The protagonist of Dark Messiah is a young man named Sareth, who is under the tutelage of the Wizard Phenrig. After years of studying the arts of magic and physical training in the arts of war, he is finally taken on an expedition to retrieve a rare artifact known as the Shantiri Crystal. After finding the Crystal and disposing of the would be rival expedition, Sareth is tasked to bring the crystal to an associate of Phenrig's, the Wizard Menelag, who is also the lord of the city of Stonehelm. Menelag and Phenrig have certain "mutual interests" that involve finding an artifact called the Skull of Shadows. Menelag apparently is unable to continue his search without the Crystal. To guide him on his way, a spirit named Xana will reside in Sareth's mind.