|The Valley of the Lost (book)|
"Lief, Barda and Jasmine, searching for the seven lost gems of the magic Belt of Deltora have almost reached their goal. Six gems now gleam in the Belt, but the last must be found before Deltora can be freed from the tyranny of the evil Shadow Lord.
The companions have faced many terrors with strength and courage. Now they are about to meet dark mysteries that strength and courage alone cannot defeat. If they fail, their quest will be lost, and they will remain forever trapped in the swirling mists of the Valley of the Lost."
This is the longest book in the first Deltora Quest series, at 144 pages.
Chapter 1: Night TerrorsAfter recovering the Amethyst from the Maze of the Beast, Lief, Barda and Jasmine continue their journey off to the Valley of the Lost to retrieve the seventh and final gem, the Diamond. The three now travel along the River Tor, attempting to track down the pirate band that had taken their friend Dain, before they had the chance to give him to Grey Guards. They travel only at night, under cover of darkness. The companions search for a bridge that will take them to the other side of the River Tor. When they reach King's Bridge, which is beyond a village, they find that it is guarded by legions of disguised Ols on both sides, and are forced to seek another way to cross the river.
As dawn breaks, the village and the bridge are far behind the companions. They stop to eat and rest, huddling together beneath a group of ragged bushes, as Kree takes flight to catch insects and stretch his cramped wings. Lief takes the first watch, wrapping his cloak around him and trying to make himself comfortable while Barda and Jasmine sleeps.
Chapter 2: Company
Late in the morning Barda wakes and takes watch while Lief takes his turn to sleep. Mid-afternoon Lief wakes to find the sky leaden and the earth breathless. His head aches dully his sleep had been heavy, his dreams confused and disturbing. Barda and Jasmine are strapping up their packs, and Barda tells Lief that they think they should move on, as soon as Lief is ready. Jasmine says that a village they saw on their way down to the coast and the Maze of the Beast in search for the Amethyst must be close by, and if they can reach it before nightfall they may be able to persuade someone to row them across the river. The companions slowly move on. At midnight rain begins, soaking and chilling them to the bone. The companions pass another village, this one having been raided by pirates and marked on its walls with the familiar names of "Finn," "Nak," and "Milne".
A little farther and the companions stop, alerted by Jasmine who has heard something ahead. Nearby, in a grove of trees a group of pirates are arguing about leaving Nak and Finn alone with their booty. One of them, named Gren, paranoidly says they should turn back, however another, named Rabin, argue that whatever they say, Nak and Finn will want their share of the gold for "that puny Resistance wretch on the ship". Lief had thought the pirates would be far upstream, however they evidently stopped when the rain begun. Lief catches a glimpse of the sails of the pirate ship and realises that it must be quite close to the shore, with Dain on board.
Suddenly a shrieking woman's voice join the quarrel, angrily stating that Nak and Finn would not betray them and that Gren is a traitor himself for saying so, reminding him of what happened to Milne at the Maze of the Beast. Gren, angry that the woman threatened him, reminds her that one of the prisoners in the cavern told them that Finn had secretly found a great gem and asks her if she thinks it is true. Rabin jeers at the idea, calling Gren "weak in the head". A fight breaks out between the two, and soon the rest of the crew join in. In the cover of the noise, the companions steal a rowboat in an attempt to rescue Dain. Suddenly, an explosion of fire is unleashed in the belly of the ship, tearing a great gap in its side.
Chapter 3: Adrift
After Dain and a polypan climb into their boat, leaving the pirate ship in flames, the polypan rows against the flooding currents of the river away from the pirates and toward the shore. The polypan jumps out of the boat before the boat reaches the shore, and Lief, Barda, Jasmine, and Dain are left floating adrift the overflowing river, and are swept away.
Chapter 4: Silence
The companions' boat hit a sandbar made by the flood and are knocked into a channel separated from the main river, floating into a large lake, instead of being swept farther downstream. The lake is at the edges of Tora, the great city that Dain is so desperate to reach. In the process, the companions had fainted. Lief awakes from his sleep, not remembering falling asleep. Barda and Jasmine are asleep but Dain is awake, sitting at the bow of the boat. Doom once told the trio that Tora was now controlled by the Enemy, however it seems perfect, with no visible destruction. This made the trio hopeful that the Torans' magic had been powerful enough to repell the Enemy, and they believed that the heir might be safe inside.
