The Star and the Vine

Plot Summary

Plot Summary

The Star and the Vine tells the story of Kelsey Pargaith, a magically adept Dreyan boy who witnesses the slaughter of his family by bloodthirsty humans. Fueled by vengeful insanity, he ventures deep into the lands of the humans; eventually, he is accosted by Ivy Greywers, a determined bounty huntress who claims to be collecting Drey for her master, the cruel and genocidal General Ryn. She succeeds in capturing Kelsey, but as the two of them struggle towards her master's palace, they slowly grow to love each other.

Together, they decide to fight against the General's regime and stop the slow eradication of the Dreyan race. Encouraged by their love and aided by a group of valiant friends, Kelsey and Ivy struggle to come to terms with Kelsey's bloody past, defeat the tyrannical General, and become the salvation of their war-torn kingdom.



Driven, vicious, and highly intelligent, Kelsey Pargaith is blessed with tremendous magical power and cursed with loss and insanity. He eschews the peaceful ways of his people and instead vows to punish humankind for their sins...until a determined bounty huntress takes him captive.


Only three things matter to the bounty huntress Ivy Greywers: family, faith, and freedom. In order to gain her village's ransom and keep her mother and brother safe, she must work for a cruel and murderous master. Underneath her stern and capable exterior, however, she yearns for the day when her fighting will be over.


Often mistaken for a woman because of his beauty and his feminine manner, Alain is a graceful, quiet, sweet-natured young man who works as a server at the Dragon Scale Tavern. When Kelsey falls from the tavern's window during a violent robbery, it is Alain's kind care which saves his life.


Trivet Firebrand, prince of the roguish Fire Bandit Tribe, was betrayed by his councils and exiled from his home. Now, he lives as a common thief under Kelsey's leadership. Despite his cheerful and silly demeanor, Trivet knows he has fallen far from his former glories, and he longs to return to his people.


The bold, sensual spirit of the Goddess Ignit lives in Princess Chimera's movements, and the people of the Fire Bandit Tribe revere her. It was her love for Prince Trivet which prompted her father to conspire against Trivet, and her continual love which will restore Trivet to his rightful place.


The ruthless General Ryn seeks to unite all of the broken cities of Tis Cerendere under his control, and he will stop at nothing to achieve his goals of domination. Icily charismatic and always calculating, he plans to subjugate all humans and exploit the Dreyan race for their power.


Ryn's sadistic, thoroughly twisted henchman. His devotion to his master is nothing short of fanatical, and his gift for torture is unparalleled.


Cool night settled over the land, sprinkling its moonglow and starlight onto the densely-packed forest below. Owls called forth and hosts of crickets wove a wall of humming, whispering sound. The wind was chilly and playful, rustling leaves in great periodic whooshes of sound and then calming to a reverent hush.

At the wood's edge was a high, bare wall; from atop this forest-cliff, Ivy Greywers stood and pensively looked down at the crumbled city below.

In the darkness, with its myriad lanterns and dots of torchlight, Blessed Gate nearly looked fitting of its name. The wall surrounding the city was sound and shining with the recently-begun drizzle of rain; the cracks and faults of the buildings were hidden in merciful shadows; the pale streets wound and intertwined throughout the city in an interestingly complex pattern.

Ivy pounded the end of her staff into the moist ground and leaned upon its support, sighing from the whole of her body. Just the knowledge that she was no longer a prisoner within the city's walls gifted her with an enormous sense of exhilaration. Of course, there was still much to be done, and huge challenges to be met...but at least hope was regained.

From behind her, the horse nickered into the breeze and shifted its weight; Ivy turned to see it tugging gently upon its lead as it strove to stand more comfortably. Hope (as Ivy had so dubbed her) was a nervous and somewhat aged horse, but she was dutiful and sure-footed; without the horse's help, Ivy knew that she could never have gotten the Drey out of the city so quickly and so far. The small amount of money Ivy had found in the Drey's pouch had just barely paid for the animal, and Spencer had gladly taken the rest of the Drey's valuables in exchange for a few more traveling supplies.

