Plot Summary Edit
Deep in a cave underneath the Red Mountains, a small green hatchling breaks her head free of her egg while dreaming of flying through a storm; her mother naming her Wistala. While her gray brother feasts on the corpse of a red sibling, Wistala helps free her sister Jizara from her own egg, so that she can join the meal. The gray - Auron - has his fill and leaves the meat to them, only for their third brother; a copper, to leap on Jizara and steal some of the food before fleeing. Afterwards, their mother calls them to rest - also praising Wistala's ability in improvising a way to get Jizara free - and wakes them later when their father arrives.
After the hatchlings have begun to grow for some time, their father takes Auron away to practise hunting on a human he has captured, and Wistala and Jizara listen as their mother tells them of Silverhigh; a former dragon city that was destroyed when its inhabitants became immersed in luxury and weak, allowing a soothsayer named Prymelete to orchestrate their downfall.
Around springtime, Wistala encounters her copper brother while hunting in their cavern, but he tells her to get out of his way and heads after Auron. Wistala knows Auron will win - and feels he deserves a bite or two - so she goes back to tell her mother and Jizara. Not long afterwards, Auron arrives and announces that dwarves have come to attack them. Their mother sends Auron and Wistala up to the surface - Jizara remains behind; clinging to her mother's leg as Wistala calls to her - and they flee as the dwarves attack.
Auron and Wistala continue to the surface; briefly becoming trapped by an ice flow that Auron gradually breaks through. Auron decides that they should seek out their father, and the two hatchlings descend the mountain above their egg cave; heading west. After several days, they reach the entrance to the egg cave and see their father returning, but he does not see them, and continues inside; becoming ambushed by the dwarves within, and a group of elves waiting outside. Horribly injured, their father flees north, and Auron tells Wistala to hide while he leads the elves away from her, and to then seek out their AuRel. Wistala is unable to stop him, and soon finds herself alone outside the egg cave.
After carving a crude image of herself and Auron in stone to show that they were once there, Wistala descends into the egg cave to see if Jizara or her mother survived, only to find their bodies, which have been harvested by the dwarves. Her copper brother approaches, claiming the dwarves lied to him, but she attacks him; wounding his eye before he flees. Deciding to pursue him and the dwarves - who both parents inadvertantly identified as being dwarves from the Wheel of Fire - when she can spit dragonfire, Wistala returns to the surface.
After resting, Wistala heads north in search of her father; detouring west through a forest to save time. In the forest, Wistala encounters several birds who panic about her arrival. Remembering her mother teaching her that some elves could speak to birds, she tells the birds she is a "not-dragon". After several days of travel, Wistala manages to find her father near a gorge; heavily wounded and surrounded by carrion birds. Remembering her mother's lessons, Wistala begins tending her father's wounds using dwarf's-beard - a moss used to clean and plug wounds - and later brings him food and water from a nearby river by swallowing and regurgitating it.
Her father slowly starts to recover, and Wistala talks with him about taking revenge on the Wheel of Fire; but he tells her that dragonelles get their revenge not by attacking, but by laying clutches to replace those lost. He then reveals that they met the Wheel of Fire as a result of searching for a cavern to safely lay eggs in - their previous two clutches having perished in unsuitable caverns - when he and her mother made a deal with a dwarf named Gobold, who got them to aid in exterminating blighters from their caverns in return for a large payment of gold and silver. When they were paid, Wistala's mother mistakenly let slip that they planned to have hatchlings.
A week passes, and while out hunting, Wistala encounters a dwarf setting up camp. Although she initially plans to kill him, she loses the will to when she sees him carefully tending to the ponies pulling his wagon. Instead, she becomes intrigued with the nose bags he places on the ponies, and she steals them when he falls asleep so that she can use them to carry food to her father easier. In time, Wistala's father notes he needs metal to replenish his scales, and sends Wistala to search some ruins to the southwest in the hopes of finding some iron.
