England once again staggers toward open warfare as Prince Henry grows ever stronger. King Stephen looks to local loyal Earls, but the Earl of Malton,a staunch supporter of the crown, has disappeared. Badly wounded, Robert found refuge with the nuns of St. Hilds, but when Maken sent soldiers to guard him, they found only his bloody rags in the bed. Maken de Courtelaine, without the natural protection of her husband's powerful connections & military fame, is exposed to the avarice and hatred of Norman ruling class. A rich Earldom, a large treasury, and an absent Earl soon brings enemies from every quarter to plunder Hammerstone Castle. Even the King thinks of great wealth within its strong walls.