Baden-Baden, Germany, 1910.
Since the turn of the century a mysterious green fog rises from the rivers. Æther is a blessing for the industry, but a curse for humans. Airships conquer the skies, monsters roam the river banks.
In fashionable Baden-Baden the world still seems to be in order. Yet, while bathing guests from all over the world are strolling leisurely along the avenues and in the Kurpark, young women are dying of a mysterious poison.
While trying to get to the heart of this, Fräulein Annabelle Rosenherz finds herself in great danger, because she is hiding her own secret.
The changes in the world, which are described in Aetherhertz, require able-minded persons to deal with all the difficulties. The agency of aether-affairs has them. Officers and soldiers, scientists an secretaries, who take care of every aspect in this new world. You have a problem with the man-wolf next door howling all night long? The dove -woman sits on your roof and won't come down? Your cat grew wings and now pesters the hens of the local farmer? Just come to the agency, and we will send someone to care for your problem.
The officers will try to see all aspects of a problem. Everyone can come everytime, the agency is opened around the clock.
Annabelle ducked under a low-hanging branch and urged her horse into a canter. For a brief moment she
felt free. Only herself, the horse, and the speed. She knew that Oberon, her black stallion, was capable of a much faster gallop but did not want to startle the people who frequented the river
meadows of the Oos for evening walks.
Also, today she had company, someone who did not like to ride so swiftly.Her friend Johanna Winkler preferred a comfortable trot along the tree-lined boulevard; for her, riding was just a way to be seen. Privately, Annabelle thought that at twenty-two one should be permitted to go for an occasional ride alone, but this was unseemly and most days she bowed to convention.
Fog was rising above the Oos – glowing faintly green from the Æther it contained. Maybe one day she would ride into it, just to see what would happen. There were stories saying that one could get lost in the Ætherfog for weeks and when one finally emerged, it seemed as if only hours had passed.