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Menzoberranzan: Houses of Intrigue

Menzoberranzan is a place of evil, but does not know its own true nature. It is a matriarchal society, ruled over by priestesses of the dark goddess Lolth, the Spider Queen. In Menzoberranzan, as with all drow cities, every drow (dark elf) family is ranked according to House in the favor of the deity. The great Houses constantly plot against one another, planning and carrying out the downfall of rivals so that they might ascend in city's hierarchy, and in the eyes of Lolth. Though a goddess of chaos, Lolth has placed strict requirements for advancement upon her people, knowing that too much chaos would utterly destroy her most faithful worshipers

Amid all the planning and scheming is House Do'urden, the tenth house and a noble house struggling its way up the ladder of Menzoberranzan's power structure. Lolth's statutes decree that one house may attack another, but the destruction must take place within a single night, and the rival house must be utterly destroyed. As long as the first condition is met, no other houses may interfere in the war. The second condition must be met, for if any member of the besieged family lives to the next morning, they may demand retribution from the city's Ruling Council. So, bargains must be made.

Dinin Do'Urden

House Do'urden makes such a bargain with one of the city's most skilled wizards, the Faceless One. Dinin Do'urden, secondboy of House Do'urden confirms the payment of his family's matron, Malice Do'urden, in exchange for the death of one Alton DeVir, a low level wizard living outside his House in The Academy school of Sorcere. Gaining this confirmation, Dinin returns home to the throne room of his mother who is pregnant yet again.

Matron Malice finalizes her plans against House DeVir with her husbands and children, all the while she is experiencing the pains of her impending delivery. Her child will be born this night, a third son who will not live to see the morning. A third-born son of a great House is traditionally given to Lolth in blood sacrifice, and so he will be killed as soon as he has been given a name.

House Do'urden launches its attack on DeVir, pressing every advantage it possesses, both physically in terms of warriors, and psychically in terms of prayers to Lolth. The battle is a virtual stalemate until Lolth grants the prayers of Do'urden over those of DeVir, allowing the psychic defenses of the rival house to fall. In the middle of the carnage can be found Zaknafein, Weapons Master and First Husband of House Do'urden. Zak is the finest swordsman in Menzoberranzan, possibly the best that has ever lived in all of Faerun. He cuts a swath through the DeVir warriors and enters the chapel of House DeVir and slays Matron Ginafae and all her daughters.

Back in the Do'urden chapel, Malice is in the throes of birth pangs, and she delivers her third son, naming him Drizzt. In the hallways of House DeVir, the newborn babe's older brothers complete the slaughter of the DeVir family. When the fighting has subsided, Dinin catches his older brother Nalfein Do'urden by surprise and stabs him in the back through the heart, taking the position of elderboy in the House. Maya Do'urden, youngest sister of House Do'urden, senses the death, and stays the hand of her sister Briza Do'urden just as she is about to strike the sacrificial blow. They deem the spider goddess appeased by the death of Nalfein, and Malice spares the baby. For the first time, they notice Drizzt was born with purple eyes, an extreme rarity among his usually red-eyed species. At DeVir, the Do'urden warriors search the House, finding and killing every remaining member of the fallen family so as to leave no witnesses behind. Zak finds three little children, and he hates himself for what his culture is forcing him to do, and for his lack of courage to stand up to the wrongness of it all.

In Sorcere, Alton DeVir arrives at the chambers of the Faceless One, and is immediately attacked. He runs, but cannot get away from the more powerful wizard, and is near his end. Just before the killing blow, the Faceless One informs Alton that he is the last of his family, his house has fallen. Raising his hand to complete his end of the deal, the Faceless One is suddenly killed by a crossbow quarrel through the back of his neck. He has been killed by his own brother, Masoj Hun'ett, in revenge for years of subservience to the Faceless One. Masoj has spared Alton, concocting a plan to allow the final member of the DeVir family to take the place of the Faceless One, and eventually enact his revenge on Do'urden. In return, Masoj will no longer be subservient, and immediately gains access to a myriad of powerful magical items, the most desirable of which is a Guenhwyvar's Figurine of a black panther.

House Do'urden: Growing Up Drow

Vierna Do'urden, Drizzt's second sister, is given the charge of rearing the boy, a process in drow society that is "not a time of nuturing, but of indoctrination." As with all males, Drizzt is treated as a second, or even third-class citizen, subservient to females in every way, most especially to the priestesses of Lolth. She strives to train Drizzt in the ways of the drow, honing the skills that set their race apart. He struggles to use his faerie fire, globes of darkness, and levitation correctly. His sister Briza castigates Vierna for being soft and compassionate to the boy, leading his treatment to nearly instantly become harsh, suffering the end of Vierna's whip. Though it all, Drizzt holds onto his joyful spirit and innocence. At the age of sixteen, Drizzt stands before his mother and is proclaimed to be "secondboy" of House Do'urden. Malice warns him, "Dishonor me, and I will put needles into your purple eyes." As with all drow females, Malice would not hesitate to do just that. He meets Zaknafein as an equal for the first time, and being both his father and House Weapons Master, he tests the boy's skill and agility. Malice believes because of his intelligence and digital dexterity he should enter the school for wizards, Sorcere. Zak does not agree, and challenges Drizzt to juggle coins with two hands, something he easily accomplishes. Not convinced, Malice prods Zak to push the lad further, so he throws ten coins through the air, telling Drizzt, "Catch them all or you will land in Sorcere, the school of magic. That is not where you belong!" Again, the feat is no difficult thing for the drow youth.

Rather than being sent directly to Melee-Magthere, Drizzt is entrusted to Zak for his weapons training. He is taken to spartan quarters, and instructed that all his time, whether eating, sleeping, or training will be spent in that single room. Other than a bed, weapons and a training dummy, the room is broad and empty. Zak leaves him to investigate the armaments, judging which best suit his hands. Zak, for his part, returns to his own quarters haunted by the faces of the children he has been forced to kill, and wonders if his own son's soul will become dark and tainted like every other drow in the Underdark.

Across the city in Sorcere, the new Faceless One, Alton DeVir attempts an ill-advised spell which allows him to break the barrier between life and death and contact his deceased mother. He wishes to know what House it was that caused his own's downfall, but is interrupted by a Yolchol just before she can reveal the truth. He is warned by the grotesque handmaiden of Lolth that the Spider Queen has little patience or mercy for meddling males. The wizard is explosively punished for his defiance, much to the chagrin of Masoj.

Drizzt's training with Zak commences, and continues in urgency. One day while sparring, Zaknafein inadvertently reveals that Drizzt had once had two brothers, and explains the true nature of the older brother's death. Drizzt is shocked to learn that Nalfein died on the night of his birth, not from the axe of a dwarf or the pick of a gnome, but the blade of a drow warrior. (Zak does not reveal at this time that it was his other brother, Dinin, that did the nefarious deed.) Drizzt becomes absorbed in his training for three more years, spending nearly every waking moment with Zaknafein, honing his already considerable skills.

Matron Malice comes to call at Drizzt's quarters when he turns nineteen to inspect his progress in warrior's training. Zaknafein challenges him immediately, drawing first blood as they seek to impress the matron. At first it seems that Drizzt gains the upper hand, but Zak easily turns his sword thrust against him and bloodies him a second time. Malice, however, is pleased that he even held his own against the weapons master, and proclaims him ready for Melee-Magthere.

At Sorcere, Sinafey Hun'ett comes to call upon her son Gelroos Hun'ett, the man otherwise known as the Faceless One. She quickly discovers Alton has taken his place, but just as quickly is informed by her younger son Masoj that he was the one who took his older brother's life. In typical drow fashion, Sinafey is not alarmed by the news, and in fact seems pleased. She immediately accepts Alton in place of her son to be her eyes and ears within Sorcere. When he begs to know who it was that brought about the downfall of his House from Sinafey, she eventually relents and gives him a name: Do'urden.

Next, Drizzt gathers with the members of the other noble Houses to bear witness to the punishment of a failed attack. House Teken'duis attacked House Freth and failed, leaving three noble children alive to make accusation. Matron Baenre brings all of the power that is hers to command, both magical and political, and brings down House Teken'duis. Every last member of the family and all the servants are put to death and the house torn apart and burned to the ground. Drizzt is appalled by what passes for drow justice, and his eyes are opened a little more to what his people are truly like.

Drizzt's revulsion at the punishment does not go unnoticed by his mother and sisters. They deem his heart too soft for their designs, and believe he must be made to take the life of another drow. Covering a servant goblin in the glamour of a drow warrior. They approach Drizzt with a ruse, his sister Maya claiming right of challenge against her little brother. The goblin poses as her champion, and attacks Drizzt. The sparring match lasts mere seconds, Drizzt disarming the false drow with his initial strike. As the goblin lays on the floor at the mercy of his blade, his mother and sisters insist he finish off the challenger. Following the command of his mother, he sends his blade home, but looks away as he does so. Before she leaves, Malice says, "You are a drow warrior now. You have earned it."

In Malice's throne room, Zaknafein protests Drizzt's being sent to the Academy, saying the instructors there will ruin him. Secretly, he knows they will further attempt to indoctrinate the boy into the philosophy of the drow, making him a cold-blooded murderer. Zak begs for two more years to mold him into the finest swordsman in all of Menzoberranzan, for his skills already surpass those of half of the Academy's student body. Malice insists that he must attend, because there is more to being a drow warrior than weapons mastery. Zak insists that Drizzt will only be taught treachery and deceit, tools which Malice believes will do the young one well and make him strong. Zak is warned to further keep his blasphemy to himself and not to interfere further in the life of their son, otherwise she will offer up Zak's heart as a sacrifice to the Spider Queen.

Maya Do'urden

In his anger and determination to never allow Drizzt to become what he fears, Zak marches directly to his son's room and begins attacking him. He confronts the boy with his recent killing, challenging him to see if any remorse remains in Drizzt's soul. During the battle, Zak looses himself in his own memories, telegraphing the guilt and pain he feels for his own sins onto Drizzt. This laspe of attention allows him to give himself over to his rage, and Drizzt takes advantage, but not before Zak plays dirty and blinds his boy to regain the upper hand. When Drizzt asks, "Do you so hate to lose?", Zak's response is "Do you not understand? To lose is to die!" In the end, Zak sees that Drizzt is still truly an innocent, and fears for him all the more, knowing he will not learn of the treachery around him until it is possibly too late. He walks away, telling Drizzt to "go and learn who you truly are." Drizzt dons his full armor for the first time, and is escorted by his brother (and instructor) Dinin to Melee-Magthere.

The Academy: The Heart of the Drow

Drizzt enters The Academy's warrior school, Melee-Magthere. Among the first year students is a young drow of the fifteenth house named Kelnozz Kenafen. Unknown to the them both, the new acquaintance would serve to be a lasting reminder of the nature of drowkind. As the first year students gather in the pyramid-shaped school, they are introduced to Hatch'net, the Master of Lore. Hatch'net imparts the drow version of the history of the world and their people's place in it:

"Menzoberranzan was not always our home, nor was any other cavern of the Underdark. Once we walked the surface of the world. Do you know of the surface? An awful place. Each day a great ball of fire rises into the open skies above...bringing hours of a light greater than the punishing spells of the priestesses of Lolth! Once our people walked the surface of the world...we walked beside the pale-skinned elves, the faeries! We thought the faeries our friends, we called them kin! We could not know, in our innocence, that they were the embodiment of deceit and evil!

We could not know that they would turn on us so suddenly—slaughtering our children and the eldest of our race. Without mercy the evil faeries pursued us across the surface of the world. Always we asked for peace, and always we were answered by swords and killing arrows. Then we found the goddess. It was the Spider Queen who took our orphaned race to her side and helped us fight off our enemies. It was Lolth who guided us to the paradise of the Underdark. And it is she who now gives us the strength and the magic to pay back our enemies.

You are the drow! Never again to be downtrodden, rulers of all you desire, conquerors of lands you choose to inhabit!"

Hatch'net's tirade went on and on, disparaging every other race that stood for goodness, or considered the drow a natural enemy. Light elves, deep gnomes, duergar dwarves, any intelligent surface creature, or any one who worshiped ought but Lolth were all labeled evil and therefore worthy of destruction. Thus began the indoctrination of the drow youth, but Drizzt was only left further appalled.

In the beginning days of the training, the students are introduced to the Grand Melee. The Grand Melee is essentially a free for all involving all students of the same year. The only rule in the Grand Melee is that "if a master calls you out, then you are out." Otherwise, anything and everything is acceptable, a factor which Drizzt would soon learn firsthand.

Kelnozz convinces Drizzt to form a team to better take on the other students. When Drizzt reminds him that in the end there can be only one (yes, I said it), Kelnozz replies, "let us defeat the others and then we can decide the matter between ourselves." Drizzt agrees, and the pair cut a swath through the singular warriors roaming the vast Grand Melee cavern. Drizzt is clearly the dominant fighter of the pair, impressing even Hatch'net and the other instructors. Near the end of the melee, Kelnozz is trapped and about to take a "killing" blow. Drizzt rushes in to save his partner, only to find himself struck in the back of the head by that same partner. Kelnozz wins the Grand Melee through treachery rather than skill, a lesson Drizzt would not soon forget.

While Masoj shares plans with Alton about Sinafey's designs for the downfall of House Do'urden, Drizzt is subjected to more and more of the hysterical ravings of Hatch'net. Drizzt remarks to himself that, though he is constantly barraged with so-called evidence of the evil and treacherous "lesser races," the only deceit he has ever actually witnessed (or been the recipient of) has been that of his own people. He bore the psychological training so that he could get to the physical. At this he excelled, quickly and easily surpassing his comrades.

When it came time for the second Grand Melee, Drizzt's skills were so finely honed, that none could match him, and the lessons he had learned of treachery he never forgot again. Where his peers would use lies and mistrust to advance themselves, Drizzt used logic and misdirection in addition to his superior skill, winning the day and taking first in the Grand Melee. Drizzt placed his trust in the only stable thing in his life, his skill and his scimitars, never again letting anyone under his guard again for many, many years. He practiced every waking hour, well beyond the requirements of the Melee-Magthere instructors. His work pays great dividend, winning him the Grand Melee for the next two years. His teachers are so impressed they move him up in the next Grand Melee with student three years ahead of him in their training, and he still wins nearly effortlessly.

By his eighth year, Drizzt is assigned to one of the groups doing practice patrols in the Underdark surrounding Menzoberranzan. In one such assignment, his party is told that a noble child of the First House, a Baenre, has gone missing in the tunnels, and that a group of hook horrors has been spotted. Without warning or instruction from his masters, Drizzt races off into the tunnels alone to effect a rescue. He finds the child crying and surrounded by three of the terrible beasts, and quickly dispatches one of them, but just as quickly looses the element of surprise. Creatures of the Underdark, hook horrors are giant creatures with bird-like beaks, humongous clawed arms, and thick carapaces. Quite mindless, they will attack and eat anything, including a drow child or a fierce warrior.

Before Drizzt can gain ground on another of the beasts, it has the child within its clawed arms, and tears the poor girl to shreds. He is attacked by the beast, but is able to drive his scimitars through its heart before it can snap his head off. Meanwhile, the rest of his party "discovers" that the child was no noble drow, but just a wandering orphan or castoff of low house, and therefore meaningless to them. Drizzt, for his part, believes the whole event to have been staged, and is greatly angered by the senseless and useless loss of life. He confronts Dinin, who is one of his instructors, and is told to remember his place. As he begins to protest further, they are interrupted by their sister, Vierna. She has come to warn them to be on their guard, for there are rumors of vengeance against House Do'urden, but from quarters unknown. Presumably, the revenge would be enacted in response to the fall of House DeVir from so many years before.

This is the first that Drizzt has heard of DeVir, and ask who they are. Dinin answers "House DeVir. On the very night you were born, they ceased to exist. An excellent attack, thank you." Drizzt is appalled that his family was responsible for the murder of an entire family, and is warned by Vierna, "Watch your words secondboy, the deed was perfectly executed. In the eyes of Menzoberranzan it never happened." Drizzt also learns that not only was Zaknafein involved in the attack, but that it was his duty to slay the matron and priestesses of DeVir, along with any other children who might have been in hiding. Drizzt is further informed that, as the third-born son of the house, he was to have been sacrificed to Lolth as tradition demanded, but for the blade of Dinin through Nalfein's heart. Vierna tells Drizzt, "You should thank him for that kindness." Dinin and Vierna leave Drizzt alone in his remorse.

For Drizzt's final year at the Academy, he and every other student are assigned a year in the other two divisions of the school, sixth months in Sorcere, and six in Arach-Tinith. The idea is to give the warriors exposure to the other disciplines so that they can better function in their necessary societal role. Unbeknown to Drizzt, he has stumbled into the clutches of one of his mortal enemies, a man he has never met before, Masoj Hun'ett. Masoj proves to be a braggadocio (as all drow wizards are), but found that his time in Sorcere was the most enjoyable of all his years at the Academy. He found that he was quite adept at the discipline, dexterity, and intellectual acrobatics necessary to perform magic, and within a few short week was already surpassing some of the most promising wizard acolytes. If his mother has not been convinced he would be a better warrior and had been sent to Sorcere instead, Drizzt might have become a master mage.

Drizzt spent his time mastering every cantrip and spell assigned, and thoroughly enjoyed being shown magical artifacts and weapons. Masoj grew more and more jealous and hateful of Drizzt because how easy all this seemed to the warrior. Many times he saw opportunity to eliminate the boy, but the orders of his matron stayed his hand. He had no desire to incur her wrath. Near the end of his time in Sorcere, Drizzt is introduced to Masoj's master, the Faceless One. Alton DeVir, still hot for vengeance, ignores the commands of Sinafey Hun'ett and attacks Drizzt in his office. He might have succeeded in killing the warrior if not for the intervention of Masoj. Alton is pounced upon by a great black panter, a beast that Masoj calls his pet, summonded from the astral plane via an onyx figurine. Drizzt is immediately enamored by the majesty and beauty of the animal, for he has met Guenhwyvar for the first time. It would not be their final meeting.

