Kheshlars are immortal, except death by battle or poison. Yet, despite that fact, Starlyn’s mother is dying, and nobody knows why.
Starlyn loves her mother and desperately searches for any way to help her, yet it seems there is little she can do but sit and watch. Even the kheshlarn healers and herbalists are stunned and cannot find a way. Other kheshlars turn away from her aid, afraid of a weakness - an illness - in her bloodline, and would rather her mother die than taint the others with her weakness. Starlyn’s sister, Arria, refuses to sit and watch as their mother dies and takes more drastic measures to try and save their mother. She dives into the restricted books in the kheshlarn library about dark magic.
Dark magic has been forbidden for the kheshlars because it is said that even the willpower of a kheshlar cannot prevail against the touch of a dark taint. Arria is no longer concerned with her own welfare and dives heavily into her studies. Strange things begin to happen, and Starlyn ends up learning of her sister’s studies in the dark magic and is forced to confront her.
The kheshlarn law states that if you begin in the art of forbidden magic that you are forever an outcast from the kheshlarn order. Starlyn wishes to reason with her sister that dark magic is not the way. Her love for both her mother and sister leave her torn to either save her mother or her sister, and if at all possible to save them both. However, if she doesn’t make the right choice, it may condemn both of them to death, and leave Starlyn without family, which is the very thing she treasures the most.