Thelana is born in the river valley of Ilmarinen, the middle child in a family of twelve. Her eldest brother, Borz, is sold into slavery when she is very young. As the dark hemisphere creeps eastward, famine forces Thelana into the wild. Her life is spent on the edge of survival, hunting for prey and hiding from predators. Wounded by a cannibalistic half-man, she is rescued by Captain Dantes and taken to a nearby military encampment, where she proves her archery skills and is recruited into the Kratan army. Years pass until, on the Plains of Narth, Dantes' forces are decimated by bogren, and Thelana, torn with longing for the life she knew, abandons the battlefield. In Ilmarinen, she finds the crops and ilm flowers have withered, with no trace of her family. Overcome by grief, she manages her way to the coastal cities, where she meets Kinj, who introduces her to the life of the thief. Later, when he tries to violate her, Thelana steals his mechanical bow-sword and leaves him to die in an alley. Fleeing to Hedonia, Thelana hides in the slums among the city's outcasts, before making a suicidal attempt to climb into the pyramid Temple of Sargonus. As she pries the giant pearl eye from the idol of the Hedonian Sea God, she is found by the zealous High Priest, and the first Ilmar she has seen since leaving home. With the aid of the Ilmarin stranger, Thelana is apprehended and thrown into a pit beneath the city. There she waits, wondering about the man she has just met. Is he a traitor to their people? Or will he come for her?
Cast off from civilization, Xandr is without home or country or possessions of any kind, but for an ancient sword with a will of its own. Utterly naked in battle, he stands intrepid and shameless, as his people, the Ilmar, have stood for millions of years. But he is never defenseless, for his shield is the Goddess, planet Aenya herself---Alashiya---and he is strengthened by the convictions instilled in him by his mentor, keeper of the lore and wisdom of his people.
Ilmarin by birth, Xandr is raised by monks in the Mountains of Ukko, where he is taught history, philosophy and swordplay. At fourteen, his home is destroyed by armies from the dark hemisphere. With the death of QuasiI, his mentor and father figure, Xandr becomes a recluse, with only an enigmatic sword---Emmaxis---to guide him. He wanders the wilds of Aenya until he meets the bird man, Ouranos. Together, they set forth to undo the evils of the world, but in time Xandr falls into despair. Shunned as a barbarian by the civilized peoples of Aenya, he remains in the Marsh of Melancholy until called to the city of Hedonia. There he finds the one thing he never thought possible, another of his kind. Thelana is a beautiful thief and warrior sentenced to die for her crimes against the Hedonian god. As Xandr seeks desperately to rescue her from the dungeons of a zealous civilization, he must also find the strength in himself to fight for a world that has rejected him and his people.
(Major Spoilers!!!) Emma is born in Northendell, in the frigid Pewter Mountains, to Dak, a scholar of Zo history, and Ilsa, a singer, dancer and musician. At the behest of his wife, Dak gives up his pursuit of immortality, breaking ties with his old friend and partner, Mathias. When King Frizzbeard's men-at-arms learn of Dak's golem creation, their home is ransacked. Knowing the punishment for dabbling in the forbidden arts, Dak and Ilsa choose immolation to capture, trusting in their golem protector, Grimosse, to steal their infant daughter away into the night, to the safety of their only friend. Mathias receives the child with reluctance. During the early years, he takes academic interest in her, teaching Emma to read and giving her books, but as she ages and begins to question him, he decides it is in his and her best interest to keep distant. She is told nothing of her true parents. Before the age of nine, Mathias keeps her prisoner in her own home, a tower once used for defensive purposes, from when the city limits ended at her doorstep. When Emma is at last given freedom to explore the labyrinthine avenues of her city, she is treated cruelly by the other children, who find her socially awkward. She is later imprisoned in her bedroom for a year as punishment for perusing Mathias' study. In the decade that follows, Emma finds solace in hidden and forgotten places, befriending ravens, with whom she imaginatively converses. Black birds are a bad omen in Northendell, however, so when a neighbor miscarries, the strange girl who talks to ravens is implicated for witchcraft. Emma is brought before the king and sentenced to death by exile, since, it is believed, no one can survive the extreme cold beyond the city walls. But a sympathetic soldier, Duncan, speaking on her behalf, lessens her sentence to slavery. On the way to the southern kingdoms, where she is to be sold, Emma's prison cart is overturned and her captors are brutally killed. But her saviors are just as frightening, and far stranger than anything Emma can imagine: wild humans, a man and a woman, with blood soaked limbs and not a stitch of clothing. If Emma hopes to survive, if she hopes to ever discover the secret of her stepfather's study, she will need to follow them, but what faith can she put in such savage naked creatures? And yet, there is something strangely familiar, and comforting, about their third companion---strange because he isn't even human, but a patchwork life form, a thing of dead flesh given life, a golem called Grimosse.
(Major Spoilers!!!) As a young healer living in Northendell, Mathias is deeply troubled by his inability to help wounded men-at-arms. The problem of death plagues him until he meets Dak, a scholar of ancient artifacts. Working in secret, the two men discover how the Ancients, or Zo, transferred their minds into invincible bodies called golems. When Dak falls in love and marries, however, he abandons the pursuit, leaving Mathias to study the countless tomes on his own. One day, King Frizzbeard discovers Dak's research and he and his wife are burned as witches. Dak's infant daughter, Emma, escapes the flames in the arms of Dak's golem, Grimosse. Grimm delivers the infant to Mathias, but fearing the discovery of his work, he commands the golem to go south, to the Sea. Along the way, Grimm kills thirty Hedonian soldiers as they attempt to seize him. The High Priest Urukjinn tries to control the golem but fails. But when the High Priest's daughter, Merneptes, is caught in a riot, Grimm tears free of his bonds and pulverizes her attackers with a church bell, which is later fashioned into a hammer. Grimosse would later find new purpose in defending Merneptes, or anyone reminding him of the child he was made to protect. Emma.