When one of his oldest friends, Bruenor Battlehammer, chooses to spend his final days searching for the fabled dwarf kingdom of Gauntlgrym, Drizzt readily agrees. But before Drizzt and Bruenor even get close to finding the lost city, the dwarf assassin Athrogate, black-widow elf Dahlia, and Drizzt's old nemesis Jarlaxle stumble upon it first. In their search for riches and magic, the three treasure hunters inadvertently set into motion a catastrophe that could spell disaster for the unsuspecting people of the city of Neverwinter—a catastrophe big enough to even send the mercenary Jarlaxle into risking his own coin and skin to stop it. Unfortunately, the more they uncover about the secret of Gauntlgrym, the more it looks like they can't stop the impending disaster on their own. They'll need help, and from the last people they ever thought to fight alongside again: Drizzt and Bruenor.
Drizzt joins these new companions with a conflicted heart. The promise of adventure appeals to a primal part of him. But his lust for battle is growing stronger. Is he really no different from any other dark elf? If he loses the last of his trusted companions, will his drow nature claim him at last? Will his new companions lead him into temptation or deliver him from his darkest desires?
In 1409 DR, Bruenor Battlehammer, the king of the dwarven stronghold of Mithral Hall, mourned with the drow ranger Drizzt Do'Urden over the deaths of his halfling friend Regis and his adopted daughter, the human woman Catti-brie, both of whom had been lost to the deadly effects of the Spellplague in 1385 DR. Bruenor also grieved for his adopted son, the barbarian warrior Wulfgar, who had returned to his birthplace, Icewind Dale, and had not been heard from in many years. The dwarf king lamented over all that had happened since those terrible events and still regretted never completing his quest to find Gauntlgrym, the ancient homeland of the Delzoun dwarves. However, by signing the Treaty of Garumn’s Gorge in 1372 DR, Bruenor had brought relative peace to the Silver Marches, and it had continued when Obould II had inherited the orc kingdom of Many-Arrows after the death of his predecessor.
Meanwhile, the gnome alchemist Nanfoodle and the orc priestess Jessa Dribble-Obould were planning to poison Bruenor. The dwarf battlerager Thibbledorf Pwent noticed something amiss in Nanfoodle’s behavior, but he could not quite identify it. Nanfoodle poisoned Bruenor’s ale, and after the king drank it, the entire population of Mithral Hall went into mourning at the death of their beloved ruler. Banak Brawnanvil was named the Eleventh King of Mithral Hall, and Pwent, who was distraught over the death of Bruenor, sought out Nanfoodle and Jessa for answers in the hills outside of the dwarven city. Once Pwent found the pair, he attempted to beat an answer out of them, but before a fight started, Bruenor and Drizzt appeared. Bruenor demanded answers from Pwent on why he had followed Nanfoodle and Jessa instead of being at Banak’s side, to which the battlerager replied that his loyalty remained with his king. Bruenor then revealed how he had faked his own death with the help of Nanfoodle and Jessa in order to continue his quest to discover Gauntlgrym, while still leaving Mithral Hall under capable command. Drizzt, Bruenor, Jessa, Nanfoodle, Pwent, and the drow’s magical panther Guenhwyvar immediately began journeying west in search of the ancient dwarven complex. The companions were also joined by Andahar, a magical unicorn that could be summoned much like Guenhwyvar and that had been a gift to Drizzt from the ruling council of Silverymoon for his work with both blade and diplomacy during the Third Orc War.
