T h e iL i b r a r y
The Elfquest Saga: A Synopsis
Elfquest is the creation of Wendy and Richard Pini. It is a long-running and award-winning series of independent comic books (and some spin-off novels and games). This is a synopsis of the entire Elfquest saga as it has been revealed so far. I decided to do this synopsis in order to tie all of the various Elfquest comics together into a continuous story, and for a quick reference of the major events throughout the saga.
The comic books which tell each particular part of the story are referenced in parentheses. Some stories have been reprinted in various volumes; only the original comic in which the story appears is referenced. (Click here for the detailed names of each referenced publication.)
Note: Some of the summaries for the following comics are by D. Aviva Rothschild with some edits for continuity and detail within this synopsis: Wolfrider! 1-10; New Blood 11-19; Hidden Years 8-29; Shards; The Rebels; Jink; and the EQII series Dreamtime, Wavedancers, Wild Hunt and Rogue's Curse.
ARRIVAL OF THE HIGH ONES ON ABODE
(HY 6-7; EQ 1, 20)
The elves of Elfquest are not strictly speaking the creatures of folklore known as ‘elves’, but are actually the descendents of highly advanced humanoid alien beings, known as the High Ones.
The original planet of the High Ones’ race (far far distant from the planet upon which the Elfquest story takes place) is being used up by overpopulation, and so the High Ones leave that planet using advanced technology to find new planets on which to live, and also to explore the larger universe. Generations later, some return to their original homeworld and stay there to help ease it through the last of its life. While doing so, they awaken their latent psychic/magical powers, and over time they develop those powers to the point of being able to send their spirits out of their bodies, and becoming immortal. At this point they could have chosen to abandon the physical world altogether and exist only as spirits, but instead they choose to remain attached to their bodies and to the physical world.
Eventually they decide to leave the now-dead planet to once again explore the larger universe, and they journey into space in many different space-vessels controlled entirely by their psychic powers. They take with them the two last surviving animal species of their homeworld, a bug-like species and an ape-like species, which both eventually evolve through the close contact with the High Ones on the vessels into immortal creatures: Preservers and Trolls. The High Ones are able to adapt to any planet by shape-shifting, and explore many new planets in this way.
After journeying to many different worlds over a huge span of time, the High Ones in one of the vessels desire to find and reunite with other High Ones, their 'fellow wanderers.' They eventually discover some possible signs of other High Ones on a two-mooned planet, on which humans live. They decide to explore this planet, called Abode, during the planet’s medieval time period. These High Ones assume the form of beings called ‘elves’ that they have seen depicted in the human’s medieval art and architecture, to make themselves more relatable to the humans. They also change the shape of their vessel to look like a beautiful palace similar to the structures created by the humans.
However, the trolls by this time have become resentful of being servants to the High Ones. They rebel during the vessel’s descent and cause a mishap which disrupts the controls of their vessel and causes the High Ones to make a disastrous forced landing far earlier in time, in the paleolithic period. When they land, the High Ones find that their psychic powers are greatly weakened on Abode. The High Ones’ inability to communicate quickly with the pre-historic, cave-dwelling humans, as well as their inability to rely on their magic, causes a catastrophic misunderstanding that brings on a massacre of the High Ones and drives the survivors away from their palace-shaped “spaceship”.
Many of the High Ones are slaughtered by the humans who see the palace-vessel land, and many more die in the unfamiliar environment. Now permanently trapped in elfin bodies and separated in the chaos, several different elfin tribes are begun over the next millennia by the scattered High Ones on Abode and their descendants.
Some magical powers are retained in some descendents of the High Ones on Abode. These include telepathy (“sending”), tree-shaping, rock-shaping, healing, fire-starting, spectral projection, and gliding (a limited form of flying).
A female member of one group of the stranded High Ones, named Timmain, is able to retain her shape-shifting ability. To adapt to the harsh environment on the World of Two Moons, she shape-shifts into a wolf in order to hunt and bring food to her fellow elves so they will not starve, as the area around where the Palace landed becomes colder and colder during an Ice Age. She sinks very deeply into her wolf-form, very rarely changing back into an elf. In her wolf form, she eventually mates with a native wolf and bears a child who is half-elf and half-wolf: a stronger, more adapted offspring known as Timmorn Yellow-Eyes. After bringing the young Timmorn to the elves to raise him, Timmain disappears (HY 6-7, EQ 12).
Timmorn brings the wolf pack and the elf tribe together, sires elf children who have wolf and elf genes, and thus begins the forest-dwelling tribe known as Wolfriders… ferocious hunter/warriors who are closely allied with wolves who serve as mounts, hunting partners, and friends. As one story’s introduction says, “the bond is never one of master to beast of burden, but rather of brother to brother.” Over time, the Wolfriders move around to many different forest homes, and away from the now-frozen lands surrounding the Palace.
The Wolfriders are the main characters in the Elfquest saga. The Wolfriders have some basic psychic powers like telepathy, healing and plant manipulation. The descendents of Timmorn are no longer immortal because of the wolf blood they have inherited, but they are not aware of their mortality, because they can still live for many hundreds of years, and their harsh environment makes it unlikely that any of them would die of old age. Their wolf blood also makes it possible for them to have a limited telepathic communication with their ‘wolf-friends.’
The Wolfriders’ telepathic ability, and their great reliance on it rather than talking (because it is quieter and therefore safer during hunts or in dangerous situations), creates a need for each elf to have a ‘soul name:’ a private name that protects his soul from being telepathically invaded or violated by another. A Wolfrider is born with a soul name, and only those closest to him will ever know his soul name.
Due to a built-in genetic effect from their telepathic abilities, a male and female elf (any elves, not just Wolfriders) sometimes “Recognize,” a kind of psionic matchmaking effect that compels genetically compatible elves to mate in hopes of breeding strong children. Elves cannot generally bear offspring outside of Recognition, although it does happen on rare occasions. Elves born outside Recognition are sometimes considered ‘inferior’ to those who were born as a result of Recognition. Recognition also often results in a lifelong pair-bonding between the Recognized elves known as “lifemating” if the elves are compatible with one another in temperament. When two Wolfriders Recognize, their soul names are involuntarily exchanged, creating a deep psychological bond.
Timmorn bears children both in and outside of Recognition with many of the “pure-blooded“ elves. He eventually takes his leave of the tribe as he wrestles internally with the two halves of himself: elf and wolf. In the end, he chooses to live in the “Now” of wolf thought, and is never seen by the Wolfriders again. His daughter Rahnee the She-Wolf (whose mother is Valloa who is also called Murrel) takes over the chieftainship after Timmorn disappears (BOTC 1).
After Rahnee dies, her son and youngest child Prey-Pacer (whose father is Zarhan Fastfire) becomes chief. Prey-Pacer bears a son outside of Recognition, named Swift-Spear, to his chosen lifemate Softfoot. Later, he bears a daughter Skyfire through Recognition to Wreath. Prey-Pacer chooses Swift-Spear, not Skyfire, as his successor to the chieftainship of the Wolfriders, to the dismay of some in the tribe who see Skyfire as more worthy of the chieftainship because she is a product of Recognition and therefore genetically superior (TS 4).
A tribe of humans live in the same forest where the Wolfriders make their home. Swift-Spear’s obsession with warring against humans begins when Swift-Spear’s wolf is slain by humans, who are angry that the wolves are stealing from their traps. In revenge, Swift-Spear drives the humans away from the forest after killing the humans’ chief, and he takes the name of Two-Spear because he now carries two spears: his own and the human chief's (BOTC 3). There is much internal conflict within the tribe between Two-Spear and his half-sister Huntress Skyfire, as well as between the high ones and the ‘wilder’ more wolfish elves (BOTC 4).
One bitterly cold winter, Skyfire finds a clever way to scare off a new group of humans who have settled too near the elves for comfort but aren’t yet aware of them: by creating a fake ‘snowbeast’. She prefers to avoid killing humans (BOTC 6).
The divide in the Wolfriders tribe under Two-Spear gets worse over the next 60-odd years. Two-Spear goes off on his own to look for solutions to his tribe’s conflict and discovers an old cave which was shaped by High Ones. He has a vision of the High Ones’ landing on Abode, of the humans’ attack on them, and of the palace. He concludes that humans are incapable of living in peace with elves and therefore the elves must wipe out all humans or be wiped out themselves, and also must look for the palace and claim their true heritage.
One part of the tribe supports Two-Spear’s desire to aggressively seek out and kill all humans in order to allow elves to have dominance on Abode. The other part, including his sister Skyfire, believes this to be an abandonment of “The Way” (the conscious act of living in the ‘now’ of wolf-thought) as well as being dishonorable; they also fear that Two-Spear is not completely sane. For their own reasons, the High Ones in the tribe also disapprove of Two-Spear’s chieftainship.
Unwilling to join or condone Two-Spear's quest to wipe out the human race, Skyfire challenges Two-Spear to the chieftainship. Skyfire loses the challenge and is grievously wounded, but Two-Spear, perhaps feeling his grip on the tribe slipping away, spares her life and exiles himself along with about half the tribe members. He leads his group of elves back to the rock-shapers’ cave, which becomes their new home. After Two-Spear’s departure, Skyfire becomes the fifth chief of those Wolfriders who stay with her in the Everwood forest and try to live by The Way and avoid humans (TS 1-5).
Twenty-four years after leaving the Everwood, Two-Spear’s group of Wolfriders is still living in the rock-shaper’s magical cave, because Two-Spear believes that if they find a way to restore the High Ones' lost magical powers, they can then wipe out all the humans. Two-Spear is a harsh, dictatorial leader. He has an adult daughter, Kahvi, born outside of Recognition, whom he plans to make his successor to the chieftainship and with whom he is also very harsh, to the chagrin of some of the other elves in his tribe. Humiliated by his cruelty and fed up with his mad obsession with restoring the High Ones’ lost magical powers, Kahvi challenges Two-Spear to the chieftainship. Two-Spear deals her what he and the other elves believe to be a fatal wound, and she falls into a deep pool inside the rock-shaper’s cave. Two-Spear takes the elves far away from the cave. Later, his lifemate and the tribe’s healer, Willowgreen, removes the wolf-blood from all of them.
Generations later, remnants and descendants of Two-Spears’ group of elves discover the cave while seeking winter shelter. The elves discover the pool into which Kahvi had fallen, and they find that the pool is filled with High Ones’ magic which has preserved her and kept her alive, although unconscious, through the years. They remove her from the pool, and she wakes up. None of them know who she is, including herself, except one elf who became their chief after Two-Spear's death. He is old enough to remember her and he tells the others who she is (but doesn’t tell her, except for her name). They come to revere Kahvi (who, unknown to anyone, still has wolf-blood), and when the old chief dies, she takes his place and wears the four braids in her hair which signify the chieftainship. Her tribe eventually becomes the Go-Backs, whose story is told later on in this synopsis (Kahvi 2-3).
The sixth chief of the Wolfriders is Freefoot, son of Huntress Skyfire and her lifemate Dreamsinger. The Wolfriders’ holt in the Everwood under Freefoot is called Halfhill. The Wolfriders enjoy a peaceful time during this period (BOTC 5, 7).
Freefoot’s son is Oakroot (mother Starflower). Oakroot changes his name to Tanner after discovering a new method for tanning leathers and becoming an expert tanner. Seventh chief of the Wolfriders, Tanner has one of the longest tribal reigns (some 800 years) and certainly one of the most peaceful, marked by the absence of run-ins with humans (BOTC 17, 18).
The eighth Wolfrider chief is Goodtree: daughter of Tanner and Stormlight; lifemate to both Lionleaper and Acorn; and mother of Mantricker and Speedwell. It is believed she is the great-grandmother of Redlance through her daughter Speedwell. While on a 'pilgrimage' of sorts to try to awaken her latent plant-shaping ability as well as to find her soul name, she discovers an ancient forest which has strong remnants of High One's magic. These remnants heighten magical ability and allow her to unlock both her plant-shaping skill and her soul name. This forest quickly becomes the Wolfriders' new home, which they call the Holt. She shapes an ancient, massive tree in the center of the Holt into an above-ground dwelling for the Wolfriders. It is called the Father Tree, also later referred to as “Goodtree’s Rest” (BOTC 8-9). Humans move into this forest during Goodtree's lifetime.
The ninth Wolfrider chief is Mantricker: son of Goodtree and Lionleaper; younger brother of Speedwell (a female who was killed in early adulthood); father of Bearclaw and possibly others; and lovemate of Brightwater (Moonshade’s mother). Mantricker earns his name for his frequent trickery at the expense of nearby human tribes, yet he also forges a unique partnership with the human scout Demontricker, which helps keep the peace between elves and humans during Demontricker's lifetime (BOTC 12-13). At one point, a wandering human woman encounters Mantricker in the woods and falls in love with him, and Mantricker has to 'trick' her into believing he has died, so she won't keep wandering into the elves' territory (BOTC 14).
Mantricker's son Bearclaw discovers the trolls who live in caverns underneath the forest home of the Wolfriders. This happens when the dreamberry bushes growing in the Holt (the bushes had been brought there by Goodtree) start disappearing. Bearclaw is particularly fond of dreamberries, which bring on relaxation and visions. He decides to wait by one bush for as long as it takes to discover the 'thief'. He waits for many days, until finally a large green arm pops out of the earth and starts picking the berries off of that bush. He grabs the arm and calls for the other Wolfriders. They pull the arm's owner out of the hole: it is Old Maggoty, an ancient troll who is famous among trolls for her brew of dreamberry wine. Originally the High Ones’ servants, the trolls’ ancestors fled the palace crash site and became cave-dwellers. The trolls love to dig and forge metal, and they love treasure. The Wolfriders form a trading agreement with the trolls: metal knives and other tools from the trolls in exchange for fresh meat, produce, furs and leathers from the elves. Bearclaw also develops a liking for Maggoty's dreamberry wine (BOTC 2), and spends much time in the troll caverns drinking and gaming.
Despite the official peace between the two tribes, some of the humans keep up their harassment of the Wolfriders. Some Wolfriders want to move to another forest, and some want to aggressively fight the humans. Not liking either of these ideas, Mantricker decides to try to fool the humans into leaving, and begins a campaign of secret and constant 'sabotage', spooking their game, springing their traps, blocking their water source, stealing their weapons and food. When this doesn't work, he kidnaps a human boy and cuts his face as a warning. The humans who came to rescue the boy angrily throw spears toward the elf and one finds its mark, killing Mantricker (BOTC 15). The boy, later revealed as “Skar,” holds a grudge against elves until his death by suicide following his defeat in a duel with Bearclaw whom he had challenged (BOTC 16).
The tenth chief of the Wolfriders is Bearclaw, son of Mantricker and Thornflower. Upon his being made chief on the night of Matricker's death, Bearclaw announces that the Wolfriders will neither go to war against the humans nor move away from the Holt, but rather will try to live in peace with the humans. He bases this decision on Mantricker's final words to him: that Mantricker was was wrong to provoke the humans and that the humans are not so different from elves (BOTC 14). Eventually, that tribe of humans moves away from the Holt, and for hundreds of years, the Wolfriders live a peaceful life in the forest under Bearclaw's leadership.
As chief, Bearclaw earns the deep love and respect of Wolfriders, who admire his pluck and his strong enforcement of “The Way.” Like Mantricker, Bearclaw is mischievous and daring, and he lives completely in “the now” of wolf-thought. He earns his name for his insistence on being the sole hunter of bear in the tribe; bear-hunting is his specialty and his joy. He wears a bearskin tunic and a metal bear necklace crafted for him by the trolls.
He outlives several lifemates and children, whose stories are unknown. The part of his life we do know about is when he is about 1,200 years old. His lifemate at this time is Joyleaf. Her quiet steady wisdom balances and keeps his ‘hot-headedness’ in check. Despite her gentle nature, Joyleaf is a keen hunter. She is considered by the tribe to be a secondary chieftess.
Eventually a tribe of humans follow their Shaman back into the elves' land. The Shaman mistakes an elf-killed bear for a sign from his god Gotara, and the tribe settles into the “blessed land“ (EQII 21: Wolfrider 1). Rather than trying to live at peace with these humans as had been done with the previous human settlement, Bearclaw decides to try to drive them away, and the elves embark on a campaign of secret harassment and pranks (e.g., stealing kills from the humans' snares, scaring the humans with wolves). The Shaman decides that the woods are inhabited by demons and vows to exterminate them. Bearclaw overhears the threat (he doesn't understand the words but recognizes the challenge in the man's voice) and unwisely shows himself to the men, hoping to scare them away. Unfortunately, all he accomplishes is to stir them up. "A thousand and more turns of the seasons he has seen... each moment kept blessedly fresh at the cost of hard lessons forgotten.”
Three years later, a human hunting party kills a mother wolf and all but one of her cubs, taking that one alive to serve the newly anointed young Shaman. In retaliation, Bearclaw waits until the humans have drunk themselves into a stupor, then sneaks into their camp and tries to terrify the young Shaman by dressing up in their sacred bearskin. But though he retrieves the wolf cub and escapes, Bearclaw has again only made the humans angrier. They renew their vow to kill the elves (EQII 23: Wolfrider 2).
Several years pass. The humans stubbornly remain in the elves' wood despite their tricks. By hiding in the shadows near the humans, the elves pick up the humans' tongue, hoping to someday reason with them. However, Woodrue has his eye put out by men (thus becoming One-Eye), and soon afterwards, Crescent (Strongbow and Moonshade's daughter) is brutally murdered. Restraining the hysterical Strongbow from rushing to the attack, Bearclaw goes alone to the humans' camp and kills the old Shaman as he enters the forest. Joyleaf is furious with Bearclaw for making things worse, and in a rage he rushes to the trolls underground lair and drinks himself into a stupor (EQII 25: Wolfrider 3).
Things get even worse for Bearclaw when the humans leave poisoned meat around, and his beloved wolf-friend Snapper dies as a result. Joyleaf manages to catch him before he runs off to seek revenge; over the objections of Strongbow, she ties Bearclaw up and tries to talk sense into his head, pointing out that when he rushes “headlong and heedless into danger, you forget tribe and kin and act only on your own selfish desires“ and “we attack them, they attack us--on and on it goes! Only we can end it.” Once freed, Bearclaw goes out on his own for some days, looking for a sign from the High Ones about what to do, and a jet-black wolf appears. They bond instantly, and despite Joyleaf's misgivings, Bearclaw sees the wolf (whom he names Blackfell) as a sign from the High Ones to continue the fight with the humans. The elves (usually Bearclaw and Strongbow) embark on a series of raids, forcing the humans' hunters to range farther and farther to find food.
The young Shaman, sensing a loss of spirit among his people, begins to train young boys in demon-hating, telling them tales of “Demon-tricker“ who is a legend among many human tribes (EQII 27: Wolfrider 4). Two young human brothers start imitating Demontricker by playing tricks on the elves but not killing them, “shaming“ them instead as Demontricker did. An elf named Eyes-High (for her love of the stars) is pregnant with a son she has named Skywise. As the day of the birth draws near, she stays up in the top of a tree, promising Skywise that he will be born as close to the stars as possible. Her lifemate, Shale, comes to check on her. At that moment the two human boys start throwing rocks at the two elves to knock them out of their tree. The boys are not throwing to kill, since they believe that 'demons' cannot die by falling. But Shale falls to the ground, his back broken yet still alive. Eyes-High, whose birth is already late, climbs down, the stress causing her to go into labor. A group of adult humans who have been looking for the stray boys surround the two elves. They kill Shale and capture Eyes-High, intending to give her in sacrifice to their god Gotara.
The human boys are applauded by the tribe for their 'find', but the oldest brother feels that there is 'no honor' in this and feels guilty for what has happened. Watching Eyes-High as she struggles to hold back the birth of Skywise while being held in the humans' tent, the boy remorsefully decides to take her back to her people to try to save her and her baby. He and his younger brother secretly put her on a raft and head upriver toward the elves' dwelling. The older humans come after them in fury. Eyes-High gives birth to Skywise on the raft, and sends a message to the tribe to rescue Skywise from the river, where she has placed him in her oiled hide to float. The humans find the two boys and Eyes-High, and as punishment, demand that the younger brother give his own life in the ritual sacrifice in place of the elf, who has now died from loss of blood. The Wolfriders find and rescue the baby Skywise alive from the river, and the orphan is cared for by the entire tribe (HY 5).
After this latest in a series of tragedies, Bearclaw is extremely disheartened and spends more and more time with the trolls, gaming and drinking. Returning from one of these forays, he is confronted by Joyleaf, who accuses him of abandoning the tribe. He hits her, and she refuses to either talk or sleep with him any longer (EQII 27: Wolfrider 4). Their feud lasts for a long time, until he commands her to fight bear with him. When he trips while trying to outrun the bear, Joyleaf forgets her anger and kills the bear to save him. Their bonds renewed, they feel the pull of Recognition and Joyleaf becomes pregnant with a son (EQII 29: Wolfrider 5).
During a particularly cold and harsh winter two years later, Bearclaw decides to attack the human camp, hoping to wipe them out completely before his son is born (elfin gestation is two years). But when his war party arrives at the humans' camp, they discover that the humans have already left the area, to the great rejoicing of the tribe. Cutter is thus born into a time of unusual peace for the elves, and he never learns to hate humans as most of the tribe does (EQII 31: Wolfrider 6). He and young Skywise become best friends, and they get into and out of many scrapes together (BOTC 19; NB 6).
