In the aftermath of the assassination of a beloved king, conspirators take control of the Kingdom of Melderone, unchallenged until the deposed ruler’s rightful heir learns of his destiny in a “Hamlet” meets “Beauty and the Beast” fantastical tale.
The dying King of Melderone names his youngest son, Magnus, the next monarch, bypassing his oldest, conniving son, Torrence. Consequently, political machinations swirl and allegiances balance precariously as royal forces loyal to each brother commence a brutal fight to death to rule Melderone, an archipelago rich in natural resources and ingredients used in the making of a precious glass. The elements are made from the ashes of a buried village in the Sands of the Navejo, where the ghosts impart a curse on the king until he orders for the ground to remain untouched so the people of the sands can embark into the next world.
Unwilling to see the murderous streak in his brother, the kindly King Magnus – adored by the people of Melderone – is victim of an assassination during the annual Festival of the Fishes, a sprawling convivial gathering that fills the village streets of Castione, the capital of the island kingdom. At the time his wife, Queen Gabriella, is several weeks pregnant. When the new king, Torrence, finds out the newborn could challenge his throne, he orders his trusted aide to make sure the baby doesn’t survive. They travel to the Isle of Fortunella, where a physician tends to the Queen’s troubled and torturous pregnancy. Unbeknown to the king’s aide, the child, born with a distinctive birthmark and severely deformed, survives with the defense of flocks of birds, speaking to him in a language that strengthens and protects him – and carries the wisdom of his departed father.
Raised as his son by the physician who delivered him, the child named Ercole grows to become an imposing man, muscular and deformed. Only one person sees the “real, true Ercole” – the lovely Artemesia, daughter of one of the deposed king’s best friends. Through Artemesia’s eyes, she sees a handsome king-in-waiting.
Amid the onset of a revolt led by former allies of the late king, Ercole learns the truth of his birth, and soon joins the rebels to answer the call of destiny. In the end, he marries his great love, Artemesia, and assumes his role as king, ordering the Sands of Navajo to be left untouched and removing the curse on his family. As the people of the Navejo Sands enter into the netherworld and Ercole’s natural, handsome form returns, appearing as a stunningly handsome king, who is beneficent and restores justice to the Kingdom of Melderone.