Meztli and Cualli are rescued from a Inca human sacrificial site where virgins are left to die to appease their gods after conquistadors invade their lands. Zolin, Meztli's childhood friend has been sent by Hermit Tupac to rescue them, which he does.
They now must follow a perilous journey along ancient Inca trails through the mountains to interior lands and Inca towns.
Etalpalli, one of the seven priests who brought the virgins to the sacrificial site has an agenda with loyalty to nobody but himself. He murders the six other priests who accompanied him to the site and on learning that two of the three virgins are still alive attempts to find them.
Conquistador Capitán Buena Giraldo, commander of the sector of the Inca empire where Meztli and her friends live has more interest than just converting locals from their heathen ways. He wants to find a rumoured lost gold mine in the area. He teams up with Etalpalli who lies about his knowledge of where the mine is when really his aim is to find Meztli to enslave.
On their way to the east, Meztli and her two friends are met at a junction in the trail by Urco, from Cualli's village. He has been sent by Tupac to tell them that all the lands have been conquered by the conquistadors and there is no safe haven through the mountains. Instead they must follow the strings and knots, that Incas use to communicate instead of a written language, to a secret cave that goes under the mountains to a hidden valley and golden pyramid. There they would be safe.
But are they?