The group of drow adventurers -- Quenthel Baenre, Pharaun Mizzrym, Jeggred Baenre, Halisstra Melarn, Danifae Yauntyrr, Ryld Argith, and Valas Hune -- are continuing to seek answers for Silence of Lolth. Escaping through a portal from the fall of Ched Nasad, they wind up in the ruins of the Netherese city Hlaungadath in Anauroch. They commit to seeking help from another god by contacting Valas's acquaintance Tzirik, a priest of Vhaeraun, whom Valas last saw in the the Labyrinth in the Northdark. Pharaun is able to shadow walk the group there, but they find that House Jaelre has left for the surface.
Meanwhile, Nimor Imphraezl and the drow princes of the Jaezred Chaulssin are plotting the downfall of Menzoberranzan, just as they had facilitated the fall of Ched Nasad. Nimor first approaches the King Horgar Steelshadow of the duergar city Gracklstugh, promising him a way to defeat the drow. His plan includes uniting multiple allies, namely House Agrach Dyrr to have them turn on their fellow drow, and the untrustworthy half-demon warlord Kaanyr Vhok and his tanarukk army.
As part of Nimor's plot, the Archmage of Menzoberranzan, Gromph Baenre, is approached by Lichdrow Lord Dyrr. When Gromph refuses to join with Dyrr in a coup against the matriarchy of Menzoberranzan, Dyrr banishes him to an unknown location. After his disappearance, the city's wizards are distracted by their attempts to determine who will be the next archmage; Matron Mother Triel Baenre orders the wizard Nauzhror Baenre to support a candidate from House Xorlarrin or House Agrach Dyrr in order to solidify an alliance.
Quenthel's group take a portal from the Labyrinth to Cormanthor and, with the help of a spell cast by Pharaun, are able to determine in which direction to travel to find House Jaelre and Tzirik. Along the way, they are attacked by the forces of Elventree. Halisstra is captured, but the others escape and make it to Minauthkeep, the home House Jaelre. They solicit Tzirik's help to contact his god to find out what has happened to Lolth, but he first insists that they help Jezz the Lame retrieve Geildirion of Cimbar book from the lair of a beholder in the ruins of Myth Drannor. Once the book is obtained, Tzirik reveals that he has learned Lolth is alive but not speaking or leaving her temple in the Demonweb Pits. Meanwhile, Halisstra escape her captor, the Lord Dessaer, by killing Seyll Auzkovyn when the Eilistraeean priestess attempts to convert her.
Back in the Underdark, Nimor, posing as "Captain Zheyemd" of House Agrach Dyrr, leads Menzoberranzan's Army of the Black Spider to a trap at the Pillars of Woe. They are ambushed by the duergar army and Vhok's forces, and they are betrayed by the soldiers of Agrach Dyrr. A quarter to a third of the drow army is lost before Triel Baenre learns of the tide of battle and sends House Baenre forces to rescue them. The army retreats to Menzoberranzan in preparation for a siege, while the opposing armies pursue them.
Quenthel's group decide to take up Tzirik's offer to take their souls directly to the Demonweb Pits via astral projection to seek Lolth themselves. Once there, Lolth does not respond to any of their entreaties. Tzirik opens a gate and brings his own god, Vhaeraun directly into the domain of Lolth, where he attempts to slay the goddess. Selvetarm interferes and drags himself and Vhaeraun to the bottom of the Pits. Quenthel's group fights Tzirik in an attempt to save Lolth and escape, but are only successful when Jeggred, who was left behind to guard their bodies, slays Tzirik. However, their faith in Lolth -- particularly Halisstra's -- has been badly shaken.
- Halisstra Melarn, Ched Nasadan priestess of Lolth
- Pharaun Mizzrym, Menzoberranyr wizard
- Quenthel Baenre, Menzoberranyr priestess of Lolth
- Valas Hune, Menzoberranyr scout of Bregan D'aerthe
- Jeggred Baenre, draegloth son of Triel Baenre
- Danifae Yauntyrr, Eryndlyn battle captive of Halisstra
- Ryld Argith, Menzoberranyr warrior
- Nimor Imphraezl, "Anointed One" of the Jaezred Chaulssin
- Gromph Baenre, Archmage of Menzoberranzan
- Horgar Steelshadow, Crown Prince of Gracklstugh
- Lord Dyrr, Lichdrow
- Selvetarm, the champion of Lolth (god)
- Triel Baenre, matron mother of House Baenre
- Tzirik, Vhaeraunite priest
- Vhaeraun, the Masked Lord (god)
- Aliisza, alu-fiend consort to Kaanyr Vhok
- Andzrel Baenre, weaponsmaster of House Baenre
- Dessaer, Lord of Elventree
- Ghevel Coalhewer, boat owner in Gracklstugh
- Jezz the Lame, member of House Jaelre
- Kaanyr Vhok, Lord of Ammarindar
- Lolth, the Spider Queen (goddess) (mentioned)
- Nauzhror Baenre, wizard of House Baenre
- Seyll Auzkovyn, priestess of Eilistraee in Elventree
- Zal'therra Baenre, priestess and commander of the Army of the Black Spider
- Zammzt, prince of Jaezred Chaulssin
- Cormanthor: Elventree, Minauthkeep, Myth Drannor
- Demonweb Pits, Abyss
- Northdark: Rhazzt's Dilemma, Labyrinth, Lustrum, Pillars of Woe