Summaries

The Shadow Wand by Laurie Forest (Summary)

Note:

Hi everyone! So this month in preparation for the release of The Demon Tide, the long awaited new book in the Black Witch series, I’m re-reading the three previous Black Witch books. I’m going to be posting my summaries here, just in case anyone else wants to check them out if they don’t have time to re-read the series before The Demon Tide.

Same stuff I said in my previous post, do not read on, dear friend, unless you have read the book. This is my favorite high fantasy YA series of ALL TIME, I recommend reading it. Please don’t spoil yourself. Just click away unless you’ve read the book already. I’m begging you.

Exciting update that the author of this series, Laurie Forest, shared this blog on her Facebook page today, March 1st, so exciting and such an honor!

Thanks bye!

!!!SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Key Characters:

Elloren Gardner – Seventeen years old, middle child in the Gardner family. Raised by her uncle with her two brothers out in Halfix (remote Gardneria). Wants to be an apothecary, enjoys making and playing violins. Has a connection to wood, able to see the origin tree to any piece of wood she touches.

Rafe Gardner – Eldest of the Gardner siblings, enrolled in the university. Protective elder brother, master hunter and tracker. No magical abilities.

Trystan Gardner – Sixteen years old, youngest Gardner sibling. Level five mage (the most powerful), studying at the university as an apprentice to the weapons guild.

Vyvian Damon – Member of the Mage Council, very involved in politics and obsessed with carrying on the legacy of her mother, the Black Witch. Aunt to Trystan, Elloren, and Rafe.

Fallon Bane – The most powerful young female mage in Gardneria, a level five. Desperately wishes to be wand-fasted to Lukas Grey. Cruel and power-hungry.

Lukas Grey – Powerful level five mage, a rising star in the military. Charms Elloren upon their first meeting and is interested in fasting with her.

Marcus Vogel – Gardnerian priest and member of the mage council. Hoping to be elected the next High Mage. Gives Elloren the creeps.

Aislinn Greer – Quiet, sweet Gardnerian girl Elloren’s age, loves romantic poetry and quickly becomes Elloren’s friend.

Sage Gaffney – Gardnerian girl a few years older than Elloren, lives on the estate next door. Runs away from school with a boy she isn’t wand-fasted to, gives birth to an Icaral child. Her and her child are wanted by the mage council.

Yvan Guriel – Keltic student at the university. Works in the kitchens with Elloren, seems to hate her on sight.

Tierney Calix – Water Fae girl glamored as a Gardenerian. Fellow apothecary student with Elloren.

Wynter Eirllyn – Icaral Elf, Elloren’s roommate. A soft-spoken, timid girl, she is a wonderful artist and the first Icaral to make Elloren think that perhaps her religion has gotten it all wrong. She’s also an empath, which means she can sense people’s emotions through touch.

Ariel Haven – Icaral Gardenerian, Elloren’s other roommate. Spent most of her life locked away due to being an Icaral, is somewhat unhinged and instant enemies with Elloren. But they eventually come to an understanding and Elloren learns that Ariel is connected with winged creatures and can speak with them mind to mind.

Diana and Jarod Ulrich – Twin siblings of the Lupine race – can turn into wolves and live in the forest with their pack. Currently students at the university per their father’s wishes for the Lupines to be more diplomatically integrated with the other races.

Andras Volya – Son of Professor Volya. The professor was part of an Amazkaran tribe, but she refused to abandon her child like she was supposed to when he was born male, so they’ve been banished from Amaz lands, but they both still wear the runes. Andras is incredibly skilled with horses and the Amaz fighting style.

Cael Eirllyn – Wynter’s brother, Alfsigr Elf. Elite archer.

Rhys Thorim – Cael Eirllyn’s second in arms, loyal to Cael and Wynter. Alfsigr Elf, elite archer.

Bleddyn – Urisk kitchen worker, works with Elloren in the university kitchens. Starts with a strong dislike for her and all Gardnerians, and along with Iris they bully Elloren.

Iris Morgaine – Kelt girl who works in the kitchens at the university with Elloren. Actually a glamoured Fae. Romantically interested in Yvan and hates Elloren with a passion, no matter what she does.

Lucretia Quillen – Gardnerian Vice Chancellor at the university, one of the resistance leaders along with Jules Kristian and Fernyllia.

Jules Kristian – Keltic history professor at the university. One of the resistance leaders along with Lucretia Quillen and Fernyllia.

Fernyllia – Urisk kitchen mistress at the university. Grandmother to Fern. One of the leaders of the Resistance along with Lucretia Quillen and Jules Kristian.

Olilly – Young Urisk girl, works in the staff at the university. Kind and gentle, she often tends to young Fern, Fernyllia’s granddaughter.

Kam Vin – Commander of the western Vu Trin sorceresses. Firm and resolute, gives Elloren her wand to wand test with when she first arrives at University. A good person who believes the Gardnerians go too far, even as she tries to remain politically neutral (on the surface).

Ni Vin – Sister to Kam Vin, a Vu Trin sorceress herself. She was disfigured by a fire caused by Carnissa Gardner during the first Realm War, and it has left her burn-scarred on one half of her body. Beloved of Valasca.

Marina – Selkie that is originally held captive by the University groundskeeper. Elloren and Yvan free her, and she teaches herself to speak the Common Tongue and is the first of her kind to be able to communicate with the land-dwellers. Convinces the Amaz to help her free the rest of her people from the Gardnerians. Lived for months in the North Tower with Elloren, Diana, Wynter, and Ariel.

Naga – Formerly a Gardnerian military dragon, Yvan, Elloren and the gang were able to free her before the Gardnerians broke her. Ariel and Andras keep her hidden in a cave while they nurse her back to health. Friend to Yvan and wants to help take the Gardnerians down.

Valasca – Amazkaran Commander of the Queens Guard. Powerful rune sorceress. Goat herder in her spare time. Friend to Elloren. Madly in love with Ni Vin.

Alcippe – Uriskal woman, powerful member of the Amaz Queen’s Guard. Saved her mother and carried her to the Amaz when she was just twelve years old. Went back once she was grown up and killed her tyrant of a father. Dislikes ALL men, but is a gentle protector to children in particular. Hates Elloren Gardner for what she stands for.

Queen Alkaia – Queen of the Amazkaran. Believes firmly in the morals of the Amaz people, that men are unkind and cannot be trusted. A strong and fair leader, she agrees that her people will help free the Selkies from their Gardnerian captors.

Thierran Stone – Young Gardnerian soldier. Level Five Mage. Comes from a family of the Styvian sect, the most devout to the Holy Book. Has his world shattered when Dryad families are cut down in front of him and he can’t stop it.

Sparrow Trillium – Nineteen year old Urisk girl. Wants to be a seamstress and have her own shop, her life was destroyed by Fallon Bane and she and her companion were sent to the work camps on the Fae Islands. Caretaker to young Effrey.

Effrey – Urisk child, disguised as a girl so he is not killed by the Gardnerians. Has some geomancy powers, so he needs to keep himself hidden. Savior of the pit dragon Ra’zor and ward of Sparrow Trillium.

Raz’zor – pit dragon held captive by the Gardnerians until Effrey saves him. Has sworn fealty to Elloren.

Chi Nam – a Vu Trin Lo Voi, which is a crone that has mastery of both rune and portal sorcery. Chi Nam is the Runemaster, and the most powerful sorceress of them all. She has faith in Elloren when Elloren doesn’t even have faith in herself that her terrible power can be controlled.

Vang Troi – The high commander of all the Vu Trin military, a powerful sorceress.

Vothendrile Xanthile – A Zhilon’ile Wyvern-shifter, meaning he has the power to control storms. Member of the Wyvernguard, assigned guard to Trystan Gardner. Wants to drive Trystan out and kill the Black Witch. Attracted to Trystan.

Ung Li – Commander of the Wyvernguard. Doesn’t want Trystan to be in the Wyvernguard, but had to acquiesce to Vang Troi’s insistence. Thinks the Black Witch is too dangerous to be left alive. 

Sylla Vuul – One of three primordial Death Fae in the Wyvernguard. Has the power to read your fear. An outcast even among Fae, she is kind to Trystan.

Asra’leen Filor’ian – Asrai Water Fae in the Wyvernguard. Tierney’s roommate and fast friend. Loves rainbows and waterfalls, but is tougher than she looks.

Fyordin Lir – Commander of the Asrai division of the Wyvernguard. Also has claim to the Vo River, which is Tierney’s river. Attractive, but very prejudiced against all Gardnerians, even though he’s never really known one.

Viger Maul – One of three primordial Death Fae in the Wyvernguard. Has the power to read your fear. An outcast even among Fae, he is drawn to Tierney when they meet, as she has Kelpies, which are more closely aligned with Death Fae than Asrai typically. Keeps Tierney’s secret that she wants to help Elloren.

Ra’Ven Za’Nor – Smaragdalfar Elf prince. Escaped from the sublands a few years prior, was disguised for a long time as Kelt. Beloved of Sage Gaffney and father to her child.

Sylmire Talonir – Thirteen year old Alfsigr Elf, escaped from Alfsigroth before they could control her with the Zalyn’or, begs the Amaz to shelter her and help her free the Alfsigr of the power of the Zalyn’or.

Rivyr’el Talonir – Cousin of Sylmire, Alfsigr Elf that escaped Alfsigroth. Powerful Alfsigr sorcerer, the only rebel who has been able to remove the Zalyn’or from the bodies of other Alfsigr. 

Ysilldir Illynrindor – Alfsigr Elf who has been with the Amaz for five years. Warrior and friend to Wynter.

