1205AD: Philip of Vercy sails away from the roasting wasteland where he has passed the last year. As a Knight of the Realm, he has fought the infidel in the Holy Land. Now, after twelve months of savage, bloody warfare in the scorching sun, he is finally coming home to his castle, to peace, and to his beloved wife. But France offers neither comfort or peace. His wife has died in childbirth, his young son is dying of a wasting disease, and, in the south, his Cathar countrymen are being brutally persecuted. When Philip hears rumours of a healer in the Languedoc, a young woman blessed by God and marked with Christ's Stigmata, he rides out on a desperate quest to save his son. His journey takes him into a vision of hell that outstrips even what he saw in Outremer. Disgusted by the senseless slaughter, Philip gradually becomes embroiled in the Cathar cause. And then he finds his miracle: Fabrisse Berenger, the beautiful, loving daughter of Cathar parents. She is bewildered by her strange wounds, but Philip is fascinated by them... and more fascinated by the serene goodness of Fabricia herself. Together, the pair must flee persecution under cover of darkness - but they cannot hold off the Pope's soldiers forever. Their destiny will be decided in the snows of the Black Mountains where Fabricia and Philip must make choices not just to save their lives, but their souls.