"Spoiler alert: They failed."
This article contains spoilers from Start of Darkness and/or On the Origin of PCs

Start of Darkness is an Order of the Stick prequel book explaining the origins of Team Evil: Xykon, Redcloak, The Monster In The Darkness and the Demon Cockroaches. It explains how Xykon became a lich, how Xykon and Redcloak's plan to gain control of the Snarl began and how Eugene got his Blood Oath of Vengeance.

Plot Edit

A Small Village, 103 years ago Edit

A little boy cries over the death of his dog, Barky. A spark of power from the child causes the dog to become a zombie, exciting the child.

That Same Small Village, 95 years ago Edit

That boy, now a surly teenager, comes home to find a bald man in a wheelchair in his room. The man is Professor Xavion, who reveals that the boy is a sorcerer, and offers to recruit the boy for his school for sorcerers, to some day join his S-Men, a group of sorcerers who use their powers to protect a world that fears and hates them. Xavion reveals he's a low-level wizard, something the world doesn't hate or fear; Wizards gain power through academic study, "Like a finely tuned watched" while sorcerers are born with their powers "Like a rubber mallet". Annoyed at the implications, the teen kills Xavion and turns him into a zombie. Drinking the professor's coffee, the sorcerer decides that names with X's are cool, and dubs himself Xykon. Then he goes on to kill his parents with his zombies.

Goblin Hills, 34 years ago Edit

A young goblin is made an Acolyte of the Dark One by the Bearer of the Crimson Mantle. The ceremony is cut short by an attack from the Sapphire Guard's paladins, who feel the goblins are a threat to the world. During the raid, the now-dead Bearer tells the new Acolyte, Redcloak to take the Crimson Mantle, as he's now the only member of the church left. Infused with knowledge about The Plan, the new Bearer takes the only other surviving goblin, his little brother, Right-Eye (who lost his left eye in the raid) off into the world...

Helldeathdoomfire Volcano, 82 years ago Edit

An Unholy Master decides its time to choose his new second in command. Of his three remaining lackies, Yydranna the wizard, Xykon the sorcerer, and two-time Origins-Award-winning game designer Keith Baker, Yydranna and Keith are chosen to share the position. When asked why, the master reveals he chose Keith for his skill with 'military simulations' (Role-Playing Games) while Xykon has all the strategic ability of a wombat. Furious, Xykon decides to leave the group and strike out on his own. Despite advice from Yydranna to avoid it, he ends up in jail, suffering bad puns from good guys.

Bash University Library, 7 years ago Edit

Eugene Greenhilt tells his son Roy of the day when a mysterious stranger killed his master Fyron Pucebuckle in Cliffport. The intruder was about to steal something from Fyron, and the two fought, something Eugene was not able to help with, being trapped in a forcefield by the sorcerer, whom Fyron mocked for not being as skilled as a wizard. Unable to beat him at magic, the intruder killed Fyron with a Wizzy Award, and zombified his body. Enraged, Eugene swore revenge on the intruder, and after swearing a Blood Oath of Vengeance while drunk one night, went out to find him. The Oracle of the Sunken Valley revealed that the sorcerer's name was Xykon. Unable to find him after years of searching, Eugene ended up having a family with his new wife Sara and gave up the search. When asked by Roy what Xykon stole, Eugene confesses he doesn't know, but it must be something for a lovecraftian horror.

  • Girl: Nice crown. Where'd you get it?
  • Xykon: Long story. Why don't I tell you over a cup of coffee?

The Swamp, 30 years ago Edit

The Bearer of the Crimson Mantle and his brother, having assembled a band of goblins, prepare to attack a Sapphire Guard outpost, but are upstaged by attacking lizardfolk. The battle is interrupted by Xykon, who kills every paladin and some lizardfolk. Deciding that the sorcerer might be useful in their plans, both goblins and lizardfolk try to recruit him. After after seeing Xykon kill the lizardfolk rep' for having a overly long name, the Bearer dubs himself Redcloak and his brother Right-Eye. At an evil diner infested with Demon Roaches, the three talk over a cup of coffee. (One cup- while the goblins can't stand the stuff served there, Xykon loves it, in an almost profound sense.) The goblins tell Xykon about how the goblin folk and other minor monsters were created by the gods so their clerics could gain easy XP, and how one goblin warlord tried to change all that- The Dark One. Having so many followers in life, he became a god in death, and learned about the Snarl, a god-killing monster that was imprisoned within the world by the elder gods. Seeing how a rift to the Snarl could be used to better the goblin people, the Dark One created the Crimson Mantle so that whichever goblin wears it would fulfill his plan. The rift was sealed up by the Order of the Scribble, but the Dark One saw that the seal - Lirian's Gate - could be corrupted by an arcane caster and a divine caster. Thinking that they can use the rift, and the Snarl, to conquer the world, Xykon agrees to team-up with the goblins.

The Deep Rainforest, 29 years ago Edit

A creature, whose features are hidden in the bushes, save his yellow eyes, spies a steak hanging from a fishing hook. Taking the bait, the monster is trapped in a box set up by two stereotypical big game hunters. Ignoring the Monster's requests and pleas to be set free, the hunters are shocked to find 'one of these' in the rainforest, and speaking common. They decide to sell it.

  • Monster: Can I at least have the steak now?

