Nothing lasts forever, not even Paris. In the Second Dark Age, it is a humbled city built upon ruins, where a quiet suspicion has replaced a once sprawling commotion. In a cemetery on the edge of town, a gravedigger named Bonchretien unearths a vast, ancient chamber etched with a single mark, "CHS13," and becomes obsessed with answering its riddles. The Mayor and the City Council, ruling from Notre Dame, the only structure left fully intact from the old Paris, have heard of his find. As Guardians of the Relics of the Ancestors, they plan to use it as an excuse to take the cemetery and strip-mine it for gold from computers, copper and silver from electronics, tin, lead, mercury, steel, glass, plastic dust - all the buried trash of a lost era. They have also heard of an enigmatic prophet, the Ugly One, which some claim is a woman, who has walked from West Africa with thousands known as the Weikin, and is camped outside the city in the ruins of Versailles. As Bonchretien's determination to save the chamber at all costs brings him into direct conflict with the Mayor and the Council, a plague creeps through the city and "strategy of numbers," a single phrase from the Weikin, is infecting the populace with ideas of uprising. Soon, only an illiterate gravedigger and a "barbarian" prophet, still unaware of each other, are left to stand between the City and bloody civil war.