By Melvyn Riley


All Books by
Melvyn Riley:



Pim huddled in the shadows beneath a long, weathered table outside a baker’s shop in the market square of Elestria. He heard the sound of iron clanging against cobblestones as a company of the Vassor’s knights approached. He shrank back when he saw light from the full moon glinting off the riveted plates that covered their boots. The knights, mercenaries in the Vassor’s private army, were looking for him. If they found him—but it was best not to think about that. Pim had to turn his mind to escape.

The clanking faded, and Pim stuck his head out from under the table and looked around cautiously. His heart was pounding like an Austrandish war drum. He was near the edge of town, near enough, perhaps, to make a run. Unfortunately, he wasn’t near enough to guarantee a getaway. He recognized a trough decorated with roosters on the other side of the street and realized he'd stolen bread from this very same table a week before. The thought made his stomach grumble. He pressed his palms against his complaining belly lest it give him away.

Pim crept out from beneath the table and stood in the shadows for a moment, listening. All was quiet. He turned his back to the street and quickly climbed the bakery wall to the roof. He’d always thrived among the rooftops. The elevated view usually exposed the juiciest targets for his thievery.

He worked his way across the clay rooftops of the lower precinct buildings as silently as he could, crouching low as he went. His thoughts were racing faster than an Aleedindel stallion, but he had to force his legs to go slowly, quietly, deliberately. One small sound and the Elestrian knights would be on him. He’d rot in the dungeons like a moldy slice of bread. Clearly, it was time to head for a new town. Perhaps even a new life.

Pim whispered a quiet prayer: “I swear, oh Illendale, protector of the Sigils, that I’ll leave the Southeland and live an honest life if you give me another chance. I’ll change my ways.”

Pim flattened himself against a roof as another troop of guards passed in the streets below. When they were gone, he leaped to the roof of the lower precinct holding cell. The irony of hiding on top of the jail was not lost on him. If he played his runes wrong, he’d soon be inside it.

He should have known better than to steal from houses near the castle, but the pickings had been too good to resist. He cursed himself for a fool. The knights wouldn’t rest until they had him in their clutches.

Pim heard a voice inside his head. Come to Illendale, it whispered.

The same voice had made the same plea three nights running. Pim shrugged it off as a figment of his imagination, maybe even his conscience. Then he remembered that thieves don’t have consciences—not if they’re any good at thieving, and at staying alive.

Pim the Knife was his title throughout Southeland, a tribute to his skill with a blade. He had no other name, at least none he could remember. His earliest memory was of stealing a gentleman’s coin purse in Aleedindel at the age of ten. Why he remembered that theft but had no recollection of life prior to that day, he had no inkling. He did know that his life probably would have turned out differently had he never met the jagged-toothed man named Jinx.

“Thievin’ is in your blood, boy,” Jinxy used to say, but maybe farming would have been in his blood if he’d escaped from Jinxy years earlier. Still, he loved the old scoundrel and wished he were with him now. Jinxy could always get him out of a hound trap unscathed.

“What would you do, Jinxy?” Pim asked the thin air.

“Why Pim,” he replied in his best Jinxy voice, “the jail would be the last place they’d look, so I’d stay put.”

Pim smiled and then closed his eyes to wait for the dust to settle.


“Wake up, you scoundrel!”

The deep voice of Sir Trie’re boomed above him. Pim rolled, but he slammed into the armor-clad leg of a knight even as two other knights pinned him to the rooftop. He had fallen asleep, and soon he’d be facing the sleep of the dead.

“How did you find me?” Pim asked Sir Trie’re as the other knights hauled him to his feet.

Sir Trie’re shot Pim a malevolent grin and pointed to the knives bound to Pim’s biceps with cloth strips. “Pim, you worthless rag, the next time you plan to escape—not that there will be a next time, mind you—you best cover those shiny blades strapped to those noodles you call arms.”

Sir Trie’re gestured to one of his knights, and the man grabbed the knives and ripped them loose.

“No!” Pim shouted, and he tried to twist away. But it was too late. The astonished knights gasped as they stared at the dagger-shaped black mark etched into the skin of his right arm.

“Take him to the Vassor’s dungeon!” Sir Trie’re bellowed to his men.

As they led Pim away, Sir Trie’re sneered at him in triumph. “Looks like you’ll be taking a trip north to see the High Vassor himself.”

