Drizzt has traveled to the surface and comes near the settlement of Malobar. Finding the farm of the Thistledown family, he believes he must protect them from an unknown force out to kill them. Momentarily distracted from this self-imposed duty, he fails them and they are slaughtered.
The town's people, hearing rumors of a drow in the area, believe Drizzt is responsible for the slaughter. A local tracker with a grudge against him joins with four professionals from the nearby city of Sundabar to track down and capture the culprit. The groups leader, Dove Falconhand, believes in the dark elf's guilt the closer she gets to capturing him, the clues speaking to his innocence slowly overcoming her preconceived notions of drow wickedness.
Drizzt is unable to get away from the experienced trackers, so he decides to turn and make a stand.