Chapter 1
Encroaching Darkness

AZ 1449 - Late Summer
Castle Notos, Maximilion, Notos

Unrest in Notos did not die down as quickly as Duke Cronos would have thought. However, with the imposition of strict curfews and harsher penalties for sedition, the population was largely pacified. As rebel activity waned, Cronos wanted to enjoy the victory he had won. However, stemming one threat only gave rise to another.
Less than two months earlier, a few skiffs filled with Kobaloi and other monsters were intercepted by roving patrols. At first, Cronos thought they were simply more remnants from the old invasion who had taken refuge beyond the river, much like the Kobaloi that attacked Maranthe five years ago. However, when the bodies were examined by the court mages, they declared that the taint of the Darklands was fresh. They were recent arrivals from the East and they would not be the last either.
Just a few days ago, a lone Kobalos was killed near the road between Maximilion and Hebertos. It was carrying a parchment addressed to King Solon, a parchment made from human skin. On the rough side of the parchment was a tattoo that matched the description of a fisherman who had vanished when the skiffs were encountered. The mages could not find any signs of enchantment, so it was nothing more than a letter, albeit a gruesome one. Since it was not intended as a form of underhanded attack, Cronos did not break the seal on the letter. Instead, he forwarded it to Zephyr with the following note:

To my king and liege lord:

I had stated in my previous letter that small parties of monsters from the Darklands had been intercepted along the eastern coast of Notos. My men have recently killed a Kobalos that had infiltrated deeply into the country bearing a letter addressed to Your Majesty. The mages here could find no trace of bewitchery, but I strongly encourage the court mages in Hesperia to examine it before the seal is broken. It is my belief that the letter is either a challenge or threat from the Chaos Dominion itself. It seems they are mounting a new invasion and we must act quickly to stop it from happening. I await the decision of Your Majesty on this matter.

Your Majesty's steadfast servant,
Cronos, Duke of Maximilion

Placing both letters in a thick leather message tube, Duke Cronos gave them to a herald leaving on the first ship to Hesperia. If the Chaos Dominion was truly planning another invasion, time was of the essence.