at the home of the Rich Man
Mara = the Rich Man
Julius = her manservant
Ivan Ivanovich = a Gentle summoned by Elana; a hunchback
at the home of the Tinker
Calloway = the Tinker
Denis Hartwell = the Tinker's brother; a Baker
Bosom Jack = a Popinjay in the service of the Tinker; appears to be composed of some metallic substance
Threadbare = a murderous Tailor (presumed deceased)
Jeralyn = one of five Soldiers summoned by Elana
Gallant = one of five Soldiers summoned by Elana
an unnamed Healer summoned by Elana
at the home of the Soldier and at the nearby trading post
Seldick = the Soldier
Mothergaza = the Crone
Russet = a Trader; owner of the trading post
Tarlun = a Barber
Fallon = a Muse in training; the seventh of seven septuplets; rides a white palfrey named Winifred
Red Ariana = a Warden
an unnamed rhymer
new persons mentioned or discussed
Cadmetus = a Rich Man of the past, mentioned by Mara as an example: "the richest of Rich Men"
Madeira = a Rich Man of the past, mentioned by Mara as one who overspent her surfeit and largesse
Paragon = the Herald (formerly a knight)
the Marchion = a plenipotentiary who governs the region known as 'the Vast'
In the course of training under the Rich Man Mara, Elana learns several principles of economy, along with the startling fact that her 25-year loan of the Rich Man's purse has a price: the accelerated deterioration or even death of one of her loved ones. In an effort to determine who is paying the price, Elana summons a Gentle, only to discover that she and the Gentle cannot understand one another. She therefore summons the very expensive Linguist, who effects a translation, and also conveys or implies the following information:
- There are other dimensions, two of which seem to be called sidereal and stellanova.
- The 'Gentle' appears to be a craft that exists within a certain family line. (Apparently, the Gentle is able to discern things related to pain or suffering. It seems that more advanced Gentles can offer 'appeasement'.)
- The Linguist identifies Elana's speech pattern as belonging to 'the reign of the fourteenth Widow of Isle'.
Zoilo awakens in a prison cell along with the Baker. He soon discerns that they have been imprisoned for some time, having first attempted to murder the Tinker, and having then made repeated-- and somewhat repetitious-- attempts to escape, in part due to what seems to be Zoilo's severely compromised memory. When the Tinker's assistant, the Popinjay Bosom Jack, comes to bring them dinner, Zoilo and the Baker are able to overcome her by trickery and effect an escape. They find their way to the Tinker's forge, where the Tinker calmly notes their escape, saying that he has only imprisoned them for his safety and the Baker's own good. He refuses to train Zoilo to be a Tinker until Zoilo and the Baker reveal that they have become blood brothers while in prison, thereby creating a familial obligation on the Tinker's part towards Zoilo. The Tinker reluctantly agrees to begin Zoilo's training, but not before mentioning the following tidbits:
- valley of the Forge = mentioned by the Tinker as a place where one can just 'pick up' a Tinker's hammer
- the 'Tinker wars' = a series of great intra-Craft battles due to a love triangle among 3 Tinkers (one of whom was Calloway), which resulted in the decimation of all other practitioners of the Craft
- The Tinker was once in love with the Wanton, which he describes as 'a wandering Craft', albeit with a definite home base to return to in times of crisis.
After four days of training, the Soldier Seldick informs Ellis that she is a born fighter, and so adept that she should be fully trained in no more than 82 years. Aghast, Ellis tries to find a way to hasten the process by consulting the Crone Mothergaza, who reveals that she and Seldick are not mother and son, but rather, former lovers. (Since Seldick had gained immortality in order to complete his training, Mothergaza pursued the craft of the Crone in order to prolong her own life. However, she withered into old age, while he remained hale and strong.) Other than that, Mothergaza offers the same advice as Seldick: perhaps there is something that can help at the trading post two months down the road.
Ellis sets off for the trading post, only to realize that in this place, the roads are named for months, so that 'two months down the road' is, literally, the road called November; and the trading post is only 30 minutes from the Soldier's hut. She enters the trading post, only to discover too late that once you enter such an establishment, you cannot leave without buying anything. After declining aid from the proprietor Russet (who wanted her to sign an indecipherable contract in exchange), she makes friends with Fallon, a Muse-in-training, and Tarlun, a Barber, who kindly escorts her out of the trading post on the strength of his own purchase, offering as well to introduce her to a friend of his who might consent to buy time on Ellis's behalf.
Slicing a portal in the air, the Barber leads Ellis to the house of Mara, where, after some initial confusion, the Corezze twins are reunited. This leads to an explanation of why the girls have been sent elsewhen for training (as well as the startling realization that four months have passed for Elana, while Ellis has been in training for only four days), which leads to the revelation that Zoilo may well be in danger, since it is known that the Tinker is quite insane.
