The Gage was an artist, once, and a lover. To avenge his murdered beloved, he allowed a sorcerer to sheathe his body in mirrored bronze. His vengeance is complete now; the sorcerer has long since perished. But the Gage endures. The Dead Man has a purpose once as well: he was raised to be the protector of a Caliph. The Caliph died: the Dead Man did not. Now the Dead Man and the Gage have become companions of the sword, itinerant mercenaries. They have come east and south, through the passes of the Steles of the Sky, bearing a message to the besieged young queen of one of the Lotus Kingdoms. There, they will discover magic, mystery, betrayal, love - and, perhaps, finally, a purpose.