Unfortunately, in Cutter's twelfth year the humans do return, led by the fanatical Shaman who is determined to wipe out the elves. The Shaman's apprentice, the young Tabak, is equally eager to kill elves. The unsuspecting elves hope the humans don't know they are still in the forest, and “the old, sad days of hiding and keeping silent return" (RC9: Wolfrider!).
During this time, the tribe experiences a strange 'visitor' from the distant past. Before the High Ones descended to the planet surface, Timmain had created an orbiting messenger to alert other High Ones of their presence on the planet. It has stayed in orbit for 10,000 years, but is hit by an asteroid and falls to earth near the Holt. Its magic causes the elves to have headaches, hear buzzing, and dream vivid dreams of life as a High One—although they don't know what they are seeing. It communicates most clearly with Skywise, who, realizing that none of the Wolfriders can handle the power of its magic, regretfully destroys it after a hunting party finds it. Convinced that the magical object came from 'the sky', Skywise promises himself that one day he will see the stars up close (BOTC 10-11).
A Wolfrider named Redmark earns his new name of “Redlance“ by killing a Longtooth (saber-tooth tiger) with a lance to save Bearclaw's life (RC9: Wolfrider!). While bedridden from his wounds, Bearclaw tells Cutter stories of past chiefs and teaches Cutter the human tongue (EQII 33: Wolfrider 7).
The Longtooth that Redlance killed is discovered by the humans, and the elf's lance in its body gives them proof that the elves are still in the forest. A human hunting party goes searching for them and ambushes Brownberry and Foxfur. They escape, but the tribe is shaken--and leaderless, with Bearclaw again drunk with the trolls. Cutter, wishing to prove his maturity and make peace with the humans, approaches the humans with intent to parlay. But they attack him on sight, and he is nearly killed before a party of elves rescue him.
When Bearclaw returns, he finds an angry tribe awaiting him. Shamed, he takes a solemn vow never to visit the trolls again. However, he tries to finish what Cutter started by attempting a parlay with the Shaman. The parlay degenerates into a shouting match and then a fight that is only broken up by a lightning strike. The chief and the Shaman survive and go their separate ways, but unknown to them, the hatred and the lightning have combined with a stagnant pool of magic, and the resulting sick mixture eventually produces Madcoil, a horrible magical cat-snake monster. The Shaman, confused as to why Gotara would spare the elf-chief from being killed by the lightning bolt, holds off on attacking the elves for a while, waiting for a sign from Gotara. During this time, Bearclaw keeps his vow and stays close to the tribe, not returning to the trolls ever again to drink or gamble. He finds happiness and contentment with his family (RC9: Wolfrider!).
One night, Skywise goes far afield with his lovemate Foxfur to enjoy a huge patch of dreamberries. They see an old human tending a small ring of stones nearby. They move closer to investigate, and Foxfur sees that the human is wearing as a necklace the decorative headband that Skywise's mother, Eyes-High, had worn in her hair. Skywise holds the human at knife point and demands to know how the human got the headband. The human is the older of the two brothers who had inadvertently caused the death of Skywise's parents, and he tells Skywise the full story of what happened. The ring of stones is the grave of his younger brother, who had been sacrificed to Gotara in place of Eyes-High. Recognizing the human's deep sorrow and remorse, Skywise lets him go and does not kill him, but instead cuts off Eyes-High's headband and keeps it (HY 5).
Even though he has vowed not to spend time with the trolls, Bearclaw remembers a bracelet he thought he had won for Joyleaf in a past game with the trolls but that the trolls had kept from him, and he decides to try to get it back from the trolls without actually entering their domain. King Greymung claims that he won the bracelet, and won't give it to Bearclaw. Bearclaw discovers that Skywise and Cutter followed him to the troll cave entrance and saw the exchange. Bearclaw asks Skywise, who is a 'master filcher', to try to retrieve the bracelet for him. After Bearclaw leaves, Cutter insists on going with Skywise. They both get caught and king Greymung intends to make them slaves. Cutter promises to cooperate and not to try to run away if they will let Skywise go. Greymung complies, and Cutter alone lives as a slave to the trolls for almost a year, learning much about the trolls' culture. Coming to deliver a bushel of dreamberries to the trolls, Skywise overhears Old Maggoty talking about how Greymung had cheated to win the bracelet. Skywise threatens to reveal Greymung's trickery to everyone unless they release Cutter. Cutter is released and he and Skywise get into a fight, during which their soul names are suddenly revealed to each other, similar to a Recognition. They realize they have always had a bond as close as brothers and that's why they know each other's soul names (RC 8b).
Four years after the lightning strike which broke up the fight between Bearclaw and the Shaman, the monster Madcoil emerges and kills a group of humans. Believing that the elves have created the monster to prey on the humans, the Shaman takes this as his sign that the elves must indeed die. When Bearclaw hears war drums from the humans' camp, he decides to search for a new forest so the tribe can move away from the Holt and away from the humans (RC9: Wolfrider!).
However, when they've traveled some distance from the Holt into unfamiliar forest, Madcoil attacks Bearclaw's search party and kills several elves, including Joyleaf. In his grief and rage, Bearclaw is determined to go after the monster alone, but Cutter insists on accompanying him, and the two set off together. Consumed by grief over Joyleaf's death, Bearclaw never again speaks or sends. They find Madcoil's den and wait for the monster's return. Cutter falls asleep, and Bearclaw hears Madcoil sending to him. Bearclaw leaves Cutter asleep and goes to face Madcoil alone, knowing that he goes to his own death and welcoming it. Recognizing that his own hatred of humans contributed to the creation of Madcoil, Bearclaw sees his own folly in having spurred on the enmity between elves and humans by his decisions to provoke them over the years. In grim determination to set right what he feels he did wrong, he wounds Madcoil badly. Madcoil slinks away in pain, and Cutter finds Bearclaw while he lies dying. He gives the sword New Moon to a devastated Cutter, telling his son to finish the job of killing Madcoil. Cutter summons the Wolfriders to aid him in finishing off the monster. They lure the wounded Madcoil from his den and bring him down with a large net, and Cutter stabs the monster through the eye, dealing the final killing blow. Blackfell takes Bearclaw's body away into the deep woods, and is never seen again (EQ 4; RC9: Wolfrider!).
Cutter, now chief at only 17 years old, brings Madcoil's head to the outskirts of the human village, leaving it there as a sign of peace. However, the humans misinterpret his message and their hatred is not lessened (RC 9: Wolfrider!).
This part of the story takes place about 10,000 years after the arrival of the High Ones on Abode. This is the central Elfquest storyline, focused on the Wolfrider tribe during the leadership of its eleventh chief Cutter.
Cutter became chief six years before this part of the story begins. Now age 23, is still very young by elfin standards. Brave, strong, and valiant, Cutter is a natural leader and a creative thinker who has a deep love and concern for his tribe. Cutter is the main character of the Elfquest saga.
A Wolfrider named Redlance has just been captured by a nearby tribe of humans and is about to be killed by them in a ritual sacrifice to their god. These humans believe that the elves are ‘demons’ and that their god wills that all demons should die because they do not belong to the natural order of things and are not native to the planet.
Cutter and a small band of Wolfriders rescue Redlance, killing a human in the process. Led in a frenzy of revenge by their over-zealous Shaman, the humans set fire to the elves’ part of the forest in retaliation and an attempt to wipe out the ‘wolf-demons’ once and for all. Strongbow kills the Shaman, but it is too late. The entire forest burns down and both humans and Wolfriders lose their homes.
In shock and sorrow, watching their forest home burn, the Wolfriders and their wolves seek refuge in the underground caverns of their sullenly greedy, but cowardly trade partners, the trolls. The elves claim that the trolls owe them sanctuary because of all the ways the Wolfriders had helped them over the years, but the corrupt troll king, Greymung, feels humiliated for being held at knife point and plots revenge. The elves are taken down a long tunnel toward what the trolls claim will be a “land of bright promise”, but is actually a trackless desert. Their troll guide (Picknose, later a main character) suddenly seals the tunnel behind them near the exit into the desert.
Desperately inspired by the finding of a piece of “magic” lodestone, which inadvertently acts as a crude compass, the Wolfriders make an extremely arduous journey across the wasteland until they come to a desert oasis , which to their great surprise is populated by an elfin tribe.
The Wolfriders spy on the elf village from atop a cliff and find their ‘huts’ and the dark color of their skin to be very strange. They conclude from their bitter experience with the trolls that they should not assume they can trust these strange elves and that they must ‘take what they can get, no questions asked,’and so decide to raid the village to take food and water by force.
During the raid, Cutter heads toward the well to steal a water jar from a village maiden. When their eyes meet, Cutter and the maiden, named Leetah, Recognize each other. Cutter impulsively grabs Leetah instead of the water and takes her back to the Wolfrider's hiding place in the surrounding hills, where they regroup until they are discovered by the village's chief hunter who hears Leetah's scream. During a brief struggle, the hunter's uttered curse of “by the High Ones“ causes the Wolfriders to realize that they are all descended from the High Ones, and Leetah convinces them to come peacefully back down to the village.
The Wolfriders learn that the oasis is called “Sorrow’s End” (or the Sun Village) and the elves call themselves Sun Folk. They are descendents of a different group of High Ones than those who became the Wolfriders. A peaceful farming community, they have no wolf-blood. They are immortal, they do not generally ‘send’ to each other, and do not have soul names. They are peaceful and generous and would have given freely what the Wolfriders took by force. The Sun Folk graciously offer the Wolfriders a new home in Sorrow’s End.
Cutter, remembering that they had to leave behind Redlance, who was too wounded to travel farther, and his lifemate Nightfall who stayed with him, prepares to ride back to find them and bring them back to the village, hoping that Redlance still lives. Cutter asks if there is a healer who can travel with him, and Leetah reveals that she is a healer. They find Redlance and Nightfall, and Leetah is able to heal Redlance from the humans' wounds which have brought him near death.
After returning to the village and settling in, the Wolfriders are taken to meet Savah, the “Mother of Memory,” who is by far the oldest person in the Sun Village, and almost as tall as a High One. She remembers her family being driven from their forest home by humans and making a similar arduous trek through the desert many thousands of years ago. She is the only person in the Sun Village to have ever encountered humans, and she sympathizes deeply with the plight of the Wolfriders.
Leetah's Recognition of Cutter is quite unwelcome to Leetah; she is proud of her independence and finds Cutter's “uncivilized“ and wolfish manner repulsive. The Recognition is also odious to the Sun Folk’s proud and jealous chief hunter, Rayek, who has been Leetah’s lovemate for hundreds of years (HY 9). Prior to the Wolfriders' arrival, Rayek had asked Leetah repeatedly to be his lifemate, but, wary of his controlling, possessive nature, Leetah has not yet given him an answer. Now Leetah is torn between the two; she loves Rayek, but feels a very strong need to meet the demands of Recognition despite her dislike of Cutter.
Rayek challenges Cutter to an ancient Sun Folk ‘trial’ traditionally used in love-triangle situations, in an attempt to win Leetah’s hand and heart once and for all. Rayek loses the trial, however, and runs away from the village; but Leetah is not yet ready to accept Cutter. But over time, as Leetah learns more about Cutter and the Wolfriders, she comes to admire and even respect him and his tribe, until finally Cutter and Leetah do become lifemates. Rayek, who has been living in the nearby hills, is unwilling to share Leetah with anyone (although lifemates are not necessarily lovers with only each other), and bitterly leaves the Sun Village for good.
The two tribes unite in smooth fashion with each side willing to adjust to their new companions to their mutual benefit. The Wolfriders enjoy the benefits of a more sophisticated culture and a safe haven completely free of humans or trolls, while the Sun Folk benefit from a band of strong hunters and defenders of their desert refuge. Cutter and Leetah soon bear twins, a daughter Ember and a son Suntop, and they eventually come to love each other deeply.
About six years after the Wolfriders’ arrival in Sorrow’s End, the oasis sanctuary is breached by a handful of starving humans who approach the oasis. Although they are sent on their way (probably to die of thirst), Cutter realizes that more could follow and decides to take action. Rather than living entirely by “The Way,“ Cutter is a visionary, able to see beyond the immediate needs of the moment, and good at thinking of inventive solutions to problems. He sets out on a quest with his soul-brother, Skywise, and their wolves Nightrunner and Starjumper, to try to find other elf tribes to unite with to defend themselves against humanity.
Cutter and Skywise decide to first re-cross the desert and return to the Holt, the ancient Wolfrider forest home which had been burned down six years previously by humans. They get there by going back through the troll caverns, which are mysteriously deserted. They emerge from the empty caverns and are shocked to see the flat grassland where the forest used to be.
While exploring the area, they are tricked and taken captive by three trolls, one of whom is Picknose, whom Cutter had known from before the burning of the Holt. While held captive in the trolls’ hut (and drinking large quantities of fermented dreamberry 'juice') Cutter and Skywise learn that after the Holt burned down, strange warlike trolls from a faraway land invaded the trolls’ caverns underneath the Holt, attacked and enslaved the Holt trolls, and took them back to their home in the Frozen Mountains far north of the Holt. Picknose, his female companion Oddbit, and her grandmother Old Maggoty were the only ones not captured by these trolls because they managed to escape to the surface, where most trolls hate to go.
Picknose also reveals a secret to Cutter: that Cutter’s sword, “New Moon,” which his father Bearclaw had won in a gambling game with the trolls, contains a hidden key within the pommel. This key can supposedly unlock a vast treasure. Picknose claims that he learned all of this from a voice speaking to him within the cavern walls: the voice of an ancient metal smith named Two-Edge. Two-Edge is a legendary figure among trolls and is rumored to be half-troll and half-elf, and apparently was the forger of “New Moon.” After picking up as much information as they can from the three trolls, the Cutter and Skywise manage to escape and flee with their wolves and with the sword New Moon, much to Picknose’s dismay.
Back in the Sun Village, Savah the “Mother of Memory,” who is the Sun Folk’s elder and spiritual leader, has been performing frequent “spectral projections” (in which she sends her spirit outside of her body and can go anywhere freely) in order to help Cutter in his search. During one of these projections, her spirit gets entrapped somehow and is unable to return to her body. Cutter’s highly magically gifted son, Suntop, who is very close to Savah, performs a spectral projection to try to find her. He finds her but is unable to free her, and she tells him that an evil being has trapped her spirit, and that Cutter must be warned to avoid this evil at all costs. Alarmed, the Wolfriders and Cutter’s family set out to find the explorers to warn them of this evil.
Meanwhile, deciding to search for other elves in the same forests where the humans Cutter spared had said they came from, Cutter and Skywise head west from Picknose’s hut and come to a strange primeval forest in which they can feel remnants of old elven magic. While traveling through this forest, Cutter gets bitten by a squirrel. The bite gets badly infected and Cutter becomes feverish and delirious. As Skywise departs to search for a plant he knows cures fevers, Cutter starts to hallucinate and begins running through the woods. He stumbles upon a campfire, tended by two humans, and then loses consciousness. These humans have no negative view of elves, and when Cutter regains consciousness, he is surprised to find that the woman is tending his wound and trying to help lower his fever.
Skywise finds Cutter with the humans and begins to attack them, but Cutter stops Skywise from harming them. The human woman, named Nonna, tells them that she is from a tribe of humans who worship “bird spirits,” which the woman describes as looking very similar to Cutter and Skywise except taller. She believes Cutter and Skywise to also be bird spirits. She shows them her paintings of silhouette pictures of the bird spirits on the walls of her cave dwelling, flying on the backs of birds in front of a tall mountain, which she says is the spirits’ home. Her mate, Adar, is from a different human tribe which did not accept Nonna because of her strange beliefs, and had cast both of them out five years previously. The elves agree to help Nonna and Adar rejoin his tribe in exchange for guidance to the mountain home of the “bird spirits” which they hope are other elves.
Cutter, Skywise and the two humans arrive at Adar’s village and are welcomed by the awestruck villagers, who have never seen elves before and who believe them to be ‘good spirits’ as Nonna claims. A feast is held in their honor and the tribe re-accepts Nonna and Adar. The village’s chief, Olbar, asks a favor of the elves: to find his daughter who escaped with an outcast youth into a ‘haunted’ forest between the village and Blue Mountain which the humans call “The Forbidden Grove,” in which apparently dwell “little winged spirits.”
Just after leaving the village, Cutter’s wolf, Nightrunner, refuses to travel farther. He is very old and worn out from the journey, and he takes leave of Cutter and disappears into the woods along with Skywise’s wolf Starjumper. The elves are saddened but begin their journey to the mountain of the bird spirits (called “Blue Mountain“), which can be seen from the village, and in a few days come to the place Olbar described as the Forbidden Grove, which is a forest full of cocoons. They soon discover that the cocoons are spun by the ‘little winged spirits,’ who speak the elves’ language and look like humanoid butterflies. Cutter opens a large cocoon which contains a wolf cub that oddly smells like Cutter’s daughter Ember. Cutter asks the winged creatures about the cub, and finds a huge cocoon which he opens to reveal his lifemate Leetah and their children Suntop and Ember, much to his great surprise.
Leetah and the children explain that they had traveled from the Sun Village with the Wolfriders to bring Cutter the warning from Savah. Using Savah’s directions, Suntop had led the Wolfriders toward the Forbidden Grove. But on the way, the Wolfriders were attacked by huge birds which carried them away toward a large mountain, after Strongbow shot down a large bird for food despite Suntop's warning not to. Leetah and the twins escaped on a zwoot (a camel-like creature used by the Sun Folk for traveling) who bolted into the Forbidden Grove, and the winged creatures spun a cocoon over them as they slept. Despite Savah’s warning not to go near Blue Mountain, Cutter knows that he now has to go there to rescue the Wolfriders. One of the winged beings, Petalwing, insists on accompanying them. On their way out of the forest, they come across a huge cocoon, and Cutter opens it to reveal Olbar's daughter and her outcast lover, who quickly flee and presumably return to Olbar's tribe.
On their way to Blue Mountain, they meet up with three Wolfriders who had escaped the birds’ attack. When they come to the mountain, Cutter convinces Nonna’s human tribe, which lives at the foot of the mountain and worships the “bird spirits,” to let him and the others into the mountain via the entrance used by the humans.
Upon entering the mountain, they are confronted by two tall elves who try to hinder them. One is a pale female with long black hair named Winnowill, who has powers similar to a healers’ but uses them to hurt rather than to heal. The other, Tyldak, has a strangely shaped body, with wings coming out of his arms and talons instead of hands. (Later it is revealed that Winnowill re-shaped his body at his request so he could fly like a bird.) Cutter manages to pin down Winnowill, and the group sends to the captured Wolfriders, who come running to them from various areas within the mountain. But Winnowill frees herself from Cutter’s grip and summons help. The reunited Wolfriders are attacked by tall elves who are able to “glide“ through the air—a power never seen among Wolfriders or Sun Villagers.
The skirmish turns in favor of the Wolfriders, and Winnowill dashes up some stairs to a cage, where Strongbow the archer is imprisoned. The Wolfriders all stop fighting, under threat by Winnowill that she will kill Strongbow with her magic. Leetah rushes to the cage and shields Strongbow with her healing magic. Her only advantage gone, Winnowill capitulates, and it is revealed that she has been torturing Strongbow as punishment for his having killed a fledgling bird that was to be the bond-bird of one of the mountain elves, and that the captured Wolfriders were given a choice: to be set free in exchange for Strongbow, or to all become servants of the mountain elves, who call themselves the Gliders.
Cutter demands to speak with the leader of the Gliders, and they are led to the throne room of Lord Voll, an ancient elf who is firstborn of High Ones. Cutter asks Voll to release Strongbow, and at first Voll refuses. However, in the course of conversation Voll learns that the elves have children (who are hiding in the forest below the mountain with Redlance). According to Voll, the Gliders are “dying within this mountain though unable to die” and stopped reproducing a long, long time ago, presumably as a result of shutting themselves off from the outside world. They pride themselves on having “recreated” the palace of the High Ones and retaining many of the High Ones’ powers, and they have deliberately stayed isolated from the outside world so as to not be changed by it to become less like the High Ones. Only the Chosen Eight, the community’s hunters and defenders, regularly leave the mountain, flying on massive birds, with whom they share a bond similar to that of the Wolfriders and their wolves. It is the Chosen Eight who had attacked the Wolfriders at Winnowill's bidding.
Voll agrees to release Strongbow in exchange for meeting Cutter’s children so he can “feel hope again.” The children are flown up to the mountain, and after meeting them, Voll releases Strongbow and invites the Wolfriders to stay in the mountain for a visit. The Wolfriders are given a private grotto in which to rest and decide whether or not to stay or return immediately to the forest.
Dewshine joins them in the grotto and it is revealed that she has Recognized Tyldak the bird-elf. While the Wolfriders are resting, Skywise meets Aroree, one of the Chosen Eight. Aroree takes Skywise on an exhilarating flight on her bird mount. The Wolfriders hear the wolves howling outside the mountain, and sadly realize that Cutter’s first wolf-friend and former leader of the pack, Nightrunner, has died because Skywise's wolf-friend Starjumper has rejoined the pack after having stayed with Nightrunner through his last days. The Wolfriders decide to stay in Blue Mountain for a while, except Strongbow who is dead-set against this, and he and his lifemate Moonshade leave the mountain to wait for the other Wolfriders in the forest with the wolves.
