he Four Horns are commissioned by Captain Teradith to investigate a possible threat to a nearby Thorpe called Silverwheat. Apparently no one has heard from the locals there in some time and the wheat farmers have stopped bringing their harvest to market. The Horns discover that Silverwheat has fallen under the curse of madness. Its inhabitants are plagued by the specter of a deranged pig farmer named Thivran who has been draining the sanity from the locals and causing wild dogs to attack the town. There are also clues that Thivran may have been involved with some cult. The Four Horns confront Thivran and dispel his spirit, thus ridding the town of the plague of insanity.
“Horns I have a mission for you,” said Captain Teradith to the Four over a steaming cup of Laurel tea. It was the morning following the Contest of Hidroth Lea. “I’ll get right to the point,” continued Teradith. Something has gone very wrong in the freehold of Silverwheat. We have not received a shipment of grain from the Thorpe in over two weeks. Moreover there were none from the Thorpe’s ruling house, the house of Hibrond, in attendance at either the contest or the ball. Sir Elithar Hibrond is currently away at war in the southlands, but his wife and heirs would certainly not pass up an opportunity to make a social appearance. I fear that Orcs may have taken the Thorpe. I want you to investigate for me. If the Thorpe has been overrun and you find that you are outnumbered or otherwise unable to defend Silverwheat, bring back word immediately and I’ll send in the militia. If on the other hand you can handle the local problem on your own, do so. You are to depart immediately.”
Thus commissioned, the party gathered their steeds from The Mount’s Inn and headed south along the Kings Highway. It was a gray foggy morning yet the sun shone through a breaks of clouds,causing golden beams to shift and stream about the downland in an intricate play of light and shadow.
As the Four drew near to Silverwheat, the west end of the rolling hills gave way to a dale filled with the crop of silverwheat for which the Thorpe was named. Playful sprites fluttered and darted about the wheat like tiny shooting stars, illuminating fields shrouded in shadow. Dark clouds ushered forth from a western wind gradually covered the sky, promising the nearness of a Spring shower. The cool westerly wind was carried along the valleys of the downs rustling the wheat as it passed. Carried upon the wind was a barely audible murmuring whisper that sent chills down the backs of the Four Horns. Alarmed by this strange voice, the pixies halted their cheery games and flew swiftly away to the east.
As the Four made their way to the cobblestone road leading into the Thorpe a solitary figure coming from Silverwheat approached them. The figure hobbled towards the Four in an awkward fashion. His clothes were torn and dirty, and he did not respond to the greetings of the four, bur rather murmured incoherently to himself as he passed by. Romen, Phadran, Mara and Luke looked uneasily from one to another. Then, slowly and with resolve, the Four Horns set off once more along the path to Silverwheat.
Upon rounding the bend of a rock outcrop the Horns encounter a bloodied man who appears to be babbling to himself whilst cutting deep gashes into his legs with a knife. Laying face down in a pool of blood on the ground before the man is a lifeless woman.
“Ho there friend,” says Roman in a quiet and non-threatening tone,”allow us to help you.”
The man looked up from his wet work with an vacant expression and continued to mumbling all the louder. The Four Horns attempt to question the man, yet he only babbles nonsense and points the knife at them menacingly. Undaunted, Romen inches froward, continuing to calmly press the man for answers.
Suddenly the man stood, shrieked at the party and thrust the knife he wielded into his own throat. Lueca quickly said a prayer to Andunai and then rushed forward. Upon dislodging the knife Leuca then lay his hands upon the wounded man, who, though nearly expired, immediately began to revive. Yet just as Leuca began to ask why the man had acted has he had, the man lurched forward and began to run through the fields of silver wheat, shouting unintelligibly as he went.
“Alright so he’s obviously mad,” said Phadran, pointing out the obvious, “what do we do now?”
“Well, I guess we’d better take the body back to the village so that she might be given a proper burial,” said Leuca.
Continuing further down the road with the corpse in toe, the Four encountered a pack of feral dogs and wolves that were attacking villagers and eating the corpses of the slain. The Horns dispatched the beasts and then questioned one of the townsfolk. He told the adventurers that the village had been cursed by Andunai and that he intended to get out with his life while he could. He also told them that the animals began to go mad over a week and a half ago, and that the townsfolk soon followed. Since then, there had been numerous reports of a dark cloaked figure that seems to be the source of the town’s madness.
