What follows is a chapter-by-chapter condensed version of The Ventifact Colossus. It is meant as a resource for would-be readers of The Crosser’s Maze who want to refresh their memories of the previous book without a full re-read.
It’s exactly 5% as long as the full book. I expect readers can finish it in 15-30 minutes.
If you haven’t read The Ventifact Colossus, I strongly advise you against reading this. While I’ve tried to cover the most essential events, this summary lacks characterization, dialogue, and a million little details that make a book worth reading. It is meant only as a refresher for those who have already read the book.
LAST CHANCE TO TURN BACK!
Dranko Blackhope, a part-goblin former priest, now a street pickpocket, channels the healing power of his god for the first time in his life. The next day the archmage Abernathy teleports him and seven other people to his tower in Tal Hae. In addition to Dranko, the summonees are:
- Morningstar of Ell, a priestess to the Goddess of Night. Sisters of her church are not allowed outside before sunset. Late 20’s, pale skin, white hair.
- Ernest Roundhill, a baker’s son from a small village. He lacks confidence despite the high praise of his sword trainer. 17 years old, wiry build, sandy hair, honest face. (He believes he’s been summoned because a statue of himself, hundreds of years old, was recently excavated in his home town, but Abernathy doesn’t know anything about it.)
- Tor Bladebearer, a nobleman’s son. He’s excitable and lacks focus. 16 years old, tall, strong, fantastic swordsman. Doesn’t admit his heritage in front of the others. Tor is not his real name.
- Aravia Telmir, a wizard’s apprentice. Brilliant and unconsciously arrogant, trained to suppress emotions. 19 years old, slight build, long dark hair.
- Grey Wolf, a grizzled sellsword. No-nonsense, bitter. Early-to-mid 40’s, with a grim but handsome countenance.
- Ysabel Horn, an elderly farmwoman. Kindly, with a good sense of humor. Mid 60’s, wrinkled face, laugh lines, gray hair.
- Kibilhathur Bimson, a shy and quiet stoneworker. Mid-30’s, short and broad, unusually strong, bald and bearded.
Abernathy tells these assembled that he’s hiring them to be his field agents, since he personally spends all his time keeping a powerful entity (Naradawk Skewn) locked away in some kind of magical prison. Abernathy either doesn’t know or won’t tell them why he chose them in particular, but promises that in lieu of forcing them by magic to agree to his terms, he’ll visit them later to try convincing them honestly.
Abernathy’s group arrives at their new HQ, a converted bakery called the Greenhouse. They meet the elderly butler, Eddings, who gives them a tour of the house, including a “secret room” in which they can communicate with Abernathy.
At night, Abernathy visits each member of his new team individually, to convince them of why he needs their help. He attempts to convince Morningstar by hinting that the others will be her friends, which is not something she has many of. Her pale skin and white hair have made her a pariah in the church of Ell, and she is known derisively as the “White Anathema.” But Morningstar tells Abernathy she cannot work for him, because Sisters of Ell are not allowed outside during the day.
That night, Morningstar has a Seer-dream for the first time in her life. She has never before received a prophetic dream, though it’s not unheard of among her sisterhood. She dreams of a cruel man in red armor standing atop a tower during something like an earthquake. Tor rushes the man, and both plunge over the railing of the tower.
The next morning, Morningstar receives a letter from her church, giving her official sanction to walk abroad in daylight, and advising her to accept Abernathy’s offer of employment. She is devastated by this, since it will only increase the disregard in which her sisters hold her. She explains this to the others, but when Dranko suggests she is disregarding the possibility this is all Ell’s plan, she slaps him and stalks away.
Feeling unappreciated and put upon, but also full of self-recrimination, Dranko goes out and spends the day getting drunk. He stops at his (now former) house for a bottle and a slip of paper with his name on it, then ambles to the harbor’s edge and throws the bottle with his name inside. He’s been throwing similar bottles into seas and rivers for years, hoping for a scrap of fame – that being his heart’s fondest wish.
On his way back, he stops at the Church of Delioch to tell his old friend Praska about his new assignment with Abernathy. (This is his first trip back to the church since they threw him out several years earlier.) But Praska is not available – she’s in “The Closet,” punished with solitary confinement for some unexplained transgression.