In 1451 DR, the elf warrior Dahlia Sin'felle was ordered by the lich Szass Tam, the supreme ruler of Thay, to travel with her vampire lover, Korvin Dor'crae, to the port city of Luskan to investigate possibilities for creating a Dread Ring, a necromantic area of massive devastation that produced countless undead creatures. Although young for an elf, Dahlia was a skilled warrior who had mastered Kozah’s Needle, an eight-foot-long staff that could be configured in many different ways and possessed magical lightning powers. The callous Dahlia wore diamond earrings as a tribute to her lovers; eight in her left ear to signify her dead lovers, whom she had killed, and two in her right ear for those who were still alive. The upcoming mission caused Dahlia to remember her childhood in the Sword Coast region and the cruelties that she had experienced at the hands of Netherese warriors. After the raiders had murdered the men of her village and raped the women, Dhalia had been violated and impregnated by the band’s leader, the Shadovar tiefling Herzgo Alegni. The elf had been forced to bear his tiefling offspring, but she threw the baby from a cliff soon after it was born. Before leaving on her mission, Dahlia fought and killed her other lover, the young warrior Themerelis, in order to anger her rival, the Thayan sorceress Sylora Salm, as she had also been his lover.
In all the years since they had departed from Mithral Hall, Drizzt, Bruenor, and Pwent had continued to search for Gauntlgrym with no success, and although Nanfoodle and Jessa had journeyed with them for many years, the two eventually left their company. While searching for the lost homeland, the companions also pursued rumors of a magical forest inhabited by a beautiful woman and a halfling, leading them to Icewind Dale. After failing to discover any evidence of the sanctuary, the group visited the dwarven settlement beneath the lone mountain known as Kelvin’s Cairn, where Bruenor, who was traveling under an alias, decided to continue his search for Gauntlgrym. However, since Pwent had become too old and tired to continue adventuring, he chose to stay in Icewind Dale when Bruenor and Drizzt departed.
At that time, Alegni was living in the city of Neverwinter, as he was the leader of a Netherese expedition that had been sent to Neverwinter Wood in search of the fallen Xinlenal Enclave. Upset that Hugo Babris, the Lord of Neverwinter, would not rename a prominent bridge after him, Alegni summoned his chief assassin, Barrabus the Gray, from his home in the port city of Memnon. Alegni instructed Barrabus to convince Babris to change the bridge’s name, and when Barrabus then showed disdain toward Alegni, the tiefling used his magical sword Charon’s Claw to punish the assassin. The magical attack caused Barrabus severe pain, and the warrior soon used force to persuade Babris to change the name of the bridge.
When they reached Luskan, Dahlia and Dor'crae entered Illusk, a ruined section of the city inhabited by the undead. The couple met with the insane lich Valindra Shadowmantle to learn more about the connection between the magical destruction of the Hosttower of the Arcane and the earthquakes that had been wracking the Sword Coast North since the stronghold’s fall several decades earlier. While traveling through Illusk’s catacombs, Dahlia and Dor'crae discovered magical tendrils originating at the foundation of the ruined Hosttower and running in two directions: one to the open sea and the other inland to the southeast. Sent by Dahlia to investigate where the inland tendrils led, Dor'crae journeyed for several days before discovering that the tube ended at a colossal underground city that was guarded by dwarf ghosts. In the meantime, Dahlia learned from the spirit of the lich Arklem Greeth that the subterranean city was Gauntlgrym, which had ancient ties with the Hosttower.
When Dor'crae returned to Luskan with news of Gauntlgrym’s location and the magical wards protecting it, Dahlia realized that she would need a Delzoun dwarf in order to access the destructive power contained in the ancient stronghold. Dahlia eventually sought out the dwarf warrior Athrogate and his companion, the drow mercenary Jarlaxle Baenre. Dahlia convinced the formidable partners to accompany her to Gauntlgrym, but they believed that the mission was a search for treasure. Also around that time, Alegni and his Netherese forces began to be opposed in Neverwinter Wood by the Ashmadai, cultists of the devil-god Asmodeus who were allied with the Red Wizards of Thay. When Alegni learned of the Thayan agents in Luskan, he immediately ordered Barrabus to travel north and investigate.
