And for ten years, Mellowmark lived at peace with its neighbors - the Domuslanders across the Mystery Marshes, the Great Beyonders over the Staying Hills, and the Merefullians from Mereful in the east. But in the eleventh year of Nero’s Eldermanship

odd things began to happen. If I told you that a year or two before Mungo Brown had been released from prison, you’ll guess at once he had a dirty paw in the business, for it was he who’d caused all the trouble in the past.
     After his overthrow as President of Wasteland, he’d been locked up in the same prison he’d kept Quill Hedgehog, Dink Dormouse and the two Magpies years before. They, as you’ll remember, were freed by that daring raid in Hoot Owl’s Hootacopter which eventually led to Mungo’s downfall. So, Mungo had been freed and expelled from Mellowmark to live no one knew where ... until the beginning of this story.
       Now Nero still visited the old mineshafts near the Mystery Marshes to practice his singing. From a very early age his mother had encouraged him to take up a career in music and he’d become a lifelong addict of grand opera, oratoria, folk-music - anything, indeed, connected with song. Sadly, there were two drawbacks ... he was no musician and he couldn’t sing. He possessed the most vicious pair of vocal chords nature had ever invented. We all know that sometimes nature goes wrong; but in creating Nero’s voice box, she’d gone utterly astray.