Abernathy, hurried by some calamity occurring in the background, gives his new team its first assignment. They are to go to some forest ruins near the small town of Verdshane, and investigate a body they will find suspended in a blue field of magical energy. (Specifically, Abernathy wants to know how far off the ground it is.) They set off cross-country. Morningstar has great difficulty adapting to being in sunlight. Ernie admits his feelings of inadequacy to Mrs. Horn.
Morningstar continues to suffer beneath the harsh rays of the sun. Grey Wolf experiences a strange and unpleasant sensation in his innards that lasts only a few seconds. Aravia posits that the monster’s prison is extra-dimensional, based on what Abernathy had said.
Morningstar has a second Seer-dream, this time about a turtle walking toward a model of a city. Before it can step on the model, Eddings appears and kills it with a letter-opener thrust up its nostril. But the corpse falls upon the city, which erupts into flames.
As they draw near to Verdshane, Kibi and Mrs. Horn discuss why they were chosen by Abernathy. (Unlike the others, they are not warriors, healers, or wizards.) According to Kibi, Abernathy told him “the earth said he should help.” Mrs. Horn also suggests to Grey Wolf that he should teach the others how to improve their fighting skills.
The group arrives in the tiny village of Verdshane. They enter the inn (the only building of any seeming consequence) and find a number of dead patrons scattered about, along with a terrible smell and a buzzing sound. A half-dozen flying carnivorous monsters (dubbed “gopher bugs” after the fact) attack them, and one of them delivers a mortal wound to Mrs. Horn. Dranko insists he can channel the healing power of his god Delioch, but his attempt fails, and Mrs. Horn dies.
Grey Wolf is furious at Dranko for failing to save Mrs. Horn. Everyone is distraught – except for Aravia, who is curiously unmoved by Mrs. Horn’s death. Grey Wolf tries to convince the group they should abandon the mission and return to Abernathy, but the others talk him into continuing. Aravia in particular refocuses the group on their mission – to find and inspect Abernathy’s body-in-a-magical-blue-field.
Aravia reflects on her lack of emotional response to Mrs. Horn. The company – now called “Horn’s Company” at Tor’s suggestion – finds and rescues the owner of the Shadow Chaser, Minya, who had locked herself in a cellar. They bury Mrs. Horn and strike out into the woods, looking for Abernathy’s ruins. All except Kibi feel an odd compulsion to turn back, but they keep searching and eventually find what they’re looking for: a large intact building, alone in a clearing, housing the blue magical field.
The body is not floating in the blue field, as Abernathy had expected. Instead it’s a little ways outside of it, on the ground, in a pool of blood. Several “gopher bugs” are suspended in the blue field, unmoving. Aravia opines that the blue magical light is a stasis field, inside which time doesn’t pass.
As Horn’s Company emerges from the building housing the blue field, Tor spots a strange blue man hovering at the edge of the woods, watching them. Naturally impetuous, Tor gives chase through the forest before the others can stop him, and he catches the bald, blue-skinned man in a small clearing. They engage in a brief sword fight, and though Tor is an excellent swordsman, the blue-skinned man is slightly better. But before the battle is decided, the others catch up and the blue man flees into the woods.
Horn’s Company returns to Tal Hae and the Greenhouse. A letter has arrived for Dranko from his old friend Praska. Praska has fled the Church of Delioch after being caught spying on some irregular activity. It seems that a Scarbearer named Mokad has been heading up an effort to clandestinely syphon church funds to an archaeological dig in the desert near the city of Sand’s Edge. Praska saw that something called the “Black Circle” was mentioned in Mokad’s correspondence.
Abernathy comes to visit them and hear their report from Verdshane. The old wizard is saddened to hear about Mrs. Horn, and very disturbed both by the news about the stasis field’s failure and about the mentions of the Black Circle in Praska’s letter.
Abernathy also tells the company a bit more about what he and the other archmagi are up to. Centuries earlier, the benign King Naloric the Just became a monstrous tyrant almost overnight, for no reason that was ever discovered. The dukes waged rebellious war against him, resulting in Naloric’s banishment to the prison world of Volpos. A year later Naloric escaped and was killed, but his son Naradawk, just as evil and monstrous, is still trapped on Volpos. All of the archmagi’s efforts now go toward preventing Naradawk’s escape. That the suspended body had fallen to the ground, and that a swarm of gopher-bugs had slipped through the portal between Spira and Volpos, are signs that the seal keeping Naradawk trapped is failing.
