She was Margaret Alton, the daughter of Lew Alton, the Darkovan representative to the Terran Imperial Senate, but she remembered almost nothing about the planet of her birth, or her early and tumultuous childhood. What fleeting memories disturbed her sleep were fragments of terror - a strange silver man and a screaming woman with hair that circled her head like a ring of fire. Since leaving Darkover as a child, Margaret had lived her life on Thetis. Lew and her stepmother, Diotima, were gone much of the year, working in the Senate, struggling to keep Darkover safe from the all-consuming imperialism of the Terran Federation. She hardly knew her father, a brooding man who, when he returned to Thetis, was prone to long bouts of drinking. At these times, his normally morose and uncommunicative demeanor would take on an even darker hue ... times when he seemed to look at Margaret and see someone else - someone he did not want to remember. As soon as Margaret was of age, she fled her stormy home and took refuge on University. Here Margaret, strangely uncomfortable around her peers, found solace in the isolation of study. She excelled in music and was granted the position of assistant to her mentor, renowned musicologist Dr. Ivor Davidson. This prestigious job took her to many worlds, and when she and Professor Davidson were assigned to collect folk songs on Darkover, Margaret was curious and pleased. But once on Darkover, Margaret's innocent excitement quickly waned. The world of her birth evoked long-buried memories, painful and terrifying, and she soon found herself falling deeper and deeper into a waking dream that threatened to become a nightmare. Margaret began to hear voices in her head- one voice in particular which seemed to confront her at every turn - and she wondered if she were losing her mind.