Life-sized statues of Xax, Lord Protector, have been placed in every village and on every road, to which the Kaleans must pay homage, under pain of imprisonment. The statues are actually a form of surveillance: the eyes are crystals, relaying images from all over the countryside to Xax and Kreel.
Two small children, Tilly and Flynn, are observed making fun of a statue and are dragged away to work in the Mines.
The beautiful Lalia, who lost her fiancÃ© Brodam to Xax and believes him dead, also refuses to worship the idol and is taken prisoner - but is rescued by Will, who is very soon in love with her.
However, Xax, watching through the crystals, has also become enamoured of Lalia, and sets out himself in search of her.
Will has discovered that the crystals used to transmit the images are from a particular, rare, highly flammable kind of quartz; they would need to be regularly replaced, so that if he could destroy the source - a single mine - the surveillance would cease. The jeweller Fl
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