There have been eighty requests to send an Observer into the hinterlands of the planet Aka to study the natives. Much to everyone¿s surprise, the eighty-first request is granted, and Observer Sutty is sent upriver to Okzat-Ozkat, a small city in the foothills of Rangma, to talk to the remnants in hiding of a cult practising a banned religion. On Aka, everything that was written in the old scripts has been destroyed; modern aural literature is all written to Corporation specifications. The Corporation expects Sutty to report back so the non-standardised folk stories and songs can be wiped out and the people ¿re-educated¿. But Sutty herself is in for an education she never imagined.