|Rath and Storm|
|Author(s)||Peter Archer (editor)|
|First printing||July 1998|
Rath and Storm was the first novel in the Weatherlight Saga. It was published in July 1998 and is an anthology containing stories from various writers. It was edited by Peter Archer. It is currently out of print.
- 1 Description
- 2 Plot
- 2.1 A Dark Room
- 2.2 I: Weatherlight
- 2.3 II: Tempest
- 2.4 III: Stronghold
- 2.5 IV: Exodus
- 3 References
Rath and Storm was originally billed as Weatherlight Cycle book I, which would be followed by Mercadian Masques as book II. However, later Wizards of the Coast decided to pull Rath and Storm out of the cycle, which was then renamed to the Masquerade Cycle.
A collection of powerful magical artifacts is the only defense against the forces of evil that are arrayed against Dominaria. Gerrard, the heir to the Legacy, together with Sisay, captain of the flying ship Weatherlight, has sought out many parts of the Legacy.
Sisay has been kidnapped by Volrath, ruler of the plane of Rath. Gerrard stands at a crossroads. His companion is in danger, the Legacy may be lost forever. Only he—with the loyal crew of the Weatherlight—can rescue Sisay and recover the Legacy.
A Dark Room
A young boy named Ilcaster surprises an old wizard, known simply as a master, in a library at night. After being admonished, Ilcaster tells the Master that he was worried the storm raging outside might destroy the library, as another master had told them had happened to a similar library once. The Master calms his fears, saying that the soul of the library is contained within the memories of those who tell its stories.
As the storm intensifies, the Master enlists Ilcaster's help in sorting a part of the archives that are out of order, and doing so Ilcaster happens upon a diagram of the Weatherlight. The Master proceeds to give a basic retelling of Gerrard Capashen's life up until his abandoning the Weatherlight, frequently being annoyed at interruptions from Ilcaster while he listens and sorts papers:
Gerrard was brought up alongside his adoptive brother Vuel by Sidar Kondo. Starke of Rath arrived and convinced the arrogant Vuel that Gerrard intended to steal his birthright, later sabotaging his rite of passage to become sidar. Vuel absconded with the Legacy, and tricked Karn into killing a bystander during their confrontation, deactivating him with the Touchstone while he was distracted.
Gerrard left his warclan, eventually coming to learn magic under the maro-sorcerer Multani. During this time he met his close friends Mirri and Rofellos. Learning of the threat to Gerrard's safety posed by Vuel, the trio were sent away from the caves in which they lived. Upon their return, Multani was gone, his fate uncertain.[notes 1]
Arriving at the site of Gerrard's upbringing, the friends found the warclan's encampment destroyed, and Sidar Kondo dead. The group traveled, making a living as hired fighters. They met Sisay at a seedy tavern, in which she won a knife-throwing contest, splitting the knife with which Gerrard had hit the bullseye in half with her own, and recruited the companions as crew on the Weatherlight as payment for a bet. Once aboard, Sisay revealed her mission to seek the scattered Legacy artifacts to the new crewmates. The Master gives a short overview of the crew members: the minotaur first mate Tahngarth, the Argivian artificer and navigator Hanna, the Samite healer Orim, the nobleman Crovax, and the goblin cabin hand Squee.
Receiving a message from Crovax's estate, under attack by the horrors Gallowbraid and Morinfen, the ship arrived in Urborg to help. When Rofellos was slain by Gallowbraid, Crovax used his cursed heirloom to summon the guardian angel Selenia, who turned the tide of the battle. After the monsters were defeated, Gerrard, with Mirri in tow, left the crew of the Weatherlight, blaming the quest for his Legacy for the death of Rofellos. His beloved Hanna felt betrayed while Tahngarth felt vindicated in his presumption of Gerrard's character.
Gerrard traveled to Benalia and became a master-at-arms in the infantry, while Mirri traveled to Llanowar to inform Rofellos' kin of his death. Meanwhile, Sisay discovered the Thran Tome, from which she learned that the Weatherlight itself was a part of the Legacy and able to shift between planes of existence, and of the plane Rath. She also recovered Karn and placed his inanimate body in the hold of the ship.
Starke then reappeared, informing her that Vuel had left Dominaria for Rath, become ruler and changed his name to Volrath, and was planning Gerrard's destruction. The Master reveals that Starke had also corrupted Crovax in order to make him rejoin the Weatherlight, manipulating him into freeing Selenia, who was immediately snatched away by a planar portal, by playing on his unrequited love for her. Finally, in order to lure Gerrard to Rath and free his daughter Takara, he betrayed Sisay to Volrath then begged the remaining crew to find Gerrard and rescue him.
"Gerrard's Tale" (Michael Ryan)
Gerrard, now a master-at-arms in Benalia, enters the training yard in the morning and sees two boys, Torsten and Javero, sparring. Javero cries out for help, about to be killed by the other boy. Gerrard breaks up the fight by threatening and ultimately shooting Torsten in the leg with a longbow. Javero attempts to resume the fight but is commanded by Gerrard to stand down. He protests, saying that Torsten and several others had spoken with an albino named Lord Kastan who has been recruiting Benalish trainees for an assassins' guild. Torsten threatens that Lord Kastan will sew open Javero's eyes before killing him, before being dishonorably discharged by Gerrard.
Gerrard escorts Javero to his office where he scolds the boy for not reporting the matter of the assassins to himself or his Commander, Alaric. Javero also confesses that he had been approached by a mercenary band and is considering joining in order to go on adventures, at which Gerrard expresses disapproval. The boy recalls when Gerrard fired a beam of light from an artifact now in his office as a demonstration of martial skill on his group's first day of training, asking him what type of adventure he got it. Gerrard laughs and explains that the artifact is the Null Rod and doesn't do anything other than looking flashy. His humor fades when Javero asks him about his hourglass pendant, the only remnant of his time of the Weatherlight.
Gerrard tells Javero that there's more than enough adventure in serving the Benalish army, and when the boy contradicts him, he warns him of the losses he suffered on his own prior "adventures." Javero asks to be dismissed from the army and is allowed to leave after giving Gerrard the names of those approached by Lord Kastan.
Upon speaking to Commander Alaric, whom he believes knows the identity of the traitor informing Lord Kastan, he is offered wine, which he refuses, and told that the Weatherlight arrived that morning to look for him. Alaric claims Gerrard abandoned the Weatherlight when the situation became difficult, and now must choose between his obligation to his present and his past.
Gerrard walks the city streets, furious at the memory of Sisay keeping information about his past from him until Rofellos' death and sanctimoniously trying to persuade him to follow his destiny. Arriving back at the training yard, he meets Tahngarth, who informs him of Sisay's kidnapping at Volrath's hands, and becomes angry over having been tricked by her into seeking the Legacy, which he abandoned for bringing death to his warclan, for it's "financial value." Tahngarth explains that though Rofellos died for Gerrard's having sought the Legacy, Sisay will die if he now refuses to. He also mentions Hanna, which mollifies Gerrard.
