Synopsis of Eleganta: A Novel of Fairykind by Denny R. Swartzlander, book one of the Eleganta series.
WARNING - Spoilers ahead
Eleganta opens in the year 876 A.D. on a hidden island northwest of Great Britain. A fairy named Ethywyne Eleganta is flying through a forest. She is of the Realm fairy breed, which are the largest fairies, roughly four feet in height. She comes upon a patch of Elyrii orchid flowers and pulls from the patch a small, furry cocoon. She opens the cocoon and lifts out a newborn fairy girl. The youngling is revealed to be Ethywyne’s daughter, and Ethywyne names the youngling Lira. With great happiness, Ethywyne carries Lira away. She is disturbed upon noticing a dark creature watching and following her.
Ethywyne arrives at a village sheltered beneath the forest canopy. Upon entering the village, named Bila Eutay, Ethywyne keeps Lira concealed beneath a cloth. She nervously approaches a home built into the trunk of a massive wampa tree. An elderly fairy named Preen Woodling happily ushers her inside. Preen has acted as Ethywyne’s father since the death of her parents when she herself was a youngling.
Once in the privacy of the home, Ethywyne reveals Lira to Preen, who appears shocked to see a baby fairy. Ethywyne tells Preen she’s scared and doesn’t know what to do. She explains that she felt the fairy birthing call, an attractive force that calls a female to lay her seed in a patch of Elyrii orchids when she shares with another fairy a love that is true. Preen is surprised because fairy females haven’t felt the call or given birth for the last fourteen years. The birthing call comes only from Elyrii orchids, and wicked creatures called trolls have long been hunting and destroying them. The trolls, having depleted their food sources, are determined to invade the Fairy Realms and consume the animals in its bountiful forests. But they can’t eat the fairies. The Elyrii orchids contain a protective property making fairies born from them poisonous to the trolls, which has fueled the trolls’ desire to destroy the orchids and wipe out Fairykind.
Because Realm females have stopped feeling the call, the fairies believe all the Elyrii orchids are lost, and that Fairykind is facing extinction. After seeing the child and realizing Ethywyne may be the only fairy still capable of feeling the call, Preen seeks advice from the Mother Fairy. The Mother is not the birth mother of the fairies but is called the Mother Fairy because of her great knowledge of all the happenings in the Realms. She also possesses the power to produce a great light that can captivate and momentarily blind anyone who looks upon it.
Preen learns from the Mother that the orchids Ethywyne seeded in were not Elyrii orchids, for they truly had all been destroyed. They were orchids created by Atalay Earthen, Lira’s father. Atalay is a skilled plant breeder and fairy dust maker. For years he’d been working to create new birthing orchids to replace the lost Elyrii. But he hadn’t yet intended for his new orchids to be planted because they lacked the essential poison property. Fairies born from them would be edible to the trolls. Atalay had been trying to perfect his orchids, to replicate the Elyrii poison. But months before the birth of Lira, Atalay’s unperfected seeds were stolen, and he was taken and imprisoned by the trolls. Sunderin, the troll general obsessed with destroying the fairies, knew Atalay’s seeds lacked the poison. Sunderin planted the seeds in the forest near Bila Eutay to draw out the female who could feel their birthing call. He intended to capture her and force her to breed nonpoisonous fairies to feed his troll army. The orchids grew, and Atalay’s shared love with Ethywyne allowed her to feel the call, resulting in the birth of Lira.
When Preen tells this to Ethywyne, she realizes she and Lira will be hunted by Sunderin. She tells Preen she thinks a troll saw her bring Lira to the village. Sunderin would know she was there. Preen warns that the trolls will come quickly to find her. He tells her she cannot stay in the village. She must get herself and Lira to the Fairy Castle, where the Fairy Queen resides. Only the Queen can protect her.
Preen tells Ethywyne that Atalay is alive but held captive by the trolls, and when she gets to the Queen, she must have a rescue party sent for him. Atalay alone knows how to create more of his orchids to give hope for more fairies to seed. Preen also tells her he senses something dark in the fairy village of Auriella, a village she would pass on her journey. He says to avoid a fairy named Julay Brook.
