Turkmenistan 1881: Beneath the citadel of Geok Tepe sits a prisoner. He hasn't moved from his chair for two years, hasn't felt the sun on his face in more than fifty, but he is thankful for that. The city is besieged by Russian troops and soon falls. But one Russian officer has his own reason to be here. Colonel Otrepyev marches into the underground gaol, but for the prisoner it does not mean freedom, simply a new gaoler; an old friend, now an enemy. They return to Russia to meet an older enemy still.
In Saint Petersburg, the great vampire Zmyeevich waits as he has always waited. He knows he will never wield power over Tsar Aleksandr II, but the tsarevich will be a different matter. When Otrepyev delivers the prisoner into his hands, Zmyeevich will have everything he needs. Then all that need happen is for the tsar to die.
But it is not only the Otrepyev and his captive who have returned from Geok Tepe. Another soldier has followed them, one who cares nothing for the fate of the tsar, nor for Zmyeevich, nor for Otrepyev. He has only one thing on his mind - revenge.
And it's not just Zmyeevich who seeks the death of the tsar. Aleksandr's faltering steps towards liberty have only made the people hungry for more, and for some the final liberty will come only with the death of the dictator. They have tried and failed before, but the tsar's luck must desert him one day. Soon he will fall victim to a group that has vowed to bring the Romanov dynasty to a violent end - a group that calls itself The People's Will.