As far as Paragrin and Cam, mortal rulers of the Melde Colony, are concerned, theirs is the only colony that exists on earth. They have no way of knowing that Jentessa, their Half-Divine Ruler, has a sister, Magramid, who is the Half-Divine Ruler of another colony, and that these two sisters are rivals. It is with little concern that Paragrin decides to go out on an exploration trip, leaving Cam to rule the Melde Colony alone.
When Magramid learns that Jentessa's mortal rulers have been so reckless as to divide their power, she sees it as an opportunity to destroy her sister's beloved colony. She appears in the Melde in the guise of a harmless old woman and, with her powers over the natural forces of earth and weather, tries to undermine Cam. What she soon discovers, though, is that Cam is stronger and more truly good-hearted than she had expected. And it is Magramid's profound reaction to this kindness toward her that threatens to bring the Melde--and Cam--to ruin.