This entry needs to be expanded.
The party sets up camp in Hopsedine and gathers some information about the area and the lady whom they came here to speak with. They find out she died weeks ago in a fire, and investigate her gravesite and her house. They come across a giant earth-elemental that had been magically enslaved to the lady, and who attests to the fact that she was killed – along with her son – by a mysterious man.
He was like obsidian that did not shine wrapped around marble that did not shine. His eyes were like rubies light by fire.
They also uncovered a potential motive for the murder of the two dwarves (whose identities have not been entirely confirmed). Lady Bones, who worked as a seamstress and laundry woman, had noticed a lot of mercenaries paying in advance and never picking up orders. When she dug into it, all of those names were people who had won the Witherbone Challenge. So she started a second investigation – of all the people who had won the Witherbone in the last dozen years, not one of them had ever been seen again.
Hopsedine is a small village a few days south of Two-Towns. It was built near the edge of the Olthosian border, just within the fringe of the Marrowood. The forest gets its name from the number of undead that can be found there, creatures spawned in the bloodlands that wonder aimlessly, staggering mile after mile across the landscape. The Ravenroad, the bloodlands of Olthos, are just across the boarder from Hopsedine. The area is practically plagued with undead, especially during the winter, but that is both a curse and blessing.
Though plenty of people are claimed by the monsters, caught unawares or overwhelmed by a chance encounter, most are aware of the danger and have set up business in response. Hopsedine, though originally a logging community, is a military hub – the border defense that keeps the undead from wandering too far into Lagernia. Mercenaries and paladins and clerics frequently visit Hopsedine to help curb the relentless march of monsters. They gather in tents, purchase supplies, and plan excursions. The village pays a bounty for undead – collecting the heads of slain creatures in large pits until Lagernia tax assessors come and pay the village, after which the heads are burned.
It was during one of these ceremonies, known as the Fleshfire, that the party arrived in town. To the east, near the graveyards, smoke was rising into the sky – putrid, thick, and black. When the wind blew from that direction it carried the smell of rotted meat and burnt flesh, though no one in town seemed to mind. It was the smell of a month’s worth of bounties, the economic nourishment that kept the village going.
The village itself was small but well defended. There was a tavern that doubled as the town hall – the owner was also the bounty coordinator and festival planner, the closest thing the town had to leadership. There were a handful of houses nearby for the individuals who managed to live off the constant flow of mercenaries – a smith, carpenter, herbalist and healer, a seamster and cobbler, and a few merchants and guardsman. The town’s market was small, an open area filled with stalls and stands.
The whole of it was circled by two short walls of logs, sharpened to points, all pointing outward but at different angles. Some logs were stained with blood from battles long past, others were coated with more recently spilled fluids. There were towers at the main entrances manned by guards and mercenaries, and around the outermost wall was a field of bear traps and snares. Some were sprung and still held a piece of zombie leg, or the body of some woodland creature like foxes and rabbits, but most were simply lying on the ground in plain sight, the short metal teeth of a thousand mechanical jaws.