In the small village of Stonemarch, a gathering of peasants and wanderers rest the night before the Spring festival of Chauntea. In the dead of night all are awoken by a mysterious tug on reality: a comet. It is an omen, and not a good one at that. Many of the villagers and travelers speculate its meaning, but not long. Before anyone knew what was happening, the village was under attack. Kobolds and Goblins bearing markings and wielding spears descend upon the town. After a brief fight involving a Half-Orc, Goblins, and Kobolds, the party drove away the would-be raiders. Though, despite their apparent bloodlust, the cleric of Ilmater managed to take the Goblin shaman prisoner and question it.
The miserable creature spoke of impending doom, a shadow of fire and smoke cast from the north, and of its intent to lead his people as far south as they could get. It mentioned that in its visions it had seen a blade of light to the west, thrown to the deepest of places to be forgotten by all, and that this blade could defeat the Champion of the coming darkness. After much debate, the party decided that the Goblin shaman need not die, and sent him off with a small amount of supplies with the understanding that he and his tribe would move along come the morn.
Having sent the tribe away, and the hour being yet early, Baron Elias offered his house for discussion and rest. The facts were reviewed, something had driven the creatures south from the Ironlands, and Elias the Red had neither the men nor the means to hold the marches if there were a full-fledged invasion. He would need both a proper army, and engineers to repair the northern fort. The wizard Aoth also suggested that the vast network of caves beneath the capital city, Talin, might be the deep place of which the shaman spoke. Having both the tasks of investigating this blade and seeking the king's armies, the gathering decided that their best course would be to make the long trek west, to capital city.
Leaving early in the morning, the party departed by way of the south road, which clung to the side of the Stonedeep river. While the party was looking to make good progress on their first day of travel, it did not pass without peril. After traveling for many hours, several party members noticed a man standing on the road, just down the hill from a ruined keep. The party was stopped and greeted by the man (after stowing obvious weapons and most of the Dwarf), who declared that this was a toll road, and to pass, we had to pay the fine like everyone else. But the would-be highwayman didn't anticipate the wizard, whom he was promptly charmed by. Now a friend to the party, he waved them on their way. Having avoided a potentially dangerous situation, the group continued until dusk.
At the side of one of the Stonedeep's tributaries, the group found an excellent shelter in the form of a cluster of trees. While pitching camp, the Dwarf bathed himself in the frigid spring thaw, and while it was a benign task, the bard thought it to fun to watch the barbarian swim the river, and directed him to pursue a false sound across the river. Doing so, the Dwarf found himself in a quiet grove with a worn statue, with occasional laughter from some otherworldly presence(s). Of course, the Dwarf began shouting thus drawing other concerned party members across the river. After some conversing with the beings, the party learned that they were Dryads, spirits of this forest, and that this is their grove. Backing out peacefully, they settled to keeping their fire in check. One member of the party, in a gesture of peace and well being, planted a flower, which the Dryads helped to take root. But not all was well here, for during the night, the party suffered from dark dreams, and during the Dwarf and bard's watch, all went still as some great evil manifested an aspect of itself as a raven, which the Dwarf had seen in many visions. In the morning, little was spoken of his incident, for it was universally understood: whatever evil had come to the land had turned its gaze toward the party…