Having attained the age of adulthood, the elders of the Soaring Sparrow tribe have decided it is time for Rivka to travel the world and complete her training as a shaman. They have sent her to Persopolis to meet with the governor in the hopes that he will have a worthy quest for her.
Delia, the Mole of Shang, seeks adventure and danger. With the growing hostilities between Tortall and Barzun, she is certain she can find a use for her training in Persopolis.
Due to a complicated snarl of legal technicalities, the Shrike discovers to his astonishment that he has been remanded into the custody of the governor of Persopolis where his sentence has been commuted from death by hanging to community service.
Rivka, Delia, and the Shrike arrived at the Governor’s Palace and were ushered into the presence Rashid bin Harun. A genial young man in love with his own voice, his easygoing charm and irreverent manner overlay a shrewd intellect that has identified these three as the solution to a thorny problem.
In the wake of King Roald’s death and Prince Jonathan’s impending coronation, legal scholars in Corus have been working overtime to put the kingdom’s house in order. In so doing they made a curious discovery regarding the governorship of Persopolis. While it is true that Persopolis is geographically located within the fief of Meron (as does all of the Great Southern Desert) the post of governor is not only independent but holds lands in its own right.
Due to an archaic requirement that all government officials be landholding nobles, the governorship of Persopolis was granted the lands of Fief Rivervale far to the north. Being geographically removed from their hereditary lands, the governors of Persopolis have never exercised these rights… until now.
Osbert the Younger has recently inherited the fief of Feymarsh after his father had an unfortunate encounter with the legendary hillman bandit chief Aethelrede the Axeready. Osbert inherited not only land but a host of problems that he has so far been unable to solve. Baron Bartholomew of Greymoor has offered his aid in exchange for an oath of fealty, but Osbert fears he will use this to leverage control of his fief and usurp Feymarsh.
Osbert has instead appealed to Rashid bin Harun who, as it turns out, is Feymarsh’s feudal overlord. Rashid cannot afford to provide much in the way of military help as he has his hands full trying to prevent a Bazhir rebellion in the great Southern Desert. He does have two volunteer heroes and one prisoner without a choice who he can dispatch to fulfill his feudal obligations. Plus, one of these volunteers is Bazhir and will therefore help ease tensions between Barzun and Tortall if she is seen acting heroically.
And so Rivka, Delia, and the Shrike find themselves on the way to Feymarsh to take up service with Osbert the Younger.