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.