Dumarest is hired to escort a young woman, Derai, back to Hive, her homeworld.† Derai is a powerful telepath, somewhat mentally unbalanced because of her talent, and has run away from an institution where she was supposedly being treated.† The institution is run by the Cyclan, and they are less interested in treating her than in learning how her telepathy works so they can duplicate and exploit it in their quest for galactic domination. Unfortunately, there is no way to prove that to her family, one of the ruling houses on her world, who are being advised on her illness and other matters by the Cyclan.

After Dumarest and Derai arrive, her family rudely ignores her erstwhile benefactor when they pick her up at the spaceport.† Although Dumarest is seemingly stranded at the landing field gate with no money and no job, he makes do, harvesting royal jelly from bees.† Big, nasty, mutant bees that kill several colleagues and almost kill him, naturally.

When Deraiís family finally acknowledges their debt and take Dumarest in, he and Derai gradually fall in love.† As they realize that her nightmares are caused by her telepathic empathy with the Old Manís raging consciousness, still very much alive inside his ancient, decaying body, Cyber Regor, who is advising the family, plants the idea in the Jealous Uncleís mind that the Old Man might hold the secret to a lost fortune that could be used to elevate the family to planetary supremacy.† However, the Old Man wants to live forever, and the only practical way to achieve that it to take him to a planet where there are symbiotic plants that can give a thousand years of subjective hallucinatory bliss to those dying and desperate individuals whom they absorb.† Hey, itís better than living another ten actual years in a paralyzed, mutated body.

The catch is, there are a limited number of places granted in the garden each year, and someone must fight their way through an arena maze to win a spot for their sponsor.† HmmmÖ whoís qualified to do that?† However, by the time Dumarest makes his way to the entrance gate, he learns Derai has already entered as the Old Manís champion, sacrificing herself to save Dumarest.† Dumarest scrapes together enough cash from the Concerned Brother to post a second entry fee, enters the arena, finds Derai and they make it through the maze.† In the meantime, Regor has killed the Old Man and the Jealous Uncle, knowing full well that there was no lost fortune and that after a spot was won the deception would be revealed.† He plans to kidnap Derai and put Dumarest and The Concerned Brother in the garden.

Derai reads Regorís mind and throws herself in front of the laser intended for Dumarest, sparing Earl long enough to kill the Cyber.† Derai is mortally wounded and Dumarest uses one of the places they won in the garden for her, giving her a thousand years of subjective bliss even though she is dead to him.

Clues of Earth
Derai tells Dumarest that while in the institution, she learned that the Cyclan know about Earth (confirming his suspicions from Book 1, The Winds of Gath).

The Cyclan
Cyber Regor accidentally kills the woman Dumarest loves (while trying to kill him).† Dumarestís mistrust of the Cyclan had already evolved into active dislike in Book 1, The Winds of Gath, and now it turns to abject hatred.† On the other hand, the Cyclan almost certainly blames Dumarest for Deraiís death, and while theyíre incapable of hatred, this is still a major setback in their telepathy research program.

The Journey
Book 2, Derai, begins on Kyle.† Dumarest travels to Hive and from there to Folgone, where the story ends.

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