Jynx, disguised as Prince Shiahd bu-Ahlmarahat, leonine prince of the Khattan Emirate, is an honored guest at the hunters' lodge known as the Inner Sanctum. Outwardly, this is just an elite club for the wealthy and adventurous, but secretly it is the base of operations of the Society of Cinders a secret organization seeking to usurp the status quo on Sinai and possibly destroy all civilization as well.
The Secretariat Vandringer, an eloquent Cervani (stag), is revealed to be the leader of this group, and personally welcomes the "Prince". Jynx is also introduced to Primus Maximillan, a Hekoye (coyote) with a somewhat fumbling demeanor. Together, they go to the Trophy Room, taking a tour of some of the acquisitions of hunters at the lodge … and discussing the purpose of the Society of Cinders.
Primus Maximillan reveals that the purpose of the Society is to obtain the Artifact of Calderas, which possesses great powers. In particular, it is to be used to destroy all humans on Sinai and to change all other sapient species to "natural" (non-sapient) forms. Only those who have the Mark will be exempt from this effect, and those with the Mark (i.e., those of the Society of Cinders) will be "caretakers" over what is left of Sinai in case humans should come from other worlds to "taint" Sinai again. This is Primus Maximillan's ideal of the "Age of Eden", in that human influence is deemed evil, and he claims that humans bioengineered all other sapient species on Sinai.
After this, the Secretariat dismisses Primus Maximillan, and takes Jynx to the garden to speak further. Secretariat Vandringer questions Jynx about what he thinks of the Primus' vision, and manages to reveal Jynx's discomfort with the proposition, despite Jynx's attempts at denial. This does not anger Vandringer. Far from it, he indicates that not all in the Society of Cinders share the Primus' vision and that the Artifact of Calderas possesses other abilities beyond the use that the Primus intends for the ancient item.
Jynx is assigned a retinue of servants and guards, and bid to go on the "Great Hunt" for the Artifact of Calderas, believed to be in the possession of Lady Calderas (also known as Lady Martinette), who is believed to be residing near Falcon's Watch the former capitol of the land of Stalwirland. Jynx is inwardly torn over his feelings about his grandmother especially the notion that she married the one responsible for his grandfather's demise but is determined to save her from the Society of Cinders anyway. He turns in for the night, ready to set out on this quest the next day.