The group is leaving Alaris aboard the Gerico in the middle of a violent snowstorm. The group is headed towards Barkinon, a city located in a remote continent. Dave, captured by the shadar-kai gang that the group just escaped from, has been left behind.
As the ship sails through Zhymballa various passengers get on and off the Gerico: a peasant family sold into slavery and en-route to their new owner; Gravel, a revenant mercenary who is searching for whoever brought him back to life; Caylenna, one of Malon’s sisters, who caught her husband cheating on her and whose sons are involved in a plot to kill her; and Brook, an old shifter who lives on the thrill of increasingly challenging endurance trials.
During the journey the Gerico makes stops at Oakcrest, a mountain city that grew out of its enclosing mountain and now sprawls over its slopes, and Malel, a city-state ruled by a gnome plutocracy. There the group buys Ruppert, a small construct they plan to use as a compass at the Desolation Desert.
On their way to Zoqoi, their last stop before arriving to Barkinon, Caylenna attempts to kill herself causing the Gerico to crash in barren lands south of Malel. They manage to repair the ship and, thanks to their ingenuity, fly away from a swarm of huge insects that had surrounded them.