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

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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!

X. Daon Ramon Barrens

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

Lysaer is awakened before dawn by a very high-spirited Dakar who informs that they are due to leave Althain Tower within the hour and travel to Daon Ramon Barrens through the Third Lane focus. As Arithon is still asleep, still spent after averting the crisis from Mirthlvain Swamp, Dakar had been charged to carry him both him and his possessions to the Third Lane focus in the tower dungeon.

Note how Dakar's resentment drives him make a mockery of Rathain's prince; how cheerful he is awaiting Arithon's reaction as he is bound for a place he would avoid at all costs – Rathain. Note the sorcerers' angry reaction while noticing the treatment and also, Lysaer's irritation. Not just at the handling of his comatose brother but at the indignity of not being informed of the sorcerers' plans – he is a king's heir after all and accustomed to responsibility!

The party will travel through the power focus directly to the focus of Caith-al-Caen, in the ruins west of Daon Ramon Barrens and from there continue on foot to Ithamon. For Arithon's sake they will not transfer directly to the focus at Ithamon, but cross on foot through the Vale of Shadows. Note Dakar's disgust when hearing the Fellowship's intention. "Why protect him?"Why indeed? We'll come back to it later.

Caith-al-Caen, as the Paravians had called it, or Vale of Shadows by the dawn of the Second Age, was a place alive with the echoes of the past. Here the Riathan had gathered each solstice to renew the earth's mysteries and to rejoice in the turn of the seasons. The ecstasy in their music has marked the very soil and now wind itself mourned the loss. Even after a thousand years the land is still blessed with a grace that haunted. An energy coursed through the soil that glorified life. Walking through the Vale of Shadows, a mage would see the imprinted traces of past unicorns' dances and feel the echo of their exalted presence. In that place where the old spirits linger, Asandir is anguished. Too many memories of the deceased reproach him for the loss of hope and dreams and joy! And his anguish finds no ease in the notes of Arithon's lyranthe, the spirit in them filled with abandon, sure evidence that the prince has finally come to trust in the Seven.

Why?Asandir knows this is because the Sorcerers had allowed him to challenge the right to self-destruction uncontested. This convinced him that he will be allowed to make his own choices by free will. But Arithon doesn't know he hadn't been in any actual danger; he doesn't know Sethvir had laid wards to see him through the ordeal unscathed. Did he really have a choice?

Arithon extends the unshielded confidence of friendship to Asandir, a rarity for a man unaccustomed to companionship. And here we get another glimpse at the real Arithon, the inner person behind the cold mask, and the protective intent behind the sharp tongue and provocation. "a lonely boy raised in the company of elderly mages who had all loved him at a distance. He had grown without a mother's affection, but hereditary compassion had turned him from resentment. He readily forgave what he did not understand, and defined his joy through his competence. Praise for his achievements kept him from discovering the depths of his isolation, the cost of that misapprehension still yet to be paid."

Arithon seeks his self-worth instinctively in music but Desh-thiere and a crown hang in between. Feared for his mastery of shadow even by the girl he had once liked, Arithon doesn't know how it feels to have a caring lover, or even a true friend. He lives censured by his inherited s'Ffalenn compassion and driven by the s'Ahelas farsight inherited from his mother's side. His vulnerability stirs Asandir to grief sharp as outrage "for he could, he would and he must, manipulate this prince into voluntary betrayal of everything he held dear."

The sorcerer stamps down his pity and opens Arithon's awareness to the residual glimmer of Paravian magic present in the soil of Caith-al-Caen. And now Arithon can also see the Paravians dancing; he can also feel their joy! But note the cost: Asandir's grief, regret and pity! Because Arithon was meant to feel this joy before reaching the ruins of Ithamon, the royal seat of Rathain. It is there that the Fellowship intend the brothers to fight the Mistwraith, and also, there, the residual imprint of the past were "stark with the blood and tragedy of displaced lives and dreams."

