Army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso is waiting for the gods to smile on him. But, on a posting to the hostile North of Britannia, he's in for a long wait. He is waylaid at the Fort of Coria, where a fellow doctor has confessed to a grisly murder. With Tilla thrust outside the fort (and into the arms of a former lover), Ruso is landed not only with Doctor Thessalus' patients but also the tricky task of getting him to retract the confession. Facing a nightmarish investigation - trailed by the secret police, hunted by the Stag Man and betrayed by Tilla, is it any wonder Ruso's seeking solace in the rather-too-watery local beer?