Our tales starts in the quiet, forested halls of Nordeheim Fortress, the main headquarters of the Shield of Paburh. The few who’ve seen Nordeheim in person would confess that the compound looked elven in origin as it was meticulously constructed around the mighty oaks of the Loressean forests so that no plant needed to perish for its creation. The trees standing within Nordeheim all have carved trunks, each depicting a moment of history deemed important by the Shield.
It’s here where El Eloron, an aged and wise druid of the Shield, gathered the recruits for his newest cell. He had spent the last 6 months, including the entirety of winter, traversing Kavan in hopes of finding adventurers with the qualities needed for his task. On Moonday, Gemeth 10, the last of his ragtag band of heroes “finished” their basic orientation and he gathered the five of them into a conference room for briefing.
Sitting in a circle around a stump of a conference table was:
- Sheezy, a wilden whom he met through an old friend in Gelade.
- Dak, a human with Munite tattoos found in Loressea.
- Elzeny, an eccentric human who was also found in Gelade researching the missing Pajari.
- Ghenghaar, an uncooperative dragonborn arcanist recruited by conscription off the streets of Pyrach.
- Mialee, a socially awkward half-elf with noble goals, also from Pyrach.
El Eloron addressed his subordinates for the first time as a group, giving them a few moments to introduce themselves as he went to have a few words with his supervisor. The five strangers spoke with guarded words, not yet trusting one another but at the same time acknowledging that they needed to coordinate with each other. Ghenghaar was less than pleased with his current position, suspicious of El Eloron’s purpose and the reappearance of his childhood friend, Mialee. The party seemed to be able to pull much of anything out of Elzeny and spent most of their time just getting a name out of her. El Eloron, though regrettably, cut the introductions short when he came back with urgent news. A Loressean farmstead north of Nordeheim Fortress was reported razed, the latest in a series of incidents in Loressea. El Eloron was instructed to send his newest cell on reconnaissance as their trial mission, but the old elf had better ideas. He instructed his cell to travel to the farmstead and track the guilty party back to its source, eliminating it if feasible. After a bit of prodding for information, El Eloron admitted that he aimed to command one of the more aggressive Shield cells, and that, as a Loreseean, he may have a personal interest in having the problem dealt with immediately. At which point he provided the group with a local map, noting that the farmstead was less than a day’s hike from Nordeheim, and that they should arrive before dusk if they kept good pace.
The party left and they did. There was little sun left in the sky when they reached the smoldering farmstead, but enough to survey the area and discover a number of clues. Elven corpses lay scattered across the fields, some burnt to a crisp while others still revealed the poisoned arrow wounds from their attackers. Every clue, from the arrows used to the poison to the footprints left behind leading back into the woods told of elven perpetrators but the group couldn’t believe they would attack their own kind. They followed the prints into the Gahilden Woods, quickly discovering the area was actively shifting due to some sort of arcane interference, but Ghenghaar was more than able to counteract the problem. After three hours navigating the woods, the sun had retreated completely, leaving the group in a clearing lit by the moons. Suspicious, they surveyed the surrounding trees and caught motion behind a large bush, instinctively striking out at whatever it was hiding there. It was an elf, and he wasn’t alone; a trio of elves joined him accompanied by a pack of hunting dogs. At first the party regretted their rash decision but they noticed darkness in the elves’ eyes. The fight dragged on until the group reached the tree line, knocking the last of the elves out, including one that looked more handsome than the rest.
They were identified as members of the Blackleaf clan, a Celasaer sect that makes its home in the region. Without the frenzy of the battle keeping their attention, it was more than apparent that the elves were under a spell, a curse that made the reclusive hunters into vicious murderers. After ten to fifteen minutes of effort, the group managed to release the spell on one of the hunters. He verified their suspicions, confirming that there was an entity in the forest, the Voice in the Darkness, that had taken root in the Blackleaf community. The Voice corrupted their souls and intents, turning their dislike for agrarian settlements into a campaign against the Loresseans. He noted that the handsome elf was a prince of their clan, but when the party tried to free him, his body exploded into dark mist.
With the night sky looming above them with wounds to tend to, the newly formed cell of the Shield is forced to decide on their next move in this enchanted forest.