Foreword, by an anonymous Keeper:

Hail Reader, and thank for you choosing to read this tome. I am a Keeper. My name is not important, for the words herein were not written by me, nor even witnessed by me. I have simply taken it upon myself to provide a little background information on the subjects that follow, to prevent confusion by those who are not so familiar with this realm’s history.

In an age long before this one, the Trickster, an entity of chaos, attempted to fully manifest himself. He was thwarted, however, by a being who would come to be known as the Master Builder. The Master Builder was deemed a god by those who followed him, and the Hammerite Order came into existence. Half a year ago, the Trickster attempted a return to our realm, to bring about an age of perpetual night. He called this plan, "The Dark Project." In order to bring his plan to fruition, he tricked a master thief, who was once one of our own, into performing a simple yet dangerous task, in his stead. The thief's name was Garrett. Garrett was given the task of retrieving the Eye, a magnificent gemstone which the Trickster could use as a focus for his magics. Aided by his counterpart, the being who called herself Viktoria, the Trickster betrayed Garrett, stealing Garrett’s eye to activate the gemstone’s magical powers. Seeking vengeance, and to save the world, Garrett used a fake version of the Eye which the Hammerites had rigged, swapping it with the real one during the final ritual of the Trickster’s ceremony. The backfire of the spell destroyed the Trickster. An exceptionally eccentric member of the Hammerite Order rewarded Garrett with a mechanical eye, and the Order pardoned all crimes. After a brief meeting with one of us, Garrett then went into hiding, and has not been heard from since.

That is another tale, worth hearing in its entirety. It is history. I bring you now a different tale, one that may or may not be true, but is certainly every bit as worthwhile to hear.

About a month passed after the events above had come to a close, when a stranger arrived at the docks of The City. He came alone, which was odd, considering the size and nature of the vessel on which he had journeyed. It is in the commoner’s best interest to mind his or her own business, so no one asked this mysterious nobleman any questions. Keepers, however, are not daunted by such considerations. He was an offworlder, and his name was Daneel Todulem. Daneel had once been a mage of great power, a fact made clear to us when he used the last remaining scraps of his power to cause a magnificent mansion to spring forth from the solid stone of the sharp foothills which lay before the great mountains.

We were not the only ones who witnessed this act. It had in fact been observed by a Hammerite scouting party. As quickly as it was seen it was reported to superiors. In the ensuing mix of shock and excitement, there could be heard cries of "Nightfall!" It was as much a description of the darkness from the tower’s sudden skyward mass as it was of the man who caused it. "It was as if night was falling upward!" According to Hammerite prophecy, the Master Builder would send a savior who would come at the time of great peril, and perform great miracles. Upon seeing this act of power, the dying Hammerite high priest twisted the ancient texts to suit the situation and decided that this wealthy nobleman from a faraway land must be the savior, and thus emissary to the Master Builder. It was his last display of sovereignty. Daneel, being no fool, happily accepted this position, as well as all the power that came with it.

As time passed, Daneel began to acquire an understanding for the new home in which he lived. He came to the conclusion that the most noble group inhabiting The City was not the fanatical Hammerite Order, not the reclusive elementalist Brotherhood of the Hand, nor the poor and dirty working class, and especially not the fat and wealthy aristocrats, but those who dwelt in darkness: the thieves. Though many were common scum that preyed on the weak, others proved to be strong souls who did not wish to live by the rules set by the oppressive world around them, but by their own thievish sense of honor.

Daneel, inspired by his new sense of direction in life, covertly began work as an employer and aid to these thieves. As his organization grew, he constructed a base of operations. This base was, on the surface, a museum entitled "The Circle of Stone and Shadow." This seemed one wealthy man’s collection of artifacts and knowledge, but in truth was the heart of his criminal organization. In time, Daneel was given the name of Master Nightfall by those whom he served, later adopting it as his surname.

Master Nightfall would become known in the underground as one of the most powerful crime lords, occasionally referred to as "The Patron Saint of Thieves", all the while maintaining his guise as a simple nobleman, and emissary to the Master Builder.

The story begins nearly two months after Garrett went into hiding, and four months before the peak of Master Nightfall's prosperity.

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Correspondence of Thieves copyright, 2000, Steve Tremblay, Lytha, James Sterrett, Alexandria Thomson, and Daniel Todd.