The western cites of Uton are overwhelmed by a massive exodus from the Great Valleys. Pressed from their homes by a growing distress, humans flee across the central plains in hopes of finding refuge from the suffocating fear that swells with each passing day. As the wizard Enin tries to maintain control in Connel, he works with dwarves and humans to quell the growing crisis. He sends Ryson Acumen along with Holli Brances to investigate the strange occurrences reported by the displaced farmers and merchants.
While exploring the eastern valleys, the delver and the elf uncover bizarre circumstances that contradict their understanding of rational behavior. Each mysterious revelation adds to an ever expanding puzzle. Goblins have infested the cities and the farmlands, but not by force. With the consent of local authorities, dark creatures inundate the eastern lands, taking ownership of farms and claiming residence within human towns without outward conflict or apparent treachery.
As humans and goblins are forced to coexist throughout the region, order is enforced by half-demons, but a tense apprehension grips the citizens of nearly every village and city. Many decide to escape the valleys. Farmers abandon their fields and merchants leave their shops. The flow of refugees grows, putting a greater strain on the western towns of Connel and Burbon.
Ryson and Holli continue their search for answers only to meet with opposition from local councils, town guards, and a powerful regional steward. They struggle against goblins and half-demons and even attempt to enlist the aid of dwarves from the underground city of Sterling. Throughout their efforts, goblins continue to pour into the valleys just as more humans abandon their homes. A twisted plan of deceit gradually takes shape as Ryson and Holli follow a chain of bargains meant not only to remove all the people from the valleys, but to destroy the entire human race.