The man with the blue skin is a Sharshun, a cadre of powerful servants to Naloric. None have been seen in centuries. They were always interested in finding mystical objects known as “Eyes of Moirel,” but the archmagi were never able to learn what they were, or why the Sharshun wanted them. And the Black Circle, also thought eliminated, is an old cult of forbidden knowledge,. Abernathy describes the Circle itself as an “object of worship,” venerated by Naloric.
Alarmed by the idea that the Black Circle is trying to excavate something in secret, Abernathy sends Horn’s Company to Sand’s Edge, to discover what the evil cultists are digging up.
Horn’s Company travels by ship to Sand’s Edge. The Mouth of Nahalm is a bowl of dust west of the city, difficult to traverse because one would sink into it like it was water.
Ernie discovers a seedy outfit hiring strong-backs for an archaeological dig on one of the “floating islands” that drift around in the Mouth of Nahalm. He tries to get hired on, but the men doing the hiring aren’t interested, and their suspicious are aroused by his questions.
The Company returns to the hiring hall, hoping to get hired as a group, but the recruiters have seemingly been warned about them. The lead recruiter, Haske, abruptly orders his fellows to kill the heroes. A fierce battle follows. Haske uses magic, and his goons are tough, but Tor kills Haske and the heroes win the battle without suffering any deaths.
Morningstar interrogates one of the goons (and smashes his hand with her mace as part of the interview, to Ernie’s horror). From this they learn how to reach the floating island, and that they need to be wearing special sand-shoes so as not to sink in the desert. They decide that Dranko, Aravia, Ernie, and Morningstar will strike out that night for the dig site, while Grey Wolf and Kibi will take Tor to the local church of Delioch to get him healed.
Before leaving, Dranko finds a small black circle pendant on a chain around Haske’s neck. He puts it on. The four who are sand-trekking take bundled travel kits from the recruiting office and, once the sun sets, head out across the desert toward the nearest floating island.
They trudge all night and reach the island – it’s a hundred yards across and thirty yards high – in the morning. They sleep in hammocks bolted to the side of the island, and when the sun sets again they continue their trek. Several more hours of walking should get them to the island with the dig.
Dranko convinces the others that when they get close, only he should actually infiltrate the operation, since he’s sneaky and can climb. When he reaches the island itself, he discovers that it’s slowly moving, and he needs to abandon his sand shoes to scale its side. On the island’s vast, flat top, a large archaeological dig is in fact underway; Dranko pretends to have been sent by Mokad to inspect the job. He fools a laborer into fetching his superior, but is then confronted by the leader of the entire dig, a Sharshun woman named Lapis. Dranko maintains his ruse – that he was sent by Mokad – and the black circle pendant from Haske prevents Lapis from reading his mind. Though furious at Mokad’s interference, she relents and allows Dranko to be shown the object they’ve recently excavated.
Dranko finds himself face to face with a demonic red statue, a winged beast that he’s sure is about to come to life and rip him apart. When he is returned to the surface of the island, Lapis realizes he’s an impostor and Dranko flees. While attempting to rappel down the side of the island, his rope is pulled lose and he plunges into the Mouth of Nahalm.
Morningstar, Ernie, and Aravia have watched Dranko head off into the desert toward the floating island. Soon after, they see it begin to move! Realizing Dranko won’t be able to find his way back by himself, they follow it, which they can do thanks to Morningstar’s darksight. They arrive in time to see Dranko’s plunge into the sand, and so are able to rescue him by pulling him out with his own rope.
Dranko is alive but unconscious, so the other three are obliged to drag him back to Sand’s Edge. Because of the islands’ movement, they must march for 14 hours straight, which includes several hours under the baking desert sun. This is hard on Ernie and Aravia, and pure torture for Morningstar, but they make it back to the city.
They return to Tal Hae in the hold of a ship, during which journey Dranko wakes up and reports on the demonic statue. Grey Wolf is furious that he didn’t learn anything more important or detailed, and opines that it should have been Dranko who died in Verdshane instead of Mrs. Horn.
