|Blood of Wintersbreath|
|Sign of the Stag|
In the village of Wintersbreath on the western edge of the Fangwood, deep within the frontier nation of Nirmathas, a young woman named Sloane — daughter to retired adventurers Dannor and Iandra — was chosen by the village's aging alchemist, Jora, to recover a sprig of the sacred herb wintersbreath, for which the town is named, in preparation of the winter solstice ceremonies to honor the deity Gozreh. The portion of the Fangwood where the wintersbreath grows has become treacherous in recent years, with attacks of normally peaceful animals occurring in greater frequency. This danger prompted Sloane's father to give his daughter her solstice festival gift early; a masterfully crafted suit of leather armor, upon which the bare tree of Wintersbreath is embossed in silver leaf. With her father's armor protecting her along with the unusual supernatural powers she has nurtured, Sloan ventured into the Fangwood to retrieve the sacred herbs.
Deep in the Fangwood, hours from her village, Sloan experienced a strange vision of a decaying, albino stag and a strange circle of menhir stones that she once saw in a vision as a child. When the vision ended, an ancient corpse long buried beneath where the wintersbreath herb grows emerged and attacked Sloan. With her magical mithral sword, Sloan was able to destroy the creature and survive the harrowing experience. But on her return to Wintersbreath she discovered the village under attack by a band of orcs that set fire to the village, drove its people into the woods, and captured or killed those who were not quick enough to flee. Just barely able to rescue the cripple Jora from his lodge, Sloan threw herself into battle against the orcs, meeting up with a mysterious elven ranger named Ashera who had been tracking the creatures from the distant western mountains. Together, Sloan and Ashera defeated the stragglers of the orc band, but were too late to save the villagers captured, nor is she certain of the fate of her parents, both of whom disappeared in the chaos.
Sloan worked to round up the villagers who fled and sought shelter in one of the few barns not burned down by the orcs. On seeking council with Jora, Sloan realized that the survivors of Wintersbreath — though they did not fully understand her gift — were both indebted to her and looking to her for direction. After some deliberation, she decided to send the survivors of Wintersbreath south to the druid enclave of Crystalhurst while she and Ashera would follows the orcs north in the hopes of rescuing the captive villagers and, hopefully, discover the fate of her family.
|Continued In||A Lonesome Road|