Though they had defeated the monsters that inhabited the ruins of Greenbrae, the party could not delay its errand to undo the corruption of the village. Using a Sending charm provided by the Wind Weavers, the party notified Crucian Songsteel of the situation in Greenbrae, and requested that he send agents to destroy the Chaos Egg at its heart. They then continued their trek to Esk.
The journey to Esk via the Harp Road took nearly two weeks. Most of the trip was uneventful. Scattered late summer storms made the road muddy and left the travelers wet and uncomfortable. Whenever possible, they stopped at wayside cottages (“travelers’ rests”) for secure shelter. While the path left by the Righteous March was apparent, they saw no other travelers on the road.
On the eleventh day of their journey, as they were completing their midday meal, the party heard a woman’s screams coming from the road ahead of them. Rushing to investigate, they observed four armed men laughing as a great hound dragged a struggling girl from the undergrowth bordering the road. The men wore crudely patched uniforms bearing the coat of arms of Esk. The woman wore crude peasant clothing, and appeared to be unarmed.
The party called out a challenge to the men, asking why the girl was being handled to roughly. The men, who identified themselves as “Guardians of Esk”, responded by ordering the party to halt and state their business. When the PCs ignored their orders,they announced that the girl was a “Deserter” from Esk, and warned the party against interfering, at their peril. The girl’s plight, coupled with the men’s callous behavior, compelled the party to intervene, and they attacked.
The Guardians proved themselves to be more than mere men. They and their hound demonstrated strange powers. The hound teleported from place to place, and its howl chilled the blood. One of the men, a hulking giant, sported razor-sharp claws and an inhuman voice. The Guardian squad leader, a bearded man with wide eyes, seemed able to speak directly into the minds of others, and nearly drove Byl mad. Nevertheless, the PCs killed two of the Guardians and caused the others to flee.
The girl, named Marta, thanked the PCs for the rescue and offered to lead them to her camp, where she promised more information about the goings on in Esk…