Terry Brooks [Shannara 06] The Elf Queen of Shannara

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The E lf q ueen o f S han nara

Book Thr ee of The Heritage of Shannara

Terr%r ooks

A Del Re%RRk
Published b%DOODQWLQH%RRNs

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American
Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New
York, and simultaneouslLQ&DQDGDE Random House of
Canada Limited, T oronto.
Map b6KHOO Shapiro
First Hardcover Edition: March 1992
First Mass Market Edition: March 1993
eISBN: 978-0-345-44540-7

Title Page

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV

Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX

About the Author
Also bTerr%rooks



F ire.
It sputtered in the oil lamps that hung distant and solitarLn
the windows and entrZDs of her people’s homes. It spat and
hissed as it licked at the pitch-coated torches bracketing road
intersections and gates. It glowed through breaks in the leafy
branches of the ancient oak and hickorZKHUHJODVVHGODQWHUQs
lined the treelanes. Bits and pieces of flickering light, the
search out and consume.
Like ourselves, she thought.
Like the Elves.
Her gaze lifted, traveling beRQGWKHEXLOGLQJVDQGZDOOVRIWKe
It glowed redlRXWRIWKHYROFDQR’s ragged mouth, the glare of
its molten core reflected in the clouds of vog—volcanic ash—
that hung in sullen banks across the emptVNy . Killeshan
loomed over them, vast and intractable, a phenomenon of
nature that no Elven magic could hope to withstand. For weeks
now the rumbling had sounded from deep within the earth,
dissatisfied, purposeful, a building up of pressure that would
For now, the lava burrowed and tunneled through cracks and
fissures in its walls and ran down into the waters of the ocean
in long, twisting ribbons that burned of f the jungle and the
things that lived within it. One daVRRQQRw , she knew, this
erupt in a conflagration that would destroWKHPDOO.

She stood at the edge of the Gardens of Life close, to where
the EllcrVJUHw. The ancient tree lifted skZDUGDVLIWRILJKt
through the vog and breathe the cleaner air that laVHDOHd
above. Silver branches glimmered faintlZLWKWKHOLJKWRf
lanterns and torches; scarlet leaves reflected the volcano’ s
darker glow. Scatterings of fire danced in strange patterns
through breaks in the tree as if trLQJWRIRUPDSLFWXUH6Ke
watched the images appear and fade, a mirror of her thoughts,
and the sadness she felt threatened to overwhelm her .
What am I to do? she thought desperately. What choices are
left me?
None, she knew. None, but to wait.
She was Ellenroh Elessedil, Queen of the Elves, and all she
could do was to wait.
She gripped the Ruhk Staf f tightlDQGJODQFHGVNward with a
grimace. There were no stars or moon this night. There had
been little of either for weeks, onlWKHYRJWKLFNDQd
impenetrable, a shroud waiting to descend, to cover their
bodies, to enfold them all, and to wrap them awaIRUHYHr .
She stood stifflDVDKRWEUHH]HEOHZRYHUKHr , ruffling the fine
linen of her clothing. She was tall, her bodDQJXODUDQGORQg
limbed. The bones of her face were prominent, shaping
features that were instantlUHFRJQL]DEOH+HUFKHHNERQHs
were high, her forehead broad, and her jaw sharp-edged and
smooth beneath her wide, thin mouth. Her skin was drawn
tight against her face, giving her a sculpted look. Flaxen hair
tumbled to her shoulders in thick, unrulFXUOV+HUHes were
a strange, piercing blue and alwaVVHHPHGWREHVHHLQJWKLQJs
than her fiftRGGears. When she smiled, which was often,
she brought smiles to the faces of others almost ef fortlessly.
She was not smiling now . It was late, well after midnight, and
her weariness was like a chain that would not let her go. She
could not sleep and had come to walk in the Gardens, to listen
to the night, to be alone with her thoughts, and to trWRILQd
some small measure of peace. But peace was elusive, her

thoughts were small demons that taunted and teased, and the
night was a great, hungering black cloud that waited patiently
for the moment when it would at last extinguish the frail spark
of their lives.
Fire, again. Fire to give life and fire to snuff it out. The image
whispered at her insidiously.
Cort trailed behind her, a silent, invisible presence. If she
bothered to look for him, he would not be there. She could
picture him in her mind, a small, stockouth with incredible
quickness and strength. He was one of the Home Guard,
protectors of the Elven rulers, the weapons that defended
them, the lives that were given up to preserve their own. Cort
was her shadow, and if not Cort, then Dal. One or the other of
the pathway, her thoughts slipped rapidly , one to the next. She
felt the roughness of the ground through the thin lining of her
slippers. Arborlon, the citRIWKH(OYHVKHUKRPHEURXJKWRXt
of the Westland more than a hundred HDUVDJRKHUHWo
She left the thought unfinished. She lacked the words to
complete it.
Elven magic, conjured anew out of faerie time, sheltered the
city, but the magic was beginning to fail. The mingled
fragrances of the Garden’ s flowers were overshadowed bWKe
acrid smells of Killeshan’ s gases where theKDGSHQHWUDWHd
the outer barrier of the Keel. Night birds sang gentlIURPWKe
trees and coverings, but even here their songs were undercut
the cit’s walls in the jungles and swamps, that pressed up
against the Keel, waiting.
The monsters.
The trail she followed ended at the northern most edge of the
windows were dark, the people within asleep, all but her .
BeRQGOD the city, clusters of homes and shops tucked
behind the Keel’s protective barrier like frightened animals

hunkered down in their dens. Nothing moved, as if fear made
movement impossible, as if movement would give them away.
She shook her head sadly. Arborlon was an island surrounded
the city, a great, jagged mountain formed bODYDURFNIURm
eruptions over the centuries, the volcano dormant until only
twentears ago, now alive and anxious. North and south the
jungle grew , thick and impenetrable, stretching awaLQa
tangle of green to the shores of the ocean. W est, below the
slopes on which Arborlon was seated, laWKH5RZHQDQd
Elves. Once the entire world had belonged to them, before the
coming of Man. Once there had been nowhere theFRXOGQRt
go. Even in the time of the Druid Allanon, just three hundred
HDUVEHIRUHWKHZKROHRIWKHWestland had been theirs. Now
imprisoned behind the wall of their failing magic. All of them,
all that remained, trapped.
She looked out at the darkness beRQGWKH.HHOSLFWXULQJLn
her mind what waited there. She thought momentarilRIWKe
their own clever, misguided plans, and of fears that should
never have been heeded. How could theKDYHEHHQVo
Far down from where she stood, near the end of the Keel
where it buttressed the hardened lava of some long past runof f,
there was a sudden flare of light—a spurt of fire followed ba
quick, brilliant explosion and a shriek. There were brief shouts
and then silence. Another attempt to breach the walls and
another death. It was a nightlRFFXUUHQFHQRZDVWKHFUHDWXUHs
grew bolder and the magic continued to fail.
She glanced behind her to where the topmost branches of the
had protected the Elves from so much for so long. It had
renewed and restored. It had given peace. But it could not
protect them now, not against what threatened this time.
Not against themselves.

She grasped the Rukh Staff in defiance and felt the magic
surge within, a warming against her palm and fingers. The
Staf f was thick and gnarled and polished to a fine sheen. It had
been hewn from black walnut and imbued with the magic of
her people. Fixed to its tip was the Loden, white brilliance
against the darkness of the night. She could see herself
reflected in its facets. She could feel herself reach within. The
Ruhk Staf f had given strength to the rulers of Arborlon for
more than a centurJRQH.
But the Staf f could not protect the Elves either .
“Cort?” she called softly.
The Home Guard materialized beside her .
“Stand with me a moment,” she said.
extinction. She should be doing something. AnWKLQJ:KDWLf
the dreams were wrong? What if the visions of Eowen Cerise
were mistaken? That had never happened, of course, but there
was so much at stake! Her mouth tightened angrily. She must
come to pass. The girl would appear to them as promised,
blood of her blood. The girl would appear.
But would even she be enough?
She shook the question away. She could not permit it. She
could not give waWRKHUGHVSDLr .
She wheeled about and walked swiftlEDFNWKURXJKWKe
Gardens to the pathwaOHDGLQJGRZQDJDLQ&RUWVWDed with
her for a moment, then faded awaLQWRWKHVKDGRZV6KHGLd
not see him go. Her mind was on the future, on the foretellings
of Eowen, and on the fate of the Elven people. She was
determined that her people would survive. She would wait for
the girl for as long as she could, for as long as the magic
would keep their enemies away. She would praWKDW(RZHQ’s
visions were true.
She was Ellenroh Elessedil, Queen of the Elves, and she
would do what she must.

It burned within as well.
Sheathed in the armor of her convictions, she went down out
of the Gardens of Life in the slow hours of the earlPRUQLQg
to sleep.


W ren Ohmsford DZQHG6KHVDWRQDEOXff overlooking the
Blue Divide, her back to the smooth trunk of an ancient
willow. The ocean stretched awaEHIRUHKHr , a shimmering
kaleidoscope of colors at the horizon’s edge where the sunset
streaked the waters with splashes of red and gold and purple
and low-hanging clouds formed strange patterns against the
darkening sky. Twilight was settling comfortablLQSODFHa
water, a calm descending. Crickets were beginning to chirp,
and fireflies were winking into view .
Wren drew her knees up against her chest, struggling to stay
upright when what she reallZDQWHGWRGRZDVOLHGRZQ6Ke
hadn’ t slept for almost two daVQRw , and fatigue was catching
up with her. It was shadowed and cool where she sat beneath
the willow’ s canopy, and it would have been easWROHWJR,
slip down, curl up beneath her cloak, and drift away . Her eHs
instantly. She could not sleep until Garth returned, she knew .
She must staDOHUW.
She rose and walked out to the edge of the bluff, feeling the
breeze against her face, letting the sea smells fill her senses.
Cranes and gulls glided and swooped across the waters,
graceful and languid as theIOHw. Far out, too far to be seen
clearly, some great fish cleared the water with an enormous
splash and disappeared. She let her gaze wander . The coastline
ran unbroken from where she stood for as far as the eHFRXOd
see, ragged, tree-grown bluffs backed bWKHVWDUN,
whitecapped mountains of the Rock Spur north and the IrrELs
south. A series of rockEHDFKHVVHSDUDWHGWKHEOXf fs from the
water, their stretches littered with driftwood and shells and
ropes of seaweed.

Blue Divide. She had traveled to the end of the known world,
she thought wrOy, and still her search for the Elves went on.
An owl hooted in the deep woods behind her , causing her to
turn. She cast about cautiouslIRUPRYHPHQWIRUDQ sign of
disturbance, and found none. There was no hint of Garth. He
was still out, tracking . . .
She ambled back to the cooling ashes of the cooking fire and
nudged the remains with her boot. Garth had forbidden any
sort of real fire until he made certain theZHUHVDIH+HKDd
neither of them could see, a sense of something not being
right. Wren was inclined to attribute his uneasiness to lack of
sleep. On the other hand, Garth’ s hunches were seldom wrong.
If he was disturbed, she knew better than to question him.
She wished he would return.
A pool sat just within the trees behind the bluf f and she
walked to it, knelt, and splashed water on her face. The pond’ s
surface rippled with the touch of her hands and cleared. She
could see herself in its reflection, the distortion clearing until
her image was almost mirrorlike. She stared down at it—at a
girl barelJURZQKHUIHDWXUHVGHFLGHGO Elven with sharply
pointed ears and slanted brows, her face narrow and high
checked, and her skin nut-brown. She saw hazel eHVWKDt
seldom staHGIL[HGDQRff-center smile that suggested she
tension that would not be dispelled no matter how valiant the
effort emploHG.
She rocked back on her heels and permitted herself a wry
smile, deciding that she liked what she saw well enough to live
with it awhile longer .
She folded her hands in her lap and lowered her head. The
search for the Elves—how long had it been going on now?
How long since the old man—the one who claimed he was
Cogline—had come to her and told her of the dreams? W eeks?

the dreams and challenged her to discover for herself the truth
behind them. She had decided to accept his challenge, to go to
the Hadeshorn in the ValleRI6KDOHDQGPHHWZLWKWKHVKDGe
of Allanon. WhVKRXOGQ’ t she? Perhaps she would learn
something of where she had come from, of the parents she had
never known, or of her history .
Odd. Until the old man had appeared, she had been
disinterested in her lineage. She had persuaded herself that it
didn’t matter . But something in the waKHVSRNHWRKHr , in the
words he used—something—had changed her .
She reached up to finger the leather bag about her neck self-
consciously, feeling the hard outline of the painted rocks, the
pla(OIVWRQHVKHURQO link to the past. Where did theFRPe
from? WhKDGWKH been given to her?
Elven features, Ohmsford blood, and Rover heart and skills—
theDOOEHORQJHGWRKHr . But how had she come bWKHP?
Who was she?
She hadn’t found out at the Hadeshorn. Allanon had come as
promised, dark and forbidding even in death. But he had told
her nothing. Instead, he had given her a char ge—had given
each of them a charge, the children of Shannara, as he called
them, Par and Walker and herself. But hers? W ell. She shook
her head at the memory. She was to go in search of the Elves,
to find them and bring them back into the world of Men. The
Elves, who hadn’t been seen bDQone in over a hundred
HDUVZKRZHUHEHOLHYHGE most never even to have existed,
and who were presumed a child’ s faerie tale—she was to find
She had not planned to look at first, disturbed bZKDWVKHKDd
heard and how it had made her feel, unwilling to become
involved, or to risk herself for something she did not
understand or care about. She had left the others and with
Westland. She had thought to resume her life as a Rover . The
Shadowen were not her concern. The problems of the races
were not her own. But the Druid’s admonition had staHGZLWh
her, and almost without realizing it she had begun her search

after all. It had started with a few questions, asked here and
self-consciously, but with growing curiositDVWLPHZRUHRQ,
then almost an ur gency.
What if Allanon were right? What if the Elves were still out
there somewhere? What if theDORQHSRVVHVVHGZKDWHYHUZDs
But the answers to her questions had all been the same. No one
And then someone had begun following them—someone or
something—their shadow as theFDPHWRFDOOLWDWKLQJFOHYHr
enough to track them despite their precautions and stealthy
enough to avoid being caught at it. Twice theKDGWKRXJKWWo
trap it and failed. AnQXPEHURIWLPHVWKH had tried to
backtrack to get around behind it and been unable to do so.
It had still been with them when theKDGHQWHUHGWKHW ilderun
and gone down into Grimpen Ward. There, two nights earlier,
old woman, a seer it was said who knew secrets and who
might know something of the Elves. TheKDGIRXQGKHULQWKe
basement of a tavern, chained and imprisoned bDJURXSRf
men who thought to make moneIURPKHUJLIWW ren had
tricked the men into letting her speak to the old woman, a
creature far more dangerous and cunning than the men holding
her had suspected.
The old woman was a dried husk, and her face had wither ed
into a maze of lines and furrows. Ragged white hair tumbled
down about her frail shoulders. W ren appr oached and knelt
before her. The ancient head lifted, r evealing blind eHVWKDt
were milkDQGIL[HG.
“Ar e RXWKHVHHUWKH call the Addershag, old mother?” W ren
asked softly .

to know? Tell me RXUQDPH”
“MQDPHLVW ren Ohmsfor d.”
Aged hands r eached out to touch her face, exploring its lines
and hollows, scraping along the skin like dried leaves. The
hands withdrew.
“You ar e an Elf.”
“I have Elven blood.”
“An Elf!” The old woman’ s voice was rough and insistent, a
hiss against the silence of the alehouse cellar . The wrinkled
face cocked to one side as if reflecting. “I am the Addershag.
Wren r ocked back slightlRQWKHKHHOVRIKHUERRWV,Dm
sear ching for the W estland Elves. I was told a week ago that
RXPLJKWNQRZZKHr e to find them—if theVWLOOH[LVW”
The Addershag cackled. “Oh, theH[LVWDOOULJKW7KH do
indeed. But it’s not to everRQHWKH show themselves—to none
at all in manears. Is it so important to RX(OIJLUOWKDWou
see them? Do RXVHDr ch them out because RXKDYHQHHGRf
RXURZQNLQG"7KHPLON eHVVWDr ed unseeing at Wren’ s
face. “No, not RX:Ky , then?”
“Because it is a charge I have been given—a char ge I have
chosen to accept,” Wren answer ed carefully.
“A char ge, is it?” The lines and furr ows of the old woman’s
face deepened. “Bend close to me, Elf-girl.”
Wren hesitated, then leaned forwar d tentatively. The
Addershag’s hands came up again, the fingers exploring. They
passed once mor e across W ren’ s face, then down her neck to
her body . When theWRXFKHGWKHIr ont of the girl’s blouse, they
jerked back as if burned and the old woman gasped. “Magic!”
she howled.
Wren started, then seized the other ’s wrists impulsively . “What
magic? What are RXVDing?”
But the Addershag shook her head violently , her lips clamped
shut, and her head sunk into her shrunken br east. Wren held

her a moment longer, then let her go.
“Elf-girl,” the old woman whisper ed, “who sends RXLn
search of the W estland Elves?”
Wren took a deep br eath against her fears and answer ed, “The
shade of Allanon.”
The aged head lifted with a snap. “Allanon!” She br eathed the
name like a curse. “So! A Druid’s charge, is it? V erZHOO.
Listen to me, then. Go south thr ough the Wilderun, cross the
reached the caves of the Rocs, build a fir e and keep it burning
“Yes, “ Wren r eplied, wondering at the same time if she r eally
“Beware, Elf-girl,” the other warned, a stick-thin hand lifting.
“I see danger ahead for RXKDr d times, and treacherDQd
evil beRQGLPDJLQLQJ0 visions ar e in mKHDGWUXWKVWKDt
haunt me with their madness. Heed me, then. Keep RXURZn
counsel, girl. Trust no one!”
Trust no one!
W ren had left the old woman then, admonished to leave even
though she had of fered to staDQGKHOS6KHKDGUHMRLQHd
Garth, and the men had tried to kill them then, of course,
because that had been their plan all along. TheKDGIDLOHGLn
their attempt and paid for their foolishness—perhaps with their
Slipping clear of Grimpen W ard, Wren and Garth had come
south, following the old seer ’s instructions, still in search of
the disappeared Elves. TheKDGWUDYHOHGIRUWZRGDs without
stopping to sleep, anxious to put as much distance between
themselves and Grimpen W ard as possible and eager as well to
had thought earlier that daWKH might have done so. Garth
was not so certain. His uneasiness would not be dispelled. So
and regain their strength, he had backtracked once more.

Perhaps he would find something to settle the matter, he told
her. Perhaps not. But he wanted to give it a try .
That was Garth. Never leave anWKLQJWRFKDQFH.
Behind her, in the woods, one of the horses pawed restlessly
and went still again. Garth had hidden the animals behind the
trees before leaving. W ren waited a moment to be certain all
was well, then stood and moved over again beneath the
willow, losing herself in the deep shadows formed bLWs
canopy , easing herself down once more against the broad
trunk. Far to the west, the light had faded to a glimmer of
silver where the water met the sky .
Magic, the Addershag had said. How could that be?
If there were still Elves, and if she was able to find them,
She leaned back and closed her eHVPRPHQWDULOy , feeling
herself drifting, letting it happen.
When she jerked awake again, twilight had given waWRQLJKW,
the darkness all around save where moon and stars bathed the
open spaces in a silver glow. The campfire had gone cold, and
she shivered with the chill that had invaded the coastal air .
Rising, she moved over to her pack, withdrew her travel cloak,
and wrapped it about her for warmth. After moving back
beneath the tree, she settled herself once more.
You fell asleep, she chided herself. What would Garth saLIKe
wer e to discover that?
She remained awake after that until he returned. It was nearing
midnight, the world about her gone still save for the lulling
rush of the ocean waves as theZDVKHGRQWRWKHEHDFKEHORw .
Garth appeared soundlessly, HWVKHKDGVHQVHGKHZDVFRPLQg
before she saw him and took some small satisfaction from that.
He moved out of the trees and came directlWRZKHUHVKHKLG,
motionless in the night, a part of the old willow . He seated
himself before her, huge and dart, faceless in the shadows. His
big hands lifted, and he began to sign. His fingers moved
Their shadow was still back there, following after them.

Wren felt her stomach grow cold and she hugged herself
crossly .
“Do RXNQRZet what it is?”
“Nothing? Nothing about it at all?”
He shook his head. She was irritated bWKHREYLRXVIUXVWUDWLRn
she had allowed to creep into her voice. She wanted to be as
calm as he was, as clear thinking as he had taught her to be.
She wanted to be a good student for him.
She put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “Is it coming for
Waiting, he signed.
He shrugged, his craggy , bearded face expressionless,
carefullFRPSRVHG+LVKXQWHr ’s look. W ren knew that look.
It appeared when Garth felt threatened, a mask to hide what
was happening inside.
Waiting, she repeated soundlesslWRKHUVHOI:K? For what?
Garth rose, strode over to his pack, extracted a hunk of cheese
and an aleskin, and reseated himself. W ren moved over to join
him. He ate and drank without looking at her , staring off at the
black expanse of the Blue Divide, seeminglREOLYLRXVRf
everWKLQJW ren studied him thoughtfully . He was a giant of a
man, strong as iron, quick as a cat, skilled in hunting and
tracking, the best she had ever known at staLQJDOLYH+HKDd
been her protector and teacher from the time she was a little
girl, after she had been brought back into the W estland and
given over to the care of the Rovers, after her brief staZLWh
the Ohmsford family. How had that all come about? Her father
had been an Ohmsford, her mother a Rover , HWVKHFRXOGQRt
remember either of them. WhKDGVKHEHHQJLYHQEDFNWRWKe
Rovers rather than allowed to staZLWKWKH2KPVIRUGV":Ko
had made that decision? It had never reallEHHQH[SODLQHG.
Garth claimed not to know. Garth claimed that he knew only

what others had told him, which was little, and that his only
instruction, the charge he had accepted, was to look after her .
training her in the skills he had mastered, and making her as
good at what he did as he was himself. He had worked hard to
see that she learned her lessons. She had. Whatever else W ren
Ohmsford might know, she knew first and foremost how to
training that a normal Rover child would receive—especialla
girl-child—and Wren had known as much almost from the
beginning. It led her to believe Garth knew more than he was
telling. After a time, she became convinced of it.
Yet Garth would admit nothing when she pressed the matter .
special skills, that she was an orphan and alone, and that she
must be stronger and smarter than the others. He said it, but he
refused to explain it.
was watching her. The weathered, bearded face was no longer
in his brow. She saw kindness mirrored in his eHV6KHVHQVHd
alwaVEHHQDEOHWRFRQYH more to her in a single glance than
others could with a basketful of words.
“I don’t like being hunted like this,” she said, signing. “I don’ t
like waiting to find out what is happening.”
He nodded, his dark eHVLQWHQVH.
“It has something to do with the Elves,” she followed up
impulsively. “I don’t know wh,IHHOWKDWLVVREXW,GR,IHHl
certain of it.”
Then we should know something shortly , he replied.
“When we reach the caves of the Rocs,” she agreed. “Y es.
Because then we’ll know if the Addershag spoke the truth, if
here reallDUHVWLOO(OYHV”
And what follows us will perhaps want to know, too.

Her smile was tight. TheUHJDUGHGHDFKRWKHUZRUGOHVVO for a
moment, measuring what theVDZLQHDFKRWKHr’s eHV,
considering the possibilitRIZKDWOD ahead.
Then Garth rose and indicated the woods. TheSLFNHGXSWKHLr
gear and moved back beneath the willow . After setting
themselves at the base of its trunk, theVSUHDGWKHLUEHGUROOs
and wrapped themselves in their forest cloaks. Despite her
weariness, Wren offered to stand the first watch, and Garth
agreed. He rolled himself in his cloak, then laGRZQEHVLGe
her and was asleep in seconds.
Wren listened as his breathing slowed, then shifted her
attention to the night sounds beRQG,WUHPDLQHGTXLHWDWRp
the bluf f, the birds and insects gone still, the wind a whisper ,
and the ocean a soothing, distant murmur. Whatever was out
there hunting them seemed verIDUDZDy . It was an illusion,
she warned herself, and became all the more wary .
She touched the bag with its make-believe Elfstones where it
rested against her breast. It was her good-luck charm, she
thought, a charm to ward off evil, to protect against danger ,
and to carrKHUVDIHO through whatever challenge she
undertook. Three painted rocks that were sPEROVRIDPDJLc
that had been real once but was now lost, like the Elves, like
her past. She wondered if anRILWFRXOGEHUHFRYHUHG.
Or even if it should be.
She leaned back against the willow’ s trunk and stared out into
the night, searching in vain for her answers.


A t sunrise the following morning, Wren and Garth resumed
coastline neither had come across caves lar ge enough to be
heard tales of the legendarELUGVJUHDWZLQJHGFUHDWXUHVWKDt
had once carried men. But the tales were onlWKDWFDPSILUe
stories that passed the time and conjured up images of things
that might be but probablQHYHUZHUH7KHUHZHUHVLJKWLQJs
claimed, of course, as with everIDLU-tale monster . But none
was reliable. Like the Elves, the Rocs were apparently
Still, there didn’t need to be Rocs in order for there to be
Elves. The Addershag’ s admonition to Wren could prove out
build the signal fire, and wait three daV7KHQWKH would
learn the truth. There was everFKDQFHWKDWWKHWUXWKZRXOd
disappoint them, of course, but since theERWKUHFRJQL]HGDQd
accepted the possibility , there was no reason not to continue
the sunrise a bright splash across the eastern horizon that
silhouetted the mountains in stark, jagged relief. The air filled
with the mingled smells of sea and forest, and the songs of
starlings and mockingbirds rose out of the trees. Sunshine
quicklFKDVHGWKHFKLOOOHIWE the night and warmed the land
beneath. The heat rose inland, thick and sweltering where the
mountains trapped it, continuing to burn the grasses of the
plains and hills a dustEURZQDVLWKDGDOOVXPPHr , but the
coastline remained cool and pleasant as a steadEUHH]HEOHw

in off the water . Wren and Garth kept their horses at a walk,
following the narrow , winding coastal trails that navigated the
bluffs and beaches fronting the mountains east. TheZHUHLn
no hurry . TheKDGDOOWKHWLPHWKH needed to get to where
There was time enough to be cautious in their passage through
this unfamiliar countrWLPHHQRXJKWRNHHSDQHe out for
their shadow in case it was still following after them.
Choosing not to speak about it, however, did not keep Wren
from thinking about it. She found herself pondering the
free to wander where it chose as she looked out over the vast
expanse of the Blue Divide and let her horse pick its way . Her
darker suspicions warned her that what tracked them was
something of the sort that had tracked Par and Coll on their
search of Walker Boh—a thing like the Gnawl. But could even
a Gnawl avoid them as completelDVWKHLUVKDGRZKDd
succeeded in doing? Could something that was basicallDn
animal find them again and again when theKDGZRUNHGVo
hard to lose it? It seemed more likelWKDWZKDWWUDFNHGWKHm
was human—with a human’ s cunning and intelligence and
skill: a Seeker, perhaps—sent b5LPPHU'DOODT racker of
have to be more than that to have managed to staZLWKWKHP.
It was possible, too, she thought, that whoever was back there
had a purpose similar to their own, someone with an interest in
the Elves, someone who . . .
She stopped herself. Someone who insisted on staLQJKLGGHQ,
even knowing Garth and she had discovered theZHUHEHLQg
followed? Someone who continued plaLQJFDWDQGPRXVe
with them so deliberatel?
Her darker suspicions reemerged to push the other possibilities

The mountains split off in two directions, the high range
turning east to parallel the northern Rock Spur and enclose the
Wilderun, the low running south along the coastline they
followed. The coastal IrrELVZHUHWKLFNO forested and less
formidable, scattered in clusters along the Blue Divide,
connected the inland hill countrWRWKHEHDFKHV1HYHUWKHOHVV,
travel slowed because the trails were less well defined, often
mountains ran right up against the water , falling awaLQVWHHS,
impassable drops so that Wren and Garth were required to
circle back to find another route. HeavVWDQGVRIWLPEHr
blocked their path as well, forcing them to go around. They
found themselves moving awaIURPWKHEHDFKHVKLJKHULQWo
the mountain passes where the land was more open and
accepting. TheZRUNHGWKHLUZD ahead slowly , watching as
the sun drifted west to sink into the sea.
Night passed uneventfully, and theZHUHDZDNHDJDLQDt
daEUHDNDQGRQWKHLUZDy . The morning chill again gave
found herself sweating freely. She shoved back her tousled
hair, tied a scarf about her head, splashed water on her face,
and forced herself to think about other things. She cataloged
her memories as a child in ShadV ale, trLQJWRUHFDOORQFe
again what her parents had been like. As usual, she found that
she couldn’t. What she remembered was vague and
fragmented—bits and pieces of conversation, small moments
out of time, or words or phrases out of context. All of what she
recalled could as easilEHLGHQWLILHGZLWK3Dr ’s parents as with
come from Jaralan and Mirianna Ohmsford? Had she ever
reallNQRZQKHUSDUHQWV"+DGWKH ever been with her in
ShadV ale? She had been told so. She had been told theKDd
died. Yet she had no memorRILW:K was that so? WhKDd
nothing about them staHGZLWKKHU?
She glanced back at Garth, irritation mirrored in her eHV.

TheVWRSSHGWRHDWDWPLGGD and rode on. Wren questioned
Garth brieflDERXWWKHLUVKDGRw. Was it still following? Did
longer certain and that he no longer trusted himself on the
matter . Wren frowned doubtfully , but Garth would saQRWKLQg
further, his dart, bearded face unreadable.
The afternoon was spent crossing a ridgeline over which a
raging forest fire had swept a HDUDJROHYHOLQJWKHODQGVo
thoroughlWKDWRQO the blackened stumps of the old growth
and the first green shoots of the new remained. From atop the
spine of the ridge W ren could look back across the land for
miles, her view unobstructed. There was nowhere that their
shadow could hide, no space it could traverse without being
seen. Wren looked for it carefullDQGVDZQRWKLQJ.
Yet she couldn’ t shake the feeling that it was still back there.
Nightfall brought them back along the rim of a high, narrow
bluff that dropped awaDEUXSWO into the sea. Below where
against the clif fs, and seabirds wheeled and shrieked above the
white foam. ThePDGHFDPSLQDJURYHRIDOGHr , close to
where a stream trickled down out of the mountain rock and
provided them with drinking water. To W ren’s surprise, Garth
built a fire so theFRXOGHDWDKRWPHDO:KHQW ren looked at
him askance, the giant Rover cocked his head and signed that
if their shadow was still following, it was also still waiting.
TheKDGQRWKLQJWRIHDUet. Wren was not so sure, but Garth
seemed confident, so she let the matter drop.
She dreamed that night of her mother , the mother she could
not remember and was uncertain if she had ever known. In the
dream, her mother had no name. She was a small, quick
woman with Wren’s ash-blond hair and intense hazel eHVKHr
face warm and open and caring. Her mother said to her ,
“Remember me.” Wren could not remember her , of course;
she had nothing to remember her by . Yet her mother kept
repeating the words over and over . Remember me. Remember
When Wren woke, a picture of her mother ’s face and the
sound of her words remained. Garth did not seem to notice

how distracted she was. TheGUHVVHGDWHWKHLUEUHDNIDVW,
packed, and set out again—and the memorRIWKHGUHDm
lingered. Wren began to wonder if the dream might be the
resurrection of a truth that she had somehow kept buried over
the HDUV3HUKDSVLWUHDOO was her mother she had dreamed
about, her mother ’s face she had remembered after all these
reluctant not to.
would end up hurting worse.

Midmorning came and went, and the heat grew oppressive. As
the sun lifted from behind the rim of the mountains, the
breezes of f the ocean died awaFRPSOHWHOy . The air grew still.
Wren and Garth walked their horses to rest them, following
the bluf f until it disappeared completelDQGWKH were on a
beaded and dried on their skin as theZDONHGDQGWKHLUIHHt
became tired and sore. The seabirds disappeared, gone to
roost, waiting for the cool of the evening to venture forth again
to fish. The land and its hidden life grew silent. The only
sound was the sluggish lapping of the waters of the Blue
Divide against the rockVKRUHVDVORw, wearFDGHQFH)Dr
out on the horizon, clouds began to build, dark and
threatening. Wren glanced at Garth. There would be a storm
before nightfall.
summit of the clif fs. Trees disappeared, spruce and fir and
cedar first, then even the small, resilient stands of alder . The
thick, dull waves. Wren’s vision began to swim, and she
paused to wet her cloth headband. Garth turned to wait for her ,
impassive. When she nodded, theSUHVVHGRQDJDLQDQ[LRXs
to put this exhausting climb behind them.
It was nearing middaZKHQWKH finallVXFFHHGHGLQGRLQg
clouds that had begun massing earlier were advancing inland
rapidly, and there was a hush in the air that was palpable.

Pausing at the head of the trail, Wren and Garth glanced
around speculatively. TheVWRRGDWWKHHGJHRIDPRXQWDLn
plain that was choked with heavJUDVVHVDQGGRWWHGZLWh
stands of gnarled, wind-bent trees that looked to be some
varietRIILr. The plain ran south between the high peaks and
the ocean for as far as the eHFRXOGVHHDEURDGXQHYHn
collection of flats across which the sultrDLUKXQJWKLFNDQd
Wren and Garth glanced wearilDWHDFKRWKHUDQGVWDUWHd
across. Overhead, the storm clouds inched closer to the sun.
FinallWKH enveloped it completely , and a low breeze sprang
up. The heat faded, and shadows began to blanket the land.
Wren slipped the headband into her pocket and waited for her
TheGLVFRYHUHGWKHYDOOH a short time after that; a deep cleft
in the plain that was hidden until one was almost on top of it.
The valleZDVEURDGQHDUO half a mile across, sheltered
against the weather bDOLQHRINQREE hills that laHDVWDQGa
rise in the clif fs west and bEURDGVWDQGVRIWUHHVWKDWILOOHGLt
wall to wall. Streams ran through the valleW ren could hear
the gurgle even from atop the rim, rippling along rocks and
down gullies. W ith Garth trailing, she descended into the
was thick with weeds and small trees, but devoid of anROd
growth. A quick inspection revealed the rubble of stone
foundations buried beneath the under growth. The old growth
here once—a large number of them.
Wren looked about thoughtfully . Was this what theZHUe
looking for? She shook her head. There were no caves—at
least not here, but . . .
She left the thought unfinished, beckoned hurriedlWR*DUWK,
mounted her horse, and started for the clif fs west.
TheURGHRXWRIWKHYDOOH and onto the rocks that separated
them from the ocean. The rocks were virtuallWUHHOHVVEXt
scrub and grasses grew out of everFUDFNDQGFUHYLFHW ren

maneuvered to reach the highest point, a sort of shelf that
overhung the cliffs and the ocean. When she was atop it, she
dismounted. Leaving her horse, she walked forward. The rock
was bare here, a broad depression on which nothing seemed
able to grow. She studied it momentarily . It reminded her of a
fire pit, scoured and cleansed bWKHIODPHV6KHDYRLGHd
looking at Garth and walked to the edge. The wind was
gusts as she peered down. Garth joined her silently . The cliffs
rock in a series of thick clusters. T inEOXHDQGellow flowers
bloomed, curiouslRXWRISODFH)DUEHORw , the ocean rolled
again as the storm neared, turning to white foam as theEURNe
apart on the rocks.
Wren studied the drop for a long time. The growing darkness
made it dif ficult to see clearly . Shadows overlaHYHUthing,
and the movement of the clouds caused the light to shift across
the face of the rock.
The Rover girl frowned. There was something wrong with
what she was looking at; something was out of place. She
could not decide what it was. She sat back on her heels and
waited for the answer to come.
She considered what that meant for a moment, then turned to
Garth and signed for him to wait. She rose and trotted to her
horse, pulled a rope free from her pack, and returned. Garth
studied her curiously . She signed quickly, anxiously. She
wanted him to lower her over the side. She wanted to have a
look at what was down there.
fashion beneath W ren’s arms and the other end about a
projection close to the clif f edge. Wren tested the knots and
nodded. Bracing himself, Garth began lowering the girl slowly
over the edge. W ren descended cautiously , choosing hand and
footholds as she went. She soon lost sight of Garth and began

a prearranged series of tugs on the rope to tell him what she
The wind rushed at her, growing stronger now , pushing at her
angrily. She hugged the clif f face to avoid being blown about.
The clouds masked the skRYHUKHDGFRPSOHWHOy , building on
She gritted her teeth. She did not fancEHLQJFDXJKWRXWLQWKe
open like this if the storm broke. She had to finish her
exploration and climb up again quickly.
She backed down into a pocket of scrub. Thorns raked her legs
and arms, and she pushed awaDQJULOy. Working through the
brush, she continued down. Glancing over her shoulder , she
could see something that had not been apparent before, a
darkness against the wall, a depression. She fought to contain
her excitement. She signaled Garth to give her more slack and
was larger than she had believed, a great black hole in the face.
She peered through the gloom. She couldn’ t see what lay
inside, but there were others as well, there, of f to the side, two
of them, and there, another, partiallREVFXUHGE the brush,
hidden bWKHURFN.
She signaled for more slack. The rope released, and she slid
blackness, her eHVVTXLQWLQJ.
Then she heard the sound, a rustling, from just below and
within. It startled her, and for a moment she froze. She peered
down again. Shadows shrouded everWKLQJODers of darkness.
She could see nothing. The wind blew shrilly , muffling other
Had she been mistaken?
She dropped another few feet, uncertain.
There, something . . .
inches above the dark opening.

The Roc burst into view beneath her, exploding from the
blackness as if shot from a catapult. It seemed to fill the air ,
wings stretched wide against the graZDWHUVRIWKH%OXe
Divide, across the shadows and clouds. It passed so close that
tangled piece of cotton. She curled into a ball instinctively,
clinging to the rope as she would a lifeline, bouncing against
the rough surface of the rock and fighting not to crRXWDOOWKe
while praLQJWKHELUGZRXOGQ’t see her. The Roc lifted away ,
oblivious to her presence or uncaring of it, a golden-hued body
with a head the color of fire. It looked wild and ferocious, its
plumage in disarray, its wings marked and scarred. It soared
into the storm-filled skies west and disappeared.
And that’s whWKHr e are no seabir ds about, Wren confirmed to
herself in a frightened daze.
She hung paral]HGDJDLQVWWKHFOLf f face for long moments,
waiting to be certain that the Roc would not return, then gave a
cautious tug on the rope and let Garth haul her to safety .

cliffs. Garth wrapped her in his cloak and hustled her back to
the valleZKHUHWKH found temporarVKHOWHULQDVWDQGRIILr .
Garth built a fire and made soup to warm her. She staHGFROd
for a long time, shivering with the memorRIKDQJLQJWKHUe
snatch her away, to make an end of her . Her mind was numb.
She had thought to find the Roc caves in making her descent.
She had never dreamed she would find the Rocs as well.
After she had recovered suf ficientlWRPRYHDJDLQDIWHUWKe
soup had chased the chill from within her stomach, she began
conversing with Garth.
“If there are Rocs, there might be Elves as well,” she said,
fingers translating. “What do RXWKLQN"”
Garth made a face. I think RXDOPRVWJRWourself killed.
“I know,” she admitted grudgingly . “Can we let that pass for
now? I feel foolish enough.”

Good, he indicated impassively.
“If the Addershag was right about the caves of the Rocs, don’ t
RXWKLQNWKHUHLVDSUHWW fair chance she was right about the
Elves as well?” Wren forged ahead. “I think so. I think
someone will come if we light a signal fire. Right up on that
ledge. In that pit. There have been fires there before. Y ou saw.
MaEHWKLVYDOOH was home to the Elves once. MaEHLWVWLOl
is. Tomorrow we’ll build that signal fire and see what
She ignored his shrug and settled back comfortably , her
blankets wrapped close, her eHVEULJKWZLWKGHWHUPLQDWLRQ.
The incident with the Roc was alreadEHJLQQLQJWRUHFHGe
into the back corners of her mind.
She slept until well after midnight, taking watch late because
Garth chose not to wake her. She was alert for the remainder
of the night, keeping her mind active with thoughts of what
was to come. The rain ended, and bGDbreak the summer
heat was back, steamDQGWKLFN7KH foraged for drZRRG,
cut pieces small enough to load, built a sled, and used the
horses to haul their cuttings to the clif f edge. TheZRUNHd
or their animals, taking frequent rests, and drinking suf ficient
water to prevent heat stroke. The daVWDed clear and sultry ,
the rains a distant memory. An occasional breeze blew in of f
the water but did little to cool them. The sea stretched away
from the land in a smooth, glassVXUIDFHWKDWIURPWKHFOLf f
heights seemed as flat and hard as iron.
be night birds, hunters that preferred the cover of darkness
before venturing forth. Once or twice Wren thought she might
have heard their call, faint and muffled. She would have liked
babies. But one brush with the giant birds was enough, and she
was content to let her curiositUHPDLQXQVDWLVILHG.
ledge overlooking the Blue Divide. When sunset approached,
Garth used his flint to ignite the kindling, and soon the lar ger
pieces of wood were burning as well. The flames soared

crackling in the stillness. Wren glanced about in satisfaction.
From this height, the fire could be seen for miles in every
direction. If there were anRQHRXWWKHUHORRNLQJWKH would
see it.
Wren found herself thinking about her cousins, Par and Coll,
and about W alker Boh. She wondered whether theKDGEHHn
persuaded, as she had, to take up the char ges of Allanon. Find
the Sword of Shannara, the shade had told Par . Find the Druids
and lost Paranor, it had told Walker. And to her , find the
missing Elves. If theGLGQRWLIDQ of them failed, then the
vision it had shown them of a world turned barren and empty
would come to pass, and the people of the races would become
actuallUHYHDOLQJPXFK7KHKLVWRU he had given them that
night at the Hadeshorn was surprisinglYDJXH&UHDWXUHs
formed in the vacuum left with the failing of the magic at
Allanon’s death. Creatures born out of straPDJLF:KDWGLd
that mean?
She finished her meal, rose, and walked out to the clif f edge.
The night was clear and the skILOOHGZLWKDWKRXVDQGVWDUV,
their white light shimmering on the surface of the ocean to
form a glittering tapestrRIVLOYHr. Wren lost herself in the
herself, she wished she knew better where she was going.
turned surprisinglTXL[RWLF.
She moved back to the fire and rejoined Garth. The big man
was arranging bedrolls carried up from the valley . TheZHUe
until someone came. The horses were tethered back in the
trees at the edge of the valley. As long as it didn’t rain, they
would be comfortable enough sleeping in the open.

Garth offered to stand the first watch, and W ren agreed. She
wrapped herself in her blankets at the edge of the fire’ s
the darkness, losing herself in their hSQRWLFPRWLRQOHWWLQg
herself drift. She thought again of her mother, of her face and
voice in the dream, and wondered if anRILWZDVUHDO.
Remember me.
WhFRXOGQ’t she?
She was still mulling it over when she fell asleep.

She came awake again with Garth’ s hand on her shoulder. He
had woken her hundreds of times over the HDUVDQGVKHKDd
learned to tell from his touch alone what he was feeling. His
touch now told her he was worried.
She rolled to her feet instantly , sleep forgotten. It was early
HWVKHFRXOGWHOOWKDWPXFKE a quick glance at the night sky .
The fire burned on beside them, its glow undiminished. Garth
was facing away, back toward the valley . Wren could hear
something approaching—a scraping, a clicking, the sound of
claws on rock. Whatever was out there wasn’ t bothering to
hide its coming.
Garth turned to her and signed that everWKLQJKDGEHHn
have drawn close at first on cat’s feet, then changed its mind.
Wren did not question what she was being told. Garth heard
with his nose and his fingers and mostlZLWKKLVLQVWLQFWV.
Even deaf, he heard better than she did. A Roc? she suggested
quickly , reminded of their clawed feet. Garth shook his head.
Then per haps it was whoever the Addershag had pr omised
would come? Garth did not respond. He didn’t have to. What
approached was something else, something dangerous . . .
It was their shadow, come to reveal itself at last.
The scraping grew louder , more prolonged, as if whatever
approached was dragging itself. W ren and Garth moved away
from the fire a few steps, trLQJWRSXWVRPHRIWKHOLJKt

between themselves and their visitor, trLQJWRSXWVRPHRIWKe
darkness at their backs.
Wren felt for the long knife at her waist. Not much of a
weapon. Garth gripped his hardened quarter staf f. She wished
she had thought to gather up hers, but she had left it with the
Then a misshapen face pushed into the light, shoving out of
the darkness as if tearing free of something. A muscled body
followed. Wren went cold in the pit of her stomach. What
stood before her wasn’ t real. It had the look of a huge wolf, all
bristling graKDLr, dark muzzle, and eHVWKDWJOLWWHUHGZLWh
the fire’s light. But it was grotesquelKXPDQWRR,WEDGa
human’s forelegs with hands and fingers, though the hair grew
misshapen and thick with callouses. The head had something
of a human cast to it as well—as if someone had fitted it with
a wolf’s mask and worked it like claWRPDNHLWILW.
The creature’ s head swung toward the fire and awaDJDLQ,Ws
So this was their shadow . Wren took a slow breath. This was
the thing that had tracked them relentlesslDFURVVWKe
Westland, the thing that had followed after them for weeks. It
had staHGKLGGHQDOOWKDWWLPH:K was it showing itself
She watched the muzzle draw back to reveal long rows of
hooked teeth. The glittering eHVVHHPHGWREULJKWHQ,WPDGe
no sound as it stood before them.
It is showing itself now because it has decided to kill us, W ren
realized, and was suddenlWHUULILHG.
Garth gave her a quick glance, a look that said everWKLQJ+e
had no illusions as to what was about to happen. He took a
step toward the beast.
Rover almost before he could brace himself. Garth jerked his
head back just in time to keep it from being ripped from his
shoulders, whipped the quarter staf f around, and flung his

attacker aside. The wolf creature landed with a grunt, regained
its footing in a scramble of clawed feet, and wheeled about,
teeth bared. It came at Garth a second time, ignoring Wren
completely. Garth was readWKLVWLPHDQGVODPPHGWKHHQGRf
the heavTXDUWHUVWDf f into the gnarled body . Wren heard the
sound of bone cracking. The wolf thing tumbled away , came
to its feet again, and began to circle. It continued to paQo
attention to Wren, other than to make certain it could see what
she was doing. It had apparentlGHFLGHGWKDW*DUWKZDVWKe
greater threat and must be dealt with first.
What are RX? Wren wanted to scream. What manner of
The beast tore into Garth again, barreling recklesslLQWRWKe
waiting staf f. Pain did not seem to faze it. Garth flung it away ,
and it attacked again instantly, teeth snapping. Back it came,
time after time, and nothing Garth did seemed to slow it. W ren
crouched and watched, helpless to intervene without risking
her friend. The wolf thing allowed her no opening and gave
was never down for more than an instant, moving with a fluid
grace that suggested the agilitRIERWKPDQDQGEHDVW.
The battle wore on. There were wounds to both combatants,
but while Garth’ s blood streamed from the cuts he had
suffered, the damage to the wolf creature seemed to heal
almost instantly . Its cracked ribs should have slowed it, should
have hampered its movements, but theGLGQRW7KHEORRd
from its cuts disappeared in seconds. Its injuries appeared not
to concern it, almost as if . . .
And suddenlW ren remembered the stor3DUKDGWROGKHURf
the Shadowen that he and Coil and Mor gan Leah had
encountered during their journeWR&XOKDYHQWKDWPRQVWURXs
man thing, reattaching its severed arm as if pain meant nothing
to it.
This wolf thing was a Shadowen!
The realization impelled her forward almost without thinking.
She came at the creature with her long knife drawn, angrDQd

determined as she bounded toward it. It turned, a hint of
surprise reflected in its hard eHVGLVWUDFWHGPRPHQWDULO from
Garth. She reached it at the same instant that Garth did, and
hammered down across its skull, splintering with the force of
the impact. W ren’s blade buried itself in the bristling chest,
sliding in smoothly . The creature jerked up and back, and for
the first time made a sound. It shrieked, the crRIDZRPDQLn
pain. Then it wheeled sharplDQGODXQFKHGLWVHOIDWW ren,
bearing her down. It was enormouslVWURQJWren tumbled
back, kicking up with her feet as she struggled to keep the
hooked teeth from tearing her face. The wolf thing’ s
momentum saved her, carrLQJLWKHDGRYHUKHHOVLQWRWKe
darkness. Wren scrambled to her feet. The long knife was
gone, still buried in the beast’ s body. Garth’ s staff was ruined.
The wolf thing came back into the light. It moved without
pain, without ef fort, teeth bared in a terrifLQJJULQ.
The wolf thing.
The Shadowen.
Wren knew suddenlWKDWWKH would not be able to kill it—
that it was going to kill them.
She backed quicklWRVWDQGZLWK*DUWKIUDQWLFQRw , fighting
to keep her reason. He withdrew his long knife and passed it to
her. She could hear the ragged sound of his breathing. She
could not bring herself to look at him.
The Shadowen came for them, hurtling forward in a rush. It
shifted at the last instant toward Garth. The big Rover met its
rush and turned it, but the force of the attack knocked him
Garth forced the sword between them, holding the wolf jaws
back. Garth was stronger than anPDQW ren had ever known.
But not stronger than this monster. AlreadVKHFRXOGVHHKLm

She launched herself at the wolf thing, slamming the long
knife into its body. It did not seem to notice. She clutched at
the beast, struggling to dislodge it. Beneath, she could glimpse
Garth’s dark face, sweat stained and rigid. She screamed in
Then the Shadowen shook itself, and she was thrown clear .
She sprawled in a heap, weaponless, helpless. She hauled
herself to her knees, aware suddenlWKDWVKHZDVEXUQLQJIURm
the heat of the fire. The burning was intense—how long had it
been there?—centered in her chest. She clawed at herself,
thinking she had caught fire somehow. No, there were no
flames, she realized, nothing at all except . . .
painted rocks. The burning was there!
what she was doing poured the rocks into her palm.
InstantlWKH exploded into light, dazzling, terrifLQJ6Ke
found that she could not release them. The paint covering the
rocks disappeared, and the rocks became . . . She could not
bring herself to think the word, and there was no time for
thing. From across the clearing, she saw the Shadowen’ s
wolfish head jerk up. She saw the glitter of its eHV6KHDQd
Garth might still have a chance to survive, if . . .
She acted out of instinct, sending the light hurtling ahead with
hammered into the Shadowen. The wolf creature was flung
about, fire everZKHUHEXUQLQJFRQVXPLQJWren held her
hand forth, commanding the fire. The magic terrified her , but
she forced her terror down. Power coursed through her, dark
and exhilarating, both at once. The Shadowen fought back,
wrestling with the light, fighting to break free. It could not.
explode and turn to dust and disappear .
Then the light disappeared as well, and she and Garth were


W ren worked swiftlWRELQG*DUWK’s wounds. No bones were
broken, but he had suffered a series of deep lacerations on his
forearms and chest, and he was cut and bruised from head to
bandaged, stitched and bound, but that was all. Nothing
showed on his face or revealed in his eHVWKHWUDXPDDQGSDLn
he had endured.
Tears came to her eHVPRPHQWDULOy , and she bent her head so
he would not see. He was her closest friend, and she had very
If not for the Elfstones . . .
Don’t think about it!
She concentrated harder on what she was doing, blocking out
her anxious, frightened thoughts. The signal fire burned on,
flames leaping at the darkness, and wood crackling as it
disintegrated with the heat. She labored in silence, HWVKe
could hear everWKLQJDERXWKHUWKHILUH’ s roar, the whistle of
the wind across the rocks, the lapping of waves against the
shore, the hum of insects far back in the valley , and the hiss of
her own breathing. It was as if all of the night sounds had been
magnified a hundredfold—as if she had been placed in a great,
emptFDQon where even the smallest whisper had an echo.
She finished with Garth and for a moment felt faint, a swarm
of images swimming before her eHV6KHVDZDJDLQWKHZROf
thing that was a Shadowen, all teeth and claws and bristling

hair . She saw Garth, locked in combat with the monster. She
saw herself as she rushed to help him, a vain attempt. She saw
the fire’s glow spread across them all like blood. She saw the
Elfstones come to life, flaring with white light, with ancient
power, filling the night with their brilliance, lancing out and
striking the Shadowen, burning it as it struggled to break free
. . .
She tried to rise and fell back. Garth caught her in his arms,
having risen somehow to his knees, and eased her to the
ground. He held her for a moment, cradled her as he might a
child, and she let him, her face buried against his body . Then
she pushed gentlDZDy, taking slow, deep breaths to steady
herself. She rose and moved over to their cloaks, retrieved
them and brought them back to where Garth waited. They
wrapped themselves against the night’ s chill and sat staring at
each other wordlessly.
FinallWren lifted her hands and began to sign. Did RXNQRw
about the Elfstones? she asked.
Garth’s gaze was steady . No.
Not that theZHre real, not what theFRXOGGRQRWKLQJ?
She studied his face for a moment without moving. Then she
reached into her tunic and drew out the leather bag that hung
about her neck. She had slipped the Elfstones back inside
when she had gone to help Garth. She wondered if theKDd
been mistaken in what she had seen. She turned the bag upside
down and shook it over her hand.
Three bright blue stones tumbled free, painted rocks no longer ,
but glittering Elfstones—the Elfstones that had been given to
Shea Ohmsford b$OODQRQRYHUILYHKXQGUHGears ago and
had belonged to the Ohmsford familHYHUVLQFH6KHVWDUHGDt
them, entranced bWKHLUEHDXWy, awed that she should be
holding them. She shivered at the memorRIWKHLUSRZHr .

“Garth,” she whispered. She placed the Elfstones in her lap.
Her fingers moved. “You must know something. Y ou must. I
even then. Tell me. Where did theUHDOO come from?”
You alr eadNQRw . Your par ents gave them to RX.
Garth’ s dark face was frozen as he hesitated, then signed to her
that her mother had been a Rover and that her father had been
baby. He was told that the last thing theGLGEHIRUHOHDYLQg
was to place the leather bag with its painted rocks about her
“You did not see mPRWKHr . Or mIDWKHU"”
Garth shook his head. He was awaZKHQWKH came and when
he returned theZHUHJRQH7KH never came back. W ren was
taken to ShadVale to be raised b-DUDODQDQG0LULDQQa
Ohms-ford. When she was five, the Rovers took her back
again. That was the agreement the Ohmsfords had made. It
was what her parents had insisted upon.
“But wh"Wren interrupted, bewildered.
Garth didn’t know. He had never even been told who had
made the bar gain on behalf of the Rovers. She was given into
his care bRQHRIWKHIDPLO elders, a man who had died
shortlDIWHr. No one had ever explained whKHZDVWRWUDLn
quicker, stronger , smarter, and better able to survive than any
of them. Garth was to make her that way .
Wren sat back in frustration. She alreadNQHZHYHUthing that
Garth was telling her . He had told it all to her before. Her jaw
tightened angrily. There must be something more, something
that would give her some insight into where she had come
from and whVKHZDVFDUUing the Elfstones.
“Garth,” she tried again, insistent now . “What is it that Ru
haven’t told me? Something about mPRWKHU",GUHDPHGRf

her, RXNQRw . I saw her face. T ell me what RXDUHKLGLQJ”
The big man was expressionless, but there was hurt in his
eHVWren almost reached out to reassure him, but her need to
know kept her from doing so. Garth stared at her for long
moments without responding. Then his fingers signed briefly .
I can tell RXQRWKLQJWKDWou cannot see for RXUVHOI.
She flinched. “What do RXPHDQ"”
You have Elven featur es, Wren. Mor e so than an2KPVIRr d.
WhGRou think that is?
She shook her head, unable to answer .
His brow furrowed. It is because RXUSDrents were both
Wren stared in disbelief. She had no memorDWDOORIKHr
parents looking like Elves and she had alwaVWKRXJKWRf
herself as simplD5RYHUJLUO.
“How do RXNQRZWKLV"” she asked, stunned.
be danger ous for RXWRNQRw .
Garth shrugged, as much as if to say , What difference does it
make after what has happened? How much more danger can
RXEHLQE knowing? W ren nodded. Her mother a Rover . Her
father an Ohmsford. But both of them Elves. How could that
be? Rovers weren’t Elves.
“You’re sure about this?” she repeated. “Elves, not humans
with Elven blood, but Elves?”
Garth nodded firmlDQGVLJQHG It was made verFOHDr .
To everRQHEXWKHr , she thought. How had her parents come
to be Elves? None of the Ohmsfords had been Elves, onlRf
Elven descent with some percentage of Elven blood. Did this
mean that her parents had lived with the Elves? Did it mean
had sent her in search of the Elves, because she herself was

She looked away, momentarilRYHUZKHOPHGE the
implications. She saw her mother ’s face again as she had seen
it in her dream—a girl’ s face, of the race of Man, not Elf. That
part of her that was Elf, those more distinctive features, had
not been evident. Or had she simplPLVVHGVHHLQJWKHP?
What about her father? Funny , she thought. He had never
been, never as real, and she had no idea why . He was faceless
to her. He was invisible.
She looked back again. Garth was waiting patiently . “You did
not know that the painted rocks were Elfstones?” she asked
one final time. “Y ou knew nothing of what theZHUH"”
What if she had discarded them? she asked herself peevishly .
What then of her parent’s plans—whatever theZHUHIRr
her? But she knew the answer to that question. She would
never have given up the painted rocks, her onlOLQNWRKHr
past, all she had to remind her of her parents. Had theUHOLHd
on that? WhKDGWKH given her the Elfstones in the first
place? To protect her? Against what? Shadowen? Something
more? Something that hadn’ t even existed when she was born?
“WhGRou think I was given these Stones?” she asked
Garth, genuinelFRQIXVHG.
Garth looked down a moment, then up again. His great body
shifted. He signed. Perhaps to pr otect RXLQour sear ch for
the Elves.
Wren stared, blank faced. She had not considered that
possibility . But how could her parents have known she would
go in search of the Elves? Or had theVLPSO known she
on knowing where she had come from and who her people
“Garth, I don’ t understand,” she confessed to him. “What is
this all about?”

the other staHGDZDNHXQWLOILQDOO dawn’s light brightened
the eastern skies. Then Garth fell asleep until noon, his
strength exhausted. Wren sat staring out at the vast expanse of
the Blue Divide, pondering the implications behind her
discoverRIWKH(OIVWRQHV7KH were the Elfstones of Shea
Ohmsford, she decided. She had heard them described often
enough, listened to stories of their history . TheEHORQJHGWo
whomever theZHUHJLYHQDQGWKH had been given to the
perhaps not. Perhaps theKDGEHHQVLPSO taken awaDWVRPe
point. It was possible. There had been man2KPVIRUGVDIWHr
Brim and Jair and three hundred HDUVLQZKLFKWRORVHWUDFNRf
the magic—even a magic as personal and powerful as the
Elfstones. There had been a time when no one could use them,
she reminded herself. OnlWKRVHZLWKVXfficient Elven blood
could invoke the magic with impunity. Wil Ohmsford had
been damaged that way . His use of the Stones had caused him
to absorb some of their magic. When his children were born,
Brim and Jair, the magic had transformed itself into the
wishsong. So perhaps one of the Ohmsfords had decided to
take the Elfstones back to those who could use them safel—
to the Elves. W as that how theKDGIRXQGWKHLUZD to her
The questions persisted, overwhelming, insistent, and
unanswerable. What was it that Cogline had said to her when
he had found her that first time in the T irfing and persuaded
her to come with him to the Hadeshorn to meet with Allanon?
It is not nearlVRLPSRUWDQWWRNQRZZKRou ar e as who Ru
might be. She was beginning to see how that might be true in a
Garth rose at noon and ate the vegetable stew and fresh bread
she had prepared. He was stiff and sore, and his strength had
make a sweep of the area to make certain that there wasn’ t
another of the wolf things about. Wren had not considered the
possibility. Both of them had recognized their attacker as a
Shadowen—a thing once human that had become part beast, a
thing that could track and hunt, that could hide and stalk, and

that could think as well as theDQGNLOOZLWKRXWFRPSXQFWLRQ.
No wonder it had tracked them so easily. She had assumed it
had come alone. It was an assumption she could not af ford to
make. She told Garth that she was the one who would go. She
was better suited at the moment than he, and she had the
Elfstones. She would be protected.
She did not tell him how frightened she was of the Elven
magic or how difficult she would find it if she were required to
invoke it again.
As she backtracked the countrVRXWKDQGHDVWVHDUFKLQJIRr
prints, for signs, or for anWKLQJRXWRISODFHUHOing mostly
on her instincts to warn her of anGDQJHr , she thought about
what it meant to be in possession of such magic. She
remembered when Par had kidded her about the dreams,
some part of the magic. She had laughed. She had onlKHr
painted rocks, she had said. She remembered the Addershag’ s
touch at her breast where the Elfstones hung in their leather
bag and the unbidden crRI0DJLF6KHKDGQ’t even thought
of the painted rocks that time. All her life she had known of
the Ohmsford legacy, of the magic that had belonged to them
as the descendants of the Elven house of Shannara. Y et she
had never thought to have use of the magic herself, never even
desired it. Now it was hers as the Elfstones were hers, and
what was she to do about it? She did not want the
down. She was a Rover , born and raised free, and that was
what she knew and was comfortable with being—not anRf
this other. She had accepted her Elven looks without
questioning what thePLJKWLPSOy . TheZHUHSDUWRIKHr, but
a lesser part, and nothing at all of the Rover she was. She felt
as if she had been turned inside out bWKHGLVFRYHU of the
Elfstones, as if the magic bFRPLQJLQWRKHUOLIHZDs
somehow taking life out of her and making her over . She did
not like the feeling. She was not anxious to be changed into
someone other than who she was.
She pondered her discomfort all that daDQGKDGQRWFRPe
close to resolving it on her return to the camp. The signal fire

was a guiding beacon, and she followed its glow to where
Garth waited. He was anxious for her—she could see it in his
she was beginning to have second thoughts about this whole
business. She had asked herself once before, once right at the
beginning when she had decided she would trWROHDUn
something about who she was, What would happen if she did
not like what she discovered? She had dismissed the
possibility. She was worried now that she had made a verELg
The second night passed without incident. TheNHSWWKHVLJQDl
fire burning steadily , feeding it new wood as the old was
consumed, patientlZDLWLQJ$QRWKHUGD began and ended,
and still no one appeared. TheVHDUFKHGWKHVNLHVDQGWKHODQd
from horizon to horizon, but there was no sign of anRQH%y
nightfall, both were edgy . Garth, his superficial wounds
prowled the campsite like a caged animal, repeating
meaningless tasks to keep from having to sit. W ren sat to keep
from prowling. TheVOHSWDVRIWHQDVWKH could, resting
themselves because theQHHGHGWRDQGEHFDXVHLWZDs
something to do. Wren found herself doubting the Addershag,
questioning the old woman’ s words. How long had the
Addershag been a captive of those men, chained and
imprisoned in that cellar? Perhaps her memorKDGIDLOHGKHr
in some way. Perhaps she had become confused. But she had
not sounded feeble or confused. She had sounded dangerous.
And what about the Shadowen that had tracked them the
length and breadth of the W estland? All those weeks it had
kept hidden, following at a distance. It had shown itself only
after the signal fire had been lit. Then it had come forth to
destroWKHPWasn’t it reasonable to assume that its
appearance had been brought about bZKDWLWZDVVHHLQg
them do, that it believed the signal lire posed some sort of
threat and so must be stopped? WhHOVHZRXOGLWKDYHFKRVHn
that moment to strike?

So don’t give up, Wren kept telling herself, the words a litany
of hope to keep her confidence from failing completely . Don’t
give up.
The third night dragged away , minutes into hours. They
changed the watch frequentlEHFDXVHE now neither could
sleep for more than a short time without waking. More often
than not theNHSWZDWFKWRJHWKHUXQHDVy , anxious, worried.
their scattered thoughts.
Nothing happened. No one came.
It was nearing morning when Wren dozed off in spite of
herself, some time during the final hour of her watch. She was
still sitting up, her legs crossed, her arms about her knees, and
her head dipped forward. It seemed onlPRPHQWVKDGSDVVHd
when she jerked awake again. She glanced about warily . Garth
was asleep a few feet away, wrapped in his great cloak. The
fire continued to burn fiercely . The land was cloaked in a
frost-tipped blanket of shadows and half-light, the sunrise no
more than a faint silver lightening at the rim of the mountains
east. A scattering of stars still brightened the skZHVW,
although the moon had long since disappeared. W ren DZQHd
and stood up. Clouds were moving in from out on the ocean,
low-hanging, dark . . .
She started. She was seeing something else, she realized,
something blacker and swifter, moving out of the darkness for
the bluffs, streaking directlIRUKHr . She blinked to make
certain, then stepped back hurriedlDQGUHDFKHGGRZQIRr
Garth. The big Rover was on his feet at once. T ogether they
faced out across the Divide, watching the black thing take
flames. It swept across the bluff and wheeled back again, its
turning each time, crossing and recrossing as if studLQJZKDt
laEHORw. Wren and Garth watched wordlessly , unable to do

Finally, the Roc plummeted toward them, its massive body
whistling overhead, so close it might have snatched them up
with its great claws if it had wished. W ren and Garth flattened
themselves against the rocks protectivelDQGVWDUHGDVWKHELUd
settled comfortablGRZQDWWKHHGJHRIWKHFOLf fs, a giant,
black-bodied creature with a head as scarlet as fire and wings
greater than those on the bird that Wren had barelHVFDSHd
Wren and Garth climbed back to their feet and brushed
themselves of f.
There was a man seated astride the Roc, held in place bVWUDSs
from a leather harness. TheZDWFKHGDVWKHPDQUHOHDVHGWKe
straps and slid smoothlWRWKHJURXQG+HVWRRGQH[WWRWKe
bird and studied them momentarily , then started forward. He
was small and bent, wearing a tunic, pants, boots, and gloves
made of leather. He walked with an oddlUROOLQJJDLWDVLIQRt
altogether comfortable with the task. His features were Elven,
narrow and sharp, and his face was deeplOLQHG+HZRUHQo
beard, and his brown hair was short cropped and peppered
He came to a stop when he was a dozen feet away .
pitched and rough about the edges.
“Yes,” W ren answered him.
“WhGLGou do that?”
“Because I was told to.”
“Were RXQRZ"% whom, if RXGRQ’ t mind mDVNLQJ"”
“I don’t mind at all. I was told to light it bWKH$GGHUVKDJ”
“An old woman, a seer I spoke with in Grimpen W ard. She is
called the Addershag.”
The little man grunted. “Grimpen Ward. Ugh! No one in his
right mind goes there.” His mouth tightened. “W ell, whGLd
this Addershag tell RXWROLJKWWKHILUHHK"”

Wren sighed impatiently . She had waited three daVIRr
someone to come and she was anxious to discover if this
gnarled little fellow was the person she had been expecting or
have a name?”
The frown deepened. “I might. WhGRQ’ t RXWHOOPHours
Wren put her hands on her hips challengingly . “MQDPHLs
Wren Ohmsford. This is mIULHQG*DUWKW e’re Rovers.”
“Hah, is that so now? Rovers, are RX"7KHOLWWOHPDn
“Tiger T y,” the other said. “At least, that’ s what everRQHFDOOs
me. All right now, Miss Wren. We’ve introduced ourselves
and said hello. What are RXGRLQJRXWKHUH$GGHUVKDJDQd
what-all notwithstanding? WhGou light that fire?”
Wren smiled. “MaEHWREULQJou and RXUELUGLIou’re the
one who can take us to the Elves.”
Tiger grunted and spit. “That bird is a Roc, Miss W ren. He’s
called Spirit. Best of them all, he is. And there aren’ t any
been sent to see if that’ s so. Can RXDQG6SLULWKHOS"”
There was a long silence as T iger TVFUXQFKHGKLVIDFHLQWRa
dozen dif ferent expressions. “Big fellow , RXUIULHQG*DUWK,
isn’t he? I see RXWHOOLQJKLPZKDWZHUHVDing with RXr
hands. Bet he hears better than we do, push come to shove.”
He paused. “Who are RX0LVVW ren, that RXZRXOGFDUHWo
know whether there are Elves or not?”
She told him, certain now that he was the one for whom the
signal fire was intended and that he was simplEHLQJFDXWLRXs
about what he revealed until he found out whom he was
dealing with. She disclosed her background, revealing that she
was the child of an Elf and a Rover , searching for some link to
her past. She advised him of her meeting with the shade of

Allanon and the Druid’s charge that she go in search of the
missing Elves, that she discover what had become of them,
and that she return them to the world of Men so that theFRXOd
take part in the battle against the Shadowen.
She kept quiet about the Elfstones. She was not HWUHDG to
itself into a dozen dif ferent expressions. He seemed heedless
of Garth, his attention focused on W ren. He carried no
weapons save for a long knife, but with Spirit standing watch
she supposed he had no need of weapons. The Roc was clearly
his protector.
leather gloves. “Got anWKLQJWRHDW"”
and Wren produced a collection of dried fruit, a little bread,
and some ale. TheDWHDQGGUDQNLQVLOHQFHW ren and Garth
exchanging occasional glances, Tiger TLJQRULQJWKHPERWK,
absorbed in the task of eating.
“A good start to the day , Miss Wren. Thanks verPXFK”
Wren nodded. “Y ou’re welcome. Now tell me. W as our fire
meant for RX"”
The leatherIDFHIXUURZHGWell, now. Depends, RXNQRw .
Let me ask RX0LVVW ren. Do RXNQRZDQthing of W ing
Wren shook her head no.
“Because that’ s what I am, RXVHHWKHRWKHUH[SODLQHGA
Wing Rider . A flHURIWKHVNlanes, a watcher of the W estland
coast. Spirit is m5RFWUDLQHGE mIDWKHr , given to me
when I became old enough. One daKHOOJRWRP son, if my
son proves out. There’s some question about it just now . Fool
boNHHSVZLQJLQJDERXWZKHUHKH’ s not supposed to. Doesn’t
Riders have flown their Rocs along the Blue Divide for
hundreds of HDUV7KLVYHU spot, right here—and back there

Hove. That was in the time of the Druid Allanon. You see, I
know a few things.”
“Do RXNQRZWKH2KPVIRUGQDPH"Wren asked impulsively.
“There was a tale about an Ohmsford some several hundred
Forbidding. Wing Riders fought in that war , too, theVDy. But
there was an Ohmsford, I’m told. Relation of RXUV"”
“Yes,” she said. “T welve generations removed.”
He nodded thoughtfully . “So that’s RXLVLW"$FKLOGRIWKe
house of Shannara?”
Wren nodded. “I suppose that’ s wh,YHEHHQVHQWWRILQGWKe
Elves, Tiger Ty.”
T iger T ORRNHGGRXEWIXOW ing Riders are Elves, RXNQRw ,”
he said carefully. “But we’re not the Elves RXUHORRNLQJIRr .
She shook her head no once more. He explained then that the
members of the Wing Hove were Sk(OYHVDQGFRQVLGHUHd
themselves a separate people. The majoritRIWKH(OYHVZHUe
called Land Elves because theKDGQRFRPPDQGRIWKH5RFs
and therefore could not fly .
“That’s whWKH didn’ t take us with them when theOHIWKe
finished, eHEURZVDUFKHG7KDW’ s whZHZRXOGQ’t have
gone with them in anFDVH”
Wren felt her pulse quicken. “Then there are still Elves, aren’ t
there? Where are they, Tiger T "”
The gnarled little man blinked and squinched up his leathery
face. “Don’ t know if I should tell RXWKDWKHRSLQHG'RQ’ t
know if I should tell RXDQthing. You might be who RXVDy.
Then again, RXPLJKWQRW(YHQLIou are, maEHLW’ s not for
order, if RXDVNPH”

“I could use a little help,” Wren admitted. “What would it hurt
He ceased his ruminations and rocked back thoughtfully .
“Well, now , RXYHJRWDSRLQWWKHUH0LVVW ren,” he replied,
nodding in agreement with himself “Besides, I sort of like
what I see in RX0 son could use a little of what RXYe
got. On the other hand, maEHWKDW’ s what he’s alreadJRWWRo
much of! Humph!”
He cocked his head and his sharp eHVIL[HGKHr . “Out there,”
he said, pointing to the Blue Divide. “That’s where theDUH,
the ones that are left.” He paused, scowling. “It’ s a long story,
so make certain RXOLVWHQFORVHEHFDXVH,GRQ’ t intend to
repeat mVHOIYou, too, big fellow .” He indicated Garth with a
menacing finger.
Then he took a deep breath and sat back. “Long time ago,
decided to migrate out of the W estland. Don’t ask me whI
don’t pretend to know . The Federation, mostly , I’d guess.
Pushing in, taking over, pretending everWKLQJWKDWHYHUZDVRr
ever would be belonged to them. And blaming everWKLQJRn
nonsense. Land Elves didn’ t like it in anFDVHDQGGHFLGHGWo
leave. Problem was, where could theJR"W asn’t as if there
all taken. So theDVNHGXV6N Elves get around more than
most, see places others don’ t even know exist. So we said to
them, well, there’s some islands out there in the Blue Divide
that no one lives on, and theWKRXJKWLWRYHr , talked about it,
took a few flights out on the Rocs with Wing Riders, and came
hundreds of them, all in secret—and off theZHQW”
“All of them?”
“To live on the islands?” W ren asked, incredulous.

“That was its name? Morrowindl?”
The other nodded. “Biggest of all the islands, better than two
hundred miles across, ideal for farming, something like the
Elves had some notion about starting over, taking themselves
out of the old world, and beginning again in the new . Isolate
themselves all over again, let the other races do what they
wanted with themselves. Wanted their magic back, too—that
was part of it.”
He cleared his throat. “As I said, that was a long time ago.
After a while, we migrated, too. Not so far , RXXQGHUVWDQG—
just to the islands offshore, just far enough awaWRNHHSWKe
Federation from hunting us. Elves are Elves to them. W e’d had
enough of that kind of thinking. Not so manRIXVWRPDNHWKe
move, of course; not like the Land Elves. We needed less
space and could settle for the smaller islands. That’ s where we
still are, Miss Wren. Out there, couple miles of fshore. Only
come back to the mainland when it’ s necessarOLNHZKHn
someone lights a signal fire. That was the agreement we
“Agreement with whom?”
“With the Land Elves. A few who remained behind of the
other races knew to light the fire if there was need to talk to us.
And a few of the Elves came back over the HDUV6RVRPe
knew about the fire. But most have long since died. This
Addershag—I don’ t know how she found out.”
“Back up a moment, T iger Ty,” W ren requested, holding out
her hands placatingly . “Finish RXUVWRU about the Land Elves
first. What happened to them? Y ou said thePLJUDWHGPRUe
Tiger T VKUXJJHG7KH settled in, made a home, raised their
families, and were happy . EverWKLQJZRUNHGRXWWKHZD they
thought it would—at first. Then about twentears ago, they
started having trouble. It was hard to tell what the problem
was; theZRXOGQ’t discuss it with us. W e onlVDZWKHPQRw
and again, RXVHH6WLOOGLGQ’ t mix much, even after we’d

migrated out, too. AnZDy, everWKLQJRQ0RUURZLQGOEHJDn
to change. It started with Killeshan, the volcano. Dormant for
hundreds of HDUVDQGVXGGHQO it came awake again. Started
smoking, spitting, erupted once or twice. Clouds of vog—Ru
know, volcanic ash—started flung, the skies. The air , the land,
the water about—it was all different.” He paused, a hard look
darkening his face. “TheFKDQJHGWRRWKH/DQG(OYHV.
Wouldn’ t admit it, but we saw that something was dif ferent.
You could see it in the waWKH behaved when we were about
—guarded, secretive about everWKLQJ$UPHGWRWKHWHHWh
everZKHUHWKH went. And strange creatures began appearing
on the island, monstrous things, things that had never been
there be-fore. Just appeared, just out of nothing. And the land
began to grow sick, changing like everWKLQJHOVH”
He sighed. “The Land Elves began to die of f then, a few at a
time, more after a while. TheKDGOLYHGDOORYHUWKHLVODQd
jammed together like rats in a sinking ship. TheEXLOt
fortifications and reinforced them with magic. Old magic, Ru
know, brought back out of time and the old waV6N Elves
want nothing to do with it, but we’ve never used the magic
anZD like them.”
He sat back. “T en HDUVDJRWKH disappeared completely .”
Wren started. “Disappeared?”
“V anished. Still on Morrowindl, mind. But gone. Island was a
mass of ash and mist and steamKHDWE then, of course.
Changed so completelLWPLJKWKDYHEHHQDGLf ferent place
entirely.” He tightened his frown. “W e couldn’t get in to find
out what had happened. Sent half a dozen W ing Riders. Not a
one came back. Not even the birds. And no one came out. No
one, Miss Wren. Not in all that time.”
Wren was silent for a moment, thinking. The sun was up now ,
warm light cascading down from atop the IrrELVWKe
cloudless morning skEULJKWDQGIULHQGOy. Spirit remained
perched on the cliff edge, oblivious to them. The Roc was a
statue frozen in place. OnlKLVVKDUSVHDUFKLQJHes
registered life.

“So if there are an(OYHVOHIWWren said finally, “an/DQd
sure about that, Tiger T"”
The W ing Rider shrugged. “Sure as I can be. I suppose they
could have disappeared to somewhere else, but it’ s odd that
theGLGQ’t get word to us.”
Wren took a deep breath. “Can RXWDNHXVWR0RUURZLQGO"”
she asked.
It was an impulsive request, born out of a fierce and quixotic
determination to discover a truth that was apparentlKLGGHn
not onlIURPKHUVHOIEXWIURPHYHUone else as well. She
recognized how selfish she was being. She had not even
considered asking Garth for his thoughts; she had not even
bothered to remember how badlKHKDGEHHQLQMXUHGLQWKHLr
fight with the Shadowen. She couldn’ t bring herself to look at
him now. She kept her eHVIDVWHQHGRQT iger Ty.
There was no mistaking what he thought of the idea. The little
man scowled fiercely . “I could take RXWR0RUURZLQGOKe
said. “But I won’t.”
“I have to know if there are an(OYHVOHIWVKHLQVLVWHGWUing
to keep her voice level. Now she risked a quick glance at
Garth. The big Rover ’s face registered nothing of what he was
thinking. “I have to discover if theFDQEHEURXJKWEDFNLQWo
the world of Men. It was Allanon’ s charge to me, and I guess I
believe it important enough to carrLWRXW”
“Allanon, again!” T iger TVQDSSHGLUULWDEOy . “You’d risk RXr
life on the word of a shade? Do RXKDYHDQ idea what
Morrowindl is like? No, of course RXGRQ’ t! WhGR,HYHn
ask? You didn’ t hear a word I said, did RX"Y ou think RXFDn
just walk in and look around and walk out again? W ell, Ru
can’t! You wouldn’ t get twentIHHW0LVVW ren—RXRUour
big friend! That whole island is a death trap! Swamp and
jungle, vog choking off everWKLQJ.LOOHVKDQVSLWWLQJILUH.
And the things that live there, the monsters? What sort of
chance do RXWKLQNou’ll have against them? If a W ing Rider
and his Roc couldn’t land and come out again, RXVXUHDs
demon’s blood can’ t either!”

“MaEHWren agreed. “But I have to try .” She glanced again
at Garth, who signed briefly, not a rebuke, but a caution. Are
RXFHUWDLQDERXWWKLV? She nodded resolutely , saLQJWRTiger
Ty. “Don’ t RXZDQWWRNQRZZKDW’ s happened to them? What
if theQHHGKHOS"”
supposed to do? There’s onlDKDQGIXORIXV7KHUHZHUe
thousands of them. If theFRXOGQ’ t deal with what’s there,
what chance would we have? Or RX0LVV5HVFXH"”
“No, I will not! For get the whole business!” He rose in a huf f.
way .”
sailing them for that matter!” T iger TZDVLQFHQVHG2IDOl
the foolish, pigheaded . . . !”
He stormed of f toward Spirit, then stopped, kicked at the earth,
wheeled, and came back again. His seamed face was crimson,
his hands knotted into fists.
“You mean to do this thing, don’ t RX"KHGHPDQGHG.
“Whether I help RXRUQRW"”
“I have to,” she answered calmly .
unable to complete the thought.
She knew what he was trLQJWRVD and she didn’ t like it. “I’m
voice now. “I’m not afraid.”
and threw up his hands. “All right, then!” He leveled a
scorching glare at her. “I’ll take RX-XVWWRWKHVKRUHOLQH,
mind, because unlike RX,PJRRGDQGVFDUHGDQG,GRQ’ t
fancULVNLQJP neck or Spirit’s just to satisfour
She met his gaze coolly. “This doesn’t have anWKLQJWRGo
with satisfLQJP curiosity , Tiger T y. Y ou know that.”

He dropped down in front of her, his sun-browned face only
inches from her own. “MaEH%XWou listen. I want RXr
promise that after RXVHHZKDWou’re up against, RXOl
rethink this whole business. Because despite the fact that
hate to see anWKLQJEDGKDSSHQWRou. This isn’ t going to
turn out the waou think. You’ll see that soon enough. So
Wren nodded solemnly . “Agreed.”
on, then,” he muttered. “Let’ s get this over with.”


