At the same time, an English Templar knight, Sir William de Mandeville, is sent home in disgrace from the Holy Land. He shows all signs of demonic possession. To his horror, a frightening beast – the Basilisk - appears at night to taunt him over his personal failings.
William is unaware that the True Cross has fallen into enemy hands. On arriving back in England, he discovers his father has been killed during a rebellion against King Stephen. His older brother is now Earl of Essex and displays a vindictive and violent streak.
Desperate to return on crusade and bring honour back to his family name, he finds out about the loss of the True Cross. William resolves to win it back! But it’s now secreted in the Moorish city of Al-Usbuna – deep within the domain of Islam. A new kingdom of Portugal has waged war on the Muslims and William joins them to get close to the True Cross.
But he becomes mired in a world of intrigue between the Templars, the Catholic church and the Moors. Enemies are on all sides and even the woman he falls in love with – the beautiful Orraca – has her own dark secret. Together with his Syrian companion, Pathros, and the boy-thief Nicholas – he hatches a plan to get hold of the True Cross. But the siege of Al-Usbuna by the Portuguese has begun and the sacred symbol risks being destroyed.
Bloody battles and wholesale massacre ensue. In the midst of this chaos, William must fight his own demons, save his family name and win back the most treasured possession of the Knights Templar.