BYZANTUM--the once crown jewel of the civilized world is now a mere hedonist's playground. Her most able general and statesman, Almuric Agricola, discovers this terminal decadence is engineered by a near-omnipotent shadow group having infiltrated the corridors of power and bent on the slaughter of the citizenry before seizing the Capitol. Almuric attempts to oust this indomitable evil, yet is branded a madman and exiled by a traitorous bureaucracy to a mountain fortress in the desert. Whispers reach the Capitol that Almuric is harboring a mysterious princess of tremendous interest to the clandestine group and that he also employed the services of an infamous Varangian guardsman--a giant Northman mercenary. Like moths to the flame their forces coalesce upon his desolate fortress. Almuric and his barbarian axe-man are waiting--and the desert shall be awash with blood to determine who gets to keep the jewel that is Byzantum.