Winnowill is back, bent on revenge, and determined to rid the world of the Wolfriders!
It has been just a few days since the elves defeated the trolls in the frozen mountains and gained access to the Palace of the High Ones. Picknose, new king of the trolls, has found the mentally agonized and physically wounded Two-Edge, and sends him on a mission to capture Ekuar the rock-shaper, in exchange for a safe haven in the troll kingdom. Two-Edge goes to the Palace and encounters Rayek, Ekuar and Kahvi. Rayek has been obsessively lock-sending with Timmain and studying the Scroll of Colors for more details about his race's past and clues about how to make the Palace fly. Rayek, arrogant as always, is very judgmental of the High Ones and believes that their decision to take the Preservers and trolls with them when they left their dying homeworld was a huge mistake. Two-Edge's arrival gives Rayek an idea: to visit the Gliders with Two-Edge as his guide, and try to harness their power in an attempt to make the Palace fly again.
Three years later, the Wolfriders are still living peacefully and secretly in the Forbidden Grove. They are careful to hide when bird-riders from Blue Mountain pass overhead. Some of the Wolfriders are very anxious for news of their tribefolk who are still living in the Sun Village, and ask Cutter to let Suntop perform an astral projection so that he can communicate with Savah in the Sun Village. Cutter refuses, because Winnowill could ensnare Suntop's spirit again. The Wolfriders hold a council and decide that it's time to try to end the threat that Winnowill poses to all of them... not by killing her body (since her spirit would then still be free to harm them more than ever) but by taking away her power and trying to heal her spirit. Cutter decides to ask the humans Nonna and Adar to help him convince the human tribe who worship the Gliders, the Hoan G'Tay Sho, that their worship is misplaced, so that they will no longer be under Winnowill's command or influence. He sets off that same night for the human camp where Nonna and Adar live.
Later that night, a member of the Glider's Chosen Eight, Aroree, is seen flying over the Wolfrider's secret holt. They all hide as usual, except Skywise, who confronts Aroree about her desertion of the Wolfriders when they were attacked by trolls. Aroree begs Skywise to let her live with the Wolfriders. She tells him that Winnowill is now Lord of the Gliders and is very cruel: she keeps all the Gliders except the Chosen Eight in a deep sleep and feeds upon their power for some unknown purpose tied to the Great Egg (a magical ever-changing sculpture in Blue Mountain containing all the knowledge of the elves, very similar to the Scroll of Colors), and she has Tyldak chained to the throne. Aroree says that Winnowill had recently sent her on a mission to find the Preservers and bring them back to Blue Mountain so that she can wrap all the Gliders in 'wrapstuff' (which allows an elf to live indefinitely in a hibernation state without food or water).
Skywise brings Aroree into the heart of the Wolfrider's holt. They are angry with him for breaking the rule of secrecy, but Aroree begs them to let her live with them. But then Aroree sees Dewshine's infant son Windkin, who inherited the power of floating from his Glider father Tyldak. She grabs Windkin and flies away. She orders the Preservers to go with her, but they all refuse. As Aroree's bird takes off, Dewshine manages to grab the bird's harness and is carried to Blue Mountain, unknown to Aroree. Skywise, realizing what a big mistake he has made, sets off to find Cutter to tell him of all that occurred and enlist his help in rescuing Dewshine and Windkin.
Aroree presents Windkin to Winnowill, so she can be released from her duties as one of the Chosen Eight and Windkin can be raised to take her place. Dewshine tries to rescue Windkin but is stopped by Winnowill, who knows Dewshine's soul name and controls her with it. Aroree sets out to leave Blue Mountain, but is stopped by Kureel, another member of the Chosen Eight, who accuses her of disloyalty to Winnowill. Aroree attacks him and manages to escape Blue Mountain. Aroree feels terribly guilty about harming Kureel and also about having kidnapped Windkin but is too desperate to get away to try to make amends.
Meanwhile, Cutter has reached the humans' camp and is able to get Nonna and Adar to agree to accompany him to Blue Mountain and help free Nonna's tribe, the Hoan G'Tay Sho, from Winnowill's influence over them. As they are traveling by raft down a river toward the mountain, Skywise finds them and tells Cutter of Dewshine and Windkin's plight. They decide to try to offer Winnowill the Preservers in exchange for Dewshine and Windkin.
Back in the Wolfrider's holt, Ember convinces her brother Suntop to send his spirit out to get Savah's advice about the whole situation. He does so, and while he and Savah's spirits commune, Winnowill's spirit finds them and tries to capture Suntop's spirit so that she can gain access to the High One Timmain through him and “own them both.” However, at that moment Kureel sends to Winnowill that he needs her to heal him before he bleeds to death from Aroree's attack. Winnowill angrily leaves the spirit realm without Suntop.
