Further adventures of some of the central characters from the Forevergreen story: the elf Jethel, his loyal Preserver companion Willowsnap, and the humans Ahn-Lai (now called Ahnn-li) and Geo'ka. (Metamorphosis, EQ II 1-17, 19-22)
In the human port town of Passage, on the Eastern coast of the land bridge between Sunholt and Iceholt, a captain named Cam Triompe arrives and takes up lodging with the town's Lord Ahnn-li, his consort Ahnessah and their son. Unknown to the humans, Jethel the elf lives in Passage's forest along with a Preserver named Willowsnap who calls him "Fire-Eye" for his strong emotions. Jethel had gotten separated from the other elves at the end of their adventures in the Forevergreen forest, and was left behind when they flew away in the restored Palace. Jethel rescues a servant boy of Ahnn-li's named Arro from drowning after he was pushed in by another servant, and teaches him how to live in the woods.
Meanwhile a human explorer named Ge-o'ka, who was a childhood friend of Ahnn-li's, arrives in Passage. Ahnn-li, Ge-o'ka, Cam Triompe, and some other humans have gathered to start work on a canal for easier sailing between towns. Jethel sees them start work, and confronts the workers and scares them away. Ahnn-li is told of his interference, and he and Ge-o'ka guess that the forest elf is Jethel, who had befriended both of them in their childhood when the elves were living in the Forevergreen. Ge-o'ka says he may have a good reason for not wanting the canal, but Ahnn-li declares that Jethel, whom he believes to be jealous of his success, must stand aside or die. The townsfolk are scared by the news of a forest spirit dwelling nearby; they call him Fire-Eye also, having overheard this name used by the Preserver. Arro's sister Sylvie enters the woods looking for her brother, and as they have no parents, they both become Jethel's "wards."
Ahnessah wants to discover and harness Jethel's "secret" of eternal life. She forces the dog-keeper boy Koni to enter the woods to find and befriend Fire-Eye and then tell Ahnessah where he can be found, threatening to kill the dogs if he doesn't. She has two guards find and beat Koni to lure Fire-Eye into the open. But Jethel rescues Koni from the guards, and Koni joins the growing group of wards. But Koni can't disappear or his dogs will be killed, so Jethel pretends to have been caught. When Koni brings him to Ahnn-li, Jethel warns Ahnn-li to stay out of the Forevergreen forest. Ahnn-li's guards attack him but he fends them off and escapes with Koni and all of Ahnn-li's dogs back into the forest.
A mysterious figure has been watching all of Jethel's activities from the shadows. The children are tired of living in the forest, and they and Jethel build a home in a huge tree similar to the Father Tree. One of the dogs catches rabies, and the elf Chot, who was the hidden watcher, sends to Jethel to warn him, and then sadly leads the dog away to kill it.
Meanwhile, another servant boy (and close friend of Koni's) named Bren has been kicked out of Ahnn-li's service. A one-eyed woman named Pei-Lar (a character in Forevergreen) takes Bren to her home where other children are also living. Pei-Lar calls them her "army," telling them that the humans and elves are plotting together to make the poor people their slaves. She also wants to rid the woods of elves, for an unknown reason.
Ahnn-li discovers through reading Cam Triompe's private journals that he lived with the elves for a time, and threatens to harm Cam's servant boy Kibo if he doesn't tell him what he knows about them. However, Kibo overhears this, and Ahnessah tells Kibo that she can stop any harm from coming to him and his master if he will help her find Fire-Eye. Kibo tells Cam all this and they try to figure out how to get out of their fix. They go into the woods, as Ahnessah secretly hoped, but Cam knows that they're probably being followed, and manages to lose the spy. On the way out of town Cam is pick-pocketed by one of Pei-Lar's boys, but doesn't realize it until they are in the woods. Cam tells Kibo the pouch contained a seed from the tree of Dart's tribe, that Dart gave to him.
Pei-Lar doesn't know what the seed is but saves it as possible leverage. She has her gang go scout the town for information on Ahnn-Li and Cam, but tells Bren she has a special task for him. Bren encounters the kids living with Jethel when they go into the village to visit their mother's grave. Koni and Bren were close friends, and Koni almost tells Bren that they're living in the forest, but Sylvie stops him. Bren is hurt by this and is sure that Koni is involved with what Pei-Lar is interested in.
Bren gets back into the fort by sneaking in and telling another servant he wasn't able to survive outside. The servant takes him to Ahnessah. That night he dreams that he's in the woods with Jethel and the other kids, and that Ahnessah finds them all and kills Jethel. After waking, he escapes back to Pei-Lar and tells her what he knows of Ahnessah's plans. Pei-Lar plots to get rid of Ahnn-li's household and Jethel all at once.
Jethel receives a sending from Sunstream, who tells him to decide whether to live in Ahnn-Li's world or his own.
Chot shows himself to Cam Triompe and takes him to meet Jethel, first warning him not to betray Jethel on pain of death. Cam warns Jethel how great the danger is from the humans, and gets him to agree to a meeting with Ahnn-li, to try to work out an agreement that will satisfy both parties.
Complete synopsis coming soon
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