With the Dominator finally defeated The Lady's Empire is now safe, but at great cost. The Black Company is all but destroyed and most of its members dead and the few left choosing to follow The White Rose. The Lady herself has lost her powers and can no longer wield magic. However, Croaker refusing to accept defeat takes up the mantle of Captain and decides to march South in search of the Company's origins in Khatovar.
With but six members plus the Lady in tow the Company travels to the Tower at Charm. They stay several months there with the Lady, much to Croaker's impatience. During this time Croaker unearths that several of the Ten Who Were Taken may still be alive, with the Faceless Man having no corpse in his grave. In spite of this little can be done to resolve the issue.
Some time later the Lady reveals she has decided to abdicate rule of her empire to a new and trustworthy leadership. With nothing tying her to the Northern Continent, Lady instead chooses to accompany Croaker South. With many enemies, the Company travels along with members of the Tower Guard, having to rapidly pass through Beryl after crossing the Sea of Torments due to their prior history with the city.
Now on the Southern Continent, the Black Company travel through several cities including Padora, Croaker's birthplace. Along the way the Company quickly attracts new members including Big Bucket and Patience. Shortly afterwords they made a temporary stay at the Temple of Travellers' Repose, a monastery and a haven for travellers which contained a huge library. Here copied manuscripts thought lost from the Annals are unearthed, left during the company's march North decades earlier.
The Black Company leave after a short stay, after seeing an ominous storm on the way, alluding to events in The Silver Spike and the Wicker Man's pursuit South. Meanwhile the Shadowmasters, a tyrannical group of sorcerers ruling over the Shadowlands in the far South, become concerned as to the Company's movements. Seeing them as a significant threat, the master's accelerate their plans to conquer territories North of their own, notably the kingdom of Taglios.