Paul obtains a thirty-day leave from house arrest in Rome to "attend to business in Spain," but must promise to return for sentencing. He plans a "mission blitz" of Hispania. But the plan changes when, in the provincial capital, Paul meets Quintilian, a young pleader who invites him to his family's estate up the Rio Iberus, in La Rioja, outside Calagurris (Calahorra). Paul accompanies Quintilian to Calagurris, along with Luke. Zenas, the other member of "Mission Team Beta," remains in Caesaraugusta to establish in the faith three new converts, one of whom is Quintilian's clerk. Their talk, rendered as Platonic dialogue, ranges across rhetorical theory, ethics, pedagogy, Christianity, and Paul's latest manuscript, which he hopes will be received as his magnum opus. The novel explores fictional competition between Paul and Apollos, Quintilian's personal crisis, a result of actual, devastating personal losses, resolved when, years after Paul has died by Nero's decree, a much older Quintilian finds comfort in the words of Paul's letter to his kinsmen, the Hebrews, words which Quintilian had discussed with Paul during that memorable occasion at the family's estate in La Rioja.