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Synopsis - Book 3

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 3

In which the party return to civilization, get some news, and attract some unwanted attention.   As the party approaches the city of Hiancea on Singing Lake, Talather reports that due to increasing numbers of seyelive making travel near impossible, the city is crowded, with a heavy presence of armed guards. To avoid the attention of anyone searching for Ranon, the party plans to split up and avoid contact while they're in the city, then meet on the other side of the lake in the morning.   Varony and Kip enter the city gates just as they're closing and are briefly questioned by an armored mercenary. Kip secures lodging at an inn, signing in under an alias, and they head out into the city. Kip visits a bathhouse, while Varony wanders into an encampment of Travelers in the city's central plaza. A young lady named Jadsira Rathkaravilla recognizes him and updates him on the latest news: her clan is 5trapped in Hiancea by the Seyelive, the eldest prince of Tamuran has ascended the throne after the Patriarch's murder, and the youngest prince has been killed or kidnapped, possibly by a Traveler. Kip returns from the bathhouse to the Traveler camp and has a telepathic word with Ranon, who has also been listening and gathering information there. He tells her that a band of bounty hunters is in the city, likely one of many seeking the reward that has been put out for his "kidnappers." Kip joins Varony and Jadsira's conversation, but responds defensively when Jadsira asks about their reasons for traveling. Varony explains away Kip's reaction, and Jadsira invites him back to the Traveler camp for music later that night.   As Varony and Kip are leaving a man loudly accuses Ranon of stealing his coin purse. The situation escalates as hostility toward the Travelers is stoked, and the city watch intervenes. Ranon is about to be detained by the watch for questioning, but the stolen purse is returned by an imposing, armored merchant who found the real thief, a young boy, hiding under his wagon. The situation defused, Ranon leaves unhindered with Nashua. Kip recognizes the merchant as a Tu Naul and stops by his wagon to telepathically chat, despite Varony's distaste for the type of furs and claws the man is selling. Kip gives the merchant, Ven, her real name and flirts with him a bit, but is shocked to hear that some of his merchandise was harvested from lastre anduatha he has hunted. She orders him not to kill any more lastre, as she is friends with one, and he bemusedly agrees. Satisfied, she invites him to come visit her at the inn later that evening.   Back at the inn, Varony warns Kip about the merchant, and she replies that it's okay - Ven promised to stop hunting lastre after she told him about her lastre friend. Varony is incredulous that she would be so open and cavalier about their group and his identity, telling unbelievable stories to this hunter when they're supposed to be avoiding attention. She mistakes his frustration for angst at being a "monster" and becomes irritated in turn. Varony leaves to book their passage across the lake and returns to the Traveler camp.  
In which Kip confides in a new friend.   Varony secures a ship for the morning and briefly checks in with Talather, then goes on to the bathhouse. Afterward he is met by Jadsira, who notices his injuries from the Genisai and insists on treating them. Then they join the Travelers' dancing and music-making.   Ven arrives at Kip's room with a gift of a fur cloak ("not a relative of your friend"). He also has questions, as the name she gave him was not listed in the hotel ledger. Kip is curious about his story as a fellow Tu Naul, so they agree to answer a question for a question over Kalanthilan wine. Kip learns that Ven was banished from Kalanthilas for violating the rules of non-interference that constrained him as a Watcher of the mortal plane. He reveals that he has figured out from her answers and her evasiveness that she is one of the party the bounty hunters are looking for; he considered turning her in, but claims the bounty is not high enough. Kip panics, breaks down, and tells Ven the truth of their mission.   At the Traveler camp the evening is winding down. Jadsira invites Varony to stay the night with her and kisses him. Startled by her reveal of romantic intentions, Varony says a hasty good night and runs off, leaving her hurt and bewildered.   At the inn, Kip confides to Ven that she fears the party won't make it to Atriand. She asks him to come with them, but he declines. The conversation turns back toward romance, but then Kip sees Varony returning. Ven takes his leave, promising to keep Kip's secrets and warning her to watch out for a particularly skilled bounty hunter named Claudia Deshir.   Varony passes Ven in the street outside the inn and asks about his motivations for his big-game hunting; Ven replies that it's fun. Varony manages to keep his temper in check and returns to the room to sleep.  
