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Synopsis - Book 1

A chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the story so far, for those who have read the comic and want to get back up to speed, or want to find where in the story something happened. Spoilers abound, obviously.

You can click a chapter title graphic to jump to that chapter on the comic site.
If you haven't read the comic, may we direct you here.

 

Book 1

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In which two princes make a fateful pact with an ancient enemy.   Princes Johlan and Ashlar of Tamuran, unhappy with their father's rule and the prospect that the traditional method of succession will put their naive younger brother on the throne, conspire with long-banished sorcerers from the sealed-away island of Inikis to stage a coup and seize the throne before their brother can be officially named heir during the Feast of Crowns. They seal the agreement in blood.  
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In which a lost Elf meets an eccentric Traveler and becomes slightly less lost.   Wild elf Nashua and his Silver Raven companion Talather have come to Namridia to inform the Patriarch of Tamuran of strange happenings in the wilderness, but they find themselves lost in the winding city streets. A young Traveler named Varony, who has come to the city for the Feast of Crowns, offers to guide them to the castle, using rather unorthodox means of travel (over the rooftops). The city is crowded with festival-goers, and speculation abounds as to who will be named the Patriarch's heir. En route to the castle, Nashua spots two of the princes and interrupts their procession to petition them for an audience with their father, telling them that his people have disappeared and dark forces are at work in the Wilde. Prince Johlan brushes off the request, saying that the Patriarch is too busy with matters of the festival and upcoming coronation of his heir, but Prince Ashlar agrees to help and gives them a token with which he can find them if he manages to secure an audience.

As Varony and a greatly relieved Nashua leave to find lodgings, a bedraggled young woman looks on with interest.

 
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In which the Elf tells his story and gains an ally.   After securing a room at the unfortunately named Coff Inn, Nashua leads Varony to the woods outside the city to retrieve his riding elk, Ka Nuu. On the way Nashua recounts the events that brought him to Namridia: on the morning of his people's summer feast, he found that the sacred stags under his care and several clans of his people who were gathered in his village for the celebration had vanished, including his wife and children. After searching in vain, he sought out his people's Kindred Council, who told him that he would find answers with the Patriarch of Tamuran. Both Nashua and Varony recount encounters in the Wilde with a new type of unnatural, malevolent creature called Seyelive, which only appear at night and have been ominously increasing in number. Varony agrees to help Nashua get to the bottom of things, for the benefit of both their peoples.

