The story begins on Delphi, in the Anschok City West Region. Two Scravers and an Ur-Obun priest have been called to meet with Duke Montgomery Hawkwood. When they arrive, they are greeted by the Duke, as well as an Imperial envoy named Sir William Hawkwood, and an Urth Orthodox Bishop named Mignasi.
The two Scravers, an inventor named Paxton and a doctor named Wulfric, introduce themselves to the Duke and his guests, as does the priest, Enhenduanna. They are soon introduced to a noblewoman named Baronet Koralia Justinian Hawkwood, a baronet of Delphi and newly appointed Questing Knight, and her Ur-Ukar bodyguard Kadan. The Scravers and the priest are told that they have been selected as Imperial Cohorts, to accompany and serve Lady Koralia as needed.
After the envoy and the Orthodox bishop leave, Duke Montgomery addresses the group, asking them for a favor, in exchange for a favor later. This is obviously a huge boon, as Duke Montgomery is a powerful man.
What he wants is actually quite simple, and he has already arranged for a ship to take the group where they need to go. He wants the group to deliver a missive to Duke Cassius Hawkwood on Ravenna, a mere one Jump away. He does not tell them what is in the missive, but impresses upon them that it is vitally important that they deliver it in as timely a manner as possible.
After accepting the Duke’s request, Lady Koralia and her new entourage are invited to stay the night in the ducal palace. They spend some time getting to know one another before retiring to bed for the evening.
The next morning, they leave for Ravenna.
On the ship, they begin to hear some rumors regarding Ravenna, specifically of an attempt on the life of Duke Cassius Hawkwood. Keen eyes and ears on the part of Enhenduanna and Lady Koralia alert them to the fact that some of the people on the ship seem rather upset that the attempt was unsuccessful.
About halfway through their trip, a man approaches Lady Koralia. He bears the seal of House Justinian, the House of Lady Koralia’s birth. He tells her that her former House members on Ravenna would rather that their missive never reach Duke Cassius’ hands. She tells them that she is a Hawkwood now, and she will not betray her husband’s House. They leave in anger.
Later that night, while the group are in their respective rooms, the members of House Justinian aboard the ship break into the rooms of Lady Koralia and her entourage, attempting to kill them. They are unsuccessful, as they had greatly overestimated their own ability to remain undetected, and greatly underestimated the fighting capabilities of Lady Koralia and Doctor Wulfric. Enhenduanna, on her part, does not get so much as scratched by her assailant, as she is able to quickly convince him of the error of attacking a Priest of the Celestial Sun, sending him running and praying for forgiveness.
Lady Koralia detains one of the assailants for questioning before turning over their bodies to ship security. The attackers were ordered to intercept the missive to Duke Cassius at all costs.
Kadan wonders what may be so important to House Justinian, and uses his psychic abilities to peer through the mists of time to auger its contents. He finds that the missive contains proof that the attempt on the life of Duke Cassius was perpetrated by Baronet Theodorus Justinian of Ravenna.
Upon arriving on Ravenna, Lady Koralia and her entourage make haste to see the duke. After being kept waiting for a short time, they give him the missive. The group does not let on that they know the contents of the missive. The Duke, suspicious of Lady Koralia’s true loyalties, and having heard rumors of her from a woman at court named Dame Siri Trusnikron, asks the group to go to the Deep Core Mining City Ardessio, where Baronet Theodorus rules, and bring the baronet to justice for his treasonous actions. In exchange for this service, the Duke promises to vouch for Lady Koralia at court should Lady Siri attempt to defame her again.
The Duke loans the group an aircar to get them to Ardessio in a reasonable amount of time. Once there, they discover that the Baronet has been repairing the Deep Core Mining City, using serf labor and scavenged Second Republic technology. This does not sit well with Enhenduanna, as the serfs should not be allowed to use such advanced technology, especially not in such squalid conditions. The serfs are constantly clinging to the group. It becomes obvious rather quickly that the Baronet Theodorus has not had a priest visit Ardessio for some time, and the serfs are desperate for the ministrations of the Church. She promises to heal and confess them after they have completed their task.
They arrive at Baronet Theodorus’ estate, the only clean building in the entirety of Ardessio. They demand to see him, under authority of the Duke. They are led to his chambers, where he sits upon an opulent throne of Grail hardwoods and fine jewels. He is wearing the latest fashions crafted from high tech fibers. Enhenduanna finds his opulent display offensive.
After a brief conversation regarding his treason, Baronet Theodorus orders his guards, armed with assault rifles, to fire on the group. They refuse to fire on Enhenduanna, fearing for their souls. Kadan and Doctor Wulfric are winged, but Paxton and Lady Koralia remain unscathed due to their energy shields. After a brief fight, the guards are dispatched. Thanks to a shield breaker in Paxton’s dagger, Baronet Theodorus is disabled. Enhenduanna chastises him for his opulent, wasteful use of technology, and for clouding the soul mirrors of his serfs with the mining tech. She then utters a prayer, and touches his Sythsmart clothing, turning it instantly to brittle stone. This action ingratiates her with Kadan, who, as an Ur-Ukar, has great contempt for any Ur-Obun (especially a member of the Church).
With Theodorus in tow, the group returns to the ducal palace to report their success. Theodorus is scheduled to be executed, and Duke Cassius tells the group that they may return to Ardessio and each take one trophy from Theodorus’ manor. Furthermore, with a bit of convincing, he agrees to turn control of Ardessio over to the local Scravers Guild, after being given assurances that they will manage the mine properly, and not use serfs and high tech mining equipment in tandem.
After talking to some people in the local Guilds, Ukari mining camps, noble court, and churches, the group decided to catch a ship to Lemankainen, hearing that there are some sites of interest in the outer planets of that system.