Curse of the Mistwraith - Summary with Highlights - Chapter Set VIII

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"Summary with Highlights" pages combine an in-depth plot summary with additional commentary about key details and language subtleties a reader might overlook. They are designed for readers who need a bit more direction in this challenging story, and have been reprinted here with the author's permission and Janny Wurts's blessing.

Spoiler warning: These pages are based on one person's reading experience and are not intended to be a purely impartial plot synopsis. Please be aware that the extra highlights might foreshadow events that happen later in the story or pull your eye towards a detail you'd prefer to discover on your own. Proceed with caution if you would rather have a completely unguided reading experience!

VIII. Clans of Camris

The princes, along with Asandir and Dakar, are sheltered within the permanent mountain outpost maintained by the Clans of Camris. Lysaer had been given "the King's Chamber", a room present in every single clan encampment in Tysan and held perpetually in readiness for the King's return.

Note Lysaer's confusion and distress. "Unusued to being worshiped as a legend come to life", he cannot find his way in a land where civilised merchants would slit his royal throat and barbarians who raided caravans welcome him with open arms. Being provided with a fresh set of rich clothing, he feels whole for the first time since the exile through Worldsend gate.

"Humbled by the honest recognition that he desired the throne these clansmen offered at least as desperately as their disunited realm, needed sound rule", he tries to dismiss "his suspicion that such luxuries might have been dishonestly procured" and represses his doubts over the lifestyle of his new realm's subjects, until he can know them better. He realises how much he has changed as a person in such a short time and wonders which Lysaer would make a better king: "the cosseted and idealistic royal heir he had been before banishment, or the more self-sufficient man who needed a crown to feel complete."Important!

Annoyed and frustrated, he demands to know from Asandir why he hadn't been given warning. "I chose not to." Is Asandir's reply. "This is a land afflicted by mismanagement, greed and vicious misunderstanding. The clans rob caravans to ease a harsh existence, and the mayors pay headhunters to exterminate as a means to ease their terror. Your task is not to judge but to set right. Your royal Grace, justice must be tempered by sympathy if the unity of the realm is to be restored. So I did not explain because words cannot substitute for experience. ... For these people, you are the living embodiment of hope. Listen to their woes and understand what they've sacrificed to preserve their lives and heritage."

Realizing that he's expected to show a great deal more than tolerance, Lysaer tries to give his best. But will he be able to do it open minded? Or is his opinion already formed?

A grand feast is arranged, with hospitality as fine as any grand fete held in Amroth, where the clan born of the west outpost, descendants of the Camris aristocracy, greet their returned Liege lord in full state finery. Maenalle, steward of the realm, cuts no corners and informs Lysaer, without any trace of reluctance or envy, that she is proud to revert to her old title of "caithdein – shadow behind the throne " now that her Liege lord has returned. (Note the term used; her duties are more than you might assume, and this is your first hint.) The absolute faith she is placing in the s'Ilessid name leaves Lysaer unnerved. Uncomfortable because of the elaborate customs seemingly displayed by the barbarians, Lysaer keeps his posture through sheer pride. And to declare the banquet open, he pledges the guest oath. Important! He pledges friendship to the clans and his service as "steadfast as blood kin". - We'll come back to this later.

Presented with complaints from clan lords, Lysaer realizes that "land-owning, an inalienable tradition on Dascen Elur, appeared to be a bloodletting violation in Tysan. The prince held the concept daunting and uncivilized that he might one day be expected to punish a man for laying claim to the farmland he tilled." He is expected to see the injustice in such laws but cannot. And his mood grows darker as the feast continues. Because he gathers that the wonderful tapestries on the walls were "stolen", the hall where the celebration was held was actually serving as a "storehouse to safeguard generations of plunder" and the fine clothes, "the jewels, even the plates and the cutlery that graced the table were no less than spoils of generations of ambush and murder."

Alarmed and disgusted, he cannot look beyond the appearances. He cannot even consider the fact that all those riches had belonged to the clans first, before their exile, and were unjustly taken by the towns people at that time; too shocked by their present lifestyle and apparent barbarity, he cannot see the clans real plight. Back in Amroth he had seen hardworking merchants suffer because of the s'Ffalenn piracy, and that affront had left a deep mark on Lysaer and his sense of justice. The outrage felt that time remained and transferred here.. on his new subjects of Tysan.

Asandir counsels him to tolerance and patience; he asks him to withhold judgement until he's sat at a mayor's table and listened to that version also. But will Lysaer be able to keep an open mind? Or are his mind and heart already set?

As the clansmen lack the presence of a bard, Lysaer encourages Arithon to sing. Maenalle send him down to the vault to choose and instrument (another proof that Lysaer's theory regarding hoarded treasures was true) and Arithon returns with a battered old lyranthe. Before Maenalle can be thoroughly offended by having her generosity mocked by Arithon in choosing the worst possible lyranthe from the vault, Asandir reveals that the instrument was in fact a lyranthe crafted by a sunchild. Of those Elshian crafted, only two are known to exist: the one Arithon had found in the vault, and one other held in trust by Athera's Masterbard Halliron.

