Giels Deo, 18, the son of his tribe’s Lead Storyteller (mother) and Lead Shaman (father), is heir to a bloodline from the founding members of the Deo Tribe, which is named after their family. The tribe resides in the Deo forest, which is in the mortal realm—the world between the earth and sky.
Before the story begins, Giels has spent months studying oral tradition to become the tribe’s next Lead Storyteller. Most people spend their lives socializing and sustaining themselves by gardening, hunting, and, with the help of computers, creating tools and other necessities. Very few honored tribal roles such as Lead Storyteller are available, making it an attractive option for Giels.
Giels leaves his studies to find his assumed betrothed, Cleo. The pair are quickly interrupted by their friend Erikal, who gives Giels a never-before-seen item of legend Erikal had designed on his computer: a voice recorder. Erikal invites Giels and Cleo to join him and their friends Meritus and Alana on an adventure in his new floating vehicle.
At first, Giels declines. Going on the adventure means missing his rehearsal and not demonstrating his skills before the Council of Seven Elders, which would put his Lead Storyteller role at risk.
With a little prodding from Cleo, Giels decides to ask his father, the Lead Elder, for permission to skip the rehearsal, but his father refuses and ominously warns him not to travel in Erikal’s vehicle. His father refuses to explain why.
A few days later, Cleo insists that Giels should go. She's found out from Erikal that Giels's recorder has a cryptic, secret message directing the recorder's owner to return the device to some unknown location. She believes that clever Erikal has figured out where. Giels assumes the message is a prank and refuses, but she makes it clear she wants to marry someone adventurous enough to go on such an enticing journey.
In the end, Cleo's persuasion works, and Giels decides to join his friends.
During the journey, Giels learns that his friends believe the message is a directive to return a ghost to the sacred Wind Cave, where lost souls exit the mortal world. Giels, more familiar with lore than any of his friends, understands that immortal beings only communicate with mortals by way of a person's thoughts and feelings, and not audible words, such as on the recorder.
Giels points out that the entire adventure is a ruse so he can embarrass Erikal into turning around, which would have them return in plenty of time for Giels's rehearsal.
But Giels is thwarted when his friends suggest Salihandron, the death escort, created the recorded message. Giels didn't think about Salihandron. That god is the one exception to the rule that immortals cannot talk to mortals directly, as the god talks to those about to die. This is a frightening idea, but Giels's friends believe Salihandron is seeking their help to bring a ghost in the machine to the cave.
It occurs to Giels Salihandron couldn't ask mortals to escort the dead because that's the god's essential purpose.
A heavy storm forces the group down a waterfall, and now they cannot return safely in the weather.
Giels's plans are thwarted, and he begins to accept that joining his friends will mess up his chance at the important tribal Lead Storyteller role. Then the weather improves, giving him some hope of returning home in time for the rehearsal. But it just so happens that at the same time, they have arrived at the sacred cave.
The wind coming from the cave is too strong to bring or toss Giels's recorder into it as a way to do Salihandron's bidding, so, to Giels's relief, they prepare to return home.
Instead of turning around, however, Erikal decides to test his miraculous vehicle by flying into the sacred cavern, even though entering is supposedly impossible for the living as it is a passage to the Underworld, the land of the dead.
They push through the wind to everyone's terror and end up in a giant metal tunnel that seems to draw Erikal's vehicle ever deeper. Just as they figure out how to turn around, they find a small, empty room where every surface is yellow. Giels finds his bravery. And, being that yellow is the most sacred color in the Deo, he and his friends interpret it as a sign to explore. A door in the room leads to a vast open space defined only by mechwork: pipes, latticework, and machinery—like the bowels of a great machine.
Giels realizes the Underworld doesn’t match their mythology. Yet, he believes they’d found the Maze of Azer, where, according to lore, a devil, The Guardian, dwells. The beast's only purpose is to prevent mortals from entering the land of the dead. At worst, it will destroy a person's soul. At best, it will turn a person mad.
