At its heart, ElfQuest is a tale of joy, happiness and positivity. That doesn’t mean there isn’t pain, anguish and grimness, however; you can’t have light without darkness. It’s exactly these painful dramatic twists that give ElfQuest emotional depth and what make the happy, quiet times all the more special.
Here are twenty of the most heart-wrenching, tear-jerker moments in ElfQuest. Grab your tissues.
This was the moment in the Original Quest when things got real, and we knew that Wendy and Richard Pini were pulling no punches with our hearts.
Krim and Lehrigen’s Final Moments
Krim and Lehrigen both died proud heroes’ deaths during the battle against Angrif Djun’s forces, but it was their final exchange that made the tears flow.
Kahvi Weeping for Vaya
The Go-Back’s warrior chieftess was hard, because that’s what she believed her people needed. No one knew that more than her daughter Vaya. When Kavhi allowed herself to shed tears over Vaya’s valiant death, we all cried with her.
Shuna’s Mother Beaten to Death
We never learned her name, but the love she had for her daughter Shuna was evident. Her horribly abusive husband beat her one final time, for the simple crime of that motherly love.
One of the most noteworthy things about ElfQuest is the way real-life wolf behavior is woven into the plotline. This story of a “near-wolf” caught between his wild wolf instinct and sharing the love of a human family has multiple layers of sadness.
Cutter Sacrifices Himself
Though mortally wounded by trolls in battle, Cutter’s first concern remained the safety of his people–even if it meant his own death. When he raced to defend a grief-stricken Clearbrook, despite his lifemate begging him to stay and be healed, we cried right alongside Leetah and the cubs.
Little Patch Reunited with Tyleet
Not all tears are those of anguish. The tears that flowed during Little Patch’s final moment in the arms of his mother Tyleet hurt our hearts, but were joyous nonetheless.
Ruffel Taken by Lightning
Ruffel was nothing if not a creature of joy and pleasure. When she was suddenly and unexpectedly snuffed out by bolt of lighting, it was as shocking to readers as it was to the elves. The tears flowed when Ember responded to Teir’s comment that Ruffel would still be alive if she had just stayed in the Palace by pointing out that the former Sun Villager wanted wildflowers. She died experiencing life to its fullest, taking pleasure with Skywise, dancing in the rain, her nose in a flower, which somehow makes her death more poignant.
Old Father Devoured by Peace Hounds
Old Father helped keep the myths of the good “hidden ones” alive among the younger generations through his tales of gentle wisdom and his wooden carvings, and for that, he paid with his life in the jaws and grotesque tentacles of the horrific peace hounds.
Skywise Saying Goodbye to Cutter
After the elves first won back the Palace of the High Ones from King Guttlekraw’s troll army, Skywise’s dream of returning to the stars finally became a possibility. When he said goodbye to Cutter so he could stay behind to discover the Palace’s secrets, no reader had dry eyes.
Strongbow Fighting Lashpaw
Strongbow’s deep affection for his wolf-friend Lashpaw was touching to begin with, but the terror and heartbreak of seeing him beat the sick-maddened wolf into unconsciousness in order to save the animal’s life was terrible to witness through our tears.
When Bearclaw gently took young Cutter aside and confirmed that his mother Joyleaf had been killed by the monster Madcoil the sense of grief was quiet, but overwhelming.
Redlance once noted that the Wolfriders are hunters, not murderers, so Shale’s death at the hands of brutal humans brought forth tears of grief as well as frustration at the utter wantonness of it.
We’d already shed tears at Cutter’s touching farewell to his wolf-friend Nightrunner, whose old body could no longer take the physical exertion of travel while on the Quest. Tears flowed anew at the confirmation that the loyal wolf had finally passed away in the cool shade of the forest.
Dewshine Reunited with Scouter
Dewshine was held captive in Blue Mountain, but the tears of joy at her reunion with Scouter were bittersweet because she was not able to rescue their kidnapped infant Windkin from the clutches of Winnowill. For any parent (or uncle, aunt, godparent or caregiver to children), the helplessness of knowing you can’t help the child you love is crushing.
Two-Edge Loses His Mother
The final battle of the Shards War was a maelstrom of shock and terror and elation, ending with the beheading of Winnowill. The look of crushing, utter devastation on Two-Edge’s face when he saw what befell his mother–his lifelong enemy, yet the stone on which he kept both edges honed sharp, and the instigator of his tragic quest for love–brought forth tears of pity for this complex and tortured soul.
Skywise Ends Starjumper’s Suffering
Anyone who has opened their lives to animal-friends knows all too well the terrible heartache of having to choose when their loved fur-kin’s suffering has gone on too long and are faced with decision to end their life. Though Skywise was willing to challenge the Way to save old Starjumper, he ultimately accepted the final responsibility in this sob-inducing scene.
Joyleaf Decries Wanton Death
Crescent’s murder by humans is a tear-jerker moment itself, but Joyleaf’s reaction to Bearclaw’s retaliatory murder of the human shaman is what really crushes the heart. She knew that following Bearclaw’s path of revenge would do nothing but fuel an endless vendetta of wanton and meaningless killing. Moonshade’s sobs at the sight of the dead human are a terribly sad reinforcement of Joyleaf’s point.
Moonshade and Strongbow Separate
In ElfQuest, as in real life, couples sometimes grow in different directions. The elves have the grace to accept that reality, but it doesn’t make seeing the separation happen any easier.
Cutter Shares his Anguish with Rayek
When Cutter finally shared his anguish at being separated from his family for 10,000 years, our hearts were torn out for him in what is probably the most emotionally charged scene in the decades-long history of ElfQuest.