Sixth-grader Cole and the princesses Honor and Destiny are prisoners of Owandell, an adviser to the princesses’ father, King Stafford Pemberton. Decades ago, Owandell used dark magic called shapecraft to steal King Stafford’s five daughters’ magical powers and give them to the king himself. Cole has spent months helping the princesses regain their powers, which has weakened the king. Lately, Owandell has also decided to stop supporting the king and instead support Ramarro, an evil immortal being called a torivor. Cole and his friends imprisoned Ramarro in a realm called the Void, located in the kingdom of Creon.
Cole has very interesting magical abilities, including the ability to awaken the dormant magic of other people and to amplify others’ powers, so Owandell offers to let Cole abandon the princesses’ cause and join him. Cole declines just as Royalist Enforcers from King Stafford attack Owandell’s castle. Cole and the princesses are taken to the First Castle in the capital city of Junction and brought to the king, who is deathly ill. King Stafford regrets his past actions, makes Cole his personal royal agent and gives him his royal seal, so he can speak with the king’s authority.
At the First Castle, Queen Harmony tells Cole that her final daughter in exile, Princess Elegance, is hiding in the Iron Fort. The Iron Fort is a retirement home in Creon, the kingdom where time can be manipulated by magic users. Elegance is safe for the time being, and the queen’s current priority is finding Princess Miracle (Mira). She brings a Wayminder named Violet to help Cole find Mira. Cole hypercharges Violet’s power with his own, enabling her to open a wayport, a path through space which she and Cole step through. They find Mira’s and Cole’s friends Jace and Joe in a place called the Locked Shrine, then they all escape back to Junction. Queen Harmony tearfully greets Mira, whom she has not seen for many years.
Before tackling his next adventures, Cole needs a proper weapon, so Violet opens up a wayport to the Sky Raiders in the kingdom of Sambria so that she, Cole and Jace can retrieve a new jumping sword for Cole. When Cole first left Arizona and arrived in the Five Kingdoms, he became the slave of the salvage team known as the Sky Raiders, where he originally met Jace and Mira. The Raiders salvage items from floating castles that drift through the sky. When Cole hears that one of the recent castles seemed to have information about Ramarro, he, Violet and Jace investigate. On the flying castle, a small army of statues attacks the kids and nearly defeats them, but Cole uses his magical powers to shatter all of the statues.
A statue of Dandalus, the founder of the Outskirts, arrives to tell Cole to go to Shepherd’s Grove in Creon to find Lorenzo Debray, a former Grand Shaper of Creon who knows a lot about the Void where Ramarro is imprisoned. They teleport to Elloweer to recruit their old friend Twitch to help them defeat Ramarro, and then they travel to meet Queen Harmony at the First Castle.
Twitch and Jace stay behind while Violet and Cole teleport to the Temple of the Still Water in Necronum to look for Cole’s old crush Jenna, who is working at the temple. Cole uses his royal seal to order the temple’s prelate to free Jenna. Jenna chooses to continue working in the temple, but now she’ll receive a salary and be able to come and go as she pleases.
Cole, Mira, Violet, Jace and Twitch leave the First Castle and teleport to the Iron Fort in Creon to meet Elegance. When they meet her, they discover that Elegance was 18 when she magically stopped aging and went into hiding in Creon. Decades ago, she married her protector, Brogan, who continued aging and is now an elderly man.
Mira tells Elegance that all of their other sisters have their powers back and that Elegance is the only one who is still powerless. Elegance is sympathetic to their mission but doesn’t want to leave her husband to help Cole and Mira fight Ramarro. Cole and Mira return to the First Castle without Elegance. They discover that Queen Harmony, King Stafford and the other princesses have vanished and that Cole and Mira are suspects in their kidnapping.
Cole and his friends teleport back to Creon. Enforcers capture them and use a magically charged net to hold Cole so he can’t use his power to energize Mira’s or Violet’s power, which weakens their whole group and makes them vulnerable to attack. Cole uses his power to tear apart the net, and then he disables the magical abilities of the Enforcers and makes them surrender.
Lorenzo Debray arrives and teleports the kids to his lair. Cole explains that they need to find a better prison for Ramarro before he escapes and dominates all of the Outskirts. Lorenzo says they need to visit the past to meet with Kendo Rattan and ask his advice. Lorenzo opens up a wayport to the past and they time-travel to the dedication of a famous Wayminding school in Creon to try to get Kendo’s attention.
Cole meets Kendo, but they are distracted from their conversation by the arrival of a legendary monster called the Perennial Serpent. Cole and his friends attack the giant creature, but it bites Twitch, who then vanishes. The Perennial Serpent also disappears and Kendo says it and Twitch have traveled through time. The Perennial Serpent’s bite always makes its victims vanish, and no one has ever found their location.
