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

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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!

XIV. Coronation Day

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

Dakar helps ready Arithon for his coronation and delivers royal garments warded and blessed by ritual done by the Fellowship when he is overcome by his gift of prophecy. His vision shows Arithon driving in heedless panic through a crowded square and foretells a disaster.

Terror strikes Dakar, related to a possible hold Desh-thiere might hold over Lysaer. Arithon himself is distressed. Without pause to share the prophecy's details with Dakar, he rushes in search of Asandir. Luhaine, supposedly on guard over the chamber, is missing - another signal of disaster. Note Arithon's final word of advice as he leaves: "Dakar, as you love peace, if you care for my half-brother, keep him from me! For if we're brought face to face, the terms of your prophecy shall be met. The result will end in a bloodbath."

In the council hall of Etarra, Asandir is keeping the nobles on a leash, to forestall trouble, when dire warning arrives from Sethvir. He flags down Traithe and informs him Lysaer is in serious trouble. "The pattern that encompasses his Name has drifted. Worse, Luhaine reports that Dakar has been alarmed by premonition. Both events indicate that our s'Ilessid heir may harbor one of Desh-thiere's wraiths, picked up through the moment of confinement."

Worried, Asandir leaves Traithe to smooth over the prickly tempers confined to the council hall. He sets off to find Lysaer. But Morfett has eavesdropped on the exchange and is bent on announcing to the Fellowship's straits to every official within earshot. Traithe overcomes him and sends him into a spelled sleep.

At the same time, Lysaer is found entertaining Diegan, Etarra's commander of the guard, and his sister Talith at their home. He is feverish and unsettled by discovery that he cannot recall parts of the conversation. He blames his nerves on imagination and residual distress from his nightmares and lack of sleep. But he starts to drift into past memories. Diegan's speech in favor of the merchants' guilds incites Lysaer's rage as his present situation reconnects with the past feud with s'Ffalenn pirates. Lysaer tries to separate past from present: that Arithon was not his ancestor, and Etarra is not Dascen Elur, but the blur that affects his mind makes Diegan's accusations inflame further doubt and increase rage.

His perception of Arithon reverts to the chained sorcerer who burned 7 ships and baited his father's council in Amroth. Lysaer strives to retain his fair judgement, but uncertainty over his brother's nature seeps through. Just as Lysaer decides to confront Arithon over his future intentions for Rathain, Dakar and Asandir arrive at the mansion. To Lysaer's dismay, Dakar sets wards around the room to confine him, preventing a meeting with Arithon. His dismay fires rage! And an explosive fury drives a poisoned conclusion: "the s'Ffalenn bastard was to blame"! - a conclusion driven home by Dakar's insistence that Arithon had begged at all costs to keep him separated from Lysaer.

Lysaer doesn't have time to question his oddly troubled reactions. Driven by an overpowering urge to confront Arithon and, led into flight by Talith, he escapes Diegan's parlour through a secret passage. Asandir follows but too late.

In the council hall, Traithe strives to calm the restive aristocrats when Arithon arrives in search of Asandir. The fact that he was witnessed passing through all the spells of protection surrounding the hall identifies him as a sorcerer. Luhaine cannot be found, Asandir went in search for Lysaer. Since Traithe cannot divest his first charge to contain the councilmen, he sends his raven to guide Arithon to Sethvir. Arithon's obvious relief at the prospect of powerful backing to avoid the disaster foretold by Dakar's prophecy is clearly seen, which turns Etarra's officials on their would-be prince. While Arithon flees in pursuit of the Raven, Traithe sets every gathered dignitary in the council hall into a spelled sleep to prevent their interference.

Lysaer's body tingles. He suspects the Sorcerers are trying to locate him through spellcraft, without being certain of how and why he knows. The conviction confirms the fact he has changed. "He is no longer quite what he had been." Note that the insight is more appropriate to a mage-taught perspective and Lysaer is not a mage! – Important! He doesn't question what caused the deviation to his behavior or WHY he has the intuitive knowledge. Instead, he is ridden by a compulsion to seek justice. To him, Arithon is now an established liar and a proven criminal; and Lysaer's moral obligation is to defend the populace from him. Fanatical resolve replaces the sensation of tingling once Lysaer's decision is set. He goes in search of Arithon.

He finds Arithon long gone from their shared quarters. The sight of the king's cloak left crumpled onto a divan and the gemmed scabbard thrown on the floor like spurned gifts contrasted by the lyranthe couched lovingly on the window seat drives Lysaer to hot rage: "Are Rathain's people of less account than minstrelsy?!"Note: his towering fury is triggered by something he cannot phantom. – Important! Lost to his rage, Lysaer smashes Elshian's lyranthe and storms towards the coronation square to find Arithon.

From an mansion balcony overlooking to the market appointed for the coronation procession, and, with a clear view of the square, he spots Arithon through the crowd, following Traithe's raven.

Convinced Arithon is running away from his commitment to the realm, Lysaer snaps. He draws the people's attention to Arithon and accuses him of sorcery, then attacks him with light. Although Asandir and Luhaine are also in the square, they cannot interfere. Asandir is still too far and Luhaine can't get Arithon away while he is being held down by angry townspeople.

The wraith is now in full possession of Lysaer and he strikes Arithon with a light bolt embedded with spells; spells that Lysaer himself had no way of knowing! "Desh-thiere's wraith had delivered a bane-spell against the half-brother beyond reach of possession." Now the curse gains foothold on Arithon. He strikes back with shadow and plunges Etarra into darkness to escape.

