Ked is a young boy, a member of the same clan of Heathens as Kars Adon, the young King. While their small band is camped on a sandy island near the mouth of the great River, Ked falls into the water and is swept away by the river. Luckily for him, he is seen by Tanaqui, who wades, then swims out into the river and rescues him. Although he tries to lie to her, he's not that good at it, and she keeps confronting him in his lies and telling him that he must tell her the truth, or else. Somehow she impresses on him that she has the power to compel him to tell the truth, and when she tells him to run home, he does so, and tells the truth to Kars Adon about what happened to him.
Since Tanaqui is dressed in one of her brother's clothes, Ked doesn't realize she's not a boy, and none of the Heathens in Kars Adon's camp at first realizes that the children are not Heathens, but what his people would call 'natives'. Since good things come out of the meeting between the family and the young King, it seems to have been a very lucky thing for Dalemark that young Ked fell into the river and was cured of lying, all at the same time.