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

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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!

XIII. Etarra

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

On the day Arithon is due to arrive in Etarra, the Sorcerers gather the Lord Governor Supreme and his officials at the outer gates of Etarra to pay their respects to their prince. Guild ministers, trade officials and council governors, all accompanied by their wives sweat in their finery, openly showing disdain towards monarchy by making fun of their future prince.

The Lord Governor sees Arithon as no more than a child and, and in spiteful mockery, consents to let the Sorcerers conduct the ceremonial of affirmation of the Prince's right of ancestry. Despite being phrased as an insult: "His Grace has my leave to chill his feet in our dirt, may he grub the worms' favor for the honor." His word is taken literally, and Asandir proceeds with the ancient rite. Too late, the jeering officials recognize that Asandir is not just affirming Arithon's right of ancestry, but confirming his right of succession, as direct line descendant of Torbrand, first High King of Rathain. He binds Arithon to the land and with the charge to guard Rathain's ground as his own.

Arithon kneels barefoot in the soil and Asandir Kingmaker sanctions him as crown prince with a plain circlet of sanction transmuted from the soil of Rathain.

Morfett and his Lord Commander Diegan are outraged, insistent they have been tricked into willing consent. Their fury intensifies when confronted with their new Prince, as they discover he is a sorcerer, and not the green child they were led to believe. They inform Arithon that he is not acknowledged by the Etarra Governors' Council, but their belligerence does not cow him. Arithon returns a warning, deadpan: "If you and your council rule justly, you need have no fear of me."So let the game begin! Morfett and his cronies opt to undermine Arithon's newly set authority and issue a warrant for his arrest. The attempt is thwarted by Lysaer and Dakar who step forward to offer friendly information. Their instigation leads the council members so deep in their cups, they become too drunken to convene their meeting until the next day.

Meanwhile, Arithon and the sorcerers get down to business and comb through Etarra's records throughout the night. By early morning, they have reviewed Etarra's condemned and under the precepts of Charter Law, issue pardons and reprieves from execution for all convicts wrongfully tried and sentenced. More, their audacity vouches treasury funds as reimbursement for unfair fines;. Lists are posted declaring laws will become repealed, wrongful taxes to be eliminated, and which corrupt public servants are to be relieved of their posts; with such decrees to be carried out on the day Arithon is invested as High King.

The belated completion of Morfett's arrest warrant for Arithon has been undermined at one stroke. With a city aroused to the brink of a riot, rumour had spread that Etarra's council intends to outlaw the royal charter: under the ancient law, land owning is abolished. Tenant farmers strapped with taxes and overlords would no longer owe anyone for the produce they raised, and the fruits of their tilled land would be restored to them. Since Charter Law frees them to their own enterprise, they rise up and storm the council hall doors.

To avoid being torn apart, limb from limb, the First City Alderman caves in and declares that the guilds are abdicating from ruling power and backing the s'Ffalenn right of sovereignty. Cornered, the council surrenders to the will of the sorcerers. They choose to bend now, and wait upon a future opportunity. to revolt. The Sorcerers cannot be everywhere. Sooner or later they will succumb to distraction, and Etarra's revenge will be waiting!

Arithon resents his position, perhaps even more than the deposed elite of Etarra. He dislikes scheming politics. Feeling displaced at the parties given in his honour, he lets Lysaer claim his place at the center of attention. Talith, Lord Commander Diegan's sister, has one of the best minds for intrigue in Etarra. Yet even she meets rebuff in her attempt to wrestle information from Arithon. Passed off on Lysaer's abundant charm, she applies her abundant beauty and allure to wring what she can from his vanity. – Take note of her. She is important!

When the council convenes the following morning, Arithon's conspicuous absence leaves Lysaer to shoulder the responsibility of hearing the guilds' complaints. Plagued by fierce headaches ever since the Mistwraith's defeat – Important! - Lysaer breaks away from the proceedings and goes in search of his brother. He finds him in the slums of Etarra, making a brigantine wrought of shadow to entertain the street urchins. Arithon is happy and is laughing; an astonishing facet of character that stops Lysaer in his tracks. His presence is noticed. Sight of an aristocrat in rich clothes spoils the poor children's trust. Note how this scene differentiates the two brothers in behavior, emotions and outlook.

Lysaer is appallled that Arithon could waste time amusing filthy urchins ahead of the serious matters posed by the guild and the council. He insists Etarra's governance can be made to work for the good of the people, given judicious handling born of understanding. The powerful can be molded into the backbone to steady the realm, if Arithon gives them wise guidance.

