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

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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!

XI. Desh-Thiere

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

Atop the battlements of Kieling Tower, Arithon and Dakar are doubled over with laughter after the prank played to thwart the Koriani Prime and her First Senior's meddling. Through tears and outbusrsts of chuckles, both of them try to explain coherently what just happened, to a confused Lysaer and an irritated Asandir.

The sorcerer demands to know how exactly Morriel was able to breach the towers' wards and scrutinizes Arithon's most inner feelings to find out the answer was "compassion". "Kieling Tower may admit no force except unconditional love."Important! And note Asandir's warning to Arithon in recognition: "You must never ever in your life allow Elaira to indulge in her feelings where you are concerned. Her care is real enough, and generous, but to acknowledge her in any way would lead her to ruin. The Koriani creed she is bound to obey is unnaturally opposed to human nature." Add that to Arithon's reply: "Elaira is secure from my attentions, most certainly, since I'd die before I'd give your Fellowship even one chance of getting an heir"; and Asandir's retort: "if you want me to think that you hold the enchantress in light regard, you'll need better subterfuge than lying." And we get early insight into the feelings of both. – Pays to follow it all up.

Arithon realizes at this moment that his free will is a sham and that his Kingship over Rathain is connected to the recovery of the Paravians. Just as Asandir had no choice but to force him on the path of kingship, Arithon himself has no choice but accept because the murder of the Paravians is not an option. Ironically, it is Lysaer this time who takes his brother's side: "Less than the truth would not bind him, is that it?"

"Truth is like a gem with many facets – reflection and illusion from every outward angle. The one unsplintered view can only be found from within." And the irony bites that truth by itself would not condemn the Paravians to extinction! They would forsake Athera, but not perish. The Paravians' return and the restoration of the Fellowship of Seven both rely upon the Prince's decision! Because of Dakar's Black Rose Prophecy, whose particulars are in question still. Arithon relinquishes his personal dreams once again and assumes the responsibility of the crown awaiting at Etarra.

Trying to reconcile his unwanted fate, he seeks solitude away from the towers Lysaer comes in search of him in Ithamon's ruins because he had resolved to better understand his half-brother. Because he felt that Asandir had not shown any kindness to compensate for the unwanted burdens laid on Arithon, he makes a genuine attempt to bond with his brother and offer support.

To draw Arithon out of what he believes to be brooding, Lysaer confesses he feels watched and haunted, especially when they are fighting the Mistwraith. He queried the sorcerers, only to have his worry dismissed, because their scrying found nothing amiss. Note the exchange - where Arithon's apparent reticence in fact takes his brother's concern seriously. Since he himself had kept his awareness shielded to cope with the haunted resonance of Ithamon, he hadn't allowed himself to feel anything. The instant he lowers his barriers to probe, both brothers are attacked by Desh-thiere.

The mist they had been given to subdue was an intelligent and hostile entity. And the Seven hadn't known! The princes work together and lay down defenses while they retreat toward the safety of Kieling Tower. But Desh-thiere is spirit-formed and attacks their awaerness, unraveling protections as fast as they can be maintained. It manifests as a ghostly circle of faces closing in around the brothers and leering with blood-thirsty ferocity. "Their image was wrought of seething mist and their strength was that of a multitude."

Lysaer raises a hedge of light to drive back the mist and crumbles the next minute without warning. – Important! Especially as the next instant Arithon is encircled by a band of hostile entities and a probe from them lances his mind. Desh-thiere's assault tries to break his defenses and access his inner awareness. – To what purpose? Remains to be seen!

The Mistwraith was an entity more than just aware. It was intelligent and bent on retaliation against the princes who were its sure bane. But how did it hide its nature from the Fellowship all this time? – We'll come back to it.

Just when Arithon's protections were about to fail, Asandir arrives and sets his own shields against the Mistwraith's attack. Note what kind of power resides within Asandir and how the Mistwraith, instead of recoiling, simply vanishes. Why? We'll get to it in the next subchapter.

Back under the safety of Kieling Tower, Arithon is told that the wards within Alithiel reacted to his peril and came alive, almost setting the clothes chest on fire. That is how Asandir knew trouble was brewing and rushed to the rescue in time. The sorcerers can't yet fathom how the Mistwraith could manifest a concerted attack. But with Arithon's recounting of the event, Asandir now pieces the clues together.