That evening, upon arriving in his quarters in the dark, Gerrard is surprised by Torsten who lights a lantern and threatens to sew his former master's eyes open as he did to Javero, whose head he holds in his other hand. The two fight, the boy trying to kill Gerrard with a poisoned dagger but fumbling and accidentally wounding himself. Torsten makes a last-ditch attempt to kill Gerrard but uses the Null Rod, remembering it from the demonstration on his first day. Gerrard taunts him for his choice of "weapon" but agrees to stay with him until he expires, asking him to let him know Lord Kastan's whereabouts first.
In his own quarters, Commander Alaric dines with Lord Kastan, remarking that Gerrard was too distracted about the matter of the Weatherlight to drink the poisoned wine he had offered him earlier. Alaric, fearful of a civil war in Benalia if the truth gets out, is reassured by Kastan that the boy sent to dispatch Gerrard would succeed, before being startled by Gerrard revealing himself from the shadows, having heard the entire conversation. Gerrard feigns willingness to be bribed into silence but proposes a toast with the poisoned Vesuvan wine. When Alaric moves to fight, Tahngarth enters the room, and Gerrard informs him that the knights from whom he feared a civil war against the corrupt officers will be arriving shortly. Alaric, at his former friend Gerrard's suggestion, decides to kill himself with the wine to save his reputation.
Aboard the Weatherlight, Gerrard is introduced to old and new crewmates and appoints Tahngarth first mate, at which he remarks he was briefly captain before recruiting Gerrard to save Sisay. Finally, Gerrard regards Hanna and shares a tender moment with her before they regain their composure. Gerrard says that Hanna knows where a wizard can be found to escort them to Rath. Hanna asks Gerrard why he came back if he doesn't care about the Legacy, and he answers that he returned to help his friends save Sisay. With Hanna joking that Benalia made Gerrard an adult, and Gerrard leaving his hourglass pendant behind, they set off for Tolaria.
A Dark Room
The Master, after contemplating his old age, notices that Ilcaster seems to not be afraid of the storm anymore. This prompts him to think about the nature of stories. Ilcaster asks whether the crew had an easy time finding Tolaria, and the Master answers that they did not and resumes the story:
Before going to Tolaria, the Weatherlight had to travel to Llanowar to recruit Mirri. While underway to the forest, Gerrard found the Thran Tome, from which he learned a spell that could counteract the effects of the Touchstone. Later he stumbled upon Karn, whom he revived. Karn then took his vow of pacifism, even at his own and Gerrard's expense. Ilcaster decides that it was a foolish thing to do.
"Tahngarth's Tale" (Hannovi Braddock)
Tahngarth recounts his birth in the Talruum labyrinths to the Three Beads Clan and his mother's advice to pursue learning under the goddess Kindeya (as opposed to judgment under the god Torahn) and to leave justice to the omniscient gods. Despite this, he believes judgment was in the nature of his clan, and eventually, war broke out in Talruum. He mentions this to impress his strong sense of justice and his harsh first impressions of Gerrard.
Tahngarth urges that they depart to rescue Sisay, while Gerrard reminds him that Mirri would be the best magic-user to encode the Thran crystal responsible for planeshifting the Weatherlight for Rath. Gerrard finds a spot to land, but upon circling closer sees what appears to be a funeral mound. Tahngarth notices that it seems to move. While descending, he spots a Llanowar elf on horseback who fires a lit arrow at the mound, which rises up and reveals itself to be an aboroth.
The monster pursues the Weatherlight, almost catching its sails when it is stopped by elvish war machines. Tahngarth explains the nature of aboroths to Gerrard, saying he learned this from Rofellos, in the manner of friends speaking. This bristles Gerrard and escalates to him nearly drawing his sword.
Tahngarth turns away and sees Orim, whom he escorts to the bridge to speak at her request. On the way he speaks coldly of Gerrard to Hanna. Tahngarth claims that by abandoning the Weatherlight, Gerrard dishonored the death of Rofellos and "resists what must be." Orim tells him to contemplate his own words.
Upon landing, Gerrard, along with Tahngarth and Hanna, venture into the forest to find Mirri. They are spotted by a hidden elvish sentinel and surrounded, but soon Mirri appears from the canopy to greet them. She explains that an aboroth is ripening near the village in which she has lived since returning from Urborg, and the elves are unable to build war machines to fight it. An agreement is made that the crew will wait for two days, aid the elves in fighting the monster, then depart for Rath with Mirri. Tahngarth protests greatly but is vetoed by Gerrard.
A battle plan is proposed by Mirri to keep the aboroth busy away from the village, but she also asks Gerrard if any of the Legacy artifacts would be useful against it. Tahngarth realizes that Gerrard misled him in saying that Mirri would set the Thran crystal and is furious, wishing he had gone to save Sisay without either of them. Orim asks if he has considered his words as she said.
While preparing for the confrontation, Tahngarth notices Karn, at Gerrard and Hanna's instructions, carrying the Thran forge abovedeck for Gerrard to lash to the ship. He also notices him wearing an amulet that he later realizes was the Touchstone.
With the aboroth awakening, Gerrard tells Tahngarth to disregard Mirri's plan and instead to circle in behind the aboroth so he may drop onto its head, then retreat at the count of ten. Tahngarth is incredulous at the idea but obeys. He reminds the reader of his judgmental nature and of Orim's words, then tells how Gerrard turned the aboroth into a metal with the Thran forge and then deactivated it with the Touchstone, repeating the process until the monster shrank to nothing.
Tahngarth realizes that as the heir to the Legacy, only Gerrard may have known how to use its pieces together like that, and realizes that Orim meant it was himself who "resists what must be" in denying him to the crew. Tahngarth begrudgingly admits to Orim that the Weatherlight needs Gerrard, saying "He resists what must be. But what will be, will be." On that note, the ship departs Llanowar.
A Dark Room
The storm continues to rage outside, yet neither Ilcaster nor the Master seems to be aware.
The Master resumes the story, explaining that before leaving for Rath the crew had to find a wizard to manipulate the Thran crystal, pointing it out on a plan of the ship found by Ilcaster. He says the crew was to approach Hanna's father Barrin for help at Tolaria, despite their estrangement due to disagreement over the superiority of artifice over spellcraft. Ilcaster finds this terribly sad. He wonders where Tolaria is, and the Master tells him that it won't be found on any map, mentioning the dangers and alluding to a disaster that is said to have taken place there. With Hanna agreeing to guide the Weatherlight to the island, Ilcaster asks whether Barrin joined the crew, and the Master says that things turned out differently than they expected.
"Ertai's Tale" (Hannovi Braddock)
Ertai tells of his usual meetings with his teacher Barrin, where he is typically commended for his "tremendous native ability." He is surprised however when the subject of his current meeting turns to his difficulty relating to other students, denying that he is a braggart for simply telling the truth.
Barrin instructs him that he must improve his only shortcoming before officially confirming him as a wizard adept and informing him of an opportunity to serve on the crew of the Weatherlight with the visiting Gerrard, Hanna, and Mirri. Ertai agrees to join the crew, excited at the prospect of spreading his reputation beyond Tolaria. Barrin begins to explain why he won't go at his daughter's insistence but is convinced not to by Ertai, who secretly doesn't care regardless. Barrin dismisses Ertai, reminding him to check his "honesty." On his way out of the tower, Ertai delivers himself the missing usual line about his native ability in a mirror.
