Xia are warriors of the Shadows, the martial underworld, living below the radar and above the law. Each warrior chooses to walk either the Glory Road, that of duty, honor and victory, or the Wayward Way, that of freedom and personal gain.
The Shadow clans each practice their own form of combat skills. Some, like the Two Dragon Family and the Death Dealer, practice extraordinary chi disciplines such as the Swift Step and the Silent Speech. Others, like the Beggar Clan, depend on military-like strategy and superior weapons. All seek to gain supremacy over the other clans.
From birth, Paul Lau was raised to walk the Glory Road. On the death of his father, he became the Dragon Son, head of the Two Dragon Family, the embodiment of their unity and prosperity, and the channel through which they communicate with the long-dead Ancestor Dragon. But Paul is sick of the internal politics and external violence of the Shadows, and tired of his cousin, Tony, trying to make him over in his own image. A congenital heart disease makes him reluctant to have another close encounter with Ancestor Dragon since the first one almost killed him. He rejects the Two Dragon Family’s claim on him. Instead, he opens an art gallery and becomes involved with Rhian Nolan.
Rhian is an Irish Traveller with ties to the Beggar Clan. After a childhood spent walking the Wayward Way with her gypsy parents, she moves to America with her mother and stepfather. Rhian’s repentant mother keeps her children away from the Shadows, hoping they’ll lead normal lives. Rhian dutifully steers clear until her job as a designer places her in Paul's office to build a web site for his gallery. She falls hard for the handsome, secretive artist and is thrilled when he returns her feelings. Now all she has to do is tell him about her past, something she’s not eager to do.
Tony Lau is Paul’s Oldest Brother, the senior member of their generation. After the death of his uncle, Paul’s father, Tony takes on all the responsibilities of their family. He raises Paul in strict compliance with the code of their clan, fully expecting him to take over as Dragon Son when he came of age. Paul’s rejection of his heritage comes as a bitter blow to Tony, who remains determined that Paul do his duty and become the Dragon Son.
Tony is not alone in his desire to draw Paul back into the Shadows. John Walks Long, the Chief of the Beggar Clan, also has a claim on Paul. Ten years earlier, Paul had run away from his family. Ambushed by predatory pimps, he was saved from a savage assault by the Beggar Chief. In gratitude, he acknowledged John Walks Long as his chief.
Now, Paul’s debt of obligation has come due. The Two Dragon Family is caught in the middle of a blood feud between the Beggar Clan and the Death Dealers, a ninja assassins’ guild. John Walks Long requests Paul’s help. Paul tries to refuse, saying he’s no longer part of the Shadows. The Beggar Chief accuses Paul of walking the Wayward Way. Tony reminds...