His six months in Sorcere over, Drizzt makes his way into Arach-Tinith and spends his last months of training among the priestesses of Lolth. As enjoyable his time in Sorcere had been, his time in Arach-Tinith was full of ten times the drudgery. Forced to listen to sermon after sermon of the glory and wisdom and goodness and power of the Spider Queen, Drizzt came to regard the dark goddesses worshipers more like slaves. He suffers it all until graduation day, where he and all the other male warriors who are graduating are offered one of the things that is most denied them, the bodies of the priestesses of Lolth. To graduate, the warriors and priestesses are to pair off and procreate as an act of worship to Lolth. Drizzt, when he is approached by one of the beautiful priestesses, is able to throw off his drug induced stupor and refuse her advances. He flees into the surrounding tunnels.

Vierna, in white-hot anger, tracks him down and confronts him. "You refused a high priestess," she screams at him. "By the laws, she could kill you for your insolence." When Drizzt says that he could not because he does not care for her, she grows even more angry and tells him it is not about caring, but about power gained from pleasing the Spider Queen. She orders him to return to the ceremony, but he refuses. She then takes him to another place, a high road overlooking a chasm. In the chasm are Drider, mindless creatures, drow from the waist up, spider from the waist down. They are created as a punishment for males who disobey, the power granted by Lolth changing a rebellious male into one of those evil creatures. Vierna knocks Drizzt down into the chasm, leaving him as food for the driders.

House Do'urden: Tidings of War

Miraculously, Drizzt awakens in a bed a while later, his mother standing over him. She has saved him for her own designs, and will no longer tolerate his "blasphemy" of Lolth any longer. What Vierna meant as mercy, leaving him to die as a meal for the driders, will not be done to him again. If Malice hears him ever disparage the Spider Goddess again, she will take him back to that place, not to kill him, but to turn him into a drider himself. Drizzt returns to Melee-Magthere, and graduates with the highest honors in his class. He returns home and acts like the subservient secondboy they expect him to be, but Zaknafein, hiding in the shadows, hears his son and believes that he has truly been turned to Lolth's side.

Zak believes he has failed his son, and that he should have just killed the boy so that he would not have become corrupt. Drizzt fears to face Zak again, now believing his mentor little more than a cold-blooded killer after hearing of his exploits on the night of his birth. Most confusing to Drizzt though, was the fact that he knew his mother and sisters for exactly what they were, but Zaknafein now seemed to be false, saying things to Drizzt and training him to be something that he himself was not.

Malice gathers he entire household together and proclaims to them the truth to the rumors of war against them. They still do not know who it could be, for none of the the houses below them could possibly contest their power, and even very few of those above them could either. Matron Malice welcomes the coming battle, telling her house to prepare for any and every attack, and when that attack comes, they would rise victorious. Once triumphant, Malice would take her place among the eight matrons on the Ruling Council as matron of the eighth house of Menzoberranzan.

Two days later, Drizzt joins one of the official patrol groups that kept the caverns safe around Menzoberranzan. In his group was his brother Dinin, Masoj Hun'ett, and a brand new friend, the beautiful astral panther Guenhwyvar. Many times the pair fought shoulder to shoulder as friends and comrades, much to the chagrin and hatred of Masoj who takes it upon himself to castigate the great cat harshly. Masoj grows worried and hopes that Sinafey will call for his death soon.

Sinafey does make a move, but not the exact one that Masoj was wishing for. She calls the ruling council of the city together, and calls for the punishment of House Do'urden for a failed attack. She reveals that Alton DeVir has survived, and has been posing as her son the Faceless One for all these years. Matron Baenre states that the council cannot enact punishment for a crime so long past, but Sinafey argues that they need not undertake punishment, but rather turn a blind eye as vengeance is taken. Baenre concurs and adjourns the meeting by saying, "This matter is settled, my sisters. It is good that we never met this day." Sinafey puts her plan in motion.

Dinin announces to his patrol group that they have been chosen for a rare opportunity, a surface raid. There are to travel for many days through the Underdark to the surface, and there raid a group of faeries, or light skinned elves, their mortal enemies. As they depart, Drizzt asks where Masoj and Guenhwyvar are, and he is told that wizards are not allowed on the surface by law, and so the panther will stay behind as well. Approaching the surface, Drizzt feels the breeze for the first time, and when they break into the night sky, he sees the cool radiance of the moon and is drawn to it like nothing else ever before. Within site of the cave opening was a gathering of faeries partaking in a revel to some moon goddess or other. Dinin calls for the attack while Drizzt whispers to himself,

"Such creatures as these are not—cannot be evil."

Drizzt stands back in horror as he watches his dark kind, in heart not in skin, as they coldly cut down these bright and shining people who were only moments before dancing and laughing. One of the victims reaches out to him, begging for mercy and help just before she is cut down from behind. When the woman's daughter rushes to the her fallen mother, Drizzt swipes his sword across her, knocking her to the ground. He has not hurt her, however, and whispers to her to stay down. He lies to Dinin and proclaims her dead, causing Dinin to proclaim,

"Finally you have learned what it is to be a drow warrior!"

They leave the terrified and crying elf child behind. Drizzt's only consolation is that she will live to see another day.

The drow make their way back toward the cave as the sun begins to rise. The priestess leading them orders them to hurry, for

"the great ball of fire rises."

As the sun crests the mountain peaks, Drizzt's comrades duck and run for cover, but he himself turns and stands his ground. When he sees the sun for the first time, he does something a drow has rarely done in all of history apart from treachery and deceit. Drizzt Do'urden smiled in joy.

The Underdark: Danger in Every Shadow

Sinafey Hun'ett learns from the lower planes that House Do'urden has lost the favor of Lolth. She does not know the details, but there is something one of the sons has done to displease the goddess, thereby giving House Hun'ett opportunity to crush the upstart Do'urdens. Though Hun'ett is higher in the hierarchy than Do'urden, Sinafey knows that Malice has been ascending in the stature of Menzoberranzan's society, and would one day soon attack the upper Houses. If Malice were to regain Lolth's blessings, then Hun'ett would be doomed. Sinafey tells her son, Masoj that "Drizzt Do'urden must die within ten days."

Drizzt sees Zak after he returns from the surface, and though his father is pleasant to him, Drizzt gives him something of the cold shoulder. They agree to meet one another in the gym in a week after Drizzt returns from another patrol of the surrounding Underdark. Going their own ways, both are still determined that the other must die. Drizzt still believes his father a cold-blooded murderer, and Zak believes that Drizzt is on his way to becoming the same.

Drizzt's next patrol takes them just five miles outside of the city, where they encounter a crew of Svirfnebli, deep gnomes on a mining expedition. Drow and deep gnomes were mortal enemies, and such an encounter could only end in bloodshed. Drizzt tries to dissuade Dinin from attacking, even to the point of suggesting parley, but his rebuked in typical drow fashion. Dinin orders the attack, commanding them to go after the Belwar Dissengulp first, stating, "He is the key to their strength with the stone." The rush into the gnomes, taking down the non-working scouts first, then heading for the crew leader. The drow are outnumbered, but ruthless, giving out much more damage than they took. This prompts the leader to grab a jewel and slam it to the ground, creating an earth elemental and commanding it to attack the drow. Drizzt races to the attack, but is struck down. Guenhwyvar, against his master's wishes, rushes in to defend Drizzt and is gravely injured, but buys him the time he needs to recover. As Drizzt climbs up to the creatures head and is about to strike a killing blow, Masoj sends a bolt of lightning into them, hoping to kill both the elemental and Drizzt, making it appear to be an accident. Masoj is then clubbed in the back of the head by the gnome leader, who then moves on Drizzt. Drizzt tells him to go ahead and torture him, but the gnome tells him that is not their way. They capture the gnome, and Dinin orders him killed. As the priestess moves forward to torture the gnome, Drizzt convinces them to allow him to live and go back home to tell the other Svirfnebli of the superiority of drow strength. Dinin likes the idea, but not before the take the gnome leader's hands first. Dinin says, "I want to hear his screams."

Back in Menzoberranzan, two separate matrons are having problems of their own. Malice communes with a yolchol to learn the whims of Lolth, and discovers that there is indeed a plot against her house. When she asks for the name of the house that conspires against them, the yolchol says that Lolth will not answer a question to which the answer is already known. Leaving Malice in a concussive flash, the yolchol has now caused confusion and anger in Malice. Who knows the answer. Across the city, Sinafey is punishing Masoj for his failure to kill Drizzt. The ten days Lolth allowed are nearly gone, and so Masoj begs for another chance. The matron agrees, but he is forced to take the somewhat inept Alton DeVir along with him. Malice gathers he household, and puts the males under the whip trying to get an answer to their riddle. As Dinin is being lashed, Drizzt recalls the treacherous attack of Masoj during the battle with the earth elemental, and informs Malice of the deed. Now they know for certain the identity of House that plots against them, House Hun'ett. Malice calls upon the yolchol again to learn the standing of Hun'ett with Lolth. This time the yolchol is belligerent, saying that the deed of wiping out the gnomes does not offset the Spider Queen's displeasure. When Malice asks why Lolth is displeased with her house, she is again told there will not be a reply to a question whose answer is already know. Malice is left angry and confused once again. She and her daughters set out to discover who in their family has betrayed Lolth, but they already have a chief suspect in mind.

In the gymnasium, Zak and Drizzt have their agreed upon workout session. Zak begins to mock Drizzt and attacks him mercilessly. This is no workout session, and his plan to kill Zak has now been turned back on him. He finds himself struggling to defend against his former mentor. Zak draws first blood, and calls him murderer after referencing the elven child he had "killed" on the surface. Finally, Drizzt has had enough and his outrage allows him to regain his footing and gain the upper hand on Zak. Drizzt throws the accusations back in Zak's face, to which Zaknafein declares he must kill if he is to be allowed to remain alive by Malice. When Zak presses the attack again, Drizzt quells it by stating did not kill the child, but faked it for the benefit of Dinin. Drizzt tells Zak,

"I killed no elves that day. The only ones I desired to kill were my own companions."

Unknown to the two warriors, Matron Malice is looking over their shoulder through a scrying pool, and hears the entire conversation. In tears, Zak reveals to him that he is Drizzt's father, and is thankful that his soul remains intact. He warns Drizzt that he will one day have to kill drow just as his father had, but Drizzt vows he will never kill another drow. Either way, they both realize that they are no longer alone in the horrible place they are forced to call home.

Malice orders her entire household to stay within the walls of the home, an order which Drizzt promptly disobeys. Masoj puts his second chance plan into motion, calling on Guenhwyvar and setting her to track down and kill Drizzt. Guenhwyvar tries to resist the order, but the magic of the figurine compels her to obey, no matter her own wishes. Out in the wild of the Underdark, Drizzt is so wrapped up in his own thoughts and concerns that he is caught unawares by a cave fisher. The beast lashes Drizzt around the neck with its proboscis and begins to draw him up when Guenhwyvar appears out of the shadows and rescues him. The two of them take the monster down together, but then Guen immediately turns on him. Drizzt realizes that she has been sent to kill and prompts her to fight the unwanted urge to obey. Soon, Guen breaks the programming, and her lifelong friendship is assured. Drizzt get Guen to lead him to Masoj.

Malice summons Zak and tells him of her knowledge of their conversation, and that she plans to have Drizzt killed for sparing the elf. Zak tells her she would not dare to do it since they are about to go to war with Hun'ett, but Malice says that appeasing the Spider Queen is of higher importance. Zak literally gets down on his hands and knees and begs Malice to take him instead. She accepts, but warns him not to disrupt the ceremony that will mark his own death, otherwise she will kill him and have Drizzt tortured and killed as well. Zak responds, "I have offered myself, Malice. Have your fun while you may. In the end, Zaknafein will be at peace—Matron Malice will ever be at war!"

Zak is tied down the spider-shaped sacrificial altar and Malice dons her ceremonial spider-embroidered garb. Ask Malice raises the knife to strike a killing blow, Zak is calm and at peace. His final words are

"Beat them all my son. Do more than survive, as I have survived. Live! Be true to the callings of your heart!"

Malice plunges the knife home.

Near Sorcere, Masoj Hun'ett waits for the return of Guenhwyvar, and is enraged to see Drizzt coming up behind her, hale and healthy. As Drizzt is castigating Masoj over Guen's freedom of will, Alton DeVir appears and cries out for vengeance against Drizzt. Drizzt tries to strike a deal with Masoj, the figurine of Guenhwyvar in exchange for the Hun'ett's life. Not knowing that Zak is already dead, Drizzt further sweetens the deal by saying he will depart House Do'urden and take Zak with him, depriving Hun'ett's enemies of their two best warriors. Masoj scoffs at the offer, believing the power of wizards to be greater than the skill of warriors.

Alton tries to hit Drizzt with a bolt of lightning from behind, but Guen puts herself in the way and absorbs the strike. Guen goes after the Faceless One, while Drizzt attacks Masoj. Though it seems at first that the pair cannot win against the wizard's trickery, neither of them give up. Both fight through burns and broken bones to see their enemy dead. Drizzt has taken a drow life, but it was in self-defense, not in murder or internecine treachery, so he is unconcerned by the deed.

Drizzt returns to House Do'urden and searches for Zak. He is met in Zak's chambers by his mother and siblings. When he asks after Zaknafein, Malice lies and says he is away on House business, and chastises him for disobeying her command to stay within the household. Malice then notices his wounds, and he informs his family of the death of Masoj Hun'ett and the Faceless One. He also reveals the true identity of the Faceless One as Alton DeVir, and the connections all become clear to the Do'urdens. As Malice begins to praise Drizzt for slaying two enemy wizards and giving them an edge in the coming House war, Drizzt asks for Zaknafein once more. Malice's answer gives him the clue that he has been killed, and Malice confirms the deed, telling him that Lolth demanded repayment for sparing the elven child. She tells Drizzt of the agreement Zak made, sacrificing himself not only to let Drizzt live, but that Drizzt would now be weapons master of the House. Drizzt refuses, and yells, "A true god damn you all! And damn the Spider Queen as well!" He throws a flash bomb on the ground and escapes the House while they are all blinded.

In tears, Drizzt leaves Menzoberranzan behind, taking Guen, her figurine, and his memories of his father with him.

Exile

The Underdark: The Hunter

For ten long years, Drizzt lives in the wilds of the Underdark with Guenhwyvar as his only companion. Even then, he is alone for most of his waking hours, since Guen cannot stay on the material plane for more than a few hours at a time, and must return to the astral plane for food and rest. Drizzt is still racked with guilt over Zaknafein's death, feeling that his father's sacrifice is his fault. He faces the dangers of the Underdark, defeating such monsters as hook horrors, cave trolls, and Basilisk; living off the natural resources and striving to live in peace with the underworld's non-violent citizens. Unfortunately, he finds his self drifting away a little more each day, sometimes losing his self-awareness to a feral side of himself he calls The Hunter. The Hunter is part of what has allowed Drizzt to survive all these years, going off pure training and instinct when attacked by the creatures of the Underdark.

Drizzt has taken up residence in a large cavern that is the equivalent of an Underdark oasis. Water runs through the cavern in the form of an underground river, and * Rothe* (a type of Underdark cattle) are abundant, serving both as a food source, and an early warning of invaders. The cavern is fairly easy to defend, something his new neighbors on the cavern's second level greatly appreciate. The * Myconids,* a race of mute fungus-men coexist with Drizzt and live in peace with him. They do not bother him, and he repays the favor. Drizzt does his part to use his skills as a drow warrior, and his ferocity as The Hunter to defend against all invaders. Guenhwyvar is at his side as much as possible, but in those moments he is alone, the hours pass like days and weeks, and he finds himself succumbing to The Hunter a little more every time he gives in to him.

Back in Menzoberranzan, the war between House Do'urden and House Hun'ett is about to come to a head. After years of behind the scenes maneuvering, neither House in favor with Lolth over the other, Hun'ett finally chooses open warfare. Sinafey has hired Jarlaxle Baenre and his band of mercenaries Bregan D'aerthe. Jarlaxle, as he usually does, has been playing both ends of the conflict for his own benefit, and so comes to see Malice and report his band's progress. Malice has also hired Bregan D'aerthe, using it as an indirect weapon against her enemies, a way to cause damage and trouble without being implicated in the plots. Jarlaxle reports that Dipree, one of the Hun'ett nobles, has been assassinated by his men. The first strike in what is about to be a very short battle has been struck.

Before Jarlaxle can exit the Do'urden household, the walls shake and they come under Hun'ett's direct attack. Malice's forces are outnumbered, and so she commissions Jarlaxle once again. When he balks, saying, "Bregan D'aerthe is a secretive group. We do not engage in open warfare," Malice easily changes his mind by shouting, "I will pay whatever you desire. Name your price." With a sly smile—most likely because this was how he planned things all along—Jarlaxle walks out to the Do'urden balcony and looks down on the battle. He pulls a small tin-whistle from inside his hat (which has a pocket dimension inside it) and blows a shrill note. Down below, fully half or more of the "Hun'ett" soldiers respond, and turn on their fellows, giving the advantage of numbers instantly to House Do'urden. Routed, the Hun'ett army turns and flees back to the safety of its home walls. Jarlaxle slyly looks to Dinin and says, "It's a dark day to be a Do'urden, and even worse to be a Hun'ett. But it's an excellent time for mercenaries don't you think?"

Malice travels the next morning to answer a summons to Matron Baenre, expecting to witness Sinafey's execution. Instead, she walks in to find Sinafey sitting at her council seat. Matron Baenre appears in the middle of their confrontation and explains what has happened. House Hun'ett has been entirely destroyed, save for Sinafey herself. Malice is being forced to take Sinafey on as her eldest daughter, "Shi'nayne," returning from Ched Nasad. When Malice protests, Matron Baenre replies,

"Many years ago, Lolth made it clear her desires that you sit upon the ruling council, Malice. And now, with Hun'ett gone and Do'urden the eighth house of Menzoberranzan, is shall be so. But understand your dilemma: you have lost more than half of your troops, and it is well known that you still do not have the favor of the Spider Queen. How long do you think it will be until some lower house moves against you."

