Kaia Kukura has been awarded the great honor of protecting her country, and is determined to bring wealth and glory to her family. She must travel through enemy territory to replace the precious Kerala crystals that power Carcassia's protective shield. But no Runner is permitted to return after their mission. When Kaia has fulfilled her Runner's oath, she knows her life must end. But sometimes it takes an outsider, someone from a different world, to question the truth.
Fourteen-year-old Joe can barely outrun the school bullies who torment him daily. Cornered yet again, he tries to escape - and finds himself falling through a portal into another world. There, he meets fierce and strong Kaia. Together they discover that not everyone in Carcassia can be trusted - and that there are terrible
lies at the heart of Kaia's beloved home. Can their combined strength and skill help Kaia save her country and herself?