Alone in the moonless midnight, high atop a cliff overlooking Qualinost, Gilthanas continued to sing the ancient song that had been a part of the elven coming of age ceremony since Kith-Kanan had formed the elven kingdom more than two thousand years before.
Yet somewhere, out in the darkness, a murderer lurked. Tanis waited alone in the shadows, the only one who could save Gilthanas. Flint was gone, swallowed by the earth as though he had never existed.
At that moment, Gilthanas’s song broke off with a cry. “You should not be here!” the elf proclaimed. “The ceremony forbids …”
Tanis watched as a hooded figure advanced on his cousin.
“Who are you?” demanded Gilthanas, edging backward. The cliff, with its six-hundred-foot drop, loomed dangerously near his heels.
Tanis, drawing his sword and moving as quickly as he could, slipped from boulder to boulder.
The figure, wordless, drew nearer. Gilthanas looked desperately about, but the stranger blocked the only escape. Then Tanis saw the figure move as if to gather its forces for a lunge. The half-elf dashed from behind a granite block, shouting, “Gilthanas!”
His cousin turned. In that same heartbeat, the robed figure feinted at Gilthanas. With a scream, the youth pitched off the cliff. Another scream broke off abruptly.
The murderer sprang away toward the forest, and Tanis followed.