They find Ka Nuu, who has an immediate, intense dislike for Varony, and return to the city.  
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In which a Morphus joins the party and a good deed turns into a very bad night.   Amidst festival revelry at the Coff Inn later that night, Kipnerys is lost in memories. She is a Morphus, a Tu Naul born with shapeshifting and telepathic powers, and she has spent the last 60 years fulfilling her appointed duty, bound in the form of a lemur and partnered as an assistant and guardian to the court physician of Tamuran, Cathrine. Since Cathrine's recent death, Kip has found herself unmoored and directionless.
  Kip's reverie is broken by the entrance of a desperate young street urchin seeking help to rescue her brother from a dangerous neighborhood thug. Varony and Nashua agree to step in, encouraged on by Kip, who offers her services as a medic in case things go badly. They go with the girl, but rather than scaring off one bully they find themselves fighting an entire gang. They manage to take out all of the thugs, but as the fight is winding down, Nashua notices that the girl, Serene, has disappeared, and he follows her footprints away from the scene. Meanwhile, as Kip checks for survivors among the unconscious thugs, she notices strange markings on their chests. Hearing Nashua suddenly call out, Kip and Varony follow his trail to an abandoned building where he has found Serene - in the middle of drawing what seems to be a magic circle and looking not very helpless or innocent at all.  
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In which the protagonists are in more trouble than they bargained for.   Serene dispels her waifish disguise and gloats over her successful manipulation of the party, hinting that she knows more about each of them than she should. After Kip demands answers and tries unsuccessfully to attack her, Serene declares, "The sacrifice is made by Morphic fang, creature's claw, and mortal blade. Three lives spun, immortal victory is won!" and vanishes. Kip, Varony, Nashua, and Talather are left trying to figure out who Serene was and what just happened. Nashua declares her to be "inkuratu," tainted with monstrous forbidden magic.   The party leaves to find a place to treat Nashua's considerable injuries from the fight before he loses much more blood. They secure a spot in one of the private homes in the city that are offering lodging to festival-goers, and Kip tends Nashua's and Varony's wounds. While Varony and Talather leave to retrieve Nashua's riding elk, Nashua tells Kip about the loss of his family and the mission that brought him to the capital. Since Kip works at the palace, she offers to request an audience with the Patriarch so that Nashua can tell him about his plight, the darkness threatening the Wilde, and their encounter with the sorceress Serene. Eventually Varony returns with Ka Nuu (after an apparently wild ride), and they transport Nashua back to the inn.   Elsewhere, Serene reports to the sorcerer Rais on the success of her mission: with her marked sacrifices slain by unwitting hands, Namridia's magical defenses will fall and open the way for the sorcerers' plan to topple the throne.  
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In which many stories are told.   The next morning, Varony is awakened at the inn by twinges of pain. He grumbles to the nearly-new moon about terrible timing and the scent of blood, then retrieves food from the kitchens (braving uncomfortable proximity to bloody half-butchered chickens). Over breakfast (and medicines sent by Kip), Varony and Nashua chat about their pasts. Nashua answers Varony's curious questions about his people and their life in the Wilde, and Varony reveals that he actually has no memories before six years ago, when the Domravilla Traveler clan found him badly injured by the side of the road and adopted him, nursing him back to health and re-teaching him what he'd lost. The conversation turns to the events of the night before and possible implications of Serene's cryptic proclamation, but they agree that the best course of action for now is to lie low and wait for word from Kip about meeting with the Patriarch.   At the palace, Kip petitions the long-suffering Chamberlain Grahm for a royal audience. On her way to her (formerly Cathrine's) office, she notices spots of some kind of blight appearing on her hands from her encounter with Serene's magic, but she cannot find any remedy for it in her medical texts. She is summoned for her audience and meets with Patriarch Leius and his youngest son, Ranon. Upon hearing Kip's story, the Patriarch requests that she, Nashua, and Varony meet with him early the next morning. Kip accepts Ranon's invitation to accompany him to the festival that evening, then leaves for the Wizards' Wing to have her blighted hands examined. On the way, the sight of a Zharus Guard laughing with his Morphus conjures a flood of memories of Cathrine, and Kip ducks into a storage room to cry in private. She soon finds herself trapped when Princes Ashlar and Johlan enter the room with two of their personal guard. As Johlan is ordering the capture of a "pair of troublemakers" and demanding that the upcoming coronation proceed as planned, Kip's hiding spot is discovered by the guard captain's cobra Morphus.  
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In which a curse is lifted and a trap swings shut.   Kip asks the cobra not to embarrass her by telling anyone that he found her there, and he leaves with a nod. The princes and their guard leave, and Kip continues on to her meeting with Veil Wizard Lana Denoon. Mistress Lana identifies the curse left by Serene's wards and casts a healing spell to remove it, advising Kip not to shapeshift until the spell has finished its work. Kip mentions the strange meeting she witnessed in the storage room and Lana agrees to look into it, though she trusts the princes and their guard to have any attempts to disrupt the festival under control.   Kip reports back to Varony and Nashua at the inn, expresses her disapproval of their ability to follow medical directions, and leaves for her date with Prince Ranon. As Nashua drifts to sleep, relieved that his people's plight will finally be heard, Varony contemplates their upcoming trip to the palace, musing over a small, strangely-figured box that he pulls from his pack.   Late that evening, Kip returns home from her date and settles in for bed, but an ominous figure waits in the shadows of her apartment.   At the inn, Varony and Nashua wake to find the main inn building in flames. Seeing that there's nothing they can do to help, they hurry to the stables, where they are attacked by a panther Morphus and a number of non-uniformed guards, who have also killed Ka Nuu. The fight is cut short by Johlan's guard captain, and Nashua and Varony are incapacitated and hauled away.  
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In which the party comes to a dire realization and a large furry monster shows up in an unexpected place.   The party awake in stone dungeon cells. Varony has a claustrophobic panic attack when he finds that his hands are chained, but manages to calm himself enough to start picking the locks with the stems of his glasses. Kip shapeshifts into a cat to explore the area, while Nashua relates overhearing that they are to be framed for the Patriarch's murder. Nashua is badly wounded and pessimistic about his chances of survival, and Varony is still on the verge of panic, but they keep each other focused while Varony works at picking the cell door locks. Kip returns and reports the layout of the dungeon. She sees to Nashua's injuries while Varony finds their gear and some supplies... and the token Prince Ashlar bid them carry so they could be located. Putting together the token, the plan Nashua overheard, their sorcerous encounter with Serene, their capture by royal guards, and Kip's overheard conversation between the princes in the storeroom, the group realizes that Ashlar and Johlan must be collaborating with sorcerers to assassinate their father and probably intend for Kip, Nashua, and Varony to escape the dungeons and be captured as scapegoats.   They decide to escape by the route that seems least expected for them to take: a narrow pathway running along the edge of the underground river that cuts across one end of the dungeon. Following the path, they come to a trapped rope bridge over the water, which they cross after a close encounter with a very large, hostile fish. On the other side is a platform and stairs leading up. Varony, shaken, urges the others to go on ahead while he catches his breath. They reluctantly comply and ascend the stairs, only to hear terrible noises and cries of pain coming from the platform below. Kip hurries back down the stairs to see what's happened to Varony and comes face to face with a large, furred beast with huge claws and sharp teeth.  
  Continue to Book 2

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