|“||Hostile in ways that a surface-dweller could never know, the tunnel-mazes of the Underdark challenge all who tread there. Among these souls are Drizzt Do'Urden and his magical cat, Guenhwyvar. Exiled from his drow homeland, Drizzt must fight for a new home in the boundless labyrinth. Meanwhile, he must watch for signs of pursuit—for the dark elves are not a forgiving race.||”|
The story begins 10 years after the events of Homeland, the events begin in Menzoberranzan, where Matron Malice and the rest of the Do'Urden family are still waging war with House Hun'ett. With the help of renegade Jarlaxle and his group Bregan D'aerthe, the Do'Urden family win the fight moving them to Eighth position in the Menzo hierarchy. Meanwhile, Drizzt is living out in the wilds of the Underdark. He lives in a small cavern inhabited by himself and a group of Fungus-men or Myconids. The story starts with Drizzt fighting a basilisk invading his territory, which he defeats. He then hears voices from down a few corridors and decides to investigate. He uses his levitation skills to fly onto a ridge to watch. A group of svirfnebli (deep gnomes) are mining, and Drizzt watches over them for a while. When the Gnomes have filled their wheel-barrows to the top, they leave to return home. Drizzt follows them, and when they arrive in a cavern outside the city doors, Drizzt sneaks through their defenses and watches them arrive home. He decides not to follow them in, that this adventure had taken him to his limits.
Back in Menzoberranzan, Matron Malice goes to council with Matron Baenre, where it is revealed to her that Matron SiNafay Hun'ett is to join the Do'Urden family under the alias of Shi'nayne - the eldest daughter who has returned from her travels of distant drow city Ched Nasad. After several ten-days pass, Dinin and Briza with a small group of soldiers are searching for Drizzt in the tunnels of the Underdark, so that they can capture and kill him, and regain the favour of the Spider Queen, Lolth. Drizzt and Guenhwyvar hear the party, and try evading them, although he does not yet realize that the House emblem he carries in his pouch is a locator device.He figures it out after a brief chase, and fits the pouch over Guenhwyvar's head, so he can confuse and stalk his hunters.
The party come to a fork in the passage, so Briza tells three to go one way and two the other, leaving herself and Dinin alone. Drizzt drops down and knocks his brother unconscious with one hilt of his scimitar and with his second he holds it to Briza's neck. Briza tries to convince Drizzt to come home, foolishly mentioning him being the new weapons master, after the death of his father Zaknafein - this angers him greatly. She tries casting a spell, only for Drizzt to intercept and launch an attack to block. A fight starts between them, Drizzt's new personality of 'hunter' (where he lets rage get the better of him) takes over and he destroys Briza's beloved 6 headed snake whip. She pulls out a mace only to be beaten down and have two fingers severed. Dinin goes to attack but sees only his death, and flees from the scene. As Drizzt makes his killing move on Briza, Guenhwyvar pins him to the floor, giving Briza her chance of escape. Enraged at Guenhwyvar, he runs away and when Guenhwyvar disobeys his orders and returns to its own plane, Drizzt realizes that he almost broke his promise to never kill a drow again.
Sometime later Drizzt is out hunting, he hears the svirfneblin and decides again to follow them back to their home. He finally decides to hand himself over, hoping that they'll let him be allies but they have no idea of what to make of his peaceable actions and bound him, and lead him into their city.
In Menzoberranzan, the family of House Do'Urden gather in the anteroom, where Rizzen is being abused by Matron Malice. They discuss whether or not any of them should go after Drizzt again, Briza and Dinin not being keen at all since their last encounter. Malice hatches an idea, and so a ceremony takes place to bring forth a yochlol (maiden) of Lolth. To please Lolth, Malice has decided to sacrifice Rizzen so that they may regain enough favour to carry out her plans. As the yochlol is called, Malice goes to strike Rizzen but instead murders SiNafay, which gives her enough respect from Lolth to perform Zin-carla, a spell with re-animates the corpse of a single dead person but their mind is controlled mentally through the Matron of the House, a gift only given to complete a specific task. And so to hunt Drizzt, Malice re-animates Zaknafein knowing that he alone can destroy Drizzt.
In Blingdenstone the city of the deep-gnomes, Drizzt is taken to a single dark room for interrogation. Knowing that death is the only way out of the city, Drizzt accepts this fate. The interrogator believes Drizzt is different but has no power to help him. Drizzt suddenly recalls the survivor of the drow raid many years before, and asks that he may speak to Belwar Dissengulp. In the anteroom of House Do'Urden, the family are gathered inside with Malice and Rizzen back together. Malice allows Rizzen to strike the spirit-wraith of Zaknafein Do'Urden, but as Rizzen goes to strike, Zaknafein 'quicker than the other could follow' kills him.