The ruin of Ithamon has lain shattered since the uprising, except four of five towers raised by the Paravians are still standing. The enduring echo of their harmony lies in contrast to a backlash of magic unleashed by the fall of the fifth, the King's Tower. Arithon would be able to shut those haunted impressions out, but at the cost of his bardic inspiration, and Asandir is well aware that the compassion that is permanently ingrained in every scion of the s'Ffalenn line would never allow it.

"The King for Rathain would be bought in false guilt, against every dedicated principle of the Fellowship whose first task was to foster enlighentment. For the prince now entranced by the unicorn spirits lacked the hardened self-wisdom to stand down Ithamon's past. He was too young, too strong and too much the puppet of pity to perceive that responsibilities were always self-imposed."Important!

Daon Ramon Barrens was once a beautiful grassland, fair with herbs and wildflowers. "Golden Hills" – the name meant in the old tongue. Convinced that Paravian magic couldn't abide in a land without water, the townsmen of Etarra diverted the river Severnir, turning the land barren. No Paravian would return to dwell there, as long as the hills remained a desert.

Dakar keeps waiting for Arithon to snap and show the temper, bound as they are for Rathain's ruling seat; but contrary to his expectation, Arithon is courteous and helpful and even defends his half-brother from the Mad Prophet's nettling.

Lysaer grows increasingly frustrated. With each passing day, he feels as if he's being watched but doesn't understand why. There is an aching hollow something that tugs at his nerves like pain. He remembers his life before the Gate and misses it. "No noble dedication to purpose could ease his longing for home."Important! Especially as: "the confusion that had harried him since exile held a core of ugly truth. No longer did the glamour of noble purpose veil fact: that his brave resolve to Traithe in Althain Tower's storeroom had been rooted in vanity and pride.He had renounced a difficult path of study and vowed instead to redress the wrongs of a kingdom for his own personal glory."Also note his self-disgust at the discovery!

Close to Ithamon, the party stops for a meal in a place where a centaur was once beset during rebellion and killed. The sunchildren sung a lament to commemorate his passage and the words and melody still ring upon the wind to any with sensitivity enough to listen. Arithon hears the lament and begins to recognize that the gift Asandir made him by opening his perception to the Paravian signature may have an unpleasant side effect. He can feel the pain of the dead centaur; and the sorrow of the sunchildren who sang the lament; and Ithamon is nearing!

Nothing prepares the brothers for their first sight of Ithamon. Especially Arithon! The buildings all looked as if they had been razed stone from stone with battering rams. Amidst the harrowed ruin left by chaos and devastation, inside the shattered wall of the Inner Citadel, rise the four intact towers at the heart of Ithamon!

"Built by the centaurs, refined by sunchildren, they were Name-bound and warded by the unicorns." The Paravian towers were 19 thousand years old. Throughout the ages, they have been called The Sun Towers or Compass Points for their alignment and dizzying height, but the ancients who laid their stones gave them separate names:

1. Alathwyr with the strength of Wisdom – the white tower with alabaster combing 2. Endurance, which represents the Paravian concept of honour - the east black tower 3. Grace – the south tower of rose quartz 4. Kieling, or compassion, symbolic of renewal – the tower of green jasper

Important: When civilisation has abandoned any of these qualities, its respective tower will fail, for the power that binds their structure is the force of each virtue renewed.

Ithamon means Five Spires in the old tongue, and the name was given because there were once 5 towers. The fifth, Daelthain, the King's Tower for justice cracked on the day a Second Age Paravian High King was murdered in his hall by an assassin and the last remnant crumbled during the Third Age rebellion.

It is here, at the sight of these towers, that Arithon encounters the full impact grief within the memories of blood and murder. He cannot bear the weight of sorrow and demands of Asandir: "How am I to suffer this?"

Note Asandir's reply: "I will answer when you ask out of care, Prince of Rathain." – He understands Arithon's pain and pities him, but in the end – "Shall all that has been go to waste because Arithon refuses the responsibility? Arithon's personal preference is a luxury the times can ill afford."