Pim’s mouth turned dry as parchment as the knights dragged him from the roof and marched him toward the castle proper, the dreaded heart of Elestria.


Pim sat on a low stool in a tiny cell in the dungeon and tried to ignore the guard’s taunting prattle. “I knew they’d catch you one day, thief,” the guard said. “But I didn’t think you were stupid enough to raid the castle’s pantry.”

The guard leaned against the iron bars of the cell and peered in. “And they say the only thing you made off with was a sack of apples.”

Pim turned his back to the guard and stared at the windowless stone wall at the back of the cell.

The guard was undeterred. “Lord Draedan is paying a handsome bounty to anyone who brings him a wretch bearing the black mark. I hear he has a dark magic conjurer ready to rip the mark from any poor devil who’s cursed with it.” The guard chortled. “No need for a dark conjurer. We just have to cut off your arm.”

Pim cupped his hands over his ears. The guard spat and turned away.

Hours passed. Pim heard the sound of soft snoring. He turned around and saw the guard asleep in a big wooden chair a few yards from the cell door. Pim wished he could fall asleep so easily, but fear and confusion kept slumber at bay. He knew the Sigils were only a fable, but that wouldn’t keep the High Vassor Draedan Sifferus from slicing the marked skin from his bones. He should have listened to that voice inside his head. He should have left Elestria while he had the chance.

Come to Illendale.

The voice startled him from his ruminations. It was louder this time. He heard the sound of a key turning in the lock of his cell door. He looked up. The sleeping guard had vanished, and no one else was about. All was quiet—except for the key turning in the lock.

Come to Illendale.

The cell door swung open. Pim stepped through the doorway and looked around. He was alone. He tiptoed through the dungeon, staring straight ahead, avoiding the other cells. He saw nobody. He found the narrow stairway that led up to the ground floor of the castle and started to climb, his heart hammering in his chest. He passed through another doorway. He saw no one. He kept to the shadows and made his way outside.

It was time to heed the voice that had been calling him.


Reev Onid, wizard’s apprentice, knew that voice. It had just awakened him for the dozenth time in as many nights. Come to Illendale, it whispered. It was the voice of Illendale himself, The Protector, the creator of the four Sigils. Illendale was long departed, but his shadow was bound within the haunted forests that were named for him.

Reev shuddered. Illendale spoke only to a chosen few, and the black marks on Reev’s left arm identified him as one of them. But Reev knew that was impossible. He wasn’t worthy of such responsibility, such honor. He was only a wizard’s apprentice, and a failed one at that. Either The Protector had chosen wrong, or Reev was losing his mind. But it was impossible that The Protector had chosen wrong.

Reev got up from his cot and walked to the room’s only window. He opened the wood shutters and felt fresh air waft in and cool his clammy skin. He sat on the windowsill and peered across the yard of the Wizard’s Keep. He closed his eyes and reflected on the legend of the Sigils—and the harsh reality of his young life.

The bearer of the Sigil that took the form of a scroll had always been a master of the magic arts, the legends said. Reev’s life at the Wizard’s Keep was filled with failed attempts to hone nonexistent skills in esoteric magic. The talents of his friends—and his bullies—had surpassed his by great measures. Reev could read any scroll and mix any potion, yet he could not conjure up even one little strand of lightning. Failure was his lot, disappointment his destiny.

A knock sounded at his door, startling him out of his reverie. “Who calls this time of night?” Reev demanded.

“Master Saleallé.”

Reev groaned. He knew a visit from Master Saleallé could only spell trouble. He went to the door and opened it, and then bowed before the aged man according to the sorcerer’s custom, his left hand grazing the floor, his right reaching toward the sky. The gesture acknowledged the sorcerers’ connection to all things, above and below. “Master Saleallé,” he said, as he straightened himself. “If this is about the missing leech root, I assure you that I am not attempting to make another potion to give Enid one more bout of suck warts.”

The master smiled. “That is not why I am here.”


Master Saleallé entered the small room and took a seat on a high-backed wood chair. He was holding a small, parchment-wrapped package, which he placed on his lap. Reev perched on the edge of his cot, prepared for the worst.

“The time of the Sigil is upon us again,” the master began. “We must each do our part. I’ve come to help prepare you.”