Kendo wants to learn more about Ramarro’s prison, so he sends the kids back to Lorenzo in the present and tells them to visit him again in the past after 20 years have elapsed for him. In 20 years, they find that he has developed no plan for strengthening the Void. Ramarro will eventually escape, and when he does, Kendo thinks their only option will be to lure Ramarro onto the Pilgrim Path, a theoretical portal to Earth, where his powers would be negated. He also mentions that the Perennial Serpent seems to be a product of wild shaping power on the loose — likely Elegance’s stolen magical powers, which need to be returned to her.
Kendo sends the kids back to the present, where Lorenzo gives them a message saying that Kendo managed to take the Pilgrim Path to Earth and is now waiting for them in Miami. In Miami, they meet Kendo, who has forgotten the Outskirts and lost his powers completely. The only evidence he has of his former life is a series of journals he wrote to himself about the Outskirts.
Lorenzo pulls the kids back to Creon and gives them three secret talismans made by the ancient Grand Shapers of Creon to protect the Outskirts. The talismans are drinkable potions, one which will send a person 100 years in the future, one which will restore youth, and one which grants a person the chance to explore a probable future by living for three days in an alternate timeline, then returning to the present. Cole drinks the third potion and begins living in the alternate timeline so he can test out ways to fight Ramarro.
In the alternate timeline, Cole and his friends go to the Iron Fort and tell Elegance that her shaping power has been running wild as the Perennial Serpent. Elegance sends Cole to the Far North Cache, the place where Ramarro will automatically appear when he breaks free of the Void. In the Far North Cache, Ramarro appears before Cole and his friends as a monstrous 8-foot-tall man with white hair and serrated teeth.
Cole fails to defeat Ramarro. He jumps back in time several days, having finished his exploration of the alternate timeline. He explains the events of the alternate timeline to Lorenzo and his friends and mentions that he can now sense other people’s nexus of power, the center of their magical ability.
For their final attempt at defeating Ramarro, Mira and Jace go to the Iron Fort to make Elegance’s husband, Brogan, young again, and Cole and Violet go to ask for help from Trillian, the only other torivor besides Ramarro in the Outskirts. Trillian agrees to help them lure Ramarro onto the Pilgrim Path to Earth, where he will lose his power. So Ramarro won’t be able to read Cole’s mind and sense the trap they have planned for him, Trillian says he must hide Cole’s memories just before the battle.
Violet and Cole then go to rescue Queen Harmony, Honor and Destiny from Owandell, and Destiny prophesies that Cole must find Dandalus. They go to the Temple of the Still Water in Necronum and find Jenna, Dalton and Hunter waiting. Jenna says that Dandalus, the founder of the Outskirts, appeared to her and told her that she was necessary for the upcoming fight against Ramarro and to bring Dandalus’ echo back from the land of the dead.
Trillian erases Cole’s memories of the Pilgrim Path plan, then Cole, his friends, the princesses and Queen Harmony teleport to the Far North Cache. Ramarro materializes, free of the Void, and Owandell and the Perennial Serpent arrive to serve Ramarro. Cole drains the Perennial Serpent’s power and gives it back to Elegance, and then energizes his Jumping Sword so that it flies from his hand and stabs Owandell through the heart, killing him.
Lorenzo arrives and offers Ramarro the chance to take the Pilgrim Path to Earth, but Ramarro sees through Cole’s false memories and realizes it is a trick. Jenna uses her power to summon Dandalus’ echo. Dandalus tells Cole to jump through a wayport and escape immediately. The wayport sends Cole to one of the flying castles in Sambria, and Ramarro follows him.
Cole animates the statue warriors in the flying castle and makes them attack Ramarro. Dandalus tells Cole that the flying castle is designed to follow Cole’s commands and resist Ramarro’s, so it is the one location where Cole could potentially beat the torivor. They fight fiercely, and Cole manages to connect with Ramarro’s nexus, ripping into it with his magic. The flying castle floats into a cloud wall vortex, and Ramarro falls into the vortex. As Cole loses consciousness, he feels someone rescuing him from also being swallowed by the vortex.
Cole wakes up in a castle in Sambria, and Mira tells him he’s been unconscious for three days. He has successfully defeated Ramarro. After three more weeks of preparation by the royal family, Cole, Hunter, Dalton, Jenna and every single child from Earth who has ever been taken to the Outskirts as a slave arrive at the Pilgrim Path, preparing to go home once and for all.
King Stafford died when Elegance regained her power, leaving Queen Harmony to rule the Outskirts, aided by her daughters. They have abolished the slave trade and plan to rule fairly. Lorenzo tells Cole that once he returns to Earth, he will eventually lose his memories of the Outskirts. Cole says a warm goodbye to all of his magical friends and crosses over to his true home.