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No, they are definitely dead. I see no reason to believe any of them survived. Rayek took their souls to the palace. Maybe one could have made it, but where would (s)he go? We'd have known.

And yes, I got the sense that these were instrumental characters with only one purpose. But seeing how the Pinis like to give background characters some sort of identity, I'm hoping that would be that case with these chaps also. I'm guessing neither Kureel nor Aroree were really misfits in the group to begin with*, as oposite as they were, but if these two were the extremes then the rest of them would range from "more like Kureel" to "more like Aroree", I suppose.

* I believe Aroree fit in well before she met Skywise, while she served the kind Lord Voll who she loved. Kureel must have had a difficult position, being the leader but not having his own bird for quite some time. Being torn between loyalty to Lord Voll and Winnie. In fact he has a long streak of bad luck; losing his old bird, losing his new bird, losing his (good) leader, losing everything.

And I have actually been concidering studying litterature up to master level later. Then I could teach classes. But I've found that I prefer taking part in the discussion rather than being the one giving the answers, and I'm also working on a very long story of my own (not fantasy, but inspired by both EQ and HP) so time will tell what I'll do. :)