As a student of medieval history, Gil Patterson is a woman familiar with dark stories. She knows well the Crusades, the Black Death, and the other horrors of the Middle Ages, but it is another kind of atrocity that has begun to haunt her dreams. She sees forces of evil assaulting a beleaguered kingdom, whose kind people are on the brink of annihilation, and awakes each morning in a cold sweat. Gil dismisses the dreams until a wizard appears in her apartment. He has crossed into her dimension, passing through the fraying fabric of the universe, to ask her help.
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Three thousand years before, the monstrous Dark had sprung from loathsome underground lairs to destroy most of humanity. Now they were again ravening and ruining in their blood-hunger. Only a few thousand people had managed to find refuge in the ancient fortress Keep of Renweth. There, even the magic of the wizard Ingold Inglorion could offer them little hope against the Dark. To defeat the savage horror, they must gain help from the Hidden City of Quo, to which all other wizards had been summoned.
Outside the great stone Keep of Renweth, the night was the province of the Dark Ones - monstrous creatures that had swarmed out of their eldritch underground caverns to destroy humanity. Inside, where the pitiful remnant of the once-great Realm of Darwath huddled, Chancellor Alwir and Bishop Govannin continued their bitter struggle for dominance. Against all advice, Alwir went ahead with plans to use Ingold, Rudy, and the other wizards in a hopeless, desperate invasion of the Nests of the Dark.