A group of younger Wolfriders go in search of a new home for the Sun Villagers and must deal with a mad elf who wants to rule over a lost jungle city.
(NB 15-35, Shards 16)
Parts of this section are by D. Aviva Rothschild
These events take place concurrently with the events in the “Shards” and “Ember's Quest” sections.
The desert sun village of Sorrow's End has its own problem with the medieval humans, who have started to come close to the village, despite the gigantic rocks placed around it by Ahdri. Savah tells Suntop, who now lives in the Sun Village, that she believes he has an unlimited sending range and will, with training, be able to connect all elves on the planet to each other via his sending powers. During a training session, Suntop gets a brief, tantalizing vision of a wondrous jungle. Who sent the vision, and why? Windkin recognizes the jungle as a place he dubbed the “Forevergreen” when he was doing long-range scouting during the time of drought. He hadn't explored it before, but now he wants to. Everyone does, but their method of travel, the Palace, is currently in many pieces. So, wearing wings made of wrapstuff that will help him fly, Windkin immediately takes off by himself for the Forevergreen. Dart vows to follow him in three eights of days if he doesn't return.
And he doesn't, because when he gets there, he discovers a human civilization that is apparently trying to emulate elves; they cut off one of their fingers on each hand and shape their ears to have pointed tips. Spotted, he tries to flee but is zapped with knockout powder. He awakens tied to a pillar. The Attained Father Aramek wants to use Windkin as proof that Aramek's various atrocities--human sacrifice, mutilation, etc.--are the will of the High Ones. Later, caged inside the temple, Windkin meets an ancient Glider, the rock-shaper Door, one of the few Gliders to have survived the destruction of Blue Mountain. Given over to the protection of the Hoan-G'tay-Sho (now called the Hungtsho) after the fall of Blue Mountain, he is their pet High One. Door tells Windkin that he sent out a vision of what the Forevergreen used to be like, so that any elves who received the sending would be attracted to the vision and compelled to find Door, and then help him right the wrongs of the Hungtsho. Several of the humans confide in Windkin that they hate Aramek, and he pledges to help them. But then, in a confrontation with Aramek, the Attained Father angrily and tearfully explains how badly he and his people want to be elves. Windkin decides to stay and help the Hungtsho get over their obsession with elves.
Meanwhile, Suntop has picked up on Windkin's distress, and a small rescue party embarks on the journey to the Forevergreen--Dart, Suntop, Kimo (son of Newstar), Dodia, Jethel, Chot (a former Go-Back), Shenshen (Leetah's sister), and Yun (daughter of Skywise and a Go-Back). They must cross the Vastdeep Water, which they almost do; as they spy land, their craft is swamped, and they are separated, washing up in various places around the beach. Dart, Kimo, and Yun encounter one another; the others join together elsewhere and are captured by a band of humans, the arch-rivals of Aramek, and scheduled for execution.
However, Dart's group finds them in time and convinces the rebel human leader, Pei-lar, that they have the same enemy. He agrees to help her troops in their upcoming attack against Aramek, because it is the only way he can see to rescue Windkin. However, he and two other elves want to scout out Aramek's territory first, and they are attacked in the woods by Aramek's son Geoka and a couple of warriors. The elves defeat the humans in the battle, and Pei-Lar takes Geoka prisoner. Geoka is disillusioned as he realizes that Aramek is not attempting to rescue him, and after Dart shares with him the story of Dart's friendship with the human boy Geoki (see “Siege at Blue Mountain“), Geoka becomes friends with Dart.
The three make their way out of the temple just as Pei-Lar's troops are attacking the city. Aramek appears at the top of the temple to rouse his people to action against the rebels. But then Door appears, throws Aramek down off the temple, and tells the people that Aramek does not speak for him. Unfortunately, Door is even more cruel and tyrannical than Aramek, having been twisted by Winnowill's ancient poison. Pei-Lar, realizing that her rebel attackers have no chance of defeating the powerful rockshaper/glider elf, calls a retreat. She comes across Aramek in the woods and kills him in revenge for his cruelty against her family and many others. Dart later convinces her to permanently stay away from Door and his tribe of humans in order to save her people.
Dart and all the elves who journeyed from the Sun Village say their goodbyes to Pei-Lar's humans, and make their way further into the Forevergreen forest and away from all the humans (and Door). They hope to find a suitable new Holt for the Sun Villagers. The human youths Geoka and Ahn-lei accompany them. During their search, the elves meet a small band of human sailors who turn out to be friendly. Geoka decides to sail away with these humans and seek his fortune on the seas.