The Mistwraith is an entity that encompasses thousands of spirits, too many to number separately and all of them bound captive in hatred. It could cross the tower's wards at will because, even though the Paravian defenses bar entrance to the spirits within the mist, the mist itself is only a boundary of dampness that the wards allow through. Nothing on Athera can escape the vigilance of the Seven, but the Mistwraith is not of Athera, so neither strands nor seer can read it. They can only divine its effects.

In an effort to gain greater insight into the threat posed by Desh-thiere, Asandir surveys untold miles of Daon Ramon Barrens seeking even a trace remnant of those entities, but without result. Note how clearly Asandir can discern nuance on Athera; how he can identify and recognize even a fallen leaf or a bird asleep. Even know them by Name. He sees both substance and beyond that, to the energy that structures all beings, everything visible to his awareness as individual signatures.

Asandir sees to the comfort of Arithon, humbled by recognition that the prince he had bound to an unwanted fate through guilt had not harbored any grudge against him. He waits for Luhaine to come and help set stronger wards, while Sethvir and Kharadmon are already at Althain Tower analyzing Arithon's experience and alongside the past experience that left Traithe crippled. While Lysaer seems to have come to harm, despite not owning Arithon's mage-trained protections, Asandir fears that reducing the mist as the confining vessel of those malevolent entities might ultimately set them free. As creature of unfettered spirit, or free wraiths, they might readily shift their vibration and continue to manifest on Athera.


Backsearch

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

Sethvir and Kharadmon are in council at Althain Tower. "The damage has already been done."Sethvir concludes. And we need to remember!

Luhaine and Asandir had found nothing amiss through an in depth survey of Lysaer. But Sethvir is adamant that Traithe's plight suggests a deeper threat of endangerment. Together, the two sorcerers review the moment when the South Gate was closed and correlate it with the attack on the princes. They reach an uneasy conclusion:

Desh-thiere's aspects besieged Traithe's mind the instant he opened himself to its essence seeking its Name to gain ascendancy over it. He should not have been vulnerable, except the beings he sounded were out of phase from his time sense, removed from the present a half-step into the future. Because of this, Traithe's defenses were a fatal fraction too slow.

Desh-thiere gained access to Traithe's consciousness and Traithe reacted with a brutal defence. He "sealed away half of his awareness, truncated his own vision by blasting it out with raw power, that Desh-thiere could be stopped from enslaving him. He burned it out as a hill warrior might hack off a limb with a septic wound, by his own hand rendering himself crippled." He lost memory in the process, as well as the greater vision that founded his faculties, as well as all trace of the Name of his attacker(s).

Desh-thiere's aspects did not challenge Asandir's wards or retreat because they simply passed elsewhere, into another time. And the only logical premise implied that they had accomplished their purpose. Sethvir believes the s'Ilessid prince has been affected by the wraiths, but that the change will be evident only at a future moment,carefully chosen. – "Arithon's coronation in Etarra"! Warned that Desh-thiere's wraiths can slip the confines of time, the sorcerers construct counter wards to forestall them. Likely too late, given the worst has already happened!

Dispatch

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

Elaira had been summoned by the Prime Matriarch and heads directly to the Order's winter quarters near Mainmere Bay. But the road is hard, the weather dismal, and the mare ripped off a shoe, so Elaira is forced to take shelter with the marsh folk along the way.

They live deep in the wild, isolated descendants of farmers displaced since the rebellion. Although they are exiles and outcasts, they understand the grace of hospitality more than rich families in the towns. Elaira is welcomed once the people notice she is unarmed. While resting, Elaira is startled by panicked screams. By night, the sky had been cleared of mist and the people in that region have, for the first time in centuries, seen stars. They panic, unable to grapple with a new view of a world not blanketed under mist.

While admiring her first view of the cleared sky, Elaira dutifully wrests her thoughts away from the two princes responsible for the change, and in particular, her chance encounter with Arithon. Then, she receives a changed directive from her Prime: to go to Etarra, where the Fellowship of Seven plans to arrange the High King's coronation, and bring back for the Koriani order's analysis her most intimate insights into the royal princes' characters.

Guard, Ward and Bard

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

Luhaine works new protections against Desh-thiere at Ithamon, wards that cut across time and worldly dimension.

When sunlight breaks over Havistock, Traithe ends his visit to the craftsman who stands as foster parent to the young heir of Havish. Prince Eldir will assume his inheritance once Rathain's succession has been settled in Etarra. Until then, his life as a common craftsman's apprentice is not to be changed.

North, in the town of Ward, where mist is still holding, an elder bard rips dow the appeal he had posted in bright hope the day prior, bitter to have been disappointed in his search to audition a suitable apprentice.