7 YEARS AFTER REAPPEARANCE
Hidden Years # 9.5 "Rogue's Challenge"
Cutter collapses on the Bridge of Destiny in fear. Rayek laughs and flies away with Leetah. The Wolfriders turn their backs on him and he falls. He awakes. It's the same dream always. Later he talks to Skywise at the cliff. He'll have to learn to get along with Rayek, says Skywise. In the Palace, Rayek gets a sending from Suntop. The cub got an open sending from below the desert, visions of a jungle. But Suntop can't fly unless Cutter goes. Rayek feels they're even, since now Winnowill is lost to him. Rayek decides they'll fight. Venka says Cutter has changed in many ways. The elders (Strongbow, Treestump, Clearbrook, Moonshade, Aroree) gather. There have been no new recognitions. There used to be deaths, battles, new lives. It's stagnation. Venka delivered Rayek's challenge to Cutter. He accepts. After Rayek and the others leave Winnowill smiles. The elves and trolls gather in an underground arena. Picknose says no magic, the rest is fair. First to call for a healer loses. Rayek expects a youth but is surprised when he sees a mature Cutter. Cutter knocks Rayek into roasting meat. Rayek knocks him into the watching Wolfriders. The trolls push them back into the arena. Rayek runs and Cutter follows him down stairs. The spectators follow. Rayek jumps him and they roll the rest of the way down. Both are exhausted. It continues in a mining area after a troll pushes them. Mender threatens the troll. Rayek is knocked in burning coals and calls Cutter cruel. Waiting 500 years for his family is the cause. He sends Rayek images of peace with Leetah, Ember, Suntop, and Skywise in his den. Now he can't stop feeling the time pass. Rayek made him human. Cutter keeps punching him but Rayek says, "You haven't had enough." Rayek is thrown into stone spikes. He pushes Cutter into them. Cutter starts choking him. Leetah says Rayek isn't doing this to Cutter, but for him. Rayek thanks him for raising his daughter and it ends. Leetah heals them both. Mender asks who won and Cutter says, "You know."
Hidden Years # 10 "Shards" Part 1
Cutter and Rayek are on equal terms. The trolls are angry that the win wasn't sure. The elves and trolls drink and eat. Skywise tells the story of rescuing Leetah from the human house. Pike, Skot, and Krim end up with wine all over the place. Trinket really likes Mender. It angers Picknose and he's had enough. The Wolfriders have to leave. They make their way through the tunnels singing. The Palace: Petalwing sees that the Scroll of Colors is turning. Winnowill is awake, joined at last with the Palace. She was quietly awaiting her chance. The Palace raises up. Venka feels all should be free to use the Palace. Suntop has found a new quest for them. There's an elf far to the south. After learning from Cutter, Leetah, and even Ember, Mender wants to return home. Venka senses Winnowill and tries to block her. Human soldiers see the Palace in the sky. Winnowill and Venka fight each other. As a result of their struggle, it hits a mountain and shatters. Winnowill's water chamber falls and breaks. Venka and Rayek scream. The Preservers take a look. Human soldiers discover the crystals. It may be worth something to the Djun. They find an empty pool of sea water.
Hidden Years # 11 "Shards" Part 2
Human soldiers are collecting the crystals. They argue and fight over who brings them to the Djun. The Preservers watch. The Wolfriders need to hunt, to Rayek's dismay. They'll wait until the preservers return. He waits with Venka and Ekuar. Skywise talks to Tyleet. He feels good but doesn't know why. She shows him Pike, Krim, Skot, Zhantee, Scouter, Dewshine, and Ember having fun in the stream. They're all giddy. It's because of Leetah and Mender together, their aura is powerful. Tyleet is watching Scouter. He turns and she's gone. Cutter hunts with Strongbow. They noticed the behavior as well. They hope it will spark new recognitions. Timmain catches a scent and Cutter heads off. He finds a den full of dead cubs. Huntress-wolf found Blackshawl's litter. One is alive, his new wolf-friend. He howls in joy. The Wolfriders and even the soldiers hear it. Cutter returns with Holdfast to the others. The Preservers return, saying the humans are collecting crystals. Rayek feels sick. He wants war. Tyleet imagines humans rebuilding the Palace. They'd use the power to kill them all. She can't let it happen. She goes to a woodcutter and shows herself.
Hidden Years # 12 "Shards" Part 3
The woodcutter is delighted to see Tyleet. She wants to learn his language. The human wants to help. The Djun's wagon arrives in the mountain pass. He looks out and sees the sun sparkle on the crystals. Rayek tells Ekuar and Venka he has the power to keep the humans away until the pieces are gathered. Venka says many of them were already carried away. He starts to fly but Venka keeps him down. Strongbow pins him to a tree with an arrow. Venka and Ekuar get him to agree to stay. Scouter awakes in his den and wonders where Tyleet is. For some reason he cares that she's gone. Dewshine tells him to go find her. A big storm breaks out and the woodcutter leads Tyleet to the shelter of a cave. He lights a candle. Scouter throws a rock in. He grabs Tyleet and runs out. This angers her. She breaks free and runs. He follows and she pulls him to cover. They look into each others eyes and it's Recognition. Both are happy and answer Recognition's demands. South, in the mountains. A soldier was caught stealing a crystal. Grohmul Djun comes out. He stabs his eye out with the shard. Dewshine hears Tyleet cry out and is happy for Scouter. Rayek yells Winnowill's name into the storm. A woman comes to the Djun, asking him to save her.