By taking in Sinafey, House Do'urden gains fifty soldiers of Hun'ett that survived. Sinafey goes home with Malice, her new "mother."

Now that Hun'ett is out of the way, Malice turns her attention back to her wayward son. Briza and Dinin are sent out into the tunnels of the Underdark with a contingent of Do'urden soldiers to search for Drizzt. They are magically tracking him somehow, but Drizzt discovers them on his trail and deduces that it is his House Do'urden emblem that is allowing their trace on him. Drizzt ties his emblem to Guen and sends her in the opposite direction, allowing him to sneak up behind Dinin, knock him out and draw a sword on Briza. She tells him that the war with Hun'ett is over, and lies to say that he can come home and take up the mantle of weapons master of the House. Drizzt refuses and tells them to never seek him out again. This prompts Briza to draw her snake-headed whip on Drizzt, which he quickly cuts to shreds. She then draws her mace to strike, and Drizzt easily ends the battle, cleaving two fingers from her hand. With the advantage, he holds his blade to her neck, and she prods him to strike her dead. To his horror, he nearly does, but relents and levitates away from her and joins Guen in the shadows. "I would have done it," he tells Guen. "Despite my vow never to spill drow blood again, I would have killed her. What have I become?"

Drizzt puts himself on the move again, knowing he cannot live in his beloved cavern is no longer secret, no longer safe. He runs through the tunnels, into twists and turns which he had never seen before until he ran directly into his past. At the end of his last stretch was a bright light (at least bright for the Underdark), he had come upon a gnome mining expedition. Drizzt follows them for days, hanging back in the shadows, listening to them longingly. They possessed something he himself had never experienced, camaraderie. He was drawn to their voices, their laughter, their smiles, believing he might go mad and totally loose himself in The Hunter if lost track of them. Eventually, their journey ended. He had come to Blingenstone, the great fortress city of the Svirfnebli.

Drizzt makes an on the spot decision, and pulls Guen's figurine from his pocket and calls her to him. He says goodbye to her, stating he can no longer live out in the Underdark alone, and turns himself in to the gnomes at the gates of Blingenstone. He knows they will most likely kill him, his people and the deep gnomes were natural enemies, and might attack him on sight. Drizzt was not afraid, the fate of death at the hands of goodly people was better than the horrible isolation of the Underdark. He kept walking toward their gates and hoped and trusted for the best.

Back in Menzoberranzan, Malice castigates Briza and Dinin for their failure to capture their renegade brother. When Maya boasts that she could capture him, Dinin scoffs in fear. "Since he left Menzoberranzan," he answers, "Drizzt's skills have increased ten-fold." When asked if Jarlaxle and Bregan D'aerthe would undertake tracking down the boy, but Malice says that they have already refused "not for any price." Malice reveals another way, and leads her family to the chapel, and calls on a yolchol. In order to right the wrongs caused by her son, Malice asks for zin-carla. Zin-carla is the highest honor Lolth pays to her followers, the animation of the dead under the control of a Matron Mother. Great sacrifice must be made, so Malice chooses to give her patron, Rizzen, to the slaughter. Malice and her daughters gather around the sacrificial altar, and Shi'nayne—acting as eldest daugher—holds the ceremonial dagger. Malice takes the dagger, holds it over Rizzen, then suddenly thrusts it into Shi'nayne's heart, and the last Hun'ett passes away as a sacrifice to Lolth. The yolchol is pleased, and grants the power of zin-carla. After much meditation and prayer, the soul of Zaknafein is ripped from the afterlife, and placed into his reanimated corpse, but all free will is gone. As a test of her power over him, Malice orders her undead husband to kill Rizzen, an act which he does without hesitation, flinging a dagger into the unfortunate patron's forehead.

Blingenstone: Guest of the Deep Gnomes

Members of the Blingenstone city council investigate Drizzt. They are naturally suspicious of him and his reasons for being in the city. Incredulous, they cannot believe that he has not only given himself up, but also the figurine of Guenhwyvar—a very powerful magical item not to be given up lightly. All the while Drizzt sat before them in chains, the Hunter inside him railed to be free, every moment heightening the rage and hunger to be free. Drizzt remained in control, keeping his composure before these wizened souls who held his life in their hands. They believe him a spy, and though he claims to be a renegade, they do not believe him since his House not only still exists, but has risen in stature in recent days. He replies that he is "rogue by choice," and that he has nowhere else to go. Firble, the gnome king's chief counselor and head of their spy network warns, "Our king will rule upon your fate, dark elf. And though I believe you and shall ask for mercy, I suspect you will be executed."

As Firble and the others are making their way out of his holding cell, Drizzt recalls the burrow warden he had convinced his brother to let go all those years before. He tells the gnome that he was part of that hunting party, and that one did survive, losing his hands in the battle. Firble names the burrow warden as Belwar Dissengulp, stating that none of the citizens of Blingenstone would ever forget that dark day. Drizzt begs for Firble to bring Belwar Dissengulp, and he is left alone in the darkness.

Some time later, the burrow warden does come to see the captive drow, exclaiming, "Magga cammara it is you!" Belwar remembers Drizzt as the purple eyed drow that had bested his earth elemental and convinced his hunting party to take his hands rather than his life. Drizzt hangs his head in abject sorrow for what his people had done, but Belwar wants to hear nothing of it. "Bah!" the honored burrow warden exclaims, "Your words spared me that day, and I've not forgotten it. Besides, I have new hands now." Belwar lifts up his arms, showing Drizzt an exquisite set of stone mason's tools, a hammer and pick axe, in place of hands.

Belwar informs Drizzt that it was the decision of King Schnicktick to have the drow put to death. Though the King believed that Drizzt meant no harm to the city of Blingenstone, he feared the danger of keeping a drow in the city was too great, an army from Menzoberranzan might come and attack the city, using Drizzt as an excuse to declare war. Drizzt agrees with the assessment, and is so willing to end his life that he says he will not offer any resistance. Belwar replies, "No, you won't, for you'll not die this day. Ten years ago you saved my life Drizzt Do'urden. Honor demands I do the same." Belwar accepts the responsibility of having Drizzt in the city, both for the drow’s safety and that of the city at large. "So I'm not to die?" Drizzt asks. "Not unless you bring death upon yourself," is the answer.

Drizzt is plunged into the world of the deep gnomes of Blingenstone, an experience unlike anything he had ever encountered before in his life. Belwar had not only offered hospitality to another being, he offered safety, if not companionship. A drow would never offer such things, not to a enemy, let alone even a brother, unless there was money or power to be gained. Belwar acted in kindness, and he was now surrounded by former enemies who rose no hand against him. His entire outlook was now permanently changed.

Belwar leads Drizzt to his home, where they are met by guards assigned to Belwar by the King. The King has ordered the guards to stay until the truth of Drizzt's intentions are fully known. Belwar responds in anger, "Be Gone! This one is in my care and I fear him not at all!" The guard gnomes depart, and Belwar leads Drizzt into his home. He asks Drizzt how long he's been alone in the Underdark, and prompts the drow to tell him his story. Drizzt does just that, of his years in the house of Malice Do'urden and the eventual murder of his father, Zaknafein. He tells of his decision to forsake his dark kind and their even darker goddess, and tells of the loneliness of the Underdark, and of the Hunter who threatened to overtake him, body and soul. His story ends finally, late in the night, with his arrival at Blingenstone.

After that night, they spoke not much at all except for passing conversation. Belwar was a quiet sort who kept to his sculpting and spoke little. Drizzt, for his part, was not yet fully comfortable with the Svirfnebli language, so did not trust himself to speak well. That didn't stop the local gnomish children from being intrigued by the dark elf, and drawing him into their daily adventures. One day, the neighborhood children are debating the existence of a basilisk. There is a huge, life-sized statue of the beast near Belwar's home, and some of the children don't believe such a fantastic monster could exist. They ask Drizzt if he knows if they exists, and he states that not only had he met one, but he fought one. In great curiosity, they drag the drow to the statue and get him to re-enact his battle with the basilisk. He begin to show them, using two wooden staves to serve as his scimitars, and he quickly looses himself in the bloodlust of the Hunter, not stopping until he has broken off the head of the statue and worn his wooden staves down to stumps.

Drizzt, in speaking with Belwar later on, confesses his worry to his new friend. During his stay in Blingenstone among the gnomes, he believed he had freed himself from the Hunter, and was deathly scared with the ease the he slipped back into the psychosis. Belwar tells him not to worry overmuch, the Hunter was who he needed to become in order to survive in the wild Underdark. He is counseled to give the matter time, time and patience, and to relax since there were no enemies in the gnome city.

Outside the high stone walls of Blingenstone, the same could not be said. The zin-carla Zaknafein is slowly and surely gaining ground on his wayward son. He had found the cavern where Drizzt had lived for so long alongside the rothe and myconids, and slaughtered them all in his rage to destroy his target. Already the gnomes of Blingenstone are on high alert after finding the results of one such massacre of goblins by the former weapons master. The tention was building greatly each day, and soon the pressure would be too much for the key players in the drama to bear up under.

The Underdark: Back Into the Darkness

News of the goblin slaying quickly makes it back to King Schnicktick, and he and his counselors wonder what to make of it. They know for certain the attack was carried out by one or more drow because of the cleanness of the cuts they discover on the corpses. Schnicktick wonders if there is someone after "Belwar Dissengulp's drow," but Firble, at first, cautions against the line of reasoning, but then does admit they know little of Drizzt's background or why he left his home. What enemies had he made there that might have tracked him to their city. Schnicktick orders Firble to contact his spy network in Menzoberranzan and learn more about the Do'urden renegade.

Out in the Underdark's caverns, Zak is beginning to place more and more strain on Matron Malice. Unable to find his quarry, he seeks to lash out against anything and everything that moves. Malice must keep a constant mental leash on him, keeping him from killing a group of gnomes and therefore giving himself up further to the Svirfnebli. His bloodlust was rising, and he needed to find Drizzt soon, or Malice would loose all control. Keeping control on a zin-carla zombie was taxing, even for the most skilled and powerful priestess of Lolth, and the longer the zin-carla was necessary until it came to fruition, the greater the stress. Even Matron Baenre admits that only one zin-carla had lasted longer, one she herself had undertaken, and that one did not end well.

Back in Blingenstone, the King and his councilors decide that Drizzt has proven his trustworthiness, and thus return his armor and scimitars. In additions to his arms, he is reunited with Guenhwyvar for the first time in many weeks. The councilor who had been given the task of examining the figurine did not wish to part with such a powerful and useful artifact, but they realized that Guen was much more of a friend and companion to Drizzt than she was a servant. Brickers, the burrow-warden who returns Guen, tries yet another time to entice Belwar on a mining expedition. In anger, Belwar refuses, and pushes the gnome out the door. When Drizzt asks, "You should go with them Belwar...or are you bound to stay here and watch over me?" Belwar indicates that it has nothing to do with that issue, and certainly nothing to do with his lack of hands. He could cut rock faster than anyone with his new hands. Belwar reveals that he cannot go because the last expedition he led ended in bloodshed, and he holds himself responsible. Drizzt argues in the converse, stating that it was his people and their evil intents that caused those deaths that day. Drizzt further baits Belwar by questioning his courage, a move which makes Belwar so angry he decides to go, saying, "Put on your swords, elf. If I'm to go, then so are you!"

Belwar, Drizzt and Guen join Brickers and his expedition. Brickers was happy to have the "most honored burrow-warden" along, as well as the extra blades and skill of the drow. They met no resistance on their way to the place where the mineral scout had identified as potentially owning a rich vein of ore. The scouts were correct, and the gnomes threw themselves into the work of excavation, not the least of which was Belwar who carved literal rings around the rest of the workers with his fantastic hammer and pickaxe hands. Belwar was truly happy for the first time in many, many years.

Drizzt spends his days during the expedition patrolling the surrounding caverns and tunnels with Guen, himself happy to be both free to roam, but able to return to friends and companions at the end of each day. When he ventured far from the expedition, he felt the Hunter try to rise up and overtake him, but he was stronger now, and able to push the beast back down and remain Drizzt Do'urden. Both Drizzt and Belwar returned from the expedition in great spirits, Belwar feeling he finally deserved the title of "most honored burrow-warden," and Drizzt finally at ease with himself and his place in the world.

Meanwhile in the caverns near Menzoberranzan, Firble meets with his contact, the infamous Jarlaxle. Firble asks about the increase of drow activity near Blingenstone, and Jarlaxle demands his usual exhorbitant payment, fifty finely cut agates. Jarlaxle assures Firble that no power in Menzoberranzan is moving against Blingenstone itself, but that one House is desperately searching for a renegade. After some more dealing, Jarlaxle names the renegade as Drizzt Do'urden, and warns him that if they know anything about Drizzt, then to keep him far away. The goddess Lolth herself wants the boy dead, and she stops at nothing to get her wishes. "Drizzt is doomed, and so doomed will be any foolish enough to stand beside him." Of course, Firble's reaction to the news confirms for Jarlaxle that the gnomes of Blingenstone indeed know of Drizzt and his whereabouts.

Firble hurries back to King Schnicktick with the news, who then promptly calls Drizzt to his presence. Drizzt had been enjoying his time among the gnomes since his return with the expedition. He had become something of a celebrity among the members of the mining group and their families, and so the summons to see the King was no surprise. The subject of the summons, however, was shocking to say the least.

The King announces his decision to put Drizzt out for the good of the city, a move with fairly enrages Belwar. Schnicktick explains that the increase of drow activity on their eastern border has been directly caused by Drizzt's presence, and Drizzt admits that his mother is continuing her search for him. Belwar is angered enough to directly berate his King, but Schnicktick says he has no further choice.

"To keep Drizzt here would invite war with Menzoberranzan, and I will not put Blingenstone in jeopardy for the sake of a dark elf, even if he has shown himself to be a friend."

Drizzt says he will be gone within the hour, and he parts ways with nothing but gratitude in his heart.

Drizzt walks the streets of Blingenstone with Guen at his side. The citizens bow their heads with heavy hearts, hating what has become necessary for them to do. The drow and the great cat walk out of the gates of the stone walled city, and they thud shut behind him. He wondered how long he would be able to survive in the Underdark alone again but for the sometime companionship of Guenhwyvar. His kind measured their lifespans in centuries, and he had nearly lost himself to the Hunter in only a decade. How could he make it alone for hundreds of years?

Strolling through the gate, the pair are met by Belwar, who has decided to leave his home behind and join Drizzt in the dangerous Underdark. Drizzt is loathe to let him come along, but Belwar will not take no for an answer, taking off from the city walls and into the deepening darkness before the drow could stop him. The first thing they do is set up a false camp about a day's march from Blingenstone's walls to create a diversion for whoever it was tracking them. They then set off in the opposite direction, into the caverns west of the Svirfnebli city. Traveling only to stop when hunger or weariness overtook them. Along the way, Belwar would point out places to which he had been before on mining expeditions, and Drizzt began to wonder how many ways a gnome could talk about mining and carving stone. The elf hung on every word, knowing that the alternative was silence, and then the Hunter would come. With Belwar at his side, they entered the more dangerous parts of the Underdark, fighting off the natural monsters of the deep places, but never losing himself to the Hunter again. Belwar's companionship was the cure to his aching loneliness.

After walking for weeks and weeks, they come upon a cavern that is glowing with a bright light, and so they move to investigate. They enter a vast cavern filled with a sea of acid—the source of the light—and find the greatest danger they had yet faced. Set upon by overwhelming numbers of bird-men, the trio back into a tight defensive circle. Belwar slams his new "hands" together, yelling the magical gnomish word "Bivrip!", filling his implements with glowing magic which gives huge weight and force to his blows as they fight against the creatures. They fight for quite a while, but are sorely outnumbered.

Drizzt is able to hold it together until Guenhwyvar is knocked off the bridges above the glowing sea and into the acid bath itself. When Guen roars in pain, Drizzt uses the figurine to will the panther back to her home on the astral plane. Though severely hurt, Guen will recover and be fine within a few day, but the pain would be remembered. Because of the pain, Drizzt called up the Hunter and allowed him to take over. Belwar is left to watch in both horror and amazment as he sees the greatest display of warrior skill and swordsmanship he would ever experience. Drizzt was too fast, too precise, too deadly and seemed unreal to Belwar. It was as if his best friend had become Death itself.

Finally, even with the help of the Hunter, they are forced to flee, and Belwar has to eventually call out for Drizzt to stop, otherwise he would have run himself to exhaustion. Drizzt is full of fear that he let himself give sway to the Hunter again. He confessess to Belwar that he felt possessed by rage, his only desire was to kill them all, not out of self-defense, but out of darkness. Belwar tells him he was not acting out of rage, but rather out of instinct. "You saved us this day, Drizzt Do'urden. Do not apologize to me, or to yourself."

The Cavern: A Home Away from Home

The pair continues on their journey. Drizzt calls Guen back to him after three days, here fur is singed, but otherwise she was fine and glad to see her friend. A few days later, they stumbled over exactly what they had been looking for, even though they had not exactly known they were searching. They come to a cavern with an underground lake fed by a fresh-running stream. It is small enough for the two of them to defend, and the lake would provide them with ample fish and crab for their sustenence. They were home.

Across the wilds of the Underdark, on the other side of Blingenstone, Zaknafein has found their fake encampment, and is in a rage over his continued failure to find his prey. It takes all of Malice's strength of will to reign him in and send him back on his way. Malice, though growing slightly weaker each day, warns her daughters to test her rule. Malice vows that she will remain strong, and that she will one day soon hold Drizzt heart in her hand, "No matter what the cost, we will triumph."

One day later, Drizzt and Belwar hear curious sounds outside their cavern. Drizzt remembers those sounds, and races out of the cavern yelling "Hook Horror!"Outside, he finds exactly what he thought it was, and gets his scimitars on the creatures neck, about to strike the killing blow. Just then, the monster speaks, something he believed a hook horror incapable of doing."No...not...monster..please..no..kill..me!" the thing manages to squawk. Drizzt stays his hand, and the creature says it is not a hook horror, but rather a thing called a "pech". Belwar knows of the pech by the name rock children, creatures whose only reason for being seems to be rock carving, and their numbers are very small. The pech tells that it was turned into a hook horror by an evil wizard, and does not know how long it has been that way, having lost all sence of time because it is no longer connected to the stone in its present form.

