Having been tasked to hunt down the wanted murderer and bandit leader Rorick the Butcher, the party left shortly after the prisoners from the bandit raid were executed by hanging. They decided first to follow the lead of the farmhouse where Rorick’s men had held up and gathered prior to the attack.
The group set off, and found that the farm had been burned to the ground some time before, likely well before the bandit party left for Three Streams. Investigation showed that there were several halfling corpses in the fields, badly burned beyond recognition. Furthermore, there was a hidden cellar in the ruin of the farmhouse, leading to a storeroom full of maps, weapons, scrolls of Sending, and correspondence written in cipher. After determining the code, the party learned that the owner of this farmhouse was reporting to someone in the Mage’s College of Callarea, and the halflings in the fields had been agents working for his protection. For some reason, the college believed that there was something of interest in the Three Streams reason and, more disturbingly, all efforts to scry on the area were being blocked by some force, therein showing the need for eyes on the ground. The party relayed a message back to the Halfling spy’s superior with one of the scrolls, informing them of what happened there.
From the farmhouse they found a trail leading into the Shadowdepths, but opted against following it in favor of searching for the missing supply carts. They traveled north along the road, eventually finding the thoroughly ransacked caravan. They followed a trail of footprints deep into the forest, encountering a bandit patrol along the way. Dispatching the bandits and questioning two survivors, they learned the location of a nearby camp where the supplies were cached before being moved to Rorick’s camp further south, and even deeper into the forest. Thus informed, the party made camp, their sleep troubled by strange and frightening sounds of the beasts of the dark and tainted wood.
Not long after breaking camp, they found the bandit outpost they had learned of, led by a High Elf woman named “Dirk”, after the knife she used to mutilate her victims. Trying to see if conflict could be avoided, Thorneth and Hans tried to sneak into the camp by posing as prospective members, but learned that Dirk used a strange rod marked with an unrecognized symbol to brand her followers to ensure their loyalty. Thorneth was marked as such before the rest of the group could act, but Ferindel burst from the tree line and smote Dirk with his hammer, weakening her enough that Hans could finish her off.
Their cover blown, and the supplies unaccounted for, the party was forced into a full assault on the rest of Dirk’s camp, with over two dozen bandits rallying to kill them. The party fought back with steel and fire, but only time will tell if their tenacity will be enough in the face of the sheer number of criminals seeking revenge for their dead leader…