The party awakes to yells of “FIRE” coming from the streets surrounding the inn. They emerge from their inn in the middle of the night to find the guardsmen posted by Sarge to be missing. Following the sounds and spotting a pillar of smoke not too far away the party heads into the heart of Fallcrest, and after a few minutes of running arrive at the scene of the fire.
The Lucky Gnome Taphouse, the same one they had just been in a handful of hours ago, is now up in flames. A large crowd has gathered before the bar, and Sarge quickly notices the heroes and motions them over. He explains that a few of his men dove into the bar to look for survivors, but none have returned. The brave heroes volunteer to go in after the poor men, and dive into the burning remnant of the tap house.
With embers and beams falling around them, the party is able to rescue a pair of guards, but continue their search. As they approach the office at the back of the bar the discover bodies of a few of Kelson’s men that clearly died from some sort of sharp weapon. Busting down the door to the office the party discover a dead Kelson still sitting in his chair, with a short sword handle sticking out of his chest. Examination of the sword reveals some sort of insignia on the handle, something resembling a metal band or wreath. The party also finds Kelson’s accounting books and a small calendar. The last entry on the calendar reads “Met with NR, will keep eye out for elf.”
The heroes emerged from the building just as its foundation gave out and the whole thing collapsed, and presented Sarge with the things they found in the fire. The accounting ledgers proved to contain much valuable information, including the names and whereabouts of most of the River Rat gang as well as a few of the Fallcrest guard who were payed to look the other way.
In the morning Faren summons them to Moonstone Keep, where the scouts have just returned to report. The scouts not only bring news of the demise of Malareth, but also of ill tidings from the east. Apparently there have been a number of reports of caravans and travelers being attacked on the route to the township of Harkenwold, and none has been seen coming out of the valley in quite some time.
Faren rewards them for their bravery in the night with gold, and then tasks them with traveling to Harkenwold to uncover what has happened in the township. The heroes set off, and after five days of travel emerge from Harken Forest to gaze upon the valley before them. Their first glimpses of the serene lands is marred by yet another pillar of smoke rising from the horizon. The heroes choose to investigate and after a mile of travel discover that the smoke is coming from a small farm in valley.
As they approach they find a group of bandits dressed in military regalia threatening a small farmhouse with torches. Upon closer inspection the regalia is that of an iron circle, eerily similar to that found on the handle of the blade in Kelson’s bar. The party battle the mercenaries and free the trapped farmer and her children, who introduces herself as Ilyana. They also capture one of the assailants and interrogate him, who reveals to them that their leader is a man by the name of Nazin Redthorne, and that he is currently located in the keep in Harken with the Baron of Harkenwold as his prisoner. The allow their prisoner to flee and begin to plot for a way to free the Baron. Ilyana suggests they visit the nearby druid grove on their way to Albridge, one of the key villages mounting resistance to the invaders. The group agree and set off to meet the druid…