Guided by Bartleghaff - a carrion bird who is an old friend of her [AuRel|father]] - Wistala reaches the ruins and begins retrieving metal, which attracts a cat; Yari Sunwarm Fourth Orangedaughter - "Yari-Tab". Wistala asks if she knows where to find more metal, and Yari-Tab reveals that there are old metal coins underground near a network of rat tunnels - Deep Run. The two come to an arrangement, and Yari-Tab leads Wistala to an entrance to the Deep Run, which she finds is barred; forcing her to use her strength to break through. Once inside, they find that the coins are missing, presumably taken by the rats, so Wistala heads into the Deep Run to seek them out; eventually finding the rats after a brief battle with a channelback.
With Yari-Tab translating for her, Wistala demands the coins, only to find that the rats have stolen them in the hopes of attracting men, who will fight over it and leave dead bodies for them to eat. Wistala offers to spread a rumour for them, but the rats don't believe her, and several attack when she states she will dig up their holes until she gets the coins. Wistala and Yari-Tab kill them, and shortly afterwards the cloudy-eyed rat that serves as their leader decides to give them the coins, leading them to the chamber where they are kept. Upon seeing the coins, Wistala momentarily becomes possessive and prepares to attack all around her, but comes to her senses and manages to take the coins and leave with Yari-Tab.
The next day, Wistala heads back to her father with the coins. When halfway to him, she hears the sounds of dogs, and attempts to throw them off her trail by detouring and leaving her scent at a lake, before returning to her regular path; despite this, an elderly dog catches up to her. Wistala kills it, but becomes injured and realises other dogs have heard its yelps. Wistala hurries to reach her father - losing the majority of the coins in the process - only for Bartleghaff to warn them that the Dragonblade - presumably under hire of the Wheel of Fire - and his dogs are on their trail; having followed Wistala. Her father tells her to leave, before going to face the Dragonblade and his men, only to quickly become overwhelmed by the dogs. Wistala rushes to help her father; spitting her first dragonfire as she joins the battle, but the Dragonblade kills him. Before the Dragonblade and the others can kill her, Wistala leaps from the heights; hitting a rock and landing in the river.
Wistala eventually wakes and finds that she has been rescued by an elf; Rainfall, who nurses her back to health and teaches her Elvish - and later how to read - so that they can communicate. Wistala gradually learns that Rainfall is the owner of a vast estate called Mossbell - lying within the decaying Hypatian Empire - which protects a river crossing; however, much of the area surrounding the bridge is plagued by a troll - which killed Rainfall's son Eyen when he tried to rid the land of it.
Time goes on, and Wistala remains with Rainfall - who hides her when the Dragonblade and his men pass through Mossbell. Wistala finds that due to the troll, Rainfall is having trouble paying his taxes to the local thane; Hammar, who has offered relief of all taxes for five years to the person who slays the troll. Wistala briefly scouts out the troll - living in a cave near Mossbell - and discusses it with Rainfall, but she is unable to come up with a way to get rid of it.
Some six months after arriving at Mossbell, Wistala investigates a recent kill by the troll and finds evidence that it has been dwelling under the bridge - likely due to the hard winter making it hard to find food. Over several days, Wistala comes up with a plan to remove it once and for all by utilising the bridge crane - which Rainfall used to rescue her when he found her drifting down the river - to drop a large tree on it.
Once they manage to set the trap, Wistala and Avalanche - the stallion who once belonged to Eyen - lure the troll out onto the bridge in the night. However, it shifts as they drop the tree trunk, resulting in it only becoming injured. A group of men attack the troll unsuccessfully, but Wistala and Avalanche manage to finish it off; although Avalanche dies afterwards from injuries caused by the troll.
Not long afterwards, Rainfall is summoned to Galahall by Thane Hammar to report on the death of the troll. Although he is aware that it is a thinly-disguised way for the thane to humiliate him, Rainfall attends the summons; also prompted to by the fact that his granddaughter Lada has been kept by the thane as a ward ever since he began having trouble paying his taxes. Rainfall returns with an ill mule; Stog, who is the thane's replacement for Avalanche, and who turns out to have once belonged to the Dragonblade. After Rainfall treats Stog, Wistala talks with him about the environs of Galahall; forming a plan to return Lada to Mossbell.
Over time, Wistala learns Parl from Jessup - the brother of a man killed during the final attack on the troll - and eventually requests that he construct a harness for her that can carry game back to Mossbell. He does so, allowing Wistala to investigate the exterior of Galahall while hunting and figure out her next move. After a week of hunting, Wistala takes Stog with her under the pretext of having him help her carry a deer back, and the two head for Galahall.
