Chased by a notorious pirate, the Corsair slaveship Pânanc runs aground on an unknown shore, leaving the slaves Ari son of Fari, Alagos Caunladen, Auruuant, Thurin of Harondor and Payton stranded in an old lighthouse with the Corsair Slave master Crumnui, the slave driver Osgar and a mysterious, hooded man called Aglon of Núrn who seems to have the slavers running on some sort of endeavour. The slaves rise up against their captors, killing Crumnui and Osgar, and leaving Payton slain, and Ari, a Dwarf, takes Aglon captive. The nefarious character claims he is the only one who can lead the four to freedom, away from the pirates and into civilized territory, thanks to a strange map that only he can read. They take Aglon with them and escape into the night, seeking refuge in the barren heaths away from the coast and cliffs.
The following day they come across a slain crew member from the Pânanc, an arrow protruding from his head. Alagos, himself a Corsair, identifies the arrow as belonging to the pirates, led by a dreaded man named Delos Criss. Auruuant, a Variag Outrider, reads the tracks of several men as well as a large, dog-like creature. He fears it might be a Warg. Soon they come upon a dark forest. Aglon warns them not to enter the forest with tales of old. At the entrance to the woods themselves hang several decapitated heads. among them a reasonably fresh Orc head. The emancipated slaves stares on in disbelief.