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|“|| Embittered paladin Kleef Kenric is on a quest to stop evil forces from taking advantage of the chaos rolling across the land of Faerûn and claiming dominion over the entirety of the Realms.
Stubbornly clinging to his family's worship of a long-forgotten god, Kleef Kenric soon discovers that his god has blessed him with divine gifts, making him one of a new group of Chosen cropping up around the Realms. This divine gift makes him an excellent ally—and a target for those who wish corral his powers.
After battling his way out Marsember, a city besieged on all sides in the wake of the Sundering, he becomes swept up in the mission of a group of odd allies—a warrior noblewoman, an accomplished thief, and a mysterious short pudgy man exuding a faint odor of decay. With the forces of Shade tracking their every step, they travel to the Underdark to thwart the rise of the goddess of Death, but before long Kleef learns that his allies hide dangerous secrets—secrets that could destroy not only Kleef but the very fabric of the Forgotten Realms.
|— Amazon.com product listing|
In the later months of 1486 DR, Marsember, a major port city in the kingdom of Cormyr, faced several different threats. The forces of the Empire of Netheril had invaded Cormyr and were steadily advancing south, and the shadow fiends of the city of Wheloon had escaped from their prison and were swiftly making their way toward Marsember. In addition, Cormyr could receive no assistance from the elven city of Myth Drannor, since it was also being attacked by the Shadovar.
At the same time that the civilian residents of Marsember evacuated, a force of Shadovar warriors secretly arrived in the city. The leader of the company was Yder Tanthul, a Prince of Shade and the commander of the guard in the Hall of Shadows, a Netherese temple of Shar, the goddess of darkness and loss. Yder and his warriors journeyed to Marsember in pursuit of Joelle Emmeline, a Berduskan jewel thief and a Chosen of Sune, the goddess of love and passion, and Malik el Sami yn Nasser, the Seraph of Lies and a Chosen of Cyric, the god of murder and strife. With divine assistance, Joelle and Malik had stolen the sacred relic known as the Eye of Gruumsh from the Hidden Temple of Nishrek in the orc stronghold of Big Bone Deep in the Stonelands. The Eye was the medium through which the orc god Gruumsh perceived the world. Joelle and Malik had been instructed by their patron deities to take the Eye to the earth primordial Grumbar’s temple in the Underchasm in order to thwart Shar’s plans to drive Grumbar away from Toril when it completely separated from Abeir. The evil goddess was attempting to trick Grumbar into leaving Toril because his earthly essence was what kept the Shadowfell separate from the physical world. If Grumbar left, Shar would be free to spread the Shadowfell across Toril, allowing her to become more powerful than all her fellow deities. By delivering the Eye to Grumbar as a gift from Luthic, the goddess of caves, Joelle and Malik would enable Sune to magically bind the earth primordial to Toril.
Yder and his company of Shadovar were determined to apprehend Malik and Joelle and seize the Eye of Gruumsh in order to ensure that Shar’s plan succeeded. As they pursued the two Chosen through the streets of Marsember, some of Yder’s warriors were detected by Kleef Kenric, a topsword in the Marsember Watch and a follower of Helm, the god of guardians, who had died nearly a century earlier but was one of the many deceased deities who had risen around that time. Kleef realized that the Shadovar were trying to apprehend Joelle and Malik, and he quickly engaged the shades in order to help the pair escape. The fight between Kleef and the Netherese soon moved from a small street to a prominent bridge outside House Seasilver, the mansion of a noble Cormyrean family. As Yder and more Shadovar joined the clash, Kleef was given assistance and joined by Arietta Seasilver, a young noblewoman who believed that she was a Chosen of Siamorphe, the goddess of nobility.
When a group of Seasilver household guards and a squad of Marsember watchmen arrived at the bridge to aid Kleef and Arietta, the shades used their ability to magically travel through shadows in order to transport themselves away from the battle site so that they could continue chasing Joelle and Malik, who had fled into House Seasilver. Yder and his warriors entered the mansion, but the two Chosen managed to escape capture and deceived the Shadovar into believing that they and the Eye were aboard a ship called the Wave Wyvern, which was sailing away from Marsember at that moment. Arietta’s parents, the grand duke and duchess Farnig and Elira Seasilver, and a contingent of the family’s guards were on the ship and trying to flee the city, but Yder and the other shades quickly transported onto the vessel. The Netherese warriors killed Farnig and many of the others aboard the Wave Wyvern, and then took Elira and the remaining men-at-arms as prisoners. After the fight, Yder realized that he had been tricked, and although he was still determined to acquire the Eye, he knew that he could not return to the city to search for Joelle and Malik because the Marsember Watch was most likely assembling to oppose the band of Shadovar. Yder decided that his company would use the Wave Wyvern to intercept the two Chosen when they hired a ship to journey away from Marsember.
