Veronica Bradwell struggles every day trying to keep her family fed and secure. Her sister, Shelby, is marked forever by what their father did. Malcolm Cobb bears the mark of Cain, unacceptable to the ruling classes and no longer welcome in the mining tunnels. Then there is Airik, the daimyo of Shelleen. He comes to Panschin to save his demesne from being destroyed by the Red Mercury Lode and discovers a future different than the one he expected.