William Oliver, 14, loves telling scary stories, but his older sister, Lady Alix, reminds him that the priest back at Trowleigh castle said, “Such tales open the mind to great wickedness.” 

They learn just how deadly exaggerated stories can be when two young refugees come to Fairfield Priory, where William and Alix have taken refuge. They have escaped the massacre of the Jews at the City of York, and are seeking sanctuary.

At once, the old, vile rumors begin to spread like wildfire and hostility toward them rises. Urged on by the mysterious Lady at the Tavern, the villagers decide to take matters into their own hands.

Meanwhile, Ivar the Dane pursues the Irish maid, Brigid, demanding to know where the Olivers are hiding.