The night after defeating the Scourge of Thought, Sláine dreams of the lost Cyran city of Metrol being engulfed by a rising tide of dead-grey mist, behind which is a sea of teeth and eyes. Also present in the dream is Miraan, leader of the Storm Hammers, who claims Sláine has invaded her dream rather than vice versa. Miraan tells her that the Storm Hammers are now under the control of the fell taints, which are not creatures of the Mourning but beings from another plane that exist only to spread madness and unmake reality. As the sea of mist and teeth engulfs them, she tells Sláine that the fell taints must be stopped, whatever the price – and then Sláine wakes up.
She finds Master Áedan deep in contemplation, writing a manual of martial arts techniques, and the genasi Janda-Shen leaving Stormreach to explore Xen’drik. Meanwhile, Ash investigates the citizens and militia of Grindstone, Stormreach’s Karrnathi ward, and Caleb studies the helm of seven deaths. Along with Spark, the adventurers converge on the House Tharashk Refinery, where Kaddik is debriefing Marik’aashta and Durgran’Torrn on the battle with the Scourge of Thought. As they move through Stormreach, they see the effect the thought infection had on the now-recovering citizens – and the recognition and admiration those citizens have for the heroes that destroyed the Scourge.
When the adventurers are assembled, a delegate from the Storm Lords presents them with the thanks of the city’s rulers, a reward of gold, and the promise of more if they spearhead the efforts to find and stop the Storm Hammers. Kaddik notes that the Aurum collects magical items and may have a way of finding the Hammers in their collection; Caleb admits that he has contacts with the group and will see if he can gain help.
Ash decides to investigate Dannel’s Pride, the Cyran refugee ward, to see if the Hammers are still there or if they can be tracked. He and Kaddik work the streets, asking questions, until they are confronted by local militia members, suspicious of outsiders. After calming them, they accompany the militia to the Rubble Warren, looking for signs of the Storm Hammers, where they once again encounter Caradoc and his young charges. Caradoc tells them that the Hammers left the Warren a week earlier, moving through Cross to the river and taking boats downstream; Ash and Kaddik decide to work the Harbour District to look for clues.
Later that night, Sláine meets Guin Silverblood at the Wavecrest Tavern. With him is Surrayana, a member of a mysterious race called the shulassakar (or deva) that knows much of the Draconic Prophecy. Surrayana tells Sláine that the Prophecy says that ’Journey’s Scion’ will die and wait in darkness eternal until called by the Queen of Death. Should the Scion answer the call, he comes as the Impure Prince, taking up the ‘banner of blood’ to sack the ‘city of thunders’ and lead death’s forces. But those forces will be opposed by the ‘Captain of Demons’, who leads a group of heroes and brings the coat of purest silver and the soul-cage helm to bear against the banner of blood. Surrayana counsels that if the forces that stole Alarich’s body can be stopped before raising him from the dead, then the Impure Prince will never rise and Stormreach can be saved. Sláine suggests that Ash might be the Captain of Demons, and goes looking for him – only to find him and Kaddik just outside the Wavecrest. Coincidence – or destiny?
At the same time, Spark visits the Candlelight restaurant in Embers to meet Valexia von Ruthvek. She’s accompanied by Professor Ingrim Jarell, a scholar from the University of Korranberg and an expert on the Draconic Prophecy. Ingrim has a collection of snippets and interpretations of the Prophecy, a book called the Caldyn Fragments, which mentions the Impure Prince as part of a larger prediction. According to the Fragments, if Journey’s Scion does not heed the call of the Prince of Death, he returns to life anyway, but falls in with ‘The Conqueror’s Master’ and leads that being’s armies back to Khorvaire to re-ignite the fires of war. Ingrim argues that while the Impure Prince is a danger, the rise of the Conqueror’s Master could herald the Last War starting again – and since one of those two outcomes must come true, Spark and the others must allow the Impure Prince to be raised from the dead.
Ash, Kaddik and Guin accompany Surrayana to the Old Catacombs in the Marketplace – a Silver Flame sanctuary and prison that was abandoned five years ago when it was overrun by the undead. Surrayana undoes the wards around the Catacombs and leads them inside to where she hid a great treasure – the ‘coat of purest silver’ that her people have been safeguarding for the Captain of Demons. The coat is a suit of armour guarded by ghostly couatls; once Ash proves his worth to the sentience within it, it reveals itself as a powerful artifact, the Invulnerable Coat of Arnd. When Ash puts it on, power pulses forth, awakening the sleeping undead force within the Catacombs, and the adventurers race out and seal the wards moments before it catches them.
During all this, Caleb is lauded at a celebratory dinner at the Aurum chapterhouse, where Jaris Cantar introduces him to Jonas Wylkes, the city’s Harbour Lord, and lends Caleb a powerful crystal ball to help with finding the Storm Hammers. And Sláine returns to the Golden Wing Inn, only to find Master Áedan missing, leaving only his manual of secret ghost-fighting techniques – and a trace of sticky, dead-grey slime…