At dinner with the three visitors, Ertai sits silently as Barrin introduces him, not pointing out the inferiority of his new crewmates' accomplishments compared to his own. After Ertai proposes they allow him a year to practice the magic to open a portal to Rath without the Thran crystal, Barrin interrupts to insist that the crew takes him. Hanna agrees given he passes a test.
On top of a hill, Ertai is quizzed on a few artifacts brought by Hanna. He remains convinced that they are a crutch for lesser wizards. Ertai casts a few spells to demonstrate, using Abeyance to prevent Hanna from using a Chimeric Sphere, shooting off a Cone of Flame, creating an Aether Flash in the sky, and summoning his familiar. Suddenly a Fog Elemental attacks from the mists surrounding the hill, which Ertai defeats by piloting the Chimeric Sphere with a Mind Stone, but destroying it to Hanna's dismay.
Back at his office, Barrin warns Ertai to make a favorable impression on the crew lest he risks being dismissed. Ertai regards this "curious" idea as a product of Barrin's old age but agrees.
Aboard the ship, Ertai converses with Tahngarth about the construction of the ship, commenting that he ought to scar his body as Hurloon minotaurs do even though it is a great taboo to worshippers of Torahn; he "organizes" Orim's medicines by throwing those away that he thought to be useless; he asks Squee if his eelskin pouch was the right color to be goblin skin. He closes his story remarking that first impressions seem to be another skill in which he has a tremendous native ability.
A Dark Room
He also explains how they picked up Starke to guide them through Rath, as well as how he was posed to profit by freeing himself and his daughter no matter which side prevailed. Gerrard, Mirri, and Tahngarth rescued Starke from Maraxus, who had been sent by Volrath to hold him captive, but are surrounded by his warriors in a canyon. Starke threw himself before Maraxus, claiming he had led his enemies into a trap. The Weatherlight appeared and landed, crushing many of the warlord's armies and scattering the rest. Maraxus, fearful of Volrath's punishment for losing Starke, battled Gerrard but was stabbed in the back by Starke. The dishonorable victory angered Gerrard, but the ship was at last ready to depart for Rath.
A Dark Room
After lightning destroys an old oak tree and the Master commands Ilcaster to bar the door so they won't be disturbed by those they hear crying in another part of the tower, he explains the nature of the artificial plane of Rath. Showing Ilcaster The Book of Rath, he tells him about flowstone, one of the most dangerous perils the crew would encounter. Finally, he tells how after crossing over the sea to above a forest, they were ambushed by the Predator, under the command of Greven il-Vec.
"Greven's Tale" (Philip Athans)
Vhati il-Dal is held by his hair by Commander Greven il-Vec. He curses him, holding back fearful crying when Greven scolds him for his ambition. After telling his master that he will die for his failure rather than his treachery, he is thrown off the side of the Predator. While falling, he catches a glimpse of Selenia flying by, who seems to reach out to save him. He sees her smiling and realizes she is mocking him, then is impaled through the front landing on a tree, quickly dying. Greven angrily notes how Vhati had obviously waited for the Legacy to be hauled aboard the Predator to fire at his commander.
He recalls his near-victory before Gerrard being snatched away by Vhati firing a mogg from a cannon at him but missing, giving his opponent a chance to retaliate. The duel is interrupted by another mogg fired from the Predator piercing one of the Weatherlight's stabilizers, causing the ship to tailspin. Greven and Gerrard continue their fight, but another mogg shot makes the ship lurch, sending Gerrard over the side and denying Greven his victory.
Greven orders his forces to retreat in order to return to the Stronghold and report Gerrard's death and the Legacy's capture to Volrath. He feels a painful tingle from his mimetic spine, indicating displeasure from his master. He spares no time and leaps off the Weatherlight, grabbing hold of the Predator and pulling himself aboard.
Greven recalls boarding the Weatherlight and seeing the silver golem Karn seemingly allowing himself to be overrun and carried away, along with Vhati harpooning the other ship, and sizing up his intent to betray him before leaving him behind to watch the Predator. He also remembers his mimetic spine being manipulated by Ertai as he attempted to magically resist the Weatherlight being pulled in by the larger ship. It was around then that he also was fully certain that Vhati intended to mutiny, and he notes that his first mate was uncharacteristically brave in waiting for his return.
A Dark Room
Ilcaster bemoans Gerrard's death, but is reprimanded by the Master for his assumption. In his frustration with the boy, he accidentally catches his robe on fire from a candle.
The Master tells Ilcaster that, unseen to many except for Hanna, Tahngarth grabbed a rope and stowed away on the Predator as it flew away. The Weatherlight, meanwhile, crashed in the Shyshroud forest. Hanna set the crew to their repairs while Orim tended to the wounded.
"Hanna's Tale" (Miranda Horner)
Hanna, while Mirri and Crovax are looking for Gerrard's body, informs the two that they will have to land and repair the Weatherlight, and also that the moggs broke the Thran crystal during their attack, stranding them on Rath. Ertai smugly interjects that he was correct about the unreliability of basing plans on the use of artifacts, an argument that Hanna well remembers from Barrin himself. Once he has departed to assist Orim, and Hanna has been unexpectedly consoled by Mirri, she tells the crew to prepare for a landing shortly and thinks to herself that Mirri has changed since their last missions together.
Hanna arrives at the bridge, bumping into Squee on the way. She instructs Ertai to relay the crewman Terrance's signals to her and explains to Ertai that the Weatherlight's controls seem to change their function occasionally. While landing the ship with Ertai's assistance, she recalls her time with Gerrard and how at first she blamed herself for his deserting the Weatherlight when their true feelings were almost known to each other. She also muses on the nature of the Legacy and the Weatherlight itself, noting how often she would feel almost guided by a self-aware hand when discovering a control's function. She keeps these thoughts to herself, however.
After landing the ship in the Skyshroud forest, Hanna accompanies Mirri in searching for Gerrard, against her protests. Orim also notices Crovax display unusual strength freeing Terrance from a fallen branch but is unable to speak to Hanna about it. Struggling to keep pace with Mirri, Hanna notes that the forest floor is entirely roots and water. Hanna sadly admits that Gerrard must be dead after his fall, but Mirri advises her not to make assumptions.
Hanna recalls Mirri once saying to Gerrard that she trusts no one but him, but focuses again on the present when Mirri pauses, alert for beings they both can feel watching them. After a brief moment of personal exchange, they are attacked by a shapeshifter several hundred yards further. The creature shapes itself as a blend of both their forms before Mirri instructs Hanna to fall back. Now taking the guise of Mirri, it begins to gain the upper hand until Hanna tricks it into taking on her less agile characteristics by entering its field of vision again. It stumbles, but then reaches an equilibrium between the two forms. The shapeshifter slices Mirri's leg, but she executes an impressive combat roll to land on her feet and counterattack. The creature is able to incapacitate her, however. Hanna then performs a kicking move she had practiced after seeing Mirri perform it in the past. She disarms the monster and slices it open, causing it to transform into a hideous part-bug form before being completely killed by Hanna. Mirri wakes up and gives thanks to Hanna for saving her life, saying that they should practice sparring together at some later time.
