The Fallen Rider
Legend has it that the world of Hest was created by a mighty warrior atop a great warhorse who died in a mighty battle. She rode valiantly towards danger in an act of brave sacrifice. Her mount and her beheaded body formed the land and their blood formed the oceans, rivers, and lakes.
Many entities, of course, strive to befoul her sacrifice and enslave or destroy the life that has sprung forth from it. The eternal and omnipresent struggle of good versus evil. For millennia, good won out. Until Itaurin, long beat His glacial heart, came to power 28 years ago. Itaurin was born of the cold, lifeless polar cap of the north with all the bitterness that comes with it. At first, he was just a whispered threat of what could come to pass. A cautionary tale. Then he became a rallying promise for the evil that creeps in the world. Once he became manifest, he was already too powerful to stop. By then, his followers had already infiltrated the highest levels of every kingdom. Though resistance against Itaurin was brave and fierce…it is now all over but the dying.
The Hest that once was is now enslaved by Itaurin and his followers. At first glance, little has changed. The barmaid is still behind the counter. The farmer is still behind the plow. But It does not take too long of a look to see how foul Hest has become. They are not just behind the bar or plow…they are chained to it. The chains needn't always be physical. In fact, they seldom are. If there's one thing Itaurin and his lieutenants are good at, it's discovering your greatest shame or that which you fear worse than death. The atrocities are too numerous to even be shocking anymore. It is all for the glory of Itaurin. And if you fail to bring glory to Itaurin, you will soon view death as a mercy you don't deserve.
There are those who through luck and their own abilities have managed to stay out from under Itaurin's mighty thumb. For them, life can be even more harsh. One careless word and what little freedom or life one enjoys could be taken in an instant. For them there is only the hope of finding a place to be free. Of perhaps finding more free people so that one day…one day…a resistance can be mounted.
There are whispers of a small surviving faction. No one speaks its name…because it has none. It is believed that once named it becomes easier to speak of. If easy to speak of, it becomes easier to betray. Even calling it "the faction" can be dangerous.
It took some time. But now it appears you have found them. A portal…secret and guarded…one of several that will carry you to a secret location away from Itaurin's gaze. After all your troubles…you can't help but fear a trap. But hope carries you through the portal…