whether in this temporal stage on its pilgrim’s progress among the wicked, and living by faith, or established in yonder eternal habitation which it now patiently awaits...”
-Saint Augustine, Treatise on the city of God
It was the Breath of God, and to the people of the City it was the core of their world. It warmed their homes and their hearts, it sustained them and strengthened them, and it filled their lives with joy. Known as the Aether to those who studied it, its intricacies remained elusive to all. It was imperceptible to the naked eye, yet its presence was felt everywhere. It was infinitely subtle, yet immeasurably powerful. With it, the City stood as a fortress against the desert winds, and as a bastion of hope and of faith. Its people lived without fear of disease, war, famine, or poverty. Life was perfect.
But as the pious civil officer Nathaniel Grey will soon come to suspect, all is not as it once seemed. When his mentor and most trusted friend is accused and sentenced for an inconceivable crime, he finds himself making a choice that will lead him into the company of witches, his former enemies, who manipulate and pervert the Aether for their own ends. Thrust from his life of comfort and security into the cold and lonely life of an outcast, he begins to see that all he once knew, or thought he knew, about the world beyond the walls of the City, was estranged from reality; he begins to learn that everything he had ever held dear, that everything he had ever held to be sacred and immutable, was only an illusion; and he begins to fear that the true nature, and source, of the Aether may be vastly far removed from everything he had been led to believe.