Further on, Mirri finds a scrap of clothing from Gerrard and notes signs of a fight. They find a healing spring along the path and shortly after are surrounded by elves. They allow themselves to be captured and taken back to their village.
While waiting to be interrogated, Hanna learns that Mirri could not understand her poor relationship with her father, given her own orphaning. Hanna tells her how she believed that Barrin saw her as a tool to discover great sorcery together and that the last time they spoke before recently was when he forbade her to go to the Argivian University.
Suddenly Gerrard, Eladamri, and the Oracle en-Vec enter the room. The Oracle explains how she met him at the prophesied time and place of the Korvecdal's arrival. Eladamri decides that the time has come for the elves to attack the Stronghold, frees the captive women, and calls off the offensive on the Weatherlight.
Gerrard and Hanna share a long kiss, and Mirri interrupts to brief Gerrard on what has happened since he fell overboard. Gerrard explains that he was caught by Selenia but wrested free of her grasp before being brought to Volrath, hitting the water and hiding until Selenia left. Upon emerging he was attacked by Rootwater merfolk before stumbling upon a procession of en-Vec on a pilgrimage through the Skyshroud forest, as well as meeting the Oracle. Gerrard decides to use his position as the Korvecdal to their advantage if able, saying that he is not concerned with being their Uniter.
A Dark Room
Ilcaster expresses joy at Gerrard's survival, saying that he loves a "happy ending." The Master scolds him for his presumption of both happiness and the ending.
The Master tells how Gerrard and company arrived just in time to stop the elvish attack on the Weatherlight, and were invited back to the village for the council by Eladamri. It was there they learned of an abandoned planar portal to an unknown destination, and that Starke was busy scheming, fearing that the Oracle would discover he was an il-Vec.
"Starke's Tale" (Jennifer Clarke Wilkes)
Starke expresses doubt to Gerrard about the feasibility of attacking the Stronghold and the problem of escaping Rath with a damaged Thran crystal. Eladamri interjects to tell the two about an abandoned portal that legend says leads to another plane, but warns them that no one knows if it is a better place than Rath. He also reminds him that they will be backed up by his forces, and suggests the Weatherlight enters through a back passage. Starke balks at the idea of penetrating the Stronghold through the Furnace of Rath, but Gerrard welcomes the danger.
As the war council wears into the night, Starke wonders about Takara's safety. He notices the Oracle looking at him and internally scoffs at the idea of trying to resist Volrath, shuddering when he thinks of whom he serves.
Starke recalls his mission to groom Vuel into a man fit to be evincar of Rath twelve years prior. He was cast into a desert in Jamuraa by Phyrexians and given the prophecy of Vuel that "Rath shall be his Legacy." He was rescued from dying of thirst by a goatherd named Jumok, and weeks later learned that Vuel was the son of Sidar Kondo and adoptive brother of Gerrard.
Back in the present, Gerrard decides to investigate the portal, which Starke protests, not wanting to tarry in saving their comrades. Later, Starke approaches the Oracle in her tent. She does not seem to recognize him as she did during the council, but offers him the advice "trading in hearts earns a poor profit." Starke is taken aback and denies that she knows anything about his duplicity, but she persists. He inches closer to her, intending to kill her and frame merfolk for the deed when he is struck by her words: "disaster my drive up a price in the short term, but success means continuing prosperity." The Oracle's guards arrive (unaware of his intent) and Starke takes his leave, wondering when he had lost his touch in opportunism.
Returning to the past, Starke devised a plan to deprive Vuel of his inheritance by poisoning the ritual body paint with which the young man would be covered. Claiming the overly trusting villagers would not survive five minutes on his homeworld, he got to work, recalling a similar "commission" from an il-Kor client. He bemoaned Aniyeh's[notes 2] interference in the past scheme.
Once again in the present, Starke grows more exasperated with Gerrard's delay in order to scout out the portal.
Quickly returning to the morning of Vuel's rite of passage, Starke noticed the intimacy shared by the young man and Gerrard and the matching scars on the back of their hands.
When Vuel began to falter ascending the cliff, due to the effects of the poison, Starke smiled inwardly, but soon panicked as he began to fall. Luckily he caught himself 200 feet off the ground. While Kondo wept, Starke saw Gerrard, having scaled the cliff somehow, save Vuel from falling to his death, and ruining his rite of passage, to the dismay of the crowd. On the ground, Vuel angrily told Gerrard he should've left him to die, then slashed the back of his hand and walked away.
Meanwhile, at the portal, it is decided that Ertai will remain to decipher the runes carved on its surface. Gerrard asks Starke to tell him everything he knows about the Stronghold.
Back in the past, Starke found Vuel at night taking shelter in a hollow near a stream. Initially resolved to die alone in the wilderness, he was gently persuaded to open up by Starke, who told him of his powerful "friends" who might be of help to him. When Starke told him that he was from Rath, Vuel recalled a wise woman telling him that "Rath [would] be [his] legacy." He had assumed she meant a great conflict (wrath). Starke convinced him to punish Gerrard for ruining his rite of passage and Kondo for adopting him, giving Vuel the Touchstone.
In the present, Starke tells Gerrard that he is unfamiliar with the dangers of the Furnace, but has heard of the slivers, and that they become more fearsome as their numbers grow. Gerrard notes their similarity to the Legacy.
In the past, Starke accompanied Vuel in his journey of revenge. The Legacy was stolen from Karn and the pieces not of immediate use were sold to raise funds for soldiers. Vuel razed the warclans to the ground, assaulted the cave in which he had heard Gerrard was hiding, and finally confronted and murdered Sidar Kondo. Furious at Gerrard's eluding him, he accused Starke of lying about the power promised to him. Starke told him that he has only taken the first step, and used an artifact to transport Vuel to an unknown location for his "audience." Starke stayed behind.
Again in the present, after passing over the Cinder Marsh, the Weatherlight enters the Furnace of Rath through an inactive chimney. Shortly after putting the crew on battle alert, the slivers burst through the walls of the cave to attack the Weatherlight. After several waves of different slivers, each making the others stronger, board the ship, Starke is saved from one by Crovax and flees. Hanna theorizes that the metallic ones control the others, but quickly is proven wrong when she disintegrates two with a magical armband to no effect on the rest. Gerrard initially tells the crew to fight together, but after Hanna notices that the creatures' shared strength has limited proximity, they separate and are able to overcome the assailants. When Starke emerges from below deck, he fearfully informs Gerrard and Hanna upon seeing a metallic sliver that Volrath's power is greater than he suspected.
In the past, Starke destroyed the artifact he had used to transport Vuel and fled the scene, intent on escaping his masters by crossing the sea. He felt guilt at leaving Takara behind with her maternal uncle in Khorin but knew that he could not afford his overlords to learn of her existence.
A month later, while staying at a filthy inn at a port town, he was tricked into being summoned to Rath by a young boy delivering a magic letter. Upon a throne, Vuel (now Volrath) told Starke that he knew of his part in stealing his destiny to lead the warclan. He also charged him with collecting the Legacy for his "friends," beginning a new cycle of enslavement, being used as Volrath's chamberlain and whipping boy. It was here that he became familiar with the Stronghold. He resigned himself to his fate and was anguished when Volrath found Takara and imprisoned her in his dungeons.