Although Voll is the Gliders’ official leader and venerated as such, the manipulative and cruel elf Winnowill holds greater day-to-day sway over the Gliders. Afraid that the Wolfriders’ presence will make Lord Voll desire contact with the outside world again and lessen her influence with him, Winnowill is determined to force the Wolfriders to leave Blue Mountain. She also plots to kill Petalwing, whom she refers to as a “Preserver,” because she doesn’t want Lord Voll to see it, for reasons as yet unrevealed. Dewshine overhears her and frees Petalwing from the cage in which Winnowill had trapped it. Tyldak catches Dewshine and says her soul name aloud, which Winnowill overhears.
Later, Leetah confronts Winnowill about her plans to kill Petalwing. Winnowill tells Leetah that if the Wolfriders don’t leave, she will reveal to them something that only she and Leetah know: that because of their wolf blood, the Wolfriders are mortal. Cutter overhears their discussion, however, and Winnowill, realizing that this threat is now useless, threatens to harm Cutter’s children if the Wolfriders do not leave. Cutter attacks Winnowill and almost kills her, but Leetah convinces him to spare her life.
Winnowill wastes no time in making her threat real. Tyldak and some of the Chosen Eight attack the Wolfriders while Winnowill magically puts Lord Voll to sleep and captures Suntop. Strongbow and Moonshade return to the mountain when they are sent for telepathically, to aid the Wolfriders in rescuing Suntop from Winnowill.
Winnowill also has help from the half-elf half-troll Two-Edge, who is living in Blue Mountain. He has created secret passages for her in the underbelly of the mountain, and he opens them and closes them at her request. However, Two-Edge has plans of his own, and he also opens a passage for the Wolfriders down to Winnowill's chambers, much to her dismay. Winnowill reveals to Suntop that it is she who has kept Savah's spirit from returning to its body. Before she can stop him, Suntop performs an astral projection through Winnowill, and Suntop's spirit leaves its body to look for Savah's spirit within Winnowill.
Winnowill enlists the aid of the humans who live in her quarters and tells them to attack the Wolfriders. The humans only half-heartedly obey, not wanting to harm 'good spirits.' During the altercation, Strongbow shoots Winnowill in the shoulder. He avoids killing her out of fear that Suntop's spirit will be permanently lost if Winnowill dies. However, the wound weakens Winnowill enough so that both Suntop's and Savah's spirits go free and return to their bodies.
Winnowill flees and the Wolfriders chase after her. The newly awakened Suntop tells Leetah that Savah believes Winnowill needs healing “in both body and mind.” Leetah manages to corner Winnowill on a tall staircase, and begins to try to heal her spiritually as well as physically. Winnowill, however, chooses to step off the edge of the staircase rather than allow Leetah to attempt the healing. It is a long fall and Winnowill is badly injured. She calls for Two-Edge to help her, and refers to him as her son. Winnowill drags herself into a private chamber and disappears from the Wolfrider's view.
The Wolfriders return to the dining table where Lord Voll sits asleep, and Leetah revives him. They tell Voll of all Winnowill's actions, and he is horrified. They also introduce him to Petalwing, the Preserver. Voll is amazed and excitedly tells the Wolfriders that the Preserver can lead them all to the Palace of the High Ones. Preservers are the winged creatures who had served the High Ones in their palace-spaceship. They had lived with Voll's tribe until Winnowill banished all of them to the forest. He realizes that his plan to re-create the High Ones and the Palace has failed, and he zealously proclaims his new intention to leave Blue Mountain immediately to seek out the actual Palace of the High Ones with the Preserver's help. Cutter, however, declines Voll's invitation to join him on his quest for the Palace, deciding that the Wolfriders need a break from questing, and that they must find a new forest home before winter sets in.
Voll and Cutter convince Dewshine and Tyldak to yield to the demands of Recognition, and they do so, with the understanding that they cannot live together or become lifemates. Dewshine's lovemate Scouter pledges to help Dewshine raise the child she will bear.
Voll presents the Wolfriders with a parting gift of winter fur clothing for all of them, and invites Cutter's family to leave the mountain by flying down with him on his bond-bird. Cutter accepts the offer, but instead of dropping Cutter's family off on the ground below, Voll continues flying and tells them that he will not put them down because he is determined for them all to accompany him to the Palace of the High Ones. Despite Cutter's command to the contrary, the Wolfriders follow Voll's bird, and Voll leads them toward the frozen mountains where the Palace is presumably located. Cutter and the Wolfriders are extremely angry with Voll, but on the way, Voll gives them a telepathic image of the palace which makes them all eager to find it despite their misgivings.
After a few days, they come to the frozen mountains and can feel the magical 'aura' of the Palace which is just beyond the mountains. But tragedy strikes: Voll and his bird get shot down and killed by a huge spear coming from seemingly nowhere. The bird plummets to the ground. Cutter, his family, the Wolfriders, and the Chosen Eight who had accompanied them find themselves surrounded by huge, ferocious warrior trolls. The Gliders pick up Voll's body and fly away, leaving the Wolfriders to their fate at the hands of the trolls.
The Wolfriders fight valiantly, but during the attack, Cutter is badly wounded, and One-Eye is killed. The Wolfriders are outnumbered and are losing the battle. But they are suddenly rescued by elves who ride on the backs of reindeer-like creatures.
Under attack from the newly arrived elves, the trolls retreat, and the wounded Wolfriders are taken to the lodge of the strange snow elves. Leetah manages to heal Cutter, who is on the verge of death. She has help from an elf who, after the healing, reveals himself to be Rayek, formerly Leetah's lovemate and Cutter's rival for Leetah's hand. Leetah is shocked, since she had found elf bones while traveling through the desert and had thought they were his.
Rayek later tells his story to Leetah: after he left Sorrow's End, he crossed the desert and journeyed through the troll caverns underneath the Wolfrider's burned-down holt. During his time in the caverns, he came across an ancient rockshaper elf named Ekuar who was missing a leg, an arm and a finger; apparently the trolls had used the rockshaper to open new tunnels and find gems for them, and they had badly mistreated him. Rayek and Ekuar became friends, and Ekuar helped Rayek grow in his magic powers to the point of being able to levitate himself and others. During the battle between Greymung's and Guttlekraw's trolls, Rayek and Ekuar escaped up the troll tunnel passage leading to the Frozen Mountains. Ekuar had told Rayek that the High One's Palace was in the Frozen Mountains, and Rayek wanted to search for it. But on the way, they were misled by a 'strange voice' (that of Two-Edge) which caused them to get lost and come out of the troll tunnel prior to reaching the Palace. They instead came to the lodging of the snow elves, who took them in.
The snow elves, a tribe of about forty elves under the leadership of their chief Kahvi, have hardly any magical powers and no longer breed using Recognition. As a result they are not as genetically 'refined' and tend to be a bit more crude and ungainly than other elves. They had been nomads, following herds of great deer, until eight years ago when they got close enough to the Palace to feel its magic “calling“ them to it. They now call themselves “Go-Backs,“ a name which refers to their goal to “go back“ to the Palace of the High Ones. To try to reach this goal they have been in a continual war with trolls, who apparently live to keep elves from accessing the palace. The Go-Backs are even more fierce and war-like than the Wolfriders. They are tough and hardened due to their long battle with the trolls.
The Go-Backs have been trying to reach the palace by crossing over or going around the mountains but are always stopped by the trolls. But Two-Edge has left Blue Mountain and is now in the frozen mountains. He appears to Cutter outside the Go-Back's lodge and opens up a hole in the ground which leads to a troll tunnel, telling Cutter that it can lead the elves straight into the heart of the trolls' kingdom, where the elves can fight and defeat the trolls once and for all and reclaim the palace. Cutter is now determined that, after all they have been through, they must persevere in reaching the High Ones' palace. Cutter presents Two-Edge's idea to the Go-Backs and Wolfriders, and they all agree to it.
After a night of wild revelry, those who will enter the troll caverns to do battle prepare to leave. After a tearful farewell to the children, the wolves, and some of the adult elves who are staying behind in the lodge, the Go-Backs and Wolfriders go into the tunnel Two-Edge revealed. On the way in they free three wild wolves whom the trolls had trapped in a pit to kill any elf who came through. The three wolves accept Cutter as kin, and accompany the group into the troll caverns. Guided by Petalwing, the elves begin to make their way into the troll caverns and come to a mining pit, where they discover Greymung's trolls, including Picknose, working in the pit as slaves. Petalwing tells the elves they must go across the pit in order to continue on toward the palace. The elves attack only the troll guards and convince Greymung's enslaved trolls to aid the elves in the attack against the guards. Cutter tells Picknose that he can have all the treasure to which Cutter's sword New Moon apparently holds the key, if he and Greymung's freed trolls aid the elves in their battle against Guttlekraw's trolls. Picknose agrees, and Greymung's trolls accompany the elves through the mining pit and deeper on into the caverns.
They come to a crossroads and hear Two-Edge's voice through the walls, telling them that one of the walls is hollow. To escape the warriors coming toward them from one of the hallways, Ekuar the rockshaper opens a hole in the hollow wall and the elves and Greymung's trolls go through and find themselves in front of a huge set of double doors. The key in Cutter's sword New Moon opens the doors, which lead to a room filled with elf-shaped metal armor and weapons. This is the 'treasure' Two-Edge had spoken of to Picknose long ago, with the intent that the information would get passed on to the elfin owner of the sword New Moon.
Two-Edge reveals himself to all of them, and tells them how to use the armor and weapons. He claims that by using the armor, the odds will now be even in the troll vs. elf battle to come. Picknose, however—greatly disappointed that there is no treasure here as Two-Edge had promised him—plans to aid the elves in the battle in order to topple Guttlekraw and take over the kingship himself. Two-Edge is very upset to hear of Picknose's plan, because he wants elves and trolls only fighting each other, not helping each other. Torn between his elf and troll sides and not altogether sane due to childhood trauma, he had long ago begun to orchestrate this battle so that he can align himself with whichever race wins it.
As the newly armored elves and Greymung's trolls make their way through the caverns toward Guttlekraw's throne room and the Palace beyond, Two-Edge tries to separate the trolls from the elves, but does not succeed. They all make their way to Guttlekraw's throne room, where the decisive battle begins as Two-Edge looks on. With Greymung's trolls aiding the elves in the battle, it quickly turns in the elves' favor. Guttlekraw and his trolls are afraid that if the elves regain the palace, that they will rule over the trolls as they did in the High One's time, and Guttlekraw's army fights fiercely to prevent this fear from becoming reality. But in the end Guttlekraw is killed and his army defeated, Picknose declares himself the new king, and the elves' passage to the palace of the High Ones is now open.
Two-Edge, greatly dismayed that his plan to determine which race to align with has failed, disappears while the elves and Picknose's trolls celebrate their victory. When the elves return to the Go Backs' lodge, they learn that it had been attacked by some of Guttlekraw's trolls, but the trolls were defeated. Redlance, who had stayed behind in the lodge and is very peaceful by nature, was greatly shaken by the attack, and he and his lifemate Nightfall voluntarily exchange soulnames.
All the Wolfriders and Go Backs finally make their way to the Palace of the High Ones, along with Picknose and some of the trolls. Once inside the Palace, one of the three wild wolves that had been freed from the troll pit starts acting strangely, and then suddenly transforms into Timmain, the High One, to the amazement of all.
Timmain talks with the elves briefly and realizes how much time has passed (almost 10,000 years) since she first shape-changed into a wolf. She also explains to them that the Palace is the resting place for the spirits of all dead elves. Cutter asks her if she can explain to them the story of the High Ones and where they originally came from, which none of the elves know.
Timmain takes them to a room which holds what she calls the Scroll of Colors, a magical spinning scroll which acts as a sort of movie screen, displaying a huge visual history of the High Ones. Timmain has Petalwing wrap her body in a cocoon of 'wrapstuff,' which allows an elf to live indefinitely in a hibernation state without food or water, so that she can control the Scroll of Colors from within the cocoon (to the disappointment of the elves who had hoped Timmain would stay among them). She then explains to them, speaking through Suntop and using the Scroll of Colors, the entire history of the High Ones. Timmain concludes by saying that the Wolfriders have a special significance because they alone “share blood with beasts born of this world. It was my gift to my son. He was the first of us to have the right to call the land his own. If you choose, Wolfriders, you too have that right—and none can take it from you.”
After hearing the story, the elves and trolls have mixed reactions. The Wolfriders decide to leave the Palace and settle in a new forest holt in the Forbidden Grove. The Go-Backs decide to stay right where they are, as do the trolls, who can now live in peace with the Go-Backs since it is clear that the elves have no intention of trying to rule the trolls. Rayek decides to live with Timmain and Ekuar in the Palace to try to find a way to make it fly again. Skywise at first wants to also stay in the Palace because it has the possibility of flying to the stars, much to Cutter's dismay. But Skywise changes his mind and rejoins the Wolfriders as they travel away from the Palace toward their new forest home.
It has been just a few days since the elves defeated the trolls in the frozen mountains and gained access to the Palace of the High Ones. Picknose, new king of the trolls, has found the mentally agonized and physically wounded Two-Edge, and sends him on a mission to capture Ekuar the rock-shaper, in exchange for a safe haven in the troll kingdom. Two-Edge goes to the Palace and encounters Rayek, Ekuar and Kahvi. Rayek has been obsessively lock-sending with Timmain and studying the Scroll of Colors for more details about his race's past and clues about how to make the Palace fly. Rayek, arrogant as always, is very judgmental of the High Ones and believes that their decision to take the Preservers and trolls with them when they left their dying homeworld was a huge mistake. Two-Edge's arrival gives Rayek an idea: to visit the Gliders with Two-Edge as his guide, and try to harness their power in an attempt to make the Palace fly again.
Three years later, the Wolfriders are still living peacefully and secretly in the Forbidden Grove. They are careful to hide when bird-riders from Blue Mountain pass overhead. Some of the Wolfriders are very anxious for news of their tribefolk who are still living in the Sun Village, and ask Cutter to let Suntop perform an astral projection so that he can communicate with Savah in the Sun Village. Cutter refuses, because Winnowill could ensnare Suntop's spirit again. The Wolfriders hold a council and decide that it's time to try to end the threat that Winnowill poses to all of them... not by killing her body (since her spirit would then still be free to harm them more than ever) but by taking away her power and trying to heal her spirit. Cutter decides to ask the humans Nonna and Adar to help him convince the human tribe who worship the Gliders, the Hoan G'Tay Sho, that their worship is misplaced, so that they will no longer be under Winnowill's command or influence. He sets off that same night for the human camp where Nonna and Adar live.
Later that night, a member of the Glider's Chosen Eight, Aroree, is seen flying over the Wolfrider's secret holt. They all hide as usual, except Skywise, who confronts Aroree about her desertion of the Wolfriders when they were attacked by trolls. Aroree begs Skywise to let her live with the Wolfriders. She tells him that Winnowill is now Lord of the Gliders and is very cruel: she keeps all the Gliders except the Chosen Eight in a deep sleep and feeds upon their power for some unknown purpose tied to the Great Egg (a magical ever-changing sculpture in Blue Mountain containing all the knowledge of the elves, very similar to the Scroll of Colors), and she has Tyldak chained to the throne. Aroree says that Winnowill had recently sent her on a mission to find the Preservers and bring them back to Blue Mountain so that she can wrap all the Gliders in 'wrapstuff' (which allows an elf to live indefinitely in a hibernation state without food or water). Skywise brings Aroree into the heart of the Wolfrider's holt. They are angry with him for breaking the rule of secrecy, but Aroree begs them to let her live with them. But then Aroree sees Dewshine's infant son Windkin, who inherited the power of floating from his Glider father Tyldak. She grabs Windkin and flies away. She orders the Preservers to go with her, but they all refuse. As Aroree's bird takes off, Dewshine manages to grab the bird's harness and is carried to Blue Mountain, unknown to Aroree. Skywise, realizing what a big mistake he has made, sets off to find Cutter to tell him of all that occurred and enlist his help in rescuing Dewshine and Windkin.
Aroree presents Windkin to Winnowill, so she can be released from her duties as one of the Chosen Eight and Windkin can be raised to take her place. Dewshine tries to rescue Windkin but is stopped by Winnowill, who knows Dewshine's soul name and controls her with it. Aroree sets out to leave Blue Mountain, but is stopped by Kureel, another member of the Chosen Eight, who accuses her of disloyalty to Winnowill. Aroree attacks him and manages to escape Blue Mountain. Aroree feels terribly guilty about harming Kureel and also about having kidnapped Windkin but is too desperate to get away to try to make amends.
Meanwhile, Cutter has reached the humans' camp and is able to get Nonna and Adar to agree to accompany him to Blue Mountain and help free Nonna's tribe, the Hoan G'Tay Sho, from Winnowill's influence over them. As they are traveling by raft down a river toward the mountain, Skywise finds them and tells Cutter of Dewshine and Windkin's plight. They decide to try to offer Winnowill the Preservers in exchange for Dewshine and Windkin.
Back in the Wolfrider's holt, Ember convinces her brother Suntop to send his spirit out to get Savah's advice about the whole situation. He does so, and while he and Savah's spirits commune, Winnowill's spirit finds them and tries to capture Suntop's spirit so that she can gain access to the High One Timmain through him and “own them both.” However, at that moment Kureel sends to Winnowill that he needs her to heal him before he bleeds to death from Aroree's attack. Winnowill angrily leaves the spirit realm without Suntop.
Suntop tells the Wolfriders that all their kin in the Sun Village are doing well, and tells them that Winnowill's goal is to get any elf who is good at magic under her control and kill the rest. They prepare themselves for an inevitable attack from the Chosen Eight now that Winnowill knows where they live. Skywise returns to them and tells them of the idea of bartering the Preservers, and he, Scouter and Strongbow set off for Blue Mountain with the Preservers who have agreed to help them carry out this plan. However, Winnowill only agrees to trade Dewshine, not Windkin, for the Preservers. Dewshine refuses to leave without Windkin, and one of the bird-riders begins to attack the Wolfrider messengers, who send the Preservers to help Dewshine. Aroree shows up and flies low enough that the three Wolfriders are able to grab her bird's harness and then jump to the woods below to escape the attack. Skywise, however, does not jump but continues flying with Aroree. He spends some time with her and tells her all about the Palace of the High Ones. Aroree decides to visit the Palace herself and drops Skywise off in the woods.
Winnowill appears to the human tribe of the Hoan G'Tay Sho and tells them that the Wolfriders are demons who want to destroy the ancient bond between the tribe and the bird spirits. The Hoan G'Tay Sho vow to protect the “bird spirits“ against the “evil wolf demons.” When Cutter, Nonna and Adar arrive, Cutter stays hidden and Nonna tries to talk with them and explain to them that Winnowill is the evil one, not the Wolfriders. Half the tribe believes Nonna, but the other half believes Winnowill and start to attack Nonna, Adar and Cutter (as well as Clearbrook and Scouter, who have come to aid Cutter), and they escape the attack by running into an open tunnel in Blue Mountain before it closes.
Rayek has delayed his plans to travel to Blue Mountain with Two-Edge because he is waiting for Kahvi, the chief of the Go-Backs, to give birth to a child who might be his. Kahvi finally gives birth to a baby girl who is clearly Rayek's daughter, but Kahvi does not want Rayek to be possessive of the child and interfere with her upbringing, so she lies to Rayek and tells him that the girl was Cutter's and died during the birth. Rayek is disappointed and decides to leave for Blue Mountain at once with Two-Edge, who has become friends with Ekuar during their three years of living in the Palace. The High One Timmain indicates disapproval with Rayek's plan to bring the Gliders to the Palace, but Rayek does not change his plan. He, Two-Edge and Petalwing set off for Blue Mountain. When they near the mountain, however, Two-Edge spots a bird-rider and runs away in a panic, afraid to be captured again by his mother Winnowill, who had kept him in a cage during his childhood, where he witnessed his troll father's gruesome death at her hands.
The bird-rider turns out to be Aroree, whose bond-bird mistakes Two-Edge for prey and picks him up in his talons. Rayek introduces himself to Aroree, who warns him against going to Blue Mountain. Rayek arrogantly ignores both Aroree's and Two-Edge's warnings about Winnowill, and is sure that he will not fall prey to her control like so many others have done. Disgusted with Rayek, Two-Edge runs away. Aroree agrees to fly Rayek to Blue Mountain, hoping that perhaps Rayek will really be able to free the Gliders from Winnowill's control. However, not fully trusting of Rayek, Aroree decides to drop him off in the Forbidden Grove rather than taking him all the way back to Blue Mountain; she is afraid she will be killed if she returns there.
Rayek finds the Wolfriders' holt and convinces the acting chief, Treestump, that Winnowill might be able to be subdued through the combined magical powers of Leetah, Suntop, Strongbow and himself, while she is distracted by the Wolfriders already in Blue Mountain. However, when they reach the mountain, Rayek decides to fly ahead on his own, not wanting to put Leetah in danger and believing that he alone can stand up to Winnowill. But Winnowill easily manipulates him. She tells him her long-standing plan to transform Blue Mountain into a space-vessel just like the High One's Palace had been, using the Great Egg and the Gliders' power, and in it to escape the World of Two Moons forever. She sends him into a magical sleep, floating around the great Egg with other Gliders to join his power with theirs.
