Following the group’s formation, the adventurers settled down in a small crossroads area known as Dunhollow. With a river trickling steadily behind it, the large inn rose amongst the steppes that surround it. Situated along what could be called a highway, if it was either high or more a way than down-trodden grasses, the Dunhollow Inn was a welcome sight.
Congregated outside along the hitching rail, horses of no particular pedigree were gathered. Tails swatting lazily at flies, their heads bowed refreshing themselves with the cold mountain runoff water placed in their trough. Inside, the scene was largely the same, common men refreshing themselves after a day’s labor. There were a few buildings that had been built around the inn, mostly houses or storage buildings. If Dunhollow were noted on a map, it was after a lazy cartographer realized he had dripped ink when drawing the Tao marketplace.
The adventurer’s had originally come south from Tao encountering small bandit raiding parties, an unfortunate aspect of the areas peripheral to the barbarian war path. Although they became friends with the innkeeper (in no short part due to their love of revelry), the regulars eyed them with trepidation. One day ago, Jerold traded words and drinks with a boisterous shepherd’s son, resulting in at least one broken arm. Aelen himself, half bored, half manic, began playing with a fire spell and lit a portion of what he believed was an abandoned building’s roof on fire. The resident peasants were neither amused nor thrilled with his explanation.
Given their desire to rest and remunerate for their devious nature, the adventurers traveled to a nearby farm to train the owner’s sons in combat. He had seen the work Jerold and Aelen did on Dunhollow and figured it was the best his boys were going to get outside of bandits. On their return, the party noticed more horses than usual, odd for the sleepy pass-by.
Inside the Inn, there was banter and clanking. Immediately out of place were two young men standing against the bar, talking to Padar, the owner. Padar’s face was grim, and focused. Rustiver notes the younger boy has been coughing, but likely is shying his face away as he chokes up and wipes his tears away. To try and ligthen the mood, Rustiver offers to buy the elder one a drink. Although the boy ignores Rustiver, Padar’s face softens and he advises the boys to tell the adventurer’s their story.
Jack and Jeff, the lone survivors of their trade caravan had ridden away from onslaught and massacre outside the village of Berylbrown. They were asking Padar for help in getting their sister back, she was taken by the bandits. Aelen deftly asks the boys about their parents, his mystical nature and voice off-setting the otherwise outrageously awkward question. The boys relayed the horrors they witnessed, men and women who fought cut down, the weaker women convinced by their elder, Mona, to cut their throats to avoid capture and an the uncertain future. Before their sister, Jemma, was cut, hands reached into the wagon and threw Mona to the ground. A lone bandit, rode up and eyed her tentatively. He pointed and turned. The men grabbed Jemma, threw her, kicking and screaming, across a saddle and began riding off. At this point, the boys must’ve fleed.
After a night of rest, the adventurer’s set out along the path the boys provided. Worried about missing the bandits simply following the trail through the steppes to Berylbrown, the party decided to venture straight north, however the noon sun provided no guidance and they found themselves heading northwestern that afternoon. Although they corrected their path to head North, they felt unease as they saw a large circle of birds in the distant sky. Floating above something out of sight…