Antonius Licinius has just survived the rescue attempt of his nephew that went horribly wrong. Prior to that, the Roman emperor, Tiberius Caesar, learned that his Praetorian prefect, Lucius Sejanus, plotted to kill him and take the throne. He foiled the plot and had Sejanus executed. He then decreed that all of Sejanus's family and friends were also traitors to the throne and sent his Praetorian Guard throughout the country to arrest them. Since Antonius's father was a good friend of Sejanus, he and his family were included on the emperor's treason list. Antonius's friend, Marcus Flavius, who went through Praetorian training with him, was also put on the list. A vengeful centurion by the name of Darius Aurelius was given the assignment to arrest them. Instead of arresting Antonius's family, however, he murdered them to satisfy a hatred he bore against Antonius during their training days. All except the infant son of Antonius's sister and his friend, Marcus. He was more merciful to Marcus's family and took them to the prison in Rome. Since Antonius and Marcus were serving in Judaea at the time, Aurelius went there to arrest them. When he learned that they had left Judaea on furlough with their commander, Centurion Taurus, he suspected that they might have learned their names were on the list and fled. A suspicion that proved to be true. He pursued them back to Rome but was unsuccessful in catching up to them. He then devised a plan to hold Marcus's son hostage in order to lure Antonius and Marcus into a rescue attempt. Aurelius kept the child at a villa that once belonged to Antonius's family. With the help of Taurus and a man who worked at the Licinius family vineyard, Decimus Faustus, Antonius and Marcus rescued Marcus's family from the prison and took them to a cottage just outside of Rome. Taurus's niece, Julia Cato, learned they were at the cottage and helped them form a plan to rescue Antonius's nephew. Aurelius, however, saw through the plan. Marcus and Taurus died during the attempt. Aurelius then fought Antonius in a duel to the death and lost. The new Praetorian prefect, Sutorius Macro, arrived just before Aurelius's men were about to kill Antonius and informed everyone that Tiberius had abolished his treason list. When Macro learned all the immoral things that Aurelius had done, he pardoned Antonius and his companions, allowing him to resume his standing with the Guard. Now Antonius must return to the cottage where Marcus's family are waiting to see if the rescue attempt was successful or not. Antonius is about to learn that the emperor's treason list has created a general discord in the land. Many people who lost friends or relatives to the purge banded together and formed a group of outlaws known as Vipers. They will become a threat to Tiberius and all who support him, including his Praetorian Guard.