Returning to the present for the final time, Starke fears his treachery to Sisay being discovered and realizes that Volrath would know from the slivers where the Weatherlight is. He dreads his punishment should his masters take issue with Volrath becoming more ambitious than they had planned, but has skeptical hope that Gerrard and his cohorts may be able to oppose Volrath and even his masters. Understanding that he may pay for his turning against Phyrexia with his daughter's life, he makes his decision, which is left unknown to the reader.
A Dark Room
Ilcaster wonders what Ertai was up to while the others were away, and the Master explains that after receiving Orim's help translating the runes, he was contacted by Lyna. The Master explains that the Soltari, Dauthi, and Thalakos were pulled through that same portal, and that the two former continue to wage war upon the Field of Souls.
Apparently, Lyna and Ertai struck a bargain: she would help him open the portal, and in return, he would allow her and her people to pass through it. Ilcaster notes that the Master speaks of Ertai uncertainly, to which the Master says that he will come to that detail in time.
The Master shows Ilcaster a partial diagram of the Stronghold created by Orim, detailing the vast scale of the structure and stating that even Volrath would not have been capable of building it. Answering a question from the boy, the Master explains how, according to Orim's account, the Weatherlight passed through the Furnace of Rath and then through the Death Pits of Rath, but ultimately got through.
A Dark Room
After defeating the slivers, the Weatheright emerged into the Furnace of Rath where the ship began to burn. One unfortunate crew member was struck by lightning and thrown overboard to perish by Crovax. Orim attempted to heal those injured, but her use of white magic seemingly angered the Furnace itself. Gerrard ordered Hanna to speed up and escape the horrible place. Hanna made an improvised lightning rod from a piece of railing and saved the ship from burning.
After a brief respite, they came to the Death Pits, in which Volrath placed his failed experiments. Skeletons boarded the ship, raised up by the swaying black ooze beneath. Squee climbed a mast in order to escape, with Gerrard pursuing him. At the top he accidentally activated his toy, the Salvation Sphere, which repelled the skeletons. Gerrard used this knowledge to his advantage and drove those remaining away from the ship.
Finally docking at the Stronghold, Mirri slew a guard who had noticed them before he had time to scream. Ilcaster says he would've loved to see her, but is surprised at her appearance is not as "warlike" as he expected. Gerrard, Starke, and Crovax joined her on the balcony. The captain ordered Hanna to rendezvous at Volrath's Gardens if anything went wrong. Ilcaster expresses gratitude that he was not there, due to his perceived cowardice, but the Master tells him that heroes can come from unlikely places.
The party encounters a shapeshifter, which Crovax viciously slays, telling Gerrard "The Legacy may be your destiny, Gerrard, but Selenia is mine." The Master tells Ilcaster he will explain that puzzling statement later. Further on, the group finds a room with a three-dimensional map of Dominaria, and Gerrard realizes that it represents Volrath's invasion plans,and the danger facing Dominaria.
"Karn's Tale" (J. Robert King)
Karn stands, voluntarily deactivated, in a cell in the Stronghold, after surrendering to the Predator once he accidentally killed a mogg during the ambush. He can hear Tanhgrath struggle against his bonds in an adjacent cell and mourns his certain death. The golem steels himself against his raging emotions and comforts himself in his strong resolution to simply stand.
He recalls the night when Vuel stole Gerrard's Legacy, when he had stood guard beneath the raised village and been discomforted by wildly shifting emotions within. When Gerrard, having regressed to be more childish than his age from the stress of Vuel's betrayal, accused him of not caring that his ward's Legacy was stolen, he was enraged and set off toward the village of Albiuto, even momentarily forgetting his oath to protect Gerrard.
Intoxicated by fury, Karn passed out of the oasis, hoping that this endeavor would earn Gerrard's trust. After crossing a chasm and a mountain range, he arrived at Lake Albiuto, upon which the village floated, held up by magic and pontoons. Despite the village's near invincibility from terrestrial invaders, the golem simply walked into the lake and along the bed until he reached an anchor and ascended the chain, reaching the village. He arrived at a feast that he suspected was held in anticipation of a great battle, and soon found Vuel briefing his top soldiers on the plans to attack Kondo's village, promising plunder as well rape.
Karn revealed himself and a hush fell over the crowd. Vuel jests that the golem came to join his cause, but Karn seized the young man. He told him how Gerrard and he both bore the hope of generations, but Vuel said that greatness cannot be given to a man, only taken by him. He then revealed that he had set a trap for Karn, but the golem nearly crushes him to death, threatening to fully do so if he was not shown the Legacy. Vuel ordered his soldiers to bring forth an imprisoned blacksmith, inside whose body Vuel had stored the stolen Legacy artifacts. Vuel claimed that the prisoner was his own Karn.
The silver golem took immense pity on the man and offered to save him, but Vuel informed him that he had all of his innards removed and was only kept alive by the magic of his archmage. Vuel taunted the golem, claiming he would never be able to kill an innocent if he wouldn't kill him. All the soldiers gathered mocked him, but the blacksmith gently absolved Karn of the blame for his death, saying that Vuel was his real killer.
As Vuel berated him to his audience and the blacksmith urged him to act, either way, Karn furiously uppercut a food wagon, and a young village boy was crushed when it lands. Vuel commended the Karn for his first slaying, and the blacksmith tore open his body to end the ordeal. As Karn scooped up the Legacy, he realized the Touchstone had fallen into his hands. Before deactivating, he clutched the artifact tightly so Vuel's men couldn't take it from him.
The next decade passed him in a blur. The villagers of Albuito drove away Vuel's army, and a shrine was constructed to honor the blacksmith at Karn's feet. Over it, Karn took his vow of pacifism. Over time, the townsfolk forgot the golem statue's identity and origin. Karn bemoaned his failure but consoled himself that he could not kill again in that state. Finally, Sisay found him and placed him within the cargo hold of the Weatherlight. Sometime later, he felt joy again as Gerrard reactivated him, and remarked on the irony of him having been saved by his ward.
In the present, Karn is retrieved by a hideous Phyrexian guard for his torture. Karn wishes mercy for Tahngarth but is denied. He is allowed to see him on the way to his new chamber and sees Tahngarth in a room with a mutagenic ray being shot from the ceiling. Karn yearns to kill the guards and free his captive friend, even if full escape was impossible, but remembers his vow taken over the body of the blacksmith. He learns from the guard that they intend Tahngarth to be Greven il-Vec's new second once he is done being mutated. Tahngarth begs Karn to act and kill their captors, but Karn refuses, saying that "anger is fleeting; remorse is eternal."
Karn is escorted to an empty cell and herded in by several moggs. Karn resolves to remain to stand and not to kill any of his torturers, even if it means freedom, saying "As long as I stand here and endure, I am still not yours." He says he cannot be made to kill again, but suddenly the floor tilts, throwing his bulky frame against three moggs, crushing them. His guard says he'll go through roughly a hundred goblins a day before resuming his torture.
