Three days ago, in the village of Preek... Zahra sat at the table in the shadowy corner of the tavern. No one knew how she had gotten there, or what she was drinking, or even how she was dressed. She was just too damn mysterious. She had spent the morning doing something uncertain, before moving an undefined distance for reasons unknown. Now she had stopped inexpelicably in the village tavern and set about the completion of an unknown task. Lifting her non-descript drink, she looked across the 6 foot tall cat sitting with her. "So, where are you fro--" "I don't want to talk about it!" Lirin snapped, banging the table and rattling her saucer of milk. The two of them returned to sitting in silence and being mysterious. Behind them, John ran past the window holding a giant harpoon launcher. Meanwhile, at the next table, a bunch of paladins were huddled around a piece of paper. "Okay," said Darius as he dipped the quill in some ink, "How about this. Rule Number 1: We, the Order of Algenon, believe in protecting the innocent." Another paladin slumped across the table and sighed. "But what about non-intelligent monsters that want to eat us?" Darius frowned. "Erm, okay. Er... We believe in opposing tyranny and oppression." A third paladin downed his drink and hiccupped. "Some socio-economic groups depend on hegemonic government for their survival." Darius crossed out his writing and started again. "Okay... er... We, the Order of Algenon, believe in justice for all who are wronged." "That's a bit vague, and we have no litigation experience." A fourth paladin fell off his chair, fast asleep, and behind him, through the window, John ran past whilst dragging a bundle of rope. Suddenly the tavern door opened and a large wolf padded over the threshold. "Excuse me!" declared Jair, "Does anyone need help?" There was silence in the tavern and the drunkards turned to look at the wolf. Someone coughed. "Anyone? Help? Yes? No? Anyone at all?" Darius peered out from his group of friends. "Er, it would help if you could be more specific." "Well... y'know, I'm a Wolf God. Just wanna help and stuff...heh heh.." Jair shifted nervously in the doorway, "...make the world a better place, y'know?" She scratched her ear with her hind leg. "Heh... so, erm... anyone?" There was further silence and Jair's ears drooped. "I'll, er... I'll just go sit in the corner." As the tavern went back to normal, Lirin glanced at Zahra. "She's pretty cool. Maybe she can join?" Zahra glanced at the cat. "Join what?" "I'm not saying." "Neither am I." "Good. I don't want you to." "Well I'm not gonna." "Good." "Good." They continued sipping their undefined drinks and being mysterious, whilst through the window John ran past with an ACME anvil. "Okay," Darius picked up the quill again. "So, Rule Number 1: We, the Order of Algenon, believe in the destruction of all creatures alligned to the Evil plane." "Well that's just discriminatory," said another paladin, before downing his third tankard of ale. The paladin beside him slid off the table in a drunken heap. Scowling, Darius put down his quill and turned in his chair. "Excuse me, barmaid?" The ground shook and tables and drinks went crashing as a centaur trotted over. "Can I help you?" asked Arothi. "Yes, I'd like to complain about the 2 for 1 Paladin Ale offer. I find it highly unethical. We are holy men and are supposed to refrain from alcohol." Arothi shrugged. "Sorry Sir, I just work here. It's the manager's policy." The last of the paladins slid off the table, leaving Darius sitting alone. "Well in that case, I'd like to speak to your manager." "Sorry Sir, he's at the battle." "What battle?" Arothi pointed through the window and there, at the edge of town, two armies were engaged in fierce battle, hacking and bludgeoning each other to death. Blood and body parts were spraying in all directions. Darius shook his head and turned away from the window. "There's always some excuse." He went back to writing his paladin code when he realised he had used up all the paper. "Dammit. Er, do you have any paper, Miss?" The barmaid was about to answer when she noticed someone coming through the door. Clomping her hooves angrily, the centaur yelled across the room. "Hey you! No! What did I tell you! Out!" In the doorway, Lahras lifted his hands in disbelief. "What the hell? What did I do now?!" Behind him, a giant treant was bending down to get through the doorway. "I told you before!" yelled Arothi, "Your wooden friend is not welcome here!" "Muuuuuughr!!!" groaned the treant sadly. "He's got nowhere else to go!" "Not my problem! Out! Out! Shoo!" "Muuuuuughr!!!" The treant backed away and stomped off sadly through the village. Lahras hung is head and went to sit in the corner with Jair. Meanwhile, John ran past the window with a giant rubber band around his waist. "Excuse me," said Darius as he leant towards the next table. "Do any of you ladies have some paper?" "Maybe, maybe not!." screeched Lirin, "What's it to ya, fuckface?!" "Yeah, who wants to know?! Huh?! Huh?!" Zahra shoved the paladin. "You don't know us, bitch! You don't know anything!!!" "GET OUTTA MY FACE!" Darius leant back. "Er... okay." Through the window behind him, the battle at the edge of the village had come to an end. A huge pile of bodies lay heaped in pools of gore and severed limbs, pillars of smoke rising and vultures beginning to circle. A single warrior, the only survivor, staggered between the remains of his friends, covered in blood and screaming at the sky. His shouts could just about be heard. "Why.... oh god, why?! My friends... oh god... the blood... so much blood!" Suddenly the man stopped and noticed something. "Ooh, a lute!" There was a pause, and then the distant figure began dancing and very bad lute music echoed across the battlefield. "Hey," said a voice suddenly from the shadows around Darius's table. "I hear you're looking for something to write on." Darius turned to regard the adorable looking dragonkin who had appeared out of nowhere behind him. "Er, that's right." "Here," said Alla Jeje, "Use this." She placed a small book on the table which was glowing red and bound in human flesh, a dozen sentient eyes blinking on the cover. Darius looked at it, then back at the dragonkin. "Is that an evil diary?" Alla smiled. "No, no. It's fine." Darius opened the diary and listened to the screams of trapped souls. He raised his eyes. "You're evil, aren't you?" "Nuh uh!" "Quick, say something good." "Er... er..." Suddenly the tavern door flew open again and a distraught girl staggered in, covered in blood and dirt. She was out of breath. "Demons... village... all dead.. I ... demons everywhere...!" Annalaey keeled over and landed flat on her face. Through the doorway behind her, John went catapulting across the street with a rubber band and anvil. He flew out of sight and then there was an almighty crash and the squawking of chickens. A few seconds passed and then an angry mob of peasants ran in the opposite direction, chasing a small dragon. "SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!!" screamed Rethil as he ran away from the villagers. "This place sucks!" muttered Lirin. Zahra sighed as she watched Jair and Lahras licking the unconscious Annalaey. Outside, John was shoving his ACME weapons into a dumpster whilst Rovan danced around him, playing his lute. Rethil was nearby, donning a fake moustache as he hid behind the snoozing treant. Behind Lahra, Darius was purchasing a diary from Alla Jeje whilst Arothi tried to squeeze back behind the bar, knocking over more bottles and getting wedged behind the barrels. "I have a good feeling about this," the mysterious woman declared. "I believe we are one step closer to finding Yug..... Yugdre... dra... Yoghurt... er.. You gur... yug..." Lirin blinked at her. "Yug-jug.. Egg...dras.. Egg-dressing..." "Yugg-yog... drastic... yig... er..." "Agger... yucky... drasen... drill..." Zahra shouted, "FUCK IT - THE GLOWING TREE!" There was silence in the tavern. Everyone turned and looked at Zahra. And at the doorway, two bloodstained fighters and a dragon appeared. "What's that now?" asked John. ...THE ADVENTURE BEGINS!