The Gray Dales is an area in the land of Fotheringale that has always produced young people that are independent and obstinate - as well as trustworthy and loyal. Galinda Cade, a trooper of the 13th Army of Fotheringale and a daughter of the Dales, is asked by her superiors to return to her home to investigate the disappearance of children and the reported sightings of a monster. The populace believes the two are related, but Galinda and her companions, who also grew up in the Dales, soon discover the involvement of an ancient order called the Mystics in the case of the missing children and set off to find the lost ones and thwart the despicable plans of the cult. At the same time, Galinda is wondering if she can reignite a romance with a man named Pellman Beck, another child of the Dales whom she spurned some years before in order to stay with the 13th Army.
With the help and support of other Protectors of Fotheringale the children are rescued and the Mystics defeated, leaving only the mystery of the monster to solve. First, though, the investigators must travel to Galeia, the capital city, for answers to another troubling question that arises out of the move against the Mystics. When they again return to the Dales, Galinda enlists the help of her former lover, and she and one of her companions descend into a mire called the Bertram Lows, find the monster and dispatch it.
With all of the mysteries solved, Galinda returns to the Gray Dales where her lover awaits, and they start the life together that she rejected so many years before.