Dewshine has avoided capture by the Chosen Eight with the aid of the Preservers. She reunites with the Wolfriders who have come to free her and Windkin, and with Nonna and Adar's help they trick the Chosen Eight into drinking a drugged drink, and the Preservers are able to wrap all the Chosen Eight in 'wrapstuff.' Cutter, Dewshine, Scouter, Clearbrook, Nonna and Adar descend into Winnowill's private chambers to look for Windkin and also to free the humans who are her prisoners. Nonna and Adar are horrified at the mistreatment of the human prisoners, and Cutter explains to all the humans present that elves are not 'spirits' or 'demons' and should not be worshipped or feared as such. The newly freed humans agree to tell the rest of the Hoan G'Tay Sho the truth about Winnowill and all elves. Dewshine, Scouter, the Preservers and the humans look for a way out of the mountain while Cutter and Clearbrook head deeper into the mountain to confront Winnowill and rescue Windkin. Winnowill is breastfeeding the captive baby Windkin with magic milk which removes all the wolf blood from him.
Strongbow and Moonshade's son, Dart, stayed behind in the desert village of Sorrow's End when the Wolfriders left it to find Cutter during his quest for other elves. Dart has taught a group of the Sun Folk how to hunt and fight and ride on jack-wolves. After Savah's spirit-visit with Suntop, she tells the Sun Village about the danger the Wolfriders are in because of Winnowill. Dart decides to travel to the Forbidden Grove with some of the jack-wolf riders to aid the Wolfriders against Winnowill. They arrive in the Forbidden Grove just as the Wolfriders there are subduing an attack by some of the Hoan G'Tay Sho humans. One human youth, named Geoki, accompanied his father on the attack but did not agree with it because he does not believe the 'wolf spirits' are evil. When Geoki and Dart meet they feel an instant bond of friendship. The Wolfriders, the captive humans and Dart's jack-wolfriders all head to Blue Mountain together.
Meanwhile Two-Edge opens a door for Leetah, Suntop, Skywise and some of the other Wolfriders to enter Blue Mountain. Leetah approaches Two-Edge and partially heals him of the madness which Winnowill had inflicted on him as a child, but he runs away before she can finish. As the elves enter and try to make their way to Winnowill, Blue Mountain is rapidly shifting and changing shape to become Winnowill's space-vessel. They are tossed around by the shifts, and Skywise gets trapped in a rock formation. The mountain completes its transformation and becomes one huge floating mountain-sized Egg, to the amazement of all those gathered outside it.
During this time, Cutter is confronting Winnowill to distract her so that Clearbrook can try to rescue Windkin. Winnowill tells Cutter of her plan to take the Egg-ship into space; with its magic she will kill all elves with 'tainted' wolf blood, and gather all the other elves to the ship by the force of magic and take them away from the World of Two Moons. Once in space, all the elves except Winnowill will sleep forever in Preserver cocoons and she will use their power to control the ship. "The Egg's power will erase every trace of the first-comers' great blunder! We will begin again, clean and whole.” This was the plan she had wanted to enact while Voll was alive, but he hadn't allowed it.
While she is speaking, Leetah and Suntop enter the room. Leetah shields Cutter from Winnowill's magical pain, and the three of them subdue Winnowill and wake Rayek from his slumber. Leetah begins a healing of Winnowill and all of her painful memories begin to surface. The egg that Blue Mountain has become begins to fall apart without Winnowill's control of the sleeping Gliders to hold it together.
Two-Edge appears in the room and runs away with Windkin. He takes Windkin to Tyldak and frees Tyldak from his chains. Tyldak finds Dewshine and gives Windkin back to her, and also sends the bond-birds to carry Dewshine and the elves and humans with her down to the ground.
Clearbrook runs after Two-Edge and stabs him, in retaliation for his actions having led to her lifemate One-Eye's death. Two-Edge understands her anger, and opens a door to allow her to escape Blue Mountain before it collapses; then he disappears.
Rayek, contrite at realizing how he was tricked by Winnowill, ignores her pleas for help and carries Leetah and Suntop outside the mountain and safely to the ground. Petalwing has wrapped the weak and partially healed Winnowill in wrapstuff, and Cutter intends to carry her body outside so that Leetah can complete her healing, but Tyldak grabs her cocooned body and flies off with it. Cutter warns Tyldak not to kill her.
Cutter then goes to try to rescue Skywise from the rock hole in which he is trapped and suffocating. Cutter threatens the entranced rockshaper Door so strongly that Door moves the rock enough to allow Skywise to escape. Cutter's interaction with Door wakes Door up from his trance, and Cutter, Skywise and Door all look for a way out of the mountain. Rayek finds them and carries them all down with his floating power.
Except for the still-sleeping Gliders, all the elves and humans are now safely outside of Blue Mountain. They all watch as the huge floating mountain-egg vessel collapses, killing the sleeping Gliders within it. One of the Chosen Eight, Kureel, escaped the Preserver's wrapstuff and was not killed by the mountain's collapse. He flies out on his bond-bird and begin a vengeful attack on all the elves and humans on the ground. His bird picks up both Dart and the young human named Geoki whom Dart had befriended, flies high into the air with them, and then drops them to the ground in a presumably fatal fall. Dart's father Strongbow shoots arrows at Kureel and kills him. Dart's and Geoki's hands are clasped and will not come apart. Leetah performs a healing on both of them at the same time, and is able to save both of their lives. The human tribe has realized that the elves are not 'spirits,' and offer friendship to the elves instead of worship. The humans set off to look for a new place to live, and they take Door with them to care for him and honor him as the last living Glider.
The spirits of the dead Gliders have all gathered around Rayek, who promises to take them back to the Palace where the spirits of dead elves are meant to go. He also hopes that the Gliders' combined power, even as spirits, may also be enough to make the Palace fly again.
The Wolfriders and Dart's jack-wolfriders return to the Forbidden Grove and celebrate their freedom from the threat of Winnowill, even though they are somewhat worried because they don't know what Tyldak has done with her.
Tyldak drops Winnowill off on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean and leaves her there after freeing her from the Preserver's cocoon.
Rayek makes his way back to the Palace of the High Ones, with all the spirits of the dead Gliders inside of him, giving him almost unlimited magical power. The Wolfriders Clearbrook and Treestump accompany him, and when they near the Palace, Rayek flies them all there with his borrowed power.
When they arrive, some Go-Backs and trolls are battling in front of the Palace. The trolls had managed to capture the rockshaper Ekuar, and the Go-Backs are fighting to try to free him. Rayek is furious with the Go-Backs for not having kept Ekuar safe, and begins attacking them with the Gliders' power. He destroys the Go-Backs' lodge, not knowing that his baby daughter is inside it. The baby's mother and chief of the Go-Backs, Kahvi, rushes inside the falling lodge to rescue her, and is presumed dead. Rayek drives all the Go-Backs a considerable distance away from the Palace and then opens up a huge uncrossable chasm in the groud between them and the Palace.
The High One Timmain, in distress at her descendants' violence against each other, frees herself from her Preserver cocoon, transforms herself back into a wolf, and runs away from the Palace. When Rayek returns to the Palace the Gliders' spirits free themselves from him and fly into the Palace, making it glow with magic and power. Rayek then goes to rescue Ekuar, who is with Picknose, whose kingship was lost to him in a gambling game and whom the other trolls are now trying to kill. Ekuar makes a tunnel in the rock straight up out of the ground whereby he and Picknose's family can escape the troll caverns. Picknose and his mate Oddbit now have a daughter, Trinket.
With the power of the Gliders' spirits, Rayek is able to make the Palace fly. With him in the Palace are Clearbrook, Treestump, Ekuar, Picknose and his family, and Timmain in her wolf-form, whom Rayek forcibly drew to the Palace's magic as it took off into the air. Kahvi, who survived Rayek's attack and was able to save her baby daughter, watches the Palace as it flies away.
In the Forbidden Grove, the forest holt of the Wolfriders, the boy elf Suntop suddenly hears a strange mental cry for help inside his mind that will not go away. The Wolfriders are trying to decide how best to help Suntop and solve the mystery of the cry, when suddenly the Palace of the High Ones lands in a nearby clearing.
The archer Strongbow, who has not been able to forgive himself for having killed a fellow elf (the Glider named Kureel), enters the Palace to look for Kureel's spirit. He finds it and they reconcile. Clearbrook is also able to find closure in communing with her dead lifemate One-Eye's spirit in the Palace.
Rayek learns about the cry in Suntop's head and offers to help them by using the Palace to travel to its source. Everyone in the Forbidden Grove—elves, trolls, wolves and Preservers—decide to first travel together in the Palace to the desert sun village of Sorrow's End. The Sun Villagers are overjoyed to see them all, and old friends and kin are reunited.
Most of the elves decide to stay in the Sun Village, while some decide to accompany Suntop in the Palace on his quest to find the source of the “cry from beyond.” This includes Suntop's family (his parents Cutter and Leetah and his sister Ember), Rayek and Ekuar, seven Wolfriders, two Go-Backs, two Sun Villagers and the High One Timmain in her wolf-form. The troll Picknose and his family are also forced into the Palace so they don't cause trouble in the Sun Village. With Suntop's guidance, Rayek flies the Palace to a land far to the west, across the ocean, which is presumably the source of the cry. When they arrive, however, they find that no one has ever lived there.
Elsewhere, the Glider Aroree meets the Go-Back chief Kahvi (and her baby daughter) in the Forbidden Grove as they are both looking for the Wolfriders and Rayek. Kahvi convinces Aroree to fly her to the Sun Village, with the hope that the Wolfriders and Rayek will be there with the Palace. When they arrive in the village, the Palace has already left. Aroree and Kahvi decide to try to fly to the place where Rayek had flown the Palace, which according to Savah (who is now able to communicate with the Palace using a piece of it that Ekuar had shaped and given to her) is across the ocean to the west.
At the Palace, Timmain communicates through a wolf-send that the cry is actually the cry of the High Ones during their accidental landing on the planet, and the place where Rayek has taken the Palace is actually the place where the High Ones first intended to land before they were thrown off-course. After learning this, Rayek becomes obsessed with the idea of taking the Palace far forward in time to meet the High Ones as they are descending, before they get thrown off-course, so that he can prevent the accident which caused them to land in the wrong place and the wrong time. The others are all against this, because it would mean that all elves, trolls and Preservers who are not in the Palace at the time of its merger with the original Palace will have never existed and will in essence be wiped out. Cutter decides that he will have to kill Rayek if Rayek does not change his mind about this plan.
However, the evil elf Winnowill is dwelling in the ocean nearby, and sends to Rayek, encouraging him to carry out his plan immediately, saying that she will be waiting for him to arrive in the new time, eons into the future. Rayek, spurred on by her encouragement, immediately puts his plan into action, heedless of the consequences. With him in the Palace are Leetah, Suntop, Ember, Skywise, Ekuar and Picknose's daughter Trinket—but all the other elves and trolls are outside the Palace when he causes it to travel to a distant future time, and they watch in shock and horror as it disappears.
Expecting at any moment that their lives will suddenly be snuffed out, the elves and trolls left behind by Rayek start to make a home for themselves in the nearby forest. The treeshaper Redlance makes a new tree-home for them all, and the trolls go to live in underground caves.
Aroree and Kahvi almost drown when Aroree's bond-bird collapses from exhaustion while they fly over the ocean. Their frantic sendings for help are answered by Tyldak, who has been searching for Winnowill. Tyldak rescues them from the water, but then he and Aroree are ensnared by a sending-call from Winnowill who begins to drag them all down into the ocean where she is living beneath the waves. However, Kahvi's baby daughter, Venka, is able to block Winnowill's sending. Leaving a surprised Winnowill behind, Aroree, Tyldak, Kahvi and Venka manage to find the elves who are now living in the forest below where Rayek had originally taken the Palace. They all decide to stay there and live with the Wolfriders.
As hundreds of years pass, Cutter and the Wolfriders live in the forest, keeping to the Way. Clearbrook and Treestump become lifemates. Redlance and Nightfall have a daughter named Tyleet, and the children Venka and Tyleet grow up together. Venka guards the elves' holt from the prying sendings of Winnowill who is trying to find them.
After Venka is grown, her mother Kahvi decides to fly away with Tyldak to try to go back to her tribe in the frozen mountains. Kahvi has taught Venka all about Rayek, and Venka, whose magic is even more powerful than her father's, is ready and willing to “teach Rayek a lesson.”
Strongbow's wolf Lapshaw loses a challenge and is banished from the wolfpack. Strongbow is heartbroken and follows Lapshaw into the woods. Lapshaw gets attacked by a rabid creature and becomes rabid himself. When Strongbow finds Lapshaw he rabidly attacks Strongbow. The wolf-High One Timmain finds them and helps them get back to the holt, but the Wolfriders have no healer. They take Strongbow and Lapshaw to the trolls, where Old Maggoty is able to cure both of them of the “foaming sickness.” This time, Lapshaw is accepted back into the wolfpack (HY 1).
When she is grown, Tyleet finds an abandoned human baby in the woods, and decides to raise it as her own. The baby was rejected by its tribe because of a large birthmark on his face, and Tyleet names him “Little Patch.” He learns the ways of the Wolfriders, but when he is a young man, he decides to try to get accepted into the human tribe, knowing that if he does so he can never return to the Wolfriders. It takes time but he finally succeeds, because he is better than any of the other humans at hunting, protecting and providing for the tribe. Eventually he even becomes their chief. When he is a very old man and senile, he runs into the forest, seeking the Wolfriders. The humans, believing he has lost his mind, tie him up and leave him in a clearing. Tyleet appears by his side and sings him a lullaby as he dies (HY 3).
Picknose has many more children but still misses Trinket. Cutter and Picknose both want revenge on Rayek and find a measure of friendship through this shared goal. Cutter's grief over the loss of his lifemate, children and best friend never lessens. He keeps track of the passing of time by cutting marks into a tree, essentially abandoning the “now“ of wolf-thought. When Cutter's wolf-friend dies, the immortal wolf-High One Timmain becomes his new “wolf-friend.”
All this time, the elves have kept themselves hidden from the humans in the area. But the humans have begun trying to catch Timmain for her white hide, and when Timmain gets caught in one of their traps, Cutter has to show himself to the humans in order to rescue her, putting aside his own fragile hope of staying safe until he can be reunited with his family. In the process, he is wounded and weakened and realizes that he will probably not live long enough to reunite with his family in the far-distant future time to which Rayek took them.
Far into the future, Rayek and the Palace reappear as a mountainous crag on top of a high cliff overlooking a medieval human city. The elves troop out of the Palace, and Ekuar can tell that the rock there is many thousands of years older than it was (about 10,000 years older). Leetah knows that the Wolfriders could not have lived that long. Rayek, excited that his plan worked, grabs Leetah and flies off with her to take her to meet Winnowill and finish the healing she had earlier begun. Rayek plans to take Winnowill by surprise and heal her so she will be “fit to stand before the High Ones.” Leetah, in deep anger and despair over the loss of Cutter, refuses to travel with him, and attacks him magically, putting him in so much pain so that he drops her over a human's hut. She breaks her leg in the fall, and the human woman living in the hut witnesses her heal herself. The woman grabs her and takes her to a room in which a very ill young human girl is lying. Leetah heals the girl. The woman's husband wants to keep her captive and make money off of her healing ability. Skywise goes into the village and helps Leetah escape from the humans. Skywise then begs Leetah to remove the wolf blood from him, so that he will have unlimited time in which to find a way back in time to Cutter and the Wolfriders, and Leetah does so.
Rayek finds Winnowill in the ocean nearby; she has given herself gills and has been living underwater in the ocean for thousands of years. He brings the Palace to where she is, and they prepare to gather all of the surviving immortal 'pure-blooded' elves to the Palace before it reunites with its original self when it appears in the sky at dawn. Rayek manages to magically stun Winnowill with the hope that Leetah can finish healing her. But Winnowill awakens and uses her water-moving magic to forcibly fling Rayek, Leetah and Skywise into the wall of the Palace. They begin to drown, but are saved by three elves who have just arrived on the scene: Venka, Zhantee and Aroree. Rayek realizes immediately that Venka is his daughter. They go after Winnowill, who plans to flood the Palace with water and kill everyone inside it (Cutter's children, Ekuar and Picknose's daughter Trinket). Rayek and Venka render Winnowill unconscious and leave her on the ocean floor; her gills would keep her from surviving in the open air of the Palace.
Rayek returns to the room of the Scroll of Colors to prepare to unite his Palace with the original Palace of the High Ones which will appear in the sky at dawn. But outside, an amazing scene is taking place, unknown to him: the Wolfriders who should have been dead are actually all alive and have come to where the Palace is, and Cutter is reunited with Leetah, Suntop, Ember and Skywise.
It is revealed that after Cutter was wounded, he decided to turn his back on “The Way“ and be preserved outside of time in a Preservers' cocoon so that he would live to see his family again. The Wolfriders, not wanting to stay without their chief, all agree to do the same. All of their wrapped bodies are faithfully guarded by Picknose and his large troll family for the thousands of years it takes for Rayek to reappear with the Palace.
Venka approaches the as-yet-unaware Rayek in the Scroll room and tells him that he had better say goodbye to Ekuar, who is not in the Palace. Rayek, surprised, goes to find Ekuar, and sees all the Wolfriders and other elves and trolls gathered outside the the Palace. He begs them to all come inside the Palace so they will survive the merging. But they, including Ekuar, refuse to choose survival while all the other elves and trolls on the planet are wiped out. Venka tells Rayek that she has the power to stop him from carrying out his plan, but appeals to his conscience to make the right decision. Realizing that by carrying out his plan he will wipe out every living elf there is (since none of them are now in the Palace with him as he had planned), Rayek does not go through with it. They all watch as the original vessel of the High Ones appears in the sky and then quickly vanishes.
The newly united elves make their home in the nearby forest again. The medieval humans in the area are no longer superstitious and regard the elves, whom they have never seen in person, as 'forest folk' rather than spirits. Suntop plans to go back to the Sun Village to be taught by Savah, and Rayek and Venka begin a mission to help Winnowill heal.
When her daughter Venka is grown up, Kahvi leaves Cutter's band of Wolfriders with Tyldak to fly the Frozen Mountains and reunite with her tribe, the Go-Backs, of which she had been chief. When they arrive, most of the Go-Backs are overjoyed, but their new chief, Zey, who was not yet born when Kahvi left, is not so thrilled. Kahvi tells them all that Rayek has taken the Palace to a time in the far-distant future and it is now inaccessible to them. But she also tells them that a piece of the Palace still exists in the desert elf village of Sorrow's End. She gives them the idea of going to Sorrow's End and taking the little Palace for themselves; they consider it theirs by right since they had spent so many years living and dying to reclaim the Palace. Kahvi senses a loss of morale and dignity among her tribe and wants to revive their spirits with this quest. She, Tyldak, Chot and Yun set out on the quest. Yun is the daughter of the Wolfrider Skywise and a Go-Back. Unknown to her, chief Zey has given Chot a charge to find a way to kill Kahvi before returning.
Tyldak finds three of the huge tame hawk-like birds still living near the fallen home of the Gliders, and they ride on the backs of those birds all the way to the sun village. They ambush the village and Tyldak steals the Palace, but is chased by his son, Windkin, who is able to fly through the air. (Windkin was raised by his Wolfrider mother Dewshine, not by Tyldak.) Tyldak brings the Palace to Kahvi, but then Chot attacks Kahvi and knocks her off the bird she is riding. Tyldak rescues her from a fatal fall, and the two of them fall to the ground on the floor of Savah's hut.
Windkin and the three Preservers living in the sun village attack Chot and Yun in the air. They disorient Chot with wrapstuff and give the Palace to Yun, entreating her to 'do the right thing.' Chot flies away on the bird. Yun, who is very upset that Chot tried to kill Kahvi, gives the Palace to Windkin to take back to the village, out of her loyalty to Kahvi. After Kahvi is revived from her fall, she still tries to steal the Palace out of Savah's hands, mainly because she wants to raise her people, the Go-Backs “up to what they were.” But Tyldak loves her, and stops her so that she does not get killed in her futile attempts. The Preservers wrap Tyldak and Kahvi up in “wrapstuff“ where they exist in a sleep outside of time. Tyldak tells her, “I swore to defend you from you if need be. Time to rest, time to dream a different dream, beloved.” Yun decides to stay with the sun villagers and wait for Kahvi to awaken (HY 2).
Chot makes his way eventually back to the Frozen Mountains, and the whole tribe of Go-Backs decides to attack the Sun Village and steal the Palace. They get to the desert by traveling underground through the same troll tunnel that Rayek and Ekuar used in their journey from the desert to the Frozen Mountains. Once they reach the desert, they notice that a huge dark cloud covers the sun.
In the Sun Village, a drought is drying up the well. Of equal concern is that the nearby volcano has been acting up, putting a dark cloud in the sky and covering the land with dark ash. The eruption of the volcano sends a herd of zwoots thundering toward the village; Dart and his Jack-Wolfriders successfully turn them, but the air is filled with soot and fiery debris. The Sun Villagers panic. During the chaos, Yun (daughter of Skywise and a Go-Back), frees the cocooned Kahvi and Tyldak, expecting them to help. Instead, Kahvi races off to find the little palace for herself.
