The book begins in the continent of Eura from Conor's POV. He is introduced as a sheep farmer and a servant to Devin Trunswick due to a debt Conor's family owes Devin's. Conor and Devin have just turned 11 years old, and are preparing for their Nectar Ceremony, where they could possibly summon a spirit animal. Devin is confident that he will call a spirit animal, but Conor believes his own chances of summoning a spirit animal are slim, despite the encouragement from Devin's brother, Dawson. After Conor is finished buttoning Devin's shirt for the occasion, it is time for the ceremony. Due to being a noble, Devin is the first to drink the Nectar of Ninani. However, nothing happens. After a girl named Abby also summons nothing, it is Conor's turn. He drinks the Nectar and a blue-eyed wolf suddenly appears on the stand. It happens to be Briggan the Wolf, a Great Beast and the patron animal of Eura. Conor unconsciously reaches out and rests his hand on Briggan's head, solidifying their bond. The crowd is astounded, and Devin is furious. Conor and Briggan are then approached by a man in the crowd named Tarik, who is a member of the Greencloak organization. Tarik accompanies them to Greenhaven, the Greencloaks' base.
The second chapter introduces Abeke, who is from Nilo and has also turned 11 years old. In her village, it is tradition to give a gift at your own Nectar Ceremony. Abeke decides to hunt an antelope as a gift instead of making a decorative bowl like her sister, Soama, which disappoints their father, Pojalo. Nevertheless, Abeke is able to have her Nectar Ceremony. When she drinks the Nectar she summons Uraza The Leopard, the patron animal of Nilo, and causes a sudden rainstorm. The village believes Abeke to be their new Rain Dancer, a person who could summon rain and prevent drought and famine. Pojalo is unsure about his daughter's new spirit animal and what it meant for their village. Soon after the Ceremony is over, a mysterious man named Zerif approaches the family. Zerif convinces them that Abeke and Uraza are unsafe in the village, and must travel with him.
The next chapter is set in Zhong from Meilin's POV. Meilin is the daughter of a wealthy general, and she prepares for her Nectar Ceremony by perfecting her make-up and etiquette. A man named General Chin steps in and informs her that Zhong is being invaded a ways away from their city - the invaders are called the Conquerors, and are clad in black armor. This alarms Meilin, and she almost calls the ceremony off. Chin tells her that the public does not yet know of the invasion, and it would be best to continue with the ceremony. Following his orders, Meilin arrives at her ceremony fashionably late. Unlike in Eura, the wealthiest children drink the Nectar last, so Meilin is the last to be called to the stand. When the drinks the Nectar, she summons Jhi the Panda, the patron animal of Zhong. This both surprises and disappoints Meilin, who was hoping for a more fierce spirit animal, due to her love for combat. A Greencloak named Lenori approaches Meilin, but their meeting is cut short by emergency bells being set off in the city. The Conquerors fire into the crowd, causing chaos to break out. Meilin and Jhi quickly leave the scene alongside Lenori, Chin, and Meilin's father, General Teng. From one of the towers, they watch as the city is burned to the ground. Teng tells Meilin that she should travel with Lenori and ally herself with the Greencloaks. Meilin wants to stay and fight alongside her father, but eventually she gives in to his wishes and leaves the city with Lenori.
The fourth chapter is told from Rollan's POV. Rollan is introduced as a street orphan who lives in Amaya. One of Rollan's friends, a boy named Digger, is gravely ill, which prompts Rollan and two other friends to seek out an apothecary. Rollan speaks to the man at the counter, Eloy Valdez, hoping to get a medicine named Willow extract, even offering to work for it. However, Eloy does not accept his offer, and tells him to leave. While he is distracted with Rollan, Smarty darts behind the counter and steals the willow extract, which Rollan did not know he would do. Eloy is furious and turns Rollan over the town's militia. The militia puts him a jail cell, where a Greencloak asks Rollan if he had drunk the Nectar yet. Rollan replies that he hasn't, and the Greencloak offers it to him. When Rollan drinks the Nectar, he summons Essix the Falcon, the patron animal of Amaya, shocking the Greencloak and the other inmates. Almost immediately after this happens, Zerif appears and introduces himself. He pays Rollan's bail, and they leave the jail. However, Rollan soon becomes suspicious of Zerif, especially with Essix enhancing his intuition. He distracts Zerif and makes a run for it, managing to outrun the man and his jackal spirit animal for quite a while. Zerif would have caught Rollan if not for the appearance of Olvan, the commander of the Greencloaks, astride his moose. Zerif retreats, and Olvan and Rollan travel to Greenhaven.
