On a special mission for the Ranger Corps, Will, his friend Horace, and the Ranger Gilan travel to Celtica, a neighbouring country to Araluen. They discover that all the people have vanished. Will and Horace wonder if all the villagers have been slain or captured, but Gilan believes that the evil Lord Morgarath devised a plan to cross the mountain pass faster. If that were true, and the King wasn't warned, the country would be destroyed.
Gilan rides to warn King Duncan, and Will and Horace begin to follow a straggling Wargal force. On their way, they come across a girl named Evanlyn, who claims to be a maid to a lady of the Araluen court, but is actually the Princess herself. When the three of them follow the Wargals they discover that a gargantuan bridge is in the process of being built across the fissure for Morgarath's war party to cross. They also discover that the King's army will be trapped on the Plains of Uthal, because the plans that Halt captured were merely a ruse. Will burns the bridge with Evanlyn's help. Evanlyn tries to warn Will about a rock thrown by a Skandian but is too late giving a chance for a Skandian to grab them. Will and Evanlyn are taken captive by the group of Skandians ruled by Jarl Erak. Horace was able to escape their grasp. After, he tells the King and his aides about what is going to happen, the army starts to get prepared for the army that is supposed to attack them from behind, Halt is sent to take care of them with a force of cavalry and archer units (an archer and spearman).
In the middle of the battle, Morgarath calls a truce and challenges Halt to a duel, but King Duncan forbids it. Then, unexpectedly, Horace challenges Morgarath to single combat. About to be defeated by Morgarath, Horace then, in a last-ditch attempt to win the battle, throws himself into the path of the battle horse, to throw it off-balance. He is successful, but only manages to wind Morgarath. Morgarath is confident that he is going to win by a last powerful stroke of his broadsword, but Horace blocks it with the Double Knife Sword Defense that Gilan taught Will and stabs Morgarath to win the battle. The Wargals become harmless as soon as Morgarath dies and the mind domination is broken. Immediately Halt goes looking for Will and "Evanlyn" but fails and so the Skandians escape to Skandia to sell Will and Evanlyn/Princess Cassandra as slaves.
|Books in the Ranger's Apprentice Series|