The fire burned hot and red in the pit, and Saphyre's eyes again began to long for the sweet respite of slumber. Still, she dared not close them for a moment in the presence of these strangers, and so it was she continued to study the men-wonder of their lives before the keep-and their secrets. It was certain they owned secrets-for did not she? All human beings owned secrets-some more than others perhaps-but all owned them. Thus, she sat in contemplation. What secrets would drive men to such solitude? "Have you sorted us all out then?" he asked unexpected. His gaze bore down upon her like the red heat of the sun. "Have you sorted the gentlemen from the miscreants? Determined who will serve as your lover and who will be your footman?" Descended of a legendary line of strength and beauty, Saphyre Snow had once known happiness as princess of the Kingdom of Graces. Once a valiant king had ruled in wisdom-once a loving mother had spoken soft words of truth to her daughter. Yet, a strange madness had poisoned great minds-a strange fever inviting Lord Death to linger. Soon it was even Lord Death sought to claim Saphyre Snow for his own-and all Saphyre loved seemed lost. Thus, Saphyre fled-forced to leave all familiars for necessity of preserving her life. Alone, and without provision, Saphyre knew Lord Death might yet claim her-for how could a princess hope to best the Reaper himself? Still, fate often provides rescue by extraordinary venues, and Saphyre was not delivered into the hands of Death-but into the hands of those hiding dark secrets in the depths of bruised and bloodied souls. Saphyre knew a measure of hope and asylum in the company of these battered vagabonds. Even she knew love-a secreted love-a forbidden love. Yet it was love itself-even held secret-that would again summon Lord Death to hunt the princess, Saphyre Snow.