While staying at the Byrnehold Inn awaiting their audience with Coomander Byrne of the Black Legion, the adventurers are approached by an older man whose bearing is proud and upright. He introduces himself as Berrin Hastings, the carner of Byrnehold, and he asks if the adventurers were the ones who explored the ruins found to the north. When they answer in the affirmative, he tells them that he has a matter he would like their assistance with, one that he cannot take to the Black Legion. Soon to meet with Commander Byrne, the party informs him that they are pressed for time at the moment, and ask if they could speak later that evening. He agrees, and the group leave to meet with Byrnehold’s marshall.
The meeting is uneventful, with the party filling in the Commander on the details of their excursion in the ruins, and their theories to its significance.
They return to the inn and once again meet with Berrin. He explains the sensitive nature with which he is concerned. He was appointed an assistant three years ago, one who was to become his eventual successor, a young human named Theros. For over two years, he was capable and conscientios in his duties to manage the community’s grain stores and assess amounts to be collected. He took a wife and built a home, recognizing the promise of his new career.
About four months ago, however, Hastings noticed a change in his behavior, the young man becoming secretive and irritable. Believing it may be due to marital troubles, Hastings said nothing. The assistant’s performance of his duties suffered greatly.
Recently, upon taking inventory, Hastings noticed that nearly a ton of grain was missing, and he was afraid that Theros might have had something to do with it. He was reluctant to take his suspicions to the Black Legion, for even an allegation of this type could ruin a man, even if he were innocent. If he were guilty, it could mean banishment or worse.
The PCs agreed to look into the matter, asking for a fee of 500 gold, at which the carner balked, saying that he was a simple public servant and that such an amount would leave him destitute. The party suggested that 300 gold would suffice, and to this the silver-haired gentleman agreed.
Kyden began tailing the assistant between his home and work, careful to remain out of sight, and at one time followed the human as he left work at lunchtime and strolled to a particular house near the grain silo, in which he seemed to take an unusual interest.
After Theros had returned home for the evening, his wife left and walked to the apothecary, from where she did not immediately exit. Elhara and Vindurinn went to the same apothecary the next day, and managed to coax a story from the owner, a human woman named Treva. She said that her husband had disappeared several months ago, and that an unknown man said that he would eventually be returned to her, if Treva allowed the use of her shop to certain individuals. She then said that Theros’ wife, Ginna, and a farmer named Old Webb occasionally entered her shop, spent a few minutes in the rear, then left by the back door. After inventory of her merchandise, she was certain that nothing ever had been taken.
With this new information, Kyden now had three individuals to follow; Theros, Ginna, and Old Webb. He followed Webb out to his fields, and then back to town when the man made an unusual mid-day trek with a small parcel. He saw the farmer duck into a narrow alleyway and transform into Ginna, unfurling his bundle and donning a skirt and shawl.
Armed with this information, they took it to Commander Byrne, who immediately ordered that Theros, Ginna, Webb, and Treva be detained. After a few days, Berrin Hastings returned to find the characters and provide them with an update. The body of Old Webb was found buried in his barn, covered in limestone, and a narrow shaft had been dug which led to the catacombs beneath Byrnehold, and subsequently to the grain stores. One of the dopplegangers had been killed in combat, but the other had escaped, and poor Treva was indeed telling the truth of what had occured to her and her husband.
The events coincided with the arrival of the goblin trading caravan some months ago, and only such a large group could be responsible for the theft of the grain.
Hastings was still concerned, though, for no trace of Theros or Ginna was found, and Treva’s husband was still missing. Hastings had heard that the goblins often used whatever means necessary, including slavery, to move their caravans along, and he believed that the missing townfolk might be found there. However, since it had been two month since the goblins departed, they were no sufficiently far from Byrnehold that it was doubtful if a rescue effort would be launched.
Hastings believed the goblins next stop to be south of the Ruins of Adarr in the Great Plains, and that is where the PCs said they would go, intent on freeing Byrnehold’s citizens.
While traveling into the plains in pursuit of the goblin trading caravan, the characters encounter an enormous patch of field grass, nearly indistinguishable from the surrounding grasses, which dulled the senses so much so that those affected entered a mindless stupor. Certain creatures are known to lair within such fields, waiting to attack hapless prey, and the kruthiks which dwelled here soon swarmed the party. One by one, the PCs snapped out of the stupor and were able to intelligently enter combat, but Kesriel, the breelan warden, Seemed particularly affected by the grassy hazard, and she was incredibly slow to react, sustaining a fair amount of damage before doing so. Ultimately, the party killed all of the kruthiks but one, which burrowed into the earth to escape before Vindurinn’s magics affected the creature and put it to sleep.