For weeks, a wandering chandler and his apprentice had been traveling through the Greyfang foothills, selling their wares in the remote farms and hamlets that dot the region. One night, while camped upon a hilltop, they were attacked by a group of unseen assailants. The master chandler commanded his apprentice, Beezus, to flee. She ran off into the night. When she returned to the camp the next morning, little remained, and there was no sign of her master.
Meanwhile, our party of adventurers returned to the Trenton Mining Camp. They told Balthazar that many orcs lurked in the hills and mountains around the camp. He decided that the time had come to abandon the camp, regardless of the loss in profits. He told the adventurers that they were welcome to stay at the camp as long as they liked, but that he did not consider himself or his company responsible for their well-being. He hoped to have his employees on the road in two days.
That afternoon, Beezus came out of the hills into the camp. She briefly met with Balthazar—he was not interested in buying her candles, and had not seen her missing master—who told her that she might wish to talk with the adventuring party camped at his doorstep. The adventurers invited her to accompany them back to Kaladon, where her master, if he lived, might eventually turn up.
Fenton went around asking Storm Company mercenaries if they wanted to sell him their weapons. They did not. Junior tried to recruit Whispers Trent and some miners to join their party, but no one was interested.
The next morning arrived with a thunderous hailstorm. The party set out anyway. After a few hours of trudging through the downpour, they wandered into the middle of a band of armed men whose faces were obscured by the weather. Interrogation was brief, but the men ultimately left them alone.
On the third day of travel, they came out of the hills and into a stretch of grassy plains. There, they encountered a group of humanoid creatures. Their faces were like goblins, but they were as tall as men, and covered in course fur. Attempts at parlay were brief, and violence erupted. Choice bewitched one of them and set it against its comrades. Eventually, all were dispatched, but not before both Fenton and Beezus fell to their spears and claws.
The survivors found little of value on the creatures’ corpses, save a single note, written in Goblin:
- To the Priests of the Blood-Thousand,
- The Elven civil war has begun. It is time to light the signal and summon the Horde.
- —The Bonechewer
Entering Kaladon, the party noticed that the Elven encampment at the East Gate was gone. They proceeded directly to the Castle Keep and related their experiences to Captain Herrod Guy. Their tales of orc priests disturbed him, but not nearly so much as the note they’d retrieved. He thanked them for their service, paid them their fee, and bid them adieu. If a Horde invasion was imminent, as it seemed, he had to speak with the Mayor-King (a task that he seemed to dread) and with the Knights of Kaladon. He would be in touch if he required further service.
Neptu was a missionary at the Oakleaf Tower, working to convert the elves from their worship of trees and butterflies and whatnot to the true faith of the Keeper. Two days ago, Analen Crookedwing, chief of the Crookedwing Clan, had called a moot at the Tower. She demanded that the Eight Chiefs of the Shriekwood vote to expel King Carufil Featherly from the Tower and instill her in his place. As a measure of her worthiness, she presented the long-lost Oakleaf Crown. Carufil was placed in shackles. Sensing a strong anti-human sentiment from the gathered elves, Neptu and Alastair took advantage of the confusion to depart.
Perrin expressed his concern for his nephew’s safety. What was more, if the adventurers’ claims of an imminent Horde invasion was to be believed, the Shriekwood Elves and Kaladon would have to stand together to drive it back, and he doubted that would be possible with someone like Analen in the Tower. He implored the adventurers’ (and offered them 100 gold) to rescue Carufil from the Oakleaf Tower, and they agreed. Neptu and Alastair offered their services as well.