The Forester Derryth Bearach is guiding the mage Falaran Minoras Neverian through the Verdan forest in Haywick. They encounter a dazed Half-Varou, Maxwell Vornack, who had barely escaped from an orc raid at sea.
After Maxwell has time to recuperate from his near-drowning, the group sets out and explores the Ley Node ruins at White Cliff. There they encounter the strange sensations of emergent power: tingling, a buzzing in the ear, and—for Derryth—voices that speak of darkness and rebirth.
They also spot orcish ships anchored in the bay below, and the trail of a large, disfigured beast. Derryth correlates the tracks to the rumors of a Dire Bear, a creature not seen in Andaria in at least two centuries. Realizing that the nearby village of Greengate is under threat from both this creature and a potential orc raid, they hastily set out in the hopes of mustering some sort of defense.
They arrive at Greengate, a hamlet at the edge of the Verdan forest. They speak to Duke Jerl Thayer and convince him to prepare for an attack. The group works to assemble the defenses of the ill-equipped village as best they can.
Meanwhile, Falaran realizes that the dark magic that has tainted his disfigured hand is perhaps connected to the powers that have corrupted the bear. He conducts a ceremony to reinforce this connection and set the wheels of fate in motion. If the villagers cannot defend themselves against a party of seasoned orcish raiders, perhaps the presence of a tainted beast can even the odds.
Maxwell boldly sets out to draw the raiders to the village to give the defenders the advantage of selecting the time and place of battle. He encounters the orc raiding party deep in the forest, sinks an axe into a lone sentry to draw the attention of the others, and prepares himself for the chase….