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

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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!

XVI. Augury

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

In a solitary forest glen, removed from the clan's activities, Arithon fasts in trance for twelve uninterrupted hours, to prepare himself for deep scrying. Given the means to tap prescient visions through Rauven's teaching and the narcotic herb tienelle filched from Sethvir, he resolves to ensure no lives would be needlessly endangered by casting his mind into a review of all possible futures.

He knows from trained experience that trance under influence of tienelle should never be attempted while alone, since the poisonous side effects can become too dangerous to manage without help. Yet Arithon disregards the grave risks. "The endangerment to Rathain's feal vassals must be shouldered, while every minute the temptation to take and twist clan trust into a weapon to bring down Lysaer ate like a darkness at his heart."Important! Arithon is well aware the curse is trying force itself over free will. His fight to prevent it is a constant threat.

The the visions begin, showing reeling holocaust Fire, smoke and death pervade all possible futures! He sees clan children executed, corpses and rivers of spilled blood! Caolle's prudently laid strategy will yield nothing but disaster! Arithon searches through thousands of alternate outcomes, but every single one leads to ruin! Left to their own resource, he finds the clans will be destined for slaughter to last man!

Traumatized by unbearable grief for their sacrifice (and driven by his royal empathy), Arithon decides! He lays his dreams of peace and music aside; he rejects the outcome he survived on Dascen Elur! He will "give his whole mind and bend the talents his grandfather had nurtured to full-scale killing." He tests new strategies contributing magecraft and shadow mastery to turn the slaughter aside; the tests housands of variations that brooked no conscience. He counts the dead closing his heart to sorrow, while he weighs and recombines the results of each chain of possible happenstance, until he forges an alternate path. "Only a scant third of Steiven's clansmen could be kept alive", but the third is still better than none. "Bitterness squeezed his heart for what felt like a tragic failure... How could a prince, mage or otherwise, brook the scale of such sacrifice?" Etarra would suffer even greater losses, for a small reprieve that still would be devastating!

With the scrying completed and strategy set, wrung to sickness by the herb's side effects, Arithon remains in the glen, physically worn and scarcely fit to surmount and clear the toxic residue left by the tienelle from his body. He is still torn open, and sensitive to visions, when Jieret waylays him. Arithon strives to handle the encounter with tact, aware he is in no condition to do so. The boy has mettle enough to provoke, aware of the contempt of his elders. He tries to swear fealty to Arithon and annoyed at being refused due to his young age, he justifies his worthiness by shaming his liege over the strength of clansmen, who will not hesitate to dispatch their daughters into the conflict. The mention hurls Arithon into prescience and he foresees the horrific, violent death of every single clan woman and daughter.

Determined to prevent this fresh disaster, Arithon musters his strength to seek Steiven. Asked to wait for him in his tent and, struggling to curb his dark thoughts and fight the ongoing withdrawal from the tienelle's toxins, he resorts to the solace of playing Halliron's lyranthe.

Halliron overhears, and is furious: "Did you lack the guts not to speak to me beforehand?" Arithon's apology and promise that he won't meddle with the lyranthe only inflame Halliron's wrath. He is not angry because the prince had touched his lyranthe but because he has hidden a rare talent for music. "I say it here, you've no right to see that strangled."

"My sword, you'll recall, is now wedded to the cause of a kingdom."Note the confirmation that Arithon has already surrendered his personal preference. "if, if, if!" The choice was never his. Or so he believes.

With little time left before the tienelle withdrawal will drive him unconscious, Arithon meets Steiven and Caolle and straight out orders them to change tactics. He drops the act of "womanish daydreamer" act and forces full disclosure of the mage and shadow master kept hidden. He warns of the peril to the women, proven out by his scrying and demands to take an active part in the battle. He manages to outline his revised strategy before Steiven is called to attend to Jieret who has been overcome by his inherited gift of foresight, and beheld the same vision of slaughter witnessed by Arithon. Twice warned, Steiven and Caolle decide to follow Arithon's change of tactics.

But the small victory comes at a cost: even Caolle has been forced to recognize with Arithon's true mettle. Although he succumbed to the tienelle poisoning, the collapse had not been due to weakness. The strength and determination demonstrated through their prince's recovery forever shreds image of the "useless dreamer" beyond salvage.

Incarceration

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

Asandir, Kharadmon and the Mad Prophet scale Rockfell Peak and imprison the flask containing Desh-thiere deep within the mountain.

A seemingly insignificant conversation over the 'dangers' (are they real?) of climbing the peak evolve into deeper matters: Take note of Dakar's outspoken resentment at the mages for sacrificing Lysaer, whom he considered a friend: "you used a good man and then broke him."

There is a lot to unpack here, when Kharadmon's silence on the subject provokes Dakar to pry, "You don't agree." Kharadmon responds obliquely, and the question he asks broaches a MAJOR clue to the Fellowship's moral stance: "You have seen how Asandir take deer for the supper pot."

