|“||When the Harpers judged The Nameless Bard responsible for the death of his apprentices, they sentenced him to exile and obscurity. Now the Harpers are reconsidering their decision, but with the arrival of the monster Grypht, Nameless' new trial dissolves in a string of disappearances and murder.
It is up to the bard's friends, Alias the swords-woman, Akabar the mage, Dragonbait the paladin, and Olive Ruskettle the thief, to prove one enemy is behind all the chaos—the ancient evil god, Moander the Darkbringer.Unless Alias and her companions can find Nameless and convince him to sacrifice some of his precious power, Moander will return to claim the Realms.
Finder Wyvernspur, aka the Nameless Bard, is undergoing a new trial at the Tower of Ashaba, by three Harper judges, Morala, Breck Orcsbane, and Kyre. Elminster tries to persuade the Harpers to repeal the banishment of Finder, his name, and his songs. Olive Ruskettle breaks into the tower using Finder's Harper pin, and tries to persuade him to escape by using the Finder's Stone. Elminster disappears, and is replaced by the Saurial mage Grypht. Kyre leads the Harpers in attacking Grypht, whom she claims to be a creature of the Nine Hells. Grypht flees to Finder's cell. Kyre follows and traps Grypht in a soul gem. She attacks Finder but he and Olive teleport to Finder's old castle. Kyre lies that Finder has been kidnapped by Grypht, and Alias, Dragonbait and Akabar are summoned.
Alias is suffering a malady where she involuntarily changes the lyrics of Finder's songs. The Turmish mage Akabar has returned north with his new wife Zhara, a cleric who is later revealed to be one of the clones of Alias created in ''Azure Bonds''. He has had nightmares which suggest the dark god Moander the Darkbringer is returning. Alias refuses to accept this. In fact, Dragonbait's tribe of saurials have been possessed by Moander, and his former lover Coral is conscripted as the “Mouth of Moander” through whom the god speaks. She tries but fails to resist this possession, and to commit suicide. Elminster is trapped on Dragonbait's world due to a spell cast by Moander. He was sent there by a transference spell cast by Grypht. The saurials are building Moander a new body made of rotting matter, by ransacking the surrounding forests.
Finder and Olive try to reach Finder's old workshop. They encounter poison traps, Orcs, and a posssessed Beholder named Xaran. Finder is poisoned due to recklessness, but uses an antitoxin potion. Following Finder's instructions, Olive enters the workshop and narrowly avoids a trap left by Flattery. She learns that Finder has lied about Flattery. Finder is caught by the Orcs and offered a deal by the Beholder: escape and immortality in return for capturing Akabar. Finder tries to negotiate, but Olive figures out that the offered immortality involves possession by Moander. Xaran fires possession spores at Finder, which he appears to resist. Olive and Finder become trapped behind a wall of rubble.
Kyre seduces Akabar, and turns out to be a possessed servant of Moander. She attempts to infect Akabar, but he fights and kills her. In the process, he releases Grypht, who flees carrying the unconscious Akabar. They are attacked by possessed Treants. Alias, Breck, and Dragonbait set out in pursuit, based on the lie that Grypht murdered Kyre. Breck is in love with Kyre and will not accept that Grypht may not be evil. Dragonbait helps Zhara to disguise herself as Alias so she can follow them in secret, and leaves a trail for her. When Zhara is discovered, the four adventurers fight amongst themselves. Grypht and Akabar return to the pursuing party. Breck tries to kill Grypht, but Dragonbait knows that Grypht is not evil. Breck eventually accepts that Kyre was possessed by Moander after leaving to avoid his advances. It emerges that Alias's involuntary singing is saurial soul singing, and carries information from the possessed saurials. The information suggests that Finder is in danger. Alias uses the Finder's Stone to locate Finder, and a battle ensues. The heroes kill Xaran and many of the Orcs. They teleport away to escape another possession spore.
Alias's soul singing reveals that the saurials are building Moander a new body. To animate it, they need to obtain an item containing Moander's power, referred to as the “seed”. Using the Finder's Stone, the adventurers locate the saurials in the Lost Vale, and teleport there. They hatch a plan to use cold and cure spells to heal the saurials and kill Moander. Breck and Zhara teleport away to gather more mages and fighters. Finder gets angry with Alias over the soul singing and resultant corruption of his songs. He is forced to relent because the party need her information. She finds out that Akabar's blood is the seed. Finder tells the truth about Flattery. Finder had lied to the Harpers that his experiment failed, but in fact, he succeeded in creating a singer. At first he was too weak to sing Finder's songs, and Finder beat him. After this, he refused to sing. Flattery tried to kill Finder, but one of his apprentices took the blow instead. Alias wants to break the Finder's Stone to obtain the shard of para-elemental ice it contains, but Finder will not allow this. Alias tries to grab the stone and Finder teleports away. Despite his importance to Moander, Akabar refuses to leave.
Dragonbait insists on scouting the saurial camp. He encounters Coral and casts a cure spell. He believes she is freed, but instead, she tricks and captures him. While Olive tries to rescue Dragonbait, the others start fires around the camp. The fires panic the saurials, which run and fly into the path of Alias and Akabar's cold spells. Most of the saurials are freed, but Alias and Akabar are captured. Finder reappears in the middle of the fracas. It emerges that he has been possessed after all, but the effect is slow-acting because of the antitoxin he had consumed. He refuses to have the possession dispelled because it offers him immortality. Dragonbait is freed, but returns to rescue Alias. Alias is freed, but Akabar is sucked into Moander's body. Dragonbait kills Coral at her own request, to free her from Moander. Moander comes to life and heads for the remaining heroes.
Alias is very upset with Finder, saying he is incapable of love, and blaming Akabar's capture on Finder because he refused to give up the stone. She wants him to redeem himself by breaking the stone and freeing Akabar. Finder has in fact developed love for Alias and Olive. He agrees to break the stone. Wielding the para-elemental ice, Finder dives into the body of Moander. He finds the seed but not Akabar. He also finds a gateway to Tartarus. He takes the seed through the gateway, causing Moander's body to deanimate. He finds Akabar held prisoner by Moander's true form in the Abyss. Akabar allows himself to die so that Finder cannot trade him for the seed. Finder then kills the true form of Moander, causing the god to be destroyed across all dimensions. Moander's spell is broken and Elminster returns. The saurials decide to stay in the Lost Vale because their own lands are devastated. They accept Alias as family because of her bond to Dragonbait, and she agrees to stay with them.
Throughout the novel, there are recurring disputes over whether Finder has changed, whether he is good, and whether he is capable of loving anyone but himself. His “daughter” Alias, and also Olive, love Finder in spite of his arrogance, selfishness and recklessness. This leads to disagreements with other characters. Ultimately Finder is redeemed by his love for the two women. This is symbolised by his acceptance that one of his songs would be better sung as a duet, and not in the form in which he wrote it. After he kills Moander, the Harpers rescind the punishment of Finder. This means (with some help from Finder) that Olive is also accepted as a Harper, much to her chagrin. Finder survives, but does not have the strength to return to the realms, and instead looks for a new home. Only Olive knows he is still alive.