That night, still in the ship, Morningstar dreams of a circle of seven giants, weeping for seven dead mice in the circle’s center.
Once again returned to the Greenhouse, Ernie finds a care package from his parents. In addition to his favorite childhood toy, the stuffed bear Bumbly, the crate contains a thick golden bracelet covered in tiny runes. It had been a ring on the statue of Ernie that had been dug up in his home town of White Ferry.
Kibi is distraught at the sight of it. Before Kibi’s birth, his father Bim had discovered his mother, Gela, alone and with most of her memories missing. The only thing she knew for certain was that she had to keep wearing a golden bracelet or else she would die. And now that bracelet is in Ernie’s crate!
Aravia talks Kibi down; there must be two identical bracelets, but for the now the provenance of both is unknown.
Horn’s Company makes their report to Abernathy regarding the Black Circle excavation, the demonic statue, and Lapis’s extreme reaction at hearing about an Eye of Moirel. Abernathy names the statue a creature called a Blood Gargoyle.
The old wizard now has two more jobs for the Company. The first is to visit the Seven Mirrors for “Flashing Day,” which is where the Sharshun are likely to try something vis-à-vis the Eyes of Moirel.
Abernathy then talks about an object called the Crosser’s Maze, which he believes could be used to defeat Naradawk Skewn. The problem is, the maze is thought to be in the far off land of Kivia, beyond the Uncrossable Sea. BUT… there once was a way across, a magical archway known as the Kivian Arch. It has been dormant for years, but the archmagi have had an agent keeping an eye on it. BUT… recently, that agent, Levec, has stopped making reports. Once the Company has visited the Seven Mirrors, Abernathy wants them to visit the Kivian Arch near the tiny village of Seablade Point, and learn what has happened to Levec.
Before they leave, Morningstar offers to visit the Ellish temple in Tal Hae, whose archives might contain information about Blood Gargoyles, Eyes of Moirel, and the Seven Mirrors.
Morningstar visits the Ellish temple. A choir is singing a hymn about how the Traveling Gods—Ell (goddess of night), Brechen (god of the sea), Delioch (god of healing), Corilayna (goddess of fortune), Werthis (god of war) and Uthol Inga (“the Watcher”)—arrived on Spira with their mortal flocks, and reached an accord with Pikon, god of the fields, who was already there.
Sure enough, Morningstar is met with hostility by one of her sisters, who knows her reputation as the White Anathema. But in the archives she meets Sister Previa, who is both extremely friendly and sympathetic to her unearned reputation. In addition to agreeing to research of Morningstar, Previa reports that Ellish Dreamseers have been having the same recurring Seer-dreams of late, of some huge object, like a meteor, streaking out of the sky and smashing into Spira. In some of these dreams the object is a deadly, decidedly non-Ellish black, and in others it is blindingly white. The Seers also argue about whether these are augurs of the future or visions of the past. No one knows what to make of it.
Horn’s Company undertakes the week-long walk from Tal Hae to the Seven Mirrors. Kibi and Ernie discuss the oddity of their matching golden bracelets. Kibi, a shy fellow, decides to show Ernie his “trick” with stone: he can shape it like clay, though he claims it’s not magic. “It’s jus’ me and the rock reachin’ an agreement a’ sorts.”
The Seven Mirrors are a ring of black obelisks that one can see on the cover of the book. 🙂 A large crowd has gathered to witness “Flashing Day,” when lights will bounce off the shiny flat sides of the Mirrors. Kibi feels an odd, powerful vibration coming from the Mirrors that no one else can detect. He touches one, and it speaks into his mind: “Kibilhathur. Your time is long past, but it has not yet come. Abide, and return.”
Soon after, Kibi and Ernie are approached by a friendly stranger, Sagiro Emberleaf, a wiry man with a perfect handlebar mustache. Sagiro asks Kibi about his experience touching the Mirror, which apparently no one ever does because it’s bad luck.
The next day, at noon, the Mirrors flash—and a heretofore unnoticed Sharshun dashes from the crowd into the center of the ring. Something in his hand trails a green light only Kibi can see. The Sharshun doesn’t make it to very center, as Tor rushes to tackle him. Rather than be taken prisoner by the collected Company, the Sharshun commits suicide. Kibi picks up the object that was trailing the green light – a large round diamond. It has the following telepathic exchange with Kibi:
Kibi: “Are you an Eye of Moirel?” he asked it.
