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As the witch-pyres of the Spanish Inquisition blanket Renaissance Europe in a moral haze, a young African slave finds herself the unwilling apprentice of an ancient necromancer. Unfortunately, quitting his company proves even more hazardous than remaining his pupil when she is afflicted with a terrible curse.

Yet salvation may lie in a mysterious tome her tutor has hidden somewhere on the war-torn continent. She sets out on a seemingly impossible journey to find the book, never suspecting her fate is tied to three strangers: the artist Niklaus Manuel Deutsch, the alchemist Dr Paracelsus and a gun-slinging Dutch mercenary. As Manuel paints her macabre story on canvas, plank and church wall, the apprentice becomes increasingly aware of the great dangers that surround her. She realises she must revisit the fell necromancy of her childhood – or death will be the least of her concerns.