"Shhhh...calm down, Hope," Ivy murmured as she walked to the animal's side and gently took hold of the bridle. She looked into the dark mirror of Hope's eye. "Everything's all right, now. We're heading to the north, to the sea, and then your job will be done. Just a bit further..."

Ivy looked over the horse's curved back to see her secured captive. Kelsey sat with his back against a slender-trunked tree, still very much unconscious, his hands tied behind him and his black-booted feet similarly bound. He had not awoken at all during the day, except to periodically mumble or whimper unintelligibly, and Ivy wondered if she should be worried about him.

Had she hit him too hard in that alley? Or had she misjudged the amount of sleeping powder she had placed under his tongue as he struggled to come to?

Ivy shook her head, decisively. She had been careful this time, extremely careful, and she was absolutely sure that she had done everything correctly. Still, she couldn't help but feel anxious to talk to this dangerous little fey, to glean his stories. Her hand delved into Hope's saddlebag and retrieved a canteen of fresh water.

Ivy approached the captive with wary, curious steps. He looked so pale and fragile against the dark support of the tree, his golden hair shining with the moon's cool light, his cloak puddled around him like dark liquid, his youthful-looking features blank. Ivy found it difficult to reconcile the peacefully childlike Drey with the bloody destruction he had caused. How had he survived the fall? Why had he acted so strangely in that alley, with his twisting words and feigned innocence?

Ivy knelt beside Kelsey, slowly pulling at the canteen's cork, never moving her gaze from his angellic features. She purposely reminded herself of the images she had seen, of Kelsey coated in blood, of the hate in his eyes, of the murderous speed of his blades. She would not let herself be tricked by his mystical beauty, and she would not let him sway her purpose. He was a monster, a murderer, and he belonged solely to her now.

She touched the canteen's mouth to his pale lips, tilting the vessel to release a trickle of water. She used her other hand to grasp hold of his arm.

"Kelsey, wake up," she said firmly. "Wake up and drink."

The Drey stirred, and his brow furrowed, though his eyes did not move. He mumbled something, and Ivy leaned closer, trying to discern his words.

"Alain," he said, drops of water dripping from his chin. "Alain...please..."

"Who is Alain?" Ivy asked, and she lowered the canteen, instead opting to tap Kelsey on his bloodless cheeks. "Come on now, Fairy Boy. Wake up!"

Finally, the eyes opened, and though Ivy had seen their disparate strangeness closely before, she found herself startled by his gaze. He focused on her face, and they stared at each other, silently, for a long and curious period of time.

"You're awake," she said, unnecessarily, as soon as she had found her tongue. She cleared her throat and raised the canteen to his line of vision. "I was trying to give you a drink."

The Drey seemed to be in a state of silent confusion, and he blinked once; Ivy assumed that he was trying to adjust his thought processes to Common rather than more instinctual Dreyan. Finally, he nodded, wincing as if his head pained him.

"Please, continue," he said rather hoarsely, and she raised the canteen.

When he had finished, he pulled at his hands to wipe his mouth; immediately, he found that such motion was impossible.

"You're tied, Kelsey. You are my prisoner, from now until I deliver you to my master," Ivy explained, carefully keeping all traces of gentleness from her tone. The effort was difficult to maintain, since everything in her heart softened at the sight of Kelsey's miserable, groggy gaze; still, she managed to keep her composure, imperiously rising to her feet and staring down at him.

"The armlet on your arm is a ward, and it cannot be removed by anyone save its owner. It binds your chiiscuen, just as the rope binds your movement. There will be no hope of escape from me, and I will not tolerate disobedience. You will come with me, and listen to me. You are my property."

Kelsey said nothing. His eyelids dropped with sullen resignation, and he drew a long, slow breath between his teeth. Ivy watched his miserable reaction, wondering why the Drey seemed so very different from the snarling, vicious creature she had met at the tavern.

