Dwinn Somuron is scheming an escape from the feudal society of the Always Dark. Her four-legged friend, Going Far, intends to help her follow the intricate and never-breached tunnels of the rock walls to get to Beyond. Dwinn's people, descendants of slaves to an alien race, were bio-manipulated for enhanced genetic memory. The original overlords are three-hundred years in the past, but one legacy remains: women are considered only for breeding. A few people believe genetic memory is inherent in women as well as men. Dwinn is one of these few. She also believes her family's legend about the Herreth's Stone--an unknown element that insists lost explorers survived beyond the confines of the Always Dark and have set up an alternate society. Dwinn intends to find them.
Lusaar Gursenni is the sole child of Chabris Vadlin, the dynast--head official of the land. Lusaar goes to Dwinn's village to escort Dwinn's guardian, Healer Alyian, to the capital city. Alyain has agreed to help Chabris retain her dynast title by proving she has the necessary genetic imprint to rule. But the Royal Guard, controlled by the government faction opposing Chabris's rule, arrives and arrests Healer Alyian. His plans ruined, Lusaar turns to Dwinn, believing she will have the proof he needs. He insists that they pair (legal marriage) both to protect her from enslavement in a brothel and so she can aid him. Dwinn agrees, because she realizes his memories from the ruling class would give a clear picture of how to get beyond the walls of the Always Dark.
The Royal Guard tracks them to a large city on the coast where Lusaar is aided by revolutionaries. The Guard attacks Lusaar's family, and he and Dwinn must hide out in the hinterlands. During a battle with the Guard, Dwinn is injured. Her djugat friends help them and suggests they leave for the tunnels to get to Beyond. But the civil war prevails, and Lusaar intends to go to the besieged palace to aide his mother. Dwinn and Lusaar separate and Lusaar battles the Guard and raging elements to meet up with his allies. In a daring plan to storm the palace and rescue his mother, Lusaar is gravely injured. But Dwinn has had second thoughts about her plans. Her concern for Lusaar takes her back into the heart of the struggle. After finding and healing Lusaar, they make their way to the palace, where Lusaar's mother insists they leave for Beyond. The tedious trek takes them to the top of their world, and what they find there is more than they had imagined.
This report prepared by K Cheatham