T iger TZDVDQ[LRXVWREHRf f, but he was forced to wait
almost an hour while W ren and Garth went hack down into the
with them on their journeDQGWRSURYLGHIRUWKHLUKRUVHV7Ke
horses were tethered, and Garth released them so that they
could graze and drink as theQHHGHG7KHYDOOH provided
grass and water enough on which to survive, and the horses
were trained not to wander . Wren sorted through their
provisions, choosing what theZRXOGQHHGDQGEHDEOHWo
carry . Most of their supplies were too cumbersome, and she
stashed them for when theUHWXUQHG.
What had she done? Her mind spun with the enormitRIWKe
commitment she was making, and she was forced to wonder , if
onlLQWKHSULYDF of her own thoughts, whether she would
have cause to regret her brashness.
impatiently . Bidding Spirit to stand, he helped W ren and Garth
climb atop the giant bird and fasten themselves in place with
the straps of the harness. There were foot loops, knotted hand
grips, and a waist restraint, all designed to keep them safelLn
place. The Wing Rider spent long moments telling them how
the Roc would react once in flight and how flLQJZRXOGPDNe
them feel. He gave them each a bit of bitter -tasting root to
chew on, advising that it would keep them from being sick.
“Not that a couple of seasoned veterans of the Rover life
should be bothered bDQ of this,” he chided, managing a grin
that was worse than his scowl.
He clambered aboard in front of them, settled himself
comfortably, pulled on his heavJORYHVDQGZLWKRXWZDUQLQg

gave a shout and whacked Spirit on the neck. The giant bird
shrieked in response, spread his wings, and lifted into the air.
caught a current of wind, and rose skZDUGW ren felt her
stomach lurch. She closed her eHVDJDLQVWZKDWVKHZDs
feeling, then opened them again, aware that Tiger TZDs
looking over his shoulder at her , chuckling. She smiled back
bravely. Spirit flattened out above the Blue Divide, wings
behind them grew small, then lost definition. Soon it was
nothing more than a thin dark line against the horizon.
fish. Seabirds wheeled and dived in small white flashes, and
ocean stretched away, a vast, flat blue surface streaked with
the foaming crests of waves that rolled endlesslWRZDUd
distant shores. After a time W ren was able to dismiss her
initial uneasiness and settle back. Garth was less successful in
adjusting. He was seated immediatelEHKLQGKHr , and
whenever she glanced back at him she found his dark face
rigid and his hands clutched about the restraining straps. W ren
quit looking at him and concentrated on the sweep of the
ocean ahead.
She soon began thinking about Morrowindl and the Elves.
faced if she persisted in trLQJWRSHQHWUDWHWKHLVODQG,WZDs
true enough that she was determined to discover what had
become of the Elves; it was also true that her discoverZRXOd
serve little purpose if she didn’ t survive to do something about
were still there on Morrowindl? Suppose theZHUHDOLYH",f
no one had gotten in or out in ten HDUVKRZZDVKHr
appearance going to change anWKLQJ":Ky , whatever their
present circumstances, would the Elves even consider what
Allanon had sent her to propose—that theDEDQGRQOLIe
outside the Four Lands and return?
She had no answers to these questions, of course. It was
pointless to trWRILQGDQy. She had made her decisions up to

first place, to seek out the Addershag in Grimpen Ward and
then to follow her directions, to persuade Tiger TWRFRQYHy
them to Morrowindl. She could not help but wonder if her
instincts had misled her . Garth had staHGZLWKKHr , virtually
without argument, but Garth could be doing so out of loDOWy
or friendship. He might have resolved to see this matter
through, but that didn’ t mean he had anEHWWHUVHQVHRIZKDt
of the Blue Divide, feeling small and vulnerable. Morrowindl
was an island in the middle of the ocean, a tinVSHFNRIHDUWh
amid all that water. Once she and Garth were there, theZRXOd
be isolated from everWKLQJIDPLOLDr . There would be no way
off again without the aid of a Roc or a boat, nor was it certain
There might no longer be an(OYHV7KHUHPLJKWEHRQO the
monsters . . .
Monsters. She considered for a moment the question of what
sort of monsters were there. T iger TKDGIDLOHGWRVDy . Were
monsters could have trapped them, she supposed, or even
happen? And if the monsters hadn’ t trapped them, then why
did the Elves still remain on Morrowindl? WhKDGQ’ t even
one of them escaped to seek help?
and willed them away.
It was approaching noon when theSDVVHGRYHUDFOXVWHURf
small islands that looked like emeralds floating in the sea,
brilliant green against the blue. Spirit circled for a moment
under Tiger T’s direction, then descended toward the lar gest,
choosing a narrow bluff thick with grasses to land upon. Once
the great bird was settled, his riders released their safetVWUDSs
and climbed down. Wren and Garth were stif f and sore
already, and it took a few moments for them to get their limbs
working again. W ren rubbed her aching joints and glanced
around. The island appeared to be formed of a dark, porous
rock on which vegetation grew as if on rich soil. The rock lay

it. Wren reached down and picked up a piece, finding it
look on her face. “All these islands are part of a chain formed
pointed. “The islands the Sk(OYHVOLYHXSRQDUHMXVWVRXWK.
Course, we’re not going there, RXXQGHUVWDQG,GRQ’ t want
anRQHWRGLVFRYHU,PWDNLQJou to Morrowindl. I don’ t want
them finding out how stupid I am.”
He moved over to a grassNQROODQGVHDWHGKLPVHOI$IWHr
pulling off his gloves and boots, he began massaging his feet.
“We’ll have something to eat and drink in a minute,” he
Wren said nothing. Garth had stretched out full length in the
grass and his eHVZHUHFORVHG+HZDVKDSSy , she thought, to
be on the ground again. She put down the rock she had been
examining and moved over to sit with Tiger Ty .
“You spoke of monsters on Morrowindl,” she said after a
minute. A soft breeze ruf fled her hair, blowing curls across her
face. “Can RXWHOOPHDQthing about them?”
The sharp eHVIDVWHQHGRQKHr . “There’s all kinds, Miss W ren.
Big and little, four-legged and two, flLQJFUDZOLQJDQd
stalking. There’s those with hair , those with scales, and those
with skin. Some come out of RXUZRUVWQLJKWPDUHV6RPH,
theVDy, aren’t living things. TheKXQWLQSDFNVVRPHRf
them. Some burrow in the earth and wait.” He shook his
graSHSSHUHGKHDG,YHRQO seen one or two mVHOI0RVt
I’ve just heard described. But theUHWKHUHULJKWHQRXJK+e
paused, considering. “Odd though, isn’ t it, that there’s so many
different kinds? Odd, too, that there weren’ t anDWILUVWDQd
then all of a sudden theMXVWVWDUWHGWRDSSHDr .”
“You think the Elves had something to do with it.” She made it
a statement of fact.
Tiger T SXUVHGKLVOLSVWKRXJKWIXOOy . “I have to think that. It
has to have something to do with their recoverRIWKHPDJLc

—their return to the old waV7KH wouldn’t saVRZRXOGQ’t
admit to a thing, the few I talked to. T en HDUVDJRWKDWZDV.
the volcano and the changes in the earth and climate. Imagine
He smiled disarmingly. “That’s the waLWLVou know .
NobodZDQWVWRWHOOou the truth. EverERG wants to keep
secrets.” He paused to rub his chin. “T ake RXUVHOIIRr
instance. I don’t suppose RXZDQWWRWHOOPHZKDWKDSSHQHd
back there at the W ing Hove, do RX":KLOHou were waiting
for me to spour fire?” He watched her face. “See, I’m
big friend over there, all bandaged up the waKHLV6FUDWFKHd
and marked from a fight, a recent one, a bad one. Y ou have a
the kind made from a verKRWILUHWasn’t where the signal
fire usuallEXUQVDQGLWZDVQHw . And the rock was scraped
Wren had to smile in spite of herself. She regarded T iger Ty
with newfound admiration. “Y ou’re right—RXGRQ’t miss
much. There was a fight, T iger Ty. Something tracked us for
weeks, a thing we call a Shadowen.” She saw recognition in
his eHVLQVWDQWOy . “It attacked us when we lit the signal fire.
We destroHGLW”
“Did RXQRZ"WKHOLWWOHPDQVQLf fed. “Just the two of RXA
Shadowen. I know a little of the Shadowen. W a,XQGHUVWDQd
it , it would take something special to destroRQHRIWKHP.
would account for the burn on the rock, wouldn’ t it?”
He waited. Wren nodded slowly . “It might.”
Tiger T OHDQHGIRUZDUGY ou’re like the rest of them
somehow, aren’t RX0LVVW ren. You’re an Ohmsford like the
others. Y ou have the magic, too.”
He said it softly , speculatively, and there was a curiosity
mirrored in his eHVWKDWKDGQ’ t been there before. He was
right again, of course. She did have the magic, a discoverVKe

because to do otherwise would be to acknowledge that she had
to tell herself that the Elfstones did not reallEHORQJWRKHr,
Yes, theKDGVDYHG*DUWK’ s life. And her own. And HVVKe
was grateful. But their magic was dangerous. EverRQHNQHw
that. She had been taught all of her life to be self-suf ficient, to
survival was dependent principallRQour own abilities and
thought. She did not want a reliance on the magic of the
Elfstones to undermine that.
Tiger T ZDVVWLOOORRNLQJDWKHr , waiting to see if she was
going to respond. Wren met his gaze boldlDQGGLGQRW.
“Well,” he said finally , and shrugged his disinterest. “T ime to
get a bite to eat.”
The island was thick with fruit trees, and thePDGHa
satisfactorPHDOIURPZKDWWKH picked. Afterward, they
drank from a freshwater stream theIRXQGLQODQG)ORZHUs
grew everZKHUHERXJDLQYLOOHDROHDQGHr , hibiscus, orchids,
colors bright through the green, the scents wafting on the air at
called a ginkgo. Strange birds perched in the branches of
armored, spinUHFRSVWKHLUSOXPDJHDUDLQERZ’ s blend. Tiger
TGHVFULEHGLWDOODVWKH walked, pointing, identifLQJDQd
explaining. W ren stared about in amazement, not permitting
anxious that she not miss anWKLQJ6KHKDGQHYHUVHHQVXFh
beauty, a profusion of incrediblZRQGHUIXOOLYLQJWKLQJV,t
was almost overpowering.
“Was Morrowindl like this?” she asked T iger TY at one point.
He gave her a brief glance. “Once,” he replied, and did not
their flight. It was easier now, a bit more familiar, and even
Garth seemed to have discovered a waWRPDNHWKHMRXUQHy

sun as it passed overhead. There were other islands, small and
mostlURFNy, though all sustained at least a sprinkling of
growth. The air was warm and soothing against their skin, and
the sun burned down out of a cloudless sky , brightening the
Blue Divide until it glistened. TheVDZPDVVLYHVHDDQLPDOs
creatures in the ocean. There were birds of all sizes and
shapes. There were fish that swam in groups called schools
and leapt from the water in formation, silver bodies arcing
against the sun. The journeEHFDPHDQLQFUHGLEOHOHDUQLQg
experience for Wren, and she immersed herself in its lessons.
enthusiasticallDWT iger Ty.
“W ait until we reach Morrowindl,” he grunted back.

coves so shallow the water was a pale turquoise. W ren noticed
that Spirit had not eaten all daDQGDVNHGDERXWLWT iger Ty
said the Roc consumed meat and hunted on its own. It required
food onlRQFHHYHU seven daV.
with undisguised admiration. “Doesn’t ask much more than to
be left alone. More than RXFDQVD about most people.”
TheFRQWLQXHGWKHLUMRXUQH in silence, both W ren and Garth
beginning to tire now, stiff from sitting in the same position all
day, worn from the constant rocking motion of the flight, and
from gripping the knotted hand restraints until their fingers
cramped. The waters of the Blue Divide passed steadily
beneath, an endless progression of waves. TheKDGEHHQRXt
of sight of the mainland for hours, and the ocean seemed to
stretch awaIRUHYHr . Wren felt dwarfed bLWUHGXFHGE its
size to something so insignificant she threatened to disappear .
Her earlier sense of isolation had increased steadilZLWKWKe
passing of the hours, and she found herself wondering for the
first time if she would ever see her home again.

It was nearing sunset when at last theFDPHLQVLJKWRf
Morrowindl. The sun had drifted west to the edge of the
horizon, its light growing soft, changing from white to pale
orange. A streaking of purple and silver laced a long line of
odd-shaped clouds that paraded across the skOLNHVWUDQJe
animals. Silhouetted against this panorama was the island,
dark and misted and forbidding. It was much larger than any
steam seeping from its throat, slopes dropping awaLQWRa
thick blanket of fog and ash, disappearing for hundreds of feet
projections and ragged cliffs. Waves crashed against the rocks,
white foaming caldrons that threw their spraVNward.
Spirit flew closer , winging down toward the shroud of vog. A
stench filled the air , the smell of sulfur escaped from beneath
the earth where the volcano’ s fire burned rock to ash. Through
the clouds and mist theFRXOGVHHYDOOHs and ridges, passes
were going to circle the island. Spirit wheeled right at his
command. The north end of the island was engulfed in driving
rain, a monsoon that inundated everWKLQJFUHDWLQJYDVt
waterfalls that tumbled down clif fs thousands of feet high.
West the island was as barren as a desert, all exposed lava rock
except for a scattering of brightlIORZHULQJVKUXEVDQd
stunted, gnarled, wind-blown trees. South and east the island
was a mass of singular rock formations and black-sand
beaches where the shoreline met the waters of the Blue Divide
before rising to disappear into jungle and mist.
W ren stared down at Morrowindl apprehensively . It was a
forbidding, inhospitable place, a sharp contrast to the other
islands theKDGVHHQWeather fronts collided and broke apart.
Each side of the island of fered a different set of conditions.
The whole of it was shadowed and clouded, as if Killeshan
were a demon that breathed fire and had wrapped itself in the
cloak of its own choking breath.
down. The Roc settled cautiouslDWWKHHGJHRIDEURDGEODFN-

sand beach, claws digging into the crushed lava rock, wings
jungle, and his piercing eHVIL[HGRQWKHPLVW.
harness straps and slid to the beach. W ren looked inland. The
island rose before her, all rock and trees and mist. TheFRXOd
no longer see the sun. Shadows and half-light laRYHr
The Wing Rider faced the girl. “I suppose RXUHVWLOOVHWRn
this? Stubborn as ever?”
She nodded wordlessly , unwilling to trust herself to speak.
“You listen, then. And think about changing RXUPLQGZKLOe
RXGR,VKRZHGou all four sides of Morrowindl for a
reason. North, it rains all the time, everGDy , everKRXURIWKe
day. Sometimes it rains hard, sometimes drizzles. But the
RXFDQ’ t swim, RXGURZQ$QGWKHUH’ s nests of things
waiting to pull RXGRZQLQDQ case.”
He gestured with his hand. “W est is all desert. You saw.
Nothing but open country , hot and drDQGEDUUHQY ou could
walk it all the waWRWKHWRSRIWKHPRXQWDLQou probably
think. Trouble is, RXZRXOGQ’ t get a mile before RXUDn
crosswise of the things that live under the rock. Y ou’d never
see them; theGKDYHou before RXFRXOGWKLQN7KHUH’ s
thousands of them, all sizes and shapes, most with poison that
His frown etched the lines of his seamed face even deeper .
“That leaves south and east, which it happens are prettPXFh
the same. Rock and jungle and vog and a lot of very
unpleasant things that live within. Once off this beach, Ru
won’t be safe again until RXUHEDFN,WROGou once that it
was a death trap in there. I’ll tell RXDJDLQLQFDVHou didn’ t
hear me.
“Miss Wren,” he said softly . “Don’t do this. Y ou don’t stand a

own. “Garth and I will look out for each other,” she promised.
“We’ve been doing so for a long time.”
He shook his head. “It won’ t be enough.”
She tightened her grip. “How far must we travel to find the
He released himself and pointed inland. “Their city , if it’s still
protected from the lava flows. Most of the flows run east and
some of those tunnel under the rock to the sea. From here, it’ s
maEHWKLUW miles. I don’t know what the land’s like in there
“We’ll find our way ,” she said. She took a deep breath to
to prove. She glanced at Garth, who stared back at her stone-
faced. She looked again at Tiger Ty. “I need to ask one thing
sufficient time to make our search and then come back?”
managing to look both sad and stern. “I’ll come, Miss W ren.
I’ll wait three weeks—time enough for RXWRPDNHLWLQDQd
get out again. Then I’ll look for RXRQFHDZHHNIRXUZHHNs
running.” He shook his head. “But I have to tell RXWKDWI
think it will be a waste of time. You won’t be back. I won’ t
ever see RXDJDLQ”
She smiled bravely . “I’ll find a way, Tiger T y.”
The W ing Rider ’s eHVQDUURZHG2QO one way . You better
be meaner and stronger than anWKLQJou run up against. And
—” He jabbed at her with a bonILQJHr . “—RXEHWWHUEe
prepared to use RXUPDJLF”
Without pausing, he pulled himself up the harness loops and
settled into place. When he had finished fastening the safety
straps, he looked back at them.
least, travel when it’s light. Keep Killeshan’ s mouth to RXr

but this is a foolish thing RXUHGRLQJ”
“Don’t forget about us, T iger TW ren called in reply .
The Wing Rider scowled at her for an instant, then kicked
Spirit lightly . The Roc lifted into the air , wings spreading
against the wind, rising slowly , wheeling south. In seconds, the
giant bird had become nothing more than a speck in the fading
Wren and Garth stood silentlRQWKHHPSW beach and
watched until the speck had disappeared.


advice of Tiger TWRZDLWXQWLOLWZDVGDbreak before starting
where the W ing Rider had dropped them to set up their camp,
a broad, open expanse of black sand where the tide line ended
more than a hundred feet from the jungle’ s edge. It was
alreadWZLOLJKWE then, the sun gone below the horizon, its
failing light a faint shimmer against the ocean’ s waters. As
darkness descended, pale silver light from moon and stars
flooded the emptEHDFKUHIOHFWLQJRff the sand as if diamonds
had been scattered, brightening the shoreline for as far as the
light nor heat was required. Situated as theZHUHRQWKHRSHn
was warm and balmy. A fire would onlVXFFHHGLQGUDZLQg
attention to them, and theGLGQRWZDQWWKDW.
washed it down with ale. TheVDWIDFLQJWKHMXQJOHWKHLr
backs to the ocean, listening and watching. Morrowindl lost
definition as night fell, the sweep of jungle and clif fs and
desert disappearing into blackness until at last the island was
little more than a silhouette against the sky. FinallHYHQWKDt
disappeared, and all that remained was a steadFDFRSKRQ of
sounds. The sounds were indistinguishable for the most part,
faint and muffled, a scattering of calls and hoots and buzzings,
of birds and insects and animals, all lost deep within the
sheltering dark. The waters of the Blue Divide rolled in steady
cadence against the island’ s shores, washing in and retreating
again, a slow and steadODSSLQJ$EUHH]HVSUDQJXSVRIWDQd
fragrant, washing awaWKHODVWRIWKHGD’ s lingering heat.

When theKDGILQLVKHGWKHLUPHDOWKH stared wordlessly
ahead for a time—at the skDQGWKHEHDFKDQGWKHRFHDQDt
nothing at all.
Alread0RUURZLQGOPDGHWren feel uneasy. Even now,
cloaked in darkness, invisible and asleep, the island was a
presence that threatened. She pictured it in her mind, Killeshan
rising up against the skZLWKLWVUDJJHGPDZRSHQa
patchwork of jungled slopes, towering clif fs, and barren
deserts, a chained giant wrapped in vog and mist, waiting. She
could feel its breath on her face, anxious and hungry . She
could hear it hiss in greeting.
She could sense it watching.
It frightened her more than she cared to admit, and she could
not seem to dispel her fear. It was an insidious shadow that
crept through the corridors of her mind, whispering words
whose meanings were unintelligible but whose intent was
all had been stripped from her at the moment she had arrived.
Even her instincts seemed muddled. She could not explain it.
It made no sense. Nothing had happened, and HWKHUHVKe
was, her confidence shredded and scattered like straw . Another
woman might have been able to take comfort from the fact that
she possessed the legendar(OIVWRQHVEXWQRWWren. The
magic was foreign to her, a thing to be mistrusted. It belonged
to a past she had onlKHDUGDERXWDKLVWRU that had been lost
for generations. It belonged to someone else, someone she did
not know. The Elfstones, she thought darkly , had nothing to do
with her.
The words brought a chill to the pit of her stomach. They , of
course, were a lie.
She put her hands over her face, hiding herself away. Doubts
crowded in on everVLGHDQGVKHZRQGHUHGEULHIOy, futilely,
whether her decision to come to Morrowindl had been wrong.
FinallVKHWRRNKHUKDQGVDZD and edged forward until she
was close enough in the darkness to see clearl*DUWK’ s
bearded face. The big man watched unmoving as she lifted her
hands and began to sign.

Do RXWKLQN,PDGHDPLVWDNHE insisting we come here? she
asked him.
He studied her for a moment, then shook his head. It is never a
mistake to do something RXIHHOLVQHFHVVDUy.
I did feel it necessary.
I know.
“But I did not come just to discover if the Elves are still alive,”
she said, fingers moving. “I came to find out about mSDUHQWV,
He nodded without replLQJ.
“I didn’ t use to care, RXNQRw ,” she went on, trLQJWo
explain. “It didn’t use to make anGLf ference. I was a Rover ,
and that was enough. Even after Cogline found us and we
went east to the Hadeshorn and met with the Shade of
Allanon, even when I began asking about the Elves, hoping to
learn something of what had happened to them, I wasn’ t
thinking about mSDUHQWV,GLGQ’t have anLGHDZKHUHLWZDs
all leading. I just went along, asking mTXHVWLRQVOHDUQLQg
following a trail, curious to see where it would lead.”
She paused. “But the Elfstones, Garth—that was something I
hadn’t counted on. When I discovered that theZHUHUHDO—
mSDUHQWV:K? How did mSDUHQWVFRPHE them in the
first place? What was their purpose in giving them to me? Y ou
see, don’t RX",ZRQ’ t ever have anDQVZHUVXQOHVV,ILQGRXt
Garth signed, I understand. I wouldn’ t be here with RXLII
“I know that,” she whispered, her throat tightening. “I just
wanted to hear RXVD it.”
TheZHUHVLOHQWIRUDPRPHQWHes turned away . Something
huge splashed far out in the water. The sound reverberated
momentarilDQGGLVDSSHDUHGWren pushed at the rough sand
with her boot.

Garth, she signed, catching his eH Is there anWKLQJDERXWPy
parents that RXKDYHQ’ t told me?
Garth said nothing, his face expressionless.
“Because if there is,” she signed, “RXKDYHWRWHOOPHQRw .
You cannot let me continue with this search not knowing.”
Garth shifted, his head lowering into shadow . When he lifted it
again, his fingers began to move. I would not keep anWKLQg
from RXWKDWZDVQRWQHFHVVDUy . I keep nothing from RXQRw
about RXUSDrents. What I know , I have told RX%HOLHYHPH.
“I do,” she affirmed quietly . Yet the answer troubled her . Was
there something else he kept from her , something he
know what it was?
She shook her head. He would never hurt her . That was the
important thing. Not Garth.
We will discover the truth about RXUSDr ents, he signed
suddenly. I promise.
She kept watch then while he slept, feeling comforted bKLs
words, reassured that she was not alone after all, that they
were united in their purpose. Hidden bWKHGDUNQHVV,
Morrowindl continued to brood, sinister and threatening. But
she was not so intimidated now , her resolve strengthened, her
purpose clear. It would be as it had been for so manears—
she and Garth against whatever waited. It would be enough.
When Garth woke at midnight, she went quicklWRVOHHS.

Sunrise brightened the skies with pale silver , but Morrowindl
was a black wall that shut that light away. The island stood
between the dawn on the one hand and Garth and W ren on the
other as if seeking to lock the Rovers permanentlLQVKDGRw .
The beach was still and empty, a black line that stretched away
into the distance like a scattered bolt of mourning crepe. Rocks
and cliffs jutted out of the green tangle of the jungle, poking

forth like trapped creatures seeking to breathe. Killeshan thrust
length of its lava-rock skin. Far distant to the north, a glimpse
of the island’s desert side revealed a harsh, broken surface
over which a blanket of sulfuric mist had been thrown and on
which nothing moved.
The Rover girl and her companion washed and ate a hurried
breakfast, anxious to be of f. The da’s heat was already
beginning to settle in, chasing the ocean’ s breezes back across
her waters. Seabirds glided and swooped about them, casting
for food. Crabs scuttled about the rocks cautiously , seeking
shelter in cracks and crevices. All about, the island was
waking up.
Wren and Garth shouldered their packs, checked the readiness
of their weapons, glanced brieflDWHDFKRWKHr , and started in.
The beach faded into a short patch of tall grass that in turn
distance gave them the illusion of being a wall. The floor of
the forest was barren and cleared of scrub; storms and risen
tides had washed awaHYHUthing but the giant trees. W ithin
the acacia, all was still. The sun was masked HWLQWKHHDVW,
and shadows laRYHUHYHUthing. Wren and Garth walked
slowly, steadilDKHDGZDWFKIXOIRUDQ form of danger . They
passed out of the acacia and into a stand of bamboo. They
short swords to hack their waWKURXJK)URPWKHUHWKHy
proceeded along a meadow where the grasses were waist-high
and wildflowers grew in colorful profusion amid the green.
Ahead, the forest rose along the slopes of Killeshan, trees and
brush amid odd formations of lava rock, all of it disappearing
The first daSDVVHGZLWKRXWLQFLGHQW7KH traveled through
open countrZKHQHYHUWKH could find it, choosing a path that
let them see what theZHUHZDONLQJLQWR7KH camped that
night in a meadow, comfortablVHWWOHGRQKLJKJURXQGWKDt
again gave them a clear view in all directions. The second day
passed in the same manner as the first. ThePDGHJRRd

progress, navigating rivers and streams and climbing ravines
and foothills without difficulty. There was no sign of the
poisonous, but the Rovers had dealt with their cousins in other
parts of the world and knew enough to avoid anFRQWDFW.
easier prey . It rained frequentlDQGKHDYLOy , but never for very
long at one time, and except for threatening to trap them in dry
riverbeds with an unexpected flash flood or to drop them into
All the while the haze blanketing Killeshan’ s slopes drew
closer, a promise of harsher things to come.
The third daEHJDQLQWKHVDPHZD as the two before,
shadowed and still and brooding. The sun rose and was visible
descended. The haze was thin and untroubling at first, not
much more than a thickening of the air , a graLQJRIWKHOLJKW.
screened awaHYHUthing more than thirtIHHWIURPZKHUe
theZDONHG7KHFRXQWU grew rougher as the shoreline
lowlands and grassIRRWKLOOVJDYHZD to slides and drops,
and the lava rock turned crumblDQGORRVH)RRWLQJJUHw
uncertain and the pace slowed.
boot tops and below the knees to protect against snakes. They
of the lower slopes was absent here, and the air—which they
had thought would turn warm as thePRYHGFORVHUWo
Killeshan—grew cold. Garth took the lead, deliberately
shielding W ren. Shadows moved all about them in the mist,
things that lacked shape and form but were there nevertheless.
The familiar sounds of birds and insects died away , fading into

an expectant hush. Dusk fell early, a draining awaRIOLJKW,
and rain began to fall in steadVKHHWV.
fronted a small clearing. With their backs to the tree, theDWe
their dinner and watched the light deepen from smoke to
charcoal. The rain slowed to an intermittent drizzle, and mist
began to creep down the mountainside in probing tendrils.
rotting logs. The ground was drEHQHDWKWKHNRDEXWWKe
dampness in the air seemed to penetrate everZKHUH7KHUe
was no possibilitRIDILUHW ren and Garth hunched within
their cloaks and pushed closer to each other . The night settled
down about them, turning the world an inkEODFN.
Wren of fered to stand the first watch, too edgWRVOHHS*DUWh
acquiesced without comment. He pulled up his knees, put his
head on his crossed arms, and was asleep almost immediately .
Wren sat staring into the blackness. The trees and mist
screened awaDQ light from moon and stars, and even after
dozen feet from where she kept watch. Shadows drifted at the
darted out of the haze to challenge and tease—the shrill call of
night birds, the click of insects, scrapes and rustlings, huf fings
and snarls. The low cough of hunting cats came from
somewhere distant. She could smell faintlWKHVXOIXUIXPHVRf
Killeshan, wafting on the air, mingling with the thicker, more
pungent scents of the jungle. All around her an invisible world
was waking up.
Let it, she thought defiantly.
The air grew still as even the drizzle faded awaDQGRQO fog
remained. Time slipped away . The sounds slowed and
softened, and there was a sense that everWKLQJRXWWKHUHLQWKe
blackness laLQZDLWWKDWHYHUthing watched. She was aware
that the shadows at the edge of the encroaching mist had faded
away. Garth was snoring softly . She shifted her cramped body
but made no effort to rise. She liked the feel of the tree against

her back and Garth pressing close. She hated how the island
made her feel—exposed, vulnerable, unprotected. It was the
newness, she told herself. It was the unfamiliaritRIWKe
terrain, the isolation from her own country, the memorRf
Tiger T ’s warning that there were monsters here. It would
take time to adjust . . .
She left the thought unfinished as she saw the silhouette of
something huge appear at the edge of the mist. It walked
upright on two legs momentarily , then dropped down on four.
It stopped and she knew it was looking at her . The hair on the
back of her neck prickled, and she edged her hand down until
her fingers closed about the long knife at her waist.
She waited.
The thing that watched did not move. It seemed to be waiting
with her.
Then she saw another of the shadows appear , similar to the
first. And another. And a fourth. TheJDWKHUHGLQWKHGDUNQHVs
and went still, invisible eHVJOLWWHULQJW ren took slow, deep
breaths. She thought about waking Garth, but told herself over
and over that she would wait just one more minute, just long
enough to see what would happen.
But nothing happened. The minutes crawled past, and the
shadows staHGZKHUHWKH were. W ren wondered how many
were out there. Then she wondered if theZHUHEHKLQGKHr
where she couldn’t see them, sneaking up until theZHUHFORVe
enough to . . .
least, nothing within the limited range of her vision.
She turned back again. She knew suddenlWKDWWKHWKLQJVLn
the darkness were waiting to see what she would do, trLQJWo
ascertain how dangerous she might be. If she sat there long
wondered how much time she had. She wondered what it
would take to discourage them. If the monsters were here
already, onlWKUHHQLJKWVRf f the beach, theZRXOGEHWKHUe
would be others. There were bound to be.

Wren’ s blood pumped through her , racing as quicklDVKHr
thoughts. Together, Garth and she were a match for most
things. But theFRXOGQRWDf ford to fight everWKLQJWKH came
The shadows had begun to move again, restless. She heard
murmurings, not words exactly , hut something. She could feel
movement all about her, something other than the shadows,
things she could not see. The inhabitants of the jungle had
discovered them and were gathering. She heard a growl, low
and menacing. Beside her , Garth shifted in his sleep, turning
Wren’ s face felt hot.
Do something, she whispered to herself. You have to do
She knew without looking that the shadows were behind her
now .
She felt a burning against her breast.
Almost without thinking, she reached down into her tunic and
removed the leather bag with the Elfstones. Swiftly , unwilling
to think about what she was doing, she shook the Stones into
feel the shadows watching.
Just a hint of what theFDQGR, she told herself. That should
be enough.
She stretched forth her hand and let her fingers open slightly .
The blue light of the Elfstones brightened. It gathered, a cold
fire, and issued forth in thin streamers to probe the darkness.
InstantlWKHVKDGRZVZHUHJRQH7KH disappeared so swiftly
and so completelWKDWWKH might never have been there. The
sounds died into a hush. The world became a vacuum, and she
and Garth were all that remained within it.
She closed her fingers tightlDJDLQDQGZLWKGUHZKHUKDQG.
The shadows, whatever theZHUHNQHZVRPHWKLQJRI(OYHn
Her instincts had told her that theZRXOG.

She was filled with a sudden bitterness. The Elfstones were
not a part of her life, she had insisted. Oh, no—not her life.
been to tell herself so. And how quick to turn to them the
moment she felt threatened.
She slipped the Stones back into their container and shoved it
within her tunic again. The night was peaceful and still; the
Morrowindl had gone in search of easier prey .
It was after midnight when she woke Garth. Nothing further
had appeared to threaten them. She did not tell Garth what had
happened. She wrapped herself in her cloak and leaned back
against him.
It was a long time before she fell asleep.

Killeshan, and the light was thin and gray . Dampness filled the
air; it seeped up through the ground on which theZDONHG,
penetrated the clothing theZRUHDQGOHIWWKHPVKLYHULQJ.
After a time, the sun began to bum through the mist, and some
of the chill faded. Travel was slow and dif ficult, the land
uneven and broken, a series of ravines and ridges choked by
the jungle’s growth. Last night’ s hush persisted, a sullen
stillness that isolated the pair and spun webs of uneasiness all
about them.
At the edge of their vision, the shadows persisted, furtive,
cautious, a gathering of quick and formless ghosts that were
Garth seemed oblivious to their presence, but W ren knew he
was not. As she stole a furtive glance at his dark face from
time to time she could see the calm that reflected in his eHV.
She marveled that her giant friend could keep everWKLQJVo
relentlessly, for even now she was unsure how much the things
that hid there feared the Elfstones, how long the magic would
continue to keep them at bay . Her fingers straHGFRQVWDQWO to

her tunic and the leather bag beneath, seeking reassurance that
her protection was still there.
koa and banDQROGDQGVKDJJ with moss and vines, along
slides where the lava rock was crusted and broken off into
loose pieces that crumbled and skidded awaDVWKH tried to
find footing, down ravines where the brush was thornDQd
across the sweep of valleVRYHUZKLFKKHDY clouds stretched
in an impenetrable blanket of gray. All the while they
continued to climb, working their waXS.LOOHVKDQ’ s slopes,
catching brief glimpses of the volcano through breaks in the
vog, the summit lifting away, seeminglQHYHUFORVHr.
island. There were certain plants, bright colored and intricately
formed, that snared and trapped anWKLQJWKDWFDPHZLWKLn
reach. There were sinkholes that could swallow RXXSLQa
There were strange animals that showed themselves briefly
and disappeared again, hunters all, scaled and spiked, clawed
and sharp-toothed. No monsters appeared, but W ren suspected
whispered from the mist.
approach, but staHGFDUHIXOO hidden. A moor cat prowled
close, but Garth blew into a thick stalk of grass, producing a
whistling sound the big cat apparentlGLGQRWFDUHIRr , and it
faded back into silence. Wren dreamed of home, of the
Westland when she was RXQJDQGHYHUthing was new , and
she woke with the memories clear and bright.
“Garth, I used the Elfstones again,” she told him at breakfast,
the two of them huddled close against the chill gloom. “T wo
nights ago when the shadows first appeared.”
I know, he replied, his eHVIL[LQJKHUDVKHVLJQHG I was
Enough. The magic frightens RXGRHVQ’ t it?

She smiled wistfully. “EverWKLQJZHGRIULJKWHQVPH”
The land flattened out before them and the jungle stretched
away. The vog was thicker here, steadDQGXQPRYLQJEHIRUe
them. The air was still. TheFURVVHGDQRSHQVSDFHDQGIRXQd
themselves at the edge of a swamp. CautiouslWKH skirted its
reed-lined borders, searching for firmer ground. When they
persisted. T ime after time, theZHUHIRUFHGWRFKDQJe
direction, seeking safer passage. The bog was a dull, flat
shimmer of dampness stretched across masses of grass and
weeds, and trees poked out of it like the limbs of drowned
giants. Winged insects buzzed about, glittering and hides-cent.
Garth produced an ill-smelling salve that theXVHGWRFRDt
their faces and arms, a shield against bites and stings. Snakes
slithered in the mud. Spiders crawled everZKHUHVRPHODr ger
than Garth’s fist. Webs and moss and vines trailed from
branches and brush, clinging and deadly . Bats flew through the
cathedral ceilings of the trees, their squeaking sharp and
and set like a snare to fall on whatever passed beneath. A less
skilled pair of hunters might have missed it and been caught,
but Garth spotted the trap at once. The strands of the webbing
were as thick as Wren’s fingers, and so close to transparent
that theZHUHLQYLVLEOHLIou were not looking for them. She
poked at one with a reed, and the reed was instantlVWXFNIDVW.
Wren and Garth peered about cautiouslIRUDORQJWLPe
without moving. Whatever it was that had spun that webbing
was not something theZDQWHGWRPHHW.
Satisfied at last that the webmaker was not about, theSUHVVHd
It was nearing noon when theKHDUGWKHVFUDSLQJVRXQG7KHy
slowed and then stopped. The sound was rough and frantic,
much too loud for the stillness of the swamp, almost a
thrashing. It came from their left where shadows laDFURVVa
thicket of scrub with brilliant red flowers. W ith Garth leading,

to a clearing of koa, moving silently, listening as the scraping
sound continued. Almost immediatelWKH saw strands of the
clear webbing trailing earthward from the tops of the trees.
The strands shook as something tugged against them from
within the brush. It was apparent what had happened. Garth
beckoned to Wren, and theFRQWLQXHGFDXWLRXVO on.
laid through the trees, one lar ge and several small. One of the
smaller snares had been tripped, and the scraping sound came
from the creature it had entangled as it struggled to break free.
The creature was unlike anWKLQJHLWKHUW ren or Garth had
ever seen. As large as a small hunting dog, it appeared to be a
cross between a porcupine and a cat, its barrel-shaped body
covered with black and tan ringed quills and supported bIRXr
short, thick legs while its squarish head, hunched virtually
neckless between its shoulders, narrowed abruptlLQWRWKe
blunt, furrFRXQWHQDQFHRIDIHOLQHW rinkled paws ended in
powerful clawed fingers that dug at the earth, and its stubby ,
quilled tail whipped back and forth in a frantic effort to snap
the lines of webbing that had wrapped about it.
The effort was futile. The more it thrashed, the more the
webbing caught it up. FinallWKHFUHDWXUHSDXVHGLWVKHDd
lifted, and it saw them. W ren was astonished bWKHFUHDWXUH’ s
eHV7KH had lids and lashes and were colored a brilliant
blue. TheZHUHQRWWKHHes of an animal; theZHUHHes like
her own.
quills laid back sleekly , and the strange eHVEOLQNHG.
“Pfftttt!” The creature spit—verOLNHWKHFDWLWLQSDUWDWOHDVW,
resembled. “Don’ t suppose RXZRXOGFRQVLGHUKHOSLQJPH”
the creature softlUDVSHG$IWHUDOOou share some—arr gggh
—responsibilitIRUP predicament.”
Wren stared, then glanced hurriedlRYHUDW*DUWKZKRIRr
once appeared as surprised as she was. How could this
creature talk? She turned back again. “What do RXPHDQI
share some responsibilit"”
“Rrrowwwggg. I mean, RXUHDQ(OIDUHQ’ t RX"”

“Well, no, as a matter of fact I’m not. I’m a . . .” She hesitated.
She had been about to saVKHZDVD5RYHr . But the truth was
she was at least part Elf. Wasn’t that how the creature had
it know of Elves anZD?
The creature appraised her silentlIRUDPRPHQWEOXHHes
unblinking. When he spoke, its voice was a low growl.
“Stresa,” she repeated. “Is that RXUQDPH"”
The creature nodded.
“Hssttt. You are an Elf,” Stresa repeated, and the cat face
“No,” she responded. She put her hands on her hips, puzzled.
The blue eHVVTXLQWHGVOLJKWOy . “You don’ t recognize me. Y ou
don’t know what I am. Hrrrrowwl. If RXOLYHGRn
Morrowindl, RXZRXOG”
Wren nodded. “What are RXWKHQ"”
“A Splinterscat,” the creature answered. He growled deep in
his throat. “That is what we are called, the few of us who
remain. Part of this and part of that, but mostlVRPHWKLQJHOVe
altogether . Puurrft.”
Elves living here?”
The Splinterscat regarded her coolly , patient within his snare.
purr, “I will answer RXUTXHVWLRQV”
Wren hesitated, undecided.
“Ff fppht! Y ou had better hurry ,” he advised. “Before the
Wisteron comes.”

Wisteron? W ren glanced again at Garth, signing to indicate
what Stresa had said. Garth made a brief response.
Wren turned back. “How do we know RXZRQ’ t hurt us?” she
asked the Splinterscat.
coming as close as he probablFRXOGWRODXJKLQJ+XUUy ,
blade onlNHHSWKHIODWWXUQHGDZDy .” The strange creature
paused, and for the first time she saw a hint of desperation in
perhaps I can help RXLQUHWXUQ”
Wren signed to Garth, and thePRYHGRYHUWRZKHUHWKe
Splinterscat was bound, careful to avoid triggering anRIWKe
snares still in place. W orking quickly, theVOLFHGWKURXJKWKe
strands entangling the creature and then backed away . Stresa
stepped over the fallen webbing gingerlDQGHDVHGSDVWWKHm
to where the ground was firm. He spread his quills and shook
himself violently. Both Wren and Garth flinched at the sudden
movement, but no quills flew at them. The Splinterscat was
body. He began preening himself, then stopped when he
remembered theZHUHZDWFKLQJ.
“Thank RXKHVDLGLQKLVORw , rough voice. “If RXKDGQRt
freed me, I would have died. Grrwwll. The W isteron would
have eaten me.”
“The Wisteron?” W ren asked.
The Splinterscat laid back its quills, ignoring the question.
“You should alreadEHGHDGourself,” he declared. The cat
face furrowed once more. “Pf fftt!” he spit. “Y ou are either
Wren took a moment to respond. “Y ou promised to answer my
questions, Stresa. Tell me of the Elves.”
The Splinterscat bunched itself up and sat down. He was
bigger than he had looked in the snare, more the size of a dog
than the cat or porcupine he looked. “The Elves,” he said, the

growl creeping back into his voice, “live inland, high on the
slopes of Killeshan in the citRI$UERUORQKUURZJJKZKHUe
the demons have them trapped.”
“Demons?” Wren asked, immediatelWKLQNLQJRIWKRVHWKDt
had been shut awaZLWKLQWKH)RUELGGLQJE the EllcrV7KHy
she pressed.
“Sssssttt! Like lots of different things. What difference does it
make? The point is, the Elves made them and now theFDQ’ t
get rid of them. Pfft! Too bad for the Elves. The magic of the
Keel fails now . It won’t be long before everWKLQJJRHV”
The Splinterscat waited while W ren wrestled with this latest
news. There was still too much she didn’ t understand. “The
Elves made the demons?” she repeated in confusion.
“Years ago. When theGLGQ’ t know anEHWWHr.”
“But . . . made them from what?”
Stresa’s tongue licked out, a dark violet against its brown face.
“WhGLGou come here—grrwll? WhDUHou looking for
the Elves?”
Wren felt Garth’ s cautionarKDQGRQKHUVKRXOGHr . She turned
and saw him gesture off into the jungle.
“The Wisteron. It begins to hunt, to check its snares for food.
We have to get awaIURPKHUHTXLFNOy . Once it discovers I’ve
escaped, it will come looking for me.” The Splinterscat shook
out its quills. “Hhgggh. Since RXGRQ’ t appear to know RXr
He started of f abruptly. Wren hurried to catch up, Garth
trailing. “W ait a moment! What sort of creature is this
Wisteron?” she asked.
“Better for RXLIou never find out,” Stresa replied
enigmatically , and all of his quills stood on end. “This swamp
is called the In Ju. The W isteron makes its home here. The In
off. Phf faghh.”

He shambled away, moving far more quicklWKDQW ren would
have expected. “I still don’t understand how RXNQRZVo
much about the Elves,” she said, hastening after . “Or how it is
Morrowindl talk?”
Stresa glanced back, a cat look, sharp and knowing. “Rraar ggh
Elves made me, too. Hsssstt.” The Splinterscat turned away .
“Enough questions for now. Better if we keep still for a
Wren with Garth to follow , pondering her confusion and


led, his brownish quilled bodVKDPEOLQJWKURXJKEUXVKDQd
into grasses, under brambles and over logs as if theZHUHDOl
one, a single obstacle that required the same amount of ef fort
to surmount. Wren and Garth followed, forced to skirt the
heavier undergrowth, to pick their waPRUHFDXWLRXVOy , to test
the ground before theZDONHGXSRQLW7KH managed to keep
pace onlEHFDXVH6WUHVDKDGVXfficient presence of mind to
look back for them now and again and wait until theFDXJKt
None of them spoke as theKDVWHQHGRQEXWWKH all listened
carefullIRUVRXQGVRIWKHWisteron’s pursuit.
The jungle grew darker and webs began to appear everZKHUH.
through the treetops, across brush, even over pits in the earth.
The webbing was clear and invisible except where leaves or
dirt had become attached and gave color and definition, and
even then it was hard to detect. W ren soon gave up searching
for anWKLQJHOVHFRQFHQWUDWLQJVROHO on the dangerous nets.
A spider would spin webs such as these, she thought to herself,
and pictured the Wisteron so in her mind.
TheKDGEHHQIOHHLQJIRURQO a handful of minutes when she
and scrub thrashing, the limbs of trees snapping, bark
scraping, and water splashing and churning. The W isteron was
big and it was making no effort to hide its coming. It sounded
as if a juggernaut were rolling over everWKLQJLPSODFDEOH,
inescapable. The In Ju was a monstrous green cathedral in
which the silence had been snatched awaW ren was suddenly

formed, forcing them to change direction. After a moment’s
thick patch of brambles grew. Stresa tunneled ahead,
oblivious. Wren and Garth followed bravely , ignoring the
scrapes and cuts theUHFHLYHGWKHVRXQGVRIWKHW isteron’s
coming growing louder behind them.
Stresa stopped instantly , freezing in place. The Rovers did so
as well. Wren listened, motionless. Garth put his hands against
the earth. All was still. The trees hovered motionless about
them, the misted half-light a curtain of gauze. The onlVRXQd
was a rustling of the wind . . . Except that there was no wind.
Wren went cold. The air was as still as death. She looked
The W isteron was moving through the trees.
Garth was on his feet again, his long knife sliding free. W ren
frantic, futile effort to catch sight of something. The rustling
was closer, more recognizable, no longer the whisper of wind
against leaves but the movement of something huge.
Stresa began to run, an odd-shaped chunk of pricklHDUWh
skimming toward a stand of koa, silent somehow , but frantic
as well. Wren and Garth went, too, unbidden, unquestioning.
ached from the ef fort to remain still. She moved in a crouch,
afraid now to look back, to look up, or to look anZKHUHEXt
ahead to where the Splinterscat raced. The rustling of leaves
filled her ears, and there was a snapping of branches. Birds
darted through the cavernous forest, spurts of color and
movement that were gone in the blink of an eH7KHMXQJOe
shimmered damp and frozen about her , a still life in which
onlWKH moved. The koa rose ahead, massive trunks trailing
Wren started unexpectedly . Nestled against her breast, the
Elfstones had begun to burn.

Not again, she thought desperately, I won’t use the magic
again, but knew even as she thought it she would.
down a hall formed of trunks and shadows. W ren looked up,
searching for snares. There were none to be seen. She watched
within. She and Garth followed, stooping to make their way
past the branches, pulling their packs after them, clutching
them close to mask anVRXQG.
Crouched in blackness and breathing heavily, theNQHOt
against the jungle floor and waited. The minutes slipped by .
within their concealment, and the stench of rotting wood
seeped up from the earth. Wren felt trapped. It would be better
to be out in the open where she could run, where she could
see. She felt a sudden urge to bolt. But she glanced at Garth
and saw the calm set of the big man’ s face and held her
ground. Stresa had eased back toward the opening, flattened
against the earth, head cocked, stubbFDW’ s ears pricked.
Wren eased down next to the creature and peered out.
The Splinterscat’ s quills bristled.
In that same instant she saw the W isteron. It was still in the
trees, so distant from where theKLGWKDWLWZDVOLWWOHPRUe
than a shadow against the screen of vog. Even so, there was no
mistaking it. It crept through the branches like some massive
wraith . . . No, she corrected. It wasn’ t creeping. It was
stalking. Not like a cat, but something far more confident, far
more determined. It stole the life out of the air as it went, a
shadow that swallowed sound and movement. It had four legs
and a tail and it used all five to grasp the branches of the trees
and pull itself along. It might have been an animal once; it still
had the look of one. But it moved like an insect. It was all
misshapen and distorted, the parts of its bodKLQJHGOLNHJLDQt
grapples that allowed it to swing freelLQDQ direction. It was
sleek and sinewDQGJURWHVTXHEHond even the wolf thing
that had tracked them out of Grimpen W ard.

The Wisteron paused, turning.
Wren’ s breath caught in her throat, and she held it there with a
single-mindedness that was heartstopping. The W isteron hung
suspended against the gray, a huge, terrifLQJVKDGRw. Then
abruptlLWVZXQJDZDy. It passed before her like the promise
of her own death, hinting, teasing, and whispering silent
threats. Yet it did not see her; it did not slow . On this
afternoon, it had other victims to claim.
Then it was gone.

TheHPHrged from hiding after a time to continue on, edgy
and furtive, traveling mostlEHFDXVHLWZDVQHFHVVDU to do so
not succeeded when darkness fell and so spent that night
within the swamp. Stresa found a lar ge hollow in the trunk of a
dead banDQDQGWKH5RYHUVUHOXFWDQWO crawled in at the
but it was better than sleeping out in the open where the
creatures of the swamp could creep up on them. In anHYHQW,
evident. The Rovers wrapped themselves in their heavFORDNs
and sat facing the opening, staring out into the murkGDUN,
smelling rot and mold and damp, watching the ever -present
shadows flit past.
“What is it that’s moving out there?” W ren asked Stresa
finally, unable to contain her curiositDQ longer . TheKDd
just finished eating. The Splinterscat seemed capable of
he foraged on his own. At the moment he was sitting just to
one side of the opening in the banDQJQDZLQJRQDURRW.
He glanced up alertly. “Out there?” he repeated. The words
were so guttural Wren could barelXQGHUVWDQGWKHP.
“Grrrssst. Nothing much, really . Some ugly, little creatures
that wouldn’ t dare show their faces in other circumstances.
TheFUHHSDERXWQRZKKKUr gg—because all the really

dangerous things—except the wwwssst Wisteron—are at
Arborlon, waiting for the Keel to give out.”
“Tell me about the Keel,” she ur ged. Her fingers signed to
Garth, translating the Splinterscat’ s words.
Stresa put down the root. The purr was back in his rough
voice. “The Keel is the wall that surrounds the city . It was
formed of the magic, and the magic keeps the demons out.
Hggghhhh. But the magic weakens, and the demons grow
stronger. The Elves don’ t seem to be able to do anWKLQJDERXt
either.” The Splinterscat paused. “How did RXILQGRXWDERXt
the demons? Hssttt. What is RXUQDPHDJDLQ"*UUOOZUHQ?
Wren leaned back against the banDQWUXQN,W’ s a long story,
Stresa. A Wing Rider brought us here. He was the one who
warned us about the demons, except that he called them
monsters. Do RXNQRZDERXWW ing Riders?”
“Ssttppft! The Elves with the giant birds—HV,NQRw . They
used to come here all the time. Not anPRUH1RZZKHQWKHy
come, the demons are waiting. TheSXOOWKHPGRZQDQGNLOl
them. Fffftt—quick. That’ s what would have happened to Ru
as well if theZHUHQ’ t all at Arborlon—or at least most of
them. The Wisteron doesn’ t bother with such things.”
Arborlon, Wren was thinking, had been the home citRIWKe
Elves when theKDGOLYHGLQWKHW estland. It had disappeared
when theGLG+DGWKH rebuilt it on Morrowindl? What had
had it died out once again as it had in the time of W il
“How far are we from the cit"VKHDVNHGSXVKLQJWKe
questions aside.
“A long waet,” Stresa answered. The cat face cocked. “The
In Ju runs to a mountain wall called Blackledge that stretches
a valleZKHUHWKH5RZHQIORZV5UZZZQ%Hond that sits
Arborlon, high on a bluf f below Killeshan’s mouth. Is that
where RXDUHWUing to go?”

Wren nodded.
“Ppf fahh! Whatever for?”
“To find the Elves,” W ren answered. “I have been sent to give
them a message.”
Stresa shook his head and fanned his quills awaIURPKLs
about the citLIWKHFLW is even there anPRUH6VVWW”
“We will find a way .” Wren wanted to change the subject.
“You said earlier that the Elves made RX6WUHVD$QGWKe
demons. But RXGLGQ’ t explain how.”
The Splinterscat gave her an impatient look. “Magic, of
course!” he rasped. “Hrrrwwll! Elven magic allows RXWRGo
decided on the demons or anRIWKHRWKHUV7KDWZDVDOPRVt
fiftears ago. Splinterscats live a long time. Ssppptt. They
made me to guard the farms, to keep awaWKHVFDYHQJHUVDQd
such. I was verJRRGDWLWW e all were. Pfftt. We could live
off the land, required verOLWWOHORRNLQJDIWHr , and could stay
out for weeks. But then the demons came and killed most of us
off, and the farms all failed and were abandoned, and that was
that. W e were left to fend for ourselves—grrrsssst—which was
all right because we had gotten prettXVHGWRLWE then. W e
could survive on our own. Actually, it was better that way. I
would hate to be shut up inside that citZLWKGHPRQVKVVVWt
—all about.” The creature gave a low growl. “I hate even to
think about it.”
using magic again. Where had the magic come from? They
hadn’ t had the use of magic when theKDGOLYHGLQWKe
Westland—hadn’ t had it since the time of faerie except for
their healing powers. The real magic had been lost for HDUV.
appeared, to allow them to create demons. Or to summon
them, perhaps. A black choice, if ever there was one. What
could have possessed them to do such a thing?

whKDGWKH given the Elfstones—the most powerful magic
of all—to her?
“If the Elves . . . created these demons with their magic, why
can’t theGHVWUR them?” she asked, curious still about where
these so-called demons had come from and whether theZHUe
Stresa shook his head and picked up the root again. “I haven’ t
anLGHD1RRQHKDVHYHUH[SODLQHGDQ of it to me. I never go
to the city. I haven’t spoken to an Elf in HDUVY ou are the first
—and RXUHQRWZKROO elf, are RX"3UUXXf ft. Your blood is
“He is human,” she said.
“Ssspttt. if RXVD so. I haven’t seen anRQHOLNHKLPEHIRUH.
Where does he come from?”
Wren realized for the first time that Stresa probablGLGQ’ t
“W e both come from the W estland, which is part of a country
called the Four Lands, which is where all the Elves came from
HDUVDJR7KHUHDUHORWVRIGLf ferent kinds of people there.
Garth and I are just one of them.”
Stresa studied her thoughtfully . His quilled bodEXQFKHGDs
his legs inched together. “After RXILQGWKH(OYHVUUr gggghh
—and deliver RXUPHVVDJHZKDWZLOOou do then? W ill Ru
go back to where RXFDPHIURP"”
Wren nodded.
“The W estland, RXFDOOHGLW,VLWDQthing like—grwwl—
“No, Stresa. There are things that are dangerous, though. Still,
the Westland is nothing like Morrowindl.” But even as she
finished speaking, she thought, Not HWDQway , but for how
long with the Shadowen gaining strength?

The Splinterscat chewed on the root for a moment, then
remarked, “Pfftt. I don’t think RXFDQJHWWR$UERUORQRQour
own.” The strange blue eHVIL[HGRQW ren.
“No?” she replied.
“Pft, pft. I don’t see how. You haven’ t anLGHDKRZWRVFDOe
Blackledge. Whatever happens RXKDYHWRDYRLGWKHKUUUZZOl
Harrow and the Drakuls. Below , in the valley, there’s the
Revenants. Those are just the worst of the demons; there are
dozens of others as well. Ssspht. Once theGLVFRYHUou . . .”
The quilled bodEULVWOHGPHDQLQJIXOO and smoothed out
again. W ren was tempted to ask about the Drakuls and the
Revenants. Instead, she glanced at Garth for an opinion. Garth
merelVKUXJJHGKLVLQGLf ference. He was used to finding his
own way.
would suggest that we make a bargain. I will guide RXWRWKe
get out again, I will guide RXEDFN+UUUZZOO6WUHVDSDXVHG.
Wren frowned. “T o the Westland? Y ou want to leave
The Splinterscat nodded. “Sppppttt. I don’ t like it here much
long time on wits and experience and instinct, but mostlRn
luck. TodaP luck ran out. If RXKDGQ’ t happened along, I
would be dead. I am tired of this life. I want to go back to the
Perhaps, Wren thought. Perhaps not.
She looked at Garth. The big man’ s fingers moved swiftlLn
response. We don’ t know anWKLQJDERXWWKLVFr eature. Be
careful what RXGHFLGH.
did know one thing. The Splinterscat had saved them from the

Wisteron as surelDVWKH had saved him. And he might prove
useful to have along, particularlVLQFHKHNQHZWKHGDQJHUVRf
Morrowindl far better than theGLG$JUHHLQJWRWDNHKLPZLWh
Unless Garth’s suspicions should prove correct and the
Splinterscat was plaLQJVRPHVRUWRIJDPH.
Don’t trust anRQH, the Addershag had warned her .
She hesitated a moment, thinking the matter through. Then she
shrugged the warning aside. “W e have a bargain,” she
announced abruptly . “I think it is a good idea.”
The Splinterscat spread his quills with a flourish. “Hrrwwll. I
thought RXZRXOGKHVDLGDQGawned. Then he stretched
out full length before them and placed his head comfortablRn
his paws. “Don’t touch me while I’m sleeping,” he advised. “If
RXGRou will end up with a face full of quills. I would feel
Before W ren could finish communicating the warning to

Wren took the earlZDWFKWKHQVOHSWVRXQGO until dawn. She
woke to Stresa’ s stirrings—the rustle of quills, the scrape of
claws against wood. She rose, her mind fuzzDQGKHUHes dry
and scratchy. She felt weak and unsettled, but ignored her
discomfort as Garth passed her the aleskin and some bread.
Their food was being depleted rapidly , she knew; much of it
had simplJRQHEDG7KH would have to forage soon. She
hoped that Stresa, despite his odd eating habits, might be of
some help in sorting out what was edible. She chewed a bit of
the bread and spit it out. It tasted of mold.
Stresa lumbered outside, and the Rovers followed, crawling
from the hollow trunk and pushing themselves to their feet,
muscles cramped and aching. DaEUHDNZDVDIDLQWJUD haze
seeping through the treetops, barelDEOHWRSHQHWUDWHWKe
darkness beneath. Vog swirled through the jungle as if soup
stirred within a cooking pot, but the air at ground level was

still and lifeless. Things moved in the fetid waters of the bogs
and sinkholes and on the deadwood that bridged them, a
shifting of shapes and forms against the gloom. Sounds wafted
a shambling, rolling mass of spikes. TheFRQWLQXHGVORZOy,
light brightened from graWRVLOYHr, but remained faint and
diffuse as it hovered about the edges of the trees. Strands of
the W isteron’ s webbing wrapped about branches and vines,
did not appear , but its presence could be felt in the hush that
Wren’ s discomfort increased as the morning wore on. She felt
not see clearly . She knew she had contracted a fever , but she
told herself it would pass. She walked on and said nothing.
The jungle began to break apart shortlDIWHUPLGGDy , the
ground turning solid again, the swamp fading back into the
bold patches through sudden rifts in the screen of the vog. The
hush faded in an undercurrent of buzzings and clicks. Stresa
mumbled something, but Wren couldn’t make out what it was.
She had been unable to focus her thoughts for some time now ,
and her vision was so clouded that even the Splinterscat and
Garth were just shadows. She stopped, aware that someone
was talking to her, turned to find out who, and collapsed.
She remembered little of what happened next. She was carried
a lethargWKDWWKUHDWHQHGWRVXf focate her. The fever burned
through her , and she knew somehow that she would not be
able to shake it of f. She fell asleep, woke to discover she was
came awake thrashing, and Garth held her and made her drink
something bitter and thick. She vomited it up and was forced
to drink it again. She heard Stresa saVRPHWKLQJDERXWZDWHr ,
felt a cool cloth on her forehead, and slept once more.

She dreamed this time. Tiger TZDVWKHUHVWDQGLQJQH[WWo
Stresa, the two of them looking down on her , bluff and craggy
Wing Rider and sharp-eHG6SOLQWHUVFDW7KH spoke in a
similar voice, rough and guttural, commenting on what they
saw , speaking of things she didn’ t understand at first, and then
finallRIKHr. She had the use of magic, theVDLGWRHDFh
other. It was clear she did. Y et she refused to acknowledge it,
hiding it as if it were a scar , pretending it wasn’t there and that
she didn’t need it. Foolish, theVDLG7KHPDJLFZDVDOOVKe
had. The magic was the onlWKLQJVKHFRXOGWUXVW.
She awakened reluctantly , her bodFRRODJDLQDQGWKHIHYHr
gone. She was weak, and so thirstLWIHOWDVLIDOOWKHOLTXLGVLn
her bodEDGEHHQGUDLQHGDZDy . Pushing back the covers that
wrapped her, she tried to rise. But Garth was there instantly ,
pressing her down again. He brought a cup to her lips. She
drank a few swallows—it was all she could manage—and lay
back. Her eHVFORVHG.
When she came awake next, it was dark. She was stronger
now, her vision unclouded, and her sense of what was
happening about her clear and certain. GingerlVKHSXVKHd
herself up on one elbow and found Garth staring into her eHV.
He sat cross-legged beside her , his dark, bearded face creased
and worn from lack of sleep. She glanced past him to where
Are RXEHWWHU? he signed.
“I am,” she answered. “The fever is gone.”
He nodded. You have been asleep for almost two daV.
“So long? I didn’ t realize. Where are we?”
At the foot of Blackledge. He gestured into the darkness. We
Splinterscat recognized the sickness that infected RXDQd
found a root that would cur e it. I think without his help, Ru
might have died.
She grinned faintly . “I told RXLWZDVDJRRGLGHDWRKDYHKLm
come along.”

Go back to sleep. There are several hours still until dawn. If
RXDr e well enough, we’ll go on then.
She laEDFNREHGLHQWOy , thinking that Garth must have kept
would not have bothered, comfortable within the protection of
his own armor. A sense of gratitude filled her . Garth was
alwaVWKHUHIRUKHr. She resolved that her giant friend would
have the sleep he deserved when it was night again.
She slept well and woke rested, anxious to resume their
journey. She changed clothes, although nothing she carried
was clean bQRw , washed, and ate breakfast. At Garth’ s
insistence, she took a few moments to exercise her muscles,
testing her strength for what laDKHDG6WUHVDORRNHGRQEy
turns curious and indifferent. She stopped long enough to
thank the Splinterscat for his help in chasing the fever . He
claimed not to know what she was talking about. The root he
had provided for her did nothing more than to help her sleep.
What had saved her was her Elven magic, he growled, and
spread his quills and trundled off to find something to eat.
It took them all of that daDQGPRVWRIWKHQH[WWRFOLPb
Blackledge, and it would have taken them much longer—if
Blackledge was a towering wall of rock that ran along the
Southwest slope of Killeshan. It laPLGZD up the ascent and
appeared to have been formed when an entire section of the
into the jungle. The cliff face, once sheer, had eroded over the
HDUVWXUQHGSLWWHGDQGFUDJJy , and grown thick with scrub
and vines. There were onlDIHZSODFHVZKHUH%ODFNOHGJe
could be scaled, and Stresa knew them all. The Splinterscat
chose a section of the cliff where the rock wall had separated,
and a fissure sliced down to less than a thousand feet above
the jungle floor. Within the fissure laDSDVVWKDWUDQEDFNLQWo
a valley . It was there, across the Rowen, Stresa announced,
that the Elves would be found.
The climb was hard and slow and seeminglHQGOHVV7KHUe
were no passes or trails. There were, in fact, verIHZSODFHs

offering more than a brief respite. The lava rock was knife-
edge sharp beneath their hands and feet and would break away
without warning. The Rovers wore heavJORYHVDQGFORDNVWo
protect their skin and to keep the spiders from biting and the
scorpions from stinging. The vog rolled down the rock face as
if poured from its edge, thick and stinking of sulfur and soot.
Most of what grew on the rock was thornDQGWRXJKDQGKDd
drained their strength. W ren had felt rested when she began.
Before it was even midday , she was exhausted. Even Garth’ s
incredible stamina was quicklGHSOHWHG.
Stresa had no such problem. The Splinterscat was tireless,
lumbering up the cliff face at a slow, steadSDFHSRZHUIXl
claws finding adequate footing, digging into the rock, pulling
the bulkERG ahead. Spiders and scorpions did not seem to
affect Stresa; if one got close enough, he simplDWHLW+HOHd
the way , choosing the approaches that would be easiest for his
human companions, frequentlVWRSSLQJWRZDLWXQWLOWKHy
could catch up. He detoured brieflWREULQJEDFNDEUDQFh
laden with a sweet red berrWKDWWKH quicklDQGJUDWHIXOOy
consumed. When it was nightfall and theZHUHVWLOORQOy
spend the night, clearing it first of anWKLQJWKDWPLJKWWKUHDWHn
them and then, to their utter astonishment, of fering to keep
nights standing guard over the feverish Wren, was too
exhausted to argue. The girl slept the better portion of the
night, then relieved the Splinterscat several hours before dawn,
event. He wanted to know about the Four Lands. He wanted to
hear of the creatures that lived within them. He told W ren
more about life on Morrowindl, a harrowing account of the
havens, and where life was usuallVKRUWDQGELWWHr.
“Rrrwwll. Wasn’t like that in the beginning,” he growled
softly . “Not until the Elves made the demons and everWKLQg

turned bad. Phhhfft. Foolish Elves. ThePDGHWKHLURZn
He sounded so bitter that she decided not to pursue the matter .
She was still uncertain as to whether or not the Splinterscat
knew what he was talking about. The Elves had alwaVEHHn
healers and caretakers—never creators of monsters She found
quagmire. She kept thinking there must be more to this story
than what Stresa knew and she must reserve judgment until
she had learned it all.
TheUHVXPHGWKHLUFOLPEDWGDbreak, pulling themselves up
the rocks, scrambling and clawing against the cliff face, and
peering up through the swirling mist. It rained several times,
their waKLJKHr, but the dampness persisted. W ren was still
weak from her bout with the swamp fever , and it took all of
her strength and concentration to continue putting one foot in
front of the other and to reach out with her hand for one more
pull up. Garth helped her when he could, but there was seldom
room to maneuver, and theZHUHIRUFHGWRPDNHWKHDVFHQt
one behind the other .
TheVDZFDYHVLQWKHFOLf fs from time to time, dark openings
charges awaIURPWKHP:KHQW ren questioned him about
pointedlWKDWVKHGLGQ’t want to know.
and the narrow defile that laEHond. TheVWRRGRQIODWVROLd
ground again, aching and worn, and looked back across the
south end of the island to where it dropped awaLQDUROOLQJ,
misted carpet of green jungle and black lava rock to the azure-
blue sweep of the ocean. Blackledge rose above them to either
disappeared into the horizon. Seabirds circled against the sky .
Sunlight appeared momentarilWKURXJKDEUHDNLQWKHFORXGV,
blinding in its intensity, turning the muted colors of the land
below vibrant and bright. W ren and Garth squinted against its

returned, and the island’s colors became dull again.
climb toward the mouth of the narrow pass. Then theZHUe
inside. The clif f rock rose all about them, a hulking, brooding
presence, and wind blew down out of Killeshan’ s heights in
rough, quick gusts like the sound of something breathing. It
was cold in the pass, and the Rovers wrapped themselves
was gone again, and the vog spilled down off the rocks in
opaque waves.
Twilight had descended bWKHWLPHWKH reached the fissure’ s
end. TheVWRRGDWWKHULPRIDYDOOH that stretched away
toward the final rise of Killeshan, a green-etched bowl settled
beneath a distant stretch of forestline that lifted to the barren
lava rock of the high slopes beRQG7KHYDOOH was broad and
misted, and it was difficult to see what laZLWKLQ7KHIDLQt
shimmer of a ribbon of water was visible east, winding
through stands of acacia-dotted hills and ridgelines laced with
black streamers of pitted rock. Across the sweep of the valley ,
all was still.
that fronted the valley. Night fell quickly, and with the skVo
completelVFUHHQHGDZD the world about them turned
jumble of rough sounds—the intermittent, barelSHUFHSWLEOe
rumble of Killeshan, the hiss of steam from cracks in the earth
where the heat of the volcano’ s core broke through, the grunts
and growls of hunting things, the sudden screams as
something died, and the frantic whispers as something else
fled. Stresa curled into a ball and laIDFLQJRXWDWWKe
blackness, less quick to sleep this night. W ren and Garth sat
next to him, anxious, uneasy, wondering what laDKHDG7KHy
were close now; the Rover girl could sense it. The Elves were
not far. She would find them soon. Sometimes, through the
black and the haze, she thought she could catch the glimmer of
across the valley , high on the slopes below the treeline’ s final
stretch. TheORRNHGORQHO and isolated, and she wondered if

the perception was an accurate one. How far had the Elves
come in their move awaIURPWKH)RXU/DQGV"Too far,
perhaps? So far that theFRXOGQRWJHWEDFNDJDLQ?
TheVHWRXWDJDLQDWGDbreak. Morrowindl had become a
gray, misted world of shadows and sounds. The valleIHOl
were descending into a pit. The trail was rockDQGVOLFNZLWh
damp, and the green that had seemed so predominant in the
previous night’ s uncertain light revealed itself now as nothing
more than small patches of beleaguered moss and grass
crouched amid long stretches of barren rock. T endrils of steam
laced with the stench of sulfur rose skZDUGWREOHQGZLWKWKe
vog, and pockets of intense heat burned through the soles of
their boots and seared the skin of their faces. Stresa set a slow
pace, picking his waFDUHIXOOy, lumbering from side to side
amid the rocks and their islands of green. Several times he
stopped and turned back again altogether , choosing a different
way. Wren could not tell what it was that the Splinterscat saw;
everWKLQJZDVLQYLVLEOHWRKHr . She felt bereft of her skills
once more, a stranger in a hostile, secretive world. She tried to
relax herself. Ahead, Stresa’s bulkIRUPUROOHGZLWKWKe
motion of his walk, daggerlike quills rising and falling
rhWKPLFDOOy. Behind, Garth stalked as if at hunt, dark face
intense, unreadable, hard. How verDOLNHWKH were, she
thought in surprise.
TheKDGFRPHGRZQRf f a small rise into a stand of brush
when the thing attacked. It launched itself out of the haze with
a shriek, a bristling horror with claws and teeth bared, slashing
in a desperate frenzy. It had legs and a bodDQGDKHDGWKHUe
was no time to tell more. It bSDVVHG6WUHVDDQGFDPHIRr
thing as she did and then thrusting it away . It slashed and bit,
but the heavJORYHVDQGFORDNSURWHFWHGKHr . She saw its eHV,
she scrambled to her feet, seeing the thing wheel back again
out of the corner of her eH.

Then Garth was there, short sword cutting. A glitter of iron
and the creature’s arm was gone. It fell, screaming, tearing at
the earth. Garth stepped in swiftlDQGVHYHUHGLWVKHDGDQGLt
went still.
Wren stood there shaking, still uncertain what the thing was. A
demon? Something else? She looked down at the bloodied,
shapeless husk. It had all happened so fast.
“Phf ftt! Listen!” Stresa sharplKLVVHG2WKHUVFRPH!
Ssstttfttp. This wa+XUU!”
He lumbered swiftlRf f. Wren and Garth were quick to
follow , tunneling after him into the gloom.
AlreadWKH could hear the sounds of pursuit.


T he chase began slowly, gathering momentum as it careened
downward into the valley . Wren, Garth, and the Splinterscat
were alone at first, sought after but not HWIRXQGDQGWKHLr
hunters were nothing more than scattered bits of noise still
distant and indistinct. TheVOLSSHGDKHDGVZLIWOy , watchfully,
without panic or fear . The landscape about them was
dreamlike, bWXUQVEDUUHQDQGHPSW where black lava had
buried the foliage beneath its glistening rockFDUSHWDQGOXVh
where patches of acacia and heavJUDVVIRXJKWIURPVPDOl
islands within the wilderness to reclaim what had been taken.
Vog hung over everWKLQJDYDVWORRVHO woven shroud,
swirling and shifting, creating the illusion that everWKLQJLt
touched was alive. Overhead, visible in small patches through
the haze, the skies were iron-graDQGVXQOHVV.
Stresa chose a rambling, circuitous mute, taking them first one
waDQGWKHQWKHRWKHr , his thick quilled bodUROOLQJDQd
lurching so that it constantlVHHPHGDVLIKHZHUHDERXWWRWLp
over. He favored neither the open sweep of the lava rock nor
the canopied cover of the brush-grown forest, veering from
one to the other impartially , whether selecting his path from
intuition or experience, it was impossible to tell. W ren could
hiss when he came across something he didn’t like. Once or
twice he looked back at them as if to make certain theZHUe
still there. He did not speak, and theNHSWVLOHQWDVZHOO.
It was chance alone that led to their discovery . TheKDGFRPe
upon a stretch of open rock, and the creature was lLQJLQZDLW.
It rose up almost in front of them, thrusting out of the earth
where it had burrowed, hissing and shrieking, a sort of birdlike
thing on legs with a great hooked beak and claws at its wing
tips. Talons swept downward to rip at Stresa, but the

Splinterscat’s backside hunched and rippled instantlDQGa
flurrRIUD]Rr -sharp quills flew into the attacker . The creature
screamed in pain and tumbled back, tearing at its face.
“Sssttt! Quick!” the Splinterscat snapped, hurrLQJDZDy .
TheIOHGVZLIWOy, the cries of their attacker fading behind
them. But now others were alerted and began to close. The
sounds were all about, snarls and growls and huf fings slicing
through the haze, out of the shadows. Garth drew his short
flung itself out of the brush. Wren ducked as the thing flew
past and saw the glitter of Garth’ s blade as it swept up. The
thing fell awaDQGZDVVWLOO7KH climbed from the ravine
onto a new stretch of lava rock, then raced for a cluster of
trees. A flurrRIVPDOOIRXr-legged creatures that resembled
boars tore from the cover and bore down on them. Stresa
crouched and shivered, and a shower of quills flew into the
attackers. Squeals filled the air , and clawed forefeet tore at the
earth. Stresa veered past them, quills lifting like spikes. One or
two made a vain attempt to rise, but Garth kicked them aside.
and vines, feeling the wet slap of the foliage against their faces
and arms. Just give us a few minutes more, Wren was thinking
Garth, and lifted him away . She wheeled back, her sword
drawn, and caught a final glimpse of the big man as he was
pulled from view, half carried, half dragged, thrashing
“Garth!” she cried out.
She started after him instantly , but had onlWDNHQDGR]Hn
steps before Stresa slammed into her from behind, sweeping
her legs from beneath her, knocking her to the ground, crLQJ,
“Down, girl! Ssstt. Sta”
She heard a hissing sound like dozens of snakes, then a ripping
as the foliage overhead was sliced apart. Stresa pushed
forward until he was next to her .
“That was foolish!” he spit roughly . “Look. Phffttt! See what
almost got RX"”

Wren looked. There was an odd-shaped bush that was as
quilled as the Splinterscat, needles pointing in everGLUHFWLRQ.
As she stared in disbelief, leaves folded about the needles to
hide them, and the bush took on a harmless look once more.
“Hsssst! That’ s a Darter!” Stresa breathed. “Poisonous! T ouch
it, disturb it in anZDy, and it flings its needles! Death, if they
prick RX”
The Splinterscat fixed her with his bright eHVW ren could no
longer see or hear Garth. Anger and frustration filled her , their
bitter heat churning in her stomach. Where was he? What had
been done to him? She had to find him! She had to . . .
Then Stresa was up and moving again, and she was moving
with him. TheSXVKHGWKURXJKWKHKHDY foliage, searching
the haze, listening. And suddenlVKHFRXOGKHDUVWUXJJOLQg
sounds again, and ahead there was a flash of movement. Stresa
lumbered forward, bristling; Wren was a step behind. There
was a grunt of pain and a thrashing. Garth rose up
“Garth!” Wren shouted, and rushed forward heedlessly .
The big Rover was sprawled on the earth when she reached
him, scratched and bruised, but otherwise unhurt. Whatever it
was that had latched onto him had apparentlWLUHGRIWKe
struggle. Garth permitted the girl a momentarKXJWKHn
Stresa got them moving again at once, back through the trees,
through the heavXQGHrgrowth and out onto the lava rock. A
cluster of shadows passed overhead and disappeared, silent,
formless. The sounds of pursuit continued to build around
them, rough and anxious. TheVFXUULHGDORQJDIODWWRDULGJe
that dropped into a pit of swirling mist. Stresa took them
almost dry.
A new horror lumbered out of the mist, a being vaguely
manlike, but with multiple limbs and a face that seemed all
jaws and teeth. Stresa curled into a ball, quills jutting out in
Wren swung her sword defensivelDQGMXPSHGDVLGHEDUHOy

avoiding a clutch of anxious fingers. Garth stood his ground
and let the thing come to him, then cut at it so fast Wren could
giant Rover leapt back and aside, then came at it again. W ren
attacked from the rear, but one monstrous arm swung about
saw the thing almost on top of her . Garth swept under it in a
rush, caught her up and DQNHGKHUDZDy . TheZHUHUXQQLQg
sharp beneath their boots. Garth slowed without stopping and
swung her down. Her feet struck and instantlVKHZDVUXQQLQg
with him. She saw Stresa ahead, somehow back in the lead.
She heard the growling and huffing of the creature behind.
Then something exploded out of the shadows on her left and
struck at her. Pain rushed along her arm, and she saw blood
stain her sleeve. There was a tearing of teeth and claws. She
screamed and pushed at whatever was clinging to her . It was
too close for her to use her sword. Garth materialized out of
nowhere, grasping her attacker with his bare hands and tearing
it free. She saw its ugly, twisted face’ and gnarled bodDVLt
dropped. With a howl, she swung at it with her sword, and it
flew apart.
“Grrrlll!” Stresa was next to them. “W e have to hide! Sssttt!
Behind, too close to consider, the monster tracking them gave
through the tangle of shadows and half-light, stumbling and
clawing their waDFURVVWKHURFNW ren was bleeding heavily.
She could see blood on Garth as well, but wasn’ t sure if it was
his or her own. Her mouth was drDQGKHUFKHVWEXUQHGDVVKe
gulped in air. Her strength was beginning to fail.
TheWRSSHGDULVHDQGVXGGHQO Stresa, still leading, tumbled
found him sprawled awkwardlDWWKHERWWRPRIDVKRUWGURS.
“Here! A hiding place!” he called out suddenly , spitting and
hissing as he regained his feet.

was a mass of boulders—and saw where he was looking.
Beneath an overhang was a split in the rock leading back into
“Sssstttppp! Inside, quickly. Go, it’s safe enough!” the
Splinterscat ur ged. When theIDLOHGWRUHVSRQGKHUXVKHGDt
them threateningly . “Hide! I’ll lead the thing awaDQGFRPe
back for RX+Urgggll! Go! Now!”
He whirled about and disappeared. Garth hesitated onla
moment, then plunged into the cleft. W ren was a step behind.
about, groping to find their way. The split opened back into the
lava for some distance, burrowing down into the earth. When
from without, theFURXFKHGGRZQWRZDLW.
monster approached without slowing and lumbered past. The
sounds faded.
Wren reached for Garth and squeezed his arm. Her eHVZHUe
beginning to adjust, and she could just barelPDNHKLPRXWLn
the dark. She sheathed her short sword, removed her leather
dark streaks of the claw marks down her arm. She medicated
the wounds with a healing salve and bound them with the last
clean scarf she carried. The stinging disappeared after a time,
turning to a dull, throbbing ache. She sat back wearily ,
listening to the sound of her own breathing mesh with Garth’ s
in the silence.
Time slipped away . Stresa did not return. W ren allowed her
the river now? she wondered. The Rowen laEHWZHHn
themselves and Arborlon, and once theKDGFURVVHGLWWKHy
would reach the Elves. She considered momentarilZKDWWKDt
fact that the Elves even existed, that theZHUHQRWVLPSOy
rumor or legend, but real and alive, and that against all odds,
she had found them. Or almost found them, at least. Another
day, two at the most . . .

At first she thought she must be mistaken, that the shadows
were plaLQJWULFNVRQKHr. But there was sufficient light for
her to trust what she was seeing. It crouched motionless on a
shelf of rock several feet behind Garth. It was small, barela
dozen inches high, she guessed, although it was hard to be
certain when it was hunched down that way . It had large,
round eHVWKDWVWDUHGIL[HGO and huge ears pointing of f a tiny
head with a fox face. It had a spindlERG and looked vaguely
spiderlike at first glance—so much so that Wren had to fight
down a moment’s revulsion as she recalled the encounter with
the Wisteron. But it was small and helpless looking, and it had
stared back. She knew instinctivelWKDWWKHRGGFUHDWXUHKDd
chosen this cleft as a hiding place just as theKDG,WKDd
frozen in place to avoid being seen, but now it was discovered
Wren smiled and kept still. The creature watched, eHs
searching. CasuallW ren caught Garth’s attention, brought
her hands up slowly , and told him what was going on. She
asked him to ease over next to her . He did so, and theVDt
together studLQJWKHFUHDWXUH$IWHUDZKLOHW ren reached
into her pack and extracted a few scraps of food. She took a
bite of some cheese and passed what remained to Garth. The
big man finished it. The creature’s tongue licked out.
“Hello, little one,” Wren said softly. “Are RXKXQJU?”
The tongue reappeared.
No response. W ren leaned forward with a bit of cheese. The
creature did not move. She eased a little closer . The creature
When the creature still did not move, she stretched out her
hand cautiouslDQGJHQWO tossed the cheese toward the ledge.
Faster than the eHFRXOGIROORw, the creature’s hand shot out
and caught the cheese in midair . After hauling in its catch, the
creature sniffed it, then gobbled it down.

“HungrLQGHHGDUHQ’t RX"Wren whispered.
There was a shuf fling at the entrance to their hiding place. The
creature on the rock vanished instantlLQWRWKHVKDGRZVW ren
and Garth turned, swords drawn.
“Hhrrrrgghh,” Stresa muttered as he eased slowlLQWRYLHw ,
puffing and grunting. “Demon wouldn’ t give up the hunt.
Ffphtt. Took much longer than I thought to lose it.” He shook
his quills until theUDWWOHG.
“Are RXDOOULJKW"W ren asked.
The Splinterscat bristled. “Of course I’m all right. Do RXVHe
back again, watching.
direction of the creature.
Stresa peered into the gloom and then snorted. “Ssspptt. That’ s
just a Tree Squeak! CompletelKDUPOHVV”
“It looks frightened.”
The Splinterscat blinked. “T ree Squeaks are frightened of
everWKLQJ7KDW’s what keeps them alive. That and their
quickness. Fastest things on Morrowindl. Smart, too. Smart
enough not to let themselves get trapped. Y ou can be certain
even be here. Rrrwwlll. Look at it stare. Seems to have taken
an interest in RX”
the T ree Squeaks, too?”
Stresa settled himself comfortablLQSODFHSDZVWXFNHGLQ.
“The T ree Squeaks were alwaVKHUH%XWWKHPDJLFKDs
Used to be paws. TheFRPPXQLFDWHWRRW atch.”
He made a small chirping sound. The Tree Squeak cocked its
head. Stresa tried again. This time the T ree Squeak responded,
a soft, low squeaking.

