It has been 2 decades since the marriage of Satan and Gaea and the reinstatement of Perry to the office of the Incarnation of Evil. Jolie still visits him often with the help of Orb by animating her body for those visits of carnal passion and love. In this way the marriage has not been consummated legally since it was not Orb or Gaea that was actually having liaisons with Satan. All the Incarnations know what is going on but they also know that Satan or Perry is not really a truly evil person so they look the other way and do not begrudge the trio their love. Satan still tries for dominance and to incite evil on earth but he feels it is so to sort the souls better for processing to either Hell or Heaven. Of course they know thins and know that it is necessary but they don’t have to like it and God, the Incarnation of Good is too busy contemplating his own greatness that he doesn’t care what is going on. Something has to be done to change the current situation or everything will come to an end.
Orlene is the daughter of Mym and Orb which means she is also the daughter of Incarnation of Nature and Incarnation of War, she just doesn’t know it. At birth she was given to a blind gypsy girl to be raised till a suitable family could be found that would raise Orlene in a loving and caring environment. Orb let her daughter go so that she might better be able to follow her own path to the ultimate song. It was that journey that led her to Natasha and the office of Nature. Because of the paths that she chose she was able to cure the blind gypsy as well as see the Orlene and all of mankind would be cared for. Even though all was given for Orlene she did not appreciate all that had been done for her for she didn’t even know it all. Even though she had a loving husband that she could not see and a lover that would do anything for her as a physical proxy for her husband she cursed by her own love. She had a child by Norton, who himself becomes the Incarnation of Time, and then her ghost husband had the child’s genetics changed to his own which spells its doom.
Shortly have the genetics was changed the child sickened and then died. In her grief Orlene took her own life to follow her child into the afterlife. She had not care for the living but wanted to see to that of her son so that it would always have a mother to care for him so he would not have to be alone as she felt she was being adopted. She had no thought of how it would affect others or what it would mean because she was too absorbed in her own grief to even care about that or even think of it. It is this death that causes Jolie, the consort of Satin and companion of Nature to leave her current host to see what has happened. She arrives moments after the death to find that Orlene will not leave her body, will not allow herself to float on to heaven. The more she struggles the more stained her soul becomes which prompts Thanatos, the lover of Orlene’s mortal cousin Luna, to come collect her. After Jolie and Thanatos talk she grabs Orlene and takes her to Gaea’s tree house to recover and so that they can use the Purgatory computer to find out what has happen to Orlene’s child Gaw-Two.
As Orlene recovers Jolie has a wonderfully humorous banter with the machine and finds out the Nox, the Incarnation of Night has taken the child for herself and retreated back to the other side of Chaos. Nox has never taken any souls in Purgatory that anyone can remember and now she fears that the child will never be able to be saved. As to why Jolie was not with Orlene when she died was because she was actually observing and trying to find candidates that would be good to fill Incarnation of Immortality offices when one of then had need or chose to step down. They knew from past experience when Satan stepped down that they need to have candidates that would actually do the job instead of just lust after the power. That they would see to the welfare of man instead of just their own greatness as the Incarnation of Good had. When Satan was stripped of his secrets they found out that he as the Incarnation of Evil had actually done the world more good then harm and was actually that savior of several different nations of peoples. He knew what his job was and did it as he felt it should be done and not just to be on some power trip.
Once Jolie told Orlene where her child was they went to find Nox with instruction on how to find her from both Nature and Evil. Nox is the mistress of night and the keeper of secrets and was not going to take and just give the child up. She also had plans for the Incarnations and the only way she was going to see them come to pass was if she found a way to influence them, with that in mind she tested Orlene and showed her the true nature of man and what it meant to be one without control. She almost raped Jolie when Nox changed her into a man but Nox gave herself to Orlene before she could do that to her friend. This of course made Orlene feel that she was lower then anything and deserving of hell. It was her own feelings of guilt weighing her down so much that she started to sink to Hell itself. Not wishing her friend and the daughter and stepdaughter of those that she loved she went to Gaea for advice. Orb seeing how the soul was in distress sent her to Luna for she knew that there was a solution there. She actually explained all that was going on to Jolie and then erased it from her memory but she knew that what she was about to do would be of benefit to all of humanity and the Incarnates.
Vita was a whore, a prostitute, a runaway and becoming addicted to Spelled H, a type of drug that was like cocaine but enhanced by magic to make it even more addictive. It was so addictive that once hooked there was no way to go back, no way to even be rid of the stain that it would put on ones soul. Once hooked a person would do anything anyone wanted them to do just to get a whiff of it and stay in its mind numbing euphoria forever. The pimp that had caught the 15 year old Vita was working to make that addiction stick on her so that she would do anything that he wanted till the day that she died. The reason Luna had an interest in the girl was because it was of interest to the workings of her own research project and office. She needed things to run smoothly so she asked Jolie to take Orlene to Vita and stay with them till Orlene could animate Vita and get things back on track, so to speak. Once they had Vita free then they could work on the tasks that Nox gave to them.
Nox being the mysterious pre-woman that she was and mother to the original office holders of the Incarnations of Immortality set a task for Orlene to be able to get her child back. It was a list of things that would be needed to make malady of the soul go away so that Gaw-Two could develop normally as a soul. The list required something from each of the Incarnates, a blank soul from death; a grain of sand from time; a tear from nature; a curse from evil; a blessing from good; a seed from war and a thread of life from fate. To get each one she would have to prove herself to each of the Incarnates that she was worth of such gives, for each was extremely precious and not something that could be carelessly given or used. Each had a special power on their own but together would allow Gaw-Two to be given a new start and free of the genetic curse that had been laid upon his soul. This was not really what Nox wanted for the child but to really be a lesson for Jolie and Orlene to learn. While it is true the items were indeed needed they were not for the purpose that they thought and would not find out till the very end why it was so important that they get all of them.
Piers Anthony has woven a story of such cunning that it pulls all the books before into this one story. It is the climax that was missing from all the others and the proof of why those stories needed to be told. Without the knowing and telling of the others this one would never have been at all. It is a story of Good and Evil and everything in between and how all are needed to be a complete whole. It shows what happens when evil runs amok and stagnation that happens when all that is left is only good. It shows just how fragile our planet and race is and how we must all come together and compromise so that we can insure that the future will be there and not just the end of it all. If any fantasy book or series should be required reading for a politician this is the book and series that they should read. Everyone should read!