Upon arrival, Wistala climbs the side of a tower that she guesses Lada will be housed in, and eventually finds her on the topmost level, along with another woman and her baby. However, Lada fails to realise her intent to rescue her and flees in terror; raising the alarm in the process. Creating a fire as a distraction, Wistala flees into the surrounding woods. Failing to find Stog, but assuming he will find his own way home, Wistala begins making her way back to Mossbell. However, she is pursued by hunters, and ultimately kills one out of spite - noticing afterwards that he is wearing the symbol of a figure within a circle - before starting a forest fire to ensure they won't follow her.
Reaching Mossbell after locating the river and swimming downsteam, Wistala finds Rainfall, who has guessed where she has been after hearing stories of a strange creature attacking Galahall. Rainfall is not angry, but tells her that had she rescued Tala, he would have taken her back to Galahall anyway as keeping her would have broken the law. Wistala tells Rainfall that she saw Lada sharing a room with a young woman and her baby, causing Rainfall alarm at the thought that Hammar could impregnate Lada.
Prompted by Rainfall's words, Wistala forms a plan, and five weeks later leads him and several men to the ruins where she met Yari-Tab - once Hesstur; a founding city of the Hypatian Empire - to retrieve the remainder of the buried coins the rats possessed. On the way, they find Stog working in a field, and Rainfall buys him back. At the ruins of Hesstur, Rainfall and his men retrieve the coins, and Wistala encounters Yari-Tab again, and invites her to return with her to Mossbell, which she accepts - bringing along another cat and her litter in the process.
Not long after Rainfall discovers an ancient set of engraved tablets in the ruins, Vog; a thane who claims to control Hesstur arrives, and demands the coins. After negotiations over the coins fail, Vog sends his men to bind Rainfall, prompting Wistala to scare their horses away by urinating and releasing the scent of dragon upwind, before Rainfall defeats Vog and his men on the ground by using his bare hands. Vog admits defeat, but hurls a blade in Rainfall's back as he turns away. Wistala kills Vog, and discovers that Rainfall has survived. Rainfall's men go to take him and the coins back to Mossbell, and Wistala remains behind to secretly harrass Vog's men to scare them away, before returning to Mossbell - utilising one of their abandoned horses to carry her there. Vog's men arrive at Mossbell not long after she does, but the inhabitants - led by Mod Feeney; a low priest who repeats the tale of Vog's attack - form a human chain and prevent them from crossing the bridge.
Rainfall soon recovers, but loses the use of his legs, and resorts to moving around with the aid of others - aided by the widow of Lessup and her family moving into Mossbell. After finding out that Lada is to be returned to Mossbell as a result of the coins paying off Rainfall's debt, Wistala talks with him about the tablets he found; Rainfall revealing that they are historic laws dating back from ancient times. As they discuss this, Lada arrives, but flees past them into the house; they soon find that she has fallen in love with Hammar and is pregnant, and she now blames them for taking her away from him. Rainfall suspects this is a plan by Hammar to ensure he inherits Mossbell, which he could use to place a toll on all who would cross the bridge.
Later, Wistala finds Stog in the stables, and learns from him how he ended up in the fields; after they reached Galahall, he attempted to return to the Dragonblade - missing the excitement of their hunts. Wistala learns from Stog that the Dragonblade lives with the dwarves of the Wheel of Fire. While wondering about avenging her family and how to help Rainfall, Wistala comes up with the idea of getting Rainfall to sell Mossbell to her. Since she would need to be a Hypatian citizen, Rainfall begins making arrangements for her to be accepted; arranging for dwarves of the Chartered Company of the Diadem to deliver his request to the Imperial Library at Thallia. After meeting with the dwarves, Rainfall reveals a surprise to Wistala; Jessup has decided to name the inn he has been building at Mossbell "The Green Dragon Inn".