Suntop tells the Wolfriders that all their kin in the Sun Village are doing well, and tells them that Winnowill's goal is to get any elf who is good at magic under her control and kill the rest. They prepare themselves for an inevitable attack from the Chosen Eight now that Winnowill knows where they live. Skywise returns to them and tells them of the idea of bartering the Preservers, and he, Scouter and Strongbow set off for Blue Mountain with the Preservers who have agreed to help them carry out this plan. However, Winnowill only agrees to trade Dewshine, not Windkin, for the Preservers. Dewshine refuses to leave without Windkin, and one of the bird-riders begins to attack the Wolfrider messengers, who send the Preservers to help Dewshine. Aroree shows up and flies low enough that the three Wolfriders are able to grab her bird's harness and then jump to the woods below to escape the attack. Skywise, however, does not jump but continues flying with Aroree. He spends some time with her and tells her all about the Palace of the High Ones. Aroree decides to visit the Palace herself and drops Skywise off in the woods.
Winnowill appears to the human tribe of the Hoan G'Tay Sho and tells them that the Wolfriders are demons who want to destroy the ancient bond between the tribe and the bird spirits. The Hoan G'Tay Sho vow to protect the “bird spirits“ against the “evil wolf demons.” When Cutter, Nonna and Adar arrive, Cutter stays hidden and Nonna tries to talk with them and explain to them that Winnowill is the evil one, not the Wolfriders. Half the tribe believes Nonna, but the other half believes Winnowill and start to attack Nonna, Adar and Cutter (as well as Clearbrook and Scouter, who have come to aid Cutter), and they escape the attack by running into an open tunnel in Blue Mountain before it closes.
Rayek has delayed his plans to travel to Blue Mountain with Two-Edge because he is waiting for Kahvi, the chief of the Go-Backs, to give birth to a child who might be his. Kahvi finally gives birth to a baby girl who is clearly Rayek's daughter, but Kahvi does not want Rayek to be possessive of the child and interfere with her upbringing, so she lies to Rayek and tells him that the girl was Cutter's and died during the birth. Rayek is disappointed and decides to leave for Blue Mountain at once with Two-Edge, who has become friends with Ekuar during their three years of living in the Palace. The High One Timmain indicates disapproval with Rayek's plan to bring the Gliders to the Palace, but Rayek does not change his plan. He, Two-Edge and Petalwing set off for Blue Mountain. When they near the mountain, however, Two-Edge spots a bird-rider and runs away in a panic, afraid to be captured again by his mother Winnowill, who had kept him in a cage during his childhood, where he witnessed his troll father's gruesome death at her hands.
The bird-rider turns out to be Aroree, whose bond-bird mistakes Two-Edge for prey and picks him up in his talons. Rayek introduces himself to Aroree, who warns him against going to Blue Mountain. Rayek arrogantly ignores both Aroree's and Two-Edge's warnings about Winnowill, and is sure that he will not fall prey to her control like so many others have done. Disgusted with Rayek, Two-Edge runs away. Aroree agrees to fly Rayek to Blue Mountain, hoping that perhaps Rayek will really be able to free the Gliders from Winnowill's control. However, not fully trusting of Rayek, Aroree decides to drop him off in the Forbidden Grove rather than taking him all the way back to Blue Mountain; she is afraid she will be killed if she returns there.
Rayek finds the Wolfriders' holt and convinces the acting chief, Treestump, that Winnowill might be able to be subdued through the combined magical powers of Leetah, Suntop, Strongbow and himself, while she is distracted by the Wolfriders already in Blue Mountain. However, when they reach the mountain, Rayek decides to fly ahead on his own, not wanting to put Leetah in danger and believing that he alone can stand up to Winnowill. But Winnowill easily manipulates him. She tells him her long-standing plan to transform Blue Mountain into a space-vessel just like the High One's Palace had been, using the Great Egg and the Gliders' power, and in it to escape the World of Two Moons forever. She sends him into a magical sleep, floating around the great Egg with other Gliders to join his power with theirs.
Dewshine has avoided capture by the Chosen Eight with the aid of the Preservers. She reunites with the Wolfriders who have come to free her and Windkin, and with Nonna and Adar's help they trick the Chosen Eight into drinking a drugged drink, and the Preservers are able to wrap all the Chosen Eight in 'wrapstuff.' Cutter, Dewshine, Scouter, Clearbrook, Nonna and Adar descend into Winnowill's private chambers to look for Windkin and also to free the humans who are her prisoners. Nonna and Adar are horrified at the mistreatment of the human prisoners, and Cutter explains to all the humans present that elves are not 'spirits' or 'demons' and should not be worshipped or feared as such. The newly freed humans agree to tell the rest of the Hoan G'Tay Sho the truth about Winnowill and all elves. Dewshine, Scouter, the Preservers and the humans look for a way out of the mountain while Cutter and Clearbrook head deeper into the mountain to confront Winnowill and rescue Windkin. Winnowill is breastfeeding the captive baby Windkin with magic milk which removes all the wolf blood from him.
