To outsiders, the village of Lesni is like many others within the Free Duchy of Elschelin. Modestly prosperous, the town of around 700 lies on the eastern bank of the Podersanka River and is surrounded by the Grey Forest. To the north, Hrad Dobens, the once-opulent fortress of long-departed Baron Dobens leers down from among the jagged crags of the Medaks, keeping a dead eye upon the copper miners and lumbermen who work below.
Only a day’s ride from the defacto capital city of Barnov, Lesni lies within range of the city’s economic influence but largely outside of the political gamesmanship that serves to manipulate city dwellers lives in countless unseen ways. This suits the citizens of Lesni just fine, as they are content to spend their lives working the forests and mines, tending to their small fields or fishing in the Podersanka. The townspeople feel safe (as long as they don’t stray too deep into the Grey late at night) and generally content.
This has begun to change, however. It began with livestock going missing. Sometimes they would vanish without a trace, other times villagers were awoken to hideous cries, only to find carcasses strewn about as if something was torn apart by massive beasts. A Taskbreaker was hired to scour the Grey for the culprit, but he vanished as well. Soon after that, people began disappearing. Women, children, even full and hearty men would go to bed at night or set out to the mines or lumber fields during the day, never to be seen again. It was around this time that rumors began circulating about lights being seen in the windows of Hrad Dobens. The keep had long been the subject of stories of foul deeds and corrupt rituals. The late Baron was often described as a beast, a tyrant, and a deviant.
The miners refused to work first, followed by the lumbermen. The town was shrinking inward like a tortoise for fear of an unknown terror that surrounded them. The heads of the major families of the town agreed that something needed to be done, some for genuine concern for the safety of the town, others solely to get the workers to feel safe enough to return to work, lest the town starve. They agreed to assemble a group, some hiring outsiders, others conscripting men and women from within their own families, to investigate Hrad Dobens, to see if it is the source of the current trouble, and hopefully, to put an end to it.