“Yes, master, I know, but I’ll never be prepared, because I can’t—”

Master Saleallé silenced the young apprentice with a wave of his hand. “Let’s not worry about what you cannot do and focus on what you can do. We both know you are adept at mixing your potions. More important, your scroll-reading skills prove that you’re one of the most studious apprentices ever to bless the Wizard’s Keep.”

“Thank you for your kind words, Master Saleallé, but scroll reading has always come naturally to me. However, the esoteric arts seem to evade me altogether. I cannot even get one simple levitation spell to work.”

The master shook his head and smiled. “You’ll master conjuring one day. But look here, I’ve brought you a gift.”

Master Saleallé handed the package to Reev. The boy loosened the twine that bound it, revealing a midnight-blue cloak decorated with black runes sewn into the cloth.

“It’s a reader’s cloak,” Master Saleallé said. “It allows a scroll reader to find writings that are hidden to the naked eye. For centuries, sorcerers have woven spells in all of Austrand, creating a grid of magic across the lands. The grid is a map that leads the reader to where he wishes to go.”

“I don’t wish to go anywhere.”

“You may yet. Now, try on the cloak. But you will have to remove your shirt. The cloak only works when it touches bare skin.”

”But, I’ve a rash on my arms. It’s quite embarrassing.”

“Then we shall treat this rash,” Master Saleallé replied. “Off with it now, let’s see your rash.”

“Please, Master Saleallé, I cannot.”

“I said take off your shirt,” Master Saleallé demanded.

Reev sighed and removed his shirt, turning his body sideways before grabbing the reader’s cloak to cover himself.

“Hold up, young Reev, where’s the rash?”

“It must’ve cleared up.”

“Let me inspect your other arm.”

Reev’s heart thudded against his breastbone. He knew he could hide no longer. He raised his left arm before his teacher.

“As I suspected,” Master Saleallé whispered as he stared at the dark lines etched into Reev’s left arm in the form of a scroll. “How long have you had the mark, Reev?”

“Nearly half a moon.”

“And why did you not step forward when we asked for the bearer?”

“I’m not worthy. It’s a mistake.”

“It’s no mistake. I suspected it was to be you the moment we found you as a baby. As I lifted you from the stone steps of the Wizard’s Keep, the shadow of Illendale himself appeared before me.”

“The Protector calls to me in my dreams, Master Saleallé. He begs me to come to Illendale. I’m afraid.”

“You should be. Your journey will be long and hard, but you can’t refuse it. Your time for hiding is finished. The High Vassor knows we conceal one of the bearers. We’ve received word that he is sending Ivull dogs to search East Asprus to find the Wizard’s Keep. If they find you here, you will be killed. You must follow the voice of The Protector.”

“When must I leave?”



“Wake up Estra.”

Estra Dane stirred at the sound of her mother’s voice. She felt a cold, damp cloth on her back and knew her mother was trying to break the fever that had gripped her for days. As she slowly regained wakefulness, she realized that her mother had removed her shirt. She gasped and tried to pull the covers over her.

“I know, daughter,” said Leria Dane quietly. “How long have you borne the Sigil?”

Estra sighed and lay still. “Much less than a moon. I wanted to tell you, Mother, but I was afraid of what Father might do.”

Leria nodded. “But you never have to hide from me.”

“You won’t tell Father?”

“Korvo loves you, Estra, but while Lord Draedan controls him with that accursed bracelet, his loyalties are bound to his lordship alone.”

“He has no choice,” Estra said as she rolled back onto her stomach to hide the tears from her mother.

“Does it hurt?” Leria asked as she lightly brushed her fingers across the black lines that formed the figure of a bow on Estra’s back.

Estra shook her head. “Not anymore. It burned for only a second when the lines first appeared.”

“How did it happen?”

“I was out on my lone hunt two weeks back, as required by my guard training. I was about to fell a dragon when suddenly my back felt all ablaze. I thought I’d been hit by a fire arrow. The burning cooled as quick as it flashed. I removed my coverings to feel for injuries, but there were none. I found a stream to look upon the reflection of my back. When I saw the lines in the face of the water, I knew the prophecy was true and that I had been chosen.”

Leria recited the ancient prophecy. “A female from the Northelands will bear the mark of the Sigil. She will pierce the heart of evil with an arrow of hope.” She gazed into Estra’s eyes. “Have you heard the call yet?”

“I have. It says Come to Illendale.”

“Then you must go. If you stay, you will die. Lord Draedan suspects that the Sigils are returning. You won’t be safe here, or anywhere in the Northelands. You must go to Illendale.”

