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It's a warm summer evening, just about perfect. A cool breeze blusters in from the northwest, carrying the promise of the encroaching autumn with it, but at the moment it brings you a welcome relief from the heat of the day.
After spending most of your summer delving into the deeps and dungeons beneath the land, you're just happy to be able to relax in the comforts of a world in which the sun sets and rises. For what seems like the first time in ages, you're not so worried about what might be lurking just around the corner or behind the next door as you are about the terrible prospect of draining dry the local tavern's stores.
You have just finished a marvelous dinner at the Stumble Inn. (The weathered wooden sign creaking over a lump of gold.) The innkeeper and his wife - Carbad and Kamalda, an honest pair of retired farmers as weatherbeaten as their place's sign - have hauled out their very best for you. They know that you are restless to be on your way and that they aren't bound to have the pleasure of your company for much longer.
Just as you are about to raise a toast to you deserving host, a rumpled shape staggers through the inn's open door.
You reach for your weapon, startled at the intrusion, but before you can act, the figure crumples to the floor. The innkeeper dashes over and turns the stricken stranger onto his back. "Marcaeus!" he gasps, then looks back up at you, his face filled with dread.
You rush to the fallen man's side. He's alive, but bearely so. He's literally been beaten within an inch of his life, and his right leg is twisted at a decidedly uncomfortable angle.
You roll the man over onto his back, and he groans loudly as the bones in his battered leg crunch together. His eyes flicker for a moment and then open wide. His gaze, clouded by his intense pain, fixes directly on you.
Just before he mercifully passes out, he reaches up and grabs you by the front of your shirt.
"My son," he whispers through his battered lips, "they've got my son!"