The story starts off with Maerad of Pellinor, a 16 year old girl, who is a slave at Gilman's Cot. She went to milk the cows when she ran into a strange man. He introduced himself as Cadvan of Lirigon and asked who she was. She responds, saying that she is Maerad, daughter of Milana, the First Bard of Pellinor before she realizes that she has said too much. Another man working at Gilman's Cot comes and yells at her for neglecting the cows and, even though Cadvan is in plain view, the man seems to look through him. Maerad is confused by this and leaves with the milk, but not before Cadvan asks her if she would like to leave the cot with him. She decides to think about it and he rests there. She does decide to leave with Cadvan and meets him later with her only possession, her lyre. Cadvan tells her that he is invisible to human eyes and makes her so as well.
They both climb over the fortress's walls and start to walk down the road. After a short time of walking, they hear an alarm go off (saying that someone has escaped) and dogs barking. Maerad is immediately afraid because she doesn't want to be caught.