turned and grabbed Deudermont, dragging him to the opening and unceremoniously dropping him in.

The stench was awful, worse than the captain would have expected even from a sewer, and when he managed to shift about and get his face out of the muck, he understood the source.

Scaramundi, it had to be Scaramundi, lay beside him, caked in blood, more than half of his torso torn away, eaten by the creature. Deudermont jumped as the sewer grate clanked back into place, and then he lay still, horrified and helpless, knowing that he would soon share the same grisly fate.


Some time later, Drizzt was beginning to worry. Robillard had already left the Mermaid's Arms, disgusted that his captain, as he had put it, 'couldn't be counted on.' Waillan Micanty was still at the bar beside Drizzt, though the young man had taken up a conversation with another sailor on the other side of him.

Drizzt, his back to the bar, continued to survey the crowd, perfectly at ease among the sailors. It hadn't always been so. Drizzt had come through Waterdeep only twice before he and Catti-brie had left Mithril Hall, first on his way to Calimport chasing Entreri, and on the return trip, when he and his friends were making their way back to reclaim Mithril Hall. Drizzt had made that first passage through the city in disguise, using a magical mask to appear as a surface elf. The second journey through, made without the mask, had been a trickier proposition. The Sea Sprite had put into Waterdeep Harbor in early morning but, at Deudermont's request, Drizzt and his friends had waited until after dark to leave the city for the road to the east.

Upon his return to Waterdeep with Catti-brie six years ago, Drizzt had dared to walk openly as a drow. It had been an uncomfortable experience, eyes were upon him every step, and more than one ruffian had challenged him. Drizzt had avoided those challenges, but knew that sooner or later, he would have to fight, or even worse, he would be slain from afar, likely by a hidden bowman, for no better reason than the color of the skin.

Then the Sea Sprite had put in and Drizzt had found Deudermont, his old friend and a man of considerable reputation among the docks of the great city. Soon after, Drizzt had become widely accepted in Waterdeep, particularly all along Dock Street, because of his personal reputation, spread in no small way by Captain Deudermont. Wherever the Sea Sprite docked, it was made clear that Drizzt Do'Urden, this most unusual of dark elves, was a member of her heroic crew. Drizzt's road had been easier, had even become comfortable.

And through it all, Catti-brie and Guenhwyvar had been beside him. He looked to them now, the young woman sitting at a table with two of the Sea Sprite's crew, the great panther curled up on the floor about her legs. Guenhwyvar had become a mascot to the patrons of the Mermaid's Arms, and Drizzt was glad that he could sometimes call in the cat, not for battle, but simply for companionship. Drizzt wondered which reason would hold this day. Catti-brie had requested the panther, saying her feet were cold, and Drizzt had agreed, but in the back of the drow's mind was the realization that Deudermont might be in trouble. Guenhwyvar might be needed for more than companionship.

The drow surely relaxed a moment later, blew out a deep sigh of relief as Captain Deudermont walked into the Mermaid's Arms, glanced around, then focused on Drizzt and sidled up to the bar.

'Calimshan wine,' the doppleganger said to the bartender, for it had scoured Deudermont's mind and knew that to be the man's customary drink. In the short time they had spent together, the doppleganger had learned much of Captain Deudermont and of the Sea Sprite.

Drizzt turned about and leaned over the bar. 'You are late,' he remarked, trying to feel the captain out, trying to discern if there had been any trouble.

'A minor problem,' the impostor assured him.

'What is it, Guen?' Catti-brie asked softly as the panther's head came up, the cat looking in the direction of Drizzt and Deudermont, her ears flattened against her head and a low growl resonating from her strong body. 'What do ye see?'

Guenhwyvar continued to watch the pair closely, but Catti-brie dismissed the cat's temperament, figuring there must be a rat or the like in the far corner beyond Drizzt and the captain.

'Caerwich,' the impostor announced to Drizzt.

The ranger regarded the man curiously. 'Caerwich?' he echoed. Drizzt knew the name; every sailor along the Sword Coast knew the name of the tiny island, which was too small and remote to appear on the vast majority of nautical charts.

'We must put out at once for Caerwich,' the impostor explained, looking Drizzt directly in the eye. So perfect was the disguise of the doppleganger that Drizzt hadn't the slightest idea that anything was amiss.

Still, the request sounded strange to Drizzt. Caerwich was a shipboard story, a tale of a haunted island that played home to a blind witch. Many doubted its existence, though some sailors claimed to have visited the place. Certainly Drizzt and Deudermont had never spoken of it. For the captain to announce that they must go there caught the drow completely by surprise.

Again Drizzt studied Deudermont, this time noting the man's stiff mannerisms, noting how uncomfortable Deudermont seemed in this place, which had always been his favorite among the taverns of Dock Street. Drizzt believed something had unnerved Deudermont. Whatever had delayed his arrival at the Mermaid's Arms-Drizzt figured it to be a visit by one of Waterdeep's secretive lords, perhaps even mysterious Khelben-had upset Deudermont greatly. Perhaps Deudermont's announcement wasn't so out of place. Many times in the last six years, the Sea Sprite, the tool of Waterdeep's Lords, had been assigned private, unusual missions, and so the drow accepted the information without question.

What both Drizzt and the doppleganger hadn't counted on was Guenhwyvar, who crouched so low that her belly brushed against the floor as she inched for Deudermont's back, her ears flat.

'Guenhwyvar!' Drizzt scolded.

The doppleganger spun about, putting its back to the wooden bar just as Guenhwyvar charged in, coming up high and pinning

the creature to the bar. Had the doppleganger kept its wits and played the innocent victim, it might have talked its way out of the predicament. But the creature recognized Guenhwyvar, or at least the fact that this panther was not of the Prime Material Plane. And if the doppleganger instinctively recognized that about the panther, it figured the panther would recognize the same.

Purely on instinct, the creature batted Guenhwyvar with its forearm, the weight of the blow launching the six-hundred pound cat halfway across the wide room.

No human could do that, and when the impostor looked again at Drizzt, it found that the drow had his scimitars in hand.

'Who are you?' Drizzt demanded.

The creature hissed and grabbed at the blades, catching one. Drizzt struck, tentatively and with the flat of his free blade, for he feared that this might be Deudermont under some type of enchantment. He smacked the impostor on the side of the neck.

The creature caught the blade in its open hand, and it rushed forward and bowled Drizzt aside.

The rest of those in the tavern were up then, most thinking it one of the typical fights. But the crew of the Sea Sprite, particularly Catti-brie, realized the absolute strangeness of the scene.

The doppleganger made for the door, slapping aside the one confused sailor, one of the Sea Sprite's crewmen, who stood in its way.

Catti-brie had her bow ready, and she put an arrow, trailing silvery sparks, into the wall right beside the creature's head. The doppleganger spun to face her, hissed loudly, and was subsequently buried by six hundred pounds of flying panther. This time Guenhwyvar recognized the strength of her foe and by the time the two had sorted out their tumble, the great cat was sitting on the doppleganger's back, her powerful jaws clamped tight on the nape of the thing's neck. Drizzt was there in an instant, followed closely by Catti-brie, Waillan Micanty and the rest of the crew, and more than a few curious onlookers, including the proprietor of the Mermaid's Arms, who wanted to get a look at the damage from that enchanted arrow.

'What are you?' Drizzt demanded, grabbing the impostor by the hair and turning its head so that he could look into its face. Drizzt rubbed his free hand across the thing's cheek, looking for makeup, but found none. He

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