In time, the dwarves return with a response from the Imperial Library; revealing Wistala has been granted the title of "Agent-Librarian". The title carries with it a badge of office, which Wistala decides to have affixed to her fringe. With Rainfall's assistance, Wistala takes an oath of citizenship - a simple oath, as Rainfall plans to adopt her, which will grant her citizenship after six years in Hypatia - before the two of them travel to Quarryness to formally sign over Mossbell. In Quarryness, Rainfall is barred entry into a Hypatian Hall by several firewardens - who state they're not to deal with him - but Wistala climbs inside the building and unlocks the door; allowing them to proceed and complete their business.
During the return trip to Mossbell, Rainfall - on [[Stog] - and Wistala are approached by Hammar, who attempts to bring Rainfall before a judge to remove him from control of Mossbell. Rainfall reveals that Wistala is the new master of Mossbell, which Hammar will not accept. As he orders his men to kill her, Wistala leaps at him, but Rainfall manages to defuse the situation, and both parties go their separate ways. Upon arrival at Mossbell, Rainfall learns that Hammar visited while he was gone, and Lada ran out to him, only to return to the house in tears. Rainfall tries to talk with her, but she becomes emotional and is taken away by Widow Jessup to be comforted; later being joined by two of Widow Jessup's daughters and Mod Feeney, who offers her a position as her acolyte once she gives birth.
Several days later, a circus arrives at Mossbell, and Rainfall takes Wistala to meet with Ragwrist; the circus master, who invites her to watch their show, before he and other members of the circus join them for dinner at Mossbell; where they request Wistala tell the tale of how they vanquished the troll. Afterwards, Rainfall tells Wistala he thinks she should travel with Ragwrist's Circus to avoid Hammar - who could potentially attempt to murder her to claim Mossbell - and so that she can see the cities of Hypatia and the surrounding lands. In addition to that, her current growth will require more food, which the circus will be able to provide, and she may soon want to seek a mate. Rainfall notes she would need to return at least once every five years, otherwise the thane will be able to declare her legally dead. Ragwrist notes she could replace their current fortune-teller Intanta - who uses a crystal shard that was supposedly part of the wizard Anklamere's crystal - who plans to retire, and inadvertantly reveals to Wistala that one of the locations they regularly visit is the Wheel of Fire.
The next day, Hammar arrives at Mossbell, and Wistala watches him threaten herself and Rainfall before leaving. Later witnessing him reject Lada when she attempts to reach him, Wistala decides to remain at Mossbell in case things become difficult for Rainfall. The following day, they discover that Lada has run away to join Ragwrist's Circus. Rainfall decides to go after her - despite knowing that she's now old enough to be apprenticed - and they go to Stog, who informs Wistala he saw one of the Dragonblade's men working for Hammar; implying she's in danger. When they catch up with Lada - who, as Rainfall guesses, refuses to return - Rainfall begs Wistala to go with her, which she agrees to do. Rainfall tells her to write to him often - attracting the interest of Dsossa, who plans to send her own messages to Rainfall.
During their time in the circus, Lada - who gives birth to a boy; Raygnar, or Rayg for short - and Wistala write together and send their letters to Rainfall. Intanta gradually teaches Wistala how to act as a fortune-teller; something she finds incredibly difficult. When they reach the Wheel of Fire, Wistala asks to be able to handle the dwarves alone, and ends up gaining a great reputation amongst the dwarves there when the "fortune" - really just good advice - she gives Stava; a lovestruck dwarf, results in him managing to impress the family high above his station and secure a marriage - and possibly a position on the Wheel of Fire council. Eventually, a dwarf named Fangbreaker from the Wheel of Fire council - really the dwarf Gobold - requests her advice on the future; Wistala tells him to master the council table and do away with politics and tradition to make his people the dominant power of the world. As the circus leaves, Wistala witnesses a family she thinks is that of the Dragonblade. A month later, the circus stops at Mossbell, where Wistala learns that Hammar hasn't spoken much with Rainfall, but has had many visits from northern barbarian emissaries. Ragwrist allows Lada to leave the circus, in return for her letting Rainfall take care of her and Rayg's educations, and accepting Dsossa as her grandmother - as she and Rainfall have grown close, and she also seeks to retire.
