8th day of Descending Wood, 768th year of the reign of the Scarlet Empress
Our story begins as Sela, Tefari, Ishanvi, and Nisha – each a former student at Naranbaatar, and each secretly a solar – gather for lunch at the thermopolium run by Djoh – another former student of Naranbaatar and secret solar.
Also eating at the thermopolium is a sworn brotherhood of three Dragonblooded – Peleps Shukan, Sesues Isul, and Nellens Jinen – freshly graduated and about on their first Adventure, along with Shukan and Isul’s valets in attendance.
As the young waitress Laila takes food from the counter over to Barish and Tulay – two bouncers from the House of Seven Treasures breaking their fast before their work day begins – Shukan grabbs the pretty young thing and pulls her forcibly onto his lap. An action that does not sit well with Laila, Djoh, or the other residents of Featherdown Hill taking their lunch at the Thermopolium.
In the course of the ensuing fight, Nisha stumbles across the body of Isul and finds it strange that he is dead, for none of the locals, at least, were using blades and yet the Dynast’s throat was clearly cut. Still, she helps herself to the contents of his purse – including a cylinder of black jade capped with gold.
Fire Pine arrives to stop the fight, and is rather distraught to find her nephew dead. However the practical Immaculate abbess is more concerned about what his sister – who leads a local branch of the Wyld Hunt – will say, especially once Jinen awakens and accuses Ishanvi of being a demon. She strongly suggests that the not yet formed circle leave town for a few months, so that she can calm her niece down. Irritated about having to leave town, but understanding the wisdom of not sticking around to face a Wyld Hunt, the five Solars depart for the goat trails that will lead them, eventually, to Naranbaatar.