A party of travelers are journeying from Cairnwood to the seaside town of Shibh-by-Sea, on the way to Fang, when their wagon is raided by bandits. The wagon pitches in to a ditch; and the roof is set on fire. Luckily, around the corner of the road heads the second wagon in the convoy, which just happens to be the vehicle for a soldier by the name of Williams and a hired guard named Ana, who are transporting a young thief by the name of Carmine to Fang. Between them and the fancy swordplay of a Noble duelist by the name of Genevive di Caius, in the first carriage, they face off the bandits. The bandit king has his head removed from his shoulders, and the fight is over within moments.
Which is the point where four Vatcha – The Crown of Kings, The Heat of the Moment, The Lady of the Forest and Yarn. become aware of each other. The Crown of Kings, previously on the head of the Bandit King, goes rolling to the floor and immediately begins calling out to Genevive di Caius to pick it up.
In a box on the blazing roof of the carriage, the fiddle known as The Heat of the Moment calls to be picked up; and is seized by Davvie – a trained monkey belonging to one Anders Filk, an animal trainer. Yarn – a magical book, said to contain every great story in the world – is being carried by a scribe by the name of Tobyn, who is accompanying his master (an academic by the name of Roberto) to a symposium in Fang, where they plan to discuss historical artifacts from Prima Casa.
And finally, The Lady of the Forest, a magical fox-stole, is draped incongruously around the shoulders of a professional guard by the name of Ana, who is accompanying Williams – The soldier and their charge, a thief by the name of Carmine, who is barely more than a child, but whom they have been paid heavy money to transport to Fang, in order that a noble remove her hands in punishment for theft.
After fixing the wagons and stopping the fire, and a certain amount of discussion and squabbling between the Vatcha, the travelers continue to Shibh, where they buy passage on a boat that is crossing the bay.
The Lady of the Forest uses her powers on Ana to gift her the power of talking Monkey, in order to speak with Davvie. Anders Filk is amazed, as you might expect, and goes on to try to find somebody who can teach Davvie to play the fiddle. He finds Bruce Chanter, who has some experience with a similar instrument his people call “The King’s Voice”, which is bowed, but played in the lap. It’s an Epic task, but Ana‘s newfound skill with Monkeyspeaking and Bruce’s patience mean that it only takes all night. Dawn rises, and to the great joy of sailors who have been betting on the result, Davvie sits and bows the fiddle, playing a simple three-note tune. He can’t manage chords yet.