You might think the bullies and the creeps at school would be enough enemies for anybody, in the normal course of things. But they’re actually the least of your worries. Whether they know it or not, when they’re on your case, they’re really working for someone else…
The Lone Power: Once upon a time, when the Powers that Be were building the universe to the One’s specifications, a single Power — possibly the greatest of them, certainly the most honored and glorious — went off by itself and came up with something that wasn’t in the plan. It invented Death, and turned it loose in the worlds. Horrified, the other Powers went to war against the Lone One and threw It down from Its former exalted position, but the damage was already done. Now every wizard spends at least some time dealing with the Lone Power personally — first during the wizard’s own Ordeal, while he or she tries to survive the test — and then later, during the course of normal work, trying to derail one or another of Its nasty plans. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t. You never know which way the fight will go.
The Lone Power has as many shapes as there are species in the worlds — usually handsome, often charming, always dangerous. It can look human, or alien, or anything in between. It’s everywhere that Life is, always tempting, testing, trying to get the unsuspecting to accept Its boobytrapped favors and poisoned gifts.
It has servants everywhere, willing and unwilling. It has slaves, like the horrible wolflike perytons and the origami basilisks, hundreds of kinds of creatures that desire only to serve the beautiful and evil being whom they think will eventually, inevitably, be the lord of the winning side. And the Lone One has other servants too — deluded allies who think they can bargain with it, believing they’ll somehow get the upper hand. Usually they come to a bad end…and It laughs when they do.
And when Its slaves or dupes aren’t able to get the Lone One’s dirty work done, It can even turn up Itself wearing some shape you’ve trusted, or as a creature that at first seems to need your help. It may turn up at the bottom of a friend’s soul…or your own. So the battle against It is never simple, never a foregone conclusion. Just being on the side of Good doesn’t automatically mean you win.
Wizards tend not to mention the Lone Power’s name much. Not because they’re afraid of the name itself, not because It can’t be named…but because naming the Lone One tends to attract Its attention, or pique Its curiosity. And when the Lone One gets interested in you, you’d better watch out, because It may turn up in your back yard.
Not that a wizard doesn’t get used to that over time. The Lone Power hates wizards. In them It recognizes the only force that can stop It, case by case, day by day, spell by spell. Its fury is, to wizards, a sign that they’re getting the job done. On Earth, in Earth’s alternate universes, in the depths of the Sea and the depths of Space, every wizard gets at least once to face the Lone One, and be the next in a long line of wizards to repeat in the Speech the challenge that rings down the aeons: “Fairest and Fallen, greeting and defiance!”