Introduction

THERE ARE things that go bump in the night. Those who don’t know better, those who look only with the eyes of Outside, would say our little country of Haven is aptly named, that it is a beautiful refuge from the troubles of the world, far away from its dangers. “Oh, sure,” they’d say, grinning, “there’s the odd troll come down from the mountains, but you folk know trolls, and you know how to handle ‘em. Even dragons, they can be bargained with. Dragons are reasonable people. No, you here in Haven have got it good, ten times better’n what we deal with in the World at Large. No,” they’d finish, “you have it right good here in your pretty little land.”

If only they knew the real truth. We call our land Haven because it is, it’s the place we fled to, the safe place, the refuge from the Doom that had befallen us Out There. But every safe place has its secrets, its terrors, and for most of us, its hidden horrors.

The dark forces peer through the veil of Otherworld at us all the time. They are mischevious, surly, resentful, and sometimes downright hungry, hungry for our blood and our bones and our very souls. The Gnomes are refugees from Otherworld and it’s driven them mad. Not a one of them that’s less than barmy, and they’ve dwelt alongside us now for over five hundred years.

Creatures from the Other Side watch us, and mislead us, and sometimes just plain gobble us straight up, and there never is any rhyme or reason to it. A redcap dyes his hat in your blood because he must, and there’s no way to know when he’ll find you and make an end of your life’s tale.

Horrors creep into our sleepy, little, seemingly-safe land, and get past the defenses put there by Father Sky and Mother Earth. They sneak in, they prey upon us, and we do our best to fend them off, with what little magicks and might of steel we have. It’s often not enough, but still we try. We are the fatted sheep, ready at any moment for the slaughter, and knowing seems to make not one whit of difference. We are just too dumb to get up and leave. Out There holds more terrors for us than the terrors we know in our safe little land, and so we stay. And anyway, you can’t believe the tales of them Halflings, more than most of what they say is all lies, and the other half’s pure craziness.

“You don’t know what you think you know.”

Introduction

Haven Gegner