Before the walls went up, long, long ago, there were two brothers, Thomas and Roland Worvold, whose pasts were as mysterious as their futures.

Before the walls went up, before the battle between Abaddon and Elyon, before Alexa Daley was born, there were two brothers, Thomas and Roland Worvold, whose pasts were as mysterious as their futures. They lived in a time when there were fewer people in the wild places of Elyon, and magic roamed more freely.

They were ten and eleven, orphan boys who'd been thrown out of the orphanage for getting into more mischief than the headmaster would put up with, and ended up at Madame Vickers' House on the Hill. They were the oldest ones there, since she usually took in only children between six and nine, but the Worvolds had no place left to go.

The house was built on a hill of garbage, and the children spent their days rummaging through it, looking for bits of this or that valuable enough to sell or trade. Mostly they found only decaying food, rancid hay, and things so broken they couldn't be fixed. But occasionally, they'd find jewelry, books with torn pages, broken tools, chipped dishes, or clothes that could be washed and sold. On a good day, they came back with half a bag of things that could be sold, and were given scraps for dinner. On a bad day, an empty bag meant no supper and a grumbling stomach.

Then there was the day when Roland found something so miraculous that it changed the course of his and Thomas's lives forever, in ways they had never imagined or expected.

Both boys had strange brown markings on their legs, just above their knees—a pattern of interlocking circles and squares. And buried under the old decaying carcass of a horse, they found a saddlebag with a sheet of paper inside. They had only a few seconds to look at it before Madame Vickers snatched it away, but they would never forget what they'd seen. There on the paper was the same design that was on their knees, and a few brief words:

Western Kingdom

Wakefield House

Miss Flannery


If they were ever to learn the mystery of their birth and the marks on their knees, the brothers knew they must escape, and get to Wakefield House, in the Western Kingdom, as soon as possible!