“Who Wants to Be King?”
Thissraelle has begun her magical training with Heathrax and in the process learns about Wynne’s creation story. In the tale, The Creator formed powerful dragons from each of the magical essences in The Vast, who then helped Him form the world. Thissraelle learns how these essences shape and control the magics she’s learning and practicing.
After the defeat on the bridge by the shrine, Kirraxal had sent the undying dragonbonded soldier to Emberfire City, the capital of the high elves. Tonklyn meets him there where they search for a way to contact the dragons living there. They meet with some dragonriders and learn that the dragons of the high elves are subdued and trained like horses. Tonklyn promises one of them to be set free.
Eddiwarth and Parith are also in Emberfire City, and they talk about their adventures. Parith wonders about the Dragon’s Tooth dagger that Granthurg currently carries. Eddiwarth is troubled by scenes from his past. He had burned his home trying to create magical flames. He also senses that Jaxil, Thissraelle’s father, does not like that he and his daughter are romantically involved. At a Winterfest celebration, Korr, Parith, and Karendle notice that those in high elven society do not welcome them, either.
A young and energetic wood elf girl, Illariel, is exploring Umbrawood Forest and finds a young arachin, one of the race of sentient spiders. It has been wounded by a patrol of invading high elves. She heals it, and it shows her the rest of its family who were killed by the patrol. Sadly, Illariel can’t heal them. Illariel must return to her village and warn her people.
Shylai’a is an angry young sword fighter, homeless in Twynne Rivers. She’s been told she can’t join the City Guard because she’s a girl. A strange old wizard helps her get across the river so she can shelter the night with her bond of beggars in an old chapel. The next day, a charitable group celebrating Winterfest brings food and music to the beggars. Then, the captain of a noble’s militia enters the celebration and chooses the stronger individuals, pressing them into service. Shylai’a is upset by their duplicity but joins nonetheless.
Thissraelle talks about her father introducing her to other high elves at the Winterfest as “Dragonfriend”. This is Heathrax’s earned name and she feels awkward that someone has given it to her. Heathrax tells that he earned the name by cooperating with the elves to help overthrow the reign of the Dragon Kings.
In Twynne Rivers, Shylai’a is trying to fit in as a footsoldier of the militia of House Kaelig, but her cohort and her leader are making it difficult. They raid a safe house of the Boar’s Head Guild, a faction trying to undermine the authority of the King. Shylai’a is called out by her commander. She also sees the sadness in the eyes of the populace as a priest uses his powers to destroy the house. She’d always wanted to be a soldier. Why is it so confusing?
Eddiwarth, in Emberfire City, is trying to practice controlling his fire magic, but it’s difficult. He keeps remembering a traumatizing time as a child when he set his home on fire. Later, he complains to Thissraelle that her father dislikes him and would like to have Thissraelle fall in love with someone in the high elf nobility. They argue about it, and Eddiwarth realizes he must apologize, but he still feels put down.
Tonklyn finds out that Kirraxal is close to finding the Dragon’s Tooth dagger. He meets with high elven council members and encourages them to attack the wood elves of Umbrawood.
Illariel, in Treehaven, gets a visit from her grandmother and learns more about the arachin race. They are giant and intelligent spiders that have been in conflict with the wood elves, competing for living space in Umbrawood.
Later, she meets with wood elven military and civic leaders and shows them on a map where she encountered the arachins and the high elf trail. She sees that there have been many skirmishes with and incursions by the high elves in the forest. Were her friends, Thissraelle and Parith, spies all along?
Finally, Parith and Korr meet secretly with Lathin, the dragonkeeper in a dark Emberfire City street. He tells them that Tonklyn wants to set all of the captive dragons of the high elves free and attack the wood elves of Umbrawood. Jaxil, Thissraelle’s father, confronts them about a poisoning murder of a high elven councilman. They deny it and Korr is able to convince him of their innocence. Still, they all feel it is wise for all of Thissraelle’s friends to not venture into the city for a while.
Thissraelle continues her training, learning to manipulate stone with her newfound nature powers. Eddiwarth is impressed but brings sad news. He feels undeserving of her affections and wants to leave Emberfire City with Korr and Parith to seek his own earned name and dignity, so her father will respect him. Thissraelle insists that her feelings are not tied to her father’s opinions. She is sad but needs to stay to study with Heathrax. She gives him a blue communications oculus to take with him.
Eddiwarth, Korr, and Parith return to the mountain pass and find themselves at the site of the skirmish with the dragons at the shrine. It stirs difficult memories for all three. Korr remembers when he almost died to a dragonbonded assassin’s poison blade, Parith remembers losing his young drake companion, and Eddiwarth is struggling to figure out how the fight has impacted his life. Later, he communicates with Thissraelle by means of a mental oculus and he is soothed.
While traveling in the Umbrawood Forest, they encounter Illariel and her spider friend, Ari. She tells them of the incursions of the high elves and tells them that it’s not safe for them to stop in Treehaven. She guides them to Dirae where they spend some time with Eddiwarth’s old friends DeFrantis and Antonerri.
Tonklyn flies back to the Graemal mountains with three dragons that he’s recruited from the Emberfire ranges. They meet with Kirraxal, along with a fourth dragon from Umbrawood Forest. They are uncertain of Kirraxal’s leadership at first, but he overwhelms them, and they swear allegiance. They are all bonded to restore the reign of the Dragon Kings.
In Twynne Rivers, Shylai’a and her militia squad are escorting prisoners to trial, but she starts to think it’s all wrong. The prisoners seem to be families and children, not powerful wizards. She finds that they are not to be brought to trial, but rather to be summarily executed. The wagon she is guarding is attacked and, in a fearful moment of choice, she sets her prisoners free and runs from the militia.
The party continues to travel south to Korr’s academy. He must report on his quest to find Heathrax and face a final bout as a test before earning advancement to the next level of training. He is uncertain he will be approved. He fights his bout, and finds himself “One With the Moment” and is able to defeat his three challengers. However, at the celebration banquet, he chooses to follow Parith and continue the quest for the Dragon’s Tooth dagger. His master is pleased and says that in doing so, he is continuing his studies.
Granthurg has also come back to Twynne Rivers, bringing the dagger, and hoping to find out more of its purpose and lore. As he is telling his brothers about the blade, they are all attacked and killed, and the dagger is taken.
Karendle, Thissraelle’s friend, finds her father traveling through Emberfire selling gems and chooses to continue on with him as his assistant in the family business. Thissraelle and Heathrax share their feelings of loneliness.