IN WHICH: A party of adventurers traveling from Ashford town to Sooton on a delivery errand are waylaid, a dwarf is met and a trouble is discussed.
Orin Copperhead the dwarf, Jim Baggins the wizard, Quinn Quimby and Giles Corey the elf met a few weeks ago in Ashford town when they joined a search party looking for a lost girl. Their group was the one that found her safe and sound and gained some measure of reputation in the town (currently everyone has a +2 reputation in Ashford town except for Giles, the NPC elf, who has a +1). But reputations are fickle and only further deeds can cement these adventurers as heroes in the minds of the people.
Partly because of this reputation, they were hired to deliver a valuable bugbear longsword to Sooton. Bugbear longswords are considered masterwork weapons and usually can only be gained by killing a bugbear. This longsword, quite definitely a fine weapon, was manufactured by a mysterious Tradetown company called the Iron Bugbear Company (how they learned the method of creating these weapons and where in Tradetown the are located is the mystery).
Along the trip through the Deep Forest, they encountered Yarkand, a mythical stag that is beloved by the Valley. Yarkand, the Emperor of the Ashford Valley, the Lord of Forest, Farm and Field, met the adventurers near one of the mysterious Runestones along the road and led them through the forest (on a trail that appeared before Yarkand and disappeared behind them) to a near-abandoned manor. Then Yarkand walked into the forest and disappeared.
At the old manor, the party met Linder the Dwarf, a miner (and uncle to Orin) who found a vein of gold in the nearby mine. Linder was glad of the friendly company and invited them in to tell them his problem. A man had come earlier and gave Linder a bad feeling. He’s expecting trouble and that trouble came several days later with the appearance of a bandit gang (leading a half-dozen or so prisoners!).