Wryn Pendragon, The snatcher, living of smaller thefts, receives an order from a mysterious Collector to steal a ring. The stranger promises a huge reward for the ring but this money is balanced by a danger of death as the owner of the ring is an important nobleman. Wryn, however, masterly succeeds in stealing the ring from the nobleman's palace. During his escape, the suddenly revived ring surprises him and he deploys it (although he is prohibited to do so from the mysterious stranger).
After deploying the ring, the ring "bites" him and he falls into a lethal coma. Just a short while later, a young woman rises from the shadow next to the dead Wryn, checking the ring on his finger and resurrecting him during a ritual as an umbramancer - a shadow wizard who is able to keep souls of the dead in the stones and to tap power from them. Coincidentally, Wryn gets to the position for the nobleman, greedy of might and immortality, who payed all his possession for it. Wryn is being chased now by not only the nobleman, who wants to get his place in the Penumbra Order back, but also by the Collector, who wants the ring.
Everything started quite innocently - when Wryn, the youngest of three siblings, who was 8 years old at that time, decided to show his brothers what's he really like. They girded at him, laughed at him all the time and they have never taken him seriously. At least until one rainy evening, when he suddenly brought home a gold coin. Last time Pendragons saw something made of gold was when the great-grandfather with his golden tooth had still been alive. First of all, brothers didn't believe him. Immediately, the oldest one tried the authenticity of the coin out - and the sharp pain was proving enough. Wryn suddenly felt his brothers admiring him. Finally, he has reached something, although he didn't know the consequences of his behaviour that time.
10 years have passed since the stealing of the cold coin. Wryn, however, instead of celebrating his full age among his brothers, roamed about the town and tried to earn living as much as possible. Unfortunately, he lost both parents, who died of pernicious purple plague. Both his brothers shortly after the death of their parents left the town. The older brother, who has always tended towards faith, decided to join the Zakrath Church, so he went to Glericia. The younger one, who has never omitted any occasion to grapple, sailed to Peyrron, where he enlisted the imperial army. Only Wryn stayed at Bragoss and lived on thanks to occasional thefts.
However, it has changed two years later, because the town was affected by the second, this time already overwhelming, wave of plague. Most of the inhabitants died and the ones who had survived, ran away southwards. Wryn got infected by the plague but thanks to the last quid he had stolen to scurrying buyers, he could allow to find a great healer. Nevertheless, the town was to extinct and he knew that he has to leave as well. In the end, he joined a caravan of merchants that headed into far-away Rayang. He decided not to steal, at least for the travel time, and to try to earn some money on food by some auxiliary work. As the son of blacksmith, he was more than desirable in the caravan. But it was a too short experience for his hunger and urge to succeed.
In the mystic town of Naga, thievish occasions were waiting for him around almost every corner. It was also the first time he came across some rivalry. He even nearly lost his bare livelihood at one moment. Life, however, taught him how to behave in such cases and he managed to obtain some important half-world contacts. His agility, rhetoric, but also his ability to merge in a crowd brought him countless crowds of clients and Wryn suddenly became a respectable thief. At least he thought so, before he had finally realised that the more clever ones were only exploiting him to some seamy work and that he had never got further than he used to be in his native Bragoss. Filthy, hungry, exhausted and - primarily - broken on spirit, Wryn suddenly felt entire desperation. It was like he returned into his childhood again, when everyone laughed and pointed at him. He was agonised.
And in that very moment, he met a girl that let him put all the problems aside. She was the absolute opposite of what he was. He has never told her that he used to live of thefts. He let Jensu, how the girl was called, to speak instead. Admitted only his very first stolen coin, Wryn continued with description of his shining carriere as the blacksmith master. Soon, they decided to leave Valaria and sailed southwards to Mallynor together. It was the first time ever Wryn noticed himself, while watching some children playing together, imaginating his own, not yet born ones. Jensu was already in her sixth month of pregnancy with twins. Wryn absolutely forgot that he used to be a thief and he enjoyed being a smith more and more. Especially when he could forge to order, using rare materials like the shadow steel from Yzgar was.
The fate, however, played a terrible game with Wryn, preparing him the temptation he could not withstand. A big exhibition was arranged in the local temple, presenting many rare artifacts and relics of the famous collector, Ramon Crane. Among all these things was a glamorous phoenix egg. A fable covered artifact, that was made from the purest gold, containing 77 precious stones. According to some legends, it was just a case "real" phoenix egg was hidden in. Wryn visited the exhibition several times and every time, he found out that stealing the egg would not be any problem. He had a chance to get wealth and he, Jensu and even their children would never have to work any more thanks to that. And finally, he'd reach more than anyone else ever did.
He decided to steal the egg early in the morning, when the temple guard was changing. Night would be ideal for him to hide, but it wouldn't be possible to go around the guards staying exactly next to the egg. Having everything well-planned and timed, he got to the egg quite easily. He didn't, however, know that some magic could have been used on that place, so when he finally touched the egg, he was hit by so strong stream that he was literally pinned to the floor. Followed by shivering air explosion, all the water turned to ice. Wryn was laying there in the ice prison, while still holding the egg in his hand. It was obvious for him that death is awaiting him for such a terrible crime. What a surprise was when he was visited by Ramon Crane himself in the prison, and he was offered the deal he could not refuse.
Ramon Crane admitted that Wryn was the first thief who had ever dared to steal the egg. Without the magic traps added at very last moment, Wryn would probably took the egg unseen. The deal was simple: Wryn would steal him a dragon ring from a nobleman called Draven Leander. If Wryn brings him the ring without wearing it, he will receive a reward in gold and a ship into the Glacast seaport will be ensured for him, where he will obtain his own house. Wryn's woman will be used as an assurance and she will be punished in the same way he was supposed to if he decides to run away. Wryn didn't have any other possibility than to accept, so he traveled to Zakratos where the nobleman lived.
He was very surprised to see neither any guard nor any conniving traps were in the nobleman's palace. To steal the ring out of the hand of the sleeping nobleman, drunk by wine, was incredibly easy. And although Wryn woke Draven up while escaping, Draven didn't have any chance to catch agile boy in tortuous alleys. So Wryn waited for the ship on the concerted place, which was supposed to carry him back to get the promised reward. Suddenly, something unexpected happened - the ring was brought to life. A dragon head on the ring flinched and made a very strange noice. Wryn was just staring at it in a huge disbelief. Nobody told him anything about it, so he had no idea what to do, how to behave. But he didn't want the living ring to fall him down somewhere on the way, so he deployed it...