As the four companions move through the entrance tunnel they start to feel off, and sparks begin to fly from their bodies as a magic drain all their troubles. Inside the city, the companions are shocked to find it completely empty, although everything is perfect. No flower is dead, food and drink stands ready, as if prepared only a moment ago, but there are not a living person anywhere in sight. No Toran is there to greet them, no attacker jumps them, no Grey Guard is in sight. Lief checks the gems in the Belt of Deltora, finding the Ruby glowing brightly but the Emerald having lost all colour, being dull and lifeless as it had been when it was possessed by Gellick on Dread Mountain. Lief wonders if evil is present, however he seems to remember that something else can dull the Emerald. Barda suddenly realises that Dain is gone.
At the city's heart, in a large square surrounded by great halls, the three companions find a huge marble stone with words carved into. A jagged crack runs through the stone. They find Dain crouching at the stone. The words on the stone speaks of the Torans' ancient vow to always be loyal to King Adin and all of his descendants, les the stone crack and the Torans be swept away from their city. Lief know at once that it is the oath stone which his father had described seeing in a painting at the palace in Del, but no green flames flicker from its peak like his father had described to him. The trio notices that a carved box is lying on the top a sweeping flight of broad steps leading up to the largest of the halls. Dain does not seem to notice his companions, even as they speak his name. His eyes, dull and hopeless, are fixed on the stone.
Chapter 5: The Secret of Tora
Lief remembers that the book The Belt of Deltora says that the Emerald dulls when a vow is broken.
Dain tells the companions that he wanted to go to Tora in hopes of finding his parents hiding there and had told Doom this, a year ago, when he found Dain left for dead by the bandits who attacked his family's farm. Doom had said to tell no one, because when Dain's parents arrived in Tora they would be in danger if it became known that their son was with the Resistance. Dain told them that Doom had said that he feared there was a spy in the Resistance camp, and that Tora was filled with spies, and overrun by Grey Guards and Ols, but now Dain believe that he had lied and just delayed Dain, making false promises, well knowing that the city was deserted.In the carved box Barda find countless parchment rolls all with the same message: "The King thanks you for your message. He will attend to your request when time allows" signed by different monarchs, including King Brandon, Queen Lilia, King Alton and King Endon. The notes are similar to ones Lief's father had showed his son and were messages received when people sent requests and complaints to the ruling monarch, but whcih were never attended to. The last message, which had laid on top of the rest, was a letter written by King Endon, pleading for sanctuary in Tora, ripped in two. Lief and Barda realise that Tora has been empty for sixteen years because the Torans refused the king and queen's request for sanctuary.
Lief realises that while the plan to hide in Tora had failed, somehow King Endon and Queen Sharn had found another place of safety, for the Belt is still whole. Lief believes that the when the Belt is complete, it will show them the way to the heir, as his father had told them it would. Barda wonders why Tora has not been looted or destroyed, especially with the pirates and bandits abound, and with everything in the city being a work of art, it is an even bigger mystery. Lief suggests that the city might be protected somehow.
Jasmine suddenly calls Lief and Barda over to the oath stone and tells them that Dain will not move and are shaking, but will not take any water. He feels ill and weak with grief over finding the city empty and asks the trio to bring him out.
Chapter 6: The Newcomers
Outside Tora, Jasmine hear people approaching and draw her dagger. When Kree is about to fly out and scout, she tells him to stay, as they might have bows and arrows. Lief asks her if there are many and she kneels down, putting her ear to the ground. Jasmine can only hear about two people, both tall, one heavier than the other. Lief reminds the other three that Tora is protected by magic that drains all evil, and if they return there, no harm can come to them. Dain insists on staying and fighting, having been fed up with weakness, however Lief asks him to return to the safety of the city. Then they discover that the advancing people are two Resistance members — Doom and Neridah. Wary of them, the trio demands that they enter Tora to prove that they are not Ols. At first Doom and Neridah refuse, but after much argument, Doom gives in and enters the city. Neridah follows him, surprised and resentful.
