At the beginning, Quatermain has lost his only son and longs to get back into the wilderness. Having persuaded Sir Henry Curtis, Captain John Good, and the Zulu chief Umslopogas to accompany him, they set out from the coast of east Africa into the territory of the Masai. While staying with a Scottish missionary, they are attacked by a Masai group, whom they overcome with heroism. They travel by canoe along an underground river to a lake in the kingdom of Zu-Vendis beyond a range of mountains. The Zu-Vendi are a warlike white race isolated from other African races. At the time of the British party's arrival, they are ruled jointly by two sisters, Nyleptha and Sorais. The priests of the Zu-Vendi religion are hostile to the explorers, but the queens protect them.