Under cover of dust, the Go-Backs arrive. Swiftly, one kills Shushen, Dart's dear friend. They expect no resistance, so are caught completely by surprise when Dart launches himself at them. A general, confused melee breaks out. Kahvi, with the little palace in her possession, emerges from a hut to see Dart kill a Go-Back. At first furious at him, she turns her fury on Zey, the leader of the Go-Backs, who had believed her dead and taken her place as chief. She kills him—the last act of the war, as it turns out. Disgusted by how the Go-Backs have degenerated in her absence, she returns the little palace and leads her people away, except for those so injured that they have to be cocooned.
Because of the volcano and the drought, the Sun Village is forced underground. Dart and his companions hunt for scarce game while most of the villagers are cocooned to prevent starvation. At last Ahdri's rock-shaping powers fully bloom, and she is able to help dig new underground chambers and search for water. The village eventually heals, returning to days of flood and flower. Dart cocoons himself in “wrapstuff,“ to wait for the sleeping Wolfriders until they are all reunited. He comes out for a few years when he Recognizes Serrin through the wrapstuff and fathers a boy, but eventually he returns to his place of solitude. (NB 11-13).
Kahvi, accompanied by her lovemate Tyldak, returns to her tribe the Go-Backs in the Frozen Mountains. She works hard to restore their dignity and raise them above the brutality they learned under chief Zey. She desperately wants to give them something they can be proud of, something they can call uniquely their own. She decides that since the Palace is out of their grasp, she will go to what used to be Blue Mountain to retrieve a piece of the Great Egg of the Gliders, which presumably contained as much power as the Palace.
When they arrive at the rubble that once was Blue Mountain, they find that one Glider has survived and lives in the ruins: the elf Aurek, who had neverendingly sculpted the Great Egg and who was called “Egg“ by the other Gliders. Aurek's life had been saved by Two-Edge after Blue Mountain's fall. Aurek has recreated a handheld-sized version of Egg. Aurek tells her that the Egg, which contains all of elven history, can restore her lost memories of her parentage and childhood, and she agrees to try it. As she goes into a sort of hypnotic trance while staring at the Egg, she does remember all the things she had forgotten about her early life, and the fact that she is the daughter of Two-Spear, a cast-out chief of the Wolfriders. When she comes out of the trance, she is shocked by the revelations, particularly by the fact that she is a Wolfrider and therefore has wolf blood.
That night, she manages to steal the small Egg, not realizing that Aurek is feigning sleep and is allowing her to take it. Tyldak, not pleased that Kahvi got away with stealing, decides to try to retrieve the Egg and bring it back to Aurek. He follows Kahvi all the way back to the Frozen Mountains, where she is welcomed and celebrated by the Go-Backs who are very excited to own the Egg. But Tyldak manages to retrieve it and flies away with it. The furious Kahvi tracks him down, and wounds one of his wings with her spear. His feelings deeply hurt, he gives up and flies off, and she takes the Egg back to her tribe.
However, she realizes that the Egg could be stolen again at any time, and that she needs to give her tribe something that is truly theirs that can never be taken away from them. An idea occurs to her: since Cutter has lost his family, he doesn't have an heir to his chieftainship; and who better to mother an heir for him than Kahvi? Their child could unite the two tribes.
She sets off to return to the forest where Cutter and the Wolfriders have dwelt since the Palace's disappearance. How she crosses the ocean is a mystery, but when she gets to the forest, she finds the holt deserted. She catches a troll trying to steal her deer mount, and forces the troll to lead her to Picknose, who knows where the Wolfriders are. Picknose tells her that they are all in Preserver cocoons and being carefully guarded by the trolls, and that he will not allow her to wake Cutter up. She manages to trick the troll guards in a gambling game, however, and steals the cocoon she thinks is Cutter's. When she opens it up in the woods it turns out to be Nightfall. Nightfall and she get into a fight, which Nightfall wins. Nightfall tells Kahvi that she is like Two-Spear: he didn't lead people, he used them; and that “a wolf chief runs with his pack.” This gives Kahvi a lot to think about, and Kahvi begins her long journey back to the Frozen Mountains. On the way, she befriends a wolf.
The entire journey has taken her three years, and when she returns to the Go-Backs, she is challenged for the chieftainship. The wolf defends her during the fight, and she points out to the Go-Backs that they do have something to be proud of: that they were able to build their own tribe and became “Two-Spear's revenge,“ and have distinguished themselves as warriors, without whom the Palace could not have been recovered by Cutter. Later, Tyldak appears and reveals that he followed her for most of her journey. They reconcile, and Kahvi settles down to lead her tribe (Kahvi 1-6).
Two-Edge finds his mother Winnowill in the ocean, captures her and imprisons her for a time. The sending ability given to him by Leetah's partial healing allows him to protect himself from Winnowill's magic torments. However, she still torments him in his dreams. She tells him that he does share some of her healing abilities (which really is flesh-shaping magic) and he releases her back into the ocean (NB 1 Summer Special).
Recently awakened from their 10,000-year sleep, Cutter and his tribe are happily reunited with Leetah, Skywise, Ember, Suntop, and Ekuar (and not so happily reunited with Rayek). The Wolfriders still live in what they call “Thorny Mountain Holt,“ with the Palace hidden in the ocean nearby and Rayek living in the Palace with Ekuar.
Skywise now regrets having asked Leetah to remove his wolf blood. He doesn't feel like a Wolfrider anymore, he realizes that he will now have to watch his friends die of old age, and he is disoriented by the fact that they have all aged except for him because he was in the Palace when it flew 10,000 years into the future. He goes out alone to a cliff overlooking the ocean, and sends to the stars his fervent desire to get his wolf blood back. The magic of the Palace responds to his sending, and he loses his right mind and takes on the full mind of a wolf. When the Wolfriders find him they try to subdue and help him, but he attacks them and in the process falls over the cliff to the beach below. Until now the Wolfriders have kept themselves hidden from the humans who live all around the forest, but a band of human pirates finds Skywise, captures him, and puts him in a cage for the local humans to pay money to see the “freak.” Cutter goes to his rescue, disguising himself as a human and freeing him from the cage. Cutter manages to get Skywise out of his wolf-mind by showing him the Lodestone and getting him to look up at the stars. Skywise shares with Cutter all his insecurities, as well as the resentment he felt when Cutter did not come to his aid when he was afraid during the battle with the trolls. They reconcile and reaffirm their bond as soul-brothers (SS1).
Redlance is disturbed about something; he knows he dreamed during his time in his cocoon but can't remember anything. Feeling that dreams are important, Pike feeds him dreamberry wine, and Redlance relaxes enough to recall a dream about being the spirit of the Father Tree, from his endless days sheltering the elves to his ultimate destruction by humans. Pike decides to collect dreams from all the elves who slept because the collective and shared dreams of the telepathic elves could teach them something.
Treestump grudgingly recalls a dream where, armor-clad and weapon-bearing, he protected his loved ones but accidentally killed them in the end. Zhantee shares his dream of challenge, water, weightless flight, and Leetah. Venka's dream was of her dual heritage between the gentle, wise Sun Folk and her cold warrior mother of the Go-Backs, and her status as protector of both Go-Backs and Wolfriders. Nightfall watched as first Cutter gave life to the Wolfriders and then the loveless ones—Rayek, Winnowill, and Two-Edge—stole all that was dear to her. She followed, intending to destroy the trio, but on the verge of victory, her dream ended as her cocoon was opened. Pike weighs in with a dream of becoming smaller and smaller to escape danger, eventually turning into a dreamberry and escaping a troll, who eats him, in the natural way. The Go-Back Skot doesn't remember any dreams; to him and Krim, another Go-Back, life is an endless walk through a blinding snowstorm in which only the “now“ is discernable. Strongbow and Moonshade do not offer up dreams, but they communicate in images and symbols what it means to be a Wolfrider. Tyleet's dream was a sweet and hopeful one of friendship with humans, and Shenshen's dream of somehow shining brighter than her sister Leetah, along with a vision of a pregnant Tyleet, was linked with Tyleet's vision of herself possessing five fingers.
At this point Pike starts to figure out how all these dreams fit together, and he calls council and asks for the dreams of the remaining sleepers: Clearbrook, who relived her attempt to rescue the infant Windkin from Winnowill; Aroree, who confesses that she does not dream herself but enters the dreams of others; Skywise (who was not cocooned but who wants to share his dream), who saw himself flying thanks to a friendly star, and who ultimately dreams of his long-dead wolf-friend Starjumper; and finally Cutter, who shares only part of his dream of losing all that he held dearest to Rayek, for the rest of it will torment and destroy his tribe just as it is tormenting and destroying him. From these dreams, Pike determines that the elves have somehow peeked into their future.
A deeply depressed and powerless Rayek keeps to the Palace and reflects on everything he did, especially the mistakes he made. In his loss of confidence he has also lost his magical powers at least temporarily. Only his growing relationship with Venka, the daughter he never knew he had, allows him to take the first steps toward “awakening,“ accomplished largely through the stalking and killing of a buck. Yet most of the other Wolfriders, still despising him for what he did to Cutter, refuse to share his kill (HY 8).
Six years later, Rayek has regained his magic powers and is able to make the Palace rise up out of the ocean and fly again. Leetah, Suntop, Venka and Shen Shen decide to travel to the Sun Village. Ember, now a teenager, very much wants to go with them, but Cutter (who won't set foot in the Palace for fear of not being able to keep himself from attacking Rayek in his hanger) does not want to lose his entire family to the Palace again and forbids her to go. However, as the Palace is getting ready to depart, Ember rides her wolf Choplicker straight into the Palace entrance just before it takes off and before Cutter can stop her. After arriving in the Sun Village, all of the elves who had cocooned themselves or been cocooned after the war between the Go-Backs and Sun Villagers are released from their cocoons, and all those who had been wounded in the war are healed by the combined healing powers of Leetah and Mender. Mender is the son of the Wolfriders Woodlock and Rainsong, who, along with their other son Wing, chose not to be cocooned and died of old age during the time of the Palace's disappearance. Ember and Mender become lovemates. Suntop stays in the Sun Village to get more magical training from Savah. Shen Shen stays in the Sun Village as well. Leetah, Ember, Mender, Venka, Dewshine and Scouter travel in the Palace back to the Thorny Mountain Holt (HY 4).
A couple of years later, Cutter is still suffering greatly from what Rayek did, and needs a fight to start the healing process, so Rayek offers a challenge to the Wolf Chief. In an arena provided by the trolls, Cutter attacks Rayek mercilessly and reveals to him the dreadful tormenting dreams that he would not reveal to his tribe. At fight's end, Cutter and Rayek are at least able to meet one another on neutral ground.
Winnowill has been floating, apparently mindless, in a bubble of water in the Palace. But she awakens while the Wolfriders are off carousing with the trolls. Having mentally joined with the Palace, she attempts to fly off with it. But Venka detects her, and in a mental struggle for control, Venka and Rayek break Winnowill's concentration. The Palace hurtles through the sky and crashes into the mountains, disintegrating into innumerable crystal shards and flinging Winnowill out of her water chamber. Unfortunately, the shards have fallen in human territory, and worse, a party of human warriors saw the whole thing. The saddle-chief of the warriors immediately orders his men to locate the fragments; his intention is to send some crystals back to Grohmul Djun, the powerful and cruel warlord of the area.
Rayek is frantic to get to the shards, but the Wolfriders have more immediate concerns, such as food. Recognizing that they dare not show themselves even for the Palace, they send some Preservers to watch and see what happens. As the Wolfriders wait, Cutter makes a new wolf-friend, and Tyleet returns to a human woodcutter that she had teased previously and starts to learn the human tongue from him so that she can teach it to the others. Scouter mistakenly believes that Tyleet is in danger from the human and “rescues“ her, only to have a most unexpected thing happen as she attempts to elude him: they Recognize one another (which delights Dewshine) and Tyleet gets pregnant.
Meanwhile, the Djun himself arrives at the site of the crystal-fall to see them for himself. He commands that every last fragment be gathered up; and while he broods over the slowness of the process, a mysterious female figure appears in his tent, whispers “... save... me...!“ and collapses. She appears to be dead but comes back to life at the Djun's touch. It's Winnowill, in human shape. Fascinated by her beauty, he decides to “keep“ her. Later, when the Djun's men discover the Scroll of Colors, she attempts to go to it. Enraged that she showed herself to the men, he strikes her; she retaliates with a pain-touch. The Djun decides to kill her, but cannot bring himself to do it when she freely kneels and bares her neck to him. Instead, he decides to take advantage of the power she can bring him.
Time passes. Tyleet continues to learn the human tongue from the woodcutter and pass it along to the other elves. But one day the Djun's men press-gang the kindly man into their shard-gathering corps, which has a mere three days to finish the task. Tyleet is unable to help him escape, and indeed nearly loses her wolf-friend Patience to the crossbows of the Djun's men. After Leetah and Mender heal the wolf, Cutter announces that it's time for the tribe to split up. He will take the warriors and most of the magic-users in a quest to take the shards from the Djun; his daughter Ember will lead the rest of the tribe in a search for a safe holt in which the Wolfriders can survive should the Palace-questers be killed. After this stunning announcement, Tyleet and Skywise attempt to rescue the woodcutter. They succeed, but one of the Djun's men--the mercenary from Kings of the Broken Wheel, whose daughter Shuna was saved by Leetah--captures Tyleet, thinking he has another healer with which he can make money. Tyleet only escapes when Shuna frees her (and Shuna runs away in the process rather than be whipped to death by her father, with consequences that will be seen later). Ember chooses the Wolfriders who will accompany her, and they embark on their quest for a new Holt.
Winnowill has become the Djun's “Lady Venovel“ and is eagerly trying to get at the Scroll of Colors, locked away in the Djun's library. Winnowill savors the brutal murders of slave-workmen as they finish their work on the Djun's palace. She also survives an assassination attempt. She and the Djun visit the crystal towers, where he reasserts his authority over her and dangles the promise of a session with the Scroll before her. Later, while resting, she is contacted mentally by Rayek, who pleads with her to help him regain the Palace. Infuriated by his genuine love, she tosses him away and resolves to take revenge on him and those who shelter him. She urges the Djun to cut down a patch of forest (the elves' holt) that has so far repulsed his men with its ever-renewing brambles. The Djun's Master Builder (a.k.a. Two-Edge) builds fearsome machines to do the job.
In the holt, Rayek and the Wolfriders plot shard-retrieval strategy. Then Aroree sees the woodcutting machines approach. After a short battle against the men defending the machines, the elves abandon the holt and escape underground through Ekuar's tunnel. Soon they connect with the troll tunnels. King Picknose is loathe to let the elves through, but his argument with Cutter is interrupted by human warriors who had followed the elves into their tunnel. After the one-sided battle, Picknose is more concerned with filling in the tunnels than stopping the elves. The elves continue on, joined by troll siblings Flam and Drub, who want a share of the booty that's sure to result from the quest.
The elves' tunneling abruptly ends when Ekuar collapses. Though Mender saves his life, the rock-shaper is unfit to continue, so they bind him in wrapstuff, and the trolls dig up. They break through into a pigsty, under which they hunker as Rayek, Venka, Zhantee, and Aroree take off in search of the Scroll of Colors. Meanwhile, Winnowill is finally working with the Scroll but can't make any sense out of it--until Rayek approaches, and the Scroll ignites in response. As a result, the Djun's guards are ready when the quartet arrives. Rayek blasts them, but he is distracted by Winnowill's mental attack. Venka shields him, and he blasts his way into the Djun's library. Rayek attempts to carry off half the scroll, but the Djun desperately holds it down. Aroree manages to yank the half away. Then a boulder launched by the humans hits Rayek and Venka square on. Already weak, Venka loses her grip on Rayek and tumbles into the Djun's palace.
As the exhausted Rayek remains behind to search for Venka, Aroree and Zhantee return to the others. Safe from Winnowill's spying (at least via the Scroll), but faced with stirred-up humans, the elves decide to split up even further to climb the mountain and sneak into the Djun's citadel. First, they move to another hide-out, the cellar of an inn. There they are discovered by the young woman Shuna, whose life had previously been saved by Leetah and who saved Tyleet and ran away from home. Meanwhile, the Djun demands, and to his dismay sees, Winnowill's true form. Rattled and yearning yet knowing that to have her is to lose his soul, he manages to stay on top of the situation by exerting his “ownership“ over her and making her use her powers on his behalf. Claiming to be a god, he proclaims to his people that to worship anything but him will mean their deaths. To back up his words, he has Winnowill transform a pack of war dogs into vicious Peace Hounds: claw-tentacled, lantern-eyed, fork-tongued horrors.
The Peace Hounds are released into the city, where they ferret out and kill the rebellious. Shuna is chased by three Hounds, but the Hounds are diverted by the scent of the elves at the inn. After briefly driving the Hounds back, the elves scatter in their prearranged groups, leaving Clearbrook and Treestump and their wolf-friends to “keep the how-unds amused.” A fierce battle leaves one Hound dead and the other two hurt and fleeing--and the humans astonished that the supposedly undefeatable Peace Hounds can be killed.
In the Citadel, Rayek searches for Venka, who is being tended by Two-Edge. The elf-troll is falling in love with the elf maiden and shows off his work to her, including the horrible “birds,“ machines used for public executions of 'rebels'--one of which Shuna witnesses. Shuna is so disgusted that she starts recruiting others to fight the Djun. Unfortunately, a Hound scents her rebelliousness--but luckily, Strongbow, Skot, and Krim are nearby and destroy the Hound, then hop into an untenanted building with Shuna to avoid the Djun's men who come to investigate the noise. Later, she and her companions lead more Hounds to the elves, who dispatch them and make it plain to the humans that the “good spirits“ are on Shuna's side and against the Djun. But things are not going so well in the Citadel; Winnowill forces Rayek, Venka, and Two-Edge into the open. For various reasons none of them can slay her, so she subdues Rayek; Two-Edge manages to escape with Venka. Ignoring the Djun's demands that she explain what's going on, Winnowill enters Rayek's mind with the intent of learning how to reconstruct the Palace.
In the streets, more and more humans are joining Shuna's rebellion. The chaos is useful to Aroree, Mender, and Flam, who are able to move about without attracting notice. Then Flam smells gold in a human house and breaks in to steal it. Mender tries to drag him out, and they start to tussle. Aroree flies in to stop them, but guards see her and also break in. The guards are attacked by the owners of the house, who are swiftly cut down. Coming to their senses, Flam and Mender quit fighting, and the trio escape through a hole in the floor--Flam pauses briefly to retrieve his dropped treasure and, incidentally, kill the guard who was about to kill the householders' two children. Another guard shoots a crossbow into the dark hole, but hearing nothing, and terrified of what's in the hole, they leave--and below the floor, Mender is bleeding to death.
The revolt of the humans is reaching fever pitch. Hoping to definitively quell it, Grohmul Djun orders his mercenaries to capture Shuna. Elsewhere, Flam employs a little force to get Mender to heal himself, while Cutter, Drub, Zhantee, and Holdfast destroy a peace-hound, only to be confronted by Djun's men. In the Djun's castle, Venka finds Rayek and attempts to protect him from Winnowill, but Rayek insists she let him continue to distract his black-souled lovemate. The Djun recognizes that Venka is a shield against Winnowill, and, in return for dragging Winnowill away to let Venka have a few private moments with Rayek, extracts a promise from her (ultimately unfulfilled) to sleep with him. This infuriates the smitten Two-Edge, who determines to help the elves regain the palace and destroy the Djun. He telepathically contacts Cutter, who doesn't trust him but has no choice but to follow his mental trail. Moving openly now (to the astonishment and awe of the humans), the elves converge on the castle, trailed by the remaining peace-hounds. Though they ultimately defeat the horrible beasts, the elves pay a terrible price to get past the drawbridge and into the castle itself: Skot gives up his life to help them get through.
At the same time, elsewhere in the city, Shuna confronts her mercenary father, who has just killed her mother and wants nothing more than to kill Shuna. Although she fends him off, she is knocked out by another mercenary and is taken to the Djun's castle, where the sadistic “birds“ are readied to tear the girl to shreds. Luckily, the preserver Tittersweet sees the preparations and warns the elves of Shuna's peril. Cutter determines to save the girl, and he and Zhantee leave the others to effect her rescue. The sight of Cutter, robed in Zhantee's shining shield, confronting the Djun and rescuing Shuna inspires the commoners as never before, and they begin to rampage through the castle. After rescuing Shuna, the elves enter the building that will lead them into the castle. But the floor above them gives way when humans set fire to the building, and Zhantee gives his life in his heroic efforts to keep the floor from falling on all of them with his magical shielding power. While he is dying, Cutter grants Zhantee his dying wish and sends to him what it is like to be Recognized to Leetah (whom Zhantee has always loved). As his soul leaves its body and flies toward the castle, Zhantee reveals to Cutter that only the power of Timmain, the High One, can rebuild the shattered castle. Krim is badly hurt and wants to be allowed to die, but Mender tells her that she is pregnant, which makes her determined to live, and Mender heals her. Cutter sends Aroree on a mission to find Ember's group of elves and bring Timmain (who went with Ember in her wolf form) back to the human city.
