1795. Excelsior, a military brig on a routine sea mission disappears without a trace, just to return to her harbor three months later with an incredible story. Alberto Shimada, the second officer on board is separated from his crew during a fierce fight with the locals of a mysterious island where gold is as cheap as stone. With his direct access to the coast blocked by the enemies, he treks along a mysterious river with the intention to reach the shore in a farther away area and return to his people by sea on an improvised raft. But things becomes stranger and stranger along his journey, as he seems to live several lives at once. He falls asleep in one just to wake up into the next. Faced with the Chuang Tzu dilemma about the man dreaming of being a butterfly or the butterfly dreaming of being a man, Alberto doesn't know which one of his lives is real.
A young woman and her father save the officer from the brink of death and help him recover in a mysterious village. Alberto falls in love with Nivit and they begin a journey across the mountains nearby planning to reach the shore and return to Excelsior. A snow storm blocks them in a cave and Nivit can't survive the prolonged cold. Now Alberto is split between his duty for his crew and his desire to cross into the world where Nivit disappeared and save the woman he loves. Can he do both? In the end, which one of all the existences he experiences is the real one? And what kind of universe is hidden behind the shores of this mysterious island?
Three short stories and a novel.