Kondar is a planet with a light side that faces the sun and a dark side trapped in eternal night. Those on Lightside have never met those on dark side, known as Oscura, and doubt they exist. Arien lives in Kattannya, on Lightside. She is awaiting the return of her parents, but discovers that while crossing Icer Lake they fell through thin ice and drowned. As is the custom with orphans in her community, Arien is taken to the marketplace to be sold. The chief seer of Vor, Yaddair, purchases her to work for his two wives and care for their children. Yaddair is said to commune with the gods and have magical powers.