Seeking their fortune, a group of Ninth Worlders – Haro the Nano, the Glaives Karner and Tanasia, and the Lattimor Yeti Foan – have accepted a bounty contract for a man named Caidan Phorr. The bounty has been issued by Evara Madan, a member of the city council of Qi. Madan has provided no details, only that she wants Phorr returned. His being alive is not a requirement of the contract, only that he (or at least his head) is returned to her.
The only information they have is that Phorr was heading south, towards Rarmon in the Pythoran Empire. The hunters, some with their own reasons for leaving Qi anyway, have traveled south in pursuit.
During their travels, one night they hear what they at first think is distant thunder. They think nothing about it at first but when dawn arrives they see that a city has appeared on the plain relatively near them; a city that was not there the night before.
Haro recognizes the city. It is Mygrant; a city that moves throughout the world. It travels from place to place looking for the things it needs to support itself and its people. It has been known to trade with other cities and travelers if it cannot find what it needs on its own.
As they watch, a number of large, bio-mechanical “spiders” emerge from the city. Standing about three meters tall and four meters in length, they start moving through the area on their 5 legs. Every now and then one of them stops. A pair of tentacles “grow” from its underside and it digs something from the soil beneath it and brings it close to its underside where an eye appears and examines what it has found. Often it discards the found object but equally often it pulls it inside itself. The “spider” then resumes searching the area.
Haro also recognizes the “spiders”. They are “Collectors”: automatons tasked with the retrieval of whatever Mygrant has decided it needs at the moment.
The hunters go see what the Collectors are discarding. They find a dull crystal; its surface cracked and pitted. One of them realizes that the center of the crystal is hollow.
They decide to ignore the Collectors for now but think that the city may have some information on Phorr. They approach the city and find it surrounded by towers. Each tower has a pair of walls extending from it but the walls do not meet, leaving multiple openings into the city.
As they approach a strange creature emerges from the city. It stands about one-and-a-half meters tall and looks like an eyeball on top of a bird’s leg. The eyeball approaches each of the hunters in turn and looks them over.
When it reaches them it stands and stares at Haro for a moment, during which time she feels a mental pressure of some kind. After a few seconds the eye-creature hops over to Tanasia. He suddenly feels as if his entire life is being played out in front of him. He is momentarily stunned by a wash of memories, many of which he has not thought of in years. As this happens, a gong sounds from within the city.
Karner and Yeti Foan are also visited by the eye-creature but only feel the mental pressure. The creature hops away. Nothing else seems to happen and after a short discussion the characters enter the city.
Inside they find an odd scatter of buildings. There are no “streets” as such; the buildings are scattered about almost looking as if a child had thrown a handful of blocks down. They start making their way through the maze of buildings towards the center.
They are somewhat surprised to find no people. Looking around they see someone looking at them from a window but that person closes the shutter before they can get a good look at them. They try the door but it is locked.
Rather than try to do anything with that building they try the doors on several other buildings. Eventually they force their way into one. It turns out to be a shop of some kind, but the front displays have been pulled inside the building and the interior has been rearranged and “compressed”. They realize the buildings somehow fold in on themselves when the city moves and that these have not “unfolded”, indicating that perhaps the city does not plan to remain here long.
They exit the shop and find two more of the eye-creatures outside. The creatures repeat the stare that was done outside the city. Haro and Yeti Forn experience the wash of memories. Each time, they hear another gong from the center of the city.
They then hear mechanical noises from both the center of the city and from towards the perimeter. Looking, they see one of the collectors approaching them from each direction.
The collectors attack the characters, attempting to grapple them with their tentacles and pull them inside themselves. The characters at first attempt to fight back, then decide to flee. Unfortunately they run directly into a third collector.
The fight resumes and the characters are eventually victorious. Looking around, they see that a number of the city’s inhabitants have been alerted by the melee and are looking at them from various windows; though all of them still remain remain inside their buildings. The characters approach one building and the inhabitant opens the door and calls them inside.
Once there, they notice that the inside of this building is also compressed inward like the last they entered. A woman is in back, two children behind her, and is holding a quarterstaff seemingly made of light. The man who allowed them in first asks who they are then, without waiting for an answer, tells them that they have been identified by one of the “scanners” as something useful to the city and that they need to leave before they are “collected” and become part of the city forever.
The characters ask the man what is going on and he tells them that the city has stopped at the site of an ancient battle to collect the memories of those who died there. The characters appeared and were scanned and now the city thinks they are some of the memories that need to be collected. They will be taken to the library unless they can escape.
Without questioning further the characters thank the man for his information and immediately leave. They manage to get outside the city’s walls but see three of the collectors heading for them.
The characters attempt to flee but Karner falls behind. The rest of the group turns back to protect their colleague and the collectors are upon them.
The fight is difficult. Often the collectors grab one or more of the characters in their tentacles but the character is almost always able to break free. At one point Tanasia is pulled within a collector that attempts to leave with them, but a fortuitous use of a Cypher frees him. Eventually all of the collectors are destroyed.
Other collectors start towards the characters but they are now far enough away that they are able to evade them. Finally, a gong sounds from within Mygrant and all of the collectors leave their searching and pursuit and return to the city. Soon afterwards, the walls fold into the towers, all of the buildings sprout millipede-like legs, and the city starts moving off to the north. The characters relax and rest, then resume their pursuit.