This article is about the book The Sister of the South. For the evil creature, go to The Four Sisters (creatures)#Sister of the South.
|The Sister of the South|
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"With the aid of Deltora's last dragons, Lief, Barda and Jasmine have destroyed three of the Four Sisters, evil Shadow Lord creations which are poisoning their land. Their quest will end in the city of Del, where the Sister of the South lies hidden.
Del is the companions' home but it has changed. Fear now stalks the streets, treachery lurks behind smiling faces and evil prowls the palace. Burdened by a terrible sense of foreboding, Lief knows that every step he takes leads closer to disaster. Yet he cannot stop, he cannot turn back.
And in the Shadowlands the Enemy gloats waiting for the terrifying end."
The story opens with Veritas, Forta (the infant Diamond dragon), Red Han (the light keeper of the Bone Point Lighthouse), Lief, Barda and Jasmine standing over the grave of Doran, who was known as Dragonfriend to the land's dragons. As Lief places Doran's soul-stone, Lief's mind is filled with an odd sentence: Veritas hopian forta fortuna fidelis honora joyeu. After talking with Veritas, and receiving a dire warning from Ava regarding Lief's future, they travel to the city of Tora where they rest for the night. They receive word from Doom to stay away from the city of Del and an urgent message from Josef asking to speak to Lief. Zeean tells them that Sharn returned to Del, but she and all she came in contact with have fallen ill with a disease dubbed "the Toran Plague."
Lief uses water from the Dreaming Spring to visit Josef. In his dream, he sees the old librarian is distressed about something, fussing over papers and a ruler. Before Lief can see what it is, Doom enters and speaks roughly to Josef and Paff, angered that Paff tried to deliver a note from Josef to a seriously ill Sharn. When Doom leaves, Josef expresses frustration with himself for being unable to think clearly, and vexation that Lief is not in Del where he can speak to him about the urgent matter. Concerned by what he saw, Lief tells Barda and Jasmine they must travel to Del immediately. Zeean's magic speeds them on their way.
Upon their arrival in the city, they discover yellow propaganda notices that speak falsehoods and greatly insult Tora posted all over the city. They learn that the so-called "Toran Plague," has killed many of the city's residents. While Barda and Jasmine wait outside the Palace, Lief visits Josef, who is infected and too weak to communicate clearly. Lief can gather that he says something about a sorcerer, and from his whispered words "here" and the "centre", Lief deduces that the final Sister is somewhere in the Palace. Lief also sees Paff in a serious condition.
On the Palace steps, Barda and Jasmine fight a hideous two-faced monster summoned by the Guardian of the last Sister. As Lief joins the fight, the Topaz dragon appears and attempts to destroy it, successfully driving it away. However, the Palace guards and Gla-Thon attempt to kill the dragon, believing it tried to harm Lief. In all the commotion, the monster escapes.
The next morning, Lief visits Sharn despite Doom's warning to stay away from her. Because the Amethyst in the Belt pales when placed near Sharn, Lief realises that the Toran Plague is just poison. As Lief heals the ill Lindal, Barda storms into the room and informs Lief that Josef is dead. Lief never learned what the cause of Josef's distress truly was. Realising just how much work lies ahead of him, Lief calls a meeting of the people he most trusts. He instructs them with responsibilities such as distributing clean food, writing letters, sending messages, and instructing the Palace guards, Lief informs Gla-Thon that he will need all of the Dread Gnomes' emeralds and amethysts to combat the illness, using them to attempt to cure Paff so he can learn what Josef needed tell him. Later, Lief announces that all food must be tested before being eaten.
Jasmine comes to Lief in despair saying all the birds in the aviary now lie dead or dying. Together they hurry to the aviary to try to save what birds they can. They suspect the birds' water was poisoned, but the dead guards outside the bird room could not have been killed with poison. A fresh set of abusive notices is discovered, which accuses the Torans of setting Lief up to die and establishing Marilen as a puppet ruler. As Lief considers the deaths of the guards, he begins to doubt that the Plague is caused by poison. Lief finds that Lindal and Sharn have been re-infected, and Zeean now lies ill. He decides that the Plague must be real and that this must be the disastrous future that Ava saw for him.
After finding Ranesh in the chapel mourning over Josef's body, Lief asks him to bring Marilen to Del to take up the Belt, since he believes he will be dead in less than a day. After Ranesh leaves, Lief almost goes to pieces. He struggles to combat overwhelming despair when he considers his failures and the dire situation that he, his friends, the city of Del, and the whole of Deltora is in. He reflects that it would be better to never be born than to come into a life of suffering. In his distress, he tries to remove the Belt of Deltora, but it will not come off. The Topaz, at its greatest power because of the full moon, reveals numerous spirits of the dead to Lief, but they all disappear when Manus enters the chapel. Manus says that the platform on which Josef is lies is abominable, having been built without the Ralad builders' consent. Seeing that the platform was authorized by Drumm, chief advisor to the king in the time that the Sisters were placed, Lief realises that the Sister of the South is hidden in the platform.