Drizzt meets Belwar, and with the deep-gnome recognizing Drizzt, the drow is allowed to live with the gnome in his home. Although Drizzt is not allowed Guenhwyvar, his armour or weapons he feels at peace in the city. After several ten-days, Drizzt goes outside and meets a group of young svirfneblin. He re-enacts the killing of the basilisk, but lets the hunter get the better of him and faints in the reconstructed 'hands' of Belwar. After having his hands severed by Dinin, Belwar returned home to be giving mithril attachments, one a pick and the other a hammer, and the title of "Most honourable Burrow-Warden" must to his distaste. Meanwhile, Zaknafein has scouted for Drizzt and came upon his old shelter in the myconid cavern. The myconids see him and attempt to communicate, but Zak kills them all. He also kills a pack of goblins which are later found by a group of deep-gnomes. Zaknafein watches the gnomes and follows their path. Later, Drizzt is reacquainted with Guenhwyvar and goes on a mining caravan with some fellow gnomes, who he later helps get rid of a goblin party.
Jarlaxle meets with a councilor of Blingdenstone to give him information from Menzoberranzan (for a large price). Firble the councillor finds out that the destruction wreaked around the Blingdenstone area is caused by House Do'Urden hunting for Drizzt. Drizzt, having the most joy in the city that he hasn't felt in years is unfortunately told he has to leave Blingdenstone by King Schnicktick, because of the threat of Zaknafein and what he could do to the gnomes. As Drizzt leaves the city, Belwar accompanies him, and together they set off into the Underdark.
After setting up a decoy encampment, Drizzt and Belwar head off in search of a new home. They come across a cavern of poisonous baruchies, a plant that the native grubber caterpillar eats. They pass the area, only to be chased by the grubber. They find a side passage only to have it become a dead end. Belwar knows there is path on the other side of the wall and cuts it down within a few hours, with thanks to his enchanted mithril hands. Once through, they climb down into another passage and come upon a huge chamber, with a large chasm filled with green acid, which was emanating green light enticing them to it. They cross over the pathway only to be ambushed by a group of bird-men crossovers. Another fight ensues, and during this, Guenhwyvar falls into the acid and returns to the astral plane for healing. They survive and make it far enough away to gain some distance. Drizzt calls Guenhwyvar to his side, much to Belwar's disagreement, to find that the feline was scolded and hurt. Drizzt sends Guenhwyvar home and they continue onwards. Zaknafein destroys the decoy camp and is enraged that he had been left waiting for Drizzt for several days. The enraging conflicts the re-animation of the spirit and it task to kill Drizzt and the emotions of the mind of the real Zaknafein. The spirit-wraith again pursues Drizzt.
Drizzt and Belwar then see a human wizard, filling buckets in a stream.He turns violent and cretes an explosive fireball at the sight of Drizzt, and escapes them, Drizzt and Belwar only surviving by diving into the stream. After a few days they find a cavern with a lake and three chambers, which they proclaim as home. Zaknafein meanwhile has moved to the grubbers home, and kills the grubber for it's trouble. Another few days pass, and the cavern is invaded by a hook horror. Drizzt pounches on it and is about to kill it, when he sees its face and notices it is not actually a hook horror. It was a pech (humanoid), transformed by an evil wizard named Brister Fendlestick and made to wonder the Underdark as a hideous monster. Drizzt and Belwar befriend it and call it Clacker, as it cannot recall its own name. They set off later to find the wizard and attempt to turn Clacker back into a pech. They come across the wizard's home, and although he will not let them in, Drizzt puts the onyx figurine into an arrow slit, letting Guenhwyvar enter the building. The wizard reluctantly lets them in, and as he agrees to change Clacker back, he mutters a curse to Clacker under his breath, which Clacker, with his excellent ability to hear, overhears, and with the rage of a hook horror murders the wizard Brister Fendlestick. To his disdain this means he will have to remain a cross between his pech mind and his hook horror body.