Dahlia, Dor'crae, Athrogate, Jarlaxle, and Valindra journeyed together to Gauntlgrym using the underground tunnels. When they reached Gauntlgrym, the group was able to enter due to Athrogate’s heritage as a Delzoun dwarf, which also protected them from the dwarf ghosts that guarded the city. The companions explored the vast complex in search of their main goal, the forge of Gauntlgrym, which was reputed to have crafted the finest items in its day. Unbeknownst to his comrades, Dor'crae, who had formed a secret alliance with Sylora, activated a magical item that allowed the Thayan sorceress to follow the group’s movements from afar and then transport herself into the dwarven stronghold. Sylora opened a magical portal to allow a band of Ashmadai zealots to join her in Gauntlgrym, and the force swiftly traveled through the city in pursuit of the five companions.
After fighting their way through dire corbies (avian humanoids) that laired in Gauntlgrym, Dahlia and the others reached the forge to discover that the source of the power for the dwarven complex’s famed forge was a fire primordial. The comrades realized that the ancient dwarves and the wizards of the Hosttower had used magic to bring in the waters of the ocean and summon water elementals to serve as a harness for the godlike being, enabling them to use its fiery energies to power Gauntlgrym’s forges and magically ward the city from its enemies. However, the magic binding the primordial had been gradually dissipating since the Hosttower’s fall, a result being the earthquakes that had wracked the Sword Coast region for so many years. When Dor'crae attempted to exert his undead willpower over Athrogate to force him to activate the lever that would release the primordial and thus initiate the cataclysm that was necessary to create the Dread Ring, Dahlia had a change of heart and tried to stop the dwarf, but at that point Sylora arrived and used her magic to compel him onward.
With the magic binding it shut down entirely, the primordial immediately began to shake off the water elementals. Sylora then opened another magical portal through which she, Dor'crae, Valindra, and most of the Ashmadai left Gauntlgrym. Jarlaxle, Athrogate, and Dahlia were forced to kill Sylora’s dozen remaining minions in order to escape from the dwarven stronghold, and the trio eventually made their way back to Luskan. Sylora soon captured Dahlia, and under threat of death, commanded the elf warrior to serve as one of her lieutenants in the conflict against the Netherese in Neverwinter Wood. After spying on the meeting between Dahlia and Sylora, Barrabus returned to Neverwinter and told Alegni what he had discovered. Meanwhile, Drizzt and Bruenor traveled the countryside near Neverwinter searching for Gauntlgrym. At that time, the freed primordial unleashed its fury against living beings by causing a volcanic explosion of Mount Hotenow that resulted in the destruction of Neverwinter. Alegni used his abilities as a Shadovar to escape to the Shadowfell, while Barrabus was barely able to survive by taking cover underneath the Alegni Bridge.
In 1462 DR, the Dread Ring had been nearly completed as a result of the death and destruction caused by the primordial’s rage, and new types of ash-covered undead stalked the region. Although the Netherese expedition had continued their search for Xinlenal Enclave in Neverwinter Wood after the cataclysm, Alegni had been removed from leadership for failing to prevent the Thayans from enacting their plan. However, with the forces of Thay gaining a clear advantage in the war over the region, the tiefling was once again granted command. Alegni immediately recalled Barrabus from his life of relative luxury in the port city of Calimport and ordered the assassin to hunt the Ashmadai in Neverwinter Wood, a task that the warrior completed quite successfully. Dahlia and Barrabus eventually encountered each other in the woods, but their vicious fight ended in a stalemate. Dahlia’s unorthodox weapon proved too much for the assassin’s two-handed style, while Barrabus’s ability to use the environment to perform surprise attacks outmatched the elf. Jarlaxle and Athrogate were still residing in Luskan at that time, and they sought a way to avenge themselves for the events that had occurred in Gauntlgrym eleven years earlier.
