The elves adjust to life in a medieval human world after time-traveling in the Palace
(SS1; HY 4, 8; EQ II 4-7, 9, 11-13, 15-18)
Recently awakened from their 10,000-year sleep, Cutter and his tribe are happily reunited with Leetah, Skywise, Ember, Suntop, and Ekuar (and not so happily reunited with Rayek). The Wolfriders still live in what they call “Thorny Mountain Holt,” with the Palace hidden in the ocean nearby and Rayek living in the Palace with Ekuar.
Skywise now regrets having asked Leetah to remove his wolf blood. He doesn't feel like a Wolfrider anymore, he realizes that he will now have to watch his friends die of old age, and he is disoriented by the fact that they have all aged except for him because he was in the Palace when it flew 10,000 years into the future. He goes out alone to a cliff overlooking the ocean, and sends to the stars his fervent desire to get his wolf blood back. The magic of the Palace responds to his sending, and he loses his right mind and takes on the full mind of a wolf.
When the Wolfriders find him they try to subdue and help him, but he attacks them and in the process falls over the cliff to the beach below. Until now the Wolfriders have kept themselves hidden from the humans who live all around the forest, but a band of human pirates finds Skywise, captures him, and puts him in a cage for the local humans to pay money to see the “freak.” Cutter goes to his rescue, disguising himself as a human and freeing him from the cage. Cutter manages to get Skywise out of his wolf-mind by showing him the Lodestone and getting him to look up at the stars. Skywise shares with Cutter all his insecurities, as well as the resentment he felt when Cutter did not come to his aid when he was afraid during the battle with the trolls. They reconcile and reaffirm their bond as soul-brothers (SS1).
Redlance is disturbed about something; he knows he dreamed during his time in his cocoon but can't remember anything. Feeling that dreams are important, Pike feeds him dreamberry wine, and Redlance relaxes enough to recall a dream about being the spirit of the Father Tree, from his endless days sheltering the elves to his ultimate destruction by humans. Pike decides to collect dreams from all the elves who slept because the collective and shared dreams of the telepathic elves could teach them something.
Treestump grudgingly recalls a dream where, armor-clad and weapon-bearing, he protected his loved ones but accidentally killed them in the end. Zhantee shares his dream of challenge, water, weightless flight, and Leetah. Venka's dream was of her dual heritage between the gentle, wise Sun Folk and her cold warrior mother of the Go-Backs, and her status as protector of both Go-Backs and Wolfriders. Nightfall watched as first Cutter gave life to the Wolfriders and then the loveless ones—Rayek, Winnowill, and Two-Edge—stole all that was dear to her. She followed, intending to destroy the trio, but on the verge of victory, her dream ended as her cocoon was opened. Pike weighs in with a dream of becoming smaller and smaller to escape danger, eventually turning into a dreamberry and escaping a troll, who eats him, in the natural way.
The Go-Back Skot doesn't remember any dreams; to him and Krim, another Go-Back, life is an endless walk through a blinding snowstorm in which only the “now“ is discernable. Strongbow and Moonshade do not offer up dreams, but they communicate in images and symbols what it means to be a Wolfrider.
Tyleet's dream was a sweet and hopeful one of friendship with humans, and Shenshen's dream of somehow shining brighter than her sister Leetah, along with a vision of a pregnant Tyleet, was linked with Tyleet's vision of herself possessing five fingers.
At this point Pike starts to figure out how all these dreams fit together, and he calls council and asks for the dreams of the remaining sleepers: Clearbrook, who relived her attempt to rescue the infant Windkin from Winnowill; Aroree, who confesses that she does not dream herself but enters the dreams of others; Skywise (who was not cocooned but who wants to share his dream), who saw himself flying thanks to a friendly star, and who ultimately dreams of his long-dead wolf-friend Starjumper; and finally Cutter, who shares only part of his dream of losing all that he held dearest to Rayek, for the rest of it will torment and destroy his tribe just as it is tormenting and destroying him. From these dreams, Pike determines that the elves have somehow peeked into their future.
A deeply depressed and powerless Rayek keeps to the Palace and reflects on everything he did, especially the mistakes he made. In his loss of confidence he has also lost his magical powers at least temporarily. Only his growing relationship with Venka, the daughter he never knew he had, allows him to take the first steps toward “awakening,“ accomplished largely through the stalking and killing of a buck. Yet most of the other Wolfriders, still despising him for what he did to Cutter, refuse to share his kill (HY 8).
Six years later, Rayek has regained his magic powers and is able to make the Palace rise up out of the ocean and fly again. Leetah, Suntop, Venka and Shen Shen decide to travel to the Sun Village. Ember, now a teenager, very much wants to go with them, but Cutter (who won't set foot in the Palace for fear of not being able to keep himself from attacking Rayek in his hanger) does not want to lose his entire family to the Palace again and forbids her to go.
However, as the Palace is getting ready to depart, Ember rides her wolf Choplicker straight into the Palace entrance just before it takes off and before Cutter can stop her. After arriving in the Sun Village, all of the elves who had cocooned themselves or been cocooned after the war between the Go-Backs and Sun Villagers are released from their cocoons, and all those who had been wounded in the war are healed by the combined healing powers of Leetah and Mender.
Mender is the son of the Wolfriders Woodlock and Rainsong, who, along with their other son Wing, chose not to be cocooned and died of old age during the time of the Palace's disappearance. Ember and Mender become lovemates. Suntop stays in the Sun Village to get more magical training from Savah. Shen Shen stays in the Sun Village as well. Leetah, Ember, Mender, Venka, Dewshine and Scouter travel in the Palace back to the Thorny Mountain Holt (HY 4).
A couple of years later, Cutter is still suffering greatly from what Rayek did, and needs a fight to start the healing process, so Rayek offers a challenge to the Wolf Chief. In an arena provided by the trolls, Cutter attacks Rayek mercilessly and reveals to him the dreadful tormenting dreams that he would not reveal to his tribe. At fight's end, Cutter and Rayek are at least able to meet one another on neutral ground.
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