“Mother, I’m barely fourteen. The High Vassor won’t be searching for children. Need I remind you that all past bearers of the Sigil have always been of age. My youth will conceal me. I am but two weeks from being named a master archer. If I stay, I will shoot him down as he names the new line.”

“Lord Draedan is protected by magic. A mere arrow will not pierce him.”

“If I leave now—if I run—I am a coward.”

Leria shook her head. “It’s your destiny, not cowardice, that calls you to run. If you follow the call, you may one day have the chance to end Lord Draedan’s tyranny.”

Estra moaned as pain suddenly wrenched her body. Her sickness was spreading.

A thought crossed her mother’s mind. “This fever, did it start when you first heard the call?”

“Yes, how did you know?”

“I suspect this is the dark wizard Anuk’s work. I believe he’s using a binding spell to try to weaken the bearer before she has a chance to reach Illendale.”

“How would you know this, Mother?”

“As the wife of Korvo Dane, I hear many things. Your path is obvious. You must head to the mouth of Illendale, to find your destiny and to break the spell that binds you. With every step you take away from Mount Vilner, you will gain more strength.”

“Illendale is leagues away. It would take me days to reach.”

“Every step away from Mount Vilner is one step closer to Illendale. You have the strength to do this, my child.”

“I don’t know if I can even move, let alone take to a horse and flee.”

“I’ll take her,” a tiny voice called from the door to Estra’s room.”

“Lora Dane, what are you doing eavesdropping?” Leria demanded.

“I’ve known about Estra’s mark for weeks, Mother.”

“It’s true,” Estra said, “I showed her myself, the day I returned from the hunt. There are no secrets between my sister and me.”

Leria stood up. “Then it’s best we start packing. Lora, hitch the hay wagon. Bed it with straw and load it with vegetables and my tincture bags. We’re leaving Mount Vilner immediately. I’ll leave your father a note, telling him an outbreak has hit one of the southern villages and that I’ve gone to offer my healing services and taken you two along to help. Estra, you’ll hide beneath the straw as we ride. You can rest and regain some of your strength. We’ll take you as close to the edge of the forest of Illendale as we can.”

Lora disappeared to prepare the wagon, and Leria packed leather satchels for her daughters. “May The Protector of the Sigils bless us on this journey,” she whispered before helping Estra from her bed.


Deloria Kildri, Vasserine of West Asprus, lay in bed, chewing at her nails. Her nerves felt as frayed as a torn piece of old homespun. Her arranged betrothal to the Vassorin of the Northelands—the odious son of the High Vassor Lord Draedan—was disturbing enough. Not that there was any chance of her actually marrying the loathsome creature and becoming the daughter-in-law of his detestable father. What really had her tied in knots were the black lines that encircled her neck, forming a heart-shaped necklace that resembled intricate vine-work.

Worry had plagued her dreams all night, and rest had eluded her. West Asprus was rife with rumors, and if those rumors were true, the High Vassor’s armies soon would be searching all of Baccus Run for a bearer of the mark. Deloria was running out of time, and her intuition told her the time ended today.

She never should have confided in her mother. The woman no doubt meant well when she assured Deloria that her father would never hand over his own daughter to the High Vassor. Deloria had wanted to believe her. But she knew her father valued wealth and power more than love and family. And all the fancy scarves and jeweled neckpieces in Austrand could not conceal her necklace mark forever. Eventually, her father would see it.

She wished she had paid closer attention to her tutors when they tried to teach her the tales of the Sigil. She remembered something about The Protector returning and choosing four bearers. She closed her eyes and ransacked her memory.

“He sends them out somewhere, I think,” she murmured to herself. “Into the four quadrants was it? And there was something about bringing back hope and restoring balance to . . . something.”

She opened her eyes. Regardless of the tales, the marks around her neck were no myth, nor was the voice that had been calling to her for more than a week, telling her to come to the forest named after The Protector.

Deloria felt something move under her blanket, brushing against her leg. She smiled when she saw the small lump moving under the covers. She sat up and reached under her sheets to grab the shadow glider.

“Shadoe, where have you been? I thought you must have pestered Frey’er one too many times and he’d turned you into lunch.”

She pulled the tiny invisible creature out from under the covers and held it within a ray of sunlight that spilled into the room through the wood slats of her shutters. She could just see the outline of Shadoe’s body in the light.