EYE: WE WERE NEVER HERS TO COMMAND.
Kibi: “What would’ve happened had that man carried you to the center of the Mirrors?”
EYE: MINOR, TEMPORARY DISPLACEMENT. I LACK TWO WILLING BROTHERS.
Kibi: “Two other Eyes of Moirel? How many of you are there?”
EYE: THERE ARE SEVEN, KIBILHATHUR.
Kibi: “How do you know my name?”
EYE: ALL THE STONES KNOW YOUR NAME.
Sagiro surprises them by accusing the Company of murdering the Sharshun, nearly turning the crowd on them, before escaping on horseback. Kibi leaves with the Eye in his pocket.
Horn’s Company returns to the Greenhouse to discover that a) Abernathy has left a large library of spellbooks for Aravia to study, and b) Abernathy himself is not available for reporting in. Kibi and Aravia have a brief discussion about how magic works, during which the Eye of Moirel hops out of Kibi’s hand, bounds up the stairs, and smashes through Ernie’s door. It buries itself in the eye socket of Ernie’s stuffed bear, Bumbly, after which the bear has some mysterious things to say, some on its own, and some in response to questions:
HELLO, ERNEST. YOU ARE LOOKING WELL.
USE THE CIRCLE, COME FULL CIRCLE, BREAK THE CIRCLE.
KIBILHATHUR, KEEP ME SAFE.
MY PURPOSE IS TO TRAVEL, NOWHERE. BRING CARANCH’S GIFT.
THE SHARSHUN WILL UNMAKE THE WORLD. YOU MUST KEEP US FROM THEM. BRING ME MY BROTHERS.
Morningstar receives a letter from Previa with some background information on Moirel (a wizard who appeared hundreds of years ago inside the Seven Mirrors carrying the seven Eyes, which she subsequently lost) the Seven Mirrors (thought possibly to allow magical transport when the Eyes are used) and Blood Gargoyles (extremely powerful and dangerous monsters).
Without new instruction from the absent Abernathy, Horn’s Company takes a ship to Seablade Point to investigate the Kivian Arch. En route, Grey Wolf again feels the painful contortion in his guts…and vanishes!
That night, Morningstar has what she assumes is another Seer Dream. She dreams of a small child lost in the woods, who is threatened by the same red-armored warrior from her earlier dream. The man calls himself Aktallian, and he stabs Morningstar in the stomach with his sword. Morningstar wakes in the ship in terrible pain, discovering the wound affected her waking body as well. She nearly dies, but Dranko successfully channels and heals her before falling unconscious himself.
Dranko wakes, covered with blood, unable to remember healing Morningstar. They discuss Aktallian, and the talk leads to Aravia explaining about the existence of other worlds, including the heavens and hells. Dranko and Morningstar have a brief conversation afterward, during which Dranko admits some of the details of his troubled childhood to Morningstar: that he was cast out of his village as a youth, made a ward of the Church of Delioch, and regularly punished by the Scarbearers until eventually they simply kicked him out.
Horn’s Company arrives in Seablade Point, a tiny village on the southernmost coast of the kingdom’s southernmost island. In the one local watering hole, they learn that the Kivian Arch is an old nearly-forgotten relic in the woods outside of town. No one knows of the man Levec, though the barmaid seems confused on that point. Aravia discovers that every single person in town is under an unknown enchantment. Unwilling to trust the locals after that, the Company searches out the arch, finding it in part because many sets of footprints go back and forth to it from the village.
The arch itself is huge and made of stone and metal. The Company hides nearby, hoping to learn something…and at midnight, thirty villagers (including the barmaid) wander in a silent trance (and in their nightclothes) to stand directly beneath the arch. It glows a bright red for several minutes, after which the light goes out and the villagers return to town. With her darksight, Morningstar sees a single person remaining after the others have gone: a man with red hair and a gray beard, who eventually departs in the opposite direction from the town.
They sleep that night in the woods. Tor has trouble falling asleep, thinking about how he may be falling in love with Aravia.