In which hunters close in, and running the rooftops is not as much fun as it was in Namridia.   Kip and Varony wake to the sound of the innkeeper delivering breakfast. As they eat, Varony notices evidence of Ven's visit the previous night. Kip brushes off his accusations that she's not taking the danger of their situation seriously enough and insists that while she may have told Ven too much about their mission, he wasn't planning to turn them in. Angry at Varony's scolding and telling her what to do, Kip tries to leave to shop for medicine before their boat leaves, but Varony stops her. An argument ensues, in which he lectures her on the need to trust the group and think through the consequences before she acts, and she admits her fear that the party is in over their heads and won't survive this mission. As she finally agrees to try to cooperate more, she starts to feel woozy, and Varony realizes that their breakfast was drugged. Kip turns into a mouse before she passes out, and Varony grabs her and some of their things and escapes out the window before the hunters waiting in the hall can get into their room to apprehend them.   Varony tries to sneak away, but hunters outside the inn notice and pursue. He climbs to the rooftops, which are rapidly becoming slippery in the rain, and the chase continues. Nearing the harbor, Varony finds that their boat has already left. He is cornered by Claudia Deshir and they fight, until he manages to escape by tumbling over the edge of the roof and then hitching a very claustrophobic ride in a passing cart.   Running out of options, Varony risks seeking out Jadsira. She admits that after her humiliation last night she considered reporting his suspicious group to the guards, but says she doesn't believe he did the things they're being accused of and forgives him for hurting her. She finds him a disguise and a boat willing to take him across the lake and enlists her clan to distract the guards. At the docks, she misdirects a group of Claudia's hunters while Varony escapes, but they notice him and pursue in another boat.   Midway across the lake, Talather finds them and Varony briefly explains the situation. To get rid of their pursuers, Talather swoops over the hunters' boat, dodging arrows, and grabs the ocarina one of the hunters is playing to keep the Singing Lake's legendary monster at bay. Without music, the lake monster surfaces to snap the boat in two.   The Travelers' boat makes it the rest of the way to Ranon and Nashua's rendezvous point without incident. Varony thanks Jadsira's cousin Ollas for their clan's help, and Nashua briefly confronts Kip, now recovered from the innkeeper's sleeping draught, over her alleged indiscretions with the secrecy of their mission. The party rides off along the lake road to the west, trying to put distance between them and the rest of Claudia's hunters, heading for the town of West Haven and then into the Wilde.  
In which two loyal guardsmen realize that not everything is as it seems in Namridia.   In the palace in Namridia, cobra Morphus Effire finishes his surveillance rounds and chats with his partner Morgen, Captain of the princes' Zharus Guard. Prince Johlan shows up for his regular sparring session with Morgen in a dark mood, apparently because of resistance against his rule in the city. Prince Ashlar is absent, reportedly in a meeting with Meurianan emissaries. This worries Morgen because he was not informed of the change to the Prince's schedule despite being responsible for his protection. During their sparring Johlan attacks aggressively and smashes Morgen's hand. Morgen is dismissed to the medical office for treatment, but his head is strangely foggy.   The acting court physician, Dr. Farian, finds that Morgen's hand is broken and has to cut away the ring he wears as a token of honor from Prince Johlan. He sends him away with painkillers and an order for ice to be delivered to his room. Feeling that something is strange about the confusion he's experiencing, Morgen tells Effire that he'll rest only if Effire investigates to make sure Prince Ashlar is safe. Before Effire can leave, Johlan shows up to check on Morgen and tell him that after three days' rest he will be required back on duty.   Once Johlan leaves, Effire notes that he felt something strange when Morgen slipped his ring back on to keep up appearances for Johlan. Morgen removes the ring again and confirms: it seems Morgen's strange foggy-headedness may be tied to the ring. They find that the ring's gem was chipped during the sparring match, and Effire suggests destroying it. Morgen is reluctant, fearing Johlan's displeasure if he is not wearing the Prince's gift, but he agrees. He sends Effire to check on Ashlar first, in case something unexpected happens when the ring is broken.   Moving stealthily through the palace, Effire finds that Ashlar is not in his room, but, strangely, servants are preparing the room as if the Prince is not feeling well. Morgen sends Effire to look for the location of Ashlar's supposed meeting with the "Meurianan emissaries" (actually Johlan's Inikan allies). Effire checks the Chamberlain's office - now office to the sorcerer Rais - but is deterred from getting too close by Rais's assistant, who is working some kind of magic as he guards the door. At last he finds Johlan meeting with Rais in the Patriarch's study and overhears them discussing a search to apprehend someone. Johlan is growing impatient, and Rais says something about results depending on "the strength of the blood." Effire is spotted by Sheru, the falcon Morphus partnered to Morgen's second-in-command, Talig, but Sheru only offers condolences for Morgen's injury and doesn't seem suspicious of Effire sneaking around. Effire is able to hear Rais's parting statement about someone needing rest, and leaves before Rais can catch him.   Back in their quarters, Morgen's apprehension has been building. He and Effire smash Johlan's ring, releasing a burst of magic. As Morgen recovers he begins pondering all the things that have happened lately that don't add up. As he wades through memories he is now finding to be patchy, he realizes that for the past year the ring's power had magically secured his and Effire's unquestioning loyalty, making them think that Johlan's plans for a coup were in the best interests of the kingdom... leading to their betrayal of Patriarch Leius and Prince Ranon, whom they had previously held to be good people. With growing horror Morgen realizes the extent of the damage in which he has been complicit, in helping Johlan to seize the crown and bring Inikan sorcerers into the palace, throwing the capital into turmoil and bringing looming disaster upon the kingdom.

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