Steppe raiders have burnt the village of Vladykino, and drove its population away to be sold into slavery. A group of unlikely adventurers has followed the raiders down to the city of Udyn to try to redeem the victims, and learn why they have been taken. But not all is as it seems. The young women prisoners have mysteriously disappeared, and rumor has it that the raiders sold them to a mysterious lord who may in fact be a fire-breathing serpent. Attempts to learn about him, and to organize an expedition to free the prisoners have thus far ended in failure: city officials stand in the way, as fear the serpent's reprisals. Disparate groups in town, including a local monastery and gangsters belonging to a far-flung criminal brotherhood may be willing to help, but for a price, and not at all costs. Meanwhile rival princes seem to be embroiled in some high-stakes political game over raid.