In June of 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte's attempts at reclaiming the French Empire are destroyed on the field of Waterloo. In the months to follow, the restored Bourbon monarchy seeks retribution against many of the now-exiled emperor's former generals. Foremost, they demand that Michel Ney, Marshal of France, who had been called by both enemy and friend as 'The Bravest of the Brave', pay with his life.

In December, Ney is tried by the Chamber of Peers, convicted, and sentenced to death, in direct violation of the Treaty of Paris, which formally ended the Napoleonic Wars. In a strange twist of fate, Ney finds the unlikeliest of allies in his former nemesis, British Field Marshal Sir Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. Just before dawn on 7 December 1815, with Marshal Ney waiting to be taken away to his execution, the Duke cryptically tells him, "Death is just the beginning."

Three years later, a quiet and mysterious stranger arrives in Cheraw, South Carolina to take up the position as headmaster of a local school. Loved by both his students and the community, a series of intriguing events will only add to the legends surrounding the enigmatic schoolteacher, who is clearly more than he appears.

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