For an entire generation, the people of the Foxfire Empire have known nothing but war and isolation.
In recent years, attacks from their enemies, the technomancy-minded country of Xalmeise, have mercifully slowed to a few skirmishes a season, but it has left the Imperial family of Foxfire shaken and desperate for allies.
As the Emperor approached his twilight years, the irresponsible Prince Tristen was sent on a pilgrimage to the heart of the world - the ancient temple of Ourphagia in the remote lands of Archon - as part of his Rites of Ascension to take the throne. Though this journey was to be made alone, the tensions between Xalmeise and Foxfire - being what they were - forced the Emperor to break centuries of tradition in order to protect his son.
Sending two of his personal retainers, elite fighters known as the Kinshutai, they were to trail after Tristen and keep him safe from outside interference.
No one really knows what happened during this journey - though Tristen returned two years later in triumph over the ordeal, there was no word of his Kinshutai escorts. In tow was a mysterious, black-winged razorcat and a bewildered but defiant teenage girl named Arashi.