There's no place like home. And by the sounds of the rumours flooding into the inns and taverns of Hammerfast, Harkenwold is not the place you left...
Just over a moon and a half ago, you and your friends set out, adventurers brave and bold, to seek your fortune in the ancient temples of Hammerfast. The tales of tombs filled with ancient treasures lured you away from the comforts of hearth and home and though there were dangers lurking in the crypts, you had your successes and dreams of a life of rich adventures were within your grasp.
Then the tales began. You dismissed them as the drunken ramblings of old men and dwarves at first. Brigands had taken over the Harken valley, pillaging and burning. But over the next couple of days the tales grew more solid and the first refugees began to appear at the gates of the ancient dwarven stronghold. Blood on their clothes. Woe on their faces.
After scant preparations, you travel at godspeed, the track taking you over rough hills and through remote valleys. A few days on the road finds you desperate for the first sight of the welcoming boughs of the Harken Forest that signifies the approaching moment that your footsteps will begin, once again, to tread on Harkenwold soil.
The moment arrives in the middle of the day. It's a broad, lightly settled valley between two arms of the Harken Forest. You
haven't traveled more than a mile or two into the valley before trouble appears. Rounding a bend in the road, you spy a pillar of smoke dimbing into the clear blue sky. The source, hidden by rolling hills, is roughly a mile along a dirt track that intersects the road.