Note: As a recap page, all spoilers are unmarked. You have been warned
''This is for Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick prequel volume. Go [[StartOfDarkness here]] for the trope.''
A young boy named Xykon finds the death of his dog triggering sorcerous powers and a natural affinity for necromancy. Maliciously gleeful at his zombified dog's taste for brains, he sets off to find more birds to kill and feed to it. At puberty, a crippled wizard finds the budding necromancer and condescendingly offers him a place on a team of sorcerers he is training. Offended, Xykon kills and reanimates the old man and then sets him and his first human zombie -- that of his grandmother -- on his parents. With their murder, he sets off to become a villain for the sheer hell of it.
A quiet goblin village celebrates the ascension of a new youth as an apprentice cleric, the festivities being disrupted when a group of Paladins from Azure City arrive and start massacring the village. His teacher struck down, the apprentice cleric takes his magical red cloak, receiving a communication from his deity about the reasons for goblins suffering in this world.
When these two forces cross, a pact that will shake the world is born...
* TheBadGuyWins / ForegoneConclusion
* BreakingSpeech: Xykon gives a truly nasty one to Redcloak, as listed [[TheReasonYouSuckSpeech here]].
* CoversAlwaysLie: The cover shows Xykon as a lich killing a paladin before his first encounter with Redcloak -- while in the story proper, he wasn't yet undead when this happened. This is lampshaded on the last page of the book:
-->'''[=MitD=]:''' Wait -- the scene on the cover didn't happen that way.\\
'''Demon-roach:''' Welcome to show business, kid.
* DealWithTheDevil: Redcloak, at the end, describes his alliance with Xykon as such.
* EvilerThanThou: Xykon provides the page quote.
* DoomedHometown: Redcloak's village is wiped out by overeager Paladins from the Sapphire Guard at the very beginning.
* StartOfDarkness: For Redcloak, anyway. Xykon, as we see, was pretty horrible from early childhood.