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Night of the Hunter

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Night of the Hunter is the first novel in the Companions Codex by R.A. Salvatore.

R.A. Salvatore's New York Times best-selling saga continues as dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden returns to Gauntlgrym with old friends by his side once again, as they seek to rescue Bruenor's loyal shield dwarf-turned-vampire. But not only do Drizzt and his allies face a perilous journey through the Underdark and the dangers of the undead that lie within, but they must cross through a colony of drow, who would like nothing better than to see Drizzt Do'Urden dead.


In 1484 DR, Doum'wielle Armgo, a half-moon elf half-drow warrior and the wielder of the magical sword Khazid'hea, and her father, the dark elf warrior Tos'un Armgo, were traveling through the Underdark toward the underground drow city of Menzoberranzan when they encountered a band of dark elves of House Xorlarrin. Known for its many skilled wizards, House Xorlarrin was establishing a new drow city named Q'Xorlarrin in the ancient dwarven homeland of Gauntlgrym with the support of House Baenre, the First House of Menzoberranzan. The Xorlarrin force had been sent east from Gauntlgrym to find the tunnels that would lead to the region known as the Silver Marches. The party was led by Berellip Xorlarrin, the eldest daughter of Matron Mother Zeerith Q'Xorlarrin and a high priestess of Lolth, the Spider Queen, the evil goddess of the dark elves, and her cousin, the wizard Tsabrak Xorlarrin. A fight immediately ensued between the Armgo pair and the Xorlarrins, but it was soon stopped, and Tos'un and Doum'wielle then introduced themselves to the other drow. When Doum'wielle acted impudently toward Berellip, the priestess repeatedly struck the half-drow with her snake-headed whip as punishment.

Around the same time, Matron Mother Quenthel Baenre, the unofficial ruler of Menzoberranzan, discovered that Lolth was incredibly angry at the drow city. Menzoberranzan was on the edge of civil war, since House Xorlarrin was soon to officially leave the city for Gauntlgrym, destabilizing the hierarchy of the ruling Houses. Quenthel ordered her sister, Sos'umptu, the First Priestess of House Baenre, and her eldest daughter, Myrineyl, a high-ranking student at Arach-Tinilith, the training school for drow priestesses in Menzoberranzan, to summon a yochlol, a handmaiden of the Spider Queen, to attempt to learn why the goddess was enraged. While the two priestesses summoned the demonic creature, Quenthel met with her brother Gromph, the Archmage of Menzoberranzan, to discuss Lolth’s ire. Gromph had discovered that since the ending of the Spellplague several years earlier had caused chaos among the gods, Lolth was trying to expand her power by seizing control of the domain of arcane magic and had therefore elevated the position of the male wizards of Menzoberranzan, but he did not reveal this information to Quenthel.

Although Sos'umptu and Myrineyl did not specifically learn why Lolth was angry, the yochlol did tell them that the goddess wanted the drow of Menzoberranzan to be unified at that time. The handmaiden also informed the pair that Sos'umptu’s mother, Yvonnel the Eternal, the renowned dead Matron Mother of House Baenre, would have understood the reason for the Spider Queen’s anger. After Sos'umptu and Myrineyl revealed the yochlol’s message to Quenthel, the matron mother once again met with Gromph. The archmage took Quenthel to an Underdark tunnel outside the city to speak with the illithid Methil El-Viddenvelp, Yvonnel’s secret advisor who was believed to had been killed over a century earlier. Gromph had been using Methil to access the memories in Yvonnel’s severed head, and now following Lolth’s commands, he had the illithid forcefully infuse Quenthel with his mother’s knowledge, sensibilities, and understanding.

Being telepathically imparted with Yvonnel’s memories essentially transformed Quenthel into her mighty mother, and she now understood Lolth’s newest plans. Quenthel realized that one of the sources of Lolth’s rage was the drow ranger Drizzt Do'Urden, an enemy of Menzoberranzan, but one whom the Spider Queen had unsuccessfully tried to corrupt in an attempt to harm his patron goddess, Mielikki, the goddess of forests. During a festival in Menzoberranzan a short time later, Quenthel and several other members of her family met with the nobles of House Fey Branche at their home. Once Quenthel displayed her complete dominance over House Fey Branche and all of Menzoberranzan, she reprimanded and punished Minolin Fey, the Mistress of Arach-Tinilith, who had been trying to use Gromph to assist her in orchestrating Quenthel’s downfall and was pregnant with the archmage’s daughter. The Yor'thae, an avatar of Lolth, then entered House Fey Branche and showed her total support of Quenthel. After the goddess departed, Quenthel told the assembled drow nobles that House Baenre and House Fey Branche were now close allies, that Gromph and Minolin would be married, and that the pair’s daughter would be trained as her successor, named Yvonnel, and imparted with the knowledge and insights of the dead matron mother.