Abeke and Zerif arrive on an island in Amaya, where Abeke has been assigned a mentor: Shane. During one of their training sessions, Shane stages a fake invasion and has an "assassin" take on Abeke. She defeats him with little effort, believing that the invasion was real until Shane tells her to stop and that it was fake. Abeke isn't amused by the trickery so Shane promises to never do it again. Abeke is now able to put Uraza in passive state on her arm due to their bond strengthening. Meanwhile, in Greenhaven, the other three kids and their Great Beasts are introduced to eachother. They are given rooms in the castle, and in the middle of the night, Rollan decides to run away. He doesn't get far, however, because Conor and Briggan find him. Conor is able to convince Rollan to stay and at least hear Olvan's plan for them. The next day, Tarik has the three kids and their spirit animals do bonding exercises. First, they are blindfolded and have to point to where their spirit animal is, which Conor excels at and Meilin fails. Then they have a race that tests their agility and strength, which proves that Rollan has the most speed and Meilin the most strength. Meilin still feels that her bond with Jhi is useless, although she is able to put the panda into passive state on her hand.
Abeke and Uraza decide to explore the island at night. They discover a group of Conquerors with a caged dog on the beach, and to Abeke's horror, the dog is fed the Bile and becomes a monster. It senses Abeke and Uraza and breaks out of its cage, giving chase into the jungle. It almost catches Abeke, if not for Uraza attacking it, which saves her life. Shane finds them afterwards and brings them back to safety.
In Greenhaven, Lenori discovers that Conor has prophetic dreams due to his bond with Briggan. In Conor's dream, he sees a bear and a raccoon, along with a huge ram. This prompts Olvan to bring the Greencloaks together for a meeting. He explains their predicament with the Conquerors, who plan to take over Erdas, and that their best plan of action would be to seek out the talismans before the Conquerors can. Conor and Meilin readily take their Greencloak vows and agree to aid in this plan, but Rollan is skeptical. It is eventually decided that Rollan would still help out, but he would not officially join the Greencloaks. Once that is settled, the three kids and Tarik prepare to leave for Amaya to seek out Arax the Ram, as seen in Conor's dream.
Meilin discovers that her bond with Jhi has caused her to start sleepwalking. She sleepwalks onto Sunset Tower and luckily Jhi is able to wake her up before she could do anything dangerous. This makes Meilin appreciate Jhi more.
Meanwhile, Abeke and Shane prepare to have an audience with Shane's uncle, General Gar, along with Zerif and Yumaris the Seer. Gar and Zerif explain the war from the Conquerors' point of view, and Shane adds on with the history of his homeland, Stetriol. Abeke ultimately decides that she believes in their cause and will help them look for the talismans. Both parties head for Boulder City, where Arax was last seen.
Conor, Meilin, Rollan, and Tarik reach Boulder City, where Tarik believes they will find the bear and raccoon seen in Conor's dream. They enter a bar, where Tarik requests to see Barlow and Monte, former Greencloaks. The bartender tells him that they are gone, but Rollan is able to tell that he is lying. Hostility from customers causes a fight and the bartender attempts to escape, but is soon cornered. Giving up, he introduces himself as Monte, and takes the group to see Barlow. Tarik explains to Barlow that they must find Arax in the mountains. At first Barlow disagrees and refuses to accompany them into the mountains, but he is convinced by the appearance of Jhi, Essix, and Briggan. The group is guided by Monte and Barlow and their spirit animals, Scrubber the raccoon and Jools the grizzly bear. Along the route they encounter The Ravens, who will only allow them to pass if they win a duel. Meilin is chosen to fight after Essix votes for her; which nobody is willing to disagree with a Great Beast. Meilin wins the fight against Derawat, the Ravens' leader, which allows the party safe passage and showcases Meilin's combat skills. As they continue on, they encounter strange weather conditions, such as hail. Barlow explains that Arax has influence over the winds and is warning them to turn back. However, they continue their pursuit, and eventually find Arax. Tarik tries to convince Arax that they need his talisman before their enemy could find it, but Arax is stubborn and disagrees. When the Conquerors arrive only minutes later and attempt to steal the talisman, Arax accuses the Greencloaks of distracting him and goes on a rampage, narrowly missing Tarik with his charge. A battle ensues between the Greencloaks and Conquerors.
Tarik duels Zerif while Meilin is knocked down by Shane. Abeke is distanced from the fighting and taking shots with her bow, and soon realizes that she may be on the wrong side when Uraza recognizes Jhi. While she is distracted, Arax charges her. Barlow is given a surge of strength from Jools and he intercepts the charge, grabbing Arax by the horns and throwing him off of the mountain, and saving Abeke's life. Before Abeke can thank him, Zerif stabs Barlow from behind, killing him. Abeke is horrified, and Barlow's death causes her to decide to switch sides. The Conquerors retreat without Abeke, and Tarik welcomes her and Uraza into the Greencloaks. The group buries Barlow in a green cloak as Monte says his goodbyes, and the Greencloaks return to Greenhaven.
At the end of the book, Conor discovers he is able to put Briggan into passive state. He tells Rollan, Meilin, and Abeke that he has been having nightmares about a boar