[The following recaps, and thus spoils, the events of the series through Soul of Skymoore, Part One]
Once upon a time, there was a hero called the Suntouched. He was chosen by the god Sol to fend off the encroaching darkness that threatened to envelop the world. The Suntouched believed this darkness to be the Void Lands, a life-draining magic slowly making the world of Solkin uninhabitable, so that only the continent of Penscarop remains. He spent half a century fighting evil, and was revered throughout the world. Then, after his greatest victory against the dreaded Army of Below and their leader, the Suntouched’s old friend Asylum, the Suntouched vanished.
Unbeknownst to the world, he retired to the peculiar floating city of Skymoore, where he took on the name Donovan Allman and started a magic shop called Odd & Ends with the perpetually excited gnome, Nestor Pinkly. They soon hired Karessa Plunderton, an amateur halfling actress; Dovetail, Nestor’s automaton best friend; and Linda Arterford, Donovan’s former adventuring companion.
Donovan initially has a hard time integrating into life in Skymoore, as he has spent his entire life adventuring. A wise unicorn named Brilliance tells Donovan he may find a new way to be a hero in Skymoore, but their advice does not immediately stick. He hears rumors of the Chastened, a cult that seeks to spread the Void Lands, resurfacing in Skymoore after the Suntouched allegedly stopped them, and devotes himself to hunting them down in defiance of Linda’s wishes. The so-called Chastened is actually a bunch of teenagers merely playing at the occult, save for Teyla Eastwind, a young woman who encourages them to summon a primal, a powerful entity of raw emotion. After leading an accidental swath of destruction across Skymoore, Donovan follows the primal to Odd & Ends, where Linda defeats it. Donovan confesses to Linda that he never truly stopped the Chastened, and that their leader Dulcificus still lives, and that the Void Lands may one day spread again.
Shortly thereafter, Donovan’s secret is exposed to Karessa after he is wounded in an accident at her school. She helps nurse him back to health as he tells her the story of the Suntouched. As a young man, he was encouraged by the fairy tales of his mentor, Hunson, to climb Mount Paylor and ascend to the highest point in Solkin. There he found a temple where he was struck by a column of sunlight and granted a permanent sunburn and an immunity to fire. Many years into his adventuring, he made a compact with a creature from the Void Lands that granted him extended youth with a caveat that if he ever strays from the path of the hero, he will begin to age more quickly and all his future acts of heroism will end in ruin. During his celebration for defeating the Army of Below, Donovan struck his former lover and current governess of Dol Belvargamar, Thalialdera, in a fit of prideful anger. He knew then that his time as a hero was over.
Shortly thereafter he returned to his hometown of Dera, where he no longer recognized anyone, for his eternal youth also came at the cost of his memory. A botched attempt to save the village from brigands results in its destruction, and Donovan started a new life in Skymoore, to be as far from the surface and his failures as possible.
Karessa Plunderton is a young woman born and raised in the Mish Mash, Skymoore’s poorest and most neglected neighborhood. Her father vanished without a trace more than a decade ago, and her mother has retreated into the past, unable to deal with the trauma, leading Karessa to turn to a life of crime to support the two of them. Recently she has found herself on the straight and narrow, with considerable difficulty. She finds contentment in the cult of Orso, the great bear deity who slumbers beneath Solkin, and falls in love with Lawrence Dufton, one of the cult’s local leaders. The cult of Orso believes that their god is the only being wo truly matters in the world, and that it is the purpose of every individual to make the world a better, cleaner place for her to slumber. Lawrence and Karessa date for a time, until Karessa learns that for Lawrence, the cult is just an excuse to do drugs with friends, and learns that he has been unfaithful to her.
A crestfallen Karessa allies herself with Teyla Eastwind, who promises Karessa revenge. Teyla tricks Karessa into completing a ritual that creates a dark portal at the center of the Mish Mash, and enchants its citizens, encouraging them to walk into it. Karessa allies herself with Kelsie Rithma (aka the Claw), a crime lord and old friend who Karessa betrayed years ago, and Nestor to stop Teyla, but not before she successfully abducts a significant portion of the city. Using a chemical of Nestor’s creation, Karessa is able to undo the spell (and restore her mother’s mind in the process), but the enchantment has lingered in peoples’ minds and convinced them that they have no purpose in Skymoore, that they are entirely replaceable, and that the portal will give them purpose. Karessa tells them that no one individual has a special purpose, but that everyone collectively does, and feels a deep connection with Orso as she convinces the remaining people of the Mish Mash not to throw their lives away.
On the same evening, a sale draws a few travelers from outside Skymoore to Odd & Ends, and a storm traps its occupants inside. People pass time by telling stories. Keel, a devout follower of Sol and one of the store’s regulars, tells a story of the time the Suntouched visited the small village where Keel grew up. While there, a witch summoned a primal that was tied to the Suntouched’s soul, and their ensuing battle nearly destroyed the village. Donovan and Keel argue about the Suntouched and Keel storms off into the store’s backroom, where he discovers a door that wasn’t there before.
Donovan pursues him and the pair discover a strange, spatially impossible labyrinth beneath Skymoore, which changes and responds to the stories people are telling in the shop and seems to have passages and chambers formed by the essences of Skymoore’s citizens. Specifically, rooms seem to form when people’s purchases from Odd & Ends have brought them fulfillment; for example, an elderly woman’s magic cookbook has allowed her to pursue the craft or the first time in years, and a bakery is formed from her essence.
The following morning, the Story Keeper, an enigmatic traveling storyteller, tells the story of Skymoore’s founding. Back when the city was called Seamoore, a kindly dwarven bartender named Pulldrid Absinthe discovered a strange labyrinth beneath his bar which Brilliance the Unicorn called the Soul of Seamoore. In a time of great peril, Pulldrid and Brilliance harnessed the power of the Soul to cast he most powerful spell ever cast – the rising of Skymoore. Donovan seeks out Brilliance, who tells Donovan that if he nurtures the Soul of Skymoore, the world will be better for it.
After his sale, Donovan is indirectly approached by the Cabal, a shadowy organization that pulls all the strings in Skymoore. The Cabal is opposed to outsiders entering the city, and so they impose a tourism tax on Odd & Ends. Upon exploring the Soul further, Donovan uncovers memories of his childhood that had been long forgotten, including his original vow to be a hero and strike back against evil. Inspired by his youthful determination, Donovan schemes to get back at the Cabal, growing both Odd & Ends and the Soul of Skymoore in the process.