Door sends to Windkin and asks Windkin to join him in the temple. Door convinces Windkin that the humans need the elves' help and that the best way to achieve this is to unite all the elves through the little piece of the Palace that resides in the Sun Village. Door really wants the Palace for his own evil purposes, unknown to Windkin. Windkin agrees to fly back to the Sun Village and bring the Palace fragment to Door, and sets off at once. Dart, realizing that Windkin is unwittingly aiding Door in some evil purpose (but not knowing Windkin has left the Forevergreen), decides to try to get Windkin out of Door's clutches.
Pei-Lar finds Dart on his way toward the temple and they join forces because Pei-Lar knows a secret way into the temple and she wants to try to kill Door. However, when they arrive, they are discovered by Door, and Door kills Pei-Lar. Door sets fire to the entire Forevergreen forest, and with his rockshaping power, encloses the temple (and the entire human Hungtsho tribe) in an impenetrable rock sphere. Door and Dodia, one of the elves from the Sun Village who accompanied Dart to the temple, suddenly Recognize each other. They willingly become mates; however, the evil Door plans to 'rid himself' of Dodia once she bears his child (unknown to her). Dart and Chot are, for now, trapped in the dome with Dodia and Door. The three elves try to convince Door to treat the trapped and scared humans kindly, but Door doesn't listen.
The other Sun Village elves, Shenshen, Kimo and Yun, hide together as the fire rages. They are worried about Suntop and Jethel who had earlier snuck off secretly to explore what they thought was an abandoned human hut, when the fire started. The owner of the hut, a kindly human named “Wanderer,” saves Suntop and Jethel by leading them underwater to an oxygen-filled grotto. Wanderer says that 'water spirits' formed the grotto. (Yun had earlier glimpsed what looked like an elf with a fish tail in a pool in the Forevergreen.) The human boy Ahn-Lai, rescued from the temple by Windkin, sees them dive under the water and follows them. Knowing there is not enough oxygen for all four beings to survive, the Wanderer leaves the grotto and disappears.
After the fire ends, Suntop, Jethel and Ahn-Lai emerge from the grotto and ride the river on a log. But at one point the river turns choppy and the log topples them off, and Suntop is separated from the other two. Shenshen sends to Suntop, and Suntop finds her and Kimo and Yun just outside of the dome. At the same time, within the dome, Door attacks Dart and Chot. Dodia tries to stop Door's attack, as does Suntop, who can sense with his magic powers what is going on inside the dome and sends to Door. While Door is distracted by the sending, Dodia knocks Door unconscious or kills him; it isn't clear which. The dome breaks apart and the humans flee. Chot sets off by himself to try to find Jethel.
Ahn-Lai and Jethel wash up on the riverbank, far from the other elves. Jethel had been knocked unconscious, and while he is knocked out the human youth Ahn-Lai ties him up, planning to give him over to a human trading village he knows of. When they arrive in the trading village, the humans there say that it is the fulfillment of a prophecy that a strange boy would come with a spirit after a day of fire. In honor of the prophecy's fulfillment, they make Ahn-Lai their leader. The Preserver Willowsnap finds and rescues Jethel from his prison cell, and Jethel escapes.
Meanwhile, much has been going on in the Sun Village. A desert human tribe has been prodded into action against the Sun Village. In earlier forays they were frightened off, but they are determined to find a trade route through the mountains--despite the “demons.” They have a troll living with them, who gives them strategies for attacking and defeating the Sun Villagers. The troll wants to invade the village so he can gather gold in the surrounding hills. The elves figure out what the humans plan to do, and the rockshaper Ahdri goes to work building them a new dwelling place underground to escape the humans. But this means that the Sun Village must be abandoned, and all the villagers grieve at the loss of their long-time home. When the humans invade the village, the troll goes after the miniature piece of the Palace of the High Ones (having heard of its powers from Two-Edge), and the rockshaper Ahdri, who has not yet entered the tunnel, grabs it and runs away from him. She flees up across the Bridge of Destiny, but gets hit by a human's arrow. Even wounded, she breaks the Bridge of Destiny where the troll has followed her, and the troll falls to his death. She crawls into a hole in the rock, presumably to die.
Thus, Windkin arrives in the Sun Village to find it deserted. There are a few human scouts, but humans have largely abandoned the area, because somehow Ahdri's spirit still moves the rocks against the humans, who now consider the place 'haunted.' Windkin is determined to find out what happened to the Sun Villagers, and there the story leaves him.
A short time later, the restored Palace of the High Ones comes to the Forevergreen (called there by Suntop's sending) and the elves there are rescued from the now-burnt forest and fly away in the Palace. However, there is no sign of Chot or Jethel. Skywise meets his grown daughter, Yun, whom he didn't know he had.
Guided by Suntop, the Palace then flies to the place in the desert where Savah and the Sun Villagers have been dwelling underground. Ekuar opens up a hole in the ground for the Villagers to emerge through. The Sun Villagers all enter the Palace. Loved ones long separated are reunited.
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