Barda and Jasmine enter the chapel, and their presence heartens Lief. With Barda and Jasmine, Lief manages to destroy the platform, revealing the Sister's warning stone:
- Lose and win? Win and lose?
- Royal coward you must choose.
- Bow your head and turn away.
- Or you and yours will curse this day.
Furious at the personal taunt, Lief has Barda destroy the stone, causing a flash of light that partially blinds Barda. Inside the pit, Lief sees the Sister, which looks like a grey gem. It is a foul mockery of the gems in the Belt, exuding corrupting promises of power. Lief is at first tempted by the Sister, but is able to resist the evil when he realises that it drove him to forget Jasmine, his quest, and everything they have worked for. He sees Jasmine and Gla-Thon under attack by the Guardian's oily monster, suffocating them with its substance - the same way the guards were killed. The Topaz dragon is trying to dig its way into the pit when it is attacked by the Palace guards. Barda orders the guards to stop attacking the dragon, but Lindal is injured. The Guardian's monster then appears to fight the Topaz dragon, having survived the collapse of the Palace wall. Jasmine tells Lief that it was indeed poison that caused the Plague after all, and it had recently been discovered in Sharn's lip cream. Shortly after, Steven and Nevets appear to fight the beast, killing it when its power and that of the Sister mysteriously weaken. When the Guardian's beast does not return to a human form, having been a projection of the Guardian's power, Jasmine suggests that the Guardian would have been in a trance to manifest it. With the aid of the Belt of Deltora, the Topaz dragon destroys the Sister of the South.
The pit the dragon dug made the Palace foundation unsteady, forcing everyone to evacuate the Palace. Barda and Lief touch the Opal to restore Barda's lost sight. Barda's vision mostly returns, but Lief sees a vision of a grey barren land with skeleton trees, a grey sluggish river and the seven Ak-Baba, and feels an enormous amount of hatred. He believes the vision is of the Shadowlands, and the fury is the feeling of the Shadow Lord. After returning to the Palace, Lief enters Paff's room and finds Doom already there. Both Doom and Lief have concluded that Paff is the Sister of South's true Guardian. Her plague symptoms were unlike anyone else's, she was in a prime position to hear important information regarding the king and the land, and she had spent time in the Shadowlands. Paff wakes and knows she is defeated, abandoned by her Master. She commits suicide by clutching the Belt of Deltora, burning herself.
Marilen arrives in Del with Ranesh, bringing food from the west. After a small feast, Barda finally solves his puzzle box, which releases a clown head on a spring and startles him. This makes Lief incredibly uncomfortable, but he cannot figure out why. Realising that Josef, frail in old age, could not have been looking at a plan of the Palace, which was locked in a heavy box, Lief and Ranesh discover that a force worse than hunger has been unleashed. Lief takes out the map of Deltora containing the locations of the Four Sisters and using Doom's knife, connects the West Sister to the East Sister and the North to the South, creating two lines that intersect at Hira - the City of the Rats.
On the back of the Topaz dragon, Lief and his companions fly to Hira to combat the evil that has been unleashed. They see a massive yellow bubble rising above the city. The bubble explodes into a thick grey liquid that begins to spread, turning everything it touches into a grey wasteland. Lief understood that the Shadow Lord had them in a checkmate: if they did not destroy the Sisters, the land would die slow and painfully. If they destroyed the Sisters, the land would die quickly and silently. The Opal dragon arrives, angered at the Topaz dragon's invasion of its territory, but it joins forces with the Topaz dragon to battle the seven Ak-Baba, which were sent by the Shadow Lord to protect the spreading of the grey tide. The dragons manage to kill two of the monstrous birds, but they know they fight a losing battle. As Lief calls for Veritas, the only dragon he knows by name, the strange sentence he heard from Doran's soul-stone registers in his mind as the names of the last Deltoran dragons. Lief says the names, calling all the dragons and touching each gem in the Belt in its turn. The dragons begin to arrive, killing two more Ak-Baba. The three remaining birds fly back to the Shadowlands in defeat. With the aerial threat gone, the dragons turn to the threat from below. Taking care to scorch every segment of the grey mass, the last dragons of Deltora stop the grey tide with their fire, saving Deltora once and for all from the terror of the Shadow Lord. That night became legend, known as "Dragon Night," and it became custom that it was celebrated each year, the same day the event took place.
In the following spring, Lief and Jasmine marry. They eventually have three children: Anna, Jarred and Endon (named after Jasmine's parents and Lief's father). Marilen and Ranesh have a child named Josef. Doom sets out to explore Deltora and research the dragons. Barda and Lindal marry, and have six children that grow to be taller than their parents and are all "as alike as peas in a pod". Deltora remains peaceful under Lief and Jasmine's long and prosperous rule, though the Shadow Lord still lives, and likely continues to plot.
- Steven Bee
- Nevets Bee
- The Deltoran Dragons
- Paff, the Guardian of the Sister of the South
- The Guardian's monster
- The Shadow Lord (only mentioned)