Shaken but not undone by the fires and riots in the Canal District, the citizens of Pacht press on with the midsummer festivities, holding races and tournaments for all to see. Hasnim ebn Alzi and Miched Dufraine enter some of these contests of martial prowess and carry themselves well, but it is Haldis the Sage and his skill with darts that earns the trophy on the archery pitch.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Samael Thrushton and his commanding officer, Colonel Odolphus Griest are playing host to visiting Haelmgood royalty: Prince Friedrick and Princess Winifrey Loyalsworth, who are heirs of the king and two steps away from the throne. But all is not well, for a plot is begun as the first lances of the joust are broken.
Ever watchful Samael discerns that Princess Winifrey has not been seen for some time, and hurries to check on her, only to find her servant murdered with Dark Elf silk clutched in his still-warm hand. Calling on his friends and the loyal men of neighboring Haelmgood, the troop sets out, Hasnim’s tracking senses picking up the trail out of the city. The Defenders of Pacht quickly pull ahead of the scurrying soldiers and waste no time in their pursuit of mounted miscreants.
As night falls, they come upon Manafax Abbey in the distance, and a lone rider speeding toward it. This is none other than Lt. Stene Drummond, rival to Samael and suspect in both the kidnapping and other foul deeds. The Duke’s son can spare not a moment if he hopes to rescue his princess, for even as they ride to the ruins, her screams echo from within. Samael charges through the rotting doors and gallops full-out into unknown dangers, his friends near behind.
Out of sight and moving swiftly, Miched intercepts Drummond in the tall grasses and duels him in the darkness. Finding himself outmatched, the wicked traitor (who helped arrange the kidnapping to make himself look the hero when he came to the rescue) flees in terror. But a good sky-pirate never leaves an enemy at his back and he kindly dispatches the honorless officer on behalf of his friend, Samael.
Meanwhile, inside the ruined abbey, a strange congregation has been assembled. One-hundred enchanted peasants, weak and weary, stand sentinel around a cloaked wizard who seems to command them with only his will. He is The Choirmaster. They sing out with eerie voices in a strange tongue, and it is this song that seems to fill the enchanter with vast, infernal power. He hurls spells at the intruders, but their mounted charge down the ancient hall drives him back. As Hasnim climbs to the choir-loft to free the Princess from her bonds, Haldis peppers the foe with magical bolts and Vadran takes up his blade in anger for the first time in many years. And good that he does, for The Choirmaster is more than simply a wizard… he is the First of the Five Infernals sent to raze the Free-City and kill the Interlopers.
With sword and spell, Samael’s band strikes down The Choirmaster before he can retaliate with his arcane might. The Princess is freed and the singing slaves regain mastery of their own minds.
But the Dark Elves who brought Winifrey to the abbey are nowhere to be found…..