The Black Book was a tome sacred to the Beshaban faith.
The Black Book was a tall, narrow volume, measuring four feet tall and one foot wide. The tome was bound in black dragon hide embellished with black metal edges. The entire volume radiated a subtle aura of physical coldness and was cloaked in a continual darkness effect that extended one inch from its surface. Those in direct contact with the volume, however, could view the tome normally. When opened, the book was said to emit a single, distant toll of a bell and an aroma of fear, seaweed, and death.
The book served primarily as a repository of spells, but it also seemed to have a deleterious effect on some of its readers. Living creatures who opened the book sometimes felt their vitality permanently but subtly diminished; undead creatures who opened the tome were sometimes sucked into the tome entirely; and those priests who studied the tome at length were reportedly plagued by ghostly voices. These effects gave rise to speculation of a demilich somehow associated with the volume that sapped energy from its readers.
The Black Book contained only fifteen pages of white vellum, two front and back bearing the symbol of Beshaba, and thirteen pages between, each detailing a different spell. According to the list compiled by the Beshaban clerk Evalus of Carragar, the spells were as follows: cause light wounds, creeping doom, darkfire, detect poison, dispel magic, doomtide, find traps, flame strike, free action, goad of misfortune, pass without trace, speak with dead, spell immunity, and whip of woe.
The first scholarly mentions of The Black Book date from the early 11th century DR. Only a single name, Rendaunt, tooled into the dragonhide cover, provides any possible indication of its authorship, but certain Beshaban teachings suggest that the volume may have been one of a number of magic items created by individuals who gave themselves over to the service of Beshaba in the aftermath of the Weeping War.
The tome was discovered by an Beshaban acolyte, Thalaxas, who was led by dream-visions to uncover the book amid the ruins of Myth Drannor. Initially mocked and cast out by his superiors for his visions, Thalaxas returned vindicated to his temple in Murpeth, where he was proclaimed by a black-tentacled manifestation of Beshaba herself to be the goddess' "Servant Supreme" in Faerun.
Thereafter known as Thalaxas the Tyrant, the priest abandoned the Murpeth temple to found other temples in remote areas of Faerûn. He ultimately perished in the Battle of Slaughterwyrm in 1090 DR, when the temple of Arlast Halungh was torn apart by blue dragons. The book eventually made its way into the hands of the priestess Alass of the Dark Horns temple in the Snowflake Mountains, but was lost again when the temple was sacked by orcs in 1117 DR.
The tome since made brief appearances in the hands of a succession of crazed mages, most notably Jaulothan Marlyx, who appeared in Arrabar in 1346 DR with two beholders and laid waste to most of the city before he himself was destroyed by tanar'ri summoned by local mages. The book was lost in the resulting confusion, but appeared at least one other time that century, when the wizard Oshalon Drhee flaunted his possession of the book at a magefair.