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Morgaine tells Vanye that the qhal have the ability to use the Gates' power over Time and space to take over the bodies of humans. Both minds occupy the human host, and the result is either domination by the stronger mind or a mixing of the two personalities often resulting in madness. Through this method, many qhal obtain immortality. Morgaine suspects that this is how Lord Thiye has survived for so long, that he is in fact, a qhal in a human host. Vanye is sickened by this news since he realizes now that Liell was trying to lure him away from Morgaine for that very same reason.

Thiye's Hjemur men make a surprise attack on Morgaine and Vanye. Morgaine is wounded and they flee. They run into men from Vanye's Clan Nhi. Out of concern for his wounded liege lord, Vanye begs the Nhi for protection against the Hjemur and possibly the Leth too. One of the warriors, Nhi Paren, informs Vanye that his father is dead and that Vanye's second brother Nhi Erij is now the Clan Lord. Vanye is stunned. 

Paren also informs Vanye that he has been ordered to bring Vanye back to his brother. Vanye is brought before Erij who had been accidentally crippled by Vanye while Erij was trying to protect Kandrys from Vanye's attack. Vanye asks his brother to let Morgaine go. She must reach Ivrel. Erij agrees on the condition that Vanye stay behind as his prisoner. Vanye agrees. 

Morgaine does not. She camps near Morij keep, refusing to leave.

Erij imprisons Vanye and offers him a blade for him to commit suicide. Vanye cannot do it because of his oath to Morgaine, and because his Chya side loves life too much. Erij then surprises Vanye by asking him to remain in Nhi by his side. He needs a brother he can trust. Also he wants Thiye's power for himself. Vanye refuses his brother's offers, stating that he must return to Morgaine. 

At dinner one night, Erij takes Morgaine's sword, Changeling, which his men had taken from her while she was wounded. Morgaine herself fears this sword, and she has warned Vanye never to touch it. He does not know what its power is, but he fears for Erij as Erij draws the sword. The sword shimmers with a darkness that sucks Erij's guards up into a storm of nothing. Vanye grabs the sword before more damage is done, and he runs away from any people he sees, afraid of the sword's hunger for life. Vanye flees Morij keep and rides in search of his liyo with his brothers guards not far behind.

Vanye finds Morgaine and returns her sword. They head for Ivrel. The Nhi warriors catch up to them, and Vanye must kill men of his own Clan. Morgaine is forced to use her terrible sword which sends men into nothing and kills their very souls. 

Morgaine and Vanye then run into Chya men, led by Roh, who have come to their aid. Roh follows them to Ivrel. Liell and his men ambush the three of them, and Liell takes the prisoners to the Gate of Ivrel. Vanye makes a sudden break from their captors. He runs desperately, but someone catches up to him and knocks him to the ground. 

It is his brother Erij, who is coldly furious with Vanye since he and Morgaine killed a third of the Nhi warriors. Erij forces Vanye to take an oath: he will serve Erij for one year after his service with Morgaine is done. Vanye makes the oath and they both go to rescue Morgaine.

Vanye tells Erij that Morgaine believes Thiye and Liell used to be master and servant, and that there was a falling out. Vanye and Erij find Roh first, and Roh tells them that Thiye and Liell have killed each other. Relieved, Vanye finds Morgaine and tells her Roh's news. Morgaine says that Vanye is wrong. Liell took Roh to Ivrel. And there, Roh died in Vanye's place. With sudden understanding, they race to find Roh-Liell. Thiye has indeed been killed, but Liell has escaped through the Gate using Roh's body. 

Morgaine frees Vanye of his obligation to her. She will go through the Gate to chase after Liell and also destroy the Gate as she travels through it. The destruction of the Gate will kill everything nearby, so Vanye and Erij ride away together with a fragile closeness as brothers, that they've never had before. Erij is quite happy since he is now the most powerful Lord of the realm with Liell, Roh, and Thiye all gone. Vanye cannot seem to share Erij's excitement. 

Erij realizes this and does something entirely against his wickedly vain nature. He lets Vanye go, knowing that he will never see his brother again. In friendship he tells Vanye to follow Morgaine. Vanye grasps his brother's hand, and then he leaves.

Vanye catches up with Morgaine as she is about to cross the Gate of Ivrel. He is not sure if she will be happy or angry to see him. Morgaine embraces him and laughs. For the second time ever, Vanye sees her cry.