And now, Alex understands, as best he can, the source of the cloying sound coming from the other hilltop, as he watches the Lutanists assembled behind the Starcatchers playing their foul instruments, and strung to these instruments by vibrating cords are wingbound lancers, men whose very clothing forms wide wings. By some enchantment, the cloaks worn by the lancers collect and focus the sound, so that they are lifted from the hilltop, soaring into the air at great speed. As they do so, Alex watches in horror and disgust as the proud eagles of Galvany fall to their lances.
And then the Starcatchers strike, and all hope is lost.
The star-kites they have unwound fall short of the eagles' attack, but they had never been intended as snares, leastwise, not for the eagles. An unfortunate wind has blown the kites much closer to the hilltop on which Alex stands, and, distracted from the eagles' demise, he watches in amazement and then growing alarm as the star-kites swoop down at the mages less than a stone's throw away. The kites are attracted, they must be, by the mages' magic. And whenever a kite strikes a mage, that mage falls down dead, first the mages of Oakenshore, and then the less powerful crop mages, and among them, Alex's father.
And thus ends the battle of Galvany Fields, and so began the Teertsi occupation.
If it weren't for the events of that day, of course, Alex would probably have stayed in Galvany Fields, and become a crop mage like his father. This was a bitter truth.
Eight years later, to the day, Alex found himself in a dilemma. The plan, developed and embellished in secret, had been simple. The plan had in fact been so secret, that Alex, involved as he would become, had had no knowledge of it until he had been called to his Head Master's chambers earlier that day, only to be met by a taskforce of mages and government officials.
"The plan is this, and there is little time, so listen carefully," Head Master Peeps had instructed him, before continuing: "We are going to hurl you into the Teertsi Hole as it opens. When you get to the other side, we are going to pull you back, and you are going to tell us what you saw there."
Stupid plan, Alex had thought.
And just how are you going to do this? How are you going to hurl me?"
"By catapult, of course."
"And... pull me back?"