As Ethywyne prepares to leave, her confidence dwindles. She is a young, humble garden fairy who has never traveled far from Bila Eutay. She wants only to tend to her plants and make wingshines to color her wings. She has little knowledge of the Realms, having never faced its dangers. The thought of traveling all the way to the Queen is terrifying, even with thoughts of Atalay to soothe her.
With the baby Lira strapped to her chest, Ethywyne sets off toward the Fairy Castle. She's guided by another fairy, a Protector named Weyina Nai. Weyina, skilled with the bow and arrow, is brooding and mysterious, and keeps her evidently troubled and sad past hidden. She agreed to be the guide because of a promise Preen made to her. Preen told her that the one she loves, a fairy named Eloman Everpine who’s been missing for three years, is alive and she'll find him if she gets Ethywyne and Lira to the Queen.
Later that night, during a jubilant fairy festival, the troll army of Sunderin arrives at Bila Eutay in search of Ethywyne and Lira. The trolls burn the village, killing almost every fairy in it. The fate of Preen, who had remained in Bila Eutay to help fight Sunderin, is left unknown. When Sunderin realizes Ethywyne and Lira have fled, he lets loose his two bear-like pets called grogs. The grogs follow the trail of the smell of a baby fairy while the troll army marches behind, destroying everything in its path.
Far to the south live creatures called goblins, created by the trolls through a process of mixing fairy and troll blood. The goblins were once slaves to the trolls, but they revolted and now live in clans in the Goblin Forest. When the goblins learn of the troubles in the Fairy Realms, they choose not to get involved. But one goblin chief named Bog has a secret love for the Fairy Queen Amalei. Bog tries to get the other chiefs to help fight the trolls. He argues that if the trolls conquer the fairies, they'll come next to conquer the goblins. His argument fails, and his clan is left alone to help the fairies.
Bog’s goblins find a scavenging group of humans in the Goblin Forest. The humans are Viking raiders who unintentionally found the isle. The goblins, having never known of humans, kill most of the men, thinking them spies for the trolls. The goblins also capture a pregnant woman who had been with the Vikings. The few surviving men sail away on their longboat. Their leader, Isor of the Lightning Coast, vows to return one day and take revenge on the goblins. The goblins take the woman to their camp in the Goblin Forest. There she gives birth to a boy, and Bog keeps the human baby, feeling there's something special about him.
Back up in the Realms, Ethywyne, Lira, and Weyina barely escape stinging river nymphs, and are attacked by a pack of vicious wolves outside the fairy village of Auriella. They’re nearly caught by the grogs, but two fairy Protectors rescue them and get them inside the village walls. Weyina is badly injured, and Ethywyne is more frightened than she's ever been. To make matters worse, Ethywyne learns her rescuers are taking her to the house of Julay Brook, the one Preen warned her of.
Once in the company of Julay, Ethywyne is suspicious of his intentions. She claims Lira is not her youngling, and that she found Lira abandoned in the forest. She tells Julay she’s on her way to the Queen to get the youngling to safety. Julay shows great interest in Lira and agrees she must be kept safe. But Ethywyne senses his concern is for some sinister reason. He allows Ethywyne to continue on, but because Weyina is injured and can't fly, Julay provides a new Protector named Rae Blackstem. Ethywyne is untrusting of Rae because he was appointed by Julay, but she has to go with him because she can’t get to the Castle on her own.
Ethywyne and Rae set out with Lira, leaving Weyina to heal in Auriella. Julay retires to the study of his giant tree home and sits down to a square, checkered board called a Neskalai board. There are carved pieces on the board resembling Ethywyne, Julay, Sunderin, a grog, and one unknown female fairy. All of the pieces are positioned in a way that mimics their places in the real world. Julay moves Ethywyne’s piece one square as though guiding her along. Then he sees Sunderin’s piece move mysteriously on its own. It moves one square closer to Julay's piece. It is revealed that some hidden force is controlling the board, moving the pieces in correlation with the actions of their real-life counterparts.
