'The emperor's tears will unlock the gate...' Eugene of Tielen has won the five Tears of Artamon, the legendary rubles which entitle him to be crowned emperor of the five countries of the ancient divided empire of Rossiya. But on the eve of his coronation, when the rubies are brought together for the first time in the imperial crown, a strange phenomenon occurs: a crimson beacon of light shoots up into the night sky from the five jewels. Is it a good portent - or an evil omen? Eugene has consigned his defeated enemy, Gavril Nagarian, to a living death in the bleak Ironsea Tower. But other sinister forces are at work, infiltrating Eugene's new empire, stirring the people he has conquered to revolt. Eugene will not be satisfied until he has enslaved a Drakhaoul, the daemon spirit that made Gavril such a formidable opponent. Obsessed with gaining the arcane knowledge that will lead him to his goal, he seeks out Kiukirilya, the Spirit Singer, forcing her to undertake a perilous journey into the world of the dead. Gavril, subjected to the cruel experiments of Director Baltzar in the Ironsea Tower, is equally obsessed: with escape. The opportunity, when it comes, faces him with an impossible choice. He has dreamed of returning to his peaceful life as a painter in Smarna. But if Eugene is successful in his quest for daemonic powers, he will become a monster. And the only man capable of stopping him is Gavril Nagarian.