While Rayek and Winnowill engage in a spirit-battle, Venka watches over them. The Djun tries to kill Winnowill, but Venka stops him so the Djun makes to attack her. Two-Edge intervenes to save Venka, causing many of the castle shards to fall on the Djun, who runs out of the room, which Two-Edge immediately bars to him. Cutter's band of elves, preservers, two trolls and the human Shuna make their way through the bowels of the castle, dodging Two-Edge's built-in traps while Two-Edge observes them secretly, as yet undecided whether or not to help them reach the shards. The group endures many wounds, and the loss of one wolf, making their way through his traps; when they near the end he decides to help them. He leads them into the castle kitchen, where the preservers wrap all the humans there in wrapstuff and the group takes a much needed rest and meal. Venka sends to Cutter an urgent call to find her, Rayek and Winnowill in the inmost shard chamber and reunite the shards and save Rayek from Winnowill. Cutter's group makes their way toward Venka, guided by her sending. They have to pass through the throne room, where the Djun and his guards attack them. Two-Edge steps in and shuts the door on the guards, while the preservers wrap the Djun in wrapstuff. The elves, trolls and Shuna make their way to the shard chamber where Rayek lies near death while Winnowill's spirit torments his. Mender begins to heal Rayek, releasing his spirit from Winnowill's grasp, while Venka and Strongbow prevent her spirit from returning to its body.
Aroree has returned to the Wolfrider's holt, which has recently been destroyed by humans. She sends out a mental call to Timmain, and eventually Skywise and Timmain (still in wolf form) find Aroree. Meanwhile, Picknose's trolls discover Ekuar's preserver-wrapped body and unwrap him, intending to hold him prisoner. Aroree, Skywise and Timmain look for a way into Picknose's domain so they can free Ekuar, retrieve the other half of the scroll, and tunnel underground to reach Cutter in time to restore the palace. Ekuar eludes his troll captors and opens up a tunnel for Aroree, Skywise and Timmain to enter the trolls' caverns. Picknose lets the elves pass through his domain unharmed, and they make their way underground toward the Djun's Citadel.
Shuna finds that she cannot kill the Djun while he is helpless in preserver webbing. She runs to find Cutter and warn him that the Djun and his guards are on their way to the shards room. When they enter the room, Rayek renders the humans unconscious with one blast of magic power. Ekuar, Skywise, Aroree and Timmain suddenly appear through a tunneled hole in the floor, along with the other half of the scroll. They set the scroll up and Timmain starts to shape-shift back into an elf to help them restore the palace, but as she does so, Winnowill's spirit returns to its body and Winnowill and Timmain begin a magical battle. The humans start to wake, and Ekuar traps them with rock covering their hands and feet, but the Djun escapes his trap and makes to attack Venka. Two-Edge saves Venka and mortally wounds the Djun. Winnowill, realizing that Timmain is stronger and will overcome her, decides to let herself die so that her spirit can be free to control the shards. She lets the Djun kill her, but as her spirit flies from its body, Rayek captures it in his own mind and holds it there. Timmain completes her shape-shift and the elves restore the palace with their combined magic powers. Torn from the citadel, the shards form a cocoon-vessel around the elves, the trolls and Shuna, and the citadel begins to collapse while the fires from the humans' revolt rage all around it. The cocoon-vessel (which was the palace's original form) flies into the night sky, guided by Timmain. She restores it to a palace-like shape and flies it to where Ember's group of elves is located; Skywise has told Cutter that they need help.
These events take place concurrently with the events of the “Shards“ section above. Having been charged with preserving the Wolfriders while the majority of them go off to fight for the Palace, the newly fledged chief Ember and her small band—Leetah, Skywise, Pike, Moonshade, Redlance, Nightfall, Dewshine, Scouter, and pregnant Tyleet, along with their respective wolves—embark on a quest for a new Holt. At first, every decision is a test for Ember, as she struggles to determine which direction to take and how to find shelter in the open plains through which the band is traveling. To make matters worse, Moonshade freely expresses her doubts about and displeasure over Ember’s choices. It takes a series of dangerous encounters and a bout of insect-induced hallucination for Ember to understand and deal with Moonshade’s distress. Ember’s first chance to really shine comes when a period of bad hunting for the elves leads her to consider a source of food that they would have otherwise overlooked: mice.
Finally, the small band arrives at an island of rock in the ocean of grass. Though it had been inhabited, it seems deserted now, and the many caves and proximity to water make it a serious candidate for the new Holt. The discovery of a small spire shaped like a howling wolf settles the Wolfriders’ minds. However, as they start to move in, they are approached by a strange elf who can make himself invisible to the Wolfriders’ senses. He is Teir, beast-friend and loner who has lived among the rocks for many years with only animals to keep him company. Most of the Wolfriders take to him immediately; only Skywise is suspicious and wary. Teir stays distant from the little tribe at first, but gradually he begins to interact with them. Indeed, he and Ember are attracted to one another, though neither admits it. More urgently, the peaceful settling-in process is disturbed when a horribly mutated wolf attacks the Wolfriders during a hunt.
As the Wolfriders discuss whether to stay at Howling Rock after the appearance of the shapechanged wolf, Ember walks out on the council to follow Timmain back to Teir. He shows her his ability to mimic animals and make them trust him. He also tells her of his past: he is actually a Go-Back. Later, Skywise is plagued by dreams of his lost wolf blood, with Teir as a central figure. His distrust of Teir doesn't sit well with Ember. Skywise and Ember verbally spar, leaving Ember feeling she isn't fit to be chief. A vision of an earlier chieftess, Huntress Skyfire, helps her sort out what she's doing wrong.
With more horrible news from the Palace War resonating among the elves, Skywise, Dewshine, and Pike go on a ride-out to see what's what. Something seems to be agitating the game--and something seems to be driving it toward Howling Rock. The scouting party finds out quickly enough when they stumble on a passel of mutated creatures and are forced to fight them. The creatures ignore Skywise, so he is able to kill them after the others are incapacitated. The other elves fetch the wounded, and Leetah heals them.
Skywise is convinced that Teir is behind it all, and Ember decides to find out once and for all. She rides off to confront him alone. (At the same time, Skywise and Timmain accompany Aroree back to the human city, as Timmain is needed to help put the Palace together again.) Dodging mutated monsters, Ember comes across Teir, who is distracted by someone calling inside his head. He doesn't seem to be responsible for the new monsters; indeed, when they are attacked and Ember is hurt, he defends her.
As Teir carries Ember back to the Holt, Leetah and Nightfall intercept him. They automatically assume he's responsible for her injuries, and, after bringing Ember back from the precipice, they warn Teir not to follow them. Teir isn't so easily discouraged, though, and follows at a distance. When more shapechanged monsters arrive, Teir makes them attack one another, to prove that he's on the Wolfriders' side. However, in doing so he opens himself up to the voice that's been calling him, and he collapses. Leetah goes to him “to learn [his] heart“ and mentally discovers the horrible, intelligent mutated bear--created by Winnowill, as were all of the other monsters--that is trying to feed off Teir's powers. At last accepting his innocence in the matter of the mutated beasts, the Wolfriders bring him into the Holt and make him comfortable. Leetah must keep him asleep, though, to protect him from his enemy.
Soon the Holt is surrounded by many monsters, led by the mutated bear, who demands Teir and threatens slaughter if the loner is not delivered. Ember makes the painful decision to sacrifice Teir to save the tribe. They strap the sleeping elf to a litter, and Dewshine, riding her wolf-friend Longshanks, races down to deposit the body among the monsters. Of course, the monsters have no intention of letting her leave, and she barely escapes. Longshanks is killed in his valiant attempt to get her back, and she is bitten by poisonous snakes, but Scouter arrives to pull her to safety, and Leetah is able to purge her veins of the poison.
The mutated bear easily overwhelms Teir's mind and joins with him. It broadcasts its dreadful intent: it wants the death of all wolf-blooded elves. The monsters attack! The Wolfriders fight ferociously, but the odds are overwhelming. There is one slim chance, however: Leetah has the same sort of magic as Winnowill, and the monsters implicitly trust her; Ember tells her that she must kill their leader. Leetah approaches him, and touches minds with him to see the true purpose for Winnowill's creation of the monsters: to destroy all wolf-blooded elves. This angers Leetah enough to motivate her to kill him magically. She then heals Teir who is on the verge of death. But because the monster's mind was linked with Teir's when Leetah killed the monster, Teir's mind was affected as well and he can no longer send. Ember, afraid that more of Winnowill's monsters will come seeking Teir and the Wolfriders if Teir regains his sending powers, she gives him a choice: to be fully healed by Leetah and separate himself from the Wolfriders, or to stay with them but not regain his sending powers. He is extremely frustrated by this decision, and he and Ember get into an argument. But as they both express their frustrations, they come to an understanding and give in to their attraction to each other.
The next day, Teir announces that he will take the healing and return to his solitary life with animals. After he is healed, the Palace appears. As all of Ember's group of elves prepare to reunite with Cutter's group who have all flown to meet them in the Palace, Teir quietly departs, promising Ember that if she ever needs him he will find a way to her. All the elves except for Teir enter the Palace, and the Palace disappears as Teir watches.
These events take place concurrently with the events described in the “Shards“ and “Ember's Quest“ sections above. The desert sun village of Sorrow's End has its own problem with the medieval humans, who have started to come close to the village, despite the gigantic rocks placed around it by Ahdri. Savah tells Suntop, who now lives in the Sun Village, that she believes he has an unlimited sending range and will, with training, be able to connect all elves on the planet to each other via his sending powers. During a training session, Suntop gets a brief, tantalizing vision of a wondrous jungle. Who sent the vision, and why? Windkin recognizes the jungle as a place he dubbed the “Forevergreen“ when he was doing long-range scouting during the time of drought. He hadn't explored it before, but now he wants to. Everyone does, but their method of travel, the Palace, is currently in many pieces. So, wearing wings made of wrapstuff that will help him fly, Windkin immediately takes off by himself for the Forevergreen. Dart vows to follow him in three eights of days if he doesn't return.
And he doesn't, because when he gets there, he discovers a human civilization that is apparently trying to emulate elves; they cut off one of their fingers on each hand and shape their ears to have pointed tips. Spotted, he tries to flee but is zapped with knockout powder. He awakens tied to a pillar. The Attained Father Aramek wants to use Windkin as proof that Aramek's various atrocities--human sacrifice, mutilation, etc.--are the will of the High Ones. Later, caged inside the temple, Windkin meets an ancient Glider, the rock-shaper Door, one of the few Gliders to have survived the destruction of Blue Mountain. Given over to the protection of the Hoan-G'tay-Sho (now called the Hungtsho) after the fall of Blue Mountain, he is their pet High One. Door tells Windkin that he sent out a vision of what the Forevergreen used to be like, so that any elves who received the sending would be attracted to the vision and compelled to find Door, and then help him right the wrongs of the Hungtsho. Several of the humans confide in Windkin that they hate Aramek, and he pledges to help them. But then, in a confrontation with Aramek, the Attained Father angrily and tearfully explains how badly he and his people want to be elves. Windkin decides to stay and help the Hungtsho get over their obsession with elves.
Meanwhile, Suntop has picked up on Windkin's distress, and a small rescue party embarks on the journey to the Forevergreen--Dart, Suntop, Kimo (son of Newstar), Dodia, Jethel, Chot (a former Go-Back), Shenshen (Leetah's sister), and Yun (daughter of Skywise and a Go-Back). They must cross the Vastdeep Water, which they almost do; as they spy land, their craft is swamped, and they are separated, washing up in various places around the beach. Dart, Kimo, and Yun encounter one another; the others join together elsewhere and are captured by a band of humans, the arch-rivals of Aramek, and scheduled for execution. However, Dart's group finds them in time and convinces the rebel human leader, Pei-lar, that they have the same enemy. He agrees to help her troops in their upcoming attack against Aramek, because it is the only way he can see to rescue Windkin. However, he and two other elves want to scout out Aramek's territory first, and they are attacked in the woods by Aramek's son Geoka and a couple of warriors. The elves defeat the humans in the battle, and Pei-Lar takes Geoka prisoner. Geoka is disillusioned as he realizes that Aramek is not attempting to rescue him, and after Dart shares with him the story of Dart's friendship with the human boy Geoki (see “Siege at Blue Mountain“), Geoka becomes friends with Dart.
Windkin has been talking with Door, and unwittingly is rousing Door from the mental stupor he has always lived in because of the cruelty of Door's former lord, Winnowill. Up till now, Door has been complacent, no more than a figurehead for the Hungtsho and the tool Aramek has used to keep his power over the people by claiming to be the spokesperson for Door (the “sky spirit“). But now Door is awakening to his true feelings and powers. Aramek throws Windkin into a dungeon below the temple, but the Preserver Willowsnap finds him and helps him escape, along with a human boy named Ahn-Lai who was also being held in the dungeon.
The three make their way out into of temple just as Pei-Lar's troops are attacking the city. Aramek appears at the top of the temple to rouse his people to action against the rebels. But then Door appears, throws Aramek down off the temple, and tells the people that Aramek does not speak for him. Unfortunately, Door is even more cruel and tyrannical than Aramek, having been twisted by Winnowill's ancient poison. Pei-Lar, realizing that her rebel attackers have no chance of defeating the powerful rockshaper/glider elf, calls a retreat. She comes across Aramek in the woods and kills him in revenge for his cruelty against her family and many others. Dart later convinces her to permanently stay away from Door and his tribe of humans in order to save her people.
Dart and all the elves who journeyed from the Sun Village say their goodbyes to Pei-Lar's humans, and make their way further into the Forevergreen forest and away from all the humans (and Door). They hope to find a suitable new Holt for the Sun Villagers. The human youths Geoka and Ahn-lei accompany them. During their search, the elves meet a small band of human sailors who turn out to be friendly. Geoka decides to sail away with these humans and seek his fortune on the seas.
Door sends to Windkin and asks Windkin to join him in the temple. Door convinces Windkin that the humans need the elves' help and that the best way to achieve this is to unite all the elves through the little piece of the Palace that resides in the Sun Village. Door really wants the Palace for his own evil purposes, unknown to Windkin. Windkin agrees to fly back to the Sun Village and bring the Palace fragment to Door, and sets off at once. Dart, realizing that Windkin is unwittingly aiding Door in some evil purpose (but not knowing Windkin has left the Forevergreen), decides to try to get Windkin out of Door's clutches. Pei-Lar finds Dart on his way toward the temple and they join forces because Pei-Lar knows a secret way into the temple and she wants to try to kill Door. However, when they arrive, they are discovered by Door, and Door kills Pei-Lar. Door sets fire to the entire Forevergreen forest, and with his rockshaping power, encloses the temple (and the entire human Hungtsho tribe) in an impenetrable rock sphere. Door and Dodia, one of the elves from the Sun Village who accompanied Dart to the temple, suddenly Recognize each other. They willingly become mates; however, the evil Door plans to 'rid himself' of Dodia once she bears his child (unknown to her). Dart and Chot are, for now, trapped in the dome with Dodia and Door. The three elves try to convince Door to treat the trapped and scared humans kindly, but Door doesn't listen.
The other Sun Village elves, Shenshen, Kimo and Yun, hide together as the fire rages. They are worried about Suntop and Jethel who had earlier snuck off secretly to explore what they thought was an abandoned human hut, when the fire started. The owner of the hut, a kindly human named “Wanderer,“ saves Suntop and Jethel by leading them underwater to an oxygen-filled grotto. Wanderer says that 'water spirits' formed the grotto. (Yun had earlier glimpsed what looked like an elf with a fish tail in a pool in the Forevergreen.) The human boy Ahn-Lai, rescued from the temple by Windkin, sees them dive under the water and follows them. Knowing there is not enough oxygen for all four beings to survive, the Wanderer leaves the grotto and disappears.
After the fire ends, Suntop, Jethel and Ahn-Lai emerge from the grotto and ride the river on a log. But at one point the river turns choppy and the log topples them off, and Suntop is separated from the other two. Shenshen sends to Suntop, and Suntop finds her and Kimo and Yun just outside of the dome. At the same time, within the dome, Door attacks Dart and Chot. Dodia tries to stop Door's attack, as does Suntop, who can sense with his magic powers what is going on inside the dome and sends to Door. While Door is distracted by the sending, Dodia knocks Door unconscious or kills him; it isn't clear which. The dome breaks apart and the humans flee. Chot sets off by himself to try to find Jethel.
Ahn-Lai and Jethel wash up on the riverbank, far from the other elves. Jethel had been knocked unconscious, and while he is knocked out the human youth Ahn-Lai ties him up, planning to give him over to a human trading village he knows of. When they arrive in the trading village, the humans there say that it is the fulfillment of a prophecy that a strange boy would come with a spirit after a day of fire. In honor of the prophecy's fulfillment, they make Ahn-Lai their leader. The Preserver Willowsnap finds and rescues Jethel from his prison cell, and Jethel escapes.
Meanwhile, much has been going on in the Sun Village. A desert human tribe has been prodded into action against the Sun Village. In earlier forays they were frightened off, but they are determined to find a trade route through the mountains--despite the “demons.” They have a troll living with them, who gives them strategies for attacking and defeating the Sun Villagers. The troll wants to invade the village so he can gather gold in the surrounding hills. The elves figure out what the humans plan to do, and the rockshaper Ahdri goes to work building them a new dwelling place underground to escape the humans. But this means that the Sun Village must be abandoned, and all the villagers grieve at the loss of their long-time home. When the humans invade the village, the troll goes after the miniature piece of the Palace of the High Ones (having heard of its powers from Two-Edge), and the rockshaper Ahdri, who has not yet entered the tunnel, grabs it and runs away from him. She flees up across the Bridge of Destiny, but gets hit by a human's arrow. Even wounded, she breaks the Bridge of Destiny where the troll has followed her, and the troll falls to his death. She crawls into a hole in the rock, presumably to die.
Thus, Windkin arrives in the Sun Village to find it deserted. There are a few human scouts, but humans have largely abandoned the area, because somehow Ahdri's spirit still moves the rocks against the humans, who now consider the place 'haunted.' Windkin is determined to find out what happened to the Sun Villagers, and there the story leaves him.
A short time later, the restored Palace of the High Ones comes to the Forevergreen (called there by Suntop's sending) and the elves there are rescued from the now-burnt forest and fly away in the Palace. However, there is no sign of Chot or Jethel. Skywise meets his grown daughter, Yun, whom he didn't know he had.
Guided by Suntop, the Palace then flies to the place in the desert where Savah and the Sun Villagers have been dwelling underground. Ekuar opens up a hole in the ground for the Villagers to emerge through. The Sun Villagers all enter the Palace. Loved ones long separated are reunited.
Cutter's elves, Ember's elves, the Forevergreen elves and the Sun Village elves are all now gathered in the Palace (along with two trolls and the human Shuna).
Rayek realizes he can no longer be 'master of the Palace' now that he must use all his strength to keep Winnowill's spirit entrapped inside himself. That honor now falls to Timmain, Suntop and Skywise. They join minds and send out a call to all elves, so that any elves who wish it can join them in the Palace.
The Palace then flies to the Frozen Mountains, where they find a new generation of Go-Backs, an elf tribe which has survived through the 10,000 years of the Palace's disappearance.
Venka, Aroree and the Go-Backs decide to depart the Palace to go on a search for Venka's mother Kahvi and the Glider Tyldak, whose whereabouts are unknown. Two-Edge begs Venka to take him along with her, which she does, and the group heads out of the Palace into the Frozen Mountains to begin their search.
Ember wishes to return to Howling Rock to continue tracking down whatever of Winnowill's twisted magical creatures may still be lurking there or in the Djun's former city. Her lovemate Mender the healer decides to go with her, as do the two trolls Flam and Drub, and some of the other elves: Scouter, Dewshine, Tyleet, Pike, Krim, and Yun.
Rayek decides to venture off on his own, his life's only purpose now being to keep Winnowill's malevolent spirit from escaping his body. Despite everything, he still loves Winnowill. Ekuar alone accompanies him out of the palace.
The Palace then takes a short journey into space, to Skywise's immense delight and Cutter's overwhelmed horror.
The human Shuna is overwhelmed by all of the elves and their immense power, and stays hidden in a corner, until Leetah and Tyleet find her and comfort her. Cutter and Leetah invite Shuna to stay and live with them, and Shuna readily agrees to do so. Cutter, Leetah, Shuna and the Wolfriders return in the Palace to the forest that the humans had burned down shortly after the death of Cutter's father Bearclaw. They plan to rebuild the Holt there on top of the remains of the Father Tree, of which Redlance carries one seed, and return to living by the Way and the “now“ of wolf thought. The Palace will stay hidden (disguised) there till it is needed again. Suntop, Skywise, Timmain and the Sun Villagers all plan to live in the Palace, at least for the time being.
In the Palace, Cutter's tribe of elves arrives in the Wolfrider's ancient Holt, “Goodtree's Rest,“ in which the Wolfriders had lived from the time of their plantshaper chief Goodtree until the humans burned it down shortly after Cutter became chief. 10,000 years have passed since its burning, and the forest has grown back to its former glory. Timmain transforms the Palace to look like a large tree so that the humans who now live nearby will not wonder what it is. They all emerge from the Palace and the Wolfriders are thrilled to be back in their old home.
