Sixteen years have passed since Pearl from Company and Hari from Blood Burrow defeated the tyrant Ottmar. Now their children, Xantee and Lo, face an even more dangerous foe. Hari lies dangerously ill with a fragment of a strange creature wrapped around his throat, draining his life. The beast is called Gool, meaning Unbelonger. It is one of many, destroying the mountains and jungles of the world. Somewhere a hidden mother nourishes her Gool brood - the children must find and destroy her to save Hari and the world they know. Tealeaf the Dweller tells them of a thousand-year-old legend in which a similar beast is vanquished. The place where they might learn the legend's missing knowledge is in the library in the ruined city of Belong. There is only one person who can guide them there: Tarl, the Dog King, Hari's father. Xantee and Lo, accompanied by Duro, a brave and practical youth who is also a 'speaker', set out on a dangerous mission that takes them through the jungle and over mountains to the ruined city, and on to Ceebeedee, where a terrifying clash with the cruel rival leaders and lurking Gool awaits them.