“Oh, Shadoe, you and Frey’re are my only true friends.”

The shadow glider chirped back, as if he understood, before racing up her arm to curl around her neck and nestle beneath her long, golden hair for a nap.

Deloria stood up and went to her dressing mirror. She stood at a slight angle to the glass and squinted at her reflection. She stood up tall, crossed her arms, and put a resolute expression on her face. She had a plan. Vasserine Deloria Kildri would meet with the Vassorin of the Northelands, acknowledge the betrothal, and enjoy the night’s celebration. At midnight, she would take Shadoe, depart from Baccus Run through the tunnels that ran beneath the city, and head to Illendale.

She sighed. These were brave plans for such a pampered, inexperienced girl. She had never gripped a sword, ridden a dragon, or even fetched her own food. Nevertheless, she would quest forth. She had no choice. The voice that called her was too fervent to ignore, and the marks on her skin left her vulnerable to all who served—or feared—the High Vassor Draedan Sifferus.

She wished she could take Frey’er, but her dragon was still too young to fly or breathe fire. For now, he’d be safer in Baccus Run, but she promised herself and Shadoe that they’d come back for him.

Deloria was startled by insistent thudding against her door. The door flew open, and her handmaiden burst into the room.

“My lady, your father, the Vassor, he knows.

Deloria’s eyes grew wide. “He knows what?”

“He knows you bear the mark of the Sigil. I overheard your mother tell him and rushed here soon as I could.”

“Who else knows?”

“At least three others—a wizard, the Vassorin from the Northeland, and a man named Korvo Dane. They had met for breakfast and asked that I fetch you to join them. But as I left the room, I saw the wizard give your father and mother the most beautiful gold and silver cuflets I’ve ever seen. He said it was a token from the High Vassor himself. As they put the cuflets around their wrists, their faces altered. Then the words of betrayal poured from your mother’s mouth. They’re coming for you now, my lady.”

Deloria stepped back, and nearly fell onto her bed. She stared at the ceiling as the room began to spin.

“My lady, you must flee now. Before I came to you, I heard the wizard tell your father he would take you back to the Northelands to have the marks around your neck removed.” The girl bit her lip and began to cry. “I don’t think he means to leave you alive afterward. You must escape.”

“There isn’t time. What shall I do?”

“Slip into your rider’s clothes, my lady. You’ve never worn them, so perhaps you won’t be recognized. It may gain you some time if you don’t look so much like royalty.”

Deloria nodded, dashed into her changing closet, and put on the urthe-brown outfit of a dragon rider. After tucking her hair under her rider’s cap, she followed her handmaiden through the servant’s passages and emerged at the base of the castle, where she melted into a crowd of people who had gathered to celebrate her betrothal announcement. She worked her way through the courtyard toward the castle gates as quickly as she could. A roar filled the air, and she caught sight of Frey’er, who had spent this celebration day in the court’s petting zoo, the object of attention of scores of children. She cried inside knowing she must leave him behind. At least she had Shadoe, who was tucked safely in her blouse.

She cast her gaze downward as she strode toward the courtyard gates, hoping none of the four guards there would recognize her. Suddenly a warning bell rang out through the castle proper. The guards looked up, hands on their sword hilts, and she stopped short. Panic seized her. She turned from the gates and walked back toward the castle. Guards were materializing all around her, shouting and rushing about.

“You there,” a guard called.

She ignored him and picked up her pace. Her only chance now was to reach the bowels of the castle, which were linked to a chain of caverns that led east. A strong hand clutched her shoulder, and she felt an arm go around her waist. She tried to twist out the guard’s grasp as he snatched the rider’s cap from her head. She kicked out, but her foot connected with the guard’s leg armor. He grabbed a handful of her hair and yanked her toward him. “I’ve found her!” he yelled.

Shadoe leaped from his hiding place and scratched at the guard’s eyes before jumping back under Deloria’s blouse. The man howled in pain and put his hands to his face. Deloria ducked away from him and ran. The guard was shrieking and swearing, and his fellow guards were swarming toward the commotion. As Deloria ran toward the castle, she saw her father and Korvo Dane descending the castle steps. Her fate was sealed. By sundown, she’d be dead.

