Green Glen is lovely, but we were restless and in need of funds. So when the opportunity arose to be of some assistance to nearby Artiban, we made ourselves available. Some of the rumors regarding the troubles of this place were ludicrous. Swamp hermits, plagues, changelings leaving fang marks on their victims’ throats, wizards from Thrace, missing farmers, a shepherd named Cartbringer defiling sacred stones, black unicorns, and strange beasts stalking sheep… I ask you, what beast does NOT stalk sheep?
The sleepy village we arrived at was not so terrifying. The fields looked poorly for mid-summer, and some of the homes appeared vacant; but we were not met with violence. From what we gathered, 53 years ago this farming community developed and flourished with the aid of the Holy Order of Ninurte. They had problems with goblins and such, but nothing they could not resolve. Two years ago a trade route to Stalton’s Moor was carved out of the forest, but the problems did not begin until roughly a year ago. Supposedly, the commencement of these bad times were marked by a fight that occurred at the Foaming Log Inn, which caused the destruction of the building and left no known survivors. Crops began failing. People would go missing for days at a time then return without explanation, while others would simply leave. A hermit moved into the area some 5 years ago, and there are claims that he’s been experimenting on wild beasts. It is difficult to distinguish fact-based knowledge from the understandable but fear-inspired suspicions the folk here are burdened with.
The town must have been prosperous, indeed! Zacharias the mayor is offering a substantial sum to solve their problems discreetly. Were I still in the depths of intrigue at the capital, I would be suspicious of the man. However, he seems sincere and his family faithful to their territory. Either way, something is amiss.
After a very pleasant evening at the Inn of the Slumbering Serpent, we decided to take the owner’s advice and seek out Ramne the hermit. Ollwin the innkeeper may be a well-intentioned soul, but I believe he was mistaken. The man we met obviously suffered from his isolation and was barely able to hold a conversation. He insisted we perform an unspecified task to prove who we were before he shared his wealth of knowledge. I want nothing to do with him, but the others believe his self-promotion to such an extent that I may have to investigate further to satisfy them. Sometimes an old man in the woods is just an old man in the woods.
From there we went to the local temple, as it appears the village is failing primarily due to the plagued crops. The priestesses there are helpless to stop whatever is happening and have been unable to determine what must be a magical cause of the deterioration of the vegetation. They are as suspicious as the rest of the villagers but did add new rumors to our mill. The first is that the mayor has elvish visitors living in his guest house. Another is that there is one farm seemingly preserved and still flourishing, run by a family that has only been dwelling there for 3 years. There are no ruins in the forest (new or ancient), and there is no one in the village by the name of Cartbringer. Rather than confirmation the villagers have been going missing, we were given a new perspective. It seems some of the villagers will temporarily… How can I best describe it? They become not themselves for a few days, then recover. We witnessed such a person at the temple. He was a gardener hired from outside the area. The man meandered, unfocused and capable of performing only the simplest tasks. Very strange.
I admit, at first I did not believe the cause to be supernatural in origin, but now that we have heard as much I know this is nothing we can resolve. If the priestesses cannot overcome a curse, we certainly will not be able to. The best we can do is identify the source and continue on to Stalton’s Moor to seek aid from the House there.
I must also have this sleeve repaired. I cannot abide blood stains.
As I speak to you now, I stand in what was once the entrance archway to the infamous Foaming Log Inn. I could detect nothing magical in the vicinity. It is merely a sorry monument to a tragedy, now. The others went into the cellar, I believe. No doubt I will be required to rescue them shortly.