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http://img306.imageshack.us/img306/2402/worldswithoutend5xw.jpg 5496
Worlds Without End
Autorka: Caroline Spector
Data wydania: wrzesień 1995
Wydawca: Roc
ISBN 0451453719
Shadowrun #18 Uwagi: W zamierzeniu ostatnia część trylogii, której pierwsze dwie części działy się w uniwersum Earthdawna - ale nigdy nie zostały wydane.


Even after 5,000 years, Ysrthgrathe can't let Aina alone. With the resurgence of magic in what comes to be known as the Sixth World, Aina believes an appearance by her Horror can only mean the world is once again in terrible danger. Can Aina convince the other immortal elves to help her before it's too late?

Recenzja MasN-aEdytuj

Shadowrun #18

Worlds Without End

by Caroline Spector (1995)



Comments

Hounded by a demon from her past, an immortal elf races to stop it and its kind from destroying the world.

Worlds Without End is the third novel of Caroline Spector's Immortals Trilogy. The first two books, Scars and Little Treasures, are not Shadowrun novels, however -- they are set in the Earthdawn universe. Unfortunately, I know practically nothing about Earthdawn and have not read these books. This annotation is strictly limited to Worlds Without End and its relationship to the Shadowrun universe.

As a Shadowrun novel, this book is frustrating and weak. Because of Spector's gross mishandling of Harlequin, aimlessly self-indulgent flashbacks, irritating revisionist history, and frequent vague allusions to Earthdawn, I give this book a 1 out of 5.

Plot

October 2056.

Aina was born thousands of years ago in a previous age of magic, when Horrors plagued the world and she was forced to make terrible compromises to survive. Now that magic has returned, Aina is terrified that the the Horrors will return with it, and that the powerful magics being loosed in the world will bring them so much faster. Her warnings and counsels have gone unheeded, and she lives as a recluse in Scotland.

Lately, Aina has been troubled by dreams of Ysrthgrathe, the Horror that haunted her eons ago. She is nearly willing to dismiss them as nightmares born of her paranoid fears. Until Harlequin appears and tells her of his recent encounters with the Enemy. Suddenly, Aina is certain that at least one Horror -- her own personal demon -- is free again, and coming for her.

Aina and Harlequin go to Tír na nÓg, the elven nation that used to be Ireland, to deliver a warning to the immortals there and to request their help. Easier said than done -- the Seelie Court is hidden from prying eyes, and difficult to reach. Aina is forced to summon the Wild Hunt in order to locate the Court. Once there, she meets with the Queen, Lady Brane Deigh. Aina's warning is dismissed, and her request for aid is denied. Brane sends her to the rival elven nation, Tir Tairngire.

First, Aina and Harlequin travel to Texas, where Aina summons Thais, a magical creature that is somehow her child. Thais has met Ysrthgrathe, and warns Aina that at least one other Horror besides him is loose in the world, and that more will come.

With renewed urgency, Aina and Harlequin travel to Tir Tairngire, where Harlequin arranges a meeting with its High Prince, Lugh Surehand. Aina convinces Lugh to call an emergency meeting of the High Council to hear her case. She only hopes that they will consider her warning on its own merits -- more than one Prince of Tir Tairngire is a bitter personal enemy.

Ysrthgrathe attacks Aina and Harlequin at their hotel before the meeting, but they are able to drive him off.

The High Council meets to consider Aina's warning and plea for help, but again she is rejected. Aina and Harlequin leave Portland before Aina's political enemies can convince the High Prince to move against her. They head deeper into the Tir. When they approach Crater Lake, they are ambushed again by Ysrthgrathe. Harlequin is incapacitated, leaving Aina to face the Horror alone. In desperation, Aina resorts to her forbidden powers, using blood magic and drawing on the enormous magical power of Crater Lake. She is victorious, and Ysrthgrathe is destroyed.

Aina recounts her experience to the Great Dragon Dunkelzahn, who in turn explains Ysrthgrathe's grim design -- Aina's use of corrupt magics at Crater Lake caused a mana spike, a gateway through which additional Horrors were able to enter the world. Ysrthgrathe's game of cat and mouse was played for that exact purpose, and Aina had fallen victim to the Horror's twisted scheme. In trying to save the world, she might actually have doomed it.

