The first adventurers to arrive in the town of Red Larch travel from the southern city of Waterdeep by way of a caravan. There they engage their surroundings by speaking with the locals and therein learn of the strange occurrences in and around the Sumber Hills.
Adran, the talented half-elf bard, meets with a scuttling human named Endrith Vallivoe. The two exchange pleasantries and confirm their allegiance to the Harpers. The secondhand store owner encourages them to find a place to rest for the night and points the way to the town inn. After reserving rooms at the Swinging Sword, Adran puts on a show in Red Larch’s local tavern known as the Helm at Highsun, while his escort, a young and rather attractive half-orc known as Tap, keeps watch from the bar. Many of the locals are put off by his performance save for one rather enthusiastic fan; a human named Geth Malwind who, despite his lack of coin, exuberantly discovers a newfound passion for Adran’s musical talents.
Near dusk, two more adventurers arrive along the eastern Larch Path. Though weary from travel, the dragonborn ranger Aurgros and his companion, a stern and brooding human paladin by the name of Garrick Fellblade, pay a visit to the All Faiths Shrine. There they are met by a follower of Tempus, a human named Imdarr Relvaunder who greets them as an ally to the Order of the Gauntlet, and kindly directs them toward food and lodging for the night. Eager for a meal, the two also make their way to the Helm near the center of town.
The halfling thief known as Papu, having kept to his own most of the journey from Waterdeep, investigates the bakery of Mangobarl Lorren wherein he discovers that Zhentarim allies are more secretive in their communications than he was prepared for. Not unaccustomed to sleeping outdoors, Papu elects to seek out a bale of hay on which to bed for the night, and sneaks into a small barn in town. In the morning, he discovers that he has been pickpocketed.
After a good night’s rest, the party, not yet fully formed, engage the owner and operator of the Swinging Sword, a human named Kaylessa Irkell. Upon inquiring for leads on the mysterious circumstances affecting the town, she graciously directs them to the town constable, Harburk Tuthmarillar, who confides that bandits have been known to roam well-traveled roads and attack traveling merchants. Eager for the thrill of adventure and driven by the need to exact justice, the paladin Garrick gathers fellow adventurers Aurgros, Papu, Tap, and Adran. Together at last, the party heads along the Cairn Road to face the dangers ahead…