Elyon, the king of Ecclessa, is at war with Lurcan, the emperor of Carnalia. Artka, a Carnalian, is arrested after a failed robbery attempt and is given a choice: to be executed or to join the army and fight the Ecclessites. Artka chooses life. He is trained to be a warrior and sent to his first battle.
Shortly before the battle Artka encounters a young Ecclessite warrior who tells him that he is deceived by the evil Lurcan and tries to convince him to leave the emperor's forces. Artka was warned that the enemy has a magician helping them who makes the Carnalian soldiers forget who they are and join the king's side; he does not believe the Ecclessite. He fights the man and eventually kills him. The battle unfolds, and Artka gets separated from the rest of the troops. He finds himself in the forest, together with another Carnalian warrior. They smell a Tophet – one of the invisible monsters who eat people and can only be detected by the strong stench they have about them. Artka panics and runs. As he tries to make his way back to the Carnalian forces, he unknowingly meets Logon, the prince of Ecclessa. Once again, Artka is offered a chance to join the kingsmen. This time, he feels something; the prince's words touch his heart, but in the last moment he runs away.
He joins another Carnalian unit until he can find his own. The unit is attacked by a large group of Ecclessites, and Artka is wounded: one of the Ecclessite warriors pierces his heart with his glowing sword. Artka wakes up on the next morning, alive, among the Ecclessites. Tren, the warrior who had wounded him, explains that the glowing swords can break the evil power of the emperor over a man. Artka now sees that everything he was taught in the emperor's army was not true. The wound he received has begun the process of freeing him and turning him into an Ecclessite, but he still needs to go to Prince Logon to have his wounded heart healed.
This report prepared by Laura Southcombe