Upon entering one of the village huts the Four met a half crazed farmer who at first confused them with another group. Apparently a band of red hooded figures had been skulking about at night, taking the bodies slain by wolves. The maddened farmer then proceeded to describe to the Horns how the trouble began soon after Thivran, the local pig farmer, was found hanging from a rope in his barn. His pigs went mad the following day.
After some discussion the Four decided to wait until nightfall to see if the cloaked figure would return. While they were waiting, a scream pierced the night. The Horns turned in the direction of the sound in time to see a man run out his door clutching his ears. Howls erupted nearby as the man was attacked by feral dogs.
The Four rushed to the man’s aid and slew the feral dogs. They then questioned the farmer, yet little is learned, as the man did little other than babble incoherently. Thus it was decided that the Horns would pursue the surviving dogs into the hills, which they did until the dogs tracks lead off into different directions.
However the Horns attention was then captivated by a new interest. To the West at the foot of some hills stood a small keep. The Horns decided to investigate, and cautiously entered the keep. Signs of violence were evident even within the foyer of the main gate. However, upon closer inspection it looked as if someone had taken pains to repair the damages; slashes in a carpet had been neatly mended and the place appears to be well kept.
Progressing up the stairs the Four began to search various rooms of the keep. In one of the rooms the four met a young frightened maid who told them that the keep belonged to Sir Elithar Hibrond who was away at war in the south. His Wife and son and the rest of the servants went mad and killed themselves nearly a week ago. She herself had hid out while all of this took place. Afterward, she had buried the bodies and kept the manner in good repair, awaiting either her master’s return, or for the madness to take her life. When asked what else she knew, the servant further revealed that Elithar’s son recently had a violent confrontation with their servant Thivran, the pig keeper. He was known around the village as an eccentric alcoholic with a violent disposition. Thivran would sometimes go to Hidroth Lea to sell pigs at market for Elithar. On several occasions he was gone for weeks at a time. On his last journey not only did he return late, but he was missing four sows and had no coin to show for it. Elithar’s son assumed that he had sold the pigs and spent the coin on drink and so punished him by taking from Thirvran his only two pigs. Thivran flew into a rage and the other servants had to restrain him. Apparently that same night Thivran’s wife Eldra went to her mother’s house complaining that Thirvran had tried to kill her, muttering something about freeing her soul. Thivran then took his own life. The Horns decided to hold up for the night within the walls of the keep.
The Four set off in search of Thivran’s barn to investigate. They found the ramshackle barn in which they discovered an envelope of fine parchment. Inside was a letter written in red ink, containing but three words: “Free their Souls.”
After discussing what they had learned, the Horns decided to try and track down Eldra and her mother to get their story. After a bit of investigation the Horns soon discover the location of Eldra’s mother’s hut. While approaching the hut, the party heard shouts coming inside. The Horns rushed forward into the hut wherein they saw an old lady with a broom attempting to fend off a dark form composed of smoke and shadow. The shadow dispersed upon the Four’s entry. When questioned, the woman admitted to being the mother of Eldra and informs the Four that her daughter is in hiding at the moment, for the specter of Thivran is still seeking to “free her soul.” The Four manage to convince her to tell them where Eldra is so that they may help in protecting her.
As it turns out, Eldra, along with half the village, have been hiding out within the village chapel defended by Father Able. Upon arriving at the chapel the Horns seek out Father Able and learn that apparently the spirit of Thivran is afraid to enter this place. However, Thivran must have followed the Four, for their conversation with the abbot is interrupted by a loud, incoherent outburst that almost sounded human, coming from just outside the chapel’s main door. Father Able told the Four that if Thivran had learned that his wife was hidden within, he would likely attack the Chapel at night. Thus, it would be best if Eldra and the Four departed before then so that they did not endanger the lives of the other towns-folk within the chapel.
So it was that the Four returned to Eldra’s mother’s hut to await the inevitable showdown. That night they once again heard the howls of wolves gathering, and a maddening babbling outside their hut. Suddenly, Eldra, apparently caught in Thivran’s spell, jumped up and casts wide open the door to reveal the specter of her deceased husband—a tall black hooded figure of shadow and smoke. The babbling of Thivran had a mesmerizing affect on Mara and Jedi who sat transfixed. A battle ensued between Thivran, the wolves at his command, and the Four. After having nearly been driven mad by the touch of the specter, the Four manage to overcome Thivran. Exhausted by their battle, the Horns lodged at Eldra’s for the night.