Stresa shrugged. “It’s hungry.” The Splinterscat lost interest,
his blunt head lowering onto its forepaws. “W e’ll rest until
midday, then go on. The demons sleep when its hottest. Best
time for us to be about.”
purposefullDWW ren and settled back as well, finding a
smooth spot amid the rough edges of the lava rock. W ren was
for another chunk of cheese. She nibbled at it while the T ree
Squeak watched, then gentlHDVHGDFURVVWKHIORRURIWKe
crevice until she had closed the distance between them. When
she was no more than an arm’s length away, she broke off a bit
of the cheese and held it out to the T ree Squeak. The little
creature took it gingerlDQGDWHLW.
A short time later the Tree Squeak was curled up in her lap. It
was still there when she finallIHOODVOHHS.

Garth’s hand on her shoulder , firm and reassuring, brought her
awake again. She blinked and glanced about. The T ree Squeak
was back on its ledge, watching. Garth signed that it was time
to go. She rose cautiouslLQWKHFOHIW’s narrow confines and
pulled on her pack. Stresa waited bWKHHQWUDQFHTXLOOs
spread, sniffing the air. It was hot within their shelter , the air
still and close.
She looked around brieflWRZKHUHWKHT ree Squeak crouched.
sulfuric and rank, and its taste grittZLWKDVKDQGVLOW+HDt
from Killeshan’s core rose through the porous rock and hung
stubborn and unmoving in the air , trapped within the valle’s
windless expanse as if captured in a kettle. The mist reflected
whitelWKHGLffused sunlight, causing W ren to squint against
ribbons of black lava rock disappeared into other worlds.

Stresa took them forward, making his waFDXWLRXVO through
the vog’s murk, angling from one point to the next, snif fing as
he went. The daKDGJRQHXQFRPIRUWDEO silent. W ren
listened suspiciously, remembering that Stresa had said the
demons would sleep now , mistrusting the information all the
same. TheZRUNHGWKHLUZD deeper into the valle’ s bowl,
past islands of jungle grown thick with vines and grasses,
down ridges and drops carpeted with scrub, and along the
endless strips of barren, crusted lava rock that unraveled like
black bands through the mist.
The afternoon wore quicklRQ,QWKHKD]HDERXWWKHP,
nothing moved. There were things out there, Wren knew—she
could feel their presence. There were creatures like the one
that had almost caught them that morning and others even
worse. But Stresa seemed aware of where theZHUHDQGPDGe
certain to avoid them, leading his charges on, confident in his
choice of paths as he picked his waWKURXJKWKHWUHDFKHURXs
was a sense of nothing being permanent, of the whole of
Morrowindl being in continual flux. The island seemed to
break apart and reform about them, a surreal landscape that
nature that normallJRYHUQHGWren grew increasingly
uneasy, used to the dependable terrain of plains and mountains
and forests, to the sweep of countrQRWKHPPHGDERXWEy
water and settled upon a furnace that could open on a whim
and consume everWKLQJWKDWOLYHGRQLW.LOOHVKDQ’ s breath
steamed through fissures in the lava rock, small eruptions that
stank of burning rock and gases and left shards of debris to
drift upon the air. Incongruous amid the lava rock and weeds,
isolated clusters of flowering bushes grew , fighting to survive
against the heat and ash. Once, Wren thought to herself, this
island must have been verEHDXWLIXOEXWLWZDVGLf ficult to
imagine it so now.
It was late in the daZKHQWKH finallUHDFKHGWKH5RZHQWKe
begun to stir again, their rumblings and growls-causing the
three companions to grow increasinglPRUHZDWFKIXO7KHy
came upon the river at a point where its far shore was hidden

clouded so thick that nothing of what laEHQHDWKWKHVXUIDFe
Stresa stopped at the shore’s edge, casting left and right
uncertainly, sniffing the heavDLr .
Wren knelt next to the Splinterscat. “How do we get across?”
she asked.
“At the Narrows,” the other answered with a grunt. “Ssspptt.
The trouble is, I’m not sure where theDUH,KDYHQ’ t been this
Wren glanced back at Garth, who watched impassively . The
light was failing rapidlQRw, and the sound of the demons
rising from their sleep was growing louder . The air remained
still and thick as the heat of middaFRROHGWRDGDPSVZHOWHr .
“Rrrwwll. Downstream, I think,” Stresa ventured, sounding
none too sure.
Then Wren saw something move in the mist behind them and
started. Garth had his short sword out instantly . A small figure
inched into view, and Wren came to her feet in surprise. It was
the Tree Squeak. It circled awaIURP*DUWKDQGFDPHXSWo
her, taking hold of her arm tentatively .
stroked its furrKHDG.
The Tree Squeak pulled itself up on her shoulder and chittered
The Splinterscat grunted. “It saVWKHFUUUZZZOOFURVVLQJLs
upstream, just a short distance from here. Phf fttt. It saVLWZLOl
show us the way.”
Wren frowned doubtfully . “It knows what we’re looking for?”
“Ssssttt. Seems to.” Stresa hunched his quills anxiously . “I
don’t like standing about in the open like this. Let’ s take a
chance and do what it saV0Dbe it knows something.”
Wren nodded. W ith Stresa still leading, theVWDUWHGXSVWUHDP,
following the ragged curve of the Rowen’ s bank. Wren carried

the Tree Squeak, who clung to her possessively . It must have
realized. ApparentlLWKDGQ’t wanted to be left behind.
Perhaps the small kindnesses she had shown had won it over .
She stroked the wirERG absentlDQGZRQGHUHGKRZPXFh
Moments later Stresa stopped abruptlDQGGUHZWKHPEDFk
into the concealment of a cluster of rocks. Something huge and
misshapen passed before them on its waWRWKHULYHr, a silent
shadow in the haze. PatientlWKH waited. The volume of
coughs and grunts continued to grow as the dusk deepened.
slowed to a whisper.
Then the shoreline moved awaIURPZKHUHWKH walked,
sloping downward into the river ’s swift waters, turning the
swirling surface to broken rapids. The haze lifted suf ficiently
to reveal a narrow bridge of rocks. QuicklWKH crossed,
crouched low against the water, darting for the cover of the
the Tree Squeak again chittered to Stresa.
growl in its throat.
TheGLGDVWKHT ree Squeak advised, moving into the vog.
The last of the daOLJKWIDGHGDZD and darkness closed about.
shimmered faintlWKURXJKWKHKD]H7KH were forced to slow ,
to grope ahead in the darter pockets, to pause and listen and
then judge where it was safe to venture. The demons seemed
to be ahead of them—massed, Wren was willing to bet,
between themselves and their destination.
She discovered soon enough that she had guessed right. The
withered scrub, and abruptlWKHPLVWFOHDUHG4XLFNO they
flattened themselves into the brush. Hunched close together in
the shadows, theVWDUHGRXWDWZKDWOD before them.
Arborlon stood on a rise less than a mile ahead and was itself
the source of the strange glow. The glow emanated from a

massive wall that ringed the city, pulsing faintlDJDLQVWWKe
mist and clouds. All about, the demons pressed close, shadows
that slipped in and out of the vog and mist, faceless, formless
wraiths caught momentarilLQWKHJODUHRIILUHVWKDWEXUQHd
from fissures in the earth where spouts of molten lava had
broken through. Jets of steam filled the air with ash and heat
and turned the charred earth into a ghostly , fierQHWKHUZRUOG.
Demon growls disappeared into rumblings that rose from deep
within the earth where the volcano’s molten core churned and
tossed. In the distance, looming high above the citDQGWKe
wraiths that besieged it, Killeshan’s maw steamed, jagged and
threatening, a fire monster waiting to feast.
landscape in shock. That the Elves could have allowed
themselves to be trapped in a world such as this was beRQd
belief. She felt herself go hollow with fear and loathing. How
could this have come about? The Elves were healers, trained
from the moment of their birth to restore life, to keep the land
and its living things whole. What had prevented that here?
Arborlon was an island within its walls—its people somehow
preserved, somehow still able to sustain themselves—while
the world without had become a nightmare.
She bent close to Stresa. “How long have things been like
The Splinterscat hissed. “Ff fpphtt! Years. The Elves have been
barricaded awaIRUDVORQJDVDQ of us can remember , hiding
behind their magic. Ssstttppp! See the light that rises from the
wall that shields them? Mmssst. That is their protection!”
The Tree Squeak chittered softly , causing her to turn. Stresa
grunted. “Hwrrrll. The Squeak saVWKHOLJKWZHDNHQVDQGWKe
magic fails. Not much time left before it goes out completely .”
Wren stared out again at the carnage. Not much time, she
repeated to herself. Shades, there could be little doubt of that.
She experienced a sudden sense of futility . What was the point
of her search now? She had come to Morrowindl to find the
Elves and return them to the world of Men—Allanon’ s charge
to her at the Hadeshorn. But how could the Elves ever return
out of this? SurelWKH would have done so long ago if it were

at all possible. Yet here theUHPDLQHGULQJHGDOODERXW6Ke
she supposed to do?
A great sadness filled her . What if the Elves were lost? The
Elves were all that was left of the world of faerie, all that
remained of the first people, of the magic that had given life
Lands into being when the Great W ars ended and the old was
were lost. All of the children of Shannara had come from
Elven blood; all of the struggles that had been waged to
preserve the Races had been won bWKHP,WVHHPHd
impossible that it could all be relegated to histor’ s scroll, that
nothing would remain of the Elves but the stories.
MWKVDQGOHJHQGV, she reflected— the waLWLVQRw.
She thought again of the promise she had made to herself to
learn the truth about her parents, to find out who theZHUHDQd
whWKH had left her . And what of the Elfstones? She had
vowed to discover whWKH had been given to her . Her fingers
lifted to trace the outline of the leather bag about her neck. She
had not thought of the Elfstones since theKDGEHJXQWKHLr
ascent of Blackledge. She had not even thought to use the
done the Elves.
She felt Garth’s hand on her shoulder and saw the questioning
She found herself wondering the same thing.
Go home, a voice whispered inside her . Give this madness up.
Part of her agreed. It was madness, and she had no reason to
be here beRQGIRROLVKFXULRVLW and stubborn insistence. Look
at how little her skills and her training could help her in this
business. She was luckVKHKDGJRWWHQWKLVIDr . She was lucky
even to be alive.
But here she was nevertheless. And the answers to all her
questions laMXVWEHond the light.
“Stresa,” she whispered, “is there a waWRJHWLQWRWKHFLW?”

The Splinterscat’s eHVVKRQHLQWKHGDUNW rroowwll, Wren
of the Elves. Y ou are determined to go down there, are RX"”
When she failed to respond, he said, “W ithin a ravine that—
hrrwwll—lies close to where the demons prowl, there are
tunnels hidden. Sssstttpht. The tunnels lead into the city . The
Elves use them to sneak awaRUGLGRQFHXSRQDWLPH7KDt
Perhaps there is still one in use, do RXWKLQN"”
The Splinterscat blinked.
“Hssstttt. W ill RXUHPHPEHUour promise to take me with
“I will.”
of us goes? Ssttpht.”
“Garth, RXDQGPH”
The T ree Squeak chittered instantly .
Stresa purred. “I thought as much. The Squeak plans on going,
too. Rwwwll. WhQRW",W’s onlD6TXHDN”
Wren hesitated. She felt the T ree Squeak’s fingers clutch
“Sssttt.” Stresa might have been laughing. “She saVWRWHOl
“Faun.” Wren repeated the name and smiled faintly . “Is that
RXUQDPHOLWWOHRQH"7KHURXQGHes were fixed on her , the
big ears cocked forward. It seemed odd that the Tree Squeak
should even have a name. “So RXZRXOGDGRSWPHZRXOd
it is RXUFRXQWUy . And I probablFRXOGQ’ t keep RXIURm
going if I tried.”
She glanced at Garth to make certain he was ready . The rough
face was calm and the dark eHVIDWKRPOHVV6KHWRRNDODVt
look down at the madness below, then pushed back the fear

and the doubt and told herself with as much conviction as she
could muster that she was a Rover girl and that she could
survive anWKLQJ.
Her fingers passed brieflDFURVVWKHKDUGVXUIDFHRIWKe
If it becomes necessar.
She blocked the thought away. “Lead us in, Stresa,” she
whispered. “And keep us safe.”
The Splinterscat didn’t bother to reply.


W ren Ohmsford could not remember a time when she had
been afraid of much of anWKLQJ,WVLPSO wasn’t her nature.
Even when she was small and the world was still new and
strange and virtuallHYHUone and everWKLQJLQLWZDVHLWKHr
bigger and stronger or quicker and meaner, she was never
frightened. No matter the danger, whatever the uncertainty, she
remained confident that somehow she would find a waWo
protect herself. This confidence was innate, a mix of iron-
willed determination and self-assurance that had given her a
special kind of inner strength all her life. As she grew ,
her training with Garth, she acquired the skill and experience
needed to make certain that her confidence was never
misplaced, that it never exceeded her ability.
All that had changed when she had come in search of the
Elves. Twice since she had begun that search she had found
the Shadowen that had tracked them all through the W estland
she had discovered to her horror that she was powerless
against it. All of her training and all of her skill availed her
nothing. She should have known it would be like that;
his own encounter with the dark creatures. But for some
reason she had thought it would be different with her—or
perhaps she simplKDGQ’t considered what it would be like at
whom she had believed stronger and quicker than anWKLQJ—
face to face with something against which no amount of
confidence and abilitFRXOGSUHYDLO.

She would have died that night if she had not been able to call
upon the magic of the Elfstones. The magic alone had been
able to save them both.
monsters, she found herself terrified anew . She tried to
rationalize it awaVKHWULHGWRDrgue against it. Nothing
helped. She knew the truth of things, and the truth was the
same as it had been that night at the ruins of the W ing Hove
when she had confronted the Shadowen. Confidence, skill,
experience, and Garth’s protective presence, however
formidable in most instances, were of little reassurance here.
Morrowindl was a cauldron of unpredictable magic and
unreasoning evil, and the onlZHDSRQVKHSRVVHVVHGWKDWZDs
likelWRSURYHHffective against it was the Elfstones. Magic
alone kept the Elves alive inside the walls of Arborlon. Magic,
however misguided, had apparentlVXPPRQHGWKHHYLOWKDt
besieged them. Magic had changed forever the island and the
things that lived upon it. There was no reason for W ren to
think that she could survive on Morrowindl for verORQg
without using magic of her own.
Yet use of the Elfstones was as frightening to her as the
monsters the magic was intended to protect against. Look at
her; as a Rover girl, she had spent her entire life learning to
depend upon her own skills and training and to believe that
Garth had schooled her and what life with the Rovers had
taught her , but more important it was what she had alwas
believed. The world and the things in it were governed bDVHt
of behavioral laws; learn those laws and RXFRXOGZLWKVWDQd
another’s weaknesses and strengths, using RXUVHQVHVWo
discover what was there—those were the things that kept Ru
alive. But magic? What was magic? It was invisible, a force
beRQGQDWXUH’ s laws, an unknown that defied understanding.
It was power without discernible limits. How could RXWUXVt
something like that? The historRIKHUIDPLOy , of Ohmsfords
ten generations gone, suggested RXFRXOGQRW/RRNZKDWWKe

magic had done to Wil and Brin and Jair. What certaintZDs
there if she was forced to relRQVRPHWKLQJVRXQSUHGLFWDEOH?
What would using the magic do to her? T rue, it had been
Shadowen. It had flowed ever so smoothlIURPWKH6WRQHV,
come almost effortlessly, striking at the mere direction of her
thoughts. There had been no sense of wrongness in its use—
indeed, it was as if the power had been waiting to be
summoned, as if it belonged to her .
She shivered at the recognition of what that meant. She had
been given the Elfstones, she knew , in the belief that one day
she would need them. Their power was intended to be hers.
She tightened her resolve against such an idea. She didn’ t want
it. She didn’t want the magic. She wanted her life to staDVLt
was, not to be irrevocablFKDQJHGIRULWZRXOGEHVREy
power that exceeded her understanding and, she believed, her
Except, of course, now—here on Killeshan’ s slopes,
surrounded bGHPRQVE things formed of magic and dark
intention, set upon a landscape of fire and mist, where in a
second’s time she could be lost, unless . . .
She cut the thought short, refusing to complete it, focusing
instead on Stresa’ s quilled bulk as the Splinterscat tunneled his
shifted and reformed, cloaking and lifting clear from islands of
jungle scrub and bare lava rock, as if the substance of a
kaleidoscopic world that could not decide what it wanted to
be. Growls sounded, disembodied and directionless, low and
threatening as theURVHDQGIHOODZD again. She crouched
down in the haze, a frantic inner voice shrieking at her to
disappear, to burrow into the rock, to become invisible, to do
Garth instead, finding him reassuringlFORVHWKHQWKLQNLQJLn
the next instance that it made no dif ference, that he was not
enough, that nothing was.
Stresa froze. Something skittered awaWKURXJKWKHVKDGRZs
ahead, claws clicking on stone. TheZDLWHG)DXQKXQg
expectantlXSRQKHUVKRXOGHr, head stretched forward, ears

cocked, listening. The soft brown eHVJODQFHGDWKHr
momentarily, then shifted away .
What phase of the moon was it? she wondered suddenly . How
long had it been since Tiger TKDGOHIWWKHPKHUH"6Ke
realized that she didn’ t know.
Stresa started forward again. TheWRSSHGDULVHVWULSSHGRf
into a ravine. Mist pooled on the rockIORRr , and theJURSHd
their waDKHDGXQFHUWDLQOy. Stresa’s quills shimmered damply ,
and the air turned chill. There was light, but it was dif ficult to
tell where it was coming from. Wren heard a cracking sound,
as if something had split apart, then a hiss of trapped steam
and gases being released. A shriek rose and disappeared. The
growls quieted, then started again. W ren forced her breathing
to slow. So much happening and she could see none of it.
Sounds came from everZKHUHEXWODFNHGLGHQWLWy . There
were no signs to read, no trails to follow, onlDQHQGOHVs
landscape of rock and fire and vog.
Faun chittered softly, urgently .
At the same moment, Stresa came to a sudden halt. The
Splinterscat’ s quills fanned out, and the bulkIRUPKXQFKHd
down. Wren dropped into a crouch and reached for her short
sword, starting as Garth brushed up against her . There was
something dark in the haze ahead. Stresa backed away , half
turned, and looked for another waWRJR%XWWKHUDYLQHZDs
narrow here, and there was no room to maneuver. He wheeled
back, bristling.
The dark image coalesced and began to take on form.
Something on two legs walked toward them. Garth fanned out
to one side, as silent as the shadows. Wren eased her sword
clear of its sheath and quit breathing.
The figure emerged from the haze and slowed. It was a man,
clad all in close-fitting, earth-colored clothes. The clothes
were wrinkled and worn, streaked with ash and grime, and free
just above the ankle were scuf fed and had the tops folded
down one turn. The man himself was a reflection of his

clothes, of medium height but appearing taller than otherwise
because he was so angular. His face was narrow with a hawk
nose and a seamed, beardless face, and his dark hair was
the appearance of something that was hopelesslFUHDVHGDQd
faded from having been folded up and put awaIRUVRORQJ.
He didn’t seem surprised to see them. Nor did he seem afraid.
shoulder momentarily , and then pointed back the waWKH had
For a minute, no one moved, still not certain what to do. Then
Wren saw what she had missed before. Beneath the cap and
the tousled hair were pointed ears and slanted brows.
The man was an Elf.
After all this time, she thought. After so much effort. Relief
flooded through her and at the same time a strangeness that
she could not identify . It seemed odd somehow to finallFRPe
face to face with what she had worked so hard to find. She
stood there, staring, caught up in her emotions.
He gestured again, a bit more insistent than before. He was
older than he had first appeared, but so weathered that it was
impossible for Wren to tell how much of his aging was natural
and how much the result of hard living.
Coming back to herself at last, she caught Garth’ s attention
and signed for him to do as the Elf had asked. She rose and
Elf passed them a dozen steps along the way, a seemingly
effortless task, and beckoned for them to follow . He took them
back down the ravine and out again, drawing them across a
bare stretch of lava rock and finallLQWRDVWDQGRIVWXQWHd
trees. There he crouched down with them in a circle.
He bent close, his sharp graHes fixing on W ren. “Who are
“Wren Ohmsford,” she whispered back. “These are mIULHQGs
—Garth, Stresa, and Faun.” She indicated each in turn.

The Elf seemed to find this humorous. “Such odd company.
How did RXJHWKHUHWren?”
He had a gentle voice, as seamed and worn as the rest of him,
as comfortable as old shoes.
“A Wing Rider named T iger TEURXJKW*DUWKDQGPHKHUe
from the mainland. W e’ve come to find the Elves.” She
The lines on the other ’s face deepened with a smile. “There are
pressed, I suppose that I would admit to being one of them. I
am Aurin Striate. EverRQHFDOOVPHWKH2ZO0Dbe RXFDn
guess wh"”
“Y ou hunt at night?”
“I can see in the dark. That is wh,DPRXWKHUHZKHUHQRRQe
else cares to go, beRQGWKHZDOOVRIWKHFLWy . I am the queen’s
Wren blinked. “The queen?”
The Owl dismissed the question with a shake of his head.
“Y ou have come all this waWRILQGWKH(OYHVW ren
Ohmsford? Whatever for? WhVKRXOGou care what has
become of us?” The eHVFULQNOHGDERYHKLVVPLOHY ou are
are even still alive. Or perhaps not. Y ou are Elven RXUVHOII
see.” The smile faded. “Is it possible . . . ?”
He trailed off doubtfully. There was something in his eHVWKDt
Wren could not make out. Disbelief, hope, what? She started
here. Or more accurately, back bWKHULYHUZKHUHLWLVDWOHDVt
“No,” W ren said at once. “MIULHQGVFRPHZLWKPH”
and kind. “I am forbidden to bring anEXWWKH(OYHQLQWRWKe
city. I would do otherwise if I could, but the law cannot be

“Phfft. I can wait at the—hrwwll—river ,” Stresa growled.
“I’ve done what I promised in anFDVH”
Wren ignored him. She kept her gaze fixed on the Owl. “It is
not safe out here,” she insisted.
“It is not safe anZKHUHWKHRWKHUUHSOLHGVDGOy . “Stresa and
Faun are used to looking after themselves. And RXUIULHQd
Garth seems fit enough. A daRUWZRWren—that would be
all. BWKHQSHUKDSVou can persuade the Council to let them
Wren didn’ t know what sort of Council he was talking about,
but irrespective of what was decided about Stresa and Faun
she was not going to leave Garth. The Splinterscat and the
Tree Squeak might be able to survive on their own, but this
island was as foreign and treacherous for Garth as it was for
her and she was not about to abandon him.
“There has to be another . . .” she started to say .
things came swarming out of the mist. Wren barelKDGWLPHWo
look up before theZHUHXSRQKHr. She caught a glimpse of
Faun streaking into the night, of Stresa’ s quilled bodIOH[LQJ,
and of Garth as he rose to defend her, and then she was
closest attacker. Blood flew and the creature tumbled away .
company. Stresa’s quills flew into one and sent it shrieking
away. Garth threw back another and battled to her side. She
stood back to back with him and fought as the things came at
them. She couldn’ t see them clearly, onlJOLPSVHVRIWKHLr
misshapen bodies and the gleaming eHV6KHORRNHGIRUWKe
Owl, but he was nowhere to be found.
the earth as he cut two of the attackers down before theNQHw
what was happening. In the next instant he was gone again,
then back at another place, a pair of long knives in his hands,
though Wren couldn’ t remember having seen anZHDSRQVRn
him before. The Elf was like smoke as he slipped among the

attackers, there and gone again before RXFRXOGJHWDIL[Rn
Garth pressed forward, his massive arms flinging the attackers
aside. The demons held their ground momentarily, then fell
darkness all about.
Aurin Striate materialized at Wren’s side. His words were
harsh, ur gent. “Quick. This way , all of RXWe’ll worrDERXt
the Council later .”
He took them across the stretch of lava rock and back into the
ravine. Sounds of pursuit came from everZKHUH7KH ran in
a low crouch along the rockEDVLQDQJOLQJWKURXJKERXOGHUs
and cuts, the Owl leading, a phantom that threatened at every
turn to disappear into the night.
TheKDGJRQHRQO a short distance when something small
and furrIOXQJLWVHOIRQWRW ren’s shoulder . She gasped, reeled
awaSURWHFWLYHOy , then straightened as she realized it was
Faun, returned from wherever she had run of f to. The Tree
Squeak burrowed into her shoulder , chittering softly.
Seconds later the demons caught up with them, swarming out
of the haze once more. TheVZHSWSDVW6WUHVDZKRFXUOHd
into a ball instantly , quills pointing everZKLFKZDy , and
flung themselves on the humans. Garth took the brunt of the
attack, a wall that refused to buckle as he flung the creatures
back one after another. Wren fought next to him, quick and
agile, the blade of the short sword flicking left and right.
Against her chest, nestled in their leather bag, the Elfstones
began to burn.
Again the attackers drew back, but not so far this time and not
so readily . The night and the fog turned them to shadows, but
their howls were close and anxious as theZDLWHGIRURWKHUVWo
join them. The Elf and his char ges gathered in a knot, fighting
for breath, their weapons glistening damply .
“We have to keep running,” the Owl insisted. “It is not far
now .”

A dozen feet away, Stresa uncurled, hissing. “Ssssttppht! Run
cat head toward Wren. “I’ll be waiting—rwwwll—W ren when
Then abruptlKHZDVJRQHVOLSSLQJDZD into the dark,
having become one of the shadows about him.
The Owl beckoned, and W ren and Garth began to run once
again, still following the curve of the ravine. There was
movement all about them in the mist, swift and furtive. Jets of
steam gushed from the earth through cracks in the lava, and
the stench of sulfur filled the air . A slide of rocks blocked their
way, and theVFUDPEOHGSDVWLWKXUULHGOy . Ahead, Arborlon
glowed behind its protective wall, a shimmer of buildings and
towers amid forest trees. In the mixed light of the cit’ s magic
and the volcano’s fire, Killeshan’ s barren, ravaged slope was
dotted with islands of scrub and trees that had somehow
escaped the initial devastation and were now reduced to a slow
suffocation from the heat. V og hung across the landscape in a
ragged curtain, and the monsters that hid within it passed
through its ashen haze like bore worms through earth.
been following. The Owl had them hurrLQJWRZDUGLWZKHn
the demons attacked again. TheIOHZDWWKHPIURPERWKVLGHs
this time, materializing out of the gloom as if risen from the
earth. The Owl was knocked sprawling, and W ren went down
in a flurrRIFODZVDQGWHHWK2QO Garth remained standing,
and there were demons all over him, clinging, tearing, trLQg
to bring him down. Wren kicked out violentlDQGIUHHd
back into the night. W ren’s sword slashed blindly , cut into
something, held momentarily , then jerked free. She scrambled
up and was borne back again, hammered against the rock. She
could feel gashes open on the back of her head and neck. Pain
demons circling all about. Night and mist had swallowed up
the Owl. Garth was down, the demons atop him a writhing
mass of black limbs. She screamed and struggled to reach him,
but crooked hands clutched roughlDWKHUDQGKHOGKHUEDFN.

The Elfstones seared her chest like fire.
back up, that this was the end for all of them.
She could hear herself scream soundlesslVRPHZKHUHGHHp
Reason fled before her need, and fear gave waWRUDJH7KHUe
were bodies all about her, claws and teeth ripping, and fetid
breath against her skin. Her fingers plunged into her tunic and
TheIODUHGWROLIHLQVWDQWOy , an eruption of light and fire. The
leather bag disintegrated. The magic exploded through cracks
in the Rover girl’s fingers, too impatient and too willful to wait
for her hand to open. It swept the air like a scattering of
knives, cutting apart the black things, turning them to dust
almost before their screams died away . Wren was suddenly
free again. She stumbled to her feet, with the Elfstones
stretched forth now , the fire and the light racing from within
her, joining with the magic until there was no distinction. She
threw back her head as the power ripped through her—harsh,
defiant, and exhilarating. She was transformed, and her fears
of what would become of her in the wake of the magic’ s use
dissipated and were lost. It made no difference who or what
she had been or how she had lived her life. The magic was
She turned its power on the mass of bodies atop Garth and it
hammered into them. In seconds, theGLVLQWHJUDWHG6RPe
others—those that were larger and more hardened—but in the
and his dark, bearded face ashen. What was he staring at? she
wondered vaguely. She marveled at the look on his face as she
used the power of the Stones to sweep the landscape clean.
The Owl reappeared out of the haze, and there was awe etched
afraid . . .

the magic was gone. The exhilaration and the fire left her,
stripped naked and set out for everRQHWRVHHWeariness
flooded through her. She felt ashamed. The magic had snared
her, taken her for its own, destroHGKHUUHVROXWLRQWo
withstand its lure, and buried all her promises that she would
Ohmsfords it had claimed.
Ah, but she had needed its power , hadn’t she? Hadn’ t it kept
her alive—kept them all alive? Hadn’ t she wanted it, even
gloried in it? What else could she have done?
Garth was next to her, holding her bWKHVKRXOGHUVNHHSLQg
all right. But she wasn’ t, of course. The Owl was there as well,
who was promised. You are welcome indeed. Come quickly
now, before the dark things regroup and attack again. Hurr”
She followed obediently , wordlessly, her bodDIRUHLJQWKLQg
that swept her along as she watched from somewhere just
without. Heat and exhaustion worked through her , but she felt
detached from them. She saw the landscape revert to a sea of
vog through which a strange arraRIVKDGRZVIORDWHGT rees
waiting to crumble away. Ahead, glistening like something
trapped behind a rain-streaked window , was the citRIWKe
Elves, a jeweled treasure that shimmered with promise and
A lie, the thought struck her suddenly, incongruously, and she
was surprised with the intensitRILW It is all a lie.
Then the Owl led them through a tangle of brush and down a
narrow defile where the shadows were so thick it was all but
impossible to see. He crouched down, worked at a gathering of
rocks, and a trapdoor lifted. SwiftlWKH scrambled inside, the
air hot and stifling. The Elf reached up and pulled the trapdoor
back into place and secured it. The darkness lasted onla
moment, and then there was a hint of the cit’ s strange light

through the tunnel that laDKHDG7KH2ZOWRRNWKHPGRZQLWs
length, saLQJQRWKLQJOHDQDQGVKDGRZ against the faint
wash of brightness. Wren felt the sense of detachment fading
now; she was back inside herself, returned to who and what
she was. She knew what had happened, what she had done, but
she would not let herself dwell on it. There was nothing to do
but to go forward and to complete the journeVKHKDGVHt
herself. The citOD ahead—Arborlon. And the Elves, whom
she had come to find. That was what she must concentrate on.
Tree Squeak was still outside, fled into that fierQHWKHUZRUOd
. . . She shut her eHVPRPHQWDULOy . Stresa was there as well,
gone of his own choice. She feared for them both. But there
was nothing she could do.
TheZRUNHGWKHLUZD down the tunnel for what seemed an
endless amount of time, crouched low in the narrow
passageway, wordless as theZHQW7KHOLJKWEULJKWHQHGWKe
farther theZHQWXQWLOLWZDVDVFOHDUDVGDlight within the
rock. The world without faded entirelWKHYRJWKHKHDWWKe
ash, and the stench—all gone. SuddenlWKHURFNGLVDSSHDUHd
for Wren of the forests of the W estland, of her home. She
breathed the smell in deeply , wondering that it could be. The
magic, she thought, had preserved it.
The tunnel ended at a set of stone stairs that led upward to a
heavy, iron-bound door set in a wall of rock. As theUHDFKHd
the door , the Owl turned suddenlWRIDFHWKHP.
“Wren,” he said softly , “listen to me.” The graHes were
intense. “I know I am a stranger to RXDQGou have no
particular reason to trust anWKLQJ,VDy . But RXPXVWUHO on
me at least this once. Until RXVSHDNZLWKWKHTXHHQDQGRQOy
possession of the Elfstones. T ell no one else before. Do Ru
Wren nodded slowly . “WhGRou ask this of me, Aurin

The Owl smiled sadly, the creases in his worn face deepening.
“Because, Wren, though I would wish it otherwise, not
everRQHZLOOZHOFRPHour coming.”
Then, turning, he tapped sharplRQWKHGRRr , waited, and
tapped again—three and then two, three and then two. W ren
listened. There was movement on the other side. HeavORFNs
released, sliding free.


I have come home.
It was Wren’s first thought—vivid, startling, and unexpected.
opened beneath the shadow of the parapets. Arborlon stretched
awaEHIRUHKHr , and it was as if she had returned to the
Westland, for there were oaks, hickories and elm, green bushes
and grass, and earth that smelled of growing things and
changes of season, streams and ponds, and life at everWXUQ.
An owl hooted softly , and there was a flutter of wings close at
hand as a smaller bird darted awaIURPLWVKLGGHQSHUFK.
Some others sang. Whippoorwills! Fireflies glimmered in a
stand of hemlock and crickets chirped. She could hear the soft
rush of water from a river where it tumbled over the rocks. She
could feel the whisper of a gentle night wind against her
cheek. The air smelled clean, free of the stench of sulfur .
clusters of homes and shops, streets and roadwaVEHORZDQd
tangle of streams, lamps that lit windows and flickered in
welcome, and people—a handful not HWJRQHWRVOHHS—
walking perhaps to ease their restlessness or to marvel at the
stars and a three-quarter moon as white as new snow . Beneath
its canopy, everWKLQJJOLPPHUHGIDLQWO with the magic that
emanated from the walls. Y et the glow was not harsh as it had
seemed to Wren from without, and the walls, despite their
height and thickness, were so softened bLWWKDWWKH appeared
almost ephemeral.

and street lamps of intricatelZURXJKWLURQ7KHUHZHUe
horses, cows, chickens, and animals of all sorts in pens and
barns. There were dogs curled up asleep in doorwaVDQGFDWs
on sills. There were colored flags and umbrellas astride entries
and awnings hung from shop fronts and barter carts. The
houses and shops were white and clean, edged with fresh-
of course, onlWKHFORVHVWSDUWVRIWKHFLWy. Yet there was no
mistaking where she was or how it made her feel.
belonging swept over her , it disappeared. How could she come
home to a place she had never been, had never seen, and
hadn’t even been certain existed until this moment?
The vision blurred then and seemed to shrink back into the
night’ s shadows as if seeking to hide. She saw what she had
missed before—or perhaps simplZKDWVKHKDGQRWDOORZHd
herself to see in her excitement. The walls teemed with men,
Elves in battle dress with weapons in band, their lines of
defense stretched across the battlements. An attack was under
way. The struggle was oddlVLOHQWDVLIWKHPDJLF’ s glow
somehow muffled the sounds. Men fell, some to rise again,
and some to disappear . The shadows that attacked suf fered
casualties as well, some burned bWKHOLJKWWKDWVSDUNHGDQd
defenders. Wren blinked. W ithin the walls, the citRIWKe
Elves seemed somehow less bright and more worn. The
houses and shops were a little darker , a little less carefully
tended than she bad first imagined, the trees and bushes not as
lush, and the flowers paler. The air she breathed was not so
clean after all—there was a hint of sulfur and ash. BeRQGWKe
city, Killeshan loomed dark and threatening, and its mouth
glowed blood-red against the night.
in her hand. W ithout looking down at them, she slipped them
into her pocket.
“Come this way , Wren,” Aurin Striate said.

There were guards at the door through which theKDGHQWHUHG,
bard-faced RXQJPHQZLWKGLVWLQFWO Elven features and eHs
that seemed tired and old. Wren glanced at them as she passed
and was chilled bWKHZD theVWDUHGEDFNDWKHr . Garth
edged close against her shoulder and blocked their view .
The Owl took them out from beneath the parapets and over a
walls. Wren looked back, squinting against the light. There
was no water in the moat; there seemed to be no purpose in
having dug it. Y et it was clearlPHDQWWREHVRPHVRUWRf
defense for the city , bridged at dozens of points bUDPSVWKDt
led to the walls. Wren glanced questioninglDW*DUWKEXWWKe
big man shook his head.
ahead into the center of the city . TheVWDUWHGGRZQLWEXWKDd
almost white. The Owl pulled Wren and Garth aside into the
shadows, and the man went past without seeing them.
“Phaeton,” the Owl said, looking after him. “The queen’ s
anointed on the field of battle, her savior against the dark
things.” He said it ironically, without smiling. “An Elven
Hunter’s worst nightmare.”
TheZHQWRQZRUGOHVVOy , turning off the roadwaWRIROORZa
series of side streets that took them through rows of darkened
shops and cottages. W ren glanced about curiously , studLQJ,
considering, taking everWKLQJLQ0XFKZDVDVVKHKDd
imagined it would be, for Arborlon was not so dif ferent, apart
from its size, from Southland villages like ShadV ale—and
except, of course, for the continuing presence of the protective
wall, still a shimmer in the distance, a reminder of the struggle
being waged. When, after a time, the glow disappeared behind
a screen of trees, it was possible to think of the citDVLWPXVt
have once been, before the demons, before the beginning of
the siege. It would have been wonderful to live here then,
above the Rill Song, reborn out of its W estland beginnings into
this island paradise, its people with a chance to begin life

anew, free of the threat of oppression bWKH)HGHUDWLRQ1o
demons then, Killeshan dormant, and Morrowindl at peace—a
dream come out of imagining.
The Owl took them through a grove of ash and willowELUFh
where the silence was a cloak that wrapped comfortablDERXW.
its summit spiked and laced with sharpened spurs, and turned
left along its length. BeRQGLWVIRUELGGLQJEDUULHr, tree-shaded
the time of her ancestors, Wren recalled. But who now? They
skirted the fence to where the shadows were so deep it was
difficult to see. There the Owl paused and bent close. W ren
gate anew, and then crossed the dappled lawn to the palace. No
one appeared to challenge them. No one came into view . There
were guards, Wren knew. There must be. TheUHDFKHGWKe
edge of the building and stopped.
A figure detached itself from the shadows, lithe as a cat. The
Owl turned and waited. The figure came up. W ords were
exchanged, too low for Wren to hear. The figure melted away
again. The Owl beckoned, and theVOLSSHGWKURXJKa
gathering of spruce into an alcove. A door was alreadDMDr .
TheVWRRGLQDQHQWU with a vaulted ceiling and wood-carved
lintels and jams that shone with polish. Cushioned benches
had been placed against facing walls and oil lamps bracketed
arched double doors opened to a darkened hallwaEHond.
From somewhere down that hallway, deep within the bowels
of the palace, Wren could hear movement and the distant
sound of voices. Following the Owl’ s lead, Wren and Garth
seated themselves on the benches. In the light W ren could see
for the first time how ragged she looked, her clothing ripped
and soiled and streaked with blood. Garth looked even worse.
One sleeve of his tunic was gone entirelDQGWKHRWKHUZDVLn
shreds. His massive arms were clawed and bruised. His

bearded face was swollen. He caught her looking at him and
shrugged dismissively.
A figure approached, easing silentlRXWRIWKHKDOOZDy ,
and build, plain looking and plainlGUHVVHGZLWKDVWHDGy ,
penetrating gaze. His lean, sun-browned face was clean-
shaven, and his brown hair was worn shoulder length. He was
not much older than Wren, but his eHVVXJJHVWHGWKDWKHKDd
seen and endured a great deal more. He came up to the Owl
and took his hand wordlessly .
“Triss,” Aurin Striate greeted, then turned to his char ges. “This
is Wren Ohmsford and her companion Garth, come to us from
out of the W estland.”
The Elf took their hands in turn, saLQJQRWKLQJ+LVGDUNHes
locked momentarilZLWKW ren’s, and she was surprised at
ever to conceal anWKLQJ.
“Triss is Captain of the Home Guard,” the Owl advised.
Wren nodded. No one spoke. TheVWRRGDZNZDUGO for a
moment, W ren remembering that the Home Guard was
responsible for the safetRIWKH(OYHQUXOHUVZRQGHULQJZKy
again at the far end of the darkened hallway , and theDOl
turned to look.
Two women appeared out of the shadows, the most striking of
the two small and slender with flaming red hair , pale clear
skin, and huge green eHVWKDWGRPLQDWHGKHURGGO triangular
face. But it was the other woman, the taller of the two, who
caught Wren’s immediate attention, who brought her to her
feet without even being aware that she had risen, and who
caused her to take a quick, startled breath. Their eHVPHWDQd
the woman slowed, a strange look coming over her face. She
was long-limbed and slender , clothed in a white gown that
trailed to the floor and was gathered about her narrow waist.
Her Elven features were finelFKLVHOHGZLWKKLJKFKHHNERQHs
and a wide, thin mouth. Her eHVZHUHYHU blue and her hair

flaxen, curling down to her shoulders, tumbled from sleep. Her
skin was smooth across her face, giving her a RXWKIXODJHOHVs
Wren blinked at the woman in disbelief. The color of the eHs
was wrong, and the cut of the hair was dif ferent, and she was
taller, and a dozen other tinWKLQJVVHWWKHPDSDUWEXWWKHUe
was no mistaking the resemblance.
Wren was seeing herself as she would look in another thirty
The woman’ s smile appeared without warning—sudden,
brilliant, and ef fusive. “Eowen, see how closelVKHPLUURUs
were right!”
She came forward slowly , reaching out to take Wren’s hands in
her own, oblivious to everRQHHOVH&KLOGZKDWLVour
Wren stared at her in bewilderment. It seemed somehow as if
the woman should alreadNQRw . “Wren Ohmsford,” she
“Wren,” the other breathed. The smile brightened even more,
and W ren found herself smiling in response. “W elcome, Wren.
We have waited a long time for RXWRFRPHKRPH”
W ren blinked. What had she said? She glanced about
hurriedly . Garth was a statue, the Owl and T riss impassive,
and the red-haired woman intense and anxious. She felt
uncertainly, and the shadows crept close.
“I am Ellenroh Elessedil,” the woman said, hands tightening,
“Queen of Arborlon and the W estland Elves. Child, I barely
know what to saWRou, even now , even after so much
anticipation.” She sighed. “Here, what am I thinking? Y our
wounds must be washed and treated. And those of RXUIULHQd
as well. You must have something to eat. Then we can talk all
night if we need to. Aurin Striate.” She turned to the Owl. “I

Please staWKHQLJKW”
“I will stay, m/DGy,” the Owl replied softly .
“Triss, see that our good friend is well looked after . And
Wren’ s companion.” She looked at him. “What is RXUQDPH"”
“Garth,” W ren answered at once, suddenlIULJKWHQHGE the
speed with which everWKLQJZDVKDSSHQLQJ+HGRHVQ’ t
speak.” She straightened defensively. “Garth staVZLWKPH”
The sound of boots in the hall brought them all about once
again. A new Elf appeared, dark-haired, square-faced, and
rather tall, a man whose smile was as readDQGHf fortless as
that of the queen’s. He came into the room without slowing,
self-assured and controlled. “What’ s all this? Can’t we enjoa
few hours’ sleep without some new crisis? Ah, Aurin Striate is
here, I see, come in from the fire. W ell met, Owl. And Triss is
up and about as well?”
He stopped, seeing W ren for the first time. There was an
instant’s disbelief mirrored on his face, and then it
disappeared. His gaze shifted to the queen. “She has returned
after all, hasn’ t she?” The gaze shifted back to W ren. “And as
Wren flushed, conscious of the fact that she was doing so,
broadened, unnerving her further . He crossed quicklDQGSXt
his arm protectivelDERXWKHr. “No, no, please, it is true. You
are everELWour mother.” He gave her a companionable
His smile drew her in, warming her and putting her instantlDt
ease. There might not have been anRQHHOVHLQWKHURRP,t
was a rather rough journeXSIURPWKHEHDFKVKHPDQDJHG,
and was gratified bKLVTXLFNODXJK.
Gavilan Elessedil,” he told her , “the queen’s nephew and RXr
cousin.” He cut himself short when he saw her bewildered
look. “Ah, but RXGRQ’ t know about that HWGRou?”

“Gavilan, take RXUVHOIRff to sleep,” Ellenroh interrupted,
smiling at him. “Time enough to introduce RXUVHOIODWHr . Wren
and I need to talk now , just the two of us.”
“What, without me?” Gavilan assumed an injured look. “I
was closer to Wren’s mother than I?”
The queen’ s gaze was steadDVLWIL[HGRQKLP,ZDV6Ke
turned again to W ren, moving Gavilan aside, placing herself
next to the girl. Her arms came about W ren’s shoulders. “This
night should be for RXDQG,DORQHW ren. Garth will be
spoke first, just the two of us.”
Wren hesitated. She was reminded of the Owl telling her that
glanced over at him, but he was looking away . The red-haired
woman, on the other hand, was looking intentlDW*DYLODQKHr
face unreadable.
Garth caught her attention, signing, Do as she asks.
Still Wren did not reply . She was on the ver ge of learning the
truth about her mother , about her past. She was about to
discover the answers she had come seeking. And suddenlVKe
did not want to be alone when it happened.
uncompromising Garth, harborer of secrets.
Wren forced a smile. “W e’ll speak alone,” she said.

winding stairs to the second floor of the palace. Garth
remained behind with Aurin Striate and T riss, apparently
untroubled that he was not going with her, comfortable with
their separation even knowing Wren was clearlQRW6Ke
caught Gavilan staring after her, saw him smile and wink and
then disappear another way, a sprite gone back to other
amusing games. She liked him instinctively , just as she had the
Owl, but not in the same way. She wasn’t reallVXUHet what
the difference was, too confused at the moment bHYHUthing

happening to be able to sort it out. She liked him because he
made her feel good, and that was enough for now.
Despite the queen’s admonishment to the others about wanting
to speak with Wren alone, the red-haired woman trailed after
them, a wraith white faced against the shadows. W ren glanced
back at her once or twice, at the strangelLQWHQVHGLVWDQWIDFH,
flutter of slender hands against a plain, soft gown. Ellenroh did
not seem to notice she was there, hastening along the darkened
corridors of the palace to her chosen destination, for going light
of anVRUWVDYHWKHPRRQ’s as it flooded through long, glassed
windows in silver shafts. TheSDVVHGGRZQRQHKDOOZD and
turned into another, still on the second floor , and finally
approached a set of double doors at the hall’ s end. Wren
started at a hint of movement in the darkness to one side—one
that another would not have seen but did not escape her . She
slowed deliberately, letting her eHVDGMXVW$Q(OIVWRRGGHHp
in the shadows against the wall, still now , watchful.
“It is onl&RUWWKHTXHHQVRIWO said. “He serves the Home
Guard.” Her hand brushed Wren’s cheek. “Y ou have our Elf
The doors led into the queen’ s bedchamber, a large room with
a domed ceiling, latticed windows curved in a bank along the
far wall, a canopied bed with the sheets still rumpled, chairs
and couches and tables in small clusters, a writing desk, and a
door leading of f to a wash chamber .
“Sit here, Wren,” the queen directed, leading her to a small
couch. “Eowen will wash and dress RXUFXWV”
She looked over at the red-haired woman, who was already
pouring water from a pitcher into a basin and gathering
together some clean cloths. A minute later she was back,
kneeling beside W ren, her hands surprisinglVWURQJDVVKe
loosened the girl’s clothes and began to bathe her . She worked
bandages where theZHUHQHHGHGDQGVXSSOing a loose-
fitting sleeping gown that Wren gratefullDFFHSWHGDQd
slipped into—the first clean clothes she had enjoHGLQZHHNV.
The red-haired woman crossed the room and returned with a

cup of something warm and soothing. Wren sniffed at it
tentatively , discovered traces of ale and tea and something
more, and drank it without comment.
Ellenroh Elessedil eased down on the couch beside her and
took her hand. “Now , Wren, we shall talk. Are RXKXQJU?
too tired to eat, too anxious to discover what the queen had to
tell her. “Good, then.” The queen sighed. “Where shall we
moving over to sit down across from them. She glanced at the
woman doubtfull(RZHQWKHTXHHQKDGFDOOHGKHr . She had
assumed that Eowen was the queen’s personal attendant and
had been brought along solelIRUWKHSXUSRVHRIVHHLQJWo
their comfort and would then be dismissed as the others had.
But the queen had not dismissed her , appearing barelDZDUe
of her presence in fact, and Eowen gave no indication that she
thought she was expected to leave. The more W ren thought
about it the less Eowen seemed simplDQDWWHQGDQW7KHUHZDs
something about the waVKHFDUULHGKHUVHOIWKHZD she
reacted to what the queen said and did. She was quick enough
to help when asked, but she did not show the deference to
Ellenroh Elessedil that the others did.
The queen saw where Wren was looking and smiled. “I’m
afraid I’ve gotten ahead of mVHOIDJDLQ$QGIDLOHGWRVKRw
proper manners as well. This is Eowen Cerise, W ren. She is
mFORVHVWIULHQGDQGDGYLVRr. She is the reason, in fact, that
Wren frowned slightly . “I don’t understand what RXPHDQI
am here because I came in search of the Elves. That search
came about because the Druid Allanon asked me to undertake
it. What has Eowen to do with that?”
“Allanon,” the Elf Queen whispered, momentarilGLVWUDFWHG.
“Even in death, he keeps watch over us.” She released W ren’s
hand in a gesture of confusion. “W ren, let me ask RXa
question first. How did RXPDQDJHWRILQGXV"&DQou tell us
of RXUMRXUQH to reach Morrowindl and Arborlon?”

Wren was anxious to learn about her mother , but she was not
the one in control here. She concealed her impatience and did
as the queen asked. She told of the dreams sent b$OODQRQ,
the appearance of Cogline and the resulting journeWRWKe
Hadeshorn, the charges of the Druid shade to the Ohmsfords,
her return with Garth to the W estland and search for some hint
of what had become of the Elves, their subsequent arrival at
Grim-pen Ward and talk with the Addershag, their escape to
the ruins of the W ing Hove, the coming of T iger TDQG6SLULW,
and the flight to Morrowindl and the journeLQ6KHOHIWRXt
onlWZRWKLQJVDQ mention of the Shadowen that had
tracked them or the fact that she possessed the Elfstones. The
Owl had been quite clear in his warning to saQRWKLQJRIWKe
Stones until she was alone with the queen, and unless she
spoke of the Stones she could saQRWKLQJRIWKH6KDGRZHQ.
She finished and waited for the queen to saVRPHWKLQJ.
Ellenroh Elessedil studied her intentlIRUDPRPHQWDQGWKHn
smiled. “Y ou are a cautious girl, W ren, and that is something
as it should—and nothing more.” She leaned forward, her
strong face lined with a mix of feelings too intricate for W ren
to sort out. “I am going to tell RXVRPHWKLQJQRZLQUHWXUn
and when I am done there will be no more secrets between
She picked up Wren’s hands once more in her own. “Y our
mother was called AlleQHDV*DYLODQWROGou. She was my
Wren sat without moving, her hands gripped tightlLQWKe
queen’ s, surprise and wonder racing through her as she tried to
think what to say .
“MGDXJKWHr, Wren, and that makes RXP grandchild.
There is one thing more. I gave to AlleQHDQGVKHLQWXUQZDs
have them?”
Wren hesitated, trapped now , not knowing what she was
supposed to do or say. But she could not lie. “Y es,” she

The queen’s blue eHVZHUHSHQHWUDWLQJDVWKH scanned
Wren’ s face, and there was a faint smile on her lips. “But Ru
know the truth of them now , don’t RX"Y ou must, W ren, or
Wren forced her face to remain expressionless. “Y es,” she
repeated quietly.
Ellenroh patted her hands and released them. “Eowen knows
of the Elfstones, child. So do a few of the others who have
stood beside me for so manears—Aurin Striate, for one. He
warned RXDJDLQVWVDing anWKLQJGLGQ’ t he? No matter.
Few know of the Elfstones, and none have seen them used—
not even I. You alone have had that experience, W ren, and I do
Wren shook her head slowly , surprised at how perceptive the
queen was, at her insight into feelings W ren had thought
carefullKLGGHQWas it because theZHUHIDPLO and
therefore much alike, their hereditDERQGLQJWKDWJDYHHDFKa
window into the other ’s heart? Could W ren, in turn, perceive
when she chose what Ellenroh Elessedil felt?
Family. She whispered the word in her mind. The familI
came to find. Is it possible? Am I r eallWKHJUDQGFKLOGRIWKLs
queen, an Elessedil mVHOI?
“Tell me the rest of how RXFDPHWR$UERUORQWKHTXHHn
said softly , “and I will tell RXZKDWou are so anxious to
know. Do not be concerned with Eowen. Eowen already
So W ren related the balance of what had occurred on her
journey , all that involved the wolf thing that was Shadowen
mother had given her as a child. When she was done, when
invoked. Then, impulsively, she rose and walked to where her
discarded clothing lay. Searching hurriedlWKURXJKWKe
tattered pieces, she came upon the Elfstones, still tucked inside
where she had left them after entering the city . She carried

them to the queen and held them forth. “Here,” she offered.
“Take them.”
But Ellenroh Elessedil shook her head; “No, W ren.” She
closed Wren’s fingers over the Elfstones and guided her hand
to a pocket of the sleeping gown. “Y ou keep them for me,” she
For the first time, Eowen Cerise spoke. “Y ou have been very
brave, Wren.” Her voice was low and compelling. “Most
would not have been able to overcome the obstacles RXIDFHG.
You are indeed RXUPRWKHr ’s child.”
“I see so much of AlleQHLQKHr ,” the queen agreed, her eHs
should come, so I suppose that he was onlIXOILOOLQJ(RZHQ’ s
She saw the confusion in Wren’s eHVDQGVPLOHG,NQRw ,
child. I speak in riddles. You have been verSDWLHQWZLWKPH,
and it has not been easy. You are anxious to hear of RXr
mother and to discover whLWLVWKDWou are here. V erZHOO”
The smile softened. “Three generations before mRZQELUWK,
while the Elves still lived within the Westland, several
members of the Ohmsford family, direct descendants of Jair
Ohmsford, decided to migrate to Arborlon. Their decision, as I
understand it, was prompted bWKHHQFURDFKPHQWRIWKe
Federation on Southland villages like ShadV ale and the
beginnings of the witch hunt to suppress magic. There were
three of these Ohmsfords, and theEURXJKWZLWKWKHPWKe
Elfstones. One died childless. Two married, but when the
Elves chose to disappear onlRQHRIWKHWZRZHQWZLWKWKHP.
The second, I was told, a man, returned to ShadV ale with his
wife. That would have been Par and Coll Ohmsfords’ great-
grandparents. The Ohmsford who remained was a woman, and
she kept with her the Elfstones.”
Ellenroh paused. “The Elfstones, Wren, as RXNQRw, were
formed in the beginning b(OYHQPDJLFDQGFRXOGEHXVHd
onlE those with Elven blood. The Elven blood had been

bred out of the Ohmsfords in the HDUVVLQFHWKHGHDWKRI%ULn
Ohmsfords who kept custodRIWKHP7KH decided therefore
belonged back with the people who had made them—or , more
properly, I suppose, with their descendants. So when the three
who came from ShadV ale married and began their new lives,
it was natural enough for them to decide that the Elfstones, a
trust to the Ohmsford familIURP$OODQRQVLQFHWKHGDs of
their ancestor Shea, should remain with the Elves no matter
what became of them personally .
and I suppose I need to saDZRUGRUWZRDERXWWKDW6Ke
shook her head, remembering. “Our people had been receding
farther into the Westland forests for HDUV7KH had become
expansion worked its waQRUWK6RPHRIWKDWZDVWKHLURZn
doing, but an equal share was the result of a growing belief,
fostered bWKH)HGHUDWLRQ’ s Coalition Council, that the Elves
were different and that dif ferent was not good. The Elves, after
all, were the descendants of faerie people and not really
human. The Elves were the makers of the magic that had
shaped the world since the advent of the First Council at
Paranor, and no one had ever much trusted either the magic or
its users. When the things RXFDOO6KDGRZHQEHJDQWRDSSHDr
—there was no name for them then—the Federation was quick
to place the blame for the sickening of the land on the Elves.
After all, that was where the magic had originated, and wasn’ t
it magic that was causing all the problems? If not, whZHUe
the Elves and their homeland not affected? It all multiplied as
such things do until finallRXUSHRSOHKDGKDGHQRXJK7Ke
choice was simple. Either stand up to the Federation, which
meant giving them the war theZHUHVRDFWLYHO seeking, or
find a waWRVLGHVWHSWKHPFRPSOHWHOy . War was not an
attractive prospect. The Elves would stand virtuallDORQe
against the strongest armLQWKH)RXU/DQGV&DOODKRUQKDd
Trolls were as unpredictablWULEDODVHYHr , and the Dwarves
were hesitant to commit.

“So the Elves decided simplWROHDYHWRPLJUDWHWRDQHw
territory, resettle, and wait the Federation out. This decision
wasn’t arrived at easilWKHUHZHUHPDQ who wanted to stand
and fight, an equal number who thought it better to wait and
see. After all, this was their homeland theZHUHEHLQJDVNHd
to abandon, the birthplace of Elves since the cataclVPRIWKe
Great W ars. But, in the end, after much time and deliberation,
it was agreed that the best choice was to leave. The Elves had
fact still being there.”
She sighed. “It was so long ago, W ren, and I wasn’t there. I
can’t be certain now what their motives were. The move began
a slow gathering together of Elves from everFRUQHURIWKe
Westland so that villages simplFHDVHGWRH[LVW0HDQZKLOH,
the W ing Riders found this island, and it suited the needs of
the Land Elves perfectly . Morrowindl. When it was settled that
this is where theZRXOGFRPHWKH chose a time and just
She seemed to deliberate as to whether to explain further , then
shook her head. “Enough of what brought us here. As I said,
one among the Ohmsfords staHGTwo generations passed
with children being born, and then mPRWKHUPDUULHGWKe
King of the Elessedils, and the Ohmsford and Elessedil
families merged. I was born and mEURWKHU$VKHURQDIWHUPH.
demons—one of the first to die. I became queen then instead. I
married and RXUPRWKHUZDVERUQ$OOHne, mRQO child.
EventuallWKHGHPRQVNLOOHGP husband as well. AlleQe
was all I had left.”
“MPRWKHr,” Wren echoed. “What was she like?”
The queen smiled anew . “There was no one like her . She was
smart, willful, pretty. She believed she could do anWKLQJ—
some part of her wanted to try , at least.” She clasped her hands
and the smile faded. “She met a W ing Rider and chose him for
her husband. I didn’t think it a good idea—the Sk(OYHVKDYe
matter, of course. This was nearlWZHQW HDUVDJRDQGLWZDs

a dangerous time. The demons were everZKHUHDQGJURZLQg
stronger. We were being forced back into the city . Contact with
the outside world was becoming difficult.
“ShortlDIWHUVKHZDVPDUULHG$OOHne became pregnant with
glanced at the other woman, who sat watching impassively ,
perhaps the best that ever was. She was mSODmate and
confidante when I was a child, even before she knew she bad
the power . She has been with me ever since, advising and
guiding me. I told RXWKDWVKHZDVWKHUHDVRQou are here.
daughter did not leave Morrowindl before RXZHUHERUQERWh
She took a deep breath. “I know . I felt as RXPXVWQRw. How
can this be true? I did not want AlleQHWRJR%XW,NQHZWKDt
Eowen’s visions were never wrong. So I summoned AlleQe
and had Eowen repeat what she had told to me. AlleQHGLd
not hesitate, although I know she was inwardlUHOXFWDQW6Ke
said she would go, that she would see to it that the babZDs
kept safe. She never mentioned herself. That was RXUPRWKHr .
I still had possession of the Elfstones, passed down to me
through the union of mSDUHQWV,JDYHWKHPWR$OOHne to
keep her safe, first changing their appearance with a bit of my
own magic to see to it that theZRXOGQRWEHLPPHGLDWHOy
recognizable or appear to have anYDOXH.
“AlleQHZDVWRUHWXUQWRWKHWestland with her husband. She
was to journeIURPWKHUHWR6KDG V ale and reestablish
contact with the descendants of the Ohmsfords who had gone
back when the Elves had come to Morrowindl. I never knew if
she did. She disappeared from mOLIHIRUQHDUO three HDUV.
Eowen could onlWHOOPHWKDWVKHDQGou—were safe.
“Then, a little more than fifteen HDUVDJRQRw , AlleQe
decided to return. I don’t know what prompted that decision,
onlWKDWVKHFDPH6KHJDYHou the leather bag with the

Vale, and flew back with her husband to us.”
She shook her head slowly , as if the idea of her daughter ’s
return were incomprehensible even now . “BWKHQWKHGHPRQs
had overrun Morrowindl; the citZDVDOOWKDWZDVOHIWWRXV.
The Keel had been formed of our magic to protect us, but the
demons were everZKHUHZLWKRXWWing Riders were coming
in less and less frequently. The Roc AlleQHDQGKHUKXVEDQd
were riding came down through the vog and was struck by
some sort of missile. He landed short of the citJDWHV7Ke
demons . . .”
She stopped, unable to continue. There were tears in her eHV.
“We could not save them,” she finished.
Wren felt a great hollowness open within. In her mind, she
saw her mother die. ImpulsivelVKHOHDQHGIRUZDUGDQGSXt
her arms around her grandmother , the last of her family, the
hugged her close. She felt the queen’s head lower to her
shoulder and the slender arms come about her in reply . They
sat in silence for a long time, just holding each other. Wren
tried to conjure up images of her mother ’s face in her mind
and failed. All she could see now was her grandmother ’s face.
She was conscious of the fact that however deep her own loss,
it would never match the queen’ s.
TheSXOOHGDZD from each other finally , and the queen
smiled once more, radiant, bracing. “I am so glad RXKDYe
come, Wren,” she repeated. “I have waited a verORQJWLPHWo
meet RX”
“Grandmother ,” Wren said, the word sounding odd when she
spoke it. “I still don’ t understand wh,ZDVVHQW$OODQRQWROd
me that I was to find the Elves because there could be no
healing of the Lands until theUHWXUQHG$QGQRZou tell me
Eowen has foretold that mFRPLQJZLOOVDYHWKH(OYHV%Xt
what difference does mEHLQJKHUHPDNH"6XUHO RXZRXOd
have returned long ago if RXZHUHDEOH”
The smile faded slowly . “It is more complicated than that, I am

“How can it be more complicated? Can’t RXOHDYHLIou
“Yes, child, we can leave.”
Do RXVWDQGEHFDXVHou must? Are these demons come from
the Forbidding? Has the EllcrVIDLOHGDJDLQ"”
“Then where did these demons come from?”
smooth face. “We are not certain, W ren.”
She was lLQJWren knew it instinctively . She heard it in her
grandmother’s voice and saw it in the sudden lowering of
Eowen’ s green eHV6KRFNHGKXUWDQJU as well, she stared
at the queen in disbelief. No more secrets between us? she
thought, repeating the other ’s own words. What ar e Ru
Ellenroh Elessedil seemed not to notice her grandchild’ s
distress. She reached out again and embraced her warmly .
Though tempted, Wren did not push away , thinking there must
be a reason for this secrecDQGLWZRXOGEHH[SODLQHGLQWLPH,
thinking as well that she had come too far to discover the truth
part of it was slow in coming. She forced her feelings aside.
She was a Rover girl, and Garth had trained her well. She
could be patient. She could wait.
“Time enough to speak more of this tomorrow , child,” the
queen whispered in her ear. “You need sleep now . And I need
to think.”
She drew back, her smile so sad that it almost brought tears to
Wren’ s eHV(RZHQZLOOVKRZou to RXUURRPY our friend
Garth will be sleeping right next door, should RXQHHGKLP.
Rest, child. We have waited a long time to find each other and
we must not rush the greeting.”
She came to her feet, bringing W ren up with her. Across from
them, Eowen Cerise rose as well. The queen gave her
grandchild a final hug. W ren hugged her back, masking the

doubts that crowded within. She was tired now, her eHs
heavy, and her strength ebbing. She felt warm and comforted
and she needed to rest.
“I am glad to be here, Grandmother ,” she said quietly, and
meant it.
But I will know the truth, she added to herself. I will know it
She let Eowen Cerise lead her from the bedchamber and into
the darkened hallwaEHond.


W hen Wren awoke the following morning she found herself
in a room of white-painted walls, cotton bedding with tiny
flowers sewn into the borders, and tapestries woven of soft
pastel threads that shimmered in the wash of brilliant light
flooding through breaks in lace curtains that hung in folds
across the floor -to-ceiling windows.
Sunlight, she marveled, in a land where beRQGWKHZDOOVRf
She laEDFNGURZV still, taking time to gather her thoughts.
She had not seen much of the room the night before. It had
been dark, and Eowen had used onlFDQGOHOLJKWWRJXLGHKHr .
She had collapsed into the down-stuffed bed and been asleep
almost immediately.
was seeing to what she remembered, this dreamlike,
translucent present to the harsh, forbidding past. Had it all
been real—the search to find where the Elves had gone, the
flight to Morrowindl, the trek through the In Ju, the climb up
Blackledge, the march to the Rowen and then Arborlon? L LQg
there as she was, swathed in sunlight and soft sheets, she
found it hard to believe so. Her memorRIZKDWOD without
the cit’s walls—the darkness and fire and haze, the monsters
that came from everZKHUHDQGNQHZRQO how to destro—
seemed dim and far away .
Her eHVEOLQNHGRSHQDQJULOy , and she forced herself to
remember. Events paraded before her , vivid and harsh. She
saw Garth as he stood with her against the Shadowen at the
edge of the cliffs above the Blue Divide. She pictured once
more how it had been that first night on the beach when T iger

and Spirit had left them. She thought of Stresa and Faun,
forced herself to remember how theORRNHGDQGWDONHGDQd
this monstrous world, friends who had helped her onlWREe
left behind.
Thinking of the Splinterscat and the Tree Squeak was what
position and looked slowlDURXQG6KHZDVKHUHVKHDVVXUHd
herself, in Arborlon, in the palace of the Elf Queen, in the
home of Ellenroh Elessedil, her grandmother . She took a deep
breath, wrestling with the idea, working to make it be real. It
was too new, she supposed. She had come looking to find the
truth about her parents; she could not have guessed the truth
would prove so startling.
She remembered what she had said to herself when Cogline
had first approached her about the dreams: What she learned
might well change her life.
She could not have imagined how much.
It both intrigued and frightened her . So much had happened to
bring her to Morrowindl and the Elves, and now she was faced
with confronting a world and a people she did not reallNQRw
or understand. She had discovered last night just how dif ficult
things might prove to be. If even her own grandmother would
choose to lie to her, how much trust could she put in anRIWKe
others? It rankled still that there were secrets being kept from
her. She had been sent to the Elves for a purpose, but she still
didn’ t know what it was. Ellenroh, if she knew , wasn’t saLQg
—at least not HW$QGVKHZDVQ’ t saLQJDQthing about the
demons either—onlWKDWWKH hadn’ t come through the
Forbidding and that the EllcrVKDGQ’ t failed. But theKDd
come from somewhere, and the queen knew where that was,
Wren was certain. She knew a lot of things she wasn’ t telling.
Secrets—there was that word again.

She let the matter drop with a shake of her head. The queen
was her grandmother, the last of her family , the giver of life to
her mother, and a woman of accomplishment and beautDQd
responsibilitDQGORYHW ren shook her head. She could not
bring herself to think ill of Ellenroh Elessedil. She could not
disparage her. She was too like her , perhaps—phVLFDOOy ,
emotionally, and in word and thought and act. She had seen it
for herself last night; she had felt it in their conversation, in the
each other.
She sighed. It was best that she do as she had promised, that
she wait and see.
After a time, she rose and walked to the door that led to the
adjoining chamber . Almost immediatelWKHGRRURSHQHGDQd
Garth was there. He was shirtless, his muscled arms and torso
wrapped in bandages, and his dark bearded face cut and
bruised. Despite the impressive arraRILQMXULHVWKHELJ5RYHr
looked rested and fit. When she beckoned him in, he reached
back into his own room for a tunic and hastilVOLSSHGLWRQ.
The clothes that had been provided him were too small and
made him look decidedlRXWVL]HG6KHKLGKHUVPLOHDVWKHy
moved over to sit on a bench bWKHODFHFXUWDLQHGZLQGRw ,
What have RXOHDUQHG? he signed.
She let him see her smile now. Good, old, dependable Garth—
conversation with the queen, relating what she had been told
mother and father. She did not voice her suspicion that
Ellenroh was shading the truth about the demons. She wanted
to keep that to herself for now , hoping that given a little time
her grandmother would choose to confide in her .
Nevertheless, she wanted Garth’s opinion about the queen.
“What did RXQRWLFHDERXWP grandmother that I missed?”
she asked him, fingers translating as she spoke.

“Frightened?” Wren had indeed missed that. “What do Ru
think frightens her?”
Difficult to say. Something that she knows and we don’ t, I
would guess. She is verFDreful with what she saVDQGKRw
she saVLWYou saw as much.
He paused. She maEHIULJKWHQHGIRUou, W ren.
“Because mPRWKHUZDVNLOOHGE coming back here, and now
I am at risk as well? But I was supposed to return according to
the Elves, Garth? Doesn’ t that seem sillWRou? After all, it
was all we could do just to staDOLYHORQJHQRXJKWRUHDFKWKe
city. I don’ t see what dif ference mEHLQJKHUHFDQPDNH”
Garth shrugged. Keep RXUHes and ears open, Rover girl.
He smiled, and W ren smiled in return.
He left her then so that she could dress. As he closed the door
separating their rooms, she stood staring after him for a
moment. It occurred to her suddenlWKDWWKHUHZHUHHQRUPRXs
inconsistencies in the stories told bKHUJUDQGPRWKHUDQd
Garth concerning her parents. Admittedly , Garth’s version was
secondhand and the queen’ s based entirelRQHYHQWVWKDWKDd
taken place before the departure from Arborlon, so perhaps
inconsistencies were to be expected. Still, neither had
commented on what each must have viewed as the other ’s
obvious mistakes. There was no mention of W ing Riders by
Garth. There was no mention of Rovers bWKHTXHHQ7KHUe
was nothing from either about whKHUSDUHQWVKDGQRt
traveled first to ShadVale and the Ohmsfords but had gone
instead to the Westland.
She wondered if she should saDQthing about it to Garth.
Given the importance of her other concerns, she wondered if
this one reallPDWWHUHG.

She found clothing set out for her to wear, garments that fit
better than Garth’s—pants, a tunic, stockings, a belt, and a pair
of fine-worked leather ankle boots. She slipped the clothing
on, going over in her mind as she did so the revelations of the
night before, considering anew what she had learned. The
queen seemed decided on the importance of W ren’s arrival in
Arborlon, certain in her own mind at least that Eowen’ s vision
would prove accurate. Aurin Striate, too, had mentioned that
theKDGEHHQZDLWLQJIRUKHr. Yet no one bad said why , if, in
fact, anRQHNQHw. There hadn’t been anPHQWLRQLQWKe
dream of what it was that W ren’s presence was supposed to
She grinned at her own impudence and was pulling on her
boots when the grin abruptlIDGHG.
What if the importance of her return was that she carried with
her the Elfstones? What if she was expected to use the Stones
as a weapon against the demons?
She went cold with the thought, remembering anew how she
had been forced to use them twice now despite her reluctance
to do so, remembering the feeling of power as the magic
coursed through her , liquid fire that burned and exhilarated at
the same time. She was aware of their addictive ef fect on her,
of the bonding that took place each time theZHUHHPSORed,
and of how theVHHPHGVRPXFKDSDUWRIKHr . She kept saLQg
she would not use them, then found herself forced to do so
anZD—or persuaded, perhaps. She shook her head. The
choice of words didn’t matter; the results were the same. Each
time she used the magic, she drifted a little farther from who
and what she was and a little closer to being someone she
didn’t know . She lost power over herself bXVLQJWKHSRZHURf
the magic.
She jammed her feet into the boots and stood up. Her thinking
was wrong. It couldn’ t be the Elfstones that were important.
Otherwise, whKDGQ’ t Ellenroh simplNHSWWKHPKHUHLQVWHDd
of giving them to AlleQH":K hadn’ t the Stones been used
against the demons long ago if theFRXOGUHDOO make a

She hesitated, then reached over to her sleeping gown and
extracted the Elfstones from the pocket in which she had
placed them the night before. TheOD glittering in her hand,
their magic dormant, harmless, and invisible. She studied them
intently, wondering at the circumstances that had placed them
in her care, wishing anew that Ellenroh had agreed last night
to take them back.
Then she brushed aside the bad feelings that thinking of the
Elfstones conjured up and shoved the troublesome talismans
deep into her tunic pocket. After slipping a long knife into her
belt, she straightened confidentlDQGZDONHGIURPWKHURRP.
An Elven Hunter had been posted outside her door , and after
pausing to summon Garth, the sentrHVFRUWHGWKHPGRZQVWDLUs
to the dining hail and breakfast. TheDWHDORQHDWDORQJ,
polished oak table covered in white linen and decorated with
flowers, seated in a cavernous room with an arched ceiling and
stained-glass windows that filtered the sunlight in prismatic
colors. A serving girl stood readWRZDLWXSRQWKHPPDNLQg
the self-sufficient Wren feel more than a little uncomfortable.
She ate in silence, Garth seated across from her , wondering
what she was supposed to do when she was finished.
There was no sign of the queen.
Nevertheless, as the meal was being completed, the Owl
appeared. Aurin Striate looked as gaunt and faded now as he
had in the shadows and darkness of the lava fields without, his
working quite as it should. He was wearing clean clothes and
the stocking cap was gone, but he still managed to look
somewhat creased and rumpled—it seemed that was normal
for him. He came up to the dining table and took a seat,
slouching forward comfortably.
“You look a whole lot better than RXGLGODVWQLJKWKe
ventured with a half smile. “Clean clothes and a bath make
RXDSUHWW girl indeed, W ren. Rest well, did RX"”
She smiled back at him. She liked the Owl. “W ell enough,
thanks. And thanks again for getting us safelLQVLGHW e
wouldn’t have made it without RX”

The Owl pursed his lips, glanced meaningfullDW*DUWKDQd
shrugged. “MaEHVR%XWZHERWKNQRZWKDWou were the one
the Elfstones, and settled back in his chair. His aging Elven
features narrowed puckishly. “Want to take a look around
when RXUHGRQH"6HHDOLWWOHRIZKDW’ s out there? Your
grandmother has put me at RXUGLVSRVDOIRUDWLPH”
front gates this time, and went down into the city . The palace
was settled on a knoll at the center of Arborlon, deep in the
sheltering forests, with the cottages and shops of the citDOl
around. The citZDVDOLYHLQGDlight, the Elves busDWWKHLr
work, the streets bustling with activity. As the three edged
them from everTXDUWHUQRWDWWKH2ZORUW ren, but at
Garth, who was much bigger than the Elves and clearlQRt
craned her neck to see everWKLQJ6XQOLJKWEULJKWHQHGWKe
greens of the trees and grasses, the colors of the buildings, and
the flowers that bordered the walkwaVLWZDVDVLIWKHYRg
and fire without the walls did not exist. There was a trace of
ash and sulfur in the air, and the shadow of Killeshan was a
dark smudge against the skHDVWZKHUHWKHFLW backed into
the mountain, but the magic kept the world within sheltered
and protected. The Elves were going about their business as if
Morrowindl outside the citPLJKWEHH[DFWO the same as
came in sight of the outer wall. In daOLJKWWKHZDOOORRNHd
different. The glow of the magic had subsided to a faint
glimmer that turned the world beRQGWRDVRIWKD]y
watercolor washed of its brightness. Morrowindl—its
mountains, Killeshan’ s maw, the mix of lava rock and stunted
forest, the fissures in the earth with their geVHUVRIDVKDQd
steam—was misted almost to the point of invisibility . Elven
soldiers patroled the ramparts, but there were no battles being
fought now, the demons having slipped awaWRUHVWXQWLl
nightfall. The world outside had gone sullen and empty , and

of the people within.
The Owl glanced over at her, then awaDJDLQ,WVHSDUDWHs
the citIURPWKH.HHO'Rou know about the Keel?”
He gestured toward the wall. W ren remembered the name now.
Stresa had been the first to use it, saLQJWKDWWKH(OYHVZHUHLn
trouble because its magic was weakening.
“It was built of the magic in the time of Ellenroh’ s father,
when the demons first came into being. It protects against
them, keeps the citMXVWDVLWKDVDOZDs been. EverWKLQJLs
the same as it was when Arborlon was brought to Morrowindl
over a hundred HDUVDJR”
Wren was still mulling over what Stresa had said about the
magic growing weaker . She was about to ask Aurin Striate if it
was so when she realized what he had just said.
“Owl, did RXVD when Arborlon was brought to
Morrowindl? Y ou mean when it was built, don’ t RX"”
“I mean what I said.”
“That the buildings were brought? Or are RXWDONLQJDERXWWKe
EllcrV"7KH(OOFUs is here, isn’ t it, inside the cit"”
“Back there.” He gestured vaguely , his seamed face clouded.
“Behind the palace.”
The Owl cut her short. “The city, Wren. The whole of it and all
of the Elves that live in it. That’ s what I mean.”
Wren stared. “But . . . It was rebuilt, RXPHDQIURPWLPEHUs
the Elves ferried here . . .”
He was shaking his head. “W ren, has no one told RXRIWKe
Loden? Didn’t the queen tell RXKRZWKH(OYHVFDPHWo
He was leaning close to her now , his sharp eHVIL[HGRQKHr.
She hesitated, saLQJILQDOOy , “She said that it was decided to

migrate out of the Westland because the Federation—”
“No,” he cut her short once more. “That’ s not what I mean.”
He looked awaDPRPHQWWKHQWRRNKHUE the arm and
walked her to a stone abutment at the foot of the bridge where
expressionless, taking up a position across from them where
he could see them speak.
“This isn’t something I had planned on having to tell RX,
girl,” the Owl began when theZHUHVHWWOHG2WKHUVFRXOGGo
the job better . But we won’ t have much to talk about if I don’ t
explain. And besides, if RXUH(OOHQURK(OHVVHGLO’ s grandchild
and the one she’s been waiting for , the one in Eowen Cerise’ s
vision, then RXKDYHDULJKWWRNQRw .”
He folded his angular arms comfortably . “But RXUHQRWJRLQg
to believe it. I’m not sure I do.”
Wren smiled, a trifle uncomfortable with the prospect. “T ell
me anZDy, Owl.”
Aurin Striate nodded. “This is what I’ve been told, then—not
what I necessarilNQRw . The Elves recovered some part of
their faerie magic more than a hundred HDUVEDFNEHIRUe
Morrowindl, while theZHUHVWLOOOLYLQJLQWKHW estland. I
don’t know how theGLGLW,GRQ’ t reallVXSSRVH,FDUH.
What’s important to know is that when thePDGHWKHGHFLVLRn
to migrate, theVXSSRVHGO channeled what there was of the
magic into an Elfstone called the Loden. The Loden, I think,
had alwaVEHHQWKHUHKLGGHQDZDy , kept secret for the time
when it would be needed. That time didn’ t come for hundreds
But the Elessedils had it put away, or theIRXQGLWDJDLQRr
something, and when the decision was made to migrate, they
put it to use.”
Elfstone, like all of them, I’m told, draws its strength from the
user. Except in this case, there wasn’ t just a single user but an
entire race. The whole of the strength of the Elven nation went
into invoking the Loden’s magic.” He cleared his throat.
“When it was done, all of Arborlon had been picked up like

. . . like a scoop of earth, shrunk down to nothing, and sealed
within the Stone. And that’s what I mean when I sa$UERUORn
was brought to Morrowindl. It was sealed inside the Loden
along with most of its people and carried bMXVWDKDQGIXORf
caretakers to this island. Once a site for the citZDVIRXQGWKe
process was reversed and Arborlon was restored. Men,
women, children, dogs, cats, birds, animals, houses and shops,
trees, flowers, grass—everWKLQJ7KH(OOFUs, too. All of it.”
He sat back and the sharp eHVQDUURZHG6RQRZZKDWGo
Wren was stunned. “I saou’re right, Owl. I don’ t believe it.
I can’t conceive of how the Elves were able to recover
something that had been lost for thousands of HDUVWKDWIDVW.
Where did it come from? TheKDGQ’ t anPDJLFDWDOOLQWKe
time of Brin and Jair Ohmsford—onlWKHLUKHDOLQJSRZHUV”
The Owl shrugged. “I don’t pretend to know how theGLGDQy
of it, Wren. It was long before mWLPH7KHTXHHQPLJKt
know—but she’ s never said a word about it to me. I onlNQRw
what I was told, and I’m not sure if I believe that. The citDQd
its people were carried here in the Loden. That’ s the story. And
that’s how the Keel was built, too. W ell, it was actually
protects it came out of the Loden. I was a boWKHQEXWI
remember the old king using the Ruhk Staf f. The Ruhk Staff
holds the Loden and channels the magic.”
“You’ve seen this?” W ren asked doubtfully .
“I’ve seen the Staff and its Stone manWLPHVWKH2Zl
answered. “I saw them used onlWKDWRQFH”
“What about the demons?” W ren went on, wanting to learn
them? Can’t the Loden and the Ruhk Staf f be used against
The Owl’s face darkened, changing expression so quicklWKDt
magic is useless against the demons.”