Later that night, a fairy looking beaten and worn arrives at Auriella. He meets Julay and announces himself as Feolyn Fore from the village of Bila Eutay. Feolyn is a vain theater actor and is loved for his charm and handsome face. He’s a childhood friend of Ethywyne and has always harbored a desire to be with her. Upon his arrival to the house of Julay, he tells of the attack on Bila Eutay and warns of Sunderin’s army marching toward Auriella. He also asks about Ethywyne, having found out from Preen before fleeing the village that Ethywyne was headed for the Castle. Julay tells him Rae Blackstem is now leading her. Feolyn sets off to find her, leaving Julay with a sense of dread about the darkness approaching.
Beyond Auriella, Rae leads Ethywyne with vigor and speed. She’s still untrusting of him, but she sees kindness in his eyes. The fairies fly through the Sparkling Woods, where they encounter the grogs pursuing them. Ethywyne uses one of the many fairy dusts she carries to cause herself, Rae, and Lira to sparkle and shine like the moss covering the woods. The grogs are unable to see their prey, and the fairies escape. When the fairies reach a deep canyon cutting across the land, they are attacked again by the grogs. Ethywyne nearly falls into the canyon because the stare of the grogs paralyzes her wings. Rae saves her and carries her and Lira to safety. Unable to fly, the grogs are left on the other side of the canyon, giving the fairies some relief from the hunt.
The fairies travel on through the Willow Swamps and are attacked by large snakes called fairy-eaters. This time it’s Ethywyne who saves Rae, much to Rae’s embarrassment. After the rescue, Ethywyne gains confidence. For the first time, she feels she might actually make it to the Queen.
As their journey continues, the fairies enter the Valley of the Fireflies, the home of the tiny firefly fairies. The fireflies love to dance, sing, drink, and eat. Their festivities are captivating. Rae and Ethywyne are pulled into a daze causing them to entirely forget their mission. They are held in this mesmerized state for seven days.
Back in Auriella, Weyina confronts Julay over Preen’s suspicion of him, and they realize they’re equally suspicious of each other. After an explanation from Julay about how the Council of the Neskalai has been reformed but is wicked, and how he is no longer a member, Weyina feels she can trust him. They share an interest in determining who reformed the Council, and who is controlling the Neskalai Board.
Sunderin’s army soon reaches Auriella and infiltrates it with the help of a traitorous fairy named Aysen Greenbranch. Sunderin had promised to make Aysen a king if the fairy betrays his kind. Despite a brave fight led by Julay and Weyina, Auriella is conquered. Weyina is nearly killed in a confrontation with Sunderin but is saved by Julay. He carries her away from the village, and they are the only fairies to escape. Julay and Weyina thus begin their own flight to the Castle, the only remaining place offering protection from Sunderin.
While the Realms are overrun by the hordes of Sunderin, Rae and Ethywyne are finally snapped from their trance in the Firefly Valley when Ethywyne hears the Mother Fairy in a dream. Feolyn arrives and tells Ethywyne of the fate of Bila Eutay, which crushes her hope that all would be well. Feolyn, Rae, Ethywyne, and Lira escape the Valley and travel to the Pixie Glades. Lira is stolen by pixies but is found after the fairies work together to solve a series of riddles.
From there the fairies move on to Lake Nabunu and are forced to fly across it in a violent storm. Ethywyne is nearly drowned when her wings give out but is saved by a strange fish that carries her to the other side. She has no memory of the fish, and Rae later tells her she made it across on her own, wanting to give her more confidence. Once past the lake, the fairies meet Aavix the Chemist, a human man from the land of the Celts who has been living on the isle for several years. He tells of how he was held captive by the trolls after they found him shipwrecked. The trolls forced him to use his knowledge of chemistry to perform horrible experiments. He managed to escape and now lives in hiding while making potions and various dusts. He learns of the fairies’ plight and agrees to help, telling them he'll meet them at the Castle with his greatest invention yet.
