This Time: After a nasty experience with a sniper and some cliffs, the Company reach a village apparently beset by monsters, and Inglan and Jaddoc discover where the true monster lies...

The waters are rising!

For a thousand years, the landmasses of the world of Mereval have been sinking below the oceans. Great civilizations and mighty empires have been erased by the rising water, slowly at first but at increasing speed as time passed by.

The remaining nations of Mereval have between 10 and 20 years before being drowned. What were once highlands and mountain ranges have become shrinking island kingdoms. Their populations are being jammed into smaller and smaller areas from which to regard the oncoming end, and the 'luckier' realms - including Cormar - face war from those nearer to destruction, frantic to seize islands with higher places of refuge.

Food supplies dwindle as arable land sinks below salt water, and fishing fleets are more valuable than chests of gold and are protected accordingly. Fish is the great staple of the Merevalian diet. Wood to build boats with is threatened too - only Cormar and Marmark have much forest left, and guard those jealously as they devour them to support their fleets.

Metals, minerals and coal - products of mountain regions - are still plentiful, and so weapons and armour are still common. Every lord trains soldiers, to defend his land and in readiness for the final battle... the battle to see who will drown last.

Gods revered by people of the lost lands have been abandoned, as their failure to halt the oncoming disaster destroyed their followers’ faith. The black sorcerous magic of the near-vanished, inhuman, immoral, Khylar people is no longer available, for which all right-thinking humans are grateful; such power is tainted as all know well. Minor magics remain, small spells for the erasing of hurts or keening of weapons, but what can they do against an ocean?

Life is finite, and so is deeply intense, bittersweet, lived to the full by those who either feel they have nothing to lose, or that they must experience all they can before they do lose it all.