Determined to imprison the primordial, which was reawakening, the ghost dwarves of Gauntlgrym spread out across northwest Faerûn in search of Delzoun dwarves to help. While some of the ghosts arrived in Icewind Dale to notify the dwarves of Kelvin’s Cairn of their plight, others informed Bruenor of the situation. Bruenor then took it upon himself, along with Drizzt, to once again entrap the primordial. Meanwhile, Jarlaxle traveled to the underground drow city of Menzoberranzan to seek advice on how to imprison the primordial from his older brother, the archmage Gromph Baenre. Jarlaxle learned that he would need a dwarf king in addition to other magical items to complete the task. Since Sylora needed the devastation that would be caused by the reawakening primordial to complete the Dread Ring, the Thayan sorceress immediately ordered Dahlia and a small force of Ashmadai to travel to Luskan to stop any efforts to entrap the fiery being. Upon arriving in the city, Dahlia searched for a way to return to Gauntlgrym to imprison the primordial in the hope that this would lead to her freedom from Sylora. When she discovered that the way was blocked because the tunnels had collapsed, Dahlia secretly sought out Jarlaxle.
While Bruenor was deciding on where to search next for Gauntlgrym, he was robbed of his maps in the woods by a drow. Drizzt correctly determined who was behind the theft, leading him and Bruenor to Luskan in search of Jarlaxle. Dahlia was eventually able to find Jarlaxle and accepted an enchanted ring from the drow shortly before Bruenor and Drizzt arrived at the Cutlass inn in Luskan. Drizzt and Bruenor were attacked in the tavern by a band of Ashmadai led by Dahlia, but Jarlaxle and Athrogate soon joined the fight, and together the four defeated the zealots. Dahlia appeared to be captured by Jarlaxle’s wand of magical goo, but it was only a ruse to make Sylora’s minions believe that she was dead.
Bruenor, Drizzt, Jarlaxle, Athrogate, and Dahlia decided to journey to Gauntlgrym together in an attempt to stop the primordial and hopefully destroy the Dread Ring in the process. The group hastily proceeded to Gauntlgrym overland in search of a cave that they ascertained would lead them to the dwarven city. The companions were attacked near the cave by a force of Ashmadai who had followed them, and the fight was magically observed through a scrying bowl by Sylora and Dor'crae. At that time, Barrabus secretly infiltrated the Thayans’ encampment and viewed the clash, but upon seeing Drizzt, he was overcome with emotion and retreated without having been seen by anyone. Drizzt and his comrades defeated the Ashmadai, and then traveled through the underground passages in the cave to reach Gauntlgrym.
When the group entered Gauntlgrym, Bruenor sat on the dwarf kings’ magical throne and was imbued with divine power. In order to imprison the primordial, the companions would have to place ten magical bowls containing water elementals in certain locations throughout Gauntlgrym, where they would connect to the tendrils of the Hosttower. However, over the years since its release, the primordial had summoned many minions, including salamanders and a small red dragon, from the Elemental Plane of Fire to battle intruders, and these creatures immediately prepared to stop the group. Dor'crae, Valindra, and a contingent of Ashmadai soon entered Gauntlgrym in pursuit of Bruenor and the others. Before the Thayans began to move deeper into the ancient stronghold, Valindra used a magical scepter to summon the pit fiend Beealtimatuche from the Nine Hells to protect them from the dwarf ghosts and to assist them in the imminent engagements against the primordial’s servants and Bruenor’s group. Meanwhile, Drizzt and his companions began the process of placing the ten bowls in their correct locations throughout Gauntlgrym while fighting the primordial’s minions. Around that time, dwarves from Icewind Dale and the city of Mirabar, who had also been visited by dwarf ghosts, arrived in another part of Gauntlgrym to help entrap the primordial.
Bruenor and his comrades were only able to place nine of the ten summoning bowls, since the location for the tenth had been destroyed when the primordial first was freed, but they decided that it would have to be enough. When the group then headed to the forge room of Gauntlgrym, Bruenor placed his axe and shield into the forge and removed them to find that they were magically enhanced. After battling their way through the primordial’s servants and slaying the red dragon, the pit fiend and the Ashmadai entered the forge room and confronted the companions. Beealtimatuche engaged the group and surprisingly managed to kill the consummate survivor Jarlaxle. While Drizzt and Dahlia then held off the zealots and several legion devils, Bruenor and Athrogate made their way to the primordial chamber to entrap the fiery being, but they were intercepted by the pit fiend. Athrogate attempted to fight Beealtimatuche, but he only slightly wounded the devil before he was knocked off the floor of the chamber and onto a ledge near the primordial. God-blessed Bruenor then engaged Beealtimatuche in a titanic battle, but even with the dwarf’s new divine powers, the pit fiend seized the advantage.
