This story is about a runner (messenger) called Tenna, who is new to the craft but is good at the job. One night, when she is running on the "trace" (paths marked by moss that are reserved for runners only), a cart pulled by runner beasts runs her off the trace. Tenna falls into a stickleberry bush, and gets a lot of potentially poisonous spines in her body. She manages to get to a runner station, where she recovers from the fall. After telling the manager about the incident, she gains a name: Haligon, the older of Lord Groghe's two sons. Haligon had used the traces before when he shouldn't have. Tenna goes to a Gather at Fort Hold, where she identifies Haligon by his stance (arrogant and haughty). During a dance with him, she hits Haligon into a pile of dung. She later holds a conversation with a boy who reveals himself to be Haligon; the boy she hit was his brother Horon. After talking, he apologizes and she contemplates a relationship with him. In future books, the two have a steady relationship.