The End.

People

Aina (aka. Aina Sluage, Anna Sluage, Aina Dupree): An immortal elf, with distinctive light hair and dark skin. In the previous age of magic, Aina was a practitioner of dark sorcery and blood magic, and a virtual slave to the Horror named Ysrthgrathe. At the end, she defied Ysrthgrathe and forswore the use of her corrupt powers, restricting herself to weaker, simpler magics. Aina has had a periodic, romantic relationship with Harlequin, most recently in 1950. She is a collector of fine art and arcane lore.

Caimbeul (aka. Harlequin, Caimbeul har lea Quinn, Quentin Harlech): immortal elf, possibly the most powerful magician in the world. Harlequin has not allied himself with any of the major elven powers, preferring to remain independent and more or less unpredictable. He has a long-standing feud with Ehran the Scribe, and a scandalous relationship with Ehran's daughter Jane. Called the Last Knight of the Crying Spire by Dunkelzahn, Harlequin recently began waging his own private campaign against the Enemy.

in order of their appearance:

Ysrthgrathe*: Horror from Aina's past in the Fourth World
Aina Dupree: immortal elf
Caimbeul (Harlequin): immortal elf
Alachia (Elizabeth I): immortal elf, addicted to temporal political power
Clovis Blackeye: elf, Tír na nÓg customs official in Edinburgh
Finvarra (Fin Bheara): powerful free spirit, "King of the Daoine Sidhe"
Brane Deigh: elf sorceress, Queen of the Seelie Court in Tír na nÓg
Thais: Aina's child
Mr. Hyslop*: art and antiquities dealer in New Orleans, 1998
John Mortimer*: computer hacker and blackmailer killed by Aina in 1998
Lofwyr: great dragon, Prince of Tir Tairngire, CEO of Saeder-Krupp Heavy Industries
Glasgian Oakforest: spoiled son of Prince Aithne Oakforest
Lugh Surehand: immortal elf, High Prince of Tir Tairngire
Ehran the Scribe: immortal elf, Prince of Tir Tairngire
Sean Laverty: immortal elf, Prince of Tir Tairngire
Jenna Ni'Fairra: immortal elf, Prince of Tir Tairngire, daughter of Alachia
Aithne Oakforest: immortal elf, Prince of Tir Tairngire
Dunkelzahn: great dragon

*these characters are dead by the end of the novel.

Places

United Kingdom:
Earldom of Arran, Aina's home in Scotland
Edinburgh Airport

Tír na nÓg:
Stephen's Hall, a hotel just off St. Stephen's Green in Dublin
The Burren, limestone plain in County Galway, location of Finvarra's cave
cairn field south of Galway City
Hy-Breasail, hidden island home of the Seelie Court
Dublin International Airport (Shannon Airport)

CAS
Hartsfield International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia
Robert Mueller Airport, Austin, Texas
Aina's home in the mostly abandoned Barton Creek Watershed development of Austin

Tir Tairngire:
luxury hotel in Portland
Lugh Surehand's palace

Flashbacks
1558-London, England
the Tower of London
1854-Paris, France
1890-Dakota Badlands near Sioux Falls
1998-Chicago, Illinois
O'Hare International Airport
1998-New Orleans, Louisiana
Fairmont Hotel
de Pouilly's art gallery
Antoine's, a luxury restaurant



Points of Interest

Worlds Without End is Caroline Spector's first and only Shadowrun effort. It was intended to be the third novel of the Immortals Trilogy, with two Earthdawn novels: Scars and Little Treasures. Apparently, Scars and Little Treasures were never published in the United States, though they were released overseas in Germany. VoceNoctum was kind enough to relay this summary:

In a message dated 1/11/99, Chant_Obscur writes:

