When Darkness Falls
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- "When Darkness Falls" is also the title of a song by Killswitch Engage, from their album, The End of Heartache
|Author||Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory|
|Cover artist||Todd Lockwood|
|Series||The Obsidian Trilogy|
|Publisher||New York; Tor Books|
|Media type||Print (Paperback & Hardback )|
|Pages||602 (paperback edition) & 496 (hardcover edition)|
|LC Class||PS3562.A246 W46 2006|
|Preceded by||To Light a Candle|
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (September 2008) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
After the Great Working to scry through the wards of Armethalieh and deflecting the attack of the Demon Queen Savilla, most of the Allied camp is drained for nearly a sennight. However, Savilla is likewise weakened and now both sides know a secret lost for a thousand years, that a combination of High Magick and Wild Magic can kill a Demon. When the Elven King Andoreniel proposes sending all Allied children and pregnant women to the Fortress of the Crowned Horns of the Moon, Knight-Mage Kellen points out numerous flaws but cannot think of an alternative plan. Meanwhile, Savilla plots to break the bonds that bind He Who Is, the creator of the Demons, by casting secret sacrifices on an enchanted spear in one of the many chambers of the vast World Without Sun.
From the Crystal Spiders, Vestakia learns that an enclave of Shadowed Elves still exists somewhere in the Elven lands, in a cave associated with crystal and water though she doesn't know precisely where that is. The Elves give Cilarnen, the banished High Mage, a gift of many of their older books which discuss the High Magick. Unfortunately, he still lacks a source of power to cast any spells from.
Jermayan, the only Elven Mage, and his Bonded dragon, Ancaladar, depart to begin the evacuation of the pregnant Elven women from the Nine Cities. At the first city, the women refuse to depart to safety while the city is under near constant attack from various Tainted creatures. Jermayan evacuates the entire city through the mountains and burns its Flower Forest so it will not fall to enemy hands. Approximately a third of the already reduced population survives attacks by Coldwarg, Frost Giants, Ice Trolls, and an Ice Drake.
As the Allied army holds Council, Kellen reiterates the belief that the many attacks are meant to divide the Allied forces and stop them from interfering with what he believes to be the Endarkened's ultimate goal, Armethalieh. Without word from Andoreniel, the only orders the army commander, Redhelwar, is to give is to allow refuges from the other races to enter the relative safety of Elven Lands. Kellen is given command of a third of the army with directions to go to the Jeweled Caverns of Halacira to make it a suitable fortress for the refugees.
Cilarnen confers privately with Kellen to inform him that the books may have given him the answer to his power problem. If he can get permission from them, he believes that he could use the power of the Elemental Powers that sustain the land-wards that surround the Elven nation. Unfortunately, the meeting with Viceroy Kindolhinadetil leaves both Kellen and Cilarnen confused as to whether it would be allowable. Unbeknownst to the side of Light, Crown Prince Zyperis of the Demons initiates a plague to affect both animal and forest to further distract the Allies.
Kellen, with a third of the army under his command, moves out to journey to Sentarshadeen. Along the way they discover a village decimated by the plague loosed by the Demons. The Elves recognize it for what it is as the Enemy used the same tactic during the last war.
Cilarnen receives a later from the viceroy that gives him permission to do all he can to aid the war effort, including summoning the Elementals of the land wards. A Salamander enters the summoning circle and merges its essence with Cilarnen, giving him much greater power while inside the Elven lands, but shortening his lifespan to a few years.
The depleted High Council and High Mage Lycaelon fall further and further into the traitor Anigel's power. With his Magewardens policing the Mages and blindly following his lead, his work continues on lowering the City Wards that protect all within the City from Demons. Demon raids in the farther out City lands allows him to convince the Council that Wildmages are attacking. Cilarnen witnesses via a scrying spell the meeting that sends a unit of the Guard and two High Mages to the village of Nerendale to deal with the fictitious menace. Two days later, he witnesses the destruction of a Demon ambush and the kidnapping of the High Mages.
Kellen and his troops reach the mountains where he and Shalkan discover a pass blocked by a Shadewalker, a huge monster with the ability to regenerate nonfatal wounds within minutes. Together they defeat it and determine it to have been the cause that no messages have gotten through between the army and the king. They reach Ondoladeshiron to find it suffering from the plague and news that Andoreniel lies ill and unresponsive in bed in Sentarshadeen. Kellen sends Keirasti and a small unit back to Redhelwar with this news and orders to move to the capital.
