Visiting her stepmother at the family estate in Tuscany, Claudia is concerned at the gaggle of hangers-on surrounding the old lady. There's the sorceress Candace and the handsome horse trader Darius, both of whom seem to hold Larentia equally in their thrall. And, what of the series of recent local murders, and the mishaps - including soured wine - that have befallen a number of people? Amidst the mysteries of the local religion, could the god Fufluns be working some plan; or even Veive, the god of revenge? Or are there even more sinister forces at work?