Summary:

Prologue: This takes place fifteen years prior, and details Edwin’s experience at the death of both Tessla and Vale, the Gardner children’s parents, and Carnissa Gardner. Elloren’s parents were against everything the Gardnerians were doing during the Realm War, and had joined the Resistance, helping smuggle Fae families to safety. But they were caught during a rescue of Fae that were being sent off to the Pyrran Isles, and they were quietly executed, and everyone called them war heroes instead of traitors to save the reputation of the Black Witch, who died very shortly after at the hands of Yvan’s father.

Vyvian demands that the children be wandtested, though she agrees to let Edwin raise them. Rafe is powerless, Trystan is powerful but gentle and timid, and then there’s Elloren. Edwin prays that she’ll be powerless, because otherwise she’ll be expected to live up to her grandmother’s destiny, but when she displays a frightening amount of power at her wand testing, Edwin makes the decision to hide it from her and lie to her about it in an attempt to keep her from what was certainly to come.

Prelude:

  • It is the fourth month, and the narrative follows Thierren Stone, a young level five mage of the Styvian sect who is part of Commander Sylus Bane’s unit. The unit is up in the furthest reaches of the northern forest of Gardneria, looking for Dryad Fae that have managed to escape the Gardnerians. Thierran is the picture of a perfect Gardnerian soldier – powerful, dedicated to his young fastmate, and a firm believer of the teachings of his religion, that they are the First Children and everyone else are Evil Ones that need to be purged. It must be all in his head that the trees seem to be whispering to him, demanding that they leave the forest and those within alone.
  • But when they arrive, he gets his first look at the Fae, and finds that they don’t look anything like the illustrations that he’s seen – they look almost like Gardnerians with their deep green skin and dark hair. And these aren’t warriors, they’re old women, children, babies even. The soldiers that were already there poured iron dust over all of them to keep them from using their magic, but they’re not attacking, they’re just forming a barrier between the Gardnerians and the deep wilds. Trying to protect their home.
  • The children are crying and the women are begging, and this is not the glorious reaping that Thierren was told to expect, this is the destruction of families. So he speaks up against his commander, but his commander just repeats the same old story – that these are Evil Ones, disguised to trick you into sympathy. But Thierren knows in his gut that it’s wrong, and he won’t stand for it. So they hold him down as the rest of the soldiers aim their magefire and kill the Dryads where they stand.
  • The narrative follows Vyvian Damon as she attends a mage council meeting in the fourth month. Vogel gives the news that their spies have confirmed that in the Noi lands there is a male Icaral with his wings, Yvan Guriel, the son of the Icaral that slayed the Black Witch even as she killed him. Vyvian realizes that this is the Kelt that her niece was found in bed with, the same niece that has disappeared without a trace, not even her fastmate knowing where she is.
  • Vogel brings in Mavrik Glass, a wandmaker, who displays some runic magic that they’ve been using to try and level the playing field with the rune-wielding Vu Trin. Vogel’s got this creepy bird with too many eyes, one eye that matches Vogel’s eye exactly, so that Vogel can use it to spy. At first the council is weary, their Holy Book saying runic magic is evil, but Vogel convinces them that the Gardnerians should have all the magic in the land, consuming it like they are consuming everything else, and this resonates with Vyvian and the rest.
  • Vogel has Glass show what else the rune magic can do, and Mavrik puts a glamour over himself to make him look like a Vu Trin sorceress. They also have access to a runic portal. Vogel says that he’s going to send Mavrik Glass through the portal with the glamour and the spy bird, track down Yvan Gurial, and slay him to end the prophecy then and there.
  • A military courier comes in and tells the council that Dryads have been found in the northern woods, and that though they were all killed, there could be more of them and that before they died they threatened the Gardnerians that the trees and their guardians would come and take them down. Vogel says that all the forests should be razed and any other Dryads or other Evil Ones will be exposed and taken down.
  • It’s now the fifth month, narration is back with Thierren Stone. They are threatening to dishonorably discharge him from the Mage Guard, which will make him unhirable even as a lowly farmhand. Thierran has not been doing well since the event with the Dryads. He’s been drinking and consuming nilantyr, both illegal, just to block out the nightmares of the Dryads being murdered. He’s been speaking like a heratic, and his own fastmate ran from him in terror. His well-to-do parents tried everything, but no amount of exorcisms or time away has helped him. He’s convinced that the Gardnerians are murderers, not righteous reapers. His current commander, Sylus Bane, has told him that one commander is willing to take him and try to get him into shape. Lukas Grey.
  • In the fifth month, narration switches to Sparrow Trillium, a nineteen year old Urisk girl in the labor camps on the Fae Islands. She and her companion Effrey were once assistants to Mage Florel, the finest dressmaker in Valgard, until the day Fallon Bane decided to ruin everything. She got Mage Florel blacklisted for making Elloren Gardner’s dress in the same fabric she’d chosen. Mage Florel went out of business and Sparrow and Effrey were sent to work for the Banes until all Urisk were ordered out of Gardneria and sent to the Fae Islands.
  • Sparrow is planning escape for herself and Effrey when one of the Mage guards, a creep named Tilor, tells her that a boat with a few Uriskal had tried to escape the night before, but the kraken monsters had consumed them before they could make it half way to the continent. This frightens and saddens Sparrow, as she had friends on that boat, and one of the passengers was only a little girl. Tilor tells her that he expects her to come to his quarters that night, or he’ll report her to the commanders. Sparrow knows that it must be tonight that they’ll make their run for it.
  • Sparrow loads Effrey and their supplies into their small boat. Effrey is in fact a little boy disguised as a girl, as all Urisk males are killed immediately since they are the only ones who have access to powerful geomancy. Effrey has also stolen a little pit dragon, likely from some wealthy guard. Sparrow rows hard, but their boat is overtaken by a kraken. Just as it looks as though all is lost, the little dragon rushes forward and seems to be communicating somehow with the kraken monster. Rather than eat them, the kraken actually pushes them all the way to shore before disappearing, the dragon Raz’zor having saved their lives.
  • Having made it to land on the coast of Gardneria, Sparrow finds an abandoned barn to shelter them in for the rest of the night. But shortly after, a Gardnerian mage comes in, drinks some illegal spirits, and is clearly about to blow up the barn with himself inside it. Sparrow jumps out and tells him to stop, asking him why he would do such a thing. He tells them that his Mage Guard unit murdered more than a dozen Dryads, women and children, and he tried to stop it but failed, and that he won’t be a part of it anymore.
  • Sparrow says if he won’t be a part of the Gardnerian’s reign of terror anymore, then he should help them. She tells him that they came all the way from the Fae islands that night to try to make it east. The mage (Thierren) asks why they did it. And Sparrow answers that they did it to escape the monstrous mages.
  • It is the sixth month, and the narrator shifts to Wynter Eirllyn. Wynter has been staying with the Amaz since Ariel saved her life from the Marfoir. She has been sending her birds, winged kindred, out into the world in search of the dragon Naga. Wynter is overcome with a vision, a vision of a shadow rising, something that goes against nature itself. And then she sees her friend Elloren, and knows that the evil shadow is coming for her. The prophecy is here, Black Witch vs Icaral, and there is no stopping it.

Part 1:

