This is not the life that Winter Mulcahy ordered.
There was once a time in her home city of Seahaven, WA, when people said you couldn’t swing your arm without smacking a Mulcahy wizard. The huge Mulcahy family was the backbone of law and order in this city, famous for having the largest per-capita preternatural population of any city in the world. They alone stood between the various groups of vampires, shape-shifting therian, and other magical beings and the chaos that factional fighting would bring.
But those days are long past.
Throughout her young life, Winter’s extensive family was killed off in ones and twos, sometimes in whole family groups, until the other wizards of the world began whispering of curses and left the survivors to face their fate in isolation. Eccentric and fiercely independent, these defenders of the innocent hoped the door hit the other wizard Houses on the butt on their way out, and determined to discover the source of their curse even as they held their city together.
They never did.
Finally all that are left are Winter and her father, Colin, who holds the position of the Mulcahy, the head of the family and neutral arbiter of Seahaven. Colin, though, has not left Mulcahy House in twenty years, and is crippled by depression following first the abandonment by his Faerie wife and then the repeated hammer blows of the deaths of his loved ones.
And so Winter stands alone. The vampires and the therian lions are her friends, and help her when she allows it, but as wizard of the city she cannot afford to show any group too much favor, to lean too hard on anyone’s support. She must stand strong; a lone, slender pillar supporting the crushing weight of a city full of responsibility. She is a physician, a Potions Master, a teacher… but not a fighter. Not a combat wizard. Her strength lies in her compassion and intelligence, not in her martial skills, but she lives in a world where viciousness and cunning are often more highly valued than honor or valor and kindness is a weakness. She holds power over this fractious population by force of habit, on the memory of the threat a House full of wizards once wielded.
And habits are made to be broken.
Winter is cracking under the pressure. To cope, she has taken to self-medicating, as many physicians do – she relies more and more on magical stimulants to force her exhausted body through endless days of medical emergencies, political crises and magical calamities, then doses herself to sleep when she comes dragging in late at night to both counter-act the stimulants and the nightmares a lifetime of violent death and funerals has left behind. The stimulants are burning her away from the inside out, even as they give her the ability to meet each day’s challenges. She can see the symptoms in her own body, and the people around her are beginning to notice something is wrong, but she cannot stop. A new word has wormed its way into her mind – “addiction.” She is no fool, she knows the dangerous road she travels, but she sees few choices. It’s either rise to the challenge and feed this addiction, feed it with her health and sanity, or fall and let the city burn.
And then, one day, two lords of Faerie come into her clinic, seeking her help…