A young man named JARIK wishes to join the warriors serving LORD GRANDAR, the lord of his village, Hollow Grange. But Lord Grandar rejects Jarik, causing him shame in front of two visiting warrior-women. The warrior-women are TYLONEE and LEYALLA, from the neighboring country known as THE KEMARR. The Kemarrans have often been at war with Jarik's people, the ORIN, because amongst the Orin the men are the warriors and rulers, but amongst the Kemarrans, the women are the warriors and rulers. Leyalla speaks privately to Jarik for a few moments and he instantly loses his heart to her. But her older sister, Tylonee, reminds Leyalla that if she wishes to become a Dagger of Virtue, she must remain untouched by a man. After they leave, Jarik becomes aware of the sounds of battle coming from the direction of his village. As he runs toward the village, he encounters a DAGANI, a race of swamp people from a distant land, rarely seen in Orin. The Dagani warrior does not speak and Jarik is forced to ...