  • It is the sixth month, and we’re back with Elloren Gardner. She’s with the Vin sisters, Kam and Ni, along with a small contingent of Vu Trin, including two powerful Lo Voi, older women who are adept at powerful rune and portal sorcery. They’re in the middle of the isolated Agolith Desert, and she’s been separated from Yvan for long weeks now, missing him terribly. They’re finally going to wand test her, for real. But she’s afraid. She knows what she can do with a random twig and the candle-lighting spell, what destruction might she wreak with a real wand. So before she goes forward, she demands the least powerful wand they have, plus a powerful rune barrier completely surrounding all of the bystanders. Kam Vin thinks this is unnecessary, but Elloren insists.
  • Finally, once everything is prepared, she takes the wand and casts the candle-lighting spell. And releases a fiery inferno so powerful she should be burnt to a crisp, only Yvan’s Wyvern kiss protecting her from the fire, and only the rune barrier protecting the Vu Trin. This is more wand magic than even her famous grandmother could wield, and it is completely out of her control.
  • One of the young Vu Trin immediately tries to come and kill Elloren, only Kam Vin’s decisive action stopping her from killing Elloren. The Vu Trin that Elloren is with seem to be divided, one side wanting to kill her immediately, the other seeing her powerful potential. Eventually, one faction gets on their horses and races off, and Elloren is left only with the Vin sisters, a young warrior named Chim Diec, and the Lo Voi named Chi Nam.
  • They tell her that the others have gone off to tell the Vu Trin leadership of her power, and they will send out assassins for her. The only place safe for her, Chi Nam says, is back in Gardneria with her fastmate Lukas Grey, who seems more and more inclined of late to break with the Gardnerians. Elloren wants to live, obviously, but it’s clearly risky for her to go back to Gardneria and keep her powers hidden. But it’s the only choice while the Vu Trin who are on her side go to their leadership and plead her case. Chi Nam also wants Elloren to look for the weapon that took down all the Lupines in one night, saying that if Elloren can bring them this weapon, Vang Troi might be willing to spare Elloren’s life. Once the execution notice is off her head, they’ll come back for her and begin training her. Elloren agrees.
  • Elloren travels back to the now Gardnerian-controlled Keltania with Ni Vin. Ni Vin almost kills Elloren before she can walk away, but Elloren tells her that her power is the only chance she has to protect literally everyone she loves from the darkness being spread by the Gardnerians. Ni Vin eventually relents, but tells her that if she is captured or broken by the Gardnerians, Ni Vin will have to come and kill her. Elloren understands and takes her leave, back to Lukas Grey.
  • In the sixth month, narration shifts to both Trystan Gardner and Vothendrile Xanthile on the North Twin Island in the Eastern Realm. Vothendrile is a powerful storm Wyvern-shifter in the Wyvernguard that Trystan Gardner is arriving to train in. Vothendrile, along with everyone else in the Wyvernguard, believes that Trystan Gardner, grandson of the Black Witch, does not belong among them. But as soon as he and Trystan meet each other’s eyes, neither can deny that they have a strong attraction to each other, though they’d both be loath to admit it.
  • Trystan knows that the Wyvernguard, even their leader, nobody wants him there. But he is determined to stay. Because he needs to fight the Gardnerians, and the only way he can win is with this army of the East. Vothendrile is assigned to be his personal guard through the day, while there will be another to stand guard outside his room at night. Trystan doesn’t think this is necessary, but the Commander Ung Li demands that Trystan give up his wand and accept the guard, so he does.
  • Vothendrile is determined to break Trystan is make him leave the Wyvernguard, but when they are walking together to Trystan’s room, he is surprised at Trystan’s determination and the truth to his words on how he hates the Gardnerians and what they represent, what they’re doing to the world.
  • Commander Ung Li has roomed Trystan right next to all three of the Death Fae, the primordial Fae who are feared and ridiculed even by the Wyvernguard as well as their fellow Fae for being none-elemental. Vothendrile respects them, but few others do. Trystan, however, when confronted with Sylla Vuul in the hallway, does not seem to fear her, even as her poisonous spiders and scorpions crawl all over him.
  • What does shake Trystan, surprisingly, is that his room has already been graffitied. “Roach” a racial slur for Gardnerians, has been written all over his room, and his uniforms have been slashed to pieces. Vothandrile finds himself shockingly torn, and impressed despite himself at Trystan’s resolve. Trystan goes back out into the hall after Vothandrile is gone and sees that Sylla Vuul is still standing there. She seems surprised that Trystan doesn’t fear her, and tells him that what he does fear is Vothandrile’s beauty. She also tells him that he is as beautiful as Vothandrile, in his way, and to be patient with the Wyvernguard, that she knows his intentions are true. She tells him that what the Wyvernguard should fear is what everyone should fear: the Great Shadow.
  • The same day, in the sixth month, the narration moves to Tierney Calix, Asrai water Fae. She is assigned with the other Fae in the Wyvernguard to the South Twin Island. Immediately upon landing, she is drawn to the powerful Vo River, the biggest river in the whole continent. She dives down into it and fuses with the river, finally feeling as if she’s home.
  • Tierney is introduced to her new roommate, Asra’leen Filor’ian, an Asrai just like her. This is the first time she’s seen another Asrai since she was a young child, and it strikes her again how much of a relief it is to finally be free and among her people. Asra’leen is kind and accepting, immediately taking Tierney under her wing as they go to meet the other Asrai in their unit.
  • Tierney is bathed in the glow of being among her people, for the first time, as they accept her into the fold. She’s introduced to the very beautiful Fyordin Lir, who is the division commander. She’s told that he has also laid claim to the Vo, and is immediately defensive because her gut says that the Vo is her river.
  • The other Asrai ask Tierney about her Asrai name, saying that she should start using it now, leaving behind her old “Crow” ways, another slur for the Gardnerians. But even though Tierney is so happy to finally be among her people, she loves her Gardnerian parents, and her Asrai brother is still trapped in his glamour, and the three of them are living as civilian refugees. Tierney stands up for them, saying that there are Gardnerians who don’t agree with what’s going on, who are ready to fight their own people. Fyordian says that the “Roaches” don’t belong here, especially Trystan Gardner, grandson of the Black Witch. Fyordin says that he should be driven out of the Wyvernguard. Tierney defends him, saying he’s her friend, and she won’t speak ill of her Gardnerian parents, who adopted her and saved her life from their own people during the Realm War, when all Fae were being slaughtered or imprisoned.
  • Fyordin states, in front of everyone, that maybe she doesn’t belong here either if she’s siding with them. Tierney seethes, wondering aloud what happened to all the kinship she was just offered, seemingly retracted the first time she spoke up for herself. She challenges Fyordin for the Vo River, and the river explodes to her call, the river and her fierce Kelpies coming to her side.
  • Across the courtyard she notices one of the Death Fae, watching everything unfold, and she’s aware that Kelpies are not usually aligned with Fae, as they are more primordial than elemental, more like the Death Fae than the Asrai.
  • Tierney goes over to approach the Death Fae, figuring once again she’s an outcast just like they are. Her roommate Asra’leen follows her away, stating firmly that she’s still with Tierney, despite the other Asrai seeming to reject her for her ideas that not all Gardnerians are bad. Tierney tells Asra’leen that she’s going to ask to be assigned to a different division, that she will not work with Fyordin. As she goes over to talk to the Death Fae, Asra’leen warns her that they are seen as demonic in all Eastern religions, that they can thrall anyone with their worst fears. Tierney decides to go over there anyway.
  • Tierney goes over and asks the Death Fae why he’s watching her. He says that her Kelpies are kindred to him as well, and because Trystan spoke of her. Tierney thanks him for being nice to Trystan. In response, the Fae sends tons of poisonous creepy crawlies up and around Tierney, then ends up trying to thrall her, which Tierney cuts off, and the Fae stops. She says he can’t intimidate her, that she’s not like most of the Asrai, she likes the darkest parts of the river, with the Kelpies and all the secret dark things that reside in the bottom of lakes and rivers. He once again tries to thrall her, which she fights off once again, asking him why he keeps trying to do it. He says it’s because he’s curious. They end up having sort of a battle of wits/power.
  • Finally he introduces himself. Viger Maul. Tierney tells him that he will not have an easy time taking over her mind. Viger tells her that he can’t control her mind, just that he can read fear. Tierney asks him to tell her her fears. He says she fears Vogel, she fears for everyone she loves, she also fears never being seen for who she truly is, but also never belonging. Then he tells her she can’t have both of those last two things. She tells him to get out of her head, but he says that she approached him, and all of the sudden he shows her all of the worst fears of her life. Finally Tierney just runs away.
  • Later that evening Tierney sits near the Vo, musing about the defenses of the Eastern Realms. They were enough to keep the Black Witch out during the Realm War, but still she wonders if they will be enough to keep the Gardnerians at bay this time. She notices Viger watching her from afar once again, but when she notices him he disappears into smoke, which is pretty cool. And then she’s approached by Fyordin once again. Tierney asks him what he wants, and he apologizes for making her feel like she no longer belonged. He tells her she’s powerful, and asks her to stay in their Asrai division. Tierney tells him that despite her Western upbringing, the Wyvernguard has her fealty, and so do the Asrai, no matter what. However, so does Trystan Gardner. Fyordin is stubbornly assured that the Gardnerians have no place in the Eastern Realm. Tierney levels with him and tells him about how she and her varied group of friends back at the University were able to accomplish so much. But only with each of the unique strengths they brought to the table, including the Gardnerians. She tells him that he has no idea what’s coming for them.
  • Needing to be away from Fyordin, and away from Viger’s distant gaze, she dives back into the Vo, down to the bottom. Just as she’s about to let herself dissipate and become part of the water, she senses the darkness, the shadows, leaking into the waters of the Vo from one of its tributaries. Tierney promises the Vo that she’ll protect it from the Gardnerians and not let them poison the waters of her river.
  • Still in the sixth month, narration returns to Thierren Stone. Having decided that the only thing that made his life worth living was trying to atone for the horrific things he’d been a part of, Thierren agreed to help Sparrow and Effrey. He spent pretty much all his savings on getting them false work papers for Valgard, so just as soon as he can get his tracking rune off, he’ll take them East, join the army in the Eastern Realm, and fight the Gardnerians that way.
  • Working to earn Sparrow’s trust wasn’t easy. He got into the habit of handing her his wand every time they met, so that she’d be armed with her knife and have the source of his power. It didn’t really shift the dynamic between them, but it helped ease things a bit.
  • Now Thierren is facing his new commander, Lukas Grey, and tells him he’ll do whatever it takes to earn his freedom. Lukas clears the room and says that the reason he took Thierren into his division when nobody else wanted him was because he was unapologetically against what the Gardnerians are doing. Thierran is confused, but then Lukas takes the tracking rune off of him and says that he wants Thierran’s help to bring down Marcus Vogel. 
  • Narration shifts again to Yvan Guryev, hidden away at the Oonlon Military Base in the East. Working with Vang Troi and the other Vu Trin, he exercises his fire power, but cannot help but dwell on missing Elloren.
  • All of the sudden, when Yvan has exhausted his powers, he sees a creepy bird with an extra eye and senses that it’s Vogel, spying on him with rune magic. Before he can do anything, one of the Vu Trin breaks from the rest and attacks him. Yvan realizes, too late, that it must be a glamoured mage, but he doesn’t have any power to fight back, so the vine spears impale him. As his world fades to black and he realizes this is the end, he wants Elloren to be strong without him and fight back against the Gardnerians.