> I'll skip the storyline and go right for the useful data. Alachia
> was born to the second world, and thus is immensely powerful.
> She became queen of the elves shortly before the Scourge,
> which is the ED name for the arrival of horrors. Aina's father was
> at the time royal counselor. Aina was merely a kid and her best
> childhood friend was no other than Aithne Oakforest. When
> the Theran spoke about the scourge to come, Aina's father said
> that elven magical research confirmed everything the Theran had
> said and that the only sensible course of action was to follow
> the Theran guidelines and build a kaer. Alachia wouldn't bow to
> the therans and ordered him to change his mind. Aina's father said
> that his role as a royal advisor wasn't to tell her what she wanted
> to hear but what was to be said. She then gathered all the advisors
> who had taken such a stance with their family in her throne room
> and asked that one child from each family come forward.
> She then used one of the ghastliest spells ever to decompose
> everybody alive. The children were left alive so that their bloodlines
> wouldn't be extinct. Yet they were banished from Wyrm Wood and
> left by themselves in a world soon to be destroyed.

> Aina became the apprentice of a kind old nethermancer
> (magician specialized in dealing with death and horrors) named
> Iphigeny. However, during her apprenticeship, she disobeyed
> Iphigeny and tried casting a spell she wasn't ready to use and thus
> attracted the attention of the horror Yrsgrathe. Iphigeny was killed
> trying to stop it and Aina fled. Being a skilled nethermancer,
> she found a kaer to stay in during the Scourge. However,
> the horror Yrsthgrathe had followed her and one by one killed all
> of the kaer's inhabitants, leaving her the only survivor and
> half-mad from the terror and pain.

> For some reason, Aina's pain is more pleasurable than anything
> else to Yrsgrathe. She made a pact with the horror : she would forsake
> any chance of ever finding happiness and he would make her immortal
> and indestructible (a really chilling scene in the novel is when a thief
> slits her throat and it knits itself back together), thus helping her
> achieve revenge on those who betrayed her (most of whom lived in
> the Wyrm Wood). It is on this occasion that her hair turned white.

> Meanwhile, as Aina's father had predicted, Alachia's wooden kaer
> had failed. Since this meant all the elves within it were soon to die,
> this called for desperate measures. The Blood Warders, Alachia's
> magicians, had discovered that horrors could only feed on the pain
> they had inflicted themselves so a being already in so much pain
> that little more could be inflicted, would be effectively protected against
> them. Alachia, using the magical knowledge she retained from
> the second world, the age of dragons, devised the ritual of thorns.
> As ghastly as the solution was, it worked. But the price was high and
> many didn't make it, among whom were Aithne Oakforest's wife and
> children. Thus did Wyrm Wood become Blood Wood.

> In Scars, Aina decides that she wants to die. She enlists the help
> of a thief adept to steal a trinket that had once belonged to her parents
> and was now in Alachia's hands, since she needs it for the suicide ritual.
> After many adventures, she discovers through the help of her friend Aithne
> and the great dragon Mountainshadow (i.e. Dunkelzahn) that Yrsgathe
> had lied to her and that she always was an immortal. (N.B.: on this
> occasion Authne reveals that there are several immortal bloodlines
> in existence among the elven nobility but that most of the information
> related to them was lost during the Scourge. Furious, she drops
> the pact and frees herself of Yrsgrathe.

> In Little Treasures, an obnoxious Aithne travels to Aina's retreat
> to ask her to save Sidra, an air sailor with whom he fell in love in Scars
> and who is pregnant with his child. She was captured by Theran slavers.
> Lovesick Aina agrees and has herself taken in as a slave to find what
> happened to the human woman. She ends up working for a heavenherd
> wizardress who, seeing she is a skilled magician, decides to use Aina
> as an assistant instead of a guineapig like she did with Sidra.
> The experiment is the manipulation of embryos and their transfer from
> one womb to another. After spending enough time there to learn all
> she could from the sorceress, she kills her and flees with Sidra.
> However, Sidra being too weak to be reimplanted with the embryo,
> Aina reimplants it within herself until the time comes when she can
> put it back in Sidra. However, Sidra tells her on the trip home that
> her son is dead and that even if she could, she wouldn't want him back.