A Dark Room
The Master tells how the rescue party eventually came to the prison tower, crossing a flowstone bridge by distracting it with the corpse of the shapeshifter killed by Crovax earlier. Inside they quickly found and freed Karn and Tahngarth, then found Sisay imprisoned inside a glass cylinder in a strange laboratory. It turned out to be a shapeshifter, however, and so the group continued on, taking a different path out of the tower to reach the Dream Halls, as Starke had suggested.
"Crovax's Tale" (Kij Johnson)
She says that Crovax came to Rath to find the angel Selenia, who was possibly captured by Volrath, and in whose absence[notes 3] Crovax's ancestral home was destroyed by the evincar's forces. She wonders if revenge may have driven the nobleman to Rath even if he only spoke of finding Selenia.
Orim was in her cabin when she saw Selenia quickly fly past her porthole, then she heard the cries above deck as the Predator approached the Weatherlight. On her way to the infirmary, she notices the door to Crovax's cabin is ajar and hears him wailing inside. She enters, prepared for combat, but sees only Crovax in a mournful rage. She calms him, noting the twisted mix of betrayal and love on his face, and saying that at that point she had never seen such a look of pain. Crovax tells that Orim that Selenia led their attackers to them, mouthing the word "betrayed" after trailing off.
Orim leaves to treat the wounded, urging Crovax to fight. Orim declines to recount the specifics of the battle, instead of focusing on her loss of Videts, Ineka Termuelen, and the Samite Ozel son of Suk. She is forced to kill three moggs in self-defense but is sickened at the feeling.
The Predator attacks the Weatherlight with a bolt of electricity, and Orim nearly falls off the tilting ship but is grabbed almost immediately by Crovax, who warns her to be careful as the crew needs her.[notes 4] She sees the moggs retreating, as well as Tahngarth swinging along a rope to the Predator. Orim notices the numb look in his eyes has been replaced with that of a damned man, worried at his saying "They need you" as if to say "But [he] will not."
After crashing in Skyshroud and treating the wounded, Orim notices Crovax nearby, seemingly not having moved since saving her life. He is wounded but bluntly refuses to come to the infirmary, so Orim treats him where he stands. As she opens a salve to cleanse the wound, she believes the familiar scent awakens Crovax from his trance. He laments having taken Selenia with him out of love while away from his estate, allowing it to be overrun by Volrath's forces and being blamed by his family for their fate. He claims that they were friends, having given her his memories since she lacked her own.
Orim recounts the ship's experiences up until losing several crewmates to lightning in the Furnace of Rath, and Kadve being killed when the slivers attacked.[notes 5] Throughout the hard journey Crovax often kept her company while she spun colored silk into threads to relax. He opened up to her, telling her of his Urborg estate and of his ancestors' spirits that continue to haunt him even in Rath, warning him of some horrible destiny. Orim mentions a style of Samite poetry that leaves lines unspoken, to be discerned by the reader. She uses this skill while listening to Crovax to learn that his father was distant and cruel and that as his family died off one after the other they blamed him for their demise. She also learns of his time with Selenia, believing that he loved her too much, or in the wrong way, as angels are not flesh-and-blood creatures like them. Crovax never asked about her past, which she did not mind, believing it a healer's duty to listen, not speak.
As the four ventured further into the Stronghold, a shapeshifter attacked them but was savagely killed by Crovax upon assuming Selenia's form, being rent asunder and beaten to a pulp. After Gerrard pulls Crovax back from his madness he orders him to return to the Weatherlight, but is convinced to allow him to remain with the party.
Orim interrupts her story to confirm that she is recounting it secondhand, but assures the reader that she knows what the two would have said.
She quickly recounts the group's path up until reaching the Dream Halls, where they are attacked crossing the bridge by Selenia. Crovax is too stunned to dodge her attack, but Mirri defends him. The angel turns her attack toward the cat warrior, slicing her deep across the belly. Crovax prevents Selenia from slaying her and the two engage in combat.
Crovax begs her to desist in a barely human voice, and Selenia, weeping, replies that she must. She breaks into tears and asks him why he did not remain safely on Dominaria, and he asks what safety she means, having left his family to be slaughtered. The angel reiterates that she has no choice but to attack him, and calls Crovax doubly a fool: once for coming to Rath, and again for loving an angel. Saying she cannot stop either of their destinies, she continues the fight in mutual crying silence. Raising her sword to kill him, she hesitates as if called by an inaudible voice, in which time Crovax runs her through with his sword. She arches into the air and apologizes, saying their destinies and mutual doom are complete.
Selenia shatters into countless shards that stream into Crovax's body through his face. Crovax attempts to walk off the bridge to his death, but Tahngarth catches him, saying that if he can survive his tortures, Crovax can too. Crovax says nothing but meets the minotaur's eyes for a long moment, then collapses onto the bridge, cuddling Selenia's sword and weeping.
Tahngarth brings Mirri and Crovax back to the Weatherlight for treatment. Orim is shocked at the nobleman's state: pallid as if dead and breathing fast and shallow like an animal, with solid yellow eyes and elongated fangs. She escorts him below deck, trying not to cry and unsure why he follows. The healer is unable to name the disease he suffers anything but damnation, having been transformed by his guardian angel's death. Orim finally confesses her love for Crovax to the reader, despondent at her failure to save him as she was his real guardian.
A Dark Room
The Master, nearly finished sorting a section of the library that had gone untouched for decades, muses that things might have turned out better if Gerrard had ordered Tahngarth to leave one of the injured crewmates behind. He grows incredulous when Ilcaster asks which one. The boy admits that something horrible had happened to Crovax, but claims that as a hero, Gerrard would never leave one of his own behinds. The Master posits that being a hero means something more, about seeing the bigger picture, something with which Gerrard had always struggled. Ilcaster says that Gerrard would abandon his honor by abandoning his friends, but the Master says that honor is as dangerous as cowardice and that to value friendship over the fate of the world is deadly, a lesson Gerrard would soon learn. He also says that a hero must recognize his own place in the world.
"The Weatherlight's Tale" (Francis Lebaron)
Docked at the Stronghold, the Weatherlight's Thran crystal glows peacefully, while abovedeck Hanna directs preparations for the ship. Suddenly an apparition appears before her; she slices at it with her sword but does no harm. The ghost says the names of Ertai and Barrin and introduces herself as Lyna, emissary of the Soltari. She tells Hanna that the Soltari will aid Ertai in opening the portal but urges Hanna to hurry toward it. When Hanna objects, Lyna implicitly threatens her life and seemingly mesmerizes her into ordering the crew to cast off.
Just then, Tahngarth reappears, emerging from the Stronghold mutilated by Volrath's tortures and carrying the wounded Mirri and Crovax. Hanna shudders at the transformation Crovax has undergone. Tahngarth briefs Hanna on what happened within the fortress and hurries off to rejoin Gerrard and tell the party to rendezvous with the Weatherlight at the Gardens. Hanna hostilely asks Lyna if she is satisfied, to which she replies that she is and departs to continue helping Ertai, joking about his "tremendous native ability."
Just after, Karn returns with the missing pieces of the Legacy as well as the Skyshaper, having recovered them from the Sliver Queen. He does not elaborate on this encounter. Karn says the Skyshaper should make the Weatherlight go faster, and Hanna encourages him to figure out how, saying they may need it soon enough.
As the Weatherlight soars away, an army, possibly the one led by Eladamri, can be seen in the distance approaching the Stronghold.
