January Sterling is a woman thrust unexpectedly into the role of Grand Arbiter after an attack leaves the Arbitrary Order of Lyth with no leader. It is not until Jan’s new title of Grand Arbiter takes her to the dungeon where the only suspect is being held that she learns there is much more to the attack than anyone ever imagined. The Black Talon, a woman from a foreign land, was captured and falsely accused of using magic to destroy the Summit Palace and kill hundreds. It is Talon who first alerts Jan to the existence of the Coruscalli, a cult with fanatical and dangerous views. Deciding that the Black Talon is far too important to lose, Jan orders her to be placed in the Arbiters’ custody.
The Black Talon is from Astraeyu Nouvi, an island nation in the far north. She has traveled to the Four Kingdoms of Lythril to track down the leader of the Coruscalli and put an end to the cult before it can obtain the power of the Firebringer, a mysterious device left behind by the Ancients. The Firebringer is said to be capable of destroying the world in cleansing flame so it can be born anew. Since the Firebringer is a construct of the Ancients, the ancestors of modern Astraeyu Nouvins, Talon fears that the Coruscalli will try to turn the world against her homeland by implicating the Astraeyu Nouvins in a plot to rid the world of their Lythrillian enemies. It is for this reason that Talon decides to enlist the help of the Arbiters, and the perplexing January Sterling.