Taya has risen from humble roots to become a fire seer in the Coalition of Mages. Eager to prove herself, she arrives in the town of Hrappa to locate a "jackal" - a mage operating outside the Coalition's authority - who has murdered three people.
But in Hrappa, she discovers that the man assigned to be her bodyguard is Mandir, her nemesis from years ago. When she and Mandir were students, he bullied her so severely he was sentenced to a year of penance and moved to another temple.
When Mandir sees that he's been partnered with Taya, all his old torment comes rushing back. He's had a crush on Taya since the day they began their training, but he pushed her away, ashamed of his attraction to someone so far beneath his social class. He regrets that now and intends to make an honest attempt to win her heart - if she can forgive him for his past sins.
But first they must find the murderous jackal, before the jackal finds them.