Karn meanwhile puzzles in the engine room over how to fit the Skyshaper into place. Hearing attackers board the ship, the crew member Tolaman is thrown off his feet by a sudden lurch, slamming against Karn and accidentally revealing a hidden compartment in the Skyshaper when he grabs it for support. The golem congratulates him and tells him to go aid in defending the Weatherlight. When he emerges he sees the Predator looming above the ship. The larger ship once again harpoons the smaller one and pulls it upward, causing it to seemingly cry out.
Tolaman is shot by another harpoon as he severs the remaining line to free the Weatherlight. Hanna orders the steersman to speed up, dragging the Predator behind them and causing it to crash into the Stronghold. Undeterred, it simply blasts part of the structure away to resume its chase.
Within the ship, the Thran crystal begins humming at a higher frequency, and lights flicker to mourn a death. The ship laughs internally at its opponent and senses the newly fitted Skyshaper within itself. Far away, Eladamri leads the Kor, Vec, and Dal armies to near victory.
Hanna almost laughs as she sees Greven order the lines connecting the ships cut and the Predator falls behind, but then sees two ornithopters carrying goblin bombs, which she had been warned by Gerrard could destroy the Weatherlight for good, take off from the enemy ship. She orders Sarmiane the steersman to ascend, but then instructs him to turn and face the ornithopters when she notices a new control on the Weatherlight. She then causes a beam of light to fire from the steering wheel, throwing one of the pursuing ornithopters off balance and spilling its payload into the Stronghold. The ship is tilted by the impact of the falling machine, concussing Hanna, who wakes up to find out that the other ornithopter has fallen back. She explains that she jury-rigged a weapon out of the lighting system, but it can only be used once before needing to recharge.
Below the deck, Karn finishes fitting the Skyshaper into the Weatherlight, and on the bridge, Hanna is informed that he will activate it if necessary, although he is unsure of its effect.
Approaching the Gardens, the remaining ornithopter catches up. Hanna and Sarmiane struggle to control the ship but see below a red-haired woman helping a seemingly blind man, Gerrard assisting a dazed Sisay, and Tahngarth climbing a tree. Having ascended to nearly the same height as the Weatherlight, the minotaur jumps aboard the ornithopter and takes control of it. Struggling to maneuver it he flies in low to pick up Gerrard but fails, then barely manages to land back on the ship after jumping off the machine.
Within the ship, the Thran crystal hums softly.
A Dark Room
The Master resumes the story, telling how on the way to the Dream Halls, Gerrard realized upon seeing a Llanowar tree in a garden that Rath was absorbing parts of Dominaria, and began to comprehend Volrath's invasion plan fully.
Just then he and Starke were attacked by spikes, but fled and soon found the Dream Halls at the top of a tower. After climbing the tower and entering, Gerrard was greeted by visions of his life alongside Vuel, his stepbrother's exile, and his corruption by horned figures that divided and recombined into one. He also saw images of Volrath's armies sweeping across Dominaria and himself bound by the evincar. Suddenly Volrath appeared out of these illusions. After being stabbed in the back by Starke to no effect, he declared that "[Kondo's] service to [Gerrard's] Legacy cost [him] a family, and [he] cost [him] a clan." Gerrard attacked Volrath, whose image retreated, and was set upon by Sisay and Takara, both under the mental control of the evincar. Gerrard managed to knock out Sisay and disarm Takara, although after she had blinded her father. He pursued Volrath and was joined by Tahngarth who cornered him. The two killed him but the body shapeshifted into one of Volrath's experiments. Gerrard furiously hacked apart the corpse, asking if he should've let his blood brother die during his rite of passage.
The Master, after noting that he's answered more questions that night than he had in ten years, tells Ilcaster that he may be unable to answer his final question. He says it seems to him that a hero is something one becomes, rather than is. Together, the two reasons that a hero must face challenges then, "monsters to slay, foes to outwit, mountains to climb," but the Master also says a hero must give up something. As dawn begins to break outside, the Master compares the making of a hero to a snake shedding its old skin and notes that there was one remainder of Gerrard's old life he had yet to lose.
"Mirri's Tale" (Liz Holliday)
Mirri rests below deck during the Predator's attack, despite her protests that she is well enough to fight. She believes she smells animosity somehow, and Crovax reveals himself at her request. He says he has come to check on her, and Mirri objects that they should both be fighting. Crovax insists that Mirri is imagining the sounds of battle, and when he leans over her, she is drenched by him with the smell of blood and danger.
She tells him to back off, and staring into his golden eyes she sees a vision of Gerrard encircled by Volrath's soldiers. She feels certain that no one other than her can save him, because only she is so loyal. Remembering that Gerrard is not on the Weatherlight, contradictory to a lie told by Crovax, Mirri wants to grab her cutlass but is blocked by him. Lulled nearly to sleep by him she recalls when she and Gerrard were asked by Multani to take a message into Deep Country for him.
The young Mirri had been eager to take on the mission in order to prove her use and repay her debt to Multani for taking her in and was doubly excited when Gerrard, with whom she was already in love at the time, offered to join her. She had hoped to confess her feelings for him on the journey.
Upon arriving at their destination they realized that the recipients of their diplomacy were the Chitr'in cat warriors, causing Mirri to become quite upset. After being approached by a band of warriors and three elders, Mirri informed them that Multani wanted to trade with their tribe. After a tense exchange in which Mirri refuted that she was owned by her master Multani, the eldest of the tribe, Seyen, asked them to stay the night and continue their diplomacy in the morning.
That night, Mirri contemplated her fuzzy memories of the ways of the cat warriors, and soon was approached by the Chitr'ini Keilic, clearly interested in romance. She was invited to dance but did not want to, having eyes only for Gerrard. When Gerrard advised she dance with him to avoid offended their hosts, she was greatly upset, believing he would give her away to accomplish Multani's goal, and ran off into the night.
After foreshadowing the spirit walk taken by the three and the portent of Gerrard's death therein, she is suddenly aware of the present, slumped against her cabin wall with Crovax crouching over her. Scratching his face, she clearly sees the transformation he has undergone and realizes that the enmity she smells is the same scent that Selenia had given off when she tried to kill her, explaining the "dangerous" scent. When she moves to attack Crovax with her cutlass, she is briefly blinded by the reflection from his necklace, in which time he escapes.
Dreading a sneak attack from Crovax, Mirri is ambushed from behind somewhere in the lower deck by her former ally, who says it is his destiny for him to kill her. She bites his arm to escape his chokehold and throws Crovax overhead into the bulkhead, feeling her stitches pop as she does. Becoming too weary from the pain to continue, she is hit in the head by something and falls.
Returning to the night of her spirit walk, she hid from Gerrard, knowing she'd have to explain her feelings to him if confronted about her actions: something she'd rather fight the Great Wolf alone and unarmed than do. Gerrard was followed by Keilic, who accused Gerrard of having enslaved Mirri to have tried to give her away as he did. Gerrard says he was trying to accomplish something for their master. The argument escalated into an armed confrontation, which Mirri stopped when she saw Gerrard losing.
