The village of Schlagenhügel was not the ideal place for reunions: An Empire village abandoned after its people mysteriously vanished from its environs five years ago under unexplained circumstances. As the story was told to Halion Balfour and Bissil Dingson, when the coach arrived that evening it was to a town whose walls were unmanned, whose market stalls were uninhabited, and even the livestock were nowhere to be found – yet the town was pristine and untouched, with no sign of an attack or disaster to explain the disappearances. Investigators, Wizards and Priests all searched the town without effect, and over the years the mystery was replaced with urban legend, and the town remained abandoned. They would have no reason to go at all were it not a requirement for aspiring Road Wardens to spend a night there in reflection on the importance of vigilance outside of the Empire, and thus a perfect opportunity to get meet up with their old friend and ally, Rigor Klaus.
It was the last test for any hopeful Roadwarden to stay overnight in the empty town, and then in the morning wake renewed with purpose for their task. By request, the pair were joined by Lord Aschaffenberg’s retainer Carmella Ostwald to serve as companion and guard, and the trio set off to the village – Valanduil still requiring a lot of hospitalization after his previous adventures. The journey to the town was peaceful, as they were moving deeper into the heart of the Empire, where there were fewer border threats against their security which could harass them on the road.
Rigor was waiting for them in the village, and a pleasant reunion of tales of Imperial education mingled with the life-threatening terror that he had missed were exchanged, before Halion noticed through her magical sight that the Wind of Azyr was slightly stronger in this area. Convinced that this meant there was to be some new calamity that had followed, she insisted that they set out in search of the Wood Elf Waywatcher who was said to guard over these woods. Fortunately in the fading light, the camp was easy to find and the group met with the Elven Yarandir who had taken up residence inside of the forest.
The Wood Elf reacted poorly to Halion’s almost immediate questioning, but was won over by the fantastical charm of Rigor, letting the Warden know that he was there to watch over the woods of the forest to ensure that they grew in properly through the abandoned village, and negotiate with the wild spirits. Bissil believed him to be referring to the ghosts of the villagers, but Halion knew he meant the actual spirits of nature around here, herself being the victim of a rather mischievous one who tormented her when she began to magically peer around the camp. Promising to heed the Waywatcher’s warning not to interfere unduly with the forest, Rigor and Carmella headed back to the village, but Halion and Bissil – strangely unnerved by the events so far, elected to stay the night at the Wood Elf’s camp.
So split up, Rigor and Carmella made their camp in the stables at the run-down inn, while Bissil and Halion bivouacked in the forest. Despite Halion’s insistence that Bissil stay up on watch, once the High Elf was asleep, Bissil too passed into slumber once confirming there was no Elven food secreted away to steal. Thankfully the night passed without incident, and as the humans woke in the village and appreciated its charm in the early morning fog, the forest pair bade farewell to Yarandir and set off to meet up and leave this place.
En route to the village however, a bright flash of light seemed to pass over them, and both Bissil and Halion were shocked to find themselves face-to-face with an equally surprised deer, who definitely had not been standing in their way a moment ago. The deer swiftly fled, despite Bissil’s attempts to chase it down, and Halion again peered into the winds of magic only to find that the strange accretion of Azyr magic appeared to have moved on from the surroundings, leading her to believe that the destined event had now passed.
Their surprise was nothing compared to Rigor’s though, for as he patrolled the empty town, a flash of light again came over him, and both he and Carmella now found themselves surrounded by hundreds of villagers, seemingly going about their day suddenly complaining about the unexpected appearance of vast growths of foliage in their path. As they inspected the area, they saw that people were starting to panic over what was, to them, the immediate transformation and degradation of their town.
Silently, both groups of adventurers resolved not to leave until they could get to the bottom of this mystery…