Vestakia's attempts to discover the (hopefully) last enclave of the Shadowed Elves via telepathic communication with the Crystal Spiders are still fruitless. The only clues she has received are jewels and water. The prolonged communication opens her mind even further than before and she begins to see glimpses of her father, the Demon Prince Zyperis's mind while she's asleep. Finally, the Crystal Spiders manage to convey an image of giant xaique-pieces. The recently returned Jermayan and Idalia realize the enclave must be in Halacira, the cave where Kellen is heading to prepare for the refugees. Cilarnen manages to find and destroy a latent spell placed in his mind by Anigrel that would have caused him to attempt to kill Kellen. With his help, Idalia and Jermayan find Keirasti's group which Jermayan and Ancaladar go to intercept. They return to inform Redhelwar of the king's health, leaving Kellen without Vestakia's warning.
Kellen suspects a trap in Halacira regardless and cautiously leads some of his troops in while the rest secure the other exits. The Shadowed Elves release a trap that floods most of the cave with the nearby river but with the help of Wildmages in his party and his casting of a spell he shouldn't have been able to cast, Kellen is able to break through. They eradicate the Shadowed Elves which were the last of their kind.
The main army departs as Jermayan takes Keirasti back to her unit and then moves on to inform Kellen of the now-sprung trap. Kellen informs Jermayan of Andoreneil's illness and asks that Cilarnen, Idalia, and Vestakia be brought to assist the king and see if any Shadowed Elves remain. Unfortunately, the Wild Magic isn't strong enough to directly cure Andoreneil, but a combination of treatments seems to help.
Savilla uses the High Mages captured at Nerendale to capture a unicorn and bring it to the enchanted spear. With its death, the barrier sealing He Who Is is greatly weakened. However, Zyperis was able to follow the unicorn's trail and know understands his mother's plans.
Kellen charges Cilarnen with devising a way to open communications with Armethaleih to form an alliance and create the spells to protect Halacira. Vestakia learns through her dreams and counseling with Ancadalar, the Queen of Shadow Mountain's plans for He Who Is. Though a simple riddle game and a scrying spell, Kellen, Jermayan, and Idalia learn of the bargain Vielissar Farcarinon made to seal He Who Is during the last Shadow War. Idalia specifically learns the Great Working she'll need to cast, but lacks the consent of all the races of the Light which is required. Fortunately, Andoreneil has recovered enough to point her to the banners in his council chamber which are magically bound promises of all the races to serve in the time of need. Jermayan and Ancadalar take her to a Place of Power in the far north where she summons the Starry Hunt, the Powers that the Elves followed during their continual internal wars before the Endarkened first appeared. Their arrival in the world restores the waning of the Wild Mage and closes the door on He Who Is, though doesn't lock it.
Jermayan and Idalia return to Redhelwar's army which is moving far too slow to be able to be of use in the spring battles to come. Jermayan offers a solution: a Great Working that would move the entire army to Kellen but would cost his and Ancadalar's lives. Understanding the necessity, the spell is cast and the army moved. However, the Starry Hunt intervenes and spares their lives at the last moment though it costs them all of their magic.
Andoreneil gives Redhelwar a Viceroy's ring giving his autonomy and the authority to refuse the king's orders if he see fit. The army moves towards Armethaleih encountering refugees they send to Elven lands and Demon attacks along the way. Cilarnen negotiates with the land ward Elementals to get another Elemental to assist him when he crosses the borders and spends as much time as possible working on a plan with the Unicorn Knights.
Anigrel has weakened the City Wards enough to let the mildest of Demonic influence in. With it he convinces Lycaelon of the need for allies against the Wildmages. He tells of another city that has isolated itself and is willing to assist Armethaleih and its inhabitants known as The Enlightened. Although an obvious cover for the Endarkened, Lycaelon and the High Council agree to hear from an envoy.
