And we're at nr 20. It's...a comic.
Most people are getting down on the grassy dance floor, except for Moonshade and Strongbow. And horror of all horror, Strongbow talks to Moonshade! With words! Talking about how happy Dart looks with Mender. Moonshade is of course shocked and asks: "Do we no longer send to each other, lifemate?" In reply, Strongbow says: "Now that our paths fork it's better to talk". Genuinely heartbreaking, but I still can't get over the reason they're separating – it's still so illogical.
Teir, Ember and Venka have a little leader talk at the end of the party, mostly about how the deer taming Go-Backs might have some issues living alongside wolf-bonding Wolfriders. Venka thinks that Teir makes a great lifemate for Ember, to help her lead the Wolfrider-Go-Back mix she's now saddled with. Venka also seems to have some plan of her own, but she only thinks of said plan vaguely to herself, so we get no details.
Daboi unsuccessfully flirts with human!Shenshen, who dismisses him with a "work on quickening you 'hum' and when you're my age we'll talk". Heh. Mender and Dart go to Have Teh Sex, which everyone is very obvious about in classical elf fashion. Skywise says he'll be right back after dropping Moonshade off in the Palace, but the others tell him not to hurry since Timmain's waiting for him there.
Moonshade and Strongbow have more angst. Krim and Skot's spirits show up to give them the vaguest pep-talk I've read in a long time. This is what they send:
**Cheer up! Living is always! Listen, archer! Wolf blood or no the tanner hears the Palace's call. The dream! The dream you share with us, when in our skins, means you know! You want to run and hide! Fear closes in! But what's in he-wolf and she-wolf is in you to do for the pack and for each other!**
...someone please help me understand what in blazes that means!
Anyways, after this strange spirit-speech Strongbow says to Moonshade: "Friend of my body and spirit...how long did you suffer in silence to uphold the Way for my sake?" As a long time Elfquest reader I TOO WOULD LIKE TO KNOW THIS!!! When did Moonshade start hating the Way? When was it hinted at that she wasn't 100% into it like Strongbow is? One day I hope to have an answer to this, in some shape or form.
Back at the winding-down of the feast, Ahdri hits on Two-Edge big time, after Two-Edge confesses he's only ever had sex with a few troll maidens, never an elf. Meanwhile Rayek watches Leetah and Cutter rush off to their den, thinking about how selfish his "love" for Leetah was. Then he thinks about how painful yet true his love for Winnowill is. Yeah...keep telling yourself that, Rayek. He distracts himself by convincing Windkin to go on a raid against the humans.
Leetah and Cutter are having a second Recognition, because sure why not. Cutter feels old and Leetah swears to stay by his side always. Seems she's not going in the Palace.
Rayek and Windkin own a nearby group of Djunslanders big time. Rayek steals their guns. Below the surface with the trolls Mender is healing the misfit trolls to look like other trolls, as trade for storage space for food in the winter. Trinket is clearly jealous of Dart being Mender's mate, so Mender shapes a misfit troll to look kinda like a troll version of himself (...yes, it looks exactly like you think it looks). Apparently the troll asked for this since he's had a crush on Trinket forever. Trinket seems very pleased with this. I...am less so, but whatever.
Back with Rayek and Windkin, Windkin has managed to set fire to and explode a cart carrying black powder. Someone shoots one bullet through one of Windkin's wings and Rayek flips. He's ready to wake up Winnowill and let her go to town, since "she's different now", but Windkin is all "you sure about that, brah?" and Rayek comes to his senses. They leave the human camp in utter ruins.
At the Father Tree Holt it has finally come time to choose if you stay or go with the Palace. Thus far no one of the people in the Holt (other than Moonshade and Skywise, who're not present for this) is choosing to leave. As they stand around talking about how much they like living on the World of Two Moons, outside the Holt a human warrior approaches some Djunslanders to betray the elves to them. One of the Djunslanders wings the traitor warrior in the shoulders with a bullet, "to learn his game". This makes the traitor warrior drop a torch, which lights the forest on fire.
Naturally this is close to where the Swamp Elves are. Since they can't move much, they basically send **Bye, we might all die soon** to Savah. She passes this on to the Call, which especially Redlance reacts to. Tragedy approaches! Possibly.
Huh? What happened to Door and his threatening speech? Why is this traitor warrior and his accidental fire the current "villain"? ...just...just go with it? Maybe this will go somewhere? Maybe?
...yeah, I'm not holding my breath either :/