North West of Axe Bite Pass is a sparsely populated wooded area where only a few hardy souls live. They subsist by burning the forest to supply charcoal for the Empire to the West and for the Brettonian lords to the north. The stretch of land farmed by the charcoal burners itself is fairly lawless despite being wedged between these two human land.
Old Blackfingers Krevan had been living and burning charcoal in this land for more years than he could remember. Though his wife had died some dozen years ago, he and his young daughter Ondine still survived by making sure that when outlaws and roving bands of Orcs ravaged the local area that they hid in a secret cave whose entrance was just obscured by a series of boulders in the local stream. This hiding strategy had seen the two of them survive a series of attacks which had recently changed in nature. Where previously, they had been attacked by roving bands who made plenty of noise and were focused primarily on pillage, now increasingly the charcoal burners, especially those living close to the waterfall, were just completely disappearing in the night, leaving only their blood and a sign of struggle in their hovels.
Blackfingers Krevan was preoccupied about the safety of his daughter and was increasingly considering taking her north to find her a good serf-family to marry her into in order that she could be safe from this life in the woods and would guarantee that she could at least have a good bowl of onion soup to drink on holy days.
It was because Blackfingers Krevan was these mulling on these concerns while burning down some stumps for the best charcoal that he missed the sound of horses moving through the forest. On hearing the snort of horses and smelling the sweat of unwashed men that Blackfingers dropped to the ground and tried to make himself as small as possible. Where was Ondine? The last time he had seen her she was undertaking the weekly wash of the cooking dish in the stream. Hopefully, he thought that she would have time to get into the cave, if only she could hear the horses over the sound of the stream.
The sound of the horses came closer and closer. Blackfingers realised that he was going to get caught if he did not move now. Maybe he could make the cave if he moved fast? He shambled to his feet and bolted for the stream. Too late…. The riders must have spotted him and he heard shouts as several of the riders reined in their horses to turn and pursue him.
Blackfingers Krevan ran as hard as he could towards the stream. But it was futile, it seemed that this was no ordinary raiding band there were dozens of mounted figures chasing him. A mailed fist smashed his face breaking his nose and several of his remaining teeth. Blackfingers Krevan slipped to the ground unconscious.
He awoke when a bucket of water was tossed into his face. He ached all over and his nose was all pain. As he struggled to focus his bruised eyes he realised that he was surrounded by mailed figures, covered in blood and water he was completely at the mercy of the invaders.
One of the armoured bedecked men moved to interrogate him.
“Serf, before we hang you for fleeing from your liege lord Bois de Lyon and the Knightly Order of the Rose, you had better tell us everything you know about the disappearances in the dark…..”