On Dradea, Dumarest is forced into fighting in the arena to earn a stake for the next leg of his journey.† After winning a highly lopsided fight with a seemingly invincible monster, he is approached by a nobleman who offers him a job as a bodyguard for Veruchia, a woman who has a tentative claim to inherit the leadership of the world.† However, she is a dark horse candidate with few resources, and the evidence to prove her claim (if it exists at all) can only be found in the logs of the ship that brought the original colonists to this planet.† That ship has been lost for millennia, although she has researched the topic extensively and thinks she knows how to find it.
There are a few minor difficulties.† The current leader is advised by the Cyclan but is implementing their suggestions a little too slowly for their tastes, so he is almost immediately assassinated.† Montarg, the heir with the seemingly best claim to the title, is a psychopath who is more amenable to their agenda.† They seem to be trying to make this civilized world more barbaric (thus the recent evolution of the arena games from mere sport to bloody spectacle).† Montarg is ok with that, thinking it breeds strength into his people and not seeing that the Cyclan is really trying to stifle commerce (and therefore travel) in this sector (presumably because there is something nearby they donít want casual travelers to stumble across, although we never learn what that might be).† The assassination presents Veruchia with an impossible deadline to prove her claim by finding the lost ship (which turns out to be at the bottom of the ocean) and retrieving the logs.† And the Cyclan now knows exactly where Dumarest is, and he will be handed over by Montarg as soon as he inherits, unless Veruchia can prove her claim.
Besides needing Veruchia to inherit to protect him from the Cyclan, Dumarest also believes that a ship involved in the early waves of galactic colonization may contain clues about the location of Earth, so he eagerly helps her in her quest.† She gradually falls in love with him, and he finds much to admire in her as well.† After several tragic attempts to raise the ship (which fail from a combination of attacks by vicious sea monsters and earthquakes that threaten to roll the ship off the continental shelf to where it will be utterly lost), Veruchia is trapped inside and rescue seems impossible.† Dumarest uses a biotech lab run by scientists sympathetic to Veruchiaís claim (if Montarg inherits, his Luddite tendencies will put them out of business) to assemble the affinity twin and uses it to control a sea monster to raise the ship to the surface.† Most people assume her oxygen ran out long ago and Dumarestís attempts are futile, but she has cleverly managed to stay alive and is rescued (along with the shipís logs).
Dumarest must allow the now-wounded sea monster to be killed by other aquatic predators so his consciousness can return to his own body.† Being the ultimate survivor he finds this vicarious death extremely traumatic, and he will hereafter be extremely reluctant to use the affinity twin personally except in the direst circumstances.
While celebrating prior to presenting the evidence to support her claim, Dumarest and Veruchia are captured by Montarg and Cyber Surat.† Montarg just wants Veruchia dead, and the Cyclan just want Dumarest in custody, but Dumarest tips Montarg off to just how valuable his secret is.† Montarg therefore insists on torturing Veruchia to make Dumarest reveal the affinity twin sequence on the spot so he and the Cyber will both learn it.† In the confusion caused by Montargís greed, Dumarest manages to get partially free and start a firefight in which Dumarest kills Suratís acolyte, Montarg accidentally kills Surat and Dumarest kills Montarg.† Veruchia inherits, and since he is now relatively safe from the Cyclan (at least temporarily), Dumarest agrees to stay a while and help reverse the planetís path toward barbarism (with which he is all too familiar).
Once again, Dumarest foils a Cyclan plot already in motion and avoids capture, but this time he doesnít get to personally kill any Cybers (although he does kill an acolyte and Cyber Surat is killed in the firefight when Dumarest escapes).