My friends, I come to you with a warning. The signs have been shown to me and I see danger now, all around us... but before I can say more it is important that you know what once was....
There was a time, long ago, when our world was blighted by a great Darkness; a cloud of evil that crept through men's thoughts and tainted their every deed. It stole into the minds of the strong and the righteous, poisoning them against themselves and each other, until at last none remained untouched by its sickness. None but one.
Many moons have passed since the time of the Consortium. That syndicate of evil who fed off of the despair and anguish they created. Their leader, a mysterious and savage power-mage, had drawn all the dregs of creation together as they flocked to his Death-mark banner - wild with delirium at the rumours of the Great One's feats of necromancy.
Those who could bear to look on the Great One knew him as Eloosive and from these he had chosen his generals; the devious Cheshiregrin, cloaked assassin and master of subterfuge; SoundsFishy, a demonic elfin warrior-mage, in her lust for power second only to the Great One himself; the 'nightmaker', Incesticide - alchemist and dark sorceress incarnate; and the craven and remorseless barbarian Brightwell, with his ghoulish monkey henchmen, Dysphemism, Parkovic and Rubashevskiy - mute, blind and deaf respectively but evil to the bone.
Between them they brought our world to the brink of oblivion. It seemed there were none who could face them and survive. Incesticide it was - the nightmaker - who created the Darkness and under it's potent spell only the strongest willed or those of the magical mind were not broken. Eloosive became the nearest thing there had ever been to a God upon our land, with his inhuman familiar and enchanted staff, and so long as the magical triumverate held firm between the three, all hope was lost.
There was a timeless and unspeakable Dark force invoked by the combination; his being; his arcane oaken staff, TheRiverTalker - ancient source of his lore-wisdom and confidante; and his familiar, Noble - the 'tonguetwister', a giant black raven that sat on the Great One's shoulder, seeming to feed from his darkness of soul and grow blacker as the world grew foul. It is said she whispered the thoughts of his enemies into his ear. Yes, so long as the three remained united, there would be no hope for our world.
And yet hope had sprung a new green shoot in the heart of a young blacksmith's apprentice, Joe, in the town of New Haven.
Joe lived a happy life there, rich in friendship. He had his pet duck, Davy, to keep him company and had newly fallen in love with the baker's daughter - Vyda.
Although he hadn't summoned the courage to tell her just yet, 'Today was the day', he had decided. It was a place of easy living and gentle laughter, as yet oblivious to the creeping Darkness...