A tale of two hustlers trying to set up a big game.
Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria clashes with his father, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, over implementing progressive policies for their country. Rudolf soon feels he is a man born at the wrong time in a country that doesn't realize the need for social reform. The Prince of Wales, later to become Britain's King Edward VII, provides comic relief. Rudolf finds refuge from a loveless marriage with Princess Stéphanie by taking a mistress, Baroness Maria Vetsera. Their untimely demise at Mayerling, the imperial family's hunting lodge, is cloaked in mystery.
A Muslim ambassador exiled from his homeland, Ahmad ibn Fadlan finds himself in the company of Vikings. While the behavior of the Norsemen initially offends ibn Fadlan, the more cultured outsider grows to respect the tough, if uncouth, warriors. During their travels together, ibn Fadlan and the Vikings get word of an evil presence closing in, and they must fight the frightening and formidable force, which was previously thought to exist only in legend.