King Culann of the Izali was troubled. He had no queen. A young beauty had recently rejected him in favor of another clan's king and the wound still stung. Rejecting other candidates, the king bargained with the Ifrit, magical creatures of fire and metal, for a bride to inspire envy in all who saw her.
A twisted old man, who was actually an Ifrit, brought word to the king. "Attend, o king! I have spoken with Great Shaddad, king of all the Ifrit, and I bring you the bargain. On the next moonless night, build three bonfires, side by side, and set them alight. Great Shaddad will send to you one of his own daughters, a princess of the Ifrit. A young woman of unsurpassed beauty and grace who agrees to marry as you command. Moreover, as a daughter of the Ifrit, she will age more slowly than thee- retaining her youth and beauty while the wives of your rivals wrinkle and gray."
"Should you find her lacking in any way, you need but reject her. Order her back into the flames and our bargain will be voided, nothing further demanded of you. But if you find her acceptable, you must fulfill your part. Within one year from that date, you must either bring about the death of your rival, King Tiernay, or forfeit your soul unto us. We care not how Tiernay falls; should he die in battle, of poison, or of a simple accident, your obligation to us will be done."
When the dark beauty Suennah strode out of the fire, naked save for a few pieces of jewelry and ceremonial body paint, King Culann was utterly smitten. For several days, he thought that he had bargained wisely and well.
Then the fiercest warrior in his clan challenged him to a duel for the woman's hand and King Culann's troubles truly began.