"Do you understand me?" Ivy questioned, and though she had meant to sound commanding, her voice seemed far too beseeching.

Kelsey raised his shadowed eyes. "I do."

"Good," Ivy said, nodding once. She turned her back on him, then strode a few steps to the modest fire she had previously coaxed into existence. The moist night wind swept over the cliff and once again whooshed through the forest, and Ivy stared dully into the flames, distractedly wondering what to do and say next.

"Kell...see," came the Drey's soft voice from behind her, pronouncing the name with unfamiliar deliberation. She half-turned, listening. "That's what you said my name is, right? Kell—see."

Ivy frowned with confusion.

"And we are acquainted, I suppose," continued her captive, almost talking to himself. "Though, evidently, we are not very close friends."

Ivy stood and faced him. She planted both hands upon her hips and regarded the Drey with nearly tangible dubiousness, her darkberry-painted lips curved downward and her eyes narrowed. Kelsey stared back at her intently.

"And what is your name again—or perhaps for the first time?" he asked.

"Ivy Greywers," she said, her words tinged with sarcasm.

"Ahh. Well, I'm sorry I don't remember meeting you," he said, infusing his words with a sardonic sharpness to match her own. "I don't remember anything at all, so please don't take it personally."

Ivy paused, breathing in a deep breath.

"Why are you doing this?" she finally asked, and the Drey's features went blank.


"Are you trying to..." she began, then trailed off, chuckling with what she hoped sounded like confident disdain but was actually pure frustration. She spread her hands before her in a vaguely expressive manner. "If you're trying to trick me, or mock me, I don't see how it will help your situation. I'm not sure what you think you'll gain with all of this...false innocence."

The Drey looked more than a little indignant, and he shifted his position.

"You don't believe I've lost my memory," he noted, and a bit of a scowl darkened his pale features.

"I don't."

Kelsey gave a great sigh, obviously sinking deeper into his bad humor.

"Look," he began, glaring, "As far as I know, I crashed through a glass window and fell two stories to the ground."

"Oh, I believe that much," said Ivy casually. "I was there when it happened."

This admission seemed to steal the words from Kelsey's tongue; he halted in mid-thought, his mouth open and his disparate eyes shining with reflected starlight.

Now, it was Ivy's turn to scowl. "Oh, stop your acting. You know as well as I do what happened that night. Fights like that are not easily forgotten."

Kelsey narrowed his eyes, the action adding even more inhuman sparkle to their depths. "By any chance, would you be the one who pushed me through the glass?"

"I didn't push," Ivy said hastily as his words struck a nerve deep within her. "We were fighting, and you charged..." Ivy breathed in deeply, visibly settling herself. Her expression hardened, and her jaw set. "Why am I telling you this? I don't need to defend myself."

"You don't," agreed the Drey. His features also hardened, and he turned his face to the side, dismissively. "And I don't care if you believe me or not." He added something in half-mumbled Dreyan, something that sounded not at all polite.

Ivy regarded him seriously, thinking hard. No matter how grouchy and distraught and unpleasant the little Drey managed to look, she had indeed seen him in far darker moods. Now, his eyes had lost that feral, deadly glint. That animalistic, taut posture no longer dwelled within his slumping body. Was he truly that great of an actor? Could he cover that madness, that murderous energy, that all-encompassing hate? She squinted at his profile and tilted her head a bit in consideration. If only she could see into the workings of his mind...

And then, she realized that she could.

Ivy began to hum her soft song of divination. Vaguely, she noted that the Drey had turned to look at her with curious irritation; evidently, he could feel her presence within his thoughts.

Family...homeland...came the mental words, washing over Ivy's brain with true, glorious warmth. Others like Identity. Belonging. Finding myself...beginning anew, with others...with

"Um. Could you please..." said Kelsey aloud, sounding not at all comfortable with his situation, "Could you please stop whatever it is you're doing?"

Ivy ceased her efforts, and the Drey glared at her.

"That," he said, "was not pleasant at all."