When Belwar asks the creature its name, it either does not have one, or it has forgotten, so Belwar names it "Clacker," a name which the pech approves. Belwar then intends to say goodbye to the creature and send it on its way, but Drizzt says they must allow it to be with them. Drizzt has pity on the creature, feeling akin to the creature being adrift and apart from itself, something similar to what he feels when he is overtaken by the Hunter. Belwar still thinks it is a bad idea, because a spell such as the one Clacker has undergone changes not only the body, but the mind as well, and in time he will cease to be a pech even in mind, but just a hook horror, and then he will be a great danger. Drizzt insists that they track down the wizard who did it, and then force him to unmake the spell.

One day later, Drizzt and Belwar hear curious sounds outside their cavern. Drizzt remembers those sounds, and races out of the cavern yelling "Hook Horror!"So, the next day, they followed as Clacker tried to retrace his step to where the wizards was. The creature was easily confused, his memory clouded because of his transformation, and so he got them lost numerous time. Just as they were about to become too tired to go on, the entered a great tavern that was dominated by a huge tower made of pure adamantite. Belwar stands in awe at the sight, for adamantite is the toughest substance known in Faerun, and just a small amount is worth a king's ransom, and extrememly hard to work with. "How did he build such a thing?" the gnome asks. "Magic," is Drizzt's reply, with more than a hint of disdain in his voice.

Drizzt's plan is to hide until the wizard appears, and then take him by surprise, but Clacker in his rage chooses otherwise. He rushes the tower and begins striking it with his claws, calling on the wizard to show himself. Drizzt and Belwar rush to the pech's aid, just as a bolt of lightning comes from above, forcing Drizzt to shove the pitiful creature out of the way. From inside the tower, the wizard rages, "Damnation! You ist going to pay dearly for that one. I vill keell you all!" (a german wizard?) Drizzt pulls out Guenhwyvar's figurine and holds it up near one of the bolt-holes carved in the adamantite tower's surface. When he calls on her, he will her to appear inside the walls, and the smoke that comes from the figurine that marks her appearance wafts through the crack and into the tower. Drizzt calls on the wizard to open the tower, to which he momentarily refuses, but then Guen's roar behind him persuades him otherwise.

Inside the tower, they see an empty octaganal chamber with only a wooden ladder leading up to the higher levels. Drizzt is somewhat taken aback to find a human living alone in the vastness of the underdark. Though he is a wizard, he is very nervous around Guen, perhaps not possessing the magical might necessary to hold her off if she chose to attack. Drizzt insists that the wizard, Brister Fendlestick, change Clacker back. He seems to be amenable to the deal, if for no other reason than to be rid of his unwanted visitors. As Brister retrieves his spellbook, the quips "Pech, useless little things," which sets Clacker off. Before either of his new friends can stop him, Clacker rushes the wizard, cutting him apart before he can defend himself. His only hope of restoration is now dead at his own hands.

Back in Menzoberranzan, Matron Baenre consults with Jarlaxle on the health of Malice Do'urden. The zin-carla has lasted very long, the second longest ever, and the spirit-wraith of Zaknafein grows stronger each day. Jarlaxle also reports that Zaknafein has follwed Drizzt past Blingenstone, and into the "unpopulated" caverns of the west. "Unpopulated?" Baenre scoffs. "Hardly. There are things living in those tunnels, Jarlaxle. Dangerous things." Unknown to them both, Baenre's illithid councilor is eavesdropping on their conversation, and he is highly interested in what they have to say.

The trio left the tower in silence. What Clacker had done was something no rational being would have perpetrated, but rather the act of a wild animal. Drizzt was beginning to believe that Belwar spoke the truth, that Clacker was slowly becoming more and more the monster each day. He hoped that when they reached the safety of their cavern home, they might find some other way to help the poor creature.

When they reached their home, they foudn it in total disarray. Belwar wondered if the bird-men had tracked them down, but Drizzt recognized the fine cuts in the belongings, the mark of a drow blade. Drizzt believes that his mother's assassins have tracked him down again, and so they abandon the only home Drizzt had ever felt he could completely call his own. The three of them pick up what few belongings remain intact, and run all the way through the day and long into the night without stopping, putting as much distance as possible between themselves and the evil drow. Eventually, they come to a cavern that is wide open, and seemingly a good place for habitation, but it is emply. Not only is it empty, but it seems totally devoid of any signs of life. "This isn't right," Belwar says warily. "It's too quiet." Suddenly, the three of them are hit by an unseen psionic force, and knocked unconscious. From the shadows, a group of illithids float into the cavern and hover over their fallen victims.

Illithid Castle: Slave of the Mind Flayers

Drizzt, Belwar, and Clacker find themselves leading new lives with no memories of their former lives. The illithids who captured them have used them for their own comfort and benefit. Clacker has been put to work on an isolated island of rock, accessable only via a small, thin hanging bridge.

On this island dwells the illithid's herd of rothe, and Clacker has been forced to become not only the herd's protector, but the butcher as well. Clacker knows something is wrong, but his mind has been so clouded since his transformation by the evil wizard he cannot begin to unravel how things should be.

The illithids, creatures who rightly claimed the title of "mind flayers," using their inborn psionic abilities to twist the minds and desires of any creature that comes into their clutches. Creatures with enough skill were sent down into the mines to dig for jewels and precious metals. The more bestial creatures were sent to the areana to fight for sport, the illithids betting on each match. When such servants grew old, or outlived their usefulness, they became dinner as a final service to their master. Illithids could turn violent being docile, and the wildest animal into a domesticated pet. In turn, they could change a peace-loving individual into a violent and warlike barbarian. Such was the case with Belwar.

Belwar brought the highest price ever paid for a slave because he was well suited for the two most popular uses of slaves, the mines and the arena. The six illithids who had captured the three wanderers had made a great deal of profit on their catch, and were able to keep a magic item back from being auctioned off, the onyx figurine of Guenhwyvar. They were determined to learn its secrets.

Drizzt found himself in the center of the illithid castle as a servant to the Central Brain. Whenever drow or other nimble-fingered sentients were captured, they were sent to tend the brain, a great exposed mass of pink matter that served as the coordinator for the illithid's entire existence. Though the mind flayers still had great psionic powers individually, the Central Brain magnified and organized their powers as a group, allowing the existence they loved so well. They worshiped the thing essentially as their god. Drizzt was set to work using his hands to sooth the brain and to offer it vital fluids. The drow's entire purpose now became to tend the brain mass and please his new masters.

In the gladiatorial arena, Belwar is set to fight an ogre by his master, being told telepathically that beast had threatened the master, and that he should kill it. Belwar attacks with a ferocity not seen since the day he and his mining expedition had been attacked by Drizz't patrol group. He was severely outmuscled though, and was quickly in danger of losing his life. His illithid master frantically searched his new servant's mind to find an advantage, and locked onto the trigger word that activated the magic of Belwar's hands. Once this was done, the battle's outcome was a forgone conclusion, the Svirfnebli killing the huge ogre. So glad was Belwar to have "rescued" his master, he beamed a smile through his gore covered face.

Outside the walls of the illithid castle, in the same open cavern where Drizzt and his companions had been captured, yet another drow warrior made his approach. Zaknafein, the spirit-wraith under the influence of Malice's zin-carla ritual, had traked his quarry to the illithid territory. When four of the illithids who had captured the others tried their mind trickery on Zak, nothing happened, he was immune. In short order, he slew all four of the mind flayers and made his way to the castle gates uncontested.

While all this is going on, Guenhwyvar has been trapped on the astral plane. She remained unworried, it was not the first time Drizzt had not summoned her immdiately after her rest period, and she was busying herself hunting the entity of the Elk.

Hidden in the astral shadows were the remaining two illithid slavers, having finally deduced what the onyx figurines purpose was. They were observing Guen on her hunt, evaluting her worth and salivating at the weath she would bring her in the arena. Though they thought themselves hidden, Guen sensed the two and immediately recognized them as an enemy. She attacks, killing the astral presence of one, causing its death on the material plane. Then she does the extraordinary. Using the still living illithid as a portal, she jumps through its astral presence into the material plane, ripping it to shreds in the process. Scenting out Drizzt, she runs off into the hallways of the castle.

At that same instant, Zaknafein strode through the gates of the illithid castle, moving down mind flayers, guards and slaves alike. Zak knew that Drizzt was near, and he would let nothing stand in his way, the only thing that would salve the raging beast in his breast would be the death of his son at the end of his blades. Far above, Guen barreled down the endless flight of stairs, carrying Drizzt's scimitars on her back and her figurine in her maw. Taking numerous blows, she found opportunity to take a short cut by jumping over the railing and down to the central chamber below, landing directly in the Central Brain, killing it instantly.

All over the castle, illithids were driven down to their knees, wailing horribly in pain. Already in confusion from both Zak's arrival and Guen's romp through the castle the illithids were not equipped to deal with the fallout of the death of their god. As soon as the connections between masters and slaves were broken, slaves began revolting all over the castle, Belwar among them. Without thinking twice, he rose up against his former master and slew him with a stroke. Down in the bowels of the castle, Clacker was released from his bondage, and the hook horror aspect of his transformation took full control. Guen and Drizzt are reunited, and are immediately thrust into battle against Drizzt's overseer, a fight ended quickly by a sharp scimitar.

Running through they castle, they meet up with Belwar and then race to find Clacker. When they find him, his is fully taken with hook horror rage, and Drizzt must draw his blades to defend himself. He is able to stop, and regains himself, and the quartet runs towards the gate together, Clacker leading the way towards a back entrance. Near that entrance, Drizzt's world falls apart as he sees his father alive and fighting his way through a mass of remaining slaves. Drizzt rushes to see his father, but is met with sharp blades and a mindless rage. In his confusion, Drizzt realizes that it may be his father's body he is meeting, but it is not his father's mind or soul that are in control, and he is overwhelmed by the fierceness of the attack.

As Zaknafein raises his blades for a killing strike, Clacker see his friend in dire harm and mumbles something unintelligible. From the path between the battling drow raises a solid wall of stone, separating the two from one another and allowing Drizzt to flee out the back entrance. Zak, blocked by the wall, is unable to follow. Back in Menzoberranzan, the stain of keeping Zak under control is nearly overwhelming for Malice, and her health is nearly gone. He daughters continue to test her, but she tells them she will not fail.

After Drizzt and the others put some distance between themselves and the illithid castle, he tells them that their attacker had been his father whom he thought had been sacrificed to the Spider Goddess. Drizzt then thanks Belwar for creating the wall and allowing them to escape. Belwar is confused, and states that such magic is beyond his skill, whereupon Clacker admits it was his doing. He tells of the pech and their connection to the earth, speaking of it as if it were a living, breathing thing. "It is, for those who can hear it," he says. "Yes, pech know that stone best of all. Better than even dwarves or gnomes. For and instant I was not this monster, I was pech—more pech than ever before. But now, I am falling"

Toward Menzoberranzan: Gains and Losses

Drizzt determines they must help Clacker before it is too late, so he turns their direction back toward Menzoberranzan. When Belwar protest, Drizzt says that his former home is full of wizards who can undo the polymorph spell. When Belwar points out the danger to Drizzt, and asks what they could possibly offer a drow wizard in exchange for such a service. "The wizard's life," is Drizzt's baleful reply.

Matron Malice is called before Baenre, and encouraged to not lose heart. The price of an extended zin-carla was high, but the death of her son would put Malice strongly back into the favor of Lolth, and give her further blessings as well,

"glory and power beyond imagining."

Baenre warns Malice, that if she falters, then the spirit-wraith will as well, being an extension of the matron's will. Malice is also worried that another house will attack while Malice is weakened and out of favor. Baenre assures he that she herself will see to House Do'urden's protection.

Drizzt leads his three friends as fast as he can back toward the hated drow city. In time, they came back to the familiar sight of the acid sea, home of the dreaded bird-men. Realistically, they should go around the dangerous cavern, but Drizzt was concerned that every spare moment would count, and every second lost would hasten Clacker being lost to the monster inside. When they enter the cavern, they find it completely empty, no sign of the bird-men remains. They wonder if they cleared them out the last time they passed through, or is someone else had. Clacker reaches the end of the cavern and exits, letting out a blood-curdling scream. Clacker comes back into the cavern with a gaping chest wound and falls over dead. He finally reverts back to his original form, finding the peace in death that his life had cheated from him.

From the shadows springs Zaknafein, his blades flying. "You're not my father," Drizzt yells. Another voice comes through Zak's mouth, "No. I am... your mother." Malice presses the attack, slashing Drizzt across the cheek, a move which makes Drizzt finally give in to the Hunter. Even with the added advantage of fighting purely on skill and instinct, Zak fought his son to a standstill. This makes Drizzt think that Zak is still inside the undead body somewhere, so he lowers his scimitars and refuses to fight.

Malice takes the advantage, and moves Zak for a killing blow, but the old weapons-master pulls his blades just short of his son's neck. Malice screams at him over their connection, and Zak is able to strike back and momentarily overcome the control. Zak, the real Zak is now back in control, but he warns Drizzt back. Drizzt thinks they can be together again, but Zak explains that he is still dead, and would rather return to death than cause harm to his son. He tells Drizzt how proud he is of him for not only his fighting skill, but even more so for his courage to do what he had never done and leave Menzoberranzan.

As Zak begins to loose control of himself again, he proclaims his pride for his son one last time. "I do this for us," he yells, and casts himself from the earthen bridge and into the acid sea below. Malice screams and blacks out from the mental backlash, and Briza strikes her with her snake-headed whip and claims the throne of House Do'urden. As she does so, Dinin runs into the room and tells them they are under attack. Incredulous, Maya bellows, "Who would dare? House Baenre protects us!" To which Dinin replies, "No, Maya, House Baenre attacks us." Because of the failure of Malice, Baenre has come to oversee the fall of a House from its pedestal, having earned the severe disfavor of their goddess.

In short order, the Do'urden daughters are killed in the battle. In the Do'urden throne room, Briza is slain by Jarlaxle, who comes to offer Dinin a place among Bregan D'aerthe. Jarlaxle sees an able leuitentant and swordman in Dinin, and would hate to see such a one go to a useless death.

Drizzt and Belwar bury Clacker, and also raise a beir for Zaknafein, believing he deserved a proper grave to mark his passing from the world. Belwar prayed to his gods for the soul of Clacker, while Drizzt, having forsaken his people's evil goddess, hoped that his father was finally at peace. Their trials over, they head to Blingenstone, Belwar believing they can go back and live in the city in peace now that Drizzt was no longer hunted. When they come to the city gates, Drizzt tells Belwar he cannot stay, and means to depart to yet another place in an effort to get further away from his evil kind, and take their vengeance toward him as far as possible from the only people he had ever met and truly come to care for.

Friends Parting Ways

Belwar insists he come with Drizzt, but Drizzt will not allow it and bids a final farewell and thank you. Calling Guenhwyvar from her astral home, the two of them travel for weeks, Drizzt retracing his steps along a path he had travels well over a decade before. He could no longer stay in the Underdark. Even though his mother was dead and his House fallen, Lolth and Baenre would not rest until they had tracked him down and slain him. He also could not stay lest the madness of the Hunter claim him forever, so there was only one place left to go.

Sojourn

Near Malobar: A Hundred Dawns

Before long, Drizzt's favorite part of the day in his new world was the sunrise. The sun, which his people hated with unreasoning fear, became a companion and guardian to him. His lavender eyes were stung by its great light, and he might never grow used to the intensity, but he accepted the pain as a necessity to become a creature of the surface world. Drizzt was now forty years old, still a chld by the measure of his people, but his life-experience was well beyond that of most sentient creatures, regardless of their race.

Drizzt was forced to adapt to this new world in ways he had not thought of before. He knew of the sun and its great light, and exposure of not having miles of solid rock surrounding him on all sides, but other things were beyond his knowledge. Biting winds that chilled him to the bone in the early morning were unheard of in the always mildly-warm Underdark. His magical items (piwafwi cloak, drow armor, scimitars) were slowly sapped of their enchantments by the sunlight. These, and other unforeseen difficulties, forced Drizzt to adapt. He had survived in the Underdark for a decade when everyone said it was impossible, he would survive and thrive on the surface.

Taking up residence in a small mountain cave, Drizzt spent his days roaming the countryside around a farming community down in the valley below. He was trying to gather the courage to introduce himself to his neighbors, when he is met by a pack of gnolls, doglike humanoids that are often kept as slaves by drow in the Underdark. This pack sees Drizzt as a friend, owing to the drow reputation for violence and cruelty, and ask him to come along as they go to kill their enemies. Not entirely trusting the creatures, but not wanting to immediately mistrust them, he went along until they came to a farmstead down in the valley near Malobar. When Drizzt asks the gnoll leader's intentions, he is answered with, "Enemies. Kill oldest woman, catch men." When Drizzt asks, "What of the children?" he is met with the reply, "Dinner."

Now knowing that the gnolls are evil, and the family below innocent, Drizzt quickly draws his scimitar and slays the leader. He and Guenhwyvar quickly finish off the remaining two, leaving them in puddles of blood. When it was over, Drizzt began to second guess himself. He was new to the surface world. Who was he to judge the gnolls in such a way. Perhaps the humans and gnolls were at war with one another, and the gnolls had had relatives killed by someone in the human family. Drizzt needed time alone to learn more and consider further action. He sends Guen home and begins observing the family. He soon sees that they are a happy family of hard, honest workers. Within three days he is assured he had made the right decision in killing the gnolls. This family was good, and he vowed to protect them to the death.

Up in the mountains, much higher than Drizzt's cave home, dwelt two creatures of Gehenna called barghests. Demonic creatures, they were near maturity and had been sent to the material plane to feed on the flesh of humans and grow strong enough to return home. Ulgulua, the older of the two, is informed by one of their servants of the slaying of the gnoll by a drow. In anger, Ulgulu bites the head off the messenger, and conferes with his brother, Kempfana, as to what they should do about a dark elf in their domain. Kempfana suggests that they use the drow as a scapegoat to explain the disappearances that have occurred since they came to the area. Ulgulu decides to investigate and sends his pet quickling, Tephanis, to gather more information.

