This synopsis is chock full of spoilers. It is literally all spoilers. If you haven’t read this book, this will spoil it for you. Did I mention there were spoilers?
Synopsis by Kikki Boersma
Three weeks past the ending of Thief of Sparks, Kila Sigh and her little gray cat, Nax, are standing on a bell tower, attempting to call up Kila’s mercusine abilities. So far the mercus vision had only come to her when she was in danger and adrenaline was high. She needs to practice using it at will. Nax, who after all is a cat, bothers Kila impatiently. Kila decides that her practice is doing nothing. She and Nax dangerously make their way to the roof. Thinking of how they’ll have to get back down forces the “zing” to rise in Kila. Her senses amplified, she unfocuses her mind, allowing the world to be without names, which lets her see metal in glowing light. She finally tells her bored animal that she’s looking for things to steal, specifically inside rich homes.
Meanwhile, the Hargothe—a debilitated and blind Seer who thrives on fear and mercusine—is interested in capturing Kila; he felt her come into her mercus powers via his own immense mercusine awareness and wants to know her secrets. The most powerful member in the Way of Til, everyone is afraid of him, for good reason. He feeds off of people who have links to the mercusine, torturing and killing them through mind infiltration for sustenance. He had almost captured her once before, but the outing had been too exhausting for him.
But another had felt Kila’s awakening: the Voluptuary, the leader of the Way of Ori. She sends her servant, Yiqa (an Alnassi woman with powerful fighting skills), to find and retrieve her. Kila and Nax run the roofs, and the cat senses Yiqa coming. They flee, but the Alnassi finds Kila and attempts to beat her into submission. Nax summons Fallo, Henley, and Wen, along with their bonded cats to Kila’s location, forcing Yiqa to flee.
The group heads to the healer Finta Sahng’s home to get Kila patched up after the fight. But Finta is nowhere to be seen. They suspect someone has kidnapped the old woman. The friends continue on to Critt Sanglo’s tavern in Cheapsgate. Sanglo had been a friend of their father’s and watches out for Kila and Wen. He pops Kila’s dislocated shoulder back into place, and when Kila asks him about the mysterious woman in black that attacked her, he tells her that she has made a bad new enemy. At this time we also learn that Wen is still sick, having constant coughing fits.
The slum lord of the Warren, Parlo Odok, catches Kila and Wen as they come home. He tells them a young woman has bribed him to tell her their whereabouts. Odok’s man, Jocko, grabs Kila and they go to take her somewhere to collect. However, Yiqa suddenly appears and beats up Jocko and Odok, drugging Kila afterward and taking her to the Baths of Ori.
Wen’s cough is worse and he needs medicine; without Finta, he can’t get it. Fallo and Henley take him back to Sanglo’s. After leaving him there, Fallo and Henley split up to see if they can help. On his way to the Baths of Ori to find Kila, Henley is immobilized in Dunne Medow Plaza by Donse Masters who tell him that he is on the verge of his own mercusine awakening.
Fallo goes to investigate at Finta’s house but sees nothing new to indicate where she’s gone. He asks a reluctant neighbor about Finta, and she tells him thinnies took the old healer, who went willingly. Fallo and Lop descend into the sewers to search for Finta.
Kila wakes up without Nax, in a bed in the Baths. A white-haired woman named Sensual Renna watches over her. Kila learns that Yiqa drugged her with a low dose of something called filla, a poison that can stop the victim’s heart. The Voluptuary introduces herself to Kila and explains that the girl is in danger from the Hargothe.
When Kila mentions that Finta has gone missing, the Voluptuary reveals that Finta is her older sister, and that she was once a Sensual. Kila is informed that she will be getting mercus training from those in the Baths.
Another Sensual, Goolsoy, helps Kila reach the mercus without being in a dangerous situation. With Goolsoy’s calm help she can feel the zing. After some simple mental tests, Kila is allowed to explore her surroundings as much as she can, even to try to escape if she wishes. She learns that when she is able to unlock the huge door to the Baths using the mercus, she will be free to go.
Nax finally contacts her from the sewers where she’s found Lop. They share everything that’s happened, and Kila learns that Wen is out of medicine. She needs to leave, now, but the Voluptuary won’t let her. She sends Yiqa to help Fallo find the healer instead.
