Santoff Claussen is a small village located in the forested hinterlands of eastern Siberia. It was created by the wizard Ombric Shalazar to be a haven for fellow dreamers like himself, a place where the residents could utilize their imagination without fear.
Ombric searched far and wide for a place to create a town where people who valued imagination and dreams could make their home. A meteor crash turned out to be the perfect location, for in the center of the crater a lone sapling had been left unharmed by the crash, and Ombric discovered it had been imbued with ancient starlight. It grew into a magnificent tree named Big Root, in which Ombric made his home. He welcomed all with kind hearts and curious minds, and the small village of Santoff Claussen was founded.
To protect the village, Ombric designed layers of magical barriers. He cultivated an encircling hedge of bracken and vines a hundred feet high with thorns as long as spears, their growth hastened by the stardust that had seeped into the ground. He conjured a great black bear that would serve as the village's guardian. Upon the village's outer rim, he planted the largest oak trees in the world, whose roots could rise up and block the path of evildoers. And lastly, he created a beguiling temptress, the Spirit of the Forest, who would tempt trespassers with riches, but turn them into stone to serve as additional defenses for the village.
One evening, when the curious children of Santoff Claussen wandered into the forest to discover what the new and strange thing the insects spoke of was, they encountered Fearlings for the first time. The animals and plants of the forest rose to protect them, despite the futility of battling against shadows. However, the children were rescued by the arrival of Nightlight, whose light drove the shadows away, before he disappeared again.For their protection, Ombric had them sleep in Big Root as he told the village at large about Pitch, the Nightmare King, who was now free to wreak havoc and continue his ancient war against Tsar Lunar, The Man in the Moon. It was certain Pitch would target the children of Santoff Claussen, who until now had never known fear.
However, the Nightmare King wasn't the only surprise the village received. Nicholas St. North, a bandit in search of treasure, managed to get past the village's defenses during an attack by Pitch. When North saw the children being terrorized by the bear, whom Pitch had possessed, North fought against the bear and drove Pitch off. However, the fight left him near death, so Ombric and Katherine tended to his wounds until he had healed.