SynopsisSurviving fragments of civilization left over from a sundered planet eke out a life in an environment sustained entirely by elemental magic. A few disparate groups of teens and young adults from different species and backgrounds attempt to find adventure and meaning to their bleak existence, or hopelessly search for a remedy to their decaying situation.
An increasingly oppressive government and the growing threat of a veiled enemy will throw some of these groups together while viciously tearing others apart. There are hints of the return of one of the missing gods, but it is one that may finish the Islands of Loar for good unless these young heroes can stop him in time.
Loar is a planet torn asunder long ago by unknown forces. A group of twenty large masses survived the destruction. These Islands still orbit the local star and host what remains of life and civilization. It is now more than sixteen hundred years later.
The Council of Wind passes a new law submitted by Extus Malichorum, Lord of the Island of Bethairia. The law severely limits the freedom of expression, targeting the bards, but affecting all. Malichorum’s law also pronounces harsh penalties for those who use or encourage the use of technology. The use of technology is considered sinful under the moral paradigm of Loar for its believed complicity in the destruction of the world. Many are imprisoned on Xamador while others, mainly bards, are tossed into the Void.
Doogan Riftwind, youngest son of the leader of the Council of Wind, the ruling body of Aeromancers in Loar, runs away from home. He is aided by his long time friend, the elfin rogue, Muskrat. During their escape they run into Doogan’s father, but receive help from a human sorcerer named Amirith. They also meet a young bard, a paidion named Sareh Midola, whose sister was executed by the Council. Together, the four of them explore Pulon Island, but eventually decide to head to Bethairia where Amirith has a friend he wants to visit.
Deep in the wilds of Bethairia, Thean Layisar is called to quest by the Prophecy of his people. His fiancé, Yraenei Krand, has her own quest to fulfill and joins him. Along the way Thean ignores the specifics of the Prophecy to hunt monsters. Yraenei warns him of dire consequences and chooses to stay the course dictated by the Prophecy. Thean soon makes his way alone to the meliai’s grove where the Prophecy has called for him to go. The meliai gives him four magical fruit known to cure poisons and diseases. There he saves a strange warrior in shining crystal armor amidst the corpses of the warrior’s friends, almost dying too in the process. The warrior magically heals Thean, saving his life. However, healing magic is supposed to have been lost when the gods left before the Sundering. Unable to speak in the tongues of Loar, the warrior remains behind to bury his dead friends under the tree of the meliai.
Thean continues on, but begins to realize that the air grows thin on Bethairia. Once in the city he runs into Marli Nadjia, a half-elf/human city girl who helps Thean rescue Yraenei, captured earlier by mercenaries. These mercenaries seem to be connected to the dissipating air. They foolishly free the Pyromancer enslaved to run the pulon and are killed. For reasons of his own, the Pyromancer not only allows Thean, Yraenei, and Marli to live, but activates the pulon, a gate to the central Island, and tells them to bring word of the thinning atmosphere to the Council of Wind.
Spenciel Lagrotto is an elfin monk prodigy of the order of Amats’el. He is observing an elfin teen named Eregaia, who is going on her first mission for the monastery. Eregaia has ears far longer than any elf and a mysterious past. They are joined by Nauni, an elfin wizardess and long time friend of both. In the town of Tharverton, they take on a young dwarf thief, Hefgor. Tharverton officials ask them to examine the mines worked by the townsfolk for a problem that has developed. Down below, they encounter a number of creatures Spenciel assumes to be new types of Sundering-warped aberrations intelligent enough to work together. Eregaia is injured in the fight while saving Nauni’s life. They travel swiftly through the tunnels to the river where a young sylphied Hydromancer helps cleanse the wound. In exchange for free passage and her aid with Eregaia, Spenciel and the rest agree to help the sylphied, Faryn, clear out a herd of hyppon clogging the river and making the route dangerous. Before they can do anything, a lawless hunter scares the hyppon off using an illegal device to attract aberrations known as landsharks. The monsters almost kill Hefgor and Nauni, but Spenciel’s sister, Lina, and two of her friends, a druidess named Indrys and her betrothed, a clansman named Nausor, help slay the landsharks. The group returns to pick up a fully and miraculously recovered Eregaia. Faryn decides to join them on their mission.
