Capet Sard helps Lise obtain a job as nursemaid in the floating Castle of Lan. Love blossoms between noble and servant, but Sard is called home to Rak. Shortly after his departure Lise discovers she is pregnant and travels to Rak. Rescued by the spiritual Eos, Lise finishes the journey on foot but is captured by Brenauf, an old adversary of Sard's. Brenauf has inherited the title of Duke of Rak, but many people think he is not the true heir as the castle is tilting and the weather is uncontrollable. Miserable, pregnant and frightened for her baby's welfare, Lise can see no way out of her captivity. Sard has discovered her whereabouts and joins with the Eos to attempt to save his beloved. Failure to rescue Lise and also find the true heir could mean disaster for Rak and the whole planet of Hejmen.
The Castle of Lan floated in supreme majesty in the sky, its walls and turrets straining upwards, while verdant grounds surrounded stonework like the skirts of a noble lady. On top of the tallest tower, the blue and silver dragon pennant of the House of Lan fluttered from a flagpole.
The regions below the castle grounds were not so startling. Lise nodded to herself. Early in her life circumstances had forced on her the knowledge all beautiful things had a sordid side. The lower regions were full of ugly box structures, pipes and steaming vents and huge hangers gaping at the outer edges.
Their transport headed for one of the hangers and the upper castle and grounds were lost to view. They docked in one of the boxlike areas with a jolt. Courteously, Sard took her elbow and led her onto the docking bay.
"Doesn't look like much does it?" Sard commented as Lise looked around. "This is the working part of the castle; you'll find the upper regions are completely different. You won't have to come down here too much as your job will be to take care of the children."
Sard led her forward and the warmth of heat globes drifted across her ankles making her wonder if this could be a dream. Heat and light on the farm were only found at the cooking hearth and the men of the family usually appropriated this area.
"Here's the nursery." The Capet opened a door near the end of the corridor and let go of her hand to usher her inside.
On the opposite side of the room, a middle-aged woman bent over a low bed where a little boy slept. Further along the wall were two identical cribs and although the occupants weren't visible, two small bumps under the covers indicated the twin babies were sleeping.
"Keva, this is Lise, the new nursemaid."
The woman straightened and crossed the room toward them. Lise squirmed inside. Keva's sharp eyes were analyzing everything about her.
"Hired by the Duchess?" the woman asked.
"Of course." Sard grinned. "Milady said to tell you Lise is to begin her duties tomorrow, and to make sure she gets her uniform today."
"What experience do you have?" Keva asked, pinning Lise with a look. "How many children have you looked after before?"
"I've looked after my two little brothers since they were born." Lise's voice faltered under the gimlet gaze of the older woman.
"You think this makes you experienced enough to look after the heirs to the Duke of Lan?"
"Why did you apply for this job?"
"Lise didn't apply," Sard interrupted. "I asked the Duchess to consider her."
"I see." For a moment Keva's eyes looked troubled, but her shoulders shrugged in a resigned way. "If the Duchess thinks you'll do, we'd best give you a try."
"Thank you, ma'am." Lise bobbed a quick curtsy.
"Good gracious, child, you don't curtsy to me. You keep curtsies for the Duke and Duchess." Keva turned to look at Sard. "Are you still here?"
"I'm going right now." Sard held his hands up in mock defense, and turned to Lise. "I'll leave you in Keva's capable hands."