Things have been quiet in the Valley over the last month since the climactic battle with the Cult of the Dragon, but not peaceful as tensions continue to mount. There has been no activity from the Clockwork creatures of late, but no one in the Valley believes that the threat has disappeared. Kriegar Haelt's men have been seen looking for Cronny and have been causing trouble by shutting down the singing of a song that has become popular of late:The evil white dragon (who will take his life) Cronny the brave (who stole his wife) The dragon cultists (who need his fort) The Malarites (who hunt him for sport) The clockwork fiends (who harry his men) The hobgoblin army (a thousand and ten) Poor Kriegar Haelt, his life is a farce His greatest fear is the smell of his arse. All 'ware the followers of Kriegar Haelt They smell like shit and it's Kriegar's fault.
Tensions within Hearthguardholt have risen as well as the halflings of the village and the Zittag Army (the newly renamed goblin force) are no longer bound by an immediate threat. While there have been no violent conflicts, there has been grumbling on both sides.
Cronny finds himself in disguise at the Braids in Greyholme with yet another damsel who has succumbed to his literal charms. He spots his companion Cop who has been keeping an eye out for signs of the Clockwork Army and preparing to mount an expedition to the east along the Dawn Pass Trail. Cop had just received a note from Gorse stating that he was concerned that there is someone or something stalking Heathguardholt that is beyond his ability to track and that he would like his mentor's assistance.
The two gather up their mounts, leaving yet another expectant damsel behind, and ride off. The journey is heartened by a camp made with some fellow travelers along the road. However, in the morning as the two of them break camp, their campmates are struck down by an unseen force. The horses, panicked, run off with the two adventurers hanging on for dear life.
In the interim, Strelk has left the refuge he had established for himself in a Feywood located in an unnatural crater further along the Dawn Pass Trail. This strange wood is home to all manner of creatures, natural and fey. The barrier between the natural world and the Fey is thin there and many portals can be found there. In recent months, Strelk has noted the appearance of strange magical automatons venturing into his woods, taking strange crystals away, as well as carrying the bodies of sentient beings, of particular note, goblinioids of his former troupe.
Fearing for his former comrades, Strelk leaves his refuge and travels westward along the Trail. Between his natural stealth and his magical resources, he travels unseen until he reaches Hearthguardholt. There, he is surprised to note the presence of his former troupe, living not as conquerors, but as cohabitants with the halflings of the village. As he tries to puzzle out this mystery, he is surprised at the sounds of rapidly approaching hoofbeats.
Cronny and Cop's horses hit the limits of their endurance and collapse, leaving the two heroes to face their unseen pursuers. A pitched battle ensues with fey magic, charms and magical blades facing the invisible, relentless fists of a pair of invisible stalkers. The assailants concentrate their efforts exclusively on Cronny and manage to strike him down, but not out, due to Strelk contributing his healing magics to the cause. Finally, Cop is able to strike the finishing blow, leaving the three adventurers to make their introductions.