Relieved, made aware that Arithon has perhaps chosen the most valuable instrument from the vault, Maenalle insists on having Asandir use her own silver bracelet to turn into strings for the instrument. "Mine the honor Kingmaker!"Another important detail showing how highly honor was held among the clans.

Once Asandir had outfitted the lyranthe, Arithon plays for the clansmen. Lacking the knowledge of Athera's own lore, he chooses sea balads from Dascen Elur. He sings of pirate raids and willy captains, a choice apt for the setting, according to his minstrel's insight. But Lysaer cannot help being stung in his pride. "The thievery that delighted these barbarians had roots in a past that reminded how terribly wide lay the gulf between subjects and sovereign."

Confrontation

Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from Curse of the Mistwraith.

At the end of the feast, after having spent some time with Lysaer, Asandir confronts Arithon. As it turns out, the sorcerer knew of Arithon's escapade in the loft of the Four Ravens' stable yard, as well as the intent to force the hand by revealing Lysaer's identity to the clans in the pass.

Still angry because of the mind-block, Arithon demands to know why it was set. "Would you warm a man just tortured by fire before an open hearth? The memories of your failures in Karthan were all too hurtfully recent."

And despite Arithon's dismay at the news, Asandir continues to inform him of the consequences that may result from Arithon's rash behaviour. Lysaer wasn't meant to learn of his heritage until he had experienced the atrocity of the mayors himself. Now however, the cards had been turned, Lysaer was in shock and Grithen, the last living heir to the late Earl of Erdane had been sent in shame to the camps and may even be denied his inheritance.

Arithon doesn't want to claim responsibility. According to him, all these things could have been prevented. Does he set the blame on Asandir not communicating and keeping his plans a secret?

He is made to understand that the Fellowship will not use force to hold him back. He is allowed to choose himself the path he wants to walk without any interference from their side. The truth however is that Arithon would not allow himself to abandon that path, regardless of how much he hated and feared it! He could not, in clear conscience forsake the clansfolk of Rathain who would be hunted and mercilessly killed after the return of the sun, in fear of a king who wasn't there.

"You give me Karthan, all over again."
"The man would not stand here who did not choose Karthan first."

One threat, one compulsion, one word spoken with the intention to bind, would have given Arithon the opening to escape, but Asandir uses only pity and promises to try and relieve him of the unwanted kingship. So Arithon has no choice but to follow his lead. Because being a king to his people is a role equally important to that of deliverer from the Mistwraith.

(Note: this builds upon Arithon's earlier comment to Felirin, 'Show me a hero, and I'll show you a man enslaved by his competence.') Arithon clearly recognizes: 'The bitterest enemy is myself, then.' An important contrast is drawn between how the two brothers' view their personal responsibility. Arithon looks inward; Lysaer projects outward.

Exasperated by Arithon's stubbornness, Asandir finally asks him what he would have done in the Fellowship's place. "Find the Paravians" is Arithon's answer, and now we are told that has already been tried. Ciladis of the Fellowship took on that quest, for he treasured the old races most of all. But he never returned.

Traithe

Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from Curse of the Mistwraith.

At Althain Tower, Sethvir of the Fellowship pens thought on paper, while his awareness ranges far and wide beyond the tower, tracking almost everything on Athera, when Traithe arrives. The arrival is announced by a black raven who pecks at the shutters. Note how Sethvir greets the bird: "Welcome back little brother."Important! The raven isn't only a simple bird.

Sethvir needs to unbind the wards of protections around Althain Tower so that his colleague can enter. Traithe had lost a great share of his powers when he single-handedly sealed the South Worldsend Gate to save Athera from the Mistwraith.

The Mistwraith, or Desh-thiere was in reality a vast entity, only one small portion of it having afflicted Athera. If the entire entity's access wouldn't have been blocked by Traithe sealing the gate, Desh-thiere would have choked off all life on the planet. The battle with the Mistwraith had left Traithe broken in both body and power. Traithe could not even connect by thought to his fellow sorcerers anymore, the way every other member of the Seven did.

The two sorcerers prepare for the arrival of the princes. Clean up the mess of books and inkwells without caps that is, to be able to find the table beneath them. And at the same time, they must help Verrain as a great number of venomous meth-snakes were about to escape the Mirthlvain Swamp. If not caught, those snakes could decimate all the country folk from Orvandir to Vastmark in a matter of days.

Summons

Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from Curse of the Mistwraith.

A sorcerer "whirls" his way south in great haste.

A second sorcerer, once called the Defender, rendered discorporate long ago, rushes to the Tower from another direction.

Asandir listens to news delivered with the wind and prepares for immediate departure.