Hidden Years # 13 "Shards" Part 4
The woman is unconscious. The guards saw nothing and start to argue. They're ordered to pick her up and place her on the bed. She seems dead. He's left alone with her. She's cold and her heart is still. But she breathes and wakes up. Midnight: Dewshine dances and sings about Recognition. Treestump catches her. She tells them all about Scouter and Tyleet. Everyone is happy. Ember milks a goat for Holdfast. His mother is too scared of chieftess wolf to do it herself. Cutter says when she's chief, Ember will provide for the tribe. She says she'll be old then. He says maybe not, shocking everyone. Scouter and Tyleet are in their hideaway as dawn approaches. Dewshine mustn't be left out. They get on their wolves and Tyleet leads Scouter to the woodcutter's home. Scouter says she can't risk dealing with humans now that she's with-cub. The Djun gives the woman clothes and food. She has a strange accent. He demands to know who she is. A guard interrupts, showing the scroll. It starts spinning. The men run, yelling "cold fire." The woman watches. Djun pushes her and she burns his arm. He grabs his sword and she bares her neck. He can't do it. She wants the scroll and he wants power. He kisses her. In Ekuar's cave Rayek says Winnowill's with the humans. Several days later, Scouter and Tyleet return. They all howl for them. At council, Cutter says it may be their last time together. Humans take the crystals home.
Hidden Years # 14 "Shards" Part 5
Dewshine tells Cutter Tyleet and Scouter are with the woodcutter. Tyleet will teach them the humans' talk. Ember feels Tyleet is doing a good job. He'll let her take the risk. Ember's shocked that he shows throat to her. If she were chief she'd pick the fighters and magic users. He asks Mender not to rush her as he's doing. Tyleet is in the home of the woodcutter and his wife. From the woods Scouter hears and smells something. He's caught under a net. Inside Tyleet throws a knife through a rat on the baby's crib. She motions that she has a cub inside. They considered her a child. She runs out the window. On the roof Cutter and Skywise have Scouter in a net. Cutter says be careful but keep learning. Tyleet passes on the language throughout the whitecold. Holdfast has grown. Cutter and Ember look down on the human hive. They have the Palace and Winnowill. It's almost time. Scouter and Dewshine watch Tyleet and the woodcutter. The crystals were laid into the walls of Grohmul Djun's private towers. Scouter sends that soldiers come. Tyleet disappears. The woodcutter is ordered to help collect crystals. He refuses because of his wife and baby. He's tied and led away. Tyleet cuts the rope and he runs. Scouter knocks one down with a branch. Patience, trying to get to Tyleet, is in the way. She's shot with a wrist-bolt. The woodcutter stops, or his family will get the same. Leetah heals Patience. Cutter wonders how humans made the bolts. The time has come for Ember to become chief. Skywise must go with her as a favor to Cutter.
Hidden Years # 15 "Shards" Part 6
Skywise is with Timmain. Cutter used to need him, now he's the elder. Timmain sends, "Change is growth." He rides out towards the woodcutter's home with Tyleet. Cutter can't find Skywise at the holt. He must be to Ember what he was to Cutter. Ember tells Mender she's scared of making mistakes. Skywise and Tyleet find the woodcutter's wife sobbing. They catch game for her. At night they watch the mountain pass. A soldier has the woodcutter manacled in a cart. Tyleet and Skywise climb under and start unscrewing bolts. The men run free. Skywise runs but Tyleet's hair is caught. A soldier aims at the woodcutter, but Petalwing blinds him. The captain puts Tyleet in a bag, hoping to get rich. Aroree, Scouter, and Dewshine come. Scouter is angry, even calls him cub. They head towards town. Cutter tells Ember a war for the Palace isn't 'the way.' She must preserve it. She and Mender go to the trolls with him. The soldier goes home to his wife and daughter Shuna. Tyleet is like the one who saved her. He forces them to tie her up. Shuna takes her to her room, where Tyleet asks about Grohmul Djun. She sends to Scouter she's safe. They send Aroree. Cutter asks Picknose how the humans got brightmetal. Two-Edge stayed with the trolls while they slept, but they haven't seen him since. He must've taught the humans. The girl unties Tyleet. She must run too, or her father will kill her. Tyleet's sorry. They climb out. Her mother sees she's gone and cries. Tyleet flies with Aroree. Somewhere the humans fit with them, but not when they're hateful. The woodcutter ran home. They're all together at dawn. Cutter was only a bit more seasoned than Ember when he was chief. She can get help when needed. He gives her New Moon. She chooses Dewshine, huntress and gatherer, Scouter for his eyes, Tyleet for her ears, Nightfall, huntress and warrior, Redlance, treeshaper and tracker, Moonshade, elder and tanner, and Pike. She apologizes to Mender, but she chooses her mother, to teach softness. This is her tribe. (Continued in Shards # 1 and Hidden Years # 16)