Young Princess Nefasti wakes to discover her father, the King, poisoned and her mother near death. As she is the sole heiress to the ancient high kingdom of Vadio, the king’s three brothers begin to plot and quarrel over who will become Regent and control the kingdom until she comes of age, or dies. Their solution is to marry her off. If this trio were not enough of a problem, the greedy surrounding kingdoms all want to gobble Vadio up, and their ambassadors scurry through the castle plotting and scheming.
Princess Nefasti has two main goals: to survive, and to discover who is responsible for the death of her parents.
They say she is the Devil's spawn, born in a cloud of brimstone and sulfur on a night when the peaks echoed with thunder and the castle walls trembled. I know that it is not true, and I should know. I was the midwife; although there was a storm, worse than I'd seen in many a year. She did scream like the Devil when she popped, but it was the cries of her mother, the queen, who drowned her out. Lady Gratia never had been strong, and losing two still-born sons had taken any remaining strength for birthing out of her. The ignorant outlanders whisper drunkenly in the inns that she is evil and cursed; that to gaze upon her face is death. This is a lie! Some careless folk say, when they think no one is listening, she walks across the lake to drink the blood of babes and drain the life force from careless husbands. I know this is also a lie; I have never seen her walk on water.