Count Georik Zaberisk has achieved fame and fortune as personal physician to the King of Hartland, but the poor health of his sister Lillith - who has been frail since birth - forces him to resign early, and he resigns himself to spending his life as a local aristocrat.
But one day, when Georgik is away from his manor, Lillith is accused of witchcraft by an angry mob of villagers.
They assault her, and chopping off her head and burning her body.
Georik eventually manages to retrieve her head, and to his surprise, discovers that it is still alive.
Desperate to make his sister whole again, Georik transfers her head from the body of one young woman to the next, but the transplant is rejected each time. His days are spent mired in frustration and worry.
Then, one day, Georgik learns about homunculi, artificial humans that can supposedly be created through alchemy.
However, the kingdom of Hartland embraced a technological civilization and modernized centuries ago, and in doing so outlawed the dark arts.
Sorcerers and alchemists were banished from the realm long ago, but a few still remain, practicing their craft in secret. If discovered, they are branded traitors and sentenced to a gruesome execution.
But to save his sister, Georik has no choice but to move deeper and deeper into the forbidden world of alchemy...