For those of you who prefer reading to listening, or if you just need a reminder of the story so far:
Marjorie Wilson has just finished a session in court, where she is a union liaison for a trial dealing with unfair labor practices in local fire crews. The case has been long, boring, and frustrating, and Marjorie is not accustomed to days spent sitting indoors, listening to other people talk. As she leaves the courthouse, a van pulls up alongside her, and, though she is suspicious of it, she’s not fast enough to get out of the way, before a swarm of little, Cabbage-Patch-Doll-looking beings grabs her, wraps her in duct tape, and throws her in the back of the van, where she lapses into unconsciousness.
When she awakens, she is naked, in a pitch black room. Groping towards a wall, she notices a light source, which turns out to be a balcony overlooking a small group of bored-looking people in odd dress. She tries to retreat back into the darkness, but she finds only a wall behind her. The court, for that is what it seems to be, asks her name, but she refuses, and demands to know who they are and why they’ve kidnapped her. She attempts to leave, but she is again overwhelmed, and put into stocks. Since she will not answer any of their questions, the court finds her guilty. An ogre carries her, stocks and all, to a cell, with a fast-growing moss that covers her body completely, despite her struggles.
The cell becomes a forest, and, though she can still see, hear, and feel, Marjorie seems to have been transmuted into a moss-covered rock. Some time passes, and a couple enter the forest glade. The woman spills wine over the moss, seemingly by accident, and the couple leave, but the moss begins to degrade, and Marjorie is eventually returned to herself. She flees through the forest, and begins to hear the sound of baying hounds behind her. While she is trying her best to evade them, she stumbles upon a clearing, with a fire, and an old woman making soup.
The old woman introduces herself as the Lady of the Dawn, and tells Marjorie that she is actually being followed by werewolves. She offers Marjorie some soup, and a deal: the Lady needs people to work for her, and she can give Marjorie the power to fight off the werewolves, and whatever else is coming after her. Marjorie points out that, while it is a choice, it’s not much of one, and reluctantly accepts. The Lady shoves a live coal into her chest, and she feels a moment of connection with reality, and with three other people who are somehow undergoing the same thing simultaneously. Then she passes out from the pain.
When she awakens, she is in her own apartment. She’s wearing her court clothes from before, and her chest doesn’t appear wounded, or even scars. Oh, and flowers are growing wherever she takes a step. She goes outside to see if anything else weird is going on, and she discovers a tiger in the back of her pickup truck. The tiger turns into a man, who introduces himself as Trilochan. According to him, he died the night before, but was offered a deal by the Lady, who performed the same trick with the coal, and now he’s alive, and also sometimes a tiger. He suggests going into the forest, which has somehow grown up near Marjorie’s apartment, to look for answers.
The two of them journey into the forest, where they discover Clara. Marjorie pegs her as a special ops soldier of some kind, and Clara says that she came to the forest via a portal to fairyland. They are all mystified, as the forest seems to be quite a few disparate forest types blended together. They come to a treehouse village, and meet their remaining brother, Bernardo, and then head up to a platform at the top of the canopy, where the Lady is waiting.
The Lady tells them a (very) little about their circumstances: that they are a family now, whose job it is to represent her interests in reality. She tells them their Domains (Love, Roots, Differentiation, Reciprocity), tells them that there are other, similar families, and when Marjorie asks, tells them about the Locust Court and Lord Entropy’s laws. Then she leaves them to their own devices.