A ruthless consort must orchestrate a political scheme in order to win a position at famed Sempara, while resisting his forbidden attraction to a mage stained by unforgivable shadow. For Iridor, raised among the lowest caste in Farai, his life at Sempara is a dream he was never meant to have. But as an apprentice, his future at the celebrated nocturn is not secure. If he can survive his debut season and beat out the other apprentices for a permanent spot at Sempara, he'll never again be forced to wade through the disease-infested neighborhoods of his childhood. A rare opportunity to secure political favors by earning the trust of an elusive but powerful man opens the door to the life he wants. But first he must overcome his rival consorts, an ambitious courtier robbed of her birthright, a pair of mages with magic that could upend the country, and a sickness growing strong enough to kill them all.