Part 2:

  • In the sixth month, narration is back with Elloren. As Elloren is whisked away in a fine carriage toward her fastmate Lukas, all she can think of is Yvan. When she arrives at the military base where Lukas is currently assigned, she is brought to his tent. She waits in the background while he takes care of all of his military business, then finally he asks her what she wants. Still hating him for fasting to her against her will, but knowing she needs his help, she says she is ready to take her palace with him. Lukas dismisses her, and Elloren thinks that this is it. She’s failed. Lukas won’t take her in. But Thierran, Lukas’s right hand man, tracks her down and says that she’s to travel to the Grey estate in Valgard to await Lukas as he finishes up some business. She’s shown her belongings and sets off again, relieved that Lukas hasn’t actually turned her away.
  • Elloren is brought to the Grey estate, home to Lukas’s parents, and right away she is brought in to meet with Lukas’s mother. Who knows everything, how she fought Lukas at the fasting, how she was found in bed with a Kelt, how she doesn’t wish to be fasted to her son. Mage Evelyn Grey despises Elloren, her feelings that she will never be good enough for her perfect son. She demands that Elloren go to the Victory Ball in Valgard tonight.
  • Evelyn Grey assigns two Urisk, Sparrow and Effrey, to be Elloren’s lady’s maids. Elloren soon recognizes them as the two assistants from the dress shop all those months ago in Valgard. Little Effrey almost knocks over an expensive vase, and Mage Grey threatens to have them beaten, which sickens Elloren.
  • Elloren gets shown to her room, where she is able to stash her luggage away safely, including the White Wand. While in the room, Effrey actually knocks over a vase, one that Elloren hated anyway. Elloren immediately claims responsibility for having broken it, but matters are only worse when Effrey gets down to clean it up and cuts their hand. Elloren immediately wraps it up and asks Sparrow to go to the housekeeper and ask for some apothecary supplies, telling her to say it’s for herself, since she broke the vase. There is a moment of solidarity between Elloren and Sparrow, which strengthens when Elloren notes that Effrey needs glasses, and that’s why they’re so clumsy. This makes Sparrow panic, but Elloren won’t sell Effrey out.
  • Dressed in a dress in flagrant violation of all Gardnerian dress code that Evelyn Grey sent for her, Elloren goes to the ball accompanied by Sparrow. Since Elloren helped Effrey, Sparrow tells her what she knows: that Evelyn Grey will do whatever it takes to break Elloren’s fast with Lukas. The only way a male Gardnerian can have their fastlines removed so they can fast to someone new is if their fastmate dies. And nobody wants Elloren dead more than Fallon Bane, who is furious that Lukas fasted to Elloren. Sparrow warns Elloren that Fallon Bane was at the estate earlier, seemingly conspiring with Evelyn Grey.
  • Armed with a tiny splinter of wood under her fingernail, hoping in desperation that she can use that to defend herself if desperately needed (without setting all of Valgard aflame), Sparrow and Elloren plan to find a place to hunker down in the Council Hall and wait for Lukas to arrive to keep her safe from Fallon Bane.
  • In a hall full of military mages, Elloren knows that to reveal her power, even in self-defense, would be putting herself in Vogel’s power, so she drops her little splinter wand. Sparrow and Elloren settle in to wait, but it isn’t long until Fallon Bane finds her anyway, dismissing Sparrow. Fallon tries to bait Elloren, saying that she and Lukas are together now, that Lukas has given up on her. Fallon has her wand against Elloren’s throat when Sparrow runs back into the room, momentarily distracting Fallon so that Elloren can punch her in the face and run away.
  • Fallon gives chase furiously, determined to kill Elloren, despite the audience in the ballroom. But Elloren doesn’t have fancy shoes on, and Fallon makes the floor icy, intending to trip Elloren but really slowing herself down enough that Elloren manages to escape, out into the garden and away from the crowd.
  • Thinking she’s finally safe enough to wait for Lukas, she finds she isn’t alone. Damion Bane has found her, a threat even worse than his sister. Damion stalks Elloren, telling her that he was about to fast to her that day when Lukas stepped in and stopped it. Lukas saved her from the terrible fate of being fasted to Damon, Elloren realizes, but then Damon is on her, binding her with magic and choking her, saying that Lukas doesn’t care what happens to her, that he’s going to break her himself like he broke his fastmate, who Elloren finds is her dear friend Aislinn. 
  • Before he can really hurt her, Lukas arrives and beats the daylights out of Damion, nearly killing him until Lukas’s father arrives and stops him. Lachlan Grey says that he should have let Damion have her, that she’s a disgrace to Gardnerians and that Lukas should beat some sense into her. Lukas simply says that if Damion Bane touches Elloren again, he’ll kill him. 
  • Once everyone else leaves, Lukas takes Elloren back inside. Sparrow has been sent safely home and the Banes are gone, the brothers to the physician and Fallon herself to the military base for questioning, as everyone in the hall saw her attacking Elloren with wand magic.
  • Lukas takes Elloren somewhere they can talk alone. Elloren needs to ascertain whose side Lukas is really on, because he’s against Vogel, but Elloren needs to know whether he’s against Gardneria as well, since he’s still so firmly entrenched in their military. It’s not safe to tell him who she is and what she can do until she knows. But he saved her life. Damion Bane would have fasted to Elloren, taken her home and raped her, had Lukas not stepped in. Like he probably did to Aislinn, which sickens Elloren to her core.
  • Lukas gives Elloren his word that he’ll protect her, because they are friends, and Elloren is grateful, but still holds back in telling him where she’s been and what she can do. Lukas has to go join Vogel for his address, and Elloren goes back to the hall with everyone else to wait.
  • When Vogel is speaking, Elloren realizes that he has the Shadow Wand. She also is filled with firm resolve to save Aislinn, Sparrow, Effrey, everyone who is still trapped in Gardneria still and needs to get east. Vogel’s big Victory Day announcement is that his spies have found and killed Yvan Guryev, the Icaral of the prophecy.
  • Elloren knows if she stays in the hall she’ll burn it all to the ground, so she runs out, away from everyone, as she sobs and rages and grieves at the news of Yvan’s death. Her true love. Lukas finds her out there and asks to know who else besides him and Vyvian know that Yvan was the Kelt she was found in bed with. She says she doesn’t know, she can’t think, she just has to get out of there. Lukas holds her as she cries over Yvan and their love that could never truly be, and now never will. Lukas can feel that her power has grown simply by the skin-to-skin contact, and he wants Elloren to tell him the truth, but she can’t yet. 
  • Lukas gets them his family’s carriage back to Grey estate, the two of them riding together. Suddenly they’re under attack, Lukas just managing to get a shield up around them before sharp throwing stars are hurled at Elloren. The Kin Hoang have found her. Lukas fights back with his fire, but the assassin is already running, having failed her mission. Lukas and Elloren try to pursue, but she gets away through a portal before they can take her down. The carriage is destroyed and the driver and horses are dead in the crossfire. Lukas and Elloren have to flag down another carriage to take them back to Valgard. 
  • Back in the relative safety of Valgard, Lukas tells the soldiers at the garrison his version of the story, that the Kin Hoang are after him, but before she escaped the assassin swore vengeance on his fastmate as well, which is why Elloren needs a strong guard. One is appointed to her and she and Lukas are bundled into a new carriage and once again head in the direction of the Grey estate.
  • Lukas demands to know why the Kin Hoang are after her. Elloren hedges, still unwilling to tell Lukas her secret until he says the words she needs to hear, that he is against the Gardnerians completely, and she knows he won’t try to use her power for the Gardnerian military. He asks her about the rune stone she was given by Chi Nam, which she’s shocked to find he picked off of her at some point. Lukas tells Elloren that he and Chi Nam are well acquainted and have been playing cat and mouse war games for years now. 
  • To put Lukas off about her powers, she tells Lukas that Chi Nam has sent her to find the weapon that killed the Lupines, which is true. Elloren thinks that it’s Vogel’s Shadow Wand, and Lukas confirms that the Shadow Wand is the most powerful wand he’s ever encountered and he’s pretty sure it played a part in the slaughter of the Lupines. 
  • Elloren asks Lukas straight up if he’s aligned with Vogel or the Gardnerians in ANY WAY. Lukas says no, he’s not aligned with either of them. In fact, he’s been trying to work out the runes protecting Vogel so he can kill him, and he’s been recruiting powerful mages to go and work for the Vu Trin for the eventual overthrow of the Gardnerian military.
  • Finally convinced Lukas is on the right side, Elloren admits her power has been growing, and Lukas asks her to show him through her kiss, which is the only way he could read her before. Elloren tells him that she’s got more power than her grandmother and kisses him. That connection, their lines perfectly mirrored in each other, overwhelms her as usual when she kisses him. Before they can stop kissing their carriage arrives and the door opens to show none other than Marcus Vogel, a young priest, and a large contingent of Level Five mages. The young priest turns out to be Lukas’s brother Silvern.
  • Vogel tells Lukas he’s just triggered a war between the Gardnerians and the Vu Trin. Lukas tells his version of the story, once again, and says that the Kn Hoang assassin was probably looking for Chi Nam’s rune stone. Vogel says that they just captured a large group of the Kin Hoang, who seemed to be trying to break into Lukas’s estate, and an army of the Vu Trin is forming in the Eastern Pass. Vogel wants to know what the Vu Trin could possibly be looking for.
  • Lukas realizes that Elloren must be the Black Witch, but he tells Vogel he has no idea why the Vu Trin are after him. Vogel tells Lukas he needs to come back to Valgard with him. Lukas arranges for her guard and then asks Elloren, in a whisper, how much power she can access. She tells him all of it, then makes her swear to tell no one.
  • Alone in her room, all Elloren can think about is escape. She and Lukas both need to get out of the Western Realm, along with their allies. The sudden urge to keep the White Wand close overwhelms her, so she wraps it up tight so it doesn’t touch her skin and puts it back in her boot.
  • Lukas and his father arrive home, and Elloren is able to crack the door open and spy on their conversation. Lukas lies smoothly to his father about why the Vu Trin might be so angry at him. But then Lukas says that he has one month to assassinate Chi Nam, for real, or else he’ll be permanently stripped of his rank and assigned to Damion Bane.
  • Lachlan tells Lukas that Elloren is trouble, but Lukas assures him that their fasting is a good thing, that good, strong Mage babies will come from their union. Lukas says that Vogel is insisting upon a sealing ceremony the next night, which he will preside over. Lachlan demands to know the truth of why he let Elloren go after their fasting without sealing the union. Lukas tells him that he was busy with work, and that he was considering whether or not to dispose of Elloren. The two have a further discussion about how Lukas will need to assert control over Elloren and their future children.
  • Sickened, Elloren goes back to her room and locks the door, hoping to take a moment to figure out what, if anything, that Lukas just said was true.
  • Lukas easily unlocks the door and Elloren levels her wooden hairbrush and brandishes it at Lukas, telling him that she heard everything and that if any of it was true she’d fight him. Lukas promises none of it was true except for the fact that Vogel insisted on the sealing ceremony. Lukas asks Elloren to tell him everything that’s happened, and she fills him in on her time with the Vu Trin in the desert and the insane power she possesses. 
  • Lukas confirms that they need to get out of there, but they’re under heavy guard from the Gardnerians. Their only chance to escape will be after the Sealing Ceremony, when the couple goes off into the wild for the Blessing of Dominion. But they will have to go through with the Sealing. Elloren tells him about her White Wand, that she believes that it can stand a chance against Vogel’s horrific Shadow Wand. Elloren insists that Sparrow and Effrey also escape East with them, along with Aislinn Greer, saying she won’t leave them behind in Gardneria. Lukas agrees, mostly because he already intended on taking the Urisk lady’s maids, and also because taking Aislinn would not only save her from a horrible life with Damion, but also because it will draw Damion to Lukas and give Lukas a chance to kill him.
  • Elloren is very nervous about being intimate with Lukas for the Sealing. There is obvious attraction between the two of them, but Elloren can’t help feeling that her first time being with a man should be with someone she loves and who loves her in return. That it should have been with Yvan. This hurts Lukas, she can tell, but she can’t take it back.