One day, when the youngest Thistledown child, Liam, shirks his chores and wanders off into the forest, Drizzt follows to ensure his safety. The boy accidentally discovers Drizzt, who, though he was stealthy, was still ignorant of woodlore. Liam runs home and tells his siblings of the dark skinned elf he saw in the woods. Liam convinces his older brother and sister into a ruse to try and flush Drizzt out, and they reluctantly agree. Drizzt, seeing through the ruse easily, decides to play along. When the maiden, Eleni, acts as if she has fallen, Drizzt reveals himself and hopes to make himself known as a friend. Conner, the oldest boy, immediatly recognizes Drizzt as a drow, draws his sword, and races to attack. Though Conner is skilled by local standards, Drizzt easily disarms the boy and offers him his sword back, a drow sign of friendship. Conner and the others panic and run back home as fast as they can. In the bushes, Drizzt has been seen by another set of eyes who are not so friendly.

By the next morning, the entire community of Malobar had heard the rumor of the dark elf. The town's mayor, Bartholomew Delmo sends a request to nearby Sundabar for a ranger to come and help deal with situation. A local huntsman, Roddy McGristle, is skeptical that Conner saw what he says he saw, but volunteers himself to track whatever creature this might be, and organizes a search party on the spot. That afternoon, a body of men were led into the nearby forest by Roddy's bloodhounds, and Drizzt shadowed them easily. He wanted to reveal himself, but understood they would likely see him as an enemy. While lost in his reverie, the quickling Tephanis dashes by, slashing Drizzt's wrist and stealing a scimitar. Drizzt cries out, in surprise more than pain, and is heard by Roddy and his dogs. Calling on Guenhwyvar as a distraction, Drizzt hoped to get away, but the bloodhounds have clearly picked up his scent and catch up to him easily. When one bursts through the brush to attack, Drizzt cuts it down instinctively, and finds himself in a battle with Roddy. Not desiring to hurt the hunter, he dashed and ducked out of the way. Roddy's great battleaxe caught on a nearby tree, cutting in down to fall on top of him, smashing him in the face. Drizzt runs as quickly as he can and loses himself in the forest.

Later that night, the barghest Ulgulu comes down off of his mountain carrying the stolen scimitar of Drizzt. All barghests are shape-shifters, and so Ulgulu took on the form of Drizzt and strode into the farmhouse of the Thistledowns. As Conner and his father, Conner Sr., sat discussing the events of the day's hunt, the false drow bursts into their home, slaughtering the entire family. The next morning, Drizzt warily came down out of the mountains, hoping the search was no longer on. He hoped to reveal himself to the Thistledowns and make his peace with the locals, but when he arrives no one is yet stirring about the farm. Drizzt decides to sit and wait, but when there has been no activity from morning through late afternoon to evening, he began to sense something was amiss. He walks down and into the house, finding the murdered Thistledowns in gruesome display all about the house. Drizzt was shocked with his failure to protect the family, and immediately vowed to avenge their deaths.

The next morning, Drizzt takes his weapons and Guen and trudges up into the mountains, where all the signs of the murderous creature pointed. As they neared the hiding place of his new enemy, he heard the familiar sound of the running creature that had stung him and stole his scimitar. Not caugh unawares this time, he catches the little beast, a quickling name Tephanis, and forces to tell him who killed the farmers. After giving the name and location of the barghest Ulgulu, the green-skinned little creature stabs Drizzt in the hand to try and get away, but Drizzt ignores the pain, smashes the quickling against a rock, and throws it down into the valley below. He pulls the tiny dagger out of his hand and walks on.

At the barghest's cave, he is confronted by two goblins, which he promptly slays and enters the cave. Inside, he finds the two demonic fiends standing inside, and immediately slips into The Hunter. Ulgulu, thinking he's found easy prey and a final meal on the material plane, jumps toward the drow, but is stopped in mid-air by Guen. Drizzt turns to attack Kempfana, and is forced to hop around in order to stay out of the huge beast's reach. Ulgulua shapeshifts into a great demon wolf after Guen bites him in the shoulder, and chases Guen from the cave. Kempfana, meanwhile, has caught Drizzt and is holding him up by the neck. When the barghest opens his mouth to bite off Drizzt's head, the dark elf shoves his scimitar through the back of the demon's mouth, impaling his brain. Released, Drizzt rushes out to see Ulgulu trap Guen near the canyon edge. When the demon wolf jumps, Drizzt uses the figurine to send Guen home, causing Ulgulu to miss entirely and plummet to the canyon floor below.

Back down in the town of Malobar, at the Thistledown farm, the renowned tracker Dove Falconhand has arrived to investigate recent events. Though she has arrived too late to prevent the family's murder, she is determined to track down the perpetrator. Joining Dove are her three most trusted traveling companions, Gabriel, a human warrior, Kellindil, an elven archer, and Fret, a dwarven sage. Having already been informed of the rumors of a dark elf, Dove and her group begin investigating the family farmstead. Pieces do not add up, such as a shattered lock, something beyond the ability of even the strongest elf. The inconsistencies are explained away by the arrival of Roddy McGristle, who blames such thing on the drow's "big black panther."

Though Dove believes that Roddy did indeed see and tangle with a drow, she is mistrustful of his motives. He blames the killing of a beloved dog and his facial scarring on the drow, and is obviously looking for some kind of vengeance. Mayor Delmo tells Dove that they will take McGristle with them because "he's a seasoned hunter and knows this area better than any." Dove is troubled by the news, but does not argue. Some of Dove's doubts do disappear after Gabriel discovers a shattered scimitar inside the Thistledown home, coated in human blood. Questions still remain, after Kellindil points out two sets of identical elven footprints, made a day apart. But one set is deeper, indicating too massive a weight for an elf's steps. Further, Fret points out a ceiling beam snapped nearly in half, a feat too great for either a drow or a panther.

Hiding in the bushes nearby, Drizzt listens to the conversations of those now employed to find them. Though he wished to reveal himself and explain everything that had happened, how it had all been perpetrated by Ulgulu, and how he himself avenged the Thistledown family's deaths, he knew he could not. As soon as the color of his skin was seen, he would be attacked and given no quarter. Returning to his cave, he gathered his things and fled the area surrounding Malobar.

Dove and her fellow investigators come upon the body of Ulgulu in the canyon, making note of the claw marks all over the creatures body. Kellindil then reports that there is another beast, a red one, and two goblins up above, both killed by scimitar. When Dove asks, "Why would the dark elf kill the barghest?" Fret immediately deduces the correct answer. "Don't you see? Somehow the barghest acquired one fo the scimitars, then, in the shape of the drow, murdered the farmers." In a rage, Roddy McGristle will hear nothing of the theory, challenging the dwarf to call him a liar. Finding further drow footprints leading away from the canyon, Dove and her crew move onward, her doubts remaining still.

Northwestern Faerun: On the Run

Drizzt ran ahead of them, moving day and night, not daring to stop until exhausted. He used every trick he knew to evade them, running through streams and swimming lakes, doubling back on his own tracks, even jumping from tree to tree. Nevertheless, Dove and her crew was too skilled to be evaded, and stayed unerringly on his trail. Dove's own group pushed themselves to exhaustion, not daring to let a drow be loose on the surface world, even if they had their doubts about his guilt. None of them, except for McGristle had ever actually seen a drow, and the last reported sighting of one on the surface had been ten years before. Unknown to the trackers, Drizzt had been a part of that group, saving the life of a small elfin girl while his patrol group massacred the rest of the settlement. Based solely on the reputation of the drow race, they were obligated to track him down and learn his intentions.

One night, while encamped, Kellindil notices they are being watched, and shoots his arrow into the brush, hitting Guenhwyvar in the flank. She runs back to Drizzt, who pulls the arrow from her side. "So now we know their intentions," Drizzt tells her. "How far will you hunt me? We shall see."

Behind him in the next day's light, Dove is still tracking the dark elf. He was very good, but he made just enough mistakes that they could find clues as to his direction. If his woodcraft had been better, he might have been able to elude them entirely, but being a creature most suited to living underground where foilage was not an issue in tracking, he was at a clear disadvantage. If not for his speed, agiliy, and intelligence, they might have caught him nearly immediately. Drizzt himself gave them the largest advantage by refusing to put greater distance between himself and his pursuers. Each night he would work his way back to a position where he could watch their camp, the arise early enough to get a good head start. In his heart, Drizzt's true wish was to walk out of the shadows, explain everything to them, and ask to be a part of their world. Fear and experience, however, held him back from such a move.

It was on one of these nights that he was finally discovered. Kellindil had been patroling the perimeter of the camp, and came up on Drizzt. "At last we have met, my dark cousin," the light elf told him. At first, Drizzt was glad he had been discovered. He dreamed of sharing his trials and experiences with his light skinned cousin, and professing his hatred of his own race. "My name is—" he began, but was cut off as Kellindil drew a sword, proclaiming, "I don't care what you call yourself!" Kellindil only cared that Drizzt was a drow, and therefore immediately assumed him an evil creature. Drizzt refused to even draw his sword, even when Kellindil swiped at his head. He easily dodged the swing, and used his innate drow ability to created a glow of darkness, placing it around the light elf's head. Kellindil quickly jumped out of the globe, but not before Drizzt could have easily drawn a scimitar and taken his head. When he was clear of the darkness, Drizzt was gone, leaving Kellindil alone with his doubts. "He could have killed me. Why didn't he?"

While tracking Drizzt through a narrow canyon, Dove and her men are ambushed by a clan of stone giants, some of the least intelligent, but powerful types of giants. They throw huge boulders down on their heads, even striking Gabriel in the chest, and knocking him out of the battle. While Dove is caring for Gabriel, Fret spies Drizzt throw himself into the fray with his panther at his side. Between the two of them, they distract the giants long enough for the trackers below to take cover and assume a more beneficial stance from which to fight back. Drizzt jumps from shoulder to shoulder on the giants, slashing at their jugulars and eyes, taking the throwers above out of the battle in rapid succession. Having done what he could, Drizzt fled the battle before those he had helped also turned their weapons against him.

When Roddy McGristle announces that they need to hurry before the drow gets away, Dove announces, "We shall pursue the dark elf no longer. He was never our enemy." When Roddy explodes in exasperated anger against her pronouncement, Dove calmly explains that Gabriel is wounded, Kellindil is nearly out of arrows, and their supplies are nearly gone. Even if she still believed the drow to be a murderer, they would no longer be able to keep on the move without rest and restocking, something impossible in the Northern wilds. Furthermore, Dove states here belief that it was Drizzt who avenged the Thistledowns and slew the barghests. Dove and her men turn to leave, Roddy calling them cowards to their backs as they leave him alone in the bloody canyon.

Drizzt stayed on the move. It was soon apparent he was no longer being pursued, but he knew it would not be safe for him to stay in one place. In addition, the season was quickly changing from warm summer to cold winter, especially since he had been constantly moving north. The cold, unknown in the Underdark, was sapping his strength and causing him more difficulty than anything else he had yet encountered. He kept journeying until he came to a mountain pass with a river full of fish and rocky protection against the cold northern wind. He settled down, exposed in the open air, believing the cold could not possibly last long. He was sadly mistaken, having no concept of the turning of the seasons. As night fell, so too did the temperature, and Drizzt desperately worked at trying to start a fire using rock and steel. After many unsuccessful attempts, he was finally able to get a flame going, and Kellindil, who was still silently tracking him, was pleased to see that the drow would survive. Kellindil now decided he would stand watch over this strange drow that had shown him and his friends mercy and compassion when they would not. Unknown to them both, other sets of eyes watched the drow.

As days spread into weeks, Drizzt did the best he could to survive, still hoping the cold weather would not get worse. Then the snows began. Drizzt and Guenhwyvar set off in search of shelter, finding a cave. Upon entering, they find a bear just starting to bed down for winter hibernation. Drizzt stared the beast down, somehow finding a sort of unspoken understanding and accomodation. Offering the bear a fresh fish, the bear settled down and allowed the newcomers to share the cave, at least for the time being. Guenhwyvar, unaffected by the cold, foraged daily for the food and wood needed to keep the drow alive. Otherwise, Drizzt sat cold and alone in the cave, despairing as the weather produced more and more snow, and finally ice. Just when he believed he could bear no more, winter broke into spring, and the snows began to melt.

News of the dark elf's survival spread throughout the surrounding countryside, pleasing some with the news, but causing fear and trepidation in others. Minions of the Orc Chieftan Graul had seen the drow enter their environs before the snows set in, and Graul had commanded them to set a watch over him, but secretly hoped the snow would drive him away. Since that had not happened, and the dark elf had survived the winter, Graul wondered if this lone drow were a scout for a larger force to come, bringing war with them. If the drow were alone, he might come in and try to usurp leadership of his tribe. Neither situation could be allowed to stand, so he orders his men to go and kill the elf.

They found Drizzt walking through the local forest, enjoying his first spring. He was enamored by the new growth literally springing from the once dead ground. So enamored, in fact, he was caught by surprise by the attacking orcs. Drizzt easily killed the first two attackers, but was taken down by one of their feral wolves, pinned until he could call for Guenhwyvar. Even with the wolf off his back, he was severely disadvantaged, and would have been slain by a third orc if not for the timely intervention of an arrow in the beast's back. All enemies now dead, Drizzt looks up to see an old, green clad human bearing down on him with a great wooden bow. "You're my prisoner," the newcomer stately matter of factly, to which Drizzt responds, "I think not." Guen moves in to flank the human, and the man reaches out a hand to the great cat. Guen licks the old man's hand like an old friend.

Intrigued with the bearing and intent of Drizzt, the old man introduces himself as the ranger Montolio Debrouchee. Drizzt soon comes to realize that the man is blind, and is amazed that he could function well, let alone fire an arrow accurately in that condition. Montolio warns him that he had killed minions of Graul, something the Orc Chieftan will not allow to go unpunished. Because of his blindness, the orcs believe Montolio is "bad magic" and will not approach his castle. He tells Drizzt that coming to live with him is the safest place. Drizzt refuses, saying "You would be better served, Montolio Debrouchee, to keep away from me. I bring trouble." Even after more prodding and assurances of safety from the old ranger, Drizzt still refuses. So, Montolio leaves Drizzt behind, taking Guenhwyvar with him. It was Guen's trust of the man that changed Drizzt heart. He knew that the great cat's instincts had never been wrong before, and he did not relish the idea of facing an army of orcs on his own.

The Grove of Montolio: the Heart of a Ranger

Drizzt follows Montolio to his "castle," which in reality was a grove of massive trees reaching as high as could be seen. Each tree was a living house, whole rooms carved out of the tree's insides, this internal stairway reaching up into the highest regions of the grove. Wood and rope bridges connected the trees to one another, providing not only easy access across the heights, but also numerous positions from which to watch and defend the grove. In his short life, Drizzt had seen dwelling places more fantastic than this, but none more welcoming. Drizzt hoped that he had finally found a place to call home, but worried that something would find him and destroy it, despite the assurances of Montolio.

A week later, Kellindil is informed by a cousin of Drizzt's arrival in Montolio's grove. He is shocked at first to learn of the budding relationship between the drow and the ranger, but is now satisfied of Drizzt's friendly intentions. If Montlio trusted the drow, then he need no longer worry about the goodness of the dark elf's heart. In the bushes, yet another interested party has heard the news. Tephanis the quickling remembered the name Drizzt very well, for the dark elf had thrown the the little man to his death just months before. When he had recovered, he had found his former master, Ulgulu, dead at the bottom of the crevasse where he had fallen. Eventually, Tephanis found a new ally, Caroak, the Winter Wolf.

Winter Wolves have more akin to monsters and demons than animals, and so Caroak stood in opposition to everything that a ranger such as Montolio Debrouchee stood for. Hateful, but cautious, Caroak had always left Montolio alone, but now began thinking about how to dispose of both his hated enemy, and his new dangerous ally. In the grove below, Drizzt and Montolio began a long and fast friendship, his only real friend since leaving Belwar behind so many months ago. But more than friendship, Montolio began teaching Drizzt about the ways of the surface world, lessons that were critical to a ranger. He explained the seasons, how to anticipate changes in the weather, the behavior of animals, and the usefulness of plants. Drizzt learned to forage, and how to understand the emotions of an animal by observing its movements. Montolio knew he would progress, quickly, but was continually surprised by the demeanor of this drow, he lived and saw things as a surface elf might. In fact, he seems more attuned than many light elves Montolio had met, seemingly already possessing a natural ranger's heart.

Having been told of Drizzt's missing scimitar by the owl Hooter, Montolio takes the dark elf to a hidden armory and bestows on him a fine blade. When Drizzt thanks him for the blade and promises to care for it and only use it when he must, Montolio says, "Oh, you'll use it now." At first, Drizzt thought it dishonorable to duel a blind opponent, but was eventually pressed into it by the old ranger. Battling with the flats of their blades, Drizzt found he was easily matched. When fighting in the dark, Drizzt often had the advantage over surface races because of his night vision, but what good was night vision against someone who could fight blind? Drizzt underestimated the old ranger, and was quickly put down. When Drizzt asks how he could have known, the blind man says, "You told my yourself. In attitude. The suddden shuffle of your fee, the way your breathing changed as you prepared to leap—what you planned was obvious. You've much to learn, elf." He walked away, leaving the elf standing flatfooted.

When summer came, an unwanted visitor arrived, bringing all his usual bluster and lying with him, Roddy McGristle. He demanded to know from the ranger if he had seen the drow, or knew where he might be found. In addition, his lies about the dark elf continued to grow more extreme, reporting to Montolio that Drizzt had not only killed the Thistledown family, but that Guenhwyvar had also eaten one of them. Montolio lies and tells him he had heard the drow went to a place called Morueme's Cave, a place 150 miles in the opposite direction through treacherous terrain. After the evil man was gone, Drizzt came and pleaded his innocence to Montolio, something which the old ranger already knew, having spoken to Dove Falconhand, who had not only told of his innocence, but of his rescue of her and her men.

