Outside of the capital city, west of the Great Northern Highway, but south of the Dwarven River, in a large, tranquil glade, lies the small village of Terbold. Unimportant in politics, of minor value to merchants, and simply out of the way, Terbold's families lead a peaceable existence. Though rumors of Dwarven rebellion against the Trade Agreement have reached them, they remain untouched by the larger goings on of the greater world. Something strange though has set several of the villagers on edge for the past day or two, and no one is quite willing to talk about it. That is, until Marcus was found dead along a well known and well trod forest path leading between the main square and a homestead. With the primary forces of the capital city being rapidly deployed to Dunnoch in the North in anticipation of whatever the dwarves might do, his Lordship has no extra troops or captains to spare Terbold. A local leader and very minor noble, John Farsand, has interests in the area, and he was asked to investigate. Not wanting to take the time to see to it himself, he has hired you and your companions to look into the murder."Damn!" Marcus stared down at the broken axle in his hands in frustration. Without his wagon, he would not be able to take his vegetables to the Market Day, and then all he and his family would have to eat for the week would be, well, vegetables. A prospect that did little to set his taste buds salivating. Oh well, he thought, I know Jacob's got an extra one lying about somewhere. Jacob was a good friend of Marcus and his closest neighbor, about a mile northwest. He just didn't want to have to make that trek today; there was simply too much to get done.
So, with a slightly agitated spirit, he grabbed a quick drink of cool water from the well bucket, allowed his walking stick to set his pace, and headed out. When he was almost to Jacob's place (in fact he could hear the sound of Jacob's saw at work) he heard something off to the left of him in the low brush. To Marcus' trained ear, after all, he'd grown up in these woods, it sounded like a wounded animal. Something not quite moving right, or at least very smoothly. it sounded like a hurt animal dragging itself along. Probably a broken leg... Marcus thought to himself. He pushed the brush aside with his stick and ducked under some low hanging trees to see if there was something he could do to help the little fella, whatever it was.
When he found the source of the shambling sound, he recoiled in horror and disgust. Backing up a step, he raised his walking stick to strike it, when something grabbed his ankle from behind. He tried to twist around quickly but he already felt his feet being pulled out from under him. His body hit the ground with a heavy thud and stars swam before his eyes. Oh gods... "No...stop..." Something struck his head and everything went black.