A Bretonnian nobleman, Florin d'Artaud was forced to escape his life of debt and debauchery by tricking his way onto a flotilla headed to the fabled lands of Lustria. Posing as a veteran military commander, Florin's immediate concerns are to get his troops under control and survive the long, dangerous sea voyage. Once they arrive in Lustria's steamy jungles, the mercenaries find far more than they bargained for and a simple treasure hunt turns into a sinister expedition for forgotten lore. But the ancient guardians of the jungle will not let their secrets be plundered so freely.
Having spent all his inheritance on cards, Florin had been living in the apartments at the top of an old building within Castle Bordeleaux since his parents died. It had served many different purposes over the years, from barracks, to stables to inn. Now it served none of these functions, the cavernous spaces between its peeling lathe walls and highly drafty gables having been carved up into a shabby warren of little chambers housing everything from bales of cheap calico to the workshops of a dozen stooped and weak-eyed artificers.[1a]
A side-door leads up three flights of narrow stairs to the apartments, squeaking and groaning as if about to collapse (though Florin has grown too used to them to paid any heed). In summer, the slate roof above his rooms would become hot enough to fry eggs on, while in the winter it froze into a flat sculpture of snow and icicles. Even the rats deserted the gables at that time of year, though the cockroaches aren't as fussy. The front door, meanwhile, is a heavy one with a bolt-lock. The furniture consists of a table and a beaten-up sofa drawn up to the window.[1a]
Yet despite the discomfort, Florin has never considered returning to the luxury of his family's town house, the place having felt like a prison to him for as long as he could remember. The bars of respectability strictly guarded first by his father, Count d'Artaud, and then, after his death, his brother Bastien.[1a]