"Aboard the Star of Deltora with her three rivals for the Trader Rosalyn Apprenticeship, Britta knows that she has to keep her wits about her. She desperately wants to win the contest, but of course Jewel, Sky and Vashti feel the same, and of course one of them, she knows, is a ruthless enemy who will stop at nothing to succeed.
Britta is ready for trouble, but as the voyage fails to go as planned, and rumours of evil magic sweep her beloved ship, she starts to wonder if she has more to fear than simple human wickedness.
And nothing can prepare her for the terror that awaits her in the perilous, forbidden swamplands of Two Moons."
Far away from the Isle of Tier, the Star of Deltora leaves Del harbour for the open sea. Britta stands with Sky, Vashti and Jewel on the deck, and her heart sings at the thought of the journey ahead. A twelve-week voyage has been planned, in which the ship will visit three islands where the finalists will trade.
Mab approaches, and tells the four finalists that they are to go with Bosun Crow below-deck to choose their cabins. To decide who will be sharing with Jewel, Sky suggests that she, Britta and Vashti draw straws. Britta is reluctant to participate, as she does not want to share a cabin and knows the drawing will likely be rigged so that she draws the short straw, but she knows she has no other choices. As she expects, she draws the short straw. Close by, Mab looks at them and smiles in amusement.
The finalists follow Bosun Crow to the cabins, where they are to stow their belongings. Britta realises that this is another test—they are expected to bargain with each other for the best cabin. Quickly, she claims the third cabin for herself and Jewel, knowing that it is the largest of the cabins. After she does so she sees Vashti's annoyance, and realises that the trader's daughter planned to claim that cabin while Britta, Sky and Jewel were looking at the other cabins.
Britta and Jewel place their belongings in their cabin. Jewel is amazed at their luck and asks Britta how she knew; Britta tells her that it was 'just a feeling'. They agree that Jewel will sleep in the bottom bunk and Britta on the top, for Jewel feels she is too heavy to climb on the bunk ladder safely. While stowing away her weapons Jewel asks Britta not to touch them or tell anyone where they are; Britta is offended at this, and responds that she would not wish to touch them. Before Jewel can reply, they feel the ship change course, and head above deck to see what is happening. They soon find that they are sailing toward the Silver Sea. Jewel is disappointed, as she had hoped to trade on an island in the Sea of Serpents because that sea and its islands are more familiar to her. Vashti on the other hand is smugly pleased.