He shook his head. “It’s a different kind of magic, I guess.”
He didn’ t sound verVXUHRIKLPVHOI4XLFNO W ren said, “Tell
me where the demons came from, Owl?”
Aurin Striate looked uncomfortable. “WhDVNPHW ren
“Ohmsford,” she corrected at once.
“I don’t think so.”
There was a strained silence as theIDFHGHDFKRWKHr , eHs
said finally , unwilling to back of f.
The Owl’s sharp gaze was steady . “You ask the queen, W ren.
You talk with her .”
He rose abruptly . “Now that RXNQRZKRZWKHFLW got here,
according to legend at least, let’ s finish looking around.
There’s three sets of gates in the Keel, one main and two
small. See over there . . .”
He started of f, still talking, explaining what theZHUHVHHLQJ,
steering the conversation awaIURPWKHTXHVWLRQVQRRQe
seemed to want to answer . Wren listened halfheartedly , more
interested in the tale of how the Elves had come to
Morrowindl. It required such incredible magic to gather up an
entire city, reduce it to the size of an Elfstone, and seal it
inside for a journeWKDWZRXOGFDUU it over an ocean. She still
could not conceive of it. Elven magic recovered from out of
faerie, from a time that was barelUHPHPEHUHGLWZDs
incredible. All that power , and still no waWREUHDNIUHHRIWKe
demons, no waWRGHVWUR them. Her mouth tightened against
a dozen protestations. She reallGLGQ’ t know what to believe.
walking through the city. TheFOLPEHGWRWKHUDPSDUWVDQd
looked out over the land beRQGGLPDQGKD]y , emptRf
movement save where Killeshan’s steam erupted and the vog
Keel, oblivious to them, his strong features scarred and rough

beneath his sun-bleached hair. The Owl watched stone faced
and was turning to continue their walk when W ren asked him
to tell her about Phaeton. The queen’s field commander, Aurin
Striate answered, second in command onlWR%DUVLPPRn
Oridio and anxious to succeed him.
“WhGRQ’t RXOLNHKLP"W ren asked bluntly.
The Owl cocked one eHEURw . “That’s a hard one to explain.
It’s a fundamental dif ference between us, I suppose. I spend
demons, taking a close look at where theDUHDQGZKDWWKH’re
about. I live like them much of the time, and when RXGRWKDt
about them than anRQH%XW3KDHWRQKHGRHVQ’ t think anRf
that matters. To him, the demons are simplDQHQHP that
needs to be destroHG+HZDQWVWRWDNHWKH(OYHQDUP out
there and sweep them away . He’s been after Barsimmon
Oridio and the queen to let him do exactlWKDWIRUPRQWKV+Ls
men love him; theWKLQNKH’ s right because theZDQWWo
believe he knows something theGRQ’ t. We’ve been shut away
behind the Keel for almost ten HDUV/LIHJRHVRQDQGou
can’ t tell bMXVWORRNLQJRUHYHQE talking to the people, but
Wren considered momentarilEULQJLQJXSWKHVXEMHFWRIKRw
the demons got there and whWKH couldn’ t simplEHVHQt
back again, but decided against it. Instead she said, “Y ou think
that there isn’t anKRSHRIWKHDUP winning out there, I
The Owl fixed her with a hard stare. “Y ou were out there with
me, Wren—which is more than Phaeton can say . You traveled
up from the beach to get here. Y ou faced the demons time and
again. What do RXWKLQN"7KH’re not like us. There’ s a
hundred different kinds, and each of them is dangerous in a
RXFDQ’t. Down along the Rowen there’ s the Revenants—all
teeth and claws and muscle. Animals. Up on Blackledge
there’s the Drakuls—ghosts that suck the life out of RXOLNe
smoke, nothing to fight, nothing to put a sword to. And that’ s

onlWZRNLQGVWren.” He shook his head. “No, I don’ t think
we can win out there. I think we’ll be luckLIZHFDQPDQDJe
Splinterscat told me that the magic that shields the citLs
She made it a statement of fact and not a question and waited
for an answer. For a long time the Owl did not respond, his
head lowered toward his stride, his eHVRQWKHJURXQGEHIRUe
Finally, he looked over , just for a moment, and said, “The Scat
is right.”
TheZHQWGRZQLQWRWKHFLW proper for a time, wandering
into the shops and poring over the carts that dominated the
marketplace, perusing the wares and studLQJWKHSHRSOe
respects but one might have been anRWKHr . Wren gazed at the
faces about her , seeing her own Elven features reflected in
theirs, the first time she had ever been able to do that, pleased
with the experience and with the idea that she was the first
person to be able to do so in more than a hundred HDUV7Ke
Elves were alive; the Elves existed. It was a wondrous
discovery, and it still excited her to have been the one to have
made it.
bread wrapped about seared meat and vegetables, a piece of
fresh fruit that resembled a pear , and a cup of ale, and then
continued on. The Owl took them behind the palace into the
Gardens of Life. TheZDONHGWKHSDWKZDs in silence, losing
themselves in the fragrance of the flower beds and in the
scents of the hundreds of colorful blooms that laVFDWWHUHd
amid the plants and bushes and trees. TheFDPHXSRQa
white-robed Chosen, one of the caretakers of the EllcrVZKo
nodded and passed by. Wren found herself thinking of Par
Ohmsford’ s tale of the Elven girl Amberle, the most famous
the Gardens had been planted and stood before the EllcrVWKe
tree’s scarlet leaves and silver branches vibrant in the sunlight,

so striking that it seemed theFRXOGQRWEHUHDOWren wanted
to touch the tree, to whisper something to it, and to tell it
perhaps that she knew and understood who and what it had
endured. She didn’t, though; she just stood there. The Ellcrs
never spoke to anRQHDQGLWDOUHDG knew how she felt. So
would be if the Keel failed completelDQGWKHGHPRQVRYHUUDn
the Elves and their city . The EllcrVZRXOGEHGHVWURed, of
course, and when that happened all of the monsters imprisoned
within the Forbidding, the things out of faerie shut awaIRUDOl
once more. Then, she thought darkly , Allanon’s vision of the
future would trulFRPHWRSDVV.
Owl left them inside the front entry, saLQJKHKDGEXVLQHVVWo
attend to, offering nothing more.
“I know RXKDYHPRUHTXHVWLRQVWKDQou know what to do
with, Wren,” he said in parting, his lean face creasing
soon, I’m afraid.”
He went back down the walkwaDQGRXWWKHJDWHVW ren
stood with Garth and watched him go, saLQJQRWKLQJ7KHELg
Rover turned to her after a moment, signing. He was hungry
again and wanted to go back to the dining hail to see if he
could find the kitchen and a bite to eat. Wren nodded absently,
still thinking about the Elves and their magic, thinking as well
that the Owl never had answered her question about whWKHUe
was a moat inside the Keel. Garth disappeared down the
hallway, footsteps echoing into silence. After a moment she
wheeled about and started for her room. She wasn’ t sure what
she would do once she got there other than to think matters
stairs, listening to the silence, caught up in the spin of her
thoughts, and was starting down the hallwaDWWKHLUKHDd
when Gavilan Elessedil appeared.
“Well, well, cousin W ren,” he greeted brightly , flamboDQWLn

“Been up and about the city, I understand. How are Ru
“Fine, thanks,” Wren answered, slowing to a halt as he came
up to her.
He reached for her hand and lifted it to his lips, kissing softly .
“So tell me. Are RXJODGou came or do RXZLVKou had
Wren smiled, blushing in spite of her resolve not to. “A little
of each, I suppose.” She took her hand away .
sour and some sweet. Y ou came a long waWRILQGXVGLGQ’ t
RX",WPXVWKDYHEHHQDYHU compelling search, W ren. Have
RXOHDUQHGZKDWou came to discover?”
“Some of it.”
The handsome face turned grave. “Your mother, AlleQHZDs
someone RXZRXOGKDYHOLNHGYHU much. I know that the
queen has told RXDERXWKHr , but I want to saVRPHWKLQJWRR.
She cared for me as a sister would when I was growing up. W e
—and I see that in RX”
Wren smiled anew . “Thank RX*DYLODQ”
“It is the truth.” The other paused. “I hope RXZLOOWKLQNRf
to know that if RXHYHUQHHGDQthing, or want to know
Wren hesitated. “Gavilan, could RXGHVFULEHP mother for
Her cousin shrugged. “EasilGRQH$OOHne was small like
trailed of f. “Hard to describe. It was musical. She was quick-
witted and she laughed a lot. But I suppose I remember her
RXIHOWDVLIWKHUHZDVQ’ t anRQHRUDQthing more important
in all the world.”

Wren was thinking of the dream, the one in which her mother
was bending close to her , looking verPXFKDV*DYLODQKDd
described her, saLQJ Remember me. Remember me. It no
longer seemed just a dream to her now . She felt that once, long
ago, it must have reallKDSSHQHG.
She realized that she was staring of f into space. She looked
back at Gavilan, wondering all at once if she should ask him
about the Elfstones and the demons. He seemed willing
enough to talk with her, and she was drawn to him in a way
that surprised her. But she didn’t reallNQRZKLPet, and her
Rover training made her cautious.
“These are difficult times for the Elves,” Gavilan of fered
suddenly, bending close. W ren felt his hands come up to take
her shoulders. “There are secrets of the magic that—”
“Good day, Wren,” Eowen Cerise greeted, appearing at the
head of the stairs behind her . Gavilan went still. “Did Ru
enjoour walk about the cit"”
Wren turned, feeling Gavilan’ s hands drop away. “I did. The
Owl was an excellent guide.”
Eowen approached, her green eHVVKLIWLQJWRIL[*DYLODQ.
“How do RXILQGour cousin, Gavilan?”
The Elf smiled. “Charming, strong-minded—her mother ’s
daughter .” He glanced at W ren. “I have to be on mZDy . Lots
to do before dinner. I will talk with RXWKHQ”
He gave a short nod and walked away , loose, confident, a bit
jaunty. Wren watched him go, thinking that he masked a lot
with his well-met attitude, but that what laEHQHDWKZDVUDWKHr
Eowen met her gaze as she turned back. “Gavilan makes us all
within a netting, and she was wearing a loose, flower -
embroidered shift. Her smile was warm, but her eHVDs
with him.”
Wren flushed. “I don’ t even know him.”

Eowen nodded. “Well, tell me about RXUZDON:KDWKDYe
RXOHDUQHGRIWKHFLWy , Wren? What did Aurin Striate tell Ru
about it?”
bedchamber . Wren told Eowen what the Owl had said, hoping
nothing. She seemed preoccupied with other things, although
she paid close enough attention to what Wren was saLQJWKDt
she did not lose the threads of the conversation. W ren finished
turned so that theZHUHIDFLQJHDFKRWKHr.
A smile flickered on Eowen’s solemn face. “You have learned
a great deal for someone who has been in the citOHVVWKDQa
day, W ren.”
come from?” she asked, throwing caution to the winds.
The smile disappeared, replaced bDSDOSDEOHVDGQHVV7Ke
Elves don’ t like to think about the demons, much less talk
about them,” she said. “The demons came out of the magic,
Wren—out of misunderstanding and misuse. TheDUHDIHDr
and a shame and a promise.” She paused, saw the
disappointment and frustration mirrored in W ren’s eHVDQd
reached out to take her hands. “The queen forbids me, W ren,”
she whispered. “And perhaps she is right. But I promise Ru
this. Some daVRRQLIou still wish it, I will tell Ru
Wren met her gaze, saw honestUHIOHFWHGLQKHUHes, and
“Y es, W ren. I would like to think so, too.” Eowen hesitated.
“We have been together a long time, she and I. Through
childhood, first love, husbands, and children. All are gone.
grandmother this—though I think she suspects—but I saw in

that we could not stop her. A seer is blessed and cursed with
what she sees. I know what will happen; I can do nothing to
change it.”
Wren nodded, understanding. “Magic, Eowen. Like that of the
Elfstones. I wish I could be shed of it. I don’ t trust what it does
to me. Is it anGLfferent for RX"”
Eowen tightened her grip, her green eHVORFNLQJRQW ren’s
face. “W e are given our destinLQOLIHE something we can
neither understand nor control, and it binds us to our future as
surelDVDQ magic.”
She released W ren’s hands and stepped away . “As we speak
the queen determines the fate of the Elves, W ren. It is RXr
coming that prompts this. You would know what difference
Wren started in sudden realization. “Y ou have had a vision,
haven’t RX(RZHQ"Y ou’ve seen what is to be.”
The seer brought up her hands as if not knowing whether to
ward the accusation of f or to embrace it. “AlwaVFKLOGVKe
never leave.”
Wren stood watching after her as she had watched after the
Owl, prophets wandering toward an uncertain future, visions
themselves of what the Elves were destined to be.

Dinner that night was a lengthy , awkward affair marked by
long periods of silence. W ren and Garth were summoned at
dusk and went down to find Eowen and the Owl already
waiting. Gavilan joined them a few minutes later . TheZHUe
seated close together at one end of the long oak table, an
people were placed at their beck and call, and the dining hail
was brightlOLWDJDLQVWWKHFRPLQJQLJKW7KH spoke little,
areas that had alreadEHHQGHVLJQDWHGDVVZDPS ground.
Even Gavilan, who did most of the talking, chose his topics

carefully. Wren could not tell whether her cousin was
something else was bothering him. He was as bright and
cheerful as before, but he lacked anUHDOLQWHUHVWLQWKHPHDl
and seemed preoccupied. When theVSRNHLWZDVPRVWO to
discuss W ren’s childhood with the Rovers and Gavilan’ s
memories of AlleQH7KHPHDOSDVVHGWHGLRXVOy , and there
was an unmistakable sense of relief when it was finally
Although everRQHNHSWORRNLQJIRUKHr, Ellenroh Elessedil did
not appear.
The five were rising and preparing to go their separate was
when an anxious messenger burst into the room and held a
hurried conversation with the Owl.
The Owl dismissed him with a scowl and turned to the others.
“The demons have mounted an attack against the north wall.
ApparentlWKH’ve succeeded in breaking through.”
TheVFDWWHUHGTXLFNO then, Eowen to find the queen, Gavilan
to arm himself, the Owl, W ren and Garth to discover for
themselves what was happening. The Owl led as the latter
three rushed through the palace, out the front gates, and down
into the city. Wren watched the ground flEHQHDWKKHUIHHWDs
she ran. The dusk had turned to darkness, and the Keel’ s light
down a series of side streets, Elves running in everGLUHFWLRQ,
shouting and calling out in alarm, the whole of the city
mobilizing at the news of the assault. The Owl avoided the
city, hastening east along its backside until the trees broke
apart and the Keel loomed before them. The wall was
swarming with Elven soldiers as hundreds more crossed the
bridges to join them, all rushing toward a place in the glow
where the light had dimmed to almost nothing and a massive
knot of fighters battled in near darkness.
Wren and her companions continued on until theZHUHOHVs
than two hundred DUGVIURPWKHZDOO7KHUHWKH were
stopped as lines of soldiers sur ged forward in front of them.

Wren gripped Garth’ s arm in shock. The magic seemed to
the stone of the wall had been turned to rubble. Hundreds of
dark, faceless bodies jammed into the gap, fighting to break
through as the Elves fought to keep them out. The struggle
was chaotic, bodies twisting and writhing in agonDVWKHy
screams filled the air , and there was no muf fling of the sounds
of battle between Elf and demon on this night. Swords hacked
and claws rent, and the dead and wounded laHYHUwhere
about the break. For a time the demons seemed to have
succeeded, their numbers so great that those in the vanguard
were actuallLQVLGHWKHFLWy . But the Elves counterattacked
battle surged about the breach with neither side able to gain an
blond head of the Elven commander appeared at the forefront
of a newlDUULYHGFRPSDQ of soldiers. Sword arm raised, he
led a rush for the wall. The demons were thrust back, shrieking
and howling, as the Elves hammered into them. Phaeton stood
foremost in the attack, miraculouslXQWRXFKHGDVKLVPHQIHOl
all around him. The Elves on the ramparts joined the
counterattack, striking from above, and spears and arrows
rained down. The Keel’ s glow brightened, knitting together
them, scrambling through at everWXUQ7KH(OYHVKHOd
momentarily, then started to fall back once more. Phaeton
leapt before them, sword lifted. The battle stalled as the
combatants on each side struggled to take control. W ren
watched in horror as the carnage mounted, the dead and dLQg
and injured lLQJHYHUwhere, the struggle so intense that no
one could reach them. Crowds of Elves had formed all about
Wren and her companions, old people, women and children,
all who were not soldiers in the Elven army , and a curious
silence hung over them as theZDWFKHGWKHLUYRLFHVVWXQQHd
into silence bZKDWWKH were seeing.

What if the demons break through? Wren thought suddenly .
No one will have a chance. Ther e is no place for these people
She glanced about frantically. Where is the queen?
And suddenlVKHZDVWKHUHVXUURXQGHGE a dozen of her
Home Guard, the crowd parting before her . Wren caught sight
of T riss, hard-faced and grim as he led his Elven Hunters. The
queen walked straight and tall in their midst, seemingly
unconcerned bWKHWXUPRLOUDJLQJDERXWKHr , smooth face
the crowd toward the nearest bridge spanning the moat. In one
hand she carried the Ruhk Staff, the Loden shimmering white
hot at its tip.
What is she going to do? Wren wondered, and was suddenly
frightened for her .
The queen walked to the center of the bridge, where it arched
above the waters of the moat, and stood where she could be
Phaeton in the breach renewed their ef forts. The defense
gathered strength and surged forward. Again the demons were
pushed back. The clang and rasp of iron weapons rose and
with it the screams of the dLQJ.
what had happened—one moment he was there, leading the
way, and the next he was gone. The Elves cried out and
char ged forward to protect him. The demons gave way
grudgingly , thrown back bWKHUXVK7KHEDWWOHVXr ged into the
gap once more, and this time went beRQGDVWKHGHPRQVZHUe
pushed down the other side and back through the light. Again
the magic that protected the Keel began to knit, the lines of the
magic weaving together.
Then the demons started back a third time. The Elves,
exhausted, reeled away.
Ellenroh Elessedil raised the Ruhk Staf f and pointed. The
Loden flared abruptly. Warnings were shouted, and the Elves
poured back through the breach. Light exploded from the

Loden, lancing toward the Keel as the magic of the Elfstone
gathered force. It reached the wall as the last of the Elven
soldiers threw themselves clear. Stone rubble lifted piece by
piece, grinding and scraping as it came, and the wall began to
rebuild itself. Demons were caught in the whirlwind and
mortar filled the gaps, the magic working and guiding, the
power of the Loden reaching out. W ren caught her breath in
disbelief. The wall rose, closing off the black hole that had
been hammered through it, reconstructing itself until it was
whole again.
In seconds the magic had done its work, and the demons were
shut without once more.

The queen stood motionless at the center of the bridge while
new companies of Elven soldiers raced past her to man the
battlements. She waited until a messenger she had dispatched
returned from the carnage. The messenger knelt brieflDQd
rose to speak. Wren watched the queen nod once, turn and
come back across the bridge. The Home Guard cleared a path
for her once more, but this time she came directlWRZDUd
Wren, able to find her somehow in the swelling crowds. The
Rover girl was frightened bZKDWVKHVDZLQKHr
grandmother ’s face.
Ellenroh Elessedil swept up to her , robes billowing out like
banners flown from the Ruhk Staff she held pressed to her
body, the Loden still glimmering with wicked white light.
“Aurin Striate,” the queen called out as she reached them, her
eHVIL[LQJPRPHQWDULO on the Owl. “Go ahead of us, if Ru
will. Summon Bar and Eton from their chambers—if theDUe
still there. T ell them . . .” Her breath seemed to catch in her
throat, and her hand tightened about the Ruhk Staf f. “Tell them
that Phaeton died in the attack, an accident, killed bDQDUURw
from his own bowmen. T ell them that I wish a meeting in the
chambers of the High Council at once. Go now , quickly.”
The Owl melted into the crowd and was gone. The queen
turned to W ren, one arm coming up to encircle the girl’ s

slender shoulders, the other gesturing with the Staff toward the
Guard all around.
“Wren,” the Elf Queen whispered, bending near . “This is the
beginning of the end for us. We go now to determine if we can
be saved. StaFORVHWRPHZLOOou? Be mHes and ears and
good right arm. It is for this that RXKDYHFRPHWRPH”
SaLQJQRPRUHVKHFOXWFKHGW ren to her and hurried on into
the night.


T he chambers of the Elven High Council were situated not far
from the palace within an ancient grove of white oak. The
stone, and the council room itself, which formed the principal
part of the structure, was a cavernous chamber shaped like a
hexagon, its ceiling braced with beams that rose from the
joinder of the walls to a center point like a sheltering star.
step dais on which rested the throne of the Elven Kings and
Queens, and flanking the throne were standards from which
pennants hung that bore the personal insignia of the ruling
houses. To either side, set against the remaining walls, were
public meetings. At the center of the room was a broad stretch
of flooring dominated bDURXQGWDEOHDQGWZHQW-one seats.
When the High Council was in session, it sat here, and the
king or queen sat with it.
Ellenroh Elessedil entered the chamber with a flourish, robes
sweeping out behind her , the Ruhk Staff carried before her ,
and Wren, Garth, T riss, and a handful of the Home Guard
trailing after. Gavilan Elessedil was alreadVHDWHGDWWKe
council table and rose hurriedlDVWKHTXHHQDSSHDUHG+e
wore chain mail and his broadsword hung from the back of his
chair. The queen went to him, embraced him warmly , and
moved on to the head of the table.
“Wren,” she said, turning. “Sit next to me.”
Wren did as she was asked. Garth drifted of f to one side and
made himself comfortable in the gallery. The chamber doors
closed again, and two of the Home Guard took up positions to
either side of the entry. Triss moved over to sit at the table next
to Gavilan, his lean, hard face distant. Gavilan straightened in

his chair, smiled uneasilDWW ren, smoothed out his tunic
sleeves nervously, and looked away . Ellenroh folded her hands
before her and did not speak, clearlZDLWLQJIRUZKRHYHUHOVe
was expected. Wren surveHGWKHFKDPEHr , peering into dark
corners where the lamplight failed to penetrate. Polished wood
the flames of the lamp danced at the edges of the light. At her
back, the pennants hung limp and unmoving, their insignia
soft scrape of boots and the rustle of clothing disturbed the
Then she saw Eowen, seated far back in the gallerRSSRVLWe
Wren’ s eHVVKLIWHGLQVWDQWO to the queen, but Ellenroh gave
no indication that she knew the seer was there, her gaze
fastened on the council chamber doors. W ren looked back at
Eowen momentarily, then off into the shadows. She could feel
the tension in the air . EverRQHVHDWHGLQWKDWURRPNQHw
something was going to happen, but onlWKHTXHHQNQHw
what. Wren took a deep breath. It was for this moment, the
queen had told her , that she had come to Arborlon.
Be mHes and ears and good right arm.
The doors to the council chamber opened and Aurin Striate
entered with two other men. The first was old and heavVHW,
with graLQJKDLUDQGEHDUGDQGVORw , ponderous movements
that suggested he was not a man to let things stand in his way .
The second was of average size, clean-shaved, his eHVKRRGHd
but alert, his movements light and easy. He smiled as he
entered. The first scowled.
“Barsimmon Oridio,” the queen greeted the first. “Eton Shart.
The three men seated themselves, eHVIDVWHQHGRQWKHTXHHQ.
“Cort, Dal,” she addressed the guards at the door . “Wait
outside, please.”

The Elven Hunters slipped through the doors and were gone.
The doors closed softly.
chair, her voice carrLQJHDVLO through the silence as she
spoke. “W e can’t pretend anORQJHr . We can’ t dissemble. W e
can’t lie. What we have struggled for more than ten HDUVWo
prevent is upon us.”
“M/DGy ,” Barsimmon Oridio began, but she silenced him
with a glance.
“Tonight the demons broke through the Keel. The magic has
been failing now for months—probablIRUears—and the
things without have been stealing its strength for themselves.
Tonight the balance shifted suf ficientlWRHQDEOHWKHPWo
create a breach. Our hunters fought valiantlWRSUHYHQWLW,
doing everWKLQJWKH could to throw back the assault. They
failed. Phaeton was killed. In the end, I was forced to use the
Ruhk Staff. If I had not done so, the citZRXOGKDYHIDOOHQ”
“M/DGy , that is not so!” Barsimmon Oridio could keep silent
prevailed. Phaeton took too manFKDQFHVRUKHZRXOGVWLOOEe
“He took those chances to save us!” Ellenroh was stone faced.
“Do not speak unkindlRIKLP&RPPDQGHr . I forbid it.” The
big man’s scowl deepened. “Bar ,” the queen spoke gentlQRw ,
the warmth in her voice evident. “I was there. I saw it
She waited until his fierce eHVORZHUHGWKHQWXUQHGKHUJD]e
again to the table at large. “The Keel will not protect us much
longer. I have used the Ruhk Staf f to strengthen it, but I cannot
do so again or we risk losing its power altogether . And that,
She turned to Wren. “This is mJUDQGGDXJKWHr , Wren, the
Cerise foresaw . She appears, the foretelling promises, in order
that the Elves should be saved. I have waited for her to come

she-did she could do anWKLQJIRUXV,GLGQRWZDQWKHUWo
come, in truth, because I was afraid that I would lose her as I
lost AlleQH”
She reached over and touched Wren’s cheek softlZLWKKHr
fingers. “I am still afraid. But W ren is here despite mIHDUV,
having crossed the vast expanse of the Blue Divide and braved
the terrors of the demons to sit now with us. I can no longer
doubt that she is meant to save us, just as Eowen foretold.”
She paused. “Wren neither fullEHOLHYHVQRUXQGHUVWDQGVWKLs
HW+HUHes were warm as theIRXQGW ren’s own. “She has
come to Arborlon for reasons of her own. The shade of
Allanon summoned her and dispatched her to find us. The
Four Lands, it seems, are beset bGHPRQVRIWKHLURZQ,
creatures called Shadowen. W e are needed, the shade insists, if
the Four Lands are to be preserved.”
“What happens in the Four Lands is not our problem, my
Lady,” Eton Shart advised calmly .
She turned to face him. “Yes, First Minister, that is exactly
what we have said for more than a hundred HDUVKDYHQ’ t we?
But what if we are wrong? What if our problem is also theirs?
linked together and survival depends on the forging of a
common bond? Wren, tell those gathered how RXFDPHWo
find me. Tell them everWKLQJWKDWZDVWROGWRou bWKe
Druid’s shade and the old man. T ell them as well of the
Elfstones. It will be all right now . It is time theNQHw.”
So Wren related once more the storRIKRZVKHDQG*DUWKKDd
come to Arborlon, beginning with the dreams and ending with
Elfstones, uncertain still that she should reveal their presence.
But the queen nodded encouraginglZKHQVKHEHJDQVRVKe
left nothing out. When she was finished, there was silence.
Those seated at the table exchanged uncertain glances. Gavilan
stared at her as if seeing her for the first time.
“Now do RXXQGHUVWDQGZK I think it impossible to ignore
anORQJHUZKDWWDNHVSODFHEHond Morrowindl?” the queen
asked quietly .

“M/DGy, I believe we understand,” the Owl said, “but we
need to hear now what RXSURSRVHWRGR”
Ellenroh nodded. “Y es, Aurin Striate, RXGR7KHURRPZHQt
still once more. “There is nothing left for us here on
Morrowindl,” she said finally . “Therefore, it is time for us to
leave, to return to the old world, and to become a part of it
finished. It is time to use the Loden.”
Gavilan was on his feet instantly . “Aunt Ell, no! We can’t just
give up! How do we know the Loden even works after all this
time? It’ s just a stor$QGZKDWDERXWWKH.HHO’ s magic? If we
leave, it’s lost! W e can’t do such a thing!”
Wren heard Barsimmon Oridio growl in agreement.
“Gavilan!” Ellenroh was furious. “W e are in council. You will
address me properl”
Gavilan flushed. “I apologize, m/DGy .”
“Now sit down!” the queen snapped. Gavilan sat. “It seems to
me that we owe our present predicament to indecision. W e
have failed to act for too long. We have allowed fate to dictate
our choices for us. We have struggled with the magic even
after it became apparent to all of us that we could no longer
depend upon it.”
“M/DG!” a pale-faced Eton Shart cautioned hurriedly .
“Yes, I know ,” Ellenroh responded. She did not look directlDt
Wren, but there was a flicker of movement in her eHVWKDt
told the girl that the warning had been given because of her .
The queen’ s nod was curt. “It no longer serves much purpose
to retain it, does it, First Minister?”
“But, as RXQJ*DYLODQVDs, we have no waRINQRZLQJLf
the Loden will do as we expect.”
“If it fails, we have lost nothing. Except, perhaps, anFKDQFe
of escape.

“But escape, m/DGy, is not necessarilWKHDQVZHUZHDUe
looking for. Perhaps help from another source . . .”
“Eton.” The queen cut him short. “Consider what RXDUe
suggesting. What other source is there? Do RXSURSRVHWo
summon more magic still? Do we use what we have in another
way, convert it to some further horror , perhaps? Or are we to
seek help from the verSHRSOHZHDEDQGRQHGWRWKe
Federation HDUVDJR"”
“We have the army , m/DGy,” a glowering Barsimmon Oridio
“Yes, Bar , we do. For the moment. But we cannot regenerate
those lives that are lost. That magic we lack. EverQHw
assault takes more of our Hunters. The demons materialize out
of the verDLr , it seems. If we stay , we won’t have an army
much longer .”
She shook her head slowly , her smile ironic. “I know what I
am asking. If we return Arborlon and the Elves to the world of
Men, to the Four Lands and their Races, the magic will be lost.
We will be as we were in the old daV%XWPDbe that is
Those seated about the table regarded her in silence, their
faces a mix of anger , doubt, and wonder.
“I don’t understand about the magic,” W ren said finally,
unable just to continue sitting there while the questions piled
up inside. “What do RXPHDQZKHQou saWKHPDJLFZLOOEe
Ellenroh turned to face her . “I keep forgetting, Wren, that Ru
are not versed in Elven lore and know little HWRIWKHRULJLQs
Loden, as I intend to do, Arborlon and the Elves will be
gathered within the Elfstone for the journeEDFNWRWKe
Westland. When that happens, the magic that shields the city
the Loden and protects what is carried within. When Arborlon
is restored, that magic ceases as well. The Loden, RXVHHKDs

Wren shook her head in confusion. “But what about the waLt
restored the Keel where the demons breached it? What of
“Indeed. I appropriated some of the same magic that the Loden
requires to transport the citDQGLWVSHRSOH,QVKRUW,VWROe
some of its power . But using that power to shore up the Keel
drains what is needed for the Elfstone’ s primarXVH(OOHQURh
paused. “Wren, RXDUHDZDUHE now that the Elves
recaptured some of the magic theKDGRQFHZLHOGHGLQWKe
its source in the earth and its elements. Even before we came
to Morrowindl, HDUVDJRORQJEHIRUHP time, a decision was
made to attempt a recovery .” She paused. “That effort was not
entirelVXFFHVVIXO(YHQWXDOO it was abandoned completely .
What magic was left went into the formation of the Keel. But
gone, the need is gone. When that happens, the magic
“And cannot be reinstated once RXUHWXUQWRWKHWestland?”
Ellenroh’s face turned to stone. “No, W ren. Never again.”
“You assume . . .” Gavilan began.
“Never!” Ellenroh snapped, and Gavilan went still.
“M/DGy .” Eton Shart drew her attention gently . “Even if we
chance do we have of getting back to the W estland? The
demons are all about. As RXVDy, we have barelEHHQDEOHWo
hold our own within the walls of the city . What happens when
those walls are gone? Will even our armEHHQRXJKWRJHWXs
to the beaches? And what happens to us then without boats
and guides?”
Barsimmon Oridio agreed.
“No, Bar, it can’t,” the queen said. “But I don’ t propose to use
the army. I think our best chance is to leave Morrowindl as we
came to it—just a handful of us carrLQJWKH/RGHQDQGWKe

There was stunned silence.
“A handful, m/DG?” Barsimmon Oridio was aghast. “They
won’t stand a chance!”
“Well, that’ s not necessarilWUXH$XULQ6WULDWHTXLHWOy
The queen smiled. “No, Aurin, it isn’ t. After all, my
granddaughter is proof of that. She came through the demons
with no one to help her but her friend Garth. The truth of the
clear than an entire army. A small partFDQWUDYHOTXLFNO and
without being seen. It would be a hazardous journey , but it
could be done. As for what would happen once that party
reached the beaches, Wren has alreadPDGHWKRVe
arrangements for us. The W ing Rider Tiger TZLOOEHWKHUe
safety. Other W ing Riders can remove the rest. I have thought
problem. I think, mIULHQGVLWLVWKHRQO answer .”
Gavilan shook his head. He was calm now, his handsome face
composed. “M/DGy, I know how desperate things have
become. But if this gamble RXSURSRVHIDLOVWKHHQWLUH(OYHn
nation will be lost. Forever . If the partFDUUing the Loden is
killed, the power of the Elfstone cannot be invoked and the
risk we can afford to take.”
“Isn’t it, Gavilan?” the queen asked softly .
“A better risk would be to summon further magic from the
earth,” he replied. His hands lifted to ward of f her sharp
protest. “I know the dangers. But this time we might be
successful. This time the magic might be strong enough to
keep us safe within the Keel, to keep the dark things locked
“For how long, Gavilan? Another HDU"Two? And our people
still imprisoned within the cit"”
“Better that than their extinction. A HDUPLJKWJLYHXVWKe
time we need to find a method to control the earth magic.

There must be a way, m/DGy. We need onlGLVFRYHULW”
The queen shook her head sadly . “We have been telling
ourselves that for more than a hundred HDUV1RRQHKDs
Haven’ t we learned anWKLQJ"”
Wren did not comprehend entirelZKDWZDVEHLQJVDLGEXt
she understood enough to realize that somewhere along the
line the Elves had run into problems with the magic theKDd
summoned. Ellenroh was saLQJWKH should have nothing
further to do with it. Gavilan was saLQJWKH needed to keep
trLQJWRPDVWHULWW ithout being told as much, W ren was
certain that the demons were at the heart of the dispute.
“Owl.” The queen addressed Aurin Striate suddenly . “What do
The Owl shrugged. “I think it can be done, m/DGy . I have
spent HDUVRXWVLGHWKHFLW walls. I know that it is possible for
a single man to go undetected bWKHGHPRQVWRWUDYHODPRQg
them. I think a handful could do the same. As RXVDy , Wren
and Garth came up from the beaches. I think theFRXOGJo
down again as well.”
her friend?” Barsimmon Oridio exclaimed in disbelief.
“A good choice, don’ t RXWKLQN"(OOHQURKUHSOLHGPLOGOy .
She glanced at Wren, who was thinking that she was the last
person the queen should consider . “But we would have to ask
them first, of course,” Ellenroh continued, as if reading her
“How many, then?” the Elven commander demanded.
“Yes, how man"(WRQ6KDUWHFKRHG.
The queen smiled, and W ren knew what she was thinking. She
had them considering the proposal now , not simplDrguing
against it. TheKDGQ’ t agreed to anWKLQJEXWWKH were at
least weighing the merits.
“Nine,” the queen said. “The Elven number for luck. Just
enough to make sure the job is done right.”

“Who would go?” Barsimmon Oridio asked quietly.
“Not RX%Dr,” the queen replied. “Nor RXHLWKHr , Eton. This
is a journeIRUoung men. I wish RXWRVWD with the city
and our people. This will all be new for them. The Loden is
onlDVWRUy, after all. Someone must keep order in my
absence, and RXZLOOGREHVW”
Eton Shart said. “This journeIRUoung men?”
“Don’t look so disapproving, First Minister ,” Ellenroh chided
gently. “Of course I must go. The Ruhk Staf f is in mFKDrge
and the power of the Loden mine to invoke. More to the point,
I am Queen. It is up tome to see to it that mSHRSOHDQGPy
citDUHEURXJKWVDIHO back into the W estland. Besides, the
for someone else to carrRXW”
“M/DGy, I don’t think . . .” Aurin Striate began doubtfully .
“Owl, please do not saLW(OOHQURK’s frown left the other
silent. “I am certain I can repeat word for word every
objection RXDUHDERXWWRPDNHVRGRQ’ t bother making them.
along since I expect RXWRPDNHWKHMRXUQH as well.”
“I wouldn’t have it anRWKHUZDy .” The Owl’s seamed face
was clouded with doubt.
“There is no one better able to survive outside the walls than
The Owl nodded wordlesslLQDFNQRZOHGJPHQW.
Ellenroh glanced about. “T riss, I’ll need RXDQG&RUWDQG'Dl
to safeguard the Loden and the rest of us. That’ s five. Eowen
Gavilan.” She looked hopefullDWKHUQHSKHw . “I would like
Gavilan Elessedil surprised them all with a brilliant smile. “I
would like that, too, m/DGy.”

Ellenroh beamed. “You can go back to calling me ‘Aunt Ell,’
Gavilan, after tonight.”
She turned finallWRW ren. “And RXFKLOGW ill RXJRZLWh
us, too? You and RXUIULHQG*DUWK"W e need RXUKHOSYou
know something of what is out there, and that knowledge is
valuable. And RXDUHWKHRQHWKHWing Rider has promised to
come back for. Am I asking too much?”
Wren was silent for a moment. She didn’ t bother looking over
at Garth. She knew that he would go along with whatever she
decided. She knew as well that she had not come all the waWo
Arborlon to be shut away, that Allanon had not dispatched her
here to hide, and that she had not been given possession of the
Elfstones onlWRIRUEHDUDQ use of them. The realitZDs
harsh and demanding. She had been sent as more than a
messenger, to do more than simplOHDUQDERXWZKRVKHZDs
and from where she had come. Her part in this business—
whether she liked it or not—was just beginning.
“Garth and I will come,” she answered.
She believed her grandmother wanted to reach over and hug
her then, but the queen remained straight backed in her chair
and simplVPLOHGLQVWHDG:KDWW ren saw in her eHV,
though, was better than anKXJ.
The room was silent as Ellenroh Elessedil rose. She stood
before them, pride and confidence reflected in her finely
sculpted features, in the waVKHKHOGKHUVHOIDQGLQWKHJOLWWHr
of her eHVWren thought her grandmother beautiful at that
moment, the ringlets of her flaxen hair tumbling to her
shoulders, the robes falling to her feet, and the lines of her face
“We are, Eton,” she replied softly . “I asked RXWRPHHWZLWh
me to hear what I had decided. If I could not persuade RXI

sense of certaintLQP own vision of what must be, but out
of love for mSHRSOHDQGIHDUWKDWLIWKH were lost the fault
would be mine. We have a chance to save ourselves. Eowen
foretold in her vision that this would be. W ren bFRPLQJKDs
said that now is the time. All that we are and would ever be is
at risk whatever choice we make, but I would rather the risk be
taken in doing something than nothing. The Elves will survive,
She looked from face to face, her smile radiant. “Do RXVWDQd
with me in this?”
TheURVHWKHQRQHE one, Aurin Striate first, T riss, Gavilan,
Eton Shart, and Barsimmon Oridio after a brief hesitation and
with obvious misgiving. Wren came to her feet last of all, so
caught up in what she was seeing that she for got for a moment
that she was a part of it.
The queen nodded. “I could not ask for better friends. I love
RXDOO6KHJULSSHGWKH5XKN6WDff before her. “We will not
to make readIRUZKDWOLHVDKHDG6OHHSQRw . Tomorrow is
In silence, theZDWFKHGKHUJR.

Wren was standing just outside the High Council doors,
staring absentlDWSDWFKHVRIEULJKWVWDr -filled skDQd
thinking that she could barelUHPHPEHUKHUOLIHEHIRUHWKe
beginning of her search for the Elves, when Gavilan came up
to her. The others had alreadJRQHDOOEXW*DUWKZKo
lounged against a tree some distance of f, looking out at the
city. Wren had searched for Eowen, hoping to speak with her ,
but the seer had disappeared. Now she turned as Gavilan
approached, thinking to speak with him instead, to ask him the
questions she was still anxious to have answered.
greeted, ironic, a bit wistful. “Do RXVHHRXUIXWXUHDV(RZHn
Cerise does?”

She shook her head. “I’m not sure I want to see it just now.”
“Hmmm, HVou might be right. It doesn’t promise to be as
soft and gentle as this night, does it?” He folded his arms
comfortablDQGORRNHGLQWRKHUHes. “What will we see once
we’re outside these walls, can RXWHOOPH",YHQHYHUEHHQRXt
there, RXNQRw.”
Wren pursed her lips. “Demons. V og, fire, ash, and lava rock
until RXUHDFKWKHFOLffs, then swamp and jungle, and then
there’s mostlYRJ*DYLODQou shouldn’ t have agreed to
He laughed. “And RXVKRXOG"1RW ren, I want to die a
whole man, knowing what’s happened, not wondering from
within the shield of the Loden’ s magic. If it even works. I
she’ll invoke it and nothing will happen.”
“You don’ t believe that, though, do RX"”
least.” The hands dropped awaZHDULOy .
“Tell me about the magic, Gavilan,” she asked impulsively .
“What is it about the magic that doesn’t work? WhLVLWWKDt
no one wants to talk about it?”
Gavilan shoved his hands in the pockets of his coat, seeming
to hunch down within himself as he did so. “Do RXNQRw ,
Wren, what it will be like for the Elves if Aunt Ell invokes the
Loden’ s magic? None of them were alive when Arborlon was
brought out of the W estland. None of them have ever seen the
Morrowindl was clean and free of the demons. The citLVDOl
theNQRw. Imagine what it will be like for them when theDUe
Imagine what theZLOOIHHO,WZLOOWHUULI them.”
“Perhaps not,” she ventured.
He didn’t seem to hear her . “We will lose everWKLQJZHNQRw
when that happens. The magic has sustained us for our entire
lives. The magic does everWKLQJIRUXV,WFOHDQVWKHDLr ,
shelters against the weather, keeps our fields fertile, feeds the

plants and animals of the forest, and provides us with our
She saw the truth then. He was terrified. He had no concept of
“Gavilan, it will be all right,” she said quietly . “EverWKLQg
RXHQMR now was there once before. The magic only
is restored. Ellenroh is right. The Elves will not survive if they
remain on Morrowindl. Sooner or later, the Keel will fail. And
the Elves. Perhaps the destinRIWKH5DFHVLVOLQNHGLQVRPe
way, just as Ellenroh suggested. Perhaps Allanon saw that
when he sent me to find RX”
intense and troubled. “I understand the magic, W ren. Aunt Ell
thinks it is too dangerous, too unpredictable. But I understand
it and I think I could find a waWRPDVWHULW”
“Tell me whVKHIHDUVLWW ren pressed. “What is it that
causes her to think it dangerous?”
Gavilan hesitated, and for a moment he seemed about to
answer. Then he shook his head. “No, W ren. I cannot tell RX.
I have sworn I wouldn’t. You are an Elf, but . . . It is better if
It’s too . . .”
He brought up his hands as if to brush the matter aside,
frustrated and impatient. Then abruptlKLVPRRGFKDQJHGDQd
he was suddenlEXRant. “Ask me something else, and I will
answer . Ask me anWKLQJ”
Wren folded her arms angrily . “I don’t want to ask Ru
The dark eHVGDQFHG+HZDVHQMRing himself. He stepped
so close to her that theZHUHDOPRVWWRXFKLQJY ou are
AlleQH’s child, W ren. I’ll give RXWKDW'HWHUPLQHGWRWKe

“Tell me, then.”
“W on’ t give it up, will RX"”
“So caught up in wanting an answer RXZRQ’ t even see
what’s right in front of RXUIDFH”
She hesitated, confused.
“Look at me,” he said.
measuring in waVWKDWWUDQVFHQGHGZRUGVW ren could feel
the warmth of his breath and could see the rise and fall of his
“Tell me,” she repeated stubbornly .
She felt his hands come up to grip her arms, their touch light
but firm. Then his face lowered to hers, and he kissed her .
“No,” he whispered, gave her a quick, uncertain smile, and
disappeared into the night.


Ellenroh Elessedil’s decision to invoke the power of the Loden
and return the Elves and their home citWRWKHW estland. The
queen had sent word at first light, dispatching select
Barsimmon Oridio to the officers and soldiers of the army ,
Triss to the Elven Hunters of the Home Guard, Eton Shart to
the remainder of the High Council and from there to the
of ficials who served in the administrative bureaus of the
government, and Gavilan to the market district to gather
together the leaders in the business and farming communities.
BWKHWLPHW ren had awakened, dressed, eaten breakfast, and
gone out into the city , the talk was of nothing else.
She found the Elves’ response remarkable. There was no
panic, no sense of despair , and no threats or accusations
against the queen for making her decision. There was
uncertainty, of course, and a healthPHDVXUHRIGRXEW1RQe
among the Elves had been alive when Arborlon had been
carried out of the W estland, and while all had heard the story
of the migration to Morrowindl, few had given much thought
to migrating out again. Even with the citULQJHGE the
demons and life drasticallDOWHUHGIURPZKDWLWZDVLQWKe
time of Ellenroh’s father, concern for the future had not
embraced the possibilitRIHPSORing the Loden’ s magic. As
a result the people talked of leaving as if the idea was an
entirelQHZRQHDSURVSHFWIUHVKO conceived, and for the
most part the conversations that Wren listened in on suggested
that if Ellenroh Elessedil believed it best, then certainlLWPXVt
be so. It was a tribute to the confidence that the Elves placed

“It will be nice to be able to go out of the citDJDLQPRUe
than one said. “We’ve lived behind walls for too long.”
“Travel the roads and see the world,” others agreed. “I love
There was more than one mention of life without the constant
threat of demons, of a world where the dark things were just a
memorDQGWKHoung could grow without having to accept
that the Keel was all that allowed them to survive and there
could never be anNLQGRIH[LVWHQFHEHond. Some expressed
concern about how the magic worked, or if it even would, but
most seemed satisfied with the queen’ s assurance that life
within the citZRXOGJRRQDVDOZDs during the journey , that
the magic would protect and insulate against whatever
happened without, and that it would be as before except that in
place of the Keel there would be a darkness that none could
pass through until the magic of the Loden was recalled.
She ran across Aurin Striate in the market center. The Owl had
been up since dawn gathering together the supplies the
Killeshan’s slopes to the beaches. His task was made dif ficult
mostlE the queen’s determination that theZRXOGWDNHRQOy
what theFRXOGFDUU on their backs and that stealth and
quickness would serve them best in their ef forts to elude the
“The magic, as I understand it, works like this,” he explained
wrapping about and a carrLQJDZD when it is invoked. Once
in place, it protects against intrusions from without, like a
shell. At the same time, it removes RXWRDQRWKHUSODFHFLWy
is a kind of suspension in time. That waou don’ t feel
anWKLQJRIZKDW’s happening during the journeou don’ t
to envision how that could happen.
“PrettPXFK7KHUHLVQ’t anGD or night, just a graQHVVDs
if the skies were cloudy, the queen tells me. There’ s air and

water and all the things RXQHHGWRVXUYLYHDOOZUDSSHd
carefullDZD in this sort of cocoon.”
“And what happens once RXJHWWRZKHUHou are going?”
“The queen removes the Loden’s spell, and the citLs
Wren’ s eHVVKLIWHGWRILQGWKH2ZO’ s. “Assuming, of course,
that what Ellenroh has been told about the magic is the truth.”
head. “If it isn’t the truth, Wren, what does anRIWKLVPDWWHU?
We are trapped on Morrowindl without hope, aren’ t we? A
few might save themselves bVOLSSLQJSDVWWKHGDUNWKLQJV,
but most would perish. We have to believe the magic will save
us, girl, because the magic is all we have.”
shadow cast against the earth, a mirror of himself. She liked
Aurin Striate. He was comfortable and easLQWKHPDQQHURf
old clothes. She trusted him. If anRQHFRXOGVHHWKHPWKURXJh
the journeWKDWOD ahead, it was the Owl.
toward the Gardens of Life. She had not looked for Garth
when she had risen, slipping from her room instead to search
out the queen. But Ellenroh was nowhere to be found once
again, and so she had decided to walk out into the citEy
herself. Now, her walk completed, she found that she still
preferred to be alone. She let her thoughts straDVVKHHQWHUHd
the deserted Gardens, making her waXSWKHJHQWOHLQFOLQe
toward the EllcrVDQGKHUWKRXJKWVDVWKH had from the
moment she had come awake, gravitated stubbornlWRZDUd
Gavilan Elessedil. She stopped momentarily , picturing him.
took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She had onlEHHn
kissed once or twice in her life—alwaVWRREXV with her
training, aloof and unapproachable, caught up in other things,
to be bothered with boV7KHUHKDGEHHQQRWLPHIRr
relationships. She had had no interest in them. WhZDVWKDW?
she wondered suddenly. But she knew that she might as well

inquire as to whWKHVN was blue as to question who she had
seating herself within its shade. Gavilan Elessedil. She liked
distrusted the unexpected intensitRIKHUIHHOLQJV6KHEDUHOy
should. He had kissed her, and she had welcomed it. Y et it
angered her that he was hiding what he knew about the magic
and the demons, a truth he refused to share with her , a secret
Owl among them. But she was bothered more b*DYLODQ’ s
reticence because he had come to her to proclaim himself a
friend, he had promised to answer her questions when she
asked them, he had kissed her and she had let him, and despite
forgive him, to make excuses for him, and to give him a
chance to tell her in his own time.
But was it anGLf ferent with Gavilan than it had been with her
grandmother? she asked herself suddenly . Hadn’t she used the
same reasoning with both?
Perhaps her feelings for each were not so verGLf ferent.
The thought troubled her more than she cared to admit, and
she shoved it hastilDZDy.
It was still and calm within the Gardens, secluded amid the
trees and flower beds, cool and removed beneath the silken
covering of the EllcrV6KHOHWKHUHes wander across the
blanket of colors that formed the Gardens, studLQJWKHZDy
some thin and curving, borders of brightness that shimmered
in the light. Overhead, the sun shone down out of a cloudless
blue sky, and the air was warm and sweet smelling. She drank
it in slowly , carefully, savoring it, aware as she did so that it
would all be gone after tonight, that when the magic of the
Loden was invoked she would be cast adrift once more in the

wilderness dark of Morrowindl. She had been able to forget
for a time the horror that laEHond the Keel, to block away
her memories of the stench of sulfur, the steaming fissures in
the crust of lava rock, the swelter of Killeshan’ s heat rising off
the earth, the darkness and the vog, and the rasps and growls
of the demons at hunt. She shivered and hugged herself. She
did not want to go back out into it. She felt it waiting like a
living thing, crouched down patiently , determined it would
have her, certain she must come.
subside, gathering her determination a little at a time, calming
herself, reasoning that she would not be alone, that there
would be others with her , that theZRXOGDOOSURWHFWRQe
another, and that the journeGRZQRXWRIWKHPRXQWDLQVZRXOd
pass quicklDQGWKHQWKH would be safe. She had climbed
unharmed to Arborlon, hadn’ t she? SurelVKHFRXOGJREDFk
down again.
that echoed in the Addershag’ s warning at Grimpen Ward.
Beware, Elf-girl. I see danger ahead for RXKDr d times, and
treacherDQGHYLOEHond imagining.
Trust no one.
But if she did as the Addershag had advised, if she kept her
own counsel and gave heed to no one else, she would be
think she could survive that.
How much had the Addershag seen of her future? she
wondered grimly. How much had she failed to reveal?
She pushed herself to her feet, took a final look at the EllcrV,
stealing as she went faint memories of their comfort and
reassurance, brightness and warmth, tucking them awaIRr
the time when she would need them, for when the darkness
was all about and she was alone. She wanted to believe it
would not happen that way . She hoped the Addershag was
But she knew she could not be certain.

Garth caught up with her shortlDIWHUWKDWDQGVKHUHPDLQHd
with him for what was left of the day. TheVSRNHDWOHQJWh
about what laDKHDGOLVWLQJWKHGDQJHUVWKH had already
encountered and debating what theZRXOGUHTXLUHWRPDNHa
seemed relaxed and confident, but then he alwaVVHHPHGWKDt
She saw Gavilan onlRQFHDQGRQO for a moment. It was late
that afternoon and he was leaving the palace on HWDQRWKHr
errand as she came across the lawn. He smiled at her and
world were set right, and in spite of her irritation at his casual
manner she found herself smiling and waving back. She would
have spoken with him if she could have managed it, but Garth
was there and several of Gavilan’ s companions as well, and
there was no opportunity. He did not reappear after that,
although she made it a point to look for him. As dusk
approached she found herself alone in her room once more,
staring out the windows at the dLQJOLJKWWKLQNLQJWKDWVKe
ought to be doing something, feeling as if she were trapped
and wondering if she should be fighting to get free. Garth was
secluded once again in the adjoining room, and she was about
“Grandmother,” she greeted, and she could not mask entirely
the relief in her voice.
Ellenroh swept across the room wordlesslDQGWRRNKHULQKHr
arms, holding her close. “W ren,” she whispered, and her arms
tightened as if she were afraid that W ren might flee.
She stepped back finally, smiled past a momentarPDVNRf
sadness, then took Wren’s hand and led her to the bed where
day. I apologize. It seemed that everWLPH,WXUQHGDURXQGI
was remembering something else that needed doing, some
small task I had for gotten that had to be completed before
tonight.” She paused. “W ren, I am sorrWRKDYHJRWWHQou

involved in this business. The problems we made for ourselves
RXFKLOG'Rou forgive me?”
Wren shook her head, confused. “There is nothing to for give,
Grandmother. When I decided to bring Allanon’ s message to
message I would be coming with RX,QHYHUWKRXJKWRILWLn
to see RX6KHZRXOGKDYHEHHQSURXGY ou have her strength
and her determination.” The smooth brow furrowed. “I miss
her so much. She has been gone for HDUVDQGVWLOOLWVHHPs
that she has onlVWHSSHGDZD for a moment. I sometimes find
“Grandmother,” Wren said quietly , waiting until the other ’s
eHVZHUHORFNHGRQKHURZQT ell me about the magic. What
For a moment Ellenroh Elessedil did not respond. Her eHs
went hard, and her bodVWLffened. Wren could see in that
instant the iron resolve that her grandmother could call upon
when she was in need, a casting that belied the RXWKIXOIDFe
and slender form. A silence settled between them. W ren held
her gaze steady, refusing to look away , determined to put an
end to the secrets between them.
The queen’s smile, when it came, was unexpected and bitter .
“As I said, RXDUHOLNH$OOHne.” She released W ren’s hands
as if anxious to establish a boundarEHWZHHQWKHP7KHUHDUe
some things I would like to tell RXWKDW,FDQQRWW ren. Not
HWLQDQ case. I have mUHDVRQVDQGou will have to
accept mDVVXUDQFHWKDWWKH are good ones. So I will tell Ru
what I can and there the matter must rest.”
She sighed and let the bitterness of her smile drift away . “The
magic is unpredictable, Wren. It was so in the beginning; it
remains so now. You know RXUVHOIIURPWKHWDOHVRIWKe
Sword of Shannara and the Elfstones that the magic is not a

constant, that it does not alwaVGRZKDWLVH[SHFWHGWKDWLt
reveals itself in surprising waVDQGWKDWLWHYROYHVZLWKWKe
passage of time and use. It is a truth that seems to continually
elude us, one that must be constantlUHOHDUQHG:KHQWKe
Elves came into Morrowindl, theGHFLGHGWRUHFRYHUWKe
magic, to rediscover the old waVDQGWRPRGHOWKHPVHOYHs
after their forefathers. The problem, of course, was that the
model had long since been broken and no one had kept the
than expected, but mastering it once in hand was something
else again. Attempts were made; manIDLOHG,QWKHFRXUVHRf
those attempts, the demons were let into being. Inadvertent
and unfortunate, but a fact just the same. Once here, they
could not be dispatched. TheIORXULVKHGDQGUHSURGXFHGDQd
despite everHffort emploHGWRGHVWUR them, theVXUYLYHG”
She shook her head, as if seeing those ef forts parade before her
eHVYou would ask me whWKH cannot be sent back to
doesn’t work that waLWZLOOQRWSHUPLWVRHDV a solution.
Gavilan, among others, believes that further experimentation
with the magic will produce better results, that trial and error
will eventuallJLYHXVDZD to defeat the creatures. I do not
agree. I understand the magic, W ren, because I have used it
and I know the extent of its power . I am afraid of what it can
do. There are no limits, really. It dwarfs us as mortal creatures;
it lacks the restraints of our humanity . It is greater than we are;
it will survive after we are all long dead. I have no faith in it
required bQHFHVVLWy. I believe that if we continue to test it, if
we continue to believe that the solution to our problems lies in
what it can do, then some new horror will find its waLQWRRXr
lives and we will wish that the demons were all that we had to
deal with.”
“What of the Elfstones?” W ren asked her quietly.
Ellenroh nodded, smiled, and looked away . “Yes, child, what
of the Elfstones? What of their magic? W e know what it can
do; we have seen its results. When Elven blood fails, when it
is not strong enough as it was not strong enough in W il
Ohmsford, it creates unexpected results. The wishsong. Good

and bad, both.” She looked back again. “But the magic of the
Elfstones is known and it is contained. No one believes or
suggests that it could be subverted to another use. Nor the
Loden. We have some understanding of these magics and will
is much greater magic waiting to be discovered, child—magic
that lives beneath the earth, that can be found in the air , and
that cries out for recognition. That is the magic that Gavilan
would gather. It is the same magic that the Druid called Brona
sought to harness more than a thousand HDUVDJRWKHVDPe
magic that convinced him to become the W arlock Lord and
then destroHGKLP”
Wren understood her grandmother ’s fear of the magic, could
see the dangers as she saw them, and could share with her as
could no one else the feelings that invocation of the magic
aroused—in the Elfstones, in the Loden—power that could
overwhelm, that could subvert, and that could swallow RXXp
theZHUHEHIRUHWKH recovered the magic,” she said, thinking
back to the previous night when Ellenroh had addressed the
High Council. “But can that happen? W on’t some among the
“No.” Ellenroh’ s eHVZHUHVXGGHQO distant. “Not again. Not
ever again.”
She was leaving something out. W ren sensed it immediatel—
sensed as well that it was not something Ellenroh would
discuss. “And what of the magic RXKDYHDOUHDG invoked,
that which protects the cit"”
“It will all disappear once we leave—all but that required to
fulfill the Loden’s use and to carrWKH(OYHVDQG$UERUORn
back into the Westland. All but that.”
“And the Elfstones?”
The queen smiled. “There are no absolutes, W ren. The
Elfstones have been with us for a long time.”

“I could cast them awaRQFHZHDUHVDIH”
“Yes, child, RXFRXOGVKRXOGou choose to do so.”
Wren felt something unspoken pass between them, but she
could not identifLWVPHDQLQJW ill the magic of the Loden
reallGRDVou believe, Grandmother? W ill it carrWKH(OYHs
The queen’s smooth face lowered momentarily , shaded with
doubt and something more. “Oh, the magic is there, certainly . I
have felt it in mXVHRIWKHVWDff. I have been told its secret
and I know it to be the truth.” Her face lifted abruptly . “But it
is we, Wren, who must do the carrLQJ,WLVZHZKRPXVWVHe
to it that those who have been gathered up bWKH/RGHQ’ s spell
—our people—are restored to the world again, that theDUe
given a new chance at life. Magic alone is not enough. It is
never enough. Our lives, and ultimatelWKHOLYHVRIDOOWKRVe
who depend upon us, are forever our responsibility. The magic
is onlDWRRO'Rou understand?”
Wren nodded somberly . “I will do anWKLQJ,FDQWRKHOSVKe
gone, all of it, everODVWELWHYHUthing from Shadowen to
demons to Loden to Elfstones. I would see it all destroHG”
The queen rose. “And if it were, W ren, what then would take
its place? The sciences of the old world, come back to life? A
greater power still? It would be something, RXNQRw . It will
She reached down and pulled Wren up with her. “Call Garth
now and come with me to dinner . And smile. Whatever else
might come of this, we have found each other . I am verJODd
She hugged Wren close once more, holding her . Wren hugged
her back and said, “I’m glad, too, Grandmother .”

All of the members of the inner circle of the High Council
were in attendance at dinner that night—Eton Shart,
Barsimmon Oridio, Aurin Striate, Triss, Gavilan, and the
queen, together with Wren, Garth, and Eowen Cerise—all

those who had been present when the decision was made to
invoke the Loden’s power and abandon Morrowindl. Even
Cort and Dal were there, standing watch in the halls beRQG,
food was on the table. ComfortablVHFOXGHGWKRVHJDWKHUHd
discussed the arrangements for the coming day. Talk was
animated and direct with discussions about equipment,
supplies, and proposed routes dominating the conversation.
Ellenroh, after consulting with the Owl, had decided that the
best time to attempt an escape was just before dawn when the
demons were wearIURPWKHQLJKW’ s prowl and anxious for
sleep and a full da’s light laDKHDGIRUWUDYHO1LJKWZDVWKe
most dangerous time to be out, for the demons alwaVKXQWHd
then. It would take the companRIQLQHDELWPRUHWKDQa
week to reach the beaches if all went smoothly . If anRIWKHm
doubted that it would reallKDSSHQWKDWZDy, at least theNHSt
it to themselves.
Gavilan sat across from Wren, one place removed, and smiled
at her often. She was aware of his attention and politely
acknowledged it, but directed her talk to her grandmother and
the Owl and Garth. She ate something, but later she couldn’ t
remember what, listening to the others talk, glancing
frequentlDW*DYLODQDVLIVWXGing him might somehow
reveal the mVWHU of his attraction, and thinking distractedly
about what the queen had told her earlier.
Or, more to the point, what she hadn’ t told her.
The queen’ s revelations, on close examination, were a trifle
threadbare. It was all well and good to saWKDWWKHPDJLFKDd
been recovered; but where had it been recovered from? It was
of the demons that besieged them; but what was it about the
magic that had freed them? And from where? W ren still hadn’t
heard a word about what had gone wrong with usage of the
wrong that had been done. What her grandmother had given
her was a sketch without shadings or colors or background of
anNLQG,WZDVQ’ t enough bKDOI.

Wren sat with her thoughts buzzing inside like gnats. The
conversations flowed heatedlDERXWKHUDVIDFHVWXUQHGWKLs
them all forever . She felt disconnected from everWKLQJDERXt
her, as if she had been dropped into place at the dinner table
quite unexpectedly , an uninvited guest, an eavesdropper on the
lives of those about her . Even Garth’s familiar presence failed
to comfort her , and she said little to him.
When dinner ended, she went straight to her room to sleep,
stripped off her clothing, slipped beneath the bed coverings,
and at last she fell asleep.
Even so, she was awake again and dressed before the knock on
the door that was meant to rouse her . Gavilan stood there,
clothed in drab hunter’s garb with weapons strapped all about,
the familiar grin shelved, looking like someone else entirely .
he said simply.
Her smile in response brought a trace of his own. “I would,”
she agreed.
through the dark, deserted streets of the city . Wren had thought
the people would be awake and watchful, anxious to observe
what would happen when the magic of the Loden was
invoked. But the homes of the Elves were dark and silent, and
those who watched did so from the shadows. Perhaps Ellenroh
had not told them when the transformation would occur , she
thought. She became aware of someone following them and
glanced back to find Cort a dozen paces behind. Triss must
have dispatched him to make certain theUHDFKHGWKHLr
appointed gathering spot on time. Triss would be with the
queen or Eowen Cerise or Aurin Striate—or Dal would. All of
them shepherded down to the Keel, to the door that led out
into the desolation beRQGLQWRWKHKDUVKDQGEDUUHn

dawn’s light still hidden beneath the horizon. All were
gathered—the queen, Eowen, the Owl, T riss, Dal, and now the
four of them. OnlQLQHWren thought, suddenlDZDUHRf
exchanged hugs and hand clasps and furtive words of
encouragement, a handful of shadows whispering into the
night. All wore hunter’s garb, loose fitting and hardy ,
protection against the weather and, to some small measure, the
dangers that waited without. All carried weapons, save for
Eowen and the queen. Ellenroh carried the Ruhk Staf f, its dark
wood glimmering faintly, the Loden a prism of colors that
winked and shimmered even in the near black. Atop the Keel,
and reached heavenward. Elven Hunters patrolled the walls in
groups of half a dozen, and sentries stood at watch within their
towers. From without, the growls and hissings were sporadic
and distant, as if the things emitting them lacked interest and
would as well have slept.
“We’ll give them a surprise before this night is over , won’t
we?” Gavilan whispered in her ear , a tentative smile on his
she whispered back.
tunnels and moved over to stand beside him. His rumpled
“I guess so.”
“Elfstones hand"”
Her mouth tightened. The Elfstones were in a new leather bag
strung about her neck—she could feel their weight resting
against her chest. She had managed to avoid thinking about
them until now. “Do RXWKLQN,OOQHHGWKHP"”
He shrugged. “Y ou did last time.”

She was silent for a moment, considering the prospect.
Somehow she had thought she might escape Morrowindl
without having to call on the magic again.
“It seems quiet out there,” she ventured hopefully.
He nodded, his slender frame draping itself against the stone.
“TheZRQ’t be expecting us. W e’ll have our chance.”
She leaned back next to him, shoulders touching. “How good a
chance will it be, Owl?”
He laughed tonelessly . “What difference does it make? It is the
Barsimmon Oridio materialized out of the blackness, went
minutes, and then disappeared again. He looked haggard and
worn, but there was determination in his step.
suddenly, not looking at him. “Out with them.”
There was a hesitation. He knew what she meant. She could
feel his eHVIL[LQJRQKHr . “I don’t know anPRUH”
“What I want to know , I guess, is how RXPDGHourself do
it. I can barelPDNHPself go even this once, knowing what’ s
out there.” She swallowed against the admission. “I mean, I
can do it because it’s the onlFKRLFHDQG,ZRQ’ t have to do it
have thought better of it more than once. You must not have
wanted to go.”
“Wren.” She turned when he spoke her name and faced him.
“Let me tell RXVRPHWKLQJou haven’ t learned HW,
something RXOHDUQRQO bOLYLQJDZKLOH$Vou get older ,
who RXDUHRUZKDWou do, it happens. Experience, time,
events—theDOOFRQVSLUHDJDLQVWou to steal awaour
energy, to erode RXUFRQILGHQFHWRPDNHou question things
RXZRXOGQ’ t have given a second thought to when RXZHUe
RXQJ,WKDSSHQVJUDGXDOOy , a chipping awaWKDWou don’ t
even notice at first, and then one daLW’ s there. You wake up
and RXMXVWGRQ’ t have the fire anPRUH”

He smiled faintly. “Then RXKDYHDFKRLFHY ou can either
give in to what RXUHIHHOLQJMXVWVD ‘okay , enough is
enough’ and be done with it, or RXFDQILJKWLWY ou can
accept that everGD RXUHDOLYHou’re going to have to face
don’t care what RXIHHOWKDWLWGRHVQ’ t matter what happens to
RXUHJRLQJWRGRZKDWou have to because otherwise RXUe
defeated and life doesn’t have anUHDOSXUSRVHOHIW:KHQou
can do that, little Wren, when RXFDQDFFHSWWKHZHDULQg
down and the eroding, then RXFDQGRDQthing. How did I
manage to keep going out nights? I just told mVHOI,GLGQ’ t
matter all that much—that those in here mattered more. You
know something? It’s not so hard really. You just have to get
past the fear .”
She thought about it a minute and then nodded. “I think Ru
make it sound a lot easier than it is.”
The Owl lifted of f the wall. “Do I?” he asked. Then he smiled
anew and walked away .
Wren drifted back over to stand with Garth. The big Rover
pointed to the ramparts of the Keel. Elven Hunters were
coming down of f the heights—furtive, silent figures easing out
of the light and down into the shadows. W ren glanced
eastward and saw the first faint tinge of dawn against the
“It is time,” Ellenroh said suddenly, and motioned them
toward the wall.
ThePRYHGTXLFNOy, Aurin Striate in the lead, pulling open
from the wall to the bridgehead, stopping just before she
reached its ramp to plant the butt end of the Ruhk firmlLQWKe
earth. From somewhere within Arborlon a bell tolled, a signal,
and those few Elven Hunters who remained atop the Keel
slipped hurriedlDZDy . In seconds, the wall was deserted.
Ellenroh Elessedil glanced back at the eight who waited just
once, then turned to face the city . Her hands clasped the

polished shaft of the Ruhk, and her head lowered.
InstantlWKH/RGHQEHJDQWRJORw. The brightness grew
against the darkness, filling the space within the walls until all
of Arborlon was lit as bright as day . Wren tried to watch what
was happening, but the intensitRIWKHOLJKWJUHZXQWLOLt
blinded her and she was forced to look away . The white fire
flooded to the parapets of the Keel and began to chum. W ren
could feel it happen more than she could see it, her eHVFORVHd
against the glare. Without, the demons began to shriek. There
was a rush of wind that came out of nowhere and grew into a
howl. Wren dropped to her knees, feeling Garth’ s strong arm
come up about her shoulders and hearing Gavilan’ s voice call
to her. Images formed in her mind, triggered b(OOHQURK’ s
summoning, wild and erratic visions of a world in chaos. The
magic was racing past her, a brushing of fingers that
whispered and sang.
It ended in a shriek, a sound that no voice could have made,
and then the light rushed away , whipping back into the black,
withdrawing as if sucked down into a whirlpool. W ren’s eHs
jerked up, following the motion, trLQJWRVHH6KHZDVMXVt
quick enough to catch the last of it as it disappeared into the
Loden’ s brilliant orb. She blinked once, and it was gone.
buildings, the streets and walkwaVWKHJDUGHQVDQGODZQV,
disappeared. All that remained was a shallow crater in the
earth—as if a giant hand had simplVFRRSHG$UERUORQXSDQd
spirited it away .
Ellenroh Elessedil stood alone at the edge of what had once
been the moat and was now the lip of the crater , leaning
heavilRQWKH5XKN6WDff, her own energGUDLQHG$ERYHKHr ,
the Loden was a prism of manFRORUHGILUH7KHTXHHQVWLUUHd
herself, tried to move and failed, stumbled, and fell to her
knees. Triss raced back for her instantly , lifted her as if she
Wren realized that the magic that had protected the Keel had

faded as well, just as her grandmother had forewarned, its
glow vanished completely. Overhead, the skZDVHQYHORSHd
in a haze of vog and the sunrise was a sullen lightening of the
eastern skies barelDEOHWRSHQHWUDWHWKHQLJKW’ s blackness.
Wren drew a breath and found the stench of sulfur bad
returned. All that had been of Arborlon’ s shelter had vanished.
The silence of a moment earlier gave waWRDFDFRSKRQ of
demon howls and shrieks as the realization of what had
happened set in. The sound of bodies scrambling onto the
walls and of claws digging in rose from everTXDUWHr .
Triss had reached them, the queen and the Ruhk Staf f clutched
in his arms.
“Inside, quicklWKH2ZOVKRXWHGKXUUing ahead.
Hastening to follow after him, the others of the little company
charged with the safe deliverRI$UERUORQDQGLWV(OYHs
disappeared through the open door and down into the black.


I n a world of light and shadows where truths were a shimmer
of inconsistency, of life stolen out of substance and made over
into transparency , of nonbeing and mist, W alker Boh was
brought face to face with the impossible.
“I have been waiting a long time, W alker, hoping RXZRXOd
come,” the ghost before him whispered.
Cogline—he had been dead weeks now , killed bWKe
Shadowen at Hearthstone, destroHGE Rimmer Dall—and
Rumor with him. Walker had seen it happen, sick almost
beRQGUHFRYHU from the poison of the Asphinx, crouched
fought their last battle. He had seen it all, the final rush of the
monsters created of the dark magic, the fire of the old man’ s
magic as it flared in retaliation, and the explosion that had
disappeared in the conflagration along with dozens of their
attackers. None had survived save Rimmer Dall and a handful
who had been thrown clear.
Yet here was Cogline and the cat, come somehow into Paranor ,
shades out of death.
Except that Walker Boh found them as real as he was, a
reflection of himself in this twilight world into which the
Black Elfstone had dispatched him, ghostlike and HWDOLYe
and a reflection of them instead. The contradictions
overwhelmed him. His breath caught sharplLQKLVWKURDWDQd
he could not speak. Who was alive and who was not?
“Walker .” The old man spoke his name, and the sound of it
drew him back from the precipice on which he was poised.

Cogline approached, slowly, carefully, seeming to realize the
fear and confusion that his presence had generated in his pupil.
He spoke softlWR5XPRr , and the moor cat sat back on his
haunches obediently, his luminous eHVEULJKWDQGLQWHUHVWHd
as theIL[HGRQWalker. Cogline’ s bodZDVDVIUDJLOHDQd
sticklike as ever beneath the gathering of worn robes, and the
Walker flinched as the old man reached out to touch him on
the shoulder , the skeletal fingers trailing down to grip his arm.
The grip was warm and firm.
“I am alive, W alker. And Rumor , too. We are both alive,” he
whispered. “The magic saved us.”
Walker Boh was silent a moment, staring without
comprehension into the other ’s eHVVHDUFKLQJIRUVRPHWKLQg
that would give meaning to the other ’s words. Alive? How
could it be? He nodded finally , needing to respond in some
fashion, to get past the fear and confusion, and asked
hesitantly, “How did RXJHWKHUH"”
“Come sit with me,” the other replied.
He led Walker to a stone bench that rested against a wall, both
mist and gloom. Sound was muf fled within the Keep, as if an
unwelcome guest forced to tread lightlLQRUGHUQRWWRGUDw
attention. Walker glanced about, disbelieving still, searching
catching glimpses of stone walls and parapets and towers
rising up about him, as emptRIOLIHDVWRPEVVHWZLWKLQWKe
earth. He sat beside the old man, feeling Rumor rub up against
him as he did.
“What has happened to us?” he asked, a measure of steadiness
returning, his determination to discover the truth pushing back
the uncertainty . “Look at us. W e are like wraiths.”
“We are in a world of half-being, W alker,” Cogline replied
softly . “We are somewhere between the world of mortal men
and the world of the dead. Paranor rests there now , brought
back out of nonbeing bWKHPDJLFRIWKH%ODFN(OIVWRQHY ou
found it, didn’t RX"You recovered it from wherever it was

hidden and carried it here. You used it, as RXNQHZou must,
and brought us back.
“Wait, don’ t answer HW+HFXWVKRUWW alker’s attempt to
speak. “I get ahead of mVHOIY ou must know first what
happened to me. Then we will speak of RX5XPRUDQG,KDYe
had an adventure of our own, and it has brought us to this.
Here is what happened, Walker. Some weeks earlier when I
spoke with the shade of Allanon, I was warned that mWLPe
within the world of mortal men was almost gone, that death
would come for me when next I saw the face of Rimmer Dall.
When that happened, I was to hold the Druid HistorWRPe
and not to give it up. I was told nothing more. When the First
Seeker and his Shadowen appeared at Hearthstone, I
remembered Allanon’ s words. I managed to slow them long
enough to retrieve the book from its hiding place. I stood with
pressed backup against me, as the Shadowen reached to tear
me apart.
When the Shadowen closed about me, a magic contained
within the Druid HistorFDPHWRP defense. It released white
fire, consuming everWKLQJDERXWLWGHVWURing everWKLQJWKDt
was not a part of me, except for Rumor , who sought to protect
me. It did not harm us, but instead caught us up and carried us
awaDVTXLFNDVWKHEOLQNRIDQHe. W e fell unconscious, a
sleep that was as deep as an,KDYHHYHUNQRZQ:KHQZe
came awake again, we were here within Paranor , within the
Druid’s Keep.”
He bent close. “I cannot know for certain what happened when
the magic was triggered, W alker, but I can surmise. The
Druids would never leave their work unprotected. Nothing of
lacked the right and the proper intent. It was so, I am certain,
of their Histories. The magic that protected them was such that
Keep that had sheltered them all those HDUV7KDWZDVZKDt
and found the HistorEDFNDPRQJWKHRWKHUVVDIHO returned.
Allanon must have known this would happen—and known

that anRQHKROGLQJWKH+LVWRU would be carried awaDVZHOl
—back into Paranor, back into the Druid’ s sanctuary.
“But not,” he finished, “back into the world of mortal men.”
“Because the Keep had been sent elsewhere three hundred
HDUVDJRW alker murmured, beginning to understand now .
“Yes, W alker, because the Keep had been sent from the Four
brought it back again. So the book was returned to it and
Rumor and I sent along as well.” He paused. “It appears that
the Druids are not done with me HW”
“Are RXWUDSSHGKHUHWKHQ"W alker asked softly.
The other’s smile was tight. “I am afraid so. I lack the magic
to free us. W e are a part of Paranor now , just as the Histories
are, alive and well, but ghosts within a ghost castle, caught in
some twilight time and place until a stronger magic than mine
sets us free. And that is wh,KDYHEHHQZDLWLQJIRUou.” The
bonILQJHUVWLJKWHQHGDERXWW alker’s arm. “T ell me now .
Walker Boh remembered suddenlWKDWKHVWLOOKDGKROGRIWKe
Stone, the talisman clasped so tightlLQKLVKDQGWKDWWKe
edges had embedded themselves in the flesh of his palm. He
held his hand out tentatively , and his fingers slipped open one
overwhelm him. The Black Elfstone gleamed darklLQWKe
hollow of his palm, but the magic laGRUPDQWWKHQRQOLJKt
sealed away.
Cogline peered down at the Stone wordlesslIRUORQg
moments, not attempting more, his narrow , seamed face
reflecting wonder and hesitation. Then he looked up again and
said, “How did RXILQGLWWalker? What happened after
Rumor and I were taken awa"”
Walker told him then of the coming of Quickening, the
daughter of the King of the Silver River , and of how she had
healed his arm. He related all that had happened on the

companions to survive in that land of stone, of the search for
Uhl Belk, of the encounters with the Rake and the Maw Grint,
and of the ultimate destruction of the citDQGWKRVHZKo
sought to preserve it.
“I came here alone,” he concluded, his gaze distant as the
memories of what had befallen him recalled themselves. “I
knew what was expected of me. I accepted that the trust
Allanon had bequeathed to Brin Ohmsford had been meant for
me.” He glanced over. “You alwaVWROGPHWKDW,ILUVWQHHGHd
to accept in order to understand, and I suppose I have done as
Elfstone and brought back the Druid’ s Keep. But look at me,
what was intended, then wh”
“Think, Walker,” the other interrupted quickly , a pained look
in his ancient eHV:KDWZDVour char ge from Allanon?
Repeat it to me.”
Walker took a deep breath, his pale face troubled. “T o bring
back Paranor and the Druids.”
“Yes, Paranor and the Druids—both. Y ou realize what that
means, don’t RX"You understand?”
Walker ’s brow knotted with frustration and reluctance. “Y es,
old man.” He breathed harshlLQUHVSRQVH,PXVWEHFRPHa
Druid if Paranor is to be restored. I have accepted that, though
it shall be as I wish it and not as a shade three hundred HDUs
dead intends.” His words were angrQRZDQGTXLFN,ZLOl
“Walker!” Cogline’ s anger was as intense as his own, and he
went still immediately . “Listen to me. Do not proclaim what
required of RX7KLVLVQRWVLPSO a matter of accepting a
who RXDUHDQGZKDWou must do is just the first of many
Elfstone and summoned its magic. Y es, RXKDYHJDLQHGHQWUy
into disappeared Paranor. But that is onlWKHEHJLQQLQJRf
what is needed.”

Walker stared. “What do RXPHDQ":KDWHOVHLVWKHUH"”
“Much, I am afraid,” the other whispered. A sad smile eased
across the wrinkled features, seamed wood splitting with age.
“Y ou came to Paranor much in the same waDV5XPRUDQG,.
The magic brought RX%XWWKHPDJLFJLYHVou entrRQLWs
own terms. W e are here at its suf ferance, alive under the
conditions it dictates. Y ou have alreadQRWHGKRZou seem—
almost a ghost, having substance and life HWQRWHQRXJKRf
either to be as other mortal men. That should tell Ru
something, Walker. Look about RX3DUDQRUDSSHDUVWKHVDPe
The thin mouth tightened. “Do RXVHH"W e are none of us—
Rumor, RXDQG,3DUDQRUUHWXUQHGet to the world of Men.
We are still in a limbo existence, somewhere between being
and nonbeing, and we are waiting. W e are waiting, Walker, for
the magic to restore us fully . Because it has not done that HW,
Keep. Because it has not HWEHHQPDVWHUHG”
He reached down and gentlFORVHGW alker’s fingers back
around the Black Elfstone, then slowlVDWEDFNDIUDLOEXQGOe
of sticks against the shadows.
“In order for Paranor to be restored to the world of men, the
Druids must come again. More precisely , one Druid, Walker.
You. But acceptance of what this means is not enough to let
RXEHFRPHD'UXLGY ou must do more if the magic is to be
RXUVLILWLVWREHORQJWRou. Y ou must become what RXDUe
charged with being. Y ou must transform RXUVHOI”
“Transform mVHOI"W alker was aghast. “It would seem that I
Must I disappear altogether? No, don’ t answer that. Let me
puzzle this through a moment on mRZQ,KDYHWKHOHJDF of
Allanon, possession of the Black Elfstone, and still I must do
more if anRIWKLVLVWRPHDQDQthing. T ransform mVHOIou
Cogline shook his head. “I don’t know. I know that if RXGo

restored to the world of Men.”
“Am I trapped here if I fail?” Walker demanded furiously.
“No. You can leave whenever RXFKRRVH7KH%ODFN(OIVWRQe
will see RXFOHDr .”
There was an uncertain moment of angrVLOHQFHDVWKHWZo
men faced each other , vague shadows seated on the stone
bench beneath the castle walls. “And RX"W alker asked
finally. “And Rumor? Can RXFRPHDZD with me?”
Cogline smiled faintly . “We gained life at a cost, W alker. We
are tied to the magic of the Druid Histories, irrevocablERXQG.
We must remain with them. If theDUHQRWUHVWRUHGLQWRWKe
world of men, then we cannot be brought back either .”
“Shades.” Walker breathed the word like a curse. He felt the
weight of Paranor ’s stone settle down about him. “So I can
gain mRZQIUHHGRPEXWQRWours. I can leave, but RXPXVt
stay .” His own smile was hard and ironic. “I would never do
that, of course. Not after RXJDYHXSour own life so that I
could keep mine. Y ou knew that, didn’ t RX"You knew it from
the start. And Allanon surelNQHw . I am trapped at everWXUQ,
aren’t I? I posture about who I will be and what I will do, how
I will control mRZQGHVWLQy , and mZRUGVDUe
“Rumor and I fought to save RXEHFDXVHZHZLVKHGWR”
“You fought because it was necessarLI,ZDVWRFDUU out
Allanon’ s charge, Cogline. There is no escaping wh,Dm
alive. And if I refuse to carrLWRXWQRw , or if I fail, everWKLQg
that has gone before will have been pointless!” He fought to
control himself as his voice threatened to become a shout.
“Look at what is being done to me!”
Cogline waited a moment, then said quietly , “Is it reallVo
bad, Walker? Have RXEHHQVRPLVXVHG"”
There was a pause as W alker glared at him. “Because I have
fated to be something I despise? Because I must act in waVI
would not otherwise act? Old man, RXDVWRQLVKPH”

“But not sufficientlWRSURYRNHou to answer?”
Walker shook his head in disgust. “Answers are pointless. Any
answer I might give would onlFRPHEDFNWRKDXQWPHODWHr . I
to deal with what is given than what might be, isn’t it?” He
sighed. The cold of the stone seeped into him, felt now for the
first time. “I am as trapped here as RXDUHKHZKLVSHUHG.
Cogline leaned back against the castle wall, looking
escape, Walker,” he said quietly . “Not bUXQQLQJIURPour
fate, but bHPEUDFLQJLWY ou have insisted from the
beginning that RXZRXOGQRWDOORZourself to be manipulated
bWKH'UXLGV'Rou suppose that I feel anGLf ferent? We
are both victims of circumstances set in motion three hundred
choice. But we don’ t. And it does no good to rail against what
has been done to us. So, W alker, do something to turn things to
RXUDGYDQWDJH'RDVou are fated, become what RXPXVW,
and then act in whatever waVou perceive to be right.”
Walker ’s smile was ironic. “So RXZRXOGKDYHPHWUDQVIRUm
“Begin with the Druid Histories. All of the secrets of the
magic are said to be contained within.” The old man’ s hand
gripped his arm impulsively. “Go up into the Keep and take
the Histories from their vault, one bRQHDQGVHHIRUourself
what theFDQWHDFK7KHDQVZHUVou need must lie therein. It
is a place to start, at least.”
“Yes,” W alker agreed, inwardlPXOOLQJRYHUWKHSRVVLELOLWy
that Cogline was right, that he might gain what he sought not
“Yes, it is a start.”
He rose then, and Cogline with him. W alker faced the old man
in silence for a moment, then reached out with his good arm
and gentlHPEUDFHGKLP,DPVRUU for what has been done
Hearthstone before Rimmer Dull came—that I was wrong to
blame RXIRUDQ of what has happened, that I am grateful for

Cogline. I promise.”
Then he stepped back, and Cogline’ s answering smile was a
momentarUD of sunlight breaking through the gloom.