Kleef and Arietta watched the slaughter on the Wave Wyvern from the shore, and they then met Joelle and Malik. Since Yder’s force had been pursuing her and Malik since Big Bone Deep, Joelle knew that the shades would find them once again, so despite the Chosen of Cyric’s objections, she revealed their mission to Kleef and Arietta and convinced the pair to help them deliver the Eye of Gruumsh to Gurmbar’s temple in the Underchasm. In addition to wanting to stop Shar’s plans, Arietta and Kleef sought to confront the Shadovar warriors in the hope that they could rescue Elira. Kleef, Joelle, Arietta, Malik, and several Marsember watchmen and Seasilver men-at-arms soon departed from the city on the gnome smuggler Falrinn Greatorm’s ship, the Lonely Roamer. That night, Yder magically transported himself onto the vessel and killed two men before speaking with Kleef. The Netherese prince tried to convince Kleef to betray Joelle and Malik by either trading them for Elira or personally recovering the Eye for Shar. Although he had no intention of allowing the Shadovar to apprehend Malik and Joelle, Kleef told Yder that he needed time to think before he made a decision. After Yder left the Lonely Roamer, Kleef and his companions developed a plan to rescue Elira by deceiving the evil prince and his warriors.
For the next few weeks, the Wave Wyvern followed Greatorm’s ship as it sailed toward a small islet where Kleef and his comrades planned to trick the shades into running their vessel aground on a submerged reef. Throughout that time, Yder used his magic to enter Kleef’s dreams in an attempt to pressure the topsword into serving Shar by stealing the Eye. When the Lonely Roamer reached the islet, Kleef and the others managed to enact their plan successfully. When the Shadovar departed from the trapped Wave Wyvern on longboats to pursue Greatorm’s ship, Arietta, Kleef, and one of the other Marsember watchmen, Jang, boarded the vessel, killed the few shade warriors remaining aboard, and freed Elira as well as the imprisoned Seasilver guards. Kleef and Arietta ordered Jang and the men-at-arms to free the Wave Wyvern from the reef and sail away from the islet before the Shadovar could return to the ship. The pair then left the Wave Wyvern on a small boat to assist their other companions, who had been forced to leave the Lonely Roamer after it was attacked by a large aquatic shadow monster that the Netherese had summoned. Arietta and Kleef saved Joelle, Malik, and Greatorm before the three could be found by the Shadovar, and the group hastily made their way to shore in order to escape Yder’s sea monster and continue their mission.
Shortly after the band reached the mainland, they separated, with Greatorm traveling alone to the nearby Turmishan city of Alaghon while Kleef and the others joined a sizeable caravan that was heading toward the Underchasm. Meanwhile, Yder and his remaining warriors made their way to the mainland and prepared to continue hunting Kleef and his companions, but they soon discovered that a growing horde of orcs was also pursuing the group in order to recover the Eye of Gruumsh. Before the shades resumed their pursuit of the four comrades, Yder’s father, Telamont Tanthul, the ruler of the Netherese empire, magically contacted the prince. Telamont commanded Yder to send the Hall of Shadows’ guards to join the Shadovar forces waging war against Cormyr. Yder followed his father’s orders, but since the Hall of Shadows would be vulnerable after the departure of its guards, he sent several of the shades with him to protect Shar’s temple. Yder and the remaining shades then began to once again pursue Kleef and his companions, and to increase their chances of acquiring the Eye, they formed an alliance with the force of orcs seeking the relic.
For the next several weeks, Kleef and his three comrades traveled with the caravan, which was continually followed and raided by the orc horde. A few times, the Shadovar took advantage of the incursions to try to gain the Eye, but each time they were driven off. Throughout that time, Yder used his magic to repeatedly visit Kleef’s dreams in an attempt to coerce him to steal the Eye, but the watchman refused to betray his companions and also came to the realization that he might be a Chosen of Helm. Also during that time, Joelle and Malik discussed how in order for Sune’s magic to bind Grumbar to Toril, the goddess’s Chosen had to deliver the Eye to the earth primordial’s temple and then perform a ritual in which someone who was completely in love with another person would willingly sacrifice them self. When the caravan was crossing the River Arrabar, they were ambushed by the orcs, but the attackers were quickly defeated and repelled. Afterward, Kleef and the others realized that the orcs were working together with the Shadovar.
