Stark is on the run from the authorities -- gun-running -- when they catch up to him. One, it turns out, is his foster father Ashton, who tells him of impending war, the trouble it will bring, and the possibility of escaping prison if he can foil it. Stark agrees.
He joins the forces, despite an old enemy there. It involves bells, a well found in a dry land, a great lady and her servant, a warlord who fakes ancient lore to win support, being forced into a sandstorm, a woman who gets revenge before Stark does, old secrets, and more. With much adventure.