The Australia/New Zealand cover
|Publication date||May 2008|
|Published by||Omnibus Books (Australia)|
Two months after parting ways with Europe, Rossamünd Bookchild is halfway through his training to become a lamplighter. Stationed at the great fortress of Winstermill on the Conduit Vermis, because he was a week late in arriving he has been assigned to the quarto Q Hesiod Gæta and given the nickname "Master Come-Lately" by the senior sergeant responsible for training, Grindrod. Along with his six fellow prentices, Grindrod, and two veteran lampsmen, the quarto are out on the Pettiwiggin, a stretch of the road heading east on their way to the nearest cothouse, Wellnigh House.
Five lamps away from the cothouse they encounter a runaway park-drag attacked by a pack of five horn-ed nickers, which are clinging to it. After the carriage crashes the lighters and the passengers, who turn out to be calendars, engage the nickers. During the fight one of the calendars, is revealed to be a wit but proves to still be green, as her frission also adversely affects the lamplighters. Although the nickers are all killed two of the calendars fall and another is seriously injured. They turn out to be from the Right of the Pacific Dove and their leader, Dolours, informs Grindrod that the youngest member of the party, Threnody, wishes to become a lamplighter. The news does not sit well with Grindrod and after he insults Threnody she retaliates by witting him and everyone else nearby. Dolours is forced to wit Threnody in turn to knock her out and end the frission. Despite disagreeing with the possibility of a female lighter in the ranks, Grindrod leaves Assimus and Puttinger with Rossamünd as a guard and fatigue party while he leads the rest of the prentices to Wellnigh House to fetch relief. While the senior lampsmen set about gathering up the remains from the wrecked carriage, Rossamünd dispenses what vigorants he has. At dusk, Grindrod returns with an ox dray and a guard of haubardiers. At Wellnigh House Rossamünd is detailed to act as a liaison for the calendars.