Alberich is a captain of the army in Karse, the youngest person to receive this promotion. He has flashes of foresight and one day gets a vision of bandits invading a village while grooming his horse, a gift from the priesthood upon his promotion. He musters his men and is able to save the village. After, a red-robe priest of the god Vkandis proclaims that Alberich has a "witch-power" and therefore is condemned to death. He is locked in a barn and the barn is set afire. However, the horse given to him after his promotion rescues him and turns out to be a companion named Kantor who chooses Alberich.
Alberich is unwillingly taken to Valdemar, where he recovers from his injuries. When he recovers, he is informed by King's Own Talamir that he is now a herald trainee. Alberich had been taught that heralds were demons along with their "hellhorses" - the companions. Alberich now has to deal with this fact, as well as the realization that he no longer can return to Karse. A priest of Vkandis and his acolyte are able to help Alberich accept matters in Valdemar as they had fled from Karse as well. Alberich settles into life at the collegium as the Weaponmaster's Second. Alberich is later made the bodyguard of Princess Selenay and accompanies her when she does her circuit training at the courts in the city.
Karse and Valdemar have been at war for generations, and Karse hired a nation of mercenaries not tied to the Mercenary Guild to fight on their behalf. Alberich helps Valdemar fight what are later known as the Tedrel Wars. Alberich uses his connections in the Karsite military to acquire intelligence on the Tedrel mercenaries as the battles go on season after season. In a dramatic final battle, Valdemaran forces fight the entire nation of Tedrel mercenaries. When all seems lost, King Sendar, Selenay's father, rushes into battle and is killed. King's Own Talamar loses his companion, Taver, as well and another King's Own companion named Rolan arrives to pull him out of his grief. Selenay becomes queen, and a funeral procession is arranged for Sendar to return to the capital city of Haven. Upon his return, Alberich is made full weaponmaster, the old one deciding to retire, and he finally settles into his new life in Valdemar.