The dying messenger is found – with two black arrows in his back – by Karigan G’ladheon, a merchant’s daughter, who has just been expelled from the renowned school at Selium for retaliating to the torments dished out by an aristocrat. Unwillingly, she is caught up in the designs of a deadly mage who would release ancient evils into the world and his human cat’s-paw – whose aims are more immediate. Flying from the archer, whose black arrows torture the souls of their victims, and other enemies both human and monstrous, Karigan must come of age immediately if she is to survive and warn her king of his peril.