So Walker Boh went up into the Keep, following the lead of
Cogline and Rumor , three specters at haunt in a twilight world.
The castle of the Druids was dark and heavy , shimmering like
an image reflected in a pool of water adrift with shadows. The
stone of the walls and floors and towers was cold and emptRf
earth, dark and dank. There were bones scattered here and
there along the carpeted, tapestried halls, the remains of those
Gnomes who had died when Allanon had invoked the magic
that sent the Keep out of the Four Lands three hundred HDUs
earlier. Piles of dust marked the end of the Mord W raiths
trapped there, and all that remained of what theKDGEHHQZDs
a whisper of a memorVHDOHGDZD bWKHZDOOV.
PassagewaVFDPHDQGZHQWVWDLUZDs that ran straight and
curved about, a warren of corridors burrowing back into the
stone. The silence was pervasive, thick and deep as leaves in
late autumn in the forest, rooted in the castle walls and
through its curtain, focusing instead on what laDKHDGRQWKe
chambers came and went about them, stark and uninviting
within their trappings of gloom. Windows opened into
that the Keep was an island. Walker searched for something of
the forestland that ringed the emptKLOORQZKLFK3DUDQRUKDd
stood, but the trees had disappeared; or he had, he amended—
come out of the Four Lands into nothingness. Color had been
drained from the carpets and tapestries and paintings, from the
stone itself, and even from the sky . There was onlWKHJORRP,
a kind of graWKDWGHILHGDQ brightening, that was emptDQd
Yet there was one thing more. There was the magic that held
Paranor sealed away . It was present at everWXUQDWRQFe

mist. It hovered in the shadows and along the edges of their
vision, wicked and certain, the hiss of its being a whisper of
killing need. It could not touch them, for theZHUHSURWHFWHd
could watch. It could tease and taunt and threaten. It could
wait with the promise of what would happen when their
protection was gone.
It was odd that it should be such an obvious presence; Walker
Boh felt it immediately. It was as if the magic were a living
thing, a guard dog set at prowl through the Keep, searching out
intruders and hunting them down so that thePLJKWEe
Creeper that scoured its master ’s grounds and swept them
clean of life. The magic lacked the substance of the Rake, but
its feel was the same. It was an enemy , Walker sensed, that
would eventuallKDYHWREHIDFHG.
Within the Druid library , behind the bookcases where the vault
leather-bound books set within the walls of the Keep, the
magic that had once hidden them from mortal eHVIDGHGZLWh
the passing of the Keep from the world of men. W alker studied
the books for a time, deliberating, then chose one at random,
seated himself, and began to read. Cogline and Rumor kept
him company, silent and unobtrusive. T ime passed, but the
light did not change. There was no daRUQLJKWLQ3DUDQRr .
There was no past or future. There was onlWKHKHUHDQGQRw .
Walker did not know how long he read. He did not grow tired
and did not find himself in need of sleep. He did not eat or
drink, being neither hungrQRUWKLUVWy . Cogline told him at one
point that in the world into which Paranor had been
dispatched, mortal needs had no meaning. TheZHUHJKRVWVDs
much as theZHUHWZRPHQDQGDPRRUFDWW alker did not
question. There was no need.
He read for hours or daVRUHYHQZHHNVKHGLGQRWNQRw . He
read at first without comprehending, simplVHHLQJWKHZRUGs
removed as the life he had known before the dreams of

Allanon. He read of the Druids and their studies, of the world
of the First Council at Paranor, and of the coming together of
the Races out of the holocaust. What should it mean to him?
he wondered. What difference did anRILWPDNHQRZ?
He finished one book and went on to another , then another,
working his waVWHDGLO through the volumes, constantly
searching for something that would tell him what he needed to
know. There were recitations of spells and conjurings, of
magics that could aid in small waVRIKHDOLQJVE touch and
thought, of the succor of living things, and of the work that
was needed to make the land whole again. He read them, and
himself from what he was into what he was expected to be?
turned, the words ran on, and the answers staHGKLGGHQ.
He did not finish in one sitting, even though he was free of the
distractions of his mortal needs and did not sleep or eat or
drink. He left to walk about periodically , to think of other
things, and to let his mind clear itself of all that the Histories
related. Sometimes Cogline went with him, his shadow;
sometimes it was Rumor. ThePLJKWKDYHEHHQEDFNDt
Hearthstone, walking its trails, keeping each other company ,
living in the seclusion of the valleRQFHPRUH%Xt
Hearthstone was gone, destroHGE the Shadowen, and
could change what had gone before. There was no returning to
the past, Walker thought to himself more than once.
After a time, he began to despair . He had almost finished
reading the Druid Histories and still he had discovered
nothing. He had learned everWKLQJRIZKRDQGZKDWWKe
Druids were, of their teachings and their beliefs, and of how
theKDGOLYHGDQGZKDWWKH had sought to accomplish, and
none of it told him anWKLQJDERXWKRZWKH acquired their
skills. There was no indication of where Allanon had come
from, how he had learned to be a Druid or who had taught
him, or what the subject matter of his teachings had been. The

“I cannot fathom it, Cogline,” Walker Boh admitted finally,
his lap before him. “I have read everWKLQJDQGQRQHRILWKDs
helped. Is it possible that there are volumes missing? Is there
something more to be tried?”
But Cogline shook his head. The answers, if theH[LVWHGLn
written form, would be found here. There were no other books,
no other sources of reference. EverWKLQJZDVFRQWDLQHGLQWKe
Histories. All of the Druid studies began and ended there.
Walker went out alone then for a time, stalking the halls in
and conceit. He thought bitterlRIDOOWKDWKDGEHHQGRQHWo
him because of who he was, of all that he had been forced to
endure. His home had been destroHG+HKDGORVWDQDUPDQd
repeatedly . He had been made to feel responsible for the fate
of an entire world. Self-pitZDVKHGWKURXJKKLPDQGWKHQKLs
mouth tightened in admonishment. Enough, he chided himself.
He was alive, wasn’ t he? Others had not been so fortunate. He
was still haunted b4XLFNHQLQJ’ s face; he could not forget
how she had looked when he had let her fall. Remember me,
she had pleaded with Mor gan Leah—but she had been
speaking to him as well. Remember me—as if anRQHZKRKDd
known her could ever forget.
of the Keep and the entrance to the black well that had given
birth to the magic that sealed awa3DUDQRr . His mind was still
on Quickening, and he recalled once again the vision the
Grimpond had shown him of her fate. Bitterness welled up
within him. The vision had been right, of course. The
Grimpond’s visions were alwaVULJKW)LUVWWKHORVVRIKLs
arm, then the loss of Quickening, then . . .
He stopped suddenly , startled into immobility , a statue staring
He had forgotten. Ther e was a third vision. He took a

empty, lifeless castle fortress, stalked bDGHDWKKHFRXOGQRt
escape, pursued relentlessl.
He exhaled sharply . This castle? He closed his eHVWUing to
remember. Yes, it might have been Paranor .
He felt his pulse quicken. In the vision, he felt a need to run,
but could not. He stood frozen as Death approached. A dark-
robed figure stood behind him, holding him fast, preventing
his escape.
He felt the silence grow oppressive. What had become of this
third vision? he wondered. When was it supposed to happen?
Was it meant to happen here?
And suddenlKHNQHw . The certaintRILWVKRFNHGKLPEXWKe
did not doubt. The vision would come to pass, just as the
others had, and it would come to pass here. Paranor was the
castle, and the death that stalked him was the dark magic
called forth to seal the Keep. Allanon did indeed stand behind
him, holding him fast—not phVLFDOOy , but in waVVWURQJHr
But there was more, some part of things that he had not Ht
divined. It was not foreordained that he should die. That was
the obvious meaning of the Grimpond’ s vision, what the
Grimpond wanted Walker to think. The visions were alwas
deceptive. The images were cleverlUHYHDOHGOHQGLQg
themselves to more than one interpretation. Like pieces to a
puzzle, RXKDGWRSOD with them to discover how theILW.
hunting. What if he could find a waWRWXUQWKH*ULPSRQG’ s
cleverness to his own use? What if this time he could decipher
the vindictive spirit’s foretelling in advance of its happening?
the vision could provide him with the keWRXQGHUVWDQGLQJKLs
fate within the Druid’ s Keep?
A fire began to build within him—a burning determination. He
did not have the answers he needed HWEXWKHKDGVRPHWKLQg
just as good. He had a waWRGLVFRYHUZKDWWKH were.

He thought back to his entrLQWR3DUDQRr, to his meeting with
Cogline and Rumor. The missing pieces were there,
somewhere. He retraced his reading of the Druid Histories,
seeing again the words on the pages, feeling anew the weight
of the books, the texture of the bindings. Something was there,
something he had missed. He closed his eHVSLFWXULQg
himself, following all that had happened, relating it to himself
in his mind, a sequence of events. He searched it, standing
the edges of his confusion begin to draw away , hearing sounds
that were new and welcome begin to whisper to him. He went
down inside himself, reaching for the darker places where the
secrets hid themselves. His magic rose to greet him. He could
himself, letting everWKLQJIDOODZDy.
What had he overlooked?
Whosoever shall have the cause and the right shall wield it to
its proper end.
body, groping. His fingers found what theZHUHVHHNLQJ,
about it.
The Black Elfstone.
Clutching the talisman protectively , his mind awash with new
possibilities, he hurried away.


W ren Ohmsford crouched wordlesslZLWKKHUFRPSDQLRQVLn
the darkness of the tunnels beneath the Keel while the Owl
worked in silence somewhere ahead, striking flint against
stone to produce a spark that would ignite the pitch-coated
torch he balanced on his knees. The magic that had illuminated
the tunnel when Wren had come into the citZDVJRQHQRw ,
disappeared with Arborlon and the Elves into the Loden. T riss
had been the last to enter, carrLQJ(OOHQURKIURPWKHEULGJH,
and he had closed the door tightlEHKLQGVKXWWLQJWKHPDZDy
from the madness that raged without, but trapping them as
well with the heat and the stench of Killeshan’ s fire.
A spark caught in the darkness ahead, and a dark orange flame
flared to life, casting shadows everZKHUH+HDGVWXUQHGWo
where the Owl was alreadVWDUWLQJDZDy.
“Be quick,” he whispered back to them, his voice rough and
urgent. “It won’ t take long for the dark things to find that
TheFUHSWVZLIWO after him, Eowen, Dal, Gavilan, W ren,
burrowing down into the earth with the tenacitRIPROHVWKe
howls and shrieks of the demons tracked them. Sweat beaded
on Wren’s skin, the heat of the tunnels intense and stifling. She
brushed at her eHVEOLQNHGDZD the stinging moisture, and
worked to keep pace. Her thoughts straHGDVVKHODERUHGDQd
she remembered Ellenroh, standing at the center of the
bridgehead, invoking the Loden, calling forth the light that
would sweep up all of Arborlon and carrLWGRZQLQWRWKe
gleaming depths of the Stone. She could see the citGLVDSSHDr ,
vanishing as if it never were—buildings, people, animals,
trees, grass, everWKLQJ1RZ$UERUORQZDVWKHLr
responsibility, theirs to protect, cradled within a magic that

been entrusted.
She pushed past trailing roots and spider’s webs, and the
one, she knew , and not the strongest. Y et she could not escape
the feeling that the responsibilitZDVLQHYLWDEO hers alone, an
extension of Allanon’s charge, the reason for which she had
come in search of the Elves.
She shook the feeling aside, crowding up against Gavilan in
her haste to keep moving.
The line stopped, and heads lowered protectivelDVVLOWEURNe
free of the tunnel roof in a shower . The ground shook again,
the tremors building steadily, rocking the earth as if some giant
had seized the island in both hands and was struggling to lift it
“What’s happening?” W ren heard Gavilan demand. She
dropped to her knees to keep from being thrown of f balance,
“Keep moving!” the Owl snapped. “Hurr”
TheUDQQRw, crouched low against a pall of loose dirt that
hung roiling in the air . The tremors continued, a rumbling
from beneath, the sound rising and falling, a quaking that
tossed them against the tunnel walls and left them struggling
to remain upright. The seconds sped away , fleeing as quickly
tunnel collapsed behind them, showering them with dirt. They
could hear a cracking of stone, a splitting apart of the lava
rock, as if the earth’s crust were giving way . There was a
struck the tunnel floor.
“Owl, get us out of here!” Gavilan called out frantically .
tunnel through an opening in the earth, clawing their waLQWo
the weak morning light. Behind them, the tunnel collapsed
completely, falling awaLQDUXVKRIDLr , silt exploding through

Morrowindl’s heights, ripping its surface, causing the rock to
grate and crumble. W ren hauled herself to her feet with the
others and stood in the shelter of a copse of dLQJDFDFLD,
looking back at where theKDGEHHQ.
The Keel was swarming with demons, their black bodies
everZKHUHDVWKH sought to scale the hated barrier . The
magic was gone, but the tremors that had replaced it proved an
even more formidable obstacle. Demons flew from the
autumn tree in a windstorm. The Keel cracked and split as the
mountainside shuddered beneath it, chunks of stone tumbling
away, the whole of it threatening to collapse. Fires spurted out
of the earth from within, the crater from which Arborlon had
flames. Steam hissed and spurted in geVHUV+LJKRn
Killeshan’ s slopes, the crust of the mountain’ s skin had
ruptured and begun to leak molten rock.
“Killeshan comes awake,” Eowen said softly , causing them all
to turn. “The disappearance of Arborlon shifted the balance of
things on Morrowindl; a void was created in the magic. The
disruption reaches all the waWRWKHFRUHRIWKHLVODQG7Ke
volcano is no longer dormant, no longer stable. The fires
within will burn more fiercely, and the gases and heat will
“How long?” the Owl snapped.
Eowen shook her head. “Hours here on the high slopes, das
There was an instant of uncertain silence.
“For the demons, perhaps, but not for us.” It was Ellenroh
Elessedil who spoke, back on her feet again, recovered from
the strain of invoking the Loden’ s magic. She freed herself
them after in her wake until she turned to face them. She
looked calm and assured and unafraid. “No hesitation now ,”
she admonished. “We go quickly, quietly, down to the shores

of the Blue Divide and off the island, back to where we
belong. Keep together, keep RXUHes sharp. Owl, take us out
of here.”
him. There were no questions asked—Ellenroh Elessedil’ s
presence was that strong. Wren glanced back once to see her
grandmother come up beside Eowen, who seemed to have
lapsed into a trance, put her arms about the seer , and lead her
gentlDZDy. Behind them, the glare of the volcano’ s fire
turned the Keel and the demons the color of blood. It seemed
Shadows against the hazOLJKWWKHFRPSDQ crept down of f
the slopes of Killeshan through the rugged mix of lava rock,
deadwood, and scrub. All of the sounds were behind them now
where the demons converged on an enemWKDWWKH were just
beginning to discover was no longer there. Ahead there was
onlWKHVWHDG rush of the Rowen as its graZDWHUVFKXUQHd
toward the sea. The tremors chased after , shudders that rippled
along the stretches of lava rock and shook the trees and brush;
but their impact diminished the farther the companZHQWV og
clouded the air before them, turning the brightness of earl-
morning haze and the shape of the land indistinct. Wren’s
breathing steadied, and her bodFRROHG6KHQRORQJHUIHOt
trapped as she had in the tunnel, and the intensitRIWKHKHDt
had lessened. She began to relax, to feel herself mer ge with the
land, her senses reaching out like invisible feelers to search out
what was hidden.
Even so, she failed to detect the demons that laLQZDLWIRr
them before the attack. There were more than a dozen,
smallish and gnarled, crooked like deadwood, rising up with a
rending of brush and sticks to seize at them. Eowen went
down, and the Owl disappeared in a flurrRIOLPEV7KHRWKHUs
rallied, striking out at their attackers with whatever came to
hand, bunching together about Eowen protectively. The Elven
Hunters fought with grim ferocity, dispatching the demons as
almost before it began. One of the black things escaped; the

The Owl reappeared from behind a ridge, one sleeve shredded,
his thin face clawed. He beckoned them wordlessly, turning
awaIURPWKHSDWKWKH had been following, taking them
wound ahead into the fog. TheZDWFKHGFORVHO now , alert for
further attacks, reminded that the demons would be
The skRYHUKHDGWXUQHGDSHFXOLDUellow as the sun ascended
the sket struggled unsuccessfullWRSHQHWUDWHWKHYRJ.
Wren crept ahead with long knives in both hands, her eHs
sweeping the shadows cautiouslIRUDQ sign of movement.
them to a sudden halt. He dropped into a crouch, motioning
them down with him, then turned, gestured for them to remain
gone for less than five minutes before reappearing. He shook
his head in warning and motioned them left. Keeping low , they
slipped along a line of rocks to where a ridge hid them from
the Rowen. From there theZRUNHGWKHLUZD parallel to the
river for more than a mile, then resurfaced cautiouslDWRSa
rise. Wren peered out at the sluggish graVXUIDFHRIWKHULYHr ,
Nothing moved.
The Owl rejoined them, his leatherIDFHIXUURZHG7Ke
shallows are filled with things we don’t want anWKLQJWRGo
with. We’ll cross here instead. It’ s too broad and too wide to
swim. We’ll have to ferrRYHr . We’ll build a raft big enough
to hold on to—that will have to do.”
He took the Elven Hunters with him to gather wood, leaving
Gavilan and Garth with the women. Ellenroh came over to
Wren and gave her a brief hug and a reassuring smile. All was
well, she was saLQJEXWWKHUHZHUHZRUU lines etched in her
brow . She moved quietlDZDy .
“Feel the earth with RXUKDQGVW ren,” Eowen whispered
suddenly, crouching next to her . Wren reached down and let
the tremors rise into her body . “The magic comes apart all

our arrogance and our fear begins to unravel.” The rust-
colored hair tumbled wildlDERXWWKHGLVWDQWJUHHQHes, and
Eowen had the look of someone awakening from a nightmare.
“She will have to tell RXVRPHWLPHWren. She will have to let
Then she was gone as well, moving over to join the queen.
but assumed she was referring to Ellenroh, and that, as the
Rover girl alreadNQHw , there were secrets still unrevealed.
The vog swirled about, screening of f the Rowen, snaking
through the cracks and crevices of the land, changing the
lengths of deadwood, then disappeared again. The Owl passed
through the gloom heading toward the river , stick-thin and
shading of some half-forgotten memorWKDWFRXOGWULFNou
into believing things that never were.
A sudden convulsion rocked the earth underfoot, causing
Wren to gasp in spite of herself and to reach down hurriedlWo
regain her balance. The waters of the Rowen seemed to sur ge
sharply, gathering force in a wave that crashed against the
shoreline and rolled on into the distance.
Garth touched her shoulder . The island shakes itself apart.
She nodded, thinking back to Eowen’ s declaration that the
magic. She had thought the seer was referring solelWo
Ellenroh’s use of the Loden, but now it occurred to her that the
seer meant something more. The implication of what she had
just told W ren was that the disruption of the magic was
broader than simplWKHWDNLQJDZD of Arborlon, that at some
time in the past the Elves had sought to do something more
and failed and that what was happening now was a direct
She stored the information awaFDUHIXOO for a time when she
could make use of it.
Garth moved down to help the Elven Hunters, who were
beginning to lash together the logs for the raft. Gavilan was

speaking in low tones with Ellenroh, and there was a restless
anger reflected in his eHVWren watched him carefullIRUa
moment, measuring what she saw now against what she had
seen before, the hard-edged tension and the careless disregard,
two images in sharp contrast. She found Gavilan intriguing, a
complex mix of possibilities and enticements. She liked him;
she wanted him close. But there was something hidden in him
that bothered her, something she had HWWRGHILQH.
“Just a few more minutes,” the Owl advised, passing bKHr
like a shadow and fading back into the mist.
She started to climb to her feet, and something small and quick
darted from the under growth and threw itself on her . She
tumbled back, flailing desperately , then realized in shock that
the thing clinging to her was Faun. She laughed in spite of
herself and hugged the Tree Squeak close.
“Faun,” she cooed, nuzzling the odd little creature. “I thought
something terrible had happened to RX%XWou’re all right,
aren’t RX"Y es, little one, RXUHMXVWILQH”
She was aware of Ellenroh and Gavilan looking over ,
puzzlement registered on their faces, and she quicklFOLPEHd
to her feet again, waving to them reassuringly, smiling in spite
of herself.
“Hrrwwwll. Have RXIRrgotten RXUSURPLVH"”
edge of the gloom, quills all on end.
She knelt hurriedly. “So RXDUHDOOULJKWDVZHOO0r .
Splinterscat. I was worried for RXERWK,FRXOGQ’ t come out
to see if RXZHUHVDIHEXW,KRSHGou were. Did RXILQd
each other after I left?”
“Yes, W ren of the Elves,” the Splinterscat replied, his words
cool and measured. “Pf fttt. The Squeak came scampering back
at dawn, fur all wild and ragged, chittering about RX,WIRXQd
promise. You remember RXUSURPLVHGRQ’ t RX"”
Wren nodded solemnly . “I remember, Stresa. When I left the
city, I was to take RXZLWKPHWRWKHW estland. I will keep that

promise. Did RXZRUU I would not?”
“Hssst, pfftt!” The Splinterscat flattened its quills. “I hoped
He cut himself short.
“Grandmother ,” Wren called out to the queen, and Ellenroh
moved over to join her , curlKDLUEORZLQJDFURVVKHUIDFHOLNe
a veil. “Grandmother, these are mIULHQGV6WUHVDDQG)DXQ.
“Lady,” Stresa replied stif fly, not altogether charmed, it
“What’ s this?” Gavilan came up next to them, amusement
dancing in his eHV$6FDW",WKRXJKWWKH were all gone.”
“There are a few of us—sssttt—no thanks to RX6WUHVa
announced coldly .
“Bold fellow, aren’t RX"*DYLODQFRXOGQ’ t quite conceal his
“Grandmother,” Wren said quickly , putting an end to the
exchange, “I promised Stresa I would take him with us when
we left the island. I must keep that promise. And Faun must
come as well.” She hugged the furrT ree Squeak, who hadn’t
even looked up HWIURPKHUVKRXOGHr , still burrowed down
against her, clinging like a second skin.
Ellenroh looked doubtful, as if taking the creatures along
presented some dif ficultWKDWWren did not understand. “I
don’t know ,” she answered quietly . The wind whistled past
her, gathering force in the gloom. She gazed of f at the Elven
Hunters, at work now on loading backpacks and supplies onto
the raft, then said, “But if RXJDYHour promise . . .
“Aunt Ell!” Gavilan snapped angrily.
The queen’s gaze was icDVLWIL[HGRQKLP.HHSVLOHQW,
“Keep silent!”

The anger in Gavilan’s face was palpable. He avoided looking
at either her or Wren, shifting his gaze instead to Stresa. “This
is a mistake. You should know best, Scat. Remember who
“Gavilan!” The queen was livid. The Elven Hunters stood up
reappeared from out of the mist. Eowen moved to stand next
to the queen.
Gavilan held his ground a moment longer, then wheeled away
and stalked down to the raft. For a moment, no one else
moved, statues in the mist. Then Ellenroh said, to no one in
particular, her voice sounding small and lost, “I’m sorry .”
She walked off as well, sweeping Eowen up in her wake, her
She looked instead at Stresa. The Splinterscat’ s laugh was
bitter. “She doesn’ t want us off the island. Ff fttt. None of them
“Stresa, what is going on here?” W ren demanded, angry
herself now, bewildered at the animosit6WUHVD’ s appearance
had generated.
“Rrrwwll. Wren Ohmsford. Don’ t RXNQRZ"+VVVWY ou
don’t, do RX"(OOHQURK(OHVVHGLOLVour grandmother , and
RXGRQ’t know. How strange!”
“Come, W ren,” the Owl said, passing bRQFHPRUHWRXFKLQg
her lightlRQWKHVKRXOGHr . “Time to be going. Quick, now .”
The Elven Hunters were shoving the raft down to the water ’s
edge, and the others were hastening after . “Tell me!” she
snapped at Stresa.
“A ride down the rwwlll Rowen is not mLGHDRIDJRRd
time,” the Splinterscat said, ignoring her . “I’ll sit directlLn
the middle, if RXSOHDVH+VVVWWW2ULIou don’ t, for that
A renewed series of shudders shook the island, and in the haze
behind them Killeshan erupted in a shower of crimson fire.

Ash and smoke belched out, and a rumbling rose from deep
within the earth.
TheZHUHDOOFDOOLQJIRUWren now, and she ran to them,
Stresa a step ahead, Faun draped about her neck. She was
furious that no one would confide in her , that arguments could
be held in her presence about things of which she was being
and it was becoming apparent that unless she forced the issue
no one was ever going to tell her anWKLQJDERXWWKH(OYHVDQd
She reached the raft as theZHUHSXVKLQJLWRXWLQWRWKe
Rowen, meeting Gavilan’s openlKRVWLOHJD]HZLWKRQHRIKHr
own, shifting deliberatelFORVHUWR*DUWK7KH(OYHQ+XQWHUs
Stresa hopped aboard without being asked and settled down
he had threatened he would do. No one objected; no one said
Triss, the queen clutching the Ruhk Staf f tightlLQERWKKDQGV.
Wren and Garth followed. T ogether, the members of the little
companHDVHGWKHUDIWDZD from the shoreline, leaning
forward so that its logs could bear the weight of their upper
bodies, their hands grasping the rope ties that had been
fashioned to give them a grip.
sweep them away . Those closest to the shore kicked in an
effort to move clear of the banks, awaIURPWKHURFNVDQGWUHe
roots that might snag them. Killeshan continued to erupt, fire
and ash spewing forth, the volcano rumbling its discontent.
The skies darkened with this new laHURIYRJFORXGLQg
farther against the light. The raft moved out into the center of
the channel, rocking with the motion of the water , picking up
speed. The Owl shouted instructions to his companions, and
them, rupturing the stone skin of the high country , sending
steam and gas thrusting skZDUG7KH5RZHQVKXGGHUHGZLWh
the force of the earth’s rumblings and began to buck. The

Debris swirled past, carried on the crest of the river. The raft
was buffeted and tossed, and those clinging to it were forced
to expend all of their ef forts just to hang on.
jagged trees and scrub, rugged lava fields, and mist and haze.
The volcano disappeared behind them, screened awaE a
bend in the river and the beginnings of the valleLQWRZKLFKLt
poured. Wren felt things jab and poke at her , slam up against
her and spin away, and whip past as if DQNHGE an invisible
rope. Her hands and fingers began to ache with the strain of
holding on to the rope staVDQGKHUERG was chilled numb
bWKHLF mountain waters. The river ’s rush drowned out the
roar of the volcano, but she could still feel it shudder beneath
her , waking up, recoiling with sickness, and splitting apart
with convulsions. Clif fs appeared in front of them, rising like
impassable walls. Then theZHUHLQWKHLUPLGVWWKHURFk
narrow defile. For a few minutes the rapids were so severe that
clear again, the channel broadening out once more, the clif fs
receding into the distance. TheVSXQWKURXJKDVHULHVRIZLGH,
sluggish riffs and emer ged in a lake that stretched awaLQWo
the green haze of a jungle.
The river slowed and quieted. The raft quit spinning and began
upon its gleaming surface, screening the shoreline to either
side, transforming it into a deep green mask of silence. From
somewhere distant, Killeshan’ s angrUXPEOHVRXQGHG.
At the center of the raft, Stresa lifted his head tentativelDQd
looked about. The Splinterscat’ s sharp eHVVKLIWHGTXLFNO to
find Wren. “Ssspppttt! W e must get awaIURPKHUHKe
urged. “This is not a good—ssspp—place to be! Over there is
Eden’ s Murk!”
irritably .

Ellenroh shifted her grip on the Ruhk Staff where it laDFURVs
the raft. “Owl, do RXNQRZZKHUHZHDUH"”
Aurin Striate shook his head. “But if the Splinterscat saVLWLs
unsafe . . .”
The waters behind him erupted thunderously , and a huge,
crusted black head reared into view. It rose into the brume
slowly, almost languorously , balanced atop a thick, sinuous
half-light. Tendrils trailed from its jaws like feelers twisting to
find food. Teeth bared as its greenish mouth widened, crooked
and double rowed. It coiled until it towered over them, no
more than fiftIHHWDZDy , and then it hissed like a snake that
has been stepped upon.
“A serpent!” Eowen cried softly .
The Elven Hunters were alreadPRYLQJKDVWLO changing
their charges. Weapons drawn, theEHJDQWRVFXOOWKHUDIt
toward the opposite shore. It was a futile attempt. The serpent
overtake them, dipping its head threateningly, jaws agape.
Wren worked next to Garth to help push the raft ahead, but the
riverbank seemed a long waRf f. At the center of the raft,
Stresa’s spines stuck out in all directions, and his head
The serpent hit them with its tail when theZHUHVWLOOa
underneath, lifting the raft and the nine who clung to it clear of
the water , spinning them into the air . TheIOHZIRUDVKRUt
distance and landed with a whump that knocked the breath
from their bodies. Grips loosened, and people and packs
tumbled away. Eowen splashed frantically , went under, and
was pulled back to the surface b*DUWK7KHUDIWKDGEHJXQWo
come apart from the force of the landing, ties loosening, logs
frantically, furiously , for there was nothing else theFRXOGGR.
The serpent came at them again, sliding out of the Rowen with
a huffing that spraHGZDWHUHYHUwhere. Its crZDVDGHHS,

booming cough as it launched itself, bodIOH[LQJDQGFRLOLQJ,
huge and monstrous as it descended. Wren and Garth broke
free of the raft as the beast struck, dragging Ellenroh and Faun
with them. Wren saw Gavilan dive, watched the others scatter ,
and then the serpent struck and everWKLQJGLVDSSHDUHGLQDn
explosion of water. The raft flew apart, hammered into
kindling. Wren went under , Faun clinging desperatelWRKHr .
She resurfaced, sputtering for air. Heads bobbed in the water,
serpent’s head reared into the haze once more, but this time
Triss and Cort had hold of it, swords stabbing and hacking
furiously . Scales and dark blood flew , and the monster cried
out in fury. Its bodWKUDVKHGLQDQHf fort to shake loose its
attackers, and then it dove. As it went under , Triss buried his
sword in the scalKHDGDQGEURNHDZDy . Cort was still
attacking, his RXWKIXOIDFHJULPO set.
from the shattered raft were sent spinning.
One flew at W ren and caught her a glancing blow along the
side of her head. She had a momentarYLVLRQRIWKHVHUSHQt
diving, of Garth hauling Eowen toward the shore, and of
Ellenroh and the Owl clinging to other straELWVRIWKHUDIW,
and then everWKLQJZHQWEODFN.
She drifted, unfeeling, unfettered, numb to her soul. She could
tell that she was sinking, but she didn’ t seem to be able to do
her, then exhaled when she could hold it no longer and felt the
water rush in. She cried out soundlessly , her voice lost to her.
She could feel the weight of the Elfstones about her neck; she
could feel them begin to burn.
Then something caught hold of her and began to pull,
something that fastened first on her tunic, then slipped down
about her body. A hand first, then an arm—she was in the grip
of another person. SlowlVKHEHJDQWRDVFHQGDJDLQ.
She surfaced, sputtering and choking, struggling to breathe as
she coughed out the water in her lungs. Her rescuer was
behind her, pulling her to safety . She laid back weaklDQGGLd
not resist, still stunned from the blow and the near drowning.

She blinked awaWKHZDWHULQKHUHes and looked back across
the Rowen. It spread awaLQDFKRSS silver sheen, empty
could hear voices calling—Eowen’s, the Owl’s, and one or two
more. She heard her own name called. Faun was no longer
clinging to her . What had become of Faun?
Then the shore came into view on either side, and her rescuer
ceased swimming and stood up, hauling her up as well and
turning her about. She was face to face with Gavilan.
“Are RXDOOULJKWW ren?” he asked breathlessly , worn from
the strain of hauling her. “Look at me.”
She did, and the anger she had felt toward him earlier faded
when she saw the look on his face. Concern and a trace of fear
were mirrored there, genuine and unforced.
She gripped his hand. “It’ s okay. EverWKLQJ’ s fine.” She took
a deep, welcome breath of air . “Thank RX*DYLODQ”
help RXLIou needed it, but I didn’ t expect RXWRWDNHPHXp
on mRffer so soon.”
He helped her from the water to where Ellenroh was waiting to
fold her into her arms. She hugged W ren anxiouslDQd
whispered something barelDXGLEOHZRUGVWKDWGLGQ’ t need to
be heard to be understood. Garth was there as well, and the
Owl, drenched and sorrORRNLQJEXWXQKDUPHG6KHVDw
most of their supplies stacked at the water’s edge, soaked
through but salvaged. Eowen sat disheveled and worn beneath
a tree where Dal was looking after her .
“Faun!” she called, and immediatelKHDUGDFKLWWHULQJ6Ke
looked out across the Rowen and saw the T ree Squeak
clinging to a bit of wood several dozen DUGVDZDy . She
charged back out into the water until she was almost up to her
swam quicklWRUHDFKKHr , scrambling up on her shoulder as
she hauled it to shore. “There, there, little one, RXUHVDIHDs
well now, aren’t RX"”

A moment later Triss stumbled ashore, one side of his sun-
browned face scraped raw , his clothing torn and bloodied. He
sat long enough for the Owl to check him over , then rose to
walk back down to the river with the others. Standing together ,
There was no sign of either Cort or Stresa.
“I didn’t see the Scat after the serpent struck the raft that last
time,” Gavilan said quietly , almost apologetically. “I’m sorry,
Wren. I reallDP”
She nodded without answering, unable to speak, the pain too
great. She stood rigid and expressionless as she continued to
Twice now I’ve left him, she was thinking.
T riss reached down to tighten the staVRQWKHVZRUGKHKDd
picked up from the supplies theKDGVDOYDJHG&RUWZHQt
down with the serpent. I don’ t think he was able to get free.”
should have looked for him when the raft sank. I should have
tried to help.
But she knew , even as she thought it, that there was nothing
she could have done.
“We have to go on,” the Owl said quietly . “We can’ t stay
As if to emphasize his words, Killeshan rumbled in the
distance, and the haze swirled sluggishlLQUHVSRQVH7KHy
hesitated a moment longer , bunched close at the riverbank,
water dripping from their clothing, silent and unmoving. Then
slowly, one after another , theWXUQHGDZDy . After picking up
the backpacks and supplies and checking to be certain that
their weapons were in place, theVWDONHGRf f into the trees.
Behind them, the Rowen stretched awaOLNHDVLOYHr -gray


Rowen’s edge when the trees ended and the nightmare began.
A huge swamp opened before them, a collection of bogs thick
with sawgrass and weeds and laced through with sparse
stretches of old-growth acacia and cedar whose branches had
grown tight about one another in what appeared to be a last,
desperate ef fort to keep from being pulled down into the mud.
ManZHUHDOUHDG half fallen, their root sVWHPVHURGHGWKHLr
massive trunks bent over like stricken giants. Through the
awaDVIDUDVWKHHe could see, a vast and fin-penetrable mire
shrouded in haze and silence.
The Owl brought them to an uncertain halt, and theVWRRd
barest hint of a pathway . But there was nothing to be found.
The swamp was a clouded, forbidding maze.
“Eden’s Murk,” the Owl said tonelessly .
The choices available to the companZHUHOLPLWHG7KHy
could retrace their steps to the Rowen and follow the river
upstream or down until a better route showed itself, or they
could press on through the swamp. In either case, theZRXOd
come too far downstream to regain the valleDQGWKHSDVVHs
that would let them make an easGHVFHQW7KHUHZDVQRt
enough time left them to trJRLQJDOOWKHZD back; the
demons would be everZKHUHE now . The Owl worried that
thePLJKWDOUHDG be searching along the river . He advised
pressing ahead. The journeZRXOGEHWUHDFKHURXVEXWWKe
demons would not be so quick to look for them here. A day ,
two at the most, and theVKRXOGUHDFKWKHPRXQWDLQV.

After a brief discussion, the remainder of the companDJUHHG.
None of them, with the exception of Wren and Garth, had been
outside the citLQDOPRVWWHQears—and the Rover girl and
her protector had passed through the countrRQO once and
knew little of how to survive its dangers. The Owl had lived
followed bTriss, Ellenroh, Eowen, Gavilan, W ren, Garth,
Aurin Striate as he worked to find a line of solid footing
through the mire. He was successful most of the time, for there
were still stretches where the swamp hadn’ t closed over
completely. But there were times as well when theZHUe
forced to step down into the oilZDWHUDQGPXGHDVLQJDORQg
patches of tall grass and scrub, clutching with their hands to
keep from losing their footing, feeling the muck suck eagerly
in an effort to draw them in. TheWUDYHOHGVORZOy , cautiously
through the gloom, warned bWKH2ZOWRVWD close to the
person ahead, peering worriedlLQWRWKHKD]HZKHQHYHUWKe
water bubbled and the mud belched.
Eden’s Murk, despite the pall of silence that hung over it, was
and onlEDUHO heard. W inged creatures flew like shadows
through the brume, silent in their passage, swift and furtive.
Insects buzzed annoLQJOy , some iridescent and as lar ge as a
child’s hand. Things that might have been rats or shrews
skittered about the remaining trees, climbing catlike from view
there as well, some of them massive. TheVSODVKHGDQd
growled in the stillness, hidden bWKHJORRPKXQWHUVWKDt
prowled the deeper waters. No one ever saw them, but it was
never for lack of keeping watch.
The daZRUHRQDVORw , agonizing crawl toward darkness.
bWXUQVDVLI(GHQ’s Murk had been built of separate
chambers and there were invisible walls all about. The swamp
water, like the air , could be chillRUWHSLGGHHSLQVRPHVSRWs

and shallow in others, a mix of colors and smells, none of
which were pleasant, all of which pulled and dragged at the
life above. Now and again the earth would shudder, a reminder
that somewhere behind them Killeshan continued to threaten,
gases and heat building within its core, lava spurting from its
mouth to run burning down the mountainside. Wren pictured it
as she slogged along with the others—the air choked with vog,
the land a carpet of fire, everWKLQJHQYHORSHGE gathering
laHUVRIVWHDPDQGDVK$OUHDG the Keel would be gone.
What of the demons? she wondered. Would theKDYHIOHGDs
had fled, where would theKDYHJRQH?
But she knew the answer to that last question. There was only
one place for anRIWKHPWRJR.
TheZLOOEHGULYHQIrom their siege back acr oss the Rowen,
walked together momentarilDFURVVDUDUHVWUHWFKRIHDUWh
where the swamp was still held more than an arm’ s length at
bay. TheZLOOVWDUWEDFNWRZDr d the cliffs, just as we have
done. If we are too slow, theZLOOEHDOODERXWXVEHIRr e we
can get clear.
Perhaps theZRQ’ t come this far downriver , she suggested
hopefully, fingers flicking out the signs. ThePD keep to the
Garth didn’t bother to respond. He didn’ t have to. She knew as
well as he did that if the demons kept to the valleLQWKHLr
descent of the Blackledge, theZRXOGUHDFKWKHORZHUSDUWVRf
the island quicker than the companDQGEHZDLWLQJRQWKe
She thought often of Stresa, trLQJWRUHPHPEHUZKHQVKHKDd
last seen the Splinterscat after the serpent’ s attack, trLQJWo
recall something that would give her even the faintest hope
that he had escaped. But she could think of nothing. One
moment he had been there, crouched amid the baggage, and
the next he was gone along with everWKLQJHOVH6KHJULHYHd
than she should have been, than she should have allowed
herself to become. She clutched Faun tightlDQGZRQGHUHGDt

herself, feeling oddlGUDZQDZD from who and what she had
once been, a stranger to everWKLQJQRORQJHUVRVHOIDVVXUHd
More often than she cared to admit, her fingers stole beneath
her tunic to find the Elfstones. Eden’s Murk was immense and
implacable, and it threatened to erode her courage and her
strength. The Elfstones reassured her; the Elven magic was
power. She hated herself for feeling so, for needing to relRn
them. A single daRXWRI$UERUORQDQGDOUHDG she had begun
to despair . And she was not alone. She could see the
uneasiness in all of their eHVHYHQ*DUWK’ s. Morrowindl did
thought in a mountain of fear and doubt. It was in the air , in
the earth, in the life about them, a kind of madness that
whispered insidious warnings and stole life with casual
disregard. She again tried to picture the island as it had once
been and again failed to do so. She could not see past what it
was, what it had become.
What the Elves and their magic had made it.
And she thought once more of the secrets theZHUHKLGLQJ—
Ellenroh, the Owl, Gavilan, all of them. Stresa had known.
Stresa would have told her. Now it would have to be someone
She touched Eowen on the shoulder at one point and asked in
a whisper, “Are RXDEOHWRVHHDQthing of what is to happen
But the pale, emerald-eHGZRPDQRQO smiled sadlDQd
replied, “No, W ren, the sight is clouded bWKHPDJLFWKDWUXQs
through the core of the island. Arborlon gave me shelter to see.
the cliffs to where the sun’ s light and the sea’s smell reach . . .”
She trailed off.
Then darkness descended in a slow setting of graYHLOVRQe
after another, that graduallVFUHHQHGDZD the light. TheKDd
been walking since midmorning and still there was no sign of
Blackledge, no hint of the swamp’ s end. The Owl began to

look for a place where theFRXOGVSHQGWKHQLJKWFDXWLRQLQg
and plaHGWULFNVZLWKWKHLUHes. The da’s silence gradually
and sharp, rising out of the darker patches to echo through the
gloom. Bits and pieces of foliage began to glow with a silver
Aurin Striate’s lank form knifed steadilDKHDGEHQWDJDLQVt
the encroaching dart. W ren saw Ellenroh slip past T riss
momentarily, leaning forward to saVRPHWKLQJWRWKH2ZO.
high, and the fading light glimmered dullRf f the surface of
the swamp to their left.
AbruptlWKHZDWHUJHsered as something huge surfaced to
snare unsuspecting prey, jaws closing with a snap as it sank
distracted. Wren saw the Owl turn halfwaEDFNZDUQLQJZLWh
his hands. She saw something else, something half hidden in
the gloom ahead. There was a flicker of movement.
A second later , she heard a familiar hissing sound.
Garth couldn’t have heard it, of course, HWVRPHWKLQJZDUQHd
him of the danger , and he launched himself atop W ren and
Eowen both and threw them to the ground. Behind them, Dal
dropped instinctively. Ahead, the Owl wrapped himself about
Ellenroh Elessedil, shoving her back into T riss and Gavilan.
There was a ripping, thrusting sound as a hail of needles sliced
through the grasses and leaves. Wren heard a surprised grunt.
A Darter!
The name scraped like rough bark on bare skin as she
screamed it in her mind. She remembered how close one had
come to killing her on the waLQ*DUWK’ s arm loosened about
her waist, and she signed quicklWRKLPDVWKHKDUGEHDUGHd
face pushed up next to her own.
Ahead, she heard her grandmother sob.

Frantic now, forgetting everWKLQJHOVHVKHVFUDPEOHGIRUZDUd
through the tall grass, the others crawling hurriedlDIWHUKHr .
She passed Gavilan, who was still trLQJWRILJXUHRXWZKDt
was going on, and caught up with Triss as the Captain of the
Home Guard reached the queen.
in the crook of one arm as she wiped his sweating face. The
Owl’s scarecrow frame looked as if all the sticks had been
removed and nothing remained but the clothing that draped
desperatelWRVZDOORw .
Dozens of the Darter’s poisonous needles stood out from his
body . He had taken the full brunt of the plant’ s attack.
“Aurin,” the queen whispered, and his eHVVZXQJXr gentlWo
find her. “It’s all right. W e’re all here.”
other in helpless disbelief.
“Owl.” W ren spoke softly , her hand reaching out to touch his
Aurin Striate’s breath quickened sharply . “I can’t . . . feel a
thing,” he gasped.
Then his breathing stopped altogether , and he was dead.

Wren didn’ t sleep at all that night. She wasn’ t sure anRIWKHm
did, but she kept apart from the others so she had no real way
of knowing. She sat alone with Faun curled in her lap at the
base of a shaggFHGDr, its trunk overgrown with moss and
vines, and stared out into the swamp. TheZHUHOHVVWKDQa
down against the vog and the night, encircled bWKHVRXQGVRf
She kept seeing the Owl’ s face as he laGing.
It was just a fluke, she knew , just bad luck. It was nothing they
could have foreseen and there was nothing theFRXOGKDYe

done to prevent it. She had come across onlRQHRWKHU'DUWHr
until now, one other on the whole of Morrowindl she had
traveled through. What were the chances that she should find
another here? What were the odds that of all of them it should
end up striking down Aurin Striate?
The improbabilitRILWKDXQWHGKHr .
Would things have turned out dif ferentlLI6WUHVDKDGEHHn
there watching out for them?
There was no solid ground in which to burWKH2ZOQRWKLQg
but marshland where the beasts that lived in Eden’ s Murk
would dig him up for food, so theIRXQGDSDWFKRITXLFNVDQd
and sank him to where he could never be touched.
TheDWHGLQQHUWKHQZKDWWKH could manage to eat, talking
and dispersed into the dart. The Elven Hunters set a watch,
Triss until midnight, Dal until dawn, and the silence settled
Just a fluke, she repeated dismally .
shield against her grief. The Owl had been kind to her . He had
been honest, too—as honest as he could be without betraLQg
the queen’s trust. What he could share of himself, he did. He
outside of Arborlon’ s walls all these HDUVEHFDXVHKHKDd
accepted the inevitabilitRIKLVGHDWKDQGE doing so had
made himself strong against his fear of it. It was a necessary
waWREHKHKDGWROGKHr . If RXDUHDOZDs frightened for ,
RXUVHOIou can’t act, and then life loses its purpose. Y ou just
have to tell RXUVHOIWKDWZKHQou get right down to it, Ru
don’t matter all that much.
But the Owl had mattered more than most. Alone with her
thoughts, the others either asleep or pretending to be, she
allowed herself to acknowledge exactlKRZPXFKKHKDd
mattered. She remembered how Ellenroh had cried in her arms
when Aurin Striate was gone, like a little girl again,

unashamed of her grief, mourning someone who had been
much more than a faithful retainer of the throne, more than a
lifetime companion, and more than just a friend. She had not
realized the depth of feeling that her grandmother bore for the
complete loss for words, taking Ellenroh’s hands and holding
them without speaking, impulsivelKXJJLQJW ren when she
most needed it, doing nothing more than just being there.
Garth and the Elven Hunters were stone faced, but their eHs
reflected what laEHKLQGWKHLUPDVNV7KH would all miss
Aurin Striate.
light, and its measure extended far beRQGDQ emotional loss.
For the Owl was the onlRQHDPRQJWKHPZKRNQHZDQthing
about surviving the dangers of Morrowindl outside the walls
of Arborlon. Without him, theKDGQRRQHWRVHUYHDVJXLGH.
TheZRXOGKDYHWRUHO on their own instincts and training if
Loden. That meant finding a waWRJHWIUHHRI(GHQ’ s Murk,
descending the Blackledge, passing through the In Ju, and
reaching the beaches in time to meet up with Tiger Ty. They
would have to do all that without anRIWKHPNQRZLQJWKe
waWKH should travel or the dangers theVKRXOGZDWFKRXt
for .
The more W ren thought about it, the more impossible it
seemed. Except for Garth and herself, none of the others had
strange countrIRUWKH5RYHUVDVZHOODODQGWKH had passed
pitfalls and hazards theKDGQHYHUHQFRXQWHUHGEHIRUH+Rw
Her brooding left her hollow and bitter . So much depended on
because of a fluke.
Garth slept closest to her, a dark shadow against the earth, as
still as death in slumber. He puzzled her these daVKDGGRQe

something she could easilGHILQHEXWLWZDVWKHUe
nevertheless. Garth, alwaVHQLJPDWLFKDGEHFRPe
increasinglUHPRWHJUDGXDOO withdrawing in his relationship
with her—almost as if he felt that she didn’t need him any
more, that his tenure as teacher and hers as student were
finished. It wasn’t in anVSHFLILFWKLQJKHKDGGRQHRUZD he
had behaved; it was more a general attitude, evinced in a
pulling back of himself in little, unobtrusive waV+HZDVVWLOl
there for her in all the waVWKDWFRXQWHGSURWHFWLYHDVDOZDs,
watching out and counseling. Y et at the same time he was
moving away, giving her a space and a solitude she had never
experienced before and found somewhat disconcerting. She
was strong enough to be on her own, she knew; she had been
so for several HDUVQRw . It was simplWKDWVKHKDGQ’ t thought
that where Garth was concerned she would ever find a need to
Perhaps the loss of the Owl called attention to it more
didn’t know . It was hard to think clearlMXVWQRw , and HWVKe
knew she must. Emotions would onlGLVWUDFWDQGFRQIXVHDQd
in the end thePLJKWHYHQNLOO8QWLOWKH were clear of
Morrowindl and safelEDFNLQWKHW estland, there could be
little time wasted on longings and needs, on what-ifs and
what-might-have-beens, or on what once was and could never
be again.
She felt her throat tighten and the tears spring to her eHV.
Even with Faun sleeping in her lap, Garth a whisper away , her
grandmother found again, and her identitNQRZQVKHIHOt
Sometime after midnight, when Triss had given over the watch
to Dal, Gavilan came to sit with her . He didn’t speak, just
wrapped the blanket he had carried over around her and
positioned himself at her side. She felt the warmth of his body
through the damp and the chill of the swamp night, and it gave
her comfort. After a time, she leaned against him, needing to
be touched. He took her in his arms then, cradled her to his
chest, and held her until morning.

Garth led now, the most experienced survivalist among them.
It was Wren who suggested that he lead and Ellenroh who
quicklDSSURYHG1RRQHZDV*DUWK’ s equal as a Tracker, and
it would take a T racker’s skill to get them free of the swamp.
But even Garth could not unravel the mVWHU of Eden’ s Murk.
Vog hung over everWKLQJVKXWWLQJRXWWKHVNy , wrapping
distance of fiftIHHW7KHOLJKWZDVJUD and weak, dif fused by
seemed to come from everZKHUH7KHUHZDVQRWKLQJIURm
which to take direction, not even the lichen and moss that
grew in the swamp, which seemed clustered like fugitives
against the coming of night, as confused and lost as those of
staHGZLWKLWEXWWren could tell that the signs he needed
progress. Garth kept his thoughts to himself, but W ren could
read the truth in his eHV.
Travel was steady , but slow, in part because the swamp was all
but impassable and in part because Ellenroh Elessedil was ill.
The queen had caught a fever during the night, and it had
spread through her with such rapiditWKDWVKHKDGJRQHIURm
headaches and dizziness to chills and coughing in a matter of
hours. BPLGGDy , when the companVWRSSHGIRUDTXLFk
meal, her strength was failing badly . She could still walk, but
not without help. Triss and Dal shared the task of supporting
her, arms wrapped securelDERXWKHUZDLVWWRKROGKHUXSDs
theWUDYHOHG(RZHQDQGW ren both checked her for injuries,
thinking that perhaps she had been scratched bWKHVSLNHVRf
the Darter and poisoned. But theIRXQGQRWKLQJ7KHUHZDs
no readH[SODQDWLRQIRUWKHTXHHQ’ s sickness, and while they
administered to her as best theFRXOGQHLWKHUKDGDFOXHDVWo
what remedPLJKWKHOS.
“I feel foolish,” she confided to Wren at one point, her wan
features bathed in a sheen of sweat. TheVDWWRJHWKHURQDORJ,
eating a little of the cheese and bread that was their meal,
wrapped in their great cloaks. “I was fine when I went to

sleep, then woke sometime during the night feeling . . . odd.”
She laughed drOy. “I do not know anRWKHUZD to describe
it. I just didn’t feel right.”
“You will be better again after another night’ s sleep,” Wren
assured her. “We are all worn down.”
worsened as the daZRUHRQ% nightfall, she had fallen so
often that the Elven Hunters were simplFDUUing her . The
bottomland, a pocket of cold that had straHGVRPHKRZLQWo
the broad stretch of the swamp’s volcanic heat and become
trapped there, sending down roots into the mire, turning water
and air to ice. Ellenroh, alreadRQWKHYHr ge of exhaustion,
was weakened further. What little strength remained to her
seemed to seep quicklDZDy . When theVWRSSHGILQDOO for
the night, she was unconscious.
Wren watched Eowen bathe her crumpled face as Gavilan and
the Elven Hunters set camp. Garth was at her elbow , his dark
face impassive but his eHVFORXGHGZLWKGRXEW:KHQVKHPHt
his gaze squarely, he gave a barelSHUFHSWLEOHVKDNHRIKLs
head. His fingers gestured. I cannot read the signs. I cannot
even find them.
The admission was a bitter one. Garth was a proud man and he
did not accept defeat easily . She looked into his eHVDQd
touched him brieflLQUHVSRQVH You will find a way , she
TheDWHDJDLQPRVWO because it was necessary , huddled
together on a small patch of damp earth that was drHUWKDn
shaking with cold and fever, mumbling from time to time, and
tossing within her dreams. W ren marveled at her
grandmother’s strength of will. Not once while she had
struggled with her illness had she relaxed her hold on the Ruhk
Staf f. She clutched it to her still, as if she might with her own
bodSURWHFWWKHFLW and people the Loden’ s magic enclosed.
Gavilan had offered more than once to relieve her of the task
of carrLQJWKHVWDf f, but she had steadfastlUHIXVHGWRJLYHLt
up. It was a burden she had resolved to shoulder , and she

would not be persuaded to laLWGRZQWren thought of what
it must have cost her grandmother to become so strong—the
loss of her parents, her husband, her daughter , her friends—
almost everRQHFORVHWRKHr. Her whole life had been turned
about with the coming of the demons and the walling awaRf
Morrowindl was gone. Nothing remained of the promise she
must have once felt for the future save the possibilitWKDWWKe
reborn into a better world.
A world of Federation oppression and Shadowen fear, a world
in which, like Morrowindl, use of magic had somehow gone
Wren’ s smile was slow , bitter, and ironic.
She was struck suddenlE the similarities between the two,
the island and the mainland, Morrowindl and the Four Lands
—different, HWDf flicted with the same sort of madness. Both
worlds were plagued with creatures that fed on destruction;
both were beset with a sickness that turned the earth and the
things that lived upon it foul. What was Morrowindl if not the
Four Lands in an advanced state of deca"6KHZRQGHUHd
and the Shadowen might have some common origin. She
wondered again at the secrets that the Elves were keeping
from her of what had happened on Morrowindl HDUVDJR.
And again she asked herself, What am I doing her e? WhGLd
Allanon send me to bring the Elves back into the Four Lands?
What is it that theFDQGRWKDWZLOOPDNHDGLIIHr ence, and
She finished eating and sat for a time with her grandmother ,
studLQJWKHRWKHr’s face in the fading light, trLQJWRILQGLn
the ravaged features some new trace of her mother , of the
vision she had claimed from that now long-ago, distant dream
when her mother had pleaded, Remember me. Remember me.
Such a fragile thing, her memory, and it was all that she had of
either parent, all that remained of her childhood. As she sat
there with her grandmother’s head cradled in her lap, she
contemplated asking Garth to tell her something more of what

had been, though she no longer had anUHDOH[SHFWDWLRQWKDt
Garth stood watch, too far awaWRVXPPRQZLWKRXWGLVWXUELQg
the others and too distanced from her to be of anUHDl
comfort, and she turned instead to the familiar touch of the
Elfstones within their leather pouch, running the tips of her
fingers over their hard, smooth surfaces, rolling the Stones idly
beneath the fabric of her tunic. TheZHUHKHUPRWKHr’s legacy
to her and her grandmother ’s trust, and despite her misgivings
as to their purpose in her life she could not give them up. Not
here, not now , not until she was free of the nightmare into
which she had so willinglMRXUQHed.
I chose this, she whispered to herself, the words bitter and
harsh. I came because I wanted to.
To learn the truth, to discover where and what she was, to
bring past and future together once and for all.
And what do I know of anRIWKDW":KDWGR,XQGHUVWDQG?
Eowen came to sit next to her , and she realized how tired she
had grown. She gave her grandmother over to the red-haired
seer and crept silentlDZD to her own bed. W rapped in her
swamp a maze that would swallow them all and care nothing
for what it had done, the world a blanket of indif ference and
deceit, of dangers as numerous as the shadows gathered about,
and of sudden death and the taunting ghosts of what might
have been. She found herself thinking of the HDUVVKHKDd
trained with Garth, of what he had taught her, of what she had
learned. She would need all of it if she were to survive, she
knew. She would need everWKLQJVKHFRXOGVXPPRQRf
strength, experience, training and resolve, and she would need
more than a little luck.
And one thing mor e.
Her fingers brushed against the Elfstones once more and fell
command whenever she chose. T wice now she had called
upon them to save her. Both times she had done so either out

of ignorance or desperation. But if she used them again, she
the magic was there and understood what wielding it meant,
she risked giving up everWKLQJVKHZDVDQGEHFRPLQg
something else entirely. Nothing would ever be the same for
her again, she cautioned herself. Nothing.
Yet, as she considered the failure of strength, experience,
training, and resolve to come to her aid, as she lamented the
Stones was all that was left to her , the onlUHVRXUFHWKDt
She turned her head into the blankets and fell asleep in a
spider’s web of doubt.


W ren dreamed, and her dreams were of Ohmsfords come and
gone, a kaleidoscopic, fragmented rush of images that
exploded out of memory. TheFDUHHQHGLQWRKHUOLNHDn
avalanche and swept her away , tossed and tumbled in a slide
that would not end. A spectator with no voice, she watched the
saw events unfold that she had never seen but onlKHDUd
described, the legends of the past carried forward in the words
of the stories Par and Coll Ohmsford told.
Then she was awake, sitting bolt upright, startled from her
sleep with a suddenness that was frightening. Faun, curled at
her throat, skittered hurriedlDZDy . She stared into blackness,
listening to the sound of her heartbeat in her throat, to the rush
of her breathing. All around her, the others of the little
faceless shape at the edge of their camp.
What was it? she thought wildly. What was it that I saw?
For something in her dreams had brought her awake,
something so unnerving, so unexpected, that sleep was no
longer possible.
The memory, when it came, was shocking and abrupt. Her
hand flew at once to the small leather bag tucked within her
The Elfstones!
In her dreams of Ohmsford ancestors, she had caught a
singular glimpse of Shea and Flick, one brief image out of
Sword of Shannara. In that image, the brothers were lost with

Menion Leah in the lowlands of Clete at the start of their
seemed able to help them, and thePLJKWKDYHGLHGWKHUHLf
Shea, in desperation, had not discovered that he possessed the
Druid Allanon—the same Elfstones she carried now. In that
onlEDUHO remembered, she uncovered a truth she had
forgotten—that the magic could do more than protect, it could
also seek. It could show the holder a waRXWRIWKHGDUNHVt
maze; it could help the lost be found again.
She bit her lip hard against the sharp intake of breath that
caught in her throat. She had known once, of course—all of
them had, all of the Ohmsford children. Par had sung the story
to her when she was little. But it had been so long ago.
The Elfstones.
She sat frozen within the covering of her blankets, stunned by
her revelation. She had possessed the power all along to get
them free of Eden’ s Murk. The Elfstones, if she chose to
invoke the magic, would show the waFOHDr . Had she truly
forgotten? she wondered in disbelief. Or had she simply
blocked the truth away , determined that she would not be
subverted bLWVSRZHU?
And what would she do now?
For a moment she did nothing, so paral]HGZLWKWKHIHDUVDQd
doubts that using the Elfstones raised that she could onlVLt
there, clutching her blankets to her like a shield, voicing
within her mind the choices with which she had suddenlEHHn
presented in an effort to make sense of them.
and doubts cast aside as she made her waRQFDW’ s feet to
where her grandmother laVOHHSLQJ(OOHQURK(OHVVHGLO’ s
breathing was shallow and quick, and her hands and face were
cold. Her hair curled damplDERXWKHUIDFHDQGKHUVNLQZDs
tight against her bones. She laVXSLQHZLWKLQEODQNHWVWKDt
swaddled her like a burial shroud.

She’s dLQJ, Wren realized in dismay .
The choices fell awaLQVWDQWOy , and she knew what she must
do. She crept to where Garth slept, hesitated, then moved on
past Triss to where Gavilan lay .
She touched his shoulder lightlDQGKLVHes flickered open.
“Wake up,” she whispered to him, trLQJWRNHHSKHUYRLFe
from shaking. Tell him first, she was thinking, remembering
his kindness of the previous night. He will support RX.
“Gavilan, wake up. W e’re getting out of here. Now .”
“Wren, wait, what are RX"KHEHJDQIXWLOHO for she was
sprang demonlike into his eHVW ren!” he shouted,
scrambling up, and everRQHFDPHDZDNHLQVWDQWOy .
She stiffened, watching the others rise up guardedlT riss
and Eowen, Dal come back from keeping watch at the
campsite’s edge, and Garth, hulking against the shadows. The
queen did not stir .
“What do RXWKLQNou are doing?” Gavilan demanded
heatedly. She felt his words like a slap. There was anger and
accusation in them. “What do RXPHDQZHUHJHWWLQJRXW?
The companFORVHGDERXWWKHWZRDVWKH came face to face.
Gavilan was flushed and his eHVZHUHEULJKWZLWKVXVSLFLRQ,
but Wren stood her ground, her look so determined that the
other thought better of whatever it was he was about to say
“Look at her , Gavilan,” W ren pleaded, seizing his arm, turning
him towards Ellenroh. WhFRXOGQ’ t he understand? WhZDs
he making this so difficult? “If we staKHUHDQ longer , we
will lose her. We haven’ t a choice anPRUH,IZHGLG,ZRXOd
be the first to take advantage of it, I promise RX”
There was a startled silence. Eowen turned to the queen,
kneeling anxiouslEHVLGHKHr . “Wren is right,” she whispered.
“The queen is verVLFN”

Wren kept her eHVIL[HGRQ*DYLODQWUing to read his face, to
make him understand. “W e have to get her out of here.”
Triss pushed forward hurriedly . “Do RXNQRZDZD?” he
asked, his lean features lined with worry .
“I do,” Wren answered. She glanced quicklDWWKH&DSWDLQRf
the Home Guard, then back again at Gavilan. “I don’ t have
time to argue about this. I don’ t have time to explain. Y ou have
to trust me. You have to.”
Gavilan remained stubbornlXQFRQYLQFHGY ou ask too
. . .”
But Triss was alreadJDWKHULQJXSWKHLUJHDr , motioning Dal
to help. “The choice has been made for us,” he declared
quietly. “The queen has no chance if we don’ t carrKHUIURm
this swamp. Do what RXFDQWren.”
placed the queen. When theZHUHILQLVKHGWKH turned
expectantlWRWren. She faced them as if she were
condemned, thinking that she had no choice in this matter , that
she must forget her fears and doubts, her resolutions, the
promises she had made herself regarding use of the magic and
the Elfstones, and do what she could to save her
grandmother ’s life.
She reached down into her tunic and pulled free the leather
bag. A quick loosening of the drawstrings, and the Elfstones
tumbled into her hand with a harsh, blue glitter .
Feeling small and vulnerable, she walked to the edge of the
campsite and stood staring out for a moment into the shadows
and mist. Faun tried to scramble up her leg, but she reached
down gentlDQGVKRRHGWKHTree Squeak away. Vog swirled
skirts. A mix of haze and steam rose of f the swamp’s fetid
waters. She was at the edge of her life, she sensed, brought
she would never be the same. She longed for what once had

been, for what might have been, for an escape she could not
hope to find.
Frightened that she might change her mind if she considered
the matter longer, she held forth the Elfstones and willed them
to life.
Nothing happened.
Oh, Shades!
She tried again, concentrating, letting herself form the words
blood, she thought desperately. She had summoned the power
before . . .
Stones as if a stopper had been pulled. It coalesced about her
hand, brilliant and stunning, brightening the swamp as if
members of the companUHHOHGDZDy , crouching guardedly,
shielding their eHVW ren stood erect, feeling the power of the
Stones flow through her , searching, studLQJDQGGHFLGLQJLILt
belonged. A pleasant, seductive warmth enveloped her . Then
the light shot awaWRKHUULJKWVFthing through the mist and
the emptZDWHUVKXQGUHGVRIards, farther than the ee
should have been able to see, to fix upon a rock wall that lifted
Wren closed her fingers about the Stones, drained and
exhilarated both at once, swept clean somehow bWKHPDJLF,
invigorated but left weak. Shaking in spite of her resolve, she
slipped the talismans back into their pouch. The others
straightened uncertainly , eHVVKLIWLQJWRILQGKHURZQ.
“There,” she said quietly , pointing in the direction that the
light had taken.

For an instant, no one spoke. Wren’s mind was awash with
what she had done, the magic’ s rush still fresh within her body ,
warring now with the guilt she felt for betraLQJKHUYRw . But
she had not had a choice, she reminded herself quicklVKe
grandmother die. It was this one time onlLWQHHGQRWKDSSHn
again. This once, because it was her grandmother’s life and her
grandmother was all she had left . . .
The words dissipated with Eowen’ s soft voice. “Hurry, Wren,”
she ur ged, “while there is still time.”
TheVHWRf f at once, W ren leading until Garth caught up to her
and she motioned him ahead, content to let someone else take
charge. Faun returned from the darkness, and she scooped the
little creature up and placed it on her shoulder . Dal and Triss
bore the litter with the queen, and she dropped back to walk
beside it. She reached down and took her grandmother ’s hand
in her own, held it for a moment, then squeezed it gently .
There was no response. She laid the hand carefullEDFNLn
place and walked ahead again. Eowen passed her, the white
face looking lost and frightened in the shadows, the red hair
flaring against the night. Eowen knew how sick Ellenroh was;
had she foreseen what would happen to the queen in her
visions? Wren shook her head, refusing to consider the
possibility. She walked alone for a time until Gavilan slipped
up beside her .
“I’m sorry, Wren,” he said softly , the words coming with
difficulty . “I should have known RXZRXOGQRWDFWZLWKRXt
reason. I should have had more trust in RXUMXGJPHQW+e
waited for her response, and when it did not come, said, “It is
this swamp that clouds mWKLQNLQJ,FDQ’ t seem to focus as I
should . . .” He trailed off.
She sighed soundlessly. “It’s all right. No one can think clearly
in this place.” She was anxious to make excuses for him. “This
island seems to breed madness. I caught a fever on the waLn
and for a time I was incoherent. Perhaps a touch of that fever
has captured RXDVZHOO”
He nodded distractedly , as if he hadn’t heard. “At least RXVHe
the truth now. Magic has made Morrowindl and its demons,

and magic is what will save us from them. Your Elfstones and
the Ruhk Staff. You wait. Y ou will understand soon enough.”
And he dropped back again, his departure so abrupt that W ren
was once again unable to ask the questions that his comments
called to mind—questions of how the demons had been made,
what it was the magic had done, and how things had come to
such a state. She half turned to follow him, then decided to let
him go. She was too tired for questions now, too worn to hear
the answers even if he would give them—which he probably
would not. Biting back her frustration, she forced herself to
continue on.
It took them all night to get free of Eden’s Murk. Twice more
Wren was forced to call upon the power of the Elfstones. T orn
each time bFRQIOLFWLQJXrges both to shun its flow and
welcome it, she felt the magic boil through her like an elixir .
The blue light seared the blackness and cut awaWKHKD]H,
showing them the path to Blackledge, and bGDZQWKH had
climbed free of the mire and stood at last upon solid ground
once more. Before them, Blackledge lifted awaLQWRWKHKD]H,
a towering mass of craggVWRQHMXWWLQJVNward out of the
the litter with Ellenroh carefullDWLWVFHQWHr. Eowen bathed
the queen’s face and hands and gave her water to drink.
Ellenroh stirred and her eHVIOLFNHUHGRSHQ6KHVWXGLHGWKe
faces about her , glanced down to the Ruhk Staf f still clutched
between her fingers, and said, “Help me to sit up.”
Eowen propped her forward gentlDQGJDYHKHUWKHFXS.
Ellenroh drank it slowly, pausing frequentlWREUHDWKH+Hr
chest rattled, and her face was flushed with fever .
“Wren,” she said softly , “RXKDYHXVHGWKH(OIVWRQHV”
Wren knelt beside her , wondering, and the others crowded
close as well. “How did RXNQRZ"”
Ellenroh Elessedil smiled. “It is in RXUHes. The magic
“I would have used them sooner, Grandmother, but I forgot
what it was that theFRXOGGR,PVRUUy .”

“Child, there is no need to apologize.” The blue eHVZHUe
kind and warm. “I have loved RXVRPXFKWren—even
“You need to sleep, Ellenroh,” the seer whispered.
The queen closed her eHVPRPHQWDULO and shook her head.
“No, Eowen. I need to speak with RX$OORIou.”
with her gaze. “I am sorry , Wren, that I cannot be with Ru
longer . I wish that I could. W e have had too short a time
together. Eowen, this is hardest for RXY ou have been my
friend all of mOLIHDQG,ZRXOGVWD to keep RXZHOOLII
could. I know what mGing means. Gavilan, T riss, Dal—Ru
did for me what RXFRXOG%XWP time is here. The fever is
stronger than I am, and while I have tried to break free of it, I
find I cannot. Aurin Striate waits for me, and I go to join him.”
Wren was shaking her head deliberately , angrily. “No,
Grandmother , don’t saWKLVGRQ’ t make it so!”
The soft hand found her own and gripped it. “W e cannot hide
from the truth, Wren. You, of all people, should know this. I
am weakened to the bone. The fever has cut me apart inside,
and there is almost nothing left holding me together . Even
magic would not save me now, I’m afraid—and none of us
possesses magic that would help in anFDVH%HVWURQJW ren.
Remember what we share of flesh and blood. Remember how
much alike we are—how much like AlleQH”
“Grandmother!” Wren was crLQJ.
“A medicine,” Gavilan whispered ur gently. “There must be
some medicine we can give RXT ell us!”
coughed and stiffened momentarily . “Am I still RXUTXHHQ"”
she asked.
ThePXUPXUHGes, all of them, an uncertain reply . “Then I
have one last command to give RX,Iou love me, if Ru

care for the future of the Elven people, RXZLOOQRWTXHVWLRn
it. SaWKDWou will obey.”
questioning what theZHUHDERXWWRKHDr.
“Wren.” Ellenroh waited until her granddaughter had moved
to where she could see her clearly . “This is RXUVQRw. Take
She held out the Ruhk Staf f and the Loden. Wren stared at her
in disbelief, unable to move. “T ake it!” the queen said, and this
time Wren did as she was bidden. “Now , listen to me. I entrust
the magic to RXUFDUHFKLOGTake the Staff and its Stone from
Morrowindl and carrWKHPEDFNLQWRWKHW estland. Restore
the Elves and their city. Give our people back their life. Do
what RXPXVWWRNHHSour promise to the Druid’ s shade, but
made whole. Give them a chance to begin again.”
Wren could not speak, stunned bZKDWZDVKDSSHQLQJ,
struggling to accept what she was hearing. She felt the weight
of the Ruhk Staf f settle in her hands, the smoothness of its
haft, cool and polished. No, she thought. No, I don’t want this!
“Gavilan. T riss. Dal.” The queen whispered their names, her
voice breaking. “See that she is protected. Help her to succeed
in what she has been given to do. Eowen, use RXUVLJKWWo
ward her against the demons. Garth . . .”
She was about to speak to the big man, but trailed of f
suddenly, as if she had come upon something she could not
face. Wren glanced back at her friend in confusion, but the
dark face was chiseled in stone.
“Grandmother , I should not be the one to carrWKLVW ren
started to object, but the other’s hand gripped her sharplLn
“Y ou are the one, W ren. You have alwaVEHHQWKHRQH.
AlleQHZDVP daughter and would have been queen after
me, but circumstances forced us apart and took her from me.
child. You are an Elessedil. It was what RXZHUHERUQDQd

what RXZHUHUDLVHGZKHWKHUou accept it or not. When I am
Wren was horrified. This can’ t be happening, she kept telling
herself, over and over . I am not what RXWKLQN,DPD5RYHr
girl and nothing more! This isn’t right!
But Ellenroh was speaking again, drawing her attention back
once more. “Give RXUVHOIWLPHW ren. It will all come about
as it should. For now, RXQHHGRQO concern RXUVHOIZLWh
keeping the Staff and its Stone safe. Y ou need onlILQGour
of itself.”
“No, Grandmother,” Wren cried out ur gently. “I will keep the
Staff for RXXQWLOou are well again. Just until then and not
one moment more. Y ou will not die. Grandmother , RXFDQ’t!”
The queen took a long, slow breath. “Let me rest now , please.
The seer did as she was asked, her green eHVIULJKWHQHGDQd
lonelDVWKH followed the queen’s face down. For a moment
whispering as theZHQW*DYLODQZDONHGRf f muttering to
himself, and Garth slipped from view as well. W ren was left
staring at the Ruhk Staff, gripped now in her own hands.
“I don’t think that I should . . .” she started to saDQGFRXOGQ’ t
finish. Her eHVOLIWHGWRILQG(RZHQ’s, but the red-haired seer
turned away. Alone now with her grandmother , she reached
out to touch the other’s hand, feeling the heat of the fever
burning through her . Her grandmother slept, unresponsive.
was impossible! She felt the tears come again, thinking of how
long it had taken to find her grandmother , the last of her
family, how much she had gone through and how little time
she had been given.
Don’t die, she praHGVLOHQWOy . Please.
She felt a scratching against her legs and looked down to

released Ellenroh’s hand long enough to lift the little creature
into her arms, ruffle its fur, and let it snuggle into her shoulder .
“Not me,” she said softlWRKHUJUDQGPRWKHr . “It shouldn’t be
She rose then, carrLQJERWKWKHT ree Squeak and the Staff up
with her, and turned to find Garth. The big Rover was resting
against a section of the clif f wall a dozen paces off. He
straightened as she came up to him. The hard look she gave
him made him blink.
“Tell me the truth now ,” she whispered, signing curtly . “What
is there between RXDQGP grandmother?”
His gaze was impassive. Nothing.
“But the waVKHORRNHGDWou, Garth—she wanted to say
something and was afraid!”
You wer e a child given into mFDr e bKHUGDXJKWHr. She
wanted to be certain I did not for get. That was what she
thought to tell me. But she saw that it was not necessary .
Wren faced him unmoving a moment longer . Perhaps, she
thought darkly. But there are secrets here . . .
Trust no one, the Addershag had warned.
But she couldn’ t do that. She couldn’ t be like that.
She broke off the confrontation and moved away , still stunned
at the whirlwind of events that had surrounded her , at the way
in which she was being rushed along without having any
control over what was happening. She glanced again at her
grandmother, feeling torn at the prospect of losing her and at
to assume. W ren Ohmsford, Queen of the Elves? It was
laughable. She didn’ t care who she was or what her family
background might be, her whole life was defined bKRZVKe
perceived herself, and she perceived herself as a Rover . She
couldn’t just wish all that away , forget all the HDUVVKHKDd
spent growing up, accept what had happened in these last few
weeks as if it were a mandate she could not refuse. How could

Almost without thinking about it, she stalked over to where
Gavilan sat back against a moss-grown stump and squatted
down beside him.
“What am I to do about this?” she demanded almost angrily ,
thrusting the Ruhk Staff in his face.
He shrugged, his eHVGLVWDQWDQGHPSWy . “What RXZHUe
asked to do, I expect.”
“But this isn’t mine! It doesn’ t belong to me! It shouldn’ t have
been given to me in the first place!”
His voice was bitter. “I happen to agree. But what RXDQGI
want doesn’t count for much, does it?”
“That isn’t true. Ellenroh would never have done this if she
weren’t so sick. When she’ s better,” she stopped as he looked
pointedlDZDy . “When she’s better,” she continued, snapping
off each word like a broken stick, “she will realize this is all a
His gaze was flat. “She’ s not going to get better.”
“Don’t saWKDW*DYLODQ'RQ’ t.”
Wren stared at him, unable to speak.
Gavilan’ s face was hard. “All right, then. I realize that Ru
people, that none of this reallKDVDQthing to do with RX,
RXUPHVVDJHYou don’t want to be Queen of the Elves? Fair
enough. Y ou don’t have to. Give the Staf f to me.”
There was a long, emptVLOHQFHDVWKH stared at each other .
“The Elessedil blood flows through mERG as well,” he
pointed out heatedly. “These are mSHRSOHDQG$UERUORQLs
mFLWy. I can do what is needed. I have a better grasp of

SuddenlWren understood what was happening. Gavilan had
expected to be given the Ruhk Staf f; he had expected Ellenroh
to name him as her successor. If Wren had not appeared, it
coming to Arborlon had changed everWKLQJIRU*DYLODQ6Ke
felt a momentarSDQJRIGLVPDy , but it gave waDOPRVt
Ellenroh had quarreled about the Loden. Gavilan favored use
of the magic to change things back to how theKDGRQFHEHHQ,
to set things right again. Ellenroh believed it was time to give
the magic up, to return to the Westland and live as the Elves
had once lived. That conflict surelPXVWKDYHLQIOXHQFHd
Ellenroh’s decision to give the Staf f to Wren.
Gavilan seemed to sense her uncertainty . “Think about it,
Wren. If the queen dies, her burden need not be RXUV,Iou
had not returned, it never would have been.” He folded his
arms defensively . “In anFDVHLWLVXSWRou. If RXZLVKLWI
will help. I told RXWKDWZKHQZHILUVWPHWDQGWKHRf fer still
stands. Whatever I can do.”
She didn’t know what to say . “Thank RX*DYLODQVKe
about what he had suggested. As much as she wanted to be
free of the responsibilitRIWKH6WDf f, she was not at all sure
she should give it over to him. The magic was a trust; it should
not be relinquished too quickly, not when the consequences of
its use were so enormous. Ellenroh could have given the Staf f
to Gavilan, but had chosen not to. Wren was not prepared to
question the queen’s judgment without thinking the matter
But she cared for Gavilan; she relied on his friendship and
support. That complicated things. She understood his
disappointment, and she knew that he was right when he said
that the Elves were his people and Arborlon his citDQGWKDt
she was an outsider. She believed that Gavilan wanted what
was best as much as she did.
A harsh, desperate determination took root inside her . None of
this matters, because Grandmother will recover, because she

must recover , she will not die, she will not! The words were a
ragged and angry, and her hands were shaking.
She shook her head and fought back her tears.
with grief, she stared down at the ravaged face. Please, get
well. You must get well
Weariness stole over her like a thief and left her drained.

TheUHPDLQHGFDPSHGDWWKHFOLf f wall all that day, letting
Ellenroh sleep, hoping that her strength would return. While
Wren and Eowen took turns caring for the queen, the men kept
watch. T ime slipped away , and Wren watched it escape with a
quickness that was frightening. TheKDGEHHQJRQHIURm
Arborlon for three daVQRw , but it seemed like weeks. All
about them, the world of Morrowindl was graDQGKD]y , a
bleak landscape of shadows and half-light. Beneath, the earth
rumbled with Killeshan’s discontent. How much time
remained to them? How much before the volcano exploded
and the island broke apart? How much before the demons
found them? How much before T iger TDQG6SLULWGHFLGHd
that there was no point in searching anORQJHr , that theZHUe
She bathed Ellenroh’s face and whispered and sang to her ,
trLQJWRGLVSHOWKHIHYHr, searching for some small sign that
her grandmother was mending and the sickness would pass.
she was close to the seer she spoke little. Her mind was
restless, however, and filled with misgivings to which she
could not give voice. The Ruhk Staf f was a constant reminder
of how much was at stake. Thoughts of the Elves plagued her;
she could see their faces, hear their voices, and imagine what
powerless. It terrified her to be so inextricablWLHGWRWKHP.
She could not shake the feeling that she was all theKDGWKDt
thePXVWUHO on her alone and no one else in the company

mattered. Their lives were her charge, and while she might
wish it otherwise, the fact of it could not be easilFKDQJHG.
Night fell, and Ellenroh’s condition grew worse.
Wren sat alone at one point and cried without being able to
stop, hollow with losses that suddenlVHHPHGWRSUHVVDERXt
of it mattered—that the absence of parents and family , of a
consequence. Coming to Morrowindl and finding Arborlon
and the Elves had changed that forever . What had once seemed
of so little importance had inexplicablEHFRPHHYHUthing.
Even if she survived, she would never be the same. The
realization of what had been done to her left her stunned. She
had never felt more alone.
She slept then for a time, too exhausted to staDZDNHORQJHr ,
her emotions gone distant and numb, and woke again with
Garth’s hand on her shoulder . She rose instantly, frightened by
what he might have come to tell her , but he quicklVKRRNKLs
From no more than six feet away, a bulky, spiked form stood
staring at her with eHVWKDWJOHDPHGOLNHDFDW’ s. Faun was
dancing about in front of it, chittering wildly.
Wren stared. “Stresa?” she whispered in disbelief. She
scrambled up hurriedly , throwing her blanket aside, her voice
shaking. “Stresa, is that reallou?”
“Come back from the dead, rwwlll W ren of the Elves,” the
other growled softly.
Wren would have thrown her arms about the Splinterscat if she
could have managed to find a way , but settled instead for a
quick gasp of relief and laughter. “You’re alive! I can’ t believe
it!” She clapped her hands and hugged herself. “Oh, I am so
glad to see RX,ZDVFHUWDLQou were gone! What happened
to RX"+RZGLGou escape?”
The Splinterscat moved forward several paces and seated
himself, ignoring Faun, who continued to dart about excitedly .
“The—ssppht—serpent barelPLVVHGPHZKHQLWGHVWURed

the raft. I was dragged beneath the surface and towed bWKe
It took me several hours to find another crossing. BWKHQou
had gone into Eden’ s Murk.”
Faun skittered too close, and the spines rose threateningly .
“Foolish Squeak. Hsssttt!”
“How did RXILQGXV"Wren pressed. Garth was seated next
to her now, and she signed her words as she spoke.
“Ha! Ssspptt! Not easily , I can tell RX,WUDFNHGou, of
course—hsssstt—but RXKDYHZDQGHUHGLQHYHU direction
since RXHQWHUHG/RVWour way , I gather. I wonder that Ru
managed to find the clif fs at all.”
She took a deep breath. “I used the magic.”
The Splinterscat hissed softly .
“I had to. The queen is verVLFN”
“Sssttt. And so the Ruhk Staff is RXUVQRZ"”
She shook her head hurriedly. “Just until Ellenroh is better .
Just until then.”
Stress said nothing, HOORZHes agleam.
He DZQHGGLVLQWHUHVWHGOy. “Phhfft. Enough talk for tonight.
Time to get some rrwwoll rest.”
He made a leisurelWXUQDQGDPEOHGRf f to find a place to
sleep, looking for all the world as if nothing unusual had
happened, as if tonight were just like anRWKHUQLJKWW ren
stared after him for a moment, then exchanged a long look
with Garth. The big Rover shook his head and moved away .
Wren pulled the blanket back around her shoulders and
cradled Faun in her arms. After a moment, she realized that
she was smiling.


