The following is a summary of events in the first year of the Rumors of War storyline. Each year is broken down into seasons or story arcs, then chapters. Six chapters comprise an arc, and an arc corresponds to a season. There are (predictably) four seasons per year – Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
Spring Arc – Year One
We are immediately introduced to several recurring members of the comic storyline, and also quite a few who are not immediately recurring. We meet Nenshe, Elysia, and Obadai, whose progress we follow. We also meet Artuto, Esther, Alquis, and Mercer. Yet another character is referenced (Nicyes), but is not seen.
It’s established that several of the characters can (and do) read and write, that some of them are more or less patient than others, and that some of them are more or less scrupulous. Most of them are pretty sarcastic, and all of them have been recruited by an organization referred to as the Order of Orion.
We learn that Nenshe can fulfill his contract by completing a simple task in their next port of call, and Elysia quibbles with him over a bit of parchment that he “liberated” from a temple in a place called Aernes. She agrees to purchase it from him, despite protest from Mercer. The latter references a curse, and blames Nenshe.
We open on Elysia traveling to a temple in the port-town. We see a flashback from not-too long ago, wherein Nenshe and Elysia discuss the nature of the parchment and its meaning to Elysia. We also learn a little bit more about the nature of Nenshe’s task, and the relationship between the two characters.
After the flashback, Elysia arrives at the temple, which is inundated with pilgrims speaking a language Elysia doesn’t understand. She meets Penelo and Couric, young lovers seeking a marriage despite the wishes of Penelo’s father, Meteon. Elysia learns of the area and its history, but she is unable to grant their wish.
That evening, Elysia meets with the high priestess Animoe, whom she talks with at length about the town. There are rumors of a returned shade, connected to a local legend about a serial murderer who once terrorized the town. Animoe expresses regret over her inability to protect the town, and wishes to leave behind a legacy.
Nenshe is journaling at the beginning of the chapter. Through flashback, we meet Oernes, whom Nenshe interrogates about the town. We learn a bit more about the pilgrims (though the information may be somewhat unreliable), and more about the individuals Nenshe’s been tasked with recruiting.
We are introduced to Julian, Baraka, Koedes, Ruasar, Eirena, and Narisa through the eyes of Nenshe. He continues to journal throughout the day, updating us with his progress after tailing the individual members of the group and speculating on the task itself. Finally, Nenshe discusses what he plans to do to complete his mission.
Penelo comes to Elysia, as Couric has gone missing. Elysia persuades Penelo to tell more about herself, her family, and Couric while they look for him. Penelo explains that she met Couric after her mother died, and that he stood up for her when the cult she had joined was exposed as fraudulent and its membership exiled.
The two venture to the outskirts of town in their search, and they meet the strange hermit Benito, whom they question about Couric. Benito tells them Couric came to him seeking a blessing of protection, that he was in trouble and on the run from some bad people. Elysia calls his bluff, and confesses to Penelo that she found Couric’s body.
Penelo reveals that she knew Couric was dead before the two began their search, and she was hoping to find more information about his killer. Elysia and Penelo compare notes and discuss possibilities. Penelo resolves to ask her father about enemies and Elysia leaves to consult Obadai about the situation.
Nenshe speaks with Julian, whom we’re given to understand is one of the heroes he was tasked with recruiting (it follows from Chapter 3). Nenshe mentions the name of the ship, the Themia, and its captain, Argyle, and talks a little about his time with, and views of, the Order of Orion. Not a lot of love lost there.
Nenshe and Julian engage in a bit of wordplay, and it becomes clear that Nenshe has been deceiving Julian when the latter advises Nenshe on the views and intent of the rest of the group. They go to meet with the others, and we’re officially introduced to Baraka, Eirena, Koedes, Narisa, and Ruasar.
What follows is the unfolding of Nenshe’s plan – he manipulates both the group’s perception of the Order of Orion and his actions in observing them, stirs up the existing discontent, and then quickly withdraws contact to allow events to unfold. Almost immediately, Julian pursues to demand an explanation.
After Elysia discovers someone or something wearing Couric’s face in town, she rushes to Penelo’s home to see if she’s all right. Elysia speculates on why someone might hurt Couric (let alone murder, flay, and impersonate him). A servant shows her to see Meteon, Penelo’s father, who appears to have been torturing someone.
Meteon reveals that he knows who Elysia is, and has been torturing Benito for information about his daughter. Elysia accuses him of having Couric murdered, to which he confesses ignorance. The two hurl insults until a servant arrives to tell Meteon that Penelo has disappeared. Meteon gives him a savage beating.
When Elysia attempts to leave, Meteon blames her for the disappearance of his daughter and attacks. Though he initially proves a dangerous opponent, he is outmatched and defeated by Elysia. She leaves him in the care of his servants and departs with the intent to report his impiety to the local ruling council.