At the Missing Shekel, a mysterious elderly lioness tells the dark feline assassin Shikouju of a legend of the "Compass Rose" a group of four assassins that includes himself.
The Compass Rose consists of four assassins:
The North Palao Alto, The Musician, a bard with a lethal "second occupation"
The West Juniper Jade, The Philosopher, a Naga with alchemical talents, who takes out her targets by chemical means
The South Lady Martinette, The Puppeteer, a lioness Khatta who uses her charms and graces to catch wealthy targets off guard
The East Shikouju, The Sable Palm and The Silver Blade, the master of stealth and more conventional methods of dealing death
In this tale, the Compass Rose is hired by King Xante of the Regency of Stalwirland, on the surface, to deal with one of his vassals, a Lord Calderas, who has openly moved against his neighbor, Lord Polurgess, to seize land from the fiefdom of Gessershire. The king, unable to act openly against one of his most powerful lords, solicits the services of these four, and gives them an abandoned laboratory in one of the castle towers to use as their base of operations.
There, they discuss their mission, and ways to go about performing it … and theorize about just what might have possessed Lord Calderas to make such an apparently meaningless maneuver in the first place.