Magiere and Leesil and the town of Miiska finish the rebuilding of The Sea Lion after it being burnt down by Rashed two moons previously. With the town's largest warehouse gone, the economy of Miiska is suffering and the town council's coffers are nearly dried up. Karlin approaches Magiere, telling her that she owes the town back taxes. Meanwhile, murders are occuring in Bela and their council has sent a request to Miiska for the services of the hunter. While Magiere initially refuses, Leesil convinces her that not only is it the right thing to do, it will also get them enough money to pay the taxes and rebuild the warehouse as community property.
Ship to Bela
Magiere, Leesil and Chap are seen off by Karlin and Loni on a boat headed for Bela. Leesil has never travelled by ship before and becomes seasick. To combat his illness, Leesil decides to get drunk. While Leesil is drunk, Magiere is attacked by assassins hired by one of the owners of the remaining warehouses in town. Leesil helps save Magiere from the assassins, but she is angry that he has gotten drunk.
Having escaped Miiska, Ratboy has started a new life. He has begun to dress and act as a young noble, living a life of luxury with two of his own servants: Sapphire and Chane. Now calling himself his former human name: Toret, Ratboy has Chane instruct him how to be more noble and defend himself wih a sword as Chane himself was a minor noble in life. Toret is met by a mysterious stranger who knows his past in Miiska and warns him that the hunter is coming for him. He also tells Toret that Magiere has never faced magic before and he should use Chane against her as he knows some.
The Rebellious Servant
Chane, hating his master and his servitude but unable to resist his commands, has been leaving the bodies of prominent victims for the authorities to find. His hope is that the city guards will begin and investigation and track Toret down and kill him. Unless directly ordered by Toret, he tries to evade his master's plans whenever he can. He goes so far as to kill one of his fellow servants rather than allow them to aide Toret and flees his master's side when he becomes engaged in battle.
The Hunter's Arrival in Bela
Magiere, Leesil and Chap arrive in Bela and are taken to an inn by a young by named Vatz. They head over to the council and meet with Chairman Alexi Lanjov and the rest of the Bela Council. One of the members named Au'Shiyn is openly confrontational and does not believe Bela is plagued by the undead. After the meeting, Lanjov decides Au'Shiyn is probably right and decides to dismiss the hunter. He is persuaded against this action by Welstiel who has been befriending him with advice for the past several months. Leesil has Vatz take him to a blacksmith so he can have his new weapons forged.
The Guild of Sagecraft
The Guild of Sagecraft has recently opened a new branch in Bela and two representatives: Domin Tilsworth and his apprentice Wynn Hygeorht petition the council for larger barracks as they need a bigger building if they are expected to grow their archives and numbers. While in the city, the two sages are befriended by Chane who comes to them once a week to have intelligent discussions. The two sages appear to be the only humans that Chane likes and could never imagine harming. Wynn notices Magiere, Leesil and Chap as they pass at the council hall. She speaks to Leesil in elven, but he tells her that he doesn't understand.
The Hunt Begins
Magiere and Leesil go to Lanjov's house. They learn that the victim: Chesna had been giving their maid and houseboy the night off whenever Lanjov went to play cards at the Knight's House. Only the cook was home the night of the murder until Lanjov returned home with friend and neighbor Lord Kushev. On the porch where the murder occured, Magiere touches part of Chesna's ripped dress and has a vision of a nobleman in black leather gloves coming to the house and speaking to Chesna before he kills her. Magiere experiences the vision through the eyes of the killer and determines that Chesna knew who the man was. Lanjov becomes engraged at the accusation that Chesna knew the killer and that he was a nobleman. Magiere and Leesil speak with the captain of the city's guards Chetnik. Through him they learn of several more murders They also read many reports of a bright-eyed woman has been attacking people. They speak with a guard for a Domvolyne named the Blue Dove. Koh'in ib'Sune who had been attacked by the woman while working. Meanwhile, Toret prepares to face his old enemies, learning from Chane how to create a familiar.
Encounter with Sapphire
While Chane and Toret are out, Sapphire is taken to the Rowanwood to entertain herself and show off her new dress. Magiere and Leesil have an argument stemming from him getting drunk on the ship and losing all of his money. Magiere goes up to her room and Leesil heads out to entertain himself. He goes to the Rowanwood and plays a few hands of cards until Sapphire begins to hit on him because of his exotic look. She is under the impression that elven blood contains a stronger lifeforce, hinting at the idea that she wants to feed on an elf. Leesil however, is oblivious that she is a vampire. Magiere is led by Chap to find Leesil and both Chap and Magiere's amulet alert them that a vampire is inside. Sapphire is found sitting on Leesil's lap and she takes him hostage before killing a guard. Leesil escapes her grip and she flees into the alley. Leesil chases her down and the two grapple until Magiere is able to stake Sapphire with a plank of wood. Sapphire manages to escape and Magiere is left to ponder the idea that staking does not kill a vampire.