Later on, Montolio began to tell Drizzt about his own personal history. He had once been a warrior in addition to a ranger. He had given his life to the protection of the forest at an early age, and took up a life of adventuring, sometimes fighting with others, sometimes alone. He traveled the length and breadth of the north, putting to death monsters and unnatural things that were a threat to the natural order. His days of travel were abruptly ended, however, when he was washed in dragonfire from a great red dragon. The healers were able to heal him nearly completely, even the scarring of his skin, but were not able to save his eyes, leaving him in his blinded state. Montolio, despising the pity of his companions, came to the forest grove to die, but instead found purpose when he was visited by Mielikki, the mistress goddess of the forest.

In response to his tale, Drizzt says, "I have no god, and nor do I want one." He goes on to tell about his disgust with his people and the evilness of Lolth, asserting that to follow a god is folly. He insists that he will follow his heart instead. Montolio counters by saying that Drizzt has a god, but just does not know its name. As proof, he points out the likeness of heart Drizzt shares with Guenhwyvar, and the great cat herself is the entity of the panther, a creature of Mielikki's domain. "You know Mielikki's laws as well as I. You've been following them all your life, you just didn't know it." The ranger's words struck at the drow's heart, hitting him fully with the ring of truth, causing Drizzt to finally acquiesce and say, "I-I wish to learn more our your—our goddess."

During all this time, Roddy McGristle had trudged halfway to the Nethers before he realized he had been duped. He finally determined that the ranger was trying to protect and hide the drow. Knowing he could not take on the ranger and drow alone, he turned and looked for allies, even such creatures he would normally never have contact with, Graul the Orc Chieftain. Roddy knew that Graul's minions had been unable to find the drow, so Roddy informed them he was with the ranger, and that they were plotting together against the orcs. A consummate liar, Roddy went on to convine the Orc Chieftain that they were planning on rousing all the elves, and dwarves, and forest animals against the orc tribe. This roused the ire of Graul, who then decides to muster his forces and attack the grove. At that moment, Tephanis and Caroak stride into the cave, promising to rouse the worgs against the ranger and his grove. The war was about to be joined. Hooter, having spied the preparations for the orc and worgs, flies back and tells Montolio of all he has seen. War is finally coming to the grove, a war which Montonlio had been prepared for for years.

Graul, Caroak, and Roddy were quickly successful in amassing a fairly large force in a short time, a group consisting of a hundred orc warriors, a few giants, and a dozen wargs. Together, they set out down the crags and crevasses of the high peaks and moved methodically toward the grove of Montolio below. In that very same grove, Montolio explained to Drizzt how he had known this night would come, expeciting it for five years. He had played out every possible scenario in his mind, and had stockpiled the necessary weapons and supplies to defend the grove all on his own. He now felt he had a greater advantage with Drizzt and Guenhwyvar at his side. So they began to prepare for the battle, readying weapons, calling in animal allies, and setting traps until all they could do was wait. They did not have long to rest.

From behind his seemingly overwhelming force, Graul calls for the attack. Orcs and wargs stream toward the grove, looking to tear apart any living thing they met, whether sentient being or plant. From high above on the rope bridges, Drizzt ran from crossbow to crossbow, each of which was already loaded with large bolts, and began firing into the crowd with deadly accuracy. He made every shot count, not daring to miss and lose any slight advantage over the attacking hoard. Montolio, hiding in the shadows, used the grunts and clanking armor to give him targets, their loudness creating beacon bright targets for the blind man. The bear Drizzt had bedded down with during his first winter, and other animals came out of the woods and slew orc after orc, quickly thinning the number of enemies against the grove's protectors.

While the battle is raging at the front entrance to the grove, Caroak and his wargs were sneaking into the grove through the thick growth behind the defenders. Their plan was to come up on them from behind and tear them apart, but little did they know the rear was guarded by the most silent, and possibly most deadly of the grove's defenders, Guenhwyvar. The black panther jumps on the winter wolf, and at first they seem evenly matched, Guen easily evades the freezing breath of the wolf and goes for the jugular. Caroak the Great Winter Wolf is dead, and the remaining wargs flee in terror.

When Drizzt gets to his last arrow, he finally sees McGristle in the fray below him. While he wanted to put his personal grief at an end by killing the lying hunter, he also spied the Orc Chieftain Graul next to him, and he reasoned that killing Graul would end the attack for good. His choice made, he fired at the orc, but Roddy noticed the arrow at the last moment and pushed the orc out of the way. Drizzt's final shot had been wasted. All the traps have been sprung, and both Montolio and the drow were out of arrows, so they drew their swords and leaped headlong into the remaining enemies. Whether orc, warg or giant, the two rangers were more than a match for their enemies, leaving no recourse but to run from the grove as fast as their feet would carry them. Even after all this, Roddy prodded Graul to go in himself and fight back, believing the two of them were more than a match for the rangers. Graul knew his men would follow him if he led another charge, but the Orc Chieftain was not one to risk his own life. He bashed Roddy upside the head, knocking him unconscious, and ran for his life. The battle was over.

Hours later, when Roddy awoke, Tephanis found him and convinced him that not only was the battle over, but that Drizzt had been killed by a warg. Believing the tale, Roddy felt his vengeance was satisfied, but was disappointed he had not killed the dark elf himself. They left the grove, Tephanis taking Roddy as his new master.

Life in the grove returned to normal, and Montolio and Drizzt passed the remainder of the summer peacefully. Montolio taught Drizzt everthing there was to know about every plant and animal in the region, but more importantly, Montolio taught him how to learn for himself. Drizzt learned to observe the world around him, looking and listening for the hints that Mielikki gave him in his heart. When fall came, Montolio began to slow down dramatically, he tired easily, and suffered from back and joint pain. He warned Drizzt that his time in the world would not last much longer, and that the drow should prepare for what comes next. When Drizzt says he will stay and watch over the grove, Montolio tells him it is not the life for the young drow, and makes him promise he will leave the grove and go in search of his place in the world. Reluctantly, Drizzt does just that.

One day, while foraging for the food to store fo the coming winter, Drizzt arrived back at the grove just as the first snows were beginning to fall. Usually, the grove was full of life, birds flitting around and animals playing beneath the trees. This day, everything was silent, and suddenly Drizzt knew the day he had been dreading had finally come. He rushed through the grove, finding Montolio resting against one of his beloved trees, finally at his eternal peace. Drizzt buried Montolio in the midst of the grove, then waited out the winter in the safety and warmth of the grove. Montolio's favorite animal, the owl Hooter, stayed on until one day late in the season, then he took flight and never returned. When spring came, the animals did not return, and the grove became on unsettling place. Drizzt fulfilled his promise to his dead friend, and set his face away from the grove to travel the world once again.

Over the next six years, Drizzt traveled from village to village, town to town, hoping the next one might take him in. His reception was always met with fear and prejudice which always turned to anger. Many times the dark elf had to defend himself against senseless violence towards him. Even after so many rejections, Drizzt and Guenhwyvar pressed on, believing in his heart that he would one day find acceptance, and with it a home. Unknown to Drizzt, however, his presence did not go unnoticed, making his passing the talk of the local taverns all over the region. In one such tavern, Roddy McGristle overheard the rumors, and learned of a purple-eyed drow moving from town to town. In a rage, he confronted Tephanis with his lie about the death of Drizzt, and killed the quickling for his treachery. The vengeful hunter set out on the road to find the drow once again.

During his travels, Drizzt fell in with a group called the Weeping Friars, a group of men who believed that there was only so much pain and suffering in the world, and that by taking hardships and pain upon themselves, they spared others from experiening the same. This group were homeless by choice, and made their way through life only by begging for the goodwill of others, and even then only taking the absolute minimum needed to stay alive. These friars accepted Drizzt, mostly thankful for the companionship of a skilled warrior along the road. After a week with the friars, Drizzt came to understand that his place was not with them, and he followed one of their number's advice to go north, to a place full of rogues called Ten-Towns.

Icewind Dale: Glimpses of the Future

Drizzt found himself on the road yet again, heading north towards the Spine of the World mountain range in the northwestern corner of Faerun. Skirting the narrow passage of land between the mountain range and the coast, he eventually made his way into the wide valley known as Icewind Dale. Originally settled by rogues with no where else to go centuries before, the Dale now boasted ten villages, collectively known as Ten-Towns. Each of the ten villages made their livelihood through fishing for the knucklehead trout which lived in abundance in the several lakes of the Dale. Good for food, the knucklehead troat was also the sole source of bone for the Dale's other well-known export, scrimshaw.

Dominating the landscape of the Dale is the sole mountain in the grand valley, a craggy peak known as Kelvin's Cairn. Many of the ten villages had been built with their back to the mountain, allowing it to form a natural barrier between the individual settlements, and forming a last resort of defense from the orc and giant hoards found in the northern reaches. Spring, summer and fall were extremely short seasons in the Dale, leaving the villages in a near constant winter. Drizzt arrives in the Dale and makes his way directly toward the largest settlement, Bryn Shander.

When he approaches the gates, the guards halt him as they would any other newcomer. After they discover he is a drow, they panic and one of them runs to get the town's spokesman. Cassius is not only the spokesman for the town of Bryn Shander, but he is also the principle spokesman of the Ten-Towns ruling council, making him the most powerful man in the Dale. He questions why Drizzt has come to their town, and then refuses Drizzt admittance, telling him to try one of the other, smaller towns. "And when they refuse me entry where then, fair spokesman?" Drizzt asks plainly. "Out in the wind to die on the empty plain?" After asking if Drizzt is good with his blades, he tells Drizzt that "It would do Ten-Towns well to have a scout on the mountain's (Kelvin's Cairn) northern slopes." When Drizzt balks a bit at the offer, seeing it as only a way to get rid of the drow, Cassius replies, "I offer you a hole in a plie of rock where your actions, good or bad, will become your reputation beyond the color of your skin. I offer you a chance to prove yourself worthy of a place here. I can do no more than that." To this, Drizzt agrees and accepts, trading his horse for supplies and making his way toward Kelvin's Cairn within the hour.

Down below the mass of Kelvin's Cairn, lies another unseen settlement, unknown to the casual observer. The Battlehammer clan of dwarves, in exile from their traditional home of Mithril Hall. Bruenor Battlehammer is ruler over the dwarves of Icewind Dale, and known for his stubbornness. Beneath his gruff exterior is a kind heart, as is proved by his taking in of the young the young fostering, Cattie-Brie. Cattie-Brie's parents had been killed during a gobllin raid when she was just a toddler, and Bruenor had shown a compassion uncommon among his kind, taking in a human. A few weeks after Drizzt arrives in the Dale, Cattie begs to be let outside, her human spirit stifled by halls meant for dwarven sensibilities. Against his better judgment, Bruenor acquiesces, and allows her to go out for a time.

Cattie goes outside, and quickly runs across Drizzt and his great panther. For the first time in years, Drizzt is not met with instant fear and prejudice. Though wary because of all the stories she had heard about drow, Cattie does not run away, but remains open with the curiosity of a child. Making instant friends with Guenhwyvar, Cattie-Brie speaks with Drizzt for a short time, and then runs back home before her father can get worried for her safety. Drizzt knew he had made a new friend, and he hoped that the friendship would open other doors as well.

Meanwhile, Bruenor himself had just learned of the presence of the drow elf from the spokesman of Bryn Shander, Cassius. Fearing for the safety of his daughter, Bruenor forbids Cattie from going out on the Cairn again without his express permission. She tries to tell Bruenor she had already met the elf and trusted him, but was unable to do so, and was cowed into promising him she would not go onto the mountain again. During an uncharacteristic mid-winter thaw, Cattie=Brie realizes she could keep her promise to Bruenor by staying on the paths that skirted Kelvin's Cairn, and then call out for Drizzt. Bruenor never told her not to contact the elf, just to stay off the Cairn. Every few weeks, Cattie would venture out of the dwarven caves, looking for her new friend. They passed the winter, their relationship growing ever more closer.

For his part, Bruenor had vowed to confront the dark elf as soon as the winter snows began to recede. He had never met a dark elf himself, but he knew their reputation, and would no longer suffer such a dangerous foe so close to home. While climbing the Cairn and looking for the drow, Bruenor is attacked by an ice worm, one of the huge dragon-like creatures that inhabit the Dale. Though he is initially caught by surprise and knocked down, Bruenor quickly gets the upper hand with his battle axe, cleaving the head of the beast cleanly. Up above, Drizzt is silently watching. When Bruenor sees him standing there, he calls out to Drizzt, calling him a vile creature. Disappointed in the dwarf after spending so much time with Cattie, Drizzt's initial reaction is to give in to his anger and allow the hunter to come and deal with the dwarven king. Drizzt's true nature, the individual Mielikki spoke to in his heart, won the day, and so Drizzt slowly turned and walked away. The dark elf's departure confused Bruenor, and flew in the face of all he had ever heard of the drow species. Bruenor convinced himself that the being must not be a drow after all.

A few weeks later, Drizzt's enemy, Roddy McGristle enters Icewind Dale. Somehow, he had been able to track Drizzt from Lurkwood all the way to Bryn Shander. From there, he was able to follow the clues to the throne room of Clan Battlehammer. Bruenor, still not believing he had encountered a drow, says he had not seen a dark elf. In addition, he states that, "If yer drow's about, he's been no bother." McGristle goes into his usual diatribe about how Drizzt attacked and killed the Thistledown family, killed one of his dogs, and scarred his face. To these accusations, Cattie-Brie calls McGristle a liar, and then Bruenor throws the ugly human out of his Hall for upsetting his daughter. After Roddy is gone, Bruenor turns on his daughter and yells, "Ye've been to the mountain and seen the drow, haven't ye? Ye've disobeyed me! And now we learn the dark elf's a killer!"

Disbeleiving the accusations, Cattie-Brie runs out into the winter snows to confront Drizzt, and tells him of Roddy and the rumors of the Thistledown family. "So that story has followed me event to the end of the world." Drizzt is shocked, but not surprised, and as they discuss the situation further, Drizzt realizes that his troubles will not soon end. He sends Cattie-Brie home, telling her not to fear for his own safety. At that moment, Drizzt decides he has no wish to further battle Roddy, and so decides to leave Icewind Dale. As Cattie is headed home, she is assaulted by Roddy, who has followed her and seen her with Drizzt. He threatens her and tells her she will take him to Drizzt, but he drow appears behind him suddenly and says, "Let the girl go, McGristle." After a brief, but heated exchange, Roddy lets Cattie go, and attacks Drizzt. Easily evading the brutish attack, Drizzt succeeds in knocking the hunter down, and has the man at his mercy. Instead of choosing to strike the bigot down, he slams his scimitar's pommels against Roddy's temples, knocking him unconscious. Drizzt leaves him lying in the snow. Hours later, Cattie-Brie brings Bruenor to where Roddy lay. He tells Roddy that he should not have touched Cattie, and furthermore should not caller her a liar. He takes a leg from the hunter's remaining dog as revenge. McGristle and his now three legged dog left the Dale and never returned, neither did he ever bother Drizzt again.

Bruenor then climbs Kelvin Cairn and finally meets Drizzt face to face. He tells the drow, "All my life I been told drow are evil. But then one comes to my valley, and worse, me own daughter goes to him! She tells me he has a good heart, and I see in her eyes she's speakin' true, what then? I thought I knew, thought I had it all figured out, but I didn't know nothin'...but ye be keepin' yer eyes on me girl if she's so orc-headed as to keep visitin' ye! Be knowin' that I hold yerself responsible for her safety!" Unsure at first what to make of the dwarf's tirade, Drizzt eventually realized that Bruenor had accepted him. The dark elf decided he would not leave Icewind Dale. After nearly two decade, Drizzt had finally come home.

The Crystal Shard

The Dwarven Vale: Dark Protector

Five years have passed since Drizzt came to Icewind Dale and accepted his position of lookout atop Kelvin's Cairn. He has been accepted by Bruenor Battlehammer and his foster-daughter Cattie-Brie, and that acceptance has given Drizzt the ability to walk freely down the streets of the villages of Ten-Towns. Though he is mistrusted still by many of the locals, they too have accepted his presence, though somewhat warily. Drizzt has found a home, and he would do everything necessary to protect it.

Life was hard in the frozen tundra north of the Spine of the World mountain range, and the only civilization evident were there the ten settlements, Lonelywood, Termaline, Caer Konig, Caer Dinival, Bremen, Targos, Easthaven, Dougan's Hole, Good Mead, and the largest, Bryn Shander. The local economy was dependent upon the abundant knucklehead trout found in cold lakes. Besides being the primary source of food for trade and their own tables, the head bones of the trout were carved into intricate designs by local scrimshanders. Just north of Ten-Towns, lay the Dwarven Vale, and the mines of Clan Battlehammer. Trade between the humans and the dwarves was an important feature of life in the Dale. Even further north, above the Reghed Glacier, lay the homes of the Barbarian tribes who viewed their neighbors to the south with contempt. From his perch at the top of Bruenor's Climb, Drizzt Do'urden looked down on it all.

Down in Bryn Shander, a group of wizards from the Hosttower of the Arcane in Luskan, Ten-Towns' chief trading partner, have come searching for some rare spell components found only in the icy north. The most powerful among them, Morkai the Red, is murdered by his apprentice Adar Kessell upon the prompting of the other two, Eldeluc and Dendybar the Mottled. Adar was an old apprentice, unable to become a wizard because he stuttered so badly he could only speak basic spells. He had been promised power by the other wizards, and so he had killed the only man who had taken pity on him during all his years in the Hosttower. Over on the lakeshore near Lonelywood, Regis lay soaking up the sun. He had originally come from come from the far south, the desert land of Calimshan. He had been a prominent member of the theives guild of Calimport, but a misunderstanding with his guildmaster Pasha Pook over a certain ruby pendant had forced him to leave in a hurry. Now living in Icewind Dale, beyond the reach of the arm of Pook, Regis felt he had finally found his place. He had taken up the art of scrimshaw, becoming one of the foremost scrimshanders in the Dale. He had also recently been elected as the spokesman for Lonelywood, the smallest of the Ten-Towns.

