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The Calling is the first issue of the first volume and the beginning of the series.
The story opens with Leito telling the story of Kuhl-en to children in the village of Cricket's Glen. The great god Wotan chose Kuhl-en to "bring truth and hope to all creatures of the dark lands. At first, Kuhl-en was alone against the dangers of the shadow time but, his steadfastness eventually started to win people over until an entire generation was behind him. When Kuhl-en died, his legacy lived on in the creation of the Templar Knights. The Templars were sworn to protect every creature in the Dark Lands. For ten thousand seasons they defended against enemies and kept to their code of honor. In time however, the order became divided and culminated in a civil war. In the Field of Avalon beneath the tree of grace, they destroyed the order of knights in the last battle of their conflict. No one has seen any of the Templar since.
Not satisfied with the ending to the story, Karic asks a string of questions about their whereabouts. Deishun the blacksmith walks in moments later and cuts the story off, telling Leito to get back to work. Just before he leaves he whispers that some believe the Templar are in hiding, training a new generation for the moment when they will be needed again. Still curious, and wanting to join, Karic asks when. As the children leave, Deishun converses with his mysterious guest, Pilot the Tall. Pilot congratulates Deishun on the success of his smithy and then shows him a small medallion with a distinct marking. Deishun immediately recognizes it as the mark of the Templar Knights, but with has no interest in getting involved. The town watch arrives at the door and their conversation is seemingly cut short. With the general consensus of the town being wary of strangers and hostile toward the templar, Pilot soon leaves and is told to never return.
At the glen, Karic speculates that Pilot was a Templar, while another child doubts they ever even existed. When he says that he also believes in Kuhl-en, it draws a few jeers. After a short game of "Templar Knights", Leito encourages Karic to play something different due to the subject and history being taboo. Karic asks about the stranger, with Leito saying the Deishun he's dangerous and there is plenty of that as it is. Nearby, two mice are gathering wood, when suddenly, they are ambushed by a giant spider and one of them gets eaten. Alerted by the other's scream, Deishun and a few others rush out and call for the alarm. Deishun, jumps in and starts to fight the spider off with a pitch fork, giving the other mouse a chance to escape. Hearing the alarm, Leito rushes towards the action and upon seeing him, the blacksmith orders him to go get his sword. As fast as he can, he does as requested. Now with his weapon, Deishun slices off the spider's legs and pierces its abdomen making short work off the monster. Even though he just saved someone and killed the spider, he's met with dirty looks because of the use of his sword. He tries to apologize, but says that he only did what he felt was right. Despite the other's attitude, the children and the mouse he saved are grateful. Deishun tells Leito to take his sword and put it back. Upon seeing the blade, Karic believes it's a Templar's weapon, but Leito tells him to drop it.
As dawn approaches and the mice get ready for bed, Karic scares his sister with a story aboutthe druid-witch Black Anaius and gets scolded by their mother. Looking for reassurance that she'd be safe, she asks her mother if the witch is real. Her mother comforts her by saying that even if she was, she would still have to sleep during the day the same as they do. Needing to know for sure, she asks why. Her mother explains that those who live in the shadow time can't cross over to the Day World. In fact, it was Kehl-un himself that set up guardians on each side, so that those from the one world couldn't harm the other while they were sleeping. She then promises that she'll wake up safe and sound next to her mother and brother.
Amid the bustle of the market the next day, rumors spread that another town has been destroyed. Deishun brings Mornae a flower that had been growing outside of his shop. She's reluctant to accept it, however due to the previous day's events saying that he's trying to keep the past alive. He tries to correct her by reminding her that it's Karic who asks for the stories. She counters that Leito gets his stories from him, but he insists that Leito has a right to know and that the games they play isn't his business. She tells him that her husband always liked him and that's why he voted to let him stay. Thinking back, Deishun tells Mornae that her husband was a good man and he regrets not having a sword with him the day he died. The memories end up too painful for her and she cut the conversation off there.
Down by the water, Karic wants Leito to play Templar again. Taking a serious tone, Leito tells Karic again that he needs to find a new game and to stop asking for stories about them. As soon as he gets the words out, the branch that Karic is standing on snaps and leaves him dangling over the glen and barely holding on. Leito hurries over, but doesn't manage to get a firm grip and Karic slips off of his hand. In the water, a large fish swallows him and the next moment, he finds himself in a cavern seeing three glowing fishing hovering in mid-air. Immediately, Leito pulls him out of the water. Trying to explain what he saw, Leito dismisses it, saying that he was only in the water for a few seconds. Karic starts to get a bad feeling, as if something bad is coming. His feeling is confirmed when they see smoke coming from the town. They rush back to see what's going on.
Back at the village, the town watch alerts everyone that a rat raiding party is attacking. Deishun tells Mornae to take her kids and hide on her house until it's over; then rushes out to fight. Their leader shouts orders to find the templar as they burn buildings and kill whoever is in their way. Arriving at the scene, Leito wants to fight the rats off, but Karic says they're no match and they'd be better suited helping people escape. Deishun, with sword in hand, is slicing his way through the rats cursing them as sons of Nathair. Wanting to help defend the town, Leito heads off to fight, while Karic tried to find his family. Hiding in the house, Mornae cuts a rat's arm off as he attempts to come in. Noticed by the rats below, they order her house burned. Another mouse, armed with a bow, shoots arrows down on them, but she gets impaled with a spear by a rat who manages to sneak up behind her. With his family in trouble, Karic takes the bow from the mouses dead body and runs up an adjacent tree. Meanwhile, the ground is littered with the bodies of dead rats around Deishun as he cuts through every rat he encounters. His winning streak comes to an end when he's surrounded and run through with multiple weapons at once. Seeing the body, Leito runs to his side and picks up his master's sword. Trying to avenge Deishun, he tries to fight the leader of the rats, but despite his best efforts, his arm gets severed.
Back up the tree, Karic ties a rope to an arrow and fires it across to his family. When he reaches the other side, he gets his family safely back across. As he gets ready to swing across, the tree topples over from the fire damage with Karic still trapped underneath. His family watches in terror as he gets pinned underwater. Unable to get free, he believes he's failed his family. Waking up, he finds himself inside the cavern again. The Fish Gods tell Karic that Wotan has chosen him, just as he chose Kuhl-en, to liberate the dark lands. Although reluctant at first, in order to save his family, he agrees. The Fish Gods then give him a container that holds all the waters of the world. And with that, the salmon Bradan Feasa, takes him back to the surface.
Looking out at the rubble, he's surprised to see Pilot wounded, but alive, stuck under the body of a dead rat. He tells Karic that he tried to warn of the attack, but town wouldn't listen. When he heard the attack, he tried to come back and help, but was too late. Rather than kill him outright, the rats left him to die slowly. Karic helps him get out from under the rat and gives him some water. Drinking all that was in the pouch, Pilot apologizes until he hears of the pouches ability. After hearing Karics story and his doubt, Pilot says the Gods are never wrong. They walk off with Pilot encouraging the young mouse by offering to make him into the hero he wants to be.
Karic (First appearance)
Leito (First appearance)
Deishun (First appearance) (Death)
Gabrielle (First appearance)
Pilot the Tall (First appearance)
Elizabeth (First appearance)
Geldar (First appearance)
Gilmak (First appearance) (Death)