Chapter 7: A Battle of Wills
The four companions wait as Doom and Neridah disappear through the tunnel and return. Both are dazed and peaceful, Doom especially so. Doom tells them he is now an empty man, for the archway removed all his characteristic anger, hate, and bitterness. Lief takes advantage of Doom's weakness to learn more about him, realising that the chance may not come again. He asks Doom who he is, and for a moment it looks like Doom will not answer. Then, as if he cannot help himself, he speaks. To everyone's astonishment, he says that he has no idea where he comes from, who he is, or what his name was. His earliest memory is of fighting a Vraal in the Shadow Arena. After Lief prompts him, he describes his escape from the Shadowlands, his flight through Dread Mountain and his time at Kinrest, where Doom of the Hills died protecting him. After the old Doom's death, the man the companions know as "Doom" took his name.
Doom stops talking as the effects of Toran magic wear off. Bitterly, he says that he hopes Lief's curiosity is satisfied. Lief responds that he did not pry out of plain curiosity. Doom gives him a long look, but says nothing further. Neridah expresses pity (or sympathy) for Doom and his tragic history; Doom merely gives her a cold look in return. He changes the subject and asks Dain whether he would like to go back to the stronghold or stay with his new friends. Lief, Barda and Jasmine, not trusting Dain enough to allow him to join them on their quest to the Valley of the Lost, as well as not wanting him to be put in danger if he did choose to join them, tell Doom that Dain should return with him.
Dain flushes, embarrassed, at the implication that he is not fit for their journey, but says that he will go with Doom. Doom, despite appearing to resent Dain being so easily cast aside, demands to know where the three companions are going on such a difficult journey. Lief chooses to tell Doom their true destination, to the astonishment of his companions. When he reflects back on his choice, Lief is not sure why he chose to tell the truth — perhaps as a sign of trust, or because he is sick of pretense. Doom does not seem surprised to hear that they are travelling to the Valley. His face darkening, he warns the companions not to venture there. When Barda demands to know what he knows of it, Doom describes it as a place of evil and lost souls, where many have journeyed to seek the Guardian's great gem but none have returned.
Chapter 8: A Parting of Ways
Despite this grim description, the companions know they must go on. Doom tries vehemently to convince them to give up their quest, which he believes will be in vain, but fails. He leaves in anger, but gives Jasmine a woolen cap to bundle her long dark hair into, telling her that with her hair covered she will look like a ragged boy. Dain follows him reluctantly, and Neridah reveals she intends to stay with the trio. When he realises this, Doom snorts in anger, calling Neridah a fool, and tells the companions that she will try to persuade them to escort her back to her home because she did not find Resistance life to her liking.
As Doom warned the companions, Neridah tries her best to convince them to let her accompany them. Finally, she breaks down in Barda's arms and declares that she left the stronghold because Doom had broken her heart, and she could not bear to be around him any longer. Jasmine is visibly uncomfortable, but Barda is sympathetic to her 'plight' and convinces Jasmine and Lief to let Neridah join them, at least for a time. Lief recalls her deceit in the Rithmere Games and knows that they must be wary of her because she is a dangerous woman. Neridah reveals her knowledge of the trio's destination, and Lief realises that she had indeed been listening to their conversation with Doom when she had appeared not to be. Lief is further convinced that she must be watched.
Neridah travels with the companions for five days, which is three days longer than they had expected. She does not seem eager to return to her home, and refuses to take any roads that lead there. She protests strongly about having to travel by night, and even Barda tires of her sullen and complaining company. When they are close to the Valley, Lief, Barda and Jasmine discuss how they are to separate from Neridah without her knowledge. Jasmine wants to knock her out and run away, but Lief and Barda choose to slip away while she is asleep instead of resorting to violence. Jasmine appears disappointed at their choice of action. The three companions slip away from the camp, and travels fast for an entire day, trying to keep under cover, and at sunset reaches a range of steep, thickly wooded hills.
Jasmine suggests that they sleep through the night for once and climb the hill in the morning, hidden by the trees. The next morning the trio reach the top of the ragged hill that looks over the jagged crack in the earth that is the Valley of the Lost.