Meanwhile, on the lone mountain known as Kelvin’s Cairn in Icewind Dale, Drizzt was miraculously reunited with his four reborn companions: the former dwarf king Bruenor Battlehammer, the halfling fighter Regis, the barbarian warrior Wulfgar, and the drow ranger’s wife, Catti-brie, a Chosen of Mielikki and a proficient wizard. The group soon discussed how war between the Silver Marches and the orc kingdom of Many-Arrows seemed inevitable. The companions understood that the signing of the Treaty of Garumn’s Gorge in 1372 DR had been a mistake and that the goblinkin races such as orcs were inherently evil and always needed to be combated. Bruenor was determined to rally the peoples of the Silver Marches against the orcs of Many-Arrows, and his four friends agreed to assist him. However, the group decided that before they would journey to Mithral Hall, the dwarven stronghold that Bruenor had formerly ruled, they would make their way to Gauntlgrym to find their old comrade Thibbledorf Pwent, a dwarf battlerager who had been transformed into a vampire. Before leaving Icewind Dale, the companions visited the dwarven settlement beneath Kelvin’s Cairn and revealed their true identities to its inhabitants. Following a celebratory feast with the dwarves, the five friends began to journey south.

After they had left Drizzt on Kelvin’s Cairn, the assassin Artemis Entreri, the dwarf priestess Amber Gristle O' Maul (Ambergris), the warrior monk Afafrenfere, the elf warrior Dahlia Sin'felle, and the latter’s son, the tiefling warlock Effron, departed from Icewind Dale and traveled south. During the journey across the tundra, the group was attacked by a band of yetis, but they managed to quickly defeat the monsters. The companions made their way to the port city of Luskan, but when Entreri learned that it was essentially controlled by the drow rogue Jarlaxle Baenre, the leader of the dark elf mercenary company known as Bregan D'aerthe, and his associates, he decided that the group would not enter Luskan and would continue traveling south until they reached the town of Port Llast.

Knowing that Houses Barrison Del'Armgo and Melarn were allied and planning to attain more power among Menzoberranzan’s Ruling Council, Quenthel ordered a Baenre force to attack the two Houses’ soldiers who were secretly assembling and training in the abandoned and sequestered compound of the destroyed House Do'Urden. After the Baenre contingent defeated the enemy troops, Quenthel and the Matron Mothers of Houses Xorlarrin, Mizzrym, and Faen Tlabbar displayed the strength of their alliance by visiting House Do'Urden together and declaring that the abandoned complex would be reconstructed. Meanwhile, Mez'Barris Armgo, the Matron Mother of House Barrison Del'Armgo, met with Minolin to discuss the plot to destroy Quenthel that had been devised by her, the Fey-Branche priestess, and Gromph. Mez'Barris wanted to immediately enact their plan, which included utilizing the balor Errtu and his prisoner, the drow psionicist K'yorl Odran, the Matron Mother of the destroyed House Oblodra, but Minolin revealed that she and Gromph would no longer move against Quenthel, since the leader of House Baenre was personally favored by Lolth.

In Luskan, Jarlaxle learned about Entreri and his comrades from Beniago Baenre, a lieutenant of Bregan D'aerthe who was always magically disguised as a human because he served as the High Captain of Ship Kurth, one of the five factions of Luskan. Later that day, Beniago was visited by Quenthel, and after she beat and then made love to the disguised drow, she instructed him to assume complete control of the dark elves’ interests in Luskan. Jarlaxle was planning to journey to Port Llast to find Entreri’s party, but Quenthel and Gromph soon arrived at his headquarters in Luskan and ordered him to return to Menzoberranzan with his forces. Quenthel commanded Jarlaxle and his soldiers to prepare the Do'Urden compound for proper habitation, and the matron mother explicitly told the mercenary leader that if he did not follow her orders, she would take complete control of Bregan D'aerthe.

