Adarlan currently rules over Eyllwe, having conquered the southern kingdom during its military campaign. Within two years prior to the events of The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, Adarlan began slave trade in earnest; Eyllwe people were often among those captured and sold into slavery.
Adarlan still controls Eyllwe, but the King of Adarlan—for reasons not articulated—has allowed the royal family of Eyllwe to retain their titles. Many of the slaves in private households and in the labor camps are Eyllwe, and rebellion against Adarlan by Eyllwe citizens as well as sympathy toward this cause are gaining momentum.
The King of Eyllwe sends his daughter, Nehemia Ytger, to the glass castle in Rifthold, allegedly to learn more of the Adarlanian customs and politics and the common tongue and to promote relations between Adarlan and Eyllwe. In truth, Nehemia comes to learn more about the King's plans and to intervene for her people.
Nehemia strives to prevent the King from expanding the labor camps to increase production, but Roland Havilliard bars her from attending the meeting. She entreats Dorian Havilliard to oppose this plan. In the meantime, she secretly works with the rebels in Rifthold.
At the meeting, Dorian emphatically objects to the plan, asserting that oppressing the peoples of conquered nations will only generate further rebellious movements and sympathies. Roland ends up supporting Dorian and calling off the vote.
Adarlan's army captures five hundred Eyllwe rebels on the border of the Oakwald Forest and the Stone Marshes. These prisoners are intended to be sent to Calaculla, but some attempt to escape; they are caught, and in retaliation, the Adarlanian army kills all five hundred people, including the children.
Deeply stricken by this, Nehemia entreats her friend Aelin to help her free Eyllwe. Aelin—concerned that there is little hope for a victory, fearing that even more people will die as a result of such a movement, and recalling the King's threats to kill the Ytgers and Chaol—refuses to lend her aid.
Desperate, Nehemia discusses matters with Elena Galathynius. The two women agree that Nehemia should die to send a message to rise up against Adarlan and change the world. Thus, Nehemia orchestrates her own death.
Nehemia and her guards are killed by Grave, whom Archer Finn hired while posing as Councilor Mullison. When word of her death arrives in Calaculla, a girl swings her pickaxe into the abdomen of her overseer, sparking uprisings in Endovier and Calaculla.
Griefstricken over her friend's death, Aelin vows to free Eyllwe.
In response to the slave revolts, the King of Adarlan orders all the slaves in both labor camps to be executed.