In the north, a fire rages through the world-spanning forest of Beltrevan. Out of the flames is born terrifying being with monstrous powers--Taws, messenger of the fire-god Ashar. The ancient prophecies say he will raise a great Horde from the warlike tribes of the north to bring destruction to the peaceful Kingdoms of Tamur, Ust-Galich, and Kesh. In the south, a young prophetess of the order of the lady forsakes her vows of celibacy to bear a child, for the Book of Kyrie says that a champion will arise from Tamur to meet the challenge of the Usurper. The boy is named Kedyrn. And as he nears manhood it seems that he may indeed be the child of prophecy, for he wields powers that none outside the Sisterhood have ever claimed. He may be the last, desperate hope for the survival of the Kingdoms--but the Usurper has learned of Kedryrn as well, and his armies are on the march . . . .