Chapter 9: The Valley of the Lost
After a long, hard climb, they reach the edge of the Valley floor, which is covered by dense grey fog. Jasmine farewells Kree and Filli, who settle onto a nearby tree to wait for her return, before entering the mist with her companions. At Lief's surprise, she explains that while the mist is harmless to humans, it is poisonous to animals — if Filli or Kree were to breathe in in, they would die. Within the mist are hundreds of grey people, little more than shadows, with no substance or colour to them. As they descend into the Valley, the people surround them and grasp at them but are unable to speak or communicate. The grey people clear away as a hooded man with red eyes, long grey hair, and a long silver beard approaches. He introduces himself as the Guardian and uses magic to make the companions follow him to his glass palace. To the companions' dismay, they see Neridah emerge from the mist under the Guardian's spell, for she had followed them into the Valley after they left her.
Chapter 10: The Palace
The Guardian is accompanied by four monstrous 'pets' named Pride, Greed, Envy and Hate. He tells the four companions seemingly useless trivia about his pets — that none of the creatures has the fault for which it is named. He also mentions that Hate is not envious and that the envious one and the proud one are afraid of Greed. In the palace, the four companions dine with the Guardian and he tells them his history. He was born rich, but claims he lost his status and possessions because of the wickedness and jealousy of others. He was driven from his home, and no one would help him. 'Alone, grieving and despairing', he took refuge in the Valley, where a voice began whispering to him in his grief, reminding him of how he had been wronged and betrayed. At first he believed that he was going mad, but then he began to listen to the voices and realised that while the light had betrayed him, the darkness would give him strength. So he welcomed evil into his heart, and became the Guardian.
The companions are disconcerted by the pale, ghostly figures pressing against the walls of the palace, watching them, but the Guardian assures them that they do not eat or drink, and that it is the companions' warm life they long for. Though still alive, his subjects fade but do not die. The Guardian views this as their reward for their pride, greed, and envy. Lief asks how they earned this 'reward'. The Guardian tells him that his first subjects, the largest number, came to him all at once in a great wind, still filled with the pride that caused their downfall. More, filled with greed and envy, had come since, fruitlessly trying to win the great Diamond from the Belt of Deltora, his greatest treasure.
Chapter 11: The Game
Though the trio tries to hide their reactions to this, the Guardian can see what they think, and is pleased. He feeds some scraps to the monsters, and casually remarks that once Envy almost killed the greedy beast at dinner. With that he ends the meal, and leads Barda. Jasmine, Neridah and Lief to a richly decorated room where they will play his game.
The Guardian shows the companions a glass room with a casket inside, where the Diamond is hidden. The door is sealed by magic, and will only open when the game is won. Lief feels the Belt grow hot, and knows that the Guardian speaks the truth — the Diamond is there in the room. The Guardian then asks the companions to play the game. They can either accept his challenge, or leave the Valley empty-handed. If they win, the gem will be theirs to keep. If they lose, they will become the Guardian's subjects, and remain in the Valley for eternity. Aware of the dangers, the trio demands to know more about the game before they decide whether to accept the challenge. But Neridah says she will play no game, and flees the palace in a hurry. The Guardian is disappointed and surprised at her choice, as he thought that she would find the Diamond's lure hard to resist, for the smell of greed and envy was strong on her. After Neridah's departure, the Guardian goes to sleep, but before he does he answers questions about the game. The companions learn they must find the Guardian's name — the one word that will open the door. The clues are hidden in the palace, and the first is in the room the companions are in now. Still unsure, the three companions ask for time to think about their decision. The Guardian accepts and leaves them alone.
Chapter 12: The Search
As soon as the Guardian has left, Jasmine points out another door to Lief and Barda, on the other side of the casket-room, which leads to the outside. Instead of playing the Guardian's game, which they could possibly lose, they could break into the room, steal the gem and leave. Barda is wary of this, but considers it, but Lief is vehemently against it. He cannot recall why, but he knows that they should not do what Jasmine is suggesting. Jasmine is furious, but cannot sway him. Barda searches for any sign of the Guardian's name among the books scattered on the low table, and Lief is astonished to see that the Guardian has a copy of The Belt of Deltora, the book which Lief studied during his childhood. Lief finds the passage on the powers of the Diamond, and knows that his fears about Jasmine's plan are well-founded. If they take the Diamond dishonourably, evil will come upon them.Lief shows the passage to Barda and Jasmine. Jasmine is unwilling to believe that the warning applies to them, since they want the Diamond for noble purposes. But Lief is certain that if they do as Jasmine suggests, the Diamond will bring them ill luck. They must win the Diamond fairly by playing the Guardian's game. The Guardian is pleased that they chose to accept his challenge. Lighting a candle, he tells the companions that the length of time that the candle burns is the time they have to open the door to the casket room. If they have not discovered his name by the time the candle dies, they must admit defeat and become the his subjects. The Guardian says they are free to explore the castle, but the first clue is in this room. It is hidden, yet 'plain as the nose on your face'. He also warns the companions that they have only one chance to open the door, and they should not waste their chance on a guess. He leaves, and the game begins.
