Rel Panace believes himself a coward for running from hoodlums who would beat him. Only the intervention of Coll, a man with a brand upon his left cheek, saves him.
Only those guilty of cowardice in battle are so branded. Coll and his companions call themselves the Rookschlo: The Betrayed.
Though branded cowards, soon the city will depend on the Rookschlo for salvation - and Rel with them. More
Young Rel Panace, son of the First Councilor to the Thane of Greltin, finds himself running like a coward from hoodlums who would beat him, perhaps to death. Trapped in a blind alley, right arm useless, his pursuers catch him. Only the timely intervention of Coll, a man with a brand upon his left cheek, saves him.
Rel discovers this brand marks those found guilty of cowardice on the battlefield, and that many more men in the city carry this mark. They call themselves the Rookschlo, an ancient word meaning "The Betrayed". Drawn to Coll, Rel hopes to learn the skills he needs to survive in the city, to find in himself the inner strength that this 'coward' seems to have.
But other forces are at play, and soon only Rel and the Rookschlo stand between the city and disaster.