7,680 years ago, humanity was imprisoned for over 2,500 years by the shape-shifting Dwad-Mehstiv. The Noble Houses arose out of the ashes of the Wars of Conquest, The Church of the Blessed Prophets arose out of the Wars of Religious Independence from the Drek, and the Imperium arose to bind the Houses and The Church. When the Emperor of the Imperium is assassinated, chaos descends on the human community and The Church of the Blessed Prophets begins the brutal road back to its former commanding position while an enemy long forgotten over the eons returns to exact revenge. This is the world into which Ailanthus and Tethys find themselves, imprisoned in one of the most fearsome penal colonies in the Imperium. With the chance to finally escape at hand, the two men and their friends begin to understand that their roles are far larger than they ever thought possible.