E llenroh Elessedil died at dawn. Wren was with her when she
woke for the last time. The darkness was just beginning to
lighten, a pale violet tinge within the mist, and the queen’ s
eHVRSHQHG6KHVWDUHGXSDWWren, her gaze calm and steady,
seeing something beRQGKHUJUDQGGDXJKWHr ’s anxious face.
W ren took her hand at once, holding it with fierce
determination, and for just an instant there appeared the
faintest of smiles. Then she breathed once, closed her eHV,
and was gone.
Wren found it odd when she could not cry . It seemed as if she
had no tears left, as if theKDGEHHQXVHGXSLQEHLQJDIUDLd
that the impossible might happen, and now that it had she had
nothing left to give. Drained of emotion, she was HWOHIt
she had no one she wanted to turn to and nowhere else to flee
she took refuge within the armor of responsibilitKHr
grandmother had given her for the fate of the Elves.
It was well that she did. It appeared no one else knew what to
do. Eowen was inconsolable, a crumpled, frail figure as she
huddled next to the woman who had been her closest friend.
Red hair fallen down about her face and shoulders, body
shaking, she could not manage even to speak. T riss and Dal
stood bKHOSOHVVOy, stunned. Even Gavilan could not seem to
summon the strength to take char ge as he might have before,
his handsome face stricken as he stared down at the queen’ s
body. Too much had happened to destroWKHLUFRQILGHQFHLn
themselves, to shatter anEHOLHIWKDWWKH could carrRXWWKHLr
char ge to save the Elven people. Aurin Striate and the queen
were both gone—the two theFRXOGOHDVWDf ford to lose.
Trapped within the bottomland of Eden’ s Murk on the wrong

premonition of disaster that was in danger of becoming self-
But Wren found within herself that morning a strength she had
not believed she possessed. Something of who and what she
had once been, of the Rover girl she had been raised, of the
Elessedil and Shannara blood to which she had been born,
caught fire within her and willed that she should not despair .
She rose from the queen and stood facing them, the Ruhk Staf f
gripped in both hands, placed in front of her like a standard, a
reminder of what bound them.
“She’s gone,” W ren said quietly , drawing their eHVPHHWLQg
them with her own. “W e must leave her now. We must go on
because that is what we have sworn we would do and that is
what she would want. W e have been asked to do something
that grows increasinglGLf ficult, something we all wish we
had not been asked to do, but there is no point in questioning
our commitment now. We are pledged to it. I don’ t presume to
think I can be the woman mJUDQGPRWKHUZDVEXW,VKDOOWUy
mEHVW7KLV6WDff belongs in another world, and we are going
to do everWKLQJZHFDQWRFDUU it there.”
She stepped awaIURPWKHTXHHQ,RQO knew my
grandmother a short time, but I loved her the wa,ZRXOd
her. She was all I had of family . She was the best she could be
for all of us. She deserves to live on through us. I do not intend
to fail her. Will RXKHOSPH"”
“Lady , RXQHHGQRWDVNWKDWT riss answered at once. “She
has given the Ruhk Staff to RXDQGZKLOHou live the Home
Guard are sworn to protect and obeou.”
Wren nodded. “Thank RXT riss. And RX*DYLODQ"”
The blue eHVORZHUHGYou command, Wren.”
She glanced at Eowen, who simplQRGGHGVWLOOORVWZLWKLn
her grief.
“CarrWKHTXHHQEDFNLQWRWKH(GHQ’ s Murk,” Wren directed
Triss and Dal. “Find a sinkhole and give her back to the island

so that she can rest.” The words fought their waFOHDr, harsh
and biting. “Take her.”
stretch of mire a hundred feet in, and eased her down. She
disappeared swiftly , gone forever.
leaning on Wren’s arm for support. The men were voiceless
wraiths turned silver and graE the shadows and mist.
once again. “This is what I think. We have lost a third of our
number and have barelJRWWHQFOHDURI.LOOHVKDQ’ s slopes.
Time slips away . If we don’t move quickly , we won’t get off
wilderness survival, but we are almost as lost as the rest of Ru
here on Morrowindl. There is onlRQHRIXVUHPDLQLQJZKo
stands a chance of finding the way .”
She turned to look at Stresa. The Splinterscat blinked.
“You brought us safelLQVKHVDLGTXLHWOy . “Can RXWDNHXs
out again?”
Stress stared at her for a long moment, his gaze curious.
“Hrrwlll, Wren of the Elves, bearer of the Ruhk Staf f, I will
larger world, and I hold RXWRour promise. Y es, I will guide
“Do RXNQRZWKHZDy, Scat,” Gavilan asked warily , “or do
Wren gave him a sharp glance, but Stresa simplVDLG6WWWVVW.
Come along and find out, whGRQ’ t RX"7KHQKHWXUQHGWo
Wren. “This is not countrWKURXJKZKLFK,KDYHWUDYHOHd
often. Here the Blackledge is impassable. Hssstt. W e will need
to—rrwwlll—travel south for a distance to find a pass through
which to climb. Come.”
determinedly, and set out. TheZDONHGWKURXJKWKHPRUQLQg
gloom, into the heat and the vog, following the line of the

cliffs along the boundarRI(GHQ’ s Murk. At noon they
stopped to rest and eat, a gathering of hard-faced, silent men
and women, their furtive, uneasHes scanning the mire
ceaselessly. The earth was silent today , the volcano
sound of things at hunt, distant cries and howls, the splashing
of water, the grunting of bodies locked in combat. The sounds
followed after them as theWUXGJHGRQDQRPLQRXVZDUQLQg
that a net was being gathered in about them.
BPLGDIWHUQRRQWKH had found the pass that Stresa favored,
a steep, winding trail that disappeared into the rocks like a
serpent’s tongue into its maw . TheEHJDQWKHLUDVFHQWTXLFNOy ,
anxious to put distance between themselves and the sounds
trailing after, hopeful that the summit could be reached before
It was not. Darkness caught them somewhere in midclimb, and
Stresa settled them quicklRQDQDUURZOHGJHSDUWLDOO in the
shelter of an overhang, a perch that would have looked out
over a broad expanse of Eden’ s Murk had it not been for the
vog, which covered everWKLQJLQDVHHPLQJO endless shroud
of dingJUDy.
Dinner was consumed quicklDQGZLWKRXWLQWHUHVWDZDWFh
was set, and the remainder of the companSUHSDUHGWRVHWWOe
in for the night. The combination of darkness and mist was so
complete that nothing was visible beRQGDIHZIHHWJLYLQg
the unpleasant impression that the entire island had somehow
Sounds rose out of the haze, guttural and menacing, a
listened to it in silence, feeling it track them, feeling it tighten
Wren tried to think of other things, wrapping her blanket close,
chilled in spite of the heat given of f bWKHVZDPS%XWKHr
thoughts were disjointed, scattered bDJURZLQJVHQVHRf

wrenched from its certain track and settled on an emptSODLQ,
there to be blown where it would like a leaf in the wind. She
had been given trusts bWKHVKDGHRI$OODQRQDQGE her
grandmother, and she knew not enough of either to understand
she had accepted Cogline’ s challenge to go to the Hadeshorn
in the first place, all those weeks ago. BJRLQJVKHKDd
believed, she might learn something of herself; she might
discover the truth. How strange that belief seemed now . Who
she was and what she was supposed to do seemed to change as
rapidlDVGD into night. The truth was an elusive bit of cloth
that would not be contained, that refused to be revealed. It
shimmer of color and light. Still, she was determined that she
would follow the threads left hanging in its wake, thin
remnants of brightness that would one daOHDGWRWKHWDSHVWUy
Find the Elves and bring them back into the world of Men.
She would try.
Again, she would try .
She dozed for a time, her back against the clif f wall, legs
drawn up to her chest and arms wrapped guardedlDERXWWKe
polished length of the Ruhk Staff. Faun was asleep at her feet
in the blanket’s folds. Stresa was a featureless ball curled up
within the shadows of a rockQLFKH6KHZDVDZDUHRf
movement about her as the watch changed; she even
considered asking to take a turn, but let the thought pass. She
had slept little in two nights and needed to regain her strength.
There was time enough to take the watch another night. She
rested her cheek against her knees and lost herself in the
darkness behind her eHV.
Later that night, she was never sure when, she was mused by
the rough scrape of a boot on rock as someone approached.
She lifted her head slightly , peering out from the shelter of the
blanket. The night was black and thick with vog, the haze

creeping down the mountainside and settling onto the ledge
like a snake at hunt. A figure appeared out of the gloom,
crouched low, movements quick and furtive.
“Wren,” the figure said quietly , calling her name.
It was Eowen. Wren lifted her head in recognition and
watched the other creep forward and settle down before her .
Eowen was wrapped in her hooded cloak, her red hair wild
and tossed, her face flushed, and her eHVZLGHDQGVWDULQJDs
if she had just witnessed something terrifLQJ+HUPRXWh
tightened as she started to speak, and then she began to cry.
Wren reached out to her and pulled her close, surprised at the
other ’s vulnerability , a softening of strength that until the
queen’s death had never once been in evidence.
Eowen stif fened, brushed at her eHVDQGEUHDWKHGGHHSO of
the night air in an ef fort to compose herself. “I cannot seem to
stop,” she whispered. “EverWLPH,WKLQNRIKHr , everWLPHI
remember, I start to grieve anew .”
“She loved RXYHU much,” W ren told her, trLQJWROHQd
some comfort, remembering her own love as she did so.
The seer nodded, lowered her eHVPRPHQWDULOy , and then
looked up again. “I have come to tell RXWKHWUXWKDERXWWKe
Elves, Wren.”
cold, fathomless pit open within.
Eowen glanced back at the mistQLJKWDWWKHQRWKLQJQHVVWKDt
surrounded them, and sighed. “I had a vision once, long ago
vibrant, all aglow against a pale background that looked like
dusk in winter . I was her shadow , attached to her, bound to her.
Whatever she did, I did as well—moved as she did, spoke
when she spoke, felt her happiness and her pain. W e were
joined as one. But then she began to fade, to disappear , her
color to wash, her lines to blur. She disappeared—HWI
remained, a shadow still, alone now , in search of a bodWo
which I might attach mVHOI7KHQou appeared—I didn’ t

know RXWKHQEXW,NQHZZKRou were, AlleQH’s daughter,
Ellenroh’s grandchild. Y ou faced me, and I approached. As I
did, the air about me went dark and forbidding. A mist fell
across mHes, and I could see onlUHGDEULOOLDQWVFDUOHt
haze. I was cold to the bone, and there was no life left within
She shook her head slowly . “The vision ended then, but I took
its meaning. The queen would die, and when she did I would
die as well. You would be there to witness it—perhaps to
partake in it.”
“Eowen.” Wren breathed the seer ’s name softly , appalled.
The seer turned back quicklDQGWKHJUHHQHes clouded. “I
am not frightened, W ren. A seer’s visions are both gift and
fear nor denZKDW,DPVKRZQRQO to accept. I accept now
without telling RXWKHWUXWKWKDWou are so desperate to
know .”
She hugged the cloak to her shoulders. “The queen could not
do so, RXNQRw . She could not bring herself to speak. She
wanted to. Perhaps in time she would have. But it was the
horror of her life that the magic of the Elves had done so much
harm and caused so much hurt. I was loDOWR(OOHQURKLQOLIH,
but I am released now bKHUGHDWKLQWKLVDWOHDVWY ou must
know, Wren. Y ou must know and judge as RXZLOOIRUou
are indeed RXUPRWKHr ’s daughter and meant to be Queen of
the Elves. The Elessedil blood marks RXSODLQOy , and while
it is. I have seen it in mYLVLRQVYou are the hope of all of the
Elves, now and in the future. You have come to save them, if
theDUHIDWHGWREHVDYHG6HHLQJWKDWou accept the trust of
the Ruhk Staff and the Loden, knowing that the Elfstones will
telling of that which has been hidden from RXWKHVHFUHWRf
the rebirth of the Elven magic and of the poisoning of
Wren shook her head quickly . “Eowen, I have not HWGHFLGHd
about the trust . . .” she began.

“Decisions are made for us for the most part, Wren Elessedil.”
Eowen cut her short. “I understand that better than RXI
understood it better than the queen, I think. She was a good
person, Wren. She did the best she could, and RXPXVWQRt
blame her in anZD for what I will tell RXY ou must reflect
trapped from the beginning and all of the decisions it might
seem she made of her own will were in fact made for her . If
she kept the truth secret from RXLWZDVEHFDXVHVKHORYHd
were all she had left.”
The pale face reflected like a ghost’s in the haze, the voice
gone back again to a whisper.
“Yes, Eowen,” W ren replied softly . “And she was all I had.”
The seer’s slender hands reached out to take her own, the skin
as cold as ice. W ren shivered in spite of herself. “Then heed
what I say, daughter of AlleQH(OINLQGIRXQG+HHd
the Elves first came to Morrowindl, the island was innocent
and unspoiled. It was a paradise beRQGDQthing theFRXOd
have imagined, all clean and new and safe. The Elves
beginning to spoil, sickening where the Shadowen had crawled
to birth and feed, buckling under the weight of Federation
oppression and the advance of armies that knew onlWRREHy
and never to question. It was an old story , Wren, and the Elves
had endured it for countless generations. TheZDQWHGQRPRUe
“So theEHJDQWRVFKHPHRIKRZWKH might keep their
newfound world and themselves protected. The Federation
boundaries of the Four Lands. The Shadowen surelZRXOG.
OnlPDJLFFRXOGSURWHFWWKHPWKH felt, and the magic they
relied upon now came not out of Druid lore or new world
teachings but out of the rediscovered power of their
beginnings. Such magic was vast and wild, still in its infancy
for this generation, and theIRr got the lessons of the Druids,

of the Warlock Lord and his Skull Bearers, and of all those
who had fallen victim before. TheZRXOGQRWVXFFXPEWKHy
must have told themselves. TheZRXOGEHVPDUWHr , more
careful, and more deft in their use.”
She took another deep breath, and her hands released W ren’s
to brush back the tangle of her hair . “Some among them had
. . . experience in making things with the magic. Living
creatures, Wren—new species that could serve their needs.
TheKDGIRXQGDZD to extract the essence of nature’ s
creatures and with use of the magic could nurture it so that as
it grew it became a variation of the thing on which it had been
onlELJJHr, stronger, quicker, smarter. But that was onlWKe
beginning. TheTXLFNO progressed to combining life forms,
creating animals that evidenced the most desirable traits of
both. That was how the Splinterscats came to be—and dozens
magic’s new use, beasts that could think and speak as well as
humans, beasts that could forage and hunt and stand guard
against anHQHP while the Elves remained safe.
“It was all right in the beginning, it seemed. The creatures
flourished and served as theZHUHLQWHQGHGWRGRDQGDOOZDs
well. But as time passed, some among the wielders began to
advance new ideas for use of the magic. TheKDGEHHn
successful once, the ar gument went. WhQRWDJDLQ",f
animals could be formed of the magic, whQRWVRPHWKLQg
even more advanced? WhQRWGXSOLFDWHWKHPVHOYHV":K not
event of an attack while theUHPDLQHGVDIHEHKLQGWKHZDOOVRf
Eowen shook her head slowly , delicate features twisting at
some inner horror. “ThePDGHWKHGHPRQVWKHQRUWKe
things that would become the demons. TheWRRNSDUWVRf
themselves, flesh and blood to begin with, but then memories
and emotions and all the invisible pieces of their spirits, and
then—were made to be soldiers and hunters and guardians of

sent them forth to establish watch on the coasts of the island.
TheZHUHVHOIVXfficient; there was no need to feel concern
for them.”
Her voice dropped to a whisper . “For a time, theZHUHDOPRVt
forgotten, I am told—as if theZHUHRIQRIXUWKHr
Again she reached for W ren’s hands, clasping them tight.
“Then the changes began. Little bOLWWOHWKHQHZ(OYHVVWDUWHd
to alter , their appearance and personalitWRFKDQJH,t
happened awaIURPWKHFLW and out of the sight and mind of
the people, and so there was no one to stop it or to warn
against it. Some of the first creatures created bWKHPDJLFOLNe
the Splinterscats, came to the Elves and told what was
happening, but theZHUHLJQRUHG7KH were just animals
after all, despite their abilities, and their cautions were
from their posts, to disappear into the jungles, to hunt and kill
everWKLQJWKH came across. The Splinterscats and the others
were the first victims. The Elves of Arborlon were next.
Efforts were made to put an end to these monsters, but the
efforts were scattered and misdirected, and the Elves still did
not accept that the trouble laQRWZLWKMXVWDIHZEXWZLWKDOl
of their creations. BWKHWLPHWKH realized how badlWKHy
had misjudged the magic’ s effect, the situation was out of
Keel with the magic of the Loden to provide a shield behind
which the Elves could hide, and in truth theVHHPHGVDIe
enough. But Ellenroh wasn’ t so sure. Determined to put an end
to the demons, she took her Elven Hunters into the jungles to
search them out. But the magic had worked too well in its
specific intent, and the demons were too strong. T ime and
terrible, endless struggle for supremacRIWKHLVODQGWKDt
ravaged Morrowindl and made living on her soil a nightmare

The hands tightened, hard and unLHOGLQJ)LQDOOy, all other
choices stripped from Ellenroh bWKHPDJLF’s intractability
and the demons’ savagery, she called the last of the Elves into
contact with the outside world.”
“But whFRXOGQ’ t the same magic that made these creatures
be used to eliminate them?” W ren demanded.
“Oh, Wren, it was far too late for that.” Eowen rocked as if
comforting a child. “The magic was gone!” Her eHVKDGa
distant, ravaged look. “All magic has a source. It is no
different with Elven magic. Most of it comes from the earth, a
weaving together of the life that resides there. The island was
the source of the magic used to create the demons and the
others before them—its earth, air , and water, the elements of
its life. But magic is precious and not without its limits. T ime
replenishes what is used, but slowly. What the Elves did not
realize was that the demons, as theFKDQJHGEHJDQWRKDYe
need of the magic themselves. Created from it, theQRw
sVWHPDWLFDOO siphon it from the earth and the things that lived
upon it, killing whatever theIHGXSRQ7KH devoured it
faster than it could regenerate. The island began to change, to
wither, to sicken and die. It was as if it could no longer protect
itself from the creatures that ravaged it, demon and Elf alike.
remained to make a dif ference. The demons had grown too
numerous to be destroHG(YHUthing beRQGWKHFLW was
abandoned to them. Morrowindl survived, if barely , but it had
been subverted, changed so that it was either wasteland or
carnivorous jungle, so that almost everWKLQJWKDWOLYHGXSRQLt
killed as swiftlDQGVXUHO as the demons. Nature was no
longer in balance. Killeshan came awake and boiled within its
cauldron. And finallWKHLVODQG’s magic began to drXp
altogether, and that compelled the demons to laVLHJHWo
Arborlon. The scent of the Keel’ s magic was irresistible. It
drew them as a magnet would iron, and theEHFDPe
determined to feed on it.”
Wren paled. “And now theZLOOFRPHIRUXVDVZHOOZRQ’ t
the"We have the Keel’ s magic, all of the magic of Arborlon

and the Elves, stored within the Loden, and theZLOOVHHNLt
“Yes, W ren. ThePXVW(RZHQ’ s voice was a hiss. “But that
is not the worst of what I have to tell RX7KHUHLVPRUH.
Listen to me. It is bad enough that the Elves made the
monsters that would destroWKHPWKDWWKH subverted
Morrowindl beRQGDQ possible salvation, that perhaps they
awaWKHLVODQG’s magic, or of her own failure to set things
right again. But what devastated her was knowing whWKe
Elves had come to Morrowindl in the first place. Y es, it was to
escape the Federation and the Shadowen and all that they
represented, to isolate themselves from the madness, to begin
again in a new world. But, Wren, it was the Elves who ruined
the old!”
Wren stared, disbelieving. “The Elves? How could that be?
What are RXVDing, Eowen?”
The hands released her own and clasped together with white-
knuckled determination, as if nothing less could persuade the
red-haired seer to continue. “After the demons had claimed
was lost and the Elven people had been made prisoners of their
own folly , the queen had ferreted out and brought before her
those who still sought to plaZLWKWKHSRZHr , foolish men and
women who could not seem to learn from their mistakes, who
persisted in thinking the magic could be mastered. Among
them were those who had created the demons. She had them
thrown from the walls of the city. She did so not because of
waWKDWKDGEHHQHPSORed almost three hundred HDUs
disappearance of the Druids from the Four Lands.”
She took a deep breath. “Not all of those who sought to
those who were Elves came out of the Four Lands. A handful
of the magic-wielders remained behind, disowned bWKHLr

until it was almost inaudible. “That handful, Wren, created
monsters of another sort.”
There was a long, terrible silence as the seer and the Rover girl
faced each other in the gloom. The cold in Wren’s stomach
began to snake into her limbs. “Shades!” she whispered in
horror , realizing the truth now , a truth that had been hidden all
this time from those summoned to the Hadeshorn bWKHVKDGe
of Allanon. “You’re saLQJWKDWWKH(OYHVPDGHWKe
“No, Wren.” Eowen’ s voice choked as she struggled to finish.
“The Elves didn’ t make the Shadowen. The Elves are the
W ren’ s breath caught in her throat, a knot that threatened to
strangle her . She remembered the Shadowen at the W ing
Hove, the one that had stalked her for so long, the one that in
the end would have killed her if not for the Elfstones. She tried
to picture it as an Elf and failed.
again. “MSHRSOH(OOHQURK’ s. Your own. Just a few , Ru
understand, but Elves still. There are others now , I expect, but
in the beginning it was onl(OYHV7KH sought to be
something better, I think, something more. But it all went
wrong, and theEHFDPHZKDWWKH are. Even then, they
refused to change, to seek help. Ellenroh knew . All of the
Elves knew, once upon a time at least. It was whWKH left,
whWKH abandoned their homeland and fled. TheZHUe
terrified of what their brethren had done. TheZHUHDSSDOOHd
that the magic had been so misused. For it was an inaccurate
and changeable magic at best, and what theFUHDWHGZDVQRt
alwaVZKDWWKH desired.”
She smiled bitterly . “Do RXVHHQRZZK the queen could not
reveal to RXWKHWUXWKRIWKLQJV"'Rou understand the
burden she carried? She was an Elessedil, and her forefathers
had allowed this to happen! She had aided in the misuse of the
magic herself, albeit because it was all she could do if she
wished to save her people. She couldn’ t tell RX,FDQEDUHOy

mistake . . .”
“Eowen!” Wren seized the other ’s hands and would not let go.
“Y ou were right to tell me. Grandmother should have done so
in the beginning. It is a terrible, awful thing, but . . .”
She trailed of f helplessly, and her eHVORFNHGRQWKHVHHr ’s.
T rust no one, the Addershag had warned. Now she understood
why . The secrets of three hundred HDUVOD scattered at her
feet, and onlGHDWK’ s presence had given them away .
Eowen started up, freeing her hands. “I have given RXHQRXJh
of truth this night,” she whispered. “I wish it could have been
“No, Eowen . . .”
“Be kind, Wren Elessedil. For give the queen. And me. And the
Let the Elves begin anew . Let them help set matters right
She turned, ignoring Wren’s hushed plea to stay , and
disappeared from view .

Wren sat awake after that until dawn, watching the mist swirl
against the void, staring out into the impenetrable night. She
listened to the movements of those on watch, to the breathing
of those who slept, to the emptZKLVSHURIKHUWKRXJKWVDs
The Shadowen are Elves.
The words repeated themselves, a whispered warning. She was
others. But she had to get of f Morrowindl first. She had to
The night seemed to close about her . She had wanted the truth.
Now she had it. It was a bitter, wrenching triumph, and the
cost of attaining it had HWWREHIXOO measured.
Oh, Grandmother!

Her hands gripped the Ruhk Staff, and frustration, anger, and
sadness rushed through her . She had found her birthright,
discovered her identity, learned the historRIKHUOLIHDQGQRw
she wished that it would all disappear forever . It was vile and
tainted and marked with betraDODQGPDGQHVVDWHYHU turn.
She hated it.
And then, when the darkness of her mood had reached a point
where it appeared complete, where it seemed that nothing
worse could happen, a thought that was blacker still whispered
to her.
The Shadowen ar e Elves—and RXFDUU the entir e Elven
nation back into the Four Lands.
The question hung like an accusation in the silence of her


W ren was still struggling with the ambiguitRIZKDWKHr
grandmother had given her to do when the rest of the company
awoke at sunrise.
On the one hand, thousands of lives depended on her carrLQg
the Loden and the Ruhk Staff safelIURPWKHLVODQGRf
Morrowindl back into the Westland. The whole of the Elven
nation, all save the Wing Riders who resided on the coastal
Morrowindl, had been gathered up bWKHPDJLFDQGHQFORVHG,
there to remain until W ren—or, she supposed, another of the
company , should she die as Ellenroh had—set them free. If she
failed to do so, the Elves would perish, the oldest Race of all,
the last of the faerie people, an entire historIURPWKHWLPHRf
the world’ s creation gone.
On the other hand, perhaps it was best.
She shivered everWLPHVKHUHSHDWHG(RZHQ’ s words: The
Elves are the Shadowen. The Elves, with their magic, and with
their insistence on recovering their past, had turned themselves
into monsters. TheKDGFUHDWHGWKHGHPRQV7KH had
devastated Morrowindl and initiated the destruction of the
Four Lands. PracticallHYHU danger that threatened could be
traced to them. It might be better, given that truth, if they
ceased to exist altogether.
She did not think she was overstating her concerns. Once the
Elves were restored to the W estland, there was nothing to
prevent them from beginning anew with the magic, from
trLQJWRUHFDOOLWet again so that it could be used in some
newlWHUULEOHDQGGHVWUXFWLYHZDy . There was nothing that
said that Ellenroh had disposed of all those who sought to play
with its power, that some one or two had not survived. It

once again, to create new forms of monsters, new horrors that
Wren did not care to envision. Hadn’ t the Elves alreadSURYHd
Like the Druids, she thought sadly, victims of a misguided
need to know, of an injudicious self-confidence, of a foolish
nature was dependablXQUHOLDEOH.
brought into the new world out of the devastation of the old by
have had some small inkling of the dangers theZRXOd
ill-conceived image. SurelWKH must have realized something
was wrong. Y et time’s passage had rendered the Elves as
human as the other Races, changed them from faerie creatures
to mortals, and altered their perceptions and their knowledge.
The Elves. She was one of them, of course, and worse, an
Elessedil. However she might wish it otherwise, she was
consumed with guilt for what their misjudgments had wrought
and with remorse for what their follKDGFRVW$ODQGa
nation, countless lives, a world’ s sanitDQGSHDFHWKH had
set in motion the events that would destroLWDOO+HUSHRSOH.
She might argue that she was a Rover girl, that she shared
but the argument seemed hollow and feckless. Responsibility
did not begin and end with personal needs—Garth had taught
her that much. She was a part of everWKLQJDERXWKHr , and not
whether she accepted that truth. She could not back awaIURm
the unpleasantnesses of the world; she could not forget its
pain. Once upon a time, the Elves had been foremost among
Healers, their given purpose to keep the land whole and instill
in others the wisdom of doing so. What had happened to that
commitment? How had the Elves become so misdirected?

She ate without tasting her food and she spoke little, consumed
Garth and the other men moved past them unseeing, focused
on the trek before them. Stresa was alreadJRQHVFRXWLQg
ahead to make certain of his path. Faun was a ball of fur in her
What am I to do? she asked herself in despair. What choice am
I to make?
The climb up the Blackledge resumed, and still she could not
settle on an answer. The daZDVGDUNDQGKD] like all the
ones before, the sun screened awaE the vog, the air thick
with heat and ash and the faint stench of sulfur . Swamp sounds
rose behind them out of Eden’s Murk, a jumbled collection of
screams and cries, fragmented and distant for the most part,
scattered in the mist. Below, things hunted and foraged and
struggled to staDOLYHIRUDQRWKHUGDy . Above, there was only
silence, as if nothing more than clouds awaited. The trail was
steep and winding, and it cut back upon itself frequently , a
showers swept across them, quick and furious, the rain
dampening the earth and rock to slickness and then fading
back into the heat.
Time passed, and W ren’s thoughts drifted. She found herself
missing things she had never even considered before. She was
RXQJVWLOOEDUHO a woman, and she was struck bWKe
and that she would alwaVEHDORQH6KHIRXQGKHUVHOf
envisioning faces and voices and small scenes out of an
imagined life where these things were present, and without
reason and to no particular purpose she mourned their loss. It
these feelings, she decided finally . It was the trust she carried,
the responsibilities she bore that induced this sense of solitude,
of aloneness. There was nothing for her beRQGIOHHLQg
discovered. Nothing of her life seemed simple anPRUHDQd
were as remote as the home she had left behind.

She made herself consider the possibilitWKHQDWHQWDWLYe
purpose for all that had come about, that what she might really
have been given to do—b$OODQRQ’s shade, b(OOHQURKDQd
mother and wife, to accept them as her family , to shepherd
them, to guide and protect them, and to oversee their lives for
the duration of her own. Her mind was light and her sense of
things turned liquid, for she had barelVOHSWDWDOOQRZLQWKUHe
daVDQGKHUSKsical and emotional strength had been
exhausted. She was not herself, she might argue, and HWLn
truth she had perhaps found herself. There was purpose in
had been returned to her people, given responsibilitRYHr
discovered the magic of the Elfstones and assumed control of
their power. She had been told what no one else knew—the
truth of the origin of the Shadowen. Wh"6KHJDYHDPHQWDl
shrug. WhQRWLIQRWWRPDNHVRPHGLf ference? Not so much
where the Shadowen were concerned, although there could be
no complete separation of problems and solutions, as Allanon
had indicated in making his charges to the children of
Shannara. Not so much in the future of the Races, for that was
too broad an undertaking for one person and must inevitably
But for the Elves, for their future as a people, for the righting
in this she might find the purpose of her life.
It was a sobering thought, and she mulled it through as the
ascent of Blackledge wore on, lost within herself as she
considered what an undertaking of such magnitude would
require. She was strong enough, she felt; there was little she
could not accomplish if she chose. She had resolve and a sense
of right and wrong that had served her well. She was
conscious of the fact that she owed a debt—to her mother , who
chance to grow up safelWRKHUJUDQGPRWKHr, who had
entrusted her with the future of a citDQGLWVSHRSOHWRWKRVe

and to those who were prepared to do so, who trusted and
believed in her.
But even that was not enough bLWVHOIWRSHUVXDGHKHr . There
must be something more, she knew—something that
transcended expectations and conscience, something more
fundamental still. It was the existence of need. She already
knew, deep within herself, that genocide was abhorrent and
that she must find some other solution to the dilemma of the
future of the Elves and their magic. But if theOLYHGLIVKe
was successful in restoring them to the W estland, what would
become of them then if she was to walk awa":KRZRXOd
lead them in the fight that laDKHDG":KRZRXOGJXLGHDQd
counsel them? Could she leave the matter to chance, or even to
the dictates of the High Council? The need of the Elven people
was great, and she did not think she could ignore it even if it
meant changing her own life entirely.
Even so, she remained uncertain. She was torn bWKHFRQIOLFt
within herself, a war between choices that refused to be
none of the choices might be hers to make, for while
leadership had been bestowed upon her b(OOHQURKXOWLPDWHOy
it was the Elves who would accept or reject it. And why
should theFKRRVHWRIROORZKHU"$5RYHr , an outsider, a girl
Her reasonings fell apart about her like scraps of paper
present needs. She looked about her at the rock and scrub, at
the screen of Vog, and at the dark, bent forms of those who
traveled with her . StaLQJDOLYHZDVDOOVKHFRXOGDf ford to
The trek continued until it was nearing midday , and then
Stresa brought them to an uncertain halt. Wren pushed forward
from behind Garth to discover what was happening. The
Splinterscat stood at the mouth of a cavern that burrowed
ahead into the rock. To the right, the trail theIROORZHd
continued sharplXSWKHVORSHRIWKHFOLf f face and
disappeared into a tangle of vegetation.

“See, Wren of the Elves,” the Splinterscat said softly , bright
eHVIL[LQJRQKHr. “We have a choice now . Phhfft! The trail
winds ahead to the summit, but it is slow and dif ficult from
here—sssppptt—not clear at all. The tunnel opens into a series
of lava tubes formed bWKHSSEKKWWILUHRIWKHYROFDQRears
ago. I have traveled them. They, too, lead to the summit.”
Wren knelt. “Which is RXUFKRLFH"”
“Rwwll. There are dangers both waV”
About her , the haze swirled and twisted against the island’ s
thick growth, as if seeking its own way. “We relRQou to
lead us, Stresa,” she reminded him. “Choose.”
The Splinterscat hissed his discontent. “The tunnels, then.
Phhf ftt!” The bulkERG swung about and back again. The
spikes lifted and fell. “W e need light.”
While Triss went of f in search of suitable torch wood, the
pockets for rags and tinder . Gavilan had the latter, Eowen the
former. TheSODFHGWKHPFDUHIXOO inside the tunnel entrance
and sat down to eat while waiting for T riss to return.
“Did RXVOHHS"(RZHQDVNHGVRIWOy, seating herself beside
Wren. She kept her gaze carefullDYHUWHG.
“No,” W ren answered truthfully . “I couldn’t.”
“Nor I. It was as dif ficult to speak the words as it was to hear
“I know that.”
The red hair shimmered damplDVWKHSDOHIDFHOLIWHGLQWo
view. “I have had a vision—the first since leaving Arborlon.”
Wren turned to meet the seer ’s gaze and was frightened by
what she saw there. “T ell me.”
Eowen shook her head, a barelSHUFHSWLEOHPRYHPHQW2QOy
because it is necessarWRZDUQou,” she whispered. She
leaned in so that onlW ren could hear. “In mYLVLRQou
stood alone atop a rise. It was clear that RXZHUHRn
Morrowindl. Y ou held the Ruhk Staf f and the Elfstones, but

included, were black shadows cast upon the earth. Something
—it was as if RXZHOFRPHGLW3HUKDSVou did not realize
that it threatened. There was a glint of bright silver, and Ru
hastened to embrace it.”
She paused, and her breath seemed to catch in her throat. “Y ou
must not do that, Wren. When it happens, remember .”
Wren nodded, feeling numb and emptLQVLGH,ZLOl
remember .”
“I’m sorry ,” Eowen whispered. She hesitated a moment, like a
hunted creature brought to baZLWKQRZKHUHOHIWWRIOHHWKHn
rose and swiftlPRYHGDZDy . Poor Eowen, Wren thought. She
looked after the seer a moment, thinking. Then she beckoned
to Garth. The big man came at once, eHVTXHVWLRQLQJDOUHDGy
reading her concern. She shifted so that onlKHFRXOGVHHKHr .
Eowen has had, a vision of her own death, she signed, not
bothering to speak the words this time. Garth showed nothing.
Watch out for her , will RX"TrWRNHHSKHUVDIH?
Garth’s fingers gestured. I don’t like what I see in her eHV.
Wren sighed, then nodded. Neither do I. Just do the best Ru
Triss returned a few moments later bearing two hunks of dry
wood that he had managed to salvage from somewhere on the
rain-soaked slopes. He glanced over his shoulder as he
approached. “There is movement below ,” he advised them,
passing one of the pieces to Dal. “Something is climbing
toward us.”
For the first time since theKDGHVFDSHGWKHVZDPSWKHy
experienced a sense of urgency. Until now , it had almost been
possible to for get the things that hunted them. W ren thought
instantlRIWKH/RGHQ’s magic, wondering if the demons could
indeed scent it, if the smell of the Keel’ s recovered magic was
strong enough to draw them even when it was not in use.
used the tinder to set it afire. When the brands were burning,

comfortable in darkness, his burlERG trundling smoothly
ahead into the gloom. Triss followed close behind with one
torch, while Dal trailed the companZLWKWKHRWKHr . In
between walked Wren, Gavilan, Eowen, and Garth. The air in
the lava tube was cool and stale, and water dripped of f the
ceiling. In places, a narrow stream meandered along the
gnarled floor. There were no projections, no obstructions; the
passage of the red-hot lava HDUVHDUOLHUKDGEXUQHGHYHUthing
away. Stresa had explained to her while theZDLWHGIRUT riss
how the pressure of heat and gases at the volcano’s core forced
vents in the earth, carving tunnels through the under ground
rock to reach the surface, the lava burning its waIUHH7Ke
lava burned so hot that the passagewaVIRUPHGZHUHVPRRWh
and even. These tubes would run for miles, curling like giant
worm burrows, eventuallFUHDWLQJDQRSHQLQJWKURXJh
Morrowindl’s skin that in turn would release the pressure and
allow the lava to flow unobstructed to the sea. When the
volcano cooled, the lava subsided and the tubes it had formed
remained behind. The one theIROORZHGQRZZDVSDUWRIa
series that cut through miles of Blackledge from crown to
“If I don’t get us lost, we’ll be atop the rrwwllll ridge by
nightfall,” the Splinterscat had promised.
Wren had wanted to ask him where he had learned about the
tubes, but then decided the Splinterscat’ s knowledge had
angrWRWDONDERXWLW,QDQ event, he seemed to know where
he was going, nose thrust forward, pushing out at the edge of
the torchlight as if seeking to drag them along in his wake,
never hesitating once, even when he reached diver gent
wound ahead through the cool rock, climbing steadily , hauling
themselves and their packs through the gloom, and brushing at
the drops of water that fell on their faces and hands with cold,
stinging splats. Their booted feet echoed hollowlLQWKHGHHp
stillness, and their breathing was an uneven hiss. TheOLVWHQHd

drop to a cross vent where the lava had cut through to a hollow
core within the mountain and left a DZQLQJKROHWKDWIHOl
lava had gathered and pooled for a time, forming a series of
Stresa knew what to do, which tunnel to follow, and where the
The hours slipped away, and the trek wore on. W ren let Faun
ride on her shoulder. The Tree Squeak’ s bright eHVGDUWHGOHIt
and right, and its voice was a low murmur in her ear . She quit
thinking for a time and concentrated instead on putting one
foot in front of the other, on studLQJWKHKpnoticallVZDing
mundane, purposeless musings that served to give her weary
mind and emotions a much needed rest.
It was nightfall when theILQDOO emer ged from the tunnels,
limbed ash and scrub backed up against the clif f face. Before
sloped upward to a broken, emptULGJHOLQH2YHUKHDGWKHVNy
ThePRYHGDZD from the tunnels into a stretch of acacia
near the rim of Blackledge, and there settled in for the night.
themselves in their cloaks and blankets and prepared for sleep.
It was cold atop the mountain, and the wind blew at them in
sharp gusts. Far distant, Wren could hear Killeshan’s rumble
and see the red glow of its fire shimmering through the haze.
The earth had begun to tremble again, a slow , ominous
vibration that loosened rock and earth and sent them tumbling,
that caused the trees to swaDQGOHDYHVWRZKLVSHUOLNHVWDUWOHd
Wren sat back against a half-fallen acacia whose exposed roots
maintained a tenuous grip on the mountain rock. The Ruhk
Staf f rested on her lap, momentarilIRr gotten. Faun burrowed
into her shoulder for a time as the tremors continued, then
disappeared down inside her blanket to hide. She watched the

small, solid figure of Dal slip past to take the first watch. Her
eHVZHUHKHDY as she stared out at the dark, but she found
she was not HWUHDG to sleep. She needed to think awhile
She had been sitting there for onlDIHZPRPHQWVZKHn
Gavilan appeared. He came out of the darkness rather
suddenly, and she started in spite of herself.
“Sorry,” he apologized hurriedly . “Can I sit with RXDZKLOH"”
She nodded wordlessly, and he settled himself next to her , his
own blanket wrapped looselDERXWKLVVKRXOGHUVKLVKDLr
tangled and damp. His handsome face was etched with fatigue,
but a hint of the familiar smile appeared.
“How are RXIHHOLQJ"”
“I’m all right,” she answered.
“You look verWLUHG”
She smiled.
“W ould that we had known,” he murmured.
She glanced over . “Known what?”
“EverWKLQJ$Qthing! Something that would have prepared
us better for what we’re going through.” His voice sounded
odd to her, almost frenetic. “It is almost like being cast adrift
in an ocean without a map and being told to navigate to safety
and at the same time to refrain from using the little bit of
drinking water we are fortunate enough to carrZLWKXV”
“What do RXPHDQ"”
He turned. “Think about it, W ren. We have in our possession
both the Loden and the Elfstones—magic enough to
accomplish almost anWKLQJY et we seem afraid to invoke that
magic, almost as if we were restrained from doing so. But we
aren’t, are we? I mean, what is to prevent it? Look at how
much better things became when RXXVHGWKH(OIVWRQHVWo
find a waRXWRI(GHQ’ s Murk. We should be using that magic
everVWHSRIWKHZD! If we did, we might be to the beach by

“It doesn’t work that way , Gavilan. It doesn’ t do just anWKLQg
. . .”
But he wasn’t listening. “Even worse is the waZHLJQRUHWKe
magic contained in the Loden. Y es, it is needed to preserve the
Elves and Arborlon for the journeEDFN%XWDOORILW",GRQ’ t
believe it for a moment!” He let his hand come to rest
momentarilRQWKH5XKN6WDff. His words were suddenly
Wren stared at him, unable to believe what she was hearing.
“Gavilan,” she said quietly . “I know about the demons. Eowen
told me.”
He shrugged. “It was time, I suppose. Ellenroh was the only
reason no one told RXVRRQHr .”
taking on a firmness, “how can RXSRVVLEO suggest using the
magic to make anWKLQJHOVH"”
when it was used before? Because those who used it hadn’ t the
She shook her head, voiceless.
“Wren! The magic has to be used! It has to be! That is whLt
is there in the first place! If we don’ t make use of it, someone
else will, and then what? This isn’t a game we play. You know
as much. There are things out there so dangerous that . . .”
“Things the Elves made!” she said angrily .
“Yes! A mistake, I agree! But others would have made them if
we had not!”
“You can’ t know that!”
“It doesn’ t matter. The fact remains we made them for a good
cause! W e have learned a lot! The making is in the soul of the

wielder of the power! It simplUHTXLUHVVWUHQJWKRISXUSRVe
and channeling of need! This time we can do it right!”
He broke off, waiting for her response. TheIDFHGHDFKRWKHr
in silence. Then W ren took a deep breath and reached down to
remove his hand from the Staf f. “I don’t think RXKDGEHWWHr
saDQthing more.”
His smile was bitter , ironic. “Once RXZHUHDQJU because I
hadn’t said enough.”
“Gavilan,” she whispered.
“Do RXWKLQNWKLVZLOODOOJRDZD if we don’ t talk about it,
She shook her head slowly, sadly.
He bent to her , his hands closing firmlRQKHURZQ6KHGLGQ’ t
trWRSXOODZDy, both fascinated and repelled bZKDWVKHVDw
“Listen to me, W ren,” he said, shaking his head at something
she couldn’t see. “There is a special bond between us. I felt it
the moment I first saw RXWKHQLJKWou came to Arborlon,
still wondering what it was that RXKDGEHHQVHQWWRGRI
knew. I knew it even then, but it was too earlWRVSHDNRILW.
You are AlleQH’ s daughter and RXKDYHWKH(OHVVHGLOEORRG.
You have courage and strength. Y ou have done more already
“But, Wren, none of this is RXUSUREOHP7KH(OYHVDUHQRt
RXUSHRSOHRU$UERUORQour city . I know that. I know how
foreign it must all feel. And Ellenroh never understood that
RXFRXOGQ’t ask people to accept responsibilitIRUWKLQJs
never understood that once she sent RXDZDy , she could never
look. She has given RXWKH5XKN6WDff and the Loden, the
Elves and Arborlon, the whole of the future of a nation, and
told RXWREHTXHHQ%XWou don’t reallZDQWDQ part of it,
do RX"”
“I didn’t,” she admitted. “Once.”

He missed her hesitation. “Then give it up! Be finished with it!
Let me take the Staff and the Stone and use them as they
should be used—to fight against the monsters that track us, to
“Which set of monsters?” she asked softly .
“Which set? The demons or the Elves? Which do RXPHDQ"”
He stared at her, uncomprehending, and she felt her heart
break apart inside. His eHVZHUHFOHDUDQGDQJUy , his face
intense. He seemed so convinced. “The Elves,” she whispered,
“are the ones who destroHG0RUURZLQGO”
“No,” he answered instantly, without hesitation.
He shook his head vehemently . “Old men made them in
another time. A mistake like that wouldn’ t happen again. I
wouldn’t let it. The magic can be better used, W ren. You know
that to be true. Haven’ t the Ohmsfords alwaVIRXQGDZD?
Haven’t the Druids? Let me tr,FDQVWDQGDJDLQVWWKHVe
things; I can do what is needed! Y ou don’t want the Staf f; Ru
She shook her head. “I can’ t.”
Gavilan stiffened, and his hands drew away . “WhQRWWren?
Tell me whQRW”
She couldn’ t tell him, of course. She couldn’ t find the words,
and even if she had been able to find the words, she wouldn’ t
have been able to speak them.
let the matter die, that he would give up his demand, that he
would see how wrong it was for him to ask.
“Your promise?” he snapped. “T o whom?”
“To the queen,” she insisted stubbornly .
“To the queen? Shades, W ren, what’s the worth of that? The
queen is dead!”

She hit him then, struck him hard across the face, a blow that
rocked his head back. He remained turned awaIRUDPRPHQt
and then straightened. “You can hit me again if it will make
RXIHHODQ better.”
“It makes me feel terrible,” she whispered, curling up inside,
turning to ice. “But that was a wrong thing to say , Gavilan.”
wishing that she could have him back as he was when they
were still in Arborlon, when he was charming and kind, the
friend she needed, when he had kissed her outside the High
Council, when he had cared for her.
The handsome face tightened with determination. “Y ou have
to let me use the Loden’s magic, Wren.”
She shook her head firmly . “No.”
He thrust forward aggressively , almost as if to attack her. “If
RXGRQ’t, we won’ t survive. W e can’t. You haven’ t the—”
“Don’t, Gavilan!” she interjected, her hand flLQJWRFRYHUKLs
mouth. “Don’ t saLW'RQ’t saDQthing more!”
The sudden gesture froze them both momentarily , and the
wind that blew past them in a sudden gust caused W ren to
shiver. SlowlVKHWRRNKHUKDQGDZDy . “Go to sleep,” she
urged, fighting to keep her voice from breaking. “Y ou’re
He rocked back slightly, a small motion only, one that moved
him just inches awaIURPKHUet she could feel the
severing of ties between them as surelDVLIWKH were ropes
cut with a knife.
“I’ll go,” he said quietly , the anger in his voice undiminished.
He rose and looked down at her . “I was RXUIULHQG,ZRXOGEe
“I know,” she said.
He staHGZKHUHKHZDVPRPHQWDULOy , as if undecided about
what to do next, whether to staRUJRZKHWKHUWRVSHDNRr
keep silent. He looked back through the darkness into the
haze. “I won’t die here,” he whispered.

Then he wheeled and stalked away. Wren sat where she was,
looking after him until he could no longer be seen. T ears came
hurt her, and she hated it. He made her question everWKLQJVKe
had decided, made her wonder if she had anLGHDDWDOOZKDt
she was doing. He made her feel stupid and selfish and naive.
She wished that she had never gone to speak with the shade of
Allanon, never come to Morrowindl, never discovered the
none of it had ever happened.
She wished she had never met her grandmother .
No! she admonished herself sharply. Don’t ever wish that!
But deep down inside, she did.


D aEUHDNDUULYHGDVWHDOWK apparition cloaked iron-gray
against the shadow of departing night as it crept uncertainly
out of HVWHUGD in search of tomorrow. The companURVHWo
greet it, wearHed and disheartened, the weight of time’ s
passage and shortening odds a mantel of chains that threatened
to drag them down. Pulling cloaks and packs and weapons
across their shoulders, theVHWRXWRQFHPRUHZUDSSHGLQWKe
silence of their separate thoughts, grim-faced against a rising
wall of fear and doubt.
If I could sleep but one night, Wren was thinking as she tried
to blink awaKHUH[KDXVWLRQ Just one.
There had been little rest for her last night, restless again as
she laDZDNHLQWKHVWLOOQHVVEHVHWE demons of all shapes
and kinds, demons that bore the faces of those who had been
or were closest, friends and family , the tricksters of her life.
warned of secrets she could not know , theJDYHKHUWUDLOVWo
follow and burdens to carry, and then theIDGHGIURPKHUVLGe
like the morning mist.
Her hands clasped the Ruhk Staf f and she leaned upon it for
support as she climbed. Trust no one, the Addershag hissed
again from out of memory .
The climb was short, for theKDGHPHr ged from the lava tubes
close to the summit at the end of HVWHUGD’ s trek, with the
ridgeline alreadLQYLHw. TheUHDFKHGLWTXLFNO this day ,
scrambling up the final stretch of broken trail to stand atop the
wall, pausing to look back into the mists that cloaked the
countrWKH had passed through—almost as if theH[SHFWHd
to find something waiting there. But there was nothing to see,
the whole of it shrouded in clouds and fog, a world and a life

picture it as if it were drawn on the air before them. They
could remember what it had cost them to come through it,
what it had taken from them, and how little it had given back.
until everWKLQJDEUXSWO ended at a ragged tangle of ravines
and ridges that split and folded back on themselves, huge
wrinkles in the land’s skin. A lava flow had passed this way
the crest of Blackledge clean. EverWKLQJKDGEHHQEXUQHd
and skeletal, some fallen awaDWVWUDQJHDQJOHVVRPe
propped against one another in hapless despair. Scrub grew out
of the lava in gnarled clumps, and patches of moss darkened
Stresa brought them to the edge of this forbidding world,
lumbering to a halt atop a small rise, spines lifting guardedly .
for and hearing nothing, looking at and seeing nothing, feeling
death’s presence at everWXUQ7KHGHYDVWDWLRQVSUHDGDZDy
before them, a vast and emptODQGVFDSHZUDSSHGLQJUDy
On Wren’s shoulder , Faun sat up stif flDQGOHDQHGIRUZDUG,
ears pricked. She could feel the T ree Squeak shiver.
“What is this place?” Gavilan asked.
glance north to where Killeshan’s bulk loomed darkly,
Arbolon. The rumble receded and died.
Stresa swung slowlDERXW7KLVLVWKH+DUURw ,” he said.
“Hssttt! This is where the Drakuls live.”
A form of demon—or Shadowen—Wren recalled. Stresa had
mentioned them before. Dangerous, he had intimated.
“Drakuls,” Gavilan repeated, wearUHFRJQLWLRQLQKLVYRLFH.

Killeshan rumbled again, more insistent than before, an
for having stolen the magic away, for having disrupted the
balance of things. Morrowindl shuddered in response.
“Tell me about the Drakuls,” W ren instructed the Splinterscat
Stresa’ s dark eHVIL[HGRQKHr . “Demons, like the others.
Phhfftt! TheVOHHSLQGDlight, come out at night to feed.
blood, the fluids of the body . ThePDNHKVVVWWVRPHLQWo
creatures like themselves.” The blunt nose twitched. “They
hunt as wraiths, but take form to feed. As wraiths, theFDQQRt
be harmed.” He spit distastefully .
“We will go around,” T riss announced at once.
Stresa spit again, as if the taste wouldn’ t go away. “Around!
Phaaww! There is no ‘around’! North, the Harrow runs back
toward Killeshan, miles and miles—back toward the valley
and the demons that hunt us. Rwwlll. South, the Harrow
stretches to the clif fs. The Drakuls hunt its edges, too. In any
case, we would never—hrraaggh—get around it before
nightfall and we must if we are to live. Crossing in daOLJKWLs
our onlFKDQFH”
“While the Drakuls sleep?” W ren prompted.
“Yes, W ren of the Elves,” the Splinterscat growled softly .
out of air, as faces on the mist, as feelings and hunches and
fears and doubts. Phhf fttt. TheZLOOWU to distract and lure, try
to keep us within the Harrow until nightfall.”
Wren stared of f into the blasted countrVLGHLQWRWKHKD]HWKDt
hung from the skies to the earth. Trapped again, she thought.
The whole island is a snar e.
“There is no other passage open to us?”
Stresa did not answer—did not need to.
“And on the other side of the Harrow?”

“The In Ju. And the beaches beRQG”
Triss had moved up beside her . His lean face was intense.
“Aurin Striate used to speak of the Drakuls,” he advised softly .
His gaze fixed on her. “He said there was no defense against
“But theVOHHSQRw,” she replied, just as softly .
The graHes shifted away . “Do the"”
A new rumble shook the island, deep and forbidding, rising
like a giant coming awake angry , thunderous as the tremors
built upon themselves. Cracks appeared in the ground about
them and rock and silt fell awaLQWRWKHYRLG6WHDPDQGDVh
belched out of the Killeshan, showering skZDUGLQWRZHULQg
geVHUVDUFLQJDZD into the gloom. Fire trailed ominously
from the volcano’s lip, a trickle only , just visible in the haze.
Garth caught Wren’s attention, a simple shifting of his
shoulders. His fingers moved. Be quick, W ren. The island
begins to shake itself apart.
She glanced at them in turn—Garth, as enigmatic and
impassive as ever , steadTriss, her protector now , given over
to his new charge; Dal, restless as he stared out into the haze—
she had never even heard him speak; Eowen, a white shadow
against the gray , looking as if she might disappear into it; and
Gavilan, uneasy , unpredictable, haunted lost to her .
“How long will it take us to cross?” she asked Stresa. Faun
scrambled down off her shoulder and moved away , picking at
the earth.
“Half a day, a little more,” the Splinterscat advised.
“Then we will have to hurry,” Wren declared, and called Faun
back to her shoulder . She brought the Ruhk Staf f before her, a
reminder. “We have no choice. Let’ s be off. StaFORVHWRHDFh
other. Keep watch.”
of depressions, through the tangle of tree husks, cautious eHs
scanning the blasted land about them. Stresa took them along

as quicklDVKHFRXOGEXWWUDYHOZDVVORw, the terrain broken
and uneven, filled with twists and turns that prevented either
rapid or straight passage. The Harrow swallowed them after
there was nothing else to be seen in anGLUHFWLRQ0LVWVZLUOHd
and spun in the wind currents, steam rose out of cracks in the
earth that burrowed all the waWR.LOOHVKDQ’ s core, and vog
drifted down from where it spewed out of the volcano.
Nothing moved in the land; it was still and emptDOODERXW.
trees, iron bars against the light. All the while the earth
beneath rumbled ominously, and there was a Sense of
something dangerous awakening.
The voices began in the first hour . TheOLIWHGRXWRf
nothingness, whispers on the air that might have come from
anZKHUH7KH called compellingly , and for each of the
companWKHZRUGVZHUHGLfferent. Each would look at the
others, thinking that all must have heard, that the voices were
that? Did RXKHDU? But none had, of course—onlWKe
speaker, called specifically , purposefully, drawn on bVRPe
The images came next, faces out of the air , figures that quickly
formed and just as quicklIDGHGLQWKHVKLIWLQJKD]HYLVLRQs
of things peculiar to whomever theDGGUHVVHG—
personifications of longings, needs, and hopes. For W ren, they
took the form of her parents. For Triss and Eowen, it was the
queen. For the others, something else. The images worked the
fringes of their consciousness, struggling to break through the
barriers theKDGHUHFWHGWRNHHSWKHPDWEDy , working to turn
them from their chosen path and lead them away .
It went on relentlessly. The voices were never loud, the images
never clear, and the whole of the experience not unpleasant,
not threatening, not even real—a false memorRIZKDWKDd
never been. Stresa, familiar with the danger , started them
talking to each other to ward off the attack—for there was no
mistaking what it was. The Drakuls stalked them even in
sleep, some part of what theZHUHULVLQJXSWRIROORZDIWHr ,

them within the Harrow until nightfall.
Time slowed, as cautious and measured as the haze through
ahead. The depressions deepened, and in places the lifeless
trees formed a barrier that could not be crossed, but had to be
got around. W ren called to the others as theWUXGJHGDKHDG,
pushing past the voices, casting through the faces, working to
keep them all together , to keep them moving. Noon
quickened, and the rain blew into them in sheets. It would
sweep across in a curtain, fade awaWRVFDWWHUHGGURSVDQd
The earth’s heat returned, and the mist began to thicken. It
closed about them, and soon nothing was visible beRQGa
dozen feet. TheVWDed close then, so close theZHUHWULSSLQg
over each other , bumping together as if made sightless, feeling
“Stresa! How much farther?” W ren shouted through the
“Spptptt! Close, now,” the replFDPH-XVWDKHDG”
knife cut across the surface of the lava rock, all shadows and
shifting haze. Wren knew it was dangerous, almost called
them back, but saw , too, that it, sliced directlDFURVVWKHLr
pathwaRXWWKDWLWZDVWKHRQO waWKH could go. She
descended into the gloom, the Ruhk Staf f gripped before her
like a shield. Faun chittered wildlRQKHUVKRXOGHr , another
sound to blend with the others, the unseen voices that buzzed
and raged and filled her subconscious with a growing need to
scream. She saw Triss a step ahead, with Stresa a faint dark
the others…
And then the hands had her , abrupt, startling, as hard as iron.
mist, closed about her legs and ankles, and DQNHGKHUIURm
the pathway. She HOOHGLQIXU and struck downward with the

butt of the Ruhk Staff. White fire burst from the earth, flaring
out in all directions, the magic of the talisman responding. It
shocked her, stunned her that the magic should come so easily .
There were shouts from the others, cries of warning. W ren
wheeled about wildly, and the hands that had fastened on her
fell away. Something moved in the mist—things, dozens of
them, faceless, formless, HWWKHUH7KH'UDNXOVVKHUHDOL]HG,
awake somehow when theVKRXOGQRWKDYHEHHQ3HUKDSVLt
was dark enough here in this cut, black enough to pass for
night. She cried out to the others, summoned them to her , and
led them toward the ravine’s far slope. The figures swirled all
about, grasping, touching, nonsubstantive, HWVRPHKRZUHDO.
She saw faces drained of life, pale images of her own, eHs
animals, sunken cheeks and temples, and bodies wasted away
to nothing. She fought through them, for theVHHPHGFHQWHUHd
on her, drawn to her as if she were the one who mattered most
to them. It was the magic, she realized. Like all the Shadowen,
it was the magic that drew them first.
Drakul wraiths materialized in front of her and Garth bounded
past, short sword hacking. The images dissipated and
reformed, unharmed. W ren wheeled about as she reached the
floor of the ravine. One, two . . . She counted frantically. All
six were there. Stress was alreadVFUDPEOLQJDKHDGDQGVKe
turned to follow him. TheZHQWXSWKHVORSHLQDWDQJOH,
and fallen trees. The images followed, the voices, the
phantoms come from sleep, undead monsters trailing after .
Wren fought them of f with anger and repulsion, with the fury
of her movement, conscious of Faun clinging to her neck as if
become a part of her , of the heat of the Ruhk Staf f in her hands
as its magic sought to break free again. Magic that could do
monsters like these. She recoiled inwardlDWWKHSURVSHFWDt
the horror of a truth she wished had never been, a truth she
feared would rise up to haunt her if she were to keep the
promise she had made to her grandmother to save the Elves.
Over the top of the ravine the members of the little company
stumbled and began to run. The gloom was thick and shifted

like laHUVRIJDX]HEHIRUHWKHPEXWWKH did not slow, racing
ahead heedlessly, calling words of encouragement to each
other, fighting back against their pursuers. The Drakuls hissed
and spit like cats, the venom of their thoughts a fire that
burned inside. Y et it was onlYRLFHVDQGLPDJHVQRZDQGQo
longer real, for the Drakuls could not leave the darkness of
their shelter to venture into the Harrow while it was Ht
daOLJKW6ORZO their presence faded, drawing awaOLNHWKe
receding waters of some vast ocean, gone back with the tide.
The companEHJDQWRVORw , their breathing heavLQWKe
sudden stillness, their boots scraping as theFDPHWRDUDJJHd
Wren looked back into the haze. There was nothing there but
the mist and the faint shadow of the scrub land and tree bones
beRQGHPSW and stark. Faun poked her head up tentatively .
Stresa lumbered over to join them, panting, tongue licking out.
The Splinterscat spit. “Hsssttt! Stupid wraiths!”
Wren nodded. In her hands, the heat of the Ruhk Staf f
dissipated and was gone. She felt her own bodFRROLn
response. A small measure of relief welled up within.
she had missed, intense and anxious as he searched the mist.
Wren followed his gaze, frightened without HWNQRZLQJZKy .
She saw the others glance at one another uneasily.
Her heart jumped. What was wrong?
She saw it then. There were onlILYHRIWKHP(RZHQZDs
At first she thought such a thing impossible, that she must be
mistaken. She had counted all six when theKDGFOLPEHGIURm
the ravine. Eowen had been among them; she had recognized
her face…
She stopped herself. Eowen. She saw the red-haired seer in her
mind, trailing after—too pale, too ephemeral. Almost as if she
experienced a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, an
aching that threatened to break free and consume her . What
she had seen had been another image, one more clever and

calculated than the others, an image designed to make them all
The Drakuls had Eowen.
Garth signed hurriedly. I was watching out for her as I
promised I would. She was right behind us when we climbed
from the ravine. How could I lose her?
“Y ou didn’ t,” Wren replied instantly . She felt an odd calm
settle over her, a resignation of sorts, an acceptance of the
inevitabilitRIFKDQFHDQGIDWH,W’ s all right, Garth,” she
She felt the ground open beneath her , a hole into which she
to take hold. She knew what she had to do. Whatever else
happened, she could not abandon Eowen. T o save her, she
would have to go back into the Harrow , back among the
Dralculs. She could send the others, of course; theZRXOGJo
if she asked. But she would never do that—would never even
consider it. Tracker skills, Rover experience, Elven Hunter
training—all would be useless against the Drakuls. OnlRQe
thing would make anGLf ference.
She took a few uncertain steps and stopped. Reason screamed
at her to reconsider. She was aware of the others coming
own as she peered out into the Harrow’ s gloom.
“No!” Stresa warned. “Phffft! It’ s alreadJURZLQJGDUN”
She ignored him, turning instead to Gavilan. W ordlesslVKe
took his measure, then held forth the Ruhk Staf f. “It is time for
“Take the Staf f. Hold it for me until mUHWXUQ.HHSLWVDIH”
Gavilan stared at her in disbelief, then cautiouslUHDFKHGIRr
the talisman. His hands closed over it, tightened about it, and
drew it away . She did not allow her eHVWROLQJHURQKLV,
frightened of what she would find there. He was all that
remained of her familVKHKDGWRWUXVWKLP.
Triss and Dal had dropped their packs and were cinching their
weapons belts. Garth alreadKDGKLVVKRUWVZRUGRXW.

“No,” she told them. “I am going back alone.”
them off instantly . “No!” she repeated. She faced them. “I am
bringing her out again. Me.” She reached within her tunic and
pulled forth the pouch with the Elfstones. “Magic to find her
and to protect me—nothing less will do. If RXFRPHZLWKPH,
I shall have to worrDERXWSURWHFWLQJou as well. These
things can’ t be hurt bour weapons, and this one time at least
She put a hand on ‘T riss’s arm, gentle but firm. “Y ou are
pledged to watch over me, I know . But I am ordering RXWo
watch over the Loden instead—to staZLWK*DYLODQou and
Dal, to see to it that whatever else happens, the Elves are kept
The hard, graHes narrowed. “I beg RXQRWWRGRWKLV/DGy .
The Home Guard serve the queen first.”
“And the queen, if that is what in truth I am, believes RXZLOl
serve best bVWDing here. I order it, Triss.”
Garth was signing angrily. Do what RXZLVKZLWKWKHP%XWI
have no purpose in remaining. I come with RX.
She shook her head, and her fingers moved as she spoke. “No,
Garth. If I am lost, theZLOOQHHGou to see them safelWRWKe
beaches and to Tiger Ty. TheZLOOQHHGour experience. I
love RX*DUWKEXWou can do nothing to help me here. Y ou
must stay.”
The big man looked at her as if she had struck him.
“This is the time we alwaVNQHZZRXOGFRPHVKHWROGKLP,
quiet and insistent, “the time for which RXKDYHZRUNHGVo
hard to train me. It is too late now for anIXUWKHUOHVVRQVI
have to relRQZKDW,NQRw .”
She took Faun from her shoulder and placed her on the ground
beside Stresa. “Stay, little one,” she commanded, and stepped
“Rrrwwlll! W ren, of the Elves, take me!” Stresa snapped,
spines bristling. “I can track for RXEHWWHUWKDQDQ of these

She shook her head once more. “The Elfstones can track better
still. Garth will see RXVDIHO to the Westland, Stresa, if I
should fail to return. He knows of mSURPLVHWRou.”
She removed her pack, dropped her weapons—all but the long
knife at her waist. The four men, the Splinterscat, and the T ree
Squeak watched in silence. CarefullVKHVKRRNWKH(OIVWRQHs
from their pouch, dropping them into her open hand. Her
fingers closed.
Then, before she could think better of it, she turned and
stalked into the mist.

She walked straight ahead for a time, simplFRQFHQWUDWLQJRn
putting one foot in front of the other, distance between herself
and those who would keep her safe. She crossed the bare lava
rock, a solitarKXQWHr, feeling herself turn cold within, numb
out of memory, telling her of the vision she had seen so long
ago, the vision of her own death. No, Wren swore silently . Not
now, not while I still br eathe.
The Drakuls began to whisper to her , urging her on, calling her
to them. W ithin, furEDWWOHGEDFNDJDLQVWIHDr . I will come to
She passed through a line of silvered trunks, wood stakes
barren and stark, a gate into the netherworld of the dead. She
saw faces appear, gaunt and empty , skulls within the mist. She
brought up the Elfstones, held them forth, and summoned their
power. It came at once, obedient to her will, blazing to life
with blue fire and streaking out into the haze. It took her left
along a flat where nothing grew , where no trace of what had
been survived. Ahead, far in the distance, she could see a
gathering of white forms, bodies shifting, turning as if to greet
her. Voices reached out, cries and whispers, a summons to
The blue fire faded, and she walked blindlRQ.
Wren, she heard Eowen call.

She shut her sense of urgencDZDy, forcing herself to move
cautiously, watching everWKLQJDURXQGKHr , the movement of
shadows and mist, the hint of life coming awake. Stresa had
been right. It was growing dark now , the afternoon lengthening
toward evening, the light beginning to fail. She knew she
would not reach Eowen before nightfall. It was what the
Drakuls intended; it was what theKDGSODQQHGDOODORQJ.
Eowen’s magic drew them like her own—but it was hers that
best. Eowen was bait for the trap that was meant to snare her .
She shut her eHVPRPHQWDULO against the inevitabilitRILW.
She should have known all along.
The voices grew louder, more insistent, and she saw figures
begin to take form at the edges of her vision, faint and ethereal
in the mist. A ravine opened before her—the one in which she
had lost Eowen? she wondered. She didn’ t know and didn’t
care. She went down into it without slowing, following the
magic’s lead, feeling the iron of it fill her now with its heat,
fired in the for ge of her soul. She didn’ t know how much time
had passed—an hour, more? She had lost all track of time, all
Elves, keeper of the Ruhk Staf f and Loden, bearer of Druid
magic, and heir to the blood of Elessedils and Ohmsfords alike
—she was all these and she was none, made instead of
something more, something undefinable.
Nothing, she told herself, could stand against her .
The darkness closed about as she reached the bottom of the
ravine, the faint light above lost in mist and shadows. The
Drakuls appeared boldlQRw, skeletal forms come slowlLQWo
view, gaunt and stripped of all life but that which their
Shadowen existence gave them. TheZHUHKHVLWDQWVWLOODIUDLd
of the magic and at the same time eager for it. TheORRNHd
upon her with hungrHes, anxious to taste her , to make her
their own. She felt the Elfstones burn against her palm in
warning, but still she did not summon their magic. She walked
ahead boldly, the living among the dead.
Wren, she heard Eowen call again.

A wall of pale bodies blocked her way. TheZHUHKXPDQRIa
sort, shaped as such, but twisted, pale imitations of what they
had been in life. TheWXUQHGWRPHHWKHr , no longer
apparitions that shimmered and threatened to dissolve at a
breath of wind, but things taking on the substance of life.
“Eowen!” she cried out.
One bRQHWKH'UDNXOVVWRRGDZDy, and there was Eowen. She
fire-red hair and emerald eHV7KHHes glittered as they
sought Wren’s own, alive with horror . Eowen’s mouth was
open as if she were trLQJWREUHDWKHRUVFUHDP.
The mouths of the Drakuls were fastened to her body , feeding.
For an instant Wren could not move, stricken bWKHVLJKW,
trapped in a web of indecision.
Then Eowen’s head jerked up, and her lips parted in a snarl to
reveal gleaming fangs.
Wren howled in dismay , and the Drakuls came for her . She
brought the Elfstones up with the quickness of thought, called
forth their power in rage and terror , and turned the fire of the
form, those feeding and Eowen with them, were obliterated.
The others, wraiths still, vanished. Flames engulfed
everWKLQJWren scattered fire in everGLUHFWLRQIHHOLQJWKe
magic course through her , hot and raw. She howled, exultant
as the fire burned the ravine from end to end. She gave herself
over to its heat— anWKLQJWREORFNDZD the image of Eowen.
She embraced it as she would a lover . Time and place
disappeared in the rush of sensations.
She began to lose control.
Then, a bare instant before she would have disappeared into
the power completely , she realized what was happening,
remembered who she was, and made a last, desperate attempt
to recover herself. FranticallVKHFODPSHGKHUILQJHUVDERXt
the Stones. The fire continued to leak through. Her hand

effort, falling to her knees. Finally , the magic swept back
within her, raked her one final time with the promise of its
invincibility , and was gone.
She crouched in the mist, fighting to regain masterRIKHUVHOI,
seeing once more with her mind’ s eHDSLFWXUHRIWKH'UDNXOs
Elfstone magic.
Power! Such power! How she longed to have it back!
Shame swept through her, followed bGHVSDLr.
the ravine stretched away, empty. Smoke and ash hung on the
air. Her throat tightened as she tried to breathe. She had not
had a choice, she knew—but the knowledge didn’ t help.
Eowen had been one of them, brought to her death as W ren
watched, her own prophecIXOILOOHG7KRXJKWren had tried,
she could not change the outcome of the seer’s vision. Eowen
had told her once that her life had been built around her
visions and she had come to accept them—even the one that
foretold her death.
W ren felt tears fill her eHVDQGUXQGRZQKHUFKHHNV.
Oh, Eowen!


A t Southwatch time drifted awaOLNHDFORXGDFURVVWKe
summer blue, and Coll Ohmsford could onlZDWFKKHOSOHVVOy
as it passed him by. His imprisonment continued unchanged,
thoughts were unfettered, but led him nowhere. He dreamed of
the past, of the life he had enjoHGLQWKHV ale, and of the
his dreams had turned tattered and faded. No one came for
him. He began to accept that no one would.
He spent his daVLQWKHH[HUFLVHard, sparring with
Ulfkingroh, the gnarled, scarred, taciturn fellow into whose
care Rimmer Dall had given him. Ulfkingroh was as tough as
nails and he worked Coll until the Valeman thought he would
drop. With padded cudgels, heavVWDf fs, blunted swords, and
for battle, sometimes all day, frequentlXQWLOWKH were
sweating so hard that the dust theUDLVHGLQWKHard ran from
their bodies in black stripes. Ulfkingroh was a Shadowen, of
course—but he didn’t seem like one. He seemed like any
normal man, albeit harder and more sullen. At times, Coll
almost liked him. He spoke little, content to let his expertise
with weapons do his talking for him. He was a skilled and
experienced fighter, and it became a point of pride with him
that he pass what he knew on to the V aleman. Coll, for his
part, made the best of his situation, taking advantage of the
one diversion he was allowed, learning what he could of what
the other was willing to teach, plaLQJDWEDWWOHDVLILWPHDQt
something, and keeping fit for the time when it reallZRXOG.
Because sooner or later, he promised himself over and over
again, he would have his chance to escape.

He thought of it constantly. He thought of little else. If no one
knew he was there, if no one would come to save him, then
in the manner of all Valemen; he was confident he would find
a way. He was patient as well, and his patience was perhaps
the more important attribute. He was watched whenever he
was out of his cell, whenever he went down the dark halls of
the monolith to the exercise DUGDQGZKHQHYHUKHZHQWEDFk
up again. He was allowed to spend as much time sparring with
Ulfkingroh as he wished and allowed as well to visit with the
rugged fellow to the extent that he was able to engage the
other in conversation, but alwaVKHZDVZDWFKHG+HFRXOd
not afford to make a mistake.
Still, he never doubted that he would find a way .
him in his cell. Each time it was from a distance, an
unexpected glimpse that lasted onlDPRPHQWEHIRUHWKHRWKHr
was gone. Each time the cold eHVZHUHDOOKHFRXOGUHPHPEHr
afterward. Coll looked for him everZKHUHDWILUVWXQWLOKe
realized it was becoming something of an obsession and that
he had to stop it. But he never stopped thinking of what the big
man had told him, of how Par was a Shadowen, too, of how
the magic would consume him if he did not accept the truth of
his identity, and of how in his madness he was a danger to his
brother. Coll did not believe what Rimmer Dall had told him—
the speculations and lies. But the truth was hard to decipher ,
and he would never learn it there. Rimmer Dall had his own
reasons for what he was doing and he was not about to reveal
them to Coll. Whatever theZHUHZKDWHYHUWKHUHDOLW of the
Shadowen and their magic, Coll was convinced that he had to
reach his brother.
So he trained in the exercise DUGE day , laDZDNHVRUWLQg
out chances and possibilities bQLJKWDQGDOOWKHZKLOHIRXJKt
back against the insidious possibilitWKDWQRWKLQJZRXOGFRPe
of anRILW.

Then one day, several weeks after he had been released from
his cell, while sparring once again with Ulfkingroh in the
him had been cut away . Then he realized that the First Seeker
at first seemed like nothing because it was so black it had the
appearance of a piece of a new moon’ s night. Coll stopped in
his tracks, then backed away, staring. Ulfkingroh glared in
irritation, then glanced back over his shoulder to see what had
caught the Valeman’s eH.
“Huh!” he grunted when he saw what Coll was looking at.
“There’s nothing there that concerns RX3XWXSour hands.”
“What is it he carries?” Coll pressed.
Ulfkingroh braced his staf f against the ground and leaned on it
with exaggerated patience. “A cloak, V aleman. It’s called a
Mirrorshroud. See how black it is? See how it steals awaWKe
light, just like a spill of black ink? Shadowen magic, little
fellow.” The rough face tightened about a half smile. “Know
what it does?” Coll shook his head. “Y ou don’t? Good!
knocked from his feet and left stunned for several minutes
wondering what it was for . It was the first tangible piece of
Shadowen magic he had ever seen. There were other magics,
most important was something kept deep in the bowels of the
tower that hummed and throbbed and sometimes almost
sounded as if it were screaming, something huge and very
frightening. He envisioned it as a dragon that the Shadowen
had managed to chain, but he knew he was being too
simplistic. Whatever it was, it was far more impressive and
terrible than that. There were other things as well, concealed
behind the doors through which he was never allowed,

secreted in the catacombs into which he could never pass. He
could sense their presence, the brush of it against his skin, the
whisper of it in his mind. Magic, all of it, Shadowen
conjurings and talismans, things dark and evil.
the First Seeker, of course. He never had believed him.
Still, he could not help wondering.
Two daVODWHr , while he was taking a break in the DUGWKe
sweat still glistening on his bodOLNHRLOWKH)LUVW6HHNHr
appeared out of the shadows of a door and came right up to
him. Over one arm he carried the Mirrorshroud like a fold of
stolen night. Ulfkingroh started to his feet, but Rimmer Dall
dismissed him with a wave of his gloved hand and beckoned
shadows, out of the middaVXQDZD from its glare. Coll
squinted and blinked as his eHVDGMXVWHG7KHRWKHUPDQ’ s
face was all angles and planes in the faint graOLJKWWKHVNLn
dead and cold, but the sharp eHVFHUWDLQ.
“You train hard, Coll Ohmsford,” he said in that familiar
Coll nodded without speaking, waiting to hear what the other
“This cloak,” Rimmer Dall said, as if in answer. “It is time that
Coll could not hide his surprise. “Wh"”
gloved hand lifted and fell again, a black scWKH,WROGou
danger, all because of the magic and what it might do. I had
thought to use RXWREULQJour brother to me. I let it be
known RXZHUHKHUH%XWour brother remains in T UVLV,
unwilling to come for RX”
He paused, looking for Coll’s response. Coll kept his face an
expressionless mask.
“The magic he hides within himself,” the First Seeker
whispered, “the magic that lies beneath the wishsong, begins

to consume him. He maQRWHYHQUHDOL]HLWet. He maQRt
understand. You’ve sensed that magic in him, haven’ t RX?
You know it is there?”
He shrugged. “I had thought to reason with him when I found
him. I think now that he maUHIXVHWROLVWHQWRPH,KDd
dif ference. It apparentlKDVQRW”
Coll took a deep breath. “Y ou are a fool if RXWKLQN3DUZLOl
come here. A bigger fool if RXWKLQNou can use me to trap
Rimmer Dall shook his head. “Y ou still don’t believe me, do
brother while there is still time to do so. He is a Shadowen,
Coll. He is like me, and his magic is a gift that can either save
or destroKLP”
A gift. Par had used that word so often, Coll thought bleakly .
“Let me go to him then. Release me.”
The big man smiled, a twisting at the corners of his mouth. “I
intend to. But not until I have confronted RXUEURWKHURQe
more time. I think the Mirrorshroud will let me do so. This is a
Shadowen magic, Valeman—a verSRZHUIXORQH,WWRRNPHa
long time to weave it. Whoever wears the cloak appears to
those he encounters as someone theNQRZDQGWUXVW,WPDVNs
the truth of who theDUH,WKLGHVWKHLULGHQWLWy . I will wear it
when I go in search of RXUEURWKHr.” He paused. “You could
help me in this. Y ou could tell me where I might find him,
know where. W ill RXKHOSPH"”
Coll was incredulous. How could Rimmer Dall even think of
asking such a thing? But the big man seemed so sure of
himself, as if he were right after all, as if he knew the truth far
better than Coll.
Coll shook his head. “I don’ t know where to find Par. He
could be anZKHUH”
For a long moment Rimmer Dall did not respond, but simply
stood looking at the Valeman, measuring him carefully , the

“I will ask again another time,” he said finally. The heavy
boots scraped on the stone of the walkway. “Return to RXr
sparring. I will find him on mRZQRQHZD or the other .
When I do, I will release RX”
He turned and walked away. Coll stared after him, looking not
at the man now but at the cloak he carried, thinking, If I could

He was still thinking about it when he woke the next day . A
cloak that when worn could hide the identitRIWKHZHDUHr
from those he encountered, making him appear to be someone
Rimmer Dall might envision the Mirrorshroud as a subterfuge
that would allow him to trap Par, but Coll had a far better use
for the magic. If he could find a waWRJHWSRVVHVVLRQRIWKe
cloak long enough to put it on . . . His excitement at the
prospect would not allow him to finish the thought. How could
he manage it? he wondered, his mind racing as he dressed and
paced the length of his cell, waiting for his breakfast.
It occurred to him then, for just a moment, that it was
magic when the Shadowen had been so careful to keep all their
other magics hidden. But then the First Seeker had been
anxious for his help in locating Par , hadn’t he, and the cloak
was useless unless theIRXQG3Dr , wasn’t it? Probabl'DOl
had hoped to persuade Coll simplE letting him know he
possessed such magic.
Then the first suspicion was abruptlFURZGHGDVLGHE a
second. What if the cloak was a trick? How did he know that
the Mirrorshroud could do what was claimed? What proof did
he have? He started sharplDVWKHPHWDOIRRGWUD slid through
the slot at the bottom of his door . He stared at it helplessla
moment, wondering. But whZRXOGWKH)LUVW6HHNHUOLH?
What did he stand to gain?
The questions besieged and finallRYHUZKHOPHGKLPDQGKe
brushed them aside long enough to eat his breakfast. When he

was finished, he went down to the exercise DUGWRWUDLQZLWh
Ulfkingroh. He needed to talk with Rimmer Dall again, to find
out more about the cloak and to discover the truth of its magic.
But he could not afford to seem too interested; he could not let
the First Seeker surmise his true motive. That meant he had to
wait for Rimmer Dall to come to him.
But the First Seeker did not appear that daRUWKHQH[WDQGLt
materialized from the shadows as Coll was trudging wearily
back to his cell and fell in beside him.
brother’?” he asked perfunctorily , his face lowered within the
cowl of his black cloak.
“Some,” Coll allowed.
“Time passes swiftly , Valeman.”
Coll shrugged casually . “I have trouble believing anWKLQJou
tell me. A prisoner is not often persuaded to confide in his
“No?” Coll could almost feel the other ’s dark smile. “I would
have thought it was just the opposite.”
with anger. He wanted to strike out at the other , having him
this close, alone in these dark halls, just the two of them. He
fought down the temptation, knowing how foolish it would be
to give in to it.
“I think Par would see through the magic of the
Mirrorshroud,” he said finally.
Dall glanced over. “How?”
Coll took a deep breath. “His own magic would warn him.”
with him?” The whisperYRLFHZDVKRDUVHDQGORw .
“I wonder,” Coll replied.
Dall stopped and turned to face him. “How would it be if I
tested the magic on RX"7KHQou could make RXURZn

Coll frowned, hiding the elation that surged abruptlZLWKLQI
don’t know . It might not make anGLf ference whether it works
with me.”
The gloved hand lifted, a lean blackness stealing the light from
the air. “WhQRWOHWPHWU? What harm can it do?”
TheZHQWGRZQWKHKDOOZD and up a dozen flights of stairs
until theZHUHRQO several floors below the cell where Coll
was kept imprisoned. At a door marked with a wolf ’s head and
red lettering that Coll could not decipher , Rimmer Dall
produced a key, inserted it in a heavORFNDQGSXVKHGWKe
door back. Inside was a single window through which a
narrow band of sunlight shone on a tall wooden cabinet.
Rimmer Dall walked to the cabinet, opened its double doors,
and took out the Mirrorshroud.
Coll turned his head, waiting.
“Coll,” a voice came.
He turned back. There was his father , Jaralan, tall and stooped,
thick shouldered, wearing his favorite leather apron, the one he
used for his woodworking. Coll blinked in disbelief, telling
himself that it wasn’t his father, that it was Rimmer Dall, and
still it was his father he saw .
Then his father reached up to remove the apron, which
before him once more.
Coll could not bring himself to answer. He shook his head. “I
still think Par will recognize RX”
Rimmer Dall studied him a moment, the big, rawboned face
flat and empty, the strange eHVDVKDUGDVVWRQH,ZDQWou
to think about something,” he said finally . “Do RXUHPHPEHr
those pitiful creatures in the Pit at TUVLVWKHRQHVGULYHQPDd
That is what will happen to RXUEURWKHr . It maQRWKDSSHn

will happen eventually. Once it does, there will be no help for
Coll fought to keep the fear from his eHV.
power to invade and consume. TheFDQLQKDELWWKHERGLHVRf
other creatures and become them for as long as it is needed.”
He paused. “I could become RX&ROO2KPVIRUG,FRXOGVOLp
beneath RXUVNLQDVHDVLO as a knife blade and make RXPy
own.” The harsh whisper was a hiss against the silence. “But I
don’t choose to do that because I don’ t want to hurt RXI
spoke the truth when I told RX,ZDQWHGWRKHOSour brother .
You will have to decide for RXUVHOIZKHWKHURUQRWWREHOLHYe
me, but think about what I have just told RXDVou do.”
He turned, shoved the Mirrorshroud back into its locker , and
closed the door. Whether he was angrRUIUXVWUDWHGRr
something else was dif ficult to tell, but his walk was
purposeful as he led Coll from the room and pulled the door
closed behind them. Coll listened automaticallIRUWKHFOLFNRf
the lock and did not hear it. Rimmer Dall was alreadPRYLQg
away, so Coll went after him without slowing. The First
Seeker took him to a stairwaDQGSRLQWHGXS.
“Your quarters lie that way . Think carefully, Valeman,” he
warned. “Y ou plaZLWKWZROLYHVZKLOHou delay .”
glanced back over his shoulder a dozen steps later , Rimmer
Dall was gone.