Wistala remains with the circus, and as time goes on, Lada becomes apprenticed to Mod Feeney, and the dwarves of the Wheel of Fire repeatedly request that Wistala be sold to their council. Wistala grows in size and her wings start becoming visible. When the circus next stops at Quarryness, Wistala goes to Mossbell; noticing a strange blue firework - or signal flare - as she does. At Mossbell, Wistala and Dsossa realise they can hear hoofbeats, and they soon realise they are under attack by Hammar; leading a group of barbarians, as well as the Dragonblade and his son, Eliam. When Dsossa flees with her horses towards Quarryness and becomes a target for archers, Wistala gets Stog to provide a distraction, although he becomes grievously injured by them and later dies. Rainfall addresses Hammar, who states he has come to settle their accounts in a "night-of-blades". The barbarians then go to attack the Green Dragon Inn and Mossbell itself. Trapped inside Mossbell with Rainfall and Widow Lessup - everyone else having been sent to hide - Wistala holds off the attackers, before getting Widow Lessup to slice open her back so she can release her wings and fly them to safety. Rainfall insists she take Widow Lessup, while he remains to defend his library, and after making a hole in the roof, Wistala tests her wings and takes flight. When outside, she sees Eliam going after Yari-Tab and turns on him; scarring his face before returning to Mossbell to carry Widow Lessup to safety.
Depositing Widow Lessup on the roof of the Green Dragon Inn, Wistala returns to Mossbell to retrieve Rainfall, who she finds hanging upside down from a fountain. The barbarians shoot her down with arrows, and Wistala sees the Dragonblade approaching and assumes she will die. However, he instead frees Rainfall and leaves her - predicting she will die from her injuries - before informing Hammar that he is leaving his service. After defeating the barbarians who attempt to attack him, the Dragonblade leaves with his men - and Eliam, who he prevents from attacking Wistala.
Hammar then gives his men orders to kill Wistala, but none of them are willing to go near her, so Hammar takes a bow and arrow and kills Rainfall with a practise shot. As Wistala moves to attack Hammar; who flees, Ragwrist and his circus folk arrive - having been alerted by Dsossa - from the similarly-attacked Quarryness and defeat the barbarians. Rainfall is buried the next day - away from his family's burial ground, lest Hammar attempt to take revenge on it - under the instructions of Ragwrist, who Wistala learns was his brother.
Wistala later buries Stog alongside Avalanche, and briefly sets up residence in the cave once occupied by the troll. After musing about her enemies - Hammar is now acting as if he was a king, and his men have claimed the bridge near Mossbell and set up a toll - Wistala decides to head north in the hope of finding other dragons. She informs Ragwrist and the others of this, and receives a new harness from another member of the circus. Before she leaves, Lada comes to say goodbye, and requests that Wistala look for Rayg - abducted during the attack - in the north, as she has received little aid from Hammar. In addition to this, Lada reveals that several sailors recently witnessed another dragon in the north; being ridden by a man.
During her travels in the north, Wistala only encounters four dragons; three dragons who she avoids when she sees they are harnessed by men, and one dragon who attempts to mate with her. In time, Wistala finds out from a dwarf that there are dragons living in a place called the Sadda-Vale; east of the Red Mountains. Wistala sets out to find it, after briefly resting near a village - and rejecting the village's attempt to sate her with a human sacrifice.
After crossing the Red Mountains and escaping an encounter with a troll, Wistala reaches the Sadda-Vale, where she finds a male dragon; DharSii - "Sureclaw" - shattering rocks to find metal. After a brief - and mildly insulting - conversation, DharSii leads her to Vesshall; the dwelling of the dragons of the Sadda-Vale, who Wistala finds are served by blighters. Wistala only remains with them for a brief period of time; becoming bothered by their general lack of concern for those around them - even casually remarking that the Red Mountains are being cleared of dragons - and eventually leaving when Scabia - the "Archelle" - attempts to arrange a mating between her and NaStirath; whose mate Aethleethia is barren.
Following this, Wistala makes her way back to Ragwrist's Circus, where she comes up with a plan to infiltrate the Wheel of Fire. Posing as a captive of the circus, Wistala travels with them to the Wheel of Fire, where Fangbreaker - now "King Fangbreaker" - announces his intention to free her from the circus, and offers her a home with the Wheel of Fire, where she would counsel him as an Oracle. While he and Ragwrist discuss a price, Wistala is approached by Iatella - the great granddaughter of Intanta - to practise fortune-telling. Unexpectedly, Iatella has a vision about the fate of the world, and states it involves three dragons - Auron, Wistala and their Copper brother.