> The temptation being too strong Aina shuts up, drops her in Blood
> Wood to a grateful Aithne, and travels to her Baltic sea retreat to give
> birth to the child of the man who would never love her. She lives in
> complete bliss with the child, Haebel, until Yrsgrathe arranges to have
> the child killed. She deals the killer a slow and horrible death,
> tears her place apart and travels back to Blood Wood to see how
> Aithne and Sidra are doing. Sidra had killed herself and Aithne
> is bordering on suicide. She stays in the Wood despite her terrible
> memories and tries to cheer him up. This is when, she gets to meet
> Caimbeul Har'léa'Quin, ambassador of Séréatha, and they become
> friends. She marries Aithne and gives him a little girl, Lily Oakforest,
> but hearing Alachia mention they will soon submit her to the ritual of
> thorns, she panicks and flees with Lily to her place. Aithne arrives
> and she prepares to fight him when they hear Lily cry out, they both
> run to her room to find Yrsgrathe with the baby girl in his arms.

> He tells Aina he will spare the girl only if she tells Aithne
> the whole truth about his son. Aina proceeds to tell everything
> she knows. The horror smiles, tells her that she never knew
> the whole truth since she didn't know he was the one to arrange
> for Haebel to be murdered and then tears the baby girl apart and
> disappears. Aithne walks out, never to return. Aina stays there,
> living in a haze of pain when one day, an old friend who had been
> a slave with her in Thera, comes to her place. After they make love,
> she realizes she's been deceived : it's Yrsgrathe. She burns
> her place to the ground and walks away.

> She's taken in as a slave and brought to Vistrosh, a gay exiled
> blood elf slaver, who takes an interest in her. She then gives birth to
> her semi-horror child which she named Thaïs. That's when Yrsgrathe
> appears to reclaim his child. Aina decides to give everything
> she has to protect her only living child and in a grandiose finale uses
> her most powerful spell to banish him, destroying her grimoire in
> the process (which had been carved in her own skin, hence
> the reference to all the scars she made in Worlds without end).
> The death scene is spectacularly graphic.

> As she lay there dying, secure in the knowledge that her child was
> safe with her friend Vistrosh, a passion (one of ED's gods) appeared
> and healed her, out of curiosity to what she would do next.

> Thus the second novel ends. On an interesting notes, ancient elves
> didn't have divorce so technically, Aina might still be Aithne's wife.

Some of the book's unanswered questions might be common knowledge to devotees of Earthdawn. What's the relationship between Horrors and Blood Elves? What's the significance of the Blood Wood? The Theran Empire? Are any of the immortal elves prominent figures in Earthdawn as they are in Shadowrun?

Tardis9597, Thermog, and VoceNoctum supplied the following info from their Earthdawn lore:

The Theran Empire was the dominant political power in the Fourth World, analagous to the Roman Empire. It was controlled behind the scenes by elves. The Theran Empire had great magical resources, sufficient to ward themselves from the Scourge -- the invasion of Horrors. The Therans' magical wards were called kaers.

The Blood Wood was the principal elven nation in Barsaive, originally called the Wyrm Wood. The elven court led by Alachia refused the Therans' offer of magical protection from the Scourge, instead devising a kaer of their own. It failed. Vulnerable to the Horrors, some resorted to desperate means, using magic to grow bleeding thorns through their bodies. These elves became Blood Elves, and their nation became the twisted Blood Wood. The constant self-inflicted pain of the Blood Elves shielded them from the Horrors, who are able to feed only off pain they cause themselves.

Alachia and Aithne were Blood Elves.

Another elven power in Earthdawn was Séréatha, the City of Spires. The majority of the shadowrun-era immortal elves are Séréathan, specifically including Harlequin, who was one of the Knights of the Crimson Spire. (He is called the "Last Knight of the Crying Spire" in Voices from the Past and Dunkelzahn's Secrets). Caimbeul Har'léa'Quinn was Séréatha's ambassador to the Blood Wood.

Immortality is an inherited trait in certain elven bloodlines, all of which can be traced back to a union between an elf and a Great Dragon.