For his part, Drizzt still fought how the sunlight burned his eyes, even after so many years on the surface. The winter snows exaserbated the condition, but Drizzt would not let that deter him from protecting the Dale with all his heart, strength and skill. Among the duties he placed upon himself was the tracking down of the dangerous tundra yeti that roamed the snow drifts looking for local citizens to use as food. Drizzt did his best to thin the herd and keep the beasts away from the villages. On one particular day, while on his way to meet Bruenor, he is assaulted by two of the yeti, and only escapes certain death because of the timely intervention of the Battlehammer king. Unknown to the pair, Beorg and Heafstagg, clan chiefs of two the Barbarian tribes to the north, have called all the tribes together in preparation for a full scale assault on Ten-Towns.

Heafstagg was the leader of the Tribe of Elk, and only interested in personal glory. While most Barbarians held a deep seeded hatred of the Ten-Towns' residents, Heafstagg only hoped for battle for his own personal gain. The tribes planned to sweep donw on Ten-Towns, and kill them for their greed of hoarding the land and lakes, enslaving any who survive. Nearby meanwhile, Adar Kessell has been betrayed by his new masters, and left for dead in the deepening snow. As he desperately begins to search for shelter, he accidentally comes across one of the most powerful artifacts on the surface of Faerun, Crenshinibon, the Crystal Shard.

Crenshinibon, created by seven undead wizards, was an artifact of pure evil that was powered by the purest thing available, the light of the sun. Though the Crystal Shard would have been powerful, it was more than its creators could handle, and it sucked their souls into itself, adding their considerable powers to it own, and flinging the witnessing demon Ertuu back into his own realm, the Abyss. After a thousand years of lying unknown in the snow, Adar Kessell now became the willing pawn of the Shard, giving his entire life to the thing as long as he received the one thing he was looking for, respect. For the first time on the surface of Faerun, Crenshinibon raised a giant copy of itself, the crystal tower Cryshal-Tirith.

Drizzt and Bruenor arrive at the dwarf's throne room and begin discussing how to go about rediscovering Clan Battlehammer's ancestral home, Mithril Hall. Drizzt agrees that someday they will find it, but for now more pressing matters required their attention. Drizzt has seen the Barbarians moving southward banging their war drums. "If Ten-Towns doesn't unite against them, the people are doomed." Bruenor sees that they will need his people's help to win the battle, but he refuses to do so if the towns remain divided. He will not throw away his people's lives in a futile effort. If necessary, he will seal the entrances to Clan Battlehammer's halls and wait for the bloodshed to be over.

Drizzt suggests that they get Regis to use both his position as spokesman of Lonelywood and his magic ruby pendant to bring the other nine spokesmen together for the defense of the people. Bryn Shander was the capitol of Ten-Towns, and so the Council gathered together. If Regis could get the two spokesmen of Targos and Termalaine to agree, the others would all fall in line. This was a near impossible task, as the two towns were the most prosperous of the area, and therefore fierce competitors. As the spokesmen on the Council argued among themselves and called one another liars, Regis stood up on the table to adress them. Though uncomfortable with using the ruby pendant in such a way, he knew that they survival of Ten-Towns was at stake, so he used the gem on Kemp of Targos, bringing him unwittingly into agreement with Agorwal of Termalaine. The alliance of Ten-Towns was assured, at least until after the battle was over. Soon, Drizzt began tracking the Barbarians as they moved out of the snow-covered passes and into the wider valled of the Dale. He reported back often on the tribes' progress, going directly to Cassius and the other spokesmen of the Council. Though Kemp and a few others still treated him with disdain, the others at least accepted him as an ally and a much needed resource if they were to keep tabs on events as they unfolded. As some of the villages are evacuated to Bryn Shander, Drizzt proposes a trap. A smaller group of Barbarians rush into the deserted town of Termalaine and are ambushed by a group of archers and warriors. It was a slaughter, the Barbarians falling dead to the ground before they could even brandish their weapons.

Meanwhile, the larger force of Barbarians surrounds Bryn Shander, believing the siege would be short lived. Caught between the combined armies of Ten-Towns inside the walls, and Bruenor's dwarven warriors combined with Bryn Shander's warriors on the outside, the northern tribes held no chance for survival. In the middle of it all were the blindingly fast blades of Drizzt, a seeming force of nature against which the Barbarians fled like frightened children. Until he was caught from behind with a mace to the ribs.

Nearby, Heafstagg finally realized that not a man of his would make it off the field of battle unless he called for retreat. As the Barbarians run from the battle, Bruenor is struck from behind with a wooden pole atop his head. He turns to see the culprit is a young boy, the standard-bearer of Heafstagg. "Fool boy," he yells at the child, "ain't ye never been told not to hit a dwarf in the head?" He knocks the child unconscious with the back of his axe blade. Nearby, Drizzt meets with Heafstagg as he is running for his life. They engage in battle, and Drizzt is able to get a blade into the Barbarians shoulder, but is himself slowed by his earlier wound. Heafstagg backhands the drow, knocking him away. Heafstagg bears down on the dark elf, and the two of them trade blow after blow, until they both pass out from the blood loss. Heafstagg is carried away by his men while Drizzt is left for dead on the battlefield. Kemp, the councilor for Targos (whom Regis had bewitched with his ruby), and his men find Drizzt unconscious, and literally kick him while he's down. When about to strike a blow to kill Drizzt, Kemp is interrupted by by Agorwal, councilor from the rival town of Termaline. "Were it not for the dark elf, Termaline would be in flames," Agorwal exclaims. "Drizzt is under my protection now! And never again shall I, or my fellow men of Termaline, prejudge him by the color of his skin and the reputation of his kin!" Kemp calls Agorwal a fool as the men of Termaline carry Drizzt from the field of battle. Across the battlefield, two men find the young boy who hit Bruenor on the head. Bruenor has his life spared, and asks his name. The boy replies, "Wulfgar, and Bruenor informs him that he is now to be Bruenor's servant for the next five years. Over the next four and a half years, life in Icewind Dale returned to peaceful normalcy. No longer facing a common foe, the individual towns of the Dale returned to bickering over the rights of fishing the knucklehead trout. The dwarves retreated back into their underground lair, and Drizzt continued to watch over them all. Regis became even fatter as his personal riches grew. He had resorted to using the Ruby Pendant in his dealings with traders for his scrimshaw, "persuading" them to give him ten times their actual value for the carvings. Wulfgar, a boy no longer, having grown into a strapping young man, entered his fifth and final Spring in Bruenor's service. While he had been angry and bitter in his initial days, he eventually came to respect and love the surly dwarf like a father, and worked hard every day to please the old codger. Wulfgar had been given more freedom over the months and years, and had been taught smithcraft by the dwarven clan chief, becoming quite skilled at forging blades. In time, he came to see that he owed the dwarf a great debt for saving his life and making him a better man. The intervening years had been good to Adar Kessel as well. In his green crystal tower of Cryshal-Tirith, he had used the persuasive powers of Crenshinibon to amass a small army of ogres, orcs, and trolls, as well as create his own personal harem from the barbarian tribes of the north. Crenshinibon was always thirsting for power via conquest, and grew impatient at Adar's reticence to strike out at little more than caravans of traders, but eventually the army grew to over ten thousand, and Kessell was finally of a mind to make his name known to the world. Meanwhile, somewhere else in the world a young wizard had foolishly summoned the demon Errtu. Too powerful for the young wizard, Errtu snuffed out the man's life and broke the bonds of the binding circle, free to search after the Crystal Shard after the long millenia. At the same time, Bruenor embarks on a quest to create his greatest work. Bruenor's father had told him, "If yer talent for the craft is keen, and ye're lucky enough to live long and feel the strength of the earth, ye'll find a special day. A special blessin'. For once, and only once, the very best of our smiths may craft a weapon of their choosing that outdoes any work they'd ever done. A weapon of legend." Today was Bruenor's day. Aegis-Fang was given shape. Aegis-Fang, a weapon of legend, of power, one that would "change the course of history, and reshape all of Icewind Dale." During the long night of it's forging, Drizzt kept watch over the dwarf, never telling him he witnessed the birth of Bruenor's magnum opus. As a result, he missed the arrival of the giant demon Errtu in the environs of the Dale, as he crashed into Cryshal-Tirith, and confronted Adar Kessell. Though only a weak human, Errtu was no match for the man so long as Crenshinibon preferred the human over the demon, and was thus struck down before he could reach the man. Kessell essentially convinces Errtu to join forces with him, promising him that (since human life-span is short compared to a demon's) he could have the Crystal Shard when ever he had passed on. Errtu accepts the deal with relish.

The Frozen North: An Unfulfilled Vow

The days of his freedom nearing, Wulfgar spends more and more days contemplating the frozen lands of his people in the northern reaches of the Dale. Cattie-brie does her best to draw the young man out, but his stubborn pride and "traditional" view of women does not allow him to view her as the intelligent young woman she has truly become. Wulfgar mistakenly believes Cattie would not understand such things as the honor of a warrior, to which she replies, "Do you think you hold honor in your oversized hands for no better reason than what you hold in your pants?" She leaves the young man dazed and dumbfounded.

Later that night, Bruenor finally presents Wulfgar with two magnificent gifts, his freedom, and Aegis-Fang. From the moment Wulfgar hefted the hammer, it had been made for him, or better yet, he had been born of it by the gods. The only condition placed upon the gift, a vow which Wulfgar easily spoke, was that the great weapon never be raised against the people of Ten Towns. The next day, Bruenor introduces Wulfgar to his new instructor, the dark elf Drizzt Do'urden. The same prejudices Wulfgar held toward women were quickly exposed in the beginnings of his relationship with the drow.

In the secret reaches of the Dale, Adar Kessell and Errtu launch their plans for conquest, sending the ice giant Biggrin to set up and advance scouting camp near Ten Towns. Errtu does not thing the course of action wise, sending a giant so close to a primarily human community, be Adar (blinded by his power through Crenshinibon) believes otherwise. Errtu points out that even the Crystal Shard advised otherwise, but Adar screams "Crenshinibon advises, but I decide!" Errtu relents, stepping back and biding his time for an opportunity. At that moment, the latest additions to Kessell's growing army finally arrive, the Barbarian tribes under the leadership of Heafstagg. The great warrior hates Kessell and hates what he has become, but like so many others has been unable to resists the call of the Shard. Heafstagg comes before the throne of Kessell, and bows in fealty to the hated man. The next morning, Wulfgar starts his training with Drizzt. On first sight of the drow, Wulfgar growls at Bruenor, "This is my teacher? My people are bred a true warriors! What can I learn of fighting from a weakling elf?" To this, Drizzt promptly and easily ducks Wulfgar's first swipe from Aegis-Fang, and kicks the much larger man in the face. "Give me a few weeks," is the drow's simple reply. Drizzt's first order is to toughen the lad up even more by ordering him to hunt for their food during the day while he himself rested in his cave. At night, they fought long and hard, Drizzt never letting up and slapping Wulfgar at every opening in his defenses with the flat of his scimitar's blades. Being defeated so easily only made Wulfgar's anger grow, and anger which put the Barbarian at a disadvantage, since he would quickly lose his head in such cases. While physically stronger than nearly any normal man, Drizzt soon began to teach Wulfgar that control of oneself could faster bring control of one's weapons skill.

Wulfgar quickly swallowed his pride and learned all he could from this adept drow warrior. He came to appreciate this quiet elf's sense of honor and dignity. By the end of the second week, the barbarian was in complete control of his great hammer, and could successfully block most of the elf's scimitar thrusts. He came to recognize not only his weak and open areas, but learned how to counter-strike after a successful parry. Soon, Drizzt was confident the man could fell a giant in a single blow, if only he could learn patience.

One of the final lessons taught by Drizzt during their days alone together takes place one night while Wulfgar looks down over the campfires of his people out on the plains. He is told by Drizzt that they have rebounded from their defeat at the hands of Ten Towns, and they are once again masters of the plain. When Wulfgar inquires about Heafstagg, king of his tribe--the tribe of Elk--Drizzt explains that he no longer kin of the Elk tribe, but now rules over all the tribes. Wulfgar mentions how mighty a king Heafstagg is, and Drizzt counters by saying, "No, he's a savage fighter." When questioned, Drizzt explains that a king is a man of character who leads by example and truly cares for his people, not a dictator who rules only because he is the strongest. Wulfgar is left alone to ponder those thoughts. That very night, as two of Biggrin's giants are making their way back to their cave, they come across two dwarves sitting at their campfire. Though ordered to stay away from all Icewind Dale residents and definitely not kill any, the pair attack the dwarves, slaughtering them in their surprise. Stupidly, they drag the corpses to a nearby tree, thinking they have hidden their crime by stuffing the bodies into a wide bole, but little escapes the eyes of the Dale's dark protector.

Later that night, as Drizzt and Wulfgar are running around the perimeter of the Dale, the big man questioned the dark elf's very presence in the cold north. Why was a creature of such skill and impeccible morality in such a place? And above all, why did he leave his people? Drizzt responds, "They kill without mercy. They kill without passion. Lolth, the demon goddess they serve, feeds on treachery and violence--leaving no room for anything else. That's why I'm here." When Wulfgar counters that he'll never see his people or his family again, Drizzt says that he has his own respect, and that is enough, leading Wulfgar to whisper to himself, "Perhaps we are not so different."

Drizzt halts their patrol when he smells the scent of fresh blood nearby. They run to see the bodies of the dwarves, Bundo and Dourgas, stuffed in the tree. Drizzt easily sees the giant footprints in the dirt, and deduces they are part of a much larger force. He send Wulfgar back to warn Bruenor and the others, promising, "I won't start the fun without you.' Wulfgar ran all through the night, pushing himself to his peak to warn Bruenor to rouse the clan. Then, he turned back around without resting and ran back north to where he left Drizzt, eager to finally put Aegis-Fang to good use.

Being large, incredibly stupid creatures, Drizzt found the giants very easily. Incongruously, Drizzt found the giants had planned and made an encampment which should have been far too complex for the brutes. When Wulfgar arrives, Drizzt calls Guenhwyvar, and the three of them infiltrate the giant's lair. Wulfgar had never seen the great black cat before, and is mistrustful of magic. He soon learns the panther's worth as she single-handedly takes down the first giant foe.

Bruenor and his dwarves, meanwhile, are slowly but steadily marching, following the directions provided by Wulfgar. An advance scout reports sighting a large group of giants and ogres ahead, but Bruenor realizes they are not yet near the place Wulfgar indicated the giant's camp lay. Bruenor and his men set a trap for the advancing reinforcements and laid in wait, slaughtering nearly all the ogres and many of the giants with their arrows. The dwarves descended upon the dazed and panicked giants, killing them swifly and not allowing a single foe to escape. The battle, in the place known as Daledrop, was over in three minutes. Meanwhile, Drizzt and his companions have snuck into the giant's kitchen, and ambush a giant as he enters, killing him instantly. All hell breaks loose as the three cut a swath through the giants and ogres, felling one after another with claws, blades and hammer. For all their prowess, the trio was outnumbered, and Drizzt, being the focus of the giant's ire, was soon to be overwhelmed. Wulfgar throws his hammer for the first time, purely on instinct, smashing the head of one of the giants attacking Drizzt. Now unarmed, another giant bore down on the defenseless barbarian, only to witness the great battlehammer magically re-materialize in the warrior's hand. Wulfgar backhands his attacker, sending the last giant in the room to the floor, leaving the trio momentarily victorious.

Bruenor, having kept one of the ogres from the battle of Daledrop alive, gets Regis to use his Ruby Pendant on the creature. They learn that all of the orc, goblin, ogre, giant and barbarian tribes have united under the banner of Adar Kessell, and they plan to shortly attack Ten Towns. Wulfgar is enraged, believing his people would never band with such creatures, but he and the others know the power of Regis' jewel, it cannot be lied to. Regis goes to Bryn Shander to warn the council, a task which takes several days since the leaders are all loath to leave their own cities again.

Spokesman Kemp, as usual, mistrusts the word of the dwarves, especially since they ally themselves with Drizzt. Even more, he feels them stupid for relying on the word of an ogre, eventually accusing Agorwal of concocting the plan so that he could draw the citizens of Targos away from their fishing so that Termaline's fishers could freely fish alone. Cassius calls on Regis to "persuade" Kemp, to which the Termaline spokesman balks, stating that Regis has some sort of magic about him which allows him to sway those to whom he speaks. At this, the unswayed members of the council grow suspicious of Regis, causing Bruenor to storm out of the council chambers, leaving the human settlements to fend for themselves.

After Bruenor storms out of the meeting with the human settlements, he talks with Drizzt and Wulfgar. He tells them he plans to close the mines and wants them to go with him. Wulfgar tells him no and that he has other buisness he has to take care off. Drizzt intrigued by this follows Wulfgar across the frozen tundra. Drizzt then followed his friend into a icey cave where the mighty Iceingdeath slept.

Drizzt and Wulfgar battle the ancient white dragon. Seeing a large icey stalagtite above Iceingdeath Wulfgar threw his magical wahammer Aegis-Fang to dislodge it. The frozed spear struck down upon the dragon slaying it where it stood. Together they claimed its treasure horde. Drizzt told him he did not need any gold, but would take the Iceingdeath scimitar that lay amongst the treasures. With that they split thier ways, Drizzt returning to the human settlemnts and Wulfgar heading back to his tribeman.

The monstous army now surronded the city of Bryn Shander, and a evil demon summoned forth a large green tower. There Akar Kessel demanded the citys loyalty after showing a taste of his power in destroying the city of Targos.

Seeing the demon Drizzt put together a plan where he would hope to learn information. Summoning the demon Errtu Drizzt used his heritage to gain information. But the demon learned he was being stricked and attacked. Drizzt fought the demon along side Guenwhyvar. The scimitar he had taken from the dragons horde came alive when facing the demon. It struck against his blade hard and engulfed him in ice. Drizzt stabs him with Iceingdeath, defeating the demon by banishing him from the physical plane, but not before it issued a threat to him. In that thread he told him in 100 years he would be free again, and he would have his revenge.