Part 3:

  • It is the sixth month, and narration is back with Sparrow. Lukas gives Sparrow and Thierren the news that Elloren is actually the Black Witch, and he asks for their help in smuggling the two of them, along with themselves, out of the Western Realm as soon as possible. Sparrow considers the implications of this, and Thierren seems to be of the same mind. They’ll do it: they’ll all head East tomorrow morning.
  • Sparrow goes about her daily tasks in the Grey household, thoughts consumed by their impending escape. She is approached in the linen closet by Silvern Grey, Lukas’s priest brother. Silvern comes on to her, aggressively, threatening to get her sent back to the Fae Island if she so much as tries to fight back. He’s about to rape her when Evelyn Grey finds them and dismisses her son. Then she tells Sparrow that she should dress more conservatively, put her hair in a cap, and do her chores earlier to avoid being caught by the men in the house. She needs to stop tempting them.
  • Sparrow tells Thierren about what happened with Silvern, and Thierren is so enraged, he wants to kill him. Sparrow can barely look at Thierren, he looks so much like all those hated mages who have taken advantage of Urisk like her for her whole life. Thierren is still raging, saying that he can’t treat her like that, and Sparrow explodes, saying that of course he can, they all can, and it’s a miracle that she hasn’t been repeatedly raped. Thierren seems to realize that he really cannot imagine the life or experiences of Urisk women like Sparrow. Sparrow gathers herself and says that they have to make it east so they can join the Vu Trin and come back with them to fight the Magedom and liberate the Fae Islands.
  • Still in the sixth month, narration shifts to Elloren. Sparrow is helping her prepare for the Sealing Ceremony, doing her hair. Elloren asks Sparrow if Lukas told her the plan, and Sparrow confirms it, saying she also knows that Elloren is the Black Witch. 
  • Suddenly the door opens and in strides Aunt Vyvian. She dismisses Sparrow and takes over doing Elloren’s hair. Vyvian makes it clear that she thinks Elloren is the worst of all the race traitors, even worse than her brothers and her uncle. Then she tells Elloren that Edwin was once in love with an Urisk woman and gave her all of his money to travel East to safety. Elloren didn’t know this, but so much about her uncle now makes sense. Vyvian makes it clear that Elloren is to do exactly as Lukas and his family command her, and that she will have children as soon as possible, because one of them will be the next Black Witch. She finishes off by saying that they have a pretty good idea where Elloren’s brothers are, and if she fights Lukas in any way, Vyvian will make sure that they are tracked down and killed in the most brutal way. Then she leaves.
  • Sparrow re-enters and starts working on Elloren again. Elloren tells her that Vyvian killed her uncle. Sparrow tells her that the Magedom will destroy everyone she loves unless she survives to fight them. Elloren tells Sparrow to stop her work and sit and have tea with her. Sparrow does, and the two of them talk about Elloren having to seal the fasting, and Sparrow asks if there is someone else she wishes she could be with. Elloren says yes, but he’s dead. Elloren asks how Sparrow is treated here with the Banes, and Sparrow says Lukas is good to her, but that his parents are cruel, and then she confesses what Silvern tried to do to her earlier. Elloren asks Sparrow to tell her the whole story, how she came to be here rather than the assistant in the dress shop. Sparrow hesitates, but then tells Elloren the whole ugly, sad story.
  • Later in the evening, Elloren is dressed by the dressmaker and her aunt in her green Sealing Ceremony outfit. When the dressmaker leaves, Vyvian tells Elloren that as her only female relative, she is supposed to have a talk with Elloren about what the evening will entail, because as an unfasted woman she is not privy to the secrets of being with a man. But Vyvian says she will not be doing that, because she wants Lukas to surprise her in the worst way and for her to be bound and beaten into submission. Then she is the first to tell Elloren the traditional phrase of sealing “Sanguin’in”, which means “bloody the sheets”.
  • Elloren is overcome once again by grief for Yvan, how all of this should be with him. But she steels herself, knowing that she can’t fall apart with grief if she’s going to survive.
  • The time nears for the ceremony, and Elloren goes into her sitting room to wait, where she sees Sparrow and Thierren in close conversation, clearly much more closely acquainted than she was led to believe. Before she can say anything, an Ishkart assassin drops from the ceiling into their room. The assassin grabs Elloren and almost kills her, Thierren and Effrey unable to do anything despite their efforts, but then Raz’zor the dragon leaps onto the assassin from the rafters, distracting the assassin enough to get away. With Raz’zor’s help, Thierren is able to kill the assassin. Elloren comes to a few stunning truths: that there is an unbroken dragon in her room and that Effrey must be male, because only male Urisk have geomancy powers like he just displayed. 
  • Just as Elloren is recovering, Raz’zor leaps for her neck this time, and Effrey jumps forward to stop him just in time. As Effrey and Raz’zor communicate, Elloren realizes that Effrey is the even more rare type of Urisk male who can mindlink to dragons. Effrey tells Elloren that Raz’zor knows she is the Black Witch, and that the trees tell him that she is an evil power that must be destroyed. Elloren says that she isn’t a threat to the trees, and that she is a friend to Wyvernkin. Raz’zor escapes Effrey’s hold and sinks his teeth into Elloren’s shoulder, and then Effrey tells them that Raz’zor confirms that not only is she an ally, she is bonded to Wyvernkin, with Wyvernfire in her mage lines. Raz’zor says that he will not kill Elloren, but that he wants to know the truth, so they mindlink together, forehead to forehead. 
  • Effrey translates, saying that Raz’zor sees that she helped save Naga the Unbroken, but that he sees that Elloren is mate bonded to a Wyvernkin, but he is angry that she is about to be bound to another. Elloren lashes out, saying that she doesn’t want to, but her Wyvern mate is dead and she has no choice. Everyone in the room realizes that it must have been Yvan Guryev, the dead love she references. Raz’zor is sympathetic, but will not pledge fealty. After some thought, Elloren asks Raz’zor if he will, in fact, pledge fealty to her, promising him that if she ever gets control of her power and escapes those trying to do her harm, she will use her vast power to fight for all unbroken Wyvernkin. Raz’zor agrees, and the two of them form a blood bond of fealty, and now Elloren can speak mind-to-mind with Raz’zor as well. And with that, it’s time for Elloren’s Sealing Ceremony.
  • Aunt Vyvian leads Elloren to the altar where Lukas and Vogel are waiting. Lukas and Elloren join their hands together and Vogel begins the ceremony. It starts with Lukas showing his dominion over every element: fire, wind, water, light, and finally earth. The traditional way to show dominion over earth is by destroying a little tree. The small tree is brought out, and it recognizes Elloren as a Dryad and speaks to her mind. She finds that when Lukas destroys this small tree it destroys a little part of her too. Vogel speaks the final words and presses his wand to Elloren and Lukas’s joined hands. 
  • Elloren is suddenly overcome by the power of Vogel’s Shadow Wand. It invades her lines and she and Lukas brace against it, she is sure she’s about to be overcome. But then suddenly the power is gone, leaving Elloren with the crippling ability to sense the mage lines of every single guest at the ceremony.  She can also see that the mage lines of the four mages that guard Vogel flow directly into his wand, giving Vogel direct access to their power. Vogel can sense the power in Elloren, and demands that Lukas bring her to him tomorrow morning for wand testing, even though Lukas says he’s already tested her many times.
  • Lukas and Elloren kiss, and the ceremony is over. Lukas uses Elloren’s power to cast a shield around her lines, protecting her from the now overwhelming sense of power within her, and from Vogel’s probing. The two of them head into the reception, where there is dancing and food. “Well wishers” come up to them in the receiving line, many are Lukas’s military comrades, who make euphemistic jokes that fully exclude Elloren, as she has not been let into exactly how things will go on her sealing night. Elloren is really uncomfortable and just wants to leave, so the two of them sneak off. Elloren tells Lukas that she can sense everyone’s power, everyone’s lines now. Lukas says that Vogel was probably trying to take her power, but when he couldn’t he just left her lines wide open to the reception of everyone else’s power.
  • The two of them are finally able to fully excuse themselves from the reception and go to the Sealing Chamber, aka Lukas’s bedroom. But not before Lukas notices that there is a ridiculous amount of military power gathered. Dragons, battalions, so many Level Five mages. Vogel says it’s to protect not only them from the Vu Trin, but most of the Mage Council is there as well, and they need protection. Still seems like overkill to Lukas, but they shake it off and go on their way, feeling like Vogel knows exactly what Elloren is capable of and unwilling to let her get away.
  • Back in Lukas’s bedroom, away from the guards at last, Lukas surprises Elloren once again by using a rune wand to form a rune barrier around the room. They can now talk freely and it has the added benefit of blocking Elloren’s perception of the guard’s mage lines. They discuss their escape the next morning and how much tougher it’s going to be now that the suspect Vogel knows what Elloren is. Elloren also tells Lukas she wants to stay sealed with him once they go to Noi lands, and even though the sexist fasting spell allows Lukas to be with whoever he wants while locking Elloren to Lukas alone, Lukas tells her he doesn’t want to be with anyone else, only her.
  • Elloren is nervous about being so intimate with Lukas, but Lukas assures her he doesn’t believe in aggression when it comes to sex, that he’d never force himself on anyone. Elloren says again that she hates all the jokes and the “sanguin’in” talk, saying that she feels like the target of the jokes, but she’s not allowed to be in on them. Lukas assures her that none of this is a joke to him, and that once she’s got control of her power she can come back and blast a hole through anyone who ever said “sanguin’in” to her.
  • To help relax her, Lukas got some illegal wine, per Elloren’s request, and they drink the fancy tree wine that Lukas brought, Elloren enjoying it very much because it’s so woodsy. Elloren asks Lukas if he’s been with many women, and he tells her he’s been with a few Vu Trin sorceresses of a similar rank who expressed a mutual interest in him. Sex isn’t such a rigid, traditional thing with the Eastern cultures, so though he’s experienced, he didn’t go ruining anyone’s life by taking their virginity without being sealed to them. This relaxes Elloren, and they drink more wine and then start to get into it. He gives Elloren some Sanjire root, which prevents pregnancy. They talk about Elloren’s time in Cyme with the Amaz, and how she made friends with Valasca Xanthrir. Lukas is a patient, thorough lover, making Elloren’s first time enjoyable and using Ellusian oil (aka ye olde lube) to make sure she isn’t hurt, and they certainly don’t “bloody the sheets”. But by the end of it, though it was very enjoyable, Elloren feels Lukas pulling away somehow.
