Trial by Fire, Chapter 1: A Tiny Net Is a Death Sentence

Today is not a good day for Moonshadow, leader of the mistwolves.

At the peak of Mount Hope, Moonshadow communes with the Spirit Pack, the ghosts of every single mistwolf that ever lived. They show him a vision of a gleaming city of crystal populated by humans and magical creatures. This, believe it or not, was Avalon in its heyday — a magical Crystal Spires and Togas utopia! The Spirit Pack tells Moonshadow to learn from the past and lead the pack into the future … and then the vision of Avalon morphs into an image of its current state (new edition only):

Lightning flashed — the broken city lay in pieces. And in the half-light, every tower was covered in webs. Spiders climbed over the ruins, weaving darkness onto the magic web itself.

You know … maybe the party shouldn’t try to find Avalon if it’s all abandoned and ruined and spider-infested.

Anyway, after the vision, Moonshadow muses about the Fairy Map that Adriane gave him, and thinks about the three crystals (wait — I thought there were four!) the Sorceress completed in the Shadowlands. His meditations are cut short when some random wolf runs up and warns Moonshadow that someone captured the entire mistwolf pack! Moonshadow’s all like, “Who dares?” and the new wolf goes, “Me, of course!”

And then a bunch of nightmare night stallion-mounted goblins throw a tiny net over Moonshadow. Moonshadow tries to reverse the capture method, but this net tightens with every movement he makes. Meanwhile, the not!wolf transforms into everyone’s favorite Skultum and does some Evil Laughter.

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • The Black Fire is caused by the Dark Sorceress’s difficulties in controlling large quantities of dark magic, not from storing animal magic in crystals.

Next time: Ozzie makes s’mores.



  1. When reading I wondered if the mention of spiders was meant as foreshadowing of the Spider Witch, trapped in Avalon. That would be a nasty surprise. “Congratulations! You made it to Avalon! Now a Spider Witch will eat you in the blasted ruins of a long-dead world that’s totally useless now!”

    1. Looking back, I think it’s foreshadowing of the Spider Witch attempting to weave Avalon back onto the Magic Web. But “Hooray! You reached Avalon and there’s nothing there!” is an awesomely dark alternative.

      1. I can imagine the scene where they reach an empty ruined Avalon very well. But then Emily would say that the real Avalon was in their hearts all along, and then they would win. The end. Hopefully something better than that can be thought of though.

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