The winter was extreme even by old timers’ reckoning. Everyone battened down the hatches and waited out the cold brutality. There were reports of yetis and all types of wolves, but no one appears to have gone missing around Hanlowell. And, although highly unusual yet harmless, there were four days in a row at midwinter when the sun remained in the sky illuminating what should have been night.
Unfortunately, word arrives at the first thaw that the northern town of Ralspur was attacked, but did survive some Yeti attacks. Other news from the capital is that the sages are convinced of the coming of Mortelum, a celebration of Woldenock (the Underworld).
Late in the fall of last year, due to the failing health of King Gundrick, Prince Nyrrgall ordered conscripted troops sent to shore up the gate between the town of LeFleur and the abandoned city of the dead. The news that came to Hanlowell was that Nyrrgall himself had diplomatically calmed the hostile situation and now the kingdom would begin trade relations with its new ally Queen Ma’thera and her consort Onne, the city of the dead has seemingly quieted.
Since the transfer of the 4th Squad to Hanlowell, life has been pretty easy. Oh sure, there was the clean up of the Market District and the occasional hunting trip, but the team had mostly been comfortably bored. Lord Symon took very good care of his personal bodyguards he’d named the Fist, but when the news of frequent border wars came, it also required more experienced soldiers. The 4th Squad had been called up again. Their new orders were to marry up with the Order of the Trident at a wall-town Northeast of Hanlowell called Manzallore.
However, Symon succeeded in a short postponement of those orders in light of a ‘special mission’ to accompany Sir Brendan. The members of the squad, plus or minus a few, and Charlie the orphan turned Watch-in-training and mascot to the heroes, await the knight in the courtyard of the county seat.
When Sir Brendan finally arrives in his finest armor and a new yellow cape he mounts up in a foppish version of a knightly flourish, cape swirling and armor rattling, a stern and determined countenance. And the procession rumbles out of the courtyard and down the cobbled slope to the base of the hill and the cobbles give way to dirt road – which after winter is, you guessed it, mud.
Once beyond the crowds and ceremony, the knight turns to 4th squad and offers a brief synopsis of the mission…
“This mission is an effort to gather intel about the rise in both frequency and intensity of border skirmishes northeast of Hanlowell. Several barons, Nraddoc and Uuht, under the count claim a grievance against two neighboring baronies, Brune and Florryn, and a viscounty, Weltiers, who they claim are raiding into their towns and farms.”
He adjusts his fancy new armor and swats at a fly, giving the squad a chance to consider their orders. Then he appears to be lost in thought saying nothing further.
The column travels the King’s Road for most of the day, stopping at midday for a meal then resuming at a leisurely pace. Shortly after lunch the sparse trees become more frequent and a thin forest replaces the flat open slow rise and fall of the plains of Hanlowell. Late afternoon the convoy arrives at a wide spot and fork in the road. The road sign points left to Kingshaven and right to Norwell.
At the evening meal, Sir Brendan informs you that he and his retinue will take the Kingshaven road northeast to gather information from that area while the 4th squad will continue east to Viscounty Norwell. You will have 4 days to recon and meet up for the return to Hanlowell.