Gerrard affirmed that the two were friends, and Mirri resolved to be satisfied with that, while Keilic asked how blind he must be not to see Mirri's affection for him. Keilic continued to goad Gerrard, accusing him of manipulating his friend. Mirri ended the argument, telling Keilic that her loyalties were not to the people who abandoned her. The cat man warned her that she would lose herself if she continued to resist her born allegiance. After telling Mirri she would live a loveless life with her current companions, he said he would desist if the three of them take the spirit walk and learn what path Mirri's ancestors suggested. Gerrard balked at the superstition of it, but Mirri reprimanded him for belittling the beliefs of her people. Gerrard claimed they were not her people, to which Keilic replied that they could be. Mirri decided she will walk the spiritual path, thinking that change is inevitable.
Back on the Weatherlight, Mirri wakes from her stupor and realizes that if Crovax, who is now gone, let her live it was only so he could cause some other greater harm to the ship. Noting that she has not been unconscious for long, she follows a faint sound to the end of a companionway and sees him hoist himself above deck. She emerges to the sight of Tahngarth jumping off an ornithopter to land on the deck, she realizes that Gerrard has not yet returned with Sisay and recalls the vision of his lifeless body against a rock she had seen on her spiritual walk. She sees Crovax at the other end of the ship fiddling with something. Wishing she had paid more attention to the workings of the ship so she might know what he was doing, she runs toward him and grabs him, soon realizing he was sabotaging the sails in order to sink the ship.
Crovax slips away from her and warns her not to interfere, his voice now deep and alien. Mirri lunges at him, and after a quick fight she is dropped overboard by Crovax, but grabs his wrist and takes him down with her. Unable to release him from her grasp and spread out for fear that he would survive the fall and continue his assault, she crashes at full speed through the canopy of the Gardens.
Losing consciousness again, Mirri finds herself in the memory of her spiritual walk. Keilic instructed her to seek out her spirit beast and defeat it in order to learn her fated path. Soon she entered a cave and found a huge black cat with fiery eyes that told her to defeat it so it may kill whichever of the two men she chose. She replied that she didn't want it to kill, but was told that there is no other way to win. The beast pounced on her but faded into mist when Mirri cut it along the belly. Admitting defeat, the beast, calling itself the Spirit Way commanded Mirri to choose. When she refused, it leaped past her before Gerrard and Keilic, intent to choose on its own.
The Spirit Way prophesied that she would live as a proud warrior and bear many fine cubs if she chose the Chitr'ini man, but she would forever long for Gerrard and adventure abroad that Keilic could never give her. Turning to Gerrard, it told him that Mirri would give him more than he could ever know if she remained with him: "all her loyalty, all her heart." Keilic interrupted but was harshly silenced by the Spirit Way. It then told Mirri that only she would remember the events of the spirit walk once the three awakened. The Spirit Way resumed talking to Gerrard, saying he would deny her of her heritage and make her lose herself. When directly confronted about loving her, he said he loved her like a sister, but could not feel anything more on account of their difference. Mirri's heart broke at this, and the Spirit Way saw this and attacked Gerrard, but Mirri regained composure and stabbed it in the throat to defend him.
The beast reappeared behind her, and the two agreed that Mirri would never be satisfied with the love Gerrard had to offer. Mirri consented to this price, saying that the Spirit Way did not know her heart as she was never Chitr'ini. Keilic accepted Mirri's choice and allowed his throat to be ripped out by the beast. It then gave Mirri a final warning that her time with Gerrard would be short and that his death would come at her hands, and disappeared.
In the present, Mirri is pinned down by Crovax. She bites his throat and notes the putrid taste of his blood. He wrests free and tells her that she will join him to rule Rath, before biting into her neck. She is briefly enthralled by the warmth and power of the vampire, even voluntarily drinking the blood from his neck, which now tasted sweet. She hears Gerrard call out to her while fighting Greven il-Vec and becomes furious that another spills her beloved's blood, resolving to kill him herself as had been promised on the Spirit Way. However, she comes to her senses and rolls away from Crovax, then attacks him, intending to attack Gerrard after killing the first.
Gerrard calls out to her once more, and Mirri sees the Weatherlight descending its ropes to lift Gerrard and his party to safety. She suddenly realizes that Crovax is trying to delay Gerrard and their ship. She sees that if Gerrard remained, she could finally take possession of him, as well as the crew of the Weatherlight and possibly even the Predator.
Once more in the past, Mirri and her companions awoke, unharmed, from their trance, and she told the shaman her decision. She had a moment of doubt and started toward Keilic but was interrupted by the shaman, who noticed that she was troubled. Mirri told him the portent of Gerrard's death, and the shaman reassured her that the Spirit Way knew neither the hearts of men nor herself, as she "was never his." This startled Mirri, being the same words she had said to the beast during the dream. The shaman asked whether she was more worried that she would kill Gerrard or that he would never love her, and she responded the former. The shaman expressed sadness that she took the less preferable lesson from the Spirit Walk[notes 6] and advised her that she might step away from her destiny if she paid the price.
Finally in the Gardens, with Gerrard far away and the rope ladder even further, Mirri is approached by Crovax. Gerrard sees in her eyes the message "Go with my love," and departs with the ship, leaving the cat warrior behind to die.
The storm that Ilcaster feared has abated and dawn grows on the horizon. The boy sits among the books, crying, while the Master sits in silence as if waiting for him to realize something. Ilcaster asks why Gerrard didn't save his friend, and the old man holds him by the shoulder and explains that it was the first knowing sacrifice made by Gerrard, finally acknowledging that his destiny was not his to control.
The boy asks what happened next, and the Master tells how as the Weatherlight sped toward the portal Gerrard saw Crovax going toward the Dream Halls. With the Predator gaining on them, Gerrard ordered Hanna to activate the Skyshaper of which he was just informed.
As the ship hurtled through the portal, Gerrard saw a ghostly procession accompanying them, as well as Ertai hanging by a rope from the arch. He told Hanna to slow down, but she was unable to, and so with the Predator hot on their tail they were forced to leave Ertai behind on Rath.
Ilcaster asks what happened next, but the Master dismisses him, noting the time. He says that though the storm has ended, another one even fiercer is to come. Ilcaster agrees to a little nap and promptly falls asleep where he sat.
The librarian covers the boy with a ragged blanket and notices another paper. He reads from it to himself that right after the portal shut, the Predator slammed into it, causing Ertai to fall into the wreckage at the feet of the furious Greven il-Vec. Atop a nearby hill, Lyna tells a hooded figure that it was lucky the portal closed in time. The manuscript indicates that it will detail the further adventures of the Weatherlight, but the librarian realizes that the remainder is missing. Hearing Ilcaster snoring behind him, dreaming of heroic quests, he reminds himself that what's important are memories and drops the last page of The Rath Cycle to the floor, then walks into the sunlight.
- Proven alive later, as seen during the Invasion
- Strongly implied to be Takara's mother.
- She claims that "the brother" (possibly Urza) had crafted her out of an artifact. This contradicts her being a Serra angel, as shown on the card Persecute.
- Orim give a different cause than Greven for the ship's capsizing.
- This contradicts "Starke's Tale," in which the slivers attack before the Weatherlight enters the Furnace.
- This is the only instance of the phrase being capitalized.