The Hargothe has deposed the old Highest of Til, Dunne Chilow, due to his failure to find Kila Sigh. A council called the Thebkine Table has been called to choose a new Highest. The Hargothe manipulates the Donse Masters to choose Nare Binel as the new Highest, someone who can be pushed quite easily into doing what the Hargothe says.
During Kila’s exploration of the Baths, she meets a familiar novitiate. He’s the blond lordling she stole Oly from three weeks ago. He’d been forced to seek sanctuary with the Way of Ori after Kila stole his money, with which he was to pay debts. His name is Raginalt Keel. He is to be her training partner in the Baths. (For more history of Raginalt Keel, read the short story “Sons of Terriside”)
After convincing Ragin to show her a way to the roof, Kila climbs up the inside of a chimney and jumps onto another. She has found her escape. Ragin has taken a vow to follow Kila everywhere she goes, and jumps with her, much to Kila’s surprise.
In the sewers, Yiqa and Fallo get into a fight with a band of thinnies. Nax gets captured and put into a box. Fallo flees the sewers.
Kila and Ragin go to the sewers to rescue Nax. They just miss being attacked by two thinnies thanks to Kila’s mercusine awareness. She forces one of the thinnies to show her where Nax is. The cat is in great danger. Ragin and Kila let their thinnie captive go to tell the others that they’re coming, hopefully scaring them in the process. Yiqa appears again and informs them that she’s found a way around the thinnie guards. In this fashion, they come across a whole thinnie town in an vast cavern beneath Starside. They spot Finta and follow her and some thinnie guards as they leave the town.
Meanwhile, Henley has woken up in a dirty cell beneath the Cathedral of Til. He is taken to meet the Hargothe. The Seer begins to probe him with his mercusine powers, torturing him for his mercusine link. Henley’s agony is transmitted through his bonded cat, Huff, to the other cats, who pass it to their human friends. Fallo has escaped the sewers with Lop and finds Huff close by in a trance-like state induced by Henley’s torture.
Yiqa attacks Finta’s guards, rescuing her. She agrees to comes to return with Yiqa to the Baths of Ori. She reveals that she had come here willingly, to try to fight the sickness ravaging the thinnie community. Before they go, Yiqa tries to drug Kila again to bring her with, but Finta stops her, giving Kila the small syringe of filla to take with heriKila and Ragin go to rescue Nax.
The thinnies are conducting a ritual near the subterranean lake bordering their town. In it a witch-like woman dressed in a robe of rat pelts invokes Kil’s favor. She has Nax, still inside the bound box, flung into the lake. The thinnies believe that releasing the demayne inside her will relieve the community of its sickness. As Nax drowns, Kila, the boys and other cats can also feel what has happened. They can feel her dying.
In her rage, Kila focuses all of her hate on the iron in the thinnies’ blood, which is made visible to her by the mercus vision. The thinnies begin to die, turned to ash where they stand. Without the obstruction of the thinnies, Kila dives into the lake, finds and destroys the box, and brings a nearly dead Nax to the surface.
Considering suicide if Nax dies, Kila suddenly remembers Sens Renna’s words that filla preserves that which it poisons. She injects one tiny drop of the drug into Nax’s nose, and they run for the surface, racing Nax to the Baths of Ori in hopes of reviving her somehow. Once there, Finta concocts a powerful stimulant to awaken the cat, but it’s up to Kila to make Nax breath it in. She joins her senses with the animal’s, forcing Nax to breathe again.
Seer Hargothe has been mentally shocked by Kila’s enormous release of mercus power when she killed the thinnies. Back in his cell, Henley listens to the ravings of Dunne Yples, who had witnessed the ashing of the thinnies first-hand. It was enough to crack his mind, as well as convince him that Kila is Kil’s daughter, Dem-Kisk, a person prophesied to bring doom to the world. The Hargothe summons his younger brother, a disgraced and ex-communicated Donse Master named Dunne Marlow. The Hargothe promises him a position in the Citadel for his services in obtaining Kila for him.
Kila and Nax sleep for eight days after their brush with death. When Kila wakes, the Voluptuary gives her a ring called a queller. It stifles the mercus senses, and blocks her from the mercusine. This has the benefit of hiding her from the Hargothe.
Kila dreams of Her Enlightened Majesty, the monarch of Starside. Her Enlightened tells Kila to seek her out.
The story continues in Mind of Mercusine.
A Raven’s Dream is Copyright 2017 by Eric Kent Edstrom