Lirian's Glade, 27 years ago Edit

The goblin and elven forces clash for control of the Gate. During the battle, Redcloak and Right-Eye express concern over Xykon, whose carelessness kills just as many goblins as he kills elves. They also show annoyance at the Demon Roaches he attracted after multiple trips to the diner. The fight is ended by Lirian, though, who uses a magical virus to destroy the spell-casting ability of almost all of the goblin's casters- including Xykon. Deciding to be merciful, she traps the survivors, including Right-Eye, Redcloak, Xykon, and some random goblins in a sealed cave in the ground, with enough plants to get by with for a few years. Protected from the virus by the Crimson Mantle, Redcloak offers to turn Xykon into a lich, giving him an immunity to any disease. Right-Eye is worried about making Xykon more dangerous than he is, but Redcloak explains that he plans on using his holy item as a phylactery, giving them some leverage over the sorcerer. After four months of work, Xykon is reborn as a lich. After paralyzing Right-Eye and killing the lesser goblins with his paralyzing touch, Xykon prepares for a jail break.

While Xykon attacks Lirian, showing off his new power, Redcloak fights the defenders of Gate, accidentally starting a forest fire, destroying it. Meanwhile, Xykon defeats Lirian, who lets the fact that there are four Gates left slip. In revenge for her virus, Xykon Soul Binds Lirian's soul into a black gem, zombifying her body. Returning to the diner, Xykon discoveres that his new body has no taste buds, and so he can't enjoy coffee anymore. Denied of the one non-evil pleasure he has, Xykon takes control of the group. When Redcloak threatens to destroy the phylactery, Xykon retorts he can just build a new one, as he only needs it when his body breaks apart.

Greysky City, 21 years ago Edit

Eugene Greenhilt meets with Right-Eye, who wants the wizard to kill Xykon, having heard of his Blood Oath. Ever since becoming a lich, Xykon has become too dangerous, now killing for his amusement. Right-Eye worries that one day Redcloak will make a mistake Xykon will kill him for. Eugene refuses to go, claiming that if he fails, it will widow his wife and orphan his son. Worse, if Xykon found out about them, he will kill them for fun. Eugene tells Right-Eye that he and his brother should just get out while they still can, and start a family. The wizard teleports to a soccer field, having just missed his 8-year-old son Roy's game.

At Xykon's lair, Right-Eye prepares to leave, and tries to get Redcloak to go with him. Unwilling to abandon the Plan that so many goblins have died for, Redcloak refuses.

Northern Scrublands, 3 years ago Edit

The Monster is now an act at the Ding-a-ling Brothers' Anachronistic Circus, and his biggest (Only) fans are Right-Eye and his children. On their way home from a show, they meet up with Redcloak. Xykon vanished several years ago, leaving him alone. Redcloak tries to get Right-Eye to rejoin the Plan, but his brother refuses, enjoying his peaceful life. One night, Redcloak decides to steal the Monster from the circus, and after a wild chase from the circus' security, realizes that living a peaceful is better. Unfortunately, Xykon arrives, having deduced the location of another Gate. Under threat of disembowlment, the goblin village is pressed into his service.

Redmountain Hills, 6 months ago Edit

Xykon's forces have been camped out before Dorukan's castle, the lich refusing to go in and get caught in a trap. Instead, he decides to lure the wizard out with Lirian's soul and zombie. This does the trick, and the two casters begin to duel. As they fight, Right-Eye reveals to Redcloak his plan to get rid of Xykon once and for all. After the death of his wife and sons at the hands of adventurers Xykon didn't deal with, the one-eyed goblin bought a dagger infused with positive energy, intending to destroy Xykon's body while he fights Dorukan. Then, all Redcloak would have to do is destroy the phylactery. Redcloak refuses, however, believing that if he killed Xykon and abandoned the Plan, all of the goblin deaths would have been for nothing. Redcloak kills Right-Eye instead.

Meanwhile, Xykon defeats Dorukan, expressing his distaste for being looked down at by wizards for being a sorcerer. Yes, he didn't earn his magic through constant study, but because he can use the same spell over and over, all he has to do is keep casting Energy Drain, and does just that. As a cherry on top, Xykon traps Dorukan's soul in the gem with Lirian, because he's 'not a sore winner.'

Confronting Redcloak, Xykon reveals that he knew about Right-Eye's plan from the beginning, and was in no danger, having equipped himself with a protective ring. The reason why he didn't stop Right-Eye himself was that he wanted to see if Redcloak would, not only as a curiosity, but to see if he could trust Redcloak from now on. Redcloak will never double-cross Xykon, because if he did, that would mean facing the fact that he had killed Right-Eye over nothing. And he can't revive Right-Eye, because that would mean Right-Eye seeing him for what he was; A (In Xykon's words) "murderer who killed his baby brother in cold blood." By working with Xykon, Redcloak can continue to pretend he doesn't have a choice, when in fact he does, but is just too scared to make it. His spirit broken by Xykon's words, Redcloak follows the lich, the Monster In the Dark, and the rest of Xykon's minions into Dorukan's castle.

Epilogue, 3 years ago Edit

Eugene Greenhilt, having died, is given his final review to see if he can enter the Celestial Realm. Because he never fulfilled his Blood Oath of Vengeance, he must wait outside the gates until one of his descendents does it for him. When told that he can manifest before them, Eugene tries to call his daughter Julia, but is told that he can only manifest in front of his eldest, namely Roy.

OOTS Books
Main Series: Dungeon Crawlin' Fools · No Cure for the Paladin Blues · War and XPs · Don't Split the Party · Blood Runs in the Family
Prequel Comics: On the Origin of PCs · Start of Darkness · Good Deeds Gone Unpunished
Kickstarter Comics: Uncivil Servant · Haleo & Julelan · Spoiler Alert · How the Paladin Got His Scar
Other Books: Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales · Order of the Stick Coloring Book