Winter has come early to southern Varisia this year and icy storms lash the coast with unseasonal fury. The little town of Sandpoint is quiet, with many residents preferring to remain indoors to avoid the weather and memories of recent disturbing events.
To the south, in Magnimar, the heroes now known as The Sandpoint Five are enjoying the comforts of the city and seeking to soothe the pain of their recent losses. Unaware of the thread of fate that has begun unraveling in their hands, they raise a glass in memory of those who have fallen and gaze quietly into the hearth-fire at the inn, seeking warmth and solace.
To the northeast, the little frontier town of TurtleBack Ferry has problems of its own. Earlier this month, the town’s only real tourist attraction, the gambling river barge known as the Paradise, burned and sank mid-river drowning dozens in a freak accident. Both residents and visitors alike have gone missing in the past month and wild animal attacks from the Sanos Forest have grown more frequent.
To make matters worse, no one in town has heard from their unofficial protectors, the Order of the Black Arrows, in the past few weeks. The Order is stationed in Fort Rannick, which overlooks Ember Lake, but recent messages sent to the fort have gone unanswered and a small foot expedition sent to investigate has not been heard from since.
Freezing rain hammers the region, swelling its lakes and rivers and making many roads and footpaths impassable. With the wind and rain, almost no one can hear the twang of ominous banjo music from deep within the forest…