The story begins, as all stories must, with the meeting of the “heroes” in the small city of Vardale in north-eastern Korrash. A relative backwater, the city’s only point of interest is its proximity to the Winewood, a primeval forest famous for its unique trees, the sap of which is as intoxicating as a strong Port. Plagarus the Dread Necromancer had been sent from the Mournholds to the south to investigate rumors of a dark presence in the heart of the wood. According to his enigmatic masters, it was possible that the Codex Anathema, a tome of great and terrible power, was hidden away within the wood. Meanwhile, Faye and Drew, faithful of Erebus, had emerged from the hidden Erubite sanctuary of the Ashlands to locate the same tome. Fate, it seems, had conspired to drive these three servants of darkness together.
Ignorant to their shared purpose, both the undead horror and the two darkling priests came to rest in the Dancing Doe Tavern, a run down dive near the town’s south gate. The only other guests of the loathsome inn were Fobby Goodfidget, gentleman gnome adventurer, Vashiell the elven martial artist, and Drikk, a curious creature known as a Thri-Kreen, who appeared enslaved by the innkeep. While Vashiell proceeded to drown himself in a torrent of beer, the others spent their evening in relative silence, contemplating thier plans. However, this neat arrangement came crashing down with the arrival of the Children of the Dawn.
Near nine o’clock, as the adventurers prepared to retire for the night, the sound of hooves was heard outside the inn. Moments later, four white-cloaked men burst through the front door. They were immediately identifiable by the unique sunburst design on their cloaks: Children of the Dawn, the militant arm of the church of Auramis. One of them, identified as Inquisitor Herdrack, demanded the complete eviction fo the other guests from the inn, as a column of soldiers was approaching and required lodgings. However, upon noticing the unnatural form of the Thri-Kreen, Herdrack became incensed, demanding to know why such an abomination was left alive. Though Fobby Goodfidget attempted to calm the Inquisitor with his magics, his efforts only enraged the man further, forcing a confrontation. The first to die was the Inkeeper, who fell befoore the Children of the Dawn as a heretic. However, this death freed Drikk of his magical compulsion, and with the assistance of the fearsome insectile warrior, the adventurers triumphed in short order. This quick resolution somewhat blunted the sudden entrance of Audric the Druid, whose speech condemning the logging of the winewoods died when he beheld the carnage around him.
Despite their apparent victory,the adventurers soon realized the danger they were in when they spotted the Children of the Dawn column approaching the south gate. Resolving to help them escape, Audric led the group to the north gate. Though a full dozen guards blocked their way, Drikk’s fearsome appearance caused them to step down without a second thought. While the darker members of the party wondered at the Druid’s motivation, he led them deeper into the forest, until they came to a place devoid of life. This area of the forest was apparently cursed, and Audric’s price for his aid was that the adventurers reciprocate and help him rid his forest of whatever dark forces were at work. Without any other option, the group agreed, and proceeded into the heart of the wood’s corruption. Before long, the adventurers came upon a massive statue in the center of a clearing. Faye’s religious studies identified the statue as one of Jerrak, a dead god of suffering and martyrdom, a god who had never been documented this far south. Perplexed, the group were preparing to explore the statue when they heard the sounds of armored men.
The Children of the Dawn had not been idle while the adventurers travelled. Enraged by the death of an Inquisitor, they had sent out scouting parties to every reach of the wood. Unfortunately for one of these parties, they encountered the adventurers. Though they had the advantage of surprise, the Children were fiished in short order with a single act of magic from Drew. As their assailants fell, the adventurers pondered what challenges awaited them, both from the Children, and from this corrupting power in the forest.