Halls of Madness: Something in the Water
The forest they call Greenhaunt sits along Breland’s northern border, astride a crucial corner drawn after the Last War. This strangely quiet wood is where the Brelish, Thranish, and Aundairian borders meet. Nearby Cragwar changed hands nearly a dozen times during the War, but the Treaty of Thronehold placed it finally in Breland, and now the road west of the forest is a bustling thoroughfare filled with farmers, miners, soldiers, scholars, and priests. Some people are settling here, now that there’s finally peace in the land. Others are taking their skills across a recently redrawn frontier to see what awaits them beyond it.
The Blackcap mountains are the head of this country, where in the west the rolling farmland turns brown and sharply rises into dark and stony-faced peaks. East of the road, the Greenhaunt’s leafy mantle cloaks the shoulders of a rolling land that falls gently away toward Lake Brey. Civilization is busy here. People of all races work the land, turning the soil towards life and raising food for the kingdom. The lightning rail runs through on its way to Aundair, bring an air of worldly bustle to the unremarkable hamlet of Hatherill. Soldiers patrol the hills, the roads, and the eaves of the wood for monsters and bandits. The miners in Black Pit work endlessly, digging for Mithral deep in the mountains’ bones. The money they make working their claims is pittance beside the profits of House Kundarak, which coordinates all mining operations here, and House Cannith, whose arcane machinations require the finest metals in Khorvaire.
So the miners dig, driven deeper by war’s demands until they sunk a shaft into Khyber itself.
Now, the people say, the miners come to Cragwar for supplies only rarely. These people speak of strange things seen by travellers on the road by the ruined watchtower south of the bridge, where the track to Black Pit turns away up the vale to the west: figures so twisted as to be unidentifiable, groups of figures in deep hoods, and lights away up in the crags where no lights should be.
There is unrest among the farmsteads, as well. Some folk have gone missing, and their crops rotten; others have gone mad. The forest is becoming twisted and cruel, they say. It takes people, and they go to it. It must be something in the water, they say. Meanwhile, certain people in Cragwar are whispering in shadows about what might be waiting to be plundered from beneath the ruins deep in the forest.