Doogan and his friends, prevented by Council guards from going to Bethairia, see Thean, Yraenei, and Marli stumble through the Bethairian pulon. The two relate the difficulties the Island is having before heading out to fulfill some mission given by the clansmans’ Prophecy. Doogan reveals himself to be an Aeromancer, which instantly angers Sareh, and claims to be able to save the Island. The guards let them go through with a contingent of Council guards led by a human named Casen Highsword.
Thean insists on reporting Bethairia’s peril to the Council instead of continuing with his quest. Yraenei grows furious that Thean ignores the Prophecy again and they separate. Yraenei sends Marli to keep Thean on track to meet back up with her before she enters the pulon to Fairilund. Thean is delayed and they fall almost a day behind. They manage at last to reach the jungle-covered Island and find Yraenei badly wounded and poisoned from battle with a chimera. Thean attempts to save her using one of the four magical fruit, but she dies anyway. The chimera that killed her returns and during the battle, something awakens in Thean allowing him to control a nearby group of manticore. They slay the chimera and Thean buries Yraenei.
A day later, he and Marli meet a patrol led by a sylphon--a male sylph--named Jai Rogeddian. They accuse Thean of unfairly hunting the wild animals of the Island using his clansmen training and the strange ability known as therionpoimen, which translates as ‘beast shepherd’, the ability awoken during the battle against Yraenei’s slayer. Jai takes them to be judged by Lady Sasha Steelguard, the ruler of the Island. Once she learns of their mission, she dismisses the charges and sends the two through a wizard’s teleportation dais to a place near the meliai’s sister. The patrol goes with them for protection and to scout a rumored event nearby. Once the message that the Veil of Niaaca has been rent is given to the meliai’s sister, they continue to the village that was rumored to have been attacked. Above the village at a cave, the group faces the same new aberrations Spenciel’s group faced on Upper Eschelon. Several of members of the patrol are killed, and the rest retreat. They take their wounded back to Sasha to explain what they observed. Sasha claims Thean’s mission fulfilled and returns them to Pulon Island asking the two Bethairians to report to the Council before returning home.
Spenciel and his party arrive at the tinikean hive that Eregaia was sent to help. There they face the aberrations again who are intent on destroying the tinikeans. The hive is evacuated with Hefgor’s help while Spenciel and the rest hold the monsters at bay. Eventually Spenciel and Faryn are severely injured. They all are washed out when Faryn releases an underground lake above the tunnel. In the night, as they sleep with the tinikean hive at a magical tower called Starchime, Eregaia has another of her famous nightmares. Spenciel wakes to find that he is no longer at Starchime. Nauni has also been transported to the desolate remains of another Island, Lower Atalicon, thought lost over a millennium ago. Through an abandoned journal, she discovers the horrible fate of those who lived there and ends up frightened nearly out of her mind. The journal’s stories stir in her head while she wanders looking for anyone living who can help her.
Doogan and the others travel the width of Bethairia, killing a number of aberrations that have wandered out of their traditional lairs to wreak havoc on the Island populace. One of these monsters, an ancient evil named Saddoch, captures Doogan when Sareh hesitates in combat. The group splits with Muskrat and Sareh continuing on to the mansion where the Atmosphere Resonance Crystal rests while Amirith and Casen search for Doogan. As they begin to give up hope, Doogan shows up with Anemone -- shaman to clan Mordwolf and Thean’s sister -- and Ethaniel Phorj -- the man who Thean helped in the meliai’s grove. Ethaniel is learning to speak the human tongue. In addition to his magical healing, he is extraordinarily powerful against monsters like Saddoch, whom he slew to save Doogan. The four of them meet up with Muskrat and Sareh and attack the mercenaries holding the mansion. The mercenaries surrender before the fight really starts explaining that they meant only to kill the council member, Extus Malichorum, not corrupt the ARC. Doogan chooses to believe them and imprisons them for a time after immediately repairing the ARC and returning breathable air to the Island.
After a time, Koribald and Cairith Riftwind arrive at the mansion to tell Doogan that the Council of Wind has left him in charge of Bethairia for the time being. Doogan is less than thrilled, realizing his days of adventure are over, but he relishes the idea of making such a huge difference in the lives of an entire Island. He is officially made interim Lord of Bethairia pending elections to be held by the people of Bethairia. He makes peace with Sareh and ponders what he learned from the mercenaries. They were hired to kill Malichorum by the leader of the bards, Augustian Morrowhope.