Before Nick was brought across, he served as an aide to Sir Raymond DeLabarre in Wales. There he met Gwyneth, a local noblewoman who believed in the ancient religion of the area. She was a skilled harpist; and the harp being auctioned in Toronto had been hers. She claimed that it had mystical properties. However, Gwyneth was seen by DeLabarre as the centre of local rebellion against Norman rule; and he determined to get rid of her. Just before he killed her, she threw her harp into the water to save it from being taken by him. It was later recovered, and passed eventually into the hands of Ellen Kushner, a woman living in Toronto.
Johanna Shea, the curator of a museum in Carreg, the locality where Gwyneth had lived, began negotiations with Kushner in the hope of acquiring it for the museum. However, although they had a verbal agreement, Kushner died suddenly before anything was put in writing. The death was investigated and deemed to have been accidental, though Nick had his doubts. The harp went to auction.
Nick had recognized the harp as Gwyneth's, and determined to purchase it for himself. So did Shea. Both therefore attend the auction (which takes place at the beginning of "Queen of Harps").
There are three principal bidders on the harp. However, Shea's resources are limited, and she quickly has to drop out of the running. Schanke interrupts Nick, who dares not let his partner know that he has sufficient funds make such an expensive purchase. It is therefore bought by the current DeLabarre, who believes that a curse has been placed on his family, and that owning the harp will end it.
Nick steals the harp; but, after proving that DeLaBarre murdered Kushner in order to get the harp on the market, he returns it to the auction house so that he can purchase it himself legitimately. He then donates it to Shea's museum in Wales.