Following their triumphant recovery of the Crown of Rhivum and the rich feast held in their honor at Sylo, the party members discussed the matter of certain unresolved mysteries concerning Nuromen’s Maze but decided that securing their newfound wealth was a more urgent concern. Speculating that Trollbone Keep would be the nearest place likely to offer an appropriately secure base of operations (and bearing in mind the mystery of Raglip’s alledged contact in nearby Stonehell Dungeon), they resolved to head west towards the borderland fortress.
On the way, the party arrived in time to spend what would turn out to be a very stormy night at the Iron Axe Inn in Wodfeld. While partaking of its comforts, Mabe managed to catch up on some local news while attempting to defuse the sullen suspicions of some fellow locals towards his companions. In the course of the evening, the party learned of a recent rash of livestock predations seeming to indicate a dangerous creature lurking in the eaves of the Tanglewood. They also learned that the village warden, Arlen Steinfell, had been frustrated in his attempts to capture the outlaw “Ogre” Biggums and his gang.
Concerned over the matter of the disappearing livestock, Mabe convinced his fellow party members to help him investigate the next morning. Accompanied by Arlen’s assistant Willem Tanting, they were approaching the borders of the Tanglewood when they suddenly heard desperate cries for help. These turned out to be those of a local farmer who was fleeing from a hostile, sword-wielding figure in antique, rusted armor. After a brief chase, the party caught up with the pair, at which point Emil managed to decapitate the mailed figure with a deft swing of his enchanted blade. The assailant turned out to be an undead creature of unknown provenance, bearing a cherry-tree crest on his armor that Mabe found strangely familiar but was unable to place. Farmer Ben explained how he had unwittingly released the creature from its strange confinement beneath an old oak that had been struck by lightning during the night.
A short time later, an emergency session of the village council was called and increasingly agitated villagers began to gather outside the Iron Axe Inn. Soon after Mabe soothed their nerves with inspired words of confidence, Arlen emerged from the session determined to investigate the scenes of these strange occurances for himself. The party members accompanied him (uninvited, some noted) to the scene of the destroyed oak. Arlen identified the tree as a species of oak normally only found in the depths of the enchanted Tanglewood, but failed to note that the hollow area beneath it from which the undead creature had emerged opened upon a narrow stair. This latter fact was discovered by the party members, who decided to investigate while Arlen, urging caution, headed back to the village consult Syreel, Priest of the Good Earth, over these developments.
In the course of their explorations, the party discovered a strange subterranean complex consisting of several rooms connected by winding tunnels and rough stairs and filled with an eerie mist. These rooms seemed to contain disturbing evidence of horrible crimes rooted in the town’s distant past, including bones and clothing scraps belonging to children and old toys scattered among them. A silver locket showing the same cherry-tree crest emblazoned on the undead warrior’s armor was found attached to one skeleton that lay between two stone figures (apparently statues) of short, evil-looking creatures. Subsequently, after the baffling discovery of a richly furnished child’s bedroom deeper in the complex, the party decided to return to the surface to ponder these developments in town.