In a world inhabited by mythic creatures, magic was commonplace several millennia ago, though difficult to master. After technological advances over the centuries, magic became obsolete and was largely discarded. In the modern-day, two elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, live in New Mushroomton. The younger brother, Ian, is a high-school student struggling with self-confidence, and the older brother, Barley, is an enthusiastic yet impulsive role-playing gamer and historical fanatic. Their father, Wilden, died of a severe illness shortly before Ian was born, and their mother Laurel has a new boyfriend, centaur police officer Colt Bronco, whom Ian and Barley dislike.
On Ian's sixteenth birthday, Laurel gives her sons a gift from Wilden: a magical staff, a rare Phoenix gem, and a letter describing a "visitation spell" that can resurrect their father for a single day. Ian succeeds in casting the spell but has significant trouble finishing it when Barley intervenes, forcefully offering his help. As a result, only the lower half of Wilden's body is reformed before the gem disintegrates. The brothers embark on a quest to acquire another gem and complete the spell, taking Barley's beloved van "Guinevere." Finding the boys gone, Laurel leaves to look for them.
Ian and Barley visit the Manticore's Tavern, in the hopes of finding a map to the gem stored inside. However, the tavern has become a family restaurant managed by the Manticore ("Corey" for short). While arguing with Ian over the map, Corey realizes how unfulfilling her life has become and drives the customers away in a fit of insanity, accidentally setting fire to the restaurant and the map.
The brothers' only clue to the gem is a children's menu suggesting "Raven's Point," a nearby mountain. Laurel later arrives at the scene and befriends Corey, who agrees to help her track both of them down. Corey warns Laurel that the brothers' journey may awaken a curse that can only be defeated by her sword which is currently held at a pawn shop. After incapacitating the shop clerk and stealing the sword, they end up in a car accident that forces Corey to regain the use of her wings to catch up with Ian and Barley.