John Wallace II is the son of a powerful lord and is about to celebrate his 21st birthday. To help prepare him for the rigors of adult life, his family has decided that he will spend the summer in the south, where his uncle is the commander of Fort Rulian. Years ago, the south was home to the peaceful elves, but now the garrison at Fort Rulian keeps them dominated and oppressed. To the humans in the south, the life of an elf is little more than the life of an animal. Some are hunted for sport, some are forced to work in the mines, and some are kept as slaves.
When John arrives, he is given a royal welcome and a feast is held in his honor. Everything is going well until he retires to his room, exhausted. Instead of finding an empty bed to rest in, he finds a young elf in his bed, stripped naked, bound, and gagged. The girl has been a slave for her entire life, used as a servant at first, and a 'pleasure girl' as she got older. Now she belongs to John's uncle, and she has been told that she is John's for the night, and that failing to please him will result in an especially harsh punishment.
She expects the worst, believing that John will be as cruel as the rest of his family. John, however, has never been exposed to slavery before. He has a progressive education and only sees her as a girl who needs help. He unties her and offers to share the bed with her for the evening, telling his uncle whatever lies will keep her out of trouble.
So begins a forbidden romance. John wants to see more of her, but they have to act in secret. As their feelings develop, John starts to put money aside in the hopes of buying her and freeing her, while being forced to watch his uncle humiliate and use her as he pleases. Discovery of the relationship before John can buy her would be a disaster for both of them.