Toret and Chane find two sailors: Tibor and Sestmir and Toret turns them in his servants. The four of them break into the Burdock to kill Magiere and Leesil. Leesil battle Toret and Tibor while Sestmir and Chane attack Magiere and Chap. Sestmir is held off by Chap while Chane engages Magiere in swordplay. Magiere gets the feeling that Chane isn't trying as hard as he could, but senses a hunger in him that she never sensed with Rashed or Teesha. They wanted to kill her, Chane wants to feed on her. Chane gains an upperhand, knocking Magiere to the ground and Sestmir tries to finish her off, but is killed. Downstairs, Tibor and Toret are wounded and forced to flee after Vatz attacks Tibor with a crossbow. Chane also escapes and the Burdock is set on fire. Magiere and Leesil take Vatz and an injured Chap to the Guild of Sagecraft, where Domin Tilsworth tends to Chap's wounds. They begin to make plans to track down Toret, Leesil having recognized him as Ratboy. They decide that land deeds is the best shot at finding them as Sapphire let it slip that she owns a luxurious three-story home. Wynn also reveals Chap's true nature, discovering that he understands them much more than he lets on. She devises a way for him to paw at the Belaskian words for yes and no to answer questions and he answers to yes when asked if he is a Fay. Magiere and Leesil head to Lanjov's bank to further question everyone Chesna could have known from his proffession or the council and are again scoffed at by Au'shiyn. Lanjov finally decides to dismiss them and reveals this to Welstiel who then murders Au'shiyn and makes it appear that it was the vampires that did it. At Au'shiyn's home, Magiere has another vision, but feels this one was slightly different. Leesil explains that the rips were done deliberately to look like Chesna's murder. Chetnik allows them access to the bodies of Au'shiyn and another victim. Together, they agree to lock the city down at night and close off all sewer access to restrict the vampires' movements.
The Other Elf
Chane goes to Hovel Row, knowing another elf lives there and informs him of Leesil being in the city. The elf communicates with Most Aged Father using a Word Wood and asks him to send another. Most Aged Father sends Sgaile to assassinate Leesil. Sgaile nearly accomplishes his task until he sees Chap, recognizing him as a Majay-hi.
The End of Toret
Welstiel visits the Guild of Sagecraft and makes sure that Wynn discovers Toret's land deed before erasing Wynn's memories of his visit. Magiere, Leesil, Wynn and Vatz go to Toret's home to finish things. Chane sets a magical trap of light that temporarily blinds Leesil after Vatz kills Chane's raven familiar. Heading into battle, Chane kills Tibor so that he cannot aide Toret. Chane attacks Magiere, knocking her unconscious with a punch before grabbing Wynn and fleeing to leave Toret to fend for himself. Toret briefly fights Leesil, but is no match for him and flees after telling Sapphire to run into the sewers. He doesn't realize that she refuses, going instead to grab money and her valuables and is killed easily by Magiere. Leesil tracks Toret through the sewers but he escapes due to Sgaile arriving and allowing him to go. Sgaile reveals that Leesil's mother is still alive. Leesil catches back up with Toret and finally finishes him.
The True Nature of Welstiel
Magiere tracks Chane and Wynn down, where Chane reveals to Wynn that he respects her intellect and could never hurt her like other humans. He explains that some vampires are turned against their will and never have a choice to be anything else. Magiere tries to finish Chane off with Wynn's help, but Wynn refuses to kill him and he escapes. Welstiel comes to speak with Magiere and it is revealed that he arranged her hunting in Miiska and Bela to train her for a task ahead. Magiere figures out that it was Welstiel, not Chane, that killed Au'shiyn and suddenly sees him not an enigmatic stranger, but as an enemy. Despite having none of the signs, Magiere has a feeling that he is an undead and hits him with a garlic tipped quarrel which smokes on impact, revealing Welstiel to in fact be a vampire. Welstiel creates a mist and escapes.
Magiere and Leesil return to Toret's home to burn the vampires' remains as they are sure that it is the only way to kill them they are positive of. While here, Leesil pockets one of Sapphire's expensive necklaces and asks Wynn and Vatz to sell it. Chetnik is alarmed at the public scene at first, but becomes understanding when Magiere explains that it will prevent anyone from denying what happened. They head over to the council and present the heads of Toret, Sapphire and Tibor as evidence of the completed job, dropping the heads on the table in their midst. They recieve the bank note for Miiska which Wynn volunteers to deliver and the council also agrees to rebuild the Burdock. Magiere and Leesil agree that they need to find whatever Welstiel was searching for before he can find it as Domin Tilsworth explains the danger of something that powerful being in the hands of a vampire that cannot be detected by Chap or Magiere's amulet. He also says that Chap brought them together and is their guide. Chane and Welstiel form a loose alliance out of their interest in Magiere.