The next morning the Company goes to find the bearded man, tracking him to a small stone church on a high cliff above the ocean. The man, Hodge, a priest of the sea god Brechen, nervously invites them into the church. It seems a man named Level came to Hodge several months earlier, with tales of odd rituals happening beneath the arch. Levec had to return to the capital, but implored Hodge to keep notes on what the enchanted villagers were doing. That’s why Hodge was out the previous night.
Hodge has been keeping notes, as Levec asked, and offers to show them to the Company. He goes into his office, but when he returns, he revels himself as a secret priest of the fire god Nifi and attacks the Company with a paralyzing fire spell! He admits to killing Levec, and that his purpose is to open the arch to allow an invasion from Kivia. The group nearly burns to death, but Kibi, largely unaffected by the magic for some reason, is able to free his friends from the paralysis. Hodge retreats to his office, where Tor kills him, but not before Hodge grievously injures Ernie with a fireball.
Dranko channels to heal Ernie, but the strain of channeling once again knocks him out.
Aravia has been studying teleportation magic from one of Abernathy’s books. After ransacking Hodge’s office for interesting loot (helped by the stone walls talking to Kibi, telling him about a secret closet), Aravia teleports the entire Company back to the Greenhouse.
Kibi discovers Abernathy in his room, badly injured. The old wizard manages to impart some information before falling unconscious: that he was attacked by a Blood Gargoyle (though thanks to the Company’s warning, he was able to prepare well enough to fight it off); that Aktallian was sent through the “prison door” by Naradawk while Abernathy was distracted by the gargoyle; and that the Company needs more than ever to find the Crosser’s Maze beyond the Kivian Arch.
Before he can leave his room, Kibi sees Bumbly in his room, again with the green Eye of Moirel in its eye socket. Once more it speaks, a) intimating that Kibi must find two of the Eye’s “willing brothers,” b) that one other Eye is in a cave in some nearby hills, and that c) if the Sharshun find the Eyes first, they will “unmake the world,” an obviously undesirable outcome.
Also: among the items taken from Hodge is a scrap of paper on which is written:
As the Emperor was driven out, so were we also, for a long season, a bitter season and a cold. But in the Book of the Burning God it is so writ, of the land beyond the Churning Sea, a Ventifact Colossus will again walk the earth and three Stormknights will lay it low. Then, on the fingertip of lands once ours, the Gate will be open, forced ajar with souls, and the Children of the Burning God will return to conquer.
Morningstar agrees to see if Previa can discover any information about what a Ventifact Colossus is.
Abernathy is still unconscious, and the Company has done almost everything he asked. (They cannot go through the Kivian Arch to find the Crosser’s Maze, because, as they just discovered, the arch is not activated. There’s some worry that stopping Hodge has now prevented the arch from being opened.)
On the journey into the hills to find another Eye of Moirel, Morningstar is visited by an Ellish avatar – essentially an angel. Ell has declared Morningstar a Dreamwalker and a Child of Light, destined to do battle with Aktallian in a place called the Tapestry of Dreams. Morningstar wonders how this is possible, since something called the Injunction prevents the gods from meddling in the affairs of mortals. The avatar admits that Ell may be bending the rules a bit more than usual. “The future is a thousand roads to a thousand fates,” says the avatar, “and the Gods see them all, but they cannot tell which path you will walk. They can but set out lights to guide your way.” Morningstar awakes in terror and confusion, but also newfound hope. She keeps this revelation to herself.
While searching the caves for an Eye of Moirel, they find Sagiro Emberleaf asleep in one of them. Sagiro admits he’s also been looking for an Eye, but with no success. They agree to let him live if he hands over his weapon and departs, and he nearly gets away before Kibi realizes he has the red Eye of Moirel in his pocket! Sagiro removes the Eye as if to hand it over, but at the last moment uses it (or more accurately, instructs it) to blast the Company into unconsciousness. They awake sometime later, alive, but Sagiro has fled with the Eye.
Having failed to secure the Eye, Aravia teleports the Company back to the Greenhouse. (As usual, Kibi shows up a few seconds late—clearly magic doesn’t work properly on him.)
