The group meets at Baron Pont’s modest estate in Domith, where they find out he has worked with all of them in some fashion. He is a man who has truly lived life, rising up from a lowly orphan thief to the position of Baron. He speaks to the group about their purpose, as well as their first mission:
“I would like to welcome all of you to my home. As you all know, the relations between the Five Great Cities of Arem has never been poorer. Embargos and tariffs on trade are being placed everywhere, and even war is being spoken of. There is no trust, and without trust only terrible events can occur. Thus, I have presented an unprecedented idea to council, and they have graciously allowed my request. You have all been selected from various backgrounds and lands of Arem to foster a better understanding of each of its people and promote a sense of togetherness between the cities. You will work together to solve problems all over the realm, regardless of who rules there. While it is a small step, I am hoping this is the first step in the way to a peaceful, and long lasting, alliance between the cities. Your first mission takes you to a small village called Junn, just a short distance from our very own Dominion Wall. Reports of missing children from that town have been reported, but no one has paid any attention since, to be brutally honest, the town is rather insignificant. Of course, this makes it a perfect job for our little rag tag group, since the higher ups won’t do anything about it. Go to the village and investigate what is going on, and report back here when done. What you are doing right now is special. This will be a tale to tell your grandchildren, about the things you’ll see, the deeds you’ll do, the glory you will all win. Go, and protect the realm.”
The group headed out on their mounts to Junn, but encountered some bandits on the road. Belisarius the Beast intimidated the outlaws, causing them to run for their lives. The rest of the trip to Junn was uneventful.
Once in Junn, the group split apart, with half the group going to the tavern and the other half going to talk to John, the village leader. In the tavern, Jaque got some valuable information from a thief about some gold in the tavern. He also learned about a bounty put out on a wolf that was eating a sheep herder’s flock. Jaque successful stole the gold, with the help of the Bastard of Lurvel.
The other group talked to the village leader about what was happening to the children:
“They finally heard my plea! Thank the Gods! I didn’t ever think it would happen, with us being so small and all, but my prayers have finally been answered! Those poor children…but maybe there is still hope for them. Over the past six months or so, children have been going missing. At first, though sad, there was not a lot of concern. One boy runs off, with dreams of war and glory in front of him. We’ve all heard the tale. But it continued to happen, to girls as well as boys. After we lost our 3rd and 4th child, I sent some of our men into the woods in the north to search for them. None of them returned. I couldn’t send more, since as you can see our numbers are already dwindling in the town. While I hold little hope for many of the children, we lost one just recently. If you hurry, maybe you can save her! She is a girl of five (Nimra), daughter of Tom and Versa. Please save her!”
They rested that night at the inn, and embarked out into the forest the next day. Jaque put the 30% finder’s fee for the thief into a marked tree as they entered the forest.
As the group walked along, they noticed that the forest seemed to be sick. Plants were dying, and there were relatively few animals to be found. At this point, the group was caught off guard by a rope trap, which hauled both Kong Fuzi and the Bastard up into a tree. Luckily, Vern was able to cut them down into the waiting arms of Arathorn. After traveling a bit further, the group decided to rest for the night. Unfortunately, Arathorn did a poor job of preparing the sleeping quarters, causing the group to be cold and wet the whole night. This led to little sleep, and the entire party was exhausted the next day.
Starting on the journey the next day, they came upon a child hanging from a tree branch. Part of the group was greatly affected by this emotionally. The child was given a proper burial before moving on.
Finally, the party came upon a cabin in the middle of the woods. After getting into position, an old man came out of the cabin with a girl (Nimra) as a hostage. He said the following:
“Don’t you feel it? There is nothing any of you can do to stop it. The cities are preparing for war, the unity of man is being broken. Its coming don’t you see? The fall of all of us. You may wonder what happened to these children. I freed them don’t you see? I freed them from the horrors that will be coming. And I just have one more to set free….”
Arathorn sent his bird to attack the old man, which caused him to release the girl. After a lengthy battle the party was victorious and had saved the girl. The old man did have one last thing to say before he died:
“The black wind will consume us all….”
The party returned Nimra to her parents, and her dad, a traveling bard, said he would create a song in honor of Arathorn, who saved his daughter.