It was still light, if barely, when he went out once again,
downward through the shadows toward the exercise DUG+e
had left his tunic there; he had for gotten it earlier. He didn’t
require it, of course, but it provided the excuse he needed to
discover whether the door to the room that held the
Mirrorshroud had been left unlocked.

His breathing was rapid and harsh-sounding in the silence of
his descent. It was a reckless thing he was attempting to do,
but his desperation was growing. if he did not get free soon,
something bad was going to happen to Par. His conviction of
this was based mostlRQVXSSRVLWLRQDQGIHDr , but it was no
less real for being so. He knew he wasn’t thinking as clearlDs
he should; if he had been, he would never have even
considered taking this risk. But if the lock had not released
back into place, if the room was still open and the
Mirrorshroud still in its locker, waiting . . .
Footsteps sounded from somewhere below , and he froze
against the stair wall. The steps grew momentarilORXGHUDQd
then disappeared. Coll wiped his hands on his pants and tried
to think. Which floor was it? Four, he had counted, hadn’t he?
landing down and with his bodSUHVVHGDJDLQVWWKHVWRQH,
peered around the corner .
He took a deep breath to steadKLPVHOIDQGVWHSSHGIURm
hiding. Down the hall he crept, swift and silent, casting
anxious glances ahead and behind as he went. The Shadowen
were alwaVZDWFKLQJKLP$OZDs. But there were none now ,
it seemed, none that he could see. He kept going. He checked
each door as he passed it. A wolf’s head with red lettering
below—where was it?
If he was caught . . .
Then the door he was searching for was before him, the wolf ’s
ear close and listened. Silence. CarefullKHUHDFKHGRXWDQd
turned the handle.
It gave easily. The door opened before him and he was
shrouded coffin propped against the far wall. He could hardly
believe his good fortune. SwiftlKHZHQWWRWKHFDELQHW,
opened it, and reached inside. His hands closed about the

as dust. Its blackness was disconcerting, an inkiness that
looked as if it could swallow RXZKROH+HKHOGWKHFORDk
before him momentarily, studLQJLWZHLJKLQJDILQDOWLPHWKe
the shadow he cast in the failing daOLJKW+HWLHGLWVFRUGs
about his neck and lifted the hood into place. He waited
expectantly. Nothing seemed dif ferent. EverWKLQJZDVWKe
himself, but there was none.
After closing the locker behind him, he crossed the room and
stepped out into the hallway .
He hadn’t taken a dozen steps when a Shadowen appeared
from out of the stairwell.
Coll felt his heart sink. He had no weapons, no means of
protection, and no time or place in which to hide. He kept
walking toward his discoverer , unable to think what else to do.
Coll felt a rush of elation coupled with relief. The Shadowen
hadn’t recognized him! He could scarcelEHOLHYHLW%XWWKHUe
was no time to revel in his good fortune. If he was ever to
escape Southwatch and Rimmer Dall, it must be now .
Down he went through the corridors and stairwells of the
monolith, skirting well-lit places in favor of darker ones,
knowing onlRQHZD to go but determined to be noticed as
little as possible, cloak or no cloak. His hands clutched the
dark folds protectively, and his eHVVHDUFKHGWKHVKDGRZVDs
unchallenged. Weapons and armor stood stacked in racks and
hung on pegs, metal edges and fastenings glinting dully .
Ulfkingroh was nowhere to be seen. Coll helped himself to a
brace of long knives, which he stuffed beneath his cloak. He
circled the open area for the doors that led to the outer courts.

A pair of Shadowen appeared and went past in the manner of
the one before, oblivious. Coll felt his muscles tighten with
tension, but his confidence in the Mirrorshroud was growing.
Southwatch to discover what the Shadowen were hiding there.
But the risk was too great, he decided. Better to get clear as
He hastened along the corridors that led to the outer courts,
another of twilight’s shadows. He reached the courts without
challenge, passed through, and almost before he realized it
stood before an outer door . He glanced around hurriedly . No
one was in sight.
He released the lock, pushed the door open, and stepped out.
He stood within an alcove that sheltered him from the coming
night. BeRQGWKH5DLQERZ/DNHVSUHDGDZD in a glimmer of
silver, the surrounding forests a dark, irregular mass that
buzzed and hummed with life, the smell of leaves, earth, and
grasses waiting sweetlRQWKHVXPPHUDLr .
Coll Ohmsford took a deep breath and smiled. He was free.
He would have preferred to wait until it was completelGDUN,
but he couldn’t chance the delay . It wouldn’t be long before he
was missed. Crouching low against the sawgrass, he sprinted
from the shadows of the wall into the trees.
From the window of a darkened room thirtIHHWXS5LPPHr
Dall watched him go.

There was never anTXHVWLRQLQ&ROO2KPVIRUG’ s mind as to
where he would go. He worked his waWKURXJKWKHWUHHVWKDt
separated Southwatch from the Mermidon, chose a quiet
narrows a mile or so upstream, swam the river, and began his
trek toward TUVLVDQGKLVEURWKHr . He did not know how he
would find Par once he reached the citKHZRXOGZRUU about
that later. His most immediate concern was that the Shadowen
were alreadVHDUFKLQJIRUKLP7KH seemed to materialize
within moments of his escape, black shadows that slipped
through the night like wraiths at haunt, silent and spectral. But

Mirrorshroud disguised him from them. TheSDVVHGZLWKRXt
slowing, without interest, disappearing as anonPRXVO as
But so manRIWKHP!
sense of who and where theZHUH+HFRXOGIHHOWKHLr
presence before he saw them, know from which direction they
approached, and discern in advance how manWKHUHZHUH+e
failed, theZRXOGVHDUFKKLPRXWLQDQ case. Instead, he tried
to appear as an ordinarWUDYHOHr, keeping to the open
grasslands, to the roads when he found them, walking easily ,
Somehow it all worked. Though the Shadowen were all about,
obviouslKXQWLQJKLPWKH could not seem to tell who he
He slept for a few hours before dawn and resumed his journey
the cloak, but the presence of so manRIWKHEODFNWKLQJVNHSt
him from doing so. Better to be safe, he told himself. After all,
as long as he wore the cloak, he would not be found out.
He passed other travelers on the road as he went. None seemed
interested in what theVDZRIKLP$IHZRf fered greetings.
Most simplSDVVHGKLPEy.
He wondered how he appeared to them. He must not have
seemed someone theUHFRJQL]HGRUWKH would have said
something. He must have seemed an ordinarWUDYHOHr . It made
cloak. It made him wonder whWKHPDJLFDFWHGGLfferently
toward him.
The first daSDVVHGVZLIWOy, and he camped in a small copse of
ash still within view of the Runne. The sun collapsed behind
the Westland forests in a splash of red-gold, and the warm
and ate wild fruit and vegetables. He had a craving for meat,

but no real waWRFDWFKDQy. The stars came out, and the night
sounds died.
Again the Shadowen appeared, hunting him. Sometimes they
came close—and again he was reluctant to remove the cloak.
He did so long enough to wash, careful to keep concealed
within the trees, and then quicklSXWLWEDFNRQDJDLQ+HZDs
finding it more comfortable to wear now , less constricting and
less unfamiliar. He was actuallJURZLQJWROLNHWKHVHQVHRf
He went on again at first light, striding out across the
grasslands, fixing on the dark edges of the Dragon’ s Teeth
where theEURNHWKHEOXHVNline north. Just this side of those
mountains laT UVLVDQG3Dr. The heat of this new daVHHPHd
more intense, and he found the light uncomfortable. Perhaps
he would begin traveling at night, he decided. The darkness
seemed somehow less threatening. He took shelter at midday
in a cluster of rocks, crouching back within their shadows,
hidden. His mind wandered, scattering to things that were
forgotten almost as soon as theZHUHUHPHPEHUHG+e
hunched down, his cowled head lowered between his knees,
and he slept.
Nightfall took him from his shelter . He hunted down a rabbit,
a cat. He dug down to it with his hands, wrung its neck,
carried it back to his rock-walled shelter , and ate it before it
was finished cooking over the little fire. He sat staring at the
bones afterward, wondering what creature it had been.
Stars and moon brightened in the darkening sky . Somewhere
distant, an owl hooted. Coll Ohmsford no longer searched for
the Shadowen that hunted him. Somehow, theQRORQJHr
When the night had settled comfortablLQDERXWKLPKHURVH,
kicked out the fire, and crept from his place of concealment
like an animal. Far distant still, but growing closer , was the
city. He could smell it in the wind.
There was a rage inside him that he could not explain. There
was a hunger . Somehow, though he could not HWGHWHUPLQe

how, it was tied to Par .


N ightfall
Wren Ohmsford walked back across the Harrow through the
deepening gloom, emptRIIHHOLQJ6KDGRZVODered the lava
candle’ s slender glow against the dark. The Harrow stretched
silent and lifeless all about, a mirror of herself. The magic of
the Elfstones had scoured her clean. The death of Eowen had
hardened her to iron.
Who am I? she asked herself.
She chose her path without reallWKLQNLQJDERXWLWPRYLQJLn
the direction from which she had come because that was the
onlZD she knew to go. She stared straight ahead without
seeing; she listened without hearing.
Who am I?
All of her life she had known the answer to that question. The
fact of it had been her one certainty . She was a Rover girl, free
of the constraints of personal history , of the ties and
obligations of family, and of the need to live up to anRQH’ s
expectations but her own. She had Garth to teach her what she
needed to know and she could do with herself as she pleased.
The future stretched awaLQWULJXLQJOy , a blank slate on which
her life could be written with anZRUGVVKHFKRVH.
would never be as she had been or had thought she would be.
Never. She had lost it all. And what had she gained? She
almost laughed. She had become a chameleon. Just look at
her; she could be anRQH6KHFRXOGQ’ t even be sure of her

name. She was an Ohmsford and an Elessedil both. Choose
either—it would fit. She was an Elf and a human. She was the
child of several families, one who birthed her, two more who
raised her.
Who am I?
She was a creature of the magic, heir to the Elfstones, keeper
of the Ruhk Staf f and the Loden. She bore them all, trusts she
had been given to hold, responsibilities she had been
empowered to manage. The magic was hers, and she hated the
wanted it, and now could not seem to get rid of it. The magic
was a shadow within, a dark reflection of herself that rose on
command to do her bidding, a trickster that made her feel as
nothing else could and at the same time stole awaKHUUHDVRn
magic even killed for her—enemies to be sure, but friends as
well. Eowen. Hadn’t the magic killed Eowen? She bit down
against her despair . It destroHGZKLFKZDVDOOULJKWEHFDXVe
that was what she expected it to do, but at the same time was
all wrong because it was indiscriminate and even when it
compassion, tenderness, remorse, and love, the soft that
balanced the hard. It burned awaWKHFRPSOH[LW of her vision
and left her stripped of choices.
As she was now, she realized.
A wind had come up, slow and erratic at first, now quick and
rough as it gusted across the flats, causing the spines of the
trees to shiver and the ravines to hum and moan. It blew across
her shoulders, pushing her sidewaVLQWKHPDQQHURIa
thoughtless stranger in a crowd. She lowered her head against
it, another distraction to be suf fered, another obstacle to be
overcome. The light west had disappeared, and she was
cloaked in darkness. It wasn’t so far to go, she told herself
wearily. The others were just ahead at the Harrow’ s edge,
Just ahead.

She laughed. What did it ‘matter whether theZHUHWKHUHRr
it chose, just as it had been doing ever since she had come in
search of herself. No, she corrected, longer ago than that.
Forever, perhaps. She laughed again. Come in search of
herself, her family , the Elves, the truth—such foolishness! She
could hear the mocking sounds of her own voice as the
thoughts chased after one another .
A voice that echoed in the wind.
What matter? it whispered.
What difference?
Her thoughts returned unbidden to Eowen, kind and gentle,
doomed in spite of her seer ’s gifts, fated to be swallowed up
What good would it do anRIWKHP":KDWJRRGLQIDFWHYHn
would do with RXZKDWLWFKRVHLQDQ case. It would make
RXZKDWLWZLVKHGWDNHou where it willed, and leave RXLn
its own good time.
All about her , the wind voice howled. Let go!
She heard it, nodded in recognition, and began to cry . The
words caressed her like a mother’s hands, and she welcomed
their touch. EverWKLQJVHHPHGWREHIDGLQJDZDy . She was
walking—where? She didn’t stop, didn’t pause to wonder , but
what? She shook her head, unable to determine, and brushed at
her tears with the back of her hand.
The hand that held the Elfstones.
She looked down at it wonderingly , surprised to discover the
Stones were still there. The magic pulsed within her fist,
through the cracks, spilling out into the dark. WhZDVLt
doing that? She stared blankly, vaguelDZDUHWKDWVRPHWKLQg
was wrong. WhGLGLWEXUQVR?
Let go, the wind voice whispered.

I want to! she howled in the silence of her mind.
She slowed, looking up from the pathwaKHUIHHWKDGEHHn
following, from the emptiness of the ground. The Harrow had
taken on a different cast, one of brightness and warmth. There
were faces all about, strangelDOLYHDJDLQVWWKHKD]HILOOHd
with understanding of her need. The faces were familiar , of
friends and family, of all those who had loved and supported
her, living and dead, come out of her imagination into life. She
spoke to them, a word or two, tentative, curious. TheJODQFHd
Let go.
Let go.
The words repeated insistentlLQKHUPLQGDJOLPPHURIKRSH.
was and no longer caring. She was so tired. Her life was a
shambles. She could not even pretend that she had anFRQWURl
over it. It rode her as a rider would a horse, but without pause
or rest, without destination, endlesslLQWRQLJKW.
Let go.
She blinked, then smiled. Understanding flooded through her .
Of course. So simple, really. Let go of the magic. Let go, and
the weariness and confusion and sense of loss would pass. Let
go, and she would have a chance to start over again, to regain
possession of her life, to return to who and what she had been.
WhKDGQ’t she seen it before?
Something tugged at her in warning, some part of her deep
within that had become buried in the sound of the wind’ s
voice. Curious, she tried to uncover it, but featherWRXFKHVRn
her skin distracted her. There was a burning against the skin of
her palm from the Elfstones, but she ignored it. The touches
were more intriguing, more inviting. She lifted her face to find
their source. The faces were all about her now , milling at the
edge of the darkness and the mist, taking on form. She knew
them, didn’t she? WhFRXOGQ’ t she remember?
Let go.

She cocked the hand that grasped the Elfstones in response,
the cracks of her fingers, lancing into the dark. InstantlWKe
faces were gone. She blinked in confusion. What was she
alarm, seeing the darkness and the mist of the Harrow,
realizing she was lost somewhere within, that she had straHG.
The Drakuls were there, watching. She could feel their
presence. She swallowed against her fear. What had she been
She started moving again, trLQJWRVRUWRXWZKDWKDd
She remembered bits and pieces of her thoughts, like the
fragments of dreams on waking. She had been about to do
something, she thought worriedly. But what?
The minutes passed. Far ahead, lost in the howl of the wind,
she heard the call of her name. It was there, hanging
wondering if she was still going in the right direction, if she
was unable to determine so soon, she would have to use the
Elfstones. The thought was anathema. She never wanted to use
them again. All she could see in her mind’ s eHZDVWKHLUILUe
exploding into the monster that had once been Eowen and
turning her to ash.
Again she began to crDQGDJDLQTXLFNO stopped herself.
There was no use in it, no point. Leafless trees and fire-washed
lava rock spread awaIURPKHr, an endless, changeless
expanse. The Harrow seemed to go on forever . She was lost,
she decided, become turned about somehow. She stopped and
glanced around wearily. Exhaustion flooded through her , and
in anguish and despair she closed her eHV.
The wind whispered. Let go.
Yes, she replied silently , I want to.
The spell of the words folded about her like a warm cloak,
wrapped her and held her close. She resisted but a moment,
then gave herself over to it. When she opened her eHVWKe

faces were back again, surrounding her in a circle of faint light
ravine—a familiar place, it seemed. Once again, everWKLQg
began to fade. She forgot that she was trLQJWRHVFDSHWKe
Harrow, that the faces about her were something other than
mind and settled there, thick and murky . Her ice-bound
thoughts melted and ran like liquid through her bodVKe
could feel their cold. She was so tired, so wearRIHYHUthing.
Let go.
The hand that clutched the Elfstones lowered, and the faces
clustered about her began to take on shape and size. Lips
brushed her throat.
Let go.
be so easy. Let the Elfstones fall, and she would escape the
magic’s chain forever .
The shout was an anguished howl, and for a moment’ s time it
didn’t register . Then her eHVVQDSSHGRSHQDQGKHUERGy
tensed. The strange sleep that had almost claimed her hovered
close, a whisper of insistent need. Through its fog, beRQGLWs
pall, she saw two figures crouched at the edge of the light.
“Phfftt! Don’ t move, W ren of the Elves!” she heard another
“StaZKHUHou are, LadW ren,” the first cautioned
frantically. Triss.
The Captain of the Home Guard inched forward, his weapon
held before him. She saw his face now , lean and hard, filled
with determination. Behind him was Garth, a lar ger form,
darker, inscrutable. Leading them both, spines bristling, was
the Splinterscat.
A cold place opened in the pit of her stomach. What were they
doing here? What had happened to bring them? She felt a

surge of fear strike her , a sense that something was about to
happen and she had not even been aware of it.
She forced back the lassitude, the calm, and the whisper of the
wind and made herself see again. The cold turned to ice. The
light surrounding her emanated from the things that clustered
close. Drakuls, all about. TheZHUHVRFORVHVKHFRXOGIHHl
their breath—or seem to. She could see their dead eHVWKHLr
were dozens of them, pressed about her , parted onlDWWKe
point where Triss and Garth and Stresa sought to approach, a
window into the dark of the Harrow . Their hands and fingers
clutched her, held her fast, bound her in ropes of hunger . They
had lured her to them, lulled her almost to slumber as they
must have done Eowen. Turned from phantoms to things of
substance, theZHUHDERXWWRIHHG.
For an instant Wren hung suspended between being and
nonbeing, between life and death. She could feel the draw of
two choices, verGLf ferent, each compelling. One would have
her break free of the soothing, deadlERQGVWKDWKHOGKHr ,
would have her rise up in revulsion and furDQGILJKWIRUKHr
life because that was what her instincts told her she must do.
The other would have her do as the wind voice had whispered
ever be free of the magic. Time froze. She weighed the
possibilities as if detached from them, a judging that seemed to
bring into focus the whole of her existence, past, present, and
future. She could see her rescuers creep nearer , their gestures
unmistakable. She could feel the Drakuls draw a fraction of an
inch closer. Neither seemed to matter . Each was a distant,
Then fangs brushed her throat—a whisper of hunger and need.
An evolution of horror—and onlVKHNQHw .

If I do not escape Morrowindl and return to the Four Lands,
who else will ever know?
“LadWren!” Triss called softlWRKHr , his voice pleading,
desperate, angrDQGORVW.
She stepped back from the precipice and took a long, deep
breath. She could feel the strength of her bodUHWXUQDULVLQg
up out of lethargy. But she would still be too slow . She flexed
gently, almost imperceptibly , seeking to discover if she could
move, testing the limits of her freedom. There were none; the
hands that secured her held her so fast that she might as soon
have been chained to the earth.
One chance, then. One hope. Her mind focused, hard and
insistent, reaching deep within. Her fingers slipped open.
Blue fire exploded into the night, racing up her bodWo
sheathe her in flames. The fangs jerked back, the hands fell
away , the Drakuls shrieked in fury , and she was free. She
stood within a cOLQGHURIILUHWKHPDJLF’ s heat racing over
her, wrapping her about as she waited for the pain to begin,
anticipated what it would feel like to be burned to ash. Better
that than to become one of them, the thought flashed through
her mind, the corner of her life’ s need turned and become a
certaintVKHZRXOGQRWTXHVWLRQDJDLQ Just let it be quick!
The fire pillared over her, rising up against the black, searing
the curtain of the vog. The Drakuls flung themselves into the
flames, desperatelWUing to reach her , moths bereft of reason.
thought. Wren watched them come at her , reach for her,
become entangled in the fire and disappear . Her eHVVQDSSHd
open seeking the Elfstones. She found them in the cup of her
open hand, white with magic, as brilliant as small suns.
Yet she did not burn. The fire raged about her , swallowed her
attackers, and left her untouched.
Oh, HV!
Now the exhilaration began, the sense of power that the magic
alwaVJDYHKHr. She felt invincible, indestructible. The fire

could not hurt her, would not—and she must have known as
much. She flung her hands out, carrLQJWKHILUHDZD from her
in a sweep, into the maelstrom of Drakuls that circled about
For RX(RZHQ! She watched them perish and felt nothing
beRQGWKHMR that use of the magic gave her, the Drakuls
reduced to things of no consequence, as insignificant to her as
dust. She embraced the magic’s power and let it carrKHr
beRQGUHDVRQEHond thought.
Use it, she told herself. Nothing else matters.
For an instant, she was lost completely . Forgotten were T riss
and Garth, the need to escape Morrowindl and return to the
Four Lands, the truths she had learned and planned to tell, the
given into her trust, everWKLQJ)Rr gotten was anSXUSRVe
Then some small, ragged corner of her conscience reclaimed
her once again, a whisper of sanitWKDWUHDFKHGSDVWWKHPL[Rf
fear and exhaustion and despair that threatened to turn
determination to madness. She saw T riss and Garth and Stresa
as the circle closed. She heard their cries to her and heard the
voice within herself that echoed in reply . She sensed the island
of self on which she had retreated beginning to sink into the
Down came the hand with the Elfstones, the pillar of flames
under control once more. She saw the darkness and the mist
again, the ragged slopes of the ravine, the lava rock, jagged
and black. She smelled the night, the ash and fire and heat. She
wheeled toward the Drakuls and hissed at them as a snake
might. TheEDFNHGDZD in fear. She moved toward her
friends, and the attackers that ringed them fell away . She
carried death in her hand, certain annihilation for things who
understood all too well what annihilation meant. They
shimmered about her, losing substance. She stalked into their
midst, unafraid, swinging the light of her magic this waDQd
that, threatening, menacing, alive with deadlSURPLVH7Ke

Drakuls did not challenge; in an instant theIDGHGDQGZHUe
She came then to where Garth and Triss stood crouched,
weapons in hand, uncertaintLQWKHLUHes. She stopped before
Stresa, who stared up at her as if she were a thing beRQd
comprehension. She closed her fingers tight about the
Elfstones, and the fire winked out.
“Help me walk from the ravine,” she whispered, so wearVKe
was in danger of collapse, knowing she could not, realizing
that the Drakuls still watched.
Triss had his arm about her instantly . “Lady, we thought Ru
lost,” he said as he turned her gentlDERXW.
“I was,” she answered, her smile tight.
began to climb.

It took them until midnight to get clear of the Harrow . The
Drakuls had drawn Wren deep into their lair , far from the
pathwaVKHKDGWKRXJKWWRIROORw , turning her about so
wandering across the flats in the wrong direction. Stress had
managed to track her, but it hadn’t been easy. TheKDGFRPe
in search of her at nightfall, despite her command that they
were not to do so, worried bWKHQEHFDXVHVKHKDGEHHQJRQe
so long, determined to make certain that she was safe, even at
the risk of their own lives. TheNQHZWKH had no ef fective
protection against the Drakuls, but that no longer mattered.
Both Garth and Triss were decided. Dal was left to keep watch
over Gavilan and the Ruhk Staf f. Stress had come because no
one else could find Wren’s trail in the dark. ThePLJKWQRt
have found her even then if the Drakuls hadn’ t been so
preoccupied with their quarry. Even a handful of the wraiths
would have been enough to disrupt the rescue ef fort. But
Wren, bearer of the Elfstone magic, was a lure for the Drakuls,
and all had joined in the hunt, anxious to share in the feeding,
Shadowen to the end. Stress had been able to track her
unhindered. TheKDGIRXQGKHr , it seemed, just in time.

Wren told them in turn of Eowen’ s fate, of how the Drakuls
had subverted her, of how she had been made one of them. She
described the seer ’s death, unwilling to gloss past it, needing
to hear the words, to give voice to her grief. It felt as if she
were speaking from some hollow place within, wrapped in a
haze of emptiness and exhaustion. She was so tired. Y et she
would not slow; she would not rest. She disdained all help
once clear of the ravine. She walked because she would not let
herself be carried, because that would be another
demonstration of weakness and she had shown weakness
enough for one night. She was dismaHGE what had
happened to her, appalled at how easilVKHKDGEHHQPLVOHd
willing she had been to allow it to happen—W ren Elessedil,
called Queen of the Elves, bearer of the trust of a people, heir
of so much magic. She could still remember how inviting the
wind voice had made it seem for her to give up her life. She
had been so ready, welcoming the peace she had supposed she
would find. All of her life she had been strong in the face of
death, never giving waWRWKHSRVVLELOLW of it finding her ,
had happened in the Harrow had shaken her confidence more
than she cared to admit. She had failed to resist as she had
despair work through her so thoroughlWKDWVKHZDVDs
hollowed out as wormwood and as quick to crumble. She saw
the waWKHPDJLFSXOOHGKHr, first one way, then the other , the
Drakul’s, her own. Just as Eowen had been a prisoner of her
visions, so W ren was now becoming a prisoner of the Elven
magic. She hated herself for it. She despised what she had
I am nothing of what I believed, she thought in despair . I am a
She talked to keep from thinking of it, speaking of what she
had seen as she wandered the Harrow , of how the wind voice
of the Drakuls had lulled her, of how Eowen—so vulnerable to
visions and images—must have become ensnared. She
rambled at times, the sound of her voice helping to distract her
from dark thoughts, keeping her awake, keeping her moving.

She thought of the dead on this nightmare journey, of Ellenroh
and Eowen in particular. She was consumed bWKHLUORVV,
had left her. She clutched the Elfstones tightlLQKHUKDQG,
unable to persuade herself to put them away , frightened that
the Drakuls would come again. TheGLGQRW1RWHYHQWKe
wind voice whispered in the darkness now, gone back into the
earth, leaving her alone. She gazed out into the black and felt
it a mirror of the void within. She was heartsick for what she
had become and what she feared she HWPLJKWEH7KHZRUOd
was a place she no longer understood. She could not even
decide which was the greater evil—the monsters or the
monster makers. Shadowen or Elves—which should bear the
blame? Where was the balance to life that should come from
lessons learned and experience gained? Where was the sense
that the madness would pass, that a purpose would be revealed
magic had caught them all up in a whirlwind, and it would
drop them where it chose.
This night, it picked a darker hole than she would have
imagined could exist. TheFDPHRff the Harrow bone weary
and numb, relieved to be clear, anxious to be gone. They
would rest until dawn, then continue on. The greater part of
Blackledge was behind them now , left in the shadow of
Killeshan’s vog. Ahead, between themselves and the beaches,
there was onlWKH,Q-X7KH would pass through the jungle
quickly, two daVLIWKH hurried, and reach the shores of the
Blue Divide in two more. Quick, now , theXrged themselves
silently. Quick, and get free.
clearing within a cluster of lava rocks in the shadow of a
fringe of barren vines and famished scrub. Faun raced through
the darkness, come out of hiding from some distance of f ,
chittering wildly, springing to Wren’s shoulder and hunkering
there as if no other haven existed. W ren’s hands came up
reassuringly . The Tree Squeak was shivering with fear .
lifeless tangle of arms and legs, his skull split wide. T riss bent

close and turned the Elven Hunter over.
He looked up, stunned. Dal’s weapons were still sheathed.
Wren glanced awaLQGHVSDLr , a dark certaintDOUHDG taking
hold. She didn’t have to look further to know that Gavilan
Elessedil and the Ruhk Staf f were gone.


P ar Ohmsford crouched in the shadow of the building wall, as
dark as the night about him within the covering of his cloak,
listening to the sounds of TUVLVDVVKHVWLUUHGUHVWOHVVOy
beneath her blanket of summer heat, waiting for morning. The
air was still and filled with the cit’ s smells, sweet, sticky, and
cloLQJ3DUEUHDWKHGLWLQUHOXFWDQWOy , wearily, peering out
from his shelter into the pools of light cast bWKHVWUHHWODPSV,
watchful for thugs that didn’ t belong, that crept and hunted,
that searched relentlessly.
The Federation.
The Shadowen.
and that refused to quit. For almost a week now Damson and
he had been running from them, ever since theKDGIOHGWKe
Mole’s under ground hideout and made their waEDFNWKURXJh
sort through the debris of its passing, his memorLn
fragments, a jumble of buildings and rooms, of closets and
not been able to rest anZKHUHIRUPRUHWKDQDIHZKRXUV,
themselves safe, forced to run again, to flee the dark things
that sought to claim them.
How was it, Par wondered for what must have been the
thousandth time, that theZHUHDOZDs found so quickl?
At first he had attributed it to luck. But luck would onlWDNe
RXVRIDr, and the regularitRIWKHLUGLVFRYHU had soon ruled
out anSRVVLELOLW that it was luck alone. Then he had thought
that it might be his magic, traced somehow b5LPPHU'DOO—
for it was the Seekers that came most often, sometimes in

Federation guise, but more often revealed as the monsters they
were, dark shadows cloaked and hooded. But he hadn’t used
used it, how could it be traced?
tight-lipped and wan before leaving him onlKRXUVHDUOLHUWo
search anew for a hiding place about which their pursuers did
our secrets. There is no other explanation.”
But even she had been forced to admit that no one other than
Padishar Creel knew all the hiding places she used. No one
else could have betraHGWKHP.
Which led, in turn, to the disquieting possibilitWKDWGHVSLWe
their hopes to the contrary , the fall of the Jut had LHOGHGWKe
Federation the catch it had been so anxious to make.
Par let his head fall back to rest against the rough, heated
stone, his eHVFORVLQJPRPHQWDULO in despair . Coll dead.
Padishar and Morgan missing. Wren and Walker Boh. Stef f
and Teel. The company . Even the Mole—there had been no
There was no sign of him, nothing to reveal what had
happened. It was maddening. EverRQHKHKDGVWDUWHGRXWZLWh
weeks ago—his brother , his cousin, his uncle, and his friends
—had disappeared. It sometimes seemed as if everRQHKe
came in contact with was doomed to fall of f the face of the
never resurface again.
Even Damson . . .
glimmer from the lamps. Not Damson. He would not lose her.
It would not happen again.
But how much longer could theNHHSUXQQLQJOLNHWKLV"+Rw
long before their enemies finallUDQWKHPWRHDUWK?
There was sudden movement at the corner of the wall ahead
where it turned the building to follow the street west toward
the bluff, and Damson appeared. She scurried through the

shadows in a crouch and came up next to him, breathless and
“Two other safe holes are discovered,” she said. “I could smell
the stench of the things that watch for us even before I saw
them.” Her long red hair was tangled and damp against her
face and neck, tied back bDFORWKEDQGDERXWKHUIRUHKHDG.
Her smile, when it came, was unexpected. “But I found one
Her hand reached out to brush his cheek. “Y ou look so tired,
actually . A cellar beneath an old gristmill that was once
something else, I for get what. It hasn’t been used in more than
the memorUHWULHYHGDWWKHYHr ge of its telling and drawn back
again—too painful, her eHVVDLGWRUHODWH7KH will not
know of this one. Come with me, V aleman. We’ll trDJDLQ”
TheKXUULHGRf f into the night, twin shadows that appeared
and faded again as quick as the blink of an eH3DUIHOWWKe
weight of the Sword of Shannara against his back, flat and
hard, its presence a reminder of the travestKLVTXHVWKDd
become and of the confusions that plagued him. W as this, in
fact, the ancient talisman he had been sent to find, or some
trick of Rimmer Dall’s meant to bring him to his destruction?
when face to face with the First Seeker? If it was a fake, what
had become of the real Sword?
But the questions, as alwaVielded no answers, onlIXUWKHr
questions, and as alwaVKHTXLFNO abandoned them. Survival
was all that counted for the moment, evasion of the black
things and, more important, escape from the city . For their
flight had been that of rats in a maze, trapped behind walls
from which theFRXOGQRWEUHDNIUHH$OOHfforts at getting
thwarted. The gates were carefullZDWFKHGDOOWKHH[LWs
guarded, and Damson lacked suf ficient skill, in the absence of
the Mole, to navigate the tunnels beneath the citWKDWSURYLGHd
them but to continue to run and hide, to scurrIURPRQHKROe

to the next, and to wait for an opportunitWRDULVHRUDPHDQs
to present itself that would at last set them free.
cast through the slats of shutters closed against windows high
on a back wall, hearing laughter and the clink of drinking
glasses from the alehouse within. Garbage littered the street,
quarter, and the smell of her bodZDVUDQNDQGVKDPHOHVs
where the poor and the homeless had been crowded awaEy
the occupiers. Once a proud lady , she was used up and cast off
now, a chattel to be treated as the Federation wished, a spoil of
a war that had been over before it had begun.
Damson paused, searched carefullWKHHPSW swath of a
lighted crossing, listened momentarilIRUVRXQGVWKDWGLGQ’ t
belong, then took him swiftlDFURVV7KH passed down a
second side street, this one as silent and mustDVDQXQRSHQHd
closet, then through an alcove and into an alleWKDWFRQQHFWHd
to another street. Par was thinking of the Sword of Shannara
again, wondering how he could discover if it was real and
what test he could put it to that would determine the truth.
“Here,” Damson whispered, turning him abruptlWKURXJKWKe
broken opening of an ancient board wall.
where it seeped through cracks in the split, drERDUGVRIWKe
walls. Machines hunkered down like animals crouched to
spring, and rows of bins DZQHGHPSW and black. Damson
steered him across the room, their boots crunching on stone
and straw in the deep silence. Close to the back wall she
stopped, reached down, seized an iron ring embedded in the
floor, and pulled free a trapdoor . A glimmer of light showed
stairs leading down into blackness.
“You first,” she ordered, motioning. “Just inside, then stop.”
He did as he was told, listened to the sound of her footsteps as
she followed, then of the trapdoor as it closed behind them.
past and fumbled quietlLQWKHGDUN$VSDUNVWUXFNDIODPe

appeared, and the pitch of a torch caught and began to burn.
Light filled the chamber in which theVWRRGZHDNDQGKD]y,
revealing a low cellar filled with old iron-banded casks and
disintegrating crates. She gestured for him to follow, and they
moved ahead through the debris. The cellar stretched on for a
time, then ended at a passageway. Damson bent low against
the black, thrust the torch ahead of her , and entered. The
passage took them down a series of intersecting corridors to a
room that had once been a sleeping chamber . A worn bed was
positioned against one wall, a table and chairs against another .
A second passage led out the other side and back into
blackness. Where the torchlight ended, Par could just make out
the beginning of a set of ancient stairs.
“We should be safe here for tonight, maEHORQJHr ,” she
advised, turning now so that the light caught her features, the
bright gleam of her green eHVWKHVRIWQHVVRIKHUVPLOH,W’ s
not much, is it?”
do the stairs lead?”
“Back to the street. But the door is locked from the outside.
We would have to break it down if we needed to escape that
way , if we were unable to use the cellar entry . Still, that’s at
least a measure of protection against being trapped. And no
one will think to look where the lock is old and rusted and still
in place.”
He nodded, took the torch from her hand, looked about
momentarily , then carried it to a ruined lamp bracket and
jammed it in place. “Home it is,” he declared, unslinging the
Sword of Shannara and leaning it against the bed. His eHs
upraised hand with its burning torch. Then he turned away .
She laughed. “Hardly.” ImpulsivelVKHZHQWWRKLPSXWKHr
arms about his waist, held him momentarily , then kissed his
cheek. “Par Ohmsford.” She spoke his name softly .
He hugged her, stroked her hair , felt the warmth of her seep
through him. “I know ,” he whispered.

“It will be all right for RXDQGPH”
He nodded without speaking, determined that it would be, that
it must.
“I have some fresh cheese and bread in mSDFNVKHVDLG,
pulling away. “And some ale. Good enough for refugees like
iron nails embedded in the building’s walls, tightening as the
night grew deeper. Once or twice there were voices, so distant
the words were indistinguishable, carried from the street
through the padlocked door and down the ancient stairs. When
theKDGILQLVKHGWKH carefullSDFNHGDZD what was left,
extinguished the torch, wrapped themselves in their blankets,
and crevices, cool and hazy , and the sounds of the citJUHw
loud and distinct as people began to venture forth on a new
da’s business. Par woke refreshed for the first time in a week,
wishing he had water in which to wash, but grateful simplWo
eHGDQGORYHO to look upon, tousled and at the same time
behind them.
“The first order of business is to find a waRXWRIWKHFLWy ,”
Damson declared between bites of her breakfast, seated across
from him at the little table. Her forehead was lined with
determination. “We can’t go on like this.”
“I wish we could find out something about the Mole.”
She nodded, her eHVVKLIWLQJDZDy . “I’ve looked for him
when I’ve been out.” She shook her head. “The Mole is
resourceful. He has staHGDOLYHDORQJWLPH”
Not with the Shadowen hunting for him, Par almost said, then
thought better of it. Damson would be thinking the same thing
anZDy. “What do I do toda"”
She looked back at him. “Same as alwaVY ou staSXW7KHy
still don’t know about me. TheRQO know about RX”

“You hope.”
She sighed. “I hope. AnZDy , I have to find a waIRUXVWRJHt
happened to Padishar and the others.”
He folded his arms across his chest and leaned back. “I feel
useless just sitting around here.”
“Sometimes waiting is what works best, Par .”
“And I don’t like letting RXJRRXWDORQH”
She smiled. “And I don’ t like leaving RXKHUHE RXUVHOI.
But that’s the waLWKDVWREHIRUQRw . We have to be smart
about this.”
She pulled on her street cloak, her magician’ s garb, for she still
children, keeping up the appearance that everWKLQJZDVWKe
to him she disappeared into it and was gone.
He spent the remainder of the morning being restless,
prowling the narrow confines of his shelter. Once, he climbed
to the top of the stairs leading back to the street where he
tested the lock that fastened the heavZRRGHQGRRUDQGIRXQd
it secure. He wandered back through the tunnels that branched
from the gristmill cellar and discovered that each dead-ended
at a storage hold or bin, all long emptDQGDEDQGRQHG:KHn
noon came, he took his lunch from the remains of HVWHUGD’ s
foodstuffs, still cached in Damson’ s backpack, then stretched
out on the bed to nap and fell into a deep sleep.
When he finallZRNHWKHOLJKWKDGJRQHVLOYHr , and the day
was fading rapidlLQWRGXVN+HOD blinking sleepilIRUa
moment, then realized that Damson had not returned. She had
been gone almost ten hours. He rose quickly, worried now,
thinking that she should have been back long ago. It was
possible that she had come in and gone out again, but not
likely. She would have woken him. He would have woken
himself. He frowned darkly , uneasily, twisted his bodIURm
side to side to ease the kinks, and wondered what to do.

Hungry, in spite of his concern, he decided to eat something,
and finished of f the last of the cheese and bread. There was a
little ale in the stoppered skin, but it tasted stale and warm.
Where was Damson?
Par Ohmsford had known the risks from the beginning, the
dangers that Damson Rhee faced everWLPHVKHOHIWKLPDQd
went out into the city . If the Mole was captured, theZRXOd
make him talk. If the safe holes were compromised, she might
be, too. If Padishar was taken, there were no secrets left. He
knew the risks; he had told himself he had accepted them. But
faced for the first time since escaping from the sewers that the
worst had happened, he found he was not prepared after all.
He found that he was terrified.
A scuffling sound caught his attention, and he left the thought
unfinished. He started, then wheeled about, searching for the
source of the noise. It was behind him, at the top of the stairs,
at the door leading to the street.
Someone was plaLQJZLWKWKHORFN.
At first he thought it must be Damson, forced for some reason
key. And the sound he was hearing was of a keVFUDSLQJLn
the lock. The fumbling continued, ending in a sharp snick as
the lock released.
Par reached down for the Sword of Shannara and strapped it
Damson. He snatched up the backpack, thinking to hide any
trace of his being there. But his bootprints were everZKHUH,
the bed was mussed, and small crumbs of food littered the
table. Besides, there was no time. The intruder had lifted the
lock from its hasp and was opening the door .
the torch. He no longer needed it to find his way . The
morning’s explorations had left him with a clear vision of

on the wooden steps, too heavDQGURXJKWREH'DPVRQ’s.
He went down the tunnel in a noiseless crouch. Whoever had
entered would know he had been there, but would not know
catch him unprepared. Or Damson. But he could wait for
Damson somewhere close to the entrance to the old mill and
warn her before she entered. Damson would never come
through the back entrance with the lock sprung. His thoughts
raced through his mind in rapid succession, propelling him on
through the darkness, silent and swift. All he had to do was
escape detection, to get back through the cellar and out the
door to the street.
He could no longer hear footsteps. Good. The intruder had
stopped to view the room, was wondering who had been there,
More time for Par to get away, a better chance for him to
But when he reached the cellar , he moved too quicklWRZDUd
the stairs leading up and stumbled into an emptZRRGHQFUDWH,
tripped, and fell. The rotting wood cracked and splintered
beneath him, the sound reverberating sharplWKURXJKWKe
As he pulled himself back to his feet, furious, breathless, he
could hear the sound of footsteps coming toward him.
He broke for the stairs, no longer bothering to hide his flight.
The footsteps gave chase. Not Shadowen, he thought—they
would be silent in their coming. Federation, then. But only
He gained the stairs and scrambled up. The trapdoor was a
faint silhouette above. He wondered suddenlLIRWKHUVPLJKt
be waiting above, if he was being driven into a trap. Should he
stand his ground and face the one rather than allow himself to
be herded toward the others? But it was all speculation, and
besides there wasn’t time left to decide. He was alreadDWWKe
He shoved upward against it. The trapdoor did not move.

Shafts of fading daOLJKWIRXQGWKHLUZD through gaps in the
heavZRRGHQERDUGVDQGGDQFHGRff his sweat-streaked face,
upward a second time. The door was solidlLQSODFH+e
squinted past the light, trLQJWRVHHZKDWKDGKDSSHQHG.
the trapdoor.
In desperation, he threw himself against the barrier , but it
refused to budge. He backed down the steps, casting a quick
glance over his shoulder. His heart was beating so loudlLQKLs
ears he could barelPDQDJHWRKHDUWKHPXf fled voice that
called his name.
“Par? Par Ohmsford?”
A man, someone he knew it seemed, but he wasn’ t sure. The
voice was familiar and strange all at once. The speaker was
still back in the tunnels, lost in the darkness. The gristmill
cellar stretched low and tight to the dark opening, dust motes
dancing on the air in the gloom, a haze that turned everWKLQg
to shadow. Par looked at the trapdoor once more, then back
again at the cellar .
He was trapped.
The line of his mouth tightened. Sweat was running down his
Who was back there?
Who was it who would know his name?
He thought again of Damson, wondering where she was, what
had become of her, whether she was safe. If she had been
taken, then he was the onlRQHOHIWVKHFRXOGGHSHQGXSRQ.
He could not let himself be captured because then there would
be no one to help her . Or him. Damson. He saw her flaming
red hair, the quirk of her mouth as she smiled at him, and the
brightness of her green eHV+HFRXOGKHDUKHUYRLFHKHr
laughter . He could feel her touching him. He remembered how
she had worked to save his life, to keep him from the madness
that had claimed him when Coll had died.

The feelings he experienced in that instant were
overwhelming, so intense he almost cried them out.
Anger and determination replaced his fear. He reached back
and started to draw free the Sword of Shannara, then let it slip
back into its sheath. The Sword was meant for other things. He
would use his magic, use it even though it frightened him now ,
an old friend who had turned unexpectedlVWUDQJHDQd
unfamiliar. The magic was unreliable, quixotic, and dangerous.
And of questionable use, he realized suddenly , if what he
faced was human.
His thoughts scattered, leaving him bereft of hope. He reached
back a second time and pulled free the Sword. It was his only
weapon after all.
A shadow appeared at the mouth of the tunnel, breath hissing
featureless in the failing light. A man, it looked, taller than Par
and broader as well.
The man stepped clear of the dark and straightened. He started
cellar stairs, weapon in hand. The long knife in his own hand
glinted dully. For an instant theIDFHGHDFKRWKHUZLWKRXt
moving, each trLQJWRLGHQWLI the other .
Then the intruder’s hands reached up slowlDQGVOLGEDFNWKe
hood of his dustEODFNFORDN.


T riss straightened, his movements leaden and stiff. They
stared wordlesslDWRQHDQRWKHr, the Captain of the Home
Guard, Wren, and Garth, faceless in Morrowindl’ s vog
form of Dal, as if sentinels set at watch, frozen in time. They
were all that remained of the companRIQLQHZKRKDGVHWRXt
from beneath Killeshan’s shadow to bear Arborlon and the
Elves from their volcanic grave to life anew within the forests
of the Westland. Three, W ren emphasized through her anguish,
for Gavilan was lost to them as surelDVKHURZQLQQRFHQFH.
How could she have been so stupid?
Triss shifted abruptly , breaking his bonds. He walked away ,
bent down to examine the earth, stood again, and shook his
head. “What could have done this? There must be tracks . . .”
He trailed off.
Wren and Garth exchanged glances. T riss still didn’t
understand. “It was Gavilan,” she said softly .
“Gavilan?” The Captain of the Home Guard turned. He stared
at her blankly.
“Gavilan Elessedil,” she repeated, speaking his full name,
real for her. Against her shoulder , Faun still shivered. “He’ s
killed Dal and taken the Ruhk Staf f .”
Triss did not move. “No,” he said at once. “LadW ren, that
could not happen. You are wrong. Gavilan is an Elf, and no Elf
would harm another. Besides, he is a prince of the Elessedil
blood! He is sworn to serve his people!”
Wren shook her head in despair . She should have seen it
coming. She should have read it in his eHVKLVYRLFHKLs

changing behavior. It was there, and she had simplUHIXVHGWo
recognize it. “Stresa,” she called.
The Splinterscat lumbered up from out of the dark, spines
prickling belligerently . “Hsssttt! I warned RXDERXWKLP”
Your eHVDUHVKDUSHVWour nose better able to measure. Read
them for me, please.”
Her words were gentle and filled with pain. The Splinterscat
saw and edged quietlDZDy . TheZDWFKHGDVKHEHJDQWo
skirt the clearing, sniffing, scanning, pausing frequently , then
continuing on.
“He could not have done this,” Triss murmured anew, the
words hard-edged with disbelief. W ren did not reply. She
looked awaDWQRWKLQJ7KH+DUURZZDVDJUD screen behind
them, the In Ju a black hole ahead. Killeshan was a distant
rumble. Morrowindl hunched over them like an animal with a
Then Stresa was back. “Nothing—phhhf ft—has passed
through the place we stand in the last few hours except us.
Sssttt. Our tracks come out from the Harrow , go in, then come
out again—over there. Just us—no monsters, no intruders,
nothing.” He paused. “There.” He swiveled in the opposite
direction. “A newer set of tracks depart, west, toward the In
Ju. His scent. I’m sorry, Wren Elessedil.”
She nodded, her own last vestige of hope shredded. She
looked pointedlDWT riss.
Because he was terrified, she thought. Because he was a
creature of order and comfort, of walls and safe havens, and
this was all too much for him, too overwhelming. Because he
thought them all dead and was afraid that he would die too if
he didn’t run. Or because he was greedDQGGHVSHUDWHDQd
wanted the power of the Ruhk Staf f and its magic for himself.
“I don’t know,” she said wearily .
“But Dal . . . ?”

“What difference does it make?” she interrupted, more angry
than she should have been, regretting her harshness
immediately . She took a deep breath. “What matters is that he
has taken the Ruhk Staf f and the Loden, and we have to get
them back. We have to find him. Quickly .”
She turned. “Stresa?”
“No,” the Splinterscat said at once. “Hssstt. It is too dangerous
to track at night. StaKHUHXQWLOGDbreak.”
She shook her head deliberately . “We don’ t have that much
“Rrrwwll W ren Elessedil. W e had best find it then, if we want
to staDOLYH6WUHVD’ s rough voice deepened to a growl. “Only
a fool would venture down of f the Blackledge and into the In
Ju at night.”
Wren felt her anger building. She did not care to be challenged
just now . She could not permit it. “I have the Elfstones,
Stresa!” she snapped. “The Elven magic will protect us!”
Stresa’s words were a taunt. “Phhf fft. I know RXFDUHGIRr
him, but . . .”
“Stresa!” she screamed.
“. . . the magic will not protect against what RXFDQQRWVHH”
the other finished, calm, unruf fled. “Ssstttpp! We must wait
until morning.”
The silence was immense. Inside, W ren could hear herself
shriek. She looked up as Garth stepped in front of her .
Remember RXUWUDLQLQJWren. Remember who RXDr e.
What she could remember at the moment was the look she had
seen in Gavilan Elessedil’s eHVZKHQVKHKDGJLYHQKLPWKe
Ruhk Staff. She met Garth’ s gaze squarely. What she saw in
his eHVVWDed her anger . ReluctantlVKHQRGGHGW e’ll wait
until morning.”
She kept watch then while the others slept, her own exhaustion
forgotten, buried in her anger and despair over Gavilan. She
could not sleep while feeling so unsettled, her mind racing and

her emotions in disarray. She sat alone with her back against a
stand of rocks while the men curled up in sleep a dozen feet
perhaps asleep, perhaps not. She stared into blackness,
stroking Faun absently, thinking thoughts darker than the
Gavilan. He had been so charming, so comfortable when she
had met him. She had liked him—perhaps more than liked
him. She had harbored expectations for them that even now
she could not bring herself to admit. He had promised to be a
friend to her, to look after her , to give her what answers he
could to the questions she asked, and to be there when she
needed him. He bad promised so much. Perhaps he could have
kept those promises if theKDGQRWEHHQIRUFHGWROHDYHWKe
protection of the Keel. For she had not been mistaken in
assessing Gavilan’ s weakness; he was not strong enough for
what laEHond the safetRI$UERUORQ’ s walls. The changes
in him had been apparent almost immediately . His charm had
faded into worry, then edginess, and finallIHDr , He had lost
unprotected in a waking nightmare. Gavilan had been as brave
as he could manage, but everWKLQJKHKDGNQRZQDQGUHOLHd
upon had been stripped away. When the queen had died and
the Staff had been entrusted to W ren, it had just been too
much. He had counted himself the queen’ s logical successor,
and with the power of the Elven magic he still believed he
made it his cause. He was convinced that he could save the
Elves, that he was destined to do so, that the magic would give
him the means.
Let me have the Staff, she could still hear him plead.
And she had foolishlJLYHQLWWRKLP.
Tears came to her eHV+HSUREDEO panicked, she thought. He
and that he was alone. He tried to leave, and Dal stopped him,
telling him, no, wait, underestimating the depth of his fear , his
madness. He would have heard the sounds of the Drakuls, the

whispers, and the lures. TheZRXOGKDYHDffected him. He
killed Dal then because . . .
admit the truth, harsh and unavoidable—that he had been
weak, that he had been greedy, that he had rationalized instead
of reasoned, and that he had killed a man who was there to
protect him. Stupid! Such madness! But the stupiditDQGWKe
impenetrable as Eden’s Murk. Morrowindl’s fostered it,
succored it within each of them, and for each there was a
threshold of endurance that once crossed signaled an end to
sanity. Gavilan had crossed that threshold, unable to help
himself perhaps, and now he was gone, faded into mist. Even
She bit at her wrist, making herself feel pain. ThePXVWILQd
him, of course—even though he no longer mattered. They
must regain possession of the Ruhk Staf f and the Loden or
everWKLQJWKH had gone through to get clear of Morrowindl
and all of the lives that had been given up—her
grandmother’s, the Owl’ s, Eowen’s, and those of the Elven
Hunters—would have been for nothing. The thought burned
through her . She could not tolerate it. She would not permit
them to fail. She had promised her grandmother . She had
promised herself. It was the reason she had come—to bring the
Elves back into the Westland and to help find a waWRSXWDn
end to the Shadowen. Allanon’ s charge—hers now as well, she
admitted in black fury . Find RXUVHOIDQGVKHKDG'LVFRYHr
the truth, and she had. T oo much of both, but she had. Her life
was revealed now, past, present, and future, and however she
felt about it she would not let it be taken awaZLWKRXWKHr
I don’t care what it takes, she vowed. I don’ t care!
She was sleeping when T riss touched her shoulder and brought
her awake again. “LadW ren,” he whispered gently. “Go lie
down. Rest now.”
She blinked, accepting the blanket he slipped about her . “In a
minute,” she replied. “Sit with me first.”

He did so, a silent companion, his lean brown face strangely
looked when she had told him of Gavilan’s treachery.
Treachery , wasn’t that what it was? That look was gone now ,
washed awaE sleep or bDFFHSWDQFH+HKDGIRXQGDZDy
to come to terms with it. T riss, the last of those who had come
out of Arborlon’s old life—how alone he must feel.
He looked over at her , and it seemed as if he could read her
thoughts. “I have been Captain of the Home Guard for almost
Wren. I loved RXUJUDQGPRWKHr , the queen. I would have done
anWKLQJIRUKHr.” He shook his head. “I have spent mZKROe
life in service to the Elessedils and the Elven throne. I knew
Gavilan as a child; we were children together . I grew to
manhood with him. We plaHG0 familDQGKLVVWLOOZDLt
within the Loden, friends, . . .” He drew a deep breath, groping
for words, understanding. “I knew him. He would not have
killed Dal unless . . . Could it be that something happened to
change him? Could one of the demons have done something to
She had not considered that possibility . It could have
happened. There had been opportunitHQRXJK2UZK not
something else, a poison, for instance, or a sickening like that
which had killed Ellenroh? But she knew in her heart that it
was none of those, that it was simplDZHDULQJDZD of his
spirit, a breaking apart of his resolve.
“It could have been a demon,” she lied anZDy .
The strong face lifted. “He was a good man,” he said quietly .
“He cared about people; he helped them. He loved the queen.
She would have named him king one day, perhaps.”
“If not for me.”
He turned away, embarrassed. “I should not have said that.
You are queen.” He looked back again. “Y our grandmother
would not have given the Staff to RXLIVKHKDGQRWEHOLHYHGLt
best. She would have given it to Gavilan instead. Perhaps she
saw something in him that the rest of us missed. Y ours is the
strength the Elven people need.”

She faced him. “I didn’t want anSDUWRIWKLVT riss. None of
He nodded, smiled faintly . “No. WhZRXOGou?”
“I just wanted to find out who I was.”
She saw a flicker of despair in his dark eHV,GRQ’ t pretend
to understand what brought RXWRXVKHWROGKHr. “I only
know that RXDUHKHUHDQGou are Queen of the Elves.” He
kept his eHVIL[HGRQKHr. “Don’t abandon us,” he said quietly ,
urgently . “Don’ t leave us. W e need RX”
She was amazed at the strength of his plea. She placed her
hand on his arm reassuringly . “Don’t worry, Triss. I promise I
won’ t run away . Ever.”
She left him then, went over to where Garth slept and curled
up next to her big friend, needing both his warmth and bulk for
comfort this night, wanting to retreat into the past, to recover
the protection and safetLWKDGRQFHRf fered, to recapture what
and finallVOHSW.
At dawn she was awake, more rested than she had a right to
expect. The light was faint and graWKURXJKWKHKD]HDQGWKe
world about them was still and emptIHHOLQJVPHOOLQJRIURW.
Killeshan’s rumble was distant and faint, HWVWHDG now for
the first time since theKDGEHJXQWKHLUMRXUQHy , a slow
building of tremors that promised bigger things to come. T ime
was running out, Wren knew—quicker now , swifter with the
passing of each hour. The volcano’s fire was beginning to
build at the core of the island toward a final conflagration, and
when it exploded everWKLQJZRXOGEHVZHSWDZDy .
TheVHWRXWLPPHGLDWHOy, Stresa leading, Garth a step behind,
Wren following with Faun, and T riss trailing. Wren was
calmer now, less distraught. Gavilan, she reasoned, had
nowhere to go. He might run for the beaches in search of T iger
the In Ju? He was not a T racker and had no experience in
wilderness survival. He was alreadKDOIPDGZLWKIHDUDQd
despair. How far could he get? He would likelWUDYHOLn
circles, and theZRXOGILQGKLPTXLFNOy .

Yet in the back of her mind lurked the specter of his somehow
managing to get clear of the jungle, finding his waGRZQWo
the beach, convincing T iger TWKDWHYHUone else was dead,
and having himself and the Ruhk Staf f carried safelDZDy
while the rest of the companZDVOHIWEHKLQG7KHSRVVLELOLWy
infuriated her, the more so when she considered the possibility
decided to strike out on his own, convinced of the rightness of
his cause and the inevitabilitRIKLVUXOH.
Unable to ponder the matter further , she brushed it roughly
Blackledge began to drop awaIURPWKH+DUURZDOPRVt
immediately, but it was not as steep here as where Garth and
she had climbed up. The clif f face was craggDQGWKLFNZLWh
vegetation, and it was not dif ficult for them to find a pathway
down. TheGHVFHQGHGTXLFNOy , Stresa keeping Gavilan’s scent
firmlEHIRUHWKHPDVWKH went. Broken limbs and crushed
leaves marked clearlWKH(OYHQ3ULQFH’ s passing; Wren could
have followed the trail alone, so obvious was it. T ime and
must be frantic, Wren thought sadly. He must be terrified.
eat. Stresa was gruf flFRQILGHQW7KH were onlDIHZKRXUs
behind Gavilan, he advised. The Elven Prince was staggering
Stresa’s prediction was prophetic—but not in the waWKH had
hoped. ShortlDIWHUWKH resumed tracking Gavilan’ s futile
efforts to circumvent the In Ju, it began to rain. The air had
grown hotter with the descent of f the mountain, a swelter that
was a dampness that laHUHGWKHDLr , a thick moisture that hung
like wet silk draped against their skin, beading on their leather
clothing. After a time, the dampness turned to mist, then
ferocious determination. TheZHUHEOLQGHGE it and forced to
take shelter beneath a giant banDQ,WVZHSWWKURXJKTXLFNOy

and took Gavilan’s scent with it. Stresa searched carefullLn
the aftermath, but all trace was gone.
Garth studied the damp green tangle of the jungle. He
beckoned Wren. The marks of his passing ar e still evident. I
can track him.
She let Garth assume the lead with Stresa a half step behind,
the former searching for signs of their quarr’ s passing, the
latter keeping watch for Darters and other dangers. Their
quarry, Wren thought, repeating the words. Gavilan had been
reduced to that. She felt pitIRUKLPLQVSLWHRIKHUVHOI,
thinking he should have staHGZLWKLQWKHFLWy , reasoning she
should have done more to keep him safe, still wishing for what
could never be.
TheSURJUHVVHGPRUHVORZO now. Gavilan had given up his
efforts to bSDVVWKH,Q-XDQGSOXQJHGGLUHFWO in. What signs
disturbed, an occasional print—suggested he had abandoned
a poor choice, W ren thought to herself. TheWUDFNHGKLm
steadily, without dif ficulty, and at each turn W ren expected to
find him, the chase concluded and the inevitable confirmed.
But somehow he kept going, evading the pitfalls that were
things that laLQZDLWIRUWKHXQZDUy , and the traps and the
monsters made of the Elven magic he so foolishlWKRXJKWWo
wield. How he managed to staDOLYHW ren could only
wonder. He should have been dead a dozen times over . A step
either way, and he would have been. She found herself
wishing it would happen, that he would make that one mistake
and that the madness would cease. She hated what theZHUe
doing, hunting him like an animal, chasing after him as if he
were prey. She wanted it to stop.
At the same time, she dreaded what it would take to make that
When theEHJDQWRFDWFKVLJKWRIWKHW isteron’s webbing, she
despaired. Not like that, she found herself pleading with
whatever fate controlled such things. Give him a quick end.

Trip lines were strung all about, draped from the trees, looped
along the vines, and attached in, deadlQHWV6WUHVDUHWRRNWKe
lead from Garth in order to guide them past the snares, pausing
often to listen, to snif f the air, and to judge the safetRIWKe
land ahead. The jungle thickened into a maze of green fronds
and dark trunks that crisscrossed one another in jigsaw
fashion. Shadows moved slowlDQGSRQGHURXVO about them,
but the sounds thePDGHZHUHDQ[LRXVDQGKXQJUy . The
afternoon shortened toward evening, and it grew dark. Far
distant, screened bWKHPRXQWDLQWKH had descended,
Killeshan rumbled. Tremors shook the island, and the jungle’ s
green haze shivered with the echo. Explosions began to sound,
muffled still, but growing stronger . Whole trees trembled with
the reverberations, and steam geVHUHGRXWRIVZDPSSRROV,
hissing with relief. As the light darkened, W ren could see
through the ever-present haze of vog and mist the skDERYe
Killeshan turn red.
It has begun, she thought as Garth’ s worried eHVPHWKHURZQ.
She wondered how much time was left to them. Even if they
regained the Staff, it was still another two daVWRWKHEHDFK.
he would come? Once a week, wasn’ t it? What if a whole
week must pass before he was scheduled to return? W ould he
see the volcano’s glare and sense the danger to them?
Or had he given up his vigil long ago, convinced that she had
failed, that she had died like all the others and that there was
no point in searching further?
She shook her head in stern admonishment. No, not T iger Ty.
She judged him a better man than that. He would not give up,
she told herself. Not until there was no hope left.
“Phhf fttt! W e have to stop soon,” Stresa warned. “Hssstt. Find
shelter before it grows anGDUNHr , before the Wisteron hunts!”
“A little farther ,” Wren suggested hopefully .
ragged trail stretched before them, worming ahead into the In
Ju, a line of bent and broken stalks and leaves disappearing
into the shadows.

stump of a banDQWRSSOHGE age and erosion, a massive trunk
with entries through its base and a narrow cleft farther up.
TheEORFNHGRf f the larger and set themselves to keep watch
at the smaller . Nothing of anVL]HFRXOGUHDFKWKHP,WZDs
dark and close within their wood cof fin and as drDVZLQWHr
earth. Night descended, and theOLVWHQHGWRWKHMXQJOH’ s
hunters come awake, to the sounds of coughing roars, of
sluggish passage, and of preDVLWZDVFDXJKWDQGNLOOHG7KHy
huddled back to back with Stresa hunched down before them,
spikes extended back toward the faint light. TheWRRNWXUQs
standing guard, dozing because theZHUHWRRWLUHGWRVWDy
awake but too anxious to sleep. Faun laFUDGOHGLQWren’s
arms, as still as death. She stroked the little creature
affectionately , wondering at how it could have survived in
such a world. She thought of how much she hated
Morrowindl. It was a thief that had stolen everWKLQJIURPKHr
—the lives of her grandmother and her friends, the innocence
she had harbored of the Elves and their history , the love and
affection she had discovered for Gavilan, and the strength of
will she had thought she would never lose. It was the loss of
the latter that bothered her most, her confidence in who and
what she was and in the certaintWKDWVKHFRXOGGHWHUPLQHKHr
own fate. So much was gone, and Morrowindl, this once
paradise made into a Shadowen nightmare, had taken it all.
She tried to picture life beRQGWKHLVODQGDQGIDLOHG6KHFRXOd
not think past escape, for escape was still uncertain, still a fate
that hung in the balance. She remembered how once she had
thought that traveling to find Allanon and speak with his shade
might be the beginning of a great adventure. The memorZDs
ashes in her mouth.
She slept for a time, dreamed of dark and terrible things, and
came awake sweating and hot. At watch, she found her
him—the waKHKDGWRXFKHGKHr , the feel of his mouth
kissing hers, and the wonder he had invoked in her through
nothing more than a chance remark or a passing glance. She
smiled as she remembered. There was so much of him she had
liked; she hurt for the loss of him. She wished she could bring
him back to her and return him to the person he had been. She

even wished she could find a waWRPDNHWKHPDJLFGRZKDt
nature could not—to change the past. It was foolish, senseless
thinking, and it teased her mercilessly. Gavilan was lost to her.
He had fallen preWR0RUURZLQGO’ s madness. He had killed
Dal and stolen the Ruhk Staff. He had turned himself into
something unspeakable. Gavilan Elessedil, the man she had
been so attracted to and cared so much for , was no more.
At daEUHDNWKH rose and set out anew. TheGLGQRWKDYHWo
bother with breakfast because there was nothing left to eat.
Their supplies were exhausted, those that hadn’ t been lost or
abandoned. There was a little water, but not more than enough
for another day. While theWUDYHOHGWKH,Q-XWKH would find
nothing to sustain them. One more reason to get clear quickly .
than an hour, Gavilan’s trail abruptlHQGHG7KH crested a
ravine, slowed on Stresa’ s warning hiss, and stopped. Below ,
amid the wreckage of small plants and grasses trampled almost
flat in what must have been a frantic struggle, laWKHVKUHGVRf
one of the Wisteron’s webs.
Stresa eased down into the ravine, snif fed cautiouslDERXW,
and climbed out again. The dark, bright eHVIL[HGRQW ren.
“Hsssttt. It has him, Wren Elessedil.”
Splinterscat’s words evoked. “How long ago?”
would guess. The net snared the Elf Prince and held him until
the Wisteron came. Rwwlll. The beast carried him away .”
“Where, Stresa?”
The other pricked his ears. “Its lair, I expect. It has one deep
within a hollow at the In Ju’s center.”
She felt a new weariness steal through her . Of course, a lair—
there would have to be. “AnVLJQRIWKH5XKN6WDf f?”
The Splinterscat shook his head. “Gone.”
So unless Gavilan had abandoned it—something he would
never do—it was still with him. She shuddered in spite of her
resolve. She was remembering her brief encounter with the

passing had made her feel.
Poor , foolish Gavilan. Ther e was no hope for him now
She looked at the others, one bRQHW e have to get the
Ruhk Staff back. We can’t leave without it.”
“No, LadW ren, we can’t,” Triss echoed, hard-eHG.
Garth stood, his great hands limp at his sides.
Stresa shook out his quills and his sharp-nosed face lifted to
her own. “Rrwwll W ren of the Elves, I expected nothing less
of RX+VVWWW%XWou will have to—sspppptt—use the Elf
Magic if we are to survive. Y ou will have to, against the
“I know ,” she whispered, and felt the last vestige of her old
life drop away .
“Chhttt. Not that it will make anGLf ference. Phhfftt. The
Wisteron is—”
“Stresa,” she interrupted gently . “You needn’ t come.”
The silence of the moment hung against the screen of the
jungle. The Splinterscat sighed and nodded. “Phhf ft. We have
come this far together , haven’t we? No more talk. I will take


I n the long, deep silence of Paranor’s endless night, in the
limbo of her gray , changeless twilight, W alker Boh sat staring
into space. His hand was closed into a fist on the table before
him, his fingers locked like iron bands about the Black
Elfstone. There was nothing more to do—no other options to
consider, no further choices to uncover . He had thought
and all that remained was to test the right and wrong of it.
suggested gently.
The old man sat across from him, a frail, skeletal ghost nearly
transparent where caught against the light. IncreasinglVR,
Walker thought in despair . White, wispKDLUVFDWWHUHGOLNe
dust motes from the wrinkled face and head, robes hung like
laundrVHWWRGU on a line, and eHVIOLFNHUHGLQGXOl
glimmerings from out of dark sockets. Cogline was fading
away, disappearing into the past, returning with Paranor to the
place from which it had been summoned. For Paranor would
not remain within the world of Men unless there was a Druid
to tend it, and W alker Boh, chosen bWLPHDQGIDWHWRILOl
those dark robes, had HWWRGRQWKHP.
His eHVGULIWHGRYHUWR5XPRr . The moor cat slouched against
the far wall of the studURRPLQZKLFKWKH were settled,
down at himself, fading as well, though not as quickly . In any
event, he had a choice; he could leave if he chose, when he
chose. Not so Cogline or Rumor, who were bound to the Keep
for all eternitLIWalker did not find a waWREULQJLWEDFk
into the world of Men.

on it.
Cogline shifted, a rattle of drERQHV$QRWKHUUHDGLQJRIWKe
books couldn’t hurt,” he pressed.
Walker ’s smile was ironic. “Another reading and there won’ t
be anWKLQJOHIWRIou at all. Or Rumor or the Keep or
pretend otherwise. Besides, there is nothing left to read,
nothing to discover that I don’ t alreadNQRw.”
“And RXUHVWLOOFHUWDLQWKDWou’re right, W alk?”
Certain? Walker was certain of nothing beRQGWKHIDFWWKDWKe
end up like the Stone King, enveloped bour own magic,
had mastered the Stone’ s magic, and it had cost him
“I am guessing,” he replied. “Nothing more.”
He allowed his hand to open, and the Elfstone to come into the
edged, opaque and impenetrable, power unto itself, power
beRQGDQthing he had ever encountered. He remembered
how it had felt to use the Stone when he had brought back the
Keep, thinking it would end then, that the retrieval out of
limbo where Allanon had sent it was all that was required. He
remembered the surge of power as it joined him to the Keep,
the entwining of flesh and blood with stone and mortar , the
changing him so that he could enter Paranor, so that he could
discover the rest of what he must do.
A metamorphosis of being.
Within, he had encountered Cogline and Rumor and heard the
being caught up in the protective shield of the Druid Histories’
magic and spirited into Paranor . Though Walker had brought

Paranor out of the limbo place into which Allanon had
dispatched it, it would not be fullUHWXUQHGXQWLOKHKDGIRXQd
was decreed he must be. Until then, Paranor was a prison that
onlKHFRXOGOHDYHDSULVRQUDSLGO drawing back into the
space from which it had come.
“I am guessing,” he repeated, almost to himself.
He had read and reread the Druid Histories in an effort to
discover what it was that he must do and found nothing.
Nowhere did the Histories relate how one became a Druid.
Despairing, he had thought the cause lost to him when he had
remembered the Grimpond’s visions, two of which had come
to pass, the third of which, he realized, would happen here.
He faced the old man. “I stand within a castle fortress empty
of life and graZLWKGLVXVH,DPVWDONHGE a death I cannot
escape. It hunts me relentlessly . I know I must run from it, Ht
cannot. I let it approach, and it reaches for me. A cold settles
shadow holding me fast, preventing mHVFDSH7KHVKDGRZLs
The words were a familiar litanE now . Cogline nodded
patiently. “Your vision, RXVDLG7KHWKLUGRIWKUHH”
“Two came to pass already , but neither as I anticipated. The
games plaLQJWRP advantage. I know the details of the
vision; I know that it will happen here within the Keep. I need
Walker Boh shook his head defiantly . “I have not.”
be quick to spot the flaws he had missed, putting it into words
to see how it would sound.
The Black Elfstone was the keWRHYHUthing.
He repeated from memorWKDWEULHIVROLWDU passage inscribed
in the Druid Histories:

Once removed, Paranor shall remain lost to the world of Men
for the whole of time, sealed awaDQGLQYLVLEOHZLWKLQLWs
casting. One magic alone has the power to return it—that
singular Elfstone that is colored Black and was conceived by
the faerie people of the old world in the manner and form of
all Elfstones, combining nevertheless in one stone alone the
shall have cause and right shall wield it to its proper end.

He had assumed until now that the Black Elfstone was meant
to restore Paranor to its present state of half-being and to gain
qualifWKHH[WHQWRIWKH(OIVWRQH’s use. One magic alone, it
said, bad the power to restore Paranor . One magic. The Black
Elfstone. There wasn’t anRWKHUPDJLFPHQWLRQHGQRt
anZKHUH7KHUHZDVQ’ t another word about returning Paranor
to the world of Men in all the pages of all the Druid Histories.
Suppose, then, that the Black Elfstone was all that was
required, but that it must be used not just once, but twice or
even three times before the restoration process was complete.
But used to do what?
The answer seemed obvious. The magic that Allanon had
released into the Keep three hundred HDUVDJRZDVDVRUWRf
watchdog set loose to do two things—to destroWKH.HHS’ s
enemies and to dispatch Paranor into limbo and keep it there
living thing. You could feel it in the walls of the castle; Ru
could hear it stir in its bowels. It watched and listened. It
breathed. It was there, waiting. If the Keep was to be restored
to the Four Lands, the magic Allanon had loosed must be
another form of magic could accomplish this. And the only
Histories where Paranor was concerned, was the Black

So far, so good. Druid magic to negate Druid magic. It made
sense; it was the Black Elfstone’ s stated power, the negation of
other magics. One magic, the inscription read. And W alker
must wield it, of course. He had done so once, proved that he
could. Whosoever shall have cause and right. Himself. Use the
Black Elfstone against the watchdog magic and secure it. Use
the Black Elfstone and bring Paranor all the waEDFN.
But there was still something missing. There was no
explanation of how the Black Elfstone would work. It was
infinitelPRUHFRPSOLFDWHGWKDQVLPSO calling up the magic
and letting it run loose. The Black Elfstone negated other
Elfstone to bring Paranor back and gain entry , turned from a
whole man into something incorporeal. What further damage
might he do to himself if he used the Elfstone on the
watchdog? What further transformation might take place?
And then, abruptly, he realized two things.
First, that he was still not a Druid and would not become one
until he had established his right to do so—that his right would
not come from study , or learning, or wisdom gleaned from a
reading of the Druid Histories, that it was not foreordained,
not predetermined bWKHEHVWRZDORI$OODQRQ’ s blood trust to
Brin Ohmsford three hundred HDUVHDUOLHr, but that it would
come at the moment he found a waWRVXEGXHWKHZDWFKGRg
that guarded the Keep and brought Paranor fullEDFNLQWRWKe
world of Men, because that was the test that Allanon had set
Second, that the third vision the Grimpond had shown him, the
one that would take place within Paranor, the one where he
ghost of Allanon, was a glimpse of that moment.
His arguments were persuasive. The Druids would not commit
to writing a process as inviolate as this one when there was a
better way . OnlWalker Boh could use the Black Elfstone.
OnlKHKDGWKHULJKW6RPHKRw , in some way, that use would
trigger the required transformation. When it was necessarWo
know, Walker would discover what was needed. So much of

the Druid magic relied on acceptance—use of the Elfstones, of
the Sword of Shannara, even of the wishsong. It was only
reasonable that it would be the same here.
And the Grimpond’s vision onlFHPHQWHGKLVWKLQNLQJ7KHUe
would have to be a confrontation of the sort depicted. A literal
reading of the vision suggested that such a confrontation
would result in Walker’s death, that Allanon bVHQGLQJKLm
here had bound him so that he must die, and that whatever he
simplistic. And it made no sense. WhZRXOG$OODQRQVHQd
interpretation, another meaning. The one he favored was the
one that ended one life and began another , that established him
once and for all as a Druid.
Cogline was not so sure. Walker had guessed wrong on both of
the Grimpond’s previous visions. WhZDVKHVRFRQYLQFHd
that he was not guessing wrong here as well? The visions were
concealed amid lies. He was taking a terrible gamble. The first
vision had cost him his arm, the second Quickening. W as the
third to cost him nothing? It seemed more reasonable to
believe that the vision was open to a number of interpretations,
circumstances, including Walker’s death. Moreover , it
bothered Cogline that W alker had no clear idea of how use of
the Black Elfstone was to ef fect his transformation, how it was
to subdue the Druid watchdog, how Paranor itself was to be
brought fullDOLYHRUKRZDQ of this was to work. It could
not possiblEHDVHDV as W alker made it sound. Nothing
involving use of the Elven magic ever was. There would be
pain involved, enormous effort, and the verUHDOSRVVLELOLW of
So theKDGDrgued, back and forth, for longer than W alker
cared to admit, until now, hours later, theZHUHWRRWLUHGWRGo
admonishments. W alker’s mind was made up, and theERWh
knew it. He was going to test his theory , to seek out and
confront the thing that Allanon had let loose within Paranor
and use the magic of the Black Elfstone to resecure it. He was

going to discover the truth about the Black Elfstone and put an
end to the last of the Grimpond’s hateful visions.
If he could make himself rise from this table, take up the
talisman, and go forth.
Though he had sought to keep it hidden from Cogline with
hard looks and confident words, his terror bound him. So
much uncertainty, so manJXHVVHV+HIRUFHGKLVILQJHUVWo
close again over the Black Elfstone, to grip so hard he could
feel pain.
“I will go with RX&RJOLQHRf fered. “And Rumor.”
“We might be able to help in some way .”
“No,” Walker repeated. He looked up, shaking his head
slowly. “Not that I wouldn’ t like RXWR%XWWKLVLVQ’ t
He could feel an ache where his missing arm should be, as if it
were somehow there and he simplFRXOGQ’t see it. He shifted
cramped while he had staHGVHDWHGZLWKWKHROGPDQDr guing.
The movement gave him impetus, and he forced himself to
rise. Cogline stood with him. TheIDFHGHDFKRWKHULQWKe
half-light, in the fading transparencRIWKH.HHS.
“Walker .” The old man spoke his name quietly . “The Druids
have made us both their creatures. We have been twisted and
do and become involved in matters we would rather have left
alone. I would not presume to argue with RXQRZWKHPHULWs
of their manipulation. We are both beRQGWKHSRLQWZKHUHLt
He leaned forward. “But I would tell RXZRXOGDVNou to
remember, that theFKRRVHWKHLUSDODGLQVZLVHOy .” His smile
was worn and sad. “Luck to RX”
Walker came around the table, wrapped his good arm about
the old man, and hugged him tight. He held him momentarily ,
then released him and stepped away.

