When the funeral for the Kingdom of Myrridia’s beloved queen is interrupted by an envoy of the papal triumvirate, the attendees are stunned at the announcement of a holy war to be fought against the Mohammedans in the Holy Lands. The endeavor has the blessings of the three popes and will be led by the Holy Latin Emperor, Clytus Aurelius. Myrridia’s king, Robert Claybourne, is angered to hear that his participation is mandatory, as Myrridia is not part of the empire. He acquiesces to the ultimatum, only because his refusal will result in the kingdom being placed under Interdict and his subjects excommunicated. In neighboring Wyckendom, Queen Katharine Severinson is given an entirely different proposal: the offer of an imperial marriage. The drawback is that the nuptials will need to take place at Yule, in the imperial capital city of Lativium. The journey to Lativium will require passage through Myrridia, the kingdom of her sworn enemy. Katharine’s vassals, eager to be rid of a woman ruler, shamelessly encourage the match. Frederich DiStephane of Esterlyn, Myrridia’s other neighbor, receives the news from an ingratiating cardinal and falls under the cleric’s Magical control, readily agreeing to participate in the crusade and issuing a decree ordering all of his vassals to join the endeavor. Reactions are mixed, with many lacking enthusiasm. Frederich remains unmoved by their arguments. Robert and his loyal vassals feel surrounded on all sides by enemies looking to acquire the kingdom when an unlikely opportunity for alliance arises: marriage to Katharine, suggested by one of Robert’s vassals. It’s a small gesture of defiance for the two kingdoms, but a huge insult to the empire. Katharine agrees to it as she has reason to suspect that the imperial marriage will result in her death. Clytus and the three popes continue to forward the imperial agenda, which includes annexation of the remaining free kingdoms on the outskirts of Western Christendom as well as wresting control of the Holy Lands from the Mohammedans, to turn that part of the world into another Christian kingdom, loyal to the empire. Against a backdrop of betrayal and murder, old alliances are torn asunder and new loyalties form. Robert and his allies become increasingly skeptical as to the reasons given for the crusade, especially in regard to the effort’s timing. As Easter approaches, fighting men begin to gather outside the imperial capital, to begin the journey to the Holy Lands after the holiday. Will Robert learn the true reason why the popes and emperor are adamant that he abandon his kingdom, before he is too far from home to be able to protect his subjects?