Prologue

In the land of Sania there lie three kingdoms. It is generally agreed that these kingdoms fall into three categories (or one per kingdom): the good kingdom, the evil kingdom, and the silly kingdom. The good kingdom is Bernia, run by King Bernin, who inherited the throne from his father, who inherited the throne from his father, etc. back to the founder of the land, King Bernin I (the current king is King Bernin CIIX). The evil kingdom is Mallia, run by (who else?) King Mallan, who took the throne by force from the one who was King Mallan before him, who took the throne by force from the one who was King Mallan before him, and so on back as far as anyone can remember, not that a lot of the people of Mallia can remember more than their own names (the educational system there is horrible).

And the silly kingdom is run by King Glupz. Predictably, it is called Glupzia. The rule there is decided by democratic election every five years; not many people run, mainly because whoever wins has to take the name King Glupz.' Thus, the person who is picked to be king really does not want to be king at all. For this reason, Glupzia is the most well-run country in Sania, and the silliest.

The kingdom is also silly because of its main export, which happens to be magic. Now, there is nothing silly about magic well-cast and well-intended, but the magic of the Glupzian magicians is neither of those things. The Glupzian magicians are trained at a great school of magic, and there is a great teachers union, so that the teachers must teach only an hour a week. And so the magicians tend not toward getting much education and so wreak havoc on the land with ill-cast spells.

There is one Great Magician, who is sometimes said to have sabotaged all other magicians that he might remain the greatest in the land. And the Great Magician's name is... it is... well, you see, this is rather awkward to admit, but the Great Magician has cast a spell that none may know his true name, for then they would have power over him in some inscrutable way. And so even the Great Hero Sir Abran knew not the Great Magician's name.

The Great Hero Sir Abran was a great hero indeed. By the age of twenty, he had defeated six armies single-handedly--not an easy feat in a land with only three countries, but he managed it, mainly because King Mallan massed his forces in three small bunches for two attacks, all of which were defeated by the courageous Sir Abran. Sir Abran also defeated no less than fifty-eight dragons using strength and guile in various combinations. He defeated imps as well, too many to be mentioned (some experts guessed the numbers of defeated imps to be in the thousands; ever since Sir Abran's great battles with the imps, they have become an endangered species). Sir Abran defeated trolls, he defeated ogres, even a few giants and one or two fairies who had gone evil.

Sir Abran was powerless against only one thing. His fans. Sir Abran had fans in the thousands, fans by the millions, and that's saying something, since the population of Glupzia is only about 50,000.

Not that Sir Abran really minded having fans. In fact, he rather liked it; mass adulation was something he enjoyed. And even the product endorsement he had to do (Sir Abran brand Extra-Concentrated Breath Mints and Bob's Shield Cleaner, just to name a few) weren't so bad. He only had to stand out in the market and do commercials once a month.

True, the fan mail was a little annoying; Sir Abran had a four-foot-high pile of marriage proposals sitting next to his bed. He was trying to figure out how to answer them without offending anyone. Sir Abran didn't like offending people; it wasn't the sort of thing heroes did. So the pile was still sitting there, waiting.

Most of the pile, actually, was composed of letters from one fan, named Reva. She sent a marriage proposal, neatly written out, every other week, and had been sending them for five years now, ever since Sir Abran had become really famous, at the precocious age of fifteen.

It was this that annoyed him most about being a hero. Reva. She lived quite close to the castle where Sir Abran slept when not out on glorious and heroic Quests, and sometimes Sir Abran saw her. She always waved frantically at him, squealed and tried to get his autograph. That was all right; everyone did that. What annoyed him most about Reva was that one day, she insisted on going on one of his Quests.

How that happened is a very long and complicated story, and is best summed up in one word: goat.