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It is a bitter winter and civil war now ravages Kurald Galain, as Urusander's Legion prepares to march upon the city of Kharkanas.The rebels' only opposition lies scattered, bereft of a leader since Anomander's departure in search of his estranged brother, Andarist. The last brother remaining, Silchas Ruin, rules in Anomander's stead. He seeks to gather the Houseblades of the Highborn Noble families and resurrect the Hust Legion in the southlands, but is fast running out of time.
The officers and leaders of Urusander's Legion, led by Hunn Raal, want the Consort, Draconus, cast aside and Vatha Urusander wedded to Mother Dark, taking his place on a throne at the side of the Living Goddess. But this union will be far more than political, as a sorcerous power has claimed those opposing Mother Dark - given form by the exiled High Priestess Syntara, the Cult of Light rises in answer to Mother Dark and her Children.
Far to the west, an unlikely army has gathered, seeking an enemy without form, in a place none can find, and commanded by a Jaghut driven mad with grief. Hood's call has been heard, and the long-abandoned city of Omtose Phellack is now home to a rabble of new arrivals. From the south have come Dog-Runners and Jheck warriors. From the Western Sea strange ships have grounded upon the harsh shore, with blue-skinned strangers arriving to offer Hood their swords. And from the North, down from mountain fastnesses and isolated valleys, Toblakai arrive, day and night, to pledge themselves to Hood's impossible war. Soon, all will set forth - or not at all - under the banners of the living. Soon, weapons will be drawn, with Death itself the enemy.
Beneath the chaos of such events, and spanning the realm and those countless other realms hidden behind its veil, magic now bleeds into the world. Unconstrained, mysterious and savage, the power that is the lifeblood of the Azathanai, K'rul, runs loose and wild. Following its scent, seeking the places of wounding where the sorcery rushes forth, entities both new and ancient are gathering. And they are eager to feed.
Comprehending the terrible risk of his gift of blood, a weakened, dying K'rul sets out, in the company of a lone guardian, to bring order to this newborn sorcery - alas, his choice of potential allies is suspect. In the name of order, K'rul seeks its greatest avowed enemy.