The group set out north, travelling light and swift so as to reach Deepwatch as quickly as possible. Even so, it would be several days before they reached their destination. The first two nights passed without much incident, though also with little comfortable shelter. On the third night the group happened upon a small farming village called Oaken Hollow as the sun sank low. Passing by a Temple to the Heartmother, the group found a funerary service being performed to two children who had died the night before. After the funeral was finished, the group met with the local priestess of the Heartmother – Lydia Barrow – who also served as the community’s leader. She told them that the town had been plagued by a small outlaw gang in the forest who had killed the two children in an attack the previous night. Seeing a group of people in need, the group vowed to aid the community of Oaken Hollow.
The group withdrew into the fishery while the party watched from the village’s main hall through the evening. Late into the night they saw two men sneaking into one of the houses on the east side of town, and they went to investigate. They found the men were there indeed to murder the home’s inhabitants – though they did not carry the taint of evil upon them. When pressed, they revealed that they had been ordered to do this deed by a man named Verathan, who had said the houses inhabitant’s needed “Their corruption to be cut from the world.”
Curious, the group traveled into the forest to meet with Verathan, and found him to be a High Elf warrior claiming to be a Paladin who had fallen from grace. He explained that he had been on a century long quest to redeem himself for killing an innocent child in his righteous zeal while purging what he believed to be a Cult of Ardothon in Lethray. He explained that he believed such evil to exist here in Oaken Hollow, and that by destroying it without killing an innocent he would be able to redeem himself of his past failures.
He butted heads with the party, particularly Hans, with his claims of Lydia’s own vile corruption and evil which she kept hidden with a jeweled necklace. Ferindel was able to convince him to hold his wrath until the sun’s zenith the next day to give them a chance to get to the bottom of this.
Thorneth tried seducing Lydia to get the necklace off of her, but failed in both regards. It was Caitranna, the wizard, who managed to use her Gnommish tricks to unclasp the necklace as Lydia gave the morning prayer and meal. Hans, too, noticed that there was something off about the prayer, as though the true words had been twisted to another purpose. As the necklace fell, Caitranna caught the jewlery – momentarily removing it from Lydia’s possession. That moment was all it took for Ferindel to look upon Lydia with unclouded eyes and see that Verathan’s words were true – she was indeed the most evil soul the Paladin had ever looked upon.
The group gathered outside town to plan their move. Thorneth and Ferindel went into the forest to fetch Verathan and apologize for their impropriety. Hans and Caitranna stayed in town to keep an eye on things, and ended up investigating the temple only to find it a dead and withered place. They also found a loose stone and a hidden passage leading to an underground lake and a bloody temple to Sycrythax, the Lady of Torment – the altar decorated with the charred bones of two small children. They also found other children locked in cages after a few more minutes of searching, and another stairwell that led to the fishery.
It was around then that Ferindel and Thorneth arrived, with Verathan and a few of his followers in tow. They saw what Caitranna and Hans had heard upon emerging into the fishery – people in black and red robes in a twisted service led by Lydia around a pyre of screaming, burning men, women and children.
Their fury roused, the group was ready to dive into battle alongside their newfound allies…