Villains by Necessity is a fantasy that takes place in a world where Good finally triumphs over Evil. The novel follows a group of villains who discover that, without more evil the world will be destroyed. The book starts when Sam, the last assassin in the world that he knows of, runs into his "friend" Archie, the Guild master of the Guild of Thrives. Archie also has seen the disappearances in his guild. When they go to the local tavern, Archie attempts to pickpocket a man and they are caught by the town guards, who bring them to Mizzamir, a Hero from the War, an elf and the most powerful wizard in the land. He explains the spell of attitude adjustment, which makes villains give up evil and become honest citizens. However, before Mizzamir can cast the spell Archie hires Sam to kill Mizzamir. Sam magically breaks his shackles and stuns Mizzamir but is injured himself. Archie brings him outside the city, where they encounter Kaylana, a druid. She explains that after the victory, the balance of the world moved towards light. Unless evil can be released from the Darkgate, the world will be sublimated. They travel to seek information from the gypsies, who yield little information. Then Valerie, a member of the evil Nathauan race and dark sorceress arrives. Seizing control of the group, she reveals that the situation is bad. The dark portals, through which dark energy can pass, have all been destroyed except for the one she wears. Later on, Sam seizes her dark portal to keep her from controlling them, limiting her strength. Meanwhile, they travel to Bhazo the mad godling, who is insane ever since the gods gave him all knowledge. They obtain a song from him that gives them the clues that they need to find the pieces to the key to open the darkgate. Next they encounter a dragon of light, which they are not able to defeat until a dark knight comes to help, who they name Blackmail. They also encounter Robin, a centaur who is a minstrel and spy for Mizzamir. They are able to find the first test and the first key segment with relative ease, aside from the death of Kimie, a former student of Archie. But when they head towards the next test, they are ambushed by Wilderkin, a race of wild humans. Robin completes the test after Archie tricks him into entering it. But they have to run from the Verdant Company, a group of heroes. They lose them in the swamp but run into the Orthinotch, an evil monster who helps heal them an saves Archie's life and leads them away before being killed by the Verdant Company. The journey is smooth as they head through Kwart, and Blackmail wins the test there. While resting in the town, Sam puts on the Dark portal and shadowslips. The portal makes him highly evil and he nearly kills his comrades before giving Valerie back her amulet. They then penetrate Mizzamir's tower during a major wizard's conference. Sam tries to kill Mizzamir but is again thwarted, and the group escape with the dark key. After they arrive on plains heading for the next test, Sam's love of Kaylana as well as the leader of the Verdant company, Prince Fenwick's, love for her becomes more evident. The group is captured by the nomadic barbarians who live there, but escape and destroy the camp while Kaylana takes the test. However, on the way to the final test, Kaylana is captured and imprisoned in an ancient fortress of evil. While inside, Sam uses a scrying mirror to accidentally find Mizzamir and discover Robin's true nature. They then throw a red herring to Mizzamir and rescue Kaylana, but are pursued by the Verdant company and another group of adventurers. They are captured, but escape again, but to save the group Sam distracts their pursuers, allowing Fenwick to pin him down, in so doing revealing the last test. This involves fighting a darker version of himself, whom he defeats, and giving up that which he most values, the "fire" in his blood that lends him unerring accuracy and lets him override pain. Mizzamir tries to break in, but just as he does Sam comes out and the segment goes flying. Valerie finds it, and the group, now cornered, assembles the key that lets them into the Labyrinth of Dreams. After going through several dreams they penetrate the secret and find the Darkgate. They are attacked by heroes, and in the ensuing battle a weakened Sam attempts to insert the Spectrum Key into the Darkgate, with Mizzamir seeking to stop him. Just as it seems that Sam will fail, Blackmail is revealed as the Hero Sir Pryse, former companion of Mizzamir's, who grew disgusted with good being forced upon people, including his dead brother, and took the side of evil to restore the natural balance of things, giving back to Sam the fire he gave up, and revealing Mizzamir to be his father. After this Sam manages to insert the Spectrum Key into the Darkgate, killing Mizzamir for having raping his mother. Having learned that a life must be sacrificed to open it, Blackmail/Sir Pryse chooses to sacrifice his life, successfully unlocking the Darkgate and unleashing evil into the world once more.
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