The fairies continue to the Northern Fairy Forest, where the Castle lies at the farthest tip. Rae and Ethywyne grow closer, each seeing something beautiful in the other, though Ethywyne feels guilty because she still loves Atalay and knows he’s alive. Feolyn seems withdrawn and jealous, not speaking much and hiding some secret thought. At just a day’s fly from the Castle, Feolyn betrays the group, giving the others up to creatures called faes who are working with Sunderin. Feolyn had made a deal with the faes that if he would lead them to Lira then they would allow him to keep Ethywyne. He could take her away to safety and finally have her as he’d wanted his whole life. But the faes ignore the deal and instead capture Ethywyne, Lira, and Rae, leaving Feolyn with nothing. Now alone and a traitor to Fairykind, Feolyn swears revenge on the faes.
Ethywyne and Rae are put in a deep hole and separated from Lira. The faes cut off the fairies’ wings to prevent the fairies from flying up. Ethywyne is horrified and experiences a breakdown over the stress she’s endured. Sickened by the darkness overwhelming the land, she regains her resolve and motherly strength, vowing to never again have Lira taken from her and to fight the wicked creatures of the Realms until every one of them is dead. Rae’s attraction to her grows.
Ethywyne and Rae escape the hole with the help of mudlings, small flying creatures who dwell underground. The mudlings emerge from the earthen walls and carry the fairies up to the surface. Feolyn returns to redeem himself. He kills the faes and helps Ethywyne and Rae escape. After he reunites Ethywyne with Lira, she and Rae forgive him. Together they head for the Castle but are found again by the grogs. This time Feolyn is killed. Ethywyne is horribly distraught, realizing how much her friend of many years meant to her.
Without wings to fly, Ethywyne and Rae run to the Great Maze blocking the entrance to the Castle. The Maze is a massive labyrinth meant to keep trolls away. It is full of traps and covered in a purple mist that confuses and blurs the memory of anyone who breathes it in. Despite their apprehension, the fairies are forced into the Maze to escape the grogs. Refusing to bring Lira into the labyrinth, Ethywyne releases her to fly above the mist. The youngling flies on to the Castle while her mother and Rae navigate the treacherous Maze.
The two grogs follow Ethywyne and Rae into the Maze. After hours of running through endless corridors, the hopelessly lost fairies collapse. The grogs catch up to them. One carries Ethywyne away with its teeth, not harming her but intent on delivering her to Sunderin. The other attacks Rae, set on devouring him. Rae defends with his dagger. He badly injures the grog, leaving it to die as he goes after Ethywyne. Overcome by the mist, the other grog momentarily forgets its goal and drops Ethywyne. Rae finds her, and the fairies continue searching for the way out.
Not long after, the spellbound grog remembers Ethywyne and again pursues the fairies. Ethywyne is close to giving up when Rae tells her she was saved by the fish in Lake Nabunu, and that he only wanted to help her confidence when he told her she made the crossing on her own. Upset at his apparent belittling of her strength, Ethywyne angrily carries on, determined to prove she’s strong enough to survive. But the grog finds and corners the fairies. When Rae is knocked aside, Ethywyne bravely risks her life to set off a trap that kills the grog.
The other grog Rae thought was dead then returns. As it charges at the fairies, it is struck and killed by several arrows. Weyina flies down through the mist, having shot the arrows from above. Julay flies down with her, and they explain that Lira found them at the Castle and guided them to Ethywyne’s location in the Maze. Weyina and Julay carry the wingless Rae and Ethywyne, flying them to the Castle beyond.
Once at the Castle, Ethywyne is pleased to see Aavix, who had sailed up the coast on a small boat. But she’s shocked to find the Castle completely abandoned. There is no sign of the Queen. The small group is alone to face the army of Sunderin, which is tearing its way toward them. Using a giant, rolling cylinder pushed along the ground by ogres, the troll army crushes a wide path through the Maze and reaches the walls of the Castle.
