With the smoke and tears of Archet at our backs, Everwyn & I rode out to Combe to start our hunt for the Blackwold swine who had caused such misery. There was a minor distraction by way of our fevered flight through spider infested tunnels which no one in the area knew were lurking beneath their feet, but once we had found and slain the foul creature spawning these monsters we were able to enter Combe unassailed. My what a difference from Archet! Nary a building had been touched or person injured and, bar a broken wagon the brigands had used as a barricade at the gate, no one had lost any property or livestock.
The Fates certainly work in mysterious ways for had the wounded Ranger been brought to Combe then I feel sure her citizens would now be the ones weeping over graves and smoking ruins and not Archet’s. Still, Archet is where Amdir was brought (and lost) and Archet paid the price but the good people of Combe were rallying themselves to aid their neighbours and as we rode through the gate and down towards the market square we passed many a citizen busy gathering food and supplies onto carts.
Before we left Archet, Everwyn and I had discussed where the brigands could have come from in such a fashion as to cut Archet of and not arouse suspicion from the people of nearby Combe and it seemed to us that the most likely spot would have been Chetwood Forest. The hills between the southern-most border of the forest were sparsely populated and rarely traversed so a force could move across them, bypassing Combe, and come down into the Dale of Archet quiet easily. Yes, Chetwood seemed the most likely place to start our search for the animals and so that is where we agreed to go.
We reported our arrival to the town Counstable, a dour Halfling named Underhill. He had little love for the Blackwolds and promised us what aid he could give in our hunt. To that end he bade us speak with the local innkeep who in turn led us to a grim Ranger named Toradan who was, it seemed, himself eager to speak with us. During our sojourn in the tunnels of the spider queen Iornaith word of the part Everwyn & I played in the defence of Archet must have reached Combe as Toradan knew not only who we were but why we had come to Combe and he had a proposal of mutual benefit to put before us.
Amdir, the poor devil stabbed and captured in Archet by means of some form of sorcery, was a friend of his and Toradan wanted to stage a rescue from where he believed he was being held by the Blackwolds deep in the nearby forest. Our part was to locate him and report back any information we could before engaging the Blackwolds directly; once Amdir was safe then Toradan promised us his blade in avenging Archet’s fallen. What could we say other than to agree? Our losses were mutual and causes aligned; a double blow to the Blackwolds would be all the sweeter.
Outside we climbed into our saddles and with nary a word between us set off as one along the road that would lead us into Chetwood Forest and to the Blackwold’s camp…