As Drizzt and his four companions were traveling away from Icewind Dale, they were followed by Braelin Janquay, a drow scout of Bregan D'aerthe whom Jarlaxle had sent to the arctic region to watch for Drizzt. The friends soon realized that they were being followed and subdued Braelin, but once they learned the scout’s identity and mission, they allowed him to accompany them in journeying south through the Spine of the World. Barron stayed with the group until they reached the northern outskirts of Luskan, where the five friends met with Beniago. The disguised drow told Drizzt and his comrades that Jarlaxle was no longer in Luskan and that they should avoid the city to prevent their dark elf enemies from discovering their whereabouts. The band traveled to the village of Longsaddle, the home of the eccentric but talented family of wizards known as the Harpells, whom they hoped would be able to help them find a way to end Pwent’s cursed existence as a vampire. The Harpells told Catti-brie and her companions that there was no cure for vampirism, but they did provide the friends with a spell and a magical ring that might be able to trap Pwent’s soul in an enchanted gemstone. If the magic was successful, the group could then take the imprisoned Pwent to a powerful priest who could free the dwarf of the curse and send him to the afterlife.

Meanwhile, Port Llast was attacked by a force of drow and driders led by the dark elf warrior Tiago Baenre, who was determined to hunt down and kill Drizzt. Tiago’s band assaulted the coastal city in order to apprehend Entreri and Drizzt’s other former companions, whom they hoped would be able to inform them of the drow ranger’s whereabouts. Entreri and his four comrades fought valiantly against Tiago and his party, but ultimately the assassin, Dahlia, Ambergris, and Afafrenfere were captured, while Effron managed to escape. In addition, the force of drow devastated sections of Port Llast and slaughtered many of the town’s inhabitants.

Around that time, Quenthel, Gromph, Methil, and a band of drow journeyed to Gauntlgrym to view the fledgling Xorlarrin city. Upon their arrival, they met Tos'un and Doum'wielle, who had been taken to Gauntlgrym by the Xorlarrins. When Doum'wielle protested her harsh treatment by the dark elves, Quenthel severely beat the young half-drow with her snake-headed whip. Afterward, Quenthel questioned Tos'un, who revealed that he had lived on the surface in the Silver Marches for over a century, but had decided to return to Menzoberranzan with his daughter. Tos'un also told Quenthel that Doum'wielle had murdered her brother, who had not followed Lolth, and he personally had betrayed and seriously wounded the half-drow’s mother, the moon elf Sinnafein. Quenthel allowed Tos'un and Doum'wielle to join the party of dark elves accompanying her, and she then met with Tsabrak. The matron mother commanded Tsabrak to learn a powerful spell known as the Darkening from Methil, who would impart the knowledge directly into the mage’s mind, and then journey through the Underdark to the Silver Marches, where he would cast the enchantment. Created and powered by Lolth herself, the Darkening was a spell that would steal the daylight of the lands of the Silver Marches, changing the region into an advantageous battlefield for the drow of Menzoberranzan. The Spider Queen wanted the dark elves to wage war against the peoples of the Silver Marches as part of her plot to gain control of the domain of magic, as well as harm Drizzt and by extension, Mielikki.

Quenthel later spoke with Saribel Xorlarrin, Zeerith’s second daughter and a priestess of Lolth, and instructed her to hastily travel to Menzoberranzan with Tiago when he returned to Gauntlgrym. Before Quenthel left the Xorlarrin settlement, she told Berellip that the chamber in which a fire primordial, which powered the forges of Gauntlgrym, was magically entrapped would serve as the chapel of Q'Xorlarrin. Shortly after Quenthel’s band departed from Gauntlgrym, Tiago’s force returned to the ancient dwarven stronghold with their four captives. While Entreri, Dahlia, and Afafrenfere were imprisoned in the forge room of Gauntlgrym and regularly tortured, Ambergris was sent to work in the complex’s mines. 

As Quenthel and her entourage were making their way back to Menzoberranzan, the matron mother met with Gromph and came to the realization that the archmage was truly one of her most valuable and mighty allies. Quenthel later spoke with Tos'un and Doum'wielle, whom she planned on using as a way to gain an advantage over Mez'Barris in order to further strengthen her control over Menzoberranzan. Meanwhile, Berellip interrogated Entreri about Drizzt’s whereabouts and brutally beat the assassin when he did not provide her with the answers that she wanted. Gromph and Methil soon left Quenthel’s party and returned to Gauntlgrym, where the illithid intruded into Dahlia’s mind to discover the last place that she had seen Drizzt. Methil and Gromph learned that Dahlia thought that Drizzt was with the dwarves of Icewind Dale, and they also realized that the elf would have an important role in Lolth’s plans. Tiago, Saribel, and the priestess’s brother Ravel, the leader of House Xorlarrin’s wizards, magically spied on the interrogation of Dahlia and ascertained Drizzt’s supposed whereabouts. Shortly after questioning Dahlia, Gromph magically transported himself to Menzoberranzan, while Methil remained in Gauntlgrym and frequently intruded into the elf woman’s mind in order to change her into an agent of the Spider Queen. Tiago decided to temporarily disregard Quenthel’s order to return to Menzoberranzan and journeyed north from Gauntlgrym in search of Drizzt with Ravel, Saribel, and a Xorlarrin strike force that consisted of drow, driders, and goblin slaves. 

