Twenty-year-old Tarquin is smart, tactless, and braver than he knows. He's also been Mage of the Realm of Kelor for two years, taking the title from his mother after she died protecting Kelor from a terrible threat.
Mages, unlike all other magicians, give their blood in exchange for far more powerful magic. Unfortunately for the Mage of the Realm, there's always the chance one day Kelor will need magic of such potency that a mage will have to give not just their blood, but their life. Tarquin's mother already made this sacrifice, and Tarquin knows it's likely also his fate.
While on a quest to heal his brother, who is dying because of Tarquin's reckless mistake, Tarquin is attacked by a horrific, flesh-eating monster. He's saved by an enigmatic and mute young soldier, called "Five", who is cursed with a terrifying appearance that conceals the heart of a knight. There's an almost instant attraction between the two men, but no time to explore it. The monster's attack is the harbinger of a new invasion.
With Kelor helpless, the realm's only hope lies with Tarquin. Just as he feared, his sole choice is to sacrifice himself the way his mother did, in exchange for magic strong enough to destroy the coming evil. He's prepared to give up his life to save the realm, but before the battle is over, he'll be faced not just with his own death, but the death of everyone he cares about.
Including the cursed soldier he's come to love.