The following dawn, a letter arrives for Morningstar from Previa. She has found a scrap of prophecy written by a raving lunatic that seems to indicate that a) a Ventifact Colossus is a giant turtle, b) it will wake near the city of Ganit Tuvith when “the red trespasser” blows the Chelonian Horn from the highest tower of that city, c) if the Colossus is not killed, it will lead a rampage of more giant turtles across the world, leveling the kingdom, and d) if it is killed, it will be done by three Stormknights of Werthis.
None in the Company know have heard of Ganit Tuvith, though they guess “the red trespasser” is Aktallian.
Once more, the green Eye of Moirel possesses Bumbly the bear to deliver a warning.
HARD BY NORLIN’S HEADWATERS, A KEEP CRUMBLES. TIME AGAIN IS SHORT. WHEN THE WORLD IS UNMADE, YOU WILL NEED MY LAST BROTHER. WITHOUT HIM, NOTHING MATTERS.
Aravia has taught herself a spell that will reveal the function and purpose of enchanted objects, and casts this on a variety of items taken from Hodge, as well as a few other things the Company has collected. She discovers that: 1) The Greenhouse itself is massively enchanted; 2) Ernie’s sword, Pyknite, is enchanted to kill goblins; 3) a bunch of red metal pyramids from Hodge’s closet are “critical secondary components in a complex ritual meant to open a direct portal between two gartine-infused arches”; 4) Ernie’s bracelet will prevent the wearer from traveling between worlds. It has other properties she cannot glean; 5) The Eye of Moirel foils her spell entirely; 6) The little necklace taken from the Black Circle wizard in Sand’s Edge prevents the wearer’s mind from being read, and finally 7) a rolled up rug from Hodge’s closet is a flying carpet, capable of carrying four people at a time.
Number 3 is encouraging because it implies they may not have prevented the Arch’s opening when they stopped Hodge.
Abernathy is still unconscious.
Aravia teleports the Company to Sand’s Edge (she can only teleport to places she’s seen). From there it’s a two day flying-carpet-assisted journey to the headwaters of the Norlin River. En route, Morningstar tells Kibi about her visitation from the avatar.
Flying on the carpet (and thus losing all connection with the ground) is terrifying to Kibi. The first night, Morningstar is able to visit his dreams and soothe some of his fear.
They reach the keep on the second day—it’s long abandoned, and its interior partially ruined. Kibi can sense right away that an Eye of Moirel is inside the keep. They discover it embedded in the eye socket of a skeleton, which it animates via a spreading purple crystal. It speaks:
ERNEST. YOU ARE LOOKING WELL. I HAVE SEEN YOU AGAIN SOON.
KIBILHATHUR. MY REGARDS TO YOUR GRANDFATHER. NOW BRING ME TO MY BROTHER. TIME RUNS SHORT.
Having said that much, the Eye of Moirel pops out of the skull. Kibi takes it, and the Company leaves the keep’s interior…
…to find Sagiro waiting for them in the courtyard, accompanied by four Sharshun warriors! A fight ensues, which the Company seems destined to lose, until Kibi convinces the purple Eye of Moirel to blast their enemies. It protests that it will become damaged, but eventually assents, knocking out nearly everyone in the battle, and blasting Sagiro out through the gate and into a hundred foot ravine with a rock-filled river at the bottom. At Dranko’s urging, Kibi tosses the surviving Sharshun after him.
Back at the Greenhouse, Abernathy is still out. Morningstar’s sister Previa has written back that “Ganit Tuvith” is what Sand’s Edge used to be called centuries earlier. There’s some discussion about whether they should stop Aktallian from blowing the horn, since if they do, the Kivian Arch might never be opened, and that would prevent the acquisition of the Crosser’s Maze. On the other hand, letting an army of giant turtles destroy the kingdom doesn’t seem appealing either.
That night, the two Eyes of Moirel the Company now owns—green and purple—embed themselves in the eye sockets of Eddings the butler, and deliver warnings. The Eyes seem to disagree; one warns that if Aktallian blows the Chelonian Horn, disaster will befall. The other warns of the same if it’s not blown. They do agree that either way, Aktallian is going to try blowing the horn today. (The Eyes then spew a bunch more prophetic warnings that are not relevant to Book 2, so never mind for now!)
