Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, is enraged when his hawk is killed by an arrow in the Forest of Delamere. When two poachers are caught, he orders their execution yet neither of them fired the arrow. As Ralph Delchard and Gervase Bret come to Cheshire to settle a series of disputes between Church and State, they are guests of the Earl. But when they explore the castle and discover that the Prince of Gwynedd is being held there as a hostage, a number of questions arise. Who is trying to rescue him? Why is Idwal, the over-zealous Welsh priest, lurking in the city? And whose arrow is responsible for a gruesome human death in the forest?