In Port Llast, Effron was determined to find and rescue Dahlia and his other companions from the drow, but he had no idea where to start searching for them. The same day that Quenthel and her escort arrived in Menzoberranzan, Jarlaxle met with the drow psionicist Kimmuriel Oblodra, his co-leader of Bregan D'aerthe, and discussed the latest turn of events among the dark elves. Neither Jarlaxle nor Kimmuriel was pleased about being under Quenthel’s command and planned to find an opportunity to undermine the matron mother so that the mercenary band could become an independent organization once more.

A short time later, the eight ruling matron mothers of Menzoberranzan assembled together and Zeerith formally withdrew House Xorlarrin from the city. However, following Lolth and Quenthel’s demand, Zeerith promised that Q'Xorlarrin would be a close ally of Menzoberranzan, pay the city a tithe in the form of arms, and serve under the command of the Baenres in times of war. Once Zeerith departed, the ruling Houses that had been below the Xorlarrins in rank ascended to their new positions, and Quenthel declared that House Do'Urden would be reconstituted as the Eighth House. Quenthel explained that House Do'Urden would be formed through a cooperation of the other ruling Houses, with Sos'umptu temporarily assuming the position of Matron Mother of the Eighth House, Tos'un becoming the patron of the House, and Bregan D'aerthe serving as the House’s garrison. Quenthel then informed the other matron mothers that Tsabrak was journeying east to the surface to enact the Darkening, and after he completed the spell, Menzoberranzan would follow the Spider Queen’s command by waging war against the Silver Marches. Following the gathering of the Ruling Council, Quenthel met with Gromph, who revealed that he knew that she planned on naming Tiago as House Do'Urden’s weapons master and Tsabrak as the House wizard.

After only a brief stay in Longsaddle, Drizzt and his companions left the village and journeyed east toward Gauntlgrym. As they were traveling through the wilderlands of the Crags, the group was attacked by the lich Ebonsoul, who had been seeking Regis. The friends could not defeat Ebonsoul, but Catti-brie managed to trap the undead wizard within the magical gemstone that was supposed to be used to ensnare Pwent’s soul. Although their original plan was now ruined, the group decided to continue their journey to Gauntlgrym. The companions soon reached the upper levels of the ancient dwarven stronghold, where they battled several bands of goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears who served the Xorlarrins while they searched for Pwent. After defeating a large number of goblinkin, they encountered Pwent, who could seldom control the monstrous tendencies of his curse, and he immediately attacked them. Following a short fight, Catti-brie tried to capture Pwent’s soul, but the magic was unsuccessful and the undead dwarf escaped. However, before he departed, Pwent told the five friends that Entreri, Dahlia, Ambergris, and Afafrenfere were being held prisoner by the drow in the lower levels of Gauntlgrym. Even though it meant that they would have to confront the dark elves, Drizzt and his comrades decided that they would rescue Entreri and the others as well as discover a way to end Pwent’s cursed life.

Meanwhile, Tiago and his formidable force assaulted the dwarven complex beneath Kelvin’s Cairn in an attempt to find Drizzt. Tiago’s contingent managed to eventually defeat the dwarves after a brutal battle, but many of the drow, driders, and goblins were slain, including Jearth Xorlarrin, the weapons master of House Xorlarrin. Following the clash, Tiago and his band imprisoned the surviving dwarves, who informed them that Drizzt had left Icewind Dale a long time earlier.

In Menzoberranzan, Quenthel and Gromph met with Mez'Barris and several of the other Armgo nobles in order to secure an alliance with House Barrison Del'Armgo. Quenthel revealed to the Armgos that House Do'Urden would lead the fight in the Silver Marches, but all the Houses of Menzoberranzan and Q'Xorlarrin would contribute representatives to the force sent to the surface. However, the actual drow company would not be large, and Lolth and Quenthel’s plan was that the dark elves would instead utilize the orcs of Many-Arrows. The vast army of the orc kingdom would do the majority of the fighting against the peoples of the Silver Marches, while the drow would primarily serve as advisors who directed the offensive. This strategy ensured that no matter the outcome of the war, the drow would not suffer any serious losses themselves. Quenthel also informed the Armgo nobles that Tos'un would be one of the leaders of the force sent against the Silver Marches. Shortly after they spoke with Mez'Barris and her family, Quenthel and Gromph met with Jarlaxle and discussed the coming conflict. Jarlaxle convinced Quenthel to allow some of his soldiers to return to Luskan, but the matron mother told the mercenary leader that he would remain in Menzoberranzan and have no part in the campaign against the Silver Marches because of his close relationship with Drizzt. Quenthel and Gromph later had another discussion about the war, and the matron mother explained that in addition to Tos'un, the contingent sent to the east would be commanded by Tiago and Saribel. Quenthel also revealed that she was determined to make certain that Tiago survived the war, but Tos'un did not, and that after the end of the conflict, she planned on using House Do'Urden to gain more power on the Ruling Council.