Aavix tells the fairies he created his greatest invention—a dust that will defeat the trolls. If the dust can be shot from the Castle walls out over the army, forcing the trolls to breathe it in, it will cause the trolls to fight each other. The dust will pull forth their violent nature and use their aggression against them. The fairies would not have to fight a single troll, for the army would destroy itself. Ethywyne must decide whether to trust in the dust and stay to defend the Castle or flee to Aavix’s boat and sail to the safety of a smaller isle off the coast. She decides to stay, determined to no longer run from the dangers pursuing her. She’ll face them and help her friends.
Using catapults on the Castle wall, the fairies launch the dust over the troll army. The trolls begin killing each other, but soon the dust wears off. Though much of the army is destroyed, the strongest trolls remain alive. Sunderin, having seen Ethywyne on the wall, orders Aysen Greenbranch to fly up and bring her and Lira down.
Aysen flies to the wall top and grabs Ethywyne and Lira. He attempts to carry them away but Rae leaps onto him. They all fall to the ground outside the wall. Rae, ignorant of Aysen’s betrayal, is shocked he must fight his former friend. After a quick brawl between the two, Sunderin steps in and kills Aysen, having grown tired of the fairy and never truly meaning to make him a king.
Now surrounded by the remaining trolls, Rae, Ethywyne and Lira are joined on the ground by Weyina and Julay. Outnumbered and outmatched, the fairies huddle together and prepare for their final fight. As Sunderin and his trolls move in, power wells up within Ethywyne. She’s overwhelmed with love for Fairykind and a duty to protect the Realms, to stop the darkness from engulfing all she holds dear. She’s feeling the power of the Mother Fairy’s light surging through her body. The previous Mother has died, and Ethywyne has become the new Mother Fairy. A great light erupts from her skin in a burst bright enough to light the sky. It blinds the trolls, and they begin to retreat.
Though she now has the power of the light, Ethywyne cannot fully wield it. She’s held firmly in place, unable to move. While the light continues to hold back the trolls, she orders the other fairies to escape with Lira. Though they don’t want to leave her, the fairies know they must flee to survive. Leaving Ethywyne behind, they go to the coastal cliffs beyond the Castle. They see a bright ship on the sea. Weyina recognizes it as one of the Fairy Queen’s ships, so the fairies fly to it, carrying Aavix and Rae.
Ethywyne’s strength soon fades. Her light goes out. Exhausted, she’s unable to avoid the hands of Sunderin. He takes her captive and does not go after the other fairies. He no longer cares about Lira now that he has Ethywyne to begin seeding his edible fairies. Satisfied with his conquest of the Realms, Sunderin celebrates with his remaining trolls and prepares to return to his fortress.
The other fairies land on the ship and discover its crew is a small group of fairies led by Eloman Everpine. The goblin Bog is also aboard. Weyina is overjoyed with finding her lost love but distressed at what he says. Eloman tells them the Fairy Queen is dead, killed by a wicked fae named Violetta who took over the Castle and forced the fairies out. Violetta kept word of her takeover from spreading through the Realms, so no one outside the Castle knew. Eloman and his crew are a few of the last remaining members of the resistance to Violetta.
Eloman explains that it was Violetta who started the new Council and began using a Neskalai board after she stole one from the Queen. Bog and the fairies sail toward the small isle of Naviila where the rest of the resistance is hiding. With Ethywyne captured by Sunderin, Weyina takes on the role of Lira’s mother. Rae promises he’ll return to the Isle of the Realms to rescue Ethywyne once his wings grow back. The final focus is on Ethywyne as she’s carried away by Sunderin. Even in his grasp, she vows to never bend to his will. She takes comfort in her newly realized strength as the Mother Fairy, in knowing Lira is safe, and in thoughts of one day finding Atalay.
The story of Fairykind continues in the novel Violetta: A Fae in the House of the Fairies, book two of the Eleganta series.