Seagrum is a dwarf of significant stature and prowess who has been recruited by the Magister of the Hue and Cry to deal with a problem that he has with vampires. The problem has nothing to do with the usual issues that vampires cause but rather it is the result of a financial transaction that they have set up with the human population of Florencetown. The vampires are the bankers of this fantasy world and in their pursuit of dynastic growth, they have latched onto the avaricious nature of the humans and have introduced a way for them to acquire things beyond their abilities in return for a promise of service. The death pledge of Seagrum's world is the mortgage of our own. The only problem is that someone has messed about with the concept of the death pledge and servitude now extends beyond the original contractors to their heirs in perpetuity.
The Hue and Cry, as the governmental body responsible for the granting of licenses to the Vampire Houses, has gotten wind of this but its own in-house staff, mostly werewolves, have proven themselves to be singularly inept at finding a solution to the problem. This is where Seagrum comes in. With a reputation for getting things done and with a proven track record of similar actions in other towns of the City States, he seems to be the obvious dwarf for the task.
However, Seagrum has a number of weaknesses. He is arrogant and single minded; he has a tendency to participate in clandestine business transactions; he hates werewolves with a passion and he has a penchant for the macabre. He also finds himself seriously attracted to a young witch, the employee of a former business acquaintance in one of his shady deals, and her influence tends to cloud his judgement a little.
He is also fiendishly expensive to hire: in fact he is beyond even the deep pockets of the Hue and Cry, especially given that his task is to destroy the power base of the Hue and Cry's main benefactors (the Vampire Houses) whose back-handers, referred to in the more business-like term as fines, prop up the expensive lifestyle of the Magister and his tame werewolves.
This is where the hagiographer known as Jonas the Strangler comes in. He is a sweeper: he tidies up. The Hue and Cry have recruited him also to deal with the problem of Seagrum, once the death pledge matter has been resolved.
In spite of Seagrum's growing interest in the witch known as Persephone and despite the power struggle between the town's Mayor and the Magister of the Hue and Cry, Seagrum manages to solve the vampire problem in the only way that he knows how: violently. It is an end rather than a solution because the problem, the avarice and greed of humans, has not gone away and almost as soon as one family of vampires is out, a new delegation is approaching the Mayor for approval to set up another death pledge business in the town.
Though set in a fantasy world and employing devices that may on occasion seem a little extreme, the story is meant to provide a set of caricatures that represent real life whilst at the same time offering a kind of amusement and hopefully, entertainment. The tale is certainly adult in some of its content and although there is neither gratuitous sex nor violence, there are certainly both wrapped up within the pages. It is a crude world inhabited by crude characters.