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Darian's parents had been hunters who worked in the Pelagiris forest, trapping the bizarre change-creatures which had been created by the mage-storms, and selling their fantastic hides. But Darian had not accompanied them on their last expedition into the Pelagiris - a hunt from which they never returned.
Now Darian is apprenticed to Wizard Justyn, a kindly old man who insists that Darian has "talent". But Darian, grieving over his parents, has no interest in magic, and instead of studying, finds solace in the forest, where he can hide among the huge trees and mourn in privacy.
And it is from this secret retreat on the edge of the Pelagiris that Darian sees an army of northern barbarians sack and burn his village. Alone and helpless, Darian flees into the deep forest. But unbeknownst to him, the Hawkbrothers, an old and magical race, dwell in the ancient woods, and his flight will lead him on a path of discovery which neither Justyn nor Darian's parents could ever have predicted.