  • Elloren wakes up in the morning to find Lukas already dressed and ready. She gets caught up in feelings of shame and regret, regret that she’ll never get to do this with Yvan, and shame that she’s naked and uncomfortable. Lukas comes over and tells her that he plans on courting her properly once they’ve made it to safety, and that she isn’t alone. She’s grateful to him trying to make her feel better, and they have a tender moment before Lukas once again helps her weave a solid shield over her mage lines to protect against Vogel.
  • The two of them go down to the Sealing Breakfast, everything that was green for last night’s ceremony now awash in red to symbolize the bloody sheets in crass Gardnerian tradition. Elloren is uncomfortably aware that everyone in that room is staring at the new lines on their wrists that confirm what they did last night. They approach the table with Vogel and the rest of the Mage Council, and Vogel makes her so angry that a tendril of her fire magic breaks through Lukas’s careful barrier, just enough for Vogel to pick up on it. He tells Lukas once again that he’s to bring Elloren to him after the Blessing of Dominion for wand testing, and Lukas agrees. Vogel also tells them he has a small guard to send with them into the forest, which is completely against tradition, but Vogel insists. 
  • Elloren and Lukas head into the forest with their guard, and they are forced to implement the contingency plan they came up with just before the breakfast. Lukas makes a show of forcing himself on Elloren as she pleads for him to stop, knowing full well that the guards will turn away so that Lukas can do whatever he pleases with her. Using her kiss as a way to pull her power, Lukas is able to cast a blazingly fast spell, using vines to impale every single guard before they can so much as raise their wands. However, one does utter a loud death rattle, so they know their time is short. Grabbing the supplies they stashed behind the tree, they make a run for it.
  • Just as it looks like there are too many guards and their head start wasn’t good enough, a blue explosion rocks the garden where the majority of the guards, including the Mage Council and Vogel, are. After they recover, Elloren and Lukas look back to see that the Vu Trin are attacking the survivors of the blast, along with a contingent of sapphire blue Noi dragons. Elloren realizes that this means everyone is dead: Vogel, Vyvian, most of the Mage Council, Lukas’s entire family. Lukas just shakes his head and says that they got the diversion they needed, so they’ve got to keep moving. But they don’t move quick enough to see gray magic clearly and methodically taking down all the Vu Trin. It’s Vogel, having somehow survived. He kills every last Vu Trin, every last Noi dragon, and then he sends a blast of searching power toward them. Lukas tackles Elloren to the ground, mouth to mouth, throwing every bit of power he has into the shield, entirely suppressing all of her magic. It’s enough, because Vogel’s power passes over them and continues on.
  • Lukas and Elloren continue to run through the wilds until they find Thierren, who has three horses saddled and ready as well as a change of clothes for Elloren. Lukas tells Thierren what happened at the estate, then puts an extra shield on Elloren to keep the Vu Trin from tracking her as well. The three of them ride a distance to an abandoned guard tower to find Sparrow, Effrey, and Raz’zor waiting for them, along with Aislinn.
  • Aislinn and Elloren have a brief but emotional reunion, Aislinn clearly the victim of prolonged abuse at the hands of Damion Bane. She tells Elloren that she is going to join the new Lupine pack in the East. Elloren is overjoyed that she’s going to get to be with Jarod again, but Aislinn is quick to say that Jarod will never want her now, that Damion made her do terrible, vile things, holding over her the threat of doing them to her serving girl instead, who is only twelve years old. So Aislinn is going to have Jarod turn her into a Lupine and then she is going to come back and take care of Damion Bane herself.
  • Elloren and Lukas have to go, they will be separating from the others so as to travel faster. Thierren will be going with the women and Effrey to protect them as they travel, and Elloren sends Raz’zor to go with them, even though he wants to stay with her. But she convinces the little dragon that the other group needs his protection more, so he agrees, saying he’ll find her in Noi lands.
  • Elloren and Lukas ride hard to the east, stopping only occasionally to give the horses some rest and to kiss for a moment to help renew Elloren’s shield. They get to a section of the forest that feels particularly ancient, and those ancient trees clearly hate Elloren. Lukas can feel it too, but assures her that the trees are like Level One mages: all power, no access. Once they make it to a thinner part of the forest, a storm brews in and they have to stop for the night. Lukas builds them a little shelter using his earth magic. Lukas doesn’t think that Vogel will be able to find them where they are, but his magic is clearly demonic and growing beyond what should be possible.
  • Elloren can’t help but start to panic, that Vogel will catch her, that this war is her fault, that everyone she loves in the East will be destroyed by the Gardnerians. Lukas tells her that she needs to keep control of herself and keep calm, her panic is causing her magic to flare and try to break through the shields. Lukas helps calm her down for now, and assures her that he will teach her everything she needs to know to protect herself and control her magic. The two of them share a tender moment and then Elloren asks for the Sanjire root, and the two of them share a night of passion while on the run.
  • Elloren wakes up the next morning to find that the trees have managed to take action against her, pulling her mage lines in all the wrong directions so they can’t flow into her wand hand, something they shouldn’t be able to do. Just when she’s trying to come to terms with that, a blast of Vogel magic hits her, letting her know that Vogel knows she’s alive and knows what direction they’re traveling in. The two of them get on their horses and continue East as fast as possible, Lukas telling Elloren that he knows of a Noi portal that they can use to get further East.
  • Soon Elloren realizes that they’re not alone. Luckily, the two riders they encounter are none other than Chi Nam and Valasca. Lukas had called out to Chi Nam using the rune stone, and he’s relieved to have the two powerful sorceresses join them. Valasca tells them that the Amaz sent her to kill Elloren. But she and Chi Nam are of a similar mind that it’s better to keep her alive for now.
  • As the four of them ride toward the portal, Chi Nam tells them from the Vu Trin perspective what happened the day before. The Vu Trin forces were able to take out the Mage Council hall in Valgard as well as a few other military bases before their forces were struck down by the mage guard. Most of the Council, including Lukas’s family, is dead, Vogel the main survivor. He has taken sole control of the government, sent out a draft to all male Gardnerians, and declared war on Noilaan. 
  • Elloren asks if Kam and Ni Vin, as well as Chim Diec, the other sorceresses that defended her life in the desert, are okay. Valasca says they were fine, not even disciplined because they were simply following Chi Nam’s orders. Chi Nam has a warrant out for her arrest however. Elloren tells them that the weapon that took out the Lupines was Vogel’s Shadow Wand, which the sorceresses already figured out. They believe it is the mythical counterforce to Elloren’s White Wand.
  • The group reaches the portal, which takes about an hour to charge up and be ready to go. In the meantime, Valasca tells Elloren that she’s going to put a glamour on her to disguise her as an Elfhollen maiden, because she’ll be far less recognizable and there is a lot of sympathy in the East for the Elfhollen. The powerful, one of a kind glamour belonged to Ra’Ven Za’Nor, Sage Gaffney’s love and the father of her baby. Once the glamour is in place, Chi Nam puts a Noi language rune on her as well, so now she can speak and understand any of the major languages in both Realms. Chi Nam also strengthens the anti-tracking shield that is already on Elloren, hoping to keep both the Vu Trin and Vogel from tracking her easily.
  • Lukas and Chi Nam go off to patrol the perimeter while they wait for the portal to charge, leaving Valasca and Elloren to chat. Valasca tells Elloren her theory that the reason all of the prophecies, the ones from each land, paint her in a bad light as the Black Witch is because the prophecies all come from trees, and the trees have made it very clear that they are biased against her. Then Valasca asks about her and Lukas’s relationship. Elloren confirms that they are very good friends now and lovers both. Valasca tells Elloren how sorry she is to have heard about Yvan. But then she tells Elloren that every single one of them fighting in this war are going to lose things precious to them, but that they do it so that others don’t suffer the same fate. Valasca is putting the fates of all of her people, every woman and child in the Amaz, on Elloren’s shoulders, that her power is the only thing that can save them. Elloren understands what this means and is filled with determination to master her power.
  • Chi Nam and Lukas return just as Elloren’s demonic rune starts to tingle, and without any warning a giant scorpio monster bursts out of the trees, attacking them. It’s covered in runes, including a deflection rune, and eyes, so many horrifying eyes. Lukas and Valasca manage to fight it off, but Elloren can feel Vogel’s shadow power in her lines, even after the creature is dead. She’s filled with panic, sure that Vogel is going to enslave her magic. Lukas tells her that she has to get it together, that it’s just a thrall, it’s not real, but Elloren can’t escape her wild panic. So Lukas, Valasca, and Chi Nam blast her with their magic, telling her she needs to fight back against their thrall. Fear and panic turning to rage, Elloren fights them off with a deafening blow. Elloren whips out her wand and points it at Lukas’s throat, telling him to never attack her again, that she could destroy him right here. Lukas says that she could, which is why she should stop acting weak. Elloren comes down from her anger and tells them that they need to train her like a warrior, she needs to be combat ready. Lukas agrees.
  • The four of them consider the creature that just attacked them, which was generally shaped like a desert scorpio, but warped with Vogel’s shadow rune magic. As the portal becomes almost fully charged, a whole swarm of the horrific scorpios, all as warped and cursed as the first, burst into the clearing, ready to attack. There are too many to fight off, but the warriors do their best, Elloren’s only weapon a pile of sharp rocks that she throws to distract them. Each beast has a large, pale green eye that Elloren realizes is a Vogel eye, and once again his panic-inducing thrall comes over her. But this time she’s ready for it: thinking of all those in the East she loves and is sworn to protect, she blasts her magic power out, destroying Vogel’s thrall over her. 
  • Finally, the portal is ready, but the scorpios are still coming. One attacks Lukas, blood spraying, as Elloren is prevented from trying to help him by Valasca throwing her bodily through the portal.

