While she is tending the flocks of her master, the slave girl Shaina meets a sorceress, Barbayat, the Grey Lady of the Cold Crag. Barbayat predicts that Shaina will meet someone whose look will penetrate her heart and that she will then return to seek Barbayat’s help. That evening, Kernik and his group of actors arrive in the village and present such a stunning show that the villagers hold a lavish feast. After the performance, Shaina notices Dasyel Parvelson, a young actor, and falls in love with him.
In the morning, the group of actors leaves, and Shaina notices that they do not cast any shadows. The people of the village forget that the actors were there and blame thieves for their missing food. Shaina returns to Barbayat to find out how she can meet Dasyel. Barbayat agrees to give her a spell if she will allow Barbayat to suck blood from her arm every night for seven nights in order to restore Barbayat’s strength. After fulfilling her part of the agreement, Shaina receives a spell that will allow her soul to leave her body and find Dasyel.
At this point, a flashback depicts the life of Kernik, the magician. As a young boy, Kernik lives with his mother among the Korkeem. Many people make fun of him because of his yellow skin and odd appearance. He begins to assist Voy, the priest of Sovan Tovannazit, in making his offering of bread to their god. Kernik perceives a deep magic in the altar of the god, realizes that the god’s name is really Takerna, and decides to make his own offering. At night, he offers the blood of three rabbits. In...
(The entire section is 642 words.)