Strongbow and Moonshade's son, Dart, stayed behind in the desert village of Sorrow's End when the Wolfriders left it to find Cutter during his quest for other elves. Dart has taught a group of the Sun Folk how to hunt and fight and ride on jack-wolves. After Savah's spirit-visit with Suntop, she tells the Sun Village about the danger the Wolfriders are in because of Winnowill. Dart decides to travel to the Forbidden Grove with some of the jack-wolf riders to aid the Wolfriders against Winnowill. They arrive in the Forbidden Grove just as the Wolfriders there are subduing an attack by some of the Hoan G'Tay Sho humans. One human youth, named Geoki, accompanied his father on the attack but did not agree with it because he does not believe the 'wolf spirits' are evil. When Geoki and Dart meet they feel an instant bond of friendship. The Wolfriders, the captive humans and Dart's jack-wolfriders all head to Blue Mountain together.
Meanwhile Two-Edge opens a door for Leetah, Suntop, Skywise and some of the other Wolfriders to enter Blue Mountain. Leetah approaches Two-Edge and partially heals him of the madness which Winnowill had inflicted on him as a child, but he runs away before she can finish. As the elves enter and try to make their way to Winnowill, Blue Mountain is rapidly shifting and changing shape to become Winnowill's space-vessel. They are tossed around by the shifts, and Skywise gets trapped in a rock formation. The mountain completes its transformation and becomes one huge floating mountain-sized Egg, to the amazement of all those gathered outside it.
During this time, Cutter is confronting Winnowill to distract her so that Clearbrook can try to rescue Windkin. Winnowill tells Cutter of her plan to take the Egg-ship into space; with its magic she will kill all elves with 'tainted' wolf blood, and gather all the other elves to the ship by the force of magic and take them away from the World of Two Moons. Once in space, all the elves except Winnowill will sleep forever in Preserver cocoons and she will use their power to control the ship. "The Egg's power will erase every trace of the first-comers' great blunder! We will begin again, clean and whole.” This was the plan she had wanted to enact while Voll was alive, but he hadn't allowed it.
While she is speaking, Leetah and Suntop enter the room. Leetah shields Cutter from Winnowill's magical pain, and the three of them subdue Winnowill and wake Rayek from his slumber. Leetah begins a healing of Winnowill and all of her painful memories begin to surface. The egg that Blue Mountain has become begins to fall apart without Winnowill's control of the sleeping Gliders to hold it together.
Two-Edge appears in the room and runs away with Windkin. He takes Windkin to Tyldak and frees Tyldak from his chains. Tyldak finds Dewshine and gives Windkin back to her, and also sends the bond-birds to carry Dewshine and the elves and humans with her down to the ground.
Clearbrook runs after Two-Edge and stabs him, in retaliation for his actions having led to her lifemate One-Eye's death. Two-Edge understands her anger, and opens a door to allow her to escape Blue Mountain before it collapses; then he disappears.
Rayek, contrite at realizing how he was tricked by Winnowill, ignores her pleas for help and carries Leetah and Suntop outside the mountain and safely to the ground. Petalwing has wrapped the weak and partially healed Winnowill in wrapstuff, and Cutter intends to carry her body outside so that Leetah can complete her healing, but Tyldak grabs her cocooned body and flies off with it. Cutter warns Tyldak not to kill her.
Cutter then goes to try to rescue Skywise from the rock hole in which he is trapped and suffocating. Cutter threatens the entranced rockshaper Door so strongly that Door moves the rock enough to allow Skywise to escape. Cutter's interaction with Door wakes Door up from his trance, and Cutter, Skywise and Door all look for a way out of the mountain. Rayek finds them and carries them all down with his floating power.
Except for the still-sleeping Gliders, all the elves and humans are now safely outside of Blue Mountain. They all watch as the huge floating mountain-egg vessel collapses, killing the sleeping Gliders within it. One of the Chosen Eight, Kureel, escaped the Preserver's wrapstuff and was not killed by the mountain's collapse. He flies out on his bond-bird and begin a vengeful attack on all the elves and humans on the ground. His bird picks up both Dart and the young human named Geoki whom Dart had befriended, flies high into the air with them, and then drops them to the ground in a presumably fatal fall. Dart's father Strongbow shoots arrows at Kureel and kills him. Dart's and Geoki's hands are clasped and will not come apart. Leetah performs a healing on both of them at the same time, and is able to save both of their lives. The human tribe has realized that the elves are not 'spirits,' and offer friendship to the elves instead of worship. The humans set off to look for a new place to live, and they take Door with them to care for him and honor him as the last living Glider.
The spirits of the dead Gliders have all gathered around Rayek, who promises to take them back to the Palace where the spirits of dead elves are meant to go. He also hopes that the Gliders' combined power, even as spirits, may also be enough to make the Palace fly again.
The Wolfriders and Dart's jack-wolfriders return to the Forbidden Grove and celebrate their freedom from the threat of Winnowill, even though they are somewhat worried because they don't know what Tyldak has done with her.
Tyldak drops Winnowill off on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean and leaves her there after freeing her from the Preserver's cocoon.
Go to the next section