Aravia has come to the realization that Ventifact Colossus—referred to as a “Great Sand Turtle” in the raving prophecy—must be one of the floating islands they camped on earlier in the desert near Sand’s Edge. That would make it a hundred yards across at least, and hundreds of feet high. Yikes.
They teleport to Sand’s Edge, where sure enough one of the floating islands has drifted (or swum?) to the nearest edge of the desert. They are unable to convince the gawking locals that it’s actually a huge turtle that’s about to destroy their city. The Company learns that the highest point in the city is Arrowshot Tower. Ernie and Kibi run that way, while Tor flies the rest of them to the local chapter house of the Stormknights. They convince the three Stormknights there—one of whom is nicknamed “Turtlebane”—of what’s about to happen, and that they need to find a way to kill something as huge as the Ventifact Colossus.
Tor then flies himself, Dranko, Morningstar and Aravia to the top of Arrowshot Tower, just as Ernie and Kibi also arrive. Aktallian is there ahead of them, holding the Chelonian Horn. The Company decides to let him blow it, hoping that a) that will still somehow cause the Kivian Arch to open, but also b) the Stormknights, now warned, will be able to stop the Colossus before it leads other such creatures on a rampage.
Aktallian blows the horn, after which the Company attacks him. He is more than equal to their combined power, but is defeated when Tor bull-rushes him over the edge of the tower-top, getting stabbed in the process. Aravia rushes to the railing and saves Tor with a levitation spell. Aktallian may or may not have died from the long fall, but his red armor teleports his body away.
During the fight on the tower top, the Ventifact Colossus has begun to rise from the desert, plodding a slow, destructive path toward the tower. The Stormknights had better kill it soon! Morningstar has been rendered unconscious in the battle, Aravia is out cold from the effort of spellcasting, and Dranko is barely conscious after healing Morningstar. Kibi carries Morningstar and Aravia down the tower stairs while Dranko hopes he has enough healing mojo left to save Tor from his sword wound.
That leaves Ernie to find the Stormknights and render assistance. He pilots the flying carpet and eventually finds them staring up at the enormous Ventifact Colossus, wondering how they can kill something the size of a village as it stomps its way across Sand’s Edge. Ernie recalls Morningstar’s vision of Eddings killing a turtle with a letter-opener up its nose, and realizes what he has to do. The Stormknights hop on the carpet, and Ernie delivers them into one of the Colossus’s cavernous nostrils. Just before the Colossus reaches Arrowshot Tower, it stops, quivers, and falls dead, the Stormknights having carved their way to its brain.
The final death throes of the Colossus result in a specific pattern of destruction that Ernie can discern from high above on the carpet. The remains of Arrowshot Tower and the surrounding buildings resembles a statue taken from Hodge’s office, and in the wreckage Ernie sees hundreds of red metal pyramids. It seems that the Ventifact Colossus’ death did fulfill the fire god prophecy after all.
The Ventifact Colossus is dead. Sand’s Edge is mostly destroyed, and its citizens are streaming northward in a line of refugees.
As the Company camps for the night amidst the survivors, Morningstar has one more Seer Dream: She sees that near Seablade Point, the Kivian Arch has been opened, allowing travel to the land of Kivia beyond the Uncrossable Sea. She also sees that on the far side, beyond a thousand miles of an unfamiliar continent, the Crosser’s Maze awaits in a distant jungle.
Grey Wolf finds himself in a throne room, prostrate before the monstrous Emperor Naradawk Skewn. Naradawk gloats over Grey Wolf, telling him that he will move helplessly back and forth between the worlds of Spira and Volpos until the final moment when he is part of both worlds at once, at which point the Black Circle will use him to effect Naradawk’s escape.
Curious as to what Grey Wolf knows, Naradawk forcibly reads his mind, thus learning about Abernathy’s team, and how they have no clear plan to stop him. Grey Wolf, having just heard he is integral to the plans for Naradawk’s escape, tries to kill himself, but Naradawk takes control of his body to prevent this.
As Grey Wolf begins to fade, returning to his own world of Spira, Naradawk tries to erase Grey Wolf’s memory of their conversation…only to find that someone else has already erased similar knowledge from Grey Wolf’s mind.
Grey Wolf appears on his knees, alone in the dark, in the center of the Seven Mirrors.