There was nothing more to be said. He took a deep breath,
walked over to scratch Rumor between his cocked ears, gazed

With slow , cautious steps, moving through the vast, empty
intentions could be divined, he proceeded toward the center of
the Keep. Shadows hung about him in colorless folds, a sleep-
shroud that cloaked his thoughts. He buried himself in the
of will about him in protective laHUVVXPPRQLQJIURPGHHp
within the resolve that would give him a chance at life.
For the truth of things was that he had no real idea what would
happen when he confronted the Druid watchdog and called
upon the Black Elfstone’ s magic to subdue it. Cogline was
right; there would be pain and the process would be more
complex and difficult than he wanted to admit. There would be
a struggle, and he might not emer ge the victor. He wished he
had some better idea of what it was he faced. But there was no
point in wishing for what could never be, for what had never
He turned down the main hallway, heading now to the doors
that opened into the Keep—and to the well in which the
watchdog slumbered. Or perhaps simplODLUHGIRULWVHHPHd
to the Dark Uncle that the magic was awake and watching,
trailing along in a ripple of changing light, an invisible
presence. Allanon’s shade was there as well, a tightening at his
back, a cramping of the muscles in his shoulders where the
great hands gripped. He was held fast already , he thought to
himself. He was propelled to this confrontation as much as if
he were deadwood carried on the crest of a river in flood, and
he could not turn aside from it.
Speak to me, Allanon, he pleaded silently. Tell me what to do.
But no answer came.

and corridors came and went. He felt again the ache of his
missing arm and wished that he were whole again, if onlIRr
the moment of this confrontation. He gripped the Black
sharp edges press reassuringlDJDLQVWKLVIOHVK+HFRXOd
summon the power within, but he could not predict what it
would do. Destroou , the thought came unbidden. He
breathed slowly , deeply, to calm himself. He tried to remember
the passage on the Stone’ s usage from the Druid History , but
his memorVXGGHQO failed him. He tried to remember what
he had read in all the pages of all those books and could not.
EverWKLQJZDVPHOWLQJDZD within, lost in the rush of fear
and doubt that surged through him, anxious and threatening.
The words were dead leaves caught in a strong wind.
Ahead, a broad alcove opened into the stone of the walls,
arched and shadowed so deeplWKDWLWZDVDVEODFNDVQLJKW.
There, a set of tall iron doors stood closed.
Walker Boh came up to the doors and stopped. All around him
he could hear a whispering of voices, taunting, teasing in the
manner of the Grimpond, telling him to go back, ur ging him to
go on, a maddening whirl of conflicting exhortations.
Memories stirred from somewhere within—but theZHUHQRt
his own. He could feel their movement along his spine, a
reaching out of fingers that coiled and tightened. Before him,
he could see a trace of wicked green light probe at the cracks
and crevices of the door frame. BeRQGKHFRXOGVHQVe
In that instant, he almost bolted. Had he been able to do so, he
would have thrown down the Black Elfstone and run for his
life, the whole of his resolve and purpose abandoned. His fear
was manifest; it was so palpable that it seemed he could reach
out and touch it. It did not wear the face he had expected. His
fear was not of the confrontation, of the vision’s promise, or

even of dLQJ,WZDVRIVRPHWKLQJEHond that, something so
intangible he was unable to define it and at the same time was
certain it was there.
But Allanon’s shade held him fast, just as in the vision, a
contrivance of fate and time and manipulation of centuries
gone combining to assure that W alker Boh fulfilled the
purpose the Druids had set for him.
He reached forward with his closed fist, seeing his hand as if it
belonged to another person, watching as it pushed against the
iron doors.
SoundlesslWKH swung open.
Walker stepped through, his bodQXPEDQGKLVKHDGOLJKWDQd
filled with small, terror -filled cries of warning. Don’t, they
whispered. Don’t.
He stopped, breathless. He stood on a narrow stone landing
within the well of the Keep. Stairs coiled upward along the
wall of the tower like a spike-backed serpent. W eak graOLJKt
filtered through slits cut in the stone, piercing the shadows.
There was nothing below where he stood but emptiness—a
vast, DZQLQJDEss out of which rose the hollow echo of the
his heart pound in his ears. He listened to the silence beRQG.
Then something stirred in the abVV%UHDWKUHOHDVHGIURPa
giant’s lungs, quick and angry . Greenish light flared, dimmed
again, turned to mist, and began to swirl sluggishly .
Walker Boh felt the vastness of the Keep settle down about
him, a monstrous weight he could not escape. T ons of stone
ringed him, and the blackness it sealed awaZDVDGHDWh
shroud. The mist rose, a dark and ancient magic, the Druid
watchdog mused and come forth to investigate. It came for
him in a sweeping, lifting motion, curling along the stone,
without a trace.
Still he would have run but for the certaintWKDWLWZDVWRo
late, that he had begun something that must be finished, that
time and events had caught up with him at last, and now here,

alone, he would have to resolve the puzzle of his Druid-shaped
life. He made himself move forward to the landing’s edge,
frail flesh a drop of water against the ocean of the power
below. It hissed at him as if it saw , a whisper of recognition. It
seemed to gather itself, a tightening of movement.
Walker brought up the hand with the Black Elfstone.
The voice rose out of the mist. W alker froze. The voice
belonged to the Grimpond.
The Grimpond? How could it be the Grimpond? W alker
blinked rapidly. The mist had begun to take form at its center ,
a pillar of swirling green that bore upward into the light, that
lifted through the shadows, steady, certain, until it was even
with him, hanging in air and silence.
It became a human figure all cloaked and hooded and faceless.
It grew arms and hands that stretched to embrace W alker.
Fingers curled and flexed.
Who am I?
A face appeared, shadows and light shifting within the mist.
Walker felt as if his soul had been torn away .
The face he saw was his own.

Within the dark seclusion of the vault that housed the Druid
Histories, Cogline lurched to his feet. Something was
happening. Something. He could feel it in the air , a vibration
that stirred the shadows. The wrinkled face tightened in
unbroken, vast and changeless, time suspended, and HW.
Across the room from him, Rumor’s head snapped up and the
moor cat gave a deep, low , angrJURZO+HPRYHGLQWRa
crouch, turning first this way , then that, as if seeking an enemy
that had made itself invisible. He, too, sensed something.

him, the pages of the open book began to tremble.
It begins, the old man thought.
He gathered his robes close in an unconscious motion,
thinking of all that had brought him to this place and time, of
all that had gone before. After so manears, what price? he
wondered. But the price would be paid not bKLPEXWEy
Walker Boh.
I must do what I can, he decided.
He focused deep within, one of those few skills he retained
from his once-Druid past. He retreated down inside until he
was free enough to leave. He could travel short distances so,
see within small worlds. He sped through the castle corridors,
still within his mind, seeing and hearing everWKLQJ+HVZHSt
through the darkness, through the graKDOIOLJKWWRWKHWRZHr
of the Keep.
There he found W alker Boh face to face with immortalitDQd
His voice was surprisinglFDOP.
Walker . Use the Stone.

Walker Boh heard the old man’ s voice, a whisper in his mind,
The thing before him laughed. Do RXVWLOOQRWNQRZPH?
He did—and didn’t. It was manWKLQJVDWRQFHVRPHRf
which he recognized, some of which he didn’ t. The voice,
though—there could be no mistake. It was the Grimpond’ s,
taunting, teasing, calling his name.
You have found RXUWKLr d vision, haven’t RX'DUN8QFOH?
Walker was appalled. How could this be happening? How
could the Grimpond be both this thing he had come to subdue
and the avatar imprisoned in Darklin Reach? How could it be
in two places at once? It didn’ t make sense! The Druids hadn’ t

created the Grimpond. Their magics were diverse and
opposed. Yet the voice, the movement, and the feel of the
thing . . .
The shadow before him was growing lar ger, approaching.
I am RXUGHDWKW alker Boh. Are RXSrepared to embrace
And abruptlWKHYLVLRQZDVEDFNLQW alker’s mind, as clear as
the moment it had first appeared to him—the shade of Allanon
behind him, holding him fast, the dark shadow before him, the
promise of his death, and the castle of the Druids all about.
WhGRQ’ t RXIOHH")OHHIr om me!
It was all he could do to keep from screaming. He groped
voice was gone, buried in black fear. Resolve and purpose
were scattered in pieces about him. W alker Boh was
disintegrating while still alive.
Yet some small part of him did not give way , held fast by
memorRIZKDWKDGEURXJKWKLPE the promise he had made
himself that he would not die willinglRULQLJQRUDQFH.
Cogline’s face was still there, the eHVIUDQWLFWKHOLSVPRYLQJ,
trLQJWRVSHDNW alker reached down inside for the one thing
that had sustained him over the HDUVIRUWKDWFRUHRIDQJHr
that burned at the thought of what the Druids had done to him.
He fanned it until it blazed. He cupped it to his face and let it
sear him. He breathed it in until the fear was forced to give
way, until there was onlUDJH.
Then an odd thing happened. The voice of the thing before
him changed. The voice became his own, frantic, desperate.
Flee, W alker Boh!
The voice was no longer coming from the mist; it was coming
from himself! He was calling his own name, ur ging himself to
What was happening?
And suddenlKHXQGHUVWRRG+HZDVQ’t listening to the thing
before him; he was listening to himself. It was his own voice

he had been hearing all along, a trick of his subconscious—a
trick, he realized in fury, of the Grimpond. The wraith had
implanted in Walker’s mind, along with that third vision, a
suggestion of his death, a voice to convince him of it, and a
another form to deliver it. Revenge on the descendants of Brin
Ohmsford—it was what the Grimpond had been after from the
first. If W alker listened to that voice, faltered in his resolve,
His fingers opened and the Black Elfstone flared to life.
The nonlight streaked forth, spreading like ink across the
shadowed well of the Keep to embrace the mist. No more
games! Walker ’s shout was a euphoric, silent crZLWKLQKLs
mind. The Grimpond—so insidious, so devious—had almost
undone him. Never again. Never . . .
Nonlight and mist meshed and joined. Back through the tunnel
of the magic’ s dark flooded the mist, a greenish, pulsing fury .
what had gone wrong, and to wonder if perhaps he had failed
to outsmart the Grimpond after all—and then the Druid magic
was on him. It exploded within, and he screamed in helpless
dismay . The pain was indescribable, a fierLQFDQGHVFHQFH,t
felt as if another being had entered him, carried within bWKe
magic, drawn out of the concealment of the mist. A phVLFDl
presence, it burrowed into bone and muscle and flesh and
blood until it was all that W alker could bear. It expanded and
raged until he thought he would be torn apart. Then the sense
of it changed, igniting a dif ferent kind of pain. Memories
flooded through him, vast and seeminglHQGOHVVW ith the
memories came the feelings that accompanied them, emotions
charged with horror and fear and doubt and regret and a dozen
other sensations that rolled through W alker Boh in an
unstoppable torrent. He staggered back, trLQJWRUHVLVWWo
fling them away. His hand fought to close over the Black
Elfstone in an ef fort to shut this attack of f, but his bodZRXOd

no longer obeKLP+HZDVJULSSHGE the magics—those of
both Elfstone and mist— and theKHOGKLPIDVW.
Like Allanon and the specter of death in the third version!
Shades! Had the Grimpond been right after all?
He was seeing other places and times, viewing the faces of
men and women and children he did not know, witnessing
events transpire and fade, and above all feeling a wrenching
series of emotions emanate from the being inside. W alker’s
sense of where he was disappeared. He was transported into
the mind of his invader . A man? Yes, a man, he realized, a
man who had lived countless lifetimes, centuries, far longer
robes, dark figures concealed behind castle walls, closeted in
chambers where the light barelUHDFKHGKXQFKHGRYHUDQFLHQt
books of learning, writing, reading, studLQJGLVFXVVLQJ.
And then he realized the truth—a jarring, shocking recognition
that cut through the madness with a razor ’s edge.
The being that the mist had carried within him was Allanon—
his memories, his experiences, his feelings, and his thoughts,
How had Allanon managed this? W alker asked himself in
disbelief, fighting to breathe against the rush of memories,
against the suffocating blanket of the other ’s thoughts. But he
alreadNQHZWKHDQVZHUWRWKDW$'UXLG’ s magic allowed
HDUVDJR:Ky, then? And that answer , too, came swiftly, a
red flare of certainty . This was how the Druid lore was to be
passed on to him. All that Allanon had known and felt was
stored within the mist, his knowledge kept safe for three
But there was more, Walker sensed. This was how he was to
be tested as well. This was how it was to be determined if he
should become a Druid.

His speculation ended as the images continued to rush through
him, recognizable now for what theZHUHWKHZKROHRIWKe
Druid experience, all that Allanon had gleaned from his
predecessors, from his studies, from the living of his own life.
Like footprints in soft earth, theHPEHGGHGLQWalker’s mind,
The words and impressions and feelings descended in an
avalanche. It was too much, too fast. I don’ t want this! he
screamed in terror , but still the feeding continued, relentless,
purposeful—Allanon’ s self transferring into W alker. He fought
back against it, groping through the maze of images for
something solid. But the black light of the Elfstone was a
funnel that refused to be stoppered, drawing in the greenish
mist, absorbing it, and channeling it into his body . Voices
spoke words, faces turned to look, scenes changed, and time
rushed awaDFRPSRVLWHRIDOOWKHears Allanon had been
alive, struggling to protect the Races, to assure that the Druid
lore wasn’ t lost, that the hopes and aspirations the First
Council had envisioned centuries ago were carried forth and
preserved. W alker Boh became privWRLWDOOOHDUQHGZKDWLt
had meant to Allanon and those whose lives he had touched,
and experienced for himself the impact of life through almost
ten centuries.
scenes out of time—everWKLQJWKDWKDGDVVDLOHGKLP7KHy
vanished in a rush, and he was standing alone again within the
Still alive.
He lifted awaXQVWHDGLOy , looking down at himself, making
certain he was whole. Within, there was a rawness, like skin
reddened from too much sun, the implant of all that Druid
knowledge, of all that Allanon had intended to bequeath. His
spirit felt leavened and his mind filled. Y et his command over
the knowledge was disjointed, as if it could not be brought to
bear, not called upon. Something was wrong. W alker could not
seem to focus.
Before him, the Black Elfstone pulsed, the nonlight a bridge
that arced into the shadows, still joined with what remained of

the mist—a roiling, churning mass of wicked green light that
hissed and sparked and gathered itself like a cat about to
Walker straightened, weak and unsteady , frightened anew,
sensing that something more was about to happen and that the
worst was still to come. His mind raced. What could he do to
prepare himself? There wasn’ t time enough left.
The mist launched itself into the nonlight. It came at W alker
and enveloped him in the blink of an eH+HFRXOGVHHLWs
anger, hear its rage, and feel its fury . It exploded through the
new skin of his knowledge, a geVHURISDLQW alker shrieked
covering of his robes. He could feel the wrenching of his
curling, settling, feeding.
He experienced a rush of horror .
All of his life, Walker Boh had struggled to escape what the
Druids had foreordained for him, resolved to chart his own
course. In the end, he had failed. Thus he had gone in search
of the Black Elfstone and then Paranor with the knowledge
that if he should find them it would require that he become the
next Druid, accepting his destinet promising himself that he
would be his own person whatever was ordained. Now , in an
instant’s time, as he was wracked bWKHIXU of what had
hidden within the mist, all that remained of his hopes for some
small measure of self-determination was stripped away , and
Walker Boh was left instead with the darkest part of Allanon’ s
soul. It was the Druid’s cruelest self, a composite of all those
times he had been forced bUHDVRQDQGFLUFXPVWDQFHWRGo
what he abhorred, all those situations when he had been
required to expend lives and faith and hope and trust, and all
both were as carefullIRr ged and as indestructible as the
hardest metal. It was a rendering of the limits of Allanon’ s
being, the limits to which he had been forced to journey. It
revealed the weight of responsibilitWKDWFDPHZLWKSRZHr . It
delineated the understanding that experience bestowed. It was
harsh and ragged and terrible, an accumulation of ten normal

lifetimes, and it inundated Walker like floodwaters over the
wall of a dam.
Down into blackness the Dark Uncle spiraled, hearing himself
crRXWKHDULQJDVZHOOWKH*ULPSRQG’ s laughter—imagined or
real, he could not tell. His thoughts scattered before the flaLQg
of his spirit, of his hopes, and of his beliefs. There was nothing
he could do; the force of the magic was too powerful. He gave
Yet somehow he clung to life. He found that the torrent of dark
revelation, while testing his endurance in waVKHKDGQRt
believed possible, had failed nevertheless to destroKLP+e
could not think—there was too much pain for that. He did not
nothing, for the echo of his crUHYHUEHUDWHGDOODERXWKLP+e
seemed to float within himself, fighting to breathe, to survive.
It was the testing he had anticipated—the Druid rite of
passage. It battered him senseless, filled him with hurt, and left
him broken within. EverWKLQJZDVKHGDZDy , his beliefs and
understandings, all that had sustained him for so long. Could
he survive that loss? What would he be if he did?
Through waves of anguish he swam, buried within himself and
the force of the dark magic, borne to the edge of his
endurance, an inch from drowning. He sensed that his life
could be lost in the tick of a moment’s passing and realized
that the measure of who and what he was and could be was
being taken. He couldn’t stop it. He wasn’t sure he even cared.
He drifted, helpless.
To be ever again who he had thought he would. T o fulfill any
of the promises he had made to himself. To have anFRQWURl
over his life. To determine if he would live or die.
Walker Boh.
reasoning, driven instead bHPRWLRQVWRRSULPDOWRLGHQWLIy ,
the Dark Uncle thrashed clear of his lethargDQGH[SORGHd

through the waves of pain, through nonlight and dart magic,
through time and space, a bright speck of fierUDJH.
Within, he felt the balance shift, the weight between life and
death tip.
And when he broke at last the surface of the black ocean that
had threatened to drown him, the onlVRXQGKHKHDUGDVLt
burst from his lungs, was an endless scream.


I t was late morning. The last three members of the company
of nine worked their waFDXWLRXVO through the tangle of the
In Ju, following after the bulky, spiked form of Stresa, the
Splinterscat, as he tunneled steadilGHHSHULQWRWKHJORRP.
Wren breathed the fetid, damp air and listened to the silence.
Distant, far removed from where theODERUHG.LOOHVKDQ’ s
rumble was a backdrop of sound that rolled across earth and
sky, deep and ominous. T remors snaked through Morrowindl,
warning of the eruption that continued to build. But in the
Ju from the ground up, soaking trees and scrub, vines and
grasses, a blanket that muf fled sound and hid movement. The
jungle was a vault of stunning green, of walls that formed
countless chambers leading one into the other , of corridors that
twisted and wound about in a maze that threatened to
suffocate. Branches intertwined overhead to form a ceiling that
shut out the light, canopied over a patchwork floor of swamp
and quicksand and mud. Insects buzzed invisiblDQGWKLQJs
cried out from the mist. But nothing moved. Nothing seemed
The W isteron’ s webbing was everZKHUHE now , a vast
things hung in the webbing, the husks of creatures drained of
life, the remains of the monster’s feedings. TheZHUHVPDOl
for the most part; the W isteron took the larger offerings to its
Wren watched the shadows about her , made more anxious by
the lack of anPRYHPHQWWKDQE the silence. She walked in a
dead place, a wasteland in which living things did not belong,

a netherworld she traversed at her peril. She kept thinking she
would catch sight of a flash of color, a rippling of water, or a
shimmer of leaves and grasses. But the In Ju might have been
sheathed in ice, it was so frozen. TheZHUHGHHSZLWKLQWKe
Wisteron’ s countrQRw , and nothing ventured here.
Nothing save themselves.
She held the Elfstones clutched tightlLQKHUKDQGIUHHQRw
of their leather bag, readIRUWKHXVHWRZKLFKVKHNQHZWKHy
must be put. She harbored no illusions as to what would be
required of her . She bore no false hope that use of the
Elfstones might be avoided, that her Rover skills might be
sufficient to save them. She did not debate whether it was wise
her. Her choices were all behind her . The Wisteron was a
use the magic because it was the onlZHDSRQWKH had that
would make anGLf ference in the battle that laDKHDG,IVKe
allowed herself to hesitate, if she fell preet again to
indecision, theZHUHDOOGHDG.
She swallowed against the drQHVVLQKHUWKURDW2GGWKDWVKe
should be so drWKHUHDQGVRGDPSHYHUwhere else. Even the
palms of her hands were sweating. How far she had come
what seemed now to have been another life, free of worrDQd
responsibility, answerable onlWRKHUVHOIDQGWKHGLFWDWHVRf
She wondered if she would ever see the W estland again.
Ahead, the gloom tightened into pockets of deep shadow that
had the look of burrows. Mist coiled out and wound through
the tree limbs and vines like snakes. Webbing cloaked the high
branches and filled the gaps between—thick, semitransparent
strands that shimmered with the damp. Stresa slowed and
looked back at them. He didn’t speak. He didn’t have to. Wren
was aware of Garth and T riss at either shoulder, silent,
expectant. She nodded to Stresa and motioned for him to go

She thought suddenlRIKHUJUDQGPRWKHr, wondering what
Ellenroh would be feeling if she were there, imagining how
she would react. She could see the other’s face, the fierce blue
eHVLQFRQWUDVWWRWKHUHDG smile, the imposing sense of calm
that swept aside all doubt and fear . Ellenroh Elessedil, Queen
of the Elves. Her grandmother had alwaVVHHPHGVRPXFKLn
control of everWKLQJ%XWHYHQWKDWKDGQ’ t been enough to
save her. What then, W ren wondered darkly , could she rely
upon? The magic, of course—but the magic was onlDVVWURQg
as the wielder, and Wren would have much preferred her
grandmother ’s indomitable strength just now to her own. She
lacked Ellenroh’ s self-assurance; she lacked her certainty .
Even determined as she was to recover the Ruhk Staf f and the
Loden, to carrWKH(OYHQSHRSOHVDIHO back into the
Westland, and to fulfill the terms of the trust that had been
given her , she saw herself as flesh and blood and not as iron.
She could fail. She could die. T error lurked at the fringes of
such thoughts, and it would not be banished.
Triss bumped up against her from behind, causing her to jump.
He whispered a hastDSRORJ and dropped back again. W ren
listened to the pounding of her blood, a throbbing in her ears
and chest, a measure of the brief space between her life and
movement against the green. Stresa’s spines lifted, but he did
not slow. The forest opened through a sea of swamp grass into
a stand of old-growth acacia that leaned heavilRQHLQWRWKe
other, the ground beneath eroded and mired. The company
followed the Splinterscat left along a narrow rise. The
movement came again, quick, sudden, more than one thing
this time. W ren tried to follow it. Some sort of insect, she
decided, long and narrow , manOHJJHG.
Stresa found a patch of ground slightlEURDGHUWKDQKLVERGy
and turned to face them.
“Scavengers! Orps, theDUHFDOOHG+VVVVW7KH eat anWKLQJ.
Hah, everWKLQJ7KH live off the leavings of the Wisteron.

You’ll see a lot more of them before we’re finished. Don’ t be
frightened when RXGR”
“How much farther?” Wren whispered back, bending close.
The Splinterscat cocked its head. “Just ahead,” he growled.
“What’ s back there?”
“Ssssttt! How would I know that, W ren of the Elves? I’m still
She ignored his glare. “We’ll take a look. If we can talk, we
will. If not, we will withdraw and decide what to do.”
She looked at Garth and T riss in turn to be certain they
understood, then straightened. Faun clung to her like a second
skin. She was going to have to put the T ree Squeak down
before she went much farther.
collapsing trees. Orps appeared from everZKHUHQRw ,
scattering at their approach. TheORRNHGOLNHJLDQWVLOYHUILVK,
quick and soundless as theGLVDSSHDUHGLQWRHDUWKDQGZRRG.
Wren tried to ignore them, but it was dif ficult. The surface
water of the swamp bubbled and spit about them, the first
trees, the gloom settling down about them in laHUV,WZHQt
still again, the air emptDQGGHDGWren breathed slowly,
deeply. Her hand tightened about the Elfstones.
a mud flat to a cluster of huge fir whose limbs wrapped about
one another in close embrace. Strands of webbing hung
everZKHUHDQGDVWKH neared the far side of the flats W ren
caught sight of bones scattered along the fringe of the trees.
Orps darted right and left, skimming the surface of the flats,
disappearing into the foliage ahead.
Stresa had slowed their pace to a crawl.
opening in the trees on hands and knees, and froze.

BeRQGWKHWUHHVOD a deep ravine, an island of rock
suspended within the swamp. The fir trees lifted from its
bedding in a jumble of dark trunks that looked as if theKDd
been lashed together with hundreds of webs. Dead things hung
in the webs, and bones littered the ravine floor. Orps crawled
was graDQGGLffuse above the ravine, filtered down to faint
was quiet within the W isteron’s lair. Except for the scurrLQg
Orps, nothing moved.
Wren felt Garth’ s hand grip her shoulder . She glanced over
and saw him point.
Gavilan Elessedil hung spread-eagle in a hammock of
webbing across from them, his blue eHVOLIHOHVVDQGVWDULQJ,
his mouth open in a silent scream. He had been gutted, his
torso split from chest to stomach. W ithin the emptFDYLWy, his
ribs gleamed dully. All of his bodIOXLGVKDGEHHQGUDLQHG.
What remained was little more than a husk, a grotesque,
frightening parodRIDPDQ.
Wren had seen much of death in her short life, but she was
unprepared for this. Don’ t look! she admonished herself
frantically . Don’t remember him like this! But she did look and
knew as she did that she would never for get.
Garth touched her a second time, pointing down into the
ravine. She peered without seeing at first, then caught sight of
the Ruhk Staff. It laGLUHFWO beneath what remained of
Gavilan, resting on the carpet of old bones. Orps crawled over
it mindlessly. The Loden was still fixed to its tip.
Wren nodded in response, alreadZRQGHULQJKRZWKH could
reach the talisman. Her gaze shifted abruptly , searching once
Where was the W isteron?
Then she saw it, high in the branches of the trees at one end of
the ravine, suspended in a net of its own webbing, motionless
in the haze. It was curled into a huge ball, its legs tucked under
it, and it had the curious appearance of a dirtFORXG,WZDs

covered with spiked hair, and it blended with the haze. It
seemed to be sleeping.
Wren fought down the rush of fear that seeing it triggered. She
glanced hurriedlDWWKHRWKHUV7KH were all looking. The
Wisteron shifted suddenly , a straightening out of its
surprisinglOHDQERGy, a stretching of several limbs. There
was a flash of claws and a hideous insect like face with an
odd, sucking maw. Then it curled up again and went still.
In Wren’s hand, the Elfstones had begun to burn.
She took a last despairing look at Gavilan, then motioned to
the others and backed out of the trees. W ordlesslWKHy
retraced their steps across the flats until theKDGJDLQHGWKe
cover of the acacia, where theNQHOWLQDWLJKWFLUFOH.
Wren searched their eHV+RZFDQZHJHWWRWKH6WDf f?” she
asked quietly. The image of Gavilan was fixed in her mind,
and she could barelWKLQNSDVWLW.
Garth’s hands lifted to sign. One of us will have to go down
into the ravine.
“But the W isteron will hear . Those bones will sound like
to her. The dark eHVVWDUHGXSZDUGLQWHQWO into her own.
“Could we lower someone down?” T riss asked.
“Phhhfft! Not without making some sound or movement,”
Stresa snapped. “The W isteron isn’t—ssstttt—asleep. It only
pretends. It will know!”
“We could wait until it does sleep, then,” T riss pursued. “Or
wait until it hunts, until it leaves to check its nets.”
“I don’t know that we have enough time for that . . .” W ren
“Hssstt! It doesn’t matter if there is enough time or not!”
Stresa interjected heatedly . “If it goes to hunt or to check its
nets, it will catch our scent! It will know we are here!”
“Calm down,” Wren soothed. She watched the spikFUHDWXUe
back off a step, its cat face furrowed.

“There has to be a way,” Triss whispered. “All we need is a
minute or two to get down there and out again. Perhaps a
diversion would work.”
“Perhaps,” W ren agreed, trLQJXQVXFFHVVIXOO to think of one.
Faun was chittering softlDW6WUHVDZKRUHSOLHGLUULWDEOy .
“Yes, Squeak, the Staf f! What do RXWKLQN"3Kf ftt! Now be
quiet so I can think!”
Use the Elfstones, Garth signed abruptly.
Wren took a deep breath. “As a diversion?” TheZHUHZKHUe
don’ t want us to separate. W e’ll never find each other again.”
Garth shook his head. Not as a diversion. As a weapon.
She stared.
Kill it before it can kill us. One quick strike.
Triss saw the uncertaintLQKHUHes. “What is Garth
suggesting?” he demanded.
One quick strike. Garth was right, of course. TheZHUHQ’ t
going to get the Ruhk Staff back without a fight; it was
ridiculous to suppose otherwise. WhQRWWDNHDGYDQWDJHRf
the element of surprise? Strike at the W isteron before it could
strike at them. Kill it or at least disable it before it had a
chance to hurt them. Wren took a deep breath. She could do it
if she had to, of course. She had alreadPDGHXSKHUPLQGWo
that. The problem was that she was not at all certain the magic
of the Elfstones was suf ficient to overcome something as lar ge
and predatorDVWKHWisteron. And the magic depended
directlRQKHr. If she lacked suf ficient strength, if the
Wisteron proved too strong, she would have doomed them all.
On the other hand, what choice did she have? There was no
better waWRUHDFKWKH6WDf f.
She reached down absentlWRVWURNH)DXQDQGFRXOGQ’ t find
her. “Faun?” Her eHVEURNHIURP*DUWK’ s, her mind still
preoccupied with the problem at hand. Orps darted awaDs
she shifted. Water pooled in the depressions left bKHUERRWV.

Through the cover of the trees in which theNQHOWDFURVVWKe
mud flats, she caught sight of the Tree Squeak entering the
Stresa spotted her as well. The Splinterscat whirled, spines
jutting forth. “Foolish ssstttt Squeak! It heard RXW ren of the
but . . .”
“The Staff?” Wren lurched to her feet, horror clouding her
eHVY ou mean she’ s gone for the Staf f?”
flats, running as silentlDVVKHFRXOG6KHKDGIRr gotten that
Faun could communicate with them. It had been a long time
since the Tree Squeak had even tried. Her chest tightened. She
knew how devoted the little creature was to her . It would do
It was about to prove that now .
Faun! No!
Her breath came in quick gasps. She wanted to crRXWWRFDOl
the Tree Squeak back. But she couldn’ t; a crZRXOGZDNHWKe
Wisteron. She reached the far edge of the flats, Orps racing
awaLQHYHU direction, dark flashes against the damp. She
could hear Garth and T riss following, their breathing harsh.
Stresa had gotten ahead of her somehow , the Splinterscat once
again quicker than she expected; he was alreadEXUURZLQg
through the trees. She followed, crawling hurriedlDIWHr , her
breath catching in her throat as she broke free.
across Faun’ s path, but she avoided them easily . Above, the
Wisteron hung motionless in its net, curled tight. The remains
of Gavilan hung there as well, but W ren refused to look on
those. She focused instead on Faun, on the T ree Squeak’s
agonizing, heart stopping descent. She was aware of Stresa a
dozen feet away , flattened at the edge of the rocks. Garth and
Triss had joined her , one to either side, pressed close. T riss

gripped her protectively, trLQJWRGUDZKHUEDFN6KHanked
her arm free angrily. The hand that gripped the Elfstones came
Faun reached the floor of the ravine and started across. Like a
feather, the Squeak danced across the carpet of drERQHV,
soundless, as inconsequential as the Orps that scattered at its
coming. Above, the W isteron continued to doze, unseeing. The
the T ree Squeak in its folds. Shades, whGLGQ’ t I keep hold of
her? Wren’ s blood pounded in her ears, measuring the passing
of the seconds. Faun disappeared into the vog. Then the
Squeak was visible again, all the waDFURVVQRw , crouched
above the Staff.
It’s too heavy , Wren thought in dismay . She won’t be able to
lift it.
But somehow Faun managed, easing it awaIURPWKHODers of
human deadwood, the sticks of once-life. Faun cradled it in
her tinKDQGVWKH6WDf f three times as long as she was, and
began to walk a tightrope back, using the Staf f as a pole. Wren
came to her knees, breathless.
Triss nudged W ren urgently , pointing. The W isteron had
shifted in its hammock, legs stretching. It was coming awake.
Wren started to rise, but Garth hurriedlSXOOHGKHUEDFN7Ke
Wisteron curled up again, legs retracting. Faun continued
the near side of the ravine again and paused.
Wren went cold. Faun doesn’ t know how to climb out!
distant, so far removed that the sound was scarcelDPXUPXr
in the silence. But the eruption triggered shock waves deep
beneath the earth, ripples that spread outward from the
mountain furnace like the rings that emanate from the splash
of a stone. Those tremors traveled all the waWRWKH,Q-XDQd
to the Wisteron’s island lair , and swiftlDFKDLQUHDFWLRn
began. The shock waves gathered force, turned quicklWo

heat, and the heat exploded from the mud flats directlEHKLQd
Wren in a fountain of steam.
InstantlWKHW isteron was awake, legs braced in its webbing,
head swiveling on a thick, boneless stalk as its black mirrored
explosion, bolted up the side of the ravine, lost her grip, and
tumbled down. The hiss of the Wisteron matched that of the
geVHr. It spun down its webbing with blinding speed, half
spider, half monkey , and all monster .
But Garth was faster . He went over the side of the ravine with
the swiftness of a shadow cast bDSDVVLQJFORXGDWQLJKW.
dropping the last dozen feet without slowing. He landed in a
crash of broken bones, stretched for the Ruhk Staf f, and
snatched it up. Faun was alreadVFUDPEOLQJIRUWKHVDIHW of
his broad back. Garth whirled to start up again, and the
Wisteron’ s shadow closed over him as the creature spun down
its webbing to smash him flat.
Wren came to her feet, her hand opened and her arm thrust
forth, and she summoned the Elfstone power . As quick as
thought it responded, streaking forth in a blinding rope of fire.
It caught the Wisteron still descending, hammered into it like a
massive fist, and sent it spinning away . Wren felt all of her
strength leave her as the blow struck. In her ur gencWRVDYe
Garth, she held nothing back. The exhilaration swept through
her in an instant and was gone. She gasped in shock, started to
collapse, and Triss caught her about the waist. Stresa HOOHGDt
them to run.
Garth heaved up out of the ravine, his face sweat-streaked and
grim, the Ruhk Staf f in one hand, Faun in the other . The Tree
Squeak flew to W ren, shivering. On hands and knees they
run across the mud flats.
Wren shot a frantic glance over one shoulder .
Where was the W isteron?

It appeared an instant later. It did not come through the trees as
she had expected, but over them. It cleared the topmost limbs,
surged into view in a cloud of gray , and dropped on them like
a stone. Triss flung himself at W ren and knocked her from its
path or she would have been crushed. Stresa turned into a ball
of needles and was knocked flLQJ7KHW isteron hissed, one
clawed foot bristling with the Splinterscat’s spines, and landed
in a crouch. Garth dropped the Staff and turned to face it,
broad-sword drawn. Using both hands, the big Rover slashed
at the Wisteron’s face, missing as the beast drew back. It spit
“Poison!” Stresa screamed from what sounded like the bottom
of a well, and Garth went down, flat against the mud.
The moment he dropped, the W isteron charged.
Wren scrambled up again, arms extending. The Elfstones
flared, and the magic responded. Fire exploded into the
Wisteron from behind, sending it tumbling awaLQDFORXGRf
smoke and steam. Howling in triumph, she went after it, a red
haze across her vision, the power of the magic sur ging through
her once again. She could not think; she could onlUHDFW.
Gathering the magic within herself, she attacked. The fire
struck the Wisteron over and over , pounding it, burning it. The
monster hissed and screeched, twisted away , and fought to
stand upright. Out of the corner of her eHW ren saw Garth
stagger back to his feet. One hand snatched up the fallen Ruhk
Staff, the other the broadsword. The big man was caked with
mud. W ren saw him, then for got him, the magic a veil that
enveloped and swept away . The magic was an elixir that filled
her with wonder and excitement and white heat. She was
invincible; she was supreme!
in an instant’s time, and the fire died in her hand. She closed
her fingers protectivelDQGGURSSHGWRRQHNQHH*DUWKDQd
Triss were both there at once, dragging her away , hauling her
as if she were a child, racing back across the flats. Faun came
out of nowhere to scramble up her leg and burrow in her
shoulder. Stresa was still screaming in warning, the words
unintelligible, the voice rising from somewhere back in the old

Then the Wisteron shot out of the haze, burned and smoking,
its sinewERG stretched out like a wolf ’s in flight. It
slammed into them and everRQHZHQWVSUDZOLQJW ren
lurched to her hands and knees in the monster’s shadow , half
dazed, still weak, mud in her eHVDQGPRXWK,QGHVSHUDWLRQ,
her protectors fought to save her . Garth stood astride her,
broadsword swinging in a deadlDUF%LWVDQGSLHFHVRIWKe
Wisteron flew as it pressed the big Rover back. T riss appeared,
hacking wildly, cutting one of the monster ’s legs out from
under it with a bone-jarring blow . Shouts and cries filled the
fetid air.
But the W isteron was the lar gest and strongest of all
Morrowindl’s demons, of an6KDGRZHQELUWKHGLQWKHODSVe
of the Elven magic’ s use, and it was the equal of them all. It
whipped its tail against T riss and knocked him thirtIHHWWo
land in a crumpled heap. When Garth missed in a quick cut at
its head, the beast sliced through clothing and flesh with one
black-clawed limb and ripped the broadsword away . Garth had
his short sword out in an instant, but a second blow sent him
reeling back, tumbling over Wren to land helplesslRQKLs
Wren, who laH[SRVHGQRZLQWKHW isteron’s path, the T ree
Squeak launched itself directlLQWRWKHPRQVWHr ’s face, a
shrieking ball of fur , tinKDQGVWHDULQJDQGULSSLQJ7Ke
drew back. It reached for the Tree Squeak, anxious to crush
this insignificant threat, but Faun was too quick, already
scrambling along the monster’s ridged back. The W isteron
twisted about in an ef fort to catch it, incensed.
Get up! Wren told herself, fighting to stand. The Elfstones
were white heat in her tightened hand.
Then Garth was back, ragged and bloodied, broadsword
flashing against the light. One massive stroke knocked the
Wisteron back on two legs. A second almost severed one arm.
The W isteron hissed and writhed, curling back on itself. Faun
leapt free and dashed away . Garth swung the broadsword in a

Wren staggered to her feet, the white heat of the Elfstones
transferring from her hand to her chest, then deep into her
Before her laWKH5XKN6WDf f, fallen from Garth’s hand.
AbruptlWKHWisteron spun about and spit a stream of liquid
poison at Garth. This time the big man wasn’ t quick enough,
and it struck him in the chest, burning like acid. He dropped to
the mud in agony, rolling to cleanse himself.
The Wisteron was on him instantly . One clawed limb pinned
him to the earth and began to press.
With both hands cupped about the Elfstones, W ren called forth
the fire one final time. It exploded out of her with such force
that it rocked her backward like the blow of a fist. The
Wisteron was struck full on, picked up like deadwood and
spun helplesslDZDy . Fire enveloped it, a raging inferno.
Wren pressed forward, the white heat of the magic reflecting
in her eHV6WLOOWKHW isteron struggled to break free, fighting
to reach the girl. Between them, Garth raised himself to his
hands and knees, blood everZKHUHWKHEURNHQEODGHRIWKe
broadsword gripped in one hand. For W ren, everWKLQJVORZHd
to a crawl, a dream that was happening onlLQKHUPLQGT riss
was a vague shape stumbling back out of the mist, Stresa a
voice without a body, Faun a memory, and the world a
shifting, endless haze. Garth’ s dark eHVORRNHGXSDWKHUIURm
his ragged, broken form. At her feet laWKH5XKN6WDf f and the
Loden, the last hope of the Elven people, their vessel of
safekeeping, their chance at life. She shrugged it all awaDQd
buried herself in the power of the Elfstones, in the magic of
her blood, shaping it, directing it, and knowing in some dark,
secretive place that her own chance at life had come down to
Before her, the Wisteron sur ged back to its feet.
Help me! she cried out in the silence of her mind.
Then she directed the fire against the mud on which the
Wisteron stood, melting it to soup, to a mire as liquid and
LHOGLQJDVTXLFNVDQG7KHW isteron lurched forward and sank
to its knees. The mud bubbled and spit like Killeshan’ s flow,

sucking at the thing that floundered within it. The Wisteron
hissed and spit and struggled to break free. But its weight was
significant and drew it down; its legs could find no footing.
The Elfstone fire burned about it, coring the mud deeper and
deeper, pooling it in a bottomless pit. The W isteron thrashed
air to silence.
Then the mud closed over it, the roiling surface glazing orange


W ren’s fingers closed over the Elfstones, mechanical
appendages that seemed to belong to someone else. The fire
flared once in response and died. She stood frozen in place for
a moment, unable to find the strength to make herself move—
light-headed, floating, a half step out of time. The magic spit
and hissed within her , making small dashes along her arms and
legs that caused her to gasp and shiver . She had trouble
breathing; her chest was constricted, and her throat was dry
and raw.
Before her , the flames that seared the surface of the mud flats
diminished to small blue tongues and died into steam. Garth
was still braced on hands and knees, head lowered and chest
heaving. All about, the In Ju was cavernous and still.
Then Faun darted out of nowhere, scrambled up her arm, and
nuzzled into her neck and shoulder , squeaking softly. She
closed her eHVDJDLQVWWKHZDUPIXr , remembering how the
little creature had saved her, thinking it was a miracle that any
of them were still alive.
She moved finally, forcing herself to take one step and then
another, driven bKHUIHDUIRU*DUWKDQGE the sight of all that
blood. She forced aside the last traces of exhilaration that were
the magic’ s leavings, groped past her craving to savor the
power anew , slipped the Elfstones into her pocket, and knelt
His face was muddied almost beRQGUHFRJQLWLRQEXWWKHGDUk
“Garth,” she whispered.
He was ripped open from shoulder to ribs on his left side, and
his chest was burned black bWKHSRLVRQ&DNHGPXGKDd

helped to slow the flow of blood, but the wounds needed
She eased Faun down gently, then put her arms around Garth
and tried to help him to his feet. She could barelPRYHKLP.
“Wait,” a voice called out. “I’ll help.”
It was T riss, stumbling out of the mist, looking only
marginallEHWWHURf f than Garth. He was streaked with mud
and swamp water . His left arm hung limp; he carried his short
sword in his right. One side of his face was a sheet of blood.
But the Captain of the Home Guard seemed unaware of his
injuries. He draped Garth’ s arm about his shoulders and with a
heave brought the big man to his feet. W ith Wren supporting
old-growth acacia.
Stresa lumbered into view , quills sticking out in every
direction. “This wa3KKf fft! In here! In the shade!”
a cluster of tree roots and laid him down again. W ren worked
quicklWRFXWDZD his tunic. She had onlDOLWWOHIUHVKZDWHr
left, but used almost all of it to clean his wounds. The rest she
gave to Triss for his face. She used sewing thread and a needle
to stitch the gash closed and bound the big man with strips of
cloth torn from the last of her extra clothing. Garth watched
her work, silent, unmoving, as if trLQJWRPHPRUL]HKHUIDFH.
She signed to him once or twice, but he merelQRGGHGDQGGLd
not sign back. She did not like what she saw .
Then she worked on Triss. The face wound was superficial,
cut splints of wood and bound them with his belt. He winced
once or twice as she worked, but did not crRXW+HWKDQNHd
her when she was done, solemn, embarrassed. She smiled at
somewhere out in the mud. HurriedlVKHZHQWEDFNIRULW,
leaving the cover of the old growth, crossing the flats once

silver light. The air was emptDQGVWLOOEXWWKHVRXQGRf
Killeshan’s rumble echoed ominouslIURPEHond the wall of
the mist, and the earth shivered in response. She found the
Ruhk Staff where it had fallen and picked it up. The Loden
sparkled like a cluster of small stars. So much given up on its
behalf, she thought, on behalf of the Elven people, trapped
inside. She experienced a dark moment of regret, a sudden
urge to toss it aside, to sink it as deep within the mud as the
W isteron. The Elves, who had done so much damage with
their magic, who had created the Shadowen with their
ambition and who had abandoned the Four Lands to a
savagerIRUZKLFKWKH were responsible, might be better
gone. But she had made her decision on the Elves. Besides,
she knew it was not the fault of these Elves, not of this
generation, and it was wrong to hold an entire people
accountable for the acts of a few in anFDVH$OODQRQPXVt
have counted on her thinking like that. He must have foreseen
that she would discover the truth and decide for herself the
wisdom of his char ge. Find the Elves and r eturn them to the
Four Lands. She had wondered whPDQ times. She thought
now she was beginning to see. Who better than the Elves to
right the wrong that had been done? Who better to lead the
fight against the Shadowen?
She trudged back across the flats, numbness setting in, the last
traces of the magic’s euphoria fading away . She was tired and
feelings. She had the Ruhk Staf f back again, and the journeWo
the beaches and the search for T iger TOD ahead. And there
were still the demons.
Stresa was waiting at the edge of the trees. The rough voice
was a whisper of warning. “Hsstt. He is badlKXUWW ren of
the Elves. Your big friend. Be warned. The poison is a bad
She brushed past the Splinterscat, irritated, abrupt. “He’ll
manage,” she snapped.
With help from T riss, she got Garth to his feet once more and
theVWDUWHGRXW,WZDVSDVWPLGGDy , the light faint and hazy
through the screen of vog, the heat a blanket of sweltering

damp. Stresa led, working his waGRJJHGO through the
jungle’s maze, choosing a path that gave those following a
chance to maneuver with Garth. The In Ju seemed empty , as if
the death of the Wisteron had killed everWKLQJWKDWOLYHd
within it. But the silence was mostlDUHVSRQVHWRWKHHDUWh
tremors, Wren thought. The creatures of Morrowindl sensed
that all was not well, and for the moment at least theKDd
suspended their normal activities and gone into hiding, waiting
to discover what would happen.
She watched Garth’ s face as theZDONHGVDZWKHLQWHQVLW of
his bones. He did not look at her , his gaze fixed purposefully
on the path ahead. He was keeping upright through sheer
It was twilight bWKHWLPHWKH cleared the In Ju and passed
into the forested hill countrEHond. TheIRXQGDFOHDULQg
with a spring, and she cleaned her giant friend’ s wounds anew.
There was nothing to eat; all of their provisions had been
consumed or lost, and theZHUHXQFHUWDLQZKLFKRIWKe
island’s roots and tree fruit was safe. TheKDGWRPDNHGo
with spring water . Triss found enough drZRRGWRPDNHa
fire, but it began to rain almost immediately , and within
seconds everWKLQJZDVVRDNHG7KH huddled back within the
shelter of a broad-limbed koa, shoulder to shoulder against the
encroaching dark. After a time, Stresa moved out to where he
could keep watch, muttering something about being the only
one left who was fit for the job. Wren didn’t argue the point;
she was half-inclined to agree. The light faded steadilIURm
alive with movement as the need for food brought its creatures
forth to hunt, but nothing that went abroad made anDWWHPSt
to approach their refuge. Mist seeped through the trees and
grasses in lazWHQGULOVW ater dripped softlIURPWKHOHDYHV.
Faun squirmed in Wren’s arms, burrowing deep into her
shoulder .
At midnight, Killeshan erupted. Fire belched out in a shower
of sparks and flaming debris, and ash and smoke spewed forth.
The sound it made was terrifLQJDERRPLQJWKDWVKDWWHUHGWKe
night stillness and brought everRQHDZDNHZLWKDVWDUW7Ke

initial explosion turned quicklWRDVHULHVRIUXPEOHVWKDWEXLOt
one upon the other until the entire island was shaking. Even
from as far awaDVWKH were, the eruption was visible, a deep
red glow against the black that lifted skZDUGDQGVHHPHGWo
hang there. Close at hand, the earth split in small rents and
beRQGWKHLVODQG’s creatures raced wildlDERXWIOHHLQg
without direction or purpose, frightened bWKHLQWHQVLW of the
back against the koa, fighting the ur ge to join them. But flight
in such blackness was dangerous, W ren knew, and Stresa was
quick to remind her that thePXVWVWD put until daOLJKW.
The eruptions continued all night long, one after the other , a
series of thundering coughs and fierFRQYXOVLRQVWKDt
threatened to rend Morrowindl from end to end. Fires burned
high on Killeshan’s slopes as lava flows began their descent to
that tore free whole mountainsides. Giant trees snapped at
their centers and tumbled to the earth.
Wren closed her eHVDQGWULHGXQVXFFHVVIXOO to sleep.
Toward dawn, Stresa rose to scout the area leading out and
T riss took the Splinterscat’ s place at watch. Wren was left
alone with Garth. The big man slept fitfully , his face bathed in
fever, and the heat of his bodZDVSDOSDEOH$VVKHZDWFKHd
him twist and turn against his discomfort, she found herself
thinking of all theKDGEHHQWKURXJKWRJHWKHr . She had
worried about him before, but never as much as now . In part,
her concern was magnified bKHUVHQVHRIKHOSOHVVQHVV.
Morrowindl remained a foreign world to her, and her
knowledge of it was too little. She could not help thinking that
there must be something more that she could do for her big
stricken bDIHYHUVLPLODUWR*DUWK’s, a fever that none of them
had understood. She had lost her grandmother; she did not
intend to lose her best Mend. She reassured herself over and
over that Garth was strong, that he possessed great endurance.
He could survive anWKLQJKHDOZDs had.

It was growing light, and she had just closed her eHVDJDLQVt
her fatigue and depression when the big man surprised her by
look at him, he began to sign.
She nodded, and her fingers repeated her words. “What?”
It will be difficult for RXEXWLWLVQHFHVVDUy.
She tried to see his eHVDQGFRXOGQ’t. He was turned too far
into the shadows.
I want RXWRIRrgive me.
“Forgive RXIRUZKDW"”
I have lied to RXDERXWVRPHWKLQJ,KDYHOLHGr epeatedly.
Ever since I have known RX.
She shook her head, confused, anxious, wearWRWKHERQH.
“Lied about what?”
His gaze never faltered. About RXUSDr ents. About RXr
mother and father . I knew them. I knew who theZHr e and
where theFDPHIr om. I knew everWKLQJ.
Listen to me, W ren. Y our mother understood the impact of
that RXPXVWEHWDNHQIrom Morrowindl if RXZHr e to live,
but it also said that RXZRXOGRQHGD r eturn to save the
Elves . Your mother corr ectlMXGJHGWKDWZKDWHYHUVDOYDWLRn
confrontation with the evil theKDGFr eated. I did not know
this at the time; I have surmised it since. What I did know was
strong enough to withstand anGDQJHr , anIRHDQ trial that
was required of RX7KDWZDVZK she gave RXWRPH.
Wren was stunned. “T o RX"'LUHFWO to RX"”
Garth shifted, pushing himself into a sitting position, giving
his hands more freedom. He grunted with the ef fort. Wren
could see blood soaking through the bandages of his wounds.

She came with her husband to the Rovers, sent bWKHWing
Riders. She came to us because she was told that we wer e the
strongest of the fr ee peoples, that we trained our childr en from
birth to survive because survival is the har dest part of every
Rover’s life. W e have alwaVEHHQDQRXWFDVWSHRSOHDQGDs
such have found it necessarWREHVWr onger than anRWKHr. So
RXUPRWKHUDQGour father came to us, to mIDPLOy , a tribe
of several hundred living on the plains below the MULDQDQd
asked if there were someone among us who could be trusted in
the schooling of their daughter . TheZLVKHGKHUWREHWUDLQHd
in the Rover way, to begin learning as soon as she was old
enough how to survive in a world wher e everRQHDQd
everWKLQJZDVDSRWHQWLDOHQHPy. I was recommended. W e
talked, RXUSDrents and I, and I agr eed to be RXUWHDFKHr .
He coughed, a deep, racking sound that tore from the depths of
his chest. His head lowered momentarilDVKHJDVSHGIRr
“Garth,” she whispered, frightened now . “Tell me about this
later , after RXKDYHUHVWHG”
He shook his head. No. I want this finished. I have carried it
with me for too long.
“But RXFDQKDUGO breathe, RXFDQEDUHO . . .”
I am str onger than RXWKLQN. His hand closed over her own
She swallowed against her tears. “Y es.”
Does that frighten RXVR"$IWHUDOO,KDYHWDXJKWou?
“Yes.’ ’
will not die until RXDr e readIRUPHWRGRVR.
She nodded wordlessly , not understanding what he meant,
warRIWKHORRNDQ[LRXVRQO that he live, whatever bar gain it
His breath exhaled in a thick rattle. Good. Your mother , then.
She was everWKLQJou have been told—str ong, kind,

return to her people. She had made up her mind befor e she left
Morrowindl, I think. Y our father acquiesced. I don’ t know the
reason for their decision; I onlNQRZWKDWour mother was
and RXUIDWKHUZDVGHVSHUDWHO in love with her . In anFDVH,
Ohmsfords in ShadV ale until RXZHr e five—the beginning
age for training a Rover child—and then given back to me.
You wer e to be told that RXUPRWKHUZDVD5RYHUDQGour
father an Ohmsfor d and. that RXUDQFHVWRUVZHr e Elves. You
were to be told nothing else.
Wren shook her head in disbelief. “Why , Garth? WhNHHSLt
all a secret from me?”
to influence the workings of a prophecy. She could have tried
to keep RXVDIHWRSr event RXIrom returning to Morr owindl.
She could have staHGZLWKou and told RXZKDWZDs
foreor dained. But what harm might she have caused by
interfering so? She knew enough of pr ophecies to recognize
the threat. It was better , she believed, that RXJr ow to
womanhood without knowing the specifics of what Eowen had
foretold, that RXILQGour destinRQour own, however it
was meant to be. It was given to me to pr epare RX.
“So RXNQHZHYHUthing? All of it? Y ou knew about the
No. Not about the Elfstones. Like RX,WKRXJKWWKHPSDLQWHd
rocks. I was told to make certain that RXNQHZZKHr e they
came from, that theZHr e RXUKHULWDJHIr om RXUSDrents. I
was to see to it that RXQHYHUORVWWKHPY our mother was
convinced, I suppose, that like RXUGHVWLQy , the power of the
Elfstones would reveal itself when it was time.
after, when I went to the Hadeshorn, when I was sent in search
of the Elves?”
I knew .
“And didn’ t tell me?” There was a hint of anger in her voice
now, the first. The impact of what he was telling her was

beginning to set in. “Never a word, even when I asked?”
I could not.
“What do RXPHDQou could not?” She was incensed.
Because I promised RXUPRWKHr . She swore me to secr ecy. You
wer e to know nothing of RXUWUXHKHULWDJHQRWKLQJRIWKe
Elessedils, Arborlon, or Morr owindl, nothing of the prophecy.
You wer e to discover it on RXURZQRUQRWDVIDWHGHFr eed. I
was not to aid RXLQDQ way. I was to go with RXZKHQLt
came time if I chose. I was to pr otect RXDVEHVW,FRXOG%XWI
was to tell RXQRWKLQJ.
The big man’s breath rattled in his chest, and his fingers
hesitated. I swore an oath. I swor e that I would tell Ru
nothing until the pr ophecFDPHWRSDVVLILWHYHUGLG—
discovered the truth for RXUVHOIXQWLOou had done whatever
it was RXZHr e fated to do to help RXUSHRSOH,Sr omised.
She sank back on her heels, despair washing through her . Trust
no one, the Addershag had warned. No one. She had believed
she realized the impact of those words. She had thought she
But this . . .
“Oh, Garth,” she whispered in dismay . “I trusted RX”
You lost nothing bGRLQJVRW ren.
“Didn’ t I?”
TheIDFHGHDFKRWKHr , silent, motionless. EverWKLQJWKDWKDd
happened to Wren since Cogline had first come to her those
like an enormous weight. So manKDUURZLQJHVFDSHVVo
come together in a single moment, in this truth terrible and
Had RXNQRZQEHIRr e coming, it might have changed
everWKLQJYour mother understood that. Y our father as well.

Perhaps I would have told RXLI,FRXOGEXWP pr omise
bound me. The big frame shifted, and the sharplHWFKHGERQHs
of the other’s face lifted into the light. T ell me, if RXFDQWKDt
I should have done otherwise. T ell me, Wren, that I should
have br oken mSr omise.
Her mouth was a tight, bitter line. “Y ou should have.”
He held her gaze, dark eHVIODWDQGH[SUHVVLRQOHVV.
“No,” she admitted finally, tears in her eHVYou shouldn’t
have.” She looked away , emptDQGORVW%XWWKDWGRHVQ’ t
Addershag was right, Garth, and that’ s what hurts. There were
too manOLHVWRRPDQ secrets, and I wasn’ t part of anRf
She cried silently, head lowered. “Someone should have
nothing to saDERXWLW/RRNZKDW’ s been done!”
One big hand brushed her own. Think, Wren. The choices have
all been RXUV1RRQHKDVPDGHWKHPIRUou; no one has
been the same? Could RXVD the choices wer e RXUVLQWKDt
She looked back, hesitant.
Would it have been better to know RXZHr e Ellenroh
Elessedil’ s granddaughter , that the Elfstones RXWKRXJKt
painted rocks were real, that when RXJr ew to womanhood
RXZRXOGRQHGD be expected to travel to Morr owindl and,
because of a prophecJLYHQEHIRr e RXZHre born, save the
would RXKDYHJr own? What would RXKDYHEHFRPH?
She took a deep breath. “I don’ t know. But perhaps I should
have been given the chance to find out.”
The light was stronger now as dawn broke somewhere beRQd
the pall of the mist and trees. Faun lifted her head from out of
Wren’ s lap where she had lain motionless. T riss had come
back from the edge of the dark; he stood watching them in

silence. The night sounds had died away, and the frantic
movement had ceased. In the distance, the sounds of
Killeshan’s eruption continued unabated, steadDQGRPLQRXV.
The earth shook faintly , and the fire of the lava rose skZDUd
Garth stirred, his hands moving. Wren, he signed. I did what I
was asked, what I pr omised. I did the best I could. I wish it
had not been necessarWRGHFHLYHou. I wish I had been able
to give RXWKHFKDQFHou ask for .
She looked at him for a long time, and finallQRGGHGI
The strong, dark face was rigid with concentration. Don’t be
angrZLWKour mother and father . TheGLGZKDWWKH thought
theKDGWRGRZKDWWKH believed was right.
She nodded again. She did not trust herself to speak.
You must find a waWRIRr give us all.
She swallowed hard. “I wish . . . I wish I didn’ t hurt so much.”
Wren, look at me.
She did so, reluctantly , warily.
We ar e not finished HW7KHr e is one thing more.
She felt a chill settle in the pit of her stomach, an ache of
something sensed but not HWIXOO realized. She saw Stresa
appear out of the trees to one side, lumbering heavily , winded
and damp. He slowed as he approached them, aware that
something was happening, a confrontation perhaps, a
revelation, a thing inviolate.
“Stresa,” Wren greeted quickly , anxious to avoid hearing any
more from Garth.
The Splinterscat swung his blunt cat face from one human to
the other. “We can go now ,” he said. “In fact, we should. The
mountain is coming down. Sooner or later it will reach here.”
“We must hurry ,” she agreed, rising. She snatched up the Ruhk
Staff, then looked down anxiouslDWKHULQMXUHGIULHQG.

We need to speak alone first.
Her throat tightened anew . “Wh"”
Ask the others to go ahead a short distance and wait for us.
Tell them we won’ t be long.
She hesitated, then looked at Stresa and T riss. “I need a
moment with Garth. Wait for us up ahead. Please.”
reluctantly, Triss first, lean face expressionless, and Stresa
with sharp-eHGVXVSLFLRQ.
“Take Faun,” she asked as an afterthought, disengaging the
Tree Squeak from its perch on her shoulder and setting it
Stresa hissed at the little creature and sent it racing of f into the
trees. He looked back at her with sad, knowing eHV&DOO,
rwwwlll Wren of the Elves, if RXQHHGXV”
faced Garth once more, the Staf f gripped tightlLQERWKKDQGV.
“What is it?”
The big man beckoned. Don’t be frightened. Her e. Sit next to
me. Listen a moment and don’ t interrupt.
She did as he asked, kneeling close enough that her leg was
pressed up against his body. She could feel the heat of his
fever. Mist and pale light obscured him in a shading of gray ,
and the world about was fuzzDQGWKLFNZLWKKHDW.
She laWKH5XKN6WDff down beside her, and Garth’s big hands
began to sign.
Something is happening to me. Inside. The W isteron’s poison, I
think. It cr eeps through me like a living thing, fir e that sears
and deadens. I can feel it working about, changing me. It is a
bad feeling.
“I’ll wash the wounds again, rebind them.”
No, Wren. What is happening now is beRQGWKDWEHond
anWKLQJou can do. The poison is in mVstem, all thr ough

Her breath was hurried, angry. “If RXDUHWRRZHDNZHZLOl
I was weak at first, but the weakness is passing now . I am
growing str onger again. But the str ength is not mRZQ.
the same. She shook her head. “What are RXVDing?”
He looked at her with fierce determination, his dark eHVKDUG,
his face all angles and planes, chiseled in stone. The Wisteron
was a Shadowen. Like the Drakuls. Remember Eowen?
She shuddered, jerked back and tried to rise. He grabbed her
and held her in place, keeping their eHVORFNHG Look at me.
She tried and couldn’ t. She saw him and at the same time
didn’t, aware of the lines that framed him but unable to see the
colors and shadings between, as if doing so would reveal the
truth she feared. “Let me go!”
Then everWKLQJEURNHZLWKLQKHr , and she began to cry. She
did so soundlessly, and onlWKHKHDYLQJRIKHUVKRXOGHUVJDYe
her away. She closed her eHVDJDLQVWWKHUDJHRIIHHOLQJs
within, the horror of the world about her , the terrible price it
seemed to require over and over again. She saw Garth even
there, etched within her mind—the dark confidence and
strength radiating from his face, the smile he reserved
exclusivelIRUKHr, the wisdom, the friendship, and the love.
the words a murmur . “I can’t!”
His hands released her , and her eHVRSHQHG Look at me.
She took a deep breath and did so.
Look into mHes.
She did. She looked down into the soul of her oldest and most
trusted friend. A wicked red glimmer looked back.
It alreadEHJLQV, he signed.
She shook her head in furious denial.
I can’ t let it happen, W ren. But I can’ t do it alone. Not and be
sure. Y ou have to help me let go.

One hand slipped down to his belt and pulled free the long
knife, its razor-sharp blade glinting in the half-light. She
shuddered and drew back, but he grabbed her wrist and forced
the handle of the knife into her palm.
His hands signed, quick, steady . There is no mor e time left to
us. What we’ve had has been good. I do not r egret a moment,
of it. I am pr oud of RXW ren. Y ou ar e mVWr ength, my
wisdom, mVNLOOP experience, mOLIHHYHUthing I am, the
best of me. And still RXURZQSHUVRQGLVWLQFWLQHYHU way .
You ar e what RXZHr e meant to be—a Rover girl become
Queen of the Elves. I can’ t give RXDQthing more. It is a good
time to saJRRGEe.
Wren couldn’ t breathe. She couldn’ t see clearly. “You can’ t
ask this of me! Y ou can’t!”
I have to. Ther e is no one else. No one I could depend upon to
do it right.
“No!” She dropped the knife as if it had burned her skin. “I
would rather,” she choked, crLQJEHGHDGPself!”
He reached down for the knife and carefullSODFHGLWEDFNLn
her hand. She shook her head over and over , saLQJQRQR+e
touched her, drawing her eHVRQFHPRUHWRKLVRZQ+HZDs
shivering now , just cold perhaps, but maEHVRPHWKLQJPRUH.
The red glow was more pronounced, stronger .
I am slipping away, Wren. I am being stolen fr om mVHOIYou
have to hurry . Do it quickly . Don’t let me become… He
couldn’ t finish, his great, strong hands shaking now as well.
You can do it. W e have practiced often enough. I can’ t trust
Wren’ s muscles were so tight she could barelPRYH6Ke
glanced over her shoulder , thinking to call Stresa back, or
help her , she knew . There was nothing anRQHFRXOGGR.
counteract the poison, mustn’ t there?” Her words were frantic.
“I’ll ask Stresa! He’ll know! I’ll get him back!”

The big hands cut her short. Stresa alreadNQRZVWKHWUXWK.
You saw it in his eHV7KHr e isn’t anWKLQJKHFDQGR7KHr e
never was. Let it go. Help me. T ake the knife and use it.
You have to.
One hand swept up suddenlDVLIWRVWULNHKHr , and
instinctivelVKHUHDFWHGZLWKDEORFNWRFRXQWHr , the hand with
the knife lifting, freezing, inches above his chest. Their eHs
locked. For an instant, everWKLQJZDVKHGDZD within W ren
but the terrible recognition of what was needed. Tile truth
stunned tier. She caught her breath and held it.
Quick, Wren . . . She did not move. He took her hand and
tunic, against his chest. Do it.
Her head shook slowly , steadilIURPVLGHWRVLGHDEDUHOy
perceptible movement.
Wren. Help me.
She looked down at him, deep into his eHVDQGLQWRWKHUHd
glare that was consuming him, that rose out of the horror
growing within. She remembered standing next to him as a
child when she had first come to live with the Rovers, barely
as tall as his knee. She remembered herself at ten, whip-thin,
leather tough, racing to catch him in the forest. She
remembered their games, constant, unending, all directed
toward her training.
She felt his breath on her face. She felt the closeness of him
and thought of the comfort it had given her as a child.
“Garth,” she whispered in despair , and felt the great hands
come up to tighten over her own.
Then she thrust the long knife home.


S he fled then. She ran from the clearing into the trees, numb
with grief, half blind with tears, the Ruhk Staff clutched before
her in both hands like a shield. She raced through the shadows
and half-light of the island’s earlPRUQLQJREOLYLRXVWo
Killeshan’s distant rumble, to Morrowindl’ s shudder in
and place of Garth’s death, even knowing she could never
escape its memory. She tore past brush and limbs with
heedless disregard, through tall grasses and brambles, along
ridges of earth encrusted with lava rock, and over deadwood
and scattered debris. She sensed none of it. It was not her body
that fled; it was her mind.
She called out to him endlessly , chasing after her memories of
She saw him race away, spectral, phantasmagoric. Parts of him
appeared and faded in the air before her , blurred and distant
images from times gone by. She saw herself give chase as she
had so manWLPHVZKHQWKH had plaHGDWEHLQJT racker and
saw herself that last daLQWKHT irfing before Cogline had
appeared and everWKLQJKDGFKDQJHGIRUHYHr , skirting the
drop from the trees, huge, silent, and quick. She felt him
grapple for her, felt herself slip away , felt her long knife rise
and descend. She heard herself laugh. You’r e dead, Garth.
And now he reallZDV.
Somehow—it was never entirelFOHDUVKHVWXPEOHGXSRn
the others of the little company , the few who remained alive,
Triss, the last of the Elves, the last besides herself, and Stresa

and Faun. She careened into them, spun awaDQJULO as if
course, running to catch up, calling out urgently, asking what
was wrong, what had happened, where was Garth?
Gone, she said, head shaking. Not coming.
But it was okay . It was all right.
He was safe now .
Still running, she heard T riss demand again, What is wrong?
And Stresa reply , Hsssstt, can’t RXVHH? Words, whispered
furtively , passed between them, but she didn’ t catch their
meaning, didn’t care to. Faun leapt from the pathwaWRKHr
arm, clinging possessively , but she shook the Tree Squeak off
roughly. She didn’ t want to be touched. She could barelVWDQd
to be inside her own skin.
She broke free of the trees.
“LadWren!” she heard T riss crRXWWRKHr .
Then she was scrambling up a lava slide, clawing and digging
at the sharp rock, feeling it cut into her hands and knees. Her
choking on words that wouldn’ t come. The Ruhk Staff fell
from her hands, and she abandoned it. She cast everWKLQg
away, the whole of who and what she was, sickened bWKe
was nowhere left to go.
When she collapsed finally , exhausted, stretched flat on the
slide, sobbing uncontrollably , it was Triss who reached her
first, who cradled her as if she were a child, who soothed her
with words and small touches and gave her a measure of the
comfort she needed. He helped her to her feet, turned her
about, and took her back down to the forest below . CarrLQg
the Ruhk Staff in one arm and supporting her with the other ,
he guided her through the morning hours like a shepherd a
before the other and that she continue to walk with him. Stresa
on which she focused, the steadilFKDQJLQJREMHFWWRZDUd

which she moved, first one foot, then the other, over and over
again. Faun returned for another trDWVFUDPEOLQJXSKHUOHg
and onto her arm, and this time she welcomed the intrusion,
pressing the Tree Squeak close, nuzzling back against the little
creature’s warmth and softness.
TheWUDYHOHGDOOGD like this, companions on a journeWKDt
required no words. The few times theSDXVHGWRUHVWW ren
accepted the water Triss gave her to drink and the fruit he
pressed into her palm and did not bother to ask where it came
from or if it was safe to eat. The daOLJKWGLPPHGDVFORXGs
massed from horizon to horizon, as the vog thickened beneath.
Killeshan stormed behind them, the eruptions unchecked now ,
fire and ash and smoke spewing skZDUGLQORQJJHsers, the
smell of sulfur thick in the air, the island shaking and rocking.
was bathed in a blood-red corona that flared anew with each
eruption and sent trailers of fire all down the distant slopes
where the lava ran to the sea. Boulders grated and crunched as
the molten rock carried them away , and trees burned with a
sharp, crackling despair. The wind died to nothing, a haze
cage in which the inhabitants bumped up against one another
in frightened, angrFRQIXVLRQ.
Stresa settled them that night in a cleft of rock that sheltered
on three sides amid a grove of wirLURQZRRGVWULSSHGDOOEXt
the wall and watched the holocaust beRQGJURZEULJKWHr .
TheZHUHVWLOODGD from the beaches, a daIURPDQy
rendezvous with Tiger Ty, and the destruction of the island
was imminent. W ren came back to herself enough to realize
her, listening to the sound of his voice as he continued to
speak quietly , reassuringly , she remembered what it was that
she was supposed to do and that it was T iger TDORQHZKo
could help her to do it.
“Triss,” she said finally , unexpectedly, seeing him for the first
time, speaking his name in acknowledgment, making him
smile in relief.

ShortlDIWHr, the demons appeared, Morrowindl’ s Shadowen,
the first of those that had escaped Killeshans fierIORw , fled
down out of the hills toward the beaches, lost and confused
and readWRNLOODQthing theFDPHXSRQ7KH stumbled out
and attacked unthinkingly, responding to instinct and to their
own peculiar madness. Stresa heard them coming, sharp ears
picking out the sound of their approach, and warned the others
seconds before the attack. Sword drawn, T riss met the rush,
withstood it, and verQHDUO turned it aside, almost a match
for the things even with onlRQHXVHIXODUP%XWWKHGHPRQs
were crazed past fear or reason, driven from their high country
bVRPHWKLQJEHond understanding. These humans were a
lesser threat. TheUDOOLHGDQGDWWDFNHGDQHw , determined to
exact some measure of revenge from the source at hand. But
now Wren was facing them, consumed bKHURZQPDGQHVV,
cold and reasoned, and she sent the magic of the Elfstones
danger. The magic caught them up and theYDQLVKHGLQEXUVWs
of fire and sudden screams. In seconds nothing remained but
smoke and ash.
Others came all during the night, small bunches of them,
launching out of the darkness in frenzied rushes that carried
them to quick and certain deaths. W ren destroHGWKHm
without feeling, without regret, and then burned the forest
about until it was as fierDVWKHVORSHVDERYHZKHUHWKHODYa
rivers steamed. As morning approached, the whole of their
shelter for fiftards out was barren and smoking, a charnel
house of bodies blackened beRQGUHFRJQLWLRQDJUDYHard in
which onlWKH survived. There was no sleep, no rest, and
little respite against the assaults. Dawn found them hollow-
light. Triss was wounded in half a dozen new places, his
clothing in rags, all of his weapons lost or broken but his short
sword. W ren’s face was graZLWKDVKDQGKHUKDQGVVKRRk
with the infusion of the Elfstones’ power . Stresa’s quills
would ever settle back in place. Faun crouched next to W ren
like a coiled spring.

As the light crept out of the east, silver sunrise through the
haze of fire and smoke, Wren told them finallZKDWKDd
become of Garth, needing at last to tell, anxious to rid herself
hers alone. She told them quietly , softly, in the silence that
followed the last of the attacks. She cried again, thinking that
perhaps she would never stop. But the tears were cleansing
this time, as if finallZDVKLQJDZD some of the hurt. They
listened to her wordlessly , the Captain of the Home Guard, the
Splinterscat, and the Tree Squeak, gathered close so that
nothing would be missed, even Faun, who might or might not
have understood her words, nestled against her shoulder . The
words flowed from her easily, the dam of her despair and
shame giving way, and a kind of peace settled deep within her .
“Rwwffl Wren, it was what was needed,” Stresa told her
“You knew , didn’t RX"VKHDVNHGLQUHSOy .
“Hssstt. Yes. I understood what the poison would do. But I
could not tell RXW ren of the Elves, because RXZRXOGQRt
have wanted to believe. It had to come from him.”
And the Splinterscat was right, of course, although it no longer
reallPDWWHUHG7KH talked a bit longer while the light seeped
world of black ruin in which smoke still curled skZDUGLn
Killeshan’s discontent.
“He gave his life for RX/DG W ren,” Triss offered solemnly .
“He stood over RXZKHQWKHW isteron would have claimed
RXDQGIRXJKWWRNHHSou safe. None of us would have fared
as well. We tried, but onl*DUWKKDGWKHVWUHQJWK.HHSWKDWDs
RXUPHPRU of him.”
But she could still feel herself pushing against the handle of
the long knife as it slipped into his heart, still feel his hands
closing over hers, almost as if to absolve her of responsibility .

TheVWDUWHGRXWDJDLQVRRQDIWHr, crossing the charred
battleground of the night gone past to the fresh green
landscape of the daWKDWOD ahead, passing toward the last of
underfoot were constant still, and the fires of the lava rivers
were burning closer, streaming down the mountainside above.
Things fled about them in all directions, and even the demons
did not pause to attack. EverWKLQJUDFHGWRHVFDSHWKHEXUQLQg
Divide. Morrowindl was turning slowlLQWRDFDXOGURQRIILUH,
blackness, that hissed and spit with steam and heat. The world
that had flourished in the wake of the Elven magic’ s use was
disappearing, and within daVRQO the rocks and the ashes of
the dead would remain. A new world was evolving about the
the old would be left upon it.
bounded the final stretches of old growth bordering the
shoreline. The grasses had alreadEHJXQWRFXUODQGGLH,
them. Scrub brush broke apart beneath their boots, dried and
lifeless. Fires burned in hot spots all about, and to their right,
across a deep ravine, a thin ribbon of red fire worked its way
stand of acacia that waited in helpless, frozen anticipation.
Clouds of black soot roiled down out of the heights of the In
Ju, where the jungle burned slowlWRWKHZDWHUOLQHWKe
showered down from somewhere beRQGWKHLUYLVLRQOLNHKDLl
out of clouds, thrown bWKHYROFDQR’s continuing explosions.
The wind shifted and it grew harder to see. It was midday , and
Wren’ s head felt light and substanceless, a part of the air she
breathed. Her bones were loose within her body , and the fire of
the Elfstones’ magic still flared and sparked like embers
cooling. She searched the land about her and could not seem to

“Stresa, how much farther?” she asked.
“Phhfftt. Keep walking, W ren of the Elves.”
She did, knowing that her strength was failing and wondering
exhaustion. She felt T riss move close, one arm coming about
her shoulders.
“Lean on me,” he whispered, and took her weight against his
and theUHDFKHGWKHROGJURZWK$OUHDG it was aflame to the
south, the topmost branches burning, smoke billowing. They
pushed through rapidly , skidding and slipping on moss and
leaves and loose rock. The trees were silent and empty , the
pillars of a hall roofed in low-hanging clouds and mist. Growls
and snarls rose up out of the haze, distant, but all about.
The trek wore on. Once something huge moved in the shadows
off to one side, and Stresa wheeled to face it, spines lifting.
But nothing appeared, and after a moment thePRYHGRQ7Ke
sound of water crashing against rocks sounded ahead, the rise
and fall of the ocean. W ren found herself smiling, clasping the
Ruhk Staff tight against her breast. There was still a chance for
them, she thought wearily . There was still hope that thePLJKt
brightened into silver and red ahead, theEURNHFOHDURIWKe
trees and found themselves staring out from a high bluf f over
the vast expanse of the Blue Divide. Smoke and ash clouded
the air close at hand, but beRQGLWVVFUHHQWKHKRUL]RQZDs
ablaze with color.
awaVKDUSO to a shoreline jagged with rocks. There were no
W ren leaned heavilRQWKH6WDf f, searching the sky. It
stretched away, a vast and emptH[SDQVH.

Triss released her and moved away , searching the bluff.
“Down there,” he signaled after a moment, pointing north.
“There’s a beach, if we can get to it.”
We’ll have to go back through the woods, back into the smoke
and the things it hides. Not a smart idea with daftness coming.
Phf fftt!”
ocean’ s edge and began to disappear . In minutes it would be
dark. TheKDGFRPHVRIDr, she thought, and whispered, “No,”
so that onlVKHFRXOGKHDr.
She laid down the Staff and slipped free the Elfstones. Holding
them forth, she sent the white magic streaking across the sky
from end to end, a flare of brightness against the graWZLOLJKW.
The light shimmered like fire and disappeared. TheDOOVWRRd
looking after it, watching the dark approach, watching the sun
Behind them, the hunters began to gather, the demons come
down from the heights, the black things either tracking them or
of the twilight, growling, snarling, edging steadilFORVHr .
Wren and her companions were trapped on the bluf f, caught
against the drop into the ocean. Wren felt the rattle of her
bones, of her breath, of her failing strength. It was too much to
too much to hope for . Yet she refused to let go of the only
hope left to them. Once more she would use the magic, if need
be. Once more, for good measure. Because there wasn’ t
was not enough strength left in her to use it, not enough left in
Triss stepped out to confront the shadows in the trees, lean and
hard, broken arm banging stif f, sword arm bent and ready.
“Keep behind me,” he ordered.
The seconds slipped quicklDZDy . The colors in the western
skIDGHGLQWRJUDy. Twilight deepened to a pale shade of ash.
“There!” Stresa warned.

Something launched itself out of the dark, a massive form,
hammering into Triss, throwing him down. Another rushed in
behind it, and Stresa showered it with quills. W ren swung the
Elfstones up and sent the magic streaking forth, burning the
things closest. TheVFUHDPHGDQGKDVWLO withdrew . Triss lay
unconscious on the earth.
Wren sagged to her knees, exhausted.
“Sssttt stand up!” Stresa growled desperately .
A handful of misshapen forms detached themselves anew and
began to inch forward.
“Stand up!”
Then a shriek split the near silence, a sound like the tearing out
of a human life, and a huge shadow swept the bluf f. Claws
raked the edges of the trees and sent the attackers scattering
into the dark. Wren stared upward in disbelief, speechless.
Had she seen . . . ? The shadow swung away , black wings
knifelike against the sky, and another shriek emitted from its
“Spirit!” Wren screamed in recognition.
Back swung the Roc and plummeted to the bluf f edge where it
settled with a mad beating of wings. A small, wirIRUPOHDSt
“Ho, this way, quick now! TheZRQ’ t staIULJKWHQHGORQJ”
Tiger T !
And when W ren pulled Triss to his feet and staggered forward
to meet the little man, she found the T iger TVKHUHPHPEHUHd
from all those weeks ago, wrinkled and smiling within his
brown skin, a scarecrow of bones and leather , rough hands
readDQGEULJKWHes quick. He looked at her , at her
companions, at the Ruhk Staff she carried, and he laughed.
“Wren Elessedil,” he greeted. “Y ou are as good as RXUZRUG,
girl! Come back out of death to find me, come back to spit in
mIDFHWRSURYHou could do it after all! Shades, RXPXVt
be tough as nails!”

He hurried them atop Spirit then—but onlDIWHUDVKDUp
glance at Stresa and a pointed warning to the Splinterscat that
he had best keep his quills to himself. Muttering something
about Wren’s choice of traveling companions, he wrapped the
Splinterscat in a leather coverlet and boosted him up.
Although Stresa remained still and compliant, his eHVGDUWHd
anxiously . Wren bound Faun to her back, mounted Spirit, and
pulled a semiconscious T riss up in front of her where she
could hold him in place. Her hands full, she jammed the Ruhk
Staff beneath her legs in the harness. TheZRUNHGVZLIWOy ,
the darkness of the trees, driven bWKHLUIHDURIWKHWKLQJs
hidden there. T wice black forms darted from the shadows as if
to attack, but each time Spirit’ s angrVKULHNVHQWWKHm
scrambling awaDJDLQ.
It seemed to take them forever , but finallWKH were settled.
With a quick last check of the harness straps, T iger TVSUDQg
atop the Roc.
“Up, now , old bird!” he HOOHGXr gently.
With a final cry , Spirit spread his great wings and lifted away .
A handful of demons broke cover, racing to catch them in a
last desperate effort, flinging themselves across the bluf f.
Several caught hold of the Roc’s feathers, dragging the great
bird down. But Spirit shook himself, twisted and raked wildly
with his claws, and the attackers fell awaLQWRWKHGDUN$s
the Roc swept out over the Blue Divide and began to rise,
Wren glanced back a final time. Morrowindl was a furnace
glowing against the night, all mist and steam and ash,
Killeshan’ s mouth spitting out streams of molten rock, rivers
of fire running to the sea.
She was never sure how long theIOHZWKDWQLJKW,WPLJKt
have been hours; it might have been onlPLQXWHV6KHFOXQg
to Triss and the restraining straps as she fought to staDZDNH,
exhausted to the point of senselessness. Faun’ s arms were
wrapped about her neck, warm and furry, and she could feel

the Tree Squeak’ s worried breath against her neck. Somewhere
behind, Stresa rode in silence. She heard T iger TFDOOEDFNWo
her once or twice, but his words were lost in the wind, and she
did not bother to trWRDQVZHr . A vision of Morrowindl in
those last minutes floated spectrallEHIRUHKHUHes, harsh and
but the skZDVFOHDUDQGEULJKWDERXWKHr . Spirit settled down
on a small atoll green with vegetation. The sweet smell of
flowers wafted on the air. Wren breathed the scents gratefully
as she slid down the Roc’ s broad back, reaching up in numb
response for Triss and then Stresa. Imagine, she thought
mist or haze, no fire.
“This way, over here, girl,” T iger TDGYLVHGJHQWOy , taking her
He led her to a patch of soft grass where she laGRZQDQd
The sun was red against the horizon when she woke again, a
scarlet sphere rising from the ocean’ s crimson-colored waters
into skies black with thunderheads. The storm and its fire
seemed settled in a single patch of earth and sky . She raised
herself on her elbow and peered at the strange phenomenon,
wondering how it could be.
Then Tiger Ty, keeping watch at her side, whispered, “Go back
to sleep, Miss W ren. It’s still night. That’ s Morrowindl out
there, all afire, burning up from the inside out. Killeshan’ s let
She did go back to sleep, and when she woke again it was
midday , the sun sitting high in a cloudless blue expanse
overhead, the air warm and fragrant, and the birdsong a bright
trilling against the rush of the ocean on the rocks. Faun
chittered from somewhere close by . She rose to look, and
found the Tree Squeak sitting on a rock and pulling at a vine
so it