For an hour, they search the room for anything that would help them find the Guardian's name, but find nothing. They ponder the Guardian's final words to them: "In one way, it is hidden. In another, it is as plain as the nose on your face." After a comment of Jasmine's, Barda realises what the Guardian could have meant, so he looks in the mirror. His reflection disappears and words appear. The verse does not make sense, but Lief and Barda recognise it as a puzzle. Lief sees that it is more difficult than any puzzle he has attempted before. He touches the Topaz, wishing that it could clear and sharpen their minds. It is strongest when the moon is full, but tonight there is no moon. They must solve the puzzle on their own.
Chapter 13: Sparkles Bright
The companions copy the words on the mirror onto a piece of paper, and discuss what each line could mean. They all agree that the first line means that the name is to be found from clues within the palace. Although it is clear that the second line says that the first letter is the first letter of Pride's great sin, Lief realises that 'Pride' is the name of one of the Guardian's pets, and the Guardian has already told them that none of his pets have the fault for which it are named. Since Pride's sin must be envy, greed or hate, the first letter of the Guardian's name must be E, G or H. All that the companions understand about the second and third lines are that the second and final letters of the name must be the same. Looking over the rhyme he has copied down, Lief finds the answer to the last two lines. No happiness has ever come to anyone trying to guess the Guardian's name, so the answer to the question is 'none'. And 'none' is zero, or 'O'. Lief turns the paper over and jots down what the they have figured out.The three search the palace, looking at every room for anything that may yield a clue. They find the Guardian's bedchamber, where he sleeps with his four pets. Reluctant to disturb them, though they know that they will have to confront them eventually, the trio stands outside the door, unsure of what to do. Jasmine notices something strange about the stained glass decorating the door — one of its squares is blank, as though waiting to be filled. Jasmine realises with excitement that this window containing diamonds and stars is what the rhyme was referring to: 'My third begins a sparkle bright — The treasure pure? The point of light?' The rhyme is asking whether a diamond or a star goes in the empty square. The third letter of the name could either be 'D' or 'S'. The grid contains sixteen squares with either a star or a diamond, but they appear to be placed at random. Barda surmises that sixteen divides easily into 'smaller, equal parts'. He recalls how the palace guards would march in platoons of sixteen and split into eights or fours. Suddenly, the grids in the window look organised and purposeful. The sixteen small squares can be grouped into four larger ones, making the solution to the puzzle easier to see. The first square of four has three stars and one diamond. The second square has equal amounts of diamonds and stars. The third square has three diamonds and one star. The final square has three diamonds and an empty space. A diamond is added to each square, so the fourth square must contain four diamonds. The third letter is 'D', for 'diamond'. Satisfied and triumphant, the three companions write their answer and prepare to face the Guardian's monsters.
