had believed to be answered loomed before him again: Were these visitors friend or foe? "Yes," he replied quietly, thinking to get to know these elves better. "I look forward to future meetings with you as well, Liom."
Drizzt was escorted more gently than before to the settlement boundary. The elves all glared at him, but all had strict orders not to harm Drizzt. The dark elf was uncomfortable with these strange Surface elves, and their presence made him feel uneasy. Should he warn Ten-Towns? And if they did, would they fear Surface elves, of all creatures?
The drow's mind whirled with confusing questions as he made his way home.