Zaknafein finds the cavern that is the home of Drizzt, Belwar and Clacker. Although his instincts tell him to wait, Malice is too impatient and sends the wraith off. And by a different route, the trio return only to find the shelter trashed by the wraith. Once again they set off to put more distance between themselves and Menzoberranzan. They come into yet another huge cavern, only to sense danger. There they are all attacked by illithids/mindflayers, and taken under their control. They come to, and are all under the command of Illithid masters in a cavern filled with a huge illithid community and their slaves. Belwar is made a gladiator, Drizzt a massager (due to his slender soft fingers) of the Illithid brain, which keeps the Illithid telepathy flowing, and Clacker is left on an island surrounded by a chasm to tend to a herd of rothe. The three Illithid masters who own the three slaves are in their complex, two of them go to the astral plane to observe Guenhwyvar, having obtained the figurine. Zaknafein then enters the region, and the Illithids believe he will make a great asset to the their works. He slaughters the four that come after him, and heads towards the cavern.
The two illithids that are with Guenhwyvar return to the material plane, and the panther follows them leaving one trapped forever in the astral plain, (it's astral cord was severed,) and latching onto the other and returns to help Drizzt. Clacker, trapped on his island observes the commotion and tries to hit the lever with 'missiles' (of rothe and gray dwarves) on the otherside of the chasm to activate the bridge. He succeeds and meets with Drizzt and Belwar, who have regained control of their minds and have found their armour etc. Guenhwyvar also meets them and the four leave. Drizzt meets Zaknafein and duels, only to be saved by Clacker with his unleashing of a super-pech ability. They carry on running, and being pursued by Zaknafein and the illithids. Once a safe distance, Drizzt agrees to head back to Menzoberranzan to see if any drow would help Clacker return to his pech form. On their flight thrrough the tunnels, they once again return to the acid-lake cavern. Clacker, who arrives on the otherside first is murdered by Zaknafein, and Drizzt has a final confrontation with Zaknafein.
Back in Menzoberranzan, Malice has deteriorated from constant control of the wraith and loses control of its mind. In the duel, Zak's personality returns from the wraith, and explaining to Drizzt quickly about Zin-carla - before Malice regains control - Zaknafein leaps into the acid. Malice screams, but is killed by Briza who takes mantle of House Do'Urden. Unfortunately for her, a gift of 200 soldiers from House Baenre turn on the Do'Urden family and kill the soldiers, Briza and Maya. Vierna is kept as a handmaiden for House Baenre, whereas Dinin is taken under the wing of Jarlaxle and his band of rogues.
Drizzt is unaware of this, but returns to Blingdenstone with Belwar. They depart from each other after a brief stay, Drizzt knowing that Belwar truly belonged in Blingdenstone. Drizzt is given a few gifts and leaves with a map of the Underdark, to find a passage to the open lands of the Faerûn. The book ends with Drizzt and Guenhwyvar sat upon a mountain edge, watching the sky and awaiting their next adventure.
- Drizzt Do'Urden, rogue drow of House Do'Urden
- Belwar Dissengulp, deep gnome
- Briza Do'Urden, daughter of Malice
- Clacker, pech polymorphed into hook horror
- Dinin Do'Urden, son of Malice
- Guenhwyvar, panther
- Jarlaxle, leader of Bregan D'aerthe
- Malice Do'Urden, matron mother of House Do'Urden
- SiNafay Hun'ett (Shi'nayne Do'Urden), matron mother of House Hun'ett
- Yvonnel Baenre (as Matron Baenre)
- Zaknafein Do'Urden (Zin-carla), former weapon master of House Do'Urden
- Brister Fendlestick, eccentric human wizard
- Firble, svirfneblin counselor
- Krieger, svirfneblin burrow-warden
- Maya Do'Urden, daughter of Malice
- Methil El-Viddenvelp, illithid counselor
- Rizzen Do'Urden, patron of House Do'Urden
- Schnicktick, king of Blingdenstone
- Seldig, young svirfneblin
- Vierna Do'Urden, daughter of Malice
- Alton DeVir, drow wizard
- Dipree Hun'ett, noble of House Hun'ett
- Halavin Fey-Branche, matron mother of House Fey-Branche
- Lolth, Spider Queen goddess
- Masoj Hun'ett, drow wizard
- Astral Plane (minor)
- Ched Nasad (mentioned)
- Phanlinksal (as illithid settlement)
- Surface (mentioned)
- Underdark (Northdark)
- Baruchie (crimson spitter)
- Cave rat
- Deep gnome (svirfneblin)
- Diatryma (mentioned)
- Dire corby
- Earth elemental (mentioned)
- Giant crab
- Hook horror
- Illithid (mind flayer)
- Riding lizard
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd et al.. Presenting . . . Seven Millennia of Realms Fiction. Retrieved on 2014-2-28.