A boy hides in the ashes of the fireplace as a massacre of his family ends. Another child, burnt beyond recognition, lay in the room, but once the massacre was over, he was found by his family's men and sent far off, to Luly, where the bards teach, and given a new name, Caladrius. He grows up there, learns music, and when he thought he would stay to teach, he instead finds himself going out over the lands to learn of a fire. When he returns, he finds his lover had borne his son, and named him Hollis.
In the city, Giulia tries to please the Basilisk, the prince who reigned ever since he put an end to the former ruling house with massacre. She plays the peasant instrument, the pinochet, in a tavern when she can, with her lover Justin and others.
The Basilisk's daughter Luna has learned many secrets from him. She is the only other one who can reach a chamber, and she talks there with him about her older brother's unfortunate infatuation with a woman who had a connection to the destroyed house.
Then Caladrius goes into lands of magic and learns more. And returns to find that a new student had brought down the Basilisk's wrath on Luly. Which sends him southward, to his city, and brings all three threads together in a tale involving a librarian, smuggled swords, secrets and memories, a different daughter of the Basilisk who thinks she can sing and that she is in love, an opera with a story that comes too close to life, a pipe that can kill, and a school of music.
One of her enchanting tales, weaving magic in her lyrical prose.