We discover the events leading up to Braum's Chrysalis.
Brian Madsen is attending high school in Manhattan, living with his mother, a relatively famous author. Normally an average student, Brian has recently run into a bit of trouble with another boy, Jack. His guidance counselor learns that Brian hit Jack after being provoked by him: Jack was being dishonest about being Brian's friend, and Brian told him he would "never be good enough". The guidance counselor tells him that he's not in trouble, and Brian asks about learning to fight somewhere. Mr. Lounagh suggests that he stop in to see the gym teacher, Ms. Stevenson, after school.
At lunch, Brian sits with his friend Billy, and the girl he has a crush on, Katie, a member of the school's swim team. Jack stops by with two of his cronies who spill milk on Brian who, in turn, knocks Jack's food tray over.
After school, Brian meets the solidly-built gym teacher Ms. Stevenson, who invites him to try something new: fencing. Brian is skeptical, thinking that he was there to learn to fight, not to do some "Middle Ages stuff".
(Synopsis incomplete... sorry, folks!)