It is then a great, threatening winged beast appears—the Guardian, as Giels feared. It attacks, but a wingless and windowless flying craft shows up, shooting at the beast, and the devil retreats. As Giels flees, he hears a god-like voice in his head telling him that he’s needed in the Underworld.
They escape to the world between the earth and sky and race home.
Now worried the Guardian cursed him with madness, Giels grows angry at Erikal for bringing them into the cave. But Cleo seems invigorated.
Giels returns home in the dark of night and immediately resumes his studies, despite having missed his rehearsal and messing up his future as the Lead Storyteller.
The main story is followed by a short chapter, titled Other Voices, which is repeated in full here:
Far, very far, below the Maze of Azer, in an empty, desolate place, a young, immortal woman sat cross-legged. She listened to the thoughts of an ancient one who occupied a space much further below than she. The contents of the man’s mind flew to her faster than time.
“You cannot allow him to stay home. But understand that he will soon become important to his tribe, making your job more difficult.”
The conversation continues in Other Voices II at the opening of episode 2, Illyia.
Alana Balee: Recent friend introduced by Meritus. Thick and wavy, black hair. Usually quiet, except around friends.
Bria Deo: Giels' mother and the tribe's Lead Storyteller.
Cleo ArcGola: A close, lifelong friend of Giels', whom he considers beautiful and assumes to be his betrothed.
Danis Deo: Giels's father and the Lead Elder of the Council of Seven Elders. Booming voice.
Giels Deo: First-person narrator. Son of Danis and Bria Deo. 18 years old. Studying to someday replace his mother as the Lead Storyteller.
Elder Sparus: one of the seven shamans on the council. Thin, middle-aged. Suspicious of Giels.
Erikal TenTensen: tall, strong friend of Giels's. Highly talented with the computer and has recently grown closer to Cleo.
Meritus Alderas: Best friend to Erikal with prankster tendencies.
Billincen Device: a magical item, owned by the Deo family, made up of a bobbing, chrome metal rod whose center point balances on a small pewter pyramid. It seems to serve no purpose.
boromount: a giant, grazing beast.
Boromount Plateau: a plateau along the coast of the Western Sea populated by boromounts. It is the site of the Wind Cave.
cab: the type of floating vehicle used in the Deo.
chromadium: a metal alloy, silver and chrome-like in appearance.
the commons: see Deo Commons.
computer-spirit: the spirit that resides in every computer of the world between the earth and sky.
the Council of Seven Elders: the governing body of the Deo.
the Deo, the Deo Forest: the land inhabited by the Deo tribe.
Deoan: relating to the Deo tribe. Also, the language spoken.
Deo Commons: a large unpopulated forest of Deo trees in the center of the Deo, mainly used for socializing.
Deo tree: a medium-height tree with smooth, tan/brown bark and broad leaves.
do-it-all: a small floating device having several basic tools. Generally cylindrical in shape.
the Drink: an intoxicating beverage.
dusk raptor: a small two-legged creature with soft plumage (dinosaur-like).
elder: one who sits on the Council of Seven Elders, also called a shaman.
the Equis: a lavish ceremony celebrating the change from summer to winter.
gort: a type of stew.
kite: an enormous, soaring, feathered creature.
the Lost Forest: a hilly region to the west of the Deo.
the Lost Tribe: an unknown, mysterious tribe that lives in the Lost Forest.
machine-spirit: the spirit that resides in a machine or device. Typical for all devices.
mechwork: the inner workings of a machine. Also used to describe the machinery of the Underworld.
the Original People(s): an ancient tribe. The first people to inhabit the mortal world.
payadekka: a large rodent that inhabits the Rambles.
ramble-rodent: see payadekka.
the Rambles: a marsh to the east of the Deo.
Silver Dare: Erikal's cab.
Sunfire light: a bright, artificial light, usually on cabs.
the Talis: a tribe on the southwestern coast known for their magical abilities.
tassel-goat: a knotty-haired, modest-sized, four-legged herd animal that grazes on moss, often found in the Deo Commons.
wing-facet: a sheet metal plate, normally as part of a grouping, often oval or with rounded corners, and often curved, essential for the levitation action of cabs and other devices.