Your quest begins in your cottage in the Yoma River Valley, on the banks of a river in a pleasant wooded area, a short distance southeast of the small town of Eastwillow. You'll find some useful items at your house, including your journal, and a "simple key" that will open up the locked chest in your room.
As soon as you exit your front door heading northeast, you'll find a strange note has been left at your doorstep, and it will initiate a quest to go and speak with a mysterious man named Darus at the nearby Wayfarer's Jolly inn in Eastwillow.
The town of Eastwillow is a short walk up the path from your house in the northwest. (Note that there are also two more quests you can add to your quest book if you head northeast or southeast from your house, detailed below under "YOMA NARROWS" and "SOUTHEAST KESSIAN BASIN.")
If you head northwest up the path, you'll soon encounter one or two large hopping rats who will try to bite you, but they're not very dangerous in the open, and are pretty easy to avoid and outrun.
This will be even easier if you frighten them away using the "Sparkling Wonder" spell (if you were lucky enough to find a scroll for it at your house): Casting it on the rats will cause them to squeak and hop away unharmed for up to 20 turns per casting level, and it works on many other troublesome enemies in the game as well. (At high casting levels, we found the Sparkling Wonder spell effective to at least some degree up until the very end of the game.)
If you stop by Keebo's shop on the eastern edge of town by the river, Keebo the local Blacksmith will give you a quest called "Repossession." He'll tell you that a town official named Brelinda commissioned him to craft a jeweled ornamental sword over a year ago, but that she has still not paid him for his work, so he wants you to go and repossess the sword.
Constable Gammen lives a short distance northeast of Eastwillow in a large house. You'll probably have to evade (or cast Sparkling Wonder on) some more rats again on the way. If you let yourself quietly into his house (probably via the back door) without actually stealing anything in his presence, Gammen will be taken aback to find you in his house, but will be fairly courteous under the circumstances.
Also note: We didn't test this, but another player mentioned that if you
had enough stealth skill (e.g. Hide in Shadows) to "borrow" the town
ledger without Brelinda attacking you, you could also use it to
blackmail Gammen into handing over the sword, apparently by threatening
to reveal the town ledger's evidence of his embezzling. (However
you handle this quest: When you return the "repossessed" sword to Keebo,
you'll be rewarded with 150 experience points and 100 gold.)
The Wayfarer's Jolly: Completion of "The Mysterious Note"
You'll find the Wayfarer's Jolly Inn in the center of town, if you walk southwest down the street from Keebo's smith (past the magick shop), then turn right. The mysterious Darus is waiting for you in a back room of the Inn,
and will reveal interesting details about the main plot, telling you
about the elemental Crux stones, the rising threat caused by the Taurax
(a race of anthropomorphic bullmen led by a dangerous leader named
General Ghorr, who is trying to claim the gemstones), and the secret
Guild of Crius Vindica, whose members have pledged to prevent these
powerful Crux stones from ever being re-united.
"Destiny Through a Viewing Glass, Part 1"
If you use the viewing glass (which you can do whenever you want), it will cause an enigmatic display of eldritch lights, but you won't know exactly what it's for until later.
Caveat: Make sure never to lose the Strange Viewing Glass, because you'll need it at several crucial times to complete the game (and can even be killed in certain places if you don't have it with you).
You'll now have the opportunity to walk around town and ask people if they know anything about the strange viewing glass. The only one who will be able to help you is Eleanise, the shopkeeper at Eastwillow Magicks just up the road.
To conclude this quest, see GREENRIVEN LAKE & SOUTHERN KESSIAN BASIN
A side note regarding Magic Shops:
Whether you're playing as mage, rogue, or other class, you'll likely want to visit any magic shops whenever you pass through the area, to keep your eye out for valuable spells or special items like rings or amulets that can increase skills and ability scores. (See the MAGICK section for the spells you might want to keep an eye out for in advance, in addition to Sparkling Wonder.)
All merchants have their stock change regularly, so there's always an element of randomness involved, but you'll eventually be able to find nearly all the spell scrolls in the game (including Invisibility and Portal in the larger shops).
There are two more optional side quests you can also get from Eastwillow:
"A Missing Disciple"
The austere stone church on the north end of Eastwillow (adjoining the cemetary) is known as The Virtuous Covenant of Mosan, and if you speak with Father Tyrus inside, you'll receive a quest to track down his missing disciple Julian. (Unfortunately, you can't actually complete this quest in a nonviolent way, but there are still some random treasures you can find down the Old Convent Well, which can be helpful early on in the game when gold is scarce.
SEE DETAILS IN THE SECTION ON OLD WELL
"A Letter from Wendy"
You'll find a young woman named Wendy in a house up the street just northwest of the Wayfarer's Jolly Inn. Wendy is very concerned for her brother Ruel, and will ask you to deliver a letter to him at his house in the Southern Kessian Basin (the next map to the east). Ominously, if you look in the barrel behind her house you may also have found a pair of bloodstained boots there, as well. However, unlike "A Missing Disciple," you can solve this side quest without ever having to cause harm to anyone else.
For the solution, see GREENRIVEN+ SOUTHERN KESSIAN BASIN
Finally, there are two more side quests you can pick up in these environs:
"A Den of Dragonels"
Before leaving the Yoma River valley map, you can also get another quest to complete in the Southern Kessian Basin if you head directly northeast of your cottage where you started the game. You'll have to evade some carnivorous flying insects called Dragonels, and will then find farmer Anwick hiding inside his fenced farm house.
"News from Yoma Narrows"
If you head southeast of your house down the road, the road will bend toward the southwest and take you to the next map: The Yoma Narrows.Following the road southwest will then bring you to what's left of the bridge over the river. Here you'll meet a man named Phensil who says he was attacked by a Taurax Scout, forcing him to blow up the bridge to prevent it from advancing toward Eastwillow. Phensil injured himself in the blast and so is not able to continue his journey yet, but he will give you the quest "News from Yoma Narrows," asking you to go and tell the authorities about the sighting of the Taurax.
You won't be able to complete this quest until you reach the city of Port Kuudad, which will require some travel and several obstacles to getting inside the city, but this would probably be the most efficient time to pick up the quest before making the journey. (Once you finally get inside Port Kuudad, all you'll need to do at that point is go deliver the message to a man named Edwin inside the "Office of Security and Authoritative Business," for a reward of 500 nonviolent experience points.)