In Gauntlgrym, Drizzt tracked down Pwent, and following a brief fight, the vampire managed to control his curse and restrain himself. Drizzt was able to convince Pwent to help him and his companions rescue Entreri and the others, and the undead dwarf then guided the group to the forge room of Gauntlgrym, where Entreri and Afafrenfere were being held in cages. The five friends, Drizzt’s magical panther Guenhwyvar, Pwent, and several drow who had been transformed into vampires and were controlled by the undead dwarf immediately entered the chamber and engaged an enemy force consisting of dark elves, driders, and goblin slaves. As the combatants fought throughout the forge room, Entreri escaped from his cage and quickly joined the chaotic battle. Drizzt and his comrades ultimately defeated the Xorlarrin band, while Berellip and the other drow in Gauntlgrym withdrew to the lowest levels of the complex to avoid a confrontation with the formidable group. After the end of the fight, Pwent and his surviving vampire minions attacked Drizzt and his companions, but the undead drow were soon defeated and Catti-brie managed to trap the dwarf vampire’s soul in a magical silver horn possessed by Wulfgar. Once Afafrenfere was freed, Drizzt and Entreri swiftly made their way to Gauntlgrym’s mines to rescue Ambergris, while the others remained in the forge room.

Catti-brie soon received a magical call from the primordial and was drawn to the primordial chamber, where the godlike being unsuccessfully tried to persuade her to free it. Catti-brie was attacked by a water elemental that had been commanded to guard the chamber, but she eventually managed to destroy the creature. Catti-brie was then confronted by Dahlia, who had been dominated by Lolth and was now a servant of the evil goddess. While Drizzt and Entreri freed Ambergris from Gauntlgrym’s mines, Dahlia and two large jade spiders that served as guardians of the Q'Xorlarrin chapel assailed Catti-brie. Following a vicious fight, Catti-brie slew the spiders with some assistance from the primordial and defeated Dahlia by using magic to collapse part of a nearby tunnel onto the elf woman. When Catti-brie, Drizzt, and the others were later reunited, they decided to leave Gauntlgrym, except for Entreri, who chose to remain in the complex. Entreri had loved Dahlia and wanted to gain some vengeance on the drow for transforming her into an agent of the Spider Queen. Before Drizzt and his companions departed from Gauntlgrym, Bruenor placed his axe, shield, and helmet in the ancient dwarven homeland’s main forge and received a gift from the dwarf gods, who infused his weapons with powerful magic. Once the group left Gauntlgrym and reached the surface, Afafrenfere and Ambergris decided to journey to the kingdom of Damara, while Drizzt and the others began to make their way toward Port Llast and Longsaddle.

Shortly after the fight between Dahlia and Catti-brie, Quenthel and Gromph magically transported to Gauntlgrym and met with Methil, who revealed that he had used his psionic abilities to secretly save the elf woman from being killed by the collapsing tunnel. The Xorlarrins soon returned to the main areas of the complex, but when Berellip entered her personal chambers, she was attacked and killed by Entreri, who then left Gauntlgrym. A short time later, Tiago and his diminished force returned to Gauntlgrym with a sizeable number of dwarf slaves. When Tsabrak and his escort of drow reached the Silver Marches, the Xorlarrin wizard cast the Darkening and acted as a conduit for Lolth. The Spider Queen successfully stole the daylight from the Silver Marches, preparing the battlefield for her drow minions. Gromph magically transported to the surface with Tos'un and Doum'wielle to witness the Darkening, but he soon had to depart for Gauntlgrym. When Zeerith arrived in the fledgling Xorlarrin city, she was met by Quenthel and Gromph, who introduced her to Dahlia and revealed that the elf was now the Matron Mother of House Do'Urden.



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  1. R.A. Salvatore (March 2014). Night of the Hunter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 32. ISBN 0-7869-6511-8.

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