This novel features many prominent figures of the Shadowrun universe, mainly Elders -- immortal elves who remember the Fourth World, the previous age of magic. Apart from Aina herself, there are:
Harlequin: featured in two campaign books (Harlequin, 1990; Harlequin's Back, 1994) and at least three short stories (Wyrm Talk, 1991; Voices from the Past, 1993; Post Mortem, 1996), all written by Tom Dowd. He is a recurring character in shadowrun sourcebooks, under the name "The Laughing Man", and he appears in two other novels (House of the Sun, Nigel Findley 1995; Beyond the Pale, Jak Koke 1998). In Worlds Without End, Spector gives him the name Caimbeul and makes him a sidekick for her heroine. Spector's treatment of the character is by far the worst of these appearances.

Alachia: former Queen of the Blood Wood, addicted to political power. She ruled England as Queen Elizabeth I from 1558-1603, and was a power behind the scenes in Hitler's Germany, 1934-45. She is currently an influential figure in Tír na nÓg, though eclipsed in the Seelie Court by Lady Brane Deigh. Alachia is also a secret member of Tir Tairngire's High Council, a fact alluded to in the sourcebook (Tir Tairngire, p.36). Additionally, she is the mother of Prince Jenna Ni'Fairra. Alachia and Aina have opposed one another repeatedly over the centuries.

There are an unspecified number of additional Elders in Tír na nÓg. The Seelie Court's ruler, Lady Brane Deigh, is not one of them. Though immortal, Brane Deigh was born in the present era.

Aithne Oakforest (Tir Tairngire, p.48): one of the founders of Tir Tairngire, with Ehran the Scribe, Sean Laverty, and Lugh Surehand. Aithne's hatred of Aina is of legendary proportions. They were married in the Fourth World, until the death of their children, Hebhel and Lily (p.39,188). Aithne holds Aina responsible (as does Aina herself, for that matter). Aithne's grief over Hebhel and Lily might account for his over-indulgence of his son Glasgian.

Lugh Surehand (Tir Tairngire, p.48): High Prince of Tir Tairngire. Lugh is a consummate politician, adept at balancing the diverse and complicated agendas of the immortals who comprise his High Council.

Ehran the Scribe (Tir Tairngire, p.50): Prince of Tir Tairngire, and the person most instrumental to its creation. Ehran has tried to keep a low profile since then. He and Harlequin have a shared feud going back several centuries (a recurrence of which is the focus of the Harlequin campaign book). He appears with Harlequin in the Tom Dowd short story, Post Mortem. He appears in various shadowrun sourcebooks under the pseudonym "Wordsmyth".

Sean Laverty (Tir Tairngire, p.49): a founder of Tir Tairngire, and the least technologically inclined of its Princes. Laverty is probably the most humanitarian of the Elders, though still habitually secretive. He identified and raised many spike-baby elves, including Dodger, under the auspices of the Xavier Foundation before the Awakening. He is a recurring character in Robert Charette's novels -- Never Trust An Elf (1990), Choose Your Enemies Carefully (1991), Find Your Own Truth (1991), and Never Trust An Elf (1992).

Jenna Ni'Fairra (Tir Tairngire, p.51): daughter of Alachia, very much like her in appearance and attitude. She is an elven supremacist, ruthless and remorseless. Jenna appears in Nosferatu (Sargent and Gascoigne, 1994) and Ragnarock (Stephen Kenson, 2000).

Several known Elders do not appear in this novel:
The technological genius who named himself after the human Leonardo da Vinci, featured in the novel Black Madonna (Sargent and Gascoigne, 1996). "Leonardo" also appears in Technobabel (Stephen Kenson, 1998), and is mentioned in several sourcebooks -- Blood in the Boardroom, Renraku Arcology Shutdown, Brainscan, and possibly Aztlan (as "Brightlight").

Urdli, an aboriginal Australian elf who appears in Find Your Own Truth (Charette, 1991) and Never Trust an Elf (Charette, 1992).