Part 4:

  • Elloren tumbles through the portal, followed by Chi Nam, Valasca, and finally Lukas, who has a horrible gash from the scorpio across his chest. Chi Nam uses rune magic to seal the wound, but his power continues to drain, so Elloren kisses him and floods him with her magic, almost to the point where he’s Magedrunk. But her magic along with Chi Nam’s saves Lukas’s life. Elloren tells everyone that one of the scorpios was marked with Vogel’s eye.
  • They’ve arrived in the Agolith Desert, at Chi Nam’s Vonor, which is a Lo Voi sanctuary created by the crone to practice her sorcery. It is incredibly isolated, with military level protections, not to mention surrounded by desert storms from all sides, difficult if not impossible to get to, even if you knew where it was. Even still, it’s too close to Gardneria for comfort, and Chi Nam immediately starts charging it again to bring them even further east, but the charging process will take around four weeks so that all of them can get through it.
  • Though they are all eager to get to Noi lands, this environment provides a great area for Elloren to train with her magic: it’s remote, and Elloren can learn to guard herself against wraith bats, which feed on fear.
  • Valasca comes in from the perimeter with a large snake for them to eat for dinner. She also gives Lukas her flask of tirag, to help with the pain as he takes the evening to recover from his wounds. Valasca serves up the cooked snake, which Elloren actually really likes. Lukas gets a bit drunk off the tirag, letting himself be more open and vulnerable, particularly with PDA and flirting. After dinner Chi Nam takes them inside the Vonor proper, which has multiple rooms separated by curtains. Elloren elects to share a room with Lukas, but puts her bedroll on the opposite side of the room. Lukas tells her that he’s never wanted anything in his life as much as he wants her. She says that he has her, they’re fasted. But Lukas confirms what Elloren feels in her heart when he says that no, he doesn’t. Elloren thinks about how she can only give Lukas a tiny piece of her heart, when the rest of it is shattered over the loss of Yvan.
  • The next morning the group goes out to the desert to start Elloren’s wand training. Lukas wants to control the power through Elloren’s wand, but he wants her to use her own power and cast the candle lighting spell. Remembering the last time she tried this, Elloren forces Chi Nam, Valasca, and Lukas behind a shield for protection, even though right now she doesn’t have a real wand, it’s just a tree branch in the shape of one. But when she casts the spell, rather than pushing fire out, her fire is lit within her and were she not protected with Yvan’s Wyvernfire, it would have burnt her alive. It turns out the trees spent weeks mapping out her lines, waiting for the perfect moment to turn her own power against her. Now Elloren can’t train in wand magic, she has to wait until they can get east and get her to sorcerers that will be able to untangle her lines and break the hold the trees have on her.
  • For now, they’ll train Elloren in runic weaponry instead. Valasca gives her a knife and tells her to throw it at a nearby target. Despite never having used a weapon before, Elloren senses the White Wand powering up, and she’s able to throw the knife with perfect precision and accuracy. They test it a bunch, and even with Lukas holding the Wand, Elloren has been given this gift by the Wand of perfect aim. Next they throw rune sorcery back into the mix. Lukas and Valasca spar with their rune weapons, Valasca besting Lukas each time. Then Valasca and Lukas try to double team Chi Nam, but she takes them down without a hair out of place.
  • Valasca gives Elloren the Ash’rion blade, the most powerful runic weapon the Amaz people possess. It’s complex, but preloaded with spells, so all she needs to do is press the runes in the right combination to attack and defend. Elloren says it should be easy, since she can get a sense of what kind of magic is charging before the user casts. This is unusual, apparently, and Chi Nam tells Elloren that she’s magically empathetic. 
  • The group decides on training Elloren in righting with rune weaponry, as well as honing her Wand-gifted skills with the blades themselves. Elloren asks Valasca to train her like an Amaz warrior, which is going to be rough, but Elloren finally feels like she’s ready to begin.

Part 5:

