Gabriel wants to be an artist. His father wants grandsons. His teacher wants refuge. And the ghost of a young woman who drowned for love of one of his ancestors wants revenge. When events spiral out of control Gabriel heads to Constantinople, but his past is not far behind.
Damian isn’t sure what he wants. He doesn't want his father’s business, whatever his stepbrother thinks. He doesn't want his betrothed even though she may still want him. But he does want beauty, and he may find that in the yet to be consecrated church of Saint Thekla, a personal project of the Emperors. But is it in the painting he will find beauty, or the painter?
“Full moon.” Old Marta clicked her tongue disapprovingly and closed the shutters with a bang, crossing herself as she did so.
“Why shut out the moonlight? It’s so beautiful.” Gabriel had been dozing but his nurse’s voice brought him back from the edge of sleep.
“Has your mother never told you? But then she’s not from these parts, she knows nothing.” There was thinly disguised resentment in Marta’s voice as she came waddling back to tuck him in. The reek of ale on her breath mingled with the green scent of the parsley stalk she had been chewing to freshen her mouth.
“Told me what?”
“You’re eight, old enough to know these things. Old enough to be warned where not to go.” She plumped herself down on the bed beside him like a hen settling itself on its clutch of eggs. “Haven’t you ever heard tell of the Ninufarim?”
“Never.” He was fully awake now.
She leaned forward and smoothed down his wayward curls, murmuring. “Such pretty hair, even if it is the same colour as your mother’s.”
He shook his head free of her hand, hating to be touched.
“You must never leave your shutters open when it’s full moon.” She wagged a finger at him. “And you must never, never go walking by the lake. For that is when the ninufars rise to the surface and the Ninufarim are abroad.”