Sheila Blatavska, president of the Atlantean Foundation, tentatively identified as an immortal elf in Threats ("The Atlantean Conspiracy"). If correct, she occasionally appears in shadowrun sourcebooks using the name "Hecate". It's possible that Sheila is actually Alachia, but by no means certain.

Assuming a handful of Elders in Tír na nÓg and Azania equivalent to those in Tir Tairngire, allowing for a fair share of independents, I'd say that the number of surviving Elder immortal elves in the world is between 15 and 20. Strictly my opinion. Threats (p.28) puts the number at "less than 25".

p.17: Aina owns the original painting titled Two Sisters (or sometimes On The Terrace), by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841-1919). "It was of a young woman and a little girl sitting on a balcony. The woman was wearing a brilliant red hat and she had a face of such sweetness that just looking at her almost hurt. I remembered when he'd painted it. A beautiful copy used to hang in the Chicago Art Institute, but I think it might have been destroyed during the riots in 2011." The painting was a gift from Harlequin.



She also has an original (fictional) painting by Francisco Lucientes de Goya (Spanish, 1746-1828), commissioned by Aina herself, supposedly depicting a blood elf. Similar to the portrait of Alachia hanging in Jenna Ni'Fairra's estate in Tir Tairngire (Tir Tairngire, p.51).

p.25: "Did you leave that woman at home?" Aina is referring to Jane Foster, Harlequin's protégé and the daughter of Ehran the Scribe (Harlequin, p.121). Aina betrays a lingering jealousy in her disparaging remarks, here and again on p.37.

p.27-28: Harlequin describes his efforts to contain the Horrors in Harlequin's Back and House of the Sun. In spite of his efforts, at least one Horror (Ysrthgrathe) escapes confinement.

p.36, 42: Harlequin and Aina mention another elf, Vistrosh, probably an immortal. Aina describes him as an albino, with "ceathral skin and pink eyes". Vistrosh was a character from the Earthdawn books, a friend of Aina and servant of Alachia.

p.38-39: "You're forgetting about Dunkelzahn and that ancient business ... that nasty business with the dragons." Vague allusions to the bad blood between immortal elves and great dragons. Aina apparently took the dragons' side. Ehran seems to confirm this later on p.216: "Your own rejection of your people for the Great Wyrms."

p.40-51: flashback to London, England, in 1558. Aina is a prisoner in the Tower of London when Alachia takes the throne as Elizabeth I.

p.40: "What was that amusing little saying from the comix? 'Who Watches the Watchmen?' I used to see it scrawled across the bottoms of bridges and on the sides of buildings during the late nineteen-nineties." This reference is to the classic 12-issue series, The Watchmen, written by Alan Moore, drawn by Dave Gibbons, published by DC Comics in 1986.

p.41: "that collection of stones in Wiltshire." I'm pretty sure Stonehenge is in Hampshire, so she's talking about something else. Anyone with a better atlas than me care to check up on this?

p.57: There are dialectic differences between western Sperethiel and the "Éireann Sperethiel" of Tír na nÓg.

p.60-61: Tír na nÓg is surrounded by a defensive perimeter called the Veil, a technological and magical curtain engineered to turn away unwanted visitors (London, p.132; Tír na nÓg, p.16, 144).

p.67: "it's more likely this is the Doineann Draoidheil." Tír na nÓg p.101. Doineann Draoidheil are unpredictable storms accompanied by chaotic magical effects, unique to Tír na nÓg.

p.75: Aina fights an Each-Uisge (pronounced ekk-wizz-kee), or water horse, described in Paranormal Animals of Europe, p.38 and Critters p. 27.

p.80: "I know that in recent times the idea of faerie has come to mean something other, and much more pleasant, than what it really was. But since the Awakening, I suspect that Disney notion has flown out the door." Cute.

p.81-87: Aina spends three days with the faeries, experiencing hallucinations with common themes of betrayal and lost children. One of these visions may be the death of Hebhel, a son by Aithne Oakforest, another might be the birth of her changeling child, Thais.

p.93-95: After Finvarra and the faerie refuse to help her find the Seelie Court, Aina summons the steeds of the Wild Hunt (Paranormal Animals of Europe, p.120; Tír na nÓg, p.145). The Hunt is able to transport her and Harlequin there directly.

p.102: Aina's description of Brane Deigh.

