In the city of Fang, six travellers, a performing monkey, a “Crocodile” and Dog; are leaving in a hurry, following the trail of a Vatcha known as The Jotun’s Eye, carried by a young man by the name of Niklaus. Their passage north has been organised by Eliza – a messenger – who has secured passage on a boat with Captain Steadiship. Bruce Chanter and Clarence come too: Bruce because he’s travelling north, Clarence because he needs to flee town, after losing money to a gentleman by the name of Tamerlain.
On route, Ana and Captain Steadiship tell tales about the dangers of river pirates – it was once a peaceful route, but it’s not safe at night any more: the party stop off to rest at a little village named Wolfwater. On arrival they hear rumours of a plague that is spreading down in the South, in the town of Drayfuss outside Cairnwood; and of pirates that haunt the stretch of river to the north, towards Wildrun. Finally they hear that Toby, the son of Captain Clip, is missing. He was due to travel to the Cravenburg Academy — an honour bestowed upon the Captain by Baron Cravenburg after the Captain killed a great talking Wolf outside the city.
The party decide — each for their own reason — to seek Toby out. Ana uses the Lady’s power to track the boy’s scent, passing this off as using Dog to track him. The trail takes Ana, Genevive, Anders and Tobyn through the dark of the forest to a hut that swings gently from the trees in a cocoon of strong silk, the trees strung with jars that contain blue flickering flames. The Heat of the Moment, controls Davvie in to clasping the flames of their own lanterns and hiding them in the palms of his hands while he investigates, then the party decide that they will attempt to talk, before trying to draw blades.
They discover that the hut is the home of Ancylometes – a Spiderkin potion maker, whom Toby has fled to. The party persuade Ancylometes to let them talk to Toby, while she retreats in to her hut.
Toby doesn’t want to go to the Cravenberg Academy: it’s cold and stinks and he likes it here. Ana tries to convince him, unsuccessfully, that he should. Eventually, the party promise him to ask the Baron for another favour instead, one that will help all of Wolfswater; and Ancylometes too. Since Toby is leaving of his own free will, she is willing to let him go, but insists on the party taking what appear to be some empty glass jars with them – jars that allow them to converse over long distances with her. Back in Wolfwater, the party reunite Toby with his father. They retire to bed, all very happy.
In the middle of the night, Ana is woken up with a knife to her throat – hired thieves trying to recover the Crown. She persuades them that they need her help to destroy it, for long enough to get them into the corridor, then uses the Lady’s powers to summon a cloud of angry birds to frighten and distract them long enough for her to get away. There is a brief melee, during which time Anders uses The Heat of the Moment’s power to unmake one of the thieves’ weapons. One of them is killed, the other disarmed and surrenders, cowering in fear.
Captain Clip realises that these travellers have used unnatural powers to defend themselves. Genevive interrogates the surviving thief, who admits that he was sent from Fang by Chancellor Prynn. Speaking through her, the Crown lays down a threat for the thief to deliver to Prynn. This also makes it deeply obvious to Clip that the Crown that Genevive wears is a Vatcha. He orders the party out of town, forbidding Toby to leave with them, with predictable results. Tobyn, under Yarn’s control, grabs Toby and is about to carry him away. Ana draws a crossbow on her. Genevive tells Captain Clip to let his son make up his own mind, and acting through Tobyn, Yarn imbues Genevive’s words with power – the Captain sees the narrative unfold like a great road before him; and he knows that there is nothing he can do to stop them leaving with his son.
The party leave with Toby in tow and an angry village behind them. Within an hour, however, the wind has carried them away.