With the demon dactyl and its minions defeated, the war-weary citizens of the kingdom of Honce-the-Bear wish only to bury their dead and begin rebuilding their broken lives. Yet the fragile balance between church and state lies shattered. The specter of civil war haunts the ravaged land - and a specter more fearsome still. The demon, though defeated, was not destroyed. Now its vengeful spirit has found sanctuary at the very heart of the Abellican Church. As the elf-trained ranger Elbryan Wynden presses north to reclaim the Timberlands from retreating goblin hordes, and his companion, Pony, mistress of gemstone magic, turns south to the civilized streets of Palmaris, they find themselves caught up in a power struggle to decide the fate of all Corona. Condemned as heretics, the two heroes are hunted by dangerous enemies. The leader of the Church boasts a mastery of gemstone magic that rivals Pony's proven might. And the Abbot's right hand, the Bishop of Palmaris, has claws so sharply honed by hate and magic that no man - or ranger - can withstand their killing stroke. Then an unexpected twist of fate forces Pony to make a harrowing choice, one that may doom the world to demonic domination.