Otherion Gladwind leads Dorn and his friends past the magically fortified border of Anneth Tarryn. He warns a different kind of danger lies within, as they pass leering satyrs and mortals who have wasted their whole lives here wallowing in the hedonism the elves crave. Wine, food, music, dance and sex flow in abundance wherever they look.
At the heart of the citadel they meet their host, Aethelred Graymantle, an elven archmage who entered the world over 6000 years ago. “My eyes looked upon the walls of Aruk before they fell. I marched against Arrakyn the Cruel in the god-slayer war …” Both Otherion and Aethelred are disciplined and reserved, unlike the wild abandon shown by some of the other elves in Anneth Tarryn. Graymantle is also the only person they have ever met who has black skin.
Graymantle asks Dorn why he wants to risk all to save Hammerfall when he could live a long, safe life otherwise. Dorn remembers the harsh words of his brothers, that his twisted face is a living reminder of the curse they live under and all they have lost. Dorn is sure this quest is his destiny. He will save Hammerfall or die trying.
Satisfied, Graymantle gives Dorn a scroll holding the Ten’en Winya Ndor, perhaps the most powerful spell known to elves or mortals. He makes Dorn swear an oath to guard the spell with his life, and use it only to restore Hammerfall as the gods made it.
This is the same spell Abraxas used to curse Hammerfall in the first place. Graymantle confesses that the witch Folga was given the spell by the arch-fey Lilith, who despises mortals and has no love for the material world. Thus, Graymantle believes the elves bear some responsibility and should give Dorn the spell to make amends. As they have seen, Lilith and her many followers will surely try to stop the quest but Dorn and his friends accept the danger.
They ask Aethelred the three heresies posed by Raphael Lonzo (Crossroads, part 4) and he explains a great deal.
How many races of man are there? Graymantle lets them peer through his gem of seeing, crafted from a tear of Ephistea and they are shocked to find that Sova, Kendal and Anselmo all have black skin like Graymantle. They had heard and believed the story of The Great Lie as an article of faith, but to see it with their own eyes is unsettling. Anselmo is thrilled and wants to show this gem to as many people as possible, but Graymantle has shown it to hundreds of people over the centuries, and only “one in five” can accept what it shows. The rest bend over backwards to rationalize their prejudices, believing the gem to be some wicked piece of elven sorcery.
Where do goblins come from? Monsters are the incarnation of human fears and hatred, given form by fey magic leaking into the material world, a magic which is attracted to all human passions. This creates a dangerous cycle, as humans fear the very monsters their fear creates. All of this has focused and gathered in the Nightmare Mountains, where great hosts of orcs goblins and worse are now being led and directed by the followers of Malice. Fighting these monsters is necessary but will not solve the problem: fear itself is the enemy.
Whatever happened to Ephistea? The Goddess of Truth learned long ago that gods and men often reject truth if they are not ready to hear it. After centuries of disdain and rejection she withdrew from the Sacred Isles to wander the wild and lonely places of the world. Some say the only way to find her is to seek out her son: Quo the Faceless, god of questions. The desert city of Tarkoom would be a good place to start.