Redlance plants the seed of the Wolfrider's old Father Tree, and begins to use his plantshaping magic to make it grow into a new Father Tree. However, something blocks his magic. Suntop, sensing it, tries to find its source. He concludes that it is probably a remnant of the same bad magic which created the monster Madcoil and the reason the humans do not venture into the area where the original Father Tree stood. Redlance shapes dwellings for the elves in existing trees until the problem of creating a new Father Tree can be solved.
As the days pass, Cutter finds deep healing through once again being in the home of his youth and living in the “now“ of wolf thought, without danger from humans or bad elves. Cutter's son Suntop is living in the Palace to receive training from Savah and Timmain, but yearns to be closer to his father - who was always more at ease with his 'wolfish' daughter Ember than with his mystic son Suntop. Suntop cannot concentrate on his training because of the distance he feels from his father, and he feels he needs a “quest“ of his own, to prove his own worth to himself. He decides to find and conquer the bad pool of magic that is stifling Redlance's treeshaping powers. He finds it, and although it threatens to overwhelm him during his battle with it, all the elves join their mental powers to his. He calls upon all the elfin spirits dwelling in the Palace and uses his body as a conduit of their living Light, and destroys the dark magic pool. Cutter is immensely proud of Suntop, and Redlance shapes the new Father Tree. Cutter gives Suntop a new name: Sunstream.
This story is told by the human Shuna, who was adopted by Cutter and Leetah after the Shards war and who lived with them for presumably the rest of her life in the Wolfrider's Holt, “Goodtree's Rest.”
The Wolfriders teach Shuna many things about their way of life and how to survive and thrive in the forest. She becomes close friends with the elf Kimo, who develops a shapeshifting ability under the tutelage of the High One Timmain, and often takes on the shape of a wolf who stays close by Shuna's side.
Two problems present themselves shortly after the Wolfriders settle into the Holt: one is that there are no trolls living nearby to forge replacements for their worn out metal weapons and tools. The other is that Shuna can't live outdoors with the elves during the winter, and she can't mentally/emotionally handle living in the Palace; the strong magic there is too much for her human sensibilities. Treestump, who has decided that he wants to figure out how to forge metal weapons, suggests that they search for the underground troll caverns which as far as the elves know were abandoned thousands of years ago. The troll caverns would enable Treestump to try to discover the secrets of shaping metal and would also give Shuna a place to live during the winter. They manage to find the caverns, and Shuna, Treestump and his lifemate Clearbrook settle in.
Strongbow and Moonshade hear the spirit of their long-dead daughter Crescent calling them, and they manage to commune with her in the Palace. She tells them there will be “joy above“ and that there is “danger below.” The “joy above“ turns out to be that Moonshade is pregnant. The “danger below“ seems to refer to the troll tunnels, and in fact Shuna hears some strange noises which cause everyone to go on the alert.
Two years pass without incident, however, and Moonshade bears a daughter. Treestump continues to work on finding a way to forge metal. During this time, Shuna spies a small hunting party of humans near the edge of the Holt. A mother bear begins to attack her, and Kimo (in wolf form) and Dart come to her rescue and lightly wound the bear, who runs off. However, the humans have spied them, and they think that Kimo is attacking Shuna and start shooting their arrows at him. Shuna tells him to transform into his elf shape, and the humans bow down to Shuna and her two elfin companions, thinking all three are wood spirits. The lead hunter gives Shuna his bow as an honor-gift, and the two humans find themselves attracted to each other. But the humans leave and Shuna and the two elves return to the Holt.
Inspired by this meeting, Shuna decides that she wants to leave the Holt to search out human tribes and help educate them about elves so that humans and elves can live together in peace. She thinks that the elves have a good chance of getting along with the tribe of humans whose hunters she had met. She is also lonely for human companionship and would like especially to see the lead hunter again. Kimo and Dart decide to accompany her on her journey. They find the tribe of the humans they had recently met, and are welcomed and honored as 'wood spirits.' Shuna marries the lead hunter, but unfortunately he turns out to be chauvinistic, unfaithful and abusive. The two elves help Shuna escape, but her husband and four other humans chase them into the woods and wound Kimo.
At this same time, Treestump and Clearbrook are making their way out of the troll tunnels because Treestump has finally managed to forge a sword. But they hear a noise behind them, and turn to see a group of crazed, slobbering trolls behind them who attack them and steal the sword from Treestump; they are not in their right minds and are obsessed with “treasure.” The trolls throw Treestump and Clearbrook into a large pit, where they discover a Preserver cocoon; they learn that it contains the Sun Village's rockshaper Ahdri. A Preserver had wrapped her up after she was mortally wounded in the Sun Village (see the “Forevergreen“ section), and later, trolls from the Frozen Mountains discovered her cocoon and took her with them because she could help find precious gems for them (she had revealed her powers to them so they wouldn't kill her). She and the trolls ended up in the Holt's troll caverns, where over time the trolls for some reason degenerated mentally. Ahdri helps Clearbrook and Treestump escape the pit by shaping stairs for them, and they carry her wrapped body up with them. Cutter and a group of Wolfriders have fortunately just arrived at the caverns to deliver some meat to the two elves, and they all successfully fend off the trolls, wounding but not killing them.
Shuna, Dart and Kimo are nearing the Holt, still pursued by Shuna's husband, and Dart sends to his father Strongbow that they need help. The elves emerge from the troll tunnels and confront the humans. Treestump gives Shuna the sword he forged, and with it she defends herself against her husband and breaks his stone axe. He slinks away in disgrace.
Kimo and Ahdri are healed by Leetah. Ahdri accompanies Treestump and Clearbrook back into the troll caverns to protect them from the crazed trolls with her rockshaping powers while Treestump works at the forge.
Shuna eventually sets out again looking for more human tribes, again accompanied by Kimo and Dart, as well as by a kind human man she had befriended in the first tribe (and who had fallen in love with her) and who trades with all the tribes in the area and can lead her to them.
This story introduces a completely new set of elves to the World of Two Moons: the ocean-faring Wavedancers, who magically shape their bodies to be able to breathe for long periods of time underwater and on land. They live on a coral reef which they call Crest Point. They are led by Snakeskin (male).
The story opens as the jolly Spine (male) comforts Brill (female), who is upset because her lovemate Skimback has recently Recognized Sandsparkle, who is now joyfully pregnant. Elsewhere, pups Moonmirror (female) and Tumble (male) abandon the younger Puffer (male) to ride on some “slap-tails“ (dolphins). Unfortunately, they leave the boundaries of the tribe just as some human vessels appear. The tribe must struggle to free the two children, and the fight draws out the long-missing Surge (male), the tribe's former chief. Surge destroys the vessels with a powerful wave, using his magical power to control water, and the elves return to their beach to plan their next move. Surge counsels flight, which astonishes his son Snakeskin, and they argue.
Meanwhile, a human ship's captain named Ardan Djarum, a merchant descended from Grohmul Djun, plots destruction on the sea-elves for killing his son Kahram, who was on one of the vessels Surge destroyed. Ardan Djarum gloats over a sinister substance guaranteed to kill elves.
The Wavedancers continue to hold council, debating what to do. Snakeskin wants to reshape the coral surrounding their home to be a spiky trap that will destroy ships as they approach, but Surge points out that the humans will continue to send ships regardless. Reluctantly Snakeskin decides to send a search party out for a new place to live, though the memory of the lost party is still strong. But for now they just sit around and talk, with the chief and Surge trying to understand one another again. Surge recognizes that Snakeskin is a budding healer and injures himself to force his son's powers to the fore.
A day later, a scouting party is sent to make sure the elves have a clear path through the sea. One of the party, Darshek, picks up a ring from the sunken human ship before continuing on. Later, he spies Ardan Djarum's ships and sends a dolphin back with a mental picture, then sneaks aboard one of the ships. He is promptly captured, and Djarum and his pet alchemist, Bran Porak, try some of that evil substance (a parasite) on him. The Djarum screams at poor Darshek about where his people are and abuses him for wearing his son's ring, but Darshek doesn't understand him and just lies there in increasing misery.
The other Wavedancers are worried about him, of course, and send out search parties. Instead of Darshek, however, they find a huge kill of fish that died oddly, without any sign of poison or violence. The searchers return to the others and hold council again, deciding to remain until they locate Darshek.
The humans start dropping explosives in the sea. From the fish-kill, Djarum plucks a dead dolphin and threatens Darshek with the destruction of more if he doesn't tell the merchant where the other elves are. Of course, Darshek isn't able to understand or answer the man. The merchant's sailors do, however, and they're getting more and more leery of the insanely driven man. And when he tells Bran Porak that he intends to dump his huge supply of the parasite into the sea, Bran realizes that the man's thirst for vengeance could very well destroy the seas themselves. Bran gives Ardan what he thinks are false directions to the demons' home. Some of the sailors abandon ship, while others plot to kill Ardan.
The Wavedancers begin to make preparations to leave their home of Crest Point in order to save the tribe, although they have not yet found Darshek, and Krill and Longfin are also missing. Krill and Longfin are searching for Darshek, who though badly injured, escapes from the ship because the sailors are in the midst of a mutiny. He falls into the sea and goes into shock, but before he faints, Krill and Longfin find him.
Back at Crest Point the elves are almost ready to leave. Spine suddenly falls to the floor in pain, and Skimback heals him, saying that it is a head injury he had healed previously. Skimback asks Snakeskin to check Spine for anything he missed since he wasn't able to fully heal him. Snakeskin discovers that there are parasites in Spine's brain (the ones used by Ardan), which is why he wasn't fully healed by Skimback before. The two healers don't know how to solve the problem.
The tribe continues preparations to leave, when Krill and Longfin arrive with Darshek. The two healers immediately realize that Darshek also has the parasites in his head and is much worse off than Spine. The Broken One approaches and tells them how to get rid of the parasites: by using their healing magic in reverse to kill them (as he remembers Winnowill doing).
On Ardan's ship, the crew refuse to obey his orders. They tell him he's mad for sailing in bad weather, killing more fish than can be used, and bringing a 'demon' on board. Ardan retorts that he killed the 'demon' and if they stand with him they can kill the others too. The sailors' spokesman reminds Ardan what happened when his ancestors tried to battle demons (they lost). Ardan replies that it was humans who betrayed the Djun and he won't make the same mistake but will kill the human traitors and then wipe out the demons. At that moment, a sailor calls "Land Ho!" They are within view of Crest Point. Bran, who doesn't realize the elves actually live there, convinces the sailors to abandon Ardan there. They come within sight of the land, just as the healers are finishing the killing of the parasites in Spine and Darshek, which has postponed the sea elves' planned departure. The elves realize that it's now too late to escape, and prepare to do battle.
A long way away in the land of the Forevergreen is an elf named Wavecatcher, the last of a small party of Wavedancers that went exploring and was largely wiped out by humans. Wavecatcher is searching for others of his kind, especially a female elf that he glimpsed on land many years ago (this was Yun, when she visited the Forevergreen with a group of elves from the Sun Village; see the “Forevergreen“ section). Wavecatcher approaches the humans to ask about other spirits. Wavecatcher finds the humans friendly but of little use in his search for more elves. He catches sight of a huge four-fingered hand statue and decides to investigate. The statue is a recreation by the remnants of the human Hungtsho tribe who still live in the area, hoping that their “sky spirit“ Door will return to them. The half-Glider/half-Wolfrider elf Windkin meets Wavecatcher in the forest, and is intrigued by but distrustful of the strange sea-elf.
Windkin and Wavecatcher discover a female elf who was raised by a tribe of humans and has been living with them for several human generations. She doesn't realizes she's anything but a spirit and is happy to discover others of her kind. She tells the two elves her story, and Wavecatcher realizes that she is Wavelet, a Wavedancer elf who had been lost as a baby.
The humans with whom she lives hold a celebration in honor of the two visiting 'spirits.' Wavecatcher is understandably cold toward the humans' overtures. Windkin and Wavecatcher try to decide how to explain the truth to Wavelet. Wavecatcher starts to tell Wavelet her history, but doesn't finish because he feels too close to the situation since he knew her parents, and fears he would not explain it well. During the celebration there is dancing, and Wavelet, who has been flirting with both the male elves, starts to dance with Windkin and makes it clear she wants to do what she's seen humans doing for generations that produces babies. Windkin tries to slow her down so he can explain her history to her, but she's not listening, and Wavecatcher breaks them up, thinking Windkin is neglecting his promise to tell her. He takes Windkin away to confront him. Wavelet comes to seek them out and overhears them talking about how humans have murdered so many of their kind including her parents. She runs away very upset, thinking that the elves must be lying and that they mean to harm her. The two elves, not knowing that she overheard them, settle their dispute and go to look for her to tell her everything. In the meantime she has told the chief of the tribe what she heard, and the chief leaves her, with a 'determined' look on his face.
The story ends here, unconcluded.
Several years have passed since the Wolfriders and Sun Folk took the Palace to live in the Wolfriders' ancient Holt of “Goodtree's Rest.” Cutter's son Sunstream (formerly Suntop) has been wrapped in a Preserver cocoon for three years, absorbing magical power so he can fulfill his dream of being able to Send to any elves anywhere in the world and connect them all to each other. Timmain has been training the Sun Folk in how to control and use the Palace's magic.
Far away from the Holt dwells a tribe of sea elves called the Wavedancers, who live on a coral reef called Crest Point (see the “Wavedancers“ section). Within his cocoon, Sunstream's spirit often leaves his body (astral projection), and in one of these times, he encounters the spirit of a Wavedancer named Brill, whose spirit often leaves her body unbidden when she is asleep. Their two spirits have spent much time together and they have fallen in love. Brill had kept this a secret from her tribe, but when a discussion comes up about how difficult it is for the Wavedancers to always be living in fear of and hiding from humans (who have killed many of their tribe over the years), she decides the time is right to reveal to them the fact that other elves exist in the world, and that perhaps they could join forces.
One of the Wavedancers is called the “Broken One“ - an elf who in one of his wanderings, thousands of years prior, had encountered Winnowill when she lived under the ocean. Winnowill attacked him, shattered his mind and changed his body into a hideous monstrous form. The Wavedancers' chief, Snakeskin, is a healer, and along with another healer in the tribe, they attempt to heal the Broken One (although they do not know how he became the way he is). Snakeskin's father Surge angrily interrupts them because he disagrees with the healing; he feels that the Broken One should remain as he is to serve as a warning of the dangers of the world beyond Crest Point. (Surge had disappeared for a time and abandoned his chieftainship after his lifemate died, but since his return has still tried to hold sway over Snakeskin and the tribe.)
Sunstream's spirit visits Ember at her tribe's home of Howling Rock; Ember can tell that he has fallen in love and teases him. Sunstream's spirit then goes to visit Brill, and at the end of that meeting, they suddenly Recognize each other. The force of the Recognition propels Sunstream's spirit back into his body, and he sends to Cutter to cut him loose from the Preserver cocoon. Sunstream joyfully reunites with his family and friends, who see that he became much taller while in the cocoon.
Brill and Sunstream tell their respective tribes about the Recognition. Cutter happily prepares to take the Palace to Crest Point to meet Brill and her sea elf tribe. However, the untrusting and fearful Surge tries to convince the Wavedancers that they should abandon Crest Point and flee because the strange elves might capture them in the Palace. Surge has heard the Broken One rambling about a “pah-lasss“ that will capture them and take them away to the stars, and his fears are borne of this warning. His chief-son Snakeskin disagrees and believes they should give the Palace elves a chance, and Surge reclaims the chieftainship, threatening to kill himself if Snakeskin doesn't back down; Snakeskin gives in and swims away. Brill, her twin sister Krill, and two others refuse to follow Surge and are determined to wait at Crest Point for the Palace to arrive. Surge, who has the power to control water, agrees to let them stay and then sweeps the other Wavedancers away with him with a forceful water current before they have a chance to make their own decision.
The Palace arrives and settles in the ocean near Crest Point. Brill and Sunstream finally meet face to face and go off by themselves to fulfill their Recognition, while the other four Wavedancers get acquainted with the elves in the Palace. They also meet the human Shuna, who amazes them because they have always believed all humans to be nothing but killers. The two chiefs Cutter and Snakeskin like each other at once, and Cutter is convinced that Snakeskin is the rightful chief of the Wavedancers, not Surge. The Wavedancers in the Palace decide to send to the other Wavedancers to convince them to visit the Palace; the others start swimming for the Palace and away from Surge, but Surge again creates a powerful water current to prevent them from going in. However, the Sun Folk under Timmain's guidance re-shape the Palace to engulf the trapped Wavedancers and rescue them from Surge's water current. Surge swims up to the Palace and is confronted by Cutter, Snakeskin and others. They try to convince him that the Palace is safe, but he does not believe even their sendings. He suddenly pulls Cutter out into the ocean and tells the other elves that he will kill Cutter if the Wavedancers don't leave. The spirit of the elf Zhantee comes to Cutter's aid with his shielding power so Cutter can breathe underwater, and Surge takes him down to an underground cave to hold him captive until the Wavedancers leave the Palace. Cutter continues to try to reason with him.
In the Palace, the elves try to think of a way to solve this dilemma, and Snakeskin decides that he must challenge his father one-on-one. He and his father battle under the water, and Surge starts to send a deadly water current at him but at the last moment realizes he is about to kill his own son, and redirects the current - unfortunately, it goes right toward the coral reef, which starts to fall apart.
During this time, Cutter has been in the cave with the Broken One, and realizes from the Broken One's rambling that it was Winnowill who made him the way he is. When the coral reef starts to break apart, Snakeskin tries to rescue Cutter and the Broken One but is hit by falling coral rock. Surge swims in and rescues them, but is killed in the process. Cutter, Snakeskin and the Broken One manage to reach the palace, and the Wavedancers grieve for Surge and the loss of their coral reef home.
Over the next few days, the Broken One is mostly healed by the powers of three healers and the Palace's magic and restored to his original elfin body as his old self, Reef. Snakeskin is able to commune with Surge's spirit and they are reconciled. Sunstream has his body temporarily re-shaped to be able to breathe underwater while he spends time with Brill. He and Brill ultimately decide to live apart but commune and visit each other through the Palace. The Wavedancers depart to seek a new sea home.
The human Shuna accepts a marriage proposal from her friend Ikopek, who had fallen in love with her when she first visited his human tribe (see “The Searcher and the Sword“ section). The elves celebrate all the new unions and alliances in the Holt.
Cutter's daughter Ember lives at Howling Rock with her lifemate Mender; Scouter, Tyleet, Dewshine, and their young son Pool; Pike, Krim, and their young son Sust; and Yun. The ongoing task of the Howling Rock elves is to hunt down the leftover mutants created by Winnowill, as sensed by Pool.
A short time after Ember's tribe of elves arrives at Howling Rock (having been dropped off by the Palace right after the Shards War), the Go-Back Krim finds out that Yun (daughter of Skywise and a Go-Back) never did what is called a “Chief's Walk.” This is a ritual that the Go-Back chief Kahvi would do with the women of the tribe once they reached puberty: they had to follow her in the wilderness and steal a prize from her (such as her spear). Success would give them their place as warriors in the tribe. Krim decides that Yun should do a “Chief's Walk“ with Ember, to test both Yun and Ember. They both agree to it, but the 'prize' Krim picks is the necklace that Teir's one-time lovemate had given to Ember to remember him by; it is her most precious possession (unknown to Krim or Yun). They depart on the Chief's Walk and Yun succeeds in getting the necklace from Ember. A short time later, Yun overhears Ember talking with Tyleet about Teir and the necklace, and Yun realizes what it means to Ember. Yun decides to give the necklace back to Ember, but makes a 'look-alike' to wear so that Krim won't realize what she has done. Ember is very grateful to Yun to have it back, and she and Yun share a new bond as daughters of the blood-brothers Cutter and Skywise.
A few years later, Sust is playing with his wolf-friend and teases Pool about the fact that he doesn't have a wolf-friend yet. The young Pool is, however, very close friends with a “tuftcat“ (a species of tiger) that he named Stubtail. Pool decides that maybe he can train Stubtail to be a sort of 'wolf-friend.' He and some of the adult elves try training Stubtail how to be ridden and how to go on hunts, but do not succeed. Pool's mother Krim suggests that since Stubtail isn't good for anything that the tribe should get rid of him, to the great dismay of Pool. However, Ember insists that Stubtail should stay and that he doesn't have to be “useful“ like a wolf; her mother Leetah had pet cats and pets are okay too.
Several more years pass; it has now been twelve years since the Shards war. In the town of Port Bane, memories of elves aren't pleasant; thanks (again) to Winnowill, they have been demonized to the point where it is believed that “soul eats soul when eyes meet eyes.” Unfortunately for the young boy Yan, he meets the mischievous-innocent gaze of Sust. Soon, the boy is blindfolded and led to a cave at the shoreline, where a hideous multi-headed beast paralyzes and devours him--the “Redeemer“ of the “Lady of the Waves.” The hidden elves are horrified at the boy's death.
