At 16, Kara Fonti still has no magic. But the Mage Guild, the most powerful of all the Guilds in Tregella, has a use for her - they will force her to bear children for men who do have magic. Arabella Fonti, to protect her own status within the guild, pushes her daughter to do the unthinkable - run away to live outside the guild system.
Marie Jenner has never had much luck. Her job sucks. Her apartment - the one with the unbreakable lease - has a ghost. And worst of all, her mother won't let up about her joining the "family business." Since that business is moving the spirits of the dead on to the next plane of existence and doesn't pay at all, Marie's not interested. She wants a normal job and a normal life. That's not too much to ask, is it? Apparently it is.
City-states like Blightcross prosper under dictatorships built upon oil production. Refugees flock to the city-state to find work in the massive oil refineries. The black blood of Blightcross is replacing vihs-draaf, the magic of the Ehzeri people, but magic hasn’t entirely disappeared…yet. For fugitive soldier and thief Capra Jorassian, Blightcross is an opportunity to earn enough money for her freedom. Stealing an enchanted painting from the dictator’s collection is nothing new.