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|“|| Crossing the wide realms of Faerûn in search of adventure, the dark elf princess Liriel Baenre and her companion Fyodor find themselves in the barbarian's homeland of Rashemen. In a land ruled by witches, Liriel must disguise herself lest she spark the people's hatred of dark elves.
Yet from the deep tunnels of the Underdark, glittering eyes and a mind twisted by malice are watching her every move, preparing for vengeance.
The novel opens with the Battle of Immil Dale (1360 DR), in which the Tuigan Horde has engaged the berserkers of Rashemen in a dead-magic zone. The Tuigan send forth zombies to attack the Rashemi and would have nearly succeeded had not young Fyodor charged forth against orders to win the day. Because Fyodor is unable to control his berserker rages, he is given a blunt sword in anticipation of his death, but his grandmother, the elder witch Zofia, commands him to travel west to find the Windwalker to save both himself and the land of Rashemen, whose magic is failing.
Back in the present day (1361 DR), Liriel Baenre and Fyodor are enroute to Rashemen in order to return the Windwalker. They disembark from a ship in Waterdeep and travel to the Promenade of the Dark Maiden near Skullport, where Qilue Veladorn attempts to speed their way via a portal. However, Liriel inadvertently leads Lolth's power into the temple, despite (or perhaps because of) having turned away from the Spider Queen. Instead, they are forced to travel onwards alone. However, Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun's apprentice, Sharlarra Vendreth, catches wind of their plight and transports them to the High Forest.
Meanwhile, Liriel is still being pursued by Shakti Hunzrin, who has allied with Dragon's Hoard leader Gorlist, his hired deathsinger Brindlor Zidorion, and the eccentric Thayvian Red Wizard Merdrith. Shakti reveals her favor of Lolth by bringing Quenthel Baenre back from the dead, even as she continues to court the favor of Vhaeraun. She makes a covert deal with Gromph Baenre to bring Liriel and the Windwalker back to him; in turn, he grants her a mercenary band and a horde of zombies.
In the High Forest, Thorn, a lythari "Moon Hunter" and chosen of Eilistraee finds Liriel and Fyodor and escorts them to Rashemen through a special form of travel through moonbeams; Liriel must stay asleep for the entire trip. They finally reach Rashemen only to be confronted by a group of hathran witches. Liriel uses a magical mask taken from Fraeni, whom she had killed, and disguises herself as Sylune, the sister of Qilue who she knew had studied in Rashemen and who she had falsely assumed was a drow. Sofia Othlor, eldest of the witches, knows of her true identity but plays along with the trick, bringing the pair into Fyodor's home village of Dernovia.
Eventually, Sharlarra catches up with Liriel and Fyodor, just before Shakti and Gorlist's band do the same. Liriel unites with the Rashemi witches, beserkers, and Sharlarra to defeat her foes and heal the wound that had separated the land from magic and the spirits. Liriel renounces Lolth one last time, but realizes she cannot join the Eilistraeeans either. Gorlist attacks her, but Fyodor comes to her rescue, saving her but giving his own in the process. Shakti, however, has survived the attack and decided not to attempt to kill Liriel when so many others have failed. Liriel gives her the magical mask and the Windwalker, with the implicit assumption that Shakti will return to Menzoberranzan in the guise of Liriel, while Liriel goes off to make her life somewhere on the surface.
- Brindlor Zidorion, deathsinger of Ched Nasad
- Gorlist, leader of the Dragon's Hoard
- Merdrith, a Red Wizard
- Qilue Veladorn, priestess of the Promenade of the Dark Maiden and one of the Seven Sisters
- Shakti Hunzrin, Menzoberranyr priestess
- Sharlarra Vendreth, Khelben's apprentice
- Thorn, lythari Chosen of Eilistraee
- Zofia, othlor witch of Rashemen
- Alustriel Silverhand, one of the Seven Sisters
- Azar (also Azur), water genasi
- Caladorn Cassalanter, one of the secret Lords of Waterdeep
- Durnan (appears as Durham), gatekeeper to Undermountain
- Danilo Thann, aristocrat of Waterdeep
- Gromph Baenre, Archmage of Menzoberranzan
- Ibn, former first mate of the Elfmaid
- Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun, Lord Mage of Waterdeep
- Laeral Silverhand, wife to Khelben and one of the Seven Sisters
- Petyar, Fyodor's brother
- Storm Silverhand, one of the Seven Sisters
- Sylune, the witch of Shadowdale, spectral harpist and one of the Seven Sisters
- The Simbul, one of the Seven Sisters
- Vestress, illithid ruler of Ascarle
- Ysolde Veladorn, daughter of Qilue Veladorn
- Xzorsh, sea elf
- High Forest
- Promenade of the Dark Maiden, Skullport
- Trisk, Purple Rocks