Have you ever been a notorious fugitive? Ever loved someone with bewitching madness? Hunted a serial killer by gas lamp? The Demon Seeds have.
17-year old Shade was a cunning provocateur with a voice that soothed savage beasts. 18-year old Chum was a battle-scarred fisherman who had never lost a fight. All they wanted was to be together. But in Stygia, that wasn’t possible.
It is an island city of stony bridges and befogged canals, labyrinthine streets and hidden tunnels. Storm clouds choke the skies, under which double crossbows and wind power are the height of technology. The Eldermen tend to the spiritual needs of its 100,000 citizens, whose fears are stoked when the beloved Duchess Lazora's mutilated body is discovered in the private confines of the Thorny Orchard.
Her friendless 16-year old daughter and only child, Lady Dulcie, inherits the throne. More disfigured victims quickly follow. The Department of Investigations, the Department of Enforcement and the Department of Patrols are all clueless as to the culprit. The Department of Games reports a steep decline in gambling activities. The Department of Laws declares a considerable rise in petty crime. And the Department of Gastronomy worries culinary standards will plummet. Which prompts Dulcie to make the unpopular decision of releasing the Demon Seeds from their punishments.
During what was dubbed their ‘reign of terror,’ Shade and Chum proved themselves to be singularly resourceful, with an intimate knowledge of the city’s secret passageways and a wealth of unusual friends all over town. Should those assets help capture the killer, they’ll be pardoned unconditionally. If not, Dulcie will be dethroned, Shade will be sent back to the ascetic Isle of Atonement, and Chum to the nightmarish Isle of Abyss. Forever.
Someone murdered Lord Tsubaki at his home on the Lyrian Coast. From the looks of it, he had been attacked by animals and left to die where he fell. The house was full of valuables yet nothing was missing except Hasheen, Tsubaki’s handsome son who suffered from Mollinax disorder. As the new Masters of Investigations, Shade and Chum take charge of the case.
Madame Moncharova had only rented that villa to be close to her lover, Lord Tsubaki. That night, she saw two ‘men’ leaving his home. The one with Hasheen over his shoulder was yellow-eyed, tawny-skinned and mutton-chopped. He grunted with every step he took. The other was red-eyed, tall and bald who twitched with every other step. After sharing her story with fellow members of the Order of the Hooded Rose, they unanimously agree to hire Carcosa, the merciless bounty hunter.
Simultaneously, Duchess Dulcie is overwhelmed with plans for the masquerade ball to celebrate the first year of her reign. Hundreds would be in attendance. But the idea of dancing with Zander, a handsome young shipbuilder, keeps distracting her. Then a second boy goes missing from the island of Gwee.
The only thing both victims have in common is a terminal illness… and the fact that both are handsome. Such criteria are of singular importance to Dr. Kravenrath and her agoraphobic daughter, Lenora. The doctor’s gruesome henchmen, Volkmin and Scab, were results of her experiments and essential to her plan's success.
Shade and Chum follow every fruitless lead, until one finally leads them to Waxflatter, Master of Medicine and a former colleague of Kravenrath's. With the help of General Hummelbach, the demon lovers’ mysteriously devoted benefactor, they find the doctor's hidden lair. There, they discover more victims and the horrifying secret behind her work.
Those who dedicate their lives to the cemeterial arts are known as Sorrowcrafters. They live and work on the Isle of Sorrow, where most Elegy Islanders are laid to rest. Their lives are characteristically isolated and austere. After years of mistreatment and malnourishment, a bizarre little boy with an unusual affection for graveyards becomes the youngest apprentice in the history of the trade. Less than a decade later, just shy of his 18th birthday, YORICK is considered the greatest Sorrowcrafter that has ever lived and the only one to master the seven arts of the cemetery.
LADY BORCHGRAVE held title to Tahra, the one Elegy Isle that is privately owned. There the elderly spinster lives on the outskirts of the island’s only town, Meath, in a decrepit mansion known as Sparrow Hall. Rarely did she speak with anyone except her adopted daughter, the mesmerizing SIKANDRA, or a member of her small household staff. The Lady's soul had died decades ago. Now her body has finally caught up. Like all Borchgraves who came before her, she writes the Master of Sorrowcrafters to commission the building of a tomb for two in which she, and one day Sikandra, will be interred.
The opportunity Lady Borchgrave presents is a rare and prestigious one. Every Sorrowcrafter who specializes in tomb construction gets to work. And when Lady Borchgrave chooses Yorick’s design, the bitter jealousy his fellow artisans feel for him is palpable. Within days he sets sail for Tahra and, upon arrival, finds his lodgings in Meath are as comfortable as his shack on the Isle of Sorrow. The townsfolk, however, are far different than any of his colleagues back home. Some narrow-minded, some offensive and others downright peculiar. But to Yorick, Sikandra is enchanting and his instant attraction to her cannot be denied. With her occupying his every other thought, he goes about overseeing the building of his design to Lady Borchgrave’s precise specifications.
While he grows closer to her beguiling daughter, he’s kept at a very distinct distance from the old woman herself. That distance arouses his curiosity. Why does she wear the same faded dress and shoes day after day? Why has she shut herself off from the world? And why does she spend the majority of her time alone in a room surrounded by paintings with canvases that are shredded beyond recognition. Intentionally evasive, Sikandra revels in the control she wields over Yorick. Yet the more she gets to know him, the more she lets her guard down.
Simultaneously, the townsfolk seem to be hiding something from the young Sorrowcrafter. A secret hinted at by the drunk and the senile. Then one of them is murdered to ensure that secret stays buried. At least, until Lady Borchgrave is ready to explain it all to Yorick herself.