Wolf Dasher: This is not the life Wolf Dasher was planning. The son of a noble family, he was expecting to learn the family businesses and represent their interests in Urland’s court.
But when he was fifteen, his Shadow abilties manifested. His family saw him as a freak and turned him out, disowning him completely from the Dasher fortune.
That’s when a new and completely different life began for Wolf. He was recruited into Urland’s Shadow Service. His family might not have any use for him, but Her Majesty’s Government did. They trained him, showed him how to make the most of the strange powers he received from The Rift — that strange tear in the fabric of reality that grants some people extraordinary abilties.
Now Wolf is one of the Shadow Service’s best agents. He has risen to the rank of Shadow Six, and he is sent all over the world to protect Urland from her enemies.
When his friend and colleague, Sara Wensley-James is murdered in the elf nation of Alfar, Wolf is sent to investigate. Sara names Alfar’s ambassador to Urland as her killer, but he couldn’t have done it: he was in Urland at the time. So the Shadow Service sends Wolf in undercover to determine who really did it and why.
It’s a job that will require subtlety and care — Wolf’s cover is as Urland’s ambassador to Alfar. But that’s an approach he’s never understood. Patience is not his best attribute. He prefers to agitate and follow his instincts rather than just observe and follow protocol. In the past, that’s what’s made him good at his job. In Alfar, it’s likely to get him killed.
May Honeyflower: There isn’t a day that passes where May Honeyflower isn’t gripped with sadness. She loves her job as captain of Alfar’s Elite Guard. She loves her country and her co-workers. By virtue of her position, she is consulted by the country’s coalition government on all matters pertaining to security.
But her beloved homeland is dying around her. Ever since Alfheim split into two nations — progressive Alfar and conservative Jifan — the earth has been rotting. A bloody civil war turned elf against elf. The happiest, most blessed people on Earth are now consumed with hatred, and this inner turmoil is reflected in the external decay of the land. Putrefying foliage, arid temperatures, and the gradual disappearancce of the mystical Drasil trees are all evidence that elves have lost the message of love given to them by God’s greatest prophet Frey. Suicide killers attempting to destabilize the government and sow terror are reminders this is no longer the nation she grew up to believe in.
So May is consumed with sadness. She prays daily to God and to Frey for her people’s deliverance, but she doesn’t really expect her entreaties to be answered. It’s not that she has no faith in God. She’s very devout. It’s just that the self-destructive behavior of her people makes her fear they do not deserve divine mercy.
She would never admit such things to anyone, not even herself. She doesn’t want to believe her people and her country are doomed. She’s just not sure how to believe they are not.
But when Wolf Dasher comes to Alfar, things change for her. For the first time, she meets someone who seems willing to fight for Alfar, fight for elves, not his own political interests. And the extraordinary thing is he’s a human atheist. Is it possible that God sent an infidel to save her people?
May doesn’t know. She’s not a priest. She does know, though, that Wolf Dasher is a powerful ally and someone she can trust. She’s not about to let him get away.
Elena Kenderbrick: Working in the most dangerous place on Earth requires a special kind of person. Being good at your job under those circumstances requires an exceptional person. Elena Kenderbrick is both.
She is the chief controller for Her Majesty’s Shadow Service in Alfar’s capital city of Al-Adan. That puts her in charge of the Shadows operating there. It also means she has to coordinate their activities with the Urlish Expeditionary Force — Urland’s military presence in Alfar — and the Alfari Elite Guard and Central Police. None of these organizations works especially well with or appreciate the others.
That’d be fine if Alfar wasn’t ripping itself apart with sectarian violence, but it is. Daily attacks from suicide killers force these four agencies to attempt to cooperate as they try to contain the violence and run down the source of it.
Kenderbrick excels at getting people to do what’s necessary without taking any BS. She juggles competing priorities and somehow keeps Al-Adan and Alfar from completely devolving into civil war.
She’s also an expert on Urlish-Alfari relations. The coalition government wants the Urlanders out. The Queen won’t hear of that until she is sure Urland’s interests are protected. Kenderbrick knows the ins and outs of the negotiations.
And then the Shadow Service sends her Wolf Dasher. He doesn’t understand diplomacy. He knows nothing about subtlety. He doesn’t care for protocol. He’s exactly the sort of agent she doesn’t need — reckless and hard to control. Kenderbrick isn’t sure who’s more dangerous: the terrorists trying to bring down the government or Wolf Dasher.
Mustique Starfellow: Some people are consumed by hatred and paranoia. They turn those feelings to rage and wrap them up in patriotism and faith. The most dangerous of these also have great charisma and can turn others to their ideas.
Mustique Starfellow is such a person. He is a fundamentalist and a zealot. Worse, he has a following. He is the leader of the Sons of Frey, the largest terrorist organization in Alfar. His goal is the total annihilation of Alfar’s coalition government and the country’s reunification with Jifan under the latter nation’s conservatiive theocracy.
His method is terrorism. He has convinced his devotees they will go to Heaven and frolic with Frey while their families enjoy God’s grace and protection if they will martyr themselves in his holy war. They use special wands that turn their bodies into bombs that kill hundreds. Starfellow hopes to sow enough fear it will destabilize the government and cause Alfar to fall. He doesn’t care how many innocents have to die in his crusade. No means is too reprehensible to accomplish his ends.
Starfellow is sickly. His body is practically rotting around him — just like Alfar and Jifan — but his mind is strong. His personality commands and inspires. He is not entirely in this world, and that both disturbs and awes his disciples.
What few of them know is that he not the final authority in the Sons of Frey. He answers to a dark and mysterious master. He is not entirely certain who or what this entity is, but he believes beyond question it brings the very word and will of God to him, so he obeys it without question.
There are few elves in the former Alfheim more dangerous than Starfellow, for he will do anything to accomplish his ends.