The subchapter ends with the party deciding to camp within a tower, as those are sound, comfortable and dry, and Arithon chooses Kieling – Compassion.

Caithdein

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

Maenalle s'Gannley, Steward of Tysan, is waiting to welcome all of Tysan's clanlords at the west outpost of Camris. Giddy with anticipation, she is waiting to deliver them the news that a true-born heir had returned through West Gate to claim the High King's throne.

Her joy is cubed by Luhaine who arrives in haste to deliver the news of upcoming war. He informs Maenalle that Lysaer s'Ilessid will cast his lot with townsmen, to the detriment of the loyal clans. Shocked and staggered that their own prince will betray them, Maenalle demands to know why. But the Seven don't have an answer.

They perceive the evil which will set s'Ilessid prince against s'Ffalenn will be prompted by the Mistwraith, but how exactly that will come to pass is beyond their power to divine. Desh-thiere's nature is opaque to them. The Seven have no insight into it without knowing the Name to embody its essence. The Paravians refused to get close to it. Traithe attempted to encompass it for interpretation when he sealed the South Gate against invasion. but was left crippled in both body and power, unable to express whatever he had discovered.

Forced to choose in between war and restoration of full sunlight, Maenalle agrees with the Seven: Sunlight must be restored at all costs.

Since Lysaer cannot be sanctioned for inheritance, Maenalle is left with the frail hope that anther royal descendent may replace the lost High King in future and is charged with the clans' survival. Cold with foreboding, she is now forced to shoulder the task of informing the clan lords of the upcoming disaster, as well as breaking her own grandson's heart, because Maien already admired the prince's faultless manner and poise.

Scryers

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

The Koriani Prime Enchantress, Morriel, is alerted by First Enchantress Lirenda that the battle to vanquish the Mistwraith has begun. The grip of the fog is loosening in the far West, where sunlight has broken through for the first time in centuries. At the same time, the mist above Ithamon is becoming more concentrated, which supports the conclusion that the princes are setting Desh-thiere under siege from there.

Curious to know HOW the princes are able to battle the Mistwraith and considering it the Order's DUTY to KNOW HOW the princes CAME BY THEIR POWERS, Morriel tries to scry and find out. They use the Skyron Focus and, because the battle takes place from within Kieling, Morriel decides to use compassion as a weapon to breach the Tower's safeguards. And she takes the imprint of sympathy from Elaira's memory of the hayloft encounter.

Through the Skyron Focus, Lirenda accesses Elaira's trial record and rifles her most intimate emotions. She experiences Elaira's miserable childhood among thieves and beggars and sees how, in the absence of proper food and shelter or belongings, Elaira had made her life rich with caring. Lirenda accesses water, as Elaira would have done, instead of fire, her own predominant element, and breaches the wards of Kieling under the shield of Elaira's compassion. She sees the princes and Dakar but becomes entangled in Elaira's memory from the loft.

Entranced by the tender sensation of Arithon's fingers plucking straw from Elaira's hair, Lirenda fails to notice her invasive presence has been detected. Arithon's planned retaliation, exposing her to the blast of light Lysaer directs to reduce the Mistwraith, floods her scrying and tosses her physically head over heels. Not only does the backlash break the connection, the bare force is sufficient to wreck the furnishings in the Prime's chamber.

The enchantresses take no pleasure from the triumph that the Mistwraith is being vanquished. Instead, they are angry and worried that the princes have been granted untold powers – abominations loosed upon the world!

The subchapter ends with the Prime summoning Elaira because she is needed to create the opening for further study of the princes and their powers.

Triad

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

The seer Enithen Tuer snaps awake from her nap in Etarra, from a dream revealing stars and moon on an indigo sky.

Elaira is recalled and she fears trouble.

On a faraway island, a unicorn is puzzled to see Desh-thiere's mists part and glances at a cave mouth without rousing the sorcerer sealed under sleep spells within. – Important!