"Standing at the center of all this attention was a tall elf wearing a black leather breast plate over a long white dress. Her fine hair was bobbed off short, one side shorn away so I could see the fragile shape of her skull beneath. Her skin was the color of amber and I saw that her eyes were blue, transparent and glittering as ice. Though she was only as tall as Alachia, there emanated from her a power that I found compelling. The same sort of power that Alachia had once wielded so many lives ago."

p.108: Aina notes a number of artifacts in Brane Deigh's personal collection: the "Sword of Nuadha", a plain cup carved from horn which has some unexplained significance (probably supposed to be the Grail, given the kinds of liberties Spector has been taking), and a portrait of Harlequin.

p.116: Aina was an acquaintance of the French poet and adventurer Jean-Nicolas-Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891).

p.117-121: flashback to Paris, 1854. Harlequin saved Aina from an addiction to absinthe.

p.126-130: flashback to the South Dakota Badlands, 1890. Aina's changeling child Thais allegedly inspired the Paiute prophet Wovoka to lead the Teton Sioux in the original Great Ghost Dance, leading to the American-Indian massacre at Wounded Knee.

p.135: Spector neglects to describe Aina's son Thais in detail. We learn in passing that he has scales and a tail, that he slithers, and that he has a magical nature in that he can be summoned. The implication seems to be that his father is Ysrthgrathe, though this is never stated explicitly.

p.143-169: flashback to New Orleans, 1998. A human discovers Aina's immortality and threatens to blackmail her unless she shares her secret with him. Aina kills him to preserve her privacy.

p.157: Aina owns a portrait of herself done by Rembrandt (Dutch painter, 1606-1669).

p.177-179: the abridged history of Tir Tairngire.

p.198: Glasgian Oakforest seems fully recovered from the trauma he suffered in Never Trust An Elf (Robert N. Charette, 1992). Back to his normal, twisted, delusional, stupid self.

p.199: Aina and Harlequin speak Theran to keep their conversation private from Glasgian. This might be the language referred to by Aegis in the Tir Tairngire sourcebook, p.38. Though VoceNoctum points out that, according to Denizens of Earthdawn, there is also an older, more complex version of Sperethiel spoken only by a handful of immortals.

p.203: Aina describes Ysrthgrathe:

"Cloaked in deep brown, power radiating off him like a corona. Though his face was shadowed by his hood, I knew how it would appear: cadaverous, with the sienna flesh pulled taut against his skull. The collapsed nose, the yellowed teeth, the heavily muscled arms that burned my flesh as he held it. Under the cloak was his tail. Thick as a man's waist, with protruding bony ridges."

p.222-232: The emergency meeting of Tir Tairngire's High Council. Probably the most interesting part of the book, in that it depicts the most prominent immortal elves in Shadowrun all together in the same room. If only Spector's treatment of the characters weren't so ludicrously petulant and petty.

About the Cover: by Peter Peebles, the cover depicts Aina and Harlequin calling the Wild Hunt south of Galway City in Tír na nÓg. Not bad as cover paintings go, but there are no mountains like those in the background anywhere in Ireland.

Aftermath:
An unspecified number of Horrors were able to enter the physical plane, contributing to increasing incidents of chaotic, dark magic, particularly with regard to Aztechnology, which becomes a bastion for the Horrors and their minions.

Their growing threat leads to Dunkelzahn's assassination within a year, on 15 August 2057. The events of the Dragon Heart Saga ultimately result in the Horrors being blocked from the physical plane indefinitely.

Dunkelzahn leaves bequests to both Harlequin and Aina in his last will and testament. Harlequin receives the armor of King Richard the Lion-Hearted and title to Excalibur (Dunkelzahn's Secrets, p.34); Aina is appointed vice chairperson of the Draco Foundation's board of directors (Secrets, p.33). Both bequests feature in the novel Beyond the Pale (Jak Koke, 1998).

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