Chapter 14: The Name
They open the door, but the beasts will not let them get anywhere near their master. Jasmine suggests calling them separately, by name. Lief, without thinking, warns Jasmine not to call Greed first. Jasmine asks why, and Lief realises he said it 'because of something he had not realised he knew'. He recalls the Guardian's words during dinner: the envious monster and the proud one are both afraid of Greed. Greed must be the one full of hatred. The three companions remember other things the Guardian said which they had not thought were important at the time. Barda recalls that Envy once nearly killed the greedy one, fighting over table scraps. Thus, Envy cannot be greedy, or envious, or hateful, so Envy must be proud. Jasmine recalls that Hate is not envious. It cannot be full of hatred, or proud. So it must be greedy. If Greed is hateful, Envy is proud, and Hate is greedy, then Pride is envious. The first letter of the Guardian's name is 'E'.With one letter to find, the three companions hurry through the rest of the palace, searching for the 'twins' the rhyme speaks of. Finding nothing, they come back to the room in which they began the game. The candle burns low, and they cannot hope to win the game in time. Alarmed and near despair after the fruitless searching, Jasmine tells Lief and Barda that they must break the glass, steal the diamond, and run. Barda agrees. Lief does not know how dissuade them, but he knows in his heart that stealing the diamond will be a terrible mistake. Jasmine drags the low table toward the casket room. Desperately, Lief shouts at her to stop, but Jasmine claims it is their only option. Though hesitant, Barda joins Jasmine and lifts the table, preparing to smash the glass. Lief grabs at his arm, trying to stop him, but Barda shakes him off, causing him to fall to the floor. As Lief ducks to protect himself from the glass, he sees what he could not see when the table stood on the rug. The rug shows a picture of two near-identical hermits. Realising that these are the twins, Lief shouts to Barda and Jasmine just as they are about to strike the glass with the table. Immediately, Barda lowers the table, while Jasmine stamps her feet in frustration. Lief explains himself, and his companions join him to inspect the rug. According to the rhyme, there are differences between the two pictures. The companions find the following differences:
1. The cord around the hermit's waist is knotted on the right side in one picture, and on the left side in the other.
2. In one picture the bird has a crest; in the other it does not.
3. There are more bees coming from one of the hives.
4. One tree has berries; the other has flowers.
5. The toadstools on one side are spotted; the others are plain.
6. One tree has a branch on the top left-hand corner; the other does not.
7. The hermit is holding three stems in one picture, and only two in the other.
8. One sack has a tie; the other does not.
Seeing eight differences, they decide that the letter must be E, making the name 'Eedoe'.Faint music drifts into the room, announcing the Guardian's awakening. The candle is about to go out. But Lief looks at the rug once more, and notices another error: one hermit's arm was above his robe tie, but the other's was below it. The number of errors in the picture was not eight, but nine, changing the second and fifth letters of the Guardian's name to N. Lief stares stupidly, unable to speak, for a moment. Then, amid queries from Barda and Jasmine, who have not realised what happened, he stands, walks to the glass door and tells them: the Guardian's name is not Eedoe, as they had thought. His name is Endon. And with that, the door opens.
Chapter 15: The Casket
The companions struggle to accept the truth of what they see. How can the Guardian be King Endon? He looks much older than the king should be. But Lief thinks perhaps he has lived in evil for so long that it has eaten him from within. Lief's heart aches at what his father would feel to see what his childhood friend had become. Jasmine realises that the Guardian is alone, meaning that Queen Sharn and the heir are not with him. Perhaps, once the queen saw what her husband had become, she left him, to ensure her child's safety. Hope returns as the companions remember that the heir matters far more than King Endon. As long as there is a chance that the heir is still alive, hope is not lost.
The Guardian enters and gloats, asking if his name surprised them. Lief notes that there is gleam of respect in his eyes. The Guardian tells them that only one person has defeated him, before now. That man found the realisation so hard to bear that he refused to claim the prize, and left the Valley cursing him. With a jolt, Lief realises that the man must be Doom, who had warned them so forcefully against coming to the Valley of the Lost, who hated the memory of the old king, and believed that magic would not free Deltora from tyranny. The Guardian laughs and asks if the three companions will choose as Doom did, and run. Barda says that they will take the prize. Lief's heart burns with anger at the sight of the Guardian, the knowledge that this was Endon and Doom had known it all along. Lief takes the gem, but sees it is not the real Diamond. The Belt did not grow hot in its presence. But the real gem had been there when they first entered the palace and begun the game. Furious, Lief accuses the Guardian of cheating.
The Guardian attempts to explain his actions away, saying he only promised what was in the casket. But Lief confronts the Guardian with the truth: that he moved the Diamond once the three companions were playing the game and searching the palace, and replaced it with another gem. Jeering, the Guardian admits that he moved the Diamond, thinking that the gem that he left in its place would be enough to satisfy the companions' greed. But someone stole the real Diamond from where he had hid it in the mist outside — Neridah, the fourth member of their party. Neridah, who had appeared to want nothing to do with the Guardian's game, but only pretended to leave the Valley. Astonished at this news, Barda and Jasmine are ready to chase after Neridah. But Lief, knowing the Guardian's knowledge of the Diamond, demands to know where Neridah is, suspecting that she has not left the Valley. The Guardian refuses to tell him, refusing to give up his most prized possession, which had brought him immense wealth and power.