Spent by the powers that had driven him, Lysaer crumbles where he stands, but Dakar's prophecy had already been fulfilled. The Sorcerers are left to try and heal the smashed pieces.

Backlash

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

Luhaine is trailing Arithon to protect him if necessary, while Asandir takes Lysaer to Sethvir, who had been busy keeping Etarra's armory sealed from access by rioting townsmen. The sorcerers are bleak and blame themselves for not checking Lysaer for possession across time! Without the name for the wraith responsible, they wouldn't have had the foothold for a preventative response.

Its plot in hindsight has been deviously thorough. Aware its bane relied on the half brothers' paired strength, it set them against each other in self defense. Hatred set their gifted talents against each other, setting them under a curse of enmity.

Desh-thiere had tagged its enemy and imprinted the brothers' personalities the night they had been cornered at Ithamon. In that split-second of contact, the wraiths grasped the scope of Arithon's training but withheld from action, brooding upon what they had learned. No real damage had occurred before the moment of bare handed contact, when Lysaer had prevented Desh-thiere's escape.

The irony wounded that the the Fellowship's protections may have been wrongly aligned. Lysaer was defenceless to the wraith's meddling, while Arithon might have deflected their attack due to his mage-training, or at least sensed the wraith's presence before it moved to possess. "Dharkaron damn us for fools, we threw the wrong prince into jeopardy!" – But regret comes too late to reverse a choice miscalled through crisis and desperation.

A stolen memory from Lysaer's trials in the Red Desert – the moment when Arithon had used spellcraft to inflame Lysaer's hate and keep him going – offered the wraiths their foothold for revenge. "The Mistwraith seized upon discord, then borrowed deeper knowledge from the bindings Kharadmon attached to Lysaer's consent on Kieling Tower. The spell-curse just cast interlinks with the half-brother's life force."

The wraith had interlinked its purpose to such an extent that removing it might lead to Lysaer's death. The geas to kill Arithon both was and was not part of Lysaer's essence. To miscall just one twist of its bindings would be to condemn the prince to death.

But the sorcerers must undertake the exorcism. They concentrate all their strength but cannot find the wraith. It is hiding in the one place the sorcerers wouldn't have considered a vulnerability: the mage-given gift of justice of the s'Ilessid royal line, "the one avenue of conscience Lysaer was spell charged never to question! The fault and the weakness were never Lysaer's, but the Fellowship's own, for sorrowful lack of foresight."

In the end, the wraith is removed. Lysaer survives, but at a cost: The curse that set Lysaer against Arithon has sullied the s'Ilessid gift of true justice. Bent to ill usage by the wraith, the inborn gift of the s'Ilessid royal line has sustained untold further damage. Note Sethvir's final discovery - the wraiths had once been human, and trapping unconsenting spirits in a limbo of imprisonment or sending them to destruction lies outside of the Fellowship's purview!

Dakar and Diegan's arrival interrupts the sorcerers, who awaken Lysaer to stop the populace from riot as his gift of light is needed to lift the shadows Arithon placed over Etarra. Note how changed Lysaer is after awakening; and the vicious ill will shown towards his half-brother: "When I find your lying get of a s'Ffalenn pirate, I'll see him dead and thrown in pieces to the headhunter's pack of tracking dogs!"

By now, Arithon is out of Etarra. He had paused in his flight only to free the enslaved children from the knackers', paying for the locksmith and a wagon to get them away with one of Rathain's crown jewels. Since his course takes him northward, towards Rathain's clans, the sorcerers expect open war, a grim option but preferable to Arithon's death and subsequent doom of the Black Rose Prophecy.

Muster

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

As the councilmen are still spell bound in sleep and the sorcerers have departed, Lysaer assumes command in Etarra. For the first time, he satisfies his drive justice through LIES and twists his mother's flight into rape and abduction, then blames his exile from Amroth on a "s'Ffalenn's doings".

One hour under the wraith's full possession has completely and irrevocably realigned Lysaer's character. He now views his odd bouts of confusion on spells laid by the sorcerers, with Arithon used as their puppet.

From the dais built for Arithon's coronation, Lysaer engages his gift of light to drive back the shadows from Etarra. Hours on end, enveloped in light, he spends himself until darkness is driven from the city gates. Over-awed, the people acclaim him as a savior. When he passes out from exhaustion, he is attended for by the Lord Governor's own healer. The remaining shadows disperse on their own by midninght (never meant to last any longer), but the people attribute the reprieve to the prince who had delivered them from their terror; "Lysaer of the Light".

Lancers sent after Arithon's trail fail to find him. Aware he will find shelter with Rathain's clans, Lysaer convinces the councilmen of Etarra muster for war to eradicate the barbarian clans, along with their criminal prince.

Sojourns

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

Morriel is informed that Etarra musters for war, the sorcerers have misplayed the s'Ffalenn succession and Arithon is a fugitive so she summons Elaira to meet her at Narms.

Asandir and the Mad Prophet carry the wraith removed from Lysaer to Skelseng's Gate, with the intent to find a more secure place for Desh-thiere's imprisonment, while the storm Kharadmon had diverted for the coronation spends itself over lands to the North.

Arithon, hunched against the rain, rides a stolen draught-horse at gallop away from Etarra.