And Dakar's peevish, but truthful response: "he never hunts anything I ever saw....Asandir just goes out and sits in a thicket somewhere. Eventually a buck happens along, lies down, and dies for him."

Kharadmon's truthful clarification opens up a lot of insight for later: "HE PROJECTS HIS NEED AND ASKS. The deer chooses FREELY and its fate and man's hunger end in BALANCE."

As the conversation swings back to Lysaer's apparent 'betrayal' Kharadmon's clarification is deeply significant. "Your prince answered circumstance according to his innate character. The Fellowship imposed nothing outside his natural will and intentions." And concerning Desh-thiere's bid for coercion: "Where opening did not already exist, the creature could not have gained foothold."

"But Sethvir as much as admitted the s'Ilessid inborn gift was at fault. Had Lysaer not been driven to seek perfect justice, the wraith would have found nothing to exploit."

"If so, our Fellowship has a reckoning to answer for."Were the Fellowship wrong? Did they err this gravely? Kharadmon states: "We are permitted our mistakes..." How far have events gone astray? Or have they not gone astray at all, is there a greater balance in play, and if so, is it, or isn't it jeopardized? HOW FAR DO THE FELLOWSHIP SEE?

The subchapter progresses into the sequence of unlocking the defenses that secure Rockfell Pit's wardings. The reader is shown all of this through Dakar's observation: mostly in external detail....what you see here as surface description - far more is going on, and expect that the series will, in due time, delve down into the layers later on, and you will grasp, in full measure, on all levels, exactly what is happening. The magic shown here is not 'handwavy' but actually founded on an extrapolation based upon resonant physics.

Note at the finish how restless Desh-thiere's wraiths are within their confinement, "awaiting the vengeance curse laid on two half-brothers to burgeon into bloodshed and war."

Warning

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

Unsettled since the character scrying, Elaira is determined to redress her wrong, since her vision, allowed the Prime Circle the opening to pursue Arithon's fate. His moves are to be exhaustively tracked, with Koriani policy primed to disadvantage him wherever he can be hampered. Heartsore and unwiling to let that happen, she means to send warning to Sethvir, that Arithon can be protected. The act would be a direct betrayal to her Order, but Elaira resolves to risk the dire consequences.

We learn that she was taken into service to the Koriani as a condemned street child at the age of six, sworn under vows sealed to flesh and permanently recorded by a Koriani focus crystal that gave bound over her free will over into Morriel's control. Regrets were useless as Elaira believes her straits as a sisterhood initiate are powerless to revoke. She insists on the subtlety, the Prime may command her obedience, but doesn't own her in spirit. This narrow grasp of true nature bases her decision to challenge the Order.

Except she is stopped from following through by Traithe, who waylays her where she aimed to perform the scrying. He offers comfort and eases her doubts, saying the Fellowship is fully aware of Morriel's obstruction. Further, he advises her to trust Arithon to guard himself against the Prime's interventions. He relates what happened the first time, when Morriel breached Kieling's wards through the use of Elaira's private feelings and describes Arithon's vicious outrage, and his emphatic counter response.

Arithon is aware Elaira is being treated as a game piece and Traithe ensures that Elaira knows this More, he reveals that Arithon means to defend her: that she is neither alone, nor Morriel's plaything.

What happens between the lines, here, is significant. We already know that the Fellowship will not reveal answers UNLESS THEY ARE ASKED. Is Traithe angling for her to think deeper, here; and if so, is she trapped by her own emotional turmoil when she falls back on the trouble she fell into by visiting Erdane? Why does he rebuke her, for entangling herself in the past, "Never sell yourself so short!"

But if there was an opportunity, it is past. His next line offers what soothing encouragement, and a quittance her limited thinking can accept. "Lady, great heart... The love within you is no shame." The fact he does not discourage her interaction redoubles the meaning behind the warning Traithe grants to Elaira before departing: "... for good or ill, you're the one spirit alive in this world who will come to know Arithon best. Should your Master of Shadow fail you, or you fail him, the outcome will call down disaster." Hold this line in mind, it will loom large throughout the entire series.

"And if neither of us fails?"

"Ah, lady, we've been entrusted with this world and free will, which certainly cancels guarantees."If this line is coupled with Kharadmon's lighter conversation (not so light, really) with Dakar concerning a balance based on free will, true autonomy means that nothing is set in stone and no assumption should be taken as given! For the Fellowship, given the foundation of their moral creed (formally called the Law of the Major Balance), the future holds no guarantees!

Eventide

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

Lysaer and Diegan decide upon following through with Pesquil's plan, following the initial battle with destroying the viability of the clan encampments By killing the game and poisoning the springs, they will starve out the survivors and ensure will be no next generation...

The clans under Steiven s'Valerient's command get ready for battle while Halliron Masterbard plays ballads to inspire them to a valour he grieves will be futile...

Sethvir bends his regards to Rockfell Peak to check the wards for Desh-thiere's prison and detects no flaws. Though Arithon would be able to unravel them if he built on his training, he is least likely to meddle in foolishness. Therefore, the sorcerer is at ease...