Lief retorts that it has brought him nothing but dust and ashes, for he gained the Diamond by theft and trickery, bringing its curse upon him. The Guardian is surprised at his knowledge, and after learning that Lief has read The Belt of Deltora, he knows who the three companions are. They are the three who he had been told would come to claim the Diamond. At first, he did not realise, for Jasmine was disguised as a boy, and Neridah was with them. He orders Lief to give him the Belt of Deltora. Lief begins to do so, unable to combat the Guardian's power. When the Guardian touches the Belt, it grows icy cold, and the Guardian screams in pain. His pets panic and struggle to get away from him. The Guardian falls to his knees but cannot let go of the Belt, and Lief watches as his pets turn on him and begin to tear at his flesh. Lief realises with horror that the Guardian's 'pets' are really a part of him, connected to him through vile growths on his chest.
The Guardian screams for release, for someone to cut the cords binding the beasts to him. Disgusted, Lief does so. The fire dies from the Guardian's eyes, and he croaks out the location of Neridah and the Diamond.
Chapter 16: Answers
The companions run and find Neridah lying face-up in the stream, the Diamond in the palm of her hand. She had tripped, slipped, hit her head on a stone and died. Jasmine is stricken with guilt, realising that if she had had her way, she, Lief and Barda would have ended up with a similar fate. As Lief kneels to take the Diamond, Jasmine tells him to take care, but Lief knows that they have nothing to fear.
After he places the Diamond in the final medallion in the Belt, the Valley begins to change. The mist disappears, and the ghostly people become firm and alive. Most are tall, with dark eyes and slanting eyebrows, black, silky hair hanging down their backs, dressed in long, colourful robes. The Guardian's subjects were the lost people of Tora. The companions walk amongs the crowds of people, and listen to their story. The Torans had grown so complacent in their magic that they believed they were perfect. When the king's message came, they regarded it without emotion — whether hate or love, anger or pity. They did not think it a betrayal of trust — it seemed sensible and just. To them, the king was a stranger. The Torans who had come to Del in the time of Adin and after had long since been assimilated into Del palace life, and so there had been no means of communication at all between the royal family and Tora. In their pride they forgot the magic on which their power was based. The ancient vow was still strong. The Torans did not realise this until it was too late, for they had forgotten the importance of the vow.
The companions return to where the glass palace once stood, and see that now there stands a simple wooden hut, with flowers and grasses growing around it. Standing at the door is a bearded man with familiar eyes. Lief recognises him as the hermit from the pictures on the rug in the palace. Kree is perched on his arm, and Filli sits on his hand. Overjoyed, Jasmine runs to greet them. The hermit admits that he was the Guardian — but is no longer — and, as Lief already knows, he is not King Endon. His true name is Fardeep, and he was once the owner of the Rithmere Champion Inn. Bandits invaded the town and his family was killed, and his inn was taken from him. Grief-stricken, he took refuge in the Valley, where the Shadow Lord's whispers reached him, and he became the Guardian, filled with envy, greed, hate and pride. His game was a trap, meant to make those who came to him believe that their former king was corrupted by evil. Doom's reaction to his discovery of the name was everything the Shadow Lord could have hoped for.
Fardeep offers the three companions the refuge of the Valley, which they accept gratefully, for they still have to bury Neridah and decide their next move. The Torans forgive Fardeep for his role in their sixteen-year-long cursed existence, but they say that they can never go back to their city, for the breaking of the oath stone cannot be undone. Lief knows in his heart that it can be undone, though he does not say so aloud. Now, the heir to the Belt must still be found. And, Lief thinks, now that the Belt of Deltora is complete, it will show them the way.
- Doom, the Resistance leader
- Neridah the Swift
- The tribe of Tora
- Gren and Rabin, pirates on the Amethyst coast
- Chett, a polypan
- The Guardian (Fardeep), the guardian of the Diamond
- The Guardian's pets — Pride, Envy, Hate and Greed