Although Thalassa, a sea-witch is captured when the warlord Rhaeven sends his troops to her small village, she views it as not much more than what her past life entailed. Married at a young age to a man she did not love, and abused during the relationship, she is secretly glad to see her husband die. Now, pregnant, enslaved, and stricken with a deadly disease, she only waits her own death to release her from her torment.
Terran, the elfin Crown Prince of Diraenia, must choose a mate and produce an heir before his 30th birthday, or forfeit the crown to his youngest brother, Unwin. And time is running out. Terran is 29. His fiance, Elise, is dead, and he believes Unwin responsible. Yet, there is no proof. To make matters worse, Terran's other brother, Sinclair, has disappeared, and Terran fears the worst.
Bothered by a strange, haunting beat of drums, which no one can hear save himself, Terran's thoughts continually turn to a brief encounter with a young woman from Zal. Three days he spent with her, walking her back to her village, and her pre-ordained life there. Three days he spent falling in love with a woman who could never be his. She returned to her village, her waiting husband, and he returned to the palace, and life of emptiness and despair.
But the drums continue to call, and at last, Terran sets out to revisit the village, to see the woman one more time, to bring a close to his questions.