The year is 1626, and a battle-weary Captain Alatriste and his companions sail home from the on-going war in Flanders. He returns to a Spain that is rotten to the core, as gold from the Americas floods into the port of Seville, brought by the country's infamous treasure fleet. As various factions within the Court vie for supremacy, certain interests are creaming off undeclared profits from the galleons' cargo, thus depriving the royal treasury of its lifeblood. Indeed some of the booty is finding its way into the hands of the same rebel provinces Spain is fighting to suppress. The King and his most trusted advisor, the Count-Duke Olivares, have become aware of one such plot and have decided to teach the perpetrator a lesson. Once more, they must call upon Captain Alatriste's blade in a dangerous adventure that will bring the captain face to face with his nemesis, and with a ruthless man who has designs on the throne...