Over the next few days, the force of orcs repeatedly attacked the caravan, but they could not overcome the magical defenses created by the wizards in the convoy and were repulsed. One night while the caravan was encamped at the edge of the Chondalwood, the orcs managed to breach the defenses, and the Shadovar directly assailed Kleef and his companions. The group fought valiantly against the shades, but they were forced to flee into the Chondalwood, where they were given assistance by the satyrs and treants living in the forest. While many of the forest creatures fought the orcs who attempted to pursue the four companions into the Chondalwood, one of the satyrs helped the group magically travel a great distance through the vast woods. The band was ultimately brought to a river that would lead them to the Underchasm. At that time, Cyric magically spoke to Malik and ordered him to help his comrades deliver the Eye of Gruumsh to Grumbar’s temple, but then murder the other Chosen at the exact moment of their triumph. By doing that, Malik would enable Cyric to complete a magical ritual that would spread strife and betrayal across Toril, providing the god with further power and guaranteeing him a high position in the divine hierarchy.
While the group built a raft that they could use to journey down the river, Malik caused Arietta to realize that she was not a Chosen of Siamorphe. For the next several days, the four companions traveled down the river, and during that time, Arietta and Joelle developed a passionate affection for each other. When the group arrived at the site near the Underchasm where they had to go ashore, they discovered that the Shadovar and the orcs had learned of their whereabouts. The comrades were able avoid the orc horde and reach the Underchasm, but as they were making their way across the series of bridges and earthmotes that led to Sadrach’s Spire, a castle above Grumbar’s temple, their pursuers caught up with them. Kleef and his companions managed to kill the chieftain of the orcs, deceive the Netherese and orcs into turning against each other, and cause a chaotic three-sided fight to erupt. The group used the confusing clash to escape their enemies and then hastily fled to Sadrach’s Spire, but they could not enter the castle since the entrance was heavily barred. As the force of orcs steadily approached, the companions tried to find a way to enter Sadrach’s castle, but they were unsuccessful.
Joelle and Malik soon revealed to their comrades that in order to magically bind Grumbar to Toril, Arietta would need to sacrifice herself. Knowing that it was the only way to stop Shar and save the world, Arietta was willing to offer her life, and her selfless courage inspired Kleef and renewed his faith. Kleef was then imbued with a spark of Helm’s divine essence, making him one of the god’s Chosen. Helm also used his magic to open the gates of Sadrach’s castle, and when the group entered the keep, they discovered that it was inhabited by a large number of undead creatures, including ghouls and zombies. Malik was able to use his magic to protect himself and his companions from the undead, which assailed the orcs who attempted to follow the band into the castle. As the comrades were making their way through the castle, they eventually encountered a young woman named Gingrid, who was a follower of Myrkul, the deceased god of the dead. While the group was speaking with Gingrid, Yder and his few remaining warriors attacked them, but following a vicious fight, the prince was killed by Kleef and the other shades were also slain. Afterward, the companions tried to devise a way to get past the wallbound, magical entities in Sadrach’s castle that had been created by the Spellplague and were preventing the band from reaching Grumbar’s temple. At that time, the comrades realized that over the course of their adventurous journey, Arietta had truly become a Chosen of Siamorphe. Arietta used her newfound powers to command the wallbound not to harm the group and allow them to access the passage that led to the temple.
When the four companions arrived at Grumbar’s temple, they delivered the Eye of Gruumsh to the earth primordial, and Kleef then volunteered to sacrifice himself to save Arietta from having to offer her own life. Before Kleef could act, Malik tried to murder Arietta, and although he was stopped by Joelle, the Chosen of Sune lost her life. Joelle sacrificing herself to save Arietta activated Sune’s binding magic, tying Grumbar to Toril and thwarting Shar’s plans. After the magical ritual was completed and Grumbar destroyed the Eye, Malik fled the temple, and Kleef and Arietta soon left the shrine as well. As the two friends were making their way out of Sadrach’s castle, Malik once again attacked them, but he was quickly subdued. Malik revealed that Cyric had ordered him to kill the other Chosen, but Arietta and Kleef still decided to allow him to live, since the god of strife’s punishment for failing would be worse than death. Kleef and Arietta knocked Malik unconscious, and when they then departed from the castle to return to Cormyr, they discovered that new ground was filling in the vast void that had once been the Underchasm.