At that time, the other dwarves, including Pwent, arrived at the fight in the forge room, and the battlerager quickly went to find Bruenor in order to protect him. Dahlia and Drizzt gained the advantage in the battle until Valindra began to unleash her magic. The lich was soon wounded and driven away by Jarlaxle, who had been saved by the same ring that had allowed Dahlia to fake her own death. While the dwarves continued to fight against the remaining Ashmadai, Drizzt and the others went after Bruenor to ensure the defeat of the primordial. Bruenor was saved from Beealtimatuche’s relentless attack by the arrival of Pwent, who was swiftly overcome but gave Bruenor enough time to recover and finally kill the devil. After Beealtimatuche’s defeat, Pwent helped the seriously wounded Bruenor make his way to the lever that controlled the primordial’s magical prison. Drizzt and Dahlia entered the chamber just in time to see Dor'crae, who had secretly followed them in, tear out Pwent’s throat. Dahlia attacked Dor'crae and drove off the vampire with her magical ring that transformed into a wooden finger-spike.
Bruenor, with the last of his strength, managed to activate the lever, but he then succumbed to his wounds. Attempting to escape, Dor'crae was assailed by the nine water elementals that were summoned to entrap the primordial and exploded into thin air, seemingly destroyed. The primordial was once again sealed in its prison, and Sylora’s plans for the Dread Ring were thwarted. Jarlaxle managed to help Athrogate escape from the ledge, and Bruenor was then buried in Gauntlgrym alongside Pwent. Dhalia moved the last earring to her left ear, symbolizing Dor'crae’s death, and planned to journey to Neverwinter Wood to confront Sylora, who had avoided the fight in Gauntlgrym but was the principal orchestrator of the plan. Although Drizzt was anguished over Bruenor’s death, he decided to accompany Dahlia out of growing feelings toward the elf woman.
Bruenor awakened in the goddess Mielikki’s magical forest, which he and Drizzt had previously been searching for in an unlikely attempt to save Regis and Catti-brie from their deaths. Bruenor was met by Wulfgar and Regis, who remarked that the dwarf was indeed dead. When Bruenor asked of Catti-brie, they pointed into the woods at the form of a dancing woman, and the sight of his beloved daughter gave the dwarf overwhelming happiness.
- Drizzt Do'Urden, drow ranger
- Bruenor Battlehammer, former king of Mithral Hall
- Dahlia Sin'felle, elven warrior of Thay
- Athrogate, dwarf companion of Jarlaxle
- Barrabus the Gray, assassin serving Herzgo Alegni
- Beealtimatuche, pit fiend
- Guenhwyvar, astral panther
- Herzgo Alegni, tiefling leader of the Shadovar
- Jarlaxle, drow leader of Bregan D'aerthe
- Jessa, orc cleric
- Korvin Dor'crae, vampire in the service of Thay
- Nanfoodle, gnome
- Sylora Salm, leader under Szass Tam of Thay
- Thibbledorf Pwent, dwarven Gutbuster
- Valindra Shadowmantle, lich
- Catti-brie, Bruenor's daughter and one of the Companions of the Hall
- Regis, halfling of the Companions of the Hall
- Shivanni Gardpeck, proprieter of the Cutlass (inn)
- Stokely Silverstream, leader of Clan Battlehammer in Icewind Dale
- Szass Tam, leader of Thay
- Torgar Hammerstriker, dwarven miner from Mirabar
- Valas Hune, Bregan D'aerthe scout
- Wulfgar, member of the Companions of the Hall
- Zaknafein Do'Urden, Drizzt's father