Pike and Yun have gone astray. The two (unaware of Yan's fate and how stirred up the Port Bane people are) are stalking dreamberry bushes at the boy's house. Pike convinces Ember that his quest is just as important as hers. But Pike and Yun are separated; slightly injured, she stays outside, while Pike skulks around the humans' garden in a cloak to avoid being noticed. Meanwhile, the rest of the elves hunt the Redeemer. It proves far too strong for them, and they have to flee. They decide to contact the local trolls (Flam and Drub's tribe) for help.
At the humans' house, Pike has been bundled into the kitchen by Cassa, who believes him to be one of her kitchen-scuts. As she rails against elves, he sheds his cloak and tries to flee, but she sees him and screams for the guard. Pike is captured--and Cassa is also thrown into prison for having “consorted“ with Pike, though she screams her innocence. Yun, staying hidden, sends to Ember about what's happening, and Ember realizes that killing the Redeemer has become even more urgent. Luckily, the trolls have an interesting device to help drain the water from the creature's lair, and the elves help them break through the wall into its chamber.
Pike and Cassa are brought to the lair. The other elves renew their hunt. Their actions drive the Redeemer out of its cave altogether, and in its pain and rage it attacks the humans who put the two captives into the water. The trolls come racing in to help. Finally the beast is dead, and the surviving humans and the elves confront one another. Ember curtly explains the truth of the matter to the humans, who are still spoiling for revenge (and who have no idea what to make of the trolls), but they leave rapidly when another elf and a bunch of wolves show up. It's Teir, who has been shadowing the tribe for a long time. He claims pack-right in the tribe.
Mender is astonished by Teir, whom no one has seen fit to mention. As the Wolfriders return to Howling Rock, Teir and his animals integrate uneasily into Ember's tribe (who mostly welcome him), and he and Mender bump up against each other, largely over who is Ember's lovemate.
Now the story switches to a human stronghold, where the old, scarred Grohmul Djun resides with a handful of men and breeders, as well as his children, secret tomboy Gifa and complainer Angrif. The old Djun sends his reluctant son on a journey to prove his worth as Dominance-to-be. Angrif has little luck in his quest until he stumbles upon Howling Rock. He waits until the elves leave on a hunt, then pokes through their belongings, ultimately finding and taking Scouter's sword. Meanwhile, Gifa chafes at the limitations placed on her because of her sex. She dares to ask her father whether she is worthless because she's a woman, and her father essentially answers yes.
When Angrif returns with his prize, the expected praise from his father is instead an angry outburst when Angrif urges the Djun to send a small force to destroy the elves and calls the old man a coward when he won't. The old Djun knocks Angrif out and orders the boy taken away. Gifa asks if she could attempt to infiltrate the elves, as they seem to like human girls, and destroy them from within. The old Djun agrees to let her try--which ticks Angrif off. Angrif begins to plot his father's destruction, and also secretly has one of his men attack his sister.
Gifa is found, beaten and barely alive, by the elves. Tyleet takes her in. Slowly they grow to trust her--and to her great annoyance, she finds herself liking them.
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Further adventures of some of the central characters from the Forevergreen story: the elf Jethel, his loyal Preserver companion Willowsnap, and the humans Ahn-Lai (now called Ahnn-li) and Geo'ka.
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“Doomed to defend this world I loathe from a demon I adore, but can never have....”
At the end of the Shards war, Rayek absorbed Winnowill's spirit rather than let her taint the shards of the Palace, and after the Palace was restored, he and Ekuar exiled themselves for safety's sake. Rogue's Curse follows the unhappy trio over the miles and the centuries. The book is a series of stories rather than a single narrative, and unknown amounts of time passes between them. However, we know that at least 400 years has passed at the time of the most “recent“ of the stories.
Rayek awakens to find his body in the form of a High One; Winnowill has gained in strength and is now able to speak to Rayek at will and exert her powers to some degree, though he fights her constantly, even giving up sleep in order to keep vigilant. One evening he and Ekuar drift into a human village, rummaging through “poor boxes“ for supplies. A group of drunken humans shows up to tease them but are offended by Rayek's regal bearing. Although Rayek would have nothing to do with the humans, Winnowill forces him to attack them with his sword. He fights well but is outnumbered. Winnowill offers to “help,“ but he refuses, knowing how bad that help could be. However, battered and weakened, he cannot prevent her from destroying a couple of the humans.
In the desert, Rayek and Ekuar encounter a pack of wolves menacing a young woman. Rayek frightens them off (and fights off Winnowill), and the grateful woman, Finalla, promises a reward from her father. They ride to his camp, Rayek constantly battling his internal tormentor. At her father's camp, they meet Finalla's uncle Nari, who offers the two wanderers a job as guards, but Finalla claims that she's already hired them as her personal guards. Quietly, she passes along to her father Ret a vision of death from her grandfather and mistrust of Nari; Ret scoffs but agrees to keep on the two “spirits“ as extra guards. That night, bandits attack the camp, and one makes off with Finalla. Most of Ret's guards are dead, and in an agony of indecision--guard the camp and the goods or rescue his daughter--Ret agrees to let Rayek and Ekuar fetch the girl. They succeed easily, but return to find the camp destroyed; Nari and his guards stole everything. As Ret blames Finalla for the disaster, the elves leave in disgust.
The wanderers enter another town, looking for work as guards to earn enough to buy a zwoot or no-hump. They are hired by the local madam, Mama, to keep order in her bar/brothel, and quickly endear themselves to Mama and her girls. However, local businessmen decide that Mama's house is undesirable. Also, the girls are very eager to bed Rayek, who knows better than to do so (humans can't stand the pace that the elves set), but is tricked into it by Winnowill, who claims she can help him be slow. He ends up injuring one of the girls.
In a portside city, Rayek and Ekuar rescue the fortune-teller Sherla from thugs. But when Rayek is forced to use magic to protect himself from the thugs' guns, Winnowill is briefly freed. She horribly mutates two of the thugs before Rayek is able to draw her back in. The next day, Sherla finds her rescuers in a tavern and gets them to come with her to the carnival where she works. However, two of the performers are the two mutated thugs, the skull-faced mind-controlling Faldar, and the ratman Moni. Though Sherla, Rayek, and Ekuar see the two as hideous, the rest of the audience sees them as normal. Rayek and Ekuar decide to accompany the carnival as it makes its way by train around the country; they want to keep an eye on the thugs. Sherla is pleased; she's falling for Rayek, and he for her.
A few days into the ride, one of the acrobats is stabbed to death. The carnival folk, prodded by Faldar and Moni, accuse Rayek. Confused and frightened, Rayek leaps off the train, but jumps back on to help Ekuar and Sherla. Atop the train, Moni confronts him and knocks him off again. He finds a horse and rides into Anglen, the train's next stop. Sherla tells him that Faldar and Moni were the murderers, and now they are locking up the performers as they finish their acts. They're planning to hypnotize the whole audience and rob them. Rayek is not sure he can handle the pair, distracted as he is by Winnowill; Sherla offers to try to hold her, but Rayek refuses. In the battle, Rayek is overpowered, allowing Winnowill to be released, but Sherla absorbs her. Rayek is thus able to kill Moni. Faldar, on the run, is trapped by Ekuar and left for the circus performers to deal with. Unfortunately, when Rayek gathers up Sherla, he discovers that Winnowill has devoured her soul. Given the choice of letting Winnowill stay in the empty body or killing it and reabsorbing her, he unhappily opts for the latter.
Time passes. Now openly walking human streets without trying to hide his physical differences, Rayek and Ekuar enter another city, looking for lodging. They discover that the Order of the Black Snake dwells in this city, waiting for the return of the “Redeemer,“ Winnowill. A constable confesses to the elves that his daughter has been sucked into the cult. Later, the Order confronts the elves and demand that Rayek release Winnowill. Though the elves defend themselves, Rayek is quickly overpowered, and Ekuar decides to escape. He follows the Order as they carry the unconscious elf to their castle. With Winnowill now in control of Rayek's body, she reshapes it into a female form, takes over the Order, and begins to either drink the souls of the faithful or mutate them into ghastly parodies of High Ones. Horrified, Ekuar meets up with the constable and formulates a plan. But many of the Order die before Ekuar and his human allies defeat Winnowill and render her unconscious, allowing Rayek to gain control.
Camping in the woods. Rayek takes Ekuar's advice and “goes out“ to have a real conversation with Winnowill. The conversation goes badly, however, and Rayek is forced back into his body. He awakens to find the forest around him withered and dead. Up from the ground pops the troll Flam, whose wife Bupa has been rendered unconscious. Winnowill has drawn Bupa's soul into her prison. Her price to release it: a shard of the Palace that Flam and his sister had taken for themselves. The shard is in the mountains, protected by the still-hostile Mountain Trolls. The wanderers, with Flam carrying Bupa, set off to get it. Along the way, they are taken prisoner by a tribe of humans in the snowy part of the mountains. Winnowill steals the soul of the woman Melaan, forcing the leader of the tribe to accompany the wanderers. Soon, a motorized vehicle scatters the wanderers; Jone, the wife of the driver, Quintoc, goes to help Rayek and has her soul taken as well, forcing Quintoc and his daughter Ariana into the little shard-gathering party. Inside Rayek's head, the three stolen souls are getting along quite well, to the disgust of Winnowill. They make the mistake of discussing love, however, and Winnowill almost destroys Jone when that woman points out that despite Winnowill's protestations to the contrary, she must love Rayek. Soon, the wanderers reach the place where the shard is being held. The Mountain Trolls fight fiercely, but the band defeats them, and Rayek retrieves the shard. Winnowill immediately moves to join with the shard, leaving Rayek to free the women. Luckily, the shard rejects the hate-filled spirit.
Some time later, Rayek is alone in a tavern, speaking softly to Winnowill within. One of the barmaids sees the hideous black evil that he contains, and a drunken patron attempts to attack him. Defending himself from the man with ease, Rayek finds himself in a much harder fight against his internal prisoner, and only with great difficulty does he prevent Winnowill from making him kill the man.
INVASION BY THE NEVERENDING
Nine hundred years have passed since the Shards war.”Abode,“ a term previously used only in passing, has become the official human name for The World of Two Moons. Abode is now a planet of space-faring humans, who are slowly colonizing their solar system. The elves and trolls have disappeared, and while there are myths and legends about them, only a handful of researchers and officials know that the “Sojourners“ (the elves) were real.
Abode is led by a single matriarchal world government which
extends to colonies on several planets and moons of its solar system.
An alien race called the Neverending (popularly and insultingly called
“Wigglers“ by humans) crash-land on planet Outerreach. The Neverending
attack the outermost colonies, leading to increased militarization of
the Skyward police force. All-out war is prevented only after Jink talks
with the Neverending's God/Emperor (Jink 1-5 flashback).
The God/Emperor secretly instigates the Newbreed: Neverending
offspring raised to communicate directly with humans (Jink 4 flashback).
It has been forty years since humankind made peace with the alien Neverending. Unfortunately, a faction within the Neverending wants to restart hostilities. Knowing that the mysterious teleporting/telepathic woman Jink had something to do with the initial peace way back when, the Doma (head of the human government) attempts to bring her in to interrogate her and get her help in this matter. Unfortunately, the Black Snakes (boosted human telepaths) they send after her merely annoy her, so the Doma tries a different tack: she sends Kullyn Kenn, a barely telepathic tweak, to try to lure her into the open. Although Jink is attracted to Kullyn and sleeps with him, she doesn't remember dealing with the Neverending at all--she has the ability to wipe memories and obviously wiped that one. She also is not interested in helping the human government.
When Kullyn reports his failure, he finds himself press-ganged into becoming an ambassador to the Neverending, a probable suicide mission. Jink, accordingly, stows away on his spaceship to help him. Besides the Neverending, they have to contend with hostile humans who want to restart the war, the jealous Black Snakes who have agendas of their own, and the significance behind Jink's lost memories and what they mean to the Neverending.
Having helped avert war with the Neverending, a reptilian alien race, Kullyn is now charged with escorting Firstborn Newbreed, a member of that race specially bred to be able to tolerate the presence of humans. Because he's too truthful, Firstborn manages to create friction between Kullyn and Tamia and, later, between Kullyn and Jink.
Elsewhere, Jerrod and his fellow Black Snake Belroyd attempt to channel the lurking power in the ruins of Blue Mountain. Although Jink chases them away, Jerrod is determined to get that power for himself, so he marshalls the other three Black Snakes of his generation. Successfully evading the older-generation Black Snakes, as power-hungry as Jerrod but not as reckless, the five travel to Blue Mountain.
The older Black Snakes, trying to find out what the younger generation is up to, plant a suggestion in Kullyn to travel to Blue Mountain. However, when he stumbles on the five younger Black Snakes, they employ him as a focus for their mental energy. His mental scream alerts Jink, who had been having a confrontation with Tamia that has started to turn into friendship. The two women steal a skimmer and go in pursuit.
Unfortunately, Jerrod has managed to contact the power--which has been hungry for an identity of its own. It takes him and the other Black Snakes over to become the serpentine energy being Mindcoil. It sends out an enormous pulse of mental energy that sucks in the minds of every intelligent being it meets, giving them terrible waking dreams. Only with the help of the mysterious caretaker of Blue Mountain is Jink able to break free of the creature's grip. But it's just her, Tamia, the caretaker, and Firstborn Newbreed against an entity capable of absorbing and controlling the minds of half a continent....
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These events take place either after or during the events in the Jink series. Captain Junnard, commander of the Skyward naval vessel Dauntless, pursues a stolen experimental spacecraft containing five individuals: Cosmo Luricahn, ex-Skyward cadet; Chandra Davenkee, ex-student at Wayfair Academy; Scorch Chirell, ace mechanic and race-car driver; Shimmer, more or less a robot with self-awareness; and Rose, a being grown mostly from the DNA of a Preserver. The story of the previous four days is intertwined with the immediate situation the five are in. For the sake of clarity I'll separate them.
Sharing one seat between them to save money, Cosmo and Scorch travel to Abode. Their mutual seat is next to Chandra, native of the colony planet Ice. Scorch is caught, leaving Cosmo to chat up Chandra. She's not thrilled that he's part of the Skyward, but he warms her up by showing her some previously unreleased technical material. They part friends. Next day, Cosmo finds Chandra moping outside. She's discovered that her “scholarship“ to the Academy means that she has to spend 16 years working on Abode, when she had wanted to take badly needed technical skills to Ice. To distract her, Cosmo takes her to his aunt Gestrelle, who studies “the little elves who once lived in the woods.” Unfortunately, her research is being suppressed by the Skyward, who want the elves to remain mythological. Commander Steele, a woman who has devoted her life to this mission, threatens to kick Cosmo out of the Skyward if Gestrelle doesn't behave. Indeed, the next day, Cosmo's appointment is pulled. Meanwhile, Rose is scheduled for vivisection. Gestrelle, Scorch, and Chandra plot to rescue her, but Cosmo, furious at his aunt, refuses to participate--until later, when he first helps Chandra hack into the Academy net for various pieces of info about the lab where Rose is kept, and then takes his aunt's place in the “strike team.”
Sneaking into the lab, they find Rose gone and are quickly discovered. But Shimmer, who has been acting for years as a lab assistant and who is friends with Rose, shows up and knocks out their captor. They rescue Rose from the operating table, but Shimmer is shot by Dr. Benier, who opposes Rose's vivisection but doesn't want her to be taken away. However, when Dr. Benier realizes that Rose is with friends, she lets them go. Shimmer, wounded, decides to go with them as well. Sneaking out, the five hear a general security alert. They have only one way out: steal the experimental ship in the lab hangar. Being geniuses, Cosmo and Chandra figure out how to override the command codes and activate the stealth system, while Shimmer pilots.
They decide to first see if they can find more of Rose's kind and head for Sarazen, the human name for the former site of the Sun Village. It's nothing but a desert waste with living rock. Rose races up the rocks to a small niche, where she obviously finds an elf in a Preserver cocoon; she gets the small Palace from the elf (whose identity is not made known to us), thanks him/her, and rewraps him/her up. Of course, the humans don't know what the small Palace is for. Rose points to the sun and says, “Highthings went there!“ So the others decide to check out the various destinations in that direction.
So that's the previous few days. Now, the Cam Triompe (as Scorch has christened the ship) is desperately trying to outrun the Dauntless, which is trying to blow them out of the sky. Though they temporarily evade the Dauntless, the five are running out of reaction mass, i.e. fuel. They have to make a pit stop at Quaino's Station, described as “pretty sleazy“ by Skyward records. Quaino and his men apparently want to steal the ship, but they are stopped by Imeliar L'cota (“outlaw murdering pirate scum“ to the Abodean Cosmo and “rebel hero“ to Icer Chandra) and his men. L'cota has plans for the young crew and their ship, but he doesn't reveal them immediately. Chandra and Cosmo make their way to the local bar, attempting to raise money for re-mass by selling Skyward software. One thing leads to another, though, and there's a big bar fight. After throwing a few punches, the pair are rescued by one of L'cota's men and taken to the rebel leader, who has supplied them with re-mass and asks them to meet him on the planet Harveston. Cosmo is highly distrustful and, when they take off, refuses to set a course for Harveston. However, various system failures in the ship force them to Harveston anyway.
A big chunk of Harveston is autonomous, refusing Abodean rule, and the Cam Triompe sets down in an area of local control. Shimmer and Rose remain on the ship, while the humans are put up in a local farmer's house. There they discover a young boy with a bad but usually treatable disease. The parents explain that the hospital is in the Abodean zone and will not accept patients from the autonomous areas. The three decide to sneak the boy in, for once he's past the hospital guards, the doctors have to treat him. With Chandra and Cosmo running a diversion, Scorch sneaks the cocooned boy in via the underground algae tubes. Of course, this means they have to leave Harveston ASAP. Having not had a chance to get more fuel, their choice of destination is limited. Then Chandra touches the small Palace and wishes that she was “a million klicks away.” Instantly--they are! Which turns out to be an extremely useful ability, because they discover that a rogue Skyward commander is aiming a comet at a disabled alien ship that has been sitting peacefully for years. If the comet hits... the Human-Wiggler war begins again.
When we last left the dauntless crew of the Cam Triompe, they had just prevented the massacre of some alien Neverending. Now they have a more personal problem: Shimmer, their android pilot, is suffering the effects of the shot he took during the rescue of Rosie the Preserver. Unable to repair him, Cosmo Luricahn reluctantly decides to take him to the Neverending machine that had altered him in the first place. The machine turns Shimmer into a “Binder,“ whose purpose is passing judgment in sticky situations. The android uses this new ability to prevent a Neverending android from destroying Cosmo. After they leave the planetoid, Cosmo directs the ship to a nearby derelict ship, hoping to scrounge weapons. He and Scorch Chirell leave the others in the cloaked Cam Triompe and enter the derelict--only to find it isn't deserted at all: they arrive in the middle of a firefight between two sets of space-suited humans. When one human is badly hurt, the fighting ceases. Cosmo and Scorch are escorted away by the losing side, the Scavengers (the winners are the Deserters). As the Scavengers explain the situation, the Deserters wonder where the two came from and go out to look for the ship, which could contain technology that would tip the scale in their favor. Chandra joins the boys, leaving Rosie and Shimmer on the Cam.
After experiencing life on the Scavengers' ship (which includes plants given them by elves), Chandra and the boys are alerted to intruders on the Cam Triompe and realize what must be happening. They and a small rescue party of Scavengers race to the Cam, where they find Rosie captive and Shimmer threatening her captors with energy bolts. When one of the Scavengers sneers that killing a child would be a wonderful thing on the captor's epitaph, the captors, ashamed, release her. The leadership of both factions is brought together, and Shimmer, acting as Binder, resolves the feud.
Situation resolved, the Rebels stealthily return to Abode. Scorch looks up his father, who is annoyed at him for not checking in to “let him know he's alive!“ Then Scorch learns that this year, no Chirell will be competing in the Wayfair International, a major auto racing event (the Chirells are a major racing family). Despite the risk of capture, Scorch decides to impersonate his cousin Frix and race. However, one of the other racers is Elan Junnard. His uncle just happens to be Halm Junnard, the Skyward official pursuing the Rebels--and he's here in the garage, eager to meet “Frix“ and pump him for info about Scorch. Scorch successfully fakes him out. Later Elan overhears “Frix“ telling Chandra and Cosmo about the encounter, and their reluctant decision to let Scorch race. However, he diverts his uncle from immediately capturing Scorch when the news breaks that the real Frix is at the Fishery Institute. Elan convinces his uncle that it must be Scorch at the Fishery Institute. Later he confesses to Scorch that he didn't want to knock the only Chirell out of the race.
Of course, the Skyward forces quickly determine that Frix is Frix and that Scorch really is racing. However, with limited authority on the surface of Abode, the Skyward is unable to halt the race, so they merely send fighters to tale Scorch as he races. The others are forced to rescue him in the Cam Triompe. From there they travel to Cauldron City, an industrial city on rails that continually circles the polar region of the Mercury-like planet Cauldron, always just ahead of the scorching sun. The Rebels are planning to meet L'cota there. L'cota is there, but he has a plan to turn the Rebels into heroes by letting them save the city from a plot to destroy it. However, the person chosen to carry out the plot--a female terrorist named G'kahrii S'ha--has no intention of doing the minor damage that L'cota wants done. No, she wants the entire city destroyed....
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Shapeshifting Jink and the irrepressible Rebels cross paths in the Abode of tomorrow,
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