Long, long ago, when the world was a younger and much more mystical and magical place, there existed a strange and wonderful Folk. Folk of all type and nature, Folk of light and air and crystal and clear water, of forest and green, and of heat and sand and soaring red stone, of clover and fields and growing grain . . . and more.
Oh, yes, more . . . much more.
Too, there were creatures of the night, of the dark; some sinister and cruel, though not all, for night oft comes gently unto the soul.
These were the days when Faerie and the world were one, when magic was real, when great quests were undertaken, and mighty deeds were done.
And common folk gathered in the taverns and about hearths and in the great rooms of faraway castles, around the cook fires and in chambers delved from stone, in caverns, in forest glades, and elsewhere, to listen to the tales of these mighty deeds, of these great quests, listeners rapt in the tale teller's words.
Bards and Loremasters, storytellers and singers, minstrels and chanters and aged wise ones; these were the bearers of the tales, though occasionally some were written down for any and all to read, given that they knew how.
Yet whether or not people could read, still they depended upon the tale weavers to amaze and startle them, to enchant them with stories of fable and wonder, to cause them to look over their shoulders into the shadows to see if aught was creeping up on them in the dark.
And in a place called Mithgar, in the land of the Boskydells, in the village of Woody Hollow, there in the Seven Dells, in a tiny tavern known as the One-Eyed Crow, there often could be found one special tale teller, well known among his Kind.
He lived in Woody Hollow, among the Folk of this Land, a Folk known as Warrows. They are a shy Folk, not often seen, unless they wish to be. Wee Folk, you would call them — slender and graceful and elfinlike, standing between three and four feet tall when fully grown. And they have pointed ears and large tilted jewellike eyes, magnificent eyes, with deep glints and sparkles, eyes of three colors only, sapphire blue, emerald green, and amber gold.
And this tale teller: Gaffer Tom, they called him, an eld Warrow, a granther buccan, who would sit in his customary corner of the Crow and sip his ale and puff on his pipe and spin yarns long into the night.
From miles about they would come to hear him. And he never disappointed them.
Though he was a person of Warrow renown, still, not many knew him; not many knew Gaffer Tom's own tale, where he'd come from, how he'd got there, or even a thing or two that he had done in his youth.
Yet one day they caught a glimmer of the truth, for on that day, without warning, a blizzard blew down upon the Boskydells, a blizzard so fierce that it trapped people wherever they happened to be. And down in the One-Eyed Crow . . .