The party stops in Fallcrest to resupply before continuing on toward Kiris Dahn to see Triana and Kiris Alkirk. They leave Dreus’ head with her sister and collect their reward. Triana tells them of unrest in the Harkenwold, which has been taken over by the Iron Circle, a formerly disciplined band of mercenaries now terrorizing the countryside after a coup in their leadership.
The Iron Circle has apparently been bought out by (southern warlord) and is being used as an army to conquer the Harkenwold and eventually the entire Nentir Vale. Refugees are pouring into Fallcrest, and the road back to Hammerfast is no longer safe. The party decides to investigate. Triana tells them to find (old lady) near (town) in the Harkenwold, who can connect them with the resistance movement.
They travel south and come upon a barren battlefield. Merchant caravans burn by the roadside, one of which bears the symbol of Cale’s old monastery. He finds genasi blood nearby and rushes off after the trail.
The party comes to a homestead surrounded by mercenaries and trained wolves. An old woman taunts the bandits from inside. Before the party can decide what to do, Cale rushes in and attacks the soldiers. He is grievously wounded, but Alek pulls him back from the brink again and again. The bandits are no match for the seasoned adventurers, and soon all but one lies dead. They question him, then leave him to (old lady) to finish off. She tells them to meet (resistance leader) in (town), the leader of the resistance. She also knows of a druid south of town that may have more information.
(Resistance leader) runs an inn in town, and the party stops to refresh themselves. Cale finds two of his companions from the monastery who inform him that they’ve been sent to look for him, to tell him that their master has found a way to reverse corrupt manifestations.
The druid’s grove is untouched by the surrounding violence. She tells them that a group of settlers would be willing to join the resistance, but they are beset by aggressive bullywugs in a cave nearby. The party investigates, and are attacked by stirges and the giant, toad-like humanoids. They finish off the guards at the gate and are poised to head deeper into the cave.