After being "freed", Wistala returns with the dwarves to the Wheel of Fire, and is shown around by King Fangbreaker, who tells her how he rose to power after heeding the fortune she gave him. Wistala is given a home in a former observatory in a tower on Tall Rock and a blighter slave named Yellowteeth, and she spends her time observing the Wheel of Fire's many defences and thinking of how they could be overcome. In the end, Wistala decides to start small, and thus tells King Fangbreaker that she has a dream about him receiving the crown of Masmodon after releasing a young slave - Raygnar. In response, King Fangbreaker sends an armed force led by the dwarf Lord Lobok to find the young slave.
Some time afterwards, Wistala enquires from King Fangbreaker how he got his name, and discovers that he got it after killing a family of dragons who cheated him out of a clutch of hatchlings - Wistala's family; the dwarves of the Wheel of Fire considered their hatchlings as belonging to them as per the terms of their original arrangement with the dragons, which her father and mother disputed. King Fangbreaker then sends her to deliver messages between himself and Lobok at Galahall. At Galahall, Wistala manages to trick Lobok into attacking Hammar's men - who manage to secure Rayg in the process - and when news of this reaches the Wheel of Fire, advocates King Fangbreaker retaliate against Hammar's "treachery". As he sends forces, Wistala travels to the Green Dragon Inn, and dictates a letter to be sent to Hammar warning him of the impending attack. After informing Lada that Rayg is with the Wheel of Fire - having been apprenticed to their Guild of Inventors - Wistala heads to the Library of Thallia to gain information about dams, as the Wheel of Fire uses one to create an artificial lake around part of their city; the Ba-drink.
Upon return to the Wheel of Fire, Wistala finds the Dragonblade has come to see her. He takes her inside the Wheel of Fire and shows a number of wheeled war machines that spit fire which include the decapitated heads of dragons in their design; several of which Wistala recognises. The Dragonblade then reveals that he knows exactly who she is, and remarks that there's something about her that frightens him. However, he adds that she won't escape him again.
Later, Wistala hears news that the forces sent against Hammar have been almost completely annihilated. Wistala goes to King Fangbreaker, who gets her to deliver aid to a surviving group of dwarves. She does this, and returns with the dwarves who were most severely injured. King Fangbreaker then rejects her advice to send his remaining forces to rescue those still out there, resulting in them being annihilated as they attempt to return.
Not long afterwards, Wistala is warned by Djaybee - a member of the star-guild - that she and others may be in danger from assassins. They set up a watch, but Djaybee is killed by Yellowteeth while Wistala sleeps, and she discovers that he has been sent by King Fangbreaker to kill her. However, she bests him, and tells him to send King Fangbreaker after her if he wishes her to die. Wistala then escapes her rooms by replicating the action DharSii took to shatter stones to break through the walls, and takes flight over the city; hovering over the Titan Bridge so that the dwarves destroy it when trying to target her with their siege weapons. Wistala then finds Lord Lobok, and convinces him to retreat before their approaching enemy, before flying to Hammar - and Ragwrist - and helping them destroy the Ba-drink dam. As the Ba-drink drains - crippling the dwarven ships on it - Wistala retrieves a heavy weight, which she drops on King Fangbreaker's barge; killing him. She then returns to Hammar, and lifts him into the air; depositing him amidst a surviving group of dwarves. Finally, Wistala seeks out the home of the Dragonblade.
Encountering the Dragonblade and his men, Wistala talks with him and manages to negotiate peace between them - although Eliam attempts to shoot at her. In the process, Wistala learns that Auron may still be alive; the Dragonblade reveals he and Wistala were the only two dragons ever to escape him.
After the battle, the surviving dwarves of the Wheel of Fire flee - along with Rayg - and Galahall becomes divided between Hammar's barbarians. Wistala returns to Mossbell - which she turns over to Ragwrist - and decides to dwell in the old troll cave, after working with Lada to write a history of the battle.