The Story begins in the city of Cresta, at the Church of Sajuras. Amalin, a young paladin, has been tasked with exploring the ruins north of the city. Since it is the policy of the Church to ally with the Marchwarden Society, Amalin is granted a traveling partner and ally: the warrior Markham. The Church also gives Amalin the use of a prisoner in the dungeons—the rogue called Lokken.
Amalin and her cohorts visit Warden, the aged Librarian at the Church. He tells them that their party is not yet complete—they must seek one who is loud. They are also told that the Artifact they seek may not be in the ruins; they must prepare for a long journey.
Upon leaving the Church, the party sees a crowd in the square. The crowd is gathered around a large half-orc dressed in spiked plate and garish silks. This is Myev, a cleric of Yevla, God of Jesters.
Amalin begins to speak with Myev about joining their quest, citing not only the inherent goodness, but the inherent comedy as well.
While this discussion continues, Markham and Lokken notice that they are being watched by a rather strange elf. Lokken, himself an elf, sidles over to the elf and engages him in conversation. This elf is Tenja, and his eyes burn with a strange light. The tattoo on his temple is familiar to Lokken, though he cannot at the moment place it. Tenja knows more about the quest than he should. He cautions Lokken that elven loyalty should be paramount in his mind.
Negotiations concluded, the party breaks up to tend to whatever personal business they must before setting out on the quest: Markham and Amalin head to the Adventurer’s Emporium, Myev heads to the Yevla Shrine at the Punch-the-Shield Inn, and Lokken heads to the Pinchwhistle Inn for a bath.
Lokken’s bath does not go quite as soothingly as he wants. He is visited again by Tenja, and is now able to place the strange temple tattoo: Tenja is one of the Teln, the psionic elven secret police.
Tenja gives Lokken a magical crystal that will help track the artifact. It seems the Teln want the Artifact for themselves. Lokken is no fool—he knows the Teln would abuse its power.
After meeting back up, the foursome sets out to the north. They travel for two days before reaching an outer edge of the Banewood. While camping for the night, they are attacked by a trio of orcs. The orcs have been mutated to a new form: they have glistening, scaled skin, slitted eyes and forked tongues.
After a vicious fight, the surviving orc was tied to a tree and questioned. The party discovers that this orc serves a new god, an ‘egg-man’. Amalin realizes that the orc means a bald man. After further questions, the party learns that the orc comes from the very ruins they seek—Flagstep Keep.
The next day, the heroes arrive at the Keep…