  • It is the sixth month, and narration is with Wynter Eirllyn in the Amaz city of Cyme. The Gardnerians and the Noi have just declared war on each other. Wynter is going to meet with Queen Alkaia due to a mystery summons. The women and children of the Amaz all fear the war that will soon be at their doorstep, because the Amazkaran are the only ones left in the Western Realms not allied with the Gardnerians and Alfsigr. 
  • Wynter is brought before the queen only to find another Alfsigr, a young girl, already there. Wynter recognizes the girl, Sylmire Talonir, from her time living in Alfsigroth. The girl is only about thirteen, and it’s clear she traveled a long way on her own.
  • Sylmire pleads protection from the Alfsigrs with the Amaz, because her own people will kill her if they find her. The queen asks why this is, and Sylmire tells them it’s because she escaped Alfsigroth with the Zalyn’or, before it was fused to her. The Zalyn’or necklace is fused into the skin of every Alfsigr Elf when they are thirteen. It is said to imprint them with knowledge of the Alfsigr religion and traditions. What Sylmire tells them is that she’s discovered it is actually used for mind control. Not only does it control every Alfsigr to be of one mind of their traditions and culture, it tamps down on emotion and all feelings of sexual attraction. She also tells Wynter that her brother Cael and Rhys have been captured by the Alfsigr and will be shunned and cast down into the sublands with the Smaragdalfar, where they will likely be killed for being Alfsigr.
  • Wynter and the other Alfsigr in the room, Ysilldir, are shocked by this. Both have the Zalyn’or within them, but they were able to be strong enough to escape. Sylmire says that only the strongest of the Alfsigr are able to keep even a fraction of their minds once the Zalyn’or has hold. And when Sylmire challenges Wynter and Ysilldir on things they have only ever thought in their own minds, they know it to be true. Wynter has hated herself for being born Icaral, has wanted nothing more than to be a true and pious Elf, free of her evil wings. But little Pyrgo, the Gardnerian Icaral that was saved by Elloren and Yvan, comes into the room and is proud of her wings and her fire, and Wynter looks at the little girl and wants that for herself.
  • Queen Alkaia says that she believes Sylmire’s story, but that all of the powerful sorceresses of the Amaz have tried to lyft Ysilldir’s Zalyn’or, but have been unable to. Sylmire says that only an Alfsigr rune sorcerer can lift the Zalyn’or, and that the Amaz should seek the help of her cousin Rivyr’el Talonir, who is male. The Amaz refuse, because to work with a male goes against everything the Amaz stand for. Alkaia offers Sylmire refuge, but says that she will have her own sorceresses work with renewed energy on figuring out how to do this themselves, so that they can free all the women of sunland Elfinkin.
  • After the meeting is over Wynter goes to talk with her friend Ysilldir about what they have just found out about themselves. They both wish to be free of the Zalyn’or, though even thinking that is difficult. Wynter remembers how her brother Cael and his friend Rhys were both so rebellious that they were given the Zalyn’or when they were only eleven years old, and that it tamped down their anger and rebellious actions, though they never gave up their love for Wynter, despite the fact that they were told she is an evil Icaral. And even before Wynter was given her Zalyn’or, she was always withdrawn due to the hatred of her kind in Alfsigroth, but she had moments of contentment and peace. It wasn’t until she had the Zalyn’or fused into her that she truly believed she was an evil, demonic creature. 
  • Ysilldir wonders if they would be able to experience romantic attraction without their Zalyn’or, because Ysilldir has another Amaz woman, a Smaragdalfar Elf named Tamalyyn, who is deeply in love with her and convinced that they belong together, but Ysilldir is unable to feel that desire. Wynter wonders if she could have returned Ariel’s love were it not for her Zalyn’or. Ysilldir and Wynter decide that they are going to find Rivyr’el, against the wishes of the Amaz, because he can free them from the Zalyn’or.
  • It is the sixth month, in Alfsigroth, and the narrator is Rhysindor Thorim. Rhys and Cael have been imprisoned by the Alfsigr for weeks, and now the time has come for them to be formally shunned and cast out of Alfsigroth, cast down to the sublands to be imprisoned with the Smaragdalfar. Rhys sees two Alfsigr doves, and worries that they might be messengers, bringing the image of himself and Cael being tortured back to Wynter, his beloved, though he’s never told her how he feels. But not even the Zalyn’or has been able to suppress his feelings for his best friend’s sister. 
  • The monarch and a priestess come and remove Cael and Rhys’s Zalyn’or necklaces from within their bodies. Rhys is lit up for the first time in years with an emotion long suppressed by the Zalyn’or: rage. Cael calls out the Alfsigr for what they do to control their people, but the priestess simply opens up the ground and casts them down to the sublands, inside the mountain. Where they are immediately apprehended by Smaragdalfar, weapons pointed at their heads.
  • It is the sixth month, narration is back with Vothendrile Xanthile. Vothe and Trystan Gardner have been summoned before their leader, Ung Li, who tells them that Elloren has been found to be the Black Witch. This is a complete shock to Trystan and Vothe. Ung Li tells them that Elloren was most likely killed in the attack of the Western Vu Trin against the Mage Council. But on the slim chance she’s alive, she is likely trying to make her way east. Ung Li tells Trystan that he is to bring Elloren straight to the Wyvernguard “for protection” if she seeks him out. Trystan says he will do so, which Vothe knows is a lie. Vothe is resolved that if the Black Witch still lives, she won’t for long, because he’ll take her out himself.
  • It is the sixth month, narration is with Tierney Calix. Tierney has just found out that Elloren is the Black Witch, and though the notices throughout the Wyvernguard say that they are looking for Elloren to protect her, she knows that Elloren will be killed without mercy if they find her. The Death Fae Viger feels Tierney’s fear for Elloren, and asks why she would be afraid for the Black Witch. Tierney is unsure whether she can trust Viger, but he senses what she’s about to do anyway: send her Kelpies out to look for Elloren. Tierney tells Viger that Elloren is not what they think she is, that she wants to fight the Gardnerians and bring balance to Earthia. Viger says he will not reveal what Tierney is going to do. Before she can send them off, the Kelpies tell Tierney that something unnatural is here, desert scorpios in the forests of the Eastern Realm, far from where they should be.

Part 6:

  • In the sixth month, Elloren is the narrator. It’s the same afternoon as the last time we saw Elloren in part 4, having just learned about her ability to have perfect aim and use runic weapons. Valasca gets her set up right away with a large Noi runic text to start memorizing the runes and their combinations. Only light mages or runic sorcerers can charge the runes, but anyone who knows the spells can use the rune charged weapons. Mages like Elloren and Lukas can also amplify the charged ruins with their affinity power. Elloren finds that the finger combinations are made easier due to her years of training with the violin.
  • That evening Elloren gets her first glimpse of the wraith bats, huge monsters in the shape of a bat but the size of a panther. Lukas tells her that they’re drawn to her fear. He tells Elloren she has no reason to fear them, that she could take them all down with just the power she learned today. It doesn’t really relieve her fear, so Lukas goes out and shows her, dealing with them himself. Elloren steals herself to be strong like Lukas.
  • Elloren and Lukas go in to bed together, taking their bedrolls far into the cave system of the Vonor for some privacy. Elloren takes the last of the Sanjire root, so this is to be their last coupling until they are able to restock in Noi lands. Elloren is finally able to realize some of what she’s been holding back, her love for Lukas finally able to come through her hurt from Yvan.
  • The next morning everything changes. Elloren is woken by a bucket of freezing water thrown over her, Lukas and Valasca coldly telling her this is the true beginning of her warrior training, that she asked to be trained like the Amaz apprentices are. They force her, naked, to the underwater river below and make her dunk. Valasca then draws runes all over her body, runes that will draw on her affinities to power up the runes on the blades she’ll be using, along with weapon-retrieval runes for her hands, so she can call back thrown weapons with a press of her palms. Elloren tries and mostly fails not to be upset at the way they’re treating her, even though she asked for it.
  • Three weeks go by as Elloren continues her training in the Amaz style. Every morning she dunks in the cold water to reign in her reactions to discomfort. She is pushed hard by Lukas and Valasca morning, noon, and night, throwing stars, blades, any weapons they have, and after that studying until the rune spells and patterns on the blades are second nature. And still Elloren must fight the resentment for how they’re treating her, especially Lukas, even though she knows it’s all to help her.
  • On day twenty she’s finally alone with Lukas for the first time since they were last in bed together, and she loses her grip, turning on Lukas, venting to him that she feels like she’s nothing but a weapon to him now. They kiss and Lukas finally admits it, says the words that he loves her, but that they cannot coddle her if she wants to survive, that her chances of surviving Vogel are very slim and he’s doing everything he can to give her that best chance she has. Elloren understands, and things are back to how they were, trainee and master, the distance between them firmly in place, but the resentment gone on Elloren’s part.
  • Valasca, Lukas, and Chi Nam also train Elloren on her Elfhollen identity, Ny’laea Shizoryn. They train her until she knows her whole backstory, speaks comfortably in Elfhollen with her translation rune, and answers to her new name.
  • On day thirty six at the Vonor, Elloren faces off against Valasca and Lukas together in mock combat, never having bested them before. But today she’s mastered the rune combinations on her blade, and is able to take them both down. A few nights later is their last night at the Vonor, the next day the portal will be ready and the four of them will head to Noi Lands. Elloren prepares to face the wraith bats, feeling strong. But instead of facing the wraith bats she ends up flirting with Lukas, the two of them allowing their passion to seep through their forced barriers. They talk about what it’ll be like when they get to Noi Lands, and Elloren says she doesn’t want to be separated from him, ever, and Lukas says that he wants to be with her always.
  • But trouble has finally found them. One of the wraith bats is a Vogel monster, with too many eyes, and before they can so much as call out, Chi Nam’s military-grade shield around the Vonor just flickers to nothing. Gardnerian military dragons are approaching fast, Vogel having found them at last. The portal isn’t quite ready, and when it is only one will be able to go through, maybe two. Elloren says she won’t go unless everyone can, but Lukas tells her that she needs to go to Kam Vin and tell her that Vogel can take down military shields, that everyone in the East is at risk, the Amaz too, nobody safe from the  Gardnerian military power. Valasca makes Elloren promise to find Ni Vin, and tell her that Valasca loves her. Elloren doesn’t want to go, can’t let them sacrifice themselves for her. But Lukas makes her believe she is a warrior, she can do this without them. Elloren finally says the words, she loves Lukas, though her love for Yvan is not lost, she just loves them both.
  • They’re out of time, Vogel is here, demanding that they give him his Black Witch. Vogel tries to send his thrall over Elloren and it’s working, she’s powerless, but then her White Wand tries to rise up to fight it. But Vogel is too strong, and she can’t move. But that’s all they need, the portal is charged for one. Lukas moves and throws Elloren, then Valasca, in through the portal, and the last thing she sees is Chi Nam and Lukas being enveloped by black magefire.
  • Elloren crashes through the other end of the portal, in the Dyoi Forest right where she’s supposed to be. The portal disappears, leaving her alone, her calls for Lukas, Chi Nam, and Valasca in vain. She’s entirely alone. Elloren wants to break down, it wasn’t supposed to be like this, everyone from the Vonor that meant so much to her gone in an instant: Chi Nam, Valasca. Lukas. 
  • The Dyoi forest is beautiful, but just as viciously against her as the Western forests were, knowing her as the Black Witch despite her glamour, working against her. Elloren hears a cry in the distance along with a sound she knows all too well: the desert scorpio, not native to this area.
  • Elloren runs and finds a family, part Gardnerian and part Urisk, being attacked by three of Vogel’s horrible scorpios. Rage overshadows her grief and she’s able to take all of them down, on her own, stabbing the last one through Vogel’s horrible green eye, feeling the slightest bit of relief at getting to attack a representation of the person who just killed all her friends and her fastmate. 
  • The family seems a bit frightened of her, but grateful, and Elloren introduces herself with her disguised identity, Ny’laea Shizoryn. The family is all sick with the Red Grippe. Elloren says that if they help her find her way, she’ll protect them. The Watchers arrive, and Elloren trusts that this means she was meant to find this family, meant to help them.
  • All of the sudden, Elloren feels flushed with a familiar fire she thought gone forever. Yvan’s Wyvernfire. She hears his voice in her mind calling her name.

End of Book 3

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