Long, long ago, in the time of the First Kings, in the lands south of Kanomar, now lost, there lived an outlaw known throughout the land as “The Hood”. His homeland, like much of the distant continent of Nuberon had suffered greatly in the recent years under the Imperial rule of the Priests of Alastaran. So far away from the gleaming white city, the seat of power for the Empire, the Bishops that ruled over Kanomar, as in so many places across Taloria, had grown corrupt and greedy, disregarding the watchful eye of their own Oracle, and out of sight of the church leaders. And so some, like Richard, son of Grey, felt it was their duty to stand up to the oppression of the Bishops. They would take up the fight, even if doing so meant being branded as criminals, giving up their places in the very society that they hoped to protect.

Richard the Hood had gathered up a band of likeminded followers, a stalwart bunch, true to the last. Each had suffered at the hands of the Empire, each was ready to lay down their lives for the cause. Books could be written about the Cheerful Company, as they were known, and their exploits. They earned the name through an unwavering optimism, spreading a message of hope throughout the realm. The Company helped to keep the people’s spirits up through the worst of times, bringing food to those in need and stealing back what the Bishop’s ushers had taken.

Richard and the Company had begun to lose track of how long they had been outlaws, living as they were out in the Greywood, when one day the sentries threw up an alarm. Everyone in the camp responded at once, dropping all to be at the ready as the signal sounded. They saw a man dressed in the robes of the Church, accompanied by a small group of Ushers, approaching the camp, and readied themselves for a fight. To their surprise, the priest and the soldiers, on hearing the signal threw their hands in the air, immediately surrendering.

“I seek the man known as the Hood!” the priest shouted, as they all came to a stop. “I presume I am in the right place?”

“You have found him, priest”, Richard replied, stepping up from his place in the camp. “What business do you have here?”

“I am Bishop Furl, and I bring news,” he replied, “both good and bad. Both of which I believe you will want to hear. And a request.”

“Then share your news,” Richard said, cocking his head slightly, “but you may do so from there, and with the knowledge that our bows are trained on you and your men.”

“Understandable precautions given the times, and taken without offense, my son. The good news is that the war is over. Alastaran’s leaders have agreed that governance of the lands beyond the city should be the realm of the local people. The people of Kanomar have appointed the newly crowed King Banadon to rule. From this point forward the Bishops will run the church, and the church will serve the people’s spiritual needs, and nothing more.”

The Company looked around, shocked and elated at this news. “And what of the bad news?” Richard asked, waving them to silence.

“The bad news is that not all of the church leaders are cooperating with the Arch-bishop’s decree. Your own Bishop Knott is among them” he replied, shaking his head and lowering his arms.

“And your request?” Richard asked.

“I was sent here directly from Alastaran to serve in Knott’s place. By King Banadon’s request I am meant to take temporary control of the region from Knott while the king consolidates his power in the north, until such time as he can appoint a regional governor. I have heard of your band and their skill. I would entreat your help to unseat the rogue Bishop Knott.”

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