Book One Synopsis

In the blue skies over a broken world, a single traveler finds no peace. Where ever he goes his dark dreams follow, and even darker consequences manifest. Mysterious illnesses, long interminable slumbers, upon awaking from each nightmare Trede finds another victim struck down by his dark affliction.

On the way home from one of his trips south, Trede is accosted by a powerful Mystic with strange green eyes. After a brief struggle, Trede is knocked off the airwhale carrier into the woods far below and awakens to find himself befriended by one of the Selahns. A rare and curious race of short cat-like people, of which Traz is most proud to be a member. The two agree to cut through the thick forest and make route for Trede’s hometown of Smisom. At the same time Cassidy, a brilliant new recruit to the secretive Cytech inventors guild, is en route to the same place. Although quite perturbed by the task, she’s been assigned to track down Trede and his one-of-a-kind gunstaff, something in which her guild has a great interest.

These three eventually meet up in the center of town, and after Trede’s difficult business with the local marshal, they decide to get dinner together. Cassidy makes her best recruitment pitch, but Trede is fearful of accepting. He knows his curse could hurt a lot of people if he decides to go with her. They part ways for the evening, and Traz stays with Trede in his modest home at the edge of town.

That evening, a mysterious figure enters the town. Dressed in black and red, he appears to have been tracking Trede with an interest of his own.

After another visceral nightmare, Trede awakes to find Smisom under attack with several nearby buildings set ablaze. With the help of Traz, he fights off several of the Outcasts, a group of wild men from a foggy mire to the south known only as The Wastes. After the battle, Marshal Langhorne arrives. After a somewhat incriminating comment from the last conscious Outcast, Langhorne attempts to arrest Trede. Realizing he has no facts to defend himself he runs off in the night with Traz in tow. Now a fugitive in his own hometown, he meets up with Cassidy and hurriedly agrees to return to Sedenza with her. Just before getting aboard the next airwhale carrier, Trede is found by the man in black and red. His name is Maej, and he offers Trede a simple parcel. He advises Trede to take it to a temple in Sedenza where answers may be found regarding Trede’s dark affliction. Wary, Trede takes the parcel but does not tell the whole story to his friends. His secret is still safe for now.

Once in Sedenza, Trede and friends find themselves trapped. The parcel given to Trede by the secretive Maej turns into the trigger for a magical snare at the temple. They narrowly escape and find themselves chased by several armed foot soldiers. In the fracas Traz is lost in the city and Trede is knocked unconscious. Only by relying on her quick wits is Cassidy able to evade their pursuers and finally get Trede to the guild house.

Things go well with Trede’s initiation into the Cytechs, but before too long he finds himself on the run again. His dark affliction has struck yet another victim, this time a member of the Cytech’s security detail. To avoid further questioning Trede sets out on his own, leaving both Cassidy and the recently found Traz behind.

Before finding egress from Sedenza, he’s assisted in a scuffle with some local thieves by a friendly soul named Smythe. Having earned his trust, these two travel south via airwhale. Knowing how valuable Trede’s gunstaff is, a team led by master inventor Tenowon, including Traz and Cassidy, sets out from the mountainside labs to track Trede down. While traveling, Tenowon reveals that he is actually an android built in ancient times before the great cataclysm more than five-hundred years ago. His memory, however, has no record of anything that occured more than twenty-five years ago.

Trede follows Smythe to the house of a man named Proat as a place to lay low for a while. As it turns out Proat, an odd man of science who wears smithing goggles day and night, is in the middle of heading north on an archaeological expedition. The group of them head north with many crew and supplies in tow. Proat claims that the place they are going, named The Well, has ancient and mysterious powers. This provides Trede some brief hope for finding the resolution to his never-ending curse.

Shortly after arriving at the exploration site in the north, Smythe and Proat show their true colors. By removing his goggles, Proat reveals his shining green eyes which Trede instantly recognizes. Horrified, Trede is hauled to an ancient ruin deep in the forest and forced to take part in Proat’s incantation, whose name is now revealed to be Proteus. Trede is pushed into an invisible wall of energy know as the Well’s Gate. After enduring severe amounts of pain the Well’s Gate unlocks by reacting with the unknown force entwined in Trede’s own Inner Fire. The barrier down, Trede collapses and is barely conscious. In the chaos that ensues, Maej appears and seems intent on finally finishing Trede off. Only instead, he carries Trede away while fighting against Proteus’ men.

Later, Trede awakes with Maej standing over him. Maej’s threats turn to violence until Trede is pushed beyond his limits. To Trede’s shock, he releases a beam of energy out of his bare hands and only then does Maej relent. Maej and the woman from the Sedenza temple, known as Oudrine, then explain to Trede that he is indeed a mystic himself. The gunstaff he had relied on all these years had only been a channeling device for his own power. The two also explain to Trede the purpose of the Well’s Gate and what would happen now that Proteus is able to complete his plan, a plot he had started nearly twenty years ago.

Trede agrees to help Maej and Oudrine in stopping Proteus’ from enacting his evil. Shortly after, they come across Tenowon in the same forest, as he, Cassidy, and Traz have been following Trede’s trail a step behind. It turns out, Tenowon also has a great interest in that legendary place. In a strange turn of events, it seems Marshal Langhorne was taken captive by the Outcasts back in the east, and had also been brought to the same forest. Finally all together, the group unites to fight their common enemy.

Further infiltrating the enemy compound, the group has a final confrontation with Proteus’ forces at the cave entrance that leads to The Well. Dispatching the majority of them, including a contingent made up of dozens of Outcasts from the Wastes, Maej is critically injured. Proteus uses this moment of confusion to slip away inside the cave.

Narrowly escaping death thanks to quick action by Oudrine, a skilled mystic healer, Maej and the group gives chase. When they exit the far end of the cave into an overgrown glen, they find themselves too late. Proteus is gone and an eerie purple light is seen glowing over the stone altar that makes up The Well. Before they can decide what to do a lightning storm begins brewing. They retreat to the nearest airwhale carrier and head south. They must tell the world of the danger that is coming! On the carrier Cassidy and Trede finally have a moment of peace above deck. They realize just how much they’ve begun to mean to each other, but far in the north a dark bloom opens. Something evil is growing, and getting stronger by the second.