Suddenly, a great roar rent the air, and the castle grounds seemed to shake. A second roar, mightier than the first, was accompanied by the sound of iron snapping and chains falling. An angry Frey’er had broken his bonds. The young dragon jumped the petting zoo fence and ran to Deloria’s aid. Guards drew their swords, and Frey’er roared at them again. The roar became a crackling stream of fire, and the guards fell back.

Deloria’s heart ached with love for the dragon and gratitude for his loyalty. Now they would die together, but she was determined to go down fighting, side by side with her only friends.

Suddenly, a thought occurred. If Frey’er could breathe fire, perhaps he could fly. But, no, it was too much to hope for. The guards surged forward again, and Frey’er unleashed another jet of flames.

Deloria ran toward Frey’er and hopped onto his back. The dragon roared again and ran, spreading his wings as he charged. Deloria felt her stomach drop as Frey’re rose into the sky. She heard the sound of his wings beating against the wind, felt his impossibly strong muscles rippling beneath her as she held on tight. She looked down and saw the court of Baccus Run receding behind her. There was her father and Korvo Dane, and near them a wizard and the dark-haired Vassorin from Northeland—the cur she was to marry. She had escaped more than one peril today thanks to Frey’er. 

Come to Illendale.

This time the voice seemed like thunder echoing from the clouds, like a call from the Ancients themselves. Frey’er banked left and veered toward the Northelands, the most dangerous place a Sigil bearer could go. But Deloria knew the Northelands were home to the only true passage into the forest of Illendale. She wrapped her arms tighter around Frey’re’s neck.


Lord Draedan glared at Korvo Dane. “So it’s true?”

“Yes, my Lord,” Korvo Dane replied. “It’s the Vasserine Deloria Kildri. Her mother claims she bears the Sigil around her neck. We would’ve had her if it weren’t for her dragon.”

“Lucky for you, Korvo, that I am a forgiving man, elst you’d be dead where you stand for losing the girl. Send word to East and West Asprus. I want the mountains surrounding Illendale patrolled until all the bearers are in my hands.”

“But, my Lord, there’s only one passage into Illendale—through the mouth—and that’s here in the Northelands. Surely we don’t need to guard the mountains?”

“Don’t question my judgment,” the High Vassor snapped. “One of the bearers rides a dragon. Though highly unlikely, she could fly across the mountains into Illendale.”

“I meant no disrespect, my Lord. I will do as you say, immediately.” Korvo Dane bowed his head and quickly departed from the High Vassor’s quarters.

Lord Draedan turned to the black-arts master, who had been listening thoughtfully to the conversation between the High Vassor and his subordinate. “And what have you to say, Anuk?”

“The binding spell has worked, my Lord,” the dark wizard replied. “The binding stone is glowing. The spell I cast will plague the one who bears the sign of the Sigil with sickness.” Anuk absently fingered the binding bracelet squeezing his own right wrist.

“This means one bearer is here in the Northelands?”

“It does, my Lord.”

“Good. Now, prove to me that your magic is worth keeping you in my service. Find the bearer. I want her skin in my quarters within the week.”

“I will need the Ivull dogs for that task, my Lord.”

“I’ve sent them to East Asprus to seek out the Wizard’s Keep. Find another way.”

“Yes, my Lord.” Anuk bowed and backed out of his master’s quarters, careful not to take his eyes off the High Vassor. The dark wizard had the use of strong magic, but he knew the magic that Lord Draedan had siphoned from thousands of unwilling subjects had made him far stronger.

As the door to his quarters closed, Lord Draedan pulled his pendulum from his pocket. The pendulum swung wildly counterclockwise, and it made his heart skip a beat. Fear threatened to rise in Lord Draedan’s mind, but he held it at bay. He knew his measures had left a hollow in the balance of magic, and it seemed as if that hollow had become a creature haunting his dreams, taunting him with threats of death. The Void. It was becoming stronger. If he didn’t possess the Sigils soon, he might not be able to stop it when it crossed into the world of reality and came to kill him.


Across the lands of Austrand, four children raced toward the Northelands, in hopes of reaching the mouth of Illendale. A voice continued calling to them. In the haunted forest, the shadow of Illendale had released the power of the Sigils once again, to stop the High Vassor Draedan Sifferus. His misuse of magic had awakened the Void, a creature that had nearly destroyed all of Urthe an eon before. Now the Void waited. Each time Lord Draedan bound someone with his dark magic, it was one step closer to crossing over into the four quadrants, where it would find and kill the High Vassor before draining all the life from Urthe.