After their encounter with the orcs on the south-eastern coast of the mainland, Will manages to limp the damaged boat to the shoreline and is just about to jump down from the boat when his keen spot one of the planks of the decking is a little raised from the others; nearly down he pulls out a dagger and pries it loose from it’s brothers, underneath is a small leather pouch containing many coins worth of shining blue sapphires, jewels common in the Sapphire Islands (and indeed the foundation on which much of their wealth is build) but rare here on the mainland. Korra also finds a shipping manifest or log book in the cabin, there are strange scrawlings in the margin but she pays them little mind. Following his directions the band begin to range further out on the beach, looking for driftwood and flotsam that can be used to make repairs to the boat. They are stopped in their task by the sound of cheerful whistling as a middle-aged man pulling an empty cart behind him comes walking down the beach, hailing them the man introduced himself as Tibbs a trader who has recently made a killing selling stone in the town of Three Rivers; he quite happily explains to the group that Three Rivers is expanding and there is great demand for materials to make new buildings to houses the blooming population. Tibbs pats a bulging coin purse hanging from his belt to demonstrate his good fortune, for a moment Will’s eyes widen at the sight of such wealth.
Demanor has been exploring the woods searching for additional materials to patch up the boat, all around the animals chatter in their own tongues, a language as clear as her own and the word they shout is the same, no matter the animal, “Elfmeet! Elfmeet!” Summoning a parrot from the nearby trees Demanor questions it and discovers that the elves have asked the animals to spread the word and that they are all gathering in the one remaining elven city to make a big decision.
Arriving back at the boat Demanor explains to the others about the meeting, Will meanwhile has been talking to Tibbs and has offered to give the trader a lift aboard their repaired boat to his destination, the village of Crossmount in the shadow of the Great Peaks, where he intends to pick up another concession of stone and sell it on for a profit; they agree to drop Demanor and Korra off in the town of Three Rivers (which Demanor says is near to the elf city) while the boat continues north to Crossmount. On the way they pass the village of River Morton, a procession of villagers is gathered along the riverbank, ferrying the arrow riddling bodies of their dead to burial holes prepared for them, priests of River Morton are saying prayers over their dead whilst the nearest and dearest of those dead, wail for their loss. The dead are heaped into pyres and burnt, once the flames have faded, grim faced gravediggers turn their ashes into the earth; Will finds it all strange and not at all like the burning boat burials that he is used to, he finds the whole thing lacking in spirit whereas Demanor finds it all a little barbaric, elves preferring to return their dead straight back to the earth.
Slowing down, they investigate the arrows riddling the bodies, finding them of curious manufacture; peering at them closely, Korra is put in mind of the tales of ‘Edwin the Great’ about the last great battle when elves and men joined forces, the arrows are graceful and seem of elven manufacture, but they are black and use the same ravens feathers as the orc arrows that they saw earlier. A woman from the shore hails them, she tells them to be careful if they are sailing north, that orcs are abroad and that they did for her husband Ted; as a mark of honour Korra begins to play a mournful tune of solemn respect as they continue their journey north, the locals tearfully hum along with the tune until they are lost from sight around a bend in the river.
A few days later they arrive at the town of Three Rivers, Korra has not been here for eight months, but the town has almost doubled in size since then; as they approach they are hailed by one of the local foremen working on the new buildings whose skeletons litter the outskirts of the town, the man called Roberts tells them that if they get any stone and give him first refusal then he’ll give them more than a fair price.
After leaving the boat Demanor and Korra make they way through hidden ways into the jungle, Demanor leading her bardic companion through trails and hidden byways until the land drops down into a secret valley, a large ziggurat rising from the centre of it, vines and leaves gathering along the surfaces of the stone, not destroying it but seeming to caress the masonry, as though they were both part of the same whole. Roughly a thousand elves gathered around the sacred building, all of them looking towards the wise figure of an elf clad in brown and green robes. Demanor recognises the elf as Silanthus, the wisest of the elves in the settlement; the gathered crowd is discussing the recent imbalance in nature and the strange anger that many of them feel building in the natural forces, Demanor steps forward and tells them about the Ent massacring the human village nearby.
Meanwhile, back on the boat, out of sight of civilisation, Will’s knife flashes out so quickly that Tibb’s barely feels his life slip away nor the northlanders hand close around his coinpurse and push his body silently into the flowing river.
Demanor visit Silanthus in his chambers, they are passed by an angry elf on the way there, there is much discussion in the chambers and Silanthus tells them that the light of the elves has faded from the world, most of them are planning to leave this world on the last of the Great White Boats. Korra asks Silanthus whether he can decipher the strange notes scrawled in the ship’s logbook, the old elf looks at the book and says that it is a simple crpytographic code discussing a secret exchange of precious sapphires from a quantity of stone and that apparently the writer believed secrecy was imperative.
Far to the north, Will arrives in Crossmount and purchases a quantity of stone from a paunchy, red bearded stonemason called Erik with his newly acquired wealth and begins his journey southwards towards Three Rivers where he plans to sell it for a healthy profit.
Leaving Silanthus’ chamber, Demanor sees that the angry elf they spotted previously (a younger member of the race called Zephandius) is saying to his fellows that the recent decay of nature and their relationship with it is a sure sign that their previous policy of inaction has resulted in nature forsaking them as they have forsaken it; Zephandius says that they must act as parents to the younger races (who are as children) and that sometimes parents must exercise a firm hand. Demanor is worried about Zephandius, he is very persuasuve and seems to be swaying many of the crowd to his point of view.
Will, meanwhile, on his journey to Three Rivers has come across a small fishing boat floating unrowed along the river, in it is the body of a dying man, he tells them that his party was set upon by elves and that he is trying to get to the capital to warn the King; Will tells the dying man that he will see the message delivered and then closes his eyes as the fisherman’s dying breath leaves him. His boat later makes its way into Three Rivers where Will takes the opportunity to rest and spend some of his recently gathered wealth int he local taverns, he overhears some of the locals saying that they have heard a rumour King John V is planning to announce it illegal to mine stone in the Great Peaks, although they don’t know why. A few hours later Demanor and Korra arrive to meet up with him as arranged and Will tells them about the “elf” attacks.
Taking the two of them back to the elven settlement Demanor tells Silanthus about the supposed attacks and gives him the strange hybrid arrow, the old elf looks troubled but tells them that most of the elven people are leaving this very night about the last of the White Ships, although it grieves them greatly some (like Demanor) have decided to stay; not wanting to seem unhelpful though the old elf performs a scrying ritual with Demanor as the willing subject (despite his warning that it can be a little intense even for those as experienced as himself). In her vision Demanor rushes as a disembodied presence throught the woods until she hovers before a huge, corrupted, blackwood tree, bones and skulls litter the floor around it and seem entwined with the very structure of the vegetation, even as the roots writhe and pulse obscenely. Most disturbing is the fruit of the tree, giant blood coloured fruit that pulses as though something lives within it; one of these bloody fruits falls to the ground, spilling it’s juices as a creature crawls forth from the collapsing skin. The creature stands, it bears the beauty and chiselled features of an elf, although they seem to reflect cruelty rather than the radiant beauty of the elves, but the albaster skin fo the elf is replaced by the warty grey hide of the orc and bloody, yellowed tusks jut from it’s jaws as a bellowing roar echoes from the creatures drooling lips.
Demanor awakes and tells the other about the strange ‘black elves’ that she has seen; the other elves are climbing aboard the White Ship and waving farewell as they set sail, between the persuasions of Demanor and Zephandius 150 of the once widespread race of elves remain, the druid feels her heart grow heavy as the majority of her people pass from the world, their light lost forever.