Arithon points out the corrupt practice that steals children for the misery of forced labor. Arithon refuses to pander to anyone condoning such cruel abuse. His fury is also personal: "The needs of this realm will swallow all that I am, and what will be left for the music!" Anguish aside, he gives Lysaer his promise to give his best effort and route Etarra's corruption in his own way. The rebuke he leaves Lysaer is stinging and brisk, that the problem is HIS to sort out!

Indiscretion

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

Jieret, 12 years old, and Idrien, his younger companion, are clan youngsters bored with a feast and sneak away to play raider. They ambush a solitary old man driving a pony cart on the road toward Tal's Crossing. Threatening him with sticks, the youngsters demand his surrenders to take him hostage for ransom. The old man complies, and in smothered amusement. lets the boys take him to the clan encampment as their prisoner.

Steiven, current regent of Rathain, and Jieret's father, recognizes the captive as Athera's Masterbard, Halliron, a person of such high regard that his captivity is an offence. Since Halliron can barely keep a straight face, Steiven takes charge of his personal fear, fright of the real danger to his half-grown had the boy confronted a hostile townsman armed with only a stick. So the errant boy gets off with a scolding for keeping slack discipline, and is saddled with taking care of the bard's cart and his grumpy pony as punishment.

Halliron is granted hospitality in Steiven's tent to shelter from a coming storm. Talk centers on his disappointing failure to find a worthy apprentice to inherit his legacy. Steiven and his wife, Dania, console the Masterbard, interrupted when Jieret wakes from a troubled sleep and announces that he had a dream. Forevision runs in Steiven's clan lineage. Jieret has been gifted Sight, just as his father, with vivid dreams that often predict upcoming, bloody violence.

Wrapped in his father's arms and bundled in Halliron's cloak, Jieret describes a vision of the King of Rathain riding under pursuit from Etarra. Detail suggests he was injured, driving north on a tired horse, hunted by two score lancers from Etarra's garrison. The trees appeared green with new leaves, under snowfall out of step with the season.

Steiven takes action on his son's vision and dispatches warning to Fallowmere to double the road-watch, ready to intercede in his liege's behalf when the time arises.

Introspections

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

[[[Lysaer]] wakes in the middle of the night, plagued by the latest recurrent nightmares after the Mistwraith's defeat. Unsettled, he takes a stroll in the garden outside to clear his head. Etarra's political infighting disturbs him. Despite his civilized preference for town life, the intrigue and corruption encountered here make him question his deepest convictions. Accustomed to holding his people's trust on Dascen Elur and despite seeing the needs of the populace as his own, he has been applying that same method of rule in Etarra, gradually winning over the councilmen. Yet Arithon's perspective has exposed facets in a dilemma that Lysaer's experience cannot solve.

The guilds could not be served without destroying the children enslaved in the workhouses; the merchants' rights to safe trade could not be enforced without condoning the headhunters and their butchery on the clansmen. Lysaer sense of justice struggles to reconcile the right course through Athera's divisive cultures and shattered loyalties. The Fellowship has withheld their advice. They will not offer guidance or expectation, but only encourage the royal heir to rule by his gifts and his conscience. And that daunting responsibility has become suffocating. With no obvious course to satisfy justice, Lysaer finds himself at a loss to formulate a fair rule to all parties, by his own merits.

His brooding is interrupted by Elaira, who observes him from the shadows. She admits to being sent at her Prime's order to gather insight on the princes and urges Lysaer to think.

Lysaer doesn't agree with Arithon's way, of "looking for pearls among beggars", but considers the better approach to be that of ruling from the council chamber. "A man can feed the hungry and clothe beggars all his life and not change the conditions that make them wretched."

But Elaira suggests that both views are equally valid, despite being very different. She detail's Arithon's view, as a mage trained to mastery: "Universal harmony begins with the recognition that the life in an ordinary pebble is as sacred as conscious selfhood."

Elaira agrees that "Etarra offers entanglement enough to torture any man and suffering very clearly bares the spirit." She credits Lysaer for placing love and care for the masses before individual suffering. But when Lysaer turns the conversation to Arithon, Elaira ends the discussion. Note her observation before parting: "What this realm will kill for certain is your half-brother's musical talent. Mourn that."Important!

Preparations

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

The call to arms is given to the clans in North and East of Rathain.

The entities of Desh-thiere brood, imprisoned in their sealed stone flask, their hatred bent upon the two half-brothers who sent them to their doom.

The Sorcerer Kharadmon diverts rain from Etarra and sends the storm to the north coast of Fallowmere, ensuring fair weather Arithon's coronation. Note how he begs forgiveness to the plants, soil and wild creatures, for the violation of nature.