"Well, I can probe more gently and keep my presence hidden," explained Ivy with a certain amount of self-satisfaction, "but I saw no need to cushion the effects in your case. Normally, I can see into desires without my target ever realizing that they are under scrutiny."

The Drey seemed unimpressed. "Lovely," he muttered.

Ivy's smile turned a bit wider, but no less smug. "In any case, I believe you now, Kelsey. You really don't have any idea who you are or what you've done, do you?"

"No," Kelsey said rather severely.

"And your only desires are to discover your past and find others of your kind."

"Which," he pointed out, "I will not get to do."

To Kelsey's surprise, Ivy's features settled into a look of unmistakable regret. Sadness dulled her gaze and pulled it slightly downward, and her hands tensed at her sides.

"No, you won't," she said, internal conflict sending a soft tremor through the words. She met his eyes then, obviously subjugating her emotions. Kelsey could almost see her brain take control of her heart. "I don't know how you've lost your memory, but rest assured that you have sinned greatly in your past. I am doing Tis Cerendere a service by capturing you and bringing you to my master. What he does with you after I collect my bounty is of no concern to me."

"Sinned greatly?" Kelsey echoed. "What have I done? How can I be punished for something I don't even remember doing?"

"It is unfortunate that you don't remember," Ivy said. Her voice was dull and measured, as if she were reciting a memorized document. "But I have hunted you, and captured you, and I will use you to my best advantage. Your ignorance is regrettable, but it does not hinder your value."

Kelsey glared at her with sarcastic interest. "So which is it, Lady Ivy? Am I captured for good of society or to further your financial needs? It seems you cannot decide between the two."

Ivy did not reply; in fact, she outright ignored him, turning back to the fire. Kelsey continued, faster now, his frustration growing by the moment.

"Where are you taking me? Who is this 'master' of yours?"

"You do not need to know. I don't think you want to know."

A chill ran along Kelsey's spine, and the night wind whipped against his immobile body. Why wouldn't she show him mercy? Why did she refuse him even a shred of information?

And, perhaps most troubling of all, what had he done to deserve this punishment?

"We are heading north," said Ivy, gentler, perhaps sensing his anguish and allowing herself a bit of empathy. She did not turn, but her posture had relaxed, and her voice had lost its icy sting. "I will not be more specific. Now rest."

"I've rested all day," Kelsey returned ungraciously.

Ivy turned and looked on him again, a small smile lighting her lips.

"I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed in you, Kelsey," she said, and he saw an inexplicable fondness glimmer within her eyes. "I was really looking forward to hearing about your people, and your life, and your customs. You see, I've studied the Drey quite a bit. They're fascinating."

Kelsey said nothing; in all truth, he really couldn't think of anything to say.

"I can see that there's a very sad story behind your eyes," Ivy continued. "I wanted to hear that story. I wanted to know who you truly were." She paused, her smile turning to one of thoughtful sadness. "But I guess neither of us will ever know that."

"I don't..." began Kelsey, his voice trailing into nothing. Ivy stood over him in the windy darkness, her chestnut hair ruffled, her eyes bright aquamarine even in the shadows, her lips curved into a tiny smile...

Kelsey didn't want to admit it, but he thought her to be extremely beautiful.

"I'll bring you some bread," she suggested. "Even the most despised of prisoners must get their bread and water."

She was teasing him, he realized. He was not comforted, and he was not happy, but as he stared into Ivy's lucid eyes, a sense of helpless acceptance flickered in his heart. He strongly suspected that he had admired the huntress before, in his old life, and if their paths were meant to entwine, he could not argue fate. He could do nothing but learn what he could from her, bide his time, and watch for an escape.

"And after eating, you may do whatever you please," she was saying, and Kelsey rose to the gibe.

"Provided I can do it while tied to a tree, hmm?" he finished, not quite smiling. The situation could be worse, he supposed. At least Lady Captivity had a lovely smile.


© 2003 Rachael M. Haring