It starts out as another peaceful spring day in the quiet village of Evenfall. You all go about your daily routines as normal, with no reason to expect any significant change to your way of life. You know that it is coming up on the time for the tribute collection, and some of you watch those around you preparing to turn over their portion of the village’s ‘gift’ to Rhixallithen.

The mood of the village is a bit more somber than usual as folks see their hard-earned food, iron and gold being taken away by Norsten and his guards, but nobody speaks out because they still remember the last time the tribute was less than the dragon expected. The empty home of Herlan Tannerson stood as a grim reminder of that day 20 years ago.

Returning from an early morning hunt, unsuccessful due to an unusual lack of animals in the area, Valamir arrives at the edge of Evenfall’s buildings. He overhears an excited conversation, but can’t make out what is being said. As he approaches the source of the sound, he sees a collection of townsfolk gathered around a haggard looking man that he has never seen before. In such a small village, that can only mean he is an outsider.

Immeral has noticed something strange in the forest surrounding Evenfall over the past week or so, but has been unable to identify what it is that is disturbing him. The animals have been less active, and seemingly less plentiful, and the resulting silence amongst the trees has been disquieting.

Two days ago, he came across the body of a stag, burned and carved for meat, but not skinned. He had never seen such a thing before. He saw a few odd tracks around it, but was unable to identify their source, or to follow them through the woods.

Minor Quest: Discover the source of the disturbance.

Osric’s mother has been waiting for the arrival of one of the traveling merchants who often bring her healing supplies not available in Evenfall. He usually arrives soon after the first blooms appear on the trees, and that was a little over a week ago. She has asked Osric to keep an eye on the Forest Road whenever he can, so that she can make sure to get a chance to trade with him before his offerings are picked over by others.

Sure enough, this morning as he stood by the road, practicing with his halberd, Osric saw the trader turn the corner on the Forest Road and come toward the village. Something was wrong, however. He was on foot and alone, rather than having his usual horse-drawn wagon, and he was staggering noticeably. Osric dropped his halberd and ran to the merchant, only to have him collapse in his arms, unconscious. Osric was able to muscle him back to the village, and by that time, several others had seen what was happening and started shouting for others. Osric was almost immediately surrounded by concerned townsfolk, and they helped him lower the wounded man to the grass.

Penance spends the morning helping his ‘parents’ with their garden. Well before noon, the quiet work in the garden is interrupted by shouts from somewhere further away from the center of town. Penance’s parents stop their work and stand up to see what was going on, but their view is blocked by other houses. They are able to determine that the noise seems to be coming from down the Forest Road, close to where it comes in to Evenfall. Penance’s father turns to him and says, “Why don’t you go check that out, Penance? We’ll stay here, but bring back news as soon as you can.

For several days, Norsten and Phillian have been looking at Mirna oddly. They haven’t said anything, but she’s worried that they discovered her stash of supplies, or maybe her latest ‘workroom’ out in the woods. She checked her supplies the next chance she got, and was relieved to find none missing, but the looks from Norsten and Phillian continued.

Early this morning, her reading was interrupted by a knock at the tower door. One of the townsfolk, breathing hard after running clear across town, asked for Phillian. When the elf emerged from his study, the townsman spoke up. “A traveling trader arrived today, but there is something very wrong. He is injured, so much so that he passed out as soon as he was safely in the village, and he came on foot, with no goods. He usually drives a wagon.

Why do you come to me with this, ” Phillian asked.

Norsten is out, collecting things for the tribute, ” the townsman replied. “You seemed the most qualified left in town to deal with this. Please, come and help us keep the people calm.

Oh, very well, ” was the elf’s reply. He then turned to Mirna. “You might as well come along, child. You’d probably follow at a distance anyway.

With that, Phillian grabbed his orb and a few supplies and headed out the door, with the townsman behind him.