In the remote village of Mandryn, Tessia serves as assistant to her father, the village Healer - much to the frustration of her mother, who would rather she found a husband. Despite knowing that women aren’t readily accepted by the Guild of Healers, Tessia is determined to follow in her father’s footsteps.
Sachaka and Kyralia have been at a certain "peace" for centuries, though the countries dislike each other, for Kyralia was once part of the Sachakan Empire. Lord Dakon is housing a visiting Sachakan Lord and Magician (Takado), much to his dislike. Dakon is a kind man with noble intentions, and is wary of Takado and dislikes the Sachakan's for not abolishing slavery, especially when Takado beats his slave (Hanara) to near death. Tessia and her father are called to heal him.
One day when Tessia comes by herself to Lord Dakon's mansion to re-apply bandages to Hanara, Takado tries to force himself upon Tessia and holds her body still with magic. Tessia removes the magical influence on her mind with magic of her own, which she had no idea she had (blowing apart the corner of the room in the process), and discovers she is a natural. She becomes the second apprentice of Lord Dakon, and Takado leaves the premisses.
There are long hours of study and self-discipline, and Lord Dakon's other apprentice, Jayan, makes clear his dislike of her, Tessia’s new life also offers more opportunities than she had ever hoped for, and an exciting new world opens up to her. There are fine clothes and servants - and, she is delighted to learn - regular trips to the great city of Imardin.
But along with the excitement and privilege, Tessia is about to discover that her magical gifts bring with them a great deal of responsibility. Events are brewing that will lead nations into war, rival magicians into conflict, and spark an act of sorcery so brutal that its effects will be felt for centuries...
While staying in Imardin her home town is attacked. A "mental" call is produced from another magician who is in the ley closest to Dakon's. Tessia is able to hear this while she is out shopping with her fellow female magicians who all hear the same thing through the mental call.
Upon arriving at the ley (town) they find that the Sachakan mage, Takado has slaughtered the entire village except for some children and deserters. Tessia is then distressed to find the graves marked for her parents. Upon this Tessia is hurt by the fact she never got to tell her father about visiting the healer's guild and how their family are now somewhat respected in the guild through their grandfather, or about visiting a dissection which she found a friend Kendaria. Tessia then sets out to be a healer. During the process, Jayan and Tessia become friends.
Magicians then come together very slowly to decide to attack the Sacahakan 'Ichani' (people branded as outcasts in Sacahakan society)as they realise a plot to take of their country Kyralia.
Meanwhile Takado has gathered an army of his own and so they begin the "first fight" in which the Kyralian magicians use a technique of sharing magical energy, thus being able to send magic to another without harming them and so enabling them to attack in groups. None fall on the Krylian side but the Sacahakans lose many. Tessia treats many people and soon develops a way to stop pain with magic something never been achieved before as Magicians never become healers.
There is also another plot about Stara, a mixed race woman born from a Ashaki (Sachakan magician of high social standing) to an Elyne woman, Elyne being a neighbouring country to both Kyralia and Sachaka. She is forced to marry someone against her will yet when she shows her father her magic, which she kept secret for years not even telling her mother whom she lived with for most of her life, her father was forced to decide another, Karicho. Karicho was nice and she accepted his offer yet she had to bed him in order to heir a son otherwise her sister-in-law will be killed by her father for she in not fertile. Yet there is one problem, Karicho is a "lad" (a male homosexual).
Stara becomes friends with other wives, and they invite her into a group made up of wives and slaves called the "Traitors", who secretly declare themselves a neutral third party. Unintentionally, Stara becomes the leader with her natural beauty and magic and natural leadership skills. She and her slave, who is also her best friend, set out to find a way to get everyone in the "Traitors" away from Arvice (Sachaka's main city) before the invading Krylian's kill any of the "Traitors".
The invading Krylian's take Arvice, but Jayan and Tessia are separated from them. Jayan is badly wounded, but Tessia figures out how to heal with magic, and saves him. While healing him, though, she could talk to him with her mind, and he confesses his love for her, and she him. They hide in a house and fall asleep. The next morning, they hear horses, and go outside to see it is their ally's. They join up with the rest of the army, and Dakon is relieved to see his ex-apprentice (Jayan is now a full magician) and his apprentice is safe. However, Dakon is staying behind to help rule Sachaka, so Lady Avaria takes over Tessia's apprenticeship, and Jayan, Avaria and Tessia return to Krylia together, so Jayan can found the Magician's Guild, and so Tessia can teach her healing magic to others.
Stara and the Traitors escape Arvice and find a refuge in the mountains. There are ruins of a house there, that is filled with jewels. A river is nearby and the land is fertile. The Traitors have begun.
10 years later Narvelan, one of Sachaka's rulers is forced to retire by the king, taking his loyal servant, Hanara, with him. He breaks the storestone, a stone filled with magic, which kills him and Hanara and makes acres of Sachakan land infertile. It is revealed Dakon was assassinated.
Jayan and his friend Prinan come to look at the land. In this part of the book, you are watching from Jayan's eyes and discover that the Magicians Guild has been established, and Tessia is just about to give birth to his son. Tessia is now a famous magician for her discovery of healing magic, and is the best healing magician in the world.