The early morning light reveals an airship descending through the quiet fog. The Jubilant comes to rest in the glassy protection of an Aerodome at the center of the Free-City of Pacht. But only moments after signing their names to the city register, a cloaked figure dressed all in black steals the log and flees. Pursuit reveals only the charred remains of the book itself, and a glimpse of the masked thief on the rooftops.
Lieutenant Samael Thrushton III finds his new post — a Royal Embassy of Haelmgood — in an abysmal state of lax. Honorable to a fault, he grants them a single day to remedy the affront. Instead of the bunk afforded by his commission, he opts to stay at The Sleeping Tabby Inn and Tavern in the district of Hillbottom, as do his former cabin-mates. Under the care of the Undbutter family they find a cozy, albeit empty, home-away-from-home.
Meanwhile, Vadran, priest of Fyros, seeks out the temple of that potent god in the seedy Canal District. There, he declares his intention to build a new church of his own, and is granted grudging consent. But an air of hostility seems about, as the servants of the God of Rage despise competition.
Miched Dufraine talks and buys his way into the largest library in The West with the hope of finding proof of his own lineage, long ago broken by enslavement in the Empire of Naddium. What he finds is an enigma — eight families instead of one, each bearing a part of his own crest.
Haldis the Sage discovers that not all books of value lie on library shelves. Exploring the city, he meets a dealer in rare tomes and a lady alchemist, both with wares that may one day prove beneficial to his career… if he lives long enough to use them.
And Hasnim of the Fallen Moon Tribe, too, finds helpful friends in the Elven Quarter. A bow of ebon-wood may become a weapon feared by many foes, but the real treasure is a letter of introduction to one Professor Safal of the Cinquerre College of Magic. This slip of paper might prove to be the first step in a journey of discovery about a mysterious blade and redemption in The East.
Night falls. Sleep is broken by noises in the streets. Holes in Time appear, opening shaky paths to a war long over and the sacking of a very different Pacht. Implings and an Orkish taskmaster slip through one of these gaps to raze whatever they can, but swift blades and quick action stamp out the flames. None seem to know what to make of the strange occurrence… but one old man in a clock shop seems more than what he pretends.