When he was just a boy, Ilyas was stolen from his parents on the coast of east Africa by German colonial troops. After years away, fighting against his own people, he returns home to find his parents gone and his sister, Afiya, abandoned into de facto slavery. Hamza too, is back from the war. He was not stolen but sold into service, where he became the protégé of an officer whose special interest has left him literally scarred for life. With nothing but the clothes on his back, he seeks only steady work and safety - until he meets the beautiful, undaunted Afiya. As these young people live and work and fall in love, their fates knot ever more tightly together.