The Endarkened army moves parallel to the Allied one as they approach Armethaleih. Vestakia, now able to read her father's mind even while awake, tells the Allies that the Demons intend to make a Great Sacrifice. By sacrificing a person who represents the Land at a Place of Power (one of which is very near to the Golden City), the Queen of Shadow Mountain will be able to break the bonds on He Who Is, even those created by the Starry Hunt.
Upon reaching the city, the Allied army prepares for battle. However, Savilla uses all of the slaves the Demon army has to cast an extremely powerful spell that masks the presence of the Demons even to those with magical abilities. A small party of "The Enlightened" approach Armethaleih and the Arch Mage's party exits to meet them. Although the Wildmages are temporarily about to dispel the illusion, the Demons succeed in capturing Lycaelon who qualifies as representing the Land. The Demons withdraw from the City's immediate vicinity.
Cilarnen leads the unicorns in a pattern that represents runes and manages to shatter the already corrupted City Wards completely. Attempting to regain Savilla's favour, Zyperis proceeds to lead an attack on the Allied army with the Demon forces not located at the Place of Power.
Cilarnen, Jermayan, and Idalia enter the Golden City of Bells and confront the remains of the High Council, calling for immediate action in informing the citizens of the true nature of the Tokens of Citizenship, the rebuilding of the City Wards, and sending aid to the Allied army. Cilarnen's father, Lord Setarion Volpiril, intercedes and rejoins the Council and acts as a temporary leader when Cilarnen releases the bonds Lycaelon placed on him. Redhelwar hands leadership of the army over to Kellen shortly before the battle commences. Due to Kellen's reorganization of units, the Starry Hunt, and his Knight-Mage abilities, they are able to hold their own against the Demons and their ilk.
With the help of a reclusive and often near-Banished scholar, Idalia works out a spell that combines High Magick and Wild Magic that should break through the Demon's shields at the Place of Power and transport Lycaelon back to the City. Meanwhile, Cilarnen begins the Grand Circle to recast the City Wards, the most complex spell in the High Magick. The Circle completes the casting just as his energy runs out and he collapses. With the help of some High Mages, Kellen's army manages to continue fighting until midnight approaches.
Before entering the Circle that will cast the spell to save Lycaelon, Idalia finally accepts Jermayan's token of marriage, a necklace with a silver eight-pointed star. Without saying goodbye, she enters the Circle knowing what no one else does, that Lycaelon cannot merely be transported, a switch needs to be done. It is the final Mageprice for her, the one she incurred when she saved the Elven lands from the released storms nearly a year previous. As Lycaelon appears in the Circle, Savilla strikes Idalia with her blade and Jermayan runs for Ancadalar to try and save her. A wave of light washes over the land replenishing Wild Mages and High Mages and restoring Ancadalar and Jermayan's magical abilities. With it also comes the destruction of Zyperis and half of the Demons at the Place of Power. Jermayan slays Savilla with his re-acquired magic as well as the other Demons in the area. Kellen arrives later to find the surrounding area covered with flowers and Jermayan holding Idalia's body.
Cilarnen recovers the next day and finds his memories intact and the Elemental has left him. By an ancient law of the City, he is voted the next High Mage as Lycaelon's mind was too damaged by his time in Savilla's custody. Jermayan and Ancadalar disappear shortly after Kellen found them. Kellen returns control of the army to Redhelwar and is in turn given control of a force to mop up the remains of the Demon's force and orders to then return to Sentarshadeen in three months time for Idalia's funeral.
All of the races send their highest-ranking members to Idalia's funeral and many speak of her. Even Lycaelon gives a nominal eulogy, though Kellen declines to do so himself. Cilarnen approaches him afterwards and tells him of the progress he has made in reforming the City. Andoreneil asks to see Kellen in regards to the Fortress of the Crowned Horns. Kellen is to go and inform them of the end of the war and that they may return to their homes. When he, Vestakia, and Shalkan arrive, they find Ancadalar sunning himself on the rocks. Jermayan is inside with Ashaniel, the Elven Queen. Her new baby girl who was born with violet eyes and a silvery eight-pointed star birthmark on her chest. The Wild Magic's gift; Idalia reborn. When he leaves the fortress, Kellen realizes it was over a year ago he was rescued by Shalkan outside the City Gates. Kellen leaves the fortress hand in hand with Vestakia, and with a little prodding from the now-distant unicorn, Kellen kisses her.