Regis was sent to be the spokesman in Akar's green crystal tower. There he tried to charm him with his mgical gem. But it did not work, meanwhile Drizzt was sneaking into the tower. He reached the room where Regis and Akar were. Regis warned Drizzt of the towers power source and he went about to destroy it. With one strike from his new sword it shattered. In a last ditch effort Akar did a spell teleporting him and Drizzt out of the crumbling tower.

During this the armies of the Ten Towns united along side the Dwarves of Clan Battlehammer once more and defeated Akar's goblinoid army. Regis was shown amongst the ruins of the crystal tower and proclaimed Wizard Slayer.

Now on the mountain ledge Drizzt and Akar battled it out. Foolishly Akar shot forth a green bolt of lightning which Drizzt dodged. Knowing an avalance was coming he kept running leaving Akar to die in a snowy tomb. With the goblin army defeated and Akar slain the people of Ten Towns made a new alliance. One that now involved the Dwarves of Battlehammer, and the Barbarians of the Tundra.

Bruenor pretends to be on his death bed when Drizzt comes to visit him. Useing Wulfgar and Catti-brie they trick him into agreeing to go out and find Mithral Hall. With Drizzt vowing on his word Bruenor shot out of bed happy and well. When spring came Bruenor, Drizzt, Wulfgar, and Regis all st out to find the lost dwarven city of Mithral Hall.

Streams Of Silver

The four companions set out from Icewind Dale. Bruenor to find his lost home of Mithral Hall. Wulfgar was a young man set out in the world for the first time. Drizzt who was on yet another adventure that would span his ling life. Regis who seemed at odds with the road. More comfortable with sleeping an eating than traveling. It seemed more like he was running from something, than looking for something. Thier march south took them two weeks before they reached the gates of Luskan, the City of Sails.

Meanwhile back at Bryn Shander a cloaked man by the name of Artemis Entreri entered Regis's obandoned house. Searching for clues he knew Regis had left in a hurry. Then a couple of dwarves and and a young girl entered the home. From the shadows he attacked killing the dwarves effortlessly. The girl Catti-brie adopted daughter of Bruenor ran in fear. She was stopped by the man who threatned her for information. The man unerved her more than anything in her life as she told him they were headed for Luskan. With that Artemis left her to cry in her own fear.

The four companions were allowed entry into Luskan for Regis's fame of crafting Scrimshaw. Inside they headed for the docks district. Bruenor and Drizzt would leave Wulfgar and Regis at the Cutless while they went to gather thier information here. Drizzt gave Wulfgar a warning to keep care of Regis and to beware the woman. With that they left them to and headed off into the night.

While Driizzt and Bruenor were gone a fight broke out in the bar. One that Wulfgar eaily won. But with that they were kicked out to wait for thier companions on the door step. While that was going on Drizzt and Bruenor meet with a person named Whisper. They were told she would be able to get them a map of the region...for a price. When she returned with the map she asked for more money and then sprang a trap. Drizzt and Bruenor easily defeated the thugs and made thier way back with the map in tow. The friends decided it was not safe to stay in Luskan for them so they hopped the wall and made thier way into the wilderness to begin thier journey once more.

That next morning Catti-brie set out with a caravan headed for Luskan. She would find her friends and warn them of the dark man who was trailing them.

The next night the companions ran into a goblin party. During the fighting some barbarians of the Sky Ponies arrived to help take out the golbins, but then took Wulfgar, Regis, and Bruenor as captives. Drizzt escaped into the night, where he would make a plan to rescue his friends.

Back at the Tribes camp Wulfgar was set in a challenge of strength against that clans strongest warrior. At the time Wulfgar won the challenge Drizzt came riding in with the groups horses. The companies manage to escape with a brief fight, but were soon followed by a magical beast. The tribes Shaman had transformed thier best warrior into a etheral pegusus. Physical attacks were useless against it until Drizzt used Guenhwyvar to travel to the astral plane. Her home and the plane the ehteral beast would be on. Together they attacked the beast and forced it into the material plane where Wulfgar was waiting to deal the final blow.

The caravan Catti-brie was on set up for camp that night, and during that night Artemis saw thier fire in the distance. Curious he went to check it out, and saw the girl who he had gotten information from the day before. Silently he killed the caravaners and took Catti-brie hostage. On thier way to Luskan they were meet by a Guard named Jierdan. He told Artemis that his master wished to see him. After learning they knew of Regis, Drizzt, Wulfar, and Bruenor Artemis agreed. There he meet Dendybar a wizard of the Host Tower.

After another day of travel the group made it to Longsaddle, where they would visit the Ivory Mansion home to the wizards known as the Harpells. There they hoped to gain more knowledge on thier quest to find Mithral Hall. There they meet Harkel Harpell who would show them around. The place was full of magic and wonder, setting Wulfgar uneased. As the barbarin did not trust sorcery. In exchange for some information they wanted Drizzt agreed to tell the Harpells about his home city of Menzobarranzan. Thier they leared some information, but not enough to give them a heading. The next morning after a long needed peacful rest they headed out for Silverymoon.

Back in Luskan Harkel Harpel used magic to talk with Sydney a girl he crushed on. She was in fact the apprentice to Dendybar and learned that the dark elf was there in Longsaddle but headed out for Silverymoon in the morning.

This same night Artemis paid Whisper a visit to learn what he would about he encounter with the dark elf, and were they were headed. He learned they had gotten a map of the northland from her before he killed her. Back at the Host Tower an alliance was made. Artemis, the guard Jierdan, Dendybar's apprentice Sydney, and a Golem named Bok would set out in the morning for Silverymoon on magically speed horses where they would meet thier prey.

On thier travel from Longsaddle the weather turned worse. A thunderstorm moved in and they had to find cover. Once the storm cleared thier horse were gone, one was blasted by lightning and the others ran off. On foot they once again started thier journey. Five days brought them to the river Rauvin, and that night they heard a scream. Some riders were under attack and they went to thier aid. Once the creatures were defeated the riders yelled for them to stay back. They told Breunor he had foul company in the dark elf and to stay clear of the city Nesme. If they could not go through Nesme to get to Silverymoon, then they would have to pass through the Troll Moors.

Thier first night out of Luskan Catti-brie began to set a trap herself. She would try and create tension between Jierden and Artemis, hoping to get a chance to escape. During that same time Artemis spoke with Sydney asking about the Golem. She thought it had been sent to keep Aretmis in line. But Entreri warned her it was sent to watch her, and to make sure she did not try and claim what her master wanted. Two more days of travel and they made it to Silverymoon.

Back in the Trool Moors Drizzt and friends were attacked by Trolls. Cutting them up did nothing as it would simply create yet another one. They needed fire to keep them from regenerating. Grabbing torches they fought the trolls back, but the lights of the fire brought more trolls to them. They had to escape and fought with fire and steel throughout the night. The troll onslaught not stopping they had to run, and by next day break they were back at the river Rauvin, but not safe. A large river mosnter attacked and swallowed Regis as he went to get water. Thier blades were not enough to penetrate its scales. So Wulfgar used Aegis-fang to and his incredible strength to blast a hole into the beast killing it and releasing Regis. They used the creatures scales to make a raft to cross the river. Within the next few days they finally approched Silverymoon.

There at the gates of Silverymoon they were turned back. Not allowed into the city because of Drizzt's heritage. Frustrated they set back out. That night Drizzt could not sleep. Not being allowed into the city pained him. The place was known was acceptance ye the was not allowed in, was not accepted. Then an enchanting woman appeared before Drizzt. She told Drizzt she was Alustriel High Lady of Silverymoon. She wanted to let him know why she could not allow him entrance into her city. For the fear or wars and secret alliances she could not yet allow him to enter the city. She told him that she knew who he and his companions were, and why they came to Silerymoon. They sought the Vault of Sages for information that would lead them to Mithral Hall. She told him that she searched the vault herself and could not find much. She told Drizzt that there might be one more who could help him. Less than a days march was Heralds Holdfast, there lived the sage Old Night. He might be able to help them no thier journey. Before she left she gave Drizzt a potion of Remembrance. She said to give it to the dwarf when the answers you seek are near.

With little explanation the Companions of the Hall (a name coined by Harkel Harpell for the group) set out for Herlads Holfast. Drizzt once again with faith in himself, and in others. On the outside Heralds Holdfast lookded in ruins, but on the inside it was simply breath taking. Tapestrys, armors, weapons, books were everywhere. There they meet Old Night who had expected thier arrival because of Alustriel. He had searched his books and nly found one that held any referance to Mithral Hall. It spoke of an above ground city named Settlestone, and name Bruenor recognized immidetly. Drinking the potion Drizzt had given him he was flooded with memories of old. Once the potion took effect Bruenor knew where to go, and they headed out for fourtpeak.

Artemis and his group had waited for more than a week in Silverymoon with no signs of Drizzt or any of the others. They were giving up hope until the Golem Bok spoke "Drow" Smashing through walls it began its chace, for it was magically inspelled to track the drow once they were close enough. Artemis and the others had finally caught up to the Companions of the Hall. Artemis ordered for Jierdan to stay with Catti-brie while he went to capture Regis. Then Catti-brie's plan took effect. She had been egdeing those two into a fight since they left Luskan, and now it was happening. During the struggle she used a branch to strike Sydney on the head and made her way down the cliff to join her friends and warn them of Artemis and the others.

She reached them as they opened the door to Mithral Hall and warned them of thier puersuers. Not knowing anything about thier enemy they headed into Mithral Hall where they might be able to better fight them. Closing the magically sealed door behind them.

Inside the Hall it was lit with everburning torches. Inside they found the bodies of dwarves and duergar(gray dwarves). Amongst the bodies Bruenor saw his Bangor his father, and Garumn his fathers father. Wanting to avenge his clan and to claim his title Bruenor grabbed his fathers axe and armor. Then proclaimed himself Eighth King Of Mithal Hall. They then moved farther down into the halls

Doors didn't stop the Golem Bok from entering. He busted the door in allowing for the others to enter, and once again start thier search for the dark elf and Regis. They would come upon them at Garum's Gorge. Artemis came upon Drizzt with sword and dagger. Together they fought weaving and parrying, countering and striking. Both were master swordsman but that would not help them as the Stone work trap set off, collapsing under them. Both being lost into the darkness. During the trap each group was blocked off from each other by a cave in.

Bruenor began yelling at Regis blaming him for Drizzt's death, for being a thief. He makes mistake and his friends have to pay for them with thier lives. During this Catti-brie found a Quiver and Bow in the room they were in. The runes on the mantle translated from dwarven as "Taulmaril the Hearseeker, and quiver of Anariel dwarf friend". She then let loose an arrow over Brunor and Regis's head, ending thier arguement. She quickly reminded them of thier situation.

Elsewhere the uncounscious Drizzt was awakening to find a dagger at his throat. Artemis spoke of making a deal with Drizzt so that they could both make it out of the Halls alive. Agreeing they set out, and Drizzt realized his pouch was missing and that it must of fallen and been buried in the ton of earth. Passing through the mines the ran across rivers of silver, pure mithral a King's Hoard. There they they would fight together aganst the dozens of Duergar. Back to back they fought in pefect harmony. One of grace and one of fury, so alike yet so very differant.

The fighting had wanred the gray drawves, and they went to awaken thier master Shimmergloom. A shadow dragon and current ruler of Mithral Hall.

Brunor and the others would also face off against the gray dwarves. Fiercely they fought bow, hammer, and axe as Regis hide, only to be found by Sydney and magically webbed, holding him still. Wulfgar would then face off against the Golem. With sheer strength he ripped its head off and then pounded it over the cluff with his magical hammer. Meanwhile Catti-brie would come to Regis's rescue sending an arrow straight through the head of Sydney, from ear to ear. With that kill Catti-brie felt as if she had lost her innocence.

Then Shimmergloom flew out of the gorge, letting loose its breath weapon of darkness upon Wulfgar and Cattir-brie. Brunor searched for a way to help, and grabbing a berral of oil he leaped onto the drgaons back with a torch in his other hand. Smashing the barrel and lighting the dragon on fire he rode him down into the darkness, to the bottom of the gorge.

Drizzt and Artemis had made thier way out of the mines at this time. Striking Drizzt from behind Artemis took off. Drizzt would then come upon his friends Wulfgar and Catti-brie, but no Regis, and no Bruenor. Then fro acros the gorge Artemis called out "Too late black elf the gem and halfing are mine". Drizzt tried to reason with the assassin saying he did not need the halfing. Artemis told him the road to Calimport is long maybe he shall catch him before that, and if he will not come for the halfling then come for this. As he held out the figureine of Guenhwyvar and slipped away ito the darkness.

Later they would find thier way out of Mithral Hall. They journeyed back to Longsaddle where they would slit up once again. Wulfgar and Drizzt would go after Regis and hunt down the assassin, while Catti-brie would remain behind at Ivy Mansion to mass an army to retake Mithral Hall. Later, in Mithral Hall, Dendybar takes notice of Bok's corpse laying on the floor, amazed at the fact that it was defeated. He attempts to question Morkai about Drizzt's location, but the spirit refuses his inquiry. Just after banishing Morkai, Dendybar reanimates Bok. But, the golem is suddenly possessed by Morkai, taking advantage of the wizard's weakened body and crushing his skull with one hand.

The Halfling's Gem

Drizzt and Wulfgar finally approached and enter the Tower of Twilight upon welcome from wizard Malchor Harpell. As gifts, Drizzt received Twinkle, another enchanted scimitar to complement Iceingdeath, and enchanted horseshoes to increase the speed their horses. Malchor informs them that Calimport is about 2000 miles away from Longsaddle, and that they would need a ship to get there in a timely manner. Drizzt's race, however, would be a problem, but he says that there's a mask in Neverwinter Wood that can conceal his true appearance for that of a surface elf. Agatha, the banshee would be an obstacle. Regardless, Drizzt and Wulfgar set out for the mask.

Meanwhile, out at sea, Regis beckons to Artemis that the gem from he stole Pasha Pook overcame him, and that he had no choice but to take it. In spite of that, Artemis reminded Regis of his fate at the hands of Pasha Pook before he left him in his quarters. On the ship's deck, Artemis contemplated on his impasse battle with Drizzt, longing for a chance to defeat him in battle. In the morning that followed, Regis intentionally burned his forearm in multiple areas to pass off as if he contracted a flesh-eating disease in an attempt to scare the ship's crew. Although Artemis knew it was a trick, the crew didn't think so. As a result, the captain only offered to sail them to Baldur's Gate. Artemis reluctantly accepted, in exchange for the gold he paid, just before punishing Regis and killing the captain to keep the crew's mouths closed. Upon arrival, Artemis found another ship and left the harbormaster with a gift for a friend.

Drizzt and Wulfgar arrived at Neverwinter Wood, preparing themselves for Agatha's scream of death by wrapping up their ears. As they set foot in her lair, they are immediately ambushed by her. Drizzt leaves Wulfgar to engage her in battle as he searches for the mask. Upon finding it, the two of them flee and mount their horses for Waterdeep. The mask served its purpose, disguising Drizzt as a surface elf as they walk through town sans any racial slurs toward his Drow heritage. There, they met Captain Deudermont, a friend of Malchor's who agrees to take them south on his ship, the Sea Sprite.

Back at Mithral Hall, it is revealed that Bruenor survived his fall as Shimmergloom fell to its death weeks prior and had been climbing through the caverns, killing any Duergar that stand in his way. His trek brought him to Undercity, which was inhabited by thousands of gray dwarves. As he charged through the city, he slew several Duergar in his way as he ran for the city's furnace. There, he climbed to the top of it, protected from the heat and flames by his father's armor. He escaped through a chimney that was connected to the furnace, on the surface. He immediately fell asleep from exhaustion.

Drizzt and Wulfgar arrived in Baldur's Gate less a week later, and they are greeted by the harbormaster, who gives them the 'gift' that Artemis left for them. In the box was one of Regis's fingers.

Bruenor awakens ten days after his escape from Mithral Hall, only to be greeted by Alustriel of Silverymoon. She informed him that the rest of the Companions of the Hall are safe. Shorty, they depart for Longsaddle in her flaming chariot to reunite him with Cattie-Brie. From her, he is informed of Artemis taking Regis, and that Drizzt and Wulfgar are chasing him. He also learns that Cattie-Brie amassed an army of 100 Battlehammer soldiers and 8000 other soliders from Citadel Adbar in preparation of taking back Mithral Hall from the Duergar.

At Calimport, Pasha Pook is informed that Artemis has captured Regis and is a week away from arrival.

Equipment of Drizzt Do'Urden

Iceingdeath; A magical scimitar taken from the treasure hoard of the white dragon Iceingdeath. It has the ability to deal additional cold damage upon its strikes, and protects its wielder from fire. The blade has also proven to severely wound demons.

Twinkle; Was a gift from Malachor Harpell. This magical scimitar has a keen edge and glows when danger is near. It also has the ability to help improve the wielders defense.

Mithral Chain; This chain shirt was given to Drizzt by his dwarf friend King Bruenor Battlehammer.

Spider Silk Shirt; This dark lightweight shirt i magically enchanted to help protect him from slashing attacks. Almost neglecting the cuts completely.

Bracers of Blinding Strike; Taken from Dantrag the Weapons Master of House Baenre, they increase the wearers speed. Drizzt has chosen to wear them round his ankels instead.

Other Apperances and Media

Drizzt has appeared twice in Wizards of the Coast Dungeons and Dragons minatures. Each with a differant pose. The first one was in thier third set, while the second one was part of the Icon Box which contained Drizzt, Wulfgar, and Iceingdeath.

Replica's of his swords Iceingdeath and Twinkle have been crafted and are for sell.

Video Game Appearances

Drizzt Do'urden appears an an unlockable playable character in Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and Dark Alliance II for Playstation 2 and X-Box. To unlock him, all you have to do is beat the game on normal difficulty. Dark Alliance II also features Artemis Entreri as an unlockable character.

Drizzt is a somewhat important character in Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone. He is voiced by Robin Downes.

Drizzt appears in Baldur's Gate 2 for PC, and if you have an evil character with the same name, he will attack you for dirtying his reputation. If you kill him and the Champions, you can loot them, but all the items disappear later. He is also featured as part of a puzzle later in the game.

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