After some debate, Mara, Tarlun, Elana, and Ellis head off to see the Tinker, to ascertain that Zoilo is well. They are soon reassured, but learn that the Tinker has been reluctant to commence Zoilo's training. Assisted by Tarlun and Ellis, the two Rich Men enter negotiations, in which the Tinker is finally persuaded to undertake Zoilo's training in earnest (after intimations that Zoilo might be better served apprenticing under the Artisan, the Tinker's hated foe). Tension occurs between the Tinker and the Barber, causing Tarlun to make the apparently unprecedented offer to train Zoilo himself instead. Zoilo respectfully declines, and he and the Barber are making arrangements for Tarlun to periodically check on Zoilo when they are interrupted by a widespread sense of danger outside the Tinker's residence.
A raggedy hooded figure appears, bearing something in its arms which turns out to be the corpse of yet another of the Hollow's recruits, the girl who chose the craft of the Tailor. After ascertaining that Zoilo, Elana, and Ellis are indeed more of "those who have traveled from somewhen else", the figure reveals that he is Threadbare, the Tailor, who has killed his would-be apprentice since he has no interest in teaching his craft. He dumps the body on the ground, warns everyone not to interfere with him, and departs.
Zoilo moves to approach the body, but is stopped by Tarlun, who uses his straight-edge razor to reveal that the Tailor has apparently left a deadly network of unseen threads blanketing the space between the craftsmen and the unfortunate girl's body. The Barber can cut the threads, but asks the others to watch over him, since he will be vulnerable as he undertakes the task. They agree, but Mara sends Zoilo back towards the house, as he is as yet uncrafted and thus vulnerable as well.
As Tarlun proceeds, the Tailor evidently senses his interference, saying "I warned you not to interfere!" Mara begins to take action, but she is quickly attacked with more unseen threads, and drops to the ground. Elana then attempts to do something, but she, too, is bound by the unseen threads around her hand and throat. Ellis attempts to cut them away, but the strands are as impervious as steel.
At this point, Zoilo makes it to the house, where he is met by an enraged Tinker, who storms straight into the threaded area, hammer enlarged and at the ready. He is lacerated and abraded by the thread, but makes it through the net, leaving bits of himself behind like afterimages that quickly reintegrate with his main form. Attacking, he is unable to harm the Tailor, but distracts him enough to free the two Rich Men.
Mara completes her purchase, calling an energy storm that begins repeatedly striking the Tailor with bolts of lightning. Elana summons five Soldiers from various points in time, who immediately attack the Tailor. Through it all, Threadbare struggles, but holds his own, to the point where one or two of the Soldiers actually begin to fall or fade out.
Tarlun completes his task of cutting, collapsing the Tailor's net and then joining in the physical attack. Elana is forced to pay a maintenance cost for the Soldiers, and decides to summon a Healer as well, to deal with various combatants' injuries. The Baker comes charging out of the house with a pan full of some sort of boiling concoction, which turns out to be exactly the recipe needed when Ellis retrieves a second Tailor's spool (the one loaned by the Hollow) from the dead girl's body. The Baker tells Ellis to dip the spool in his concoction, after which she hurls it towards the Tailor, who becomes quickly entangled in its threads.
The Tinker bashes his hammer on the Tailor's prostrate form, calling on Zoilo to enlarge his own hammer and help him. The summoned Soldiers join in, and the Tailor's form soon collapses as if it had been made of dust.
After much heated argument-- including consultation with a summoned Weaver, who pronounces the Tailor's remains as "not natural... from outside life"-- it is decided that Threadbare's spool and remains should be burned, while the spool loaned by the Hollow should be held in keeping by Zoilo. Zoilo and the Tinker Calloway throw Threadbare's body and spool into Calloway's furnace, during which procedure the Tinker tells Zoilo that he, unlike Mara and Tarnum, has heard of the Tailor before, and that it is "an evil craft, which draws from death".
Speculation follows as to why the Tailor even bothered to deliver the girl's body. In the course of this, the three Isle folk try to explain about the Isle and the Widow. When Elana uses her linguistic abilities to determine that the title 'Widow' would translate as 'Dowager' in this day and age, Mara and Tarlun are horrified. They explain that the land they have all been traveling in is called the Vast, which was conquered ages ago and is currently ruled by the Dowager (via a plenipotentiary, the Marchion). If there are such things as 'supra-unique' crafts, they say, the Dowager is foremost among them; and if there are such things as 'evil crafts', then the Dowager is the first of those as well. In fact, it is well-known that the Dowager's powers now encompass the former portfolios of Suzerain, Sovereign, and Regent, all of which she is believed to have consumed.
They are further taken aback to learn of the Isle citizens' various 'knacks', which they identify as 'vestiges' of vanished Crafts, namely the Orator (Elana), the Prophet (Zoilo), and